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If you've a mind to...

This photo of Northern China was snapped from the crew rest seat during my break.

One of the things (exercises) that helped me out of the funk I was in last summer was to smile. After researching the internet for quite a while trying to find ways that might help me be happier, I stumbled across an article by someone who's picture looked like a Hindu Holy man. Skeptically, I read the article.

In a nutshell he suggested taking a minute out of every couple hours to just smile. He suggested forcing my body to smile even when I didn't feel like it. He also suggested that while smiling to spend time in "mindfulness."

Mindfulness part 1. You are not dead. You are not asleep. You are alive and awake so you have the ability to choose. These are things you can be thankful for. You can think. And you can choose how and what you think about and how you think about certain things. Things you can be thankful for include: you have good health; you have 10 toes and 10 fingers, you can walk, you can talk, you can take a deep breath, you can speak, you can read, you can learn, you can listen, you can move. In other words, you can do thousands of things that someone who is dead or asleep cannot. So, today, right now, you have the ability to choose to feel thankful. You have the ability to feel a little happier than you did just a moment ago if you just make a conscious effort to do so. You also have the ability to do something that will make you or someone else happier. Making yourself happier will make someone else happier. Likewise, making someone else happier will make you happier.

Ausable Chasm in upstate New York

Mindfulness part 2. You are part of God's universe. You exist. You are surrounded by things that have been touched by thousands of other people. Your computer took hundreds of people to design, assemble, ship, and sell. It took decades of scientists and engineers working to improve and invent it. It has paint on it that was also created through lots of people and years of effort. And that's just your computer. You are probably in a house or building that hundreds of people were involved in the financing, designing, supplying, building, and decorating. Others took away and dealt with the trash that inevitably accumulates around a civilization. Try to count how many things are in the building you are in and where they all came from. The wood in the walls and furniture came from trees that lived in forests thousands of miles away and dozens of years ago. The iron and copper in the nails and wiring came possibly came from mountains thousands of miles away that may have laid unchanged for thousands of years.

Sunset near Wakefield, KS

If you are outside the wonder of creation surrounds you. There is earth, dirt, grass, weeds, trees, plants, bugs, water, clouds, blue sky if you fly high enough. There are planets and stars above that, even in the daytime. Consider the wonder and complexity of a single blade of grass, then consider that there are trillions of blades of grass alive right now on the earth. The earth spins so that the relative speed of the equator compared to the poles is over 1,000 miles per hour. Relative to the sun the earth is moving through space in its orbit at about 67,000 miles per hour. And the Solar system moves at about 514,000 miles per hours about the galactic center. And the galaxy moves about 1,300,000 miles per hour relative to the center of the visible universe. And you are part of it. You are a necessary, vital, living part of it.

My lovely girlfriend (and wonderful wife since 1985) and I were fortunate enough to enjoy an Alaskan cruise.

Mindfulness part 3. You are part of a family. You are part of a neighborhood. You are part of a village or city. You are part of a free country. You are part of mankind; past, present, and future. You are a vital part of the river of humanity. Do you want to be the thorn in someone's side? Do you want to be remembered as the hero? Do you want to be thought of as the loving compassionate one, or would you rather be thought of as the pest in someone's life? Do you choose to be the loving, fun ally and friend; or the foul, wretched enemy? ...mother? ...husband? ...neighbor? ...employee? ...citizen? member? You can be, either the person everyone wants to see, or the person everyone wants to avoid. You can be somewhere in the middle. Will you choose to leave a legacy, or regret?

You can change the way you think and therefore change the person you are. It's easier than you might imagine. But, you have to choose to improve. You can start right now by smiling for a minute while being mindful and thanking God for all you are, thanking God for all that you have, and thanking God for all the friends and family that surround you.

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