The Benefits of Serving Others

Have you ever wanted your life to have more purpose and meaning? Do you struggle with depression, like I do?  Have you ever wondered how you can make a positive difference in a world which often emphasizes self and demanding greed?  I have learned that one of the best ways to fill your life with more purpose and meaning, alleviate depression, and make a positive difference in the world to someone other than yourself, you have to learn to be able to serve others. In fact, a study from University of Wisconsin Madison(La Follette School of Public Affairs) determined that being generous and serving others leads us to view people more compassionately and creates a sense of community with others. (source: http://shp.rutgers.edu/current_students/documents/October2013.pdf) Here are some other benefits of serving others:

  1. It eliminates self-pity and feelings of worthlessness.—When one feels that they can’t do anything good for this world, a sense of self-pity and even hopelessness for oneself and the world ensues. It is easier to want to give up and give in to depression and boredom. However, when we strive to serve others, we don’t have time to think of self-pity and our so-called worthlessness because a.) We know that we are making a difference in at least one (if not, more) person besides us because we are helping them. b) I believe God gives us an intrinsic conscience in our souls to let us know that when we unselfishly serve others, we are doing something good.  When we help people in need, we also eliminate self-pity because seeing others in need helps cultivate gratitude for what we do have in our lives.
  2. Serving others brings meaning and purpose to our lives.—When we are wandering aimlessly in life or when we are doing something robotically (i.e.. going through the motions), often we find we are living life without much meaning. However, serving others has a great purpose—to better the world around us.  When we not just volunteer at one or two places, but when our whole mindset is about serving others, we will live life more intentionally and not worry about self-serving minutia anymore.  We live rich life, spiritually and emotionally, and life becomes more joyful and meaningful for our commitment to serving others.
  3. Having a servant-mindset (which I define it as: an unselfish motivation to serve others and do what is best for them) rather than a self-serving mindset helps us make a greater impact on the world around us.—When we strive to cultivate a servant’s mindset, we make a greater positive difference in the world around us because this mindset is so counter-cultural and so rare that it will speak volumes to those around us. The norm, sadly, is to be only focused on ourselves and our own needs and desires. Selfishness is only focused on the self and what makes me happy, without caring for another person.  Having a servant-mindset, on the other hand, is focused on others’ needs and wants, and the self takes a back seat to those around the self.
  4. Serving others helps us live longer and happier lives.—There have been numerous studies that have concluded that serving others helps us to live longer and healthier. This is because there is not only more meaning and activity in one’s life, but the satisfaction that one gets from serving others is greater than even the satisfaction of receiving love and care from another person.  Serving others also alleviates depression probably because one is forced to look outside oneself and one’s circumstance and actively instead engage in the life of another. This often not only reduces the stressfulness of one’s own situation because they are not focused on that, but one is able to help another through one of their life’s situations.

These are the benefits that many people (including me) have found when we serve others.  We can serve others in many ways. Even praying for someone else can be considered service to others. Many people volunteer to help others in need. Still others help to make a positive impact in their communities or even the bigger world around them.  What can you do to serve others? What benefits have you found in helping others? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

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My Journey To Joy

My journey to joy started when I was 16 years old, the year that God became a part of my life and being. This life journey has been on-going, with a lot of stumbles and falls in between. However, with the help of God and others in my life, I am able to get back up again and then continue to live joyfully each day.

Getting Out of the Pit of Darkness and Depression

Shortly before God rescued me from my sins and from my hopelessness that I felt in life, I was on my last rope.  I had a teacher that I believed was verbally abusive. He told me in no uncertain terms that I would amount to very little in life. This was a message that I internalized for many years and it almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy, but God is merciful.  In addition to that, I felt much pressure from everyone around me, but most of all, myself, to do well academically in school and go to the college of my dreams.  Because this aforementioned teacher failed me and I felt trapped in this class, I felt hopeless and even suicidal at times.  Also, I didn’t have the emotional support of many of my peers or even most of my teachers.

Then, one day (see: testimony link for more details), one of the few friends that I had, invited me to her bible study at school. Even though I was not religious at the time, I was searching and wanted to please my friend, so I went. I didn’t become a follower of Christ right away, but after several months, one day in my bedroom, I gave my life to Christ.  This was the beginning of slowly (emphasis on the word “slowly”) getting out of the pit of darkness and depression.

College and my first taste of joy

A couple of years later, I went to college, albeit not the one of my dreams. I remember dorm life being very difficult and trying for me. However, there I met my first friends that encouraged me when I was depressed and helped me gain footing for my faith.

After college/The first signs of my growing in faith

The first two churches I attended after college gave me a foundation to my newfound faith in Christ.  They taught me who God was and how His influence could be applied to my life.  I also found more joy in the second of the two churches I attended because I felt like it was there that I felt the most loved.  When I was upset because of the stress of life, several people at this church supported me emotionally and reminded me of what I had in Christ.  They encouraged me to persevere in life. It was also during this time that I first developed a community of friends online, who also encouraged me in my trials and who I could encourage in theirs. I developed a sense of hope and a glimpse of joy in my life. However, my joy was not yet mature and there were still way too many times when I became depressed again.

Joy Grows By Leaps and Bounds

In June of 2013, I got my first job where I felt that I could do fairly well in it. Indeed many of the managers and associates valued my work there. I still talk to a few of the people I worked with there. There, I learned how to treat customers and clients, and more in-depth about the sales/retail industry and how things worked.  I also continued to build relationships with the people at the church I attended at the time.  This is the first time I remember that I could say that I had some semblance of joy in my life.  However, God had greater opportunities in store for me. In March of 2016, God was calling me to a different job, and in October of 2016, God was calling me to bless a new congregation as well.

My Current Life and How My Joy Has Grown Even More

How I got my current job was truly a miracle and a God-thing in itself. For more details on how I got my current job, see this link.  God has blessed me more in the past three years, than in the first thirty-or-so years of my life!  Besides getting a new job, I also went to a new church.  This church has been a godsend to me for many reasons. First of all, the pastor not only preaches great sermons applicable to my daily life, but he also lives what he preaches, something rare in these days, even among professing Christians.  Sure, he is not perfect, but he is humble enough to admit this.  Also, so many people in my current church have supported me and encouraged me in my faith or when I had problems at work or elsewhere.  Also, I love how this church prays for one another and aims to provide for those congregants in need.  Also, my mentor J has helped me a lot in this season of life to debunk the negative thoughts about myself that some people in the past had communicated to me through their attitudes, words, and actions.  She, as well as others in my life, have encouraged me to become more confident in my God-given abilities and see myself as God sees me, not as someone who is better than everyone else, but also not as someone who is worthless and bad either.  My current job has also been a tremendous blessing. Yes, there have been many difficult days and situations there too, but they –and also the blessings of my job—have both served to help me know God’s love for me better and have helped me become a better person.  Finally, it seems I have been able to let go of some of my past hurts and anger towards the ones that have hurt me. God has even helped me to either reconcile with these people or not let them affect my self-worth and attitude anymore (or at least less).

The Future of Joy

In the future, I would like to solidify my joy by dying to self. Yes, the concept of denying myself seems counterintuitive to my joy, but I don’t think it will.  This is because when one is living only for oneself, they often create strife and unhappiness for others, and because of that, end up miserable instead of truly joyous.  However, for me, dying to self will actually allow me more joy because I no longer have to worry about what others think of me and my desires will no longer be of urgent importance , and so I will no longer be so upset if I don’t get what I want in life.  For instance, if I do something nice for someone that some of my friends don’t get along with because I feel God prompting me to, I will no longer worry about my friends thinking I will “betray” them by doing something good for their “enemy”. I will be able to do it willingly and with joy because what my friends think will take a back seat to serving God and others.  Also, if my manager tells me to do something necessary (i.e.. something that their boss tells them must be done also) for the smooth running of the store but that feels stressful and uncomfortable, I will no longer feel the urge to complain and/or refuse to do it because I don’t like it. I will be more willing to do said thing with a better attitude and even joy than if my aim were to do things that I want to do just because I want to do them.

This is my journey to joy. It is on-going and there will be many stops and starts along the way, but I know with God’s help, my joy will become more and more mature.

Letter to My 13 Year Old Self

Dear 13 Year Old Me,

I know things have been difficult for you lately, and you feel that there is little meaning and purpose to your life.  You feel that no one would want to get to know the Real You if they found out all about you.  You feel that in order to be truly loved and accepted, you would have to be reasonably thin and look like a model in the magazines and in the movies. In other words, you have to not only be perfectly sociable, you have to look the part too, if there ever was such a thing.  Consequently, because you don’t measure up to these standards, you think that is why you don’t have any friends—or any confidence in who you are and what you are becoming.

You have a lot of other stressors too.  You just moved to a new house, and will move to a new school soon. The old house hasn’t sold yet, so your parents are busy with that and have less time for you.  You also feel the need to keep your grades up because you don’t want your parents to get upset at you and you want to be able to compete with the intelligence of your very smart younger brother.

You want to give up, or at least wish all these problems away. You want to run away from them because life is becoming increasingly unbearable for you.  Even in the midst of all the stress and anguish that you are facing, let me tell you, there is still hope for you.  Don’t you give up on life! I know it is very tough right now, but things WILL get better. I promise.

In fact, three years later, you will meet the Greatest Friend there is—Jesus Christ!  He won’t give a care how you look like or how sociable you are.  He will accept you. Just. as. you. are. He will change your life for the better. No longer will you have to worry about being loved and accepted by your peers and other people in your life, but you will be more and more secure in who you are because Jesus loves you!

You won’t have to worry about competing with your brother for grades. Heck, grades won’t even matter nine or ten years from now! You will even have a full-time job, though it will be different from what you imagine it to be, and even though it will be tough to get at first. God will make you and your brother successful in your own ways, so you won’t worry about competing with him anymore.

Moreover, you won’t have to rely on your parents alone or even your brother for affection and attention, because God will provide you with many friends. Though God will always be your Ultimate Friend, these other friends will help you see the goodness and love of God ever more clearly. Best of all, you will be able to open up about yourself more without fear of rejection or criticism because it won’t bother you anymore. God will always be with you, and He is the One that will ultimately matter the most to you.

Finally, don’t give up because God will do something great and wonderful in your life if you let Him. Your love for everyone and everything (except, of course, the devil and the evil in this world) will overflow to others. You will experience joy in your life like never before!

Keep going! God will help you through this!

Love,

Patricia (in her 30s)

How To Find Joy at Work

 

According to a Gallup Poll on the workplace in the U.S (where I come from), 67% of full-time employees are either “actively disengaged” or “disengaged” from their jobs, and do the bare minimum.  Many people hate their jobs or simply don’t care about what they do. That is very sad, because we spend an average of 8 hours (almost half of our days) at work. So, most of the day, or at least a good portion of the day, we are either apathetic or miserable, or both.  As an applecart upsetter, I try to buck this trend by actively doing the opposite of what most people do at work.  Even if the work seems mundane or thankless, this is what I have found gives me the joy I need to thrive at work:

  1. Work with a purpose.—Every day when you go to work, set goals for yourself. For instance, at my job if I found out that I have to make price labels for shelves, do returns, and straighten two different departments, all in the evening and by the end of my shift, I visualize and prioritize. For instance, if it is going to only take 10 minutes to do labels, I may do that first, if it is priority, but last if it doesn’t need to be done right away. Then, since returns take a long time to do, I get that out of the way first. When I straighten a department, I set a goal time for when I want to have it done. For instance, my regular area in my department it takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes to straighten everything nicely, but more time if it is busier with customers. So, on a busy day, I allow myself extra time to get things done so I am not in a panic or rush to get it done. I also do one section at a time, and not try to get overwhelmed by the whole area. Also, reward yourself when you reach your goals. For instance, if I finished early with my area, I may reward myself by going on break earlier.
  2. Work with the mindset of serving others, rather than just earning a paycheck.—Way back when (probably more than 10 years ago), I used to work hard, but with the mentality of “I want a fatter paycheck” rather than serving others. When I had to do things that I didn’t want to do, it was harder to do them. Why? Because my focus was all wrong. Yes, we do work to earn a paycheck, but that should not be the only purpose we have in working. When we work knowing that we can make a positive difference, we are more likely to work with passion and with more joy.  For instance, on Friday, I was tired and just wanted to “get through the day,” (i.e “do” my eight hours of labor), and consequently did not have a very good day that day. However, yesterday I refocused on why I was working there—to serve others and to show people God’s love, and ended up getting a lot done and having a much better day, despite staying an extra hour. Even though I stayed that extra hour, I was much more joyful and content in what I was able to accomplish than on Friday because rather than focusing on myself and my needs, I focused on other people in my workplace.
  3. Think about the positive things at your job, and do not dwell on the negatives.—Try not to take to heart the complaints that pour out from the people with who you work, and try to keep your own complaining to a minimum. Think about the positive things about your job. For instance, it helps me to remember the benefits that I get as a part of my company, the friends that I have made at work, and everything that I have learned from others at my job that I can apply to other areas of my life and be more successful at my job and in my career.  If you have learned anything beneficial from your job, there is something positive about where you work, no matter what other negatives lurk in your job. Yes, acknowledge things that need to be changed at your job and be an advocate for positive change, but do not dwell on the negative and be a voice of complaint. Not only will you not be pleasant to work with, but you will find your job to be increasingly unbearable for you.

These are the things that I have found that help me cultivate joy in my workplace. I work with a purpose and a clear vision of what I want to accomplish that day, and reward myself if necessary to help keep me motivated to do well.  I strive to work with a mindset of serving others and work as a team, rather than just earning money for me.  Finally, I think of all the positive aspects of my job. While I acknowledge things that need to be changed and continue to try to be a positive change agent at my job, I don’t dwell on the negative aspects at work.  What have you found that helps you enjoy work more? What do you think one should do to cultivate joy at work? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

 

How To Think Deeply

Besides sin, there is a malady that affects most of us at one time or another, and that is something my pastor calls “lazy thinking.” Lazy thinking, in my definition, is superficial and not concerned with the “why” and the purpose of life, but just the “now”.  It is primarily concerned with self.  Deep thinking, on the other hand, is concerned with the “whys” of life and the “points” or purposes of life. It can be concerned with self, but usually extends to how we affect others around us and leaving a good legacy for future generations to follow. Many people never get to experience the joys and the fulfillment of thinking more deeply or philosophically about life. One can think deeply, no matter what one’s beliefs are.  Here is what I have learned about how to think more deeply and how to apply this type of thinking to all facets of your life. :

  1. Think about the legacy you’re leaving or how you want to be remembered: Although I was often depressed during the toughest years of my life (for more information, see this post), I was able to think a bit more about the legacy I was leaving and what I should change in order to have a good one. I think this is a good practice, even if you are not depressed.  You don’t have to think about your death or how you want to leave this world every single day, but periodically to make sure you’re on track to leave a good mark in this world.  If you don’t leave a good legacy, few, if any, will miss or remember you after you are dead, and that is never a good thing.  However, if you strive now to live purposely to have a good legacy, you will more likely to be remembered well after you die. For instance, Jesus left a lasting legacy because He constantly thought of how He was impacting others for God, and tailored His attitudes, words, and actions to that goal. Ghandi and Mother Teresa similarly did the same. We should follow their lead, and periodically evaluate ourselves to see if we are living the life we would like to live and positively impact others.
  2. Think about how you are affecting others, not just yourself: The problem with a lot of people, including myself sometimes, is that we do things without thinking about the impact we’re making on others and how we are affecting other people’s attitudes and actions. For instance, when we are upset with someone, words often spew out of our mouth (reflecting the state and content of our hearts, sadly enough) without pause or thought. For instance, in a previous post, I talked about how people said things out of anger to me without thinking, and how I have sometimes said some hurtful words back to them.  At the time, we are not probably thinking, “Oh, if I say ‘A’ I will hurt that person and our relationship will be strained for years. Furthermore, he or she won’t be able to forgive me and we will both have hate and bitterness in our hearts.” We may just want to get the anger off our chests and are only thinking about ourselves and our feelings, not the other person’s.  However, when we think more deeply, we are not only less likely to get upset and bitter at others, but we are also able to understand and love them better.  We will think about how what we want to do will affect the other person, and be more willing and open to learning and understanding about other people.
  3. Think about why you do what you do: For every action you do, there is most likely a reason why you do it. We may not always think about why we are doing what we’re doing, but there is always a reason. Thinking about why we do what we do has several benefits. One of them is that you will start to do things with purpose, and not just to do them. For instance, if I really thought about why I work, I would come up with these reasons. A.) I work to earn money, so I can live. B) I work to serve others so that I can impact the world positively and more importantly, glorify God.  C) I work to glorify God—I work because God says it’s good for me, and also to make Him happy.  Knowing and thinking about these “whys,” I then am able to tailor my attitude and actions towards this goal. When I am thinking about these goals or credos, I am more likely to work harder and to keep a positive attitude. If, however, I am stressed and/or not really thinking about my purpose in working, the quality of my work starts to suffer and my attitude often sours into an “I-don’t care” mentality or “Let’s just get this done and over with” frame of mind.  This thinking about the “whys” in your life can extend to all other areas of my life as well. For instance, if you are a breadwinner for your family, and are thinking about why you are providing for them you may come up with these reasons. A.) To glorify God—to make Him happy and give Him the worship He deserves.  B) To serve my family well.  C) To be a good example of service and care for my children.  Then, you can tailor your life to these goals by, for example, a.) Excelling at your job. b) Cook or help your spouse cook.  ) joyfully serve my family

These are just some of the benefits of thinking deeply. When we think about the legacy we’re leaving, think about how we are affecting others other than ourselves, and think about why we do what we do, our life will be much more fulfilling and purposeful.  We will also think about what we are doing when we are tempted to hurt someone with our words or actions. We will have a much better attitude towards others. Drink of the deep today, and think about what and why you do what you do.

The Grinch of Christmas: Harms of Commercialization

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I want to know, what does Christmas mean to you? What do you think it is supposed to mean? For many, it means celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and all He represents.  For others, it may mean spending more time with family and other loved ones.  For still others, it means getting people the best gifts ever.

Though Christmas and the holiday season are supposed to be joyous times, many people become stressed and even disillusioned. One of the major reasons why people may be disillusioned is reflected in the results of a Pew Research poll*, where 33% of those surveyed dislike the commercialization of Christmas, and I agree with the 33%. Here is why I believe the commercialization of Christmas is harmful to the holiday and to us:

  1. It misses the point.—Christmas is primarily not about the gifts we receive from loved ones, but commercialization makes Christmas only about the material things we give and receive. Commercialization is very superficial in this aspect. Commercialization can make us so affixed to the gift aspects of Christmas, that we completely miss the real point of Christmas—celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and what He means to us.  The word Christmas even contains “Christ” in it!  We are supposed to remember the founder of Christmas—Jesus, not just see if we can get the best gifts or give the flashiest and most elegant gifts.
  2. It creates more stress than is necessary.—Besides missing the point of the true meaning of Christmas, it creates a lot more stress than is needed for this time of year. A lot of people, because we have created a society of entitlement and materialism, stress out about what gifts to give others.  They think if they don’t give just the right gift the receiver will not only be disappointed come Christmas, but also may think less of them (the giver).  Some people also stress out about how much they can afford (more on that later) and how much they should or shouldn’t give a particular person. Also, a lot of people buy and cook elaborate meals for this holiday. Now, I am in no way against people cooking good food and having elaborate meals to celebrate Christmas and other December holidays,  but sometimes they get so stressed during the preparation of the meal that they are unable to enjoy themselves or their loved ones, a lot like Martha in the Bible who was trying to prepare an elaborate meal for Jesus and the other guests there without taking the time to get to know him or anyone else there.
  3. People that are marginalized are left out of the celebration when the holidays become commercialized.—Because of all the emphasis this time of year on gift giving, people who are struggling financially or in other ways, are often left out of being able to participate in this aspect. Imagine seeing your friends being able to afford fancy jewelry for their loved ones, and you would like to give one of them to your mom who is sick or dying, but not having enough to buy it. However, if the true meaning and the more spiritual aspects of Christmas were emphasized more, the joy and the hope that Christmas has to offer would be able to be realized by even society’s marginalized!  The privileged in this society would give to those who are more marginalized because they would know and understand that everyone deserves joy and peace this Christmas, not just themselves.  More people would be less materialistic and put more time in to help the hurting and needy, and spend more time with those who matter most to them.

 

These are just some of the harmful aspects of commercialization. Of course, I am not against shopping, as I do a share bit of that myself. However, rather than stress out about food preparations and gifts to give loved ones and friends this holiday season, let’s think about the true meaning of Christmas, and cherish those we love. Finally, let’s bring joy and hope to those who find this time of year difficult.

 

 

*Source: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/18/celebrating-christmas-and-the-holidays-then-and-now/

 

What I Learned From the Toughest Years of My Life

DISCLAIMER: Triggers for talk of eating disorders, abuse, and suicide.  Absolutely no disparaging comments about anyone, or your comment will be deleted! I will also put resources for anyone or a loved one you know that needs them. Remember, there is still hope as long as one is still alive!

 

On April 9, 1999, I wrote the following, a desperate cry from the depths of my soul: I feel dead without actually being killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. I want to get better… […] If I could only find that zest, that greatness, life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?” This was a year before God took a hold of my heart, the year that my faith hero, Rachel Joy Scott and thirteen other lives were taken in the infamous mass shooting in Colorado.  This was also the year that I was verbally abused by a teacher, and he instilled a fear so great that it was fifteen years later before I was able to overcome it.  I don’t recall having any close friends at all at this time. I remember having a lot of tough classes too.

The years before that were not so much better. Three years earlier, I struggled with an eating disorder, which thankfully did not end up with me being in the hospital, though it almost got to that point.  I struggled with being bullied and verbally abused by a good number of my peers. I don’t recall being invited to any parties or gatherings with friends, unless I asked them first, and even then people didn’t really want to hang out with me.

During those years, from 1996-1999, were the toughest years of my life. Though I thought the pain would never end and I didn’t know if there was anything different for my life, I learned so much from these years of pain that I continue to strive to apply to my life today.  Here are some of them:

  1. Don’t reject someone just because they are different or needy.—I felt rejected by a lot of people during those years. Some people probably didn’t want to be with me, simply because I wasn’t “cool” to them. I didn’t have the right clothes, the right look. Some thought I was unkind because I was a bit depressed at times, without them taking the time to figure out what was wrong and invest in me.  Yes, there are times when it may not be safe to invest in someone at the time, but at least don’t assume they are “rude” or “arrogant” without learning their story. What if that “rude” (read: really depressed or angry) person’s parent or spouse recently died or is being abusive to them? What if they are going through things that they don’t tell you about because they assume you are too judgmental to caringly listen to them? You never know what another is going through. For instance, some people at my job may seem rude and abrasive at times, but then I find out that they are going through some things that are really traumatizing and/or difficult, and because of my experiences during those tough years that I mention, God helps me to listen with compassion, and I try to encourage and be a listening, supportive friend to them.
  2. Be careful of hurting someone with your words. It can ruin or hurt their very souls.–This is what happened to me when a teacher (I am not upset at him anymore….and if you are reading this today, I forgive you and I wish you the best) verbally abused me so badly that he instilled a fear that took me a long time to overcome. I think I internalized what he had said to me, and just gave up hope of ever becoming competent in the subject matter that he taught.  It wasn’t until my mentor, J, pushed me, that I was able to overcome this fear several years ago. I was also verbally teased and berated by my peers at school, who made me feel like an outcast and a pariah.  This is why when I say something out of anger that could really hurt someone, I apologize as quickly as possible.  This is also why I try to build up people, rather than tear them down. I want to improve other people’s lives and prevent them from ever having to suffer as I did with hurtful words.
  3. Pain and heartache may last awhile, but it doesn’t usually last forever—During those tough years, sometimes I thought so much that my emotional hurt and anguish I felt would never end, that I wanted to end it all. However, I am living proof that joy does come in the morning, as it says somewhere in the Bible. The next year, not only did the pain subside, but God also came into my life! Shortly after I graduated from college, I met one of my closest friends to this day. Almost two years ago, I started this blog, God’s Whisperings.  About a year ago, I became full-time at my current job. There is hope, as long as you are still alive. The pain may take some time to subside, but hang in there, so you don’t miss the hope, the love, and the joy you can have if you persevere in life and don’t give up.

These are major things that I learned during the toughest years of my life. I hope if you are going through a similarly tough time, whether it be dealing with a loss of a loved one (My grandmother died in 1996.),  dealing with abuse or bullying, struggling with an illness, whether it be physical or mental, or any other tough situation, that you will know that you are not alone.  I hope you will know that there is hope for your life, no matter how desperate or bleak it looks right now.  And I hope that you know that good will come out of this tough situation, even if you can’t see it right now. Don’t give up.

 

Resources for those dealing with some tough situations:

  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)- This is an organization that helps people and their families dealing with mental health issues.  https://www.nami.org/Find-Support
  • Suicide Hotline- https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
  • Grief counseling/support groups page—This is a webpage dedicated to helping those who have lost a loved one and are looking for support or ways to get through it. https://grief.com/group-resources/
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network)—This is a website dedicated to those who have been sexually abused and/or assaulted. There is a hotline one can call in a life-threatening situation or just for support.  https://www.rainn.org/
  • Jodie Blanco—She is an advocate who speaks on behalf of the bullied, both people who are currently being bullied, and adult survivors of bullying. There are some great resources for survivors themselves, parents, and teachers. There are even some resources on how bullying in schools can be stopped. http://www.jodeeblanco.com/

 

 

How To Stay Motivated at Work

In my line of work, the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and other holidays) are the busiest times of the year, and it can get overwhelming at times. This may (or may not…) be happening at your job too, and all the busyness of both work and/or the holiday season can not only be overwhelming but also be a motivation drainer for some. Of course, lack of motivation, in general, can happen at any time during the year to anyone, whether one is employed or not.  However, these are some things that I have found for me useful in staying motivated at one’s job—whether, it be full-time, part-time, seasonal, or by contract.:

  1. Work to serve others.—Work, to me, is more than just earning one’s paycheck, though it is that too. When we work, we also normally come in contact with other people. Even when you work from home, you may come in contact with people virtually, and we still must respond to their needs in a satisfactory way, or risk losing our job! Ever since I worked at my previous job, I have strived to have this mindset.  For instance, yesterday was a very stressful day at work. I had more than my fair share of work to do, but I still tried to do a little more. Why? I did not want to overwork the closing managers, since I know how hard they work and how little sleep and time to themselves they often get to serve us, compared to myself.  I don’t say this just to “toot my own horn,” but to show that if you find ways to serve others and put a smile on other people’s faces, work will be very motivating and yes, even worth whatever you earn. If you work in a toxic or a stressful environment, this is especially true. Also, Jesus said in various places in the Bible, in so many words, that we should exist to serve others before ourselves.  Ghandi also lived his life to serve others.
  2. Find something new to learn every day.—Have the mindset of a little child. I don’t mean throw a tantrum or act otherwise immaturely but have the curiosity of a little child. Find something to learn every day when you are at work. For instance, at my job, I could find out something about a product that I didn’t notice before, or get to know a customer or a fellow co-worker better.  If you work with computer programs at work, explore it a bit more when you have some downtime, or find something unique or interesting about the data being presented to you. If there are ways to move up in your company, try to learn some of the things that the next- highest ranked person at your job does. For instance, someday I would like to be a department manager at my job. I am trying to learn some of the things that they have to do to succeed in their job now, little by little, so by a certain time, I will be well-qualified and well-trained.
  3. Strive for excellence.—Along with trying to learn something new every day, always, always strive for excellence. When we do something half-heartedly or with no heart at all, that is when our motivation to work is already waning. While I would not recommend trying to reach perfection like I often try to do, I would definitely strive for excellence. Do your best at everything that your job requires. You may not be good at everything your job requires, but always remember to do your best. For instance, a long time ago, I had a job where I was really bad at it and had to go to a different department, but they still had some respect for me. Why?  Because they knew I was trying my best.  Thankfully, I have a job now where I can do fairly well. However, I still am striving for excellence and trying to refine the things I don’t do as well better and keep on doing the things I do well, well. If you already excel at your job, try to outdo yourself and refine anything that you can do better. You probably WILL find something if you are honest with yourself and your abilities.  Don’t have an “I- don’t- care” attitude about your job. Not only will you dread coming to work each day but also you will most likely end up doing less than your best. If you find yourself having this attitude for more than a month or so, you should do yourself and your company a favor and look for a job that better suits you. Yes, I understand that finding work can be difficult, but it is better in the long run to find something that suits you in the end than being stuck at a job you hate or don’t care about –for years.

 

These are the things that I have found that have helped me stay motivated at work, even when things were stressful. I work to serve others so that I can make a positive contribution to my workplace and to society. I strive to find something to learn every day that I am at work, and finally, I do my best by always striving for excellence.  Applying these things to my life are some of the reasons why I am able to find joy and purpose in the work that God has placed before me. How do you personally stay motivated at your job? Do you find fulfillment in a day’s work? Please feel free to discuss in comments.

How I Overcame Depression This Year (and how you can too!)

On and off depressive episodes have been a part of my life since I was ten years old.  Sometimes, I cry for what seems like forever and a day, and sometimes I just become numb to everything around me, while hiding the turmoil inside. Though, when you meet me, I may seem happy and bubbly, for years it was only an unconscious façade to prevent myself from dealing with all the feeling of inferiority, self-hatred, and unfulfilled desires I had inside.

Then, some major changes in both my life situations and perspectives happened last year that fueled my motivation to beat depression once and for all this year. I still do struggle sometimes, but the depressive episodes are getting fewer and fewer. In my life situations, these four events fueled some major changes:

  1. My brother moved away.
  2. I got a new job.
  3. I went to a different church home after being at my previous one for over ten years!
  4. I started blogging more.

Here is what I learned from these events that have helped me overcome depression and enjoy some of the most joyful moments of my life. :

  1. I forgave those who hurt me.—There have been many people that have hurt me in the past. After several people hurt me emotionally a few months ago, I talked to one of the pastors at my church and he told me to “kill them with kindness” and directed me to the passages in the Bible where it said to “Love your enemies,” and “heap burning coals upon [my enemies’] head[s],” by loving and serving them anyway. It was in that moment that I realized what I wanted out of the people who hurt me and why it wasn’t working.—I wanted those that hurt me to stop hurting me! I had thought that by refusing to forgive them, I was, in essence, “punishing” them and giving them a taste of their own medicine that they deserved. However, in reality, what was happening was that I was hurting myself, and the people who hurt me not only continued to unconsciously hurt me because I was harboring so much anger and bitterness towards them, but also probably didn’t care or even know that they were still hurting me!  So, I believe God told me to “let go of the anger” because it really wasn’t accomplishing anything I wanted anyway, and I followed my pastor’s advice of intentionally doing good to them to help me heal from my anger and bitterness towards them.  Not only was I able to forgive these people, but our relationship was rekindled as well!
  2. I cultivated my dream of being a writer by blogging.—After starting and stopping blogging for about five years (I had accounts in other social media forms that are deactivated and I no longer use), I finally created this one in December 2015, but really made a commitment to regularly blog after getting my new job last year.  In addition to that, I joined a blogging group on Facebook, which has been a huge blessing and has helped me in many ways.  I am planning to monetize my blog sometime late this year or sometime next year, and/or do some affiliate work with this blog.  Writing has not only soothed me but has enabled me to communicate to others in ways I never thought possible.
  3. I woke up my motivation to learn about many different things in this world to increase my knowledge and so I could help and teach others.—This motivation and love of learning were really what woke up in me in two ways. First of all, my pastors’ sermons are always relevant to what I am going through and about the world around me. To apply what I learned, I felt that I could take what he taught and learn more about the topic. For instance, once he preached on creation, and that made me want to learn about how the world was created and about the different creatures that inhabit this planet.  Secondly, in the blogging group, I am a part, I have to read others’ blogs in order to get people to respond to mine and stay a good standing member of the group. This rule has helped me to learn about many different topics from fashion and travel to tips on how to better my blog! What are some things you can learn about the world around you?  What are some things that you can learn that your family and/or friends are interested in? I would try to learn about these things so you can better the world, make a difference in others’ lives, and also for your own enrichment.
  4. I embraced my spirituality more deeply.—As you may be able to tell from the title of the blog, “God’s Whisperings,” I take my Christianity quite seriously. However, before this past year, my devotions with God were lacking in quality and depth and I just didn’t feel as close to Him or to the people around me.  That changed when one of the pastors at my church did a bible study on doing devotions with God. Following his teachings, I was able to have a more effective and enjoyable time with God. Also, I tried to apply what I learned spiritually to other parts of my life too, such as my job and the friendships that I had with others, both in and out of work.
  5. I learned to enjoy and value my time more.—Before I got my current job, I felt that I was bored and had too much time on my hands. Now, with my free time being much more limited, I value my time more. I try to find something to enjoy in the moment I’m in now.  I no longer fear being bored or unfulfilled, because I now realize something always can be done, even if it is something as simple as prayer.  I learned that even if I have to spend some time with difficult people that something good still can be learned from them.  My pastor has repeatedly said, “Time is life.” I want to enjoy all the time that I have left because I can see all around me how precious life is and how limited time really is and how we should never waste it.
  6. I learned to love others more unconditionally.—As time goes on, I see all the pain and hurt that many people I know have to go through, often times on a daily basis. I also, unfortunately, see a lot of hate and indifference in this world, and I think that is tragic. So, because of this, I have resolved to strive to be different and counter all this hatred and anger with love and compassion.  I have tried (but still struggle with) being more patient with others, and putting others ahead of myself. I learned not only to forgive those that hurt me but to love people no matter what.
  7. I strived for excellence in everything I do.—It does me no good to just do something “to get by.” Nothing is more rewarding than to know that your hard work was all worth it. I strive for excellence in everything I do because it motivates me to constantly better myself and to learn new things.  Also, I have seen that when I do something with all my heart, that it is more rewarding than if I do something half-heartedly.
  8. I never gave up even though at times I wanted to, even though at times I failed in life, or even when obstacles had stood in my way.—There were a few times when I just wanted to give up. However, God didn’t allow me, and that has made all the difference. When I failed either morally or in other ways, yes I got upset, but then I picked myself up and tried again.  When obstacles stood in my way, there was always a way around it. When I wanted to give up, I thought of the negative consequences of actually giving up like not being able to accomplish my goals in life and not being able to be a positive influence in this world.  These things and often deliverance from a bad situation or situations gave me the motivation I needed to go on.

These are just some of the things I learned to do this year (and last) that helped me overcome my depression. How have you coped with or overcome depression, if you have struggled with it?  How has your life circumstances helped you to more effectively cope with life’s stresses? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

Biggest Lie Society Taught Me To Believe (and how to counter it)

Disclaimer: This post is inspired by a question asked of writer Todd Brison on Quora. You can find his website here.

The lie that society has taught me to believe since I was about two years old when I was rejected by people at a daycare center, is that one’s worth is dependent on how much you accomplish and/or are to other people. Maybe there are some of you who have or are still believing this very lie. It’s easy to believe, especially if you live in a developed country like I do. The phrase “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps,” comes from this mentality. It says that, basically, we should be self-made and need minimal, if any, help from others. This mentality also does not take into account or value those who are disabled or otherwise cannot do certain things all by themselves. It may see people who need help of any kind as  “weaker,” more “useless,” or somehow “less valuable,” than their able-bodied counterparts.  The only benefit to believing this lie is that it forces you to be diligent and not lazy. However, the drawbacks, in my mind, are not worth this benefit.  First of all, it devalues people. It not only devalues the disabled or sick but also everyone else because it reduces our worth to be only what we do and if we are “useful” to society or not. Racism and other forms of prejudice derive from this mentality that other people are worth less because of what they do or don’t do in society.  Also, this lie is a form of pride.  Believing this lie does not allow one to get the help and support they need, because of the stigma of shame and embarrassment of feeling “worthless”  if they admit they need help. If one accomplishes success in society’s eyes, this person may become arrogant and look down upon others. Finally, this lie sometimes influences people to spend their life on things that are not as essential, such as becoming a workaholic to the expense of his or her health and loved ones.  Because this society is accomplishment driven, some people may chase after money, power, sex, or work to the point of being obsessed with them and delve into becoming an addict, which is never good.  If this society based someone’s worth more on how they beautiful and unique they are, for instance, instead of just what they can contribute to society, this wouldn’t be such an issue.

Here are some ways we can counter this lie and its effects:

  1. Value people.–I have written several times on how we should value people. For these posts see this and this.  However, it is worth repeating.  One way we can value people more is to thank people for the good that they do to us and others. For instance, if you see a colleague or a boss take the initiative to help you with some of your work because they see it may overwhelm you, say ” Thank you. I appreciate your help.”  They are not obligated to help you, but the fact that they did anyway needs to be acknowledged not only for their sake but also for yours as well.  Another way we can value people is to encourage people when they feel upset or depressed. Tell and show people that they are still worthy of love even if they don’t accomplish everything they desire or hope.
  2. Demonstrate and encourage humility.–One way to demonstrate humility is to genuinely apologize when you make a mistake or offend someone. Never say, “I’m sorry, but…,” because you are just excusing what you did, which is not a real apology.  The correct way to apologize and make amends with someone you offended is to a.) I am sorry I did x and that I hurt you by doing x. I will promise to try to never do that again. Will you forgive me?” b.) Work to not only offer restitution for the loss the offended party incurred by your mistake or sin but also to never offend them again. Another way to show humility is to be willing to be vulnerable. Never be afraid to ask for someone else’s help or admit that you are not perfect.  Yes, it is a risk sometimes. Many people aren’t willing to be vulnerable because they are afraid of what others will think of them and that they will be rejected. That used to be me too in the past. Now, I am not so afraid anymore, because I now know that their opinion really doesn’t matter. It is what God thinks of me that really counts. Also, the people that reject us for being vulnerable and honest with them are probably insecure themselves, and striving to please them is really a waste of time because they will never be satisfied with anything we can give them anyway.
  3. Be successful in things that will matter for eternity, or for your eternal memory, not just on things that will only last in your earthly life.–Yes, it is good to be successful at one’s job or career, or get good grades. I don’t object to this at all. In fact, I encourage it!  However, what I’m saying is don’t focus so much on worldly success that you miss what really counts or what memory you will leave on this earth after your life ends.  In order to be truly successful, I believe one of the things people should focus on besides God is the relationships you have on this earth with other people. How are you treating those you profess to love or care about? This is something I think (me included) can do better. Do not be so focused on worldly goals that you miss the eternal and the spiritual, and your relational goals.

If we do these three things, this lie can be seen for the farce it is. People are inherently valuable, not because they can do a lot of good for us, or even the world, but because each person is unique and special in how they were created to be. Value and cherish others today, and never think that we are only as good as what we do.