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.