Saturday, November 8, 2008

Choose Happiness

"An old Cherokee was teaching his young grandson one of life's important lessons. He told the young boy the following parable:

'There is a fight going on inside each of us. It is a terrible fight between two wolves.
One wolf is evil. He is anger, rage, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, lies, false pride and ego.
The second wolf is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, kindness, empathy, truth, compassion and faith.'

The grandson thought for a moment, then asked, 'Which wolf will win the fight?'

'The one you feed,' his grandfather replied."

It's easy to feed the evil wolf. The world encourages to nourish the traits he thrives on. We're bombarded with gossip magazines and "news" stories exposing the dirty laundry of someone famous. When feeling slighted "friends" may encourage us to 'get even.' The Jones' seem to always be doing better than us, flaunting their sucesses in the form of new cars and fancy homes.

In time, however, the evil wolf will begin to feed off what makes you human. God brought us into the world filled with only good. We are born full of joy, peace, love.... He knew the exact ingredients needed to make us human, which he filled within us. It is unfortunate that over time we choose to replace that goodness with evil. At birth we are 100% goodness. Would you be able to honestly state your ratio now? Is it 75% good 25% evil? 50/50? More? Less?

You must make the choice to feed within you the good wolf or the evil wolf. It is our choice alone to make; no one can do it for you. Not even God. Well, he could - but He wants us to choose the right way because WE WANT to.

I received a letter once that ended not in the typical "sincerely" fashion, but with the words "Choose Happiness." Choose Happiness. Choose. Every day, every situation, every thought - choose happiness. Want. Decide. Opt. Select. Pick happiness. It doesn't matter how you say it, it means the same: you are the only one who controls the happiness you let in to your soul. You are the only one with that power. You are the only one with that control. You are the only who chooses what enters into your being.

We've all done this... we've had a bad day, the kids gave you hassle in the morning, you forgot your lunch, your boss blamed you for something you didn't do, your hair looks horrible, you come home to find the phone disconnected when you swore you paid the stupid bill, dinner gets burnt, the kids are fighting, and your mom calls with the sole purpose of making you feel like a failure (you're quite sure of that).... your spouse walks in cheerful, tries to kiss you on the cheek (but your're really busy - can't he see that?) and announces, "Steve and his wife invited us out to dinner tomorrow night; let's ask your mother to watch the kids." And you erupt. The house is a mess. There's so much grey hair on your head there's no way you're sitting next to Ms. Hoity-Toity I get my nails done twice a month because I don't have to work I'm so rich. The kids need to get to bed early for a change because their attitude sucks and there is NO WAY you're going to ask your mother to watch the kids after how she was on the phone with you earlier - she was practically screaming that you're a failure (you're quite certain of that).

It was YOUR choice to not accept that happiness. It was YOUR choice not to see the kiss as a wonderful example of how we should all greet the loves of our life. It was YOUR choice not to see the kindness of an invitation of a friend. It was YOUR choice not to look forward to the joy of spending time with someone who likes you for you, not for what your hair looks like.

I have personally struggled with the whole "Choose Happiness" campaign. It's easy to do when everything is going great! But how do you choose happiness during the really tough stuff? How do you choose happiness when you have a child terminally ill? How do you choose happiness when you learn your spouse has been unfaithful? How do you choose happiness when you find out your sibling has chosen suicide over his wife and three small children?

You choose God.

You choose God.

You turn to Him. You ask Him to hold you in His arms and you ask Him to allow you to feel His love. He will show you the way; He will show you how you can choose happiness if you trust in Him and believe in Him. You simply choose God.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Weeding Our Personal Gardens

"The only thing you have to do to let weeds thrive in your life is nothing. And doing nothing is a choice."
~ Alicia Britt Chole

I have a friend who purchased a new home about two years ago. She bragged (and I mean bragged) about the beautifully manicured lawn and immaculate gardens. I must admit a twinge of jealousy the first time I made it over. The grass was the most beautiful green velvet I'd ever seen. The sidewalk to the front porch flanked with tiny white flowers (for some reason it made me think of Alice in Wonderland). The shrubbery was nicely clipped and sculpted. Tulips proudly stood in an arrays of bold colors. Everything just looked perfect!

I stopped by again near the end of this summer. The shrubs had limbs poking out all over, weeds grew up amongst the tulips, grass was growing in the sidewalk cracks: "What did you do to the lawn?" I blurted out. "Nothing," she answered.

Nothing. She chose to do nothing. Here she was given this beautiful precious gift and she chose to do nothing to maintain it or take care of it.

There is a much bigger sin than letting your garden get overrun with weeds... and that is letting your LIFE get overrun with weeds.

Take stock of your personal garden: Can you list the flowers? (Spouse, children, good friends, your job.) Can you name the weeds? (a bad relationship, jealousy, anger, weight, tiredness.)

We can choose to start weeding our personal gardens: put boundaries on toxic relationships (mother-in-law drives you crazy? Limit her daily phone conversations to five minutes by telling her, "Oh! We were just getting ready to ____ but I've got about five minutes to talk!"); get to bed early; start choosing a fruit or vegetable over a sweet; seek counseling for those really big issues.

The point is, we ALWAYS have a choice. God blessed us with reasoning and judgement and motivation. We can choose to start weeding out the things that block the beautiful flowers that grow up around us, or we can choose to do nothing.

Just remember... doing nothing is a choice, too.