Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Break--A Humbling Experience

What if you had nothing? Nothing tangible that is. No car, computer, ipod, credit card, clothes, pictures of loved ones, or place to call home. Think about your happiness. Would you be as happy as you are today with all these things? Or perhaps, just maybe, you could be happier?

As hard as it is for some of us to comprehend, happiness is possible even in the most unfortunate of situations.

This past week, many college students across the nation celebrated the well known holiday of…SPRING BREAK!!!  Some students headed to the beaches, others to the slopes for skiing, myself and nine other KSU students traveled to Dallas Texas for what we call an “Alternative Spring Break.” An easier way to put it, a mission trip. We spent a week at a retreat center at night, and volunteering at an array of different groups droning the day.


One of the highlights for many of the student on the trip was our time spent at Austin Street Homeless Shelter. For two days we prepared and served lunches to about 150 homeless people. After we had handed out all the lunches, we had time to talk with a few of the homeless present, and eventually play BINGO with them!


I must admit, the first day we pulled up to the shelter located it what many of us would call a “sketchy” part of town, I was scared. Never, EVER had I just gone up and made conversation with a homeless person—much less for hours at a time!


Becky, suck it up! You LOVE people! These people are just like anyone else, and probably have some more interesting stories than most!” --(Me talking to myself before we entered the shelter.)


The fear that I originally had soon disappeared as we began to talk with the cheerful and appreciative homeless. Every time I handed one of them their lunch they would say comments like “Thank you SO much,” or “Thank you, God bless you!” WOW! My favorite comment was when I asked one lady coming through the line how her day was going. Her response was “Wonderful! Every day is wonderful from the moment I wake up.”


This woman, who has absolutely nothing to her name but the little duffle bag on her cot in the shelter has the ability to wake up each morning and be happy. Amazing. After making some new friends at the shelter I took a lot of time to reflect. How many times do we wake up in a bad mood because we didn’t finish everything on our to-do list from the day before. How often do we allow a small interruption in our calendar get us stressed and upset? I don’t know about you, but I most definitely can slide into these traps of feeling pessimistic verses optimistic.

My new homeless friend, “sister” was what she told be to call her, gave me a smack in the face! Don’t let the past or the small uncontrollable factors in life get you down! Yes, we have heard this advice before, but it never hit me as hard as when sister said it. Most of us are very blessed to have a roof over our head, friends and family there for us if we need them, the ability to buy food when we are hungry, and for some of us, even perks like laptops and cell phones.  Don’t let these tangible items fool you. It doesn’t take material items to make you happy. Happiness is a choice, a choice only you can make! 

If someone who has nothing can wake up each morning and see the silver lining, why can’t we do the same? This week, try not to focus on the minuscule tasks that stress you out, but rather see the bigger picture. What is really, and I mean really important? Love, service, health, relationships…what reasons to you have to be happy? The more you think about it, the more blessings you will find you have then you realized before.






Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Love Doctor is In!

This past Friday a friend and I visited a “love doctor comedian” in the Union of K‐ State. I must say, I am not one that knows much about love and relationships, but this presentation definitely broadened my vision in that realm.

There were three keys to relationships that this “love Doctor,” named Grant, focused one. (1) Personal happiness, (2) Your relationship needs, (3) friendship.

The underlying ingredient to a happy relationship (whether with a significant other or friends and family), is personal happiness. DUH, right? As simple as this may sound, many of us have yet to conclude our journey of searching for our own personal happiness.

“How many of you are happy and joyful when you are with other people…great! Now, how many of you, once you get to being by yourself find that you are sad, anxious, or not driven? If that is you, then it means you haven’t found personal happiness yet.” –Grant (a.k.a. Love Doctor)

When Grant said the above statement it hit me like a freight train. That person he described is more common than we think. The person he described can be me sometimes. I find myself feeling uncomfortable and uneasy when I am by myself. Why? I’m not sure, but I am looking into it. Perhaps it is the conditioning our generation has had to be productive all the time. I feel more and more often people are becoming dependent on work and accomplishments to fill their happiness void, however that doesn’t work.

Just the other day my friend Morgan had read my blog regarding lent and “adding value” to your life. He asked me “Becky, how are you adding value to your life.” My response “I am learning to do the things I love again.” Painting, nature hikes, and photography are three hobbies I have put on the back burning since becoming extremely involved in extra‐curriculars in college. My hope is that I will once again learn to relax, and enjoy these self‐satisfying activities. We must learn at some point in our life that we must “feed ourselves in order to feed others.”

The second major point that this love doctor hit on was on your relationship needs.” In every relationship you are in, not just the one with a significant other, there are needs. The successful relationships in life are the ones where both individuals involved understand the other person’s needs. For example, I have friend who is in a three year relationship with her high school sweetheart. He knows that she needs to see him nearly everyday, or at least talk to him. She knows that he is in need for his Thursday night bowling league with his guys. These are simple needs, yet important. When my friend doesn’t get a call from her boyfriend, she worries all night that something may be wrong. When he doesn’t have his guy nights he doesn’t get the friend interaction he needs.Perhaps in the early stages of a relationship we should be more conscious in making aware to the other person what our needs are. By doing this, we are setting ourselves up for success from the beginning. Waiting to address your needs may result in an undesired outcome.

The final point the doctor made was about friendship.

“Think of all those characteristics you look for in a best friend. Now, wouldn’t you want all those characteristics in your significant other?” –Grant

Good point. When I think of my closest friends they are empathetic, loyal, committed, honest, fun to be around, giving, and push me to be a better person. Grant had a point. Perhaps we should think of our best friends and what we like about them to find our perfect match. I know what you are thinking right now…Becky, that is way easier said then done. Yes, you are right, but that is what makes the end result so much more worth it.

No, this blog has not become a site to learn dating advice. Rather, how can we use these three points about relationships and apply them to all the people in our life. Find your own personal happiness so you can truly be happy with others, define your relationship needs up front, and finally, remember those qualities of friendship that you value so much and seek them in other people.