My sun porch

My sun porch

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happiness is... getting more sleep...

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13 NIV)

Day 2 of my "Happiness Project" - one of the first things the author of the book talks about is energizing herself...with more energy, it is easier to do the things that make you happier because you have more energy. See how that is a cycle? She suggests the first thing to do to get more energy is to get more sleep.

I don't sleep enough. I go to sleep relatively early because my husband works very early in the morning, and I end up waking up early when he does and it's hard to go back to sleep. But yesterday, I began thinking about how I can get more rest and more sleep.

Well, this morning, after waking up at 4:00 am, I KNOW I didn't get enough sleep, so I did work hard to go back to sleep...and I did! It's 8:15 am now and I just woke up! Good for me...except now I don't have time to write as much as I wanted! But...I do feel better!

So, tomorrow...I hope to talk more about the importance of getting enough sleep in the process of being happier!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Beginning the year with my very own "Happiness Project"

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13 NIV)

I have written about being happy and/or content before. It is a consistent theme in my life because I get so frustrated with myself for getting melancholy and dissatisfied with my life. I have a good life...what reason do I have to be sad? I have SO MUCH! 

And yet, I seem to go in cycles...or patterns of happiness and satisfaction. I go to work, take care of my family, spend time with friends, am active in my church...a pretty busy life...a basically pretty happy life. Most days are good. Most days are satisfactory. But occasionally, I find myself feeling sad and depressed at my life and wonder what to do about it. I pray, talk to friends and read books on the subject, all in the vain attempt to find the secret to happiness.  

My latest attempt is the book "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. It has been a pretty big book in the last year and has gotten a lot of press. I have had it on my "to read" list for months! This seems like a good time to pick it up.

The first few pages of the book explains why the author decided to do this "project" and how she went about it. She read a LOT...from the great philosophers like Aristotle to current popular figures such as Oprah. I don't have time to do all that! I am relying on her research and work. The rest of the book is her month-by-month memoir of her year long happiness project and the action steps she took each month. Action steps...that is what I need!

So...I am stealing Ms. Rubin's ideas. I am going to look at her action steps and try to incorporate them into my life..with my own own "happiness project." And, I will use this blog to journal my progress.

Before I begin, though, I must go back to the verse I listed at the beginning of this post. While I don't believe God promises us we will always be happy,  (Jesus did say there WILL be problems and struggles in this life.) I do believe that God wants us to be happy. But you will notice that that happiness also requires us to do good, and the last part of the verse mentions toil. It takes work! Happiness is not something that just happens to us. We have to give to get. 

Lord, let me do good with my life and find satisfaction in the good works that I do. Just for today, open my eyes to the people and situations around me and allow me to help when help is needed, smile when a smile is needed. Maybe my happiness isn't all about me!

That seems like a good place to start! Tomorrow I will tackle the idea of getting more sleep! ;-)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

May the light of Christmas brighten your day and your life!

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5 NIV)

Merry Christmas!

I saw the verse above on a friend's Facebook page yesterday and it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.

For some reason, this Christmas has been a strange one for really hasn't seemed like Christmas. I took this last week as vacation so I wouldn't be rushed and I could ENJOY this special time instead of being so busy I forgot the reason behind the holiday. But, as with all good didn't quite work out that way. I did get some rest and enjoyed some extra time with my family, but I still found myself rushing around and so busy that I felt disappointed and let down. I felt that there was always MORE I should have done...more presents...more giving to the poor...more time spent with my neighbor...more homemade food I should have made. A darkness crept over me in the last few days that left me feeling a little sad and grumpy...and when I encountered other grumpy people I felt even more let down by myself and the holiday.

But, this morning as I enjoy the quietness of my home before the rest of my family wakes, I think of that verse. The darkness did not overcome the light! The REASON we have this crazy holiday is to celebrate the light of the world! That light came into this world to save save us from what we do to save us from the darkness around us. My belief in God and his gift of Jesus lives in my heart provides me with the light necessary to shine through the sad, gloomy, grumpy darkness that this world brings! 

It's not about me and the MORE I think I should have's about the hope that God's gift of light brings to us. What a wonderful gift hope is! 

Let the light of Christ shine in your heart today as you celebrate Christmas! That light will last far into the rest of the year...if you believe in the hope that light brings, darkness will not be able to overtake you either!

Thank you God for reminders of your light and love in simple places!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What I like about Christmastime

Hello again friends! I haven't written for several weeks now, and I have missed it! I worked hard to keep up with the New Testament Challenge, and I thought I would give myself a little break from Bible study and my blog. Well...if you have ever been in the habit of doing something and then stop doing it for a while, you know how hard it is to start up again. 

Last night my husband said something that made me want to write. He said he hated Christmas and wished it were over. I have always loved Christmastime, so my gut reaction to his statement was hurt. How can you hate Christmas??? Bah humbug! But, when I asked him about it, he said he gets so tired of the commercials and the sappy Christmas movies. (He works at a television station so he can't escape it.) It seems it started so early this year, when it really is Christmastime, it is easy to already be sick of the music, and commercialism.

Yes, I have to admit, seeing the same annoying Christmas commercials over and over and seeing how this special holiday has become just another excuse for businesses to help improve the struggling economy... It does tend to lead us to forget the real reason for the season. No wonder some people just want it to be over!

But, while I strive to keep Jesus as the reason for the season, and lovingly set up my treasured nativity set, I also am thankful for the other things about Christmastime that I love and try to keep alive in my life.
1. Christmas music - I don't start playing it until after Thanksgiving (so I don't get tired of it.) Yes it's sappy, but the tunes and the nostalgia of it make me happy! There are songs that get my toe to tapping and songs that bring a tear to my eye. Music has always moved me...I look forward to enjoying Christmas music each year.
2. Excuses to get together. I love visiting with friends and family, and the holidays are sometimes the only times of the year that we make time for this. It doesn't have to be a big party...just sharing a meal and some conversation with people you care about. It makes you thankful for the people God placed in your life.
3. Decorations...I love AND hate this one. I have so many decorations and so little is hard for me to find time to decorate my home the way I want to. But the tradition of it...the remembering...noting who gave me what ornament asI hang them on the tree...the color and festiveness it gives my home. Some years I do better than others. This year I am doing a little at a time, but time is dwindling away...
4. Giving gifts...another one I love and hate. I love giving special gifts that make someone's day...I love being able to give to special charities and help people who I will never meet...but, there's never enough money to do all I want, and it takes so much time and effort to think of those perfect gifts. This year I'll just try to be creative and try not to think about what I hate about it! LOL (easier said than done!)

I will always love Christmas, but I sympathize with those who are just waiting for it to be over...I think there's more of those people out there than I know. So...I will smile at strangers, give my gifts, play my music and try to touch the people I come in contact with by a little of the Christmas spirit that lives inside me. Time already goes by so fast. Let's try to savor and enjoy the good things about Christmas!