Thanksgiving

The first wave of Europeans to settle in the United States had a very tough go of things. They endured a long and dangerous voyage across an ocean to a land where they had no family, no stores, no support system. They did this to find freedom from an oppressive government and/or church (which were often one and the same).

After much hardship they reaped a bountiful harvest and laid their stores for the upcoming winter. When the harvest was in and the supplies were stashed they gave thanks.

As we celebrate this uniquely American holiday, lets reflect on the reason these colonists were grateful…they had achieved a new kind of freedom, if only for a short while. They were free to keep the fruit of their labor. They were masters of their own destiny. They could worship as they chose without fear of persecution or execution. They had realized a dream that most of us will never fully understand and many of us are all too willing to surrender.

I sincerely wish a happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. May the true meaning of this day be preserved for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

Being Judgemental

There is a common saying, albeit an older and somewhat dated saying, “Don’t judge me.”  I speak with many people who claim to be non-judgmental…but why?  Making assessments, assigning risk and making decisions based on that judgement is essential to survival.  But more importantly, we must make those same assessments of ourselves or we will not effectively direct our personal growth.

I actually WANT to be judged.  I welcome feedback even if it is contrary to my outlook…often especially if it disagrees with my views!  This is how we learn (unless we already know everything and therefore are not open to learning).

By the same token, I make decisions daily based on calculations tempered by my observations of the world around me.  This include things like which route to take when traveling, who to trust with my children or my bank accounts, whether the guy walking toward me on the sidewalk looks like a threat, etc.  All of these things are important and all are necessary to my well being.

But there are more personal assessments that we make in life.  Do you know someone who has a lot of friends?  There are people who call everyone they meet a friend and then there are those who realize that true friendship is earned over time.  In order to determine who is worthy of that exclusive title we must make judgments of the person’s character and use that information to determine if they are worth investing the time it takes to maintain a close relationship.  If so, the rewards are immeasurable.  If not, the risk is greater than the potential.

So the next time someone says that they don’t judge people, ask them why they don’t.  Teach your children to be discriminating and to know the difference between an acquaintance and a true friend.  And by all means, be your own worst critic!  It is your best tool to enhance your station in life.

How To Find Happiness

A friend of mine has a saying that happiness is not having what you want, it is wanting what you have.  Many of us think in terms of…stuff.   While having material things can and does make life easier (assuming you could afford those things when you purchased them), the real secret to happiness is around us all the time.  For example it could be a quiet moment with someone special or catching a glimpse of a beautiful sunset.  We often take for granted the endearing moments like when our toddler breaks several dozen eggs in the kitchen floor and laughs hysterically as each one smashes.

In fact, many of the things that irritate us in day to day life become the moments we hold on to when a loved one has left this world.  Sometimes we never get a chance to say the things we really mean.  Sometimes we hold grudges until it is too late to let them go.  And sometimes we just overlook the obvious.

I was fortunate that life showed me the real value of family and true friends.  I hope that those reading this post will also take a moment, smell the roses, hug a loved one and simply…want what you have.

Who Is Your Best Friend?

As a child and adolescent I spent a great deal of time trying to fit in. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was looking for validation in the eyes of others. This was, of course, unachievable.  But I wanted to have friends…and to be liked by the “popular” kids.  After a while, I realized that those popular kids were not what they seemed.  Many of them spent their time putting down others, presumably to pump themselves up.  Eventually I discovered a secret. Continue reading