The Happiest People Do These 4 Things Every Day

No one sets out to have a bad day. Can you imagine rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, stretching your stiff muscles while thinking,

Sure, you may not be in your best mood when you first get up, but you do want your day to go well, and be happy, yes? So how is it that you start out in a pretty good mood and poof: one text, one attitude, or an unexpected disruption steals your mojo and 180’s your disposition?

It happens to me all the time.

  I don’t like the tone of that email. Did she just raise her bushy eyebrows at me? What did he mean by we’ll see? She didn’t answer my text, she’s mad at me!  Why do I always have to clean the microwave? OMG – he didn’t say good morning back – what a jerk.

How can you and I stay happy? How do we avoid getting our cheerfulness and upbeat spirit eclipsed?

By not reacting.

You can’t change what people say and do any more than you can’t do anything about the awful weather. What you can change is how you react. A huge part of your happiness comes down to your interpretation of what’s before you, and your reaction to it.

React

Unless it’s a run for your life fight or flight kind of thing, don’t knee-jerk react. Pause. Take a couple of invigorating breaths and think before you speak, type, text, or act.

The happiest people do these four things every day:

  • Pause. For a short five to ten seconds and just breathe.
  • Remember: Think or say quietly to yourself, It’s my choice. I don’t have to react. I choose to have a good day and be happy.
  • Reflect: Look at the big picture. Does it matter? What are you trying to prove? Do you need another battle? How you behave now, or the decisions you make in an unthinking moment can cause serious damage to your reputation, relationships, and career.
  • Respond: Only after pausing, remembering, and reflecting can we respond appropriately to the situation before us.

Put things in perspective and don’t read too deeply into things. Not everyone has a hidden agenda or is passive aggressive. Let it go. Use your calm voice, offer encouragement, give kindness, be patient, imagine what it is like to be in “that” person’s shoes. Be mindful.

You and I are going to have a good, happy day. Fist bump! Let’s do it again tomorrow? Cheers!

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Why I Stopped Sending Christmas Cards

Back in the good old days when I was growing up, Christmas cards were a big deal. My mother started signing and addressing stacks of them just after Thanksgiving. She must have sent two hundred! I’d offer my help by licking the stamps, placing the special Christmas series ever so carefully in the upper right corners of the green and red envelopes.

Each card we received was immediately taped to the long wall in our kitchen, serving as both a festive decoration and a reminder of how fond others were of us. My sisters and I would take our time browsing each neat row, oohing over the sparkly ones that dripped silver glitter onto our fingers.

When I grew up and had my own family, I carried on this tradition for a long time, until I began to notice a trend a few years back.  My door frames and fireplace mantle, which were always overflowing with photo cards and Christmas letters, were noticeably thinning with each consecutive year. I pared my card list from a hundred to fifty. Then thirty. Then sixteen. Twelve. Seven. Then none.

Though the Christmas cards and annual update letters are no longer a part of our family tradition, it is still for millions of families around the world. I’m actually ok with giving up the card exchange, here’s a few reasons why.

Less holiday stress: My husband and I would spend several hours a night over a week’s time individualizing and addressing the cards. When we graduated to the photo cards it become a little easier, but we spent more money. Inevitably there was the card that came Christmas Eve day. I didn’t send them one! I kicked myself for crossing that friend of my list. I felt like a jerk. Now that I don’t send any I feel much less stressed.

We have a smaller circle of extended family and friends: Christmas cards were a way to say hi to friends and relatives who we didn’t see on a regular basis. And, when our boys and our friends’ children were small it was fun to see how much they changed in a year’s time. Now that most of my aunts and uncles have passed away and our boys are venturing into adulthood, it’s time for new traditions. Also, even though we said we would, it has been hard to stay in touch with friends who have moved.

It’s a digital world: Why send handwritten snail mail cards when I can stay in touch with everyone digitally?  I can post pics online and text you all with instant delivery! It costs nothing but a small time investment, and it’s good for the environment. Or I could use a free online card service such as 123 GreetingsBlue Mountain, or Canva.

Is the traditional physical Christmas card approaching extinction? Hallmark says no way, but in my home it’s now history. It’s ok if you cross me off your paper card list. But please add me to your digital one. However you and I choose, it is a good thing to find a way to stay in touch.snoopy








Life Thoughts

Many of us zip through life at breakneck speed, starting too many days behind schedule and ending them with not enough hours to get it all done. Some of us forget to eat, don’t know how to stay healthy, or don’t pay attention to our sicknesses. Maybe that’s you. Often it’s me. I’ve been asked and yeah, have thought to myself,

What is the point?  Where did I go wrong?  How can I do this?  What is the reason for it all? Why am I so unhappy? Why am I here? Where is God? This world is a mess.

Why are we here? Is there…?

Yes! There is meaning. You are alive. You are here. You belong. You have a chance to do something. Even when everything around you is falling apart.

Take a deep breath and consider this. We live, we die. It all goes by too fast.

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Love God. Love your neighbor. Do good. Be present. Do your best work. Stop complaining. Don’t gossip. Don’t judge. Say I love you to whom it is due. Bloom where you’re planted. Give. Take care of what you have. Be non-toxic. Be considerate. Laugh more. Be a peacemaker. Plant hope. Reap joy. Shine. Be kind. Forgive. Don’t look back. Take good care of yourself. Live. 

We rush through our lives so eager to grow up, get a career, make and spend lots of money, climb to the next rung on the ladder. We are forever looking back or fantasizing the future that we neglect the present. The here and now. This day, this hour, this moment.

I’m not saying don’t ever look at the past – reflection is necessary for growth and learning. And only a fool wouldn’t make plans for the future. The point is to find balance, and in the process don’t forget to live. And that’s the meaning. The point of life, is simply to live. Wherever you are. Whoever you are. Whether things are good or bad, if you’re rich, or you have nothing. We live, we die. Too fast. No one is promised tomorrow.

Life is a gift. Life is life. So in honor of those who are no longer here with us, out of a spirit of love and a desire to believe despite our unbelief, let’s live together, you and me. Let’s do the best with what we have and where we are, so when our time is over here we can leave knowing we have no regrets.

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again. C.S. Lewis








These two!

Have you met someone and immediately thought, I like this person! You get talking and find you have so much in common; you like the same foods, the same music, and have similar world views. You are like two peas in a pod. Twins with a tiny umbilical cord, a matching set, two minds thinking as one. You even finish each other’s sentences.

What a glorious thing it is to find someone who ‘gets’ us, relates to us, and makes us feel at ease. We can pour out our heart and soul to and we know there is nothing we can’t say that will turn our “pea” away. That deep, mysterious connection with another human being is a magnificent gift.

It is irreplaceable.

Do you have someone in your life like that? If you do, don’t take that person for granted. The world is a better place and life is so much richer because of that one extraordinary individual.  Maybe you don’t, not yet. Or perhaps you do and just haven’t realized it.

Who would have thought this wombat and piglet would become best friends?

Credit: Photo by Rob Leeson/Newspix / Rex Features (1808299a) http://www.rexfeatures.com/stacklink/IFJIDKRTD

We can find kindred spirits in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and also in the unlikeliest places such as grocery stores or social media.  If you’ve found yours, that is so awesome! If you haven’t yet, don’t give up. Keep your eyes open.

 You never know who might be the right pea for your pod. 

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Do you want the truth no matter what?

Does this dress make me look fat? How did you like my presentation? Did you enjoy your meal? Are you mad at me?

We all ask questions like these, but do we really want the truth no matter what?

When I was a teen I remember asking my dad if he liked my haircut – it was 1978 and I got the trending cut at that time, “The Dorothy Hamill” wedge. 

It look darling on her, but not so much on me. My dad validated what I already knew when he responded with, “Do you like it? If you like it that’s all that matters”.  No, I didn’t like it, and I was hoping he could convince me that I did. Instead he delivered the truth in the gentlest way he knew how.

Are you familiar with the old testament story of King David and Bathsheba?  David was the boy who slew the giant with a slingshot, and years later was appointed King of Judah. He was rich, beloved, and well, had everything a man could want, but I guess that wasn’t enough. One day he spied Bathsheba bathing across a distant rooftop. He immediately desired her and had her brought to his palace. He slept with her and she got pregnant. He later had her faithful husband Uriah murdered and then Bathsheba became his queen.

David’s advisor Nathan saw the evil in David’s actions and soon made him see it as well by telling David a parable about a rich man who stole from a poor one. David was livid that the rich man could be so heartless! Then Nathan dropped the bomb: you are the rich man.

David knew what he had done was reprehensible. He could have cast Nathan out from his court – but he didn’t.  He needed accountability and although it was painful, he wanted truth.

Sometimes we can be too involved or blind from our own denial that we don’t see things as they really are. Do you want the truth, even if it stings? My fingers are paused on home row. It’s a tough question.  I want to say yes because I know it’s the wise choice.  I can’t grow without truth. Yet it’s in my nature to avoid pain.

I think the best you and I can ask for is to have people in our life who are honest, but not brutal, who speak the truth in love

The more I think about it, truth trumps pain.  I may not like it, but I don’t want sugar coated lies.  Does this dress make me look fat? Obviously or I wouldn’t be asking. However…don’t be too quick to say yes lest I drop three sizes in self-esteem. Tell me it doesn’t accentuate my best features, or it’s a nice dress but I look stunning in the black one.

At the end of the day, I want truth. Not half-truths, not sugar-coated-beat-around-the-bush blah blahs. The truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God!  How about you? Truth, as in a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like? As in that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality?

I may not always like the truth, but it’s only the truth that will set me free.

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. C.S. Lewis








What Abe Lincoln Taught Me About Suffering

Abraham Lincoln is well known for his quips and clever words. Whether it be advice on civil rights, character, freedom, or success, our 16th president had simple, yet profoundly wise words that are timeless and still worthy of our attention.

Such as…

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt

 And this one that I hold dear,

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

Though he couldn’t have known it when he said it, his years were cut short at 56. And much of his life was suffering. He was born poor, he was plagued with melancholy and suicidal thoughts, his wife had mental health problems, and three of their four sons died young.

Yet, he persevered despite these terrible life circumstances.

Thinking about that made me wonder-

Why is it that some people can’t cope with disaster or difficulties, while others with similar troubles thrive despite?

It blows me away when I meet people with things like terminal cancer, disfigurement, chronic pain, traumatic childhoods, or great loss are able to adapt and cope despite the atrocity of their situation.

They don’t give up. They still believe that God is good. That life is precious, and that they will overcome.

Others with similar circumstances groan how miserable they are and believe the world is a wretched place and life has no meaning.

I know life is unfair and full of pain and suffering. It makes no sense.

But life is also full of love and hope.

Bad things happen. But you and I have a choice –  to rise above, or to drown in the muck.

Yes, I do believe we can live and thrive in spite of an awful childhood, a debilitating disease, or a loved one gone too soon.

Lincoln with his son Willie

You may wonder,

How can I go on? How can I be happy? You have no idea what I’ve been through! 

You’re right. I have no idea what you have been through.  But I can try to understand. I only know what I’ve gone through, what I have wrestled with, and I’m still here.

  • I believe good triumphs over evil.
  • I believe there is a God who loves us, despite what the majority may believe.
  • I am sure we are not abandoned. 
  • I don’t think everything happens for a reason, rather life is fragile, an accident is an accident, and we will all die someday.
  • I can say broken hearts heal, and the pain lessens in time.  
  • And I am certain that no matter what, life is always worth living.  

When you arise in the morning – let your first thought be what a glorious privilege it is to be alive. To breathe, to think, to create, to hope, to love.

Be the person, like Abraham Lincoln, who carries on despite suffering. There are many who stand by us, offering us their example as a comforting embrace and reminder.  Like Abe, who wrote these loving words to a friend who just lost her father. ALquotescover-JPG-18

No matter what you are going through, no matter what has happened – let me, like Abe, alleviate some of your suffering. You are not alone. You are more resilient than you think. Life is what it is. Suffering is inevitable, but misery, existing in wretched desolation, is optional.

Although Lincoln’s melancholy “dripped from him as he walked“,  his hardships and intense distress gave him an unlimited supply of sapient guidance and an innate ability to truly empathize with anyone. If Abraham Lincoln was able to endure countless tribulations on top of his lifelong (untreated) clinical depression, surely you can, and most definitely I can too.

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to 
succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.

Abraham Lincoln








Achieving Life Balance: How To Say No

Just listen to your heart. That’s what I do. Napoleon Dynamite

Saying no doesn’t always come easy.  Whether it’s your manager flooding you with last-minute-i-need-this-yesterday assignments, or your kid wanting to go to the mall NOW – there are times you say yes when you really want to say no.

Why do you do it? Why do you keep doing things for others and forget about what you want?  Has it been so long since you’ve considered what you want that you don’t even know any more?

Do you feel tired, restless, taken advantage of, or unhappy? Are you afraid to answer the phone because you know someone wants something from you and you can’t say no?

Doing something begrudgingly is not good for you. When you give of your time, emotions, and talents, it should stem from a sincere desire to want to do good, meet a need, or invest in someone’s future.

When you are overworked, stretched to the max, and leave little time for meeting your own need for recreation, and restoration, you are teetering on the edge of physical exhaustion and mental decline.

Excessive, prolonged stress is linked to burnout, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and more really bad stuff.

Seek balance in your life. Take a good look at what you’ve been doing this week and see if there may be some things you should have said no to. Next time you feel that twinge in your gut, listen to it! The majority of people will understand a no. And if they don’t, then they just showed you their true self.

If you say yes when you really want to say no, try one of these suggestions.

Decline with grace. You can be nice, and feel honored if you were selected for a cool opportunity. You can’t say yes to every request or adventure, even if it sounds fun.  Hey, good to hear from you!  I really appreciate you thought of me for this assignment, but I will need to decline at this moment.  Maybe later down the road when things quiet down for me. Thanks for understanding.

Compromise. A sleepover sounds like fun! But not tonight. Let’s look at the calendar and pick another date that will work.  How about I take you kids out for ice-cream instead?

Advise an alternative. Often a person truly doesn’t know what else to do, it can be hard to problem solve your own dilemmas.  I can’t give you a ride to work. Are you near a bus route?  Have you considered using Uber? Is there a car pool you can find? Do you have a friend from church or your exercise class that can help?

Stall. If you really aren’t sure what to do, buy yourself time. Don’t be too quick to decline an opportunity. Saying yes can be a strategic move and may open a door to a rewarding path.  I can’t give you an answer this minute.  Let me think about it and I will get back to you.  How can I reach you, and when do you need my answer by?

Pass.  Just say no. Be nice, grateful, with the response nothing more than a simple, I’m sorry but I can’t help you.

Skip the details of why you can’t do something.  It’s too much blah blah blah. People don’t have the time to hear the why, they’ve got to go down their list of people, and you can be sure you probably weren’t their first call, and definitely not their last hope.

After you say no, don’t fret about it. We are so afraid of hurting feelings or letting a friend down that we end up second guessing ourselves and feel guilty for saying no. Don’t feel guilty for wanting balance in your life.  Plus think of how your (true) friend would feel if he found out you said yes  though your heart wasn’t in it.

Give it a try.  Next time someone asks if you can do the coffee run, if you can babysit, or if you can host Thanksgiving dinner, say,

 Thanks for thinking of me, but I need to pass. 

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How To Handle Seriously Negative People

Moods are just as contagious as a virus. The Killjoy bug can remain in your system for days, even years! Psychologists have a name for this, they call it

Emotional Contagion

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Some people have a perpetual negative outlook on everything. The weather is awful. The food is terrible. Everything is ugly.  Even if you aren’t normally a glass is half-empty person, if you spend enough time around someone who is you will soon start feeling the same way.

Do you have people like that at work or in your family?  You can let them infect you with their gloomy attitude, or you can try to keep away from them.

If you are the resilient type, you can ask what’s wrong.

Sometimes if you dig a little deeper, you might find the source of the black outlook. Chronic pain? Grief? Poor self esteem?

There are tons of reasons why people can be so negative.

 

If you are constantly around people who are obnoxiously moody, try telling them their bad mood affects you too. Hopefully they’ll think it over and agree with you. Life is too short to be a sourpuss.

the antidoteJust as bad moods are contagious, positive vibes and sunny dispositions can spread too.

Do what you can to keep your emotions healthy.

Stay clear of bad moods. Stay close to good ones.

And remember to walk on the sunny side of the street.








Turn Heads With These 10 Gramazing Words

Awesome is an excellent word.  So is amazing. But don’t you agree they’re over used?

I had an awesome time.  That movie was amazing.  How ya doing?

Amazingly awesome.

I like to use the A words reverently, sparsely, when no other words will do.

Maybe you’d like some alternate words to use too?  Try These 10 gramazing stand-in words. They’re fun, and just as powerful. Sprinkle them in your writing or in your feedback to others.

Kryptonian You reached kryptonian heights with that speech!

Fly That car is so fly!

Kickass  Those are some kickass moves!

Wicked That sequel was wicked!

Transcendent I am blown away by his transcendent writing.

Capital You did a capital job on the presentation!

Magnificent The hotel was simply magnificent!

Rawk That song is so rawk!

The honey pot The finale was the honey pot – a sweet ending to a perfect day.

Double rainbow brilliant Are you kidding me? That was double rainbow brilliant!

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Why not try your hand at coming up with your own sparkling wordage to describe something really impressive?

How about exponentially excellent. Deluxe. The capstone. Over the top great. Phi Beta Kappa…

And when no other word will do,

go ahead and use awesome.

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Is This The Most Absurd Advice Ever?

Love unreasonable people. Do good to those who are mean. Give the world your best and get kicked in the teeth. Dedicate your life to building something beautiful, only to see it destroyed overnight. And then do it all over again.

Absurd? Of course. But it also makes perfect sense.

Kent M. Keith wrote The Paradoxical Commandments in the late 1960’s when he was a sophomore at Harvard.  You may have seen these commandments on a refrigerator magnet or included in a motivational presentation, or maybe you attributed the list to Mother Teresa.   It sounds like something she would say, but it was Kent Keith.  Mr. Keith actually published these commandments in 1968 in a booklet form, and sold them at high school student council meetings.

Nearly 50 years later, he still writes, does speaking engagements, and seems like the kind of guy who follows both his own commandments as well as the original “10“. So what are these paradoxical commandments “anyway“?

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People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.  Fight for a few underdogs anyway

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway

Yes, these commandments seem absurd and self-contradictory.  Just like Charlie Brown trusting that maybe, just maybe, Lucy won’t pull the football away.

That’s what a paradox is.  It doesn’t make sense to to love the unloveable, or to keep giving to those who take and never give back.  And it’s hard to keep going when no one notices the good that you do.

But do good anyway.  Because success is always a process, never an event. Failure is always an event, never a person. And the way you react to others, the way you treat people is a reflection of your character, not theirs.

The paradoxical commandments? The most absurd advice ever? Yeah, I think so. But, like my pal Charlie Brown, I’m going to follow them anyway.