Hope Reflected

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Friday

12

February 2016

Hope Reflected: What Goes In, Must Come Out

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Inspire definition

Whether it’s the snow melting, or the birds singing, several people have said over the past week that they’re feeling invigorated and inspired.

Inspire. What a word! First used in the 1300s, the word inspire comes from the Latin inspirare, meaning, “inspire, inflame, blow into,” from in “in” and spirare “to breathe”.[1]  Another definition comes from the French inspiracion, meaning “inhaling, breathing in; inspiration.” When we are inspired – whether by a person, place, or thing, – we are stimulated, excited, and influenced. The word inspire is the breathing in of something and actually being affected by it. When it’s put in such vivid terms, I can’t help but think about what inspires me. There are so many people, so many places, and so many things that I would count as inspirations. And while I’m a person who by nature has a fairly positive outlook on life (my name is Hope, hello), I can’t help but think about what inspires angry people, or those with a particularly pessimistic attitude. Sure, some of it might be built into their nature, but ultimately, we’re all influenced and inspired in some way, by something.

If you’re a computer science type, you’re familiar with GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). The information a computer outputs depends entirely on the input. Not to draw a parallel between computers and humans, but same story when it comes to us. What we allow into our minds and our hearts through the gates of our eyes and our ears will inevitably come out and be displayed through our actions and the words that come out of our mouths. Have you ever met someone who has a bad attitude or who’s “mad at the world”? Chances are, they really don’t censor much of what they let their eyes see and their ears hear. If you listen to intense, anger-filled music, be prepared to have an intense, angry outlook. Watch violent and profanity-filled films? You put yourself at risk to become desensitized, or even a producer of those behaviors and words in your own life. It’s like food poisoning, really. If you eat contaminated food, well, be prepared for what’s going to come out…

It’s inevitable through life that we’re going to see things that we’d rather not see, and hear things we’d rather not hear, but does that mean we shouldn’t be proactive and protect ourselves? Absolutely not! We should all establish safeguards against potential negative influences. If you know that certain genres of music elicit feelings of depression, anger, or sadness in you, don’t listen to that music! Same with movies and TV; if you know that show will cause you to think about things you’d rather not consider, then don’t watch it. Each of us has a responsibility to protect and nurture our hearts and minds. That goes for real life, too. If you’re someone who enjoys listening to the “coffee shop talk” and hearing critical assessments of your peers, you put yourself at risk to pick out the faults in others and speak critically. If you wouldn’t say it to that person’s face, you definitely shouldn’t be saying it behind his or her back.

Just like the law of gravity, (what goes up must come down), we’ve all got to be careful the spiritual truth of what goes in must come out. There’s a verse that I love that talks about dwelling on the right things. In chapter 4 verse 8 of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he encourages them to think positively, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy – mediate on these things.”

Originally published as “What Goes In Must Come Out”. Minto Express. March 25, 2015: 5. Print.

[1] inspire. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/inspire (accessed: March 20, 2015).

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Thursday

11

February 2016

Hope Reflected: 3 Ways to Stop Procrastinating

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Tree quote

After my last column, 5 Ways to Use Your Time More Wisely , I had a few comments on the topic of procrastination, from friends who struggle with putting things off until the last minute. I, too, struggle with procrastination on occasion, in fact, I’d venture to say that procrastination is a bad habit that everyone gets into at least once in their life.

We each have our own reasons for putting things off, whether it’s in our personal or professional lives. Some people are afraid of failure, some people are easily distracted, some people don’t like dealing with “feelings”, and some people think they thrive under pressure.

The word procrastination itself first originated in the 1540s, from the Latin procrastinationem, “a putting off from day to day.”[1] Procrastination is not a new habit; in fact, people have been putting things off since at least Biblical times. Ever notice how procrastination is referenced several times throughout the Bible? In Proverbs 3:28 “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’ – when you have it with you,” or Proverbs 20:4 “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing,” or even Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

Procrastination is something society has struggled with for ages.

There are several ways to eliminate procrastination from your lifestyle. Here are three ways to stop procrastinating:

  1. Give yourself a deadline. Even if it’s self-imposed, give yourself deadlines to complete projects. Hey, you may even want to share with your friends or family for the accountability factor. If you’re someone who “works better under pressure”, then a self-imposed deadline should really help get you going.
  2. Get over your fear of failure. If you’re procrastinating because you’re afraid that by attempting a task or project, or by confronting a feeling that you’re going to fail or face rejection, get over yourself. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” You’ll never know if you don’t try! There comes a time when you just have to accept uncertainties and give it your best shot. Also, wisdom from Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
  3. Go ahead and take the first step. Even if it’s a small step, getting started is one of the keys to combating procrastination. Sure, the project may seem impossible. So break it down into manageable tasks, so when you accomplish a little bit, you’ll be inspired to continue working.

If procrastination is a habit you’re trying to get out of, put it in perspective. Not only does procrastination affect your present, it can also have lasting implications on the rest of your life. Remember, “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Whatever you’re procrastinating and putting off, take a step and get started. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow!

Originally published as “3 Ways to Stop Procrastinating”. Minto Express. March 11, 2015: 5. Print.

[1] procrastination. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/procrastination (accessed: March 05, 2015).

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Wednesday

10

February 2016

Hope Reflected: Haste Makes Waste

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Benjamin Franklin quote.

My Dad has always been one of the biggest encouragements in my life – especially when it comes to reminding me that I need to take time to slow down. It was my Dad who introduced me to Carl Honoré, the magnificent mind behind the slow movement, and it is my Dad who frequently reminds me that I need to take more time out for myself.

Ever get annoyed when someone says, “Don’t rush,” or “Take your time,” right when you need to be somewhere, or you’re in a serious time crunch? Well, the next time you’re feeling rushed, or overwhelmed with all the work before you, just remember Benjamin Franklin. It was Franklin who once famously said, “Take time for all things: Great haste makes great waste.” This is coming from a guy who had a whoooole lot on the go. I mean seriously, not only was Ben Franklin one of America’s founding fathers, he was also a renowned politician, a postmaster, a scientist (American Enlightenment, anyone?), a diplomat, and an inventor (you may recall the lightning rod, those bifocals you’re wearing, and even the Franklin stove). Still, Benjamin Franklin knew the value of taking the time to think things through, and to do things right.

So how can we learn to halt the hurriedness in our everyday lives, especially living in this age of technology and increased connectivity? Here are five practical points for using your time wisely, whatever goals you’re pursuing.

  1. Be proactive; don’t procrastinate. If you’re someone who works better on a deadline, or thrives in a fast-paced, high-stress environment, “unlearning” procrastination can be difficult; however, the rewards to being proactive are many. Proactive people are purposed in their work, principled, and they practice healthy habits.
  2. Be purposed. Sometimes you have to ask yourself the tough questions, like “is what I’m doing today helping me get to where I want to be tomorrow?” If the answer is “no”, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what you’re doing and what steps will help you reach your goal(s). We all need to have a ‘why’. What’s yours?
  3. Be productive. Stop wasting time being “busy” and start being productive. No matter what you’re doing, time is going to pass, so why not make your work matter? Start focusing on the right things that will take you in the right direction, and limit everything else. Take charge of your time, and don’t get caught up in outside distractions.
  4. Be realistic. There will always be more things to do than hours in a day, and that’s why it is crucial to focus on your priorities. You may ask, “How can I focus when everything is a priority?” Well, what’s your primary goal? Break it down and work specifically toward that. Keep in mind that not all hours in the day are equal. What time of day do you operate at your best? Use those hours to pursue your goals, and the rest of the time for lesser tasks.
  5. Get started. Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” One way to eliminate haste is to get started. Sometimes, you’ve just got to stop making excuses, and go for it!

It’s the little life hacks that help – get in the habit of setting up your breakfast before you go to bed each night, plan and prepare your meals for the work week in advance, set a weekly laundry day so you’re not scrambling to get dressed each morning, and reserve one night a week to take time to just be – plan for your best tomorrow by preparing today.

Originally published as “Haste Makes Waste”. Minto Express. February 25, 2015: 5. Print.

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Monday

8

February 2016

Hope Reflected: The Link Between Gratitude and Love

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In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

About this time last year, I wrote a column on the importance of practicing an attitude of gratitude. While it’s pretty easy to understand that thanksgiving and gratitude go hand in hand, all this talk of gratitude and expressing thanks has got me thinking – how closely linked are gratitude and love?

You know how when you’re thankful for a person or object, you express gratitude? Gratitude is a way of placing value on someone or something. This is similar to what you do when you love: You place value on whatever happens to be the object of your love.

I’m a huge believer that having an attitude of gratitude helps a person to be more joyful (if you don’t believe me, try it)! And, I’m also convinced that the more we learn to show our gratitude for the people and things around us; the more we open ourselves up to love.

Here are three tips if you’re looking to live with more love in your life:

  1. Keep a gratitude list. Or a journal, or a prayer book. Whatever you call your version, don’t forget to make notes on the people and things for which you’re thankful. It doesn’t have to be every day, but at least once a week make a gratitude note. It can be as simple as “I woke up this morning” (because let’s be honest, the gift of life each day and the ability to get out of bed is something we all take for granted).
  2. Pay it forward. Doesn’t have to be anything super-elaborate – even the simple act of buying coffee for the girl or guy behind you in the drive-thru lineup can make someone’s day! Send flowers to a friend or significant other on a day chosen at random (i.e., not their birthday, your anniversary, and not Valentine’s Day). Hand write a note of thanks to someone who’s recently impacted your life for the better.
  3. Take time to give thanks. This is a very difficult thing for many people, myself included. There is something so wonderful about taking time to just be. Having time to yourself, or time reserved for loved ones is an amazing, easy way to see and soak up life’s little blessings. Too often we get caught up in the fast-paced world around us, but I find for myself, it’s those moments – where I’m holding the hand of someone I love instead of my phone, making eye contact with my family and friends rather than staring at a cold computer screen, or putting my feet up and reading a book rather than running around doing work – when I slow down, that I actually have time to think. And when I think, I can’t help but be amazed at all of the blessings in my life. Might take some brain training, to focus on the positive instead of the next item on your to-do list, but trust me, it can be done.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that above items are all directly related to gratitude. Really, I don’t think we can properly love without sharing our gratitude.  Both virtues live in our hearts and it’s up to us to express them. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude.”

 

Originally published as “The Link Between Love and Gratitude”. Minto Express. February 11 2015: 5. Print.

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Wednesday

4

March 2015

Inspired By: Mother Teresa

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Mother Teresa Quote of the Day

She was an unexpected woman of influence, but from her flowed some incredibly elegant expressions, in word and deed. And while some wish to debate her authenticity and motives, one thing that’s for sure is that the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta has influenced generations.

Five truths we can learn from Mother Teresa:

  1. “Do small things with great love.”
  2. “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
  3. “Give the world your best, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway, for you see, in the end it is between you and God.”
  4. “Be faithful in small things, because it is in them that your strength lies.”
  5. “…prayer changes us, and we change things.”
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Monday

2

March 2015

Hope, She Wrote: 3 Ways to Achieve Your Goals

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C.S.Lewis goals quote

It was C.S. Lewis who said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Dreams and goals are great, but it’s important to remember that you’ve got to back them up with action. Remember back to New Year’s Eve, that magical evening just a couple of short months ago, when people were all pumped full of new energy (and some full of champagne), making biiig plans for 2015? Committing that this was going to be the year of big life changes — getting fit, pursuing new career goals, starting to volunteer, developing healthy eating habits, reading more books — and living your best life? Yeah!!! I remember New Year’s Eve, too.

So… how are your goals going? If you made resolutions, are you still on the right road? If you’ve strayed, or even if you’ve completely fallen off the wagon — whether it be fit/work/volunteer/food, — you’re not alone. Usually it’s about this time in the ‘new’ year when people start to lose track of their goals and their original focus.

If you’re someone who’s lost focus of your goals, here are three ways to help you achieve your goals and get motivated:

  1. Tell someone about it. One of the best ways to achieve your goals: Be accountable to someone. Whether it’s through your social network, a peer group, or on a more private scale with an individual pursuing a similar goal, making yourself accountable is a great way to help you maintain focus and stay on the right track.
  2. Be realistic, and be positive. Being real about your goals may require re-evaluation of your resolutions. The old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is true, especially when it comes to pursuing your goals. Yes, goals should be challenging; they shouldn’t be impossible. Pursuing goals takes patience, and hard work. If you slip up along the way or make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes can be stepping-stones on the road to success, as long as you learn from them and use them to grow. Having a positive attitude will help you to remain focused.
  3. Set a due date. It’s easy at the start of a new year, or when you set a new goal to say, “I want to lose weight”, or, “I want to eat healthy”. But being generic and vague about your goals or resolutions is no way to actively pursue them. You’ve got to put some numbers to it. Make a timeline and pace yourself — where do you aim to be in three months? Six months? One year? How long will it realistically take to achieve your goals? Giving yourself a due date, or having a set of specific target steps in mind with a completion date, will help you successfully achieve your goals.

I love this quote by author and filmmaker Greg S. Reid: “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” Whatever goals and resolutions you’re pursuing in 2015, remember — achieving your goals is possible with the right attitude and actions!

 Originally published as “3 Ways to Achieve Your Goals”. Minto Express. 28 January 2015: 5. Print.
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Friday

13

February 2015

Robertson’s Reads: Nemesis by Agatha Christie

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Nemesis by Agatha Christie

Nemesis by Agatha Christie, a Miss Marple Mystery

“Nemesis…The word brought a picture before her eyes. Tropical palms—a blue Caribbean sea—and herself running through the warm fragrant night on the island of St. Honore to ask for help. To get help in time so that a life could be saved… Now she herself was being asked for help…”

Oh how I love the official Agatha Christie Book of the Month! Agatha Christie’s Nemesis (like most of her other novels) is an instant classic. The follow-up to A Caribbean Mystery, Nemesis centres around everyone’s favourite old aunt, Miss Marple, and though now deceased, her unlikely friendship with millionaire Jason Rafiel.

When Miss Marple receives a postcard from Mr. Rafiel (whom she met on St. Honore in A Caribbean Mystery), he is posthumously asking for her assisting in looking at an unspecified crime. If she’s able to solve the crime, she is set to inherit £20,000 (so who wouldn’t be interested at this point?!). Mr. Rafiel leaves Miss Marple clues along way, and she follows the arrangements he made previous to his death. First up is a tour of famous British homes and gardens (which green thumb Miss Marple would love), a tour which Miss Marple embarks on not alone, but in the company of fourteen other characters.

Among the characters on the tour are Miss Elizabeth Templeton (a retired headmistress who has connection to the individual involved in the crime), Miss Cooke (“planted” on the garden tour by Jason Rafiel before his death to help Miss Marple), Miss Barrow (also planted to assist Miss Marple), Professor Wanstead (one of the tourists, a psychiatrist who worked with Jason Rafiel’s son), Joanna Crawford (tourist), Emlyn Price (tourist), Lavinia Glynne (a widow who lives along the garden tour route, whom Jason Rafiel has made arrangements with for Miss Marple to stay at her cottage), Clotilde Bradbury-Scott (Lavinia’s sister), Anthea Bradbury-Scott (Lavinia and Clotilde’s sister), Michael Rafiel (Jason Rafiel’s son, who is accused of murder), Verity Hunt (Michael Rafiel’s fiancé, whom Michael is accused of murdering), Archdeacon Brabazon (Miss Temple’s friend, who as it turns out, was set to secretly marry Michael and Verity), Nora Broad (dead local person whose disfigured body made her almost impossible to identify).

The trip is quite tiring, and knowing this would be the case, before his death Mr. Rafiel, made arrangements for Miss Marple to stay at a local cottage for a few days. Whilst staying with Lavinia Glynne and her sisters, Miss Marple learns that Verity came to live with the Glynnes after her parents died, and became very attached to Lavinia’s sister Clotilde. Verity was engaged (secretly married, we later learn) to Jason’s son Michael, who is now in prison, accused of murdering his fiancé.

After a few days staying with the three sisters, Miss Marple rejoins the group only to learn that her friend Miss Temple has been seriously injured during a rockslide on the hike the day previous. Miss Marple and the rest of the group add an extra night to their tour as they want to be aware of Miss Temple’s condition in hospital. Professor Wanstead (who had given a psychiatric evaluation to Michael after he was incarcerated), takes Miss Marple to the hospital to visit Miss Temple. While she’s there, Miss Marple is able to speak with the comatose Miss Temple, who awakes only for a few moments, and tells Miss Marple to look for Verity Hunt. Miss Temple dies later that night.

Miss Marple makes the decision not to continue on the tour, and instead accepts an invitation from Lavinia Glynne and her sisters to stay with them. On her first night back with the sisters, Miss Marple learns more about Verity. She’s also visited by the Archdeacon Brabazon during an inquiry into the death of Miss Temple. The Archdeacon informs Miss Marple that he was set to marry Verity Hunt and Michael Rafiel in a secret ceremony, which he only agreed to because he could see how in love the two were. When neither showed up or gave word of their absence on the day he was to marry them, the Archdeacon was very surprised. After relaying the Archdeacon’s story with the sisters, Miss Marple’s new friends Miss Barrow and Miss Cooke stop by the house to speak with Miss Marple, and that evening they come back again for coffee.

Over coffee, the group also discusses the circumstances surrounding the death of Miss Temple. Miss Marple doesn’t have any of the coffee, but instead accepts a glass of warm milk made by sister Clotilde. She doesn’t drink the milk, and it’s a good thing as in the middle of the night when Clotilde enters Miss Marple’s room to kill her, Miss Marple surprises her by being awake, and accuses Clotilde of indeed being the murderer of Verity Hunt and also Nora Broad, and engineering the circumstances to frame Michael Rafiel. As Clotilde tries to silence Miss Marple, she is accosted by Miss Barrow and Miss Cooke, the bodyguards Jason Rafiel hired to protect Miss Marple. Clotilde drinks the poisoned milk herself.

After Michael Rafiel is set free, and once she’s satisfied that she’s solved the mystery, Miss Marple collects the inheritance left to her by Jason Rafiel.

While critics never claimed Nemesis to be one of Christie’s best — even though the novel is a mystery full of characters and plenty of twists and turns — it is a Christie classic that once again showcases sweet Miss Marple as the heroine detective.

 

Purchase Nemesis by Agatha Christie on Amazon

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Friday

6

February 2015

Charles Dickens Quotes

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feb72015_charlesdickens_quote

Well my friends, were he still alive and writing, legendary British writer Charles Dickens would turn 203 on February 7.

In honour of my favourite author, — hey, I love Dickens so much I named my mini schnauzer after him! — I thought it’d be fun to share ten of my favourite Charles Dickens quotes:

  • “A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” (from David Copperfield)
  • “The most important thing in life is to stop saying ‘I wish’, and start saying ‘I will’. Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities.” (from David Copperfield)
  • “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
  • “Take nothing on its looks: Take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.” (from Great Expectations)
  • “Happiness is a gift, and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.” (from Nicholas Nickleby)
  • “Every heart is a profound mystery to the heart beating nearest it.”
  • “It is good to be children, and sometimes never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” (from A Christmas Carol)
  • “We forge the chains we wear in life.” (from A Christmas Carol)
  • “Do all the good you can, and make as little fuss about it as possible.”
  • “I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.”

What are your favourite Dickens quotes? What’s your favourite novel by Charles Dickens?

 

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Monday

26

January 2015

Hope, She Wrote: 5 Characteristics of Generous People

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hoperobertson_giving_quote

It was Charles Spurgeon who said, “giving is true loving”. Throughout the year, we as a society are inundated with ads all about buying “stuff”, gift giving, and finding “the perfect present”. Whether a holiday, birthday, or anniversary, giving isn’t just something that should be reserved for special occasions; true generosity is something that we should practice 365 days a year.

Did you know that people who are generous and who give freely are actually happier? According to a 2006 study by the National Institutes of Health, people who give activate the brain regions related to pleasure, reward, and trust.[1] If you’re looking to get in touch with your generous side, here are five characteristics of generous people and thoughtful givers:

  1. Generous people would rather give than receive. To some, this is a foreign concept, but it’s so true! Those of a generous spirit are more comfortable – and actually get more pleasure – giving than they do being on the receiving end of a gift or compliment. It may not come naturally, but the more you get in the practice of giving, the more you’ll understand how good it truly feels.
  2. Generous people plan ahead. Translation: Don’t procrastinate! Planning ahead is a marked characteristic of the thoughtful giver. They don’t leave things until the last minute, running out to the store on Christmas Eve or the night before a birthday. Instead, they’ve got others in mind the whole year through, keeping an eye open for items that will be of interest or suitable for the recipient’s personality or needs.
  3. Generous people care about personal connections. Generous people know the importance of building lasting relationships and finding common ground with others. Look at the friends who’ve been in your life the longest. Chances are, they’re some of the most selfless, caring, generous people in your world. There’s a reason for that.
  4. Generous people count their blessings. All of the generous people I know have at least one character trait in common: An attitude of gratitude. Recognizing all of the blessings in your own life can encourage you to be a blessing to others, as well. When you have a spirit of gratitude, it’s only natural to want to give thanks, and to share that gratitude with others.
  5. Generous people give more than just material gifts. Every person is put on this Earth for a purpose, and generous people recognize and appreciate the value in others. Generous people give more than just material “things”; they encourage, promote, and reassure others.

True generosity has nothing to do with how much money you have, how much you volunteer, or how much you give – true generosity has everything to do with what’s in your heart. Mother Teresa said it well: “It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”

 

[1] Moll, Jorge, et all. (Sept 7, 2006). Human fronto-mesolimbic networks guide decisions about charitable donation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 103 (no. 42). Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/103/42/15623.full

 

Originally published as “5 Characteristics of Generous People”. Minto Express 17 December 2014: 5. Print.
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Tuesday

6

January 2015

Hope, She Wrote: Three Factors of Friendship

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We’re less than one week into the new year, and already I’m counting several reasons to be thankful for my closest friends. If you’re someone who has ever struggled to fit in, then you’ll appreciate these three characteristics of true friends. Friends, thank you.

True friendship

Always one to look on the bright side, I sat down the other night and added some items to my gratitude list (taking a queue from Bing Crosby’s “Count Your Blessings”), and because many of my gratitude items are directly related to people, I really got thinking about all the incredible humans that I’m so blessed to call friends.

The word “friend” is defined as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection”. [FYI, the word “friend” is also listed as a verb, to “add (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website,” but we won’t even go into the disingenuous disposition of social networking at this time.]

When I was in middle school, I really struggled to fit in. (Shocking, right?) In high school, I made a couple of lifelong friends, and in college, my path crossed with another great group of people, who today remain some of my nearest and dearest (even though we’re all living in various countries throughout the world – literally). And since moving to small-town Clifford, I’ve been blessed to find what I’d call a few really solid, true-blue, best friends.

The thing about friendship is that in order to have friends, you’ve got to be a friend. It took me a while to learn this. It’s like the old adage, “Don’t wait for people to be friendly. Show them how.” Well, I’m no expert, but I’d venture to say that one of the key components of true friendship is that the street goes both ways. Friendship is one of those things for which we have to decide to make time. Family, work schedules, travel – all of these things take time. And friendship is no different.

A few columns ago, I wrote about nurturing the hearts of others, and part of that means savouring sweet moments with friends, and letting them know that you care. Here are three factors of friendship that I’m thankful for:

  1. Friendship that is based on genuine mutual interests and a listening ear. There’s something so powerful about a set of friends who truly care about each other not just on a personal level, but spiritually as well. These are friends who typically have best interests at heart. This is something I’m thankful for, as well friendships where listening is just as important as talking.
  2. Friendship that can span miles, and years, without changing. Ever had a friend, with whom you lost touch, only to reconnect with them a few years later, – or maybe even after a decade – and it’s as though nothing at all has changed (except maybe your laugh lines are deeper)? Yeah, I’m thankful for those friendships.
  3. Friendship without conditions. There will always be those people who want to connect and “be friends” for their own selfish benefit. But, as we all know, friendship requires a certain amount of selflessness (seems obvious, but srsly, some people…). You can’t be in it for your own benefit or based on your own conditions (otherwise it’s not true friendship). I’m thankful for friends who are my friends regardless of circumstances or what I can do for them (and vice versa). Charles Spurgeon once said, “you may judge of a man’s character by the persons whose affection he seeks. If you find a man seeking only the affection of those who are great, depend upon it he is ambitious and self-seeking; but when you observe that a man seeks the affection of those who can do nothing for him, but for whom he must do everything, you know that he is not seeking himself, but that pure benevolence sways his heart.”

What are the friendships that you’re thankful for? Don’t just keep your gratitude to yourself – share it with your friends!

 

Originally published as “Three Factors of Friendship”. Minto Express 22 October 2014: 5. Print.
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