Monday, September 10, 2012

Eight steps to a more satisfying life

This is from a secular point of view (and a a bit 'girlie') but I agree with the content as world-wisdom and thought it good enough to pass on:

Eight Steps Toward a More Satisfying Life
Want to lift your level of happiness? Here are some practical suggestions from
University of California psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, based on research findings
by her and others. Satisfaction (at least a temporary boost) guaranteed

1. Count your blessings. One way to do this is with a “gratitude journal” in which
you write down three to five things for which you are currently thankful—from the
mundane (your peonies are in bloom) to the magnificent (a child’s first steps). Do this
once a week, say, on Sunday night. Keep it fresh by varying your entries as much as

2. Practice acts of  kindness. These should be both random (let that harried
mom go ahead of you in the checkout line) and systematic (bring Sunday supper to an
elderly neighbor). Being kind to others, whether friends or strangers, triggers a cascade
of positive effects—it makes you feel generous and capable,gives you a greater sense of
connection with others and wins you smiles, approval and reciprocated kindness—all
happiness boosters. 
3. Savor life’s joys. Pay close attention to momentary pleasures and wonders. Focus
on the sweetness of a ripe strawberry or the warmth of the sun when you step out
from the shade. Some psychologists suggest taking “mental photographs” of
pleasurable moments to review in less happy times.
4. Thank a mentor. If there’s someone whom you owe a debt of gratitude for guiding
you at one of life’s crossroads, don’t wait to express your appreciation—in detail and, if
possible, in person. 
5. Learn to forgive. Let go of anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgiveness
to a person who has hurt or wronged you. Inability to forgive is associated with persistent
rumination or dwelling on revenge, while forgiving allows you to move on.
6. Invest time and energy in friends and family. Where you live, how much money you
make, your job title and even your health have surprisingly small effects on your satisfaction
with life. The biggest factor appears to be strong personal relationships.
7. Take care of your body. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, stretching, smiling
and laughing can all enhance your mood in the short term. Practiced regularly, they can
help make your daily life more satisfying.

8. Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardships. There is no avoiding
hard times. Religious faith has been shown to help people cope, but so do the
secular beliefs enshrined in axioms like “This too shall pass” and “That which
doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” The trick is that you have to believe them.

Some personal thoughts  on a sort-of-satisfying life....

I consider myself a 'realist' and I don't believe any of us can have a 100% satisfying life all day everyday. My life, as is yours, is full of all sorts of frustrations, pains, joys and plain hard work. However, over the years I've come to appreciate a few valuable Christian practices and principles that I have found empowering. If you don't give a hoot about my personal opinion, that's fine! This is my blog so I'm going to write them anyway :-)
Leading on from the last point on 'Religious Faith' - I personally take courage from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Knowing God is a short prayer away has always been a strength for me. 
I try and read just a little of the Bible everyday. I've learned that if a verse 'jumps out' that I need to meditate on it and tuck it away as possibly something I need to consider. Though I certainly have my 'dry times' of dull (sigh) Bible reading - for the most, it is an 'alive' book that - often ...reads me.
I really appreciate the strength I get from being around other Christians.
I know many of my limitations and ask God to help me through.
Perspective is very important and I often have to come back to the 'big picture' under God's care again and again. Perspective also reminds me not to take myself too seriously which is a lovely freedom.
Sin is a reality -  and so apologising to God and others comes with the territory-being forgiven by God and others is a special gift that makes every day new.  No matter what disasters we caused yesterday - today (and tomorrow) we may have to clean it up - but in spite of that - we also have permission to forgive ourselves and restart again from where we are now. God makes all things new.
God has gifted us each with abilities. We work best when we are using our God given abilities. It doesn't work when we try and be someone else...

I could rave on for  a long time, but the best summary of the Christian life for me is from  1 Corinthians 13:13 
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
 -Tim O

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