Archives for April 2010

It's About Time: Enjoy Yours

stumpin by legin on flickrAn IBM ad once showed an employee in his office leaning back in his chair, with his head back in his hands and his feet on his desk.

The caption said something like, “Don’t disturb our engineers, they’re working.”

Too often we equate working with physical movement and busyness and discount time spent quietly reflecting or thinking.

Our best ideas often come in times of quiet, times that may look to an outsider as wasted time. The human mind craves time off to massage all our mental rumblings so that wonderful creations can emerge.

As a matter of fact, most advice on how to be happy suggests meditation, prayer or time spent in silence.

Our inner critic keeps loud constant chatter as it weaves its way through the 65,000 thoughts we have each day.

Our intuition, on the other hand, is a kinder gentler voice that we can only hear when we get still and quiet the inner critic.

Take time off to do nothing, to lean back, to reflect. Give your great ideas a chance to float up to your conscious.

You’ll be rejuvenated and better ready to tackle what lies ahead of you.

“Realize that now, in this moment of time, you are creating. You are creating your next moment. That is what’s real. “ Sara Paddison

3 Happiness Myths Debunked

42-15689883The desire for happiness is as old as mankind, and the myths surrounding it are alive and well.

1. Happiness depends on your circumstances.

If this were true, then folks born into dire poverty or who undergo traumatic situations would be unhappy while the fortunates who are born into opulence and live even, pleasant lives would be happy.

You immediately recognize that this is not the case.

The news confirms this each time we hear a report of a wealthy kid overdosing on drugs or a parapalegic who reaches an amazing athletic achievement.

We all are born into circumstances over which we have no control. As we grow up, we will encounter adversity and sometimes tragedy.It is how we respond to those circumstances that determines our success, achievement and happiness.

Every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.Napoleon Hill

2. Money won’t make you happy.

This myth may make you feel better when you are facing economic challenges, but the truth is a certain amount of money does indeed contribute to your happiness.

While we can often live on less money than we think, there is nothing noble about being impoverished and not being able to provide adequately for your family. Once our basic needs are met, however, accumulating more money and possessions may give brief exhiliration, but won’t add to our happiness.

How you spend your money is more important than how much you have. When you spend money on creating memorable experience, such as taking your family on an awesome vacation, is more fulfilling than spending it on another TV set whose newness and appeal will soon wear off.

Most important of all is to avoid tying your own personal value to the amount of money you have.

3. Being around happy people will make you happy.

Happiness is an inside job. It’s the peace you make within yourself and the habits you put in place that matter.

When you associate with positive people, it certainly reinforces the positive thinking you have within. But if you’re holding onto negative thoughts and neglecting to take steps to build your self-esteem, being around happy people won’t work magic.

What other happiness myths are you holding onto?

Five Ways to Increase Your Happiness and Success

adaToday I received an newsletter from Doug Stevenson of Story Theater International Inc. in which he spells out lessons he learned as an actor that helped him succeed in business. As I was absorbing his key points, it occurred to me that his lessons could apply to life happiness as well.

Based on some of the points shared by Doug I created this list of five ways to increase your life happiness and success.

1. Go after what you want often

Actors who want to work must audition frequently. They actively look for roles and try out countless times facing rejection before landing roles.

Likewise, you have you must try out many ways to reach your goals. If returning to school is your goal, for example, you must get up the courage to seek the right school, apply and once accepted, begin taking classes that offer challenges and much work over perhaps a number of years.

If you tell me that you want to own a restaurant one day, I expect to see you devoting a lot of your time to working in a restaurant, taking classes in culinary skills, restaurant management and networking with other restaurant owners.

If one path to your goal is blocked or inaccessible, continually look for other avenues to your success.

2. Avoid sabotaging your own success.

One of my friends is very skilled at playing the piano and wants to one day play with a band. But she keeps thinking of reasons a career in music might not work out for her. Her fears lead to lack of confidence which leads to hesitance to go after gigs that could move her toward her goal.

Her negative self-talk builds up to a crescendo that sabotages her own success before anyone else gets the chance.

Doug tells in his newsletter about a time when he thought he was wrong for a role. He had to psych himself up for the audition and trust his agent. As it turns out, the director was casting against type. So Doug was right, he wasn’t the type for the role, but he was wrong in assuming that they were looking for the typical.

As you keep exploring your options you will eventually move closer to your success. Are you talking yourself out of going for your goals? Are you rejecting yourself before anyone else has the chance?

3. Respect your role

In every cast, group, family and company there will be many roles. Each role is vital to making the whole work.

When I was writing my book, Color Your Life Happy, I would sometimes to begin to feel intimidated when I looked at all the books on happiness filling the shelves at the bookstore.

“What could my book possibly add to the field?” I lamented to my coach.

He would then remind me that no matter how many books are on the market, no one could tell my message but me. And, somewhere in the world someone was waiting to hear what I had to say about creating happiness, abundance and inner joy. Thus, there even though there are thousands of books, my book had its role and its place.

Regardless of your position in a company you play an important role. Every part in the support system helps to hold up the whole structure.

Recognize that your role, small or big, contributes to the success of the whole. Then give your all to that role. Even if you are in a job that you consider a steppingstone to your dream job, do your best work with enthusiasm and integrity. You are building the foundation for your success.

4. Build your relationships with others in the drama called Your Life.

Be careful not to view the people you pass on your path to success as collateral damage. Build relationships with the coworkers and others you meet. Some will be in your life for a short time, never to be seen again.

Others will become colleagues, partners or leads in other projects and endeavors.

You won’t necessarily be drawn into close friendships with everyone you meet, but be kind and cooperate when working together.

5. Show up for the performance.

Woody Allen said “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

Show up in your life by actively going after your goals, attending events that interest you and getting engaged with activities that inspire and encourage you.

If you have an idea, try it out. If it fails or doesn’t work out, try something else.

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was too stupid to learn anything. He was fired from his first two jobs for being non-productive. As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb.

When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Think of the sun as the spotlights on your stage of life awaiting your arrival each morning. You can’t be sure how you will be received by the world, but you can ensure your own happiness and success by showing up and giving your best performance.

The Daffodil Principle

The private Daffodil Garden planted by Gene Bauer, Running Springs, CA

The private Daffodil Garden planted by Gene Bauer, Running Springs, CA

In her newsletter today, Linda Miller of ZeroPointRevolution shared the following story. Rather than summarize it, I thought it would be more powerful for you to read the full version for yourself.

The Daffodil Principle
by Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come and see the daffodils before they are over.” I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. Going and coming took most of a day–and I honestly did not have a free day until the following week.

“I will come next Tuesday, ” I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove the length of Route 91, continued on I-215, and finally turned onto Route 18 and began to drive up the mountain highway. The tops of the mountains were sheathed in clouds, and I had gone only a few miles when the road was completely covered with a wet, gray blanket of fog. I slowed to a crawl, my heart pounding. The road becomes narrow and winding toward the top of the mountain. As I executed the hazardous turns at a snail’s pace, I was praying to reach the turnoff at Blue Jay that would signify I had arrived. When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren I said, “Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these darling children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!”

My daughter smiled calmly,” We drive in this all the time, Mother.”

“Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears–and then I’m heading for home!” I assured her.

“I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car. The mechanic just called, and they’ve finished repairing the engine,” she answered.

“How far will we have to drive?” I asked cautiously.

“Just a few blocks,” Carolyn said cheerfully.

So we buckled up the children and went out to my car. “I’ll drive,” Carolyn offered. “I’m used to this.” We got into the car, and she began driving.

In a few minutes I was aware that we were back on the Rim-of-the-World Road heading over the top of the mountain. “Where are we going?” I exclaimed, distressed to be back on the mountain road in the fog. “This isn’t the way to the garage!”

“We’re going to my garage the long way,” Carolyn smiled, “by way of the daffodils.”

“Carolyn,” I said sternly, trying to sound as if I was still the mother and in charge of the situation, “please turn around. There is nothing in the world that I want to see enough to drive on this road in this weather.”

“It’s all right, Mother,” She replied with a knowing grin. “I know what I’m doing. I promise, you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”

And so my sweet, darling daughter who had never given me a minute of difficulty in her whole life was suddenly in charge — and she was kidnapping me! I couldn’t believe it. Like it or not, I was on the way to see some ridiculous daffodils — driving through the thick, gray silence of the mist-wrapped mountaintop at what I thought was risk to life and limb.

I muttered all the way. After about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak-filled hollow on the side of the mountain. The Fog had lifted a little, but the sky was lowering, gray and heavy with clouds.

We parked in a small parking lot adjoining a little stone church. From our vantage point at the top of the mountain we could see beyond us, in the mist, the crests of the San Bernardino range like the dark, humped backs of a herd of elephants. Far below us the fog-shrouded valleys, hills, and flatlands stretched away to the desert.

On the far side of the church I saw a pine-needle-covered path, with towering evergreens and manzanita bushes and an inconspicuous, lettered sign “Daffodil Garden.”

We each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path as it wound through the trees. The mountain sloped away from the side of the path in irregular dips, folds, and valleys, like a deeply creased skirt.

Live oaks, mountain laurel, shrubs, and bushes clustered in the folds, and in the gray, drizzling air, the green foliage looked dark and monochromatic. I shivered.

Then we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight, unexpectedly and completely splendid. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist-filled air, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow.

Each different-colored variety (I learned later that there were more than thirty-five varieties of daffodils in the vast display) was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.

In the center of this incredible and dazzling display of gold, a great cascade of purple grape hyacinth flowed down like a waterfall of blossoms framed in its own rock-lined basin, weaving through the brilliant daffodils.

A charming path wound throughout the garden. There were several resting stations, paved with stone and furnished with Victorian wooden benches and great tubs of coral and carmine tulips. As though this were not magnificence enough, Mother Nature had to add her own grace note — above the daffodils, a bevy of western bluebirds flitted and darted, flashing their brilliance. These charming little birds are the color of sapphires with breasts of magenta red. As they dance in the air, their colors are truly like jewels above the blowing, glowing daffodils. The effect was spectacular.

It did not matter that the sun was not shining. The brilliance of the daffodils was like the glow of the brightest sunlit day. Words, wonderful as they are, simply cannot describe the incredible beauty of that flower-bedecked mountain top.

Five acres of flowers! (This too I discovered later when some of my questions were answered.) “But who has done this?” I asked Carolyn. I was overflowing with gratitude that she brought me — even against my will. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Who?” I asked again, almost speechless with wonder, “And how, and why, and when?”

“It’s just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.” Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory.

We walked up to the house, my mind buzzing with questions. On the patio we saw a poster. ” Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking” was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman, two hands, two feet, and very little brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”

There it was. The Daffodil Principle.

For me that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than thirty-five years before, had begun — one bulb at a time — to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. One bulb at a time.

There was no other way to do it. One bulb at a time. No shortcuts — simply loving the slow process of planting. Loving the work as it unfolded.

Loving an achievement that grew so slowly and that bloomed for only three weeks of each year. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world.

This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principle of celebration: learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time — often just one baby-step at a time — learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.

When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

“Carolyn,” I said that morning on the top of the mountain as we left the haven of daffodils, our minds and hearts still bathed and bemused by the splendors we had seen, “it’s as though that remarkable woman has needle-pointed the earth! Decorated it. Just think of it, she planted every single bulb for more than thirty years. One bulb at a time! And that’s the only way this garden could be created. Every individual bulb had to be planted. There was no way of short-circuiting that process. Five acres of blooms. That magnificent cascade of hyacinth!

All, all, just one bulb at a time.”

The thought of it filled my mind. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the implications of what I had seen. “It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!” My wise daughter put the car into gear and summed up the message of the day in her direct way. “Start tomorrow,” she said with the same knowing smile she had worn for most of the morning. Oh, profound wisdom!

It is pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson a celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, “How can I put this to use tomorrow?”

Be the First

Dirtee Hollywood's Molly Crabapple Collection Launch Night at Fred Segal on Melrose Los Angeles

Dirtee Hollywood's Molly Crabapple Collection Launch Night at Fred Segal on Melrose Los Angeles

When I set up a fan page on Facebook there was a tip suggesting I be the first to sign up for my fan club. Good thing they posted that suggestion because I didn’t immediately think of that. And yet, if I want others to join me it makes sense that I need to be in front.  It made me think of other situations in our lives where being the first has benefits.

Be your own first fan when

1. You’re looking for a new relationship

Looking for love? It’s critical that you love yourself first. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating since you may find it elusive.

No one is drawn to desperate, depressed and lonely people. So, if you want to attract a vibrant love you must be vibrant.

Treat yourself well, whether it’s eating food that is good for you, taking breaks from work and going out to entertainment you enjoy. You don’t have to wait for the right partner to come along in order for you to do any of these things.

When I want to see a play, musical or movie, I will go alone if none of my friends are available or interested. It’s a different but fun experience. It’s so much easier to find one seat, even at the last minute.

Since self-talk is constant in all of us, make yours positive. Quiet that inner critic who wants to remind you of your mistakes and flaws, and turn up the volume on your intuition, the voice that praises and guides you to positive thoughts and action.

2. You’re looking for a new job

Approach job-hunting as a match between your skills and strengths and the opportunities to use these in a job or project.

Take an honest assessment of your strengths and determine which skills you need build up or add.

When I applied for a teaching position over twenty years ago, computer skills were preferred. Now most job descriptions say computer competency required.

If you are returning to the job market after an absence of ten years, it’s for sure you will need to strengthen your computer skills. You may have left a job to raise your family, or been on the same job doing the same skills with which you began decades before.

Or maybe you operated a successful business relying on a set of loyal customers that are now beginning to dwindle.

No matter what your position in your next job, chances are you will be expected to be competent in at least word processing, creating worksheets, scheduling, and perhaps even in using social media to market and promote your company. Add to that the fact that retail relies on advanced computer programs for ringing up sales and telephone communication.

Take the classes and training that will fill the gaps in your skills and make you the ideal candidate for the jobs you seek.

3. You’re starting a business

If your first thought when going into business is how much money you’ll make, you’re making a big mistake. Even though earning profits is a key expectation, you must begin with a focus on the product or service you will provide your customers.

Select a product or service about which you are passionate.

I recall picking up my clothes from the cleaners once and hearing the owner on the telephone complaining about how much he hated the cleaning business. That was the last time I used his company.

If you sell a product, you should be your best customer. It seems obvious, but how can you convince others to buy your coffee, makeup, or line of clothing if you don’t believe it in it first.

So take a look at your life to discover what endeavors you are pursuing. Then ask yourself if you are your first fan. If not, it’s time to reconsider your endeavor and revise your goals.