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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 61 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Optimism and Lighting the Corner of the World**

*Chicago Tribune
February 25, 2011
as "Make a difference"

*Somerset, PA Daily American
February 26, 2011
as "Make a difference"

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey

Bookstores a full of them; infomercials fill the airwaves hawking them. All around us we hear the shouted mantra “Improve Your Life! We become so obsessed with fixing our flaws, we forget that even we can do good things.

It seems the only things we can think about are what we’ve done wrong. People are far from perfect. We are all human, and mistakes seem to be what we do best. But focusing solely on that aspect seems to me to be a little too cynical.

We seem to swim in a sea of sadness. The news that is reported to us is nearly all bad. Newscasters and pundits talk in terms apocalyptic; every cause will result in complete destruction. All around are wars and rumors of wars. Economies are struggling to survive, even in countries that were seen as invincible. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pay attention. This is, after all, a world rife with violence, injustice, pain and misery. But it is also a place where millions of acts of kindness occur each day, and rarely make the news.

Whether we want to admit it or not, all of us do a tremendous amount of good each year. We all have friends that like us, family that loves us. There are people who have come to depend on us, because when the chips were down for them, we stepped up to help. Perhaps we’re too afraid to think about it out of the fear of being too proud. Humility is a fine thing, yes. But when a person does a good thing, that’s something that needs to be celebrated.

Good acts arise out of happiness. Happiness comes from optimism. Yet, optimism is an intangible. You can’t touch it, see it or smell it. On the other hand, weight loss, education, exercise, earning promotions, those are all tangibles; things we can touch and see. But the mental and emotional aspect from which we view our lives, the mindset through which we live, while intangible, nevertheless drives our interaction with the world.
To do kind things, you must have a kind heart. To have a kind heart, you must have a positive mindset. If you consume yourself with anger, frustration, misfortune, and dwell only on your problems, it’s very hard to summon up the effort to be kind to someone else. If we convince ourselves that nothing will ever change, then we block the will within us that could result in change.
Everything good flows from the assertion that one person can make a difference. Can one person stop a war? Probably not. But one can offer comfort to those in pain; offer friendship to those who are lonely; offer encouragement to those who have lost their way.
Remember the last time someone performed an act of kindness for you? Perhaps it was something as simple as opening a door, or helping them with packages. Or maybe it was something as simple as a smile as you passed each other on the street. Remember what a lift that was to your spirit? Giving that back, or passing it forward is just as uplifting.

None of us, as individuals, are here to save the whole world. However, we all have a little corner of that world that God, destiny, or random chance has assigned us. Within are the people who are important to us. Family, friends, acquaintances, and the opportunistic zone through which will pass total strangers. That will be the canvas upon which we should try to paint the mural of life with colors of kindness.
Each person we meet, every situation that occurs is a chance to be positive; to do good things. We only need to exercise the courage to step outside the calcified shell that forms the limits of our comfort zone. Resolve to do what you can do to brighten your little corner of the world, to join with others also so motivated. Together, we can push back against the anger, the hate, the jaded cynicism. Together we can make this little corner of the world at least a bit happier.

One candle can dispel the darkness. A thousand candles will push back the night.

Let us all light our candles together.
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