As I was relaxing and watching some television the other night, the strangest commercial came on tv. normally I am not a huge fan of most of what you can find on TV. The content seems to fall short on positivity and inspiration because that really does not sell. So this ad came out of nowhere. It explained the power of a smile. Saying, “when you smile serotonin is released in the brain which is the feel good chemical” going on to further explain “In addition to making you feel good, when people witness a smile their brains also release the same chemical which causes them to feel good and yes, you guessed it, smile. So share a smile today it will do wonders” Now at this point in time I am half expecting a commercial for a dental office, or toothpaste. At the end of the commercial all they said was “This message was brought to you by the makers of Viagra” Now I am sure there are lots of moments when that very medicine makes lots of individuals and couples smile, but that was not quite what I expected. I tip my hat to the makers of Viagra for bringing a bit of inspiration, all be it unexpected, to my evening television viewing. I hope this post made you smile as much as the commercial did for me.
There are a lot of people who tell me “I have to focus on my finances once they are under control then I will be happy” or “boy if I was only famous like all those rich celebrities, then I would be happy all the time” Well with the untimely suicide of country star Mindy McCready we are once again reminded that Happiness is far more valuable than money. Which is why when considering investments, we should consider investing in ourselves and our own mental well-being first and foremost. Why is being happy now so important? If you won the lottery tomorrow you still would have challenges and quite often the same mental outlook just about how the lawn looks in front of the mansion instead of how it looks in front of the building that houses your 1 bedroom loft apartment. So let us see the best in what we have, so that by law we may receive even better. Let us invest in the fund with the biggest return, ourselves and our own happiness.
There are often two great challenges in forming a more positive attitude and lifestyle. First, knowing what to change, much less how to change it. Second, keeping motivated in a negative world. A tool that goes a long way in addressing both of these concerns is a journal. If you kept a diary when you were younger you are familiar with the concept. A quick jot of your emotions on paper helps in so many ways. Not a fan of pen and paper? There are plenty of journaling software available. This idea was made popular by the TV show ‘sex in the city’. writing, or typing, your thoughts down helps in several ways. One, it helps with achieving clarity. Often when confused about what the right thing may be to do in a certain situation I journal about it. The answer doesn’t always jump out at me, but I usually leave knowing a little bit better where I stand. Two, it also helps see where negativity may be creeping in and what subjects you may not have the most pleasant outlook on. Being that your journal is only intended to be read by you, feel free to be completely honest and you may discover what is holding you back from living life in a more positively passionate way, and how best to move forward. Third, if you are a fan of going back and reading what you have written days, weeks, months or even years earlier it can be a great way to see how far you have come. I must confess this is not a practice I often do, but when I do it seems comical to see what I may have considered an impossible problem 6 months ago that I may have forgotten about already. It also helps me see how much more positive I have become or warns me that I may not be as positive as I should be. Trust me when I tell you a journal can be the kindest and cheapest therapist you will ever Love.
I am a big fan of simple random acts of kindness. I am also a fan of surrounding myself with positive books, cds and other inspirational items to be enjoyed at any given moment. That is why I am happy to tell you about the book ‘The Power of One’ by Steve Maraboli. In this fabulous book there is simply 365 things to try to bring kindness to the world. Presumably one per day of the year. Of course you could do more than one a day, or do one a week. The important point here is that there are several good ideas for bringing kindness to others. If you are unable to find or afford this book, fear not, I am going to be sharing a few of these ideas in the coming days. I do recommend picking up a copy of you are able to as it is also sprinkled with great uplifting quotes and inspiration. The principle the book is based on is ‘one kind gesture, one person at a time, one day at a time’ It may seem like a small idea until you realize how many ‘ones’ you see every day. Imagine if every person you saw on any given day would do just one kind thing and you can begin to get an appreciation for the power of this idea. Speaking of ideas it may also be fun to form a list of your own ideas. Simple ideas of selfless kindness you can do for others. You’ll be amazed at the power of one, especially when you realize the one is you.
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own”
This is another thing that I often do that not only helps put me in a positive frame of mine, but it rather quite fun as well. In addition to those two wonderful attributes, there are two other amazing things that happen when you start doing this. First, you brighten someone’s day by telling them what you find to be amazing about them. Second, by forming the habit of telling people what beauty you see inside them you also form the habit of looking for the best in everyone you meet. Often it is said that I “say nice things about everybody” and that to some extent is true. You see when I am in someone’s company, be it meeting an old friend for coffee or a customer at the bar or post office, I am immediately drawn to that which I like about them. Now please don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of flattery. To me false praise is more insulting than saying nothing at all. Genuine compliments on a particular trait you find beautiful be it physical, personality or something entirely different not only brings a smile to the persons face but creates a bond between people that may otherwise never be realized. Just think of how nice it feels when people point out the best of your traits and you will know how loved and valuable you will make others feel when you do the same. So try it today. Try it on the barista who looks overwhelmed at the coffee shop in the morning, or cashier at the grocery store. Maybe a spouse or good friend as we often assume these people know what high regard we hold them in, and noticing what makes them special will only serve to deepen your friendship. No matter who, try it today and bring joy to both of your worlds.
Here is something I encourage everyone to try. Smile and wave at 3 random strangers every day for a week. If you are a bit nervous, you can try it while driving past them. In fact, that may be one of the best times. When we are on the road we see lots of hand gestures and not many are very positive. So I say give them a smile and a wave. Notice how it makes you feel as well. Who knows you just might make someones day. At the very worst, you’ll just leave them happy and a bit confused.
“My creed is: Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so.”
During breakfast the other day I was part of a conversation as to the obligation to keep company with people and situations that do not bring you joy. To me the notion that you should subject yourself to unpleasant situations merely because that person is your relative, or the situation is something ‘everyone expects you to be at’ is to me antiquated and ridiculous. So I am giving you all an excuse now. If the person or situation does not give you joy, don’t be around them. The reason here is really two-fold. First, we were given this life to enjoy. If you are not enjoying your life, you are wasting your life. Second, you can’t very well bring joy to others if you, yourself are not full of joy. I am not saying there are not people and moments that may be less than a thrill (the dentist comes to mind for me) but if you have honestly done your best to bring joy to the situation and it does not seem to be taking hold, then it is not in line with you living a positive rewarding life. To suffer through an evening with relatives or people you do not enjoy merely out of a sense of obligation does nobody any good. It does not bring joy to the people you are with as it is usually apparent you are not enjoying yourself. Not to mention the joy you could be having and experiencing with good friends. So next time you find yourself dreading another situation ask yourself if you are doing it merely because you feel obligated, and will your presence there do any good? If that is indeed the case, my suggestion is to politely excuse yourself and treat yourself to an evening of fun. Whatever you do, feeling guilty should not be it. Remember if it doesn’t bring you joy, it certainly won’t bring others joy either.
One of the greatest things about living a positive rewarding life is you are subconsciously attracting new joyous things into your life. In the world we are surrounded daily by both beauty and ugliness. What you choose to focus on is what you will notice. Of course there are certainly things we can do to surround ourselves with one more than the other. On my facebook page I subscribe to several inspirational and uplifting pages. Not only do they bring unexpected joy into my day, but quite often a bit more. Just the other day I saw a picture on one of these pages of a little bird and below it read “Happiness is a bird with a french fry” It created an instant and poignant visual. I think all of us have seen gulls in a parking lot having a field day with a few fries that may have escaped before their owners could consume them. I liked this phrase so much I decided to use it all that day. When people asked “how are you?” I would answer “Happier than a bird with a french fry” Not only did it make me smile, but in almost every case it made the other person smile as well. So this week, stop and think of an inspiring response for the question “How are you?” or maybe several. Try them out. Have fun with it. Enjoy and have a great week!
Negative Nancy…Debbie Downer…We all know people who can be a bit hard to take at times. Be it a co-worker, friend or even a spouse. Our lives can be filled with people who may be a bit “Sunshine challenged”. A friend of mine and I were having a discussion and she posed the question “Sometimes I can just walk into a place and see who is a positive person and who is not that evening. I wonder if trying to enlighten them is a waste of time and effort and may just end up bringing me down” It was an excellent question. After some discussion on the topic (which is one of the thrilling things about discovering more people on the path) we came to what I think is the best solution. Before I get to that, however, let me caution you about two things. First, people with a negative vibration about themselves, can bring you down if you spend enough time in their presence. I think Bob Marley explained it best when he refered to them as ’emotional vampires’. So be cautious, excuse yourself for a breath of fresh air, or even to a trip to the restroom where the air might not be as fresh, but the vibration will certainly be better. Remember even if your intent is the best you still have to watch your own levels of joy. Second, when in any large group don’t spend the entire time trying to cheer up all the Debbie downers and negative Nancys. Not only will it make you look impolite it certainly won’t lead to a very enjoyable time for you. So what to do? What is the proper thing to do with the one person who sees all the shadows on a sunny day? Well this amazing friend of mine and I came up with two really. The easiest one to do, don’t let them trap you into their way of thinking. Display your positivity, not in a mocking or combative way, but as to lead by example. They may truly not be able to see the bright side of things from their situation. In doing so you rather accomplish the second. You plant a seed in their head and in their heart. They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Perhaps they just were not up to being positive that day, or their life had not reached the stage where joy is a part of it. Ours is not to judge. When that person does have good news to share or really desires to form a more positive outlook they remember yours and they will find you. So remember taking care of your own joy is number one, or you can’t’ help anyone else, but go ahead plant that seed. Depending on how fertile the soil is it may sprout at any time and blossom into something truly beautiful