Monday, March 24, 2014

How to Live The Sweet Life

Given a choice, wouldn’t you choose to live the sweet life instead of a bitter life? But how do we change our thinking such that life becomes sweet? This article takes a look at this topic of creating the sweet life using a simple analogy with candy flavors.
Think about this: 98% of the ingredients of a sweet orange skittle and a sour apple skittle are the same. Every single kind of skittle has the same sugar, corn syrup, and hydrogenated palm kernel oil.
Yet, even with 98% of the same ingredients, the experience of a mouthful of sweet orange skittles is totally different than the experience of a mouthful of sour apple skittles.
How? How can the experience of the sweet skittle be so different than the sour? The answer, of course, is the flavor that was added. The flavor makes all the difference.

Our lives, my friends, are EXACTLY the same. We all have much the same raw ingredients in our lives: things that go right, things that go wrong, people that make our lives a joy, and other people that don’t.
We all experience tears, joys, setbacks and victories. But what really makes the difference? It’s the flavor that we add to whatever we are experiencing, good or bad, moment by moment, which changes the resulting experience.
What do I mean? Right now, in this very moment, you are adding a flavor to your life, and that flavor, and not your circumstance, is determining whether you are experiencing a mouthful of sweet or a mouthful of sour.
Your mind has its own “flavor injector” working every moment of your life. Often it is working at a subconscious level, so you don’t even realize that you are adding flavor.
Are you with me yet? Let’s take a look at some flavors, both sweet and sour, and ask yourself which ones your flavor injector is using…

1. Optimism

Our first flavor is optimism. Honestly, when we are experiencing something, we often don’t know for certain whether it will turn out to be “good” or “bad.” So if we don’t know for certain, what will we “flavor” the experience with?
I remember thirteen years ago when the senior partner where I worked abruptly told me he wanted me to leave. I could have added pessimism, disappointment, or despair as flavors to that news, but somehow I knew God was in control, even though I had no idea how.
So I added a heaping spoon of optimism with a dash of trust, and within two weeks I had a new job at higher pay and the opportunity to move 30 minutes closer to our church, all without having to lift a finger. The flavor of optimism paid off.

2. Growth & Expansion

Another great flavor to the sweet life is growth or expansion versus stagnation or contraction. When you see a challenge up ahead, do you flavor it up as an opportunity to grow, or does it become a sour obstacle that will keep you from moving?
When you have multiple options before you, do you naturally gravitate towards what will stretch and stimulate you, or what you think will keep you safe? Which flavor do you think will serve you best in the end?

3. Freedom

Speaking about options, what about the flavor of freedom? Do you always see the possibilities, and relish your ability to choose what is best for you, or do you focus on what you can’t do, or find yourself in chains of compulsion or addiction?
The flavor of freedom is absolutely essential to a well-lived life. If you don’t see your life as yours to direct and create, then you will inevitably find yourself in a prison of your own making someday.

4. Joy

Does the flavor of joy permeate your day? When you’re stuck in traffic, when you’ve just landed that client, when you’re fixing dinner, does joy seem to keep bubbling up?
You can say “I’m just not that kind of person, John” and you may be right, but that doesn’t mean you have to STAY the kind of person you are now.
You have the capacity to change your thought habits, to reprogram what flavors you automatically reach for. Whether it’s a gratitude practice, prayer, uplifting music, or some other exercise, you can change.

5. Love

Above all, the biggest flavor to the sweet life is a jar labeled LOVE. The Apostle John said that it was the essence of both God and all his children, Jesus said it was the most important commandment, and even the theologian Paul devoted one of the most quoted chapters in the Bible to it.
There is nothing, nothing, nothing like love. It is a flavor that no moment should be without.

Today, as you think and work and talk, step back and notice the flavors that you are adding to your life. Note how many are sweet, and how many are sour, and what a pivotal role they really do play.
What kind of a life do you want to create? A sweet life or a sour one? The choice is up to you, as the creation of that life is in your hands.

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