Category Archives: Positive Attitude

Four Ways to Heal From Emotional Pain

We would all like to hide and run away from emotional pain, but no one skips through life untouched. I can’t complain. Most of my life has been relatively easy and free of pain and adversity. However, as I’ve written about in this blog, this year was a tough one with two recent deaths in our family.

Emotional HealingI’m sure there’s many of you out there going through similar experiences. If you’re going through a challenging time, how can you heal and move forward with your life?

Of course, recovery takes time. Allow yourself to surrender to feelings of sadness, anger, and pain. Accept what you are going through. Give yourself time to rest and heal. However, there are things you can do to help the process along.

Last week, my father in-law and sister-in-law as well as my two sons, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren went to the Living Desert, a local animal park. (If you ever visit the Palm Springs area, be sure and visit this charming zoo.) The day was therapeutic for all of us. Why?

After giving this some thought, I came up with four reasons. If you’re going through emotional pains, I hope these tips will bring you some peace of mind:

Tap into Your Spirituality

At the Living Desert, we couldn’t help of thinking about God and all the beautiful creations he put on this earth for us to enjoy. God gives us strength beyond what is normal and reliance on Him is essential to recovery. Honestly, I wouldn’t have made it through this year without a spiritual foundation, prayer, meditation on God’s Word, and the support from members of my congregation.

Surround Yourself with People You Love

This is true in general, but never more so than when you are going through emotional trauma. Lean on those people who genuinely love and care for you. My husband, my children, my father, and my siblings became more important than ever to me after my Mom’s death. The same thing is happening now with my husband’s family. As we mourn my mother-in-law, we are all clinging to each other. Our grandchildren are soothing and restoring us with their laughter and silliness, their excitement as they learn about new things, and their hugs and kisses.

If you are in a state of recovery, make it a point to only be around those people that make you happy and bring positivity to your life. People that are optimistic and cheerful. People who can make you smile and laugh. People who remind you of the beauty in the world.

River w butterflyAllow Nature to Heal You

Simply being outside in nature will heal and comfort you with its gentle reminders of rebirth, rejuvenation, and renewal.

At the Living Desert, the sun shone bright on us warming our faces. Butterflies landed on our shoulders. We laughed at the giraffes’ long purple tongues greedy for carrots. We ate lunch surrounded by palm trees.

My grandson, Rowan, said, “This is the life.” And he was absolutely right.

That’s why you’ll find me sitting in the courtyard enjoying the smell of lavender and rosemary, watching our new kitten play, and listening to the gentle sound of our gurgling fountain every chance I get. Our family often spends evenings on the patio by a crackling fire gazing at the stars. We planted a garden and are thrilled to see carrots and radishes breaking through the soil.

As Thomas Merton said, “One has to be alone, under the sky, before everything falls into place and one finds his or her own place in the midst of it all.”

Turn Your Wounds Into Wisdom

Now is the time to contemplate and meditate on lessons learned from pain, loss, and disappointment. Yes, there are always important life lessons that can improve our lives.

“Turn your wounds into wisdom,” Oprah Winfrey advises.

So, allow yourself time to rest, time to heal, and time to recover. Then follow these four steps and remember that no pain lasts forever. You’re still alive and there are people to cherish, exciting places to see, thrilling experiences to be had, and new things to learn. No matter what happens,  you can rebuild and create a fabulous life feeling grateful for every day you’re alive.

Postscript: I wrote this article before the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California yesterday – which is only about an hour away from where I live. My heart goes out to all those affected by this senseless tragedy and I pray you all can find emotional healing from this horrific event.

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Aging is a Gift

Earlier this month I turned 55.

Five years ago, when I reached the half-century mark, I’m embarrassed to admit that I ranted and raved, pouted and protested, and seethed and sulked.  Fifty felt old and I didn’t want to get old.

Now, I look back on that and think, how stupid was I?

Cheryl with my father-in-law shortly after they married 37 years ago.

Cheryl with my father-in-law shortly after they married 37 years ago.

As readers of my blog know, my mother died on June 13, giving me a painful reminder just how precious and fleeting life can be. And now my step-mother-in-law, Cheryl, who is only 60 and one of the bravest women I know, lost her battle with ovarian cancer. She died last night.

When the cancer was discovered, Cheryl was ready to tackle the challenge with gusto. “Just tell me what to do and we’ll do it,” she courageously stated as a matter-of-fact. And she did. However, after surgery, chemo, and then finally an experimental drug that just about killed her, the aggressive cancer kept spreading and nothing stopped it. Last week, Cheryl decided to stop all treatments and come home to die. Doctors supported that choice and Cheryl told her family that the decision to die gave her peace.

My father-in-law lost his first wife to cancer when she was only 37. It breaks my heart to see him go through this again. And I have to confess, at a time when I am beginning to heal from my own mother’s death, watching my husband’s family go through this excruciating process has brought all those agonizing memories flooding back.

So I write this blog with a gaping wound in my heart. I weep for my Mom, my mother-in-law who never saw her 40s, and for Cheryl who fought courageously to the end. I also write this blog as a reminder to myself and all of you.

Like the popular quote from an unknown source says: “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”  Those words are seen everywhere and have become a cliche, but it’s true. Take those words into your heart and deep inside your soul.

Forget the wrinkles. Forget the aching muscles. Forget the fuzzy memory. Forget that you are getting older and you want to rebel against it.

Aging is a gift and a blessing.

If you are lucky enough to get old, the story of your life becomes more meaningful. Your life evolves into a one-of-a-kind, unique journey filled with wisdom and a renewed sense of purpose. You experience the gratitude that comes with every passing day that will enhance your life.

As Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.” That why we all need to embrace and celebrate every day we are alive, giving God thanks for the privilege.

I’ll never complain about a birthday again.

 

 

 

Happiness Easy as 1-2-3

I want my day to feel like there is boundless beauty and possibilities and joy to be felt, discovered, explored, and expressed.

JoyfulI want to burst – burst with excitement, burst with joy, burst into song, burst into laughter. It occurs to me that’s it’s been awhile since I’ve burst and perhaps now is the time.

I want to feel peaceful like a gentle babbling river or like the sound of sails in the wind.

And you know what?

I can. And so can you. Here’s what we all seem to forget. We have the power to create any feeling we desire. Now, that’s a powerful thought.

This blog is inspired by an article by motivational expert Tim Shurr who has a super simple strategy for increasing your happiness. It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Here’s his advice:

123Step One: Ask yourself, “What do I want to feel in this moment?”

Step Two: Be intentional. Ask yourself purposeful and deliberate questions like, “What do I need to think, believe, or do in order to feel fulfilled, joyful, peaceful, content, or blissful?” Don’t limit yourself by saying you don’t know the answer to that question. With a bit of introspection you can find the answer. And don’t say there’s nothing you can do to feel a certain way. Remember, you have the power to create any feeling you want. Everything is possible.

Step Three: Stay mindful. Once you’ve made up your mind how you want to feel in this moment and you’ve gained insight on what you need to do, DO IT!

There you go.

I don’t mean to be glib. I’m not saying that if you sing “everything is awesome,” suddenly you’ll feel just fine. Believe me when I tell you that this year has been my most challenging so far. I was paralyzed by my negative emotions there for awhile. I had to make a conscientious decision to begin living again. Even though I couldn’t control much of what was happening, I realized that doesn’t mean that I’m powerless over my emotions. Feeling sad, frustrated, stressed, or angry are not my only choices.

So, next time you’re feeling negative emotions because of someone’s thoughtless words or because of a challenging situation, keep in mind that how you feel is in your own hands. Other people and circumstances do not determine or cause your feelings. You do.

Perhaps you automatically react in a negative way to certain situations or people. If this is the case, make the necessary changes and establish boundaries in your life for your own sanity. If you cannot completely eliminate negative people or stressful circumstances, then you will need to work on how you think and react. Not an easy process, but entirely doable. As Shurr points out, the secret to success is recognizing and shifting self-limiting beliefs and habits. Utilizing the three steps listed above could help you start on the path to more healthy thought patterns.

You can put this information to use in other ways in your life as well. As Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, advises, maybe your goals should not be based on what you want to accomplish or achieve, but on how you want to feel.

I like that thought.

So what do I want to feel at this particular moment? Please excuse me while I go do some sort of bursting…

What do you want to feel right at this moment? Please share in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Chaiwat and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Kathy Buckley: A Deaf Woman’s Inspiring Story

When Kathy Buckley was 20 years old, she was peacefully sunbathing on the beach when a 3,500-pound lifeguard jeep ran over her. Being hearing impaired, she couldn’t hear it coming.

You wouldn’t think Buckley could find humor in that traumatic event. But you’d be wrong.

“Talk about not knowing what your job description is,” Buckley now jokes about the lifeguards driving the jeep in one of her comedy acts. Forever being teased for being “flat,” Buckley jokes that she relishes telling people she used to be a 44D before the jeep crushed her chest. She was in a wheelchair for two and a half years and doctors told her that she might never walk again. Buckley jokes that she couldn’t hear the doctors, so she walked right out of there.

That gives you an idea of how this powerhouse deaf comedienne and inspiring motivational speaker can poke fun at herself, her hearing loss, and the tragic events in her life.

kathy buckley book photoAnd there were many traumatic events in this woman’s life, including a misdiagnosis of mental retardation, being sexually abused as a child, poverty and homelessness, and being stricken with cancer – all before the age of 30. And no, this is not a novel with unbelieving plot twists, but a true story as Buckley shares in her New York Times bestselling autobiography, “If You Could Hear What I See.”

To be honest, even though Buckley has appeared on The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, HBO, and Entertainment Tonight, I had never heard of her. My oldest son, who works at a local college as an instructional computer support specialist for disabled students, attended a workshop where Buckley was a featured speaker. He enthusiastically shared her remarkable experiences with me. After doing a bit of research, I was so inspired by this woman.

Just so you know, this story has a happy ending. Not one to wallow in her misery, Buckley went on to become a female comic, wrote an award-winning and critically acclaimed one-woman show based on her life, guest starred in Touched by An Angel, and became a beloved motivational speaker in demand throughout the country.

In other words, she overcame adversity with a capital ‘A.’ She did so with such resilience, hope, courage, dignity – and a wonderful sense of humor – that I felt impelled to share her story with you. It will make you laugh and cry.

As Suze Orman says about Buckley: “Her courage will empower you.”

challenges aheadKathy’s Childhood and Life as a Young Adult

When Buckley was a child, her family noticed her inability to communicate but thought she was “slow” and would outgrow the problem. She remembers feeling frustrated trying to play games like hide and seek and musical chairs with children whose hearing was normal.

“By the time I’d hear someone say, ‘Hey, Kathy, come and get us,’ the game would be over,” she recalls on her website. “And musical chairs? There’s a game for a deaf kid.”

In second grade, it was finally determined that Buckley had a hearing loss. “And they call me slow?” she jokes now. Even with the diagnosis, teachers showed little patience and understanding and she was eventually transferred to a school for mentally and physically impaired children.

Her youth was filled with misunderstanding and misery. Buckley was sexually abused as a child and contemplated suicide during her teens. If all that weren’t enough, then she was run over by a lifeguard jeep as I mentioned at the beginning of the article. The jeep broke bones and crushed her chest. She experienced intermittent paralysis in her legs. In fact, it took Buckley almost five years to recover.

Buckley eventually packed up her car and drove out west. She parked on the ocean and lived out of her car for two months contemplating what her next step would be. However, before she could figure it out, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Some might say she has been cursed, but Buckley feels blessed.

Overcome Adversity

Kathy Turns Her Life Around

After all the hurdles in her young life, Buckley learned that a sense of humor could get her through the darkest of days. Turning that ability into a career, however, was pure happenstance.

Buckley never considered becoming a comedienne due to her speech impediment. But fate had other plans.

She met actress Geri Jewell, who has cerebral palsy and encouraged Kathy to be part of a contest called “Stand-up Comics Take a Stand” to raise money for the disease. Buckley took first place that night and placed fourth in the entire contest. “I got money for the kids and a career for me,” she says, laughing. “Two birds with one stone.”

She began touring the country playing in major comedy venues. Buckley’s hearing aids were eventually properly adjusted so she could hear the audience laugh at her jokes for the first time. When she stepped off stage, she wept with joy.

The rest is history. Now cancer-free, her zest for life and ability to buck the odds led to her career as a popular motivational speaker. In addition, she is the national spokesperson for No Limits, a non-profit organization which provides an after-school theater group and educational program for deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

If you want to learn more about Buckley, you can visit her website or watch part of her motivational and very funny speech on YouTube.

What We Can Learn

Buckley’s story touched me for a lot of reasons.

One of my former daughter-in-law’s relatives, Long, is deaf. We hired Long to do some work remodeling our house and were frustrated with our attempts to communicate with him. Shortly afterward, an opportunity came up through our religion to take an American Sign Language (ASL) course to do volunteer work with the deaf and hard-of-hearing, help the deaf learn about the Bible, and join a sign language congregation. My husband and I immediately signed up.

We were finally able to talk to Long and discover what a great guy and cool dude he is as we got to know him better. In the course of these events, we have been privileged to become friends with several deaf people. Many of their stories of overcoming challenges is inspiring.

On top of that, as mentioned at the beginning of this blog, my oldest son works with disabled college students including the deaf and hard-of-hearing. My youngest son and his wife both work as interpreters for the deaf at the same local college. So, our family feels a special connection to this inspiring story. But even if you don’t know anyone who is deaf, Buckley’s story teaches us so much.

How many of us will face such overwhelming odds?  Yet, Buckley considers herself blessed since all of her challenges taught her so much about life and have served as a tool to help others.

Taking personal responsibility for her life was another key to happiness. “I was pissed off at the world because they deserved it after everything they had done to me,” she recalls in an interview for The Examiner. She was living a life filled with loneliness, rejection, bitterness and resentment. Then, a realization hit her. The negativity that filled her life “was of my own making,” she says. “My thoughts and words had become my enemy, my limitation, my disability.”

“Life is quite simple, I learned,” she continues, noting that we all have the gift of choice which is unlimited. “It was me who was making it so much more difficult. I could choose to be happy or sad. And happy seems to bring more elements to my life.”

She learned to refuse the negative labels people had put on her during her lifetime. The basic message she received from others was: “You can’t, you won’t, you’re ugly, you’re broken, you’re retarded, you’re unlovable, you’re too tall, you’re flat.”

“The best gift given to me was my hearing loss. God gave me this gift so I don’t have to listen to half of the bull****,” she says. Joking aside, Buckley has learned to love herself as the beautiful, intelligent survivor she is – although she confesses that she is flat as she points to her chest with mock horror.

Gotta love this woman!

“You have to change your life,” she says passionately in one of her speeches. “Don’t get comfortable with what you already know. Get comfortable with what you can learn, what you can challenge, how you can grow…it is up to you to make your own transformation, it’s up to you to make your contribution, it is up to you to fill your heart with joy, it is up to you to find your bliss.”

Love that! No matter what obstacles, setbacks, or heartbreaks you may encounter on your life journey, keep Buckley’s story and words of wisdom in mind, then just watch doors of possibilities open.

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Three Og Mandino Quotes to Inspire You

Don’t look at the title of this article.

What do the following three motivational quotes have in common?

stars

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”

“Remind thyself, in the darkest moments, that every failure is only a step toward success, every detection of what is false directs you toward what is true, every trial exhausts some tempting form of error, and every adversity will only hide, for a time, your path to peace and fulfillment. ”

“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.”

Did you guess? If not, time’s up. Or did you automatically cheat and look at the title of this blog? Oh, fine. I don’t blame you. Either way, if you haven’t figured it out yet, what these quotes have in common is their author: Augustine “Og” Mandino.

Let’s just say, this has been a tough year and these quotes speak to me. My Mom recently died, my mother-in-law’s ovarian cancer has spread to her liver, and we’re going through a terrible divorce with our son.

The point is – I may feel a bit down but I’m certainly not defeated. So I march forward, knowing there are lessons to be learned along this journey – in every heartbreak, failure, and loss. I know that people eventually reap what they sow, that I still can count many blessings, and that these trials are meant to be endured. I know I will see the “stars” again.

Og Mandino knew this from experience. If you’re not familiar with his life story, it’s a pretty fascinating one.

Og’s Story

As a senior in high school, Mandino was the editor of his school newspaper and planned to attend the University of Missouri’s journalism school. In 1940, his mother died suddenly from a massive heart attack while she was in the kitchen making his lunch.

The trauma of losing his mother and World War II changed his plans. Mandino worked in a paper factory for a couple of years and then joined the army where he flew thirty bombing missions. When he returned to civilian life, Mandino’s life took a downward spiral into poverty and despair.

hopeHe spent six months in a New York flat with aspirations to become a writer. However, when his first efforts to sell his work failed, Mandino gave up. Companies weren’t exactly clamoring to hire former bomber pilots and he was forced to become an insurance salesman. Mandino was miserable.

“The treadmill I soon found myself on was torture. Never was I more than a few paces ahead of several bill collectors,” he wrote in his autobiography.

While on the road, Mandino often visited bars at night and became a hopeless alcoholic. For the next two years, he wondered around the country aimlessly working odd jobs and never staying anywhere for long. His wife took their daughter and left him. At Mandino’s lowest point, he even considered buying a gun at a pawn shop and committing suicide.

But something made him keep on walking and Mandino ended up in a public library which became his refuge. He began reading self-help, success, and motivation books which helped turn his life around. Renewed and determined to succeed, Mandino applied for a job in insurance sales and within a year was promoted to sales manager and started breaking sales records. He re-married a woman who, he admits, had a lot more faith in him than he had in himself.

Inspired by the Bible, W. Clement Stone, Napoleon Hill, and Emmet Fox, Mandino eventually became a successful writer and the author of the bestselling book, The Greatest Salesman in the World. In fact, his books went on to sell over 50 million copies. Mandino died in 1996. At his death, he was among the most sought-after speakers in the world.

Open doorsSo it goes.

Opening New Doors

With the help from our God above, we all have the resilience and strength to endure. Instead of giving up, we can bravely find our way. We have the ability to choose to go down new and different paths we never considered before that may lead to happiness, contentment, and fulfillment.

Nothing stays the same. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes bad. Right now, I’m thinking that’s a good thing. After caregiving for my Mom these past few years, which was all-consuming, I’m a bit lost still. But it’s time to decide which direction I want my life to take. I’m an optimist at heart, so I’m going to take Mandino’s words to heart:

“Today will never happen again. Don’t waste it with a false start or no start at all.”

Or perhaps even more to the point, “Cherish each hour of this day for it can NEVER return.”

So time to re-evaluate my life and look at things from a different viewpoint. Time for a few changes that may be big or small. I haven’t decided exactly what those changes will be but I do know that life is full of open doors.

Which one will you choose?

Images courtesy of nuttakit, Stuart Miles, and Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Happiness is a Hamster in a Hammock

Yes, it’s true! Hamsters are happy in a hammock. I love this recent study. It’s just so darn lighthearted and cute!

HamsterIf you think we humans are the only ones that enjoy hanging out in a hammock gazing at the clouds after a hard day’s work – think again. Turns out that furry little rodents also appreciate the art of leaning back lazily in a hammock, just chilling, and munching on a piece of lettuce.

Want proof? Check out the video that was posted on Jaieden Ace Shen’s Facebook page in this article and just try and tell me that this hamster doesn’t look downright cute, cuddly, AND content. I mean, REALLY content.

A new UK study by researchers at Liverpool John Moores University backs up the video. Scientists measured the moods of hamsters and found that hamsters in an “enriched environment” with hammocks, extra bedding, hanging tents, plastic huts, and chew sticks displayed similar mental states as those seen in happy people.

The enriched environment made them more optimistic – just like people who look on the bright side of life. And evidently, an optimistic hamster is a happy hamster.

How did the researchers know if a hamster was happy?

They trained the furry creatures to choose between bitter-tasting water and sugary water placed in two different locations. All were initially housed in basic and boring cages with a thin layer of wood chip bedding, a simple running wheel, and two cardboard tubes. Not exactly hamster heaven. Then half of the hamsters were put in more luxurious cages with hammocks and other fun stuff.

When an ‘ambiguous’ drinking tube was placed between the two tubes with bitter and sugary water, the hamsters who had experienced an enriched environment with the fancy cages approached it more often. Evidently, they were more optimistic that the tube might contain the sugar water. Those from plain and boring cages were less likely to try their luck.

From this, scientists came to the conclusion that the happy hamsters from stimulating cages were more hopeful about the chances of getting a sweet drink from the tube. “Hamsters housed in enriched environments make more optimistic judgments,” lead researcher Dr. Emily Bethell said.

Does optimism help humans to be happy as well? Just check out my blog, Benefits of a Positive Attitude, for the answer. And if you need help becoming more optimistic, read how in my article, Five Ways to Cultivate a Positive Attitude.

If these tips don’t do the trick, try hanging a hammock in your backyard and see if that doesn’t make you feel better. And if that fails to cheer you up, I don’t know about you, but just visualizing a hamster in a hammock makes me smile.

Image courtesy of James Barker at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Residents of Australia’s Small Towns Happiest According to New Survey

I recently posted a photo of a sign on my Facebook author’s page: “You can’t say good eye might without sounding Australian.”

AustraliaHa, ha. Very true. I just love an Australian accent.

I’ve visited Australia in the past and absolutely loved the place. I even do some writing for Property Women, a group of powerhouse Aussie women who invest in property, and it’s an absolute pleasure to work with them.

I must say, people in general seem incredibly relaxed and happy in the land down under. However, it seems that some people there are happier than others. They just happen to live in the tiniest towns, according to a comprehensive survey by the University of Melbourne.

They interviewed 17,000 people and found that Australians who lived in towns with fewer than 1,000 people are significantly happier and enjoy higher levels of life satisfaction than those who lived in big cities.

Why is that?

Here is what a few people from those small towns had to say in an article written by Jennifer King for Australia Broadcasting Corporation:

  • Mission Beach Tourism chairman Chris Jahnke lives in the small tropical town, Mission Beach Village, Queensland, which boasts a population of 765. He has been a local since 2003, after moving there from Melbourne. It is the sense of community which makes him happy to live there. “Just driving down the road and waving to people, you know,” he says.
  • A sleepy hamlet in the Southern Highlands, Burrawang has a whopping population of 238. Quaint country lanes meander through peaceful, flower-filled gardens with cows grazing nearby. Artist Susan Buret moved from Brisbane to the village in 2009, and loves the solitude and quiet. “There are no street lights so you can see the night sky, the air is fresh and there’s a sense of safety because we all know one another,” she says. “There are no parking hassles, kids can walk to school, there’s more space for your buck so you can have a great studio or a big veggie garden and chooks (that’s Aussie for chickens by the way).”
  • Mataranka has a population of 244 people. Irish nurse Leona Hannigan, moved from London to the center of Australia and feels that it has been one of the best things she has ever done. ‘From my experience in Australia, I notice people in Mataranka are happier,” she says. “They are very welcoming and, because it’s such a small community, you get to know people in the area.”

Australia 2It’s easy to see the attraction. A tranquil and slower way of life, a true sense of community, and lots of nature and fresh air. What’s not to love? I feel calmer just visualizing these places.

The other thing I noticed from the interviews was an appreciation for the most basic, simple, and joyful things in life that we often take for granted. For example, they mentioned a beautiful night sky, a veggie garden, or the pleasure of just waving to other friendly people.

No matter where we live, we can try to slow down and incorporate some of that gratefulness into our lives. Check out my blog, Savor the Day, if you could use some tips on how to do so. 

Eddie Cantor, a vaudeville, film, and radio star famous for his song Makin’ Whoopee, said it well. “Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

Images courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn and Jennifer Ellison at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How Problems Can Lead to Happiness

Problems Lead to HappinessProblems result in happiness?

Say what?

Sounds crazy, I know, but just hear me out for a second.

Think about it. If you were happy, content, and secure all the time, then you wouldn’t grow, learn, or change. You wouldn’t discover who you are and become a stronger person.

 

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.”

A life well lived does not mean an easy life without any problems. Real happiness comes from loving and helping others, learning life lessons, personal growth, and a sense of achievement from reaching worthwhile goals. All those things come with problems, challenges, and obstacles that are meant to be overcome to help us become better persons and, yes, to help us find happiness.

Learning Life Lessons from Problems

Problems 2When you’re going through a challenging experience, why not ask yourself how the experience will make you a better person, stronger, or more loving? If you can adopt a more positive attitude about your problems and stresses and what you learn from them, you just might discover happiness along the way.

For example, as readers of my blog know, I am caring for my mother who has a form of dementia that is a combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Without a doubt, this has proven to be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done so far in my life. You can read about some of my struggles in my blog, Grieving for a Parent with Dementia.

What has this experience taught me and how is it making me grow as a person? Caring for my Mom has shown me how to depend on God more fully, to be more empathetic and patient, and helped me develop the important quality of endurance. To be sure, this is a journey and I am still learning all these things and there is plenty of room for improvement. But the fact remains, I’m learning some important life lessons along the way even though it is a tough and painful path.

Maybe you’re going through an agonizing divorce. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that divorce is a blessing in any way. As I’ve personally witnessed from my son’s divorce, it is a traumatic experience for everyone involved. Divorce takes a devastating toll, ripping families apart, adversely impacting the lives of children, shredding self-esteem, and ruining finances. I also believe that all marriages except those involving repeated infidelity and abuse can be saved if both partners are motivated and willing – which admittedly in some cases may be lacking.

So, if you find yourself getting a divorce despite all your efforts to save a marriage, what can you learn from this painful experience? Plenty. While helping your children get through the divorce, maybe you become a better and more loving parent and come to value your time with them even more. Perhaps you’ll realize that you lost your own identity in your marriage and divorce allows you to find yourself again. When you find happiness again – and you will – you will be a stronger and more resilient person for surviving the experience.

If you’re unhappy or stressed by a situation, maybe those feelings are telling you that it’s time for a change. If a situation cannot be changed, allow navigating and overcoming problems to mold you.

Happiness Can Be Achieved Despite Problems

Problems 3

Remember that problems can’t hold your happiness hostage. It is your life and your choice. Your life can be great, no matter what problems you’re facing, because you opt to see it that way. As I’ve pointed out in previous blogs, happiness depends on your outlook, not on your current situation.

Even if things aren’t perfect right now and problems abound, you can still enjoy those small moments of joy everyone experiences in every day. As I suggested in my blog, Savor the Day, stop, take a deep breath, and take note of everything around you – the beauty, the people, the smells, the sounds. Take time to enjoy the beauty of a sunset, the laugh of a child, a hug from a friend, the sound of a bird singing, or the smells after a rainstorm. Savor simple things like the first spring day in your garden, the kindness of a stranger, or that first sip of coffee.

A good reason to smile is always one thought away. Think that thought. As a quote I saw says: “Sunshine is good for your teeth.”

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles, patpitchaya, and Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

International Day of Happiness Ideas

They have a day for everything, right?

happinessTurns out that tomorrow, March 20, has been deemed the International Day of Happiness. Who knew?

I found it interesting how some communities are planning to celebrate the event. Tucson, Arizona decided to adopt this fledgling holiday this year by engaging in “happiness sprinkling.” Flash mobs will hold signs throughout the weekend with positive messages like:

  • Share Your Happy
  • Breath
  • Live Your Dream
  • Life is Good
  • You Rock!

The city is also including happy movie screenings at their library and sing-alongs in their streetcars. I like it. Sounds fun.

A campaign launched Monday asked listeners around the world to list songs that make them happy.

A Worldwide Happiness Dinner is inviting people to host a meal and have a conversation about happiness, including what truly matters in our lives, our relationships, good food and health, and how we can make the world a happier place.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until tomorrow for an official happiness day. Why not put some of these great ideas to use today? Or any day will do.

For example, pin a happy note on your mirror using one of the “happiness sprinkling” ideas above. Or try writing one of the following sayings on a sticky note and tack in your office cubicle or on your refrigerator:

  • FunLaugh Lots
  • Be Grateful
  • Happy to Be Alive
  • Give Love
  • Think Happy Thoughts
  • Be Silly
  • Have Fun
  • Smile On

Watch a happy movie (you can check out my favorite feel-good movies that never fail to lift my spirits in my blog, Top 10 Movies to Make You Feeel Happy, or listen to happy music all day (check out a list of my favorite happy songs in my blog, Music and Happiness, for some ideas.)

Have a happiness dinner to talk about what makes you happy.

No matter what’s going on in your life, find those small moments of joy. And try and make every day a happy day!

Images courtesy of kong sky and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Battling the Wintertime Blues

Are the wintertime blues destroying your bliss?

Wintertime Blues SADIt’s no wonder, with storm systems dumping record-breaking temperatures and snow this year and surges of cold arctic air in most of the country. And the latest weather reports are not offering much hope for a change anytime soon.

Don’t hate me, I live in the California desert where it is currently in the 80’s, but my heart goes out to you in the rest of the country suffering from the extreme weather. So, in honor of all of you in the Midwest and Eastern states buried in snow, I’m re-publishing information from a previous blog I wrote with some simple but effective tips to help you stay cheerful through this rough weather.

The “winter blues” are characterized by mild depression and low energy that can affect everyone during cold and dark days. Some people suffer from SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, which medical experts have officially recognized as a medical condition. Symptoms of SAD include depression, low energy, lack of motivation and less productivity, headaches, inability to sleep or an increase in the amount of time spent sleeping, lack of concentration, and decreased interest in activities that usually bring pleasure. In extreme cases, you may need medical attention.

However, the good news is, in most cases, you don’t need to suffer any longer with a few lifestyle changes. Here are a few tips to help you endure these brutal winter days:

  • Be sure and get some exercise. You’ll feel healthier and produce some of those “feel good” chemicals that improve your mood.
  • Winter HappySpend time with supportive and loving people.
  • If it’s safe, get more light by walking outside on a bright winter day. If conditions are too dangerous, try to bring as much light into the home by keeping drapes and blinds wide open. Sit close to windows.
  • Eat healthy and try to reduce stress levels. These are things you should be doing anyway, but are particularly important if you’re suffering from SAD.
  • Use light therapy with a specialized light box for 30 minutes a day. Make sure the box has more than 10,000 lux, which is more than 20 times stronger than the average light bulb. Some insurance companies cover the cost if patients are using the light under a physician’s supervision.
  • This is a no-brainer, but if you can afford to do so or you’re planning a vacation, visit a tropical destination. Or you can join the crowds of people we have visiting here in the Palm Springs area for a much needed break from the weather.

So my thoughts are with you. Follow these tips and don’t despair. Spring is right around the corner!

Images courtesy of dan and imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.