The emptiness of winning and pursuing happiness. Finding purpose and meaning in our lives.

Finding purpose and meaning in our lives. The emptiness of winning and pursuing happiness.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. Pablo Picasso

Yesterday in Toronto was a day of celebration and revelry celebrating the Raptors championship win. It was marred by gunshots. My husband had talked about going down there Sunday night but we have work to do, and the crowds, oh the crowds.

My son’s girlfriend went down with friends, and the friends were close to where the gunshots were fired. That no one was hurt in the inevitable stampede out of harm’s way is very fortuitous. People were knocked down and couldn’t get up but it seems the panic was not so great, and people helped up those who fell.

There are always idiots it seems. What is amazing is there weren’t more.

As a fair weather fan, I’ve enjoyed the win. Sports don’t mean that much to me. Winning is good for our morale as a city and as a country. We get a little excitement in our lives as we cheer for our team.

Will there be a bit of a letdown now? The high and hope are over. I found a quote on a blog “becomingminimalist” The emptiness of sports, is most felt in victory.

We pursue many things in our lives that lead to emptiness. We don’t notice the emptiness until we obtain our goals. Money it seems or at least we are told is an empty victory if all we get is money at the end of our pursuit. Zig Ziglar said, “Money won’t bring happiness, but everyone wants to find out for themselves.”

What are the pursuits in our life that bring the most meaning? Family and relationships are where we find most of our joy and happiness. Using our resources to do some kind of good is also a meaningful pursuit.

If we spend our time pursuing material possessions, public accolades, fame, or early retirement do we feel empty when we finally reach our goal? Is part of our problem focusing on the goal and not the journey?

Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time. Marian Wright Edelman

Early retirement sounds like a laudable goal if one has plans after retirement that are as compelling and engaging as what we were doing before retirement.

A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness. Albert Einstein

What are the pursuits that lead to meaning and purpose? Meaning comes from belonging to and serving something beyond yourself and from developing the best within you. Martin Seligman

Even though life is getting objectively better by nearly every conceivable standard, more people feel hopeless, depressed and alone. Emily Esfahani Smith argued in a Ted Talk that despite our culture’s obsession with the pursuit of personal happiness, understanding the meaning in your life is the secret to your resilience and success.

Pursuing purpose and meaning what does that even mean? Can seeking happiness make people unhappy?

Finding purpose and meaning will be different for everyone but I think part of it is when we impact someone else’s life in a positive way. We do this in our families; we impact our spouse’s life, our children’s lives, our parent’s lives, our sibling’s lives. We can move out into a wider sphere and impact our communities and still wider and impact our society, countries, and the world.

Victor Frankly tells us we should find meaning by not caring about it, not pursuing it, let it happen. He suggests we embrace activities that connect with something greater. While having meaning present in our lives may be associated with greater happiness, searching for meaning may be associated with less happiness.  The most satisfying forms of meaning may blossom not when we pursue them but when we seek beauty, love, justice or a cause greater than ourselves. The secret to meaning may be to remind ourselves every day to do the right thing, love fully, pursue fascinating experiences, and undertake important tasks, not because we are trying to increase the meaning in life, but because these pursuits are worth pursuing in themselves.

Do we love fully, pursue fascinating experiences, and undertake important tasks? Are we giving our gift away, do we even know what our gift is?

The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. Mitch Albom

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, meaning, purpose, and love.

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The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters Hardcover – Jan 10 2017

by Emily Esfahani-Smith (Author) 3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews


 See all 9 formats and editions

Is the truth more important than perception? Will the truth set us free? Or is the perception more important than the truth?

Is the perception more important than the truth? Is truth more important than perception? Will the truth set us free?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Truth is the state or quality of being true to someone or something. True facts are genuine depictions or statements of reality.

Perception is detected by the five senses, not necessarily understood, also that which is detected within consciousness, as a thought, intuition, deduction, etc.

Having a discussion today and one of us believes the truth is the most important thing. One of us believes that perception is more important because often we will never know the truth. Even when we can’t know the truth there still is a truth and it is important. Even if we are accused of something we didn’t do, and everyone believes we are guilty, even the courts, the truth is still more important. When we are innocent we are still innocent even if no one believes us.

One of Thomas Jefferson’s sayings was “truth is not the truth, perception is the truth.” I am reading a blog by J.T.Wynn Stand for Reason, and he says in one of his college classes an assistant professor wrote on his paper, “You seem to want everything to make logical sense.”

When we say I am telling you the truth as I see it, it means that is our perception. Truth is the truth even if we only have a perception we think is the truth. We may never know the truth of some things but that doesn’t mean there is no truth. Sometimes the closest we can come to the truth is what we believe to be true.

We think when a jury or judge finds someone guilty it means they are guilty, it only means they are convicted, it does not mean they actually committed a crime. It may not make much difference to someone’s life who is convicted but is innocent than if they are guilty as far as sentence and circumstances of their life. I’m sure it makes a difference when you know you are innocent and are wrongly accused. Your innocence is a badge of honor, and your honor cannot be taken away by perception.

Some people believe perception and reputation is everything. Some of us believe that the truth is what is important. If someone can hide their indiscretions and look like a good person, some think this is what matters. Others believe even if circumstances make you look bad, but the truth is you are innocent and blameless of what your accusers think you did, that is what matters.

Perception is not truth – and sometimes it is a lie. It is false to facts. If we are to become awake, it is incumbent upon us to seek the truth. Unkown

Sometimes our perception of the situation is the problem. The truth may still be the truth but we can react in a positive or negative way. How we react and what we are willing to learn can make a big difference in our lives.

We can look at our life problems and rather than defining it as a symptom, disorder, or illness, we can search for its purpose, how can it serve us by solving a larger life dilemma? When we place it in the correct context, we can look at things through different lenses.

An eating disorder can be reframed as a hunger strike against demanding parents. Money problems can be reframed as an act of loyalty to parents who felt anyone who had money was morally questionable; a husband’s affair can be considered a misguided attempt to reclaim parts of himself, or as an attempt to get the attention of a distracted partner.

When we reframe our situation we can also look for better solutions. The girl with an eating disorder can discover starving herself is not the best way to rebel against parental authority. A cheating husband can discover while acknowledging that he has betrayed an agreement, he can find more successful ways to rediscover lost elements of his life. When we shift the definition of the problem, regardless of how complex it is, we can look at possibilities and choices that are more positive without undesired consequences.

There is the truth and there is perception. Our perception is not always true. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. Are we looking at things correctly? Is there a better way to look at things? Can we look with different lenses? Can we redefine our problem? Can we reframe the situation and find a solution?

Pain is inevitable; we all experience it at different times during our lives. Suffering, on the other hand, is a choice. With every negative experience, we can accept it as an opportunity to learn or we can bear it as a heavy cross. Rather than focusing on fear, jealousy, judgment or blame, we can instead reconsider our perceptions and embark on the journey to discover how a difficult experience can actually benefit us. Unknown

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, truth, and love.

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Healthy gut, healthy body. We build our health with our spoon and fork. We are what we eat.

We are what we eat. We build our health with our spoon and fork. Healthy gut, healthy body.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A healthy gut is a happy brain. Did you know? 90% of serotonin (mood stabilizer) is made in your digestive tract. Unknown

How many of us think we are just the way we are, in control of our thoughts, cravings, what we eat, and when? Our body is just the way it is because of genes, and getting older has to come with aches, pains, and disease. What if a lot of what we think isn’t true? According to Dr. Steven R. Gundry author of The Plant Paradox, we are a condominium for all the bacteria that resides within us. These bacteria can live in harmony or it can be like the Wild West in our gut.

Dr. Gundry’s analogy is we are at the lake singing camp-fire-songs. All is right in our world and our condominium until the gang members move in. Our immune system is now on alert, the trouble is it gets on such high alert that it attacks everything, even our own healthy tissue. This causes inflammation, which causes a lot of pain and suffering.

It is the gut bacteria we feed that multiply and they don’t all eat the same things. We need to be careful about our food selection so the gut bacteria that keep us healthy are the ones we feed. He also says that the right gut bacteria can renovate our body and promote health.

Some people have such serious illness that in order for them to recover a fecal transfer from a healthy person is required. This person is usually a family member. In one of his talks on YouTube, he talked about a woman with a serious infection that was given a fecal transfer from a family member. She was a runner. Within one year not only did she recover but she gained thirty pounds. The family member she got the fecal transfer from was thirty pounds overweight. The gut bacteria she received called out to be fed and by feeding them she gained thirty pounds.

Quite literally, your gut is the epicenter of your mental and physical health. If you want better immunity, efficient digestion, improved clarity and balance, focus on rebuilding your gut health. Kris Carr

Plants make us healthy, but plants also have developed ways to protect themselves. They don’t want to be eaten; they developed lectins that affect us and other animals. These lectins cause a lot of problems for many of us. He believes that with the high fiber movement we quit preparing foods the way our ancestors had developed to deal with the lectins. The lectins are found primarily in the husks, peel, and seeds of plants. When we eat white rice, white flour, peel our tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes, etc we remove some or most of the lectins. Pressure cooking is another way to deactivate lectins in food.

My daughter came across Dr. Gundry on YouTube and leaky gut is something I am familiar with. When I went plant-based following Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution I believe my health improved and I lost weight over three years. My health still isn’t quite what I think it should be. Dr. Gundry says he thought he was doing everything right, hardly ate junk food, jogged, lifted weights, but was still overweight. He lost seventy pounds following his program and gave up his heart surgery practice because he believes he can do more good promoting health through nutrition, than trying to fix people through surgery.

I picked up his book last night and will implement many of his suggestions. If it is any consolation knowing we will have to give up foods we love he does recommend, chocolate, berries, nuts (not peanuts which are legumes), olive oil, avocadoes, goat, sheep, and water buffalo cheese. He also recommends ghee (clarified butter), which I have never bought but it will be on my shopping list today.

We are what we eat, and who we feed in our condominium. I’d rather sing campfire songs than have warfare in my gut. Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” We are all our own experiment when it comes to food and creating better health for ourselves. Can this be the tweak to create our healthiest self, for our best life?

What we’ve come to understand is that the set point, the balance point of inflammation in the body is really dictated by one fundamental issue, and that is the permeability of the leakiness of the gut lining. David Perlmutter MD

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, health, and love.

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Self-expression. Finding the beauty and joy in life is part of the journey.

Finding the beauty and joy in life is part of the journey. Express yourself.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Without self-expression, life lacks spontaneity and joy. Without service to others, it lacks meaning and purpose. Laurence G. Boldt

The joy of self-expression is the true joy in life. It is when we express our thoughts, feelings, and ideas as beautifully as we can that we find true joy in life. When we feel, see and experience the expressions of nature and other people we feel a connection to others, the greater world and even to ourselves.

How great it is to go for a walk and see the first flowers of spring. The sunshine, the spring flowers, a blue sky with fluffy clouds, the first shoots of green grass, the chirping of the birds. Regardless of what is going on in our life this expression of new life, of a new season gives us a sense and feeling of joy.

When we express our self we explore who we are. We examine our thoughts, beliefs, goals, dreams, ideologies, fears. Through self-expression, we may find out what is most important to us, our purpose.

It doesn’t matter how we express ourselves, only that we do. Humming, singing to our self, doodling is all self-expression. It isn’t important if our self-expression is shared with the world. It is important that we do it.

We may hesitate to put our self forward as an artist, but when one looks at the works that are put forward there seems to be room for everyone. A painting may look like a mess but when we notice the title “Feelings” we realize they captured the subject perfectly.

We hear journaling, art, music, and dance is recommended as therapy because they are forms of self-expression. They help us get what we are feeling on the inside, outside of us.

Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is. Jackson Pollock

The first thing we all worry about is, are we doing it right, instead of worrying are we doing it at all. We judge and second guess our self, we are our worst critic.

We can get into trouble if we express ourselves in inappropriate ways. Just yesterday I was shown a video of a young woman expressing herself outside of her house with nothing on her bottom half, the police were called. She looked full of joy but obviously was having an episode of some kind.

They say the second regret of the dying is they wished they’d let themselves be happier. Even on a bad day, we have so much to be grateful for, so much to enjoy, yet we sometimes wallow in self-pity, misery, and despair. Even if life isn’t always what we make it, it is probably how we see it. We hear people in the depths of despair finding the positive in the life of their son or daughter no longer with them.

We can be happy, we were fortunate to have had someone in our life, even if they are no longer with us. Had they not been in our life, we wouldn’t have this hurt, but we wouldn’t have the joy they brought us either.

Often people who have been to the depths of despair have much to teach us. They have a depth and understanding of life that comes from facing the worst, rebuilding their life, going forward from the darkness into the light.

Many people find a way to express themselves after a tragedy, they find it healing. It doesn’t matter how we express ourselves, only that we do. There are many ways to express our unique self; they aren’t just singing, dancing, writing and art. Can we sing, dance, hum, doodle, paint, knit, quilt, play an instrument, write, do public speaking, photography, fashion, coding, plan a special event, build something, bake or cook, journal, make a comic book, write poetry, quizzes, create games or anything else we can think of? Just do it!  Can we express ourselves and make our self and the world better?

A labor of love is exalted because it provides joy and self-expression to those who perform it. Dennis Kimbro

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude and love.

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Painting Abstracts: Ideas, Projects and Techniques Paperback – Nov 1 2008