Friday, November 27, 2009

Happiness is in our expectations.

Garrison Keillor remarked about happiness last week on his radio show. It stuck with me. Here is what I remember from what I heard him say.

Our happiness is based on our expectations. When a situation or result is better than we had anticipated we feel happy.

One strange example that Keillor gave:
You are a passenger on the prison bus going from the county jail to the State prison. The bus encounters mechanical difficulty and pulls over to the side of the road. All of the inmates are removed from the bus. There you are, shackled hand and foot, standing in the ditch at the side of the road and you look around and notice that it is a very nice day. Your heart feels happiness that you are enjoying part of a nice day in the out of doors, even though you are a prisoner, shackled, and standing in a ditch.

Perspective. Happiness results from our perspective and expectations being exceeded.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A hymn

I write weekly letters to my teenage granddaughter. She is a survivor. As with nearly all teenagers she can use emotional support of her family. Sometimes I share here parts of what I write to her. Here is one from this week, modified slightly to read here.

On another topic, we sang a really good hymn in church last Sunday. It was one that resonated with me and my soul. When I returned home I checked in my prayer book to see if I had a copy of that hymn. In the front of my prayer book at home I keep a few extra papers. They are mostly copies of hymns that speak deeply to me. They are hymns that I have trouble singing without choking up with emotion. Perhaps at my funeral someone will look at them and perhaps sing one or more of them.
I want to share this one with you. I think that it “reads” better when set to music, but I can’t do that in this letter so you get just the lyrics and not the music.
These are the treasures to strive for and prize: be gentle, live simply and have the humility to shy from the struggle to put oneself first, these are the pearls.
If mercy’s abandoned by those who’d be brave, economy squandered by those who’d be generous, humility slighted by those who would lead, this is sure death.
Be gentle and you can afford to be bold, be frugal and so have enough to be liberal, be humble and thus be a leader of all, this is the way.
Through gentleness those who attack win the fight, and those who defend have their safety in gentleness; this gentleness rests in the children of God, this is their sign.