The "Pursuit of Happiness," is guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence. It also may be inherited.
Dr. David Lykken, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, reported on a major new study of twins. He says, "We found that identical twins who begin life as a single egg that divides and who therefore have the same genetic blueprint, have very similar happiness scores." It's as if we have a built-in happiness thermostat, set at the factory by our genes.
A low setting means we're grumpy and a high setting means we're cheerful. Some medical experts point to the MRIs of a happy person's brain that glows like a light bulb.
Does that mean that some people are doomed for the grump-pile of life? Not at all. Like correcting a bicycle that has a natural tendency to pull to the left, you can take charge and correct the error.
Dr. Lykken is convinced you can rise above your fixed set point of happiness by 25 percent or more -- by attacking the big three: depression, irritability and fearfulness.
What's the key? Fill your life with a steady diet of small, happy pleasures.
A wise and understanding heart does not repay a hurt with a hurt. In doing so, the heart is diminished. Fissures form. Love leaks out. Every pain given in return for one received, changes the contents of the heart. It is no longer defined by love, wisdom and understanding. It is redefined by the bearers of hurt and hate, pain and prejudice, meanness and madness, sorrow and sadness. You give away control of your very own heart.
The despair of being hurt is healed by overcoming it, not clinging to the hurt and inflicting more of it on the world. When darkness is added to darkness, no one can see, no one can love. Everyone loses.
Love is not always warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it's the integrity we hold on to when we're tempted to strike back. Sometimes it's the honor that keeps us from exchanging the valuable contents of our heart for the harsh satisfaction of lashing back.
No, the way of love is not always easy, but when night falls, dawn is assured.
The integrity and honor of a wise and understanding heart, rises with the sun of a new day.
"Because you have asked for understanding to discern judgment. I have given you a wise and understanding heart." 1 Kings 3:11-12
A father is a person who is forced to endure childbirth without an anesthetic. He growls when he feels good and laughs very loud when he is scared half-to-death.
A father never feels entirely worthy of the worship in a child's eyes. He is never quite the hero his daughter thinks. Never quite the man his son believes him to be. And this worries him sometimes. (So he works too hard to try to smooth the rough places in the road of those of his own who will follow him.)
A father is a person who goes to war sometimes ... and would run the other way except that war is part of his only important job in his life, (which is making the world better for his child than it has been for him).
Fathers grow older faster than people, because they, in other wars, have to stand at the train station and wave goodbye to the uniform that climbs on board.
And, while mothers cry where it shows, fathers stand and beam -- outside -- and die inside.
Fathers are men who give daughters away to other men, who aren't nearly good enough, so that they can have children that are smarter than anybody's.
Fathers fight dragons almost daily. They hurry away from the breakfast table, off to the arena which is sometimes called an office or a workshop. There, with callused hands, they tackle the dragon with three heads; Weariness, Works, and Monotony. And they never quite win the fight, but they never give up.
Knights in shining armor; fathers in shiny trousers. There's little difference as they march away each workday.
I don't know where father goes when he dies, but I've an idea that, after a good rest, wherever it is, he won't just sit on a cloud and wait for the girl he's loved and the children she bore. He'll be busy there too -- repairing the stars, oiling the gates, improving the streets, smoothing the way.
According to at least one respondent in a recent not-so-scientific survey, they exist for one reason and one reason only: "To take out the trash."
Of course, other respondents -- children in our neighborhood ranging in age from 3 to 11 years old -- had different ideas when the question was posed as part of a Father's Day project for our church congregation. Michael says we have Dads "so they can play with us." Kelsey is much more pragmatic. She says we have Dads "to go to work and get money for us." Ashley thinks Dads are there "so you can ask them questions," and Colby says we have them "to help us when we have problems." But I sort of like Kyle's answer. He says that "Dads are for being nice."
The children also had different ideas about what their Dads do all day. McKenzie's Dad "works and golfs." Nathan's Dad "plays with toys at work." Levi's Dad "gets paged." And Auraleigh's Dad "goes to work where he eats all day and looks around for his wife."
The question, "What does your Dad say all the time?" was pretty revealing about family dynamics. Lots of Dads were quoted for those quickie commands we all use from time to time: "Put your shoes on!" "Roll up the Nintendo controls!" "Go to your room!" On the other hand, Frankie remembers his Dad saying, "A job worth doing is worth doing well." Adam's Dad says, "You know what I like about you? Everything!" And Chandler's Dad says, "I'm really proud of you." Wouldn't it be great if all our kids remembered "I'm proud of you" more than "Let me just say one more thing" -- the best-remembered fatherly phrase of my own children.
Reading the survey, unscientific though it may have been, I learned a few things. I learned that there are different kinds of Dads who impact their children's lives in different ways. I learned that it's the simple, common, ordinary things that seem to have the most impact (there wasn't a single reference to fancy houses, expensive cars or costly trips.) And I learned that God gave us Dads to "love us" (Kyle), "take care of us" (Allyson), "protect us" (Madison) and "to walk us across the roads" (Tanner.)
My dad has been deceased for quite a while now. Dad was an orphan and dropped out of high school before his second year because he had no school clothes. He worked two jobs all of his life until he retired and even then continued to work one job. Still, there was never a lot of money in our small family.
I came close to knowing what it was like to not to have enough money for even basic necessities. As a single mom with a small child, I decided to go back to college so I could afford to take care of my daughter by the time my spousal support ran out. We lived on $500 a month from 1973-1980. Sometimes I'm amazed that she and I made it through.
When you are that poor, every unexpected expense is a disaster. My parents couldn't afford to help me and besides, I was 28 years old when I began my quest. Still, when my old car fell apart, as it frequently did, and my typewriter actually wore out midway through grad school, Dad came to the rescue with just enough to take care of the problem.
It was after I graduated that I learned that Dad had started a savings account to keep my car running, out of which also came the new typewriter.
It wasn't a lot of money, but it sure was then when I desperately needed it.
"We never know the love of our parents for us until we become parents."
--Henry Ward Beecher
June 6, 1944, D-Day, is a very special day to my generation.
In June of 1944, the largest amphibious invasion in world history took place. The allied forces invaded Normandy, France. It was called D-Day, and also known by its code name 'Operation Neptune'. The landings were conducted in two phases, an airborne assault of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French paratroopers and an amphibious landing of allied infantry and armored divisions. There were two airborne divisions, the 101st and the 82nd, numbering 13,000 paratroopers delivered by 12 troop carriers.
Among the beaches in Normandy, Omaha Beach was the most heavily fortified. Hundreds of the invading soldiers were killed. These beaches are still referred to on maps by their invasion code names.
There were many courageous men killed in action on that fateful day. Many who survived have since passed away.
I have the privilege of having a good friend that survived the war and is still in fit condition at the age of 88. His name is Richard 'Dick' Saggau. Dick, a member of the 101st Airborne Division, dropped behind enemy lines into Normandy at 1:22 am on June 6, 1944. He is one of the few paratroopers who survived. Dick was later recognized for his heroism by receiving the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star as well as other medals.
I hope Americans will always remember and honor men like Dick.
He doesn't talk much about D-Day, but I know he remembers it quite well. So, thank you to Dick, and to the very few survivors, for the bravery you displayed on D-Day.
Yesterday I didn't drive well;
I made a bad mistake.
Thank you God for the stranger
Whose foot slammed on his brake.
All day today I prayed for him,
As I prayed for many more
Who were quick-thinking at the wheel
And saved my life before.
There's no other gift to give
To a stranger you don't meet
Than to offer prayers for him
And lay them at God's feet.
So every time I think about
Some driver who was skilled
And managed to undo a threat
That could have been fulfilled,
I say another prayer
For those strangers I don't know
Who were wide awake and ready
When I was dim and slow.
Once upon a time a man had heard that in a foreign place, far away, there was a holy flame burning. So he got up and left his home to find the holy flame and bring some of its light back home to his house. He thought: 'When I have this light, then I will have happiness and life and all the people I love will have it, too.'
He travelled far, far away and finally found the holy flame, with which he lit his light. On his way back he had only one worry: That his light could go out.
On his way home he met someone who was freezing and didn't have any fire and who begged him to give him some of his fire. The man with the light hesitated for a moment. Wasn't his light too precious, too holy to be given away for something ordinary like that? Despite these doubts, he decided to give some of his light to the one who was freezing in the darkness.
The man continued his journey home and when he had almost reached his house a terrible thunderstorm started. He tried to protect his light from the rain and the storm, but at the end his light went out.
To return the long way back to the place where the holy flame was burning was impossible; he wouldn't have had enough strength to go back that far - but he was strong enough to return to the human being whom he had helped on his way home.
.........and with his light he could light his own again.