The difference between happiness, joy

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Recently I heard an apt description of both happiness and joy. In a nutshell: happiness comes to us; joy is inside of us. It stands to reason, then, that happiness is created by external and oftentimes fleeting or fickle people, places and/or things. If we base our happiness on our spouse, job, car or health, and our relationship dies, we’re laid off, we total the car or get sick, it can be hard to put on a happy face (until the next whatever it is). Also, if everything external is temporary, then there must be something more that creates internal joy. For me and for many others, this source of joy is spiritual. For others, it’s a mindset to choose happy, while at the same time setting the intention that nothing or no one will steal their peace away. And, it doesn’t hurt to take the focus off ourselves, whenever possible, to invest in the lives of others (see ‘A rebirth of sorts…“).

Are you happy… or joyful?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

The Power of P

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If the number of visitors who read my recent post, ‘A simple(r) life…,’ is any indication of what much of society pursues, then this topic ranks up there with all things happiness-related. I believe that’s because a happy, simple life is a basic necessity many of us seek. However, we often get in our own way and make it complicated, instead. For example, if you’ve searched for happiness your entire life—in relationships, material goods, addictions, net worth—you’ve discovered it’s an illusion, a temporary fix. Why? Because true happiness manifests itself when we sow into others’ lives something of value, something that will last: our time. A simplicity known as kindness. It’s only then that we find fulfillment—contentment that arises from a humble heart. Good news: it’s an ongoing practice, not perfect. With that said, my pursuits for 2017 revolve around keeping it simple with the power of P: peace, patience, purpose and a more passionate prayer life.

What is your No. 1 goal for 2017?

Image courtesy of gubgib at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Suck it up, sister: when our words do little to help

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Well-meaning intentions, words meant to encourage and build up, may be reduced to mere platitudes or a stale Sunday-morning sermon to a heart unwilling (or unready) to hear. We might open-mouth-insert-foot or, instead, offer the perfect verbal hug. Regardless, if we approach each person, each situation, from a place of love, then we’ve done the thing. We cannot control the rest, but we can be kind. A new favorite quote of mine: “Sometimes not saying anything is the best answer. You see, silence cannot be misquoted.” I opt for silence when words fail me in the face of grief or hardship. Or when I have nothing nice to say. I admit, however, that oftentimes my zeal gets away from me and I overstep my bounds. But when the shoe is on the other foot—when it’s not what I want or think I need to hear—I hope I remember that a simple ‘thanks for your encouragement’ is always the right response.

When do you opt for silence?

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A simple(r) life: the ins and outs

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My goal for 2016 has revolved around discovering a life of simplicity. What I’ve learned is that a simple(r) life doesn’t just happen. For me, it includes a heightened awareness: recognizing daily pleasures and meting out kindness in large doses. I believe kindness is a requirement for a simple(r) life for the simple reason that it takes little time and resources to be kind—and kindness begets kindness. I’ve also learned a simple life can be full, but requires an evaluation of where we spend our time—if we need to say no to the things that complicate our journey, or yes to the things that improve the lives around us. For Thanksgiving this year, I opted for a meal plan that allowed me to spread my time between an early-morning yoga practice to hanging up a few pictures to tidying up my home before sitting down to enjoy a simple, yet filling dinner and games with family. Three words: awareness, then practice.

Where can you simplify life?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

What is muse and where do you find it?

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As the weather cools in the Southwest, the mountains beckon me with their rugged magnetism, the twists and turns in their craggy landscape. Yet sometimes it’s different, not the terrain—although, each time I’m there, it feels like new territory to explore—but the escape. Instead of finding respite, the noise in my mind might be matched by the noise on the trails. Hyper aware of my surroundings, this prohibits me from receiving solace, from settling into my muse—or source of inspiration—and picking up where I left off the last time I set foot in the desert. My time there is never wasted, however.
Oftentimes, it’s there I feel closest to my creator as I marvel at the splendor of my surroundings. And then I realize that it’s life, in all its glorious imperfections and unpredictability, that serves as my real muse. The mountains simply function as a catalyst to fan the dormant embers of passion into a burning flame.

What and/or where is your muse?

It’s never too late to dream a new dream, to start something new

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I’m a firm believer in C.S. Lewis’ adage that it’s never too late to dream a new dream, to start something new. When I began Always The Write Time, it was toward the culmination of my undergraduate studies as a non-traditional student. Once I hit the half-century mark last December, the words ‘always the write time’ rang truer than ever. As 2016 draws to a close, I’m thrilled about my plan for 2017: to start something new because I dreamed a new (and bigger) dream. This includes 1) attending more writing workshops, 2) joining one or more writing associations and 3) completing my MFA application which, if (and when) I’m accepted into the program, will mark the commencement of my graduate studies in creative writing. And just when doubt might begin to creep in, the timeliest issue of Poets & Writers lands in my mailbox—reminding me, yet again, there’s hope on this side of 50.

What is your dream, but you think it’s too late to start?

Green with envy: turning the tables

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I met a new neighbor lady the other day who, in one word, I would describe as stunning. Her waist-length hair fell in a dark sheet over slender shoulders and framed flawless skin, eyes highlighted by a fringe of long lashes. Black wedges supported her willowy frame, and a gauzy black dress flirted with lissome legs down to there. Her voice soft, she spoke in chocolate-smooth tones. She presented herself with grace, humility. Admittedly, I had expected an older woman (i.e., older than me), someone who’d been around the block a few times (more than me). I reserved judgment: Did I even want to like her? After all, she embodied that which I desired: wrinkle- and blemish-free skin, thicker hair and legs down to there, the identical clothes in my closet and eyelashes of the non-flea-bitten variety. And then, in response to the envy taking root, a small voice within my spirit whispered: But she’s not you. Can’t argue with that.

What does your green-eyed monster struggle with?

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