Break the habit

I photographed these flowers almost exactly ten years ago today. They continue to bring me joy.  Paris, December 2005

I photographed these flowers almost exactly ten years ago today.
They continue to bring me joy. Paris, December 2005

“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction.  Break the habit.  Talk about your joys.”Rita Schiano

Right now I could sit here and go on for hours about the cares that I am facing– which include deep sorrows, minor annoyances, and the entire spectrum of trials that lie in between. I’m almost certain you could too.  I know some people are deemed more fortunate than others, and some in this world are suffering atrocities that go beyond our comprehension. Yet, even among those of us who are blessed to be free of dangerous turmoil, I doubt that anyone is without cares and challenges.

The good news is that no life need be bereft of joys, either.  They lie all around us, quickened by awareness and illuminated by our focused attention.  For me, there is hardly anything more fun than noticing and sharing the beauty and humor and color and whimsy of life.  A flower, a song, a funny joke, a good book, a cup of tea or coffee, a nice hot meal in a cozy kitchen…on and on the list could go.

There’s a place, of course, for sharing our sorrows with those who have earned our trust.  We all need to vent at times, and to explore aloud the difficulties that can vex and overwhelm us to the point of paralysis.  I thank God for those friends who are willing to walk with us through the uncertainty of pain and suffering.

But it’s just as important– and maybe even more so– to have friends who shine into our somber moods with a lightness of spirit that lifts our hearts.  These folks don’t minimize or ignore their own problems, or anyone else’s, but they have a knack for spotting the rainbows lurking within the storms.  If you know people with such a gift, stay close to them and learn from them. Prepare yourself to be, as Maya Angelou has said, “the rainbow in someone else’s cloud.

It seems we are surrounded by talk about our problems.  It’s a significant part of almost every television show, and is the underlying message of many commercials.  It takes up much of our conversations wherever we go.  What a waste of happiness, to live our short lives surrounded by gloom!

I hope you will join me in breaking the habit of allowing our talk to focus on our problems.  It’s true that we cannot avoid dealing with our challenges, but talking about them often makes them seem worse than they are, and too often, talk does not bring solutions.  I invite you to spend a few minutes focusing on something worth smiling about.  Feel free to scatter some of the sunbeams you gather, by sharing about them in the comments today!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia! What a wonderful perspective Maya Angelou shares! Now I am super inspired to send out some rainbows – mostly using the USPS – today!
    I have so much that I can share that, well, why not?
    Love and blessings to you, Julia! I pray your day today is filled with rainbows – and sunshine!

    • Thank you Susan! I always said of Maya Angelou that she does for me what spinach did for Popeye. The woman absolutely radiates strength, dignity and compassion. And she is just as inspiring on video as she is on paper– maybe more. YES the USPS is a great way to send joy into the world! I hope you will use that blessing as often as you can!

  2. Beth Hendricks

    Hello Julia,
    Often times I find myself clamming up to staunch bad news, or stop relaying negative health news. A friend once said, “other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” Ok, that makes me laugh.

    How are you and Matt? I hope you’re both enjoying traveling and visiting friends.

    • Hi Beth, sorry it has taken me so long to get to these comments. I keep trying to do better, and then life keeps happening. Yes, I have heard the Lincoln joke and I too find it funny, not least because of how tone-deaf some people can be when trying to think of something to say to a widow or another person who is suffering. Matthew and I decided to NOT travel over the holidays this year (Thanksgiving or Christmas)– WOW, did that turn out to be the right call, or what? Hope you and your loved ones are well and happy! It’s always a joy to hear from you and sometimes I long for those carefree days of youth when the two of us could sit and read quietly together. Of course those days did not feel carefree to us then, but time tends to give us perspective on things. ❤

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