Stop with the easy question. Ask the right question & YOUR answer will make you JOYFUL. ...( )

Stop with the easy question. Ask the right question & YOUR answer will make you JOYFUL.


Life is a beautiful forest, and I see that most of the time. But when I’ve bumped my nose on a tree trunk, it’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking about “that stupid tree that’s always in my way.”

It goes like this:

Angry. Short of patience even though I don’t want to be. Frustrated. Tired. Very tired of the same things over and over. “Why does life have to be so hard!?!?” I think.

Wrong question.

I know why life is hard in general: so we’ll learn—learn patience, self-control, love, endurance, humility, cooperation (with each other and with God), appreciation for better times, etc.

But why SO hard? Why so hard that I can’t seem to manage what I think I ought to be accomplishing?

Still the wrong question.

Would I really be content with life as it is if I had any clearer understanding of WHY life is as it is? No!

If life is hard so that we learn and grow, then we aren’t even supposed to be content exactly as is—we’re supposed to be growing and moving on, changing our thinking and our approach and our outcome to something better than what comes naturally.

Looking backwards at how we got to the state we are in is helpful, to see consequences of actions so we can make better choices as we go on. Looking backwards can also be helpful in seeing what all we’ve forgotten that we should be thankful for, so we realize that life isn’t as bad as it might seem when only focused on a small part.

But when one is angry and frustrated, then asking “why” life is as it is, is actually mostly looking to blame. Why did God put me in this lousy life? Why don’t other people make my life easier? Why am I so stupid I don’t do something completely different?

Blame breads bitterness, loneliness, and depression. When vented, angry blame only make a problem bigger.

Life is what it is—so far as the present moment. The future depends on our choices.

The right question is “What am I going to do to make things BETTER?”

As long as there’s a plan or an idea to move forward positively, there’s hope for goodness. And where there’s hope and action, there’s joy, and love, and progress toward all good things.

When positivity is radiated, improvement can grow and multiply.

So what are you going to do to make things better?

NOT “What are you going to do for revenge?” NOT “What are you going to do to get free of miserable responsibilities?”

What are YOU going to do to make things TRULY BETTER?

That is the right question. And the answer will make you joyful.



(Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, dan, & Stuart Miles, at )




Hoping to rocket to success in order to help the world with one’s platform or one’s profits, might be blinding oneself to a lot of important things and people which should be dealt with along the way. The world is not just all those people out there. It’s also the person in front of your nose, and the person in front of my nose.

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For the top of our goal lists:
Not everyone is meant to operate alike, and no one can help every person who crosses his or her path. Maybe some ought to zoom ahead to semi-stardom in order to broadcast their insights to crowds, while others are intended to deal one-on-one, and yet others are to make a slower ascent while helping a few along the way. But I believe that for everyone there is a right way to move ahead, so that we don’t cause harm in our wake—our goals should include recognizing our own right way.

Take time to find our way:
I intensely do not like being told to slow down (especially by anyone who doesn’t seem to aspire as high). I have great aspirations, and I know there is a lot to do to reach my goals. I want to help everyone, and do everything, and I only have so much time. I don’t just want to reach some high point just to be there, but because I want to be as helpful as possible; I want to rightly acquire enough resources to help others beyond my own family.  But I can’t do everything, and sometimes I do need to slow down enough to sort it out. We can’t read the road signs if we are going so fast that they are a blur.

This way, that way, their way…Or a unique and better way for each of us:
It’s easy to be wrapped up and bogged down in each day’s chores and the closest people’s demands on my attention, never moving toward bigger things. It’s also tempting to excessively react to that by charging ahead too fast, at great expense of health and missed opportunities for good. And, there is a danger in copying whatever seems to work for moving other people ahead, without listening to God’s nudges which tell me which methods are not right for me. We can certainly learn from others’ methods of success, but we should also be seeking God’s help in creating our own innovative and doubly positive personal paths.

Live this moment, trusting it will properly connect:
It takes effort to maintain balance between all the responsibilities which pull at me. I have to trust that I’ll reach my proper destination in good time, if I’m not afraid to invest the moment I have in the good opportunities that I have, even when those opportunities seem off track. But it’s easier when I remind myself of the core of my goals—to help people, which means to match needs with resources as best I can, or to at least point the way. I’m not really off track, if I’m helping someone who needs help. Sometimes we have more to share than we thought; different things to share with different people: knowledge with the ignorant, answers with the questioning, food with the hungry, guidance with the indecisive, confidence with the shy, time with the lonely, love with the dejected. If I am too determined to show everyone what I think is my one big gift, I’ll offend people I could have helped with my other gifts. If our goals are to help people when we “make it big,” shouldn’t we be pleased to help people along the way, even if that slows us down? Jesus came to save the world, but He didn’t refuse to take time to help individuals.

Success isn’t in how many seeds we plant, but in how many grow healthy. There can’t be much growth if everyone wants to plant, and no one wants to cultivate, feed, water, and prune.  The world needs friends, not just preachers.

Be generous:
Sure we have to earn a living and pay our bills, and buy what interests us or fills our needs—just as we expect others to work and pay for our labors. But more goes around than money. Energy goes around. Love goes around. Hate goes around. We can choose what winds we’ll ride on—the generous and providential winds, or the selfish and fearful ones.

Of course it’s unwise to give away all of our resources including all of our time, but it’s also wrong to withhold from those who need and can’t pay.  We can measure and limit our gifts as a pro bono or tithing percentage, OR we can seek spiritual prompting from the One who knows the pasts, futures, and hearts of everyone.
Check Your Reality:
Are you on the right track, even if it meanders?


© 2012 NPM