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Perspective and Perseverance

It's hard to believe that the first quarter of 2021 is already in the books, and it has been as unpredictable as last year. The stock market is acting like a child's yo-yo, experiencing all-time highs followed by record one-day lows. In late February, an unprecedented ice storm hit Texas, causing more than 4 million customers to lose electricity and more than 90 people to lose their lives.

In the 1994 box office hit movie Forrest Gump, the title character said his momma always told him that "Life was like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get." There is much truth to that statement in that we can never be sure what the day will bring, but Forrest maintained a positive outlook, even when the love of his life was facing the end of hers.

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States, and he's considered by many historians as the wisest and greatest American president ever. His life was anything but easy. As his family struggled with mental illness and poverty, Lincoln turned his focus to my favorite sport — wrestling. Over a 12-year span, Lincoln amassed an impressive record of 299-1 and secured a place in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. The sport also helped him cope with the many trials he would face during his time in office.

Like most great wrestlers, Lincoln had a spirit of determination, and when it came to slavery, he was steadfast in his resolve to undo the terrible bondage that gripped our nation. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared slaves to be free within the Confederacy.

Although Lincoln himself struggled with clinical depression, he remained upbeat when he said, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Adversity in life is as guaranteed to come as the morning sunrise, but the way we respond to it makes all the difference in how it impacts us. Happiness is a choice that may seem elusive. Many times, people confuse happiness with joy or pleasure, which are quite different. For example, since I'm a Braves fan, I take pleasure in watching them beat the Dodgers, Mets, or even the Cubs. Pleasure is superficial and temporal, sometimes sought through entertainment, food, drugs, and other addictions.

Also, I love being a dad and enjoy spending time with my children. Joy is an internal feeling manifested by peace and contentment because of intentional and selfless choices. On the other hand, happiness is an external emotion that is often dependent upon the circumstances we are presently experiencing, and it relies heavily on our perspectives, and the choices we make.

Who knows what the next quarter of 2021 will look like? I once read in a devotional that "we may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future!" So, choose to keep a positive perspective while you continue to persevere.
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