The holidays have been making me think about things that truly make me happy. Appreciation of things that I value brings me happiness. One thing I appreciate is my freedom. I especially am grateful for my freedom in these days of trouble and uncertainty. Our country is in a state of war. We may choose to look away or forget it but the truth is we are at war with an enemy that can not be easily defined or easily seen. We are not at war with Iraq. It is a war against terrorism, and that includes many countries. A major part of the war is being fought on Iraqi soil, but this war we are waging is with terrorists in Afghanistan, in Lebanon, In Israel, In Iran, In India, In Saudi Arabia, in Indonesia, in places too numerous to mention. It is easy to become discouraged, especially if you have a son or daughter fighting in one of these countries. But Instead of letting this war steal away my happiness and personal empowerment, I find encouragement in little victories I achieve every day, victories that satisfy my senses in some small way. I remember Ayn Rand’s words about achieving being tied to happiness. She said: “Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of ones values.” So I sprinkle little bits of happiness in my life by achieving things that satisfy my sense of values. For example, there is a bulletin board in my church that has among other things listed there, the addresses of men and women from our church serving in the armed forces. I have my own boy serving in the army and what a nice idea to write to these boys from time to time to encourage them. My own son tells me how encouraged he Is when he gets mail from the family. What a way to make them and yourself happy at the same time.. You may not be Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt but have you considered adopting a child from one of these third world countries where children are starving to death and don’t have homes or parents to care for them? This may not be for everyone but what a wonderful feeling it must be to be able to save a child from a terrible destiny by reaching out to help in some way. If you can not adopt, have you thought about just contributing dollars to the cause. My wife and I contribute 10% of our income to our church which uses those funds to help victims of war, weather, or some other natural disaster. That is what that fund is for, and I am happy every Sunday when I get a chance to make a money offering to help these children in some way or another. Those are huge commitments and some of us may not be in a position to do that, but are there small things we can do to make the needy happy? Sure. As with any gift, it is not the magnificence of the gift that brings joy to the receiver; it is the thought that counts. So why not busy yourself with small things you can do. Here is a list to start with: • Call someone you know who is ill • Call everyone in your family including those who you haven’t in a while • Write a poem and send it to someone you know that needs encouragement • Send birthday cards to family • Send birthday cards to friends and acquaintances and new people you have recently met • Start a money collection for an injured coworker • Pick up someone who needs a ride to the store, or church • Help someone pack who is moving • Visit someone who is sick • Visit the elderly • Visit widows and widowers • Get children in your church involved with programs such as boy scouts, swimming, etc… • Visit lonely people who you know • Make a meal and give it to a sick one next door The above are just some examples of how you can help the needy. You may not be able to help someone in Indonesia get their freedom. Then again your contributions towards that cause may help to accomplish that. I myself prefer to see how my money is at work so I stick to local campaigns to help the needy except for my tithing money which I permit the church to use at its discretion. There are plenty of local campaigns to go around where ever you live. They are all around us; we don’t have to go to a third world country to find them. If happiness proceeds from an achievement of my values, as Rand said, then finding ways to give in my way is critically important to my happiness. I believe that true happiness comes when you empower others.