Life, family, business

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phone 408What is fear?

Fear is an emotion.  Why then, can fear control our lives?  If you really think about what you fear, can you feel it in the pit of your stomach?  Can you feel the adrenaline stab that takes your breath away?

The things we fear are mostly imaginary.  And I’m not just talking about having bad dreams.  The things we worry about are the things we fear.  What are you worried about right now?  What if I told you that none of those things will happen?  Would you still worry about them?

What if I told you that worrying about something can actually make it more likely to happen?  Do you believe me?  I read once that worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.  If our prayers are the feelings we have that we send to the Universe (God), then worrying is asking for those things to happen.

If you realized this was true, would you stop worrying and being fearful?  I know its hard to think that way when there seems to be bad things lurking around every corner.  And I have had my fair share of them, even a couple just in the last week.  But I have learned that if I offer up my thankfulness to my Abba (the Universe) and I pray for peacefulness, that my fear dissipates quickly and all that is left is a bit of anxiety that I can deal with on my own.  How can you be thankful when you are fearful?  You can’t.  But the great news is that God knows our hearts, and our worries, and He tells us not to worry about tomorrow, because each day has worries of its own.

Another thing we tend to worry about is what other people think of us.  Why do we do this?  We have this need for approval from others, and we had a need for approval from our parents, and our teachers, and on and on and on.  But who’s approval do you really need?  Just your own.  Once you cast away the fear of not fitting in, of people not liking you, of people being disappointed in you, then you’ll be free to live your true self’s life.  Your true self, or higher self, doesn’t care what you wear, so why did you spend a half hour picking out an outfit?  If you were running through the jungle with a tiger chasing you, do you think he would chastise you for wearing those shoes after Labor Day?  If your child was dying in the hospital, would it truly matter if your scarf doesn’t accessorize well with that belt? No, when it comes down to it, nothing material really matters that much.  Your true self also doesn’t care what you drive, where you live, or how big your bank account is.  Your true self wants peace.

I think this is why after a fire, or other disastrous event, people pull together and realize that things are replaceable, people are not.  Even those cherished mementos, the quilt great-grandma hand-stitched, and the photographs of your grandparents weddings, are still less important than people.  We spend a lot of money on trying to keep our things safe from harm, fire proof safes, fire suppression systems, burglar alarms, bigger and bigger houses and garages, and then we worry about those things too.  We worry about the buildings and we worry about what’s in them.  We worry about too many things that don’t really matter.  We are fearful of loss.  We are fearful of life.  We are fearful of decisions that we make and what the outcomes of those decisions might be.  We are fearful of consequences and our own failures.  We are fearful, sometimes, of ourselves.  And sometimes, we are fearful of crazy scenarios played out in our imaginations.

So if I stop worrying, and stop being fearful, I will stop inviting disaster and chaos into my life.  But how can I stop worrying?  How can I stop being fearful?  Think of something that worries you, that makes you feel fear.  What’s the worst thing about it?  What is your worst case scenario?  Imagine it happening.  Close your eyes, and feel the pain, feel everything.  There, now its done.  You’ve already experienced it, so there’s no need to worry about it anymore.  Now, look at that thing that hasn’t happened and be grateful.  Be grateful for what you have, instead of worrying about what you don’t have.  Your heart will be lighter, and your anxiety levels will plummet.  Be very aware of what your brain is thinking about, and if it starts the fear process, shut it down.  Offer thanks and gratitude and be fear-less.


How to be Happy: Dis-Courage-ment or En-Courage-ment?

Have you ever felt discouraged?  Have you ever felt encouraged? Did either make you feel happy?

What does that even mean?

Discouragement, as defined by Google, is the loss of confidence or enthusiasm. Or hope.

Encouragement, defined by Merriam-Webster, is the act of making something more appealing or more likely to happen.

That makes me ask: what is courage?  Courage is the root of the words discourage and encourage.  Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you.

So now I ask, what frightens you?  What frightens you so much that you would be too scared to do it?  That’s dis-courage.

What is frightening to you that you have done anyway?  That’s en-courage.

I think sometimes we use the word “discourage” to mean sad.  I felt discouraged when the rain came.  I felt discouraged when I didn’t win the contest. We have lost our hope, our enthusiasm, and we feel sad about it.

How can we be happy?

There’s so many discouraging things going on in our world, and it seems like it just gets worse.  How can we have hope?  How can we get our enthusiasm back, or maybe even just a little to start with?  Some people always see the worst in everyone and everything.  They have discouraged themselves, and that makes them spread discouragement everywhere they go.  Why keep trying if its never going to get any better? If you let this continue, it can turn into depression.

Others see the best in everything, the eternal optimist, and they spread that joy and hope to others around them.  They may fall and they may lose, but they get right back in there with a smile on their face, ready for the next challenge.  They never seem depressed, even when they have every right to be.

Which of those people would you like to be?  I consider myself to be a realistic optimist.  I know there are bad things going on in the world that I myself am not able to change.  But I know there is a lot of good going on in the world too.  And maybe I can’t change the world for everyone, but I can change the world for myself.  I can be the encourager.   I can be the one to help change myself and my mindset so that I can see the good in people, and see the opportunities all around me.  And then, once I have changed myself, I can start changing the world for others.  I can be a better mother, I can be a better wife.  I can sponsor a child from a third world country, or I can spend time with the kids in my neighborhood and give them some attention that maybe their parents don’t have time or energy to give.  I can spend time with my elderly neighbors who maybe don’t get out much, or don’t have much company.

I can also spend my time learning new things or discovering new places.  Sometimes it takes a little courage to get out of our recliner and take a hike up that new trail, or take the different route, or the road less traveled.  Its takes courage to get out of our comfort zone and try something new.  Fear, dis-courage, can keep you from trying new things or going to new places.  Don’t be afraid.  Have courage!!

There are so many opportunities to help others, to encourage them to be happier people.  But you have to fill your heart with happiness in order to spread that happiness around.  I believe that God fills me with hope and love and peace, and that is my happiness.  Not everyone believes in God, and that’s up to each person to decide.  But either way, when you stop focusing so much on yourself, you are able to focus on others.  And by helping others, each of us can be an encourager.  Each of us can give help and hope to others, and that is infectious.

Helping others is a sure way to feel happy.  You don’t have to spend any money, but it will cost you some time.  But time spent helping is much better spent than time spent wallowing in our sorrow and unhappiness.  Again I tell you, don’t be afraid; have courage!!

Can you tell me about a time when you did something that really made you happy?  Or a time when you were encouraged, or discouraged?