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- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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Here, I share my thoughts on spiritual power, relationships, simple living, managing stress, work-life balance, career decisions, money, politics, the environment, and much more.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

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How Much Is Enough?

I often receive emails asking how the writer, in their specific circumstances, can possibly be expected to be happy, or to be grateful for life.  What if they are in constant agonizing pain? What if their children are dying of starvation? What if they are living with relatives because they can't find a job? What if the investment advisor they trusted absconded with their money and they are forced to sell their yacht? Where is the line between "need" and "want?" How much is enough?

Some of the main themes of my Daily Inspirations are: gratitude for all of life, appreciation of the abundance that surrounds us, and the joys of simple living. I continue to assert that those themes are keys to happiness for most of us, but I also acknowledge that there are exceptions - mostly in situations of extreme physical pain (at least in America).

Making a conscious choice to be grateful for what one has, to have a positive attitude toward life, and to choose happiness are VERY powerful tools for living a better life. If a person has enough food, a roof over their head, and a tolerable level of physical pain, I recommend that gratitude and a positive attitude be the first-line tools in life.

There are a few common circumstances which cause severe long-lasting distress, and for which a positive attitude can be especially helpful:
* Being unemployed or underemployed. Recognize that the primary issue here is not money (at least in America, an unemployed worker and their family are not going to starve). The primary issue is a sense of shame and inadequacy.
* Loss of a loved one. They are in a better place. Appreciate what is good in life, and focus on the future.
* A childhood trauma such as bullying, rape, an alcoholic parent. The past cannot be undone. Appreciation of what is good, and a focus on the future are the best tools against past issues.
* Feeling lonely.

In situations where feeling lonely is the issue, or contributes to the issue, I also strongly recommend positive interactions with others, in addition to gratitude and a positive attitude. There are supportive religious groups, there are supportive community groups, and especially, there are opportunities to be of service to those less well off than oneself.

Finally, understand that appreciation and a positive attitude represent a starting point, a base line. A positive attitude not only offers more happiness in the present, but is also the strongest base from which to take action. A person with a positive attitude is better able to find a good job than a person who exudes negativity. A person with a positive attitude is better able to benefit their community through social and political action than a negative person.

Positive thinking will let you do everything
better than negative thinking will.
- Zig Ziglar

The best way to cheer yourself
is to try to cheer someone else up.
- Mark Twain 

I wept because I had no shoes
until I met a man who had no feet.
- old Persian Proverb

He who can give thanks for little
will always find he has enough.
- Anonymous

Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.
- Epicurus

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men
who walked through the huts comforting others,
giving away their last piece of bread...
They offer sufficient proof that everything
can be taken from a man but one thing:
to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances,
to choose one's own way.
- Viktor E. Frankl