NORTH GLENDALE — Glendale civic, community and religious leaders on Thursday were advised to find joy in the little things.
The message came from Lisa Bowman, a former actress, dancer and sports radio personality, during the city’s 48th annual Glendale Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
“If you want to be happy and joyful, well then that starts with connecting with others,” Bowman, the keynote speaker, told the crowd of hundreds gathered at the Glendale Civic Auditorium early Thursday morning.
Bowman compared the act of rejoicing to a muscle that must be exercised on a regular basis. In order to appreciate life’s greatest gifts, she said, one must first appreciate the little things — whether it’s the smell of a flower or finding a parking spot.
“Then when the big stuff hits, your joy is already strong,” she said.
Bowman peppered her speech with the lessons of faith that she learned in unlikely places — from the various celebrity athletes she interviewed during her time as a sports radio personality.
From Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton, she learned to look beyond physical discomfort. From legendary UCLA coach and motivational speaker John Wooden, she learned to strive for a selfless purpose.
“John Wooden taught me that the selfless person values the impact of their purpose more than the impact of their fame,” Bowman said.
The annual event focused on bringing together people from across the religious and cultural community.
“Prayer picks us up when we’re down,” said Mayor Ara Najarian. “It fills us up with the spirit of brotherhood.”
In times of difficulty, Najarian said, he draws comfort from the many members of the Glendale’s community who “cling to an old-fashioned notion of neighbor helping neighbor.”
Other speakers at the annual event focused on a theme of unity with readings from the Koran, New Testament and Hebrew scriptures.
For his “prayer for the world,” Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian read a Native American prayer, which he said represented “the heritage of our great land, America — a voice that has long been muted and whose traditions have faded.”
“I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother. But to fight my greatest enemy, myself,” Kassakhian said, reading the words of Chief Yellow Lark of the Lakota tribe. “Make me always ready to come to you with clear hands and straight eyes.”