Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Hope’s How-To Archive

Monday

3

March 2014

Hope, She Wrote: Jumpstart Your Joy

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Hope's How-To, Published Work

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Choose Joy quote by Henri Nouwen

Having a consistently positive attitude can be incredibly difficult, especially when it’s so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day circumstances. In my latest column for The Minto Express, I discuss ways to jumpstart your joy, and get on the road to a more consistent, joyful heart attitude.

The winter can be a difficult time, with the shorter days, grey skies, and cold weather. (Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, people!) I don’t think I’m alone when I say that there are definitely days when hibernation seems like it would’ve been a good idea.

So what can you do to jumpstart your joy? The great thing about joy is that it’s a constant, and a deliberate choice you get to make each day: Joy is not dependent on your present circumstances or your mood, because true joy comes from within. Joy is something that starts with your heart attitude.

You might think that jumpstarting your joy could be the happiness you experience when you buy a new pair of boots, or that feeling you get when you score some cute clothes at an incredible half-off sale at your favourite store, but here’s something many don’t often think of: Joy and happiness are two entirely different things.

Happiness by definition is a state of well-being or a pleasurable or satisfying experience. Joy (which comes from the word “rejoice”) is to be glad and content. Happiness is always the result of a circumstance or something happening around you, whereas joy is the consistent, content heart attitude that is unaffected by your surrounding circumstances or happenings.

For example, if you have a really bad day at work, or you get a mustard stain on your favourite white skinny jeans (hey, it happens), or you receive disappointing news – you wouldn’t be happy, right? But, throughout these circumstances, you can still choose joy. It doesn’t mean that you walk around with a dopey smile on your face all the time, it just means that you have perspective, and that your source of contentment comes from inside, not from outside.

Some simple ways to jumpstart your joy:

  • make a list of the things that you’re thankful for in life
  •  forgive someone who’s wronged you
  • volunteer with an organization that helps others
  • provide for another’s need
  • listen to a friend
  • pray

Do you see a theme with jumpstarting your joy? One of the key components of joy is putting others first. When I was younger, there was this song we used to sing in Sunday School, called, “JOY” and it was an acronym for “Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third” And that’s totally true. When you stop looking in, and you start looking up and out (by putting others first), the results are powerful and can have major impact on your life.

There’s a quote by the writer Henri J.M. Nouwen that gives some pretty sound advice: “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” Choose joy!

Robertson, Hope. “Jumpstart Your Joy.” Minto Express 26 February 2014: 5. Print.
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Saturday

15

February 2014

Hope, She Wrote: The Art of Patience

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Hope's How-To, Published Work

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Patience

Here’s an excerpt from my latest column in The Minto Express:

Two words that I have always been fascinated by – and admittedly, sometimes annoyed by – are patience and longsuffering. Ever found yourself to be in the midst of what you’d call a “trying” time, where you feel tested or like a certain “life season” will never end? Welcome to the club! And isn’t it annoying when someone says to you “just be patient”. Way easier said than done!

Patience and longsuffering are another couple of words that are destined to be together – if we’re going to be successful at either.

Our English word patience comes from the Greek word hypomone, which is a compound word composed of hypo (a preposition that means ‘under’) and moneo (a verb that means to ‘abide’ or ‘remain’). From this, we take that patience is to ‘abide’, ‘endure’, or ‘remain under’ difficult circumstances when we can’t avoid them and have to go through them.

Similarly, our English word longsuffering in Greek is makrothumia, which comes from the compound makros (which means ‘long’ or ‘far’) and thumos (temper, referring specifically to ‘wrath’ or ‘fierceness’). So the Greek definition of longsuffering indicates remaining emotionally calm in the face of trying or unfavourable circumstances.¹ The point of what I’m trying to say here is this: Patience is practicing endurance in this race we call life, and longsuffering is the attitude or frame of mind we have while we’re going through whatever life throws at us. Makes sense, right? The hard part is putting it into practice.

Here are a few ways to put patience and the attitude of longsuffering into action:

  1. Identify what makes you feel impatient: Are you stressed out with too many deadlines? What about personal commitments? Are you stretching yourself thin by “burning the candle at both ends”? What can you let go of, or delegate to others?
  2. Recognize unhealthy patterns: When you feel impatient or stressed, keep track of these instances, and address them head-on.
  3. Let it go: I know, this is like that annoying “just be patient” statement. But seriously, practicing an attitude of “longsuffering” (emotional calmness) can have incredible impact on your patience. Adjust your attitude, pray about it, talk to a close friend – all healthy exercises. Also, look out rather than in – instead of focusing on the circumstances that make you feel impatient, refocus to put others first.

The virtue of patience can mean the difference between good and great for your life. If you’re feeling impatient when things don’t happen right away, remember that it takes 6 months to build a Rolls-Royce, and only 13 hours to build a Toyota.

¹Garland, Tony. “Patience vs. Longsuffering.” Spirit and Truth, December 28, 2012.

Robertson, Hope. “Practicing Patience.” Minto Express 12 February 2014: 5. Print.

 

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Monday

3

February 2014

Hope, She Wrote: Attitude of Gratitude

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Hope's How-To, Published Work

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G.K. Chesterton on gratitude.

Have you ever gone out in the middle of the winter and opted to wear only one glove? Didn’t think so. It just wouldn’t make sense.

Have you ever seen a bird with only one wing? Makes it pretty difficult to fly, right?

It’s the same thing with gratitude and thanksgiving. You really can’t have one without the other. Whenever you possess the quality of gratitude and experience the feeling it brings, it’s a natural inclination to express this by giving thanks and showing appreciation.

I’m not sure why people tend to wait until the holiday season to express their gratitude through thanksgiving. Maybe it’s the warmth that comes along with a fire or the smell of baking in the oven that inspires people to come closer together and be more open with what’s on their hearts. I’d like to suggest that we shouldn’t wait until the holidays to possess an attitude of gratitude. Having an attitude of gratitude is something we can practice on a daily basis throughout the entire year.

G.K. Chesterton once said “when it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” Now that’s a statement that causes conviction. So often I find myself getting caught up complaining about things or circumstances that others might actually consider a blessing. Think of what a better place our world would be if we all made a conscious effort to act with thanksgiving and demonstrate our gratitude.

Expressing gratitude through acts of thanksgiving need not be complex, difficult, or expensive. There are several simple ways we can demonstrate our gratitude to others.

  • Write a handwritten note of thanks – National Hand-Writing Day is celebrated annually on January 23, but why wait until next year to write a quick note? Write a simple note of thanks to someone who’s made a difference in your life, or someone who recently helped you out. Even if it’s just one specific sentence of something they did that made a difference to you, the sentiment comes from your heart, and that will make someone’s day brighter.
  • Do something thoughtful – whether it’s making lunch for a friend, buying a coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru lineup, or surprising someone with a few flowers, sincere acts of thoughtfulness can have a lasting impact.
  • Listen – This is a big one. Ever found yourself formulating your next sentence while you’re in conversation? Yeah, try not doing that for once and truly absorbing what your friend or family member has to say. You might be surprised at the significance of your sincerity.
  • Smile – Seriously, people. It costs nothing, and it makes complete sense – smiling is so much easier than stink-face.

I’ll close with this thought from John Fitzgerald Kennedy (aka the 35th President of the Unite States of America, known to his friends and family as “Jack”): “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” It’s as much a challenge for me writing this, as it is for you reading.

Robertson, Hope. “Attitude of Gratitude.” Minto Express 29 January 2014: 5. Print.
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Thursday

23

January 2014

Hope’s How-To: Write a Handwritten Letter

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Hope's How-To, Published Work

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Graphique de France La Petite Presse boxed note cards.

Graphique de France La Petite Presse boxed note cards, $10 for 10.

December 7 and January 23. Two random dates, but there’s one thing — at least one that I know of — that ties them together: December 7 is celebrated annually as national letter writing day, and January 23 is known as national handwriting day.

I love snail mail. Unfortunately though, as I alluded to a few years ago, the handwritten letter is a dying art. And why is that? Sure, the cost of postage is constantly increasing, but comparable to other acts of thoughtfulness, sending a handwritten note is one of the simplest, most sincere ways of showing your gratitude.

Derek Blasberg for Paperless Post

Derek Blasberg’s smart designs for Paperless Post, $5 each or $19 for 10.

Getting inspired to write can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have a designated writing desk, or if you don’t have proper stationery at your finger tips. I’m a big fan of personalized stationery, like Smythson’s correspondence cards (see image below). If you don’t want to break the bank, Paperless Post has a great inventory of designs (for both online and print) featuring some fantastic designers (like Derek Blasberg, check out one of his witty designs above). Another option is Graphique de France’s La Petite Presse line (featuring darling designs on quality card stock, see top image).

Smythson personalized note cards

Smythson personalized note cards, approx. $325 for 50.

Saying thank you or highlighting from your heart how someone has made an impact on you doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple by following these steps on how to write a handwritten letter:

  1. Start with a sentence. Get specific with why you’re writing. “I’m writing to say thank you for …”
  2. Keep it short. Remember, you’re writing a handwritten letter, not a dissertation.
  3. Share from your heart. Maybe there’s a quote or a verse that’s spoken to you recently that you want to pass along. Write it down and reference it.
  4. Date your correspondence. Sure it’s trivial, but years down the road, if the recipient looks back over your note in review, they’ll appreciate recalling the date they received your letter.
  5. Sign it and send it in the mail. This is key. Picking up personalized mail in the post is an absolute delight.

 

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