Be a gift to others

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Have you wondered how you can truly be happy all the time? Being happy is a goal everybody strives for but most look in the wrong places to find it. In fact you can't actively "find" happiness. It's something that comes when you least expect it. Bouts of pleasure are easy to come by but they aren't lasting. You have fun for a while then you come back to where you were before you attended the play, ate a great meal, or celebrated a birth in your family. An adequate amount of joyful events and celebrations is necessary and good for your morale. They help you deal with life's blows but they too pass away eventually and you face reality again. You try to be happy with your ordinary.

I remembered a paragraph talking about people's being a gift to others. After scrutinizing exactly what that meant and how far you could take its meaning, I decided that to be a gift to others is a worthy aspiration we can all reach. It might even be a way to happiness.

I began to recall people I believed are gifts to others and asked what attributes qualified them for that title -- of being a gift to others. Taking a genuine interest in someone was one way. Many inquire, "How are you doing today?" and then don't stop long enough to hear your answer. So to absolutely listen to people is a great gift. Be pleasant as often as you possibly can, remembering that if you're having a bad day, those with whom you speak and interact had nothing to do with your vexations. Be careful to refrain from taking your frustrations out on those around you.

Being a gift to someone is an awesome privilege and honor. It's indeed a goal to strive for, and everyone can attain it. Other ways to be a gift is to compliment people on anything you can find about them that merits praise. Your approval of someone releases energy within the one being admired and the giver as well. Children, especially, open up like flowers tilting toward the sun when they are recognized for any achievement or mannerism. They beam all over and try to do even better the next time. Adults are the same. Both crave the cool water and sunshine that only you can give. It's often easier to criticize than to applaud somebody. Negative criticism causes one to shrivel up, so be a bearer of joy rather than gloom. Look for something to commend.

One person I visit in a nursing home always thanks me for coming. Although he's severely disabled, he acts like you've performed the greatest act of charity ever, merely visiting him. You almost feel he's the able one. Although visiting the sick is often an inconvenience, you reap the rewards more than the patient -- the rewards that cannot be taken away.

To rise each morning, draw the curtains and look outside is a free and indescribable blessing but many aren't able to perform this simple act. You can be the window of sunshine for them. Then to know you can have that mission of being a gift to others every day is indeed awesome. Sometimes you feel guilty at how wonderful you feel after supporting someone and it creates a bond between both if it's genuine.

A doctor I see occasionally is a joy to be around. He's always in a good mood, remembers what you've done and builds you up inside. He is for sure a gift to his patients. Like rose buds, they drink in his accepting attitude and kind demeanor. Matthew 7:12 says, "All that you wish men to do to you, even so, so you also to them; for this is the law and the prophets. Your real happiness resides in being a gift to others. Their gladness becomes yours.

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

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