We are conditioned to believe that money will make us happy. Particularly if it's above the million dollar mark. I've never seen an article titled, "How To Be A Ten Thousandaire," even though for a lot of us, this would solve our immediate financial problems and provide a flight to our most coveted vacation destination.
I don't need to tell you that money won't make you happy. It will probably make you happier, but ultimately, it won't achieve "The Happy."
So, I have taken it upon myself to write a better article; one that doesn't include telling you how to code yourself into millions of dollars while losing friends and becoming nearsighted along the way. Here goes.
Realize that you cannot fix your own problems; you need others. Old hurts, daddy issues, image issues, personality flaws, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, selfishness, an inferiority complex, pride, distrust, there are so many. I have dealt with all that I just listed. Acknowledge them. Admit them out loud. And actively work on tackling the messed up parts of your heart and mind, with others. Get counseling. Get prayer. Confide in people who will work on rebuilding you. Childhood scars everyone, did you know that? We're born broken. We're born dysfunctional. We're born with the inherent need to lean on one another in order to find Love, and in doing so, rebuild our hearts.
Learn to give. I didn't give things naturally the first 20 years of my life. I didn't grow up being generous. 90% of the arguments I landed myself in during the first 15 years of my life stemmed from my sister taking things of mine. I've worked hard for everything I own, and it takes a heart-shift to realize that everything in our homes, bank accounts, pockets, and purses are not ours but God's. By the time you're 25, give regularly and give on a whim. What do I mean by this? Both are important. It's important that you plan to give (IE. $35 a month to sponsor a child) regularly, and it's important that you learn to give in the moment (IE. Buying coffee for the person behind you, giving a dollar to a kid crying in the department store). When you learn to give, it will change your understanding of permanence, materialism, and the value of people over things.
Love your body. No really, I mean it. Love how you were created. This is a hard thing for me to talk about, for two reasons. I am blessed to be put into the 'pretty' category by most people. And at 5'7" and 120lbs, I don't have anything to complain about. But here is where we discover just how deep our insecurities are, women (and men). When I was 13 years old, I asked my mother if I was pretty. She hesitated, and replied, "Well, there are different kinds of pretty." Translated: No. So, since age 13, I believed that I just wasn't pretty, and that was fact. Growing up, I was skin and bones. My parents, relatives, and lots of my friends made fun at me for being so skinny. I was painfully self-conscious, and refused to wear shorts up through high school. Yes, through high school. My uncle used to call me "Skinny Minnie," and I cried over it. I hated swimsuits. Because I was so thin. Go ahead, hate me, women. Emotional scarring is all the same. I accepted that I was not pretty at a very early age, and that being lanky was a curse. (Lanky Lankford - don't think I didn't hear that one. Ouch.) Then, one day, a couple of years ago, I just decided to not deal with it anymore. I gave up on hating how thin I was, hating certain aspects of my body, and hating that I'd never be the tanned, blonde girl with a flashy personality. I accepted that I was created this way and there was nothing I could do about it. And guess what, I still can't do the tanned, blonde girl look. I can't be the dark eyed, exotic beauty. And I can't be the stunning red head with freckles perfectly placed across my cheeks. All three of these girls I would rather be. But take a look at this picture of little me. Yes, pale skinned, victorian-era girl with haphazard curls in my face? I can be her. Because I was made to be her. And I've fallen in love with how I am.
Pursue joy actively. This is a decision you make, not something you stumble upon, or reach once you achieve x, y & z. Decide to pursue joy, ask God for it, put yourself in places where you receive joy from others, and take time alone to restore your heart. When we are whole-hearted, we live in joy.
Write a mission for your life. I'm not talking about a career path, goals, hopes, dreams, etc. I'm talking about what kind of person you want to be known as. Who you are is infinitely more important than what you accomplish. A few years ago, I was handed an index card and told to write down what I wanted to be remembered of me. I wrote, "that she showed grace and compassion, regardless of what was deserved." That line has remained in my wallet, and molded and shaped who I am over the last few years. It keeps me in line. When my emotions get the best of me and I relapse into a bitter, "but this is what I deserve," - I remember that compassion and grace are worth the sacrifice.
Love your handicap. If someone sat you down and asked you which moments in your life were the most painful, would you tell them? There's a reason that "rock bottom" is a phrase we all know. I wrote a post on pain and grief a few months ago, as well as on loss. Ladies and gentlemen, your handicap is where God has chosen to give you unique value, unique faith, and unique access to his heart. You will find more love and more close friendships in your handicap than you will anywhere else. Your loss, your betrayal, your shame, your divorce, your parents, your depression, your disease, your heartbreak, your addiction, your rape, your mistake, your abuse, your dysfunction - this is where we see God and where he will use you for the rest of your life. I would argue that he created you for this. It is a blessing. In the words of darling Jeni, "it is not a design flaw, it is my gift." Stop sweeping it under the rug, and hoping that the ache will go away. Face it, talk about it, share it, and seek healing in it. God will use it, I promise you.
Find your point of perspective. I wrote a post called "" awhile ago that deals with finding joy. Let me keep this short and sweet, though: Perspective is everything. It is so easy to become wrapped up in the details; we forget that 95% of what we do today won't matter a year later. Start making decisions based on what is permanent. "So http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifwe fix our eyes not on the seen, but on the unseen, for it is the seen that is temporary but the unseen is eternal." - 2 Corinthians 2:18
Memorize these phrases: "I'm sorry", "I don't know", & "What do you need?" These phrases are probably the three most life-changing additions to my weekly vocabulary. Learning to apologize simply, admitting that you don't know the answer, and asking what someone else needs are will get you far in life. It keeps you living in humility and breaks the cycle of self-centeredness.
That's it for today. Stay tuned for Part 2.
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