Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

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Wednesday

24

January 2018

Wednesday Wisdom | Make it a habit to hide God’s Word in your heart

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"Your Word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You." (Psalm 119:11) Make it a habit to hide God's Word in your heart | Read more at hopereflected.com

Wednesday Wisdom: Make it a habit to hide God’s Word in your heart

You’ve likely heard the saying, “What goes in must come out” or “garbage in, garbage out”. What’s in your heart will show in your life. Do you have low self confidence? You’ll likely seek out others who are the same and who try to put you down to build themselves up. Is there bitterness in your heart? You and those around you can probably taste it in your words. Is there love in your heart? You’ll give that to others in the way that you treat them.

What’s in your heart will show in your life. That’s why it’s important to fill your heart with God’s truth, wisdom, love, and peace!

The book of Psalms is filled with wisdom, and Psalm 119 — in addition to being the longest chapter in the Bible — is filled with the insight of a person who despite living through a world of difficulties, finds joy and “delight” in following the Lord.

Psalm 119:11 says, “Your Word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

A practical way to follow the Lord is to commit His Word (the Bible) to memory. I’m not suggesting you memorize the entire Bible (though some have!), I’m suggesting you start simple and memorize some of the verses that have impacted your life.

What Bible verses encourage you? What Bible verses comfort you? What Bible verses remind you what is right? Start with the Bible verses that speak the most to you, and commit them to memory, one at a time.

Maybe you’ll memorize one verse a week. Maybe you’ll memorize one verse a month. A great way to start is to write a couple of verses down on a sticky note, or an index card. Post it on your computer screen, or carry it in your purse. Make it a habit to hide God’s Word in your heart. After all, what’s in your heart will show in your life.

What is a favourite Bible verse that you’ve memorized?

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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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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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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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Thursday

1

January 2015

Verses About Courage

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Ah, the fresh energy that comes with the commencement of a new year! For many, January 1 marks a clean slate to commit to better living. January 1 can also be a time to reflect on everything — triumphs and tragedies, highs and lows, — we’ve been through the past year. There will always be unexpected life challenges and events that occur throughout the year in each of our lives, and in addition to excitement, facing the uncertainties and unknowns of a new year can also cause fear.

I’ve put together five of my favourite Bible verses about courage. Referenced more than 30 times in the Bible, courage is defined as “the ability to do something that frightens one,” and also “strength in the face of pain or grief”. Courage is an attribute that can strengthen hearts and help us successfully navigate life’s challenges.

I hope these verses are an encouragement to you as you embark on your journey through 2015. [All verses are taken from the King James Version, unless otherwise noted.]

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Moses speaks to Israel and tells them to be strong and of a good courage, to fear not. This verse serves as an awesome reminder that no matter what, God is with us.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV)

Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV)

Joshua 1:9 “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” In Joshua chapter 1, the Lord commands Joshua to “be strong and of a good courage” three times in the first 10 verses!

Joshua 1:9

Joshua 1:9 (KJV)

Ezra 10:4 “Be of good courage, and do it.” Matter-of-fact and to-the-point.

Ezra 10:4 (KJV)

Ezra 10:4 (KJV)

Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” I’ve had this verse highlighted in my Bible for years. It’s funny, because typically we wouldn’t think that ‘waiting’ or being patient would require much courage, but in reality, sometimes it requires the most courage of all. Not jumping to our own conclusions, not trying to force or our own will, but waiting patiently and working diligently for God’s best.

Psalm 27:14 (KJV)

Psalm 27:14 (KJV)

Psalm 31:24 “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” This is the second time that David notes one of the benefits to being of courage: When you have courage, God will strengthen your heart.

Psalm 31:24 KJV

Psalm 31:24 (KJV)

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Wednesday

31

December 2014

Hope, She Wrote: 20 Life Lessons I Learned in 2014

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Psalm 90:12

Well, friends, another year has come and gone! The end of a year is always a great time to reflect on everything we’ve learned the past 365 days, and what we can apply to our lives for the next year ahead. 2014 provided some great growth opportunities for me, and I wanted to highlight some of my favourite life hacks from over the past year, that will really help make the most of 2015. Cheers!

  1. Practice an attitude of gratitude. When you catch yourself complaining or in less-than-pretty circumstances, remember to be grateful. Counting your blessings is one way of practicing an attitude of gratitude. Fact: There will always be waves in each of our worlds that we’d rather not ride – stay positive and don’t “get worked” (excuse my surfer slang).
  2. Make friends with patience and longsuffering. Though they’re two of the most annoying virtues and fruits of the spirit, patience and longsuffering are two keys to successfully navigating life. Practicing patience doesn’t mean you stop working hard – quite the contrary. Remember, it takes 6 months to build a Rolls-Royce, and only 13 hours to build a Toyota. Patience can mean the difference between good and great for your life. Don’t settle.
  3. Choose joy. This was my slogan for 2014 (I’ve even got the statement secured on my office door!) and I’m carrying my joy straight through in 2015. True joy comes from within, and when we consistently practice #1 on this list, choosing joy gets easier.
  4. Start living TODAY. While memories are marvelous and planning ahead is smart, it’s also important to embrace the here and now. The ever-quotable Earl Nightingale once said, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” True story. How we live, work, and act today has a direct effect on our tomorrow. Live wisely.
  5. Encourage others. The most effective leaders are those who motivate and encourage others around them. To encourage means to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope. We’ve each got the ability inside us!
  6. Slow down. When will we understand that using the word “busy” and having more items on our schedules than hours in a day is not cool?! I’m quite confident that no one will ever look back at the end of his life and say, “I wish I’d spent more time at work.” Slow down, decompress, get more sleep. Make time to just be. (**This is a major “note to self” for me, as practicing slowness is a daily personal challenge.**)
  7. Develop discipline. Get into a healthy daily routine, challenge yourself to face your fears, and keep going. Remember, discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most (see also #2 on this list).
  8. Do one thing each day that takes you out of your comfort zone. Step outside the box, grow some courage, and go for it – it’s like my favourite surfer Laird Hamilton says: “You have to be willing to subject yourself to failure, to be bad, to fall on your head and do it again, and try stuff that you’ve never done in order to be the best you can be.”
  9. Change is inevitable, so make the most of it. Wherever you’re at in life, and whatever changes you’re dealing with – birth, death, love, heartache, career change, retirement – chart your change. Keep a journal (even if it’s of few words), to focus on the positive aspects of change. If we let it, change can help each of us build character.
  10. Watch your mouth. Proverbs 17:28 (KJV) says “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
  11. Don’t compare yourself to others. Theodore Roosevelt correctly said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. You are the only you there will ever be. Learn to be content, gravitate to what inspires you, and be your best self. The only way to fulfill your life’s purpose is to be you.
  12. Influence is everywhere, so be careful with what and with whom you surround yourself. As long as we’re here on Earth, there will always be peer pressure (and jerks). Don’t lower your expectations or standards just because people don’t share the same values as you. And, be careful of your own actions, as you never know whom you could be influencing.
  13. Handwritten notes are powerful pieces of paper (and they’re also totally awesome). Texting might be easier, but there’s a saying about things that are easy…
  14. Take time to communicate. Make eye contact and speak thoughtfully! Like time, personal communication is a hot commodity. And unfortunately, with today’s technology, it seems as though few people know how to communicate effectively (see also #13 on this list). Remember, people have hearts; nurture them!
  15. Worry less. Worrying and fretting never serve to make a situation better; in fact, they can actually make things worse. That being said, as anyone with anxiety can attest to, the old adage “don’t worry” is easy to say and hard to practice. One way to help alleviate your worries is to serve others – look out rather than in.
  16. Get inspired! Break free of the daily grind and learn something new! Get outside for a walk; read a book; return to the hobbies you love. Make the time to get inspired.
  17. Authenticity is greater than approval. Better to be true to yourself than to betray your beliefs. Try as you might, you will never please every person. There will always be someone out there who thinks you’re a complete dork. Once you learn to not care what others think, personal authenticity becomes a whole lot easier.
  18. To have friends, you must be a friend. Even though it’s easy to get caught up in our own day-to-day lives, it is well worth making the effort to maintain friendships. I’m so thankful for friends who feel the same way.
  19. Being generous is a good habit to practice, especially when we learn to do it with love. “It is not how much we give,” as Mother Teresa said, “but how much love we put into giving.” When it comes to being generous, learn to plan ahead, to prefer giving rather than receiving, and to count your blessings so that you may be a blessing to someone else.
  20. Volunteering is a vital part of life. My life has been touched tremendously since I started volunteering. Maltbie Babcock once said, “the workshop of character is everyday life.” No matter your age, your career path, or your location, there are opportunities everywhere to give back.

Psalm 90:12 (KJV) says “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Each day is a new opportunity for us to learn, to live, and to grow; and I hope these truths help you and encourage you, wherever you’re at in your walk today.

 

Originally published as “20 Life Lessons I Learned in 2014 – Parts 1 & 2” in The Minto Express. 
Robertson, Hope. “20 Life Lessons I Learned in 2014.” Minto Express 31 December 2014, 2 parts. Print.
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Saturday

22

November 2014

Hope, She Wrote: How to Create Traditions and Make Memories

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nov19_tradition

Christmas season comes and goes so quickly each year that it can be hard to embrace the spirit of the season. In my November 19th column for The Minto Express, I share five ways to prepare your heart for the holidays.

Every year about this time, I find myself getting sentimental and feeling somewhat melancholic for days of yore. Maybe it’s all the Christmas decorations going up, or the first snowflakes falling, or the traditions that surface so faithfully year after year. Whatever the reason, these are times when I find myself reminiscing and wanting to make memories.

It seems these days that we’re so caught up in the commercialization of the Christmas season that we’ve lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas. In fact, it’s no longer politically correct to even say “Merry Christmas”. What is that?! Big box stores haul out the holiday goods right after Hallowe’en and somewhere between November 1st and December 25th society seems to miss the whole point of the season. Anyone else miss the days when we valued tradition, remembered our foundations, and celebrated our roots? Thought so.

While Christmas day may still be more than one month away, now is a great time to start preparing our hearts for this memorable time of year. Christmas is a time where we celebrate the greatest gift ever, and with that in mind, here are some suggestions for getting in the giving spirit (and maybe creating some new traditions along the way!):

  1. Support a local community cause. This doesn’t have to mean giving money; it could mean serving in a community kitchen to those less fortunate, donating non-perishable food items to your local food bank, or taking an hour or two to spend some time with a house-bound friend or aging relative.
  2. Start a gratitude list. In 2013, a friend of mine took time each day to write down one positive thing that happened in her life every day for most of the year. Then, near the end of year, she sat down and reviewed all of the awesomeness in her positivity jar. Whether you keep track with notes in a jar or a journal, take inventory of the positive things in your life.
  3. Be a thoughtful giver. It’s not about how much money you spend or who gives the coolest gift. Get creative in your gift giving; share your talents, and think outside the box.
  4. Share traditions with loved ones. My brother and sister-in-law do this every year, inviting family to help them trim the tree. Decorating for the holidays becomes less of a “to-do task” and more of an opportunity to create memories. Whether you’re setting up a tree or singing carols, or even baking cookies, spend some time with those you love.
  5. Remember the real reason for the season. Whatever your ‘religious’ beliefs or practice (or maybe lack thereof) throughout the year, the fact is, Christmas is a time to celebrate the greatest gift ever. True story.

“Today’s innovation is tomorrow’s tradition.” [Lidia Bastianich] Try something today to help create meaningful memories and traditions for yourself, your family, and your friends!

Robertson, Hope. “Tradition.” Minto Express 19 November 2014: 9. Print.
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Wednesday

8

October 2014

Hope, She Wrote: When It Comes to Comparison

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oct8_youareyou_quote

Comparison is not always a bad thing, but majority of the time, it’s just like Theodore Roosevelt wisely said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” The sword of comparison is double-edged: Comparison can cause pride in our own lives, and on the flip-side, it can rob us of our contentment.

I’m not sure why it’s a big deal, but as several of my friends and I approach that momentous 30th birthday milestone, we’ve become very aware of time, accomplishments, and expectations in each of our lives. Perhaps it’s the fact that we’re no longer in our early twenties – we might feel like we are, but trust me, spend some time with those kids and it becomes glaringly obvious that we’re waaay past that stage of life –and we’re also not old and experienced enough to be without dreams and goals that we still want to achieve.

Reflection on one’s life has the tendency to tempt us to compare. It’s like there are certain expectations from society that when you turn thirty you’re supposed to have accomplished certain things in life – buying a house, getting married, having children, being established in your career path of choice, traveling the world – and if you aren’t doing these things, you’re not “normal” or “successful”. I beg to differ. Each of us was created unique, and we’re each here on Earth for a certain purpose. The timing for your life plan is different than mine, and we shouldn’t get caught up in comparison. Comparison is a bad habit that has several shortcomings.

Here are helpful things to remember when it comes to comparison:

  1. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Teddy Roosevelt was right about that. Comparison actually causes resentment and jealousy, it can even cause pride – all traits that we should avoid. Comparison puts the focus on circumstances over which you have no control, and steals energy that you could be putting into being your best self.
  2. When you find yourself tempted to compare, practice gratitude. Being thankful and practicing an attitude of gratitude has a way of bringing to light the blessings that we already have. It also promotes contentment. Practicing gratitude also has this awesome way of helping us demonstrate other fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
  3. Instead of competing with others, get inspired. When we compare ourselves to others, there’s often the temptation to compete – “keeping up with the Joneses”, if you will. Instead of comparing and competing, get inspired. Learning from the life experiences of others can be very beneficial, and if you see positive traits in another person that you genuinely admire, let that prompt real positive change in your own life.

Don’t let the world define “normal” or “successful” for you – you are the only you there will ever be. You are a completely unique creation. That’s a pretty big deal. As Judy Garland said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Rather than wasting time on comparisons, learn the mindset of being content.

Robertson, Hope. “The Dangers of Comparison.” Minto Express 08 October 2014: 5. Print.
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Friday

26

September 2014

Hope, She Wrote – Being Authentic: Aligning Your Walk With Your Talk

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sept24_authenticity_2

My name is Hope, so it should come as no surprise that by nature I’m a relatively positive person. My cup is almost always overflowing, however there are definitely days when I would definitely rather hide out and hibernate than exude encouragement and expectation like my namesake.

Case in point? It’s funny, because one of my recent columns was about finding inspiration, and there were a few days in the past week or two where I was lacking in that department. One of my coworkers and I were discussing this very thing, and she made the comment, “go back and read your column!” That (coupled with some other experiences from the past couple of weeks) really got me thinking about the difference between talking the talk and walking the talk.

I always find it so frustrating when people say one thing, but they do another, or when someone professes certain beliefs, but their lifestyle completely contradicts their claims. Ironically, though, (talk about the mote and the beam) I’m just as guilty of this in my own life. It’s pretty easy for me to write down encouraging words, but sometimes taking my own advice can be a different story all together.

We might have the very best of intentions, but people looking at our lives don’t see our intentions – they see our actions. That’s why authenticity is so important. Sure, authenticity starts with intention, but the follow-through is what makes it real – when you put your genuine self into action – and this can be a scary thing, because let’s be honest, authenticity makes us vulnerable.

So how can we become more authentic? Well, as someone who’s trying, let me share – it’s a major understatement to say that being authentic can be challenging. Here are a few ways I’m learning to live a more authentic life:

  1. Know your values and align your actions. My beliefs might be very different from yours, however we all believe in something, and I base my value system off my beliefs. Sure, that means sometimes I make decisions that are “dorky” or perhaps even “uncool”, but I’d way rather be authentic than try to fit in by betraying my beliefs and being untrue to who I am. Why do you believe what you believe, and on what foundation are your ideals truly based?
  2. Surround yourself with the right people. This can be a difficult one, but it’s key! It’s way easier for others to drag you down than it is for you to lift them up. And while we can all be used to have an impact in the lives of those around us, ultimately it’s important to surround yourself with people who want the best for you, and who will help you and encourage you to live a fulfilled life.
  3. Recognize when you’re being inauthentic – also known as insincere, fake, unreal. What situations cause your walk to stray from your talk? Recognize when you find yourself being insincere, and think about why you’re acting and not being authentic. Unfortunately, peer pressure has power, people. [Sidebar: When you’re facing peer-pressure, just remember, if your friends are truly your friends, they won’t condemn you or judge you for making choices that might be different from theirs – they’ll respect you for standing up for what you believe in. And if they don’t, well… maybe reevaluate those relationships.]

Aligning your walk with your talk and being authentic has some pretty uplifting benefits – like a weight being lifted from your shoulders, there’s something so powerful being purposed in your choices, and living with an expectation based on your hope.

Robertson, Hope. “Being Authentic: Aligning Your Walk With Your Talk.” Minto Express 24 Sept 2014: 5. Print.
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