Hope in the Midst of Despair

Steve Damron

Photo Credit:: Steven Damron via CC Flickr

Have you ever felt worthless? Have you experienced the isolation and loneliness that your life was going nowhere and there was nothing that you could do to help others or make a positive contribution to today’s world? If so, then I have just the thing for you that will hopefully help encourage and inspire you today.

Have you ever felt worthless and your life had no purpose? Have you experienced the isolation and loneliness that your life was going nowhere and there was nothing that you could do to help others or make a positive contribution to today’s world? If so, then I have just the thing for you that will hopefully help encourage and inspire you today.

Consider the following story….

It was a beautiful mid-April morning along the seaside port of San Francisco. The weather was unseasonably warm and there was a slight breeze lazily blowing in from the northeast. Most of the city’s population were sleeping while some of the “early birds” began to wake up and get ready for another day.

Then, at 5:45 a.m., their world changed in a disastrous instant that forever changed their lives…and the spirit of the nation. In the next horrifying minute or so, the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, shook the city to the ground. More than 3,000 people were killed and over half of the 400,000 occupants of the city lost their homes and everything that they owned.

The tremendous earthquake, (later estimated as a 7.8 on the Richter Scale) not only caused hundreds of buildings and structures to topple, but the powerful shaking also destroyed the city’s water and gas lines. The gas from the ruptured pipes soon ignited, caught fire and spread quickly throughout San Francisco, spreading more havoc and terror throughout the land. The fires went on to burn for the next three days and over 500 city blocks were destroyed.

One of the reasons the fires were so devastating and destructive was because of the destroyed water network of the city. Almost all the fire hydrants in the system were useless…except for one. This one fire hydrant was the only working one in the entire city and it, single-handedly, saved the city’s famous Mission District from certain obliteration. Located on top of a hill, the horses that pulled the fire wagons were so tired that they could not climb the hill and get to the hydrant. So, the people in the area gathered together, pushed the horses and pulled the fire wagons to the water supply and for the next few days, was the center of the water usage for the firemen.

The fireplug was later fondly nicknamed, the “little giant”, and is referred to today as “the Golden Fire Hydrant” by the folks of San Francisco. Each year, on April 18, at 5:45 in the morning, a ceremony is held in which the hydrant is spray painted once again with a fresh coach of gold spray.

So, why do I tell you about this story? A tale of this one fire hydrant that helped to save the Mission District and parts of the surrounding neighborhood? It is because of this…think of how this little structure had such an enormous impact on the surrounding community and how much this small but powerful instrument not only helped to extinguish some of the fires, but it was a tremendous encouragement and help to the people that needed it! It may have looked small and insignificant, but it had a huge impact! This is also so true with a person’s life. No matter how little and worthless or insignificant that you may feel, you were put in the world to make an impact on others. Your personality, characteristics, and abilities are unique, and they are your own. No one in the world is exactly like you. You can have an impact on someone else, your neighborhood or community in your own individual and unique way.

We all are all “little” compared with the vast, untold billions of people living in the world today, but we can be “giants” by what we do for others in the small worlds that we live in every day!

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A Light in a Life of Gloom

Eric Moreno

Photo Credit: Eric Moreno via CC Flickr

It seems to me, generally speaking, that people are becoming increasingly more uneasy, drab, and miserable. Negativity, pessimism, and a general malaise pervade today’s society. Wars, rumors of wars, terrorism, harmful and destructive banter, violence, riots, race bating, etc., have basically resulted in air of melancholy throughout the land. Its negative influence is apparent just about wherever you go in today’s world.

So, what you do? Is there anything that we can do to improve this situation…Maybe in our own small way? It has been said, that for every one negative thing that a person says to another individual, that person should then say seven positive things to offset that negative word.

Our words are powerful weapons that we can use to uplift others, build up their confidence, self-worth, and overall sense of well-being and self-reliance. There are many, many things that we can do to accomplish this goal…share a few kind words to someone, giving others compliments, a courteous acknowledgement, a word of encouragement…the list goes on and on. Today’s story is a beautiful example of the kind of encouragement that warms the heart of another individual, but it also demonstrates the sad illustration of regret.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his room-mate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he himself never got to see anything? It didn’t seem fair. At first thought the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window – that thought, and only that thought now controlled his life.

Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running in. In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped, along with that the sound of breathing. Now there was only silence-deathly silence.

The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take it away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

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Which person will you be?

How bright is your light?

The choice is yours!

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Story Source: truthbook.com

Great Life Lessons to Live By

Dennis Yang

Photo Credit: Dennis Yang via CC Flickr

There are many times throughout our everyday lives that we get caught up in the ”hustle and bustle” of life and forget “the little things”…the things that should be the most important things to live by.

Whether we are experiencing tough situations in life or are enjoying good times, quite often, these little principles, are the nuggets of truth that will help make our lives a little bit happier and more enjoyable.

I recently came across the following article, written by Barry Davenport,“Life Lessons That Have Endured the Test of Time.” via http://liveboldandbloom.com, about these life lessons that I thought would be a good thing to share. So, without further ado, here is today’s encouraging and motivational article.


You know the old saying, “Youth is wasted on the young?”

I think about that on occasion — how I wish I’d had the self-awareness, confidence, and joy I have now when I was in my twenties and thirties.

So much of life is wasted on worry, regret, pain, and heartache. Of course some of this is inevitable and necessary. But I spent too many of my younger days sweating over things I didn’t need to sweat about.

I simply didn’t know better. Or if I did, it just hadn’t sunk in yet.

I suppose “life lessons” are called that for a reason. You need to experience life in order to learn the lessons. And the more life you experience, the more lessons you accumulate. However, some extremely valuable lessons came from other people. Some I learned from reading great thinkers like Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. Others were passed on from friends and family.

Although some lessons must be learned through experience, you don’t have to wait until midlife to become aware of what’s truly meaningful and worthwhile. You simply need the curiosity and desire for self-awareness and personal growth. Once you learn the lessons, you can apply them in your life at any age and see the benefits to your happiness and well-being.

Here are 50 important life lessons that have stood the test of time:

Life is now

We keeping waiting for that amazing thing to happen in the future that will be the key to our happiness. But this is it. Right now. Life continues to be a series of right nows. So learn to love right now, and you’ll have an amazing life.

Fear is an illusion (mostly)

Most of the things we fear never happen. Or if they do happen, they are rarely as bad as we fear they will be. For most of us, fear is the worst thing that will happen to us. Reality isn’t as painful.

Relationships rule

At the end of the day, what matters most are the people in our lives. Put them first every single day. Before work. Before the computer. Before your hobbies. Treat them like they are everything to you. Because they are.

Debt isn’t worth it

Nothing is more draining and humiliating than being in debt. Spend below your means. Save money. Live free.

Your kids aren’t you

You re the vessel to bring your children into the world and their caretakers until they can care for themselves. You can teach them, love them, and support them, but you can’t change them. They are unique individuals who must live their own lives. Let them.

Things gather dust

Time and money spent accumulating material things will one day irritate you. You must clean, maintain, and move stuff. The less stuff you have, the freer you are. Purchase mindfully.

Fun is underrated

How much of your day is fun? Really fun? Life is short. We should enjoy it. Don’t make things serious that don’t have to be. Create more fun in your life. Don’t worry about what other people think of your fun. Just enjoy it.

Failure is good

We try so hard to avoid failure, but failure is the real evidence that we’ve tried. If you avoid failure, you avoid taking action. Expect and accept that failure is part of the experience. Learn from it and move on.

Friendships need care

One of the top five regrets of the dying is that they let their friendships fade away. Friendships need time and attention. Nurture them like a prized garden. The payoff is so worth it.

Experiences first

The pleasure and positive memories afforded by great experiences far outweigh material things. If you’re trying to decide between the new sofa or the family trip, take the trip every time.

Anger isn’t worth it

The feel-good release of anger lasts a few minutes. The repercussions last far longer. Regret, stress, and unhappiness are the byproducts of angry outbursts. Learn healthier ways to communicate your feelings, and when anger arises, step away until it dissipates.

Kindness matters

Small expressions of kindness have an enormous positive impact on other people. It doesn’t take much to be kind. Practice it every day, in every situation, until it’s your natural way of being.

Age is a number

When you’re twenty you think fifty is old. When you’re fifty, you feel thirty. Our chronological age doesn’t have to define us. Don’t allow a number to hold you back or prevent you from being the person you are inside.

Vulnerability heals

Being real, open, and vulnerable invites people in and allows them to relate to you on a much deeper and more intimate level. Vulnerability, practiced with safe and loving people, can heal emotional pain and strengthen relationships.

Posturing builds walls

Creating a persona to impress or shield yourself from pain diminishes intimacy and authenticity. People generally see through this, and it pushes them away.

Exercise is power

Exercise should be a daily priority for everyone. It makes you physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger. It improves your health and your outlook. It is the panacea for just about everything.

Grudges cause pain

Holding on to a grudge is like injecting poison into your body every day. Forgive and let go. There’s no other way.

Passion upgrades life

When you find that thing you love to do with all your heart, every day feels like a gift. If you haven’t found your passion, make it your mission to find it. The joy it brings spills over into all aspects of your life.

Travel expands you

Travel makes you are more interesting, insightful, and accepting person. It expands you, enlightens you, and teaches you about the variety of people, lifestyles, and cultures. It is a pursuit well worth saving for.

You aren’t always right

We think we have the answers, know what’s right and wrong, good and bad, best for ourselves and other people. But we aren’t always right. There’s always more than one version. There are many perspectives that are valid. Keep yourself open to that truth.

It will pass

Whatever is causing you worry or pain right now won’t cause you worry and pain forever. Time heals. Things change. It will pass.

You define meaning

A meaningful life is what you define it to be. If you neglect to define meaning, you won’t experience it. Decide what makes life worth living for you, and then design your life around that.

Risk expands you

To make positive change in your life, you often must take risk. You must tolerate some level of uncertainty. Taking thoughtful, calculated risk strengthens your change muscle and helps you grow.

Change is good

Life is change. We shouldn’t resist it. Remaining stagnant is in opposition to the natural order of life. Flow with change. Embrace it and regard it as an adventure.

Thoughts aren’t real

Every moment of the day, we have random thoughts floating through our brains. Many of the thoughts are negative and limiting. You don’t have to believe them. They aren’t the truth or the whole truth. Thoughts can become our reality, but only if we let them.

You can’t control others

We want people to think and behave as we do. We want them to accommodate us and live the way we think they should live. We want to change them. But with awareness, we realize we can’t and shouldn’t try to control others. Instead, embrace differences and honor the uniqueness of the people in your life.

Your body is a temple

We all have something, or many somethings, we hate about our bodies. But your body houses your very essence. Treat your body with respect and care for the efficient and wondrous way it takes care of you.

Touch heals

Physical touch is healing and intimate. It bonds us to other people and relieves stress and anxiety. It has a myriad of health benefits such as lowering heart rate and improving the immune system. Mindful, loving touch with those you love is a gift that should be shared.

You can handle it

Whatever you think you can’t handle, you actually can. You have more strength, more resilience, and more inner wisdom than you give yourself credit for. You’ll get through it and survive.

Gratitude multiplies happiness

Consciously focusing on all you have rather than thinking about what you don’t have is afar better use of brain power. Gratitude fosters positive feelings and well-being.

Intuition counts

Your judgement is important, but your intuition super charges your judgement. Intuition is data from your subconscious mind, based on your past experiences and patterns in life. It can arise spontaneously when you are called on to make a decision or need information.

Please yourself first

Pleasing others for approval and acceptance might feel good in the short term, but eventually you will lose yourself and feel resentful. Please yourself first and give to others based on conscious choice, not the desire for approval.

Self-honesty is freedom

When you are in denial about something, you are blinding  yourself to the truth. And even if the truth is temporarily painful, it will ultimately set you free. Be radically honest with yourself so you can live authentically.

Perfection is boring

Perfection is unattainable, and the pursuit of it makes us boring. It is our differences, our foibles, and our imperfections that connect us to humanity and make us real.

Serving creates meaning

If you want meaning in your life, start with serving others. Find a way to make a difference, even a small difference, and your life will feel purposeful.

Little things matter

It’s not the big wins, the great accomplishments, or the status in life that really count. It’s the accumulation of little things — the quiet moments in nature, special time with our kids, seeing the smile on our spouse’s face when we walk in the door. Pay attention to these things.

Learn forever

There is so much to learn and explore in our very short lifetimes. Take advantage of learning every single day. Challenge yourself to acquire a new skill, read something different, take a class. Learning keeps our minds engaged and sharp, even into old age.

Aging happens

Our bodies age. It is a truth we can’t avoid. You can manage aging by doing the best with what you’ve got. But beyond that, do your best to let it go. Enjoying life is the best antidote to getting older.

Marriages change

The person you married will change over time. You will change over time. Hopefully you will change in the same direction or come to love the changes in the other person. Don’t let these changes take you by surprise.

Worry is worthless

Worry is useful only if it leads directly to a solution. But the very nature of worry implies that it doesn’t. You worry about “what if’s” that aren’t real, and the worry itself creates stress and physical symptoms that cause real reason for angst. Learn how to manage your worry thoughts.

Heal your wounds

Don’t allow pain from your past (or present) to linger and cause you suffering. Don’t stuff it down or pretend it doesn’t matter when it does. Seek support from a professional trained to help you heal and renew your emotional health.

Simple is better

A life full of complications, obligations, and an overwhelming schedule make life more difficult and stressful. A simpler life in all regards gives you more space for joy and engagement.

Do the work

If you want something in life, you must do the work to get it. There are rarely shortcuts. But truthfully the work is what affords the most sense of accomplishment.

It’s never too late

This is an excuse for not trying. Great things can be accomplished at any age.

Action beats angst

Action is the cure for worry, procrastination, indecision, anxiety, and frustration. Stop thinking and do something, and you will create momentum that leads to something valuable or at the least heals your turmoil.

Creation beats reaction

Be proactive in your life, designing exactly what you want rather than reacting to what life throws at you. Creation empowers you and expands your opportunities.

Release attachments

Don’t become too attached to outcomes or beliefs. Remain open to all possibilities and ideas. You will be surprised how much more there is to life when you don’t cling to your life experience.

Your words matter

The words you speak have power. Consider your words carefully. Use them for good rather than harm. Once they are out, you can’t take them back.

Make every day count

If you live to age ninety, how many days do you have left? It is a finite number, and one day you will reach the last one. Be conscious of the value of every single day.

Love is the answer

Love is why we are here. It is the force for good in this sometimes random and harsh world. Share it freely. Express is daily.

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Story Credit: Barry Davenport via http://liveboldandbloom.com

The Things Money Can’t Buy

Keith Cooper

Photo Credit: Keith Cooper via CC Flickr

There is no question that everyone wants to have money and wealth. It is comforting to know that when you have an adequate amount of money, you can enjoy some of the good things in life: good food, good friends, and good times. But there is also a downside of having a lot of money: greed, theft, bad intentions, and, more importantly, a loss of the things that are REALLY valuable in a person’s life.

Today’s short story is a terrific illustration of the effects that money and wealth can have on everyone around you. It is not a bad thing to have a lot of money and/or wealth, but what you do with it.

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Caha had a big family with 3 daughters, 2 sons, and a beautiful wife. He not only lived with his family but also had his father and mother living with them as well. He was a very hard worker and spent countless hours every day at his job to be able to feed his family. Being the sole bread winner of the family the took pride in all that he did and how much he gave his loved ones.

Caha worked for more than 16 hours a day. His kids didn’t see him much.  He would leave his home early every morning before the kids woke-up and come home during the late hours of the night when kids were fast asleep. Every day, his entire family eagerly await to spend quality time with him…the kids miss him so much.

Sundays were always the favorite day for Caha’s family because it was on those days that he would spend all of his time with them. Unfortunately, to meet the increasing household expenses and educational expenses, Caha decided to accept a weekend job and work even on Sundays. Needless to say, his kids, wife and parents were very disappointed.

Caha’s continues this work schedule for a few weeks which soon became a year. After a year, his company was very impressed at all the hard work that he had put into the business and was offered a promotion that had an attractive pay raise and benefits. He gladly accepted it.

Soon, Caha’s family moved to a new house, wore better clothes and ate the best food that money could buy. However, as usual, Caha continued his busy workload and earned more and more money.

One day his wife asked him ‘Why are you working so hard for money? We can be happy with what we have now.’

Caha replied, ‘I want you and our family to have the best things in the world and always be happy.”

Two more years passed and Caha hardly spent time with his family. The children yearned to have their father at home. Meanwhile, the sincere efforts and hard work of Caha earned him a fortune. He was offered partnership and shared in the profits of the company. As time continued to march on, Caha continued to earn more and more wealth.

Caha’s family eventually became one of the richest families in the city. They now had a beautiful beach house, fabulous cars, and a plethora of other valuable goods. They had everything that they could ever dream of but there was still a huge vacuum…his children longed and craved for their father to be home with them.

His children eventually grew into their teens and they were no longer kids. By this time, Caha had earned enough wealth to provide a luxurious life for his family for the next five generations.

One day, Caha’s family went to their beach house to spend their vacation. One of his daughters asked, ‘Dad will you please spend one, just one day at home and stay with us here?’

Caha nodded his head and replied, ‘Yes darling, tomorrow for sure, I will join you for the lunch and be with you all for next few days. I’m tired of work and need some relaxation!’

Upon hearing the news, the entire family became very happy and were ecstatic knowing that they were finally going to be spending time with Caha!!

Unfortunately, the next day, in the early morning hours, Caha’s entire family perished in a Tsunami that hit the shores of their beach home.

Meanwhile, at his job, Caha was so busy that he didn’t hear the news about Tsunami. Later, when he tried to reach his beach house, the only thing he saw was water and debris everywhere. He screamed and called out for his family, but he never did find anyone from his family. He was totally alone. Caha knew that he can never have them back or see them again. All the money, the millions of dollars that he had earned, could never bring them back.

Then he remembered his wife’s words, ‘Why are you working so hard for money? We can be happy with what we have now.’

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Like I mentioned previously, money can’t buy everything. We all need to remember that the most important and valuable things in life are the things that are unseen. Take time each day to give your loved ones a simple hug, a loving kiss, and tell them how much you love and care for them…because these are the things that money will never be able to buy!

Hooray for Number 900!

Sarah Ackerman

Photo Credit: Sarah Ackerman via CC Flickr

Well, today’s blog is number 900. It’s hard to believe that it has been slightly over 4 years ago that I decided to begin a blog “Good Time Stories.” I thought that it would be a terrific idea to write, find, and discover shorts stories, tales, pictures, and other interesting tidbits that would serve as an encouragement to the heart and soul of people. Little did I know that it would ever have over 900 posts!

I have always been an individual that has always enjoyed making people smile, laugh, and generally feel good about themselves and the life that they have. It’s sort of funny when people find out that I am not only a blogger but also a coach, they are sometimes stunned and say, “Wow! You’re a coach? I didn’t know that coaches had a tender and sensitive side like you do.” I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing, but regardless, I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project over the years.

Life, at times, can be a struggle. It is my hope that I can continue to find new heartwarming, inspiring, and motivational stories that will lift up a person’s spirit, touch their soul, and brighten their heart in the days and years to come.

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Remember…”A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after a success.” ~ Author Unknown

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia

 

 

Gestures of Kindness

Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Photo Credit: Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

There are many kinds of people that we can find in today’s world: the pessimists and optimists, the solemn, the boisterous, the sad, the happy, the mean and nasty, the thoughtful and caring…the list goes on and on. There are also numerous ways that people convey the way they feel towards others by how they act, what they say, and how they behave towards others.

Think of  five different people that you may know…whether or not they are you friends or not does not matter. Think of how they act and/or what they say…OK…think of the way that you feel when they are around you. Do they make you happy or sad? Angry or joyful? Worthless or invaluable? Do they make you feel like a million bucks and on top of the world or like a loser that isn’t worth a dime? Our actions, more than our words, really can mean everything to people that we come in contact with everyday.

Let me tell you this quick little story: Every Sunday, my family and I go to church and every week, as I am walking to my seat, there is one elderly usher, who I will name Charlie, that I always look forward to see the most. I have known Charlie for many years now, but unfortunately, I have never really gotten to know him and I have only learned things about him by bits and pieces. I know that he lives alone with his beloved dog, lost his wife years ago, enjoys camping, and loves the Lord. Like I said, I really don’t know much about him…BUT…I do know this, he is a man with a gentle soul who always has kind words to say, a big smile, a caring spirit, and has always been a HUGE inspiration and source of reassurance to me…he is a quiet man of encouragement!

How many of you are a “Quiet Encouragement” to others? The great thing is this…you don’t have to do or say a lot of things to be a light and inspiration to others! So, make a goal every day and determine how many people you will try to encourage through simple gestures of kindness!

Pictures That Speak Volumes #79: Sweetness

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Photo Credit: Unknown

There is absolutely nothing in the world heartwarming, precious and has the ability to bring a smile to a face than watching the innocent love and joy of a child and their pet. Just look at the enjoyment, contentment, and adoration of this little girl.

Simply…Priceless!