“Too often the strong silent man is silent because he doesn’t know what to say.” -Winston Churchill
Civil Courage– conversing, relating, sharing ideas with people who think differently than you, representing your ideas, standing up for your ideas, yet doing so in a kind, gracious and considerate manner.
The alternatives are to run from that conversation, avoid that type of confrontation, or bluster your point across in a way that demands acquiescence and censors contradiction. Bluster has little effect, for as the saying goes, a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
If your conversant tries to censor you with bluster, it takes courage to not match their tone, for a gentle answer —gentle yet firm—can turn away wrath.
[**previously published in “The Gang Magazine”]
When my daughter Nikki was a little girl, she asked me, “What is happiness?”
“Hmm,” I thought, “she’s a little young to be asking about that, but here goes: ‘It’s the male organ used for reproductive purposes—“
“—no, no, no,” she interrupted me, “I said ‘What is HAP-iness? HAP-piness?
Oh, well—phew! That’s different.
Happiness is a state of mind. I used to believe happiness was a result of my circumstances. When I was younger, I believed my circumstances would make me happy or sad. —and true, circumstances, events, happenings, outcomes do impact us. But some wise souls have learned to live within their circumstances and yet not be conformed by them.
I remember when Nikki was 5 years old, we were in a long line at the bank. She wandered over to a little boy to say hello.
‘Hi!’ she said. He stared blankly at her, gave no response, no acknowledgment, said nothing. He just turned around and walked away.
We were heartbroken for our little girl, hurt for her rejection and subsequent pain, annoyed the little boys’ parents hadn’t intervened to teach the little nipper some manners, how sad—and prepared to comfort her. Nikki came back, smiled broadly, nodded towards the kid with her head and said, ‘He really Likes Me!’
Circumstances can play havoc on your emotions, yes, and that’s understandable.
But happiness —or contentment—is a mindset. It is a frame of mind, and you can change your frame of mind, you can change your state of mind by choosing how you respond to your circumstances. In other words: you are not a slave to your circumstances, you can rise above them.
Here are three steps to Pursuing Happiness.
1. Change your Physical State. Motion changes emotion, so if you want to change your emotions, Get up! move! Get 5 minutes of deep breath, action—run, walk, bike, get your heart rate up—move!
2. Refine your Focus. The best way to pursue happiness: Chase gratitude. Focus on the good things in your life and be grateful—feel deep gratitude for those things in life that are good, both big and small. Dwell upon the good in your life and be grateful. Each day list (3) things for which you can muster sincere gratitude—think on those things and feel sincerely grateful.
3. Simplify your Happiness Quotient. Enjoy what you’ve got instead of moaning over what you don’t have. One person gripes because an app on their iPhone is glitching, while another bursts with joy over a fresh cup of water. Here’s a good strategy: Enjoy your glass of water! Savor your next meal! Celebrate the rain!
High Expectations are swell when you’re setting goals and planning for tomorrow. But when you’re done planning for tomorrow–Live for Today. And for today, don’t worry–be happy, no matter what. Determine to be happy TODAY with what you have.
So you want to pursue happiness?
Change your physical state—get moving!
Refine your Focus—chase gratitude!
Simplify your happiness quotient—celebrate today!
Heck yeah I have regrets! I wish I could do my kids over again. I wasn’t mentally prepared for child one – and my lifecycle and pace of living was such that I didn’t get– change that to “make” –enough time to spend with them individually. Too much time frittered away on pursuit of career. It didn’t feel ‘frittered’ then, but it feels like it now.
The money is gone, and so is the time with the kids.
What do we do going forward? Our best. Examine our life, make adjustments, and do our best – it’s the best we can do.
Testing your faith is also testing your character. As water reflects your face, so your heart reflects ‘you’. How is your heart in the face of trials, set-backs, on-slogging disappointments? can you believe your best is yet to come? Can you believe you will keep going, keep giving your best and be your best regardless of the outcome, the yield, the acclaim?
I’d like God to give me good character, but sometimes all i get is struggle. Now I’m beginning to doubt, so my friend flops two verses of wisdom in my face:
“Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character.”
“Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, for the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
—James 1: 2-4
Sooooooo, said the inkling with a wry smile, now will you give me good character?
Yes, replied the wise one: Go fetch.
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