Updated: Aug 19, 2021
I'm not overtly religious, but I believe in God. I believe that the primary spiritual message for a healthy life is Love. Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as you would yourself." I take that to heart and try to spread love and kindness every day. No, I'm not perfect (as I shout out expletives to careless drivers), but I do try to stop and understand that we never know other people's stories. Why do they do what they do? What have they been through? And how many times have I made a bonehead move because of "whatever," (insert your excuse) and felt horrible about what effect it had on others. I'm still a good person - and so are they. We all want to be accepted in this world, and to do that we have to forgive each other and try to put ourselves in their shoes.
Why do I write about God and Love? Because I truly believe the key to happiness in life starts with being grateful for what you have - no matter how small. When you can appreciate what you have, you begin to notice that what you have is considerably more than what someone else has, and you wonder how you got so lucky. When you stop comparing what you don't have to what everyone else has, you stop coveting your neighbor's life and start living your own.
Along with that, I believe that it is our duty, as human beings living on this planet, to care for one another. Just as Cain said about Abel so long ago, "Am I my brother's keeper?" the answer is a resounding YES! I've been reading the Bible a lot lately - primarily the Gospel - and Jesus' message of "love one another" is repeated a lot. It was even a Jeopardy question the other night, touting it as the 11th commandment. In loving each other, we are doing God's work.
Indeed, selflessness goes a long way in biblical messages. Proverbs states, "Some give freely
and still get richer, while others are stingy but grow still poorer." I have seen this happen and try to give whenever I can. I don't mean to say that you give away your last dime, but if you are generous and share what you have, it will come back to you over and over again. Now, this giving must be of your own free will, and given joyously. And you must not boast of your generosity, for then the gift becomes about you and not the recipient. Give generously and give anonymously - as a gift of the heart should be.
Now, I have been witness to churches taking advantage of Bible verses to encourage parishioners to drop more in the offering plate. I don't believe this influences a joyful generosity. I think it becomes a guilt-induced, pocket-raiding robbery. (Putting money into an organization's pocket should be of your own free will.) I don't think this is what the Holy Book intended - but that's just my opinion.
But, I digress and I don't want to wander away from my original meaning ...
As I watch my own children struggle in the world as adults, I wonder if I had the same struggles. I know we didn't have much money when we first got married, but somehow we made it work. Our kids didn't want for anything, though we didn't live outside of our means. For a while, I remember making homemade gifts at Christmas so that I could give everyone something to let them know I cared ... So, I know we didn't have a ton of money - and even less so when we finally purchased our first home. I think most young adults go through that at one time or another. I pray each night that God blesses my children with a happy and healthy life.
I have always believed in God, but I think I got away from my own spiritual awareness for a long time. It's only recently (retirement affords the luxury of time) that I have spent more time examining this part of my life. (In previous blog posts I've talked about my journaling ...) Anyway, I think my renewed interest in God, and examining this type of life has opened my eyes and my heart to a better way of living, one that I hope to share with others so they can be happy, too.
First, be grateful (as I stated before.) Be grateful in all things and celebrate everything good in your life,
Second, be kind. You don't know what another person has gone through, so forgive and move on. Or at least move on. Don't chastise or complain or bemoan what has happened. Be kind.
Love each other with your whole heart. Love your friends and family, yes, because that's easy, right? But love strangers as well. (See #2!)
Give generously. This doesn't solely mean financially. You can give to others by sharing a meal or giving your time. What you give away will come back to you a hundredfold.
Take care of the body God gave you. You have control over what goes in and on your body, so make healthy choices. Exercise, eat right, and take a shower once in a while!
Don't waste your time worrying. Nothing is gained from worrying. Instead, pray. Give your troubles to God and He will take care of you. It is His plan, after all, and so when you need comforting or a blessing, ask and you shall receive.
When your mission in life is to live your best life, you do so by helping others live their best lives, too. It's how we can all make the world a better place.