Service = Happiness

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“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”   by Booker T. Washington

When I was a junior in high school my best friend left for college.  I spent the next six weeks being down about her leaving.  I decided not to run track that year (something I loved doing) as part of my self-imposed end to a happy life. Looking back I see that it was ridiculous, but at the time I was unhappy.  One night my Dad took me for a walk.  He asked me why I was down. I told him. Then he proceeded to give me some of the best advice I have ever been given.

He told me that when he feels down (and selfish) he finds someone to serve.  He said when he serves others he forgets about his problems and feels better about life.

That talk with my Dad changed my unhappy junior year. It changed my life. I started looking for service opportunities and ended up involved and happy.

Many of my happy moments in life come from serving others. They are moments that I cherish. Three years ago one of my friends died of cancer. It was a hard thing to watch. I tried to help her whenever I could. I am so grateful for the happy moments I spent helping her.

Reader’s Digest lists volunteering (or serving others) as one of “20 Simple Ways to Get Happy”. The article said that helping others helps you see your own problems in a different light.  Serving others also helps your physical well being. A 2007 study found that people who serve others, especially the elderly, are healthier.

Serving others has led to many happy moments in my life.  I hope you find a happy moment today by lifting someone else.

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Bread–the staff of life?

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I have often heard that bread is the staff of life, meaning that bread sustains life. Bread may be the staff of life, but for me bread making makes for a happier life.

I learned to make bread when I was 12 years old.  At the time I was not very happy about it because once I learned to make bread my mom always had me make it.  Not fun when you are 12 years old.  

Now that I am older, I am so grateful my mom taught me to make bread.  It is an outlet for me. When I am feeling stressed out over homework or life, I love to make bread. It is therapeutic for me.

The process of making bread is a happy moment for me. First, it helps me be active. After I mix the ingredients, I knead the bread for ten minutes. Second, the smell of baking bread is a happy, comforting smell. And third, eating the bread contributes to a healthy diet. These three things, activity, aromatherapy and a healthy diet, are all listed in the Top 10 stress relievers at the MayoClinic.com.

The happiest part about making bread for me is seeing the response of those who eat the bread.  It is a happy moment in my life to see others enjoying my hot, homemade bread.

Gratitude for the Moments

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About six years ago my sister-in-law gave me a gratitude journal.  The idea behind it was to write five things that I was thankful for each day. Most days it was easy to come up with five things I was thankful for, though some days it was harder.  But on the difficult days, writing five things helped me feel happier about life.

 I remember one day in particular. Two years ago I was overwhelmed by school, my husband could hardly walk because of a herniated disc in his back and we had plumbing problems.  The only things I could think of to list in my gratitude journal were:

      *My husband was able to walk to a neighbor’s home four houses from ours

      *I learned how to fix a drain

      *Dillon made me laugh

      *the flowers in my flower beds are pretty

      *my friends are wonderful

 After writing those things I felt like I had been blessed that day and could see the happy moments in my everyday trials.

 A study entitled Counting Blessings Versus Burdens was conducted by two university psychologists. They found that when people highlight the good in their lives they have an increased sense of well-being and happiness (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).  I am a firm believer that focusing on the good each day helps me find the happy moments in life.  Life can be stressful and it can get me down at times.  When I am overwhelmed by homework and the demands of life, stopping to count my blessings brings me instant joy.

 I think I feel happier because I am reflecting on the positive moments in my day like a beautiful sunset, laughing with my children and husband, or spending time with a friend. Focusing on things I am thankful for gives me a happiness boost and helps me relive the happy moments of my day.

 So, if you want to find the happy moments in life, try keeping a gratitude journal.

Carpe Diem – Seize the Day?

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Today I will enjoy what the day has to offer, instead of stomping on the wildflowers.

Most people think carpe diem means “seize the day.” That meaning makes me feel like the day is something to be conquered, like it is some sort of quest. My friend took a class where they studied the Roman poet Horace (the man who originally used the term carpe diem). The professor said that carpe diem did not mean “seize the day,” but rather “gather the day,” like one gathers wildflowers. Gather and cherish the small beautiful moments of the day. 

I love that meaning–gather the day. One small moment for me was when my daughter Sydnie played baseball. She liked to play catcher and she was pretty good. I loved watching her play, but not necessarily because she played well. I loved to watch her play because of her smile. Whenever she did anything she felt good about she would find me in the stands and give me the biggest smile. There is nothing like having one of my children look up at me with their bright, happy eyes and smile at me.

Celebrate the Moments

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Welcome to my blog celebrating the little joyful moments in life.  So many things demand our time – school, work, families, extracurricular activities, and relationships – and life can feel overwhelming and stressful.  My blog is about appreciating the little moments of happiness that are scattered throughout our days.  It is about the moments we can sometimes miss if we hurry too quickly to the next project or assignment.

George Strait has a song called, “The Breath You Take.”  It is about the moments in life that take your breath away and how they are the most important.  With this blog, I want to focus on finding those moments in my life so that others may learn to see their own bright moments.

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