Finding Hope

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Anyone who has read this blog even one time knows that I try very hard to keep it positive. I make a conscious effort to find the bright side of even the worst situations, because I know that our trials are blessings in disguise, if we are willing to grow from them. This week has been an exceptionally trying for me, and I have had no energy to fight for joy. I spent the last two days keeping to myself instead of fighting the blahs. I spent a great deal of time thinking to myself “How can I write something positive while I sit in this dreary mood?”

Some days it is much harder to find hope and positivity than others. For some reason this week is proving exceptionally trying, for no good reason at all. The little things that I normally take with a grain of salt are really weighing on me and I am struggling to shake them off. I look around at my life, and it is no better or worse than it was a week ago, but boy am I tired of gray skies and chilly weather. Starting to feel like a caged animal and I suspect that is contributing to my lack of positivity and joyful abundance. The weather says sun, but day after day, I wake up to chilly weather and gray skies. Expectation causes disappointment, and maybe the answer is to stop hoping the weather forecast will be right about sun one of these days.

Meanwhile, I need a way to get out of this funk, and maybe I am not alone. It occurs to me that maybe it would  be a good idea to highlight some ways that we can rise above the dreary blahs and create some joy and hope of our own. How do you go about making a difference in the world? Living in the country, and making it my business to avoid going to town as much as possible, makes it challenging at times, to find ways to spread joy to others. I often hear people express that they don’t have money to give to strangers when challenged to make a difference for someone. Today I want to challenge you to find a way that doesn’t involve monetary donations, to brighten someones day. It doesn’t have to be a stranger. People we know need their days brightened too. How can we be more present to hearing others needs, and taking a moment to try to perpetuate their needs being met, or even just give them a spark of hope in humankind to get them through the day?

Even perpetually positive people need a pick me up sometimes. They are not that way because they have no challenges. More often than not, they have learned how to rise above challenges, and find the bright side of their situation. I have found that my “inspirational people” posts have made a profound impact on the people I have chosen to highlight. People who are overcoming challenges, finding the bright side, and consciously trying to reside in a place of positivity. They need to hear that they are doing good too. Staying hopeful and positive can be real work at times. It doesn’t just come naturally. Even the most bright, cheerful, positive, and hopeful of us have to work at times, to hold on to that joy. To not be defeated by the harder parts of life that would hold us back if we weren’t fighting for the light is challenging at times. There are definitely days that it would be much easier to give in to the crappy attitude and overall blahs. Maybe you know a perpetually positive person who could use some kind words about how their attitude inspires you? A simple way to create more joy, and to help the joy creators to stay on task. There are days when it feels like people take joy for granted and assume that because we try to keep a smile on our faces, that we have no stressors or doubts. It always helps to hear a little validation that our joy makes a difference. A simple challenge. Find someone who inspires you and tell them that they make a difference in your life.

There are many little ways you can make a difference that have nothing at all to do with monetary donations. What about stopping to let someone in front of you? Be it a line at the post office or grocery store, or in the midst of heavy traffic? You might make someone mad. Someone who hasn’t seen the example of slowing down and making room for others. It is always a possibility. You have a choice to care about that or not. You get to choose if making a difference outweighs what others may think. A while back, I was at the post office in town. I rarely use the post offices in town because they are chaos. Madhouses with lines that don’t stop. Using a post office in town means allowing at least an extra half hour for errands, vs using the local office, which takes no more than five minutes, ever. However, occasionally I find myself needing to use one of the town post offices, and I always make sure to prep my brain for patience when I do. When I do have to go to town, I try to remember to pray for an opportunity to make a difference for someone while I am there. On this particular day, I had a long list of errands, and I was certain there would be a way for me to spread some joy. I went through my list, one item at a time, and as I stood for what felt like forever, in that post office line, I was pondering that I hadn’t yet received an opportunity to bless someone random. This was a long line. I think the entire wait was nearly an hour. Every employee was busy and it didn’t appear that things were going to pick up any time soon. This is also the office that deals in passports, so it has more traffic than the other branches do. After about half hour in the line, I was starting to get close enough to the counter that I could see what was happening at the counters. The line behind me had grown and was nearly out the door. I noticed a middle aged woman wandering around looking so lost and confused. I watched her for about five minutes, getting nowhere. She had no idea where she needed to be, and it seemed apparent that she did not want to get in that long line to wait to be told she belonged elsewhere. Without thinking twice about the people in line behind me, I invited her to stand in line in front of me. She looked taken aback and started to protest. I assured her that it was absolutely ok, that she looked confused, and that I was sure the people at the counter could quickly tell her where she needed to be. We talked for a few minutes. She accepted my offer and graciously stood in front of me in line. She thanked me three times before that line behind me occurred to me again. At some point I turned around to apologize if I had caused any inconvenience to those immediately behind me, and what I saw when I turned around was astounding. I saw warm smiles. Nods of approval. I got a whole lot of affirmation from all of those people who had been impatiently waiting in line. They were smiling?? talking to each other. The entire line had been impacted by this moment, and not in a negative way of having to wait an extra three minutes. A couple people smiled, nodded, assured me that it was just fine. I really started out just trying to make a difference for one person. And a profound difference I had made, just being friendly and kind to a stranger, but that energy overflowed to the people behind me. The air of impatience in the room had dissolved and people were talking to each other! I got approving smiles and nods. People were happy to see this good thing happening. They supported it, and the positivity spilled over and affected everyone in the room. If anyone was upset by my actions, I was none the wiser. I left that post office surprised at the immediate effect that one random act of kindness, on a single stranger, had on an entire room full of strangers. I have to hope that at least one of them was inspired to go do something nice for another stranger, somewhere else in their day,

The ways you can help change the world are numerous. They range in size from a tiny gesture, such as letting a little ole lady in line in front of you, to a huge act of sacrifice, like organizing a rummage sale and donating the proceeds to someone in need.

Maybe you see a mom with her arms full. Do you have a minute to help her to her car? Maybe you see a child acting out in the grocery store? Do you think “if that were my child…” or do you remember the days when your child was actually having that tantrum once upon a time? I have found that simply engaging the child can change the whole scene for that exacerbated mother who just wants to get through the grocery store and get out of there with her overtired child. I have yet to meet a parent who does not seem truly grateful when I distract their child from their tantrum. We don’t always have the choice to leave our children with someone else while we get the necessities for dinner. Empathy goes a whole lot further than judgement. Do you see someone in a wheelchair? Maybe you could offer to reach something on a high shelf for them?

Pick some wildflowers for a neighbor. Make an extra big batch of soup and share with someone, Hold a door or carry a bag. Simply smile and make eye contact. Plant some extra garden seeds to share with a neighbor, or bake some cookies to share with a stranger. There are unlimited ways to make a difference in this world. Share your extra eggs or veggie bounty. Tell someone something you find beautiful about them. Do you have extra jerky or meat from this years hunt? There is always someone hungry, or simply someone who is not blessed with the opportunity to have real, fresh food. You have any idea how tiresome it must be to eat McDonalds day in and day out, because you are homeless and that is what kind hearted people do, buy you some fast food. Certainly, any food is a blessing, and I have even recomended that people buy a book or two of gift certificates from the fast food places, to keep in their glove box and pass out to homeless people, and of course, we all know beggars cant be choosers, but I had an experience with a homeless man one time that shined a light on this for me. We had just bought groceries, and were headed through a drive through to get one of those all too sugary frozen coffee drinks that are a rare treat for us. I saw a man in the parking lot, and I almost ordered him food. Then it occurred to me. “I bet he gets sick of McDonalds”. My son agreed, and we quickly did a mental inventory of our groceries. I ordered him a spoon on my way through the drive though. We cruised over to him, and I told him that I would buy him McDonalds if he wanted, but that I had the thought he must get sick of it. He nodded so enthusiastically and quickly confirmed that he gets way too much of that nutrient devoid “food”. We dig through our bags. I gave him a yogurt and the spoon I had grabbed while getting our icy drinks. My son held open the donut box and let him choose his pick of the mixed dozen we had purchased. We gave him a few real food items. Cheese and some yogurt, a donut filled with jelly. We offered jerky but he didn’t really have any teeth and declined. We chatted with him for five minutes or so, wished him blessings, and headed on our way. It was evident that he was thrilled that someone considered maybe he had had his fill of cheap cheeseburgers and fries for the week, possibly for a lifetime. He also really seemed to appreciate that we took time just to talk to him, instead of just tossing a bag of food or a couple bucks his way.

I recently won a hundred dollar gift certificate to a higher priced local establishment. With my celiac, I can’t eat there. I carried that gift certificate around in my wallet for months, wondering what I would do with it. A couple weeks ago,  I was in the gas station, when I ran into a local business owner, working behind the counter. Now why would she need a second job, unless life was handing her lemons, despite her positive outlook, and it occurred to me to gift that restaurant meal to her. I had no expectations. I just wanted to give it to someone who would appreciate it, but a week later, when I was feeling some stress about a detail of our life, she showed up with an answer to that stress, completely unexpected, and changed the whole course of a week for me. Because when you spread joy, it comes back to you in unexpected ways.

We all have some hotel sample products around, don’t we? One really creative idea that I just love is to take old purses or cosmetics bags that you are done with, and fill them up with some of those hotel samples of soap and shampoo you have taking up space in a cabinet, and keep them in your car for when you see a homeless person. They need soap and toothpaste too. Or, if you are able to spend money to help, you could toss a granola bar, pouch of jerky, dried fruit, and a water bottle in there too.

There are countless ways to make a difference in peoples lives. Most of them require very little effort on our part for the amount of difference they make to another. It is true, smile at a stranger and they will be more inclined to smile at the next guy. Five minutes out of your day to impact a stranger can have so much more impact on the world than you may think, as they go on to share their joy in a contagious outbreak of loving words and gestures. Joy spreads rapidly if we take a moment to distribute it. All we have to do is plant a mustard seed of joy in the world, and it will grow into a great tree of loving actions and words beyond the scope of your site. You may never see the true reach of your loving actions, but I promise you that they will grow roots and branches that are abundant with fruits of spirit.

How can you spread some love and joy today? What seeds can you plant to nourish the world? There are many places to get ideas. A quick google search will bring up a plethora of websites completely dedicated to spreading kindness. I found a couple for you to start with. Being kind is not synonymous with spending money. There are more ways to be kind without money than most realize. Here are a few places to start. I would love to hear how you randomly spread kindness. I would love to hear your ideas for ways to change the world. I want to know how you nourish the spirit of others. Do you wander through life in a daze, just trying to get through the race today? Or are your eyes and ears alert, seeking ways to create some love and spread some joy?

If you are looking for more ways to spread some loving kindness, here are a few websites that might give you some creative ideas. Tell me what you come up with. Lets keep each other accountable for creating loving light.

http://www.spreadkindness.org/kindness-ideas

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

http://www.bradaronson.com/acts-of-kindness/

http://andthenwesaved.com/random-acts-of-kindness-ideas/

http://www.kindspring.org/ideas/

That should give you a good start at finding at least one way that you can make a difference today. I would love to hear how you plan to make a difference this week. God bless Ya’all. have a great day!

 

 

 

 

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