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Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith

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happiness

Choices that hurt

We all make choices. Some of our choices both help and hurt at the same time. They are beneficial but uncomfortable. They are right but they go against the grain.

When you have a debilitating illness, there are certain medications that are prescribed which alleviate pain and the body’s response to illness but at the same time take their toll in other areas.

To help me manage the effects of Motor Neurone Disease (muscle fasciculate, cramps, shakes), my neurologist has given me medication. Unfortunately the drugs come with warnings of blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, high blood pressure, weight gain etc. You get the picture.

It’s the dilemma of many people in our world who neither choose the illness, nor choose the effects the drugs may have.  But in the end we make a decision, it’s the lesser of these evils.

I wonder, how do you make the right choices in life? Choices like:

What medication do I take, if any?
Will I marry this person?
What degree do I study?
Should we start a family?
Should we buy a house?
Do I spend $200k on a trial drug?
Do I want quality of life or extended life?

Here is how I try to make the right choice.

Don’t let happiness be your guide, let peace.  When you have peace, joy is around the corner and joy is a necessary ingredient for lasting happiness and satisfaction. As one person put it, “Being sick well means living with joy despite the illness.

Seek counsel from experts in their field and wise people.  Remember sometimes those with knowledge aren’t the ones who have wisdom.  Wisdom is knowing how to use knowledge. Give time to thoughtful contemplation, this is different to just accumulation of facts.  Value other people’s opinions but remember they may have different values and life goals to you.

Consider this: what will be the impact on others? Try, to the best of your ability, to play out the consequences and see if it ends with increased experiences of love for you and the ones closest to you. Don’t base your decisions on what YOU want but on what is needed.

Allow your heart to get involved and search for what is instinctively true and right.  I’m not talking about what feels good to the senses but what has a deep and pervading “I know” attached to it.  It reaches to the personal integrity of what you believe is morally and ethically right.

For me, the Bible has given me some moral and ethical absolutes and prayer helps me practice those by God’s grace.  Sometimes the absolutes outweigh the popular and the majority.

Your decision to have life may mean certain things you now live with must die: bad habits, unhealthy relationships, negative thought patterns. In this way, sometimes life is found in death.  Don’t let pride or fear stop you from changing a wrong choice or making a right one.

Making the right choice, even those that hurt, is a balance between heart and head. I would encourage you to trust yourself and know yourself, don’t fear what others may think. Sometimes the right decision costs us something personally.

Remember this, right decisions take courage no matter what the outcome may be.

My hope for you today is that you choose the best life possible.

Phil

The Secret to Happiness

Single, Married, Sick, Healthy, Rich, Poor?  Discover the Secret to Happiness.
Single, Married, Sick, Healthy, Rich, Poor? Discover the Secret to Happiness.

Last week I was telling my psychologist how frustrating the changes in my body are. The simple things, like I have to wait for one of my sons to come over to carry salt to the swimming pool.

She said, “change will happen, sometimes we must learn to live with change being the new normal”.

What is the secret to a happy and content life?  I think it is learning to be content in whatever situation you find yourself in: single, married, sick, healthy, rich, or poor.  It’s a contentment that comes from within.

Philippians 4:12 says “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”

Contentment is not conning yourself, psyching yourself up, or pretending you like what you really don’t like. That isn’t contentment — that’s fake.

Contentment is taking stock of your attitude and deciding that with Christ’s presence in you, you can cope! You can handle it! You are sufficient for the problem!

Contentment is not apathy, laziness, or complacency.  If you can change a situation, you don’t need to be content and lay in it — maybe you need to get up and do something about it.

Where you really need to master the art of a learned contentment is in the situations that you can’t control: those things that are beyond you.

So how do you do that?  I have learned a couple of ways:

One is to avoid comparison.

There will always be people that make more money than you, who have greater opportunities than you have, or who have fewer problems. So what? That need not have any bearing on your own personal contentment.

Howard Hughes, a business magnate and Hollywood socialite, was once asked, “How much money does it take to make a man happy?” He said, “Just a little more.”

In stark contrast, the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “We don’t look around at what we see right now, the troubles all around us. But we look forward to the joys in heaven.”

You don’t need to have what others have, be liked by everyone or have more than what you have now to be content.

I can’t afford to spend time comparing myself to other people or in the futile pursuit of more.   I keep my eyes on a far greater hope and purpose.

Another is to adjust to change.

Life is full of ups and downs — emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially. One thing is certain in life: change.

Change is going to happen whether you like it or not and we must be flexible because circumstances usually aren’t.

How well do you handle change?  Do you get frightened? Moody? Angry? Uptight?

Your happiness in life will be largely dependant upon your ability to adapt, adjust, and be flexible.

What is the secret of a content and happy life? Learn to relax, trust God, avoid comparing yourself and adjust to change.

Phil

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