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  • Writer's picturemelindafox

Gratitude and Service

"How am I supposed to be happy," someone asked me. "I just don't feel it. I'm struggling. I'm really struggling."

Now's the point where, in order to promote my business, I tell you to see the inner value in yourself, look in the mirror and say positive things, or start meditating and let me take beautiful pictures of you.

All these are stellar things to do by the way, and could totally help, especially the last one.

But they are very 'us' centered.

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It's always about us, isn't it?

It's all about what we want, how we feel inadequate, or how we struggle. Could it be that looking inward and becoming more self-focused isn't the only answer to the dissatisfaction we feel?

Maybe the solution to our inner lack of value and happiness is actually found outside of ourselves.

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So let me pitch something- it's not about you.

Your happiness is not about you . . . and happiness is a poor metric to measure a good life anyway and it's darn-near impossible to catch.

Your satisfaction in life doesn't become greater because your life is easy.

I believe our joy in life is best measured by our gratitude and our help to others.

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I heard recently 'You are never more happy than you are grateful.' Makes sense, doesn't it? More gratitude means we are more aware of our blessings. Instead of focusing on what's wrong, we are choosing to focus on what's right. And the things we focus on tend to become bigger. We thank others and that in turn increases the appreciation they feel for us. It lightens the mood, eases the tension, and calms troubled hearts, especially our own. Gratitude allows us to see the colors of the world when once all we saw was grey.

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Now, about helping others. I've been burned in the past, maybe you have too. You've been burned because you served and helped and gave and people just asked for more, more, more.

You got tired. Not just of the constant giving but tired of the never-ending asking. For me, I got a little jaded.

"How is serving others supposed to increase my happiness when all I feel is resentment?"

Well, it's complicated. I know, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I'm supposed to have charity for all men. But let me tell you, there are people who, if they called me right now, I would not help. It's a short list, but it's real.

I'm trying to do better.

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When it comes to helping others and thinking beyond ourselves, solid boundaries are a good call. It's ok to say 'no' so that you have the ability to rest. It's ok to ask someone else to help so you don't have to tackle a big service all on your own. It's ok to take it slow because when it comes to service and caring for others, every little bit counts.

Service does not have to be big gestures.

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Instead of going to the store or a meeting and hoping someone talks to you, you get out there and do the talking first. This might not seem like a charitable act but it is, ask any introvert or shy person.

Write a letter to someone or send them a kind message.

Take out the trash for your person or pick up some rubbish in your neighbor's yard.

Wave at the person who passes you on the sidewalk.

Remember your waiter's name. Do your job with a little more enthusiasm and kindness.

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These aren't big things. But these are things that pull us out of our own heads and make us focus on and see other people. It makes us treat others like they matter. And when we do that, when we do a kindness without expectation it does something to us. It lights the world in a brighter, more colorful way. And while our own problems won't magically disappear they seem lighter.

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There are a lot of ways to be happy/have purpose in life. There are libraries worth of books and data houses full of digital texts talking about this subject. I am by no means an expert.

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I'm just a woman who, like you, is trying to make this earthly experience the best it can be. And from my personal practice, gratitude and service, are habits that have changed my life. I invite you to choose gratitude and seek out ways to lift others. I think once you do that, you'll find happiness doesn't feel so far away.

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P.S. Are you interested in an incredible photoshoot experience all your own with Melinda? Whether it be an elopement or engagement photoshoot, birthday photoshoot, mother and daughter pictures, headshots and branding, or contemporary portraits and boudoir we will create something show-stopping that celebrates you!

Private Photography Studio in Ulster PA.

If you have tips or concerns about human trafficking happening in your area call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Fox Photography by Melinda Fox, Photographers in Athens PA, Photographers in Sayre PA, Photographers in Waverly NY, Photographers in Elmira NY, Photographers in Towanda PA, Photographers in Corning NY, Photographers in Ithaca NY, Photographers in Twin Tiers Area. Fox Photography by Melinda Fox

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