I am in the process of making my Life List / Bucket List, which is taking longer than it should because I over-analyze things, and I’m left wondering if my list is too dumb. But, as important as what I want to do in this life is what I truly believe while I am here. There are many things that I feel at my core, most of which I share repeatedly with my children in an effort to make them better members of society. This creed, if you will, is not some pie-in-the-sky daydream of a tree-huggin’ conservative, as contradictory as that may sound. This is my belief system, this is what makes me who I am, and this is what I try to live every day. Some days I fail miserably. Other days I truly get it, I live it, and there is order in my universe.

I believe that happiness is a choice. It doesn’t just happen to you. It doesn’t come from things or people or money. It is a choice of attitude. You can be the richest person in the world, buying all the stuff your heart desires, and still be pretty darn miserable if you choose to be. Happiness is a choice, and it is worth choosing every day.

I believe that peace on earth begins at home. We parents are responsible for shaping tomorrow’s adults, and we will shape them solely by our example. They will not listen so much to what we say, but they will emulate how we live. I believe it is my job, my purpose in the home, to teach my children by example to resolve conflict peacefully, to respect the inherent value of other people, and to exercise self-control for the greater good.

I believe that I should care what others think of me. Not from an I-have-to-please-everyone perspective, but rather as a means of self-evaluation. Petty opinions of me should not change who I am. But there are three things that people who meet and know me should never have to question: 1) my Christianity; 2) my integrity; and 3) my love for my husband. If anyone ever finds reason to think I am not honoring those three most important facets of my life by my words and my actions, then I need to seriously re-evaluate how I’m living.

I believe that the heart, mind and soul work together to create individual and universal harmony. If there is conflict within one of those three, there will be stress and outward signs of demise in the other two. I believe that nature has provided us everything we need to be whole; we just have to listen.

I believe that everyone’s purpose on this earth, while varied in the way in which we are supposed to learn it and carry it out, is to learn to love each other. Yeah, there are some pretty tough people to love out there. Some people I’d probably rather not deal with, based on their actions or attitudes. But when was the last time I evaluated myself with a critical eye and came out smelling like a rose? I do believe in God, I do believe he loves me, and I do believe I can never, ever earn or deserve that love. But I also believe he is my example to follow, and so I believe that I must love others.

I believe that having a job that you enjoy is more important than having a job that pays more money. If you’re fulfilled by your job, it doesn’t feel like work. And I believe that service is more important than salary.

I believe that the only thing that makes us any different from each other is our opinions. Not our skin, not our flag, not our education, not our political affiliation, not our neighborhood, nor our religion. All these things culminate in our lives for the sole purpose of shaping our opinions – how we think and feel about our world and others in it. It is those opinions that separate us from each other. There is no reason for one person to feel greater than or less than any other person on this earth, when the only real difference between them is merely a thought.

I believe that there is more to life than what we see, that love is stronger than death, and that peace is never wrong.