4 Things That Truly Matter

What matters most are those things which, in the presence of God, still matters most JoAnna Oblander“It is not living that matters, but living rightly.” ~ Socrates

When we live lives disconnected from those things that truly matter, sidetracked by the unimportant, lost in the frivolous, distracted by the superficial, our lives start to ring hollow, empty and vacant.

When, on the other hand, we live our lives dedicated to those things that matter most, a greater sense of happiness rubs up against us, walks beside us, calls on us, and even moves in and redecorates our bathrooms.

The choice is obvious. But deciding what matters and what doesn’t is sometimes, and for some people, less obvious.

This is especially true in a Hollywood-centric, pop-culture saturated media-driven ethic.

In such a culture, the substanceless can appear heavy with content, the silly can look profound and the meaningless can seem pregnant with meaning.

So what then truly matters? Here’s a few items on my list. See if they match up with yours.

4 Things that Matter

1. Values Matter

Our values identify what’s important to us and how we prioritize our time, energy and attention. They reflect what we stand for. They define the outer limit of what we’re willing to tolerate and what we’re not. They determine the context of what we’re willing to pursue and what we won’t.

We’re set adrift to flounder in the uncertain moral muck of life when we lack a well-defined set of moral values on which to stand.

Values matter because a life without them is ultimately utilitarian, self-absorbed and unhappy. Our values act as anchors in storms and strings on kites, adding the tension that creates lift but also keeps us from nose-diving into trees or flapping aimlessly in the wind to nowhere.

In the absence of values, we’re rudderless in the pull of moral riptides and trapped in the quicksand of “anything goes.” And when anything goes, everything tends to, including things like self-discipline, self-confidence and self-respect.

2. Relationships Matter

How we treat those closest to us is more significant as a measure of our character than how we treat the stranger or the person we want something from.

I’ve seen families where parents treat their children worse than their friends and their spouses worse than strangers. This is sad to me.

The quality of our relationships is a predictor of the quality of our lives because most of life’s meaning lies within the context of other people. We’re mothers and fathers and spouses, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors, employers and employees and teachers and students. So it’s in those relationships that we can do the most good and experience the most meaning.

We are at our most noble and decent when we are in the service of others. When we lift people, we are likewise lifted.

Besides, an isolated life is a self-absorbed one. But the irony is that a life exclusively or even mostly focused on the self is a life missing a fundamental ingredient to purpose and happiness.

So love those who are open to being loved and figure out a way to love those who aren’t. In the process of doing both, the rising sense of meaning and purpose and happiness in your life will be a much more constant companion.

3. Faith Matters

We live in an age of growing faithlessness. People have lost faith in tradition and God, in organized religion, in the institution of marriage and in others. There is less faith in governments and programs and ideologies, in political parties and even in humanity.

The problem is that faith is a principle of action. It inspires and leads and directs and moves us to do, to overcome, to believe and accomplish.

What you believe in — what you trust as right and wrong, true and false, good and bad — plays a significant role in how happy you are able to become. Whether we are talking about faith in God or humanity or Truth or yourself, that faith is critical to living life anywhere near its potential.

Faith is the expectant exercise of hope. It is the root to the tree of action. It is the seed of planning and goals and steps taken toward dreams and through challenges and into happiness.

Faithlessness is life at the edge of hopelessness. It is a life untethered from an assurance beyond the obvious, seen and tangible.

Faith propels us into the dark through to the other side of night. It takes us by the hand across the bridge or along the ledge when the next step is obscured and uncertain. It’s what takes us to the heights of possibility because we believe that wherever we rest now, there’s something more, something higher, something greater down the road. That too is the offspring of faith.

For many of us, faith in God is an added bedrock of assurance upon which we can build. That faith becomes a lighthouse in the darkest moments in our lives and a more accurate mirror of who we are and what we can accomplish when we’re thinking very little of ourselves.

4. Self-Respect Matters

Self-disclosure is not the same as self-exposure. This is a strange age we live in when individuals and families go on national TV to display their family’s dirty laundry. Others clamor for their 15 minutes of fame as reality show contestants who reveal all their darkest secrets and character flaws in shameless overkill. Sports stars and others write tell-all autobiographies that open bedroom doors far too wide for propriety or dignity to have place.

As a matter of fact, that’s just the thing that seems to have been lost by a growing number of people – a sense of dignity that knows when self-disclosure has crept into the exhibitionism of self-exposure.

But the ability to like yourself, born of a deep respect for who you are and are becoming and the potential that is also part of your identity can radically revolutionize your life.

Self-respecting people therefore simply live differently than those who aren’t. They don’t do the same things. They don’t think the same things. They don’t believe the same things. And they don’t allow the same things from others. They simply live different lives in some fundamental ways.

Don’t get me wrong. They both eat and sleep and love their kids. But what they think about themselves and how they treat themselves and talk to themselves and what they believe about themselves are profoundly different. And that’s a dividing point between those who are happy and those who struggle much more than they need to.

Afterthoughts

When I was young, I had an aunt who liked to wrap empty boxes to make Christmas appear even bigger and grander and more exciting than it already was. Sometimes we would forget which presents under the tree were the extra boxes she had wrapped. Someone would inevitably tear into the wrapping, excited about the prospects waiting inside. But all that would be had was an empty shell of a gift. All ribbon and wrapping; no substance.

That’s what life is like when we spend it in the pursuit of things that don’t matter. The packaging may glitter and sparkle, but there’s nothing inside but emptiness.

Here’s the thing. We can eat the food we buy or we can eat the receipt that shows how much we spent on the food we buy. We can have a meal of the substance or of the packaging the meal comes in.

One satisfies. The other leaves us hungry for something more. One nourishes. The other fails to provide us with the life-sustaining nutrients of meaning and purpose and joy our lives crave to have.

Roller coasters are fun. But at the end of the ride, you’re at the end of the ride. The deeper things of life like service and decency, on the other hand, are not always fun. But at the end of that ride, there is a glow in the heart that keeps on giving long after the event is over.

There’s nothing wrong with roller coasters, of course. But in the end, a roller coaster doesn’t take you anywhere.

So look closely. What have you filled the empty slots of your life with? Take stock. Evaluate. Then go to work focusing more on those things that matter most, pushing the time-wasters further into that background, opening yourself for greater and deeper levels of meaning and opportunity, love, joy and success in those things that truly matter.

You, after all, have inherent value. You’re worth the effort at learning to love the weightier things of life. Find them. Recognize them. Embrace them. And let them take you to a life that is deeply and richly rewarding, meaningful and happy.

Today’s post is shared from the following website: http://meanttobehappy.com/4-things-that-truly-matter/

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The Power of Patience

Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy Saadi

Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, I always thought of baseball as a way of life. I couldn’t get enough of it. But along with the hitting and fielding, I developed a growing irritation for anything that didn’t work out for me. I got bugged by things that took time.

Without my seeing it, this impatience began to carry over into various parts of my life. I remember once standing in line in the high school batting cage. I was anxious to take some extra cuts and annoyed that others were taking too many. I rudely pushed my way ahead of a couple of players.

I heard the coach holler out to me, “Hey, Ron, patience is a virtue.” I laughed and said sure, but I couldn’t make it to the big leagues by just standing around. Guys who wait I figured, just didn’t go anywhere.

In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, “Thought Conditioners”. Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader

I felt my not waiting had paid off when, in my senior year at high school, after a good season, the New York Yankees signed me to a major league contract. It all seemed fantastic. The Yankees signed me for a nice bonus, and some New York newspapers were beginning to call me the “Jewish Babe Ruth.”

That summer the Yankees sent me to their rookie league in Tennessee. I did pretty well there and felt I would sail right into the big leagues in the next year, 1968. Well, the next year the Yankees decided they wanted me to have a bit more training and sent me to the Carolina League.

After two more years in the minor leagues, I really felt discouragement getting to me and because of it, I pushed extra hard. I was so anxious to be called up that I began to try for a home run every time I got up to bat that year. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time it didn’t.

The spring of 1971 was chilly and brisk in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the Yankees hold their training camp. I was invited to camp that year and knew it was to be my big chance.

The fall before, I had got married, and I brought my wife Mara down to Florida with me. I told her this year was it for me and I had to do it now, or else.

Right away, problems began. I hurt my back chasing a fly ball on the first day of practice. Then the Yankees said they wanted me to be an outfielder, not a first baseman like I’d always been.

I worked hard but couldn’t seem to do anything right. I was too eager. I charged in too fast on ground balls and lunged and missed pitches while straining for home runs. In my anxiety to do good quickly, I fell flat on my face. I was one of the first players cut—it was to be back to the minors again.

I told Mara that’s it. We’d go home instead, back to Atlanta. I would finish up my degree in physical education.

Back home, I moped for several days. One evening Mara and I went to temple and as we were coming out, I ran into my old friend and rabbi, Harry Epstein. I told him I had been dropped again by the Yankees but that it was just as well, for I was tired of hanging on.

Rabbi Epstein then asked me what it was deep in my heart that I really wanted to be. I answered with the first thing that came to me—a professional ballplayer.

“Well, he said, “it seems to me what you need most is to unhurry yourself. If you sincerely want something, learn to wait for God to put it in place. It doesn’t matter if it’s baseball or anything else in life. You must have this perspective.”

I told him I had waited enough—three and a half years. I couldn’t do it anymore.

“You must, though,” he said, “for there are reasons why God makes you wait. He will help you get there when the time comes.”

Two days later I was home waiting for Mara. We were going to the movies and she was slow in dressing. “Hey, C’mon,” I yelled, “we’ll be late.” Mara came out of the bedroom, still not ready, and gave me a cross look. “Can’t you wait for anything?” she asked angrily.

I looked at her, surprised. “I’m sorry,” I said after a moment, and with that, I suddenly realized how far my “hurry-upness” had taken me. I had turned into a nervous whiner who couldn’t stand for the slightest interruptions in life.

“We’re not going to the movies,” I said quickly. Then I reached for the telephone. After some dialing, I managed to get hold of a Yankee official in New York. I asked him if it was too late for me to report to the minors. No, he said, and the Yankees were wondering why I wasn’t there.

When Mara and I got to the minor league team in Syracuse, I remembered to do one thing. That was to unhurry myself. To relax and not press so hard. I even learned to play the outfield.

I began hitting consistently, and things went very well. My team was winning, and I was enjoying it. Then on June 25, the call came. The Yankees wanted me up in the majors. They felt I was finally ready, and so did I.

It was a great year for me in 1971. I hit .322 as a major-leaguer and had seven home runs. Probably the most memorable event of that year came in September.

We were playing Cleveland at home and the game was on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish high holiday. This meant that to observe the tenets of my Orthodox faith I would have to end my work before sundown, the beginning of the holy day. Since I had already explained this to the New York Yankee officials and players, they understood that I might have to leave the ballpark before the game was over.

The score was tied and it looked like the game was going into extra innings. We had runners on first and third bases, and I was up. Huge shadows now blanketed the outfield of Yankee Stadium as darkness approached. I might not get a chance to bat.

I went to the plate with one eye on Steve Dunning, the Cleveland pitcher, and the other on the skyline. I was nervous and eager, but my confidence in the God who had helped bring me to the majors was now so deep that I would stop my bat in the middle of my swing and walk off the field if the sun began to set.

I looked out at Dunning and was ready to swing at the first pitch to push things. Then I caught myself. Even though the sun was now only partially visible, I knew I had to wait for the pitch I liked.

I watched two pitches go by, then came a high fast ball. I swung and hit it on a line to right field to send home the winning run.

With that swing, I took another big step in learning the value of patience. More important, I learned that when you trust God in all things and are faithful to Him, He gives you strength and power in every area of life.

Today’s article was written by Ron Blomberg and is shared from the following website: https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/entertainment/sports/the-power-of-patience

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God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

Their primary source of income is from agriculture.  Yet it is a difficult proposition as due to perennial shortage of water, they can grow mainly a single kharif crop like paddy or some arahar dal or ragi.  Therefore part of their livelihood is also met by wages doing daily labour.

Water, which we in the towns and cities use indiscriminately, is a major source of worry.  They are dependant on a small river nearby for their daily consumption and household needs.  Unfortunately this source dries up in summer and can be of help only for a few months in a year. Who is affected the most by this fact?  The villagers go through severe health problems which affect not only their livelihood but also the quality of their lives.  In such a scenario, the women bear the brunt of the suffering.  Fetching water becomes an important task for which they often have to get up at 4 am. After a full day’s work in the fields, they again have to trudge to the river to bring water.

In such a bleak scenario, enteredthe Harsha Trust, a not-for-profit organization that works with the tribal and the poor in remote locations of Orissa, aiming to bring in human development in challenging conditions. Professionals from Harsha Trust visited the village in October 2014 and at once identified this problem and met frequently with the community to deliberate on the possible solutions.  Now this was not the first time a meeting such as this was being held in the village.  Similar meetings had been conducted earlier by various government departments: they came, they spoke, they promised…nothing concrete happened.  The hopes of the villagers were crushed. Therefore you can well imagine the reception the Harsha Trust got!

Luckily, one of the village elders, Mr Srima Praska, showed interest and managed to persuade his fellow villagers to give them a chance. So Harsha Trust arranged for a field trip to Kumbharapada village in May 2015.  This village had installed a drinking water model with facilities for  irrigation with the help of a solar pump from a deep borewell.  Impressed by what they saw, the village Self Help Group (SHG) members held a meeting to dwell on the details and to see if this could be replicated in their own village.

After a few rounds of discussions, the community was motivated and then started the finetuning of the project.  A corpus fund of Rs 1000/- was collected from each household. This total of 29,000/- was earmarked for the work which began in June 2015.  A borewell was dug.  Just by digging 245 feet, about 2 inch of water got discharged.  Happy at this outcome, the villagers decided to construct an overhead drinking water tank in the plot of Mr Ghasiram Praska.

Another interesting feature of this bottom-up experiment was the actual construction.  Members from each household contributed by working for the construction of the overhead tank and piping layout. Thus each family contributed 15 man days and also helped in the 14 trips (tractor load) needed to get the boulders to make the overhead tank.  They developed a mechanism by which daily 10-12 people worked on a rotational basis.  In case a family could not participate in the work due to some reason, that family was required to pay for the substitute worker hired for the work.

The tank was constructed with a capacity of around 10,000 litres of water. Around 2550 feet were dug to accommodate the delivery pipes.  The entire work was completed in January 2016.  A 2-HP solar pump lifts around 70 thousand litres of water per day.  Around 12,000 litres of water are required for the household consumption.  Miraculously, what was backbreaking work for the women is now done in just one and half hours. The excess water is used by 12 households to cultivate tomatoes, chillies and sunflower in 1.5 acres of land.

Fittingly enough, to ensure the sustainability of this project so dear to them, the women have formed a committee named “Maa Phulamati Solar Jala Sechana Prakalpa”.  The main aim of this group is to take responsibility for the performance and future maintenance of the solar water supply system.

The committee is running well since 5th November 2015.  Each household deposits  Rs 30/- per month for drinking water (Re 1/- per day). To avail water for irrigation, a farmer has to contribute an amount of Rs 20 to receive a coupon that allows him to use the pumped water in the field for an hour.

We find today, a village which had health issues, a village where its women spent a large part of their day ferrying water, a village which could not live only with its income from agriculture, now reaps multiple benefits from a simple yet much-needed device as a solar pump.  Water is readily available for the women.  As the surplus water is used for irrigation, agriculture flourishes.  Some households have also started kitchen gardens with their waste water.  Villagers are making a conscious effort for cleanliness and hygiene.

A sea change has come over the village so much so that before giving their daughters  in marriage, parents are enquiring about similar facilities in the grooms’ villages.

Today’s article was written by Sabyasachi Kar and is shared from the following website:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/god-helps-those-who-help-themselves-story-villagers-empowered-kar

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Closest Thing to a Wonder Drug? Try Exercise

I consider my refusal to go to the gym today as resistance training Unknown

After I wrote last year that diet, not exercise, was the key to weight loss, I was troubled by how some readers took this to mean that exercise therefore had no value.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Of all the things we as physicians can recommend for health, few provide as much benefit as physical activity.

In 2015, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges put out a report calling exercise a “miracle cure.” This isn’t a conclusion based simply on some cohort or case-control studies. There are many, many randomized controlled trials. A huge meta-analysis examined the effect of exercise therapy on outcomes in people with chronic diseases.

Let’s start with musculoskeletal diseases. Researchers found 32 trials looking specifically at the effect of exercise on pain and function of patients with osteoarthritis of the knee alone. That’s incredibly specific, and it’s impressive that so much research has focused on one topic.

Exercise improved those outcomes. Ten more studies showed, over all, that exercise therapy increases aerobic capacity and muscle strength in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Other studies proved its benefits in other musculoskeletal conditions, like ankylosing spondylitis, and even some types of back pain.

For people (mostly middle-aged men) who had had a heart attack, exercise therapy reduced all causes of mortality by 27 percent and cardiac mortality by 31 percent. Fourteen additional controlled trials showed physiological benefits in those with heart failure. Exercise has also been shown to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension, and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

People with diabetes who exercise have lower HbA1c values, which is the marker of blood sugar control, low enough to probably reduce the risk of complications from the disease. Twenty randomized controlled trials have showed that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can walk farther and function better if they exercise.

Multiple studies have found that exercise improves physical function and health-related quality of life in people who have Parkinson’s disease. Six more studies showed that exercise improves muscle power and mobility-related activities in people with multiple sclerosis. It also appeared to improve those patients’ moods.

The overall results of 23 randomized controlled trials showed that exercise most likely improves the symptoms of depression. Five others appear to show that it improves symptoms in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. In trials, exercise even lessened fatigue in patients who were having therapy for cancer.

What other intervention can claim results like these?

Even studies of older, hospitalized patients show a beneficial effect from multidisciplinary interventions that include exercise. Those randomized to such interventions in the hospital were more likely to be discharged to go home, and to spend less time in the hospital over all — and at a lower cost.

Although we don’t think of it this way, you can make a pretty good argument that exercise is as good as drugs for many conditions. A 2013 meta-analysis of meta-analyses (that’s how much data we have) combined and analyzed the results from 16 reviews of randomized controlled trials of drug and exercise interventions in reducing mortality. Collectively, these included 305 trials with almost 340,000 participants.

Diuretic drugs (but not all drugs) were shown to be superior to exercise in preventing death from heart failure. But exercise was found to be equally good as drugs in preventing mortality from coronary heart disease. Exercise was better than drugs in preventing death among patients from strokes.

Many people will be surprised at how little you need to do to achieve these results. Years ago, in an effort to get in shape, I tried the P90X routine. It proved too hard for me. Later, when I tried the Insanity workout, it beat me so badly that people at work kept asking me if I was ill. Two years ago, I tried P90X3. It was a bit more manageable, but I still couldn’t keep it up.

I have not been alone in thinking that physical activity to improve health should be hard. When I hear friends talk about exercising, they discuss running marathons, participating in CrossFit classes or sacrificing themselves on the altar of SoulCycle. That misses the point, unfortunately. All of these are much more than you need to do to get the benefits I’ve described.

The recommendations for exercise are 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity for adults, or about 30 minutes each weekday.

Moderate intensity is probably much less than you think. Walking briskly, at 3 to 4 miles per hour or so, qualifies. So does bicycling slower than 10 miles an hour. Anything that gets your heart rate somewhere between 110 and 140 beats per minute is enough. Even vacuuming, mowing the lawn or walking your dog might qualify.

Today, my goals are much more modest. Trekking from my office to the clinic and back again gives me 30 minutes of exercise. Or, I walk to the supermarket from my office to grab lunch, at a mile each way. In colder weather, I spend half an hour on the elliptical machine. Doing this five days a week gets me the activity I need.

Although it feels as if there’s nothing we can do to change people’s behavior, there is evidence to the contrary. A systematic review and meta-analysis of advice and counseling by health professionals found that promotion of physical activity works.

Doctors and clinics that made efforts to promote exercise to patients needed to engage 12 adults on the subject to get one additional adult to meet recommended levels of activity one year later. That might not sound impressive, but it’s one of the better such results.

After the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges wrote its report, an editorial in the BMJ, a prominent medical journal, countered that exercise wasn’t a “miracle cure.” Instead, the authors argued it was “the best buy for public health.”

If that’s the best “counterpoint,” then physical activity seems like a no-brainer.

Today’s article was written by Aaron E. Carroll and is shared from the following website: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/upshot/why-you-should-exercise-no-not-to-lose-weight.html

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The One Principle that Surrounds Everything…Stewardship

I I Research concept with businessman in boat in the middle of the sea and lightly cloudy skies.

I love today’s quote. Life is such a gift! Our ability to be stewards of our lives is such a blessing! God is the giver of all that is good! May we receive all that is good and wisely manage the stewardship that is ours!

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