Category Archives: Living life to the fullest
This past week I had the privilege of writing an article about a woman from my church. Jean volunteers for a long list of organizations, giving to others in different ways. As she bakes, delivers meals to seniors, quilts, and tackles her many other labours of love, she glows with energy and good spirit. When I asked her why she does all she does, she said, “It makes me feel good. I get back so much more than I give.”
Another friend of mine volunteers for Canadian Red Cross. He supports people in need in his own community, and he travels to countries in crisis around the globe. When he speaks of this work, he glows. “I get back so much more than I give,” he says.
I have heard that refrain over and over in my life, from people aglow with the joy of hands-on giving.
After my conversation with Jean, I thought about other people I know who have stable jobs and who probably give to charity, but who don’t give of themselves in a close contact way. They golf every Saturday, or they enjoy fine dining, or they spend most weekends at their cottage.
I would never say these people aren’t happy. If I were to ask them if they are happy, they would say yes. What is the difference then?
The difference is the glow: The merely happy people pass through life content; the others glow with a giving contact high.
The question then: Do I want to be merely happy, or do I want to glow?
On Sunday, my friend, Ellie, made me think about something in a different way.
During her church reflection entitled “When Forgiving Takes Three,” she spoke about how we sometimes need assistance from a third party to help us through conflict situations. What really made me think, though, was the idea of listening as a gift to others. Usually we think of listening as receiving. We sit back, someone tells us their thoughts or feelings, and we receive that from them. But the act of listening—really listening—is more about giving than receiving.
How many times have you felt tuned-out by someone when you are speaking with them? Frustrating, isn’t it? How many times have you shared thoughts or ideas with another but felt your concerns weren’t received in the way you intended?
We have the power to dissipate conflict early on simply by allowing another person to vent their frustrations and by giving that person the gift of really hearing them and working hard to understand.
I’ve got my ears on. Ready to listen.
Rev. Ellie Barrington: “When Forgiving Takes Three” http://www.trinityunitedottawa.ca/reflections/when-forgiving-takes-three/
When I read biographies or autobiographies of people I admire, I find that as a consistent theme. Every person I now see as special, or heroic, or powerful was ordinary. The people who now get the best seats in restaurants or invites to celebrity parties used to walk down streets unnoticed, were once fired from jobs or rejected from sports teams. Every one of those people, at some point in their lives, was made to feel “not good enough.”
They didn’t buy it.
In their mind’s eye, they saw their lives as greater than what they were at the time. Oprah Winfrey, a poor, black abused child, always felt that a special destiny lay before her. Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school, but he persevered with the image he had of himself as a film director. Elvis Presley was told he should go back to driving a truck.
In Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One, Dr. Joe Dispenza writes: “. . . if we cannot think greater than how we feel, we can never change. To change is to think greater than how we feel. To change is to act greater than the familiar feelings of the memorized self.”
Many of us get stuck in accepting what is and what other people tells us should be. It’s just easier that way.
But if “what is” or “what other people tell us what should be” doesn’t fulfill us, then something needs to change. If we persist with harmful habits or lazy approaches, we don’t serve our best interests. Dispenza adds: “And when you really see what you’ve been doing to yourself, you have to look at that mess and say, This is no longer serving my best interests. This is no longer serving me. This has never been loving to myself. Then you can make a decision to be free.”
What do you want to be, where do you want to be, or what do you want to be doing a year from now?
Form that image in your mind, think greater than what is now, and today start one new habit that serves your best interests.
September is my New Year.
Forget the fireworks and hoopla of January 1—all new things begin in September for me. New school years, new projects, new group activities—September is kick-off time for all that. After allowing myself to go fallow in the hot, humidity of an Ottawa summer, I surge with new energy in the cooler autumn Canadian temperatures.
If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it. ~Toni Morrison
As I start my new year and you start yours, lets surrender to the wind and ride it. I can’t wait to see where it takes us.
In Canada, our summer draws to a close and a new season of activities awaits. In other parts of the world, spring approaches with its potentials for newborn projects. No matter what part of the world we live in, this time of year calls us to cleanse ourselves and begin anew.
Are you holding on to bitterness? Are you drinking poison, swirling it in your mouth, and savouring its flavour?
Can you see it as poisonous only to you and not to the other person or other people?
Forgive, pour out the glass of bitter poison and begin again.