Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

Gratitude – A lesson From the Wizard of Oz

October 5th, 2010 1 comment

In 1939, Hollywood filmed a picture called the “Wizard of Oz”. It became a legend and has been shown thousands of times around the globe. One of the most unique things, which set it apart from the other films in that year, was the use of black and white in the beginning of the movie. The black and white landscape of Dorothy’s Kansas symbolizes the lack of “something” in her life.  I believe that “something” is gratitude.

Without gratitude, it feel like all the color has been sucked out of our lives.  Everything is shades of gray.  Depression seeps in and we are plodding through our lives with little joy.  Our lives can feel as though it is a painful task that must be completed.  Living in a world without gratitude is as drab as the scenery in Dorothy’s Kansas.

Gratitude is the paint brush in our lives.  When I am truly grateful for something it makes my world feel brighter. I notice the green of the trees. The color of the flowers. It is the emotion of feeling fully awake and alive.

Every day we are given opportunities to be grateful. They may come cloaked as events we couldn’t possible feel gratitude. we could have career difficulties, or finances aren’t good. There are many things in our every day happenings we could choose sadness, depression and fear.  Or, we can choose to feel grateful. It is all a matter of perception and choices.  It is possible to find something good in even the most horrendous situations.  Napoleon Hill said,   “Every adversity, every failure, and every unpleasant experience carries with it the seed of an equivalent benefit which may prove to be a blessing in disguise.”

Even when our lives feel filled with heavy thunderstorms. Full of lightning, loud thunder, heavy rain and damaging winds. We can chose our perception of these events.  We can realize our lives are like nature.   The sun will come out and the earth has been nourished with life giving rain.  The clouds will move on, leaving us a beautiful, colorful rainbow.  It takes a storm to make a rainbow.

The business man, J. C. Penney said it best, “I am grateful for all of my problems. After each one was overcome, I became stronger and more able to meet those that were still to come. I grew in all my difficulties.”

Gratitude is an emotion which needs to be practiced. We can practice it as we write in our journal.  We practice when we tell our families what we enjoy about them.  We can look for the best in situations even as the storm is raging.  That is when it isn’t easy to remember the rainbow yet to come. But, if we are diligent, and practice gratitude every day, our perceptions will change and we will be rewarded with even more things to be grateful for. I like to think of gratitude as our direct link with the Divine.

Dorothy had to work so hard to get home.  She had many lessons to learn in Oz.  She finally clicked her ruby slippers together while repeating over and over, “there is no place like home”.  what was her attitude when she finally made it back to Auntie Em and her family? It was gratitude. Let gratitude bring the change from black and white to color in your life.

Gratitude works best when it it expressed.  What are you grateful for? Leave me a comment and share with all of us.

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Relationships and the Speed Bumps in Life

May 14th, 2010 No comments

Life can be a joyful ride.  It has many ups and downs.  There seems to be a couple of universal speed bumps.  They are money and relationships.  Two important things that have huge effect on our perception of our ride through life.  In relationships, a tough concept for some is that we teach people how to treat us.  Some of you are saying, “right on, sister, I believe that!”  Some of you are saying, “that can’t possible be true!”

Let me give you an example.  We teach people how to treat us by what we are willing to accept from them.  You have probably heard the old saying, “he/she was born with a silver spoon in their mouth”.  Mine was a different upbringing.  I was born with a “guilt spoon in my mouth.”

Guilt is a very powerful manipulation tool.  It is very effective way to get what you want.  It is, also, a very under handed tool that scars both the user and the recipient.  When I learned that I am responsible for my own life, I believed it.  I didn’t bat an eye at the concept that I create all the things I wasn’t happy with in my life.  What was more difficult, for me, was taking credit for the good things.

Being raised with the idea that everything that happened bad in our household was my fault led to my feelings of inadequacy, depression, and of course that familiar feeling, guilt.  This led to my feelings of being a door mat.  That is what I was projecting and I attracted strong personalities that used guilt techniques to interact and control me.  As long as I accepted guilt, people used it.

We teach people how to treat us by what we project. When I was in my twenties, I started taking horse back riding lessons.  I had always wanted to learn to ride.  In my lessons, I always wanted to ride “Snickers”, a buckskin, who was easy to ride.  She always did what I wanted and my riding experience was fun.  My instructor always made me ride Casper.  He was a white horse with mind of his own.  When I had a lesson riding him, I had to work. I came to realize that when I projected confidence and made him do what I wanted, my riding lesson became more fun and I learned more.  I grew to enjoy the challenge he presented.  I realized that life and relationships, we attract the situations and the people that put us out of our comfort zone to learn from it.

When a relationship is a challenge for me, I ask myself, what am I projecting?  What am I accepting from that person that is making the relationship less fulfilling? Why am I attracting that? What do I need to learn from this particular relationships.  The biggest question I ask myself, is this relationship worth working through the challenges?

As I have grown older and wiser, I have grown more comfortable with what I will accept and what I project.  My relationships with others is much more fulfilling, with less drama.  I feel peace regarding how I teach others to treat me.

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5 Tips for Increasing Happiness

February 8th, 2010 3 comments

We live in a post “Secret” world.  Many people feel, to manifest what they want, they must live in a perpetual state of happiness or positive feelings.  Sorry, folks, I think that is just a load of poo.  I know many people in the “self help” arena would be very disgusted with me for what I just wrote.  But, seriously, do you believe that it is possible to be happy all the time?

Let’s look back, historically, at a couple of famous individuals.  First, let’s look at the life and times of Jesus Christ.  Do you believe that he was happy 100% of the time?  Probably not.  There were many things that happened to him that couldn’t possible make a guy happy.  Necessary to go through, but not a happiness inducer.  How about Mother Teresa?  Do you think that working with sick and dying people every single day plastered a grin on her face every morning?  Maybe, maybe not.

Feeling sad or depressed doesn’t automatically label you a failure.  Negative feelings can be healthy.  It helps us better understand the opposite of those feelings.  Do you think we would know happiness for the joy that it is if we had never experienced being sad?  Every one of us will endure something that makes us unhappy; losing someone you love, have a job loss, etc.  Those things are out of our control.  If we push those feelings away, without acknowledging them, they will return with a vengeance.

What we choose to focus on is in our control.  Here are 5 tips to increasing happiness.

1.  If you like something, enjoy it. No guilt, just enjoy it!  I enjoy boating.  I love being on a lake.  I enjoy feeling the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.  I enjoy smelling coconut suntan lotion.  It brings pictures to my mind of many fun and happy times on the lake.  Every chance I get I head for the lake.  Some day, I will live on a lake.  I dream about that day.

2.  If you don’t like something, avoid it. It is perfectly okay to avoid things you don’t like.  I don’t like crowds.  I don’t like standing in line for things.  Perfect example:  women’s restrooms.  Large meeting places must have been designed by clueless men.  There are always lines for the women’s restroom.  Men don’t understand that concept until they have had to wait for their women to stand in a bathroom line (perhaps holding her purse?)  Is it a tough concept to have 2 women’s restrooms for every men’s? Food for thought for the architects out there.

3.  If you can’t avoid it, change it. If I have to get into a crowd situation I try to do things differently.  I avoid drinking a lot of beverages so I can stay out of the bathroom line.  I eat something before I go, thus avoiding the food lines.  I stay in my seat and keep the milling around to a minimum.  Changing what I can to do to avoid what I don’t like increases my happiness.

4.  If you can’t change it, accept it. If I am in a big crowd I don’t focus on what I don’t like.  I look at the advantages of being there.  Some of my best times have been in big crowds; such as conventions, concerts, and parties.  If I spend my time complaining I make everyone around me, and myself, less happy.  I accept it.

5.  Change your attitude. Changing my viewpoint is very important.  All things are seen through the eyes of perspective.  If I go through my life saying and thinking that I hate crowds I would have missed out on those happy times I mentioned in the previous paragraph.  Simply changing how I look at those things, and looking for what I like in those situations increases my happiness.

While we can’t be happy 24/7/365, we can increase our happy moments by choosing how we look at situations.  The times that I have been unable to do so, I have learned to let it go.  The best method, I have found,  for releasing unhappy thoughts is the Sedona Method.  If you are interested in finding out more, check out the website and get a free DVD explaining the method.  It is amazing.

If you found something of value in this post, feel free to pass it on to your peeps!  A re-tweet for the peeps is appreciated.

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Vishen Lakhiani – How Do I Get into the Flow?

January 27th, 2010 No comments

victoria fallsThere are many ways to build a business life.  Whether you work in your own entrepreneurial business or as an employee in someone else’s business. Some people work hard and the fruits of their labor come with extreme amounts of pressure and stress.  They work long hours.  They have little time to enjoy family, hobbies, and relaxation.  As soon as they stop, due to illness or misfortune, they seem to be swept up by an invisible force that seems to carry them away.  They spiral into more health problems or financial ruin.

A few months back, I was sitting next to a gentleman at a seminar.  The relationships side of my personality took over and I just had to make a new acquaintance.  Hoping to find areas of commonality, I asked him what he did for a living.  He explained that he was a Yoga instructor with his own business in a nearby town.  Being interested in Yoga and knowing that it can be a competitive field for instructors, I asked him how that was working for him.  His response was, “quite well, I have more business than I can handle”.  I asked him how he got his clients and he responded, “they just come to me”.

I have observed businesses that function similar to the first and, also, to the second examples. I have puzzled over it.  How can some folks have an almost effortless experience building their business like the Yoga instructor, and some people always seem to be swimming upstream against a waterfall of adversity.

We would all like to be part of a business that grows, with what seems like effortless ease.  Most people don’t have a problem with the part of the equation that calls for working hard.  That is not where the challenge lies.  It is the mindset, or being in “the flow”.

I have been on a quest to answer the question, how do we get to “the flow”?  I have been making considerable headway on answering that question.  As the quotation says, “when the student is willing the teacher will appear.”  I stumbled into this video from “Engage Today 2009” which was a conference held in September of 2009.  This conference had some heavy hitters, in the success arena, in their line up of speakers.  A 16 CD set will be released on January 28, 2010 with all of these speeches.  Looking at the line up of speakers this should be a great investment.  You can check out the preview videos here.

The 9 minute video I am showing you today, which is just a teaser, is bits and pieces from a speech given by Vishen Lakhiani from Finer Minds.  Even in this preview video he gives some interesting answers to the question about how to get into the flow.  If you enjoy this post please re-tweet.

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7 Tips on Building Strong Friendships

January 25th, 2010 3 comments

little girls holding handsThere are many different types of relationships in the human experience.  Most of us desire closeness with other people.  Our mental, emotional and physical health depends on our abilities to form close and loving relationships.  Many people have as much difficulty cracking the friendship code, as I would understanding any one of Einstein’s equations.

There are many different friendship relationships; mentor/coach, acquaintances, business and circumstantial, and long lasting close connections.  One thing that they all have in common is that they start out superficial, or the “getting to know you stage”.  Some relationships never progress beyond that, and stay in the acquaintance level.  To progress beyond the acquaintance level requires a different set of skills and needs.

In humans, the differences between male and female is very pronounced even as infants.  Female infants tend to look at human faces much more intensely than their male counterparts.  But, how much after that is social conditioning and how much is physiological?  Do adults hug and hold their female children more often than their male offspring?  Do we encourage “female bonding” in their games and activities vs the games males are encouraged to participate in? Those questions are best left to the clinicians who study human behavior.

The argument can be made that women have an easier time forming close personal relationships than men.  Is that true or a convenient excuse?  I seem to be raising more questions than I am answering.  I do know, that if the need or desire is not there for close personal relations, it won’t be accomplished.  Many people don’t feel the need for this until they have suffered a health or emotional crisis.  Putting all the differences aside and making the assumption that this closeness is desired, I would like to present the traits or skill set a person needs to learn to form close personal relationships that last.

1.  Loyalty – this skill is often debated regarding its importance.  I, personally, find this trait to be one of the most important to me.  I call it a skill because it can be learned at any age.  Without loyalty it is difficult to completely relax and let our guard down.  Some friendships are born out of competitive relationships ie; sports, business, etc.  Matters of the heart can’t be drawn into that competition.

2.  The ability to keep confidences.  Our family calls telling confidences to others as “baby mouse syndrome”, named after Sniffles the mouse in the old time cartoon.  The little mouse, Sniffles, followed the other character in the cartoon around telling everything he knows and asking too many questions. In our family, if you get called “Baby Mouse” you spoken a confidence or said too much.  Feelings can be hurt if we say too much about someone else.  It becomes gossip.  No one trusts a gossip.

3.  Honesty – this one can be difficult.  We don’t want to hurt others.  The sign of a true friend is one that will tell you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it.  A loving person is honest.  Many people confuse being honest with a lack of tact.  It is possible to be honest with compassion and empathy.

4.  Compassion – Truly caring about someone else’s life and feelings.  Showing interest and remembering facts that are important in someone else helps lower the other person’s guard. As the old saying goes, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

5.  Common values – It is very difficult to sustain a lasting relationships without this.  It helps us understand one another.  We could meet someone from another culture or place and form a lasting friendship if we have common values.  Sometimes, can look at a friendship and wonder what common values they have.  If you look hard enough, you will find them.

6.  Empathy – Caring and understanding – no matter what.  This means suspending judgement on them.  Listening to what they have to say.  Leaving those hurtful words, “I told you so”, out of the conversation.  Those words only serve to hurt the other.  If it is important for you to be recognized as the  superior intellect in the relationship, you might want to question your motives.

7.  Share the good times and the bad.  A relationship that is one sided where only the bad things are shared becomes burdensome for the person being dumped on.  Do you want a friend or a counselor?  If your life seems to be one big bite off the pooh-pooh sandwich and that is all you have to share with your friend, I suggest you get a counselor.  They can point you in the right direction.  They are paid to listen to you and to teach you coping skills.  We all have times where our life seems to be falling apart.  That is understandable.  But, if all you know how to share is the crap, why would anyone want to be your friend?  Those are the times we need to see the good things.  Sometimes, being a friend to someone is pointing out the good things even when they aren’t in the mood to hear them.  When the shoulder to cry on becomes the thing you have in common and that is all you hear, it could be time for honesty.

In our lives we will have different friends for different moments.  When we don’t have those things in common, such as a job or an association we lose track of them. What we can strive for is long lasting friendships that it doesn’t matter how long it has been since you have seen them, you can pick up where you left off.  The closeness of heart is always there.

Related articles:

How to Cultivate Closeness

Forming Friendships

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Dr. Gary Chapman: Love as a Way of Life Part 2

January 22nd, 2010 No comments

Dr. Gary ChapmanYesterday, after I had finished my work day, I sat down to relax.  I was catching up on a bit of news.  I know that sounds like an oxymoron, relaxing and news.  I like to stay informed on current issues, without getting sucked into over focusing.  I was watching the reports on Haiti.  It breaks my heart to see their pain and suffering.

It got me to thinking about the rescue workers and doctors that are willing to risk their life to help others.  They are in peril of being buried alive, themselves, by aftershocks along with other dangers. Why would anyone put themselves in so much danger for people they don’t know?  It brought me back to a quote from Dr. Gary Chapman, “At the end of the journey the most satisfied people in the world are people who gave their lives away to serve others.”

Dr. Chapman talks about this very thing in his 6Th point about generosity.  A loving person is willing to give money, time, and their abilities to help other people.  We are seeing people like that in these rescue workers and doctors.  They are willing to run into a collapsed building, not concerned with their own safety, to rescue strangers who desperately need them.  As Albert Schweitzer said after he had received his Nobel Peace Prize, “One thing I know.  The only ones among you that will be truly happy are those that have sought and found how to serve.”

Love is an amazing thing.  It is the most powerful emotion ever given to mankind from our creator.  It is the great healer.  We, as human beings, can not be happy without it in our lives.  Our deepest satisfactions in life come from our relationships with others.

In our world today, does love stand a chance?  I think by watching this tragedy in Haiti we could all agree that love is our only chance.  Today’s video is part 2 of “Love as a Way of Life“.  His talk today is a little over 9 minutes of pure wisdom.  By the end of the video I hope you will know why we need love in our lives and in our world.  It is the cure for what ails us.

If you found this valuable pass it on to your network of family, friends and associates.

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Gary Chapman: Love as a Way of Life Part 1

January 21st, 2010 No comments

loveAs I travel through life, I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know scores of people.  One of the things I have come to believe is that our relationships with other people enrich our lives.  I have known people from every walk of life and every religion.  One thing we all have in common is our need to feel and give love.  We live, and we would die, for those we love.

Each one of us has a need for connections with others.  Some of us are better at making those connections.  Most of the people that I have encountered who seem to have an easy, almost effortless, connection with others have something in common.  They love people.  Not only do they love people, they are loving people.

I am blessed to be married to one of those people.  I can’t express to you how much I have learned from him.  I have watched him interact with people and he treats them with love and care.

I grew up in a home where there was such a disconnection from others. Anger was always present in our home.  Hurt feelings and misunderstands ran deep. My parents always fought loudly.  Broken dishes and angry words seemed to prevail in their marriage.  I grew up wondering how long they could possible stay together.  I always expected them to eventually divorce.  Believe it or not, they are still together after 64 years!  They still don’t get along, but I have come to understand, that is their dance.  They are comfortable with it.

What makes a loving person?  As Gary Chapman would say, “Love is a cluster of traits.”  I believe that is true.  I came across this 2 part video from a speech that Gary Chapman gave about his book, Love as a Way of Life.”  In these 2 videos, he talks about the 7 characteristics of a loving person.

Why should we want to be more loving people?  What would be the point of understanding and incorporating these 7 points into our lives?  In essence, why be a lover?

If we could understand more about how to be a loving person, could we use that to create better relationships?  If we enjoyed better relationships, would we be happier people?  If we understood people, had better connections in our relationships, could we create a better world?  These are questions only you can answer.  As Gary says in these videos, “You are here to enrich the world and you impoverish yourself if you forget that errand.

The first video for today is a little over 7 minutes long. It covers the first 3 traits.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Feel free to pass it on!

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