Tag Archives: happiness

A New Era of Health and Happiness

Strangely enough, I have entered an era in my life where my happiness seems directly related to something that I am purchasing on a regular basis. Now we all know that happiness can’t be purchased. But health? Health is largely dependent on the food we eat.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

In the last couple months, I have been using Instacart religiously. I have been waiting for it to come to our area for quite some time now. You see, I had all of these hopes and dreams of what my life would be like – how it would improve – if only I had access to Instacart.

Usually, the fantasy versions of our lives never quite match up with reality. The grass is always greener and all of that. However, I was actually right this time.

Here’s how Instacart has benefited our lives (and no, they aren’t sponsoring me or anything like that – life really has improved, and I’m wanting to share the reasons with you, in case you want to try it out for yourself.)

  1. We are healthier. The minimum order in my area is $35, so I order fresh food two times a week. This is twice the frequency that I used to do my shopping, so we eat a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables. I only order 3 or 4 days worth at any given time, and we make sure to eat it all up before I place another order (or plan the next day’s meals around what’s left). Therefore, I’ve barely thrown any food away since using this service.
  2. We are happier. Health = happiness in a lot of ways. When we eat better, we feel better. Our minds are sharper, we don’t need as much sleep, we don’t have as many sugar cravings (because we’re meeting our nutritional needs), we feel better about ourselves because we aren’t as wasteful as we once were, and we look forward to each and every meal because we aren’t eating out of boxes as often. Oh, and the kitchen usually smells like a restaurant. Happiness! 🙂
  3. We are spending quality time together. It’s been way more fun to cook together lately. There really is something to be said about using fresh ingredients – it just seems…right…somehow – authentic. (I once read that when boxed cakes first came out, they contained powdered eggs, etc. All a person had to do was add water and bake. However, after a while, companies caught onto the fact that people like to be more involved in their food – we want to feel like we are actually responsible for what’s on the table. We want to be able to say, “I baked a cake!” Not, “I added water.”)
  4. We are more adventurous. We’ve been trying a lot of ethnic dishes – at least one or two new ones each week. Turns out, it’s a whole lot easier to rely on someone else to find the more obscure items in a store. I think that’s what had been preventing a lot of experimentation in my kitchen.
  5. We are more productive. I can get my shopping done at 6am, at the very beginning of my day. The Instacart shopper is the one that has to wait for ALDI to open, by which time I’m usually already teaching. Also, I don’t have the excuse of procrastinating until the weather warms up or until I have other things marked off my to-do list. I can shop first and just forget about it until the delivery person shows up at my front door.
  6. We are coming out ahead financially. On the surface, the extra costs of Instacart service (driver tip, price differences, and either delivery fees or yearly membership) seem extravagant. However, I really do believe we are spending less money on food nowadays. Maybe that requires some explanation:
    1. We almost never eat out anymore because I plan out my meals in advance. And because we’re incorporating so many fresh meats and vegetables into our meals, we can’t really skip a meal that I’ve planned without worrying about food going bad. (Last time my parents invited us to dinner, I took what I had been planning to make, and cooked it at their house. We had a feast because they made food too!)
    2. We are also eating our leftovers for lunch the next day, every day. That way, I can have an empty fridge before I begin cooking the next meal. Since we are so careful to do this on a daily basis, almost nothing goes bad.
    3. Since our health is improving, we’ll also see a reduced cost of doctor’s visits and medicine in the future. In fact, we have already had better luck staving off sore throats and the common cold.
    4. And last, but definitely not least – no more impulse purchases. This is the one benefit that I had been looking forward to all along – the one I needed in my life. I had actually hired my sister to shop for me a few times for that reason alone – which worked out until she got too busy. She wasn’t going to see a box of cookies and put them in the cart thinking, “Amy would really want these!” Guess what! My Instacart shoppers don’t do that either! If I wanted to, I could totally plan out my weekly calories in advance too, and have a better chance of sticking with it.

Okay, so that’s just a run-down of the benefits that I’m seeing. Does anyone have anything to add? Have you tried Instacart or Walmart Pickup? What do you think?

Answers for Atheists: Where Did Evil Come From?

choiceIf there is a God, why did He create evil?

Have you heard this question before? I have. Atheists ask it because they believe there is no legitimate answer. And without a reasonable answer, they believe it is the perfect question to use when trying to disprove the existence of God. Maybe, if someone could answer this question in a satisfactory manner, they would consider the existence of God? Well, maybe not, but I’m having a go at it anyway.

Here is the pat answer, and the one I have (regretfully) given myself:

What is cold? What is darkness? (In case you don’t know the answers, they are the absence of heat and the absence of light, respectively.) Therefore, it stands to reason that evil is the absence of good, and God never created evil at all.

Now, I believe all of these things are true; I only regret that my answer was too short. When I gave it, I didn’t expound on it. This is unfortunate because I believe that sometimes people are legitimately looking for answers, and mine was a non-answer. That was me, avoiding the real question.

Of course, perhaps it would have served the atheist better if they had asked the real question to begin with, which goes something like this: If God loves people, why would He allow evil?

There, now that’s something we can work with.

Evil is perhaps not best explained as the absence of good, but rather the refusal to do good. The way I see it, God could have made humans behave in one of two ways: first of all, He could have created us to do His will all the time, never questioning His authority, never thinking for ourselves. In other words, we could all be rocks. Or plants. Or…something. Is this how a loving parent raises their children? Nope.

Secondly, He could have created us in the way that He actually did, giving us the choice to obey or not to obey. In order to have choice, we must first be aware of what we should choose – what “good” is. That’s why He gave us the Law.

“Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live:” Amos 5:14.

Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day:” Deuteronomy 11:26-27

See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:15-20

The word “good” is not merely the opposite of evil. The Law is good for us. To stray from its path is to engage in self-destructive behaviors. (And sometimes, disobedience leads to the destruction of the peace, happiness, and lives of others as well.) We should be in amazement, overwhelmed that our God, the Ruler of the universe, loved us enough to give us His own perfect Law. The one that is so righteous, He Himself adheres to it. What do I mean by that? Here’s a short explanation:

The reason that Christ had to die is that God could not allow sin to go unpunished. The wages of sin is death, and that wage had to be meted out. If God could break His own Law, He could have provided an alternate way for salvation. This also explains why Jesus is the only way to salvation. The ransom He paid for us is the only way to meet the requirements of the Law.

Now, His Law is not some random set of rules. It is life, it is truth, it is the very definition of these things (Psalm 119). Jesus Christ Himself is the embodiment of that Law (John 1:14). Those who choose life, know how to do so, by walking in His precepts. Please, please read Psalm 119.

So how does choice work? In addition to knowing what we should choose, we must also be given the opportunity to choose something else. This “otherness” is what is meant by “evil.” If God has told us how to have life, and have it more abundantly, then any refusal of that offer is necessarily evil. It leads to death and destruction.

So is God then somehow responsible for our evil when we choose not to obey? By creating the Law in the first place, and the ability to disobey, has He in some round about manner also created evil?

Let’s consider some options here:

A) If I instruct my children not to play in the street, not to talk to strangers, or not to touch a hot burner, am I the author of their rebellion if they choose to disobey me? If we use atheist reasoning, it would appear to be so. Isn’t that the very argument we are dissecting here? Regardless of how just or unjust God may be viewed for this behavior, it is the way He interacts with His creation. This approach of a loving Father toward His children is outright rejected by those who hate God, but an atheist who loves his children surely teaches them about health and safety.

B) Would it be better to never offer instruction, so that the children can decide for themselves what is good and what is bad? Should God have refrained from giving us the Law to keep us from having the opportunity to sin against Him? Should we allow our children to discover on their own what leads to life and happiness and what leads to pain and death? That’s ridiculous, and a loving God or parent would never leave their children to their own devices.

C) So what is the alternative to A and B? Perhaps one would suggest that a loving parent would hover around the child at all times, physically refusing to allow them to become hurt. That would be the only scenario I can imagine that doesn’t involve pain, death, disobedience, or evil of any kind. Now, a human parent couldn’t pull that off, but God could. However, can you actually imagine an atheist being happier if God never allowed them to make their own choices about anything? If He didn’t give us the freedom of choice, then they would have a legitimate reason to complain. But that’s not the way He created us.

Atheists cannot comprehend God as a loving God because He tells them what right and wrong is, because He has imposed a Law, because He has labeled destructive behavior as sin. Isn’t it ironic that they would choose option B over the others? They want to live their lives as they see fit. In short, they want to live without the instruction of anyone or anything wiser than them. They wish to remain obliviously happy in their disobedience and death. They would choose for God not to love them at all.

Time, Space, Stuff, and Happiness

The average person on this earth probably takes up about 2 or 3 square feet of floor space at any given moment. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, busy or relaxed, you can only take up so much space.

The average person can concentrate on _ things at any given moment. It doesn’t matter how many toys or gadgets you have, you can only do so many things at once.

The two-income family usually thinks of a way to split the chores at home. They each spend x amount of hours at work, and x amount performing chores. At the end of the day, they have _ hours to entertain themselves.

Because one adult and the children can complete the household chores while the other adult is at work, the one-income family has much more time to enjoy their surroundings, even though they may not be able to afford as much space or as many distractions.

What do you think? Care to elaborate on my vague ideas about time, space, stuff, and happiness?

How to Cope with a Depressed Spouse, part 1

What you can do for yourself

You may love your spouse with every fiber of your being – or you may be to the point where you can’t stand the sight of him or her. On some days, you may even experience both of these emotions simultaneously. How can you live from day to day when someone else is affecting your happiness-factor?

The short answer: you can’t.

That is, you can’t allow someone else to affect your happiness-factor.

So what can you do for yourself?

Things that won’t work:

Society tells us to focus on ourselves, since we’re the only sure thing that we have. So maybe you’ve tried confiding in friends, or perhaps you’ve immersed yourself in a hobby. Others read, meditate, or otherwise seek out “me”-time. But why is it that none of these things seem to help alleviate stress?

In extreme situations, people often turn to drugs or alcohol, or even find themselves nursing dangerously intimate relationships with the opposite sex. Those are the sorts of things that will only serve to make their situations even worse. And they certainly aren’t being helpful to their spouses.

The number one thing you can do for yourself

Develop a relationship with our Creator. You know, the One who saw fit to place you on this earth in the first place. Search Him out, seek to understand His will, and talk to him daily. Tell Him how you really feel – don’t use fancy words or try speaking in old English; God understands what the word “you” means, so you can skip the “thees” and “thous.” Ask Him questions, and listen for an answer. You’ll be amazed at how often the answer seems to reveal itself upon asking. Base your happiness on the fact that you’re connected to the most loving, most powerful Being in the universe, and also upon the fact that you’ll get to leave all of this trouble behind when we finally reach eternity.

If you’re not a believer

At least do your research, and see what you find. It’s kind of silly to be an unbeliever just for the sake of being one. The same thing goes for believers. Know what you believe, but more importantly, know why you believe it. Beg God to reveal Himself to you, if He really exists – and He will.

I know He will because that’s what He did for me. But He didn’t hit me all at once with a “sign:” I just kept asking Him to help me find Him, to help me know which religion was the true one, and eventually, because I was talking to Him so much, I just sort of got to know Him. He speaks back to us through His Word, and in other small ways. He’s impossible to miss, if you’re truly looking.

You’ve tried everything else

Why not try Jesus? What have you got to lose?

Post from the Past: At Day’s End

I remember when Jesse and I first started hanging out. I worked as a customer service manager at Wal-Mart, and every day, I would come home physically exhausted and emotionally drained (people in general are just not very understanding). As Jesse and I became closer though, something changed. He became my sanctuary. I could be having the worst day at Wal-Mart; someone could be screaming at me even, but it dawned on me that it didn’t really matter. In a few hours, I would visit Jesse, we would play a game or go out for dinner, and I would forget about all of the troubles of my work day. Reminding myself of this fact constantly throughout the day, I found that my job became bearable. I could even be happy at work!

If we could think of our lives as “being at work,” and of eternity as “the place we retire to when work is done,” think of how much more we could handle!

Post from the Past: The Key to Happiness…

In a word, obedience.

Every time we disobey, we are in essence saying, “I know how to make myself happy better than You do, God.” It is identical to Eve’s sin, and it is no less stupid than hers, although we all blame her for the condition of the world.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Last month, I read If I Knew Then What I Know Now by Ruby Hillsman. Throughout her life, as the author listened to people tell their stories, she determined to learn as much as possible from each of them. Each time the author relates a short story from her own life, she highlights the lessons that she learned. Her purpose is to help others discover life’s little lessons through the eyes of someone else, so they won’t have to learn the hard way.

This book mostly comes across as an autobiography. However, she was extremely perceptive in her interactions with other people, and she offers many insights to her readers. Her book touches on things like health, money, and happiness.

She also talked about making changes if you are unhappy with your lifestyle. Complaining about it and wishing it were different won’t bring about the changes you need. “To change one’s circumstances requires a person to do much more. A person has to do it himself.” – page 59

I learned several things while reading this book, not the least important of which was this: you can use every single experience, whether positive or negative, to learn and grow as a person. You just have to look at them as little lessons instead of inconveniences.

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through BookSneeze®.