The 6 Things You Are Doing That Limit Your Happiness

DSC_1859I am blessed to live in the United States, a country that boasts “the pursuit of happiness” as an unalienable right.  If doesn’t, however, guarantee that you will be happy or that anyone has to be forced to make you happy.  It just decrees that you have the right to pursue being happy.  Nor are any of us given a path to happiness, a guarantee of some sort that we will be happy.  That is up to each of us as individuals.  And the only way to be happy is to pursue a life of happiness, not from others, but from the things that you, yourself, do every day.  Unfortunately, many people are searching for happiness in ways that leave them feeling empty, unfulfilled, and even sad and sometimes lonely. In my observations of the people and situations around me, here is what I see that they’re doing wrong.

1.  Allowing others to dictate your mood. Nobody can make you unhappy but you.  I tell my children this all the time.  Others can criticize you, put you down, attempt to take away your self-esteem or lessen your accomplishments; but at the end of the day, you are the one who lives with your choices, your beliefs, the person you are or are becoming.  Only you can determine how you should feel, and only you can take the reins and make your life be what you want it to be.

           After his first audition, Sidney Poitier was told by the casting director, “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?”*

2.  Letting failure get the best of you.  You’re never going to be perfect.  That role belongs to only one being, and He doesn’t expect you to be perfect; but He does expect you to try to be.  So what if you failed at something.  Are you going to let that be the end of life as you know it?  Stick that chin out, roll up your sleeves, and try again.

Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times while trying to invent the light bulb. When asked how it felt, Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”*

3.  Not appreciating what you have.  Do you have a roof over your head?  Do you have food on your table, clothes on your back, shoes on your feet?  Then what are you complaining about?  There are many people in the world who are far worse off than you are, but they are able to find happiness.  How?  By appreciating what they have and not what they lack.  We aren’t supposed to get everything we desire in life, or there would never be anything to strive for, hope for , look forward to.  Enjoy what you have without complaining about what you don’t have, and you will find that what you have will increase tenfold.

 

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey**

4.  Letting worries win.  I am willing to bet money that the happiest people you know are the ones who worry the least.  They know that life has a way of working things out.  Personally, I believe that God will do my worrying for me.  Remember the saying, “Live and let God.”  Whether you believe in a divine presence or not, you will be a happier person if you do not dwell on worry. Some things in life are out of our control.  Don’t try to control them.  They will only end up controlling you.

“There is no cross, big or small, in our life which the Lord does not share with us.”  Pope Francis***

5.  Not allowing yourself to catch the joy of others.  Embrace other peoples’ happiness.  So you’re not having a good day, or a good experience.  Is that any reason to bring others down or to not try to lift yourself up?  Share in the joy of others.  Allow their joy, their inner peace, to enter your life.  Someday you will regret the time you spent alone nursing your wounds, continuing to make yourself unhappy; but you will never regret the time you spent enjoying life with friends and family and seeking joy.

“To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”  Roger Ebert****

6.  Ignoring the golden rule.  To enjoy true happiness, you must create happiness and share it with others.  Smile, and others will smile back.  Hold the door for someone, and they will hold it for someone else.  Speak kindly to those around you, and they will speak kindly in return.  No further explanation is needed.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”  Luke 6:31

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:39

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  Mahatma Gandhi

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is due out in the summer of 2016.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015)

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*http://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/OnFailingG.html
**http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/40-inspiring-motivational-quotes-about-gratitude.html
***http://www.aggiecatholicblog.org/2015/01/top-75-pope-francis-quotes/
****http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/joy_3.html

What is the Answer?

DSCN6495Let me begin by saying that this is not a political commentary. I think of it as a public introspection, a searching for answers where, perhaps, there is no real answer. I have always tried to act compassionately, to put others needs before myself. I am a passionate defender of the unborn, a believer in the dignity of all human life, and volunteer for social and humanitarian causes; yet today, I find myself at a crossroads. My heart and head are at odds, and I don’t know that there is anyone out there who can help me find the right answers to my questions.

First, I am a student of history and a firm believer in the adage that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. I also believe that we are currently embroiled in the Third World War. While it is a war of weapons, it is also a war of ideology, not unlike the Cold War during which I was raised. It is a war of name calling, of hatred spewing, and of closed hearts and minds as much as it is a war of physical mass destruction. We are witnessing what our grandfathers and great-grandfathers witnessed with the aggression of Hitler, yet we have no single name to attach to this threat, just an ideology. How do we fight against an aggressive ideology in which nobody knows who the real enemy is?  For I do not believe that the enemy is all Muslims.

I’ve known people of Muslim descent and practicing Muslims, and I know that they are not bad people. They are peaceful people who do not subscribe to the beliefs of those such as ISIS; so I wonder, as we’ve all heard others say many times, why do they not speak out? I’m not talking about those in war-ravaged countries or those who are under constant threat or surveillance, but those who are free to stand up and say “this is not right, this is not what we believe.”  There are few places like Jordan, where all religions are welcome and where many of the current refugees have been able to flee; so where are the rest of the Muslim countries and their leaders?

During WWII, we brought in refugees from Europe, but we chose those who came. We did not open our doors to every person in Europe who wanted to flee the war. Was that right?  I don’t know.  But I do know that, on the contrary, we made sure that their homeland was safe for people to continue living secure, healthy, fulfilling lives. Those who say that was different and that we shouldn’t interfere with what’s going on in Syria or Iraq or any of the ISIS controlled countries, please tell me how is it different? How were the victims of WWII any different than those being persecuted today? Why wouldn’t we want, for our sake as well as theirs, to contain the threats in their lands and make their homeland safe for all people?  Even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, just yesterday, questioned why we are bringing people here who could be fighting for their homes.  Because they have families?  So did our Pop.

And what are our leaders here and throughout the West supposed to do?  How can we help these refugees when we have those here at home who we are unwilling or unable to help – our poor, our homeless, our Veterans? We have approximately 50,000 homeless Veterans in our country. How do we look at them and say, we cannot give you food and shelter, but we can give it to people from the region where you put your very life at risk?

Pope Francis recently said that “refugees are more than statistics; they are children of God, each with his or her own inherent dignity.” My heart breaks over this, for I believe it to be true to the bottom of my soul. So where does that leave us? Where are we to find the resources to care for these people when we cannot care for our own? For it is not simply a matter of security. It is a matter of human dignity.  Does that mean that we are to take care of everyone (Whatsoever you do to the least of my people… Mat 25:45), or do we help them to help themselves (let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Eph 4:28)?  What is the right thing to do?

As far as security, our country has the strictest vetting process of any country in the world, yet our own intelligence officials have said that we can’t even come close to a guarantee that the process works. The attacks that have taken place on our own soil were, for the most part, homegrown terrorists (Boston, Oklahoma City, the first World Trade Center bombing). The perpetrators of 9/11 were here legally, so how well does the system work? Threats to our nation and our citizens can come from anywhere. Three of the Paris terrorists were French Nationals. How do we ever know if we are safe?

So again I ask, what is the answer? Where do we go from here? All sides will never agree. The only thing I know for sure is that leaders around the world need to take their heads out of the sand and recognize what the real problem is, the root of everything that is going on.  There is an ideology (again, I won’t call it a religion – this isn’t the religion of Muhammed that we are fighting), but an ideology that hates the West and is determined to spread their hate throughout the world, destroying everything its path.  Unless we strike at the root of the problem, nothing will be solved, no questions truly answers, no lives left to uphold with dignity.  Which leads me back to the question of humanity.  The questions swirl around and around in a vicious circle that truly never ends.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores and online.  Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores, at Amazon, and at Barnes & Noble.  Both novels are also available for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.  Amy’s children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

What’s Happened to the Family?

 All week this week, Cuba, the United States, and the whole Catholic world will be focused on the family, and with good reason. Today, we are seeing a worldwide decline in the “family.” The days of Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver are long gone and are now seen as a joke, but there’s something to be said for the golden age of the family. It used to be that families ate dinner together every night, attended church together on Sunday, and watched tv, read, and played games together on a regular, if not daily, basis. But in 2015, it’s rare that families spend one hour a week together.

Athletics, careers, social lives, social media, and a host of other things have become more important than spending time together. The vast majority of the families I know find it impossible to sit down for a meal together. The typical middle or high school child spends their afternoons at athletic practice for school, and then practice for a rec team, and then a meeting of some kind (Scouts, work, etc.), and then there’s still homework to be done! Even in elementary school, children are shuffled from one event to another with no break in between. My family is as guilty as the next of over-scheduling and overbooking. Sometimes we have to take a long, hard look at what’s on our calendar and just make the decision to scale back and refocus our attention on what matters – being a family.

The decisions aren’t always easy, and we’ve found it best to have rules that we stick to without fail. When our children were old enough to play sports for school, the rec sports were wiped off the slate. So no, none of my children are on travel teams or all-stars, or those necessary paths to college scholarships that almost all families seem to think are vital to their children’s future. Let’s face it, only one child on the team is really good enough to get that scholarship. Is it really yours? Wouldn’t it be better for them to get their homework done and get a good night’s sleep instead? The most valuable piece of advice our high school field hockey coach ever gave us was “your daughter is very good, but she’s not that good.” Instead of being upset, we were relieved. What a tremendous load that took off of her back! Much more time went into academics and less into trying to contact every college coach on the east coast, and she graduated with honors and quite a nice sum in merit scholarships.

Another hard and fast rule for us is that Sunday is for God and family. Sure, we go to a lot of Saturday evening Masses, but that just opens up our Sunday to do something fun as a family. Even if it’s just watching a football game together, the key word is together. When my middle daughter considered trying out for basketball, there was just one factor that changed her mind – Sunday practices. There has to be a place to draw the line, and that was it for us.

Throughout our world, we are witnessing a staggering drop in population. Families aren’t valued any more. In many cases, they aren’t even desired. We have become a world where people have to choose between family and career, family and a house, family and a life. Whatever happened to FAMILY LIFE? When did children become a burden rather than a gift?

As we listen to the Holy Father talk about the importance of the family, let us all consider how we can improve our family life. How can we find a way to make family meals work? What can we cut out of our children’s schedules to make them live fuller, happier, more peaceful lives? How can we reshape our culture to make others see that families and family lives matter? At the very least, begin having meals without phones at the table! These are things that all parents need to think about before it’s too late.

I will never greet my family at the door wearing an apron and holding Ken’s slippers, but I will make it my job to ensure that all of them always know the importance of being a family.
Christmas is coming. Buy books!

I had the extreme pleasure a couple weeks ago to attend the Decatur Book Festival just outside of Atlanta Georgia. It was so great to see all of the people, couples, families, friends, out buying books and supporting authors. The National Book Festival has also just taken place, and we’re not done yet! This weekend is the Baltimore Book Festival, and several Eastern Shore writers will be selling, signing, and speaking. Come see and hear us if you are in the area!

Be sure to support all of your favorite authors this Christmas. Please comment below on where you can find authors this fall and what other book festivals are taking place. Let’s encourage everyone to give the gift of reading this year!

If you’re looking for an autographed copy of any of my books to give as gifts, you will be able to find me at the following places over the next couple of months. Please check my web site for more information.

Sunday, September 27 – the Baltimore Book Festival in Baltimore, MD

Wednesday, September 30 – St. Michaels library’s author event, St. Michaels, MD

Friday, October 9-Saturday, October 10 – Wisp Resort, Fort McHenry, MD

Monday, November 9 – Meet the Author! at the Wicomico County Library, Salisbury, MD

Saturday, November 28 – the News Center, Easton, MD

I am happy to travel outside of Maryland. Just let me know when and where you’d like me to be. Happy reading!

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online. Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.