Finding Your Flow

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Do you ever get so wrapped up in a hobby or activity  or even work that you lose all sense of time? For me, I often become immersed in what I am writing, and hours can slip away without me even noticing. For others, it may be training for a race or designing a floral arrangement or accomplishing a new song on the piano or working on a creative project at work. Being completely immersed or absorbed in an activity that is challenging, yet geared toward your skills is described as the joyful state of flow.

Contemporary psychologist say that flow is highly correlated with happiness. Furthermore, studies have found that people who often experience flow are likely to develop additional positive traits such as self-esteem, focus and greater performance. Flow is not something forced, rather it is intrinsically motivated. It’s what Eric Liddell, of Chariots of Fire fame, spoke about when he said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

How beautiful it is to allow the flow of the Holy Spirit to work through our unique gifts to bring glory to God and blessings to others. God has equipped each of us with different interests, passions and abilities, and we can experience great pleasure as we express them in this world. As believers in Christ, we have the joy of knowing that God’s Spirit works in mighty ways through us, as He not only gives us gifts, but enables us to use them.

Jesus said, “Whoever believe in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Invite the flow of His Spirit to pour through you this week.

 

Photo by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash

Three Tips to Being an Effective Volunteer

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Are you currently using your gifts and talents to serve in your community? This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and it is the perfect time to talk about finding a place to plug in and be a  blessing to others. Last week, I blogged about how our happiness tends to increase when we genuinely serve others. This week, I want to talk a little bit more about how to jump into volunteering and serve effectively.

There are countless volunteer opportunities around us. Whether you are a busy parent or a business person or an empty-nester, there are simple and meaningful ways each of us can reach out and help.

Begin by considering the issues that tug at your heartstrings. What is your passion? Ask the Lord to lead you to the place where you can best use your God-given abilities to make a difference. You may want to consider serving together as a family. There is no better time than the present to make a decision to step out of your comfort zone and into the lives of others in need.

Certainly we want our time of service to be worthwhile and genuinely helpful. I want to offer three ways to increase our effectiveness as we volunteer.

  1. Consistency – Let’s show up on time and be there each time we are scheduled to serve. We are not just volunteers, rather we are an important part of the whole process. Our help is valuable and the organization in which we serve depends on us to be there. Also, it is easy to do a one-and-done service project that makes us feel good for a moment, but true change (both for us and those we serve) happens when we commit to being there on a regular basis.
  2. Humility – Pride says, “I’m going to go in and fix these people because they are broken.” Humility says, “I’m broken. They are broken. We all are broken in different ways. We all need love.” When we serve with a heart of humility, we help others recognize their value, rather than making them feel like “a project” or helpless.
  3. Connectivity – We build a connection and give dignity to others by listening to them. Ask questions and pay attention to their heart and their pain. We must also be vulnerable and real and be willing to share a little of our own struggles as well. Relationships are developed not only by what we do, but by the way we listen and the way we speak.

True service is not simply to make us feel better about ourselves, but rather to impact the lives of others in a positive way. The apostle Paul wrote, “Each of us should not only look out for our own interests, but also the interest of others.” May each of us find the place that we can joyfully give a little of our heart to elevate and love another person.

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For more information about joining the amazing team of volunteers at Engage Positive Parenting Initiative go to: www.EngageParenting.org

Photo at top of blog by Cristi Tohatan on Unsplash

The Positive Power of Friendships

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Who are the people in your life that really know you? I’m talking about the ones with whom you have chosen to go deep and share your heart. You can count yourself blessed if you have even a handful of these “inner-circle” friendships in your entire lifetime.

Studies in positive psychology indicate that people who have one or more close friendships tend to be happier. The key word is “close” – not 300 Facebook friends, but rather a few close people in your life with whom you can share your feelings and enjoy activities together. It’s easy to feel lonely if your conversation only centers around impersonal topics. Real connections are felt on a deeper level where meaningful conversations take place.

In fact, sharing personal feelings with a close friend can play a major role in the relief of stress and even depression. To be sure, we don’t want to be that needy person who overshares and never cares about others. There is a beautiful balance of being vulnerable enough to share our own joys and sorrows, while on the other hand, caring for the needs of our friends and lovingly listening to their heart.

Studies also show that one of the best ways to enrich relationships and cultivate positive emotions is to express a genuine interest in what other people are saying and respond in an encouraging way. Dale Carnegie put it best when he said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”

The apostle Paul wrote, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Jesus went further to say, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus loved those around him with a grace-filled, servant-hearted love. He took a genuine interest in the needs of others as He walked this earth, and He continues to take a genuine interest in us.

How wonderful to know that we can have a real and personal relationship with Him! As we grow deeper in our love for Him, we tend to reflect His love in the friendships around us. May the relationships in your life, both with Him and with others, be a source of strength and joy to you personally.

 

This Blog is a part of my new series on “Increasing Happiness.” Each week we will look at studies on happiness and practical ways to experience it.

Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash

Are You Happy?

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March 20th is International Day of Happiness, so I thought we could take a little time this week to consider the subject of happiness and what it looks like in our lives. Ask any two people to describe what happiness means to them, and you will typically get a wide range of answers. Some talk about experiences that lead to happiness, or situations that detract from happiness, while others mention the relationships that bring happiness into their lives.

How would you describe what it means to be happy? Oxford Dictionary’s definition of the word Happy is, “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.” Positive psychologists typically uses the term, “subjective well-being” when referring to happiness. The word itself has its origins in ancient Greek and is closely related to the concept of fortunate, well-off or blessed.

No matter how we define it, almost everyone wants to experience it. Studies show several habits that are generally found in happy people. They include:

  • Relationships
  • Acts of Kindness
  • Exercise and Physical Well-being
  • Sense of Purpose or Flow (Using your gifts and talents)
  • Spiritual Engagement and Meaning
  • Strengths, Virtues and Moral values
  • Positive Mindset: Gratitude, Optimism, Hope

The question is, can people learn how to be happier? The answer is YES! Happiness is not a stagnant trait that only a few lucky people seem to own. We can all grow, improve and make positive changes. Take a thoughtful look at the seven factors listed above. Are there any areas you could work on or strengthen in your life?

It is important to recognize that  no matter what your circumstances look like, you can find ways to increase your level of happiness despite your challenges. In other words, life doesn’t have to be perfect in order for you to be happy. I have met people (and I’m sure you have too) that are miserable, and yet their life circumstances are comfortable. I have also met people who live in very challenging circumstances, but choose to have a grateful and optimistic outlook, employing many of the principles above.

Let’s face it, life ebbs and flows with sadness, joys, difficulties and sweetness. No one experiences happiness 100% of the time. It is important for each of us to grieve our pain and losses as well as enjoy the delights of life. The good news is that we can make deliberate choices that move us in a happier direction and allow us to positively influence the world around us.

Although happiness is fleeting, there is a joy we can experience deep within us. The apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” He points us to something beyond the happiness that this world can offer – the joy of the Lord. There is no greater joy than knowing that we are loved and forgiven as we place our faith in Christ and what He did for us on the cross.

This Easter, I encourage you to look to the only One who can bring lasting love, joy and peace into your life. To learn more about a relationship with Christ visit https://chataboutjesus.com

 

Join me for my new series entitled “Increasing Happiness,” as we look at the seven habits of happy people.  Click the follow button on the right, so that you will receive a weekly email.

What Do You Believe?

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As the Easter season approaches, it offers us a time of reflection to consider what we know, trust and  believe about God. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said, “If we begin to worship and come to God again and again by meditating, by reading, by prayer; and by obedience, little by little God becomes known to us through experience. We enter into a sweet familiarity with God, and by tasting how sweet the Lord is we pass into . . . loving God, not for our own sake, but for Himself.” We can begin to trust a God who we know and love, but it is difficult to trust someone we do not know personally.

We cannot understand all of God’s ways, but there are certain qualities we can know about him. Where do we begin our journey of knowing him? The Bible gives us glimpses of the High King of heaven and his marvelous attributes. Here are a few of the numerous qualities we learn about God as we see them revealed in the Bible. I have provided just one biblical reference for each attribute, although there are numerous others.

He is:

Almighty (Genesis 17:1)

Everlasting (Genesis 21:33)

All-Powerful (2 Chronicles 20:6)

Abundant in Strength (Psalm 147:5)

Abounding in Love (Psalm 103:8)

Sovereign (Deuteronomy 3:24)

Merciful (Psalm 62:12)

Trustworthy (2 Samuel 22:3)

Our Keeper (Psalm 121:2)

Our Provider (Matthew 6:26)

Our Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

Able—nothing is too difficult for him (Genesis 18:14)

 

I want to get to know a God like this, don’t you? Certainly if God is who the Bible says he is, then he is worthy of our respect, obedience, and yes, trust. Consider where you are with God right now in your life. What do you believe about him? We don’t want to make assumptions about God; rather, we want to explore who he claims to be. As we get to know the God of the Bible, we begin to recognize his abiding love for us. He is worthy of our trust. I encourage you to continue your journey of engagement with God.

Based on what I have learned from the Bible, here’s what I personally believe about God. I believe he is a loving, compassionate, merciful God. I believe he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the payment for my sins. I believe Jesus rose again, offering us the promise of eternal life in heaven one day with him. I believe he has provided his Spirit to live in my life to help us, comfort us, and guide us in truth. I believe he will never leave us. I believe he is a sovereign God who can do all things, knows all things, and sees all things.

What do you believe? Take a moment to write out your statement of belief. Consider why you believe what you believe. Don’t just let what you see on television or hear from friends determine your own personal belief system. If you believe there is a God, then he rightfully deserves to be investigated. Get to know him. Search the Bible and see what it has to say about him. If we ultimately want to be able to trust him, we need to get to know who he is. How can you trust someone you don’t know?

John Calvin said, “Our inklings of the realities of God will be vague and smudged until we learn from Scripture to think correctly about the realities of which we are already aware.” He added, “Unless God’s Word illumine the way, the whole life of men is wrapped in darkness and mist, so that they cannot but miserably stray.” We don’t want to wander aimlessly in our misery or stumble in the dark without hope, simply because we haven’t taken the time to get to know the God of the Bible. He is worthy of our trust and welcomes us into a loving relationship with him.

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This is an excerpt from Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive 

 

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