Lately, I have been reflecting on some habits or practices that have been important to me in learning to enjoy life and be effective. (You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.) Please feel free to add, in the comments, some of the practices that have been helpful to you but I have not yet mentioned.
7. Give yourself away to others. Generosity can be very enjoyable. Maybe generosity is enjoyable because it is Godlike. Most of us have so much to give. Yet, many people go through their day ignoring many people. Some people are dismissive of others. They treat some people as if they do not exist.
I have found that people are often shocked and amazed at someone who just wants to give and who expects nothing in return. Let me invite you to give yourself to other people.
What can you give?
* Your smile! Give a smile to a clerk who appears to be bored. Smile at a grumpy looking person. Smile at someone who seems to appear invisible to other people (the clerk, the cashier at the grocery store, the custodian at your office). A simple smile can brighten someone’s day.
* Your thoughtfulness. At a church dinner or at the office, ask another if she/he would like a refill on the iced tea. Open the door for another. Let another have their preference. Let another choose the restaurant. Be thoughtful. Be considerate. Be gracious. Remember the little things! They will be big in someone else’s mind.
* Your attention. We love to have the attention of people who matter to us. We may love the attention of someone who seems important or admirable to us.
Yet, there is something to be said for noticing people who often get very little attention. Pay attention to children and older people. Listen, really listen, to others as they talk. Listen as if there is no one else present in the entire room. I am still working on this, but I have seen just how uplifting listening can be to others.
8. Take care of what God has given you. When I was in high school, I worked at a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant (fast food). I learned much and had some interesting experiences while there. This particular restaurant had a drive-through for customers. One night a beautiful royal blue Chevrolet Camaro waited in line. Finally the last car ahead of the Camaro moved forward and the Camaro moved up to the cashier’s window. The driver paid and then received his food. The driver was also drunk — very drunk. Instead of exiting the drive-through, the driver began spinning his tires. The car remained by the cashier’s window while this driver revved his engine and spun his tires. A cloud of black smoke poured out of the back of the car where the hot tires were burning. Still he continued to spin his tires. Piles of rubber began to build up behind the car until finally there was a loud bang! One of the tires blew. Later a wrecker came and towed the car away.
At the time, I thought about how wasteful this person had been. This was a nice car, almost new, and yet the driver chose not to take care of it. I would have loved to have had a car like that one at sixteen. Yet, this driver, drunk as he was, did not take care of this car. In the same way, far too many of us just do not take care of what God has given us.
Are you married? Nurture your marriage. Treat your wife/husband well! Treat her/him with dignity, respect, and appreciation.
Do you have children? Give them the very best that God has to offer. That is, give them Jesus. Teach them how to pray. Show them through your example how a child of God lives who is committed to holy living.
What about your mind? Nurture your thought world. Read. Grow. Learn something! Don’t settle for the status quo.
What about your body? Take care of yourself because you have been given a body as a gift from God. Treat your body in a way that reflects your awareness that it is a gift from God. Sleep. Eat food that fuels your body. Exercise. Why? You are simply trying to take care of what God has given you.
What else would you add to this list?