Moments of Joy: January 2015

The first month of 2015–also the first month of my acquaintance with the art of blogging—is drawing to a close.  Things may feel differently for you, but for me the days spin by so fast I can hardly keep up.  I thought in order to help appreciate my blessings more, I would look back when each month ends, think of some of the happy/funny moments I’ve experienced, and share one with you.  You may get a chuckle out of this laughter-filled moment from January:

photo by alexkerhead

photo by alexkerhead

My daughter and I are going to exercise while listening to music on our stereo system.  We don some workout clothes, turn on the ceiling fan to whisk away the anticipated droplets of sweat, and grab the stereo remote to tune in to a radio station.

For years I had been mildly curious how high the stereo volume could go, but never turned it up too high for fear of blowing out the speakers.  When listening to a radio station, I would turn the dial until the stereo displayed around “22” or so if I wanted to really rock the house and hear the music well from other rooms.  A couple of days earlier, my mp3 player had finally helped satisfy my curiosity.  I had used a cord to attach my mp3 player to the stereo and could hardly hear what was playing.  I wanted to listen to it while I cleaned the kitchen, so I kept cranking up the dial until it stopped at “50,” which was barely loud enough to hear over the clanking of dirty dishes.

So, here we are a couple of days after that, ready to tone up and dance off some flab.  I push the power button on the remote and hear nothing.  “Oh,” I absently think, “it’s still set on ‘music port.’  Where’s the button for the radio tuner…there it is.”  A split second later, an eardrum-bursting blast of sound sends us both reeling!  My daughter screams in terror, or so she told me later (though she was right behind me, I didn’t hear her), as I see her fists shaking rapidly above her head.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see our bewildered dog running around the living room in crazy figure-8’s with her tail scooped under her belly.

My arm draws up in front of my face as I frantically punch on the remote control to try to turn down the volume.  “Why do the numbers change so slowly?!” (Later, as I nurse my cramping arm, I realize it would have been much smarter to simply switch it to the music port setting again to silence it before turning the volume down.)

After recovering from shock, my daughter and I collapse on the floor laughing for several minutes.  (You know that rapid, uncontrolled, almost maniacal-sounding laughter?  Yeah, that’s the sound we’re emitting.)

We debate with the idea that maybe our hearts have had enough of a workout for today, but decide to begin our dance exercise after all.  Our dog humbly curls up in the corner to recover and watch our antics.

Note to self—always turn the volume back down before shutting off the stereo.

Communication

While exploring the vast world of wordpress blogs, I left the following comment on a site:

“It can be hard in this world to find a TRUE life-long friend who will stand by you no matter what. One friend like that is worth twenty fair-weather or casual friendships. You can consider yourself blessed even if your circle of friends is small.”

Later, this notification popped up on my computer:

story teller says:

Thank you! 🙂
Now this makes me feel really grateful! 🙂
I will give them a call today and tell them that I love them! :)”

That’s not what I expected to see in response to my comment; but it was a great reply, in my opinion.  It seems to me that we allow too many problems to arise from poor communication, which can stem from things such as pride, neglect, or fear.  For example:

  • Miscommunication:  There is a misunderstanding or disagreement, so people stomp away angry rather than trying first to clarify what was said.  Why do people sometimes act like it’s more important to be right than to be friends?  Does it have to be that way?  After putting extra effort into understanding another person’s point of view, people occasionally find out that they were trying to say the same thing and had no reason to be upset at all.  In some cases a little compromising will solve the issue.  Other times more thought or study on the topic will settle the disagreement.
  • No communication:  A person feels isolated and lonely in a crowd because even though people nearby appreciate and care for the lonely person, they never take the time to tell them so.  Isn’t there at least one thing to appreciate in any person?  Why not encourage the person by letting them know?  Also, there are times when people are suffering because a person who could help alleviate the problem will not speak up for what is right.  When is this acceptable?

Who has made a positive impact on you?  Whom do you care about?  Make sure you tell them as soon as possible (and as often as possible, too).  Wouldn’t life be more pleasant if everyone felt noticed, appreciated, and loved?  One thoughtful word or deed usually leads to another, so go start the ball (of kindness) rolling today!

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Links to Joy: Food and Clothing

“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”  (1 Timothy 6:8)

Food and clothing?  Is that all that’s required for me to be content at this moment?  What about shelter?  I HAVE to have that, right?  And I need a steady job to earn money to pay for that shelter and to support myself and my family, so that means I’ll require a car or something to get me there, too.  But then, I’ll be tired and stressed from work, so I need some way to unwind when I come home–a big-screen t.v. should help with that–and I must have a comfy recliner to sit in while I watch and a cozy bed to craw into afterward with a fluffy pillow and warm blankets.  Of course, there’s the electric bill to pay, and the water and gas bills, so I’ll need to make plenty of money at my job and put it in a bank account.  Hmmm…food and clothing is all I NEED…really?

photo by Michael Stern

photo by Michael Stern

I can truly say that I’ve loved food my entire life and have never gone a day without it (except by choice).  Thankfully, I have never gone a day without clean water to drink, either.  Since I was a small child, people have teased me about my love of food and the large volumes I have been able to consume.

Ahh, how I miss my teenage days when a high metabolism allowed me to eat whatever I wished!  One of my favorite things in college was the Saturday morning brunch buffet at the cafeteria.  I can close my eyes and still picture my friends staring at me in amazement one particular morning when I consumed thousands of calories in one sitting:  biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, fruit, scrambled eggs, cereal, a waffle, orange juice, milk, and possibly a few other things I can’t remember.  Yes, that was enjoyable!  If I ate like that now, someone would have to roll my round body wherever I wanted to go, so I can no longer enjoy those large meals.  But, I can definitely agree with the idea of food generating contentment.

photo by Dennis Yang

photo by Dennis Yang

Thankfully, I have also never gone without plenty of clothing.  Thinking back to my college days again, I remember my mother used to say I only came home on the weekends to bring her mountains of laundry to wash.  I may not have always had new or expensive clothing, but I never had to wear torn rags, either.  I think a nice, warm coat in the winter can easily amplify my feelings of contentment.

Once, I read some comments from a man who had spent years of his life as a prisoner of war.  His captors had confined him in a small cell with barely enough food and water to survive.  He talked of how he had communicated with other prisoners, how they had encouraged each other, how they had collectively kept their hopes alive that they would one day be able to return to their homes.  He said there were days in that prison camp that he was happy…genuinely HAPPY!

Do you think you could be happy with merely food and clothing, if other physical blessings eluded your grasp?  I guess we could not truly know unless we were put into that situation.

Before you go, I’d love to hear about what is bringing you happiness today.  Please stop by the page called “Reasons to Smile” and comment about the things you are thankful for!

Aside

To the Point: When?

People can get trapped in the fallacy of future happiness.

“When I turn 18 (or 21 or 30 or some other magical number)…  When I get my house paid off…  When I get that promotion at work…  When I get this weight off…  When my spouse finally understands me…then I’ll have it made!”

How unfortunate to let future aspirations rob you of the joy that comes from appreciating what you have now.

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Links to Joy: Pets (#1)

We can learn lessons through observing all kinds of creatures.

Here are a few things I’ve learned from my pets:

patience brings rewards

humbly accept help

life is better together

butterfly metamorphosis

Ok, that last one was not technically a pet, but it did live in our yard for a while.

I will stop here for now so this blog (hopefully) does not take an hour to load on your screen, and I plan to post more photos at a later date.  Do any of you have pictures you would like to share or tidbits of wisdom you learned from watching nature and animals?

Also, if you have a moment, I’d love to hear about what you are most thankful for today.  Please stop by the page called “Reasons to Smile” and share your comments about what makes you smile!

Want to be happier? Quit trying to herd cats.

Has someone ever used the phrase “control freak” when referring to you?  In the past, I’ve reluctantly had to describe myself that way at times.  These days I call myself a “Reforming Perfectionist.”  (That has a much nicer ring to it, don’t you think?)  Occasionally, I have to put the heavier emphasis on the word “reforming,” but I have made a lot of progress over the last few years in refraining from micromanaging my life.  I realized that trying to find happiness and security in that way is as futile as trying to herd cats.

“Like herding cats = (idiom) something that is very difficult to organize and do.”  (idiomeanings.com)

640px-Herd_of_Cats

“(It’s) like herding cats = This expression refers to the difficulty of coordinating a situation which involves people who all want to act independently.” (idiomcenter.com)

In order to obtain more of that warm, fuzzy feeling of happiness, I had to ponder some cold, hard facts:

  1. I will never be able to completely control my surroundings.  Life IS change, and sometimes life IS chaos!  To coin another old idiom:  “You will never have all your ducks in a row.”  Items will always be added to the bottom of my “to do” list as fast as (or faster than) I can check tasks off the top of the list.
  2. The only person I can completely control is myself.  (Some people say they can’t even do that.  “I couldn’t help it when I…”  But that is an entirely different subject for another day, perhaps.)  No one is going to spend his whole life doing everything just the way I want him to, so why exasperate myself by trying to make him?

There are much more productive uses for your time and energy than trying to have everything your own way!  And at the end of the day, you might — just maybe, mind you — just possibly — occasionally find that your way was not the best way after all.

To clarify, I’m not advocating that you accept injustice or refuse to take action when needed.  I’m simply emphasizing the need to cultivate contentment in our daily lives.

contentment cat picture smaller

adapted from photo by Chris Jones