You may have seen the quote by American syndicated humorist Art Buchwald,1 “The best things in life aren’t things.” It has a way of popping up in my mind whenever I’m about to buy a new gadget that I’ve seen advertised or exchange a household appliance for the latest model. Sometimes I give in anyway, but at least this saying usually helps me give the purchase some extra thought and consideration.
Have you ever had a bad day just because you crossed paths with someone who was in a foul mood? Maybe it was someone on the bus or another customer in a store—someone who you normally wouldn’t have even noticed—but that one grumpy or inconsiderate person cast a pall on your whole day.
As a child, I loved to visit my grandmother Sabina’s small house in the mountains. Aunt Iota lived next door, so my sister and I would spend our days exploring with our cousins, going to the waterfall, swimming in the river that ran behind the property, or climbing the many mountains in the Mantigueira Ridge. It was heaven on earth for a city girl like me.
I’ve often wished I had a truckload of money that I could use to help others. There are many people I know who need financial help for one thing or another, and it would be great to have the means to be that help. I daydream of coming along and dropping a bunch of cash on my friends, family, and others, and watching them get out from under financial burdens and be free to enjoy life without the stress that money troubles can bring. As of now, I don’t have those means.
You can’t make the sun come out on a rainy day, but you can work to change the mood around you.
Most people feel happier and are more upbeat on a warm, sunny day than on a stormy one. You can warm and encourage the people around you by the sunny “rays” or good vibes you send their way. But if you’re carrying around a cloud of problems and woes, you’re likely to create a “pressure system” that will dump rain and dampen and darken the day for everyone around you.
It was one of those mornings when you wake up and get barraged with one piece of bad news after another. Everything that can go wrong does, and there seems to be no end to this downward spiral. To top things off, my wife was away on a trip, and things are always worse when she’s not around. Even as I embarked on the day, I was already feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.
The discouragement was overwhelming and growing by the minute. So many things were coming at her; possibilities were expiring; problems were piling up.
Teaching is never an easy job. And it’s the most difficult at the beginning and end of the school year—this was the last week. One of her favorite classes didn’t do well in the year-end exams. Had she failed?
We all have many opportunities and possibilities to move forward in our faith, our relationships, our work, our inner lives, and more. Of course, making progress in any area requires determination, discipline, effort, sacrifice, and hard work, but the results are worth it.
Christmas is “the season of joy” and “a time of cheer.” But as Christmas comes around, do you find yourself experiencing things far from joy and cheer?
If you look at each Christmas as needing to be bigger and better than the last, you’re probably anxiously filling up every moment with preparations toward that goal. But sometimes less is more.
On a recent day off, I spent the better part of the day at the zoo. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a zoo. Animals are fascinating and a lot of fun to observe, and I learned some interesting information. What I noticed, too, which I don’t recall feeling as much when I was younger, was sadness because of the animals’ lack of freedom. I’m confident they are being well cared for at this particular zoo; but can any cage, however spacious, ever measure up to the wide-open spaces of their native habitats?