There are moments where words can not express and pictures can not show the depth of an experience. A little over a week ago I was in Guatemala on a Compassion International Sponsor trip. We sponsor a child in Guatemala and it was a chance to take a glimpse of a part of the world that is not often seen by people living in the US.
It was a chance to touch poverty with our hands, to see it, to hear it, to taste it and then to see how children are being freed from poverty.
Guatemala has a lot of beauty and it also has a lot of cruel beauty. Streams and rivers become waste dumps, the pores are filled with plastic refuse. Garbage is burned next to the roads. Dogs with skin taught against the ribs pick through the smoldering remains. Corrugated steel, rusted, bent form structures in which people gather around a smoky pit of fire to make a meal. Floors of dark brown dirt greet the feet of the urban visitor to one of these dwellings.
The children we were able to visit brought their best smiles and their expression of joy. These children with few material things have s omething American children have lost in the midst of much.
These children beam with joy even as they struggle in so many different ways. Given a large quantity of encouragement and hope these same children hold the keys to a future that is free of poverty.
Children who live in poverty and who are given a chance … can change their future. They live with courage and they live for the future. They give freely with what they have – the love in their hearts.
The world can be transformed when you reach out a touch a child who lives in a nation where their lives do not matter.
“If you want your life to be a magnificent story,then realize that you are its author.” John Maxwell
What do you want your story to be? Much has been written about what makes people happy and as it turns out happiness is a story you get to write. Sometimes you find happiness in the struggles. Sometimes you find happiness in the memories. Sometimes you find happiness in realizing your strengths. Sometimes you find happiness when you give of yourself to something greater than yourself.
Happiness is often found when we do something we identify with intensely, something that is important to the core of our being. For some people the search for happiness is a never ending quest. What is your definition of happiness? Happiness is difficult to find if it isn’t first defined.
Happiness can take the form of being responsible. Abraham Lincoln said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” If you have a goal are you working towards it? If you are making progress towards a goal – celebrate that fact. If you are struggling to make progress take smaller steps.
Maintain a regimen of discipline. “What we do on some great occasion will probably depend on what we already are; and what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline.”, declared Henry Parry Liddon. Develop strong habits and strong resolve and those will help take you over those times where things aren’t working as smoothly as you desire. Persistent patterns of practice will lead you in small steps to the results you desire.
Posted in Encouragement, Goal seeking, Inspiration, personal success
Tagged Abraham Lincoln, happiness in memories, happiness in the future, happiness in the present, living life, persistent patterns, practice, regimen of discipline
Sonja Lyubomirsky writes about the concepts, ideas and practices that can improve happiness in her book “The HOW of Happiness.” There are a number of people investigating the mechanics behind happiness. Gretchen Rubin has a Happiness Project blog and soon a book about Happiness. Sonja indicates that there are six important goals to consider if you are seeking happiness. The goal must be intrinsic. The goal must be authentic. The goal must be approach-oriented. The goal must be harmonious. The goal must be activity-based. And the goal must be flexible and appropriate. Are you goals oriented towards happiness? That is are they based on the factors listed above. Take a careful inventory of your goals. Do they align with who you are? I would add do the goals add significance to your life? Goals that have meaning to you are much likely to be obtained. Goals that are placed upon you are much more likely to be ignored, or put off. When you own the goal and the goal has meaning there is a better chance of enduring the pain of achievement than there would be otherwise. Do you own your goals or do your goals own you?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore,
is not an act but a habit.”
Not only is excellence a habit that needs to be developed so are other aspects of our lives. Each postive aspect needs to be nurtured and developed so that it is a habit. It might be integrity, character, honesty, charity, or authenticity, any of these can be cultivated and grown. The question might be do we attempt to do those things that improve our soul. Do we spend enough time developing significance or do we spend our time perfecting success? What is more important to you success or significance?
“What we do on some great occasion will probably depend on
what we already are; and what we are will be the result of previous
years of self-discipline.”
Henry Parry Liddon
Many people struggle to obtain what could be called optimal living. What is optimal living? Some would consider it working at what you love to do. The problem for many is working at something that is a chore to do. This results in a certain amount of dissonance and that friction between the ideal and reality creates pain. Pain is of course something we want to avoid. Optimal living is about resonating with life and work. The experience of work becomes pleasant and fulfilling.
Thomas Carlyle wrote, “Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness.”
At one time monks would do the most menial tasks but used that work to find time to match their rhythm with the heartbeat of the work they were doing. In other words they found work synchronous with their life cadence and that resulted in a form of peace. Zen Buddhism when practiced can also result in synchronous living.
When conflict is removed from the environment and the self one can experience synchronicity. It is almost like have the two opposing gears mesh without any resistance. There is a certain smoothness when work and life can intersect in perfect harmony.
On one side of the equation is the removal of fear, stress and conflict so that you can elevate peace and harmony to the point you feel free emotionally and physically.
What would it take for you to live an optimal life?
Once in a while you can find things that cause you to change the way you look at things. With an open mind you can become attracted to new ideas and new ways of thinking about a problem. That would be the humility of learning – willing and able to learn without the need to reject the premise of the argument.
This link to a video clip tells a compelling story, about spirituality, about our best efforts and perhaps even more. Elizabeth Gilbert is a writer and she is telling her story about looking at the world of what is possible. Looking at what is yet to come which can be better than what has happened in the past. Our future presents to us the opportunity to do better.
This video clip link is from TED 2009. I think you’ll find it worthwhile to listen to.