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.

Some People Who Have Strengthened Me (and what I learned from them)

By myself, I don’t think I would be a very strong person. However, with these and more people and the power of my God, I am strong.  There really is strength in numbers! These people have strengthened me either/both spiritually and emotionally. I am very glad that these people were brought into my life!

Without further ado, here are some people who have strengthened me in my life and what I have learned from them during those times:

  1. My parents—My parents have been there for me through thick and thin. They have strengthened me by instilling good principles in me for living a successful life, such as the value of hard work and sacrifice. For instance, my dad has worked long hours at his job, not necessarily because he enjoys it, but in order to provide for his family. Not only does he work long hours, but he works very hard when he is at his job. He does not dawdle, but is industrious. My mom has also sacrificed a lot for my family and me. She not only often picked me up, but also helped me with my homework when I needed to be aided.
  2. My brother—My brother has strengthened me emotionally by always helping me see the reality of things when depression or anxiety has clouded my mind. For instance, I was telling him about the stress at my job and how anxious I was that I was not going to get everything done on time, even though I tried my best. I was afraid that I would be penalized by not getting what I needed to done by the end of my shift.  He told me, in so many words, that I was worrying for nothing because a.) Even when I got assigned to a lot of things and didn’t get it done, the managers were understanding. b) I often got things done anyway.  He also told me that I could start prioritizing my tasks so that I wouldn’t have to “eat” the whole assignment at once, but I could just do it bit by bit, eventually getting everything done!
  3. J—My mentor J has also strengthened me by believing in me and that I could accomplish great things before she even saw evidence of anything I did! She helped me find a job and be able to overcome some of my major fears. Some of the things I learned from her are to never give up and to not doubt the abilities that God has given me.  For instance, before I got my current and previous jobs, I did not envision myself being able to work with so many people and be successful at it, but J told me to try anyway. I did, and although there are some difficult times for me, I believe that God has given me success in what I thought I could never do before.  When I wanted to give up on myself, she pushed me to move past my fears and insecurities, and persevere.
  4. My manager I—My manager I has strengthened me in a similar way to J. In the time that I have known her, she has believed in my abilities and has helped me succeed further at work by helping me to both persevere and to learn new skills need to move up in the company. Even though she has a lot on her plate, she tries to find time to help me and to motivate me to continue learning new things.  Even when I didn’t do well one time, she said, “This isn’t you.” because she knew that I could do better and believed in my ability to do better next time.
  5. My (former?) manager Chris*–Chris has helped me learn the value of patience and perseverance. He not only interviewed me for my current job about two years ago and influenced the store manager to hire me, but also helped me personally as well. For instance, when I was stressed out about something, he took the time to call my house and explain the situation to me, something I’m sure not a lot of managers these days are willing to do.  I have learned so much from him and my manager I.
  6. My friend Veronica* –During some particularly trying times in my life, my friend Veronica encouraged me and validated me.  I remember at least one time (probably much more though) where when I wanted to give up on life and on love, she gave me words of hope to persevere in God’s call for me.  She has always affirmed me, especially when I felt like I couldn’t affirm myself.
  7. My friend Erica*–She has always believed in me and my God-given goals in life. Like my brother, she helps me think logically through situations so that I don’t get an unrealistically pessimistic view on things. She has always been willing to spend time with me when she visits, and is willing to invest in me and others around her.  Her perseverance and her care have always been an inspiration to me.

 

 

These are some of the people that have strengthened me. These people are some of the most amazing people I know because they believed in me even when I was at my worst, and gave me hope when I was in despair and didn’t believe it would be better.  I will be forever grateful for them and what they have done to strengthen me.  Who are the people in your life that have strengthened you (especially during difficult times)? What have you learned from them? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

 

*=pseudonyms to protect privacy

My Goals in 2018

I used to not participate in New Year’s Resolutions or Goal-Making. I felt it was setting myself up for failure, especially if I did not achieve what I wanted in life.  So, I used to avoid doing resolutions, almost like the plague.  However, in 2017, God has given me a greater motivation to make and achieve goals. The goals that I will make for the year 2018, I believe, not only feed my drive for success but cater to my two overarching purposes in life:

  • To glorify God in everything.
  • To show people the love that God has already constantly shown me.

Here are some of my 2018 goals and how I strive to achieve them:

Spiritual/Personal Goals

  1. Cope with my anger issues more effectively
    • Count to ten before expressing my anger.
    • Take deep breaths when anxious or uncomfortable.
    • Think about the positives of the current situation (even if it is a mostly negative situation)
    • Try to refocus on my overarching purposes in life (Glorify God and show people God’s love)
    • Try to think about the negative consequences of inappropriately expressing my anger, and so avoid becoming angry in the first place.
  2. Get out of my comfort zone to glorify God at least once a week.
    • Do something kind for another person even if it inconveniences me a little bit.
    • Don’t complain or get upset when asked to do something uncomfortable, but see it as an opportunity to glorify God and die to self.
  3. Read through the Old Testament in a year and also part of the New Testament (since I will have already read through it this year. At this time of writing, I am only 5 or 6 chapters away from finishing Revelation)
    • Read at least 2 Old Testament chapters a day, and 1 New Testament chapter on Weekends.
    • If I miss a day, do the readings on the day that I missed.
  4. Don’t worry as much about things.
    • Think of ways to solve the problem/issue at hand other than worrying
    • Memorize Romans 8:28.
    • Focus on how God will bring good out of the situation and focus on His goodness and that He’s not trying to hurt me.
    • Memorize Jeremiah 29:11.
  5. Think more positively about others.
    • Say to myself, “This person is not out to maliciously hurt me. They just want to get through the day.”
    • Remind myself that everyone has a story and is probably going through something or has gone through something that is painful or challenging. (Re: “Be kind quote”)
    • Recall positive qualities about said person or persons.
    • Thank everyone that does something truly kind for someone (including me).

Work (Day Job) goals

  1. Get a reward (a pin) by providing excellent customer service.
    • Ask myself, “How can I go above and beyond for this person?”
    • Walk the customer whenever possible to the item they are looking for.
    • Apologize if you cannot find the item the customer is looking for, and ask someone else who knows the item better than me.
    • Look for every possible way (if possible) to help customers find the item or items they are looking for.
  2. Pass the test to become a department manager
    • Learn at least 3 department manager related things
    • Be more intentional about being a “to-be leader” in my department
    • Take the test by August 2018.
  3. Get returns done in an average of less than 45 minutes
    • Walk the department before work or the first few minutes of work to see if there are any changes to the mods to know the department even better.
    • Be willing to work different areas of the store, so to know other departments too.
  4. Learn at least 3 department manager related things
    • Set up times with manager I (or whoever the manager is) to learn DM stuff.
    • Take the iniative to ask the current department manager or managers about how to do certain things.
    • Practice more DM things, over and over, until I am good at said thing.
  5. Be a trained cashier.
    • In January or February of 2018, ask to train for cashiering.
    • Train at least 2x a week.
    • Memorize and learn what is needed to be known for cashiering.

Blogging Goals

  1. Get started with affiliate marketing.
    • Find a Hosting Website
    • Join at least 3 affiliate marketing programs/companies.
    • Review products for them at least 2 to 3 times a week.
  2. Earn money from affiliate marketing (see goal #1 under blogging)
  3. Write a total of at least 200 posts (combined from this year and 2015 year)
    • Consistently write at least 2 X a week.
    • Write a variety of posts but sticking to the motivational/spiritual/social justice themes.
    • Write more poetry or how-to posts.
  4. Get up to a total of at least 500 posts total.
    • (See goal #4 under blogging)
  5. Write a blog post at least 2x a week
    • Set up a time before or after work to write OR write at least a blog post each of the two days that I am off work.
    • Have at least 10 different topics to write about each month (probably more) so I will have content to write about.
    • Write a little more poetry reflecting on spiritual/ motivational/social justice themes, of course.
  6. Get more followers on Pinterest and Twitter
    • Join more blogging groups
    • Engage more with others on these websites
    • Promote other people’s content

These are some of my goals for the year 2018. I know it is quite a hefty list, and I may not achieve all of them. However, this list will motivate me to live better and become a more engaged and motivated individual in life. What are your goals in 2018? Do you also avoid making goals like I did in the past, or do you make resolutions every year? Please feel free to comment.

Top 10 Most Influential Life Teachers

According to Merriam-Webster, a life teacher, or what is more commonly known as a mentor, is “a trusted counselor or guide.” I have had the fortunate experience of having had many mentors throughout my life. I would love to be a mentor myself to others too.  Though I believe we can learn something from everyone, here are some life teachers that have profoundly shaped my life, besides God (Who has provided these teachers and therefore is the Ultimate Teacher, or Mentor) and some of what they taught me:

  1. My mom and dad—They have taught me so much about life, not only because they are my parents but also for the example that they give me. They have both taught me the value and rewards of hard work. They both emphasize and follow this ethic themselves. My mom has worked tirelessly serve her family, and my dad has worked many hours at his job to provide for his family. It was my dad who actually told me that it is better to try your very best and fail than to do moderately good, but the work you did was not your very best.  I try to apply that to my own life, especially at my job. Even when some of the people around me may not be up to doing their best work at my job all the time, I still strive to do my best because of my parents’ example and because I want to serve my God in the best way possible.
  2. J—Ever since I met her, she has been a great mentor to me. She taught me to stretch myself beyond what I ever thought was possible and believe in myself and the abilities that God has given to me. She also taught me how to overcome my fears and anxieties, and not be too comfortable with the norm, because “the norm” will never get one anywhere in life. When I wanted to give up on myself, J urged me on. For instance, when I didn’t think it was possible for me to get a good job, she helped and encouraged me to get the resources available to me in order to be able to find a job that suited my abilities and interests, which I never thought I’d be able to access.   Best of all, even when no one else had believed in me, she did!
  3. My friend Barbara*–I met Barbara at my previous church eleven years ago. Although we don’t get to see each other much anymore, she still has had a profound impact in my life. She helped me see things realistically, instead of just through my own emotional lenses, which often turns out to be wrong or distorted in ways. She taught me how to be a better Christian and how to trust God more. The lessons that she has taught me has helped me to resolve conflicts quicker and to get out of my own stubborn shell to be able to see things as they really are, instead of just through my distorted lens.
  4. My former pastor Frank Taylor—Pastor Frank became the pastor at my previous church seven years ago. Though he has since been called to a different church, the impact that he had on me while still at my previous church was profound. He was the pastor that first taught me the value of humility.  One example of him teaching this value to the congregation at the time was when people were complaining about him saying something that they felt was offensive. Many pastors I know would just profusely defend themselves and never apologize. Yes, Pastor Frank did also explain himself, but he almost immediately wrote a formal letter of apology to the congregation and asked for their forgiveness. Not a lot of people in his position of power I know would go to such lengths to apologize.  He also openly preaches about the struggles he has had in life, and how he learned from them, instead of trying to hide them from others.
  5. My current pastor David Shoaf—Pastor Shoaf, as he is often called, has also had a profound impact on my current life. He has also taught me important lessons on humility. Not only is he careful not to talk too much about himself, he also preaches in such a way that we can adequately reflect on what he is saying. He has said that he wants his messages to be such that people are forced to look in the mirror of their lives to make sure their lives are matching up with what they say they believe.  Not only are his messages always relevant to my life, but the way he lives also accentuates his messages!  He has faithfully served my current church for over 40 years!  In the way he lives, he has taught me gratitude (He profusely thanked us when we had a party in honor of him and his birthday this past summer.),  faithfulness (He has faithfully served this church for many years and has been married for about the same time as well.) ,  humility (He doesn’t like to draw too much attention to himself), and kindness (He always tries to get to know how people in the church are doing and tries to talk to each new guest that attends our church for the first time.).
  6. my manager Chris*–Although I have only known him for about a year and a half, he has taught me a lot about myself and life. In a previous post, I discuss some of the things he has taught me. See this link for more information. One of the other things that I didn’t emphasize in the previous post is that he has taught me patience and the value of service. He taught me through the good he has done for others that doing good is always worth it even if you don’t get rewarded right away. He has taught me to be less self-centered and more others-centered.  He has also taught me how to be patient.  Though I still struggle with patience, I have learned that I can wait for certain things and not be anxious about it. For instance, I needed to talk to one of my managers about something, but was told that I had to wait. Ordinarily, if it was even remotely important, I might be anywhere from slightly annoyed to throwing an anxious fit about it due to my anxiety issues! However, this time I was able to let it go and decided to talk to her about that thing the next time I see her.
  7. my friend Holly*–My friend Holly, though I haven’t met her in person, has taught me so much. One of the most important things she has taught me is the importance of validation. Validation is so lacking in this world, but she gives it like the food we need to eat. Her encouragement has gotten me through some pretty tough times in my life and has helped lifted me in times where I was depressed and despondent in life.  Through her, I have learned to judge less, and encourage and love more. I also learned from her that everyone has a story, and to have more compassion and love for those who may not have the same privileges that I do. She has further taught me not to take anything for granted.
  8. my current manager I—My current manager I has taught me, like my parents have, the value of hard work and dedication. She has also taught me the value of believing in others because she has believed in me. When other managers were simply too busy to teach me department manager stuff (no fault with them though), she took the time out of her busy schedule to teach me some things.  In that not only did I help her get some managerial things done, but she has helped me to know some of the things department managers have to do.
  9. My manager Tom*–My manager Tom has been a godsend to my company. For more information on him, see this. He has taught me the value of humor and of integrity. He doesn’t pretend to be someone who he’s not. For instance, when someone asks how he is doing, he won’t just mumble fine when he is feeling terrible, he will actually tell you that he feels terrible. This is not so you will feel sorry for him, but to show his genuine character. He also makes others laugh. For instance, he knew one time that I straighten the aisles very well, but joked to one of my other supervisors that I only do things “half-way.” I was there too, and when I heard him say it and pointed to him, he knew that I “got” his joke and he and I started laughing.
  10. My friend Laura*–My friend Laura has helped me through many things. She has taught me how to be generous and thoughtful to others. Every time it is my birthday and for Christmas, she sends me a card even when I forget to send one to her. She was also my teacher in school, and Laura has sacrificed eating her lunch at times to help students. She has a true servant’s heart, and through her example, has taught me to be more like her.

These are the life teachers that have shaped my life the most today. I have learned so much from all of these people, and I have learned some of the greatest life lessons from them. Who has taught you the most in your life? What have they taught you, and why is it so important to you? Please feel free to discuss in comments.

 

 

 

 

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mentor

*=pseudonyms, not their real names to protect privacy

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.

 

What I Learned From My Book of the Year

DISCLAIMER: I get no compensation from this review of sorts. All opinions are my own. However, if you would like to buy this book, please go to the recommendation page of my blog.

“You are what you think.” This is what the Bible says, and also what has been true in my life.  I have been struggling to combat negative thoughts almost all my life, whether it be anxiety-laden thoughts or more angry thoughts about someone I was upset with the previous day.  Then, one day, my Sunday School teacher (a.k.a : the pastor’s wife) talked about a book that she said in so many words, would change lives.  She said that the book would teach one how to think more positive, godly thoughts and revolutionize our attitude towards life in a positive way.  Because of my struggles with the thoughts that I have had most of my life, this book, “Loving God With All Your Mind” by Elizabeth George, seemed interesting to me. In fact, I was so interested in the book, all I could think about during the whole time my teacher was promoting the book was, I’ve got to get this book!” So, that same night, I got the book. Actually, I accidentally bought two and sold one of them to a friend of mine.

 

These are some of the things that I have learned from my favorite book of the year (Loving God With All Your Mind) and how these lessons can be applied to almost anyone’s lives, regardless of religious affiliation or belief:

  1. When you truly love someone, you will strive never to think negatively about that person.—Because of my tendency to think negatively about others when they had upset me or about how I “must” have offended them when someone was upset with me, this was truly a revolutionary concept. I discovered that one of the reasons that I hadn’t been getting along with certain people in my life was that I was constantly thinking the worst about them, and it stemmed from both an unforgiving heart and that they had hurt me before, and I failed to let go of the past. I think it was a defensive mechanism to prevent myself from getting hurt by those people again. The thing about love, though, is that it takes risks! C.S Lewis is even quoted as saying that if you love, you will get hurt. However, I believe even with the pain, love is totally worth it!  So, when I started to follow the advice of this book and countered my negative thoughts about these people with the positive characteristics I saw in them, I had a more balanced, more positive view of those people. Another thing I learned from “Loving God With All Your Mind” related to this lesson of not thinking negatively (or evil thoughts) about others is when a person seems upset with you, and you confront them and they say that nothing is wrong, you shouldn’t second guess them. I asked my Sunday School teacher (because the “lawyer” in my head had popped up!), “What if the person really is lying to you, and they say nothing is wrong, but you really have offended them.” She said something like, “Go with the lie. If someone is offended by you, it is their responsibility to let you know so you can do better next time, not yours.” To add to this, I am thinking also that if a person wants to hide behind pretense and games and does not want to let you know that they were offended by you, what kind of relationship is that anyway? Also, do you really want to continue being in a relationship based on lies? I don’t either.
  2. Look for the good in the trials of life.—Everyone goes through a rough patch at least once in their lifetime, some multiple times, or much of their lives. A lot of people, me included, sometimes think that life would be better without these trials, or rough patches, in our lives. However, Elizabeth George says in her book to look for the “gold” in our trials. For instance, during my elementary and part of my high school years, I was a victim of bullying by some of my peers.  When I was going through all that, I felt depressed, hopeless, and mentally exhausted of that life. However, these trials have taught me some valuable lessons on how NOT to live your life. A.) I learned how painful it feels to be bullied and ridiculed, both physically and verbally, through taunts and mockery, and strive never to inflict the same on another human being.   b) I learned how to value each person as God values me, in contrast to how some people treated me as an appendage or a burden.  c) I learned how to respond and not respond to these people.  Also, these bad experiences also led me to search for God and love and later ignited my passion to serve and love others.  Even in the worst of circumstances, there is always good that can come out of it, whether it be redemption in the situation itself or strengthening of our character
  3. Don’t dwell on past regrets or even successes, but move forward.—One of the more interesting things I learned from the book, “Loving God With All Your Mind,” is to forget the past. This means not dwelling on past failures or even successes. When we dwell on past failures, we tend to get stuck there, and this attitude prevents us from having the motivation to try new things or to try again. I know because this has happened to me.  More than ten years ago (probably closer to fifteen), I tried to learn the cash register at another job, but it was a disaster. I was so nervous and flustered that I did nothing right. This was still my first time learning it ever. For a long time, in my other jobs, I tried to avoid learning the register. Finally, recently, because I want to work up to be a department manager someday, I thought I should try to learn the register again. The first time in my current job, I was just shadowing another manager. However, the second time I was training, the person training me had me deal with customers! I was really nervous, but she said I did well for my first time with customers at that store! So, what I learned from this experience that others can apply to their lives too, is not to dwell on past regrets, but to move forward and try again.  Also, don’t dwell on past successes. For instance, if a person is so obsessed about their doctorate degree that he or she won’t lay it aside if necessary to get a job that they need because it is “too beneath” them, that is a bad thing. They should forget about their doctorate and do what is necessary to build success now and in the future.

This is just some of the things that I learned from my book of the year, “Loving God With All Your Mind.” When I follow the advice of this book, especially the lessons I outlined above, I have found my anxiety decrease dramatically and my general attitude being more joyful and more positive than before.  What are some lessons that you can carry with you from your favorite book? What is one book that changed your life that you recommend? Please discuss in the comments.

 

 

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.

My Goals In Life

DISCLAIMER: This content is from a Christian perspective. However, people of all faiths and all walks of life can learn from this. Also, at the end,  I will talk about putting my goals into action, if you desire, for your own life. It will include resources for helping people who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey.  Though I am promoting these organizations in a way, I make NO money from them in any way shape or form. Just want to help YOU help others.

Who or what motivates you to live your life? Is your life marked by passion and drive? When the chips are down, so to speak, what is it that keeps you going? For many people, it is often their loved ones. Sometimes, it is their job and sense of accomplishment. Other times the motivation is wanting love and approval. What motivates me to keep going when life is as dark as a tornado whirling during a fierce and powerful storm is the love that God through His Son Jesus Christ gave and continues to give to me.

These following two goals are based off the love that God has given and continues to give to me. They are:

  1. To love God with all my mind, soul, and strength. (Matthew 22:36-38)
  2. To show others the love that God gave to me, so they too can experience love, joy, and peace in their lives that I have.

How will I go about accomplishing these goals? 

How I will meet goal #1

  1. Read and study His Word, the Bible, daily for at least 15-30 minutes a day.
  2. Pray daily to meet the challenges of the day, for at least 15 minutes a day. Also, I will try to be in constant communication with God, not just for 15 minutes!
  3. Attend a Bible-believing church. (I am attending a good church that lines up with my beliefs nicely).
  4. Focus my mind on God and His will for my life, and for the day, as much as possible, without getting distracted. (I am still working on this one. Sometimes it is a struggle. Correction: Every day it is a struggle not to get distracted by other things that don’t matter to this goal at all, but I will not quit trying.)
  5. Memorize His Word and apply it to my daily life.

How I will meet goal #2

  1. When I do something that offends another person, I will strive to quickly confess that to the other person and repent (i.e not do that offense action anymore) of my offense.
  2. When someone offends me, I will let the person know in private, in a gentle and humble manner, with all honesty and love.
  3. I will never give up on a relationship unless they give up on me.
  4. I will do my best to show kindness and care to other people.
  5. I will do my best not to let my anger at someone linger for more than a day.
  6. I will encourage others by sharing with them how God loves me, and by telling them how much I love and/or care for them.
  7. I will do my best to sacrifice my time and resources if someone is in need of them and doing so will help the other person.
  8. I will do my best not to show any pretense towards another but be my genuine self, even if it is sometimes flawed.

These are practical ways anyone can join me in not only keeping me accountable but also joining with me to show others true, unconditional love to the whole world, instead of hate. Ban the hate!:

  1. Forgive at least one person who has hurt you deeply. –There are several people who I have had a hard time forgiving, mostly because they did the same bad things over and over to me again, even though I had confronted them more than once about these issues.  However, I now realized that letting go of my bitterness and anger towards them has changed the way these people treat me, and in some ways, my relationships with these people have been restored!  Who is someone who deeply offended you? It could be someone from a church or temple. It could be a family member or a once-close friend. It could be a boss or a manager.  Yes, forgiveness is very difficult at times, and sometimes you can’t forgive everyone at once, but an unforgiving heart keeps you, not the offender, in an emotional hell-hole prison that traps you and robs you of the joy that life is meant to bring.  Also, the very act of forgiveness necessitates the offense. It does not dismiss it or excuse it. It acknowledges it but leaves the justice in capable hands, NOT yours.
  2. Be genuine.–Do not hide who you are. Yes, if someone has demonstrated that they are untrustworthy you may have to hide some things about you. However, as a general rule, do your best to be genuine. Be willing to be vulnerable and forthright about your struggles. You shouldn’t have to hide yourself to be truly loved.
  3. Be willing to care about and sacrifice for others.– One practical way one can do this, especially if you are spiritual, is to pray for those who are hurting and suffering. Pray about what you can do to help these people. These may be people at work, at your school, at your place of worship, at home, or in your community. Once you pray or think about what to do to help these people, do it! Recently, in a huge chunk of Texas and some of the Southeast part of the U.S, there has been a hurricane, Hurricane Harvey, that has swept through there and devastated many people’s lives, and destroyed many homes and businesses.  This storm is still ongoing as of this writing (written 8/27/2017). Here are some organizations that are helping these people through this:

These are my two major goals in life. This is what keeps me going, even in the hardest times. What are yours? What steps can YOU take to accomplish your life purposes? Please feel free to discuss here.

Top 5 Men That Have Impacted My Life

Since I have already done a post (See: Five Women ) on women that have impacted my life positively, now it’s the guys’ turn. In addition to the five women that have impacted my life, here are who I believe (as of this writing) are the top five men who have had the most impact on my current life thus far and why.

DISCLAIMER: Some of these names will be aliases (i.e.. not their real name) for anonymity and privacy reasons.

  1. my dad--He was there for me when I was born and through thick and thin.  His work ethic and his willingness to serve and sacrifice for others have inspired me to do the same. As I said in an earlier post, he often works 10-hour shifts, at least five days a week. He sometimes works weekends as well. When he is at home, he doesn’t always lounge around and watch television all day but also helps my mom around the house. When I was discouraged about not achieving the desired result in school even though I had worked hard, he told me something like, “It’s OK, as long as you try your best. It’s better that you fail at something that you worked hard at than doing pretty well, but you don’t try your best.”  This philosophy set the foundation for how I currently strive to approach my job. In fact, I have this philosophy to work hard at my job, “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart.”  And my dad was a huge part of this mindset. (So if you read this, Dad, thank you.)
  2. my brother–Even though he is younger than me, he has had a huge impact on my life as well.  He has pushed me to succeed because he always believed in me and that I could do better and better.  When I was discouraged, he always took the time to talk to me and to encourage me. I was (and still am) always inspired by how innovative and creative he was and is.  For instance, when something in our house broke, he was able to fix it just by ordering the right part.  He also was able to figure out what exactly the problem was.  Not only that, but he has a kind and generous heart. I can never outdo what he has given me, both materially and eternally.
  3. Frank Taylor–He was my former pastor, but he has taught me more about grace and humility than most anyone I know. For instance, when he said something that offended a few people, he didn’t try to justify what he said or make excuses for why they shouldn’t have been offended. He humbly and contritely made a written apology to the whole church. Also, even though at first I didn’t trust him because I didn’t know him well,  he was patient in those times and didn’t try to force me to trust him.  He still showed kindness and grace to me. Though he isn’t perfect, he still strives to be transparent and acknowledges his imperfections.
  4. My manager Chris* (*=NOT his real name)— Though I have only known him for the past year and a half, he has taught me so much.  First of all, he has impacted my life because he interviewed me for my current job and was able to convince the Store Manager to grant me this job.  Also, he has taught me so much about patience, the power of grace and forgiveness, and perseverance.  He has offered to help me advance my career, while also respecting my life outside of work by giving me the days off that I need. I have discussed in this post what he has taught me.
  5. My favorite manager Tom* (*=not his real name)–He has taught me through his great example how to be a good manager.  He has always been kind, generous in his estimation of me, and provides much-needed humor on stressful days. I have discussed in this post how Tom has qualities that we should all emulate.  He also has helped me through some trials that I have had while working at my current job and has always encouraged me in my work.

These are the five amazing men who have most impacted my life so far. They all have had positive impacts on my life, without a doubt. Who are your top five men who have impacted your life? How? Why? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.