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Roadblocks to Joy: Lust & Pride

Do you ever wish you had a “do-over” or “reboot” button for life?

Maybe you see the attainment of your goals sitting just beyond your grasp and leaving you miserably unsatisfied…

Maybe certain choices you’ve made appeared to lead to happiness and fulfillment until you got farther down the path and realized that you are headed in the wrong direction…

Maybe you’ve accomplished some of your goals, but you still feel like life just stinks…

Maybe…if you watch the following video, you will find solutions to some all-too-common problems that are sucking the joy from your life or the lives of those you care about.

I hope you WILL find time to watch it, and that it will be a huge blessing in your life!

If you’d like to hear more information on similar themes, please click over to a previous post called “Being Complete.”  Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day!

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Roadblocks to Joy: Jealousy & Envy

Iago:
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on

~ Shakespeare in Othello, 1604

Jealousy and envy are similar concepts.  I’ve heard the terms distinguished in this way:

  • Jealousy is wanting something so badly that you can’t be satisfied without it, and you may even be willing to harm others to get it.
  • Envy is not so much wanting to get something you don’t have; instead, the focus is on not wanting others to have it, either.

I think the “green-eyed monster” is a fitting description for both situations.

Jealousy is the malign feeling which is often had toward a rival, or possible rival, for the possession of that which we greatly desire, as in love or ambition. Envy is a similar feeling toward one, whether rival or not, who already possesses that which we greatly desire.

Jealousy is enmity prompted by fear; envy is enmity prompted by covetousness.

Century Dictionary by William Dwight Whitney, 1889

one tiny eye of the

Do you gripe and complain about your “tiny” house and drool over the homes across town with the pool houses and big back yards?

one tiny eye of the Do you work overtime every week, to the neglect of spending time with your family, because you are saving up for that new model truck or boat?

one tiny eye of the Do you daydream of ways to besmirch the reputation of a coworker so that you’ll have a better chance at getting the promotion you are desperate to have?

one tiny eye of the Were you glad to live in your double-wide trailer until your “rich” cousins moved into their new three-story brick house on the lake?

one tiny eye of the Were you happy to drive your older vehicle until one of your friends pulled up in their shiny new one?

one tiny eye of the Were you glad to be able to financially “keep your head above water” until you found out that a coworker receives a much larger paycheck than you do?

If so, the green-eyed monster has you in its grips and is slowly (or quickly?) choking the joy out of your life.

These insidious attitude problems do not always involve tangible items, either — lives have been brought to ruin due to jealousy/envy for love, attention, prestige…on and on the list goes.

When will we learn to enjoy what we have without being discontent for more and without weighing our blessings on a scale against our neighbor’s blessings?  That’s when our levels of happiness can soar to new heights.

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Roadblocks to Joy: Guilt

Guilt.  Guilt!  Nagging, painful GUILT!

“Look what I did!  Why do I keep doing that?  I hurt their feelings.  I hurt myself.  I’m such a jerk / idiot / fool / weakling / (fill in word of your choice here)!”

I’m not perfect, are you?  I’ll go ahead and handle that for you:  the answer is NO!

So why do we sometimes act like we are supposed to be perfect?

Here you are, trying to be a better person by being more kind to others / breaking that addiction / controlling your anger / forgiving that person / taking better care of your health / (fill in good deed here), and time after time you fall flat on your face.  SMACK!  Down again!

Rather than kicking yourself when you’re down and wallowing in frustration or hopelessness, why don’t you try a different approach?  You know you’re going to mess up sometimes, so cut yourself a break, get up, dust yourself off, and move on.

By cutting yourself a break, I don’t mean give up on your goals.  I’m saying when you fail, do what you can to correct the matter — admit your mistake, ask forgiveness from those you’ve wronged, do your best to clean up the aftermath of your deeds — then move forward with new resolve.

"tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it" on photo of sunrise

adapted from photo by Trey Ratcliff

Anne of Green Gables book by L.M. Mongomery 1983 Illustrated Junior Library editionA bumbling red-headed spitfire of a girl, who was always making mistakes, said that quote in L.M. Montgomery’s book Anne of Green Gables.  If anyone had the need to rid herself of guilt and move forward, it would be this little imaginary orphan who was constantly letting her temper and her mouth get the better of her.  It’s a sweet story that I recommend if you’ve never read it.  There are several wonderful movies based on the Anne book series, as well.

You don’t have to wait until tomorrow for a fresh start, though.  It’s a better idea to let go of guilt now and move on.  Fall down, get up.  Fall down, get up.  Think of it as mental or spiritual exercise!

Hanging on to guilt over mistakes or poor choices you’ve made does nothing except cause you to be miserable and, in my opinion, makes you more likely to make the same choice again.

Let’s use anger, for example.  Let’s say most of my life, I’ve fought a battle with anger, but I’ve decided I want a more peaceful, calm life by controlling my temper from now on.

cup of coffee sitting on a wooden tableI start the day fresh, speaking politely to my family at breakfast, even though the kids were noisily jumping around and knocked my cup of coffee into my lap.  A new pair of pants later, I’m off to work; no problem!

antique red and white carThe light turns green as I pull up to an intersection on the way to work, but a little old lady in a battleship of a car just sits there.  Sigh…I’m not going to honk…Come on, lady, let’s go…Yay, she’s moving.  Hey, I kept my cool!  I can do this.

vehicle tire parked in mud puddleAt work, my boss belittles me in front of my coworkers.  The battery on my phone dies while I’m having an important conversation.  Things were tough at the office, and I had to work an hour late…I just want to go home and unwind…And, I get a flat tire on the way home.

brown heart with the words "Home Sweet Home" on itTired, cranky, and covered with filth from changing the tire, I finally make it home.  I did pretty well today; held my tongue, lots of deep breaths, no explosions.  Yes, one day down.  I can do this.

silverware arranged on a napkinI walk in the door to see two kids screaming while pulling each other’s hair, the dog left a “present” in the middle of the living room carpet, and even though I’m an hour-and-a-half late, there is no dinner waiting for my hungry stomach.

angry person with fist in air and flames in backgroundMy eyes bulge, my mouth opens, and…here we go!  I explode in wrath!  I know I’ll regret this later, but…What’s a person to do?  I’m only human, right?  A person can only take so much, right?

So, what’s supposed to happen the next morning when I (hopefully) wake up in a better frame of mind?  After making the appropriate apologies and corrections for my behavior, I’ve done all I can do about that particular incident.  I must then take my focus off feelings of guilt and start this day fresh again with a clean slate and with a plan of action in place.

You see, bad habits and choices do not just disappear by applying enough sheer will power.  Getting rid of a bad habit or choice leaves a vacuum in your life that must be filled.  Dwelling on your problems and feeding on guilt will refill the vacuum with the same junk you’re working so hard to remove from your life!

What’s supposed to go into this so-called vacuum?  That’s up to you and depends upon what you are feeling guilty about.  Your goal should not be merely to remove unwanted choices and actions, but to replace them with better ones.

Breaking your shackles of guilt can come through implementing a well-defined plan of action — nothing elaborate, necessarily, but something very specific and concrete.

The benefits will multiply even more if you write down your personal plan of action for overcoming bad habits, weakness, or guilt.  Read it out loud several times per day, and even hang your written plan on your bathroom mirror, fridge, or other place where you will see it every day.

the word "Goal!" on bright green paper nailed to a piece of wood

photo from Leader Impact

Make your plan a positive affirmation.  Don’t tell yourself something like “I’m not going to lose my temper anymore.”  What are you picturing in your mind when you say that?  You’re picturing yourself being angry, which is exactly what you want to eliminate, not focus on!  Rather than a negative (“I will not…”), you should find a positive action on which to focus.

Design for yourself positive plans of action similar to these:

  • “Whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself, I will go call a friend and ask about their day.” (or go do a chore for a neighbor, or go visit someone in a hospital or nursing home)
  • “Every time I feel the urge to smoke a cigarette, I will chew a stick of gum instead.” (or get a drink of water, or go for a walk)
  • “Every time I feel anger growing within me, I will take a deep breath and think of three things I love about the person I’m with.”  (It’s harder to be angry with someone while thinking about how much you appreciate them, right?)
  • “If I start to think bitterly about the wrong that person did to me, I will stop and pray blessings for that person.” (or sing my favorite song out loud, or write down several good things I’ve seen the person do)
  • “When I start to grab some junk food to eat, I will go do 10 jumping jacks and then find an activity to do outside or in another room.”

Rather than being dragged down by guilt over your past, focus on your new goals and move forward in a positive direction.  It won’t work perfectly at first, but positive thinking will eventually lead to positive actions.

~~~

One last tip:  If you are truly wanting to remove bad habits, bad choices, or burdensome guilt from your daily life, SECRECY can become one of your greatest enemies and enablers.

sad boy leaning against a wall on a dark night, with word "secrets" above him

“BUT I CAN DO THIS.  I CAN HANDLE THIS.”  …Maybe.  How’s that working for you, though?  After honest self-evaluation, you might realize you’re not making much progress, or you’re falling deeper into a repetitious pit of failure.  If so, it’s time to reach out for help.

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

~Ecclesiastes 4:12

If you are not getting closer to your goals, enlist a buddy to help you (someone who will encourage your good habits, rather than commiserate with you in your bad ones) — an “accountability partner” I think some call it.  You can lean on each other and help each other work toward your individual goals.

If your issues have gone beyond the help of a friend, professional help may be in order.  Either way, I hope you can see that you don’t have to live in a spinning cycle of frustration and guilt.

~~~

Perhaps you think this all sounds too easy or too silly, or you think it would never work.  I’m guessing that if you’ve read this far into this long blog post, either you or someone you know has fought a long-standing battle with the burden of guilt.

Have you ever heard the following definition?

Insanity:  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

If guilt is a frequent part of your daily life, something needs to change.  Give these suggestions a hearty try for at least three or four weeks, and you might be pleasantly surprised with the progress you make toward your goals of attaining peace and happiness.

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Roadblocks to Joy: Worry

Life cannot be lived free from all sense of anxiety and concern.  For example, being concerned about not having an automobile wreck will cause us to practice rules of safety…The problem is this:  it is easy to let our concerns become cares, and our forethoughts become fear-thoughts…Anxiety results.

~Wendell Winkler, 1972

A good friend of mine once described worry as the gap between what exists and what a person wants.  Unfortunately, reality does not conform to our mere thoughts of what we wish it to be.  (Actually, that’s probably a good thing!)

arrow pointing to the right with the word

We may worry about things that have already happened.  Does that change what occured?  Of course not!  Hmmm…that’s not a very productive use of time and energy, then, is it?

It’s not what you want that makes you fat; it’s what you get!

~Merry Hearts Medicine’s wise father, way back in the 1900s

When I was young and would complain about something being “unfair!” my dad used to repeat that old country saying to me.  It didn’t do much for me as a young kid, but I appreciate the message more now.  At the time, all it did was make me stomp off in frustration, giving my father a little peace and quiet to enjoy–so it worked out just fine for him.  Lol.

Let’s look for the silver lining, rather than gather more dark clouds.

~Merry Hearts Medicine, 2015

Ha ha, I thought I’d quote myself!  The point I’m wanting to add is this:  Though we cannot change the past, we can learn from it and shape a better future through the choices we make.

arrow pointing to the right with the word

We may worry about things that will inevitably happen.  Will that stop them from occuring?  No!  Hmmm…again, don’t we have more profitable things to be doing?

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

~Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789

Life IS change.  Things break, decay, and disappear.  People mature (hopefully, anyway!), grow old, and eventually die.  Fretting about it won’t stop the passing of time.

arrow pointing left and right with the word

We may worry about things that will never come to pass.  This one is popular among worriers!  Wow…what a waste!

I remember the old man who said he had had a great many troubles in his life, but the worst of them never happened.

~James A. Garfield, 1881

arrow pointing to the right with the words

So, how do we deal with these gaps between our “wants” and our “gets,” between “it’s gonna” and “I don’t wanna,” and between our hopes and future possibilities?  As my husband is wont to say:

Do something about it, or get over it.

~Merry Hearts Medicine’s loving hubby, forever-and-a-day

Easier said than done, right?  But it CAN be done and must be done if we are to achieve true peace and happiness in this complicated world.  We will likely never reach the point of having zero worries in our lives, but pursuing that goal will bring a brighter road to travel day by day.

Life can be harassed with worry or beautified with contentment, depending upon how I make it; for both are inside jobs.  Of course, there are outside influences that may encourage and prod us to be anxious and gloomy, but we do not have to open our hearts to the pressures which are sure to torment us.

~Leroy Brownlow, 1966