Monday, July 29, 2013

You May Be the Beginning of a New Generation

When looking for the good in others we learn at least this one lesson: We each are of infinite value, and there is much to learn from the example of many great people.

One of the reasons WHY I collect a "List of Great People" is the inspiration and motivation I feel comes from noticing and admiring individual qualities of family, friends and connections. We really do not need to look far to spot a hero. They are all around us!

I'm currently reading "Mark of a Giant: Seven People Who Changed the World" (which, again, was given me be a friend I admire for a long list of wonderful attributes). In it I find that we all can change BIG through SMALL consistent behavior in what we believe in.

While spending two years as a missionary I had the privilege of serving with Gregory Cox. Last week I was blessed to be reunited with him and his family. Here's one of many thoughts that came to me:
In 1993 Greg and I were just two boys. During our momentous reunion we rekindled a most precious friendship. However, this time we were surrounded by our families. That we as parents somehow will pass on a legacy is an understatement, but to imagine that down the road hundreds and maybe (long term) even thousands of descendants will follow blows my mind. A house full of people is certainly a wonderful beginning, though.
Who would've thought: "Two boys reunited...
Just like one can count the seeds in an apple, but not the apples from a seed, in each one of us lies the potential to change and improve an entire generation. Needless to say, today I'm adding Greg to my list of great people for the honesty and sincerity he possesses, and thus being among the best friends I could ever wish to have.

...together with a bunch of wonderful individuals!" ;-)
Two quotes in particular provide perspective to what I feel right now:
"No success can compensate for failure in the home." (David O. McKay)
"It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses." (Dag Hammarskjold)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Are We Trying to Catch Happiness?

Maybe happiness isn't caught as much as it's brought. Meaning what?

In our lives it appears there are two kinds of happiness:

(1) Caught Happiness?
We see it and we want it. It's easy to find, simply because we can "touch" it. This kind of happiness is instant and can feel overwhelming caused directly by the activity itself. It seems to last for brief intense moments and then "disappears". Sometimes it is competitive in nature. Here might be some examples:
  • Riding a rollercoaster
  • Watching fireworks
  • Eating a hamburger
  • Winning a contest
  • Falling in love
(2) Brought Happiness?
We do not naturally see it, and sometimes we even think we don't want it. It takes effort to find, simply because the effects are seemingly invisible. This kind of happiness comes to us gradually as a consequence of something we did. It seems to last longer and grows. Often it's something we do together. Here might be some examples:
  • Serving others
  • Sharing feelings
  • Reading inspired literature
  • Creating something
  • Being in love
In trying to "catch" happiness we might miss the mark. In my experience, the first kind of happiness is sweeter if I include other people in it and turn them into memories. Is the greatest happiness caught by us or is it brought to us? Maybe it's just a wordplay, but it might be worth a thought..? What do you think?

Today I'm adding my own father, Dirk Cornelis Top, to my list of great people. Why? Because he has lived his life in the second category, and whenever he spent time in the first he only did it for us.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Easiest Path Requires The Greatest Effort

There are two things about a smile that's worth drawing a lesson from, and together I think they teach a priceless principle.

First, it takes less strength to smile than to be sad.

Second, it's easy to forget. Yes, most of us simply forget to smile, myself included.

What can we learn from these two combined? Ironically, the easiest path requires the greatest and most constant effort (i.e. long term, of course).

Antithesis: The toughest path is to pursue a course of least resistance.

So, I suggest, "easy is harder", regardless of how we define "easy". Why? If we think of easy as a short-cut or a form of instant gratification, the consequences will surely punish us around the next bend. If, on the other hand, by easy we mean long term smartness, of necessity we pay a hard price in the moment.