Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What brings you happiness and joy?

What makes you happy?

What fills you with joy?  I am not referring to the long walks on the beach, winning the lotto or indulging in feel good juice – but what fills you with joy on the inside?  The type of joy that makes your eyes well up with tears when you think about it?  Many people I talk with seem to just not be that filled with joy but do experience much happiness.  Why does it seem that some people are always filled with joy and others not so much?  What is it that they have that many of us don’t?

What fills you with joy?

For me joy is always inside whether I am feeling happy or sad.  I know, how can I feel both ways at the same time?  There are many things that make me feel happy but only a few things that bring joy every time I think about them – like being alive; or the feeling I get when I think about my wife; or the feeling I get when I think about the day each of my children were born; or how being with my family makes me feel so good inside when I am with them.  

The Difference

Many people confuse happiness and joy as being one in the same.  They are not but both can exist at the same time.  Happiness is the way you feel when you receive material things such as gifts or experience events such as graduation.  However, joy is a gift from God which can be present and experienced during both happy and unhappy times.  Joy is a positive aspect that is bigger than the individual.  There are so many things that make me happy like having a new car, new furniture for my house, an RV, a cruise and many other things.  However the joy inside me doesn’t come from material objects rather it comes from my heart.  Another way to look at it is I am very happy exchanging Christmas gifts with family and friends however I feel much joy in the awareness of what Christmas is really all about – joy is lasting while happiness exists in the moment.  I believe being a joyous person is more than being happy, more than having a feeling of contentment, more than the feeling of gratitude rather joy is the deep feeling and attitude towards life.

Now what?

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” Marianne Williamson. What are you doing to bring joy into your life? A few tips that might help: Choose to Smile; think positive regardless of the situation; be grateful for what you have; practice random acts of kindness; and most importantly enjoy the simple delights that life brings to you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No Greater Love

Devotion to Others

Altruism, the “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others” or defined by colleagues as loving others as you love yourself, a behavior or act that helps another at your own cost, or self-sacrifice that benefits others.  Have you ever done something where your sole intention was to help or save someone without concern for yourself?


We all like to think that we are able and willing to rise to the occasion during times of great crisis. We all aspire to emulate what the heroes of our time might have done in similar situations.  The Bible passage, John 15:13, comes to mind when I am faced with extreme crisis – “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  A few years back over Memorial weekend I visited Arlington National Cemetery with a military friend and my wife.  As we walked through the grounds I viewed many headstones inscribed with John 15:13.  Those headstones reminded me that those were individuals who gave their life for the sake of others.

Could I Do That?

The underlying theme is an act or behavior that promotes the survival opportunities of others at a cost to your own life.  I have witnessed this throughout my life more times than I can remember.  In the military, I witnessed many acts of altruism.  Working with the Red Cross there were many instances where acts of altruism made the difference.  There is one instance that has stuck with me for a very long time.  Years ago there was a terrible airplane crash; it was the dead of winter and the aircraft ended up skidding into the frozen / freezing cold river.  I remember vividly to this day watching a passer by jump into the frozen / freezing cold water to save people.  I recall thinking “could I do that?”  In the end, the would-be rescuer did not make it – he lost his life.  He put his life on the line by not hesitating to jump in to provide assistance to those hurt in the crash.

I leave you with this quote:

"There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, "This isn’t the way." And this morning, I think of the fact that our world is in transition now. Our whole world is facing a revolution."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Anyone Can Realize Success

Growing Up

Growing up, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all told me “when you grow up you can be whatever you want to be”.  I believed what they told me and for the most part it has come true for me but, I know it has not come true for others.  Growing up, only my imagination limited my scope of what I dreamed of growing up to be.  I never considered my economic status let alone know what economic status was; it was not until many years later as a young adult did I understand the impact of economic status.

I, just as many of you, was taught to believe that if I worked hard, no matter what obstacles got in my way; with hard work I would achieve my dreams.  To understand the idea of work and economics you must begin by examining your own reality – poor or privileged.  You must realize that your economic status in society is not solely determined by how hard you work but also by social and economic factors such as equal opportunity, education, emotional disposition and your physical health – most importantly it can be determined by your level of determination to be successful.

Big Players

The growth of the Information Age and advances in communication technologies has changed the way people learn, work, live and play.  Many senior individuals have been left behind because of the explosive growth in technology.  The truth of the matter is that many people work very hard but are underpaid for their effort.  In reality, it’s the large corporations and world governments that set the terms of trade locally and globally. Many factory workers and field laborers are exploited producing products that sell for large profits while they are paid minimum wage.  Large corporations and nations make the money, and the worker struggles to get by.  This seems to hold true for those in the lower stratification of society.  Once stuck in a job it becomes almost like a drug.  You need to keep working even for minimum wage to get the essentials you need, to buy the things that are nice to have, and to pay your bills.

Hard Work and Roadblocks

Speaking from personal experience hard work does pay.  It also takes the right opportunities and the ability to take advantage of the situations as they come your way.  Certainly it helps to be educated, but education is not a prerequisite to achieve great success.  In the early 1970’s Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard, was unemployed talking to everyone and anyone he could asking for money for his idea for a new business.  The rest is history.

Nothing that is worth something comes easy – it takes determination and hard work to be successful.  However, even though everything is done correctly, with determination and hard work there will be failures that come as a result of outside economic factors.  Consider the rise in the cost of petroleum based fuels.  With the rise in fuel costs virtually every business and every individual in the world has been affected.  Many workers are suffering from the high cost of essentials while remaining unemployed as a result of the 2008 economic meltdown while other workers still face the possibility of layoffs due to continued downturns in sales.  The automobile industry has been brought to its knees unable to sell the products that just a few years ago were their best sellers requiring the industry to redefine itself.  As a result workers lost their jobs and many remain unemployed or underemployed.

Cards You Are Dealt

Take what you are dealt in life and make the best of it.  You have choices, and it’s what you make of your choices that count most.  I have worked since I was 10 years old. In 46 years I have never been unemployed.  Have I been lucky – maybe?  True, I work to pay bills and buy the things I want but, I also work because it gives me great satisfaction.  I like the feeling of accomplishment and being a part of something bigger than me.  Today, I work at the things that interest me with my family always coming first and then the success of the company.  Even when you own your own company you must strive for a balance between achieving success, your personal life and your company’s success.  

Don’t use economic status, education, or the lack of luck as excuses for not achieving success.  Everyone and anyone can realize success – it all depends on how hard you want to work for it and your level of determination to make it happen.  Take the first step by deciding you deserve better; then let nothing stand in your way to make it happen.