Cultivating Your Soul

To live with happiness we must cultivate the happy side of life.

Norman Vincent Peale

This quote from Dr. Peale contains an idea that is well worth exploring. Every gardener knows that a good garden requires the hard work of weeding. One can "cheat" to a certain degree by using chemicals or organic sprays, but when it comes to a proper garden you will eventually have to roll up your sleeves and start weeding.

I have been thinking about the irony of how we live at times. Instead of removing these weeds from our lives, we often go to great lengths to actually accumulate them. We watch the news and pay particular attention to the gloomy side. We listen to our children's problems at school and our spouses' problems at work. We start to focus on our own minor difficulties - both existing and potential. And we add one weed after another to our lives. We sow the seeds of discontent and then wonder why we don't reap a more joyful harvest.

If this is you, may I suggest that you begin to cultivate the garden of your soul? I am not implying that we should ignore the serious issues that require our attention. I'm merely suggesting that we pay a bit more attention to the roses that God has placed in our lives. To do so will require a good deal of weeding of the unnecessary worries that creep into our world.

Too many times we feel that happiness just happens, instead of realizing that true contentment will require the effort of getting rid of those weeds that choke out the beauty of the Master's garden. Dr. Peale was right when he pointed out that those who want to live with happiness will have to cultivate the happy side of life. The world will provide a fresh supply of weeds each day, but that doesn't mean we have to let them take root in our soul.

But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.

Psalms 68:3, NIV