4 Ways to be Nice and the Power of Smiles: This Will Change Your Day

P1050199You’re groggy as you stumble out of bed, off to the shower with hopes the spray will jolt you awake. Still tired you beeline to the coffee. It’s no straight path – like a marine in basic training you dodge laundry piles, hungry children, scattered Legos, whining bladder full dog that no one thought to take out, and a spouse yelling for clean socks and

where are my car keys?

Stop-Think-Nice

Is it that hard to be nice?  It makes you feel good and the receiver of your niceness feel even better.  Yeah, I know it’s not so easy first thing in the morning. No matter what you are bombarded with, even if you are tired, feeling cross, and the devil on your shoulder is goading you to be mean:

simpsonDo it! Say what you’re really thinking. C’mon throw the toys out. Yell!

Why should your day start like this? Tell everyone they’re poopy-heads. You’ll feel better, Then storm off and get your coffee. Why be nice? Who’s being nice to you?

Stop. Think. Nice. Don’t listen to the lies. If you react to the chaos around you, you become the chaos.  You won’t feel better, you will feel defeated, regret, and now you are the horrid one.  Just because someone else is having a bad day doesn’t mean you have to.

Whatever your situation or whoever is in your face daring you to not be nice, rise above it and start with these four simple yet powerful steps to niceness.

  • Watch your body language. Don’t roll your eyes, or cross your arms.  You want your body to show you are calm and willing to help. Take a breath, or two. and then…
  • Answer gently. Resist the urge to lecture. Don’t talk back. Don’t mock. Count to ten before you reply. See the other person and realize he has pain inside, he needs understanding, grace, tenderness. Wise words: A gentle answer turns away wrath.
  • Help.  Ask what you can do for the person who is having a hard time. Open doors, buy someone a coffee, carry a bag, save a seat, leave a tip. Use your manners.
  • Smile (Kindle single/TED).  A lot. Peace begins with a smile – Mother Teresa

And when you get in your car and start your drive to work or to an appointment, don’t let the road creeps ruin your day.  So that guy didn’t use his blinker, or pulled out in front of you and forgot how to use the gas pedal to get up to speed.

Someone is bound to get mad at you for nothing. Forget about it. Keep consideration close.

Your niceness could change someone’s life. You may never know how your kindness affects another person.  No matter if you are a rock star, CEO, parent, child, author, barista, babysitter…go out of your way to be nice.

noname

Project 86 with my son Benny. Rock stars who love their fans!

We all can be good at being nice. Just start doing it, and it will become habit.  And like a virus, it will spread to those around you.

What are your thoughts? Share them with me.

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Never Hire This Guy to Do Your Yard Work

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Three things I hate to do: ironing, painting, and weeding. Ironing: solved. I buy wrinkle-free no fuss clothes.

Painting: taken care of. My husband loves to do it and agrees that I should stay away from a paint brush.  My hatred for the task is blatant. I leave unsightly drip marks, missed spots, and I ruin brushes by dipping them too far in the paint can.  He’s fired me from painting and it’s fine with me.  I thank Shel Silverstein for his help in getting me out of that chore.

If you have to dry the dishes 
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore

I got out of weeding for a long while because my mom liked to do it.  Pull this, whack that, trim here, get every green thing out till all that is left is thinned out perennials and black dirt. She considered weeding an extreme sport and went off the deep end with what should be plucked and what should not.  We had no choice but to let her go as chief gardener.  We’ve given her sock sorting instead.  It’s ok that I have to do them over after she leaves.  Sorting for a ten feet family can be tricky.

Weeding is now my headache.  Either I suck it up and do it, or I allow the vegetation to creep over my beautiful stone pathways,

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crawl up my siding, and choke to death my lilies, roses, and various other flowers the owners before me lovingly planted and nurtured.

Ribbet collage

My yard is too big for me to handle, so I hired this guy. He said he’d work for chicken.

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Huge mistake. This is his idea of pulling up weeds:

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He gets an A for enthusiasm, stamina, and he’s freakin’ adorable, but his technique was slipshod, messy. All I asked was for a little help pulling up some weeds, and he goes berserker on me. Dirt flying willy nilly, ripping through roots with his teeth, digging down deep all while making this high pitched ear piercing sound.

BERSERKER MODE

BERSERKER MODE

I’ve learned my lesson.  If you want a job done right, don’t hire your mom or your dog. Hire a professional.

After receiving his chicken wages and a long overdue bath, he settles in for a well earned nap. Take another look at my first picture. Can you spy Frodo doing his “yard” work?

P1150011How about you, have you regretted hiring a non-professional?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments….

5 Sure Signs of an Egomaniac: It’s All About Selfie

Big EgoWhy do some people have such huge egos? You see it all the time in celebrities, the fifteen-minute famers, the co-worker who takes credit for everything (even your ideas), and the friend who is just too into herself. Does she really think I want to see yet one more selfie?

Here’s the thing, a big ego is seriously stupid and even dangerous.

egomaniac

5 Sure Signs of an Ego-maniac:

  • You bask in recognition and live for the cheers of your audience. You crave the limelight.
  • You think you know everything and and never admit mistakes, never apologize.
  • You take credit for other people’s ideas and work.
  • Your business card or signature list every degree, credential, or certification you have achieved and then some.
  • Conversations are one sided: all you talk about is you. You have no interest in learning about others.

egomaniac_guy_m-425x258

You, You, You, You. You are the center of the universe.

How long can an ego run rampant before it destroys relationships, careers, businesses, or kills someone? Here’s the fix: quit feeding the maniac’s ego.  Just like a toddler’s temper tantrum, if you ignore it, it will eventually stop.

Whether superstar, nobel prize winner, or the guy sitting next to you on the plane, we are all the same inside, and trust me, I have seen plenty of people’s insides. We are guts, blood, waste, bone, and skin. We have a brain, a soul, and a personality.  We all have unique talents, feelings, dreams, and fears.

My guess is the egomaniacs aren’t reading this.  But, if you are on the precipice of egomania land, do an about face and start moving as fast as you can.  Life is way too short to be lived for selfie.

P1100285Pop the overinflated ego balloon and come back down to earth. Life is richer and the air is cleaner.

A healthy ego is good, but keep it in check. Too much and it gets to be like dust in the eyes – you can’t see anything until you clear it away.

Hawaiian Tropic, Donny Osmond, and Tanning Beds

Hawaiian

Back in the day, I was a sun goddess.  Brown was cool and fish belly white was not.  My teenage summers were a blend of sleeping in, bumming around, swimming, and sunbathing. I’d start at Ten a.m. Dressed in my bikini – hard to fathom but at fifteen I was 5 ft 9 and 125 pounds.

Me and JeanI’m still 5ft 9.  Ok, back to the story.

Dressed in my bikini, I’d grease myself with Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil, Turn the Radio on LOUD as living out in the country the only potential complainers would be the cows. And I would lay in the sun and bake.  Turn every thirty minutes, peel back the bikini bottom for a peek to assure good color, and call it a day before 2 o’clock.

Ah, the life of a 70′s teen.

no computers

So now I wait.  When’s the Basal Cell coming?  Is that mole a Squamous cell? Crap! I think I have Actinic Keratosis.  I’m DOOMED, I’ve established the foundation for skin cancer and all I can do is watch and wait.

And use sunscreen.

I can’t do anything to change what I did when I was young and stupid, but now that I know better, I do better.  According to The American Cancer Society, 

Most skin cancers are probably caused by exposures that happened many years earlier. The pattern of exposure may also be important. For example, frequent sunburns in childhood may increase the risk for basal cell cancer many years or even decades later.

The new bad boy on the block is tanning beds.  The tanning salons are everywhere, and the young, middle aged and even seniors are going on a regular basis for the relaxation and the joy of that golden bronze color. Sorry to be a bearer of bad news, but a new study confirms the indoor tan is a golden ticket to skin cancer.

The investigators found that indoor tanning was associated with developing skin cancer at an early age.

warning_sign

In May, the U.S. FDA announced that tanning beds and tanning booths MUST carry a visible warning stating that the devices should not be used by minors under age Eighteen.

So far so good: no skin cancer for me. Now,  I stay out of the sun, have at least two dozen bottles of excellent sunscreens scattered about for easy access for me and my family, and I think fish belly white is beautiful and Donny Osmond is still cute.

The Secret of Likability in 4 Simple Steps

Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you. Dale Carnegie

Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.
Dale Carnegie

We all want to be liked. Do you obsessively check the number of likes on a post or how many favs you got on a tweet? Hey, it’s cool, I do it too.  But not as much as I used to. I’ve learned the secret of likability, and it starts by shifting my focus from me to you.

Dale Carnegie

#1 Eyes Off Self:  If you want people to like you, or maybe the better way to phrase it is if you want to have genuinely successful people encounters, then ditch your ego, bag the bragging, and give your undivided attention to the person before you. People long to be heard. To have someone take an interest in you, to want to know you, what your interests are, where you’ve traveled, what you like and don’t like, what makes you happy. It’s wonderful to be noticed. You don’t have to be witty.  No need to try to solve problems.  Simply show you are really interested.

#2 Talk From the Same Level:  If he is sitting, you sit.  Make eye contact, keep your arms uncrossed, listen intently.  A light, casual touch on a shoulder. Greet warmly with a hearty handshake, take a step towards the person. He should get the sense that the world has stopped and at that moment you want nothing more than to hear and understand what he is saying.

See eye to eye.

See eye to eye.

#3 Talk at the Same Level:  Don’t use jargon or fustian vocabulary.   Save that for your blog posts.

fustianAnd, say their name.  If you forgot it, admit it and ask for it again. If you suck at this, I am serious, work on it. Learn how to remember names, and you will blow minds - your likability gauge will break glass!

Say my name.

Say my name.

#4 Smile and Sincerity:  No fake cheesy smiles.  Give the smile that says I’m glad to see you, I like you, and I am here for you. Then be there for them.  Do they need a job lead, an introduction, or some wisdom? An invitation to a professional seminar, or a networking event? Maybe even a book recommendation, one that taught you something so phenomenal it would be a sin to keep it to yourself?

It’s not that hard to be liked.  The more you follow these principles the better you’ll get at boosting your likability, and ultimately making yourself happier in the process.

How about you, what’s your secret to likability? 

4 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Your Dog

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I have loved only three dogs in my life.  My heart splintered when my first two grew old and died. I thought I could never go through that pain again.  As time passed - eleven years - my heart mended and I was ready to love another.  My dogs have taught me so many important life lessons.  Here are only a few…

Be patient 

patient

Enjoy life

enjoyGet exercise

Exercise

Exercise

Get plenty of sleep

sleepimage

Love and be devoted to your clan

Ribbet collage

Of all the lesson my dogs have taught me, unconditional love and devotion is the one that I savor.  My dogs have loved me without judgement, without demanding anything in return. Sometimes they would tempt me to scratch their belly, but mostly they only wanted to be near, to lay at my feet.  If I could only love others like my dogs have loved me, then I have learned the greatest lesson in life.  Love….

Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out.

 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him. All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever. There are three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. Living Bible, 1 Corinthians 13

Chief Complaint: Top Reasons We Go to the Doctor

P1110588The Mayo Clinic reveals the top reasons for health care provider visits:

  • Skin disorders: acne/cysts/rash
  • Osteoarthritis, joint disorders, and back pain
  • Cardiovascular problems such as high cholesterol, stroke
  • Upper respiratory conditions: cough, sore throat, ear problems
  • Anxiety, Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches, migraine, and other neurological conditions
  • Diabetes

That’s what the research tell us. If I had kept tabs on the thousands of people I have seen over the years, my list would look more like this:

  • 6 month and annual check up: AKA you have to come in to get a prescription refilled.
  • Respiratory: cough, cold, ear ache, allergies (or can I have an antibiotic)
  • Back pain
  • Hypertension management: usually smoking and obesity related health issues
  • Routine health maintenance: vaccinations, women’s care, sports, and work physicals
  • Other: I would include depression and anxiety here.  Rarely did I see patients calling in with depression as a chief complaint.  It was something else that brought them in (joint pain, stomach problems, sleep issues), and through talking it was obvious clinical depression was the root cause.

And then there were the surprises that made for a challenging day: thoracic outlet syndrome, lacerations, shingles, really big hemorrhoids, genital warts, foreign body in ear or other body openings (always very interesting), mono, deep vein thrombosis, melanoma, scabies, lice.  Why did I always start to itch after seeing a kid with lice?

As much as you hate the automated phone tree, co-pays, wait time, and general inconvenience of going to the doctor, don’t neglect your health.  If you take good care of it will repay you in kind.

heart health

 

What is Standing Between You and Success?

Tin Man

What is standing between you and success? Can you identify the obstacles, or have you been idle so long you’re like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, rusted, immobile, lonely, forgotten.

There are always roadblocks in life. Loss, addiction, divorce, bankruptcy, failures, illness….What do you do when you’ve reached one?

As I see it, you have three choices:

Stay where you are.

Go back where you came from.

Keep moving forward.

stay where you are

To stay where you are may feel safe, but it’s not going to get you anywhere. It’s boring and harmful. Your bones will weaken and your muscles will atrophy.  You will become like stagnant water: putrid, murky, a perfect breeding ground for dangerous things.  If you loiter long enough you could become trapped.  Perhaps a fellow traveler will notice you and stir you to move, give you a push, or help you to drain. Movement=life.

Go Back

To go back where you came from would be unwise, scary.  You could encounter the ghosts of your past, relive traumatic events. To turn around is to admit defeat. You would lose all the ground you have covered and it will cost you time, energy, progress.  When you put your hand to the plow, don’t look back.  Remember Lot’s wife.

Keep moving

To keep moving forward is the only choice that makes sense. It is the wise thing to do. Evaluate your roadblock.  What equipment do you have, what do you need to get across?  Maybe you have to crawl through, or leave your heavy baggage behind. Perhaps you have to use an explosive to create an opening. Climb up and over?  Slay a giant? Ask for help?  Look for breadcrumbs or notes left behind from those who have already gotten across.  Learn from the ones who have gone before you.  Is there someone next to you also stuck?  Why not work together?

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.   Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Can you see a sliver of light? Can you hear sounds of life?  Can you picture what lies ahead? Then cling to that.  Believe that you can conquer the roadblock, and then move.  Whether it be an inch, a wriggle, a leap.  Just keep moving forward.

Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.  Oswald Chambers

Top 10 Reasons to Keep Smoking Cigarettes + 1 Bonus

cigaretteI love to help my patients quit smoking.  Both smokers and non-smokers agree: smoking is a terrible habit and is horrible for your health.  Smokers tell me that all the time!

I know this stuff will kill me, and it’s nasty.  My kids are on my case to quit.  Why haven’t I quit yet? Well, I plan on it, yessiree.  BUT….

…right now’s not a good time.  One addiction at a time for me.  I’m under a lot of stress. I can’t afford to gain any more weight.  I have four cartons left, I have to use them up first.  My husband refuses to quit with me, as long as he smokes I can’t quit.

Those are actual statements patients have said to me.  I respond with empathy:

Yes, quitting smoking is hard work.  Certainly, you are under considerable stress. True, I want you to be successful in your opiate addiction recovery. Definitely, a partner who quits along with you helps tremendously.  Maybe next time we can revisit this?

Am I helping by being understanding, and reassuring?  Or am I just dancing around the truth.  The truth is

quote

The truth is: you like smoking and don’t want to quit.

Can’t you just tell me the truth instead of coming up with the lame excuses? How can I help someone if they don’t want to change? Maybe I should reconsider my approach and try something like:

Top 10 Reasons to Keep Smoking:

  1. You keep me in business
  2. You keep dentists in business
  3. You keep tobacco companies in business
  4. You keep the government in business
  5. You get moody when you try to quit smoking -  keep smoking and stay happy
  6. Your Uncle Frank smoked 3 packs a day for over 50 years.  He lived to be 99
  7. Your wrinkles and puckered lips make me look better
  8. A husky voice is sexy
  9. You like being sick. It feeds your need for attention
  10. You already tried once to quit and you failed, why put yourself through that again, sheesh

Bonus: You get more frequent, longer work breaks than your non-smoking coworkers.

I don’t mean to sound harsh. Nah, maybe I do. When you see pregnant women smoking, dads hanging a butt off their lip while holding their child, teens parading their smokes in public, and folks in their prime of life dying from lung cancer, you get tired of the excuses.

And for the record, the average person only gains 10 pounds with quitting.

quit smoking

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. George Washington.

Would My Dad Know Who I Am Now?

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Father’s Day is a happy day for some, and a sad day for others.  And then there are those like me who are happy/sad.  My dad is gone, but I have a husband who is a wonderful father to my three boys.  Now we celebrate the day spoiling him with presents, good food, ice cream, and miniature golf.

My father died when I was twenty.  I have spent more years living without him than with him.  The hardest part for me now is realizing he never got to know the grown up me.  He knew me as a child, his youngest daughter.  I was daddy’s little girl, but my heart aches when I remember how mean I was in my later teenage years.

He knew me when I was bratty and terribly moody.  I have one vivid memory of a sunday afternoon when he drove me back to nursing school. I don’t know what he said or did, but I clicked my tongue, rolled my eyes, and said something horrible to him.  Did he shush me, or lecture me about my behavior? No.  He just looked away and watched the numbers change on the elevator.

He died shortly after that. Why is it on Father’s Day I have to remember that stupid day?

If I had a magic bean that could grant me one day with my dad, would he know me when he saw me? Would he recognize my face, my voice? It’s been thirty-one years and I’m not who I once was. I’ve changed in so many ways.

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I would know him.  His deep brown eyes, his big, toothless smile.  He loved popcorn, country music, horseshoes, and staying up late to watch John Wayne and Kung-Fu movies.  He was most content reclining in his lawn chair in our backyard, smoking his lucky strikes while listening to the birds songs and the scratchy buzzing of the locusts.

I would know my father.  He is etched in my memory, cut into my heart. I’d recognize his voice, his walk, his whistling.  He’d smell of old spice and Wisk laundry detergent.

My tall, kind, patient, long-suffering, always there till he wasn’t, dad.

I think he would know me. I imagine him saying,

Sweetie, I saw it all.  Your nursing career, your wedding.  I was there when your boys were babies – handsome kids.  Will reminds me of myself when I was his age.  I saw them walk across the stage to get their diplomas.  I saw it all.  I’ve watched you all these years, and you have made me so proud.

Of course he would know me – he’s my dad. He would always know me.

Me and my dad.

Me and my dad.