Celebrate Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th

momMany of us begin the year making resolutions, but within a few weeks our promises to ourselves have been forgotten.

A Wall Street Journal article shared plans some people made to help them stick to their resolutions. Some kept their goals small and achievable. Others asked friends to help them stay on track by holding them accountable. Others found success when they changed their environment to support their new behavior.

Here we are at the start of the second half of the year. How did you do with your resolutions this year?

Regardless of how you fared in this annual practice, here’s an opportunity to start anew.

On August 9th join me in celebrating the first “Color Your Life Happy Day”, a day to participate in something you enjoy, some activity that will make you happy and others too. Then make a decision to make it a habit to continue finding joy, pleasure, a way to help others for the rest of the year.

Happiness is not a destination, but the things we do along the way as we live our lives. At the end of their lives, many wish they had slowed down, worked less and spent more time enjoying family, friends and fun activities. Don’t let this be you. Regrets are a waste. Do the things that bring you joy and happiness everyday.

This special celebration was inspired by the memory of my mother, Mildred S. Morris, who would have turned 100 years old on August 9, 2010 (she passed at age 92 in 2002.) She spent her life making people happy with her music. She played piano and organ from childhood through her mid 80’s for many churches, organizations and events. Everyone who ever heard her play was touched by her lively and fervent style.

I invite you to join me in celebrating Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th. Then between August 10th-15th send me a photo or video of how you celebrated to my email at flora@florabrown.com

You may choose to enjoy a simple pleasure such as taking time off to read a neglected book. You may join the courageous who use this day to get control of the clutter that has been making them very unhappy.

I’m thinking of creating a new vegetable garden or maybe I’ll do some long-neglected scrapbooking.

So get busy thinking of how you will celebrate “Color Your Life Happy Day.” Then on August 9th take a picture showing how you celebrated. Email it to me at flora@florabrown.com with your name, activity, and city/state/country. I will post all entries on my blog and Facebook.

I’m looking forward to the wonderful array of celebrations.

How to Cultivate Happiness: Get Rid of the Weeds in Your Life

Working dog by meg price on flickr

Working dog by meg price on flickr

Weeds are a type of plant that appear in even the best of gardens. A whole industry of tools, techniques and herbicides has been created to get rid of them. Why are the grass and plants we call weeds so unwelcomed?

Weeds are the dreaded enemy of beautiful gardens because they compete with your garden for water and nutrients. Likewise, the weeds in your life must go because they sap your energy and block the intake of positive thoughts and action toward your goals.

What are some of these weeds?

1. Some weeds were born into your life through no fault of your own. They are better known as family. Some family members are wonderfully nurturing and a joy to have in your life. Others are toxic, negative, choking the life out of your goals and positive action. You know the ones I mean. They are the ones who leave a heavy cloud of doubt, depression and sorrow even after they are no longer physically present.

2. Some weeds you brought into your life. These are better known as friends, spouses and children. While we all would love to be able to share our dreams and goals with these people closest to us, it’s not always the wisest thing to do. Be selective about sharing your dreams with those who don’t have your best interest at heart. Even though they may have good intentions, watching you go after your passion makes them afraid for your safety and ashamed of their own lack of action. If you let them project their fears and insecurities on you, your progress toward the life that makes you happy will be slowed if not stopped.

3. Some weeds come into your life based on circumstances and situations. These are better known as neighbors, coworkers, and members of clubs and associations. When you were hired by your company or when you joined a given church or club, folks were already there. Some of these people will share your interests and become close friends and partners. Others may feel threatened by your positive actions and work to sabotage you.

How do you remove these weeds from your life?

Minimizing contact is the first step to reduce exposure to the life-sapping efforts of people out to diminish your worth and devalue your goals. When on a job, for example, you choose carefully the people with whom you will have lunch or take breaks.

There are some, of course, from whom you must sever ties as soon as you are aware of the damage they are causing. When you are in any relationship where you sustain physical, emotional or psychological violence, your life and well being depend on removing yourself as soon as possible to safety.

Preventing future weeds from entering and taking over your beautiful and thriving life is the next step. Now that you can recognize them, you can act quickly to keep them from getting a foothold in your life.

Finally, be on guard against inviting and entertaining your own internal weeds in the form of negative thinking and self-destructive habits.

As you practice more positive thoughts, follow your passion and pursue your goals be prepared for the efforts of the weeds to return. It’s their nature to go where they can get nourishment. Now that you are set on cultivating happiness, you must absolutely deny their presence in your life.

But don’t worry about them, they are a hardy and determined breed. They will soon find new, unsuspecting hosts nearby.

Are You Missing the Beam?

automaticdoor[Photo from Leeward Community College Library]

At the end of a report on a longitudinal study on happiness, there was an opportunity for readers to leave comments.

I was drawn to this comment from one of the readers:

In another more distant time, I was quite depressed, and found that walking up a corridor the automatic door would not open for me, although it would for anyone else walking up the same corridor … This happened over some weeks and did little for my self-esteem. It was only later that I realized that I was walking along the edge of the corridor, and the others were walking confidently in the center and that I was missing the beam.

This comment struck me as one of the reasons we miss the good that is available for us in life. Staying along the fringes for whatever reason can certainly cause us to miss the sources so readily available if we were in line with them.

If we are already suffering from low self-esteem or depression, it doesn’t take much to confirm what we already believe to be true. A self-fulfilling prophecy sets in motion.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could put ourselves in position to receive good so we don’t miss the beam?

Here are three things that have helped me navigate through life without missing the beam:

1. Do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

This Golden Rule is so universal that various versions of it are found in over 21 religions. Here are a few.

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a.

Sufism:The basis of Sufism is consideration of the hearts and feelings of others. If you haven’t the will to gladden someone’s heart, then at least beware lest you hurt someone’s heart, for on our path, no sin exists but this.” Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order.

Yoruba: (Nigeria): “One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.”

Native American Spirituality: “Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he who you wrong, but yourself.” Pima proverb.

None of these sayings suggest you be a doormat or let others use you. But extending kindness or refusing to knowingly hurt another, has a greater effect on you than it does on others.

2. Give what you want to receive.

I recently shared with my sister that I had received a card from one of our childhood friends.

She quickly shot back at me “I never hear from any of those people.”

To which I asked, “How many times have you written to them?”

She hadn’t kept in touch with our childhood friends over the years, and yet she wondered why she hadn’t received the very thing she hadn’t given.

Are you guilty of wanting to receive what you’re not willing to give?

This is not a new idea.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38 NIV)

3. Act as if

“If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.” Willam James

This is a tough one for me, but it has worked for me more than once, not just in terms of qualities, but things as well.

Many years ago when I wanted to end a 37 mile commute and move closer to my job, I spent every weekend combing the classifieds and traveling to model homes in new developments and older homes in established neighborhoods. My plan was to find the home I wanted and then begin plans to sell my then current home.

One Sunday evening when I returned from house-searching, a heard a very clear voice say, “You don’t really want to move!”

It startled me since we were still unloading the car, and it was clearly not my kids’ voices.

“What are you talking about?” I thought back to the voice in protest. “I do want to move!”

No, if you really wanted to move, you’d sell your house first.”

I don’t which was more shocking–a voice speaking to me, or the thought of selling my house before I even had the next house in sight.

But I was convinced that this was a clue that I had to act as if the house I wanted was already mine. So, I proceeded to put my house up for sale. It was a scary move, but I was convinced that it was the thing to do.

From the moment the For Sale sign went up on my home, a serious of events began to unfold. The most miraculous was a friend calling to offer to sell me a house she had inherited that was within 10 miles of my job. The remaining events unfolded like the script in a well-written play. Within 7 months my house was sold, my new home was out of escrow and I was moving into my new home two weeks before my teaching job resumed.

If these three ways of getting in line with your good don’t resonate with you, think instead of your cell phone, digital TV or wireless internet service. No matter how great your equipment, surely you agree that it must be in an area where signals are present, and you must be aligned to receive those signals.

The concept of wireless service does not mean no connections are required. You still must have equipment that at some level is wired into a source.

We, as humans, must be in align with a source as well. It doesn’t matter whether you call your source God, Jehovah, higher being, Mother Nature, science, private intuition, the goodness of mankind or Verizon.

Acknowledging your source and aligning yourself with it is what enables you to successfully connect with your good.

If you have been missing the beam, try these three tips and you will confidently embrace your happiness.