Monday, February 1, 2016

11 Keys to Living A Joyful Life from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

When you hear the name Mother Teresa, who is now known as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, a pious, loving, service-oriented woman comes to mind. Many of us know she devoted her entire life to service, and love. I wonder, though, how much of us know of her words? I've been looking up her quotes on and off for the past year because she fascinates me, and her words are always so perfectly simple. Today, we can all learn a little more about how to live a good life by examining some of her famous words and the advice she gives to all of us. 

1. Think small for big changes.

“If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one.”

How often have we heard that we need to help each other, but when we look around it seems that an extraordinary amount of people need help? If I give ten dollars to the homeless man on this corner, what about the next corner, and the corner after that? It seems that everywhere we look these days, people are in trouble and need our help. It can be a bit overwhelming and stressful to choose who to help. 

The best way to simplify it all, is to focus on those closest to you. What about your neighbor? What about someone you work with, go to church with,  or live with? What about the person who makes your coffee every morning at the corner shop? Often, we think we need to go to the far reaches of the earth and help, but there are people in our very own homes that might need our help. Start small, and start local. If we all helped those close to us, we wouldn't need to go anywhere else because everyone would be helping in a ripple effect around the world. 

2. Forgive people for being human. 

“People are unrealistic, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.”

People are people. We are all of the species called human. We all make mistakes. We all act irrationally, we all freak out, we all hurt each other in some way. We all do it. None of us are perfect. So, how about we let go of our expectations of perfection, and just love each other? Sounds like a much easier world when I don't have to be upset about most things. Some things warrant being upset, but it seems to be that most really don't. 

3. Focus on what you can do today.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

I don't know about you, but I'm guilty of holding on to the past or worrying about the future. It's been the bane of my existence since I began to exist. Something that I've learned (through a lot of tears) is that there's no point in wishing what was could be again, or for worrying about what is to come before the future is ever here. 

This doesn't mean don't learn from the past, or don't have hope for the future, because we all need to do both of those things. What it does mean is let go, move on, and focus on what needs to happen now. Today is a gift, we can't get to the future we hope for, without working through the present today. So, let's keep moving forward one day at a time, shall we? 

4. Forgive and forgive again.

“If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.”

I once heard it said that marriage is the union of two excellent forgivers. It couldn't be more true, but it's also true about all relationships. At some point in life, you will need to forgive someone you love. There is no way around it. They will do something that you will not like, and you will have to forgive them for it, or lose the love you share. Friendships, family ties, marriage, dating -- all relationships -- will require some sort of forgiveness. It's just the way of the world. True love means having to look at that person and say, "I love you anyway, you big jerk." Then smile, and hug, and move on with the baggage of that issue left behind. 

5. Fight for what you want, instead of against what you don't.

“I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.”

One of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard is to focus on the things you are for, not the things you are against. It's the whole magic of "The Secret", but it's no secret. It's the best public knowledge I think any of us can learn. If you are for peace, don't fight against war, fight for peace. If you are against racism, don't fight against it, fight for equality. If you are against gun control, fight for the right to bear arms. 

This seems redundant, but it's not. What it is, is the power of focusing on what you ACTUALLY want, instead of what you don't want. All of your energy goes to the positive, to the good, instead of dispelling it into the thing you don't want. What good is fighting against something if you're not rallying for what you actually want? If you're anti-hate, fight for love, don't just fight against hate. Fight to show more love. That's how success is made. 

6. Life's challenges teach us compassion and how to help others. 

“May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.”

I feel like this one seems abstract, or confusing. But this one sticks with me the most out of all of her pieces of advice. Often, we wonder why we must endure anything hard. Why it feels like the longer we live, the more is taken from us? Why must we endure things that seem to break us completely? 

The answer is this: When we are broken down, we are then able to be more compassionate, more empathetic, and more forgiving. For whatever reason, hardship seasons us into people that are more able to see the world as what it is -- a bunch of people just trying to get through the life they've been given. Life experiences teach us, and help us grow. They make us better people, even if they hurt like hell. It's the pain that makes you powerful, and able to help others carry theirs. 

7. There is nothing more valuable than loving people.

“The success of love is in the loving - it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.”

All we need to do in life is love each other. Help but don't expect results. Love but don't expect reciprocation. Give advice but don't expect it to be taken. Just do the loving. It doesn't make it any less valuable if the outcome isn't what you wanted it to be. The love is still love, and you still gave it. It hasn't lost it's value, or been wasted any. 

8. To find joy is to be a champion.

“Joy is strength.”

To have joy despite whatever is going on in your life, is to be strong. It is to say, "I am able to find peace with this life, and let it wash over me, and keep going." It is natural to want to wallow and say, "Poor me, life is too hard." It's also natural to never think anything but that, and never feel joy. But, anyone I've ever met who keeps going despite hardship, who keeps hope despite all the evidence to the contrary, is a tough S.O.B. in my book. I happen to know quite a few of you out there, I'm a lucky girl.

9. When you know what you want, keep moving toward it.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.”

It doesn't matter if you know where to go, or if you're finally stepping on to the right path for you. If you do nothing once you get to this point, just sit and wait for life to come to you, you'll get left behind. Find your path, and get moving. Life will pass you by if you don't. Don't let it leave you behind, when there are so many possibilities waiting for you. 

10. Show people they matter by giving them your time. 

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”

If you've ever been truly alone in life, you will know that it is the true poverty in the world. Solitude is maddening to most people. It can make us feel worthless, pointless, and like if we disappeared, no one would care. We thrive off of connection with others. Make it a point to remember those around you.  

A friend of mine who has made a lot of really bad decisions has found himself alone for days on end, with no friends or family in sight. One day, he texted me and in the most honest words I've heard anyone speak said, "Can you please make it a point to call me tomorrow? I haven't talked to anyone in a while." It broke my heart to read that. It was a plea for someone to see him as human, and he desperately needed to feel like he mattered. 

How often we forget that the best thing we can do, is remind someone that they are not alone, that there are those of us who do care for them. Often those people need for someone to acknowledge that they are alive. A lot can happen when someone believes they are loved. Call someone you haven't spoken to in a while, tell them they are important to you. Remind them that they are worth everything, and not even close to worthless.

11. If you have to disappoint anyone, don't let it be yourself.

“In the final analysis it is between you and God, it was never between you and them anyway.”

It seems that so many of us think we have to live up to the world's standards for us. That is completely false. It doesn't matter what anyone believes you should do, should be, or should look like. It is between you and your God (if you believe there is something there that is god-like). This life is about living up to your standards. Being the best you know you can be. Disappoint other people if you have to, but don't disappoint yourself. Make sure that you know you're doing what you believe is right, and what you truly know to be good. It's not about what any of us think, it's about what you think is right for you. 

+++ YOUR TURN: What was your favorite piece of advice from the above? Do you have one that I haven't shared here? Please comment below. I'd love to discuss!

Join the conversation!

  1. Purely brilliant words! Loved this post. :)

    1. Thank you for reading, I know it was quite lengthy. :)

  2. She is one of those people that I would have been so blessed to meet. Her work was so selfless; a genuinely humble life. I can't wait to meet her in Heaven.

  3. Good advice, thanks for sharing.

  4. This was so jam packed full of ideals I could really think about for days. Your insights on fighting negativity with the power of positivity were really something that gave me pause because I've never thought about it that way. "If you are for peace, don't fight against war, fight for peace." Great words, Lana. Thanks for sharing, I had to share this one to my Twitter followers, too!


    1. Thanks for your awesome comment! I know, it's so full I almost broke it up in two and posted the other half later this year, but oh well. I get lost in her quotes. They are so great. I recommend looking her quotes up, they go on for pages and pages.


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