An alacrity person approaches what they do with great enthusiasm and zeal. It is the feeling of eagerness one experiences in response to a situation.
It is a term used specifically regarding a person’s attitude, such as my daughter Shannon. She teaches hard core workout classes, and when she gets up in front of her class, it is with the air of alacrity that expresses an upbeat, spunky, fun attitude that gets everyone else motivated to put the same enthusiasm into what they can do.
My friend Denise loves to cook, and I am one of her many friends who reap the rewards of her endeavors. She approaches what she does with great alacrity, as shows in her attitude and upbeat frame of mind. I have seen her tap into her alacrity attitude even when she doesn’t feel up to the task; she always approaches her cooking with the grace and enthusiasm of her passion.
Sometimes when I’m trying to figure things out in my life, I do a dialog with God in my journal. There are things I need to do, have to do, want to do in my life, and I feel like everything I’ve been doing is have to or need to things. The want to things gets pushed in the background. It makes me hate doing anything. That’s where God’s voice came into view, telling me I was approaching things with the wrong attitude. There are things we have to do, need to do, and want to do, but I should approach everything I do with the same air of alacrity as the things we want to do. In other words, find joy in all life has to offer you.
Reflection: I’m reminded that everything I do as a human God gets to experience through me. Approaching things with a little more eagerness, enthusiasm, and zeal is a way to let my true self shine. That’s where I find the value of alacrity in my life.
“Time spent amongst the trees is never wasted time.”
I have a sacred place where I set inside my house in the winter where I pray, meditate and journal. But there is no better-sacred place to be than outside in the early morning hours of a summer day. As I sip my coffee, I pray with the singing birds and gaze upon a flower taking in the perfection of its yellow and white beauty as only God can create.
I look out at the big tree in our yard. At first, I just notice the outside of it, but as I sit looking a little longer, I get pulled within, seeing more to it than what first meets the eyes. What is the purpose of the tree besides providing fruit, shade, and shelter? As if that isn’t enough. Like most of us, I studied how plants work but never stopped to think much about it. I take trees for granted as much as I do the air I breathe. And yet, I remember learning that plants and trees are essential for the way they help produce oxygen into the air. How does it do that? I know the trunk holds the tree up. The roots stretch deep into the earth for nutrients, but I learn that the branches are not just stretching toward the heavens in thanks and praise. They reach toward the sun so that the leaves can take in the energy, drink the rain and pull the carbon dioxide from the air creating a sugary chemical compound that not only feeds the tree but helps release oxygen back into the air.
Reflection: Wow! There is so much to value in what nature has to teach us. I not only learned about how all of God’s creations lives, take and give back. But that if I look within the core of my soul, I’ll find all I need to do the same. I can’t reproduce anything as life-sustaining as oxygen, but I can help create positive energy by being a positive example in the world.
In the coolness of the early morning, I took Lucy for a walk. It seemed as if I was the only one out and about until I noticed my shadow self walking beside me. She was the vision of all I wished I could be tall, slim, and long-legged. I enjoyed the allusion for a while until I got closer to how the shadow seemed to shrink in size, revealing my huge butt; both shadows were a distortion of my true self, and I was letting my ego have fun with it.
I was recently acting irritated because I let someone talk me into something I didn’t want to do. I was angry with myself for not speaking up and saying no. It put me in a bad mood, and I was taking it out on others. I talked with my husband about it and asked him how he thought I could be a better person? He laughed and said, “That’s something you’ll have to figure out for yourself.” I knew that, but I wanted him to make the shadowy part of me disappear. But no one can do that for us. It’s our work to do, and until we do the work, that shadowy reflection will continue to distort who we really are within.
Reflection: The value of the shadow self is what it can teach us about ourselves. The actual reflection I saw today has no good or bad power over me. It’s just a reflection that stirred a reminder in me to pull myself together in heart, mind, and soul.
“Oh the places you’d go, the things you’d do if you let temperence lead the way in all you pursue.” CFR
Temperance is one of those words we don’t hear much about unless you study the Christian virtues. Temperance is the fourth cardinal virtue; they are hinged together on the chain of cardinal virtues like a charm bracelet, prudence, fortitude, judgment, and temperance, all complimenting the other. But how does temperance fit into this collection? What does it mean?
Temperence means to practice self-restraint with the things we do and say. To use self-control when we indulge in natural appetites or passions. Practicing moderation and balance in all we do, including the use of alcoholic liquors.
We’ve been living in a world of…it’s your thing, do-what-ya-wanna-do; called an intemperate world. But temperance isn’t about denying ourselves the things we enjoy in life; it’s about having a sense of control over the things we do. It’s using our God-given brains like Dr. Suies says in his book, Oh the places you’ll go. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” When you use temperance as your guide, it frees you up to become what you choose and pursue your passions with a healthier approach. Being around people who support your way of temperance helps too.
Reflection: I like the idea that temperance isn’t about self-denial but instead about having a sense of self-control. It doesn’t mean I can’t have chocolate kisses; it means I can enjoy a few at a time instead of eating the whole bag at one time.
Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.
I didn’t particularly like the word judgment, it always come across as a righteous act of condemnation. But then I read this article from the VIA Institute of Character that put it all into perspective for me. I couldn’t say it better so I’m sharing it and the site I got it from with you.
“Judgment involves making rational and logical choices, and analytically evaluating ideas, opinions, and facts. To use a term that originally came from outside the character field: it is critical thinking, weighing the evidence fairly, thinking things through, and examining the evidence from all sides rather than jumping to conclusions. Judgment also involves being open-minded and able to change one’s mind in the light of evidence, remaining open to other arguments and perspectives. It should be clear at this point that judgment is a core “strength of the head” — it’s a very thinking-oriented character strength.
The strength of judgment is a corrective strength in that it counteracts faulty thinking, such as favoring your current views or favoring ideas that are considered the dominant view, and therefore giving less attention to the less-dominant view. It is the willingness to search actively for evidence against your favored beliefs, plans or goals and to weigh all of the evidence fairly when it is available.” https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths/judgment-critical-thinking
Reflection: Judgement used for the right reasons brings much value into our everyday life. I’m gland to have a better perspective on it now.
“Hardship, in forcing us to exercise greater patience and forbearance in daily life, actually makes us stronger and more robust. From the daily experience and hardships comes a greater capacity to accept difficulties without losing our sense of inner calm. Of course, I do not advocate seeking out hardships as a way of life, but merely wish to suggest that, if you relate to it constructively, it can bring greater inner strength and fortitude.”
Richard J. Foster, in an article, called, What is fortitude? Says: “Fortitude actually has a double meaning, or perhaps two distinct aspects of one meaning. First, it means courage, bravery, valor, heroism. The second meaning is endurance, tenacity, perseverance. It’s that ability to stay with a task in the midst of every conceivable discouragement and setback. Courage and endurance it’s this great combination that is summed up in the virtue of fortitude.” I’d say this here points out a lot of value about having the quality of fortitude. It isn’t until we come across adversity that we can see how well we handle it. I’d venture to say that more of us than not would be surprised to see the fortitude we have when the moment merits it from us. Foster goes on to encourages us to read about those who have been great examples of fortitude, such as “Nee To-shenge (Watchman Nee) of China, Eberhard Arnold of Germany, Rosa Parks of the United States, Alexander Solzhenitsyn of Russia, Karol Wojtyla (John Paul ll) of Poland, and Dorthy Day of the United States. The variety of angles and settings of their stories serve to deepen our understanding.” you can read more from Foster’s article at https://renovare.org/articles/what-is-fortitude
Reflection: I realize in learning more about fortitude that I have practiced it without knowing, but all situations are different across the journey of our life. I only pray that I have the grace to practice what it takes to have the fortitude I need in each situation.
Emotions are easier on entrance than exit, but prudence sees our way out before we venturing in.
I was going to write about fortitude but soon learned that it was part of the four Cardinal virtues prudence, fortitude, justice, and temperance. The word cardinal is derived from the Latin word cardo, meaning hinge. Each of these virtues thing upon the other. So, today I begin with prudence.
We don’t hear much about prudence these days, yet its meaning and the advantage it offers could be the ticket to how we could begin to change things for the better good for all. There is a lot to be said about what prudence is. I think it’s safe enough to say that the prudent person feels before they talk or take action. That thinking involves a loving, caring heart for others besides themselves. They are consistently considering how their actions might affect someone else—always looking for the most logical conclusion that creates a better good in the end.
An example is how easily our emotions can tempt us. It feels right, so it must be right. The prudent person looks at the whole picture and how giving in to their temptations could affect the bigger picture. A prudent person is often known for having good judgment, a positive attitude, wisdom, and consideration for others. I wonder if there is any other virtue that holds so much value.
Reflection: Now that I understand prudence a little better, it is definitely a virtue I want to practice more in my life.
“Any great achievement is proceeded by difficulties and many lessons; great achievements are not possible without them.”
What is your greatest achivement?
For me, I would have to say being a mother and raising four kids. While I didn’t do it alone, even in a partnership, we each have our role to play. Raising kids is a hard job, especially when you want to do it right and don’t know what you’re doing. I felt as if I was learning along the way. I made plenty of mistakes and had terrible role models, but I never gave up trying to be better. By the time I felt comfortable with what I was doing, they began to leave the nest.
“All achievement is difficult, and so achievements are all valuable in virtue of their difficulty,” says Gwen Bradford of the Oxford University Press * We put our heart and soul into our achievements. Many are much bigger more involved but what determines our greatest achievements is maybe the passion behind them.
Another one of my greatest achievements was finishing and publishing my book, The Promise. It took more years to write than raising my kids. My heart and soul went into it, but it didn’t hold the same personal passion I had to give my children the kind of safe, loving environment I didn’t have growing up.
It feels good to be able to look back at our achievements. Doing so helps give us the confidence to achieve other things in our life. No matter how old I get I look forward to what I’ve yet to achieve and what direction it will take me next.
“Accuracy of observation is the equivalent of accuracy of thinking.”
Accuracy is essential in just about everything we do. It even begins with the time you wake up to when you go to sleep. Keeping the same accurate sleep pattern helps us function better during the day. Accuracy plays a big part in the things we do throughout the day. If I measure the cord I use for the book thongs I sell; I want to be accurate in my measurements to fit between the book’s pages. Accuracy demands our attention. I remember a friend telling a story about making dinner for her daughter’s future in-laws. She was busy talking to her guest while cooking, and as she reached up above the stove to add some cornstarch to thicken the gravy, she grabbed the baking soda by mistake. Imagine the surprise when everyone tasted it. I remember a time when I was a little too confident in my ability to sew. Not paying attention to the directions on my pattern, I stitched the arm sleeves onto the wrong armholes. 😆
Accuracy also plays a big part in the things we hold as our truths and beliefs. We want to make sure we measure our values by reliable research, like our political, religious, claimant, and social views.
When it comes to the accuracy of God’s existence, it must come from each person’s individual experience. I am not sure that God can be proven by science or research or the limitations of human understanding. I have experienced God personally as well as through religion, the Bible, and through nature. My spiritual growth is not limited to any one thing. The proof of my belief in God comes from the personal connection I experience. It makes me feel whole and complete. Working through and with that wholeness, accuracy seems to fall into place for me.
Reflection: What a great new awakening the value of accuracy has brought into my life today. I never thought much about it, but that’s the point here; accuracy demands our attention.
“Listen to your inner voice. Trust your intuition. It’s important to have the courage to trust yourself.”
When I’m not feeling well physically or mentally, I often hear the voice of my friend JoAnn in my head saying, “ask your body what it’s trying to tell you.”
It’s easier said than done and takes a real commitment of quieting ourselves long enough to pay attention and listen. Journaling helps me more than meditating, although once I’ve gotten all my thoughts down on paper and out of my head, sitting quietly does come a little easier as well as clarity.
I’ve learned many tools that help me mentally, physically, and spiritually, but nothing is more frustrating than when those tools are not working for you. That’s when the added stress of wondering what’s wrong with me comes into play.
I felt a little better today when I read a note from Milli O’Brien, the co-founder of Mindfulness.com. Milli was sharing how difficult the past year had gotten. She said, “It felt as if the world had been turned upside down with the lockdown of the pandemic, political unrest, racial and social injustices, and climate change realities.” On top of all that, she had a company to keep going. A company that is all about helping people find peace of mind: she became overwhelmed, exhausted, and unable to function right. She was eventually diagnosed with severe adrenal fatigue. She felt embarrassed that all her passion, training, and knowledge about mindfulness and mental health, in the end, burned her out. But she also remembered that mindfulness teaches us self-compassion. She said, “I guess I must have ignored some of the signs my body was giving me.”
Reflection: If Milli’s story resonates with you, she encourages us to ask ourselves two questions: “Are there ways in which I may not be listening to myself?” (if so, what are they? and “How can I reconnect a little more with what truly matters deep down in my heart?”