Category Archives: Living life to the fullest

The difference between happy and glowing: Giving

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?

Mud-splattered and glowing in Bolivia

Arlene – Mud-splattered and glowing on a Habitat for Humanity build in Bolivia

 

 

Listening as giving

Photo Credit: "I'm Listening" by Steve Johnson https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephoto/

Photo Credit: “I’m Listening” by Steve Johnson https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephoto/

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/

Dragonflies: Finishing better than we start

Photo courtesy of Franco Folini https://www.flickr.com/photos/livenature/

Photo courtesy of Franco Folini https://www.flickr.com/photos/livenature/

On Friday, I wrote about “Thinking greater than we feel.” A natural follow-up comes from today’s Tuesdays with Laurie blog. Her post, “Majestic Wings,” ponders the majestic qualities of dragonflies—their beauty and their agile flight abilities.

She writes: “Native American folklore tells us that the iridescence in a dragonfly’s wings is a glimmer of hope; believing that with the dawn of each new day the dragonfly brings possibility and joy.”

One of her blog followers, Grace, from The Wild Pomegranate, added: “Dragonflies are one of my very favorites, and I’ve been seeing a ton of them lately. One piece of Dragonfly medicine that resonates strongly with me is their complete transformation from a mud crawling nymph to a glorious flier. They remind that the way we begin isn’t always the way we will end.”

If you feel like a not-yet-fully-formed, mud-crawling being today, take heart from the iridescence of dragonflies. If you feel like your wings are too fragile to be strong today, take heart from their flight maneuvers. The way we begin isn’t how we end, and each day brings new “Dragonfly medicine” of possibilities and joy.

___________

http://tuesdayswithlaurie.com/2014/09/09/majestic-wings/

 

Thinking greater than we feel

happy-endingSuccessful people achieve their goals by never accepting that things are going to stay the same way they are now.

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 OneDr. 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.

 

 

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

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.

Forgiveness: Choosing not to drink the poison

cup-of-hope“Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” —Blaise Pascal

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. 

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