Focus what you can do to make the world a better place

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Is this all there is?" the woman wondered. Alice was an enthusiastic lady, endowed with numerous skills and talents. Consequently, she maintained a busy and interesting life. Despite this, Alice began to experience depression. Her days lacked direction. She needed a new lease on life.

Alice's life seemed fruitless and she felt unfulfilled. "What is wrong with me?" she asked herself. "I have whatever I desire, people to love and those who love me, and I'm able to use my gifts and talents." Alice kept growing mentally and attempted to stay physically fit. She fidgeted, fussed and fumed because she was encountering a frightening dilemma. She had it all, but Alice was unable to be content inside.

She mulled the situation for weeks while her desperation refused to subside. Having a clear head and priding herself on her common sense, Alice prayed and then tried to come up with a solution. She recalled St. Augustine's words: "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee." And even though Alice felt that her heart did rest in God, life was ambiguous. She could sense no clear-cut goals like she used to.

While driving around in her car, Alice received insight. She had plenty of hobbies, interests, jobs and people around her. She didn't need to pursue a new lifestyle. "I will constantly try to make the world a better place," she thought. That's a worthy goal that will never become stale. She credited the Holy Spirit with the revelation that lifted her spirits and presented her with a fresh outlook on life.

You ponder how many people are just like Alice. How many have it all, yet are unhappy because of blessings they're unable to see. If you adjust your attitude, life will never again be anything but interesting, fulfilling and leaping with joy. You can always find ways to help make the world a better place. With that goal in mind, you'll always be satisfied with what you're doing.

Happiness doesn't revolve around what makes us satisfied. The environment, family and the world in general are not all about us. When you look around to see what you can do for someone else, fascinating avenues open up. Your newly found mission invigorates you, allowing you to again notice the birds singing and the crickets and locusts serenading. You'll feel the love of other people. You'll see wonders that you were too caught up to see.

When we touch the center that's within us, we know that worldly goods, friends, power, prestige and the love of others can never fill the void there. Another person shared that she felt fine emotionally until she stopped to think. "Then I think of what used to be," she said, "and I begin to have regrets and I get down."

I assured her that everyone has some regrets, but since Jesus came to forgive all the deeds and thoughts that cause regrets, she must forgive herself because she still has a life to live. Live in the present and realize that life is ultimately lived within our mind and our heart -- not in outside circumstances.

Because everybody possesses different gifts, anyone can contribute to making the world a better place. Whatever we do can hold special significance when we strive for that end. A smile, cleaning snow from a driveway or visiting someone who is ill are among the noblest aims one can claim. Setting a goal of making the world a better place means you will better enjoy what you presently do. You'll recognize that the result will be making the Kingdom of God happen on Earth.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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