Love. Look for it. It's all around.
Joy. Look for it. It's all around.
Laughter. Listen for it. It's all around.
Peace. Look for it. It's all around.
Kindness. Look for it. It's all around.
Compassion. Look for it. It's all around.
Forgiveness. Look for it. It's all around.
Hope. Look for it. It's all around.
Did you find what you were looking for? If not in others, hopefully inside of you.
Today I heard a song with the words, "you've been aimin' at nothin', and hittin' it every time." What a message! I can't recall any other words of the song, but what immediately came to mind was someone lazy and/or lacking ambition. Someone who talks a "good game", but takes no action. And then my thoughts moved in another direction.
Most of the people I know are just the opposite. We're ambitious and aiming at everything possible; so much so that we're trying to figure out how to have less "somethings" at which to aim. Juggling family and jobs or businesses; pursuing goals, dreams, and/or higher education; participating in social, community, and professional activities, etc. We want more; and feel we have to do more. Many of us say we do all we do because we want the best for ourselves and our families. It's usually our loved ones who take the hits from the sacrifices and compromises that must be made in the pursuit of our ambitions. And if we're not careful, the result may be shattered families, lost or damaged friendships, a lack of joy, poor or compromised health, etc. So we must make sure that the striving we do for somethin' doesn't cause us to end up with nothin' because we failed to pay attention to what's most important.
Have you ever been on your way somewhere--usually on a tight schedule--and been forced to take a detour because the road is closed? Detours can be maddening, can't they? They can get us off course and delay our journey. And, if we haven't allotted sufficient time, they can cause us to be late for, or miss, our designated event, or change our plans entirely. But sometimes because of a detour we discover something we never knew existed. For example, have you ever been forced to take a different route and found yourself exclaiming, "I never knew that was here!"?
It's the same with life's detours. We're headed in a particular direction and something happens, unexpectedly, to change or delay our course/progress. If we take the time to be present in the moment and assess what's before us, we just might discover something worthwhile. We never know if we will be on the road of someone else's detour or who will be on the road of our detour. A detour might spare us from something or open a door to something. I know of situations where people met their life partners because a blind date was late; changed plans after striking up a brief conversation with a stranger on a train and, as a result, made a lifelong friend; changed the course of someone's life by taking the time to offer support and encouragement at just the right time. But it's also possible that a detour may help us gain a new appreciation of the value and beauty of our original path. You know how we sometimes think the grass is greener on the other side--that is, until we get there.
I know it can be challenging not to become impatient and flustered when faced with life's detours. But we never know what we'll find on that other path. It may be a blessing. It's worth staying open to the possibilities.
What does it mean to win? To be victorious or succeed at something in the face of a struggle or difficulty, right? Have you won at anything lately? How about today? Did you hold your tongue rather than wound another with your words? Did you see the positive in something that had negative implications? Avoid showing road rage to someone who cut you off in traffic? Begin an exercise program? How about offering an encouraging word to someone in the midst of your own pain? Volunteer your time/talent for something that didn't involve you or your family? Did you turn away from gossip? Did you show compassion to someone with whom you have issues? Eat a healthy meal? Make a connection with someone you consider difficult? What about taking a first step towards a goal or dream? These are examples of victories if our usual inclination may have been to do otherwise. Victories that may seem small and inconsequential to others who don't know where we've been, our history, our struggles. But because we know our struggles, we might consider these "small" victories significant. They may encourage us to appreciate each step on our journey; to continue on our path. Maybe we won't throw a party--or, maybe we will--but we can at least do a little joyful dance in our heads and hearts in gratitude.
Once we get into the mindset of celebrating the "small" victories, we may find we won't wait for the large victories to validate us. And that matters because it's often the small victories that lead us to, and prepare us for, the large victories. It's important to remember that a small win is still a win.
I used to complain like it was a badge of honor. Life was bringing me down, and I wanted everyone to know. I couldn't see it at the time, but being a constant complainer was a drag; it only served to make me feel worse about my life and, in the process, bring down others around me--at least those who did not also have complaining spirits. But as the adage says, "water seeks its own level", so I spent plenty of time with others with complaining spirits. Tragically, we were our own support group. Being around others who weren't in the group--you know, the grateful, joyful folks--was uncomfortable and annoying. What did they have to be "happy" about? They, too, had problems, so they were just faking it so everyone would believe their lives were great, or their problems weren't as bad as mine. That's how I used to think before I found, and committed to, joy. Back then I seemed to be more interested in complaining than taking action(s) to change my circumstances. I sometimes took "comfort" in bad circumstances rather than taking the risk of stepping outside my comfort zone to make things better. That was too scary. Have you ever been there? I should have been afraid of killing my soul because that's what was happening. No doubt, there were some circumstances that were beyond my control. But if I couldn't change my circumstances, what about working to change myself? Nope. I was mired in self-pity, so that option didn't occur to me at the time.
Now, I'm in a different support group--one for grateful, joyful folks. Some think joyful people don't need support and encouragement. To the contrary, we need it like everyone else--maybe more--since there is always something or someone trying to steal our joy. Don't get me wrong, I still complain from time to time, but it's no longer my way of life. As I've written in a previous blog post, joy is now my default mechanism. I've got more blessings than problems. When I focus on my problems, I overlook my blessings--all that's good in my life. And even in my problems I can find blessings if I'm willing and able to look beyond the immediate. Honestly, if I found benefits in having a complaining spirit I might regain an appetite for it. But there's no value in it--not for me. So, I'll stick with being one of those grateful, joyful folks. The rewards are great!