The topics of growth and happiness and how they are related have been on my mind lately because of an experience I had. I was finishing up an activity with a group of people, and at the end I asked, “So who’s got something exciting going on this weekend?” I truly wanted to know because I get excited when others are excited, so I wanted them to share some excitement with me, yet all I got was crickets. “Okay,” I continued, “what about this month? This year?” Again, I was met with silence until one of the group finally said, “We just live boring lives.” The others agreed. There was certainly not a feeling of happiness in this group about their “boring” lives.
I’m not saying they were unhappy, but they certainly weren’t excited about life. I would say that if you call your life boring, there must be something missing. These were all kind, talented, and intelligent people who had accomplished many things in life. Why would they said their lives were boring? I began to ponder what would make my life boring and cause me to be unhappy with it. I also began to think about people I knew who were not happy in their lives, and a pattern began to emerge.
Many of us think we will be happy when we finally arrive at a goal, when we finish school, get married, have a baby, buy a house, retire, etc. You name it, there’s always a time “somewhere out there” when we will finally be happy. The truth is when we achieve one of those goals, although the happiness is real, it’s only transient. A truly happy life consists of several happy moments strung together like a strand of pearls. Each moment is valuable and is to be savored, but we should never think we have arrived because when we do, that is when life gets boring. We should always be dreaming, planning, and doing. As long as we have breath, we should be embracing change and seeking G.R.O.W.T.H.
G is for GETTING EXCITED and staying excited about life. No matter our age or stage of life, we should all have something that pulls us out of bed every morning, something that excites us, something that we think about from the time we get up until the time we go to bed. It should be something that challenges and stretches us every day, but we are up to the challenge because we have an excitement and passion for whatever it is we’re doing.
R is for REALIZING OUR WORTH in the grand eternal scheme of things. Not a single one of us is an accident. We each have a divine purpose and destiny. We are not here for ourselves only. We are here for each other. We each have gifts and talents that the world needs. Realize there are things that only you can do. There’s something special in you that no one else has, and you must continue throughout your life to develop those talents and serve others with them. This requires constant, never-ending growth and learning. Even after you retire from whatever career you had, you are still invaluable to this world and must continue to learn and grow because the rest of the world needs you! As we realize our worth, it’s easier to get excited and stay excited about life.
O is for OWN IT! We must OWN that we are where we are by virtue of the choices we have made up to this point in life, not just choices about what to do, but also choices of how to frame what others have done to us or the bad breaks we’ve had. Yes, I know there have been things that have happened to us that were out of our control, but ultimately, we rise or fall in life according to how we can or cannot roll with the punches. I’m not saying pretend bad things don’t happen. I’m saying we acknowledge them for what they are: opportunities for growth. They are not opportunities for excuses or blame. When we waste our time searching for people or things to blame our problems on, we stop growing. Matthew 5:45 says, “…For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Opposition comes to us all. It’s how we choose to think and act that determines whether we grow or not. Today, right now, start owning where you are, and that will help you determine what you need to do to get where you need to go.
W is for WORTHWHILE. There are 1440 minutes in a day. In order to grow, we must be using them wisely. When it comes to ways to spend our time, there’s good, better, and best. We’ll never get that time back, so we must make sure whatever activity we engage in is something that is worthy of us and is the best possible use of our time. I heard it put this way one time, “If it’s not a he** yeah, then it’s a no.” Too often we say yes when we should say no, or even worse, we fritter away our time on meaningless activities such as scrolling Facebook or binge watching Netflix. Author John Bytheway said, “we should ‘stop watching other people live their dreams on television, and start living some of our own.” To live a worthwhile life, we must engage in worthwhile activities. Bruce Lee said, “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”
T is for TIME, as in “there’s no time like the present.” Time waits for no one, so we must start growing and giving our gift today. No one ever got to the end of their life and said they regret achieving so many goals in their life. On the contrary, we have all heard that when we get to the end of our lives, we will regret more the things we didn’t do than the things we did. Any time I’m pulling back from fully engaging in life from the fear of what lies ahead, I tell myself, “Time’s going to go by whether you do anything with it or not, so you better get going!” While you’re on your way, don’t forget to pause to lend a helping hand.
H is for HELPING OTHERS. I heard a story one time about a father that loved having lively discussions with his children at the dinner table each night. They talked about various topics night after night, but one question was consistent from night to night: “What did you do to help someone else today?” This father instilled in his children the importance of helping others and pointed out how much happier they viewed their own lives when they served others.
Helping others is always a way to grow and be happier, especially when we’re struggling ourselves. Helping others gives us a new perspective and helps us to feel gratitude for our blessings. Many times the service we render is really no big deal to us, yet it is a huge deal to the person who receives the help. I challenge you today to set out every day to try to help someone else along your way. If we seek for those we can help, we will find them, and in the process, we will certainly grow. Zig Ziglar said, “If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
My desire is for everyone to live exciting, happy, and completely fulfilling lives. I know it’s possible for all of us, but we must choose it. A great life doesn’t just happen. When we choose to Get excited, Realize our worth, Own our circumstances, engage in Worthwhile activities, invest our Time, and Help others, we have all the ingredients we need for happiness. Every choice for growth adds another happiness pearl to our strand until the necklace is complete. Choose growth, and happiness will be your constant companion.