Happy now?

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Everyone wants to be happy. It’s a universal desire. People wish for happiness, think about it, strive for it, read about it, talk about it, and even try to buy it but rarely, if ever, experience it on any sort of regular basis.

How can so many people be on the quest for the same thing but still miss out on it… or experience it only in fleeting moments? Sometimes it’s because of a misguided wish for things that don’t actually bring happiness while other times it’s an unrealistic expectation of what happiness is.

What if I told you that happiness is within your reach? That there are a few things you can do today to start increasing your happiness?

Well, in no particular order, here are some happiness boosters for you to consider:

1. Change your attitude.

It might surprise you to hear that happiness is a choice. If you tend to see the glass as being half empty, make the decision today to start choosing to see it as being half full. Your happiness largely depends on your attitude (even more than it does on your circumstances).

2. Work less.

No one ever gets to the end of their life and wish they had worked more. The better your work-life balance, the happier you’ll be. And, while we’re on the subject of work… as much as it’s within your ability to do so, do something you love or enjoy. So, if your job is making you miserable, it might be worthwhile to either look for another job or to go back to school to train for a different career.

3. Focus on experiences, not things.

Things will never bring you more than fleeting happiness. When people reminisce about happy times, they’re almost always referring to intangible things. Spending time with others, cultivating relationships, giving their time and talents to make a difference in other people’s lives. All things that money can’t buy. It’s also worth remembering that the quest for tangible things tends to make people work more, not less, and often brings the added stress of debt. Two big happiness busters that everyone can do without.

4. Be social (and I’m not talking about social media…).

Loneliness leads to higher rates of depression, health problems and stress. Having just one close friend tends to boost happiness. But, you don’t have to rely on friends and family in order to be social. Smile at people. Say hello. Make small talk with strangers. Take a genuine interest in others. Life is meant to be shared.

5. Volunteer.

Denmark is one of the happiest nations in the world largely due to their high volunteer rates (43% of the population volunteer). Giving of your time, possessions, or money can boost your happiness like few things can. Volunteering makes a difference, improves your community, and helps you keep a healthy and balanced perspective.

6. Laugh!

Science has proven that laughing decreases your stress hormones and increases your endorphins (the same brain chemicals associated with the “runner’s high” you get from exercise). Laughing is also good for your heart. A study found that only 8% of heart patients who laughed daily had a second heart attack within a year, compared with 42% of the people who rarely laughed. What if you don’t feel like laughing? Consider faking it ’til you make it. Just like your attitude, laughing is a choice.

7. Have faith.

Faith in God boosts happiness because it brings purpose to life. Resting in the certainty that God is in control, and that your eternity is sure,  bring happiness like nothing else can.

8. Count your blessings.

Focusing on what’s going wrong, what we think we’re missing, or what we wish were different are all happiness busters. Making a conscious choice every day to count our blessings is a big happiness booster. Even the days that are largely a write-off – just think about the fact that each day only has 24 hours, and that tomorrow is a new day. That thought should bring you happiness. It does to me!

Ok… enough talk about happiness. Time to start doing. Go and live a happy life… NOW!!!

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Small Enough to Make a Difference

 

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This past week, Calgary experienced what has been dubbed as “Snowtember”. Three days of heavy, wet, snow that put 2014 into the record books. Power wiped out to thousands, dozens of traffic lights on the blink, numerous closures and collisions, and “Treemagedon”. An abundance of leaves still on the trees plus a large amount of snow combined to cause approximately 2,000 trees to collapse onto roads, power lines, and vehicles, and thousands more to fall on private property. Countless other trees lost branches that still litter driveways, roadways, pathways, and sidewalks.

Last night, I went for a long walk to enjoy the beginning of the gradual transition back to seasonal weather. As I walked, I couldn’t help but survey the “Treemagedon” damage because it was literally everywhere. But, what I found most surprising was that the majority of smaller and more delicate trees survived virtually unscathed while the larger and seemingly hardier trees were the ones that tended to suffer damage, many irreparably so. Which was strange because, after all, it’s the mighty who stand and the weak who fall.

Right???

Well, just ask David and Goliath about that.

Goliath was a giant… approximately 10 feet tall. Huge by anyone’s standards. To make matters worse, he was a nasty giant.

He was so cocky that, after taunting the Israelites twice a day for forty days, he challenged them to send out a worthy opponent to square off against him once and for all. The stakes were high… if the Israelites lost, they would become subjects of the Philistines (also a nasty bunch…). Typically, matters of that nature were settled by a full scale battle, not one man against another. So, to challenge the Israelites in that way, I think Goliath was convinced he was invincible. I also think he just wanted to show off. He knew that any opponent would be very small by Goliath standards.

Well, the opponent who stepped forward to accept the challenge was small. In fact, little more than a boy, according to the Bible. So, I’m guessing the Israelites must have been despairing at that point, since the pending duel was looking like it would be a case of no contest. But, appearances can be deceiving, and they certainly were this time.

David cast off the armour that the king tried to put on him because it wasn’t familiar to him. It’s interesting that, in contrast, Goliath was decked out in armour from head to toe. Ten feet tall and you need full armour??? Seems like a case of overkill to me (no pun intended…).

But, David didn’t miss a beat. He didn’t let fear of his opponent turn him into someone he wasn’t. Staying true to his shepherd roots, he stepped forward for battle, not with a sword, but with a slingshot and five little stones. The Israelites must have really been sweating by then!

Just five little stones. But, four of them proved to be unnecessary.

Predictably, Goliath made the first move but David courageously responded by not just running to the battle line but by running quickly (!) to the battle line to meet him.

And then it happened.

David slung the first and only stone, and the giant came tumbling down. Dead before he hit the ground.

Oh, how the mighty fell.

Appearances can be deceiving… that statement bears repeating. It’s often a storm or other adversity that separates the oak from the seedling. We naturally assume that the oak will prevail but size and outward appearances are no guarantee of strength or success.

History is full of examples where the underdog prevailed. Often for reasons as inexplicable as the smaller, delicate trees surviving what the bigger, hardier trees did not.

I’m reminded yet again that it’s what’s inside that matters most. David had character, courage, persistence, and humility. He was a small boy with unwavering faith in a God who was way bigger than the giant in his life. A God who is way bigger than the giants in our lives.

The challenge is often given for us to dare to be a Daniel (good advice, btw) but I would also throw out the challenge to dare to be a David.

Be small but mighty. Go and slay a few giants.

To quote an African proverb… “if you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito”.

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