Good manners are still important today

Do you have happy habits? Think about it.

We are a mechanism of habits. Nearly every move we make is inspired by habit. Idle gossip is a habit. Saying unkind things about people easily becomes a habit. Habits are acquired by the way we think, so develop a rule of thinking happy things.

No one can do his best work when unhappy in his heart, or when thinking unhappy thoughts. Circumstances often bring unhappiness upon us, but we can ward it off by thinking of happier things. We can replace unhappy thinking.

A child's earliest habits cluster around happiness. It is the most natural thing in the world to be happy. It is only when we come in contact with disappointments, sorrow, disillusionments, or betrayals of our trust that we become unhappy. We should master these tests as quickly as possible and take a happy road.

A friend sent me a list of of 10 habits of unhappy people. I just have to share them with you. What a wonderful world this would be if everyone developed better habits.

Chronic complaining is number one on the list. I find myself doing just that. I complain about Oklahoma heat (and Oklahoma's cold winters, too). I complain about noise too loud or too soft to hear. I complain when people are late and keep others waiting. I need to stop it right now.

Being critical of self and/or others is second on the list. We all find ourselves sometimes being critical of ourselves. We “coulda, shoulda, woulda” until the cows some home unless we catch ourselves in time and realize we cannot always be perfect. I am probably more critical of myself than I am of others. I am patient with other people more than I am with myself most of the time. I make allowances for others, knowing there is some good reason for their actions.

Third on my friend's list is living beyond our means. If there is anything that makes people unhappy and out of sorts, it is being in debt beyond their means. Trying to keep up with others is very stressful and only brings sorry later. Once in debt, it is almost impossible to get free of the obligations unless we do without a few things we want “right now." Saving for something is much more fun than going in debt and living beyond our means.

Negative addictions is fourth on that list. Whether it is food or drink or self medication, it is a difficult habit to break. I really think few people start out on the road of addiction on purpose. It just happens, and before they know it, they're hooked. Look around at the number of people always on a diet, or dependent on drinks or drugs. It is staggering and so sad. It cannot be a good way to live one's life always looking for the next “fix."

Number five is regretting the past. How many of us do just that? The past is behind us. We cannot relive it. We can only go forward and learn from our mistakes and/or blunders.

Six is worrying about the future. None of us have any control about our future. That does not mean we should not make plans, but we cannot be positive of what may happen. Did worry help even one little bit? Concern and worry are two different things. Concern is good. Worry isn't.

Seven: Who is happy if they are driven by fear? I made up my mind after Jim passed that I would not allow myself to live in fear. I don't. I take every precaution, but I refuse to live in fear. I believe that God will take care of me. He always has. I trust He always will.

I mentioned in paragraph one about the eighth unhappy habit. That is gossiping. I believe if a person gossips to someone about someone, they will do it about everyone — including you and me. It is a terrible habit to have and is like emptying a feather pillow in the wind, and then trying to gather up all those feathers and putting them back in the pillow. It is impossible. Those words can never be recovered.

Number nine is harboring a grudge. That hurts ourselves more than it does the other person. We must forgive others if we expect God to forgive us. Harboring a grudge is like having a disease eating away at our bodies. Just stop doing it! Get on with life.

Ten is expanding on our problems to others all the time. Have you ever expressed a problem to someone and they couldn't wait until you were finished talking so they could tell you all about their problem? We all have. Our friends do want to know of our problems and illnesses, but they can live without every detail of what happened or what might happen. Spare all the gory details!

I have a solution to breaking these 10 unhappy habits. Keep a grateful journal. I started this habit several years ago at the suggestion of a dear friend. I have never been sorry. I have filled several spiral notebooks with lists of things I am grateful for each and every day. I cannot list them all. There are so many. Be grateful for every day with its abundance of blessings.

I have no idea who penned this beautiful poem, but it is a good way to end my “sermon."

“We cannot play alone in the game of life.

We're dependent, my friend, on others.

We cannot “get by” in the struggle and strife,

Except for the help of our brothers!

Whatever we plan, or whatever we do

Whatever we give of our best

Is meant to include all our fellowmen too,

And add to the joy of the rest.”

Doing for others makes me happy. I just found out this week that these simple cookies are a favorite or my dear friend, Norma. I am making her a batch this evening and sharing the recipe with you.

Sugar/Butter Cookies

1 cup soft butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Cream butter and sugar. Work in flour, vanilla, and nuts. Chill several hours. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in 400-degree oven for 12 minutes. Roll at once in powdered sugar. Cool and roll again in powdered sugar. Makes about four dozen.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

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