1. Never Stop to do Acts of Kindness

    April 25, 2014

    Never Stop to do Acts of Kindness

    by Sue Chehrenegar

    This past week, I gained a greater insight into the meaning of life by helping a writer with a limited command of the English language. He had contacted me through my husband. Like that struggling writer, my husband had grown up speaking Persian, long before he had begun to converse in English.

    The man who sought my help with writing a short essay first asked for a better way of referring to the act that he called “making good.” I suggested that he use “doing a favor.” Then my husband indicated that the essay writer wanted to say something like this: Never stop to do a favor. At that point, I recommended that he re-phrase the sentence, changing it to this: Never stop to do an act of kindness.

    The essay writer liked that suggested sentence, but he wanted to learn if the same thought could be expressed in a few other ways. I was asked to send him an e-mail, and to include in that e-mail two or three ways for urging someone to be kind/make good. While I was writing that e-mail, my husband offered some suggestions, and that was when I gained a greater insight into the meaning of life.

    First my husband explained to me that the essay writer wanted to make sure that someone who had chosen to perform an act of kindness did not get discouraged easily. He realized that someone who has been rebuffed after trying to be kind might get discouraged. With that thought in mind, I added to the sentence I had suggested earlier.

    This was my first entry in the e-mail that I had been asked to write: Never stop to do acts of kindness, even if you should get hurt. If that happens, pray or meditate about what happened, and they try a different way of showing your kindness. That was helpful, but my husband indicated that it was a bit too long. He asked me to try condensing my suggested words of guidance.

    At that point, I added a second sentence to my e-mail. I wrote this: Never stop to behave in a way that shows how much you want to be kind to another person, even if you get hurt. As I sought to come-up with yet a third means for conveying the same thought, I heard my husband say something like this: Never stop to enjoy the beauty of life.

    That was when I realized that a readiness to be kind to others adds meaning to life and makes it more beautiful. That realization helped me to add two more sentences to the group that I was planning to send to the struggling writer. The first sentence that I added was this one: Never stop to behave in a way that shows how much you want to be kind to another person, even if you get hurt. Then I added this sentence to my e-mail: Keep meaning in your life, and never hold-back from performing an act of kindness.

    By helping that one gentleman, I had gained a keener sense of the significance of a quest for meaning. It represents an attempt to enhance the beauty of existence on this earth. For some people efforts that are aimed at protection of the earth’s natural beauty have made their lives more meaningful. I will write more about protection of the environment in another article.

    For others, the beauty enjoyed by the humans who live on this earth is only possible when men agree to cooperate with one another. Those are the people who seek to contribute to the development of a great civilization/society. Their ability to make such a contribution has made their life more meaningful.

    Of course, there are many ways to contribute to the development of a society. That can be accomplished by creating works of art, by voicing an opinion on an important issue, by teaching young people, by healing those who are sick, by aiding the sharing of information or by helping to build various structures, just to name a few.

    Perhaps you have a skill or ability that you can use to make the earth even more beautiful. Maybe you are ready to start working on learning a new skill. Take whatever skill or knowledge you have learned and use it in a kindly fashion, but recall this one last sentence that I sent to the essay-writer: Do not be disturbed by what has resulted from an act of kindness that you have shown to another. If you do that, you are sure to feel that you have a meaningful life.


     Image Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/7824209576








  2. Living a meaningful life in retirement: How can you help those around you?

    September 9, 2013

    meaningful life in retirement

    Retirement is the first time in your life that you have all day everyday to do as you please. How can you leave meaningful life when you retire? You could spend it pottering around your home as many do, but how about really making these years of your life count, and making a difference to the lives of those around you?

    Retirement is a great time to expand your social circle as well as appreciate the family and friends you do have, travel, and invest time in your hobbies. As long as you still feel healthy the world is your oyster and with the right attitude this could be the most exciting and enjoyable time of your life, with the opportunity to make changes should you wish to. Retirement is a great time to traveland explore your horizons.


  3. How To Find Meaning In Your Day To Day Life

    August 31, 2013

    In search for meaning

    by Amanda O’Donnell

    Maybe when it comes to meaningful life you’re already set and have your goals defined. Maybe you have several things you’re working towards long term that you know will eventually bring you great life satisfaction. Maybe you’re raising kids and providing for a family. Maybe you have two years until that big promotion, or five until retirement. Maybe… Regardless if you’re lucky enough to have definite direction, playing out your daily life can be disheartening. Reminding yourself of your eventual accomplishments or the future enjoyment you’ll take from your life can get less and less easy. Your mind wanders, fills with doubt. What if this isn’t worth it? What if you never make it to the part of your life you’ve worked for? What if you’re wasting the right now?

    Finding solace in the everyday life can offer you relief from what can sometimes feel like the mundane passing of days and tasks. Here are some simple steps in the direction of your personal fulfillment.

    Remind Yourself Of Your Good Fortune

    Create a schedule or some system of expressing appreciation and thankfulness that best works for you. For instance set aside five minutes three times a day to sit and ruminate about the good things in your life. If your mind wanders and a good thing leads you to a less good thing and then a bad, refocus. Allow one good thing to lead to another good thing. Fifteen minutes a day might not seem long at all, but you’d be surprised about how many things you can give thanks for within a five minute of meditation. If you’re more comfortable writing the things down then do so. If you feel that actually saying the things aloud would mean a little more to you, then give yourself time in the morning to hear yourself say them. What might feel silly at first can really develop into a regular pattern of thought. Focusing your thought flow into a purely positive, appreciative stream (even if only for a few minutes) can make you more likely to naturally return to those thoughts later. You’ll find yourself thinking more positively about your life and situation, even when your five minutes are up!

    Make An Effort To Go Out Of Your Way

    Time and time again it’s been proven that people experience another level of fulfillment when helping others. It’s repeated back at us so often it’s become easy to write off this advice as cliched or empty. If you can’t see yourself taking all that much from an afternoon at the soup kitchen, then don’t spend an afternoon there. Sit down and really ask yourself what causes, groups of people or situations you have a vested interest in, and then think about what you could do to help. If you’re truly interested in the cause you’re helping, you’re more likely to know better how to help! And if you find yourself drawing up blank, then take it upon yourself to find something you have a passion for and make yourself of use. However, don’t think that helping people need always mean signing a volunteer list or setting aside three hours to hand out fliers on Saturdays. There are all sorts of ways you can lend a hand in your day to day life; take advantage of them! Bring a coworker coffee, hold the door open, ask someone who looks down how they’re feeling and offer an ear. When you start training yourself to consider others in various situations you’ll find yourself less focused on your own issues or dissatisfaction.

    Challenge Yourself

    Often feeling dissatisfied with your life or situation can just be a response to boredom. It makes complete sense. As your brain adjusts to the routine of your life and comes to expect certain daily things, the less stimulation you experience and the less chance for experiencing positive feelings! Some of the best feelings come from true accomplishment: setting out to do things we’re not entirely capable we can do and then doing them. You can challenge yourself and offer yourself these experiences in or outside of your daily routine. For instance, set personal goals for yourself in your daily work or at home. Assign yourself to create something. You haven’t read about something before? Do so! Set physical feats. Take weekend trips to places you haven’t been and do things you haven’t done and (better yet) are maybe afraid to do. Give yourself every opportunity to take something from your life and from each day.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76029035@N02/6829334723

  4. Shopping Carts

    May 27, 2013

    Shopping Carts

    by Audrey  Hollingshead

    It was late. I had a few hours before my husband would pick me up from my crappy job and he could not come soon enough. What made things even worse was that it was my turn to do “carts,” a part of the job that had me gathering in ALL the shopping carts from the parking lot. Even though I had done this task many times, and well, it was one I still loathed beyond reason. Why did I have to be the one to do it the last two hours of my shift? Why did I have to work SO late? WHY was it that I never got to leave at a normal time? I silently complained a few moments more and then went outside.

    As usual I started on the smaller side of the lot, making sure to round up all the carts from the hard to reach spots where our genius shoppers had parked them. Once that area was done I’d clear the more conventional spaces and gradually work my way across the lot. As the hours wore on and the cart numbers thinned out I started to feel different. Not just tired, but satisfied. Because of my hard of pushing and gathering, the carts no longer blocked parking spaces and were finally lined up in an orderly way. Customers could also get them more easily, a goal I strived for. By the time my shift was over I was feeling MUCH better! Not only was I DONE for the night I had also DONE something constructive, and that was enough to get me through the last grueling hours of my shift.

    I don’t blame you if you readers find this a little silly. They were just carts, after all. How happy can pushing metal make anyone, really? A lot, actually. As this website has pointed out before, people who exercise on the reg do tend to have less stress. Many people (my lifelong runner of a father included) swear by it, claiming that exercise makes your body simply too tired to stress over life. But what they don’t realize is that, silly or not, this notion has been around much longer then the exercise craze.

    Chop Wood, Carry Water.

    While the origin of this saying appears unknown, we do know the complete saying is “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.” The shortened version is a staple utterance of my fathers and it was not until I had my crappy job that I saw the wisdom of it. So what does it mean?

    On the surface it seems to convey that we should do menial chores no matter what our spiritual status is. But if we think about this phrase a moment we see that what it’s really saying is that we need to take pleasure in the chores. By doing them it gives our mind something to focus on other then our stress. But more importantly, it gives us a chance to live in the moment, something we have a hard time doing.

    We get so tangled up in the fabric of life that we barely take the time to notice the threads that weave it, and those mind focusing chores are some of the HUGEST threads. They connect us to the “am” instead of the “was” or “will be,” while also giving our bodies that much need stress-reducing work out.

    But I think one of the biggest pluses of doing mindless tasks is that they let our mind decompress and think more clearly. Got a problem you just can’t seem to solve? Find solutions while washing the dishes. Can’t figure out how to start that project you always wanted to? Get ideas while mowing the lawn. Need to write a paper and can’t get passed the title page? Think about it while folding laundry or walking the dog. Doing something unrelated to whatever you’re writing is a GREAT way to get ideas. I do this ALL the time, in fact. Especially when I have done all the research but can’t seem to get started. I’d be in the middle of pushing a cart and BAM! An idea would hit me.

    Even though I eventually quit to pursue my dream of writing, I walked away with a great anxiety reliever and a reminder that sometimes it’s the little things that make the big things that much better. Thank you.

    And remember,

    Dream Well! Dream Positive!


    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/boutmuet/3400313680