People vary in what they expect and how they approach life.
Individuals cope with daily events differently. Some give up easily, others maintain hope for tomorrow and many simply hang in there.
Regardless of what you experience, there is always an end to it, positive or negative.
Some have unexplainable fortitude and enthusiasm. A friend, Jane, is one such person. She has certainly had her share of problems, yet she is always upbeat and pleasant, exploding with a zest for life. Although she has a severely disabled child, Jane never sees Audra as being unable to function in society. Instead, Jane helps her make plans for college and her future.
Jane's optimism is contagious. Although I'm sure Jane has moments of depression and sadness, she manages to go on.
One wonders how such people can keep that spark of hope and add to the well-being of those around them.
Parents with young children and teenagers know how tiring theme parks can be. The heat can become overbearing and motel rooms and condos can be crowded and noisy. Yet you're determined to have a great time. More importantly, your goal is to assure that those accompanying you enjoy the trip.
When you arrive back home, you must shift gears and get back into your usual routine, job or life in general. You have fresh thoughts to think, another day to fill and new worlds to conquer.
Our ideas of happiness change as we live. What makes a child passionate is different from that of an adult. A teen pursues certain goals, and middle-aged and elderly people strive for other types of fulfillment.
To continue living in hope you have to be willing to put one foot in front of the other and make a choice to be happy -- to stay passionate about at least some area of life. Charles Morgan said it well when he said "The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mode of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed in the change; happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up."
If you ponder the perseverance of people, you find that often those who have the least and those who encounter the most problems possess the most passion for living. Their tiny flame of courage seems to never be extinguished.
When you ask particular people how they keep going after experiencing difficult circumstances, they often say "You do what you have to do" or ask "What choice do I have?" Some are bitter at life and others accept their situations as challenges and still look for goodness and happiness in their world.
Henry Miller once said "Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such."
Jesus believed we should have passion for life. He told us how to attain that zest for living, and to what degree when he said "I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
Happiness and a passionate life can continue with the right focus -- God.
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.