Wednesday, November 11, 2015

“To affect the quality of the day - that is the highest of the arts.” ― Henry David Thoreau

Doesn’t it seem unlikely that we, with all our faults, failings, and frailties, can achieve what Thoreau calls “. . . the highest of the arts” and yet we can.  We can start by talking to God—and listening.   Faith and prayer satisfy a basic need to feel part of something bigger than ourselves.  Guidance, discernment, courage, comfort, all of these and more are gifts from God that He is waiting, wanting, and willing to give you.  Just ask.  Here’s another way:  express gratitude.  It will make you happier.  It will improve your relationships.  It can make you a better person.  It will make life better for everyone around you.  God never sees us an individuals alone on a vast ocean—He sees us as family, as a group that comforts and helps each other.  Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert identified relationships as one of the biggest sources of happiness in our lives, so spend some time with friends and family.  And while you’re at it: share good news and enthusiastically respond when others share good news with you.   Want to instantly be happier?  Do something kind for somebody else.  Become a volunteer for your church, your neighborhood, your school, your community, the people with whom you live and work.  People who volunteer are likelier to be happier than those who don't—regardless of how much money they make or other socioeconomic factors. Researchers believe volunteering boosts happiness because it increases empathy, which makes you appreciate all the good stuff in your own life.  And if none of this works for you—sniff a lemon.  Yep, you read that right. To improve your day, simply sniff a lemon. Scientists at Tel Aviv University suggest that citrus fragrances – particularly lemon – can alleviate depression and boost our mood.   Christ called us to care for each other, to bear each other’s burdens, and share each others joys and sorrows.  You have within you the power to affect the quality of the day—for you and for those around you.   It’s a gift from God that is wasted unless you give it away.  God gave us lemons and some of us never taste anything but sourness.  You want to have a really good day?  Give some of yourself away.  Love others.  Forgive those who have hurt you.  Read the scriptures about the life of Jesus.  Pray to God and be attentive to His answers however they come.  You can achieve the highest of the arts with love in your heart and a smile on your face.  Do something nice for someone who can never repay you.  You will not only brighten your own day, you will brighten the days of everyone you meet.  Now that’s Good News.
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