Quite often I am asked by people what to do when this goes wrong, or that goes wrong. My answer has always been that it is easier to worry about developing an amazing life BEFORE challenges appear. Life will always provide us with lessons and opportunities to grow. Some people refer to them as problems. That is not an incorrect statement, but only one view of them. It is how we approach these events which will come up in everyone’s life and usually at the most inconvenient time. That is why I stress the time to work on developing your joy is now. Have a game plan in place and you will discover that when a challenge shows up in your life, as it always will, it seems to hold less power over you. I know this sounds good in theory, but let me give you a fine example of seeing the sunshine even on a cloudy day. April 11th I was on my way to work when another driver ran a stop sign. My hand went through the windshield and my car was totaled. I was forced to use my first sick day in 9 years. I have been paying for a rental car out of my own pocket as I wait on the other drivers insurance to come to a settlement. I missed two days of work and one job, and one day at another. My back has been in pain ever since that day. I came home from the hospital thinking i could try typing and work on my book only to discover my computer had a meltdown and all my Microsoft word programs were gone.
Wait! This is not sounding very inspiring you may be thinking. Well all those facts are true, there are other facts to consider. First let us look at the day of the accident. To begin with, nobody was seriously injured or worse. I got to experience my first ambulance ride with emergency personnel who were kind and concerned. The nurses and doctors at the hospital were amazing. Not to mention I was met there by family and friends who were concerned. At my second job I received a card signed by the other employees and several customers. Which made me feel far more valuable than I ever realized I was. I met a new lady who is also working on her first book at the car rental company and we are going to help each other through the process.
Sure, it would’ve been better to have never been in the crash to begin with, but I take lots of good away from the situation. As I go forward with this I now know how cared for I am, I will eventually have a newer vehicle and have made some great friends along the way. Life, even with all of its challenges, shines when you do.
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”
Building on yesterday’s post, this statement takes it one step further. Mr. Einstein, one of the greatest minds understood that there is genius inside every one of us. Yes, even those people in the ‘People of Wal-Mart’ photos. Sometimes it is very hard for us to see, but there is beauty and worth in each and every one of us. So next time you see someone you may be tempted to think less of, remember they just might be out of their element. I have the honor of helping out at a meal program for the homeless once a month, and let me tell you I have learned more about how to survive on very little, how to see the bright side of even the darkest of situations and even the importance of Love, friendship and things we may forget are what is really valuable. It is sad to see how many people are dismissed just because the treasure in them is either not on display or has not been discovered. Even Albert Einstein was kicked out of school because they believed he was not smart enough and had problems tying his shoes. Yet he went on to compose the theory of relativity. So let us all appreciate the genius in ourselves and each other.
“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness”
When facing any challenge from a new job to trying to live a more amazing life, why are we so quick to be hard on ourselves? I remember training some people at the Post Office who picked things up at a slower pace than the rest of us and I was always very encouraging. When I was first learning, however, I recall being upset with myself for every little mistake. Now if it was somebody else and they did it, I would remind them that we all make mistakes and the important thing is to keep trying. Keep going towards your goal. So why are we so hard on ourselves? It has been said we are always hardest on those closest to us, and if that statement holds true I suppose it would make sense that we are our own worst critics. I have a friend who is working on getting back in shape and she recently missed going to the gym for three whole days. I heard her say things like “It’s no use, I’ll never get back in shape” and “why can’t I just stick with things?”. We share a mutual friend who is also trying to live a healthier lifestyle and I asked her what she would say if she heard her saying the same thing. After a long pause she looked at me and yelled “It’s not the same!” I kind of chuckled, which really did not help the situation any, but then I told her “give yourself a break” and told her to encourage herself and give herself a little pep talk. “Give myself a pep talk? That sounds silly” was her reply. I asked her if it was any crazier then yelling at yourself. She thought for a minute and then started laughing. “I guess not, maybe you’re right” she said. Ok, so after that we did have an ice cream cone, but she assured herself that was ok, and she was recommitted to her fitness routine.
Now I am not saying it is not constructive to hold yourself responsible for failing to do something you have set out to do. Just don’t continue to beat yourself up over it. This week let us treat ourselves like we would treat our best friends. After all, we are stuck with ourselves for the rest of our lives, we might as well be friends. You wouldn’t continue to stay with someone who yelled and criticized you every day, would you? No, you would tell them to get lost, you don’t deserve to be treated that way. So next time your inner critic comes calling, tell them the same thing. Say to yourself “I deserve to be treated better than this” because you are amazing and you do! Enjoy your week my friends!
This is an all to familiar phrase. People understand you cannot construct a major city in mere days. These same people wonder why after trying a cd they have bought, or reading a book, or even doing the steps on this blog they do not wake up feeling much different from the night before. The answer is relatively easy. You no more can build a coliseum overnight then you can go from living a unfulfilling life to an amazing one. Give yourself and life in general a little time. If there was a magic secret that would do that, it would be worth it’s weight in gold. The truth is this, life does not change with one big event. It is the small changes, done daily that have a cumulative effect on life. The formula is as follows, small changes done daily equal a big change. So if things seem to ‘not be getting any better’ or they do, but then you end up right back where you started, just remember you didn’t lose all the joy in your life overnight, you are not going to get it all back overnight either. Like the old sports saying goes, “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up” So don’t give up my friends. Make your mind up, and find joy in every little moment of life you can. I will leave you with a quote from the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be” a good thought to ponder as we head into the weekend! Until we meet again next week my friends.
For those of you who have read this blog for any amount of time, or happen to know me in person, are aware one of my many jobs is a bartender. Here I have the great fortune of meeting all different kinds of people and hearing all different kinds of opinions and ideas. The other day it was brought to my attention that I would be the perfect bartender for “Happy hour” since I am the one who does a blog and is writing a book all about happiness. After a good round of laughter I got to thinking. Why is ‘Happy Hour’ strictly a bar idea? I think we each deserve to come up with our own happy hour. If you can’t do a full hour, perhaps fifteen to thirty minutes? Make even more fun, find a group of like-minded friends and all meet for different happy hours. Ladies, maybe all meet at the salon for a manicure. Gentlemen, maybe meet in the park and throw a football around. Either way, decide that time should be devoted to being happy. Not complaining about work or our spouses, but just discussing fun and exciting topics that all enjoy. If you would prefer a quite moment of solitude enjoying your coffee beverage do that! While I certainly do not wish to take people away from the bars (and be sure to treat your bartender great while you are there) Why limit our happy hour to that schedule and that location. Let’s take a chapter from their book and create our own fun and unique happy hours!
One fine day a customer at the bar I work at came running in set her coat down and said she had some ‘urgent personal business’ to attend to. I told her she had won a raffle we had, to which in her hurry she simply yelled “Just set the money on the bar I’ll be right back” Well as this lovely young lady was otherwise occupied I went downstairs to grab some more beer from the cooler. I came back upstairs and could hear her yelling before I even got back in the bar. “what’s wrong?” I asked with concern. “You left my money on the bar with the window open and it blew all over” I felt bad. Indeed I had not noticed it had been a warm day and we wanted to get some fresh air in the place. What she said next almost made me double over in laughter though. “Do you know how long it took me to find all $25?” She asked. What’s funny about this? I had never told her how much she had won. The amount had actually only been $20. The other five had been dropped by others. The point being made here is this. If I had told her she won $20 she may have stopped looking after she had gotten that far. How far could we go if we never placed limits on ourselves or listened to the limits of others?
This reminds me of a Native American story I heard growing up. There were two hunting groups who had come to see the village Shaman for advice on where to hunt. With this Shaman happened to be a young apprentice. The first group said they were looking to find a group of 15 buffalo they had been tracking. The second asked to find a group of 10 buffalo they were tracking. The answer the Shaman gave to both was the same “Go north, you will find them there. No more, no less”. They both thanked the Shaman and set out. The young apprentice was confused and asked the Shaman which one he had told the truth to. “Both” replied the Shaman. Further confused the apprentice asked how can one group find 15 buffalo and the other just 10 in the same area? The Shaman looked at the young man and smiled “Because that is what they expect to find”
That story always reminds me why it is good to expect the best in life. Yes, sometimes you may be disappointed, but if you expect the worst, even if you’re right you’ll still be disappointed. So today do yourself a favor. Expect something great to happen and keep your eyes out for what it may be
Sometime in our life we went from being the adventure seeking young child, to the adult waiting for life to happen to us. A view that also affects our view of happiness. I was told the other day that someone was “Never happy, but it’s not their fault because nothing ‘happy’ ever happens to them”. Here is when a slight change in perception can make all the difference. Going back to that adventurous toddler, when we are young, we seek out happiness, we don’t just sit in our cribs and wait for it to ‘happen to us’ much to the chagrin of our parents. When we grow older, however, lots of us just sit in the house and watch tv waiting for something happy to happen. Here is when a good definition of what happy means to you would certainly help. While enjoying a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks with a group of friends the other day, I asked them what would make them happy. There were two very different kinds of happiness expressed. There was what I shall call ‘high excitement’ happiness. The “brand new sports car” “winning the lottery” “night in Vegas” to the ‘low excitement’ variety, “having the dishes done” “a good book and a bottle of wine” “a nice long walk in the woods with my dog”. Although these answers are very different, they both work for the people who said them. So I asked, why are you not working toward saving for that trip to Vegas? How about working with you spouse to schedule some time alone for a book and a glass of wine. Sometimes we forget a little pursuing on our behalf, and a change in perspective can make all the difference. Plus, let’s be honest, we all deserve it! Have an amazing day my friends!
An interesting fact I seem to run into time and time again is the close relationship between the “Law of Attraction” and living a positive rewarding life. Not to surprising as attracting the life we desire would certainly lead us to be happy. For those of you not very well versed in what the law of attraction may be, here is the most basic, nuts and bolts of the matter. basically that what we focus on and how we feel, the thoughts we send out to the universe influences the situation we find ourselves in. This has been, in some form or another, been put forth by almost every great thinker and spiritual leader throughout time. The formula for using this law to our advantage is ‘ask, believe, receive’ this was made popular in the movie and book “The Secret“. Well, I do not have a problem asking and always enjoy receiving, but like many of you until I see something I have a problem believing it. Faith, well it has not always been my strong point. Earl Nightingale put it this way, “Your rewards will always be in direct proportion to your service” Well, even though I endeavour to serve people to the best of my ability be it at the post office, the bar or in life in general I still had problems accepting that all this ‘good karma’ would come back. Ok, maybe I understood it intellectually, but couldn’t really grasp it emotionally. That is until today. I was watching a film with the famed Author Napoleon Hill. The man who wrote the famous book “Think and Grow Rich” back in 1937. He put it in such a way that helped me better understand faith, service and how that all comes together. He used the metaphor of the farmer. In the spring the farmer must purchase seeds, till the land, plant the seed and take care of them. Up to this point, not only has the farmer not made any profit he is actually in the hole for his time and the price of the seeds. Then, he sits back, let sunshine, rain and mother nature take her course. Along with some work by the farmer to maintain the soil. Then after a few weeks the seeds sprout, and blossom and the farmer is returned the only the seed money but several times that. The key was first he had to put in the investment, plant the seed and do the service. Then he had to sit back and wait. Confident his returns would come. This is not the first, nor the last time I am sure to learn a lesson from a farmer.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had somebody to follow us around and let us know when doubt, fear, negativity and all those other spirit vampires come calling? Somebody to follow us around and remind us “look for the good in life” or “Don’t let your outside control your inside”. Well unless you have a lot of discretionary income, or friends who really have nothing better to do, chances are this will not be possible. So if all your friends have healthy social lives and you can’t afford to hire a ‘personal reminder’ what then? Employ someone or more accurately something you can afford! Just what is this crazy guy talking about? Symbols! They can be anything. Something visionary, a trigger phrase, a scent. Just pick something you may see on a regular basis in your daily life. Now don’t make it to obvious. I work at the post office so I wouldn’t choose ‘a stamp’. It has to be somewhat random. For example I might choose the phrase “First Class” and it will remind me to live my life in a first class manner, or to have a ‘first class day’. I’m also a bartender so every time I see a bottle of gin I can think to myself ‘give individuals niceness’ or when I smell coconut rum, I can remind myself to “live like I am on vacation” and enjoy each life to the fullest. These may all sound a little corny, but one they are off the top of my head, and two, why not put the world around us to work? I know each day presents its own unique challenges, so each one should come with little reminders to keep smiling and enjoy the life we have been given. So pick just one or two reminders. Deciding what they can be and what they will mean to you is just the start of the fun! I must go now, I have the sudden urge for a rum and coke…
This past Sunday Christians around the world celebrated Easter. About a week before that, spring officially began. Both of these are celebrations of rebirth, renewal and resurrection. Whether you are honoring the resurrection of your chosen saviour or the rebirth of nature, let us draw inspiration from this. Let us focus on the rebirth of our own spirit. New years has come and gone, yet this time of year presents us with a unique opportunity. As the we watch the weather warm, so let our hearts warm up to all that is love and joy in the world. Let us resurrect our attitudes from the despair that can envelop us in a media driven world to one that inspires others. Symbolism is a great reminder to help us stay on track (more on that tomorrow). As we watch the snow melt, let us be reminded to melt the anger in our hearts as well. As we watch the trees and flowers start to sprout and bloom. Let a new spirit of joy blossom in us as well. So by the time we reach the first day of summer our joy will be as powerful as the summer sun warming the hearts and spirits of others. Helping their spirit of joy grow as well.