Archives for May 2010

A Key Piece of Happiness: Appreciation

Isn’t it wonderful when we hear a simple truth expressed openly?

That’s the way I felt when I heard the short talk by Laura Trice about the importance of saying thank you and telling our loved ones that we need to hear it.

Like many of us, you may not have gotten the thanks and appreciation you want and need, but you can give and get it now.

Listen to Laura and see if you agree. Then leave your comment below.

Practical Success Tips: Hop, Skip, Jump

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When you set a goal do you find yourself getting overwhelmed trying to figure out how you’ll reach your success?

You turn it over and over in your mind, anticipate all that can go wrong and decide it will be hard because it will take time.

If so, you are not alone.

It is a human tendency to try to rely on our left brain–intellect, reasoning, facts–to help us achieve our goals.

At first thought this may seem like a good idea. After all, there are certain steps and strategies we must follow to accomplish our dreams.

But trying to figure out every step, every turn toward your goal will only create that overwhelmed feeling and will not move you toward your goal any quicker.

As a matter of fact, the more overwhelmed you get, the more you  paralyze yourself into inaction.

When we depend on our intellect alone to navigate us to our goal we get overwhelmed because we are often required to do something we’ve never done before.

To get where you’ve never been, you’ve got to be willing to do something you’ve never done.

The left brain deals in what is visible, obvious and tested. But if you only did what you knew would work or what has been tested it would be like marching in place: a lot of movement, but no forward progress.

There is a reason we have a right brain–creative, intuitive, imaginative. It is the part of us that gives us the vision for our goal in the first place and that fires that passion that will ensure our success.

Having all the facts and reasoning, but not the passion and imagination may lead to a form of success, but not the joyful, wonderfully satisfying and fulfillling success we wanted.

Having passion and imagination, but no facts or reasoning will have us arrive somewhere, but perhaps not the success goal for which we were aiming.

Working your left and right brain to work together, here are three steps to reaching your goal successfully.

1. Hop to visualizing your goal.

Visualize what you want. Since this is happening in your mind you can be as elaborate and expansive as you wish. Daydream like you did as a kid and don’t stray into trying to figure out the details of how you will accomplish your goal.

Don’t let what you see in front of you be your guide, and by all means disregard sensible advice.

2. Skip over the fear thoughts.

As soon as you begin to imagine a dream that’s bigger than your current circumstance, your left brain will start throwing facts at you to scare you and making you afraid of the unknown.

Fear has been described as an acronym





Dr. Clint Pearman, author of The Gift: Twelve Ingredients to Improve Your Life,   gave an example from his personal experience when I interviewed him recently. He was driving in his car and heard a song that began with the screeching of tires.  He immediately began to feel the fear, tightening and impending doom in his gut and checked his rearview mirror searching for that out of control car.  When he realized that it was not real, but was the intro to a recorded song (one he had put on to play,) he was able to relax and diffuse the stress. ( Listen to Dr. Pearman’s inspring and motivating interview to hear four  steps to diffusing your stress.)

Some of us live in constant stress from many situations that are not real, but imagined, but have the power to stop us from moving toward our goals.

3. Jump into action.

Waiting for the perfect answer, the perfect mate, the right time will
paralyze us. Why, we could waste our entire lives just…waiting. Each
choice requires some element of risk. Only those willing to risk will enjoy
the rewards. Those who don’t want to take a risk are not spared, though.

Even inaction is a risk. Unfortunately, if you choose not to take a risk, the
results probably won’t be to your liking.

No matter how much we plan and study, there will always be some
uncertainty in life. Get comfortable with this truth. It will help strengthen
your confidence and belief in your ability to handle anything that comes
up. From Chapter 3 of Color Your Life Happy

Take action toward your goal, even a small one. Commit to your goal, be willing to do whatever it takes to get there and you will discover the energy and courage to move forward. Each successful step forward gives you more confidence to take the next one.

When you proceed toward your goals with the three steps you will be following the strategy that has worked for so many others.

What goal will you start toward today?

Practical Happiness Tips: Are We There Yet?

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One day many years ago when our kids were young we finished packing the car, loaded the  kids and soon eased onto the freeway to start an 8-hr drive from Los Angeles, CA  to Yosemite Park for our vacation. Happiness was in store.

Less than one hour into the trip one of the kids started.

“Are we there yet?”

Children aren’t the only ones who are impatient to arrive at a destination. Most of us are so busy anticipating an arrival at a destination or completion of a goal that our minds seem to be absorbed with what we will do and how happy we will be at some future date.

There’s one big problem with this type of thinking, however.

It’s summed up in the joke, “Tomorrow never arrives, because when it gets here it’s today.”

Missing the present.

Here’s another example of missing the present from my book, Color Your Life Happy.

We recently attended the retirement ceremony of
one of my nephews, who served twenty years in the Navy. While enjoying
the delicious food and hospitality on his patio, I asked my daughter,
“How do we get to the freeway from here?” The reception had barely
begun and I had already raced to the future, thinking about our route

Fortunately, my daughter chided me: “Mom, be here and now.”

I snapped back and engaged in conversation and enjoyed the beauty of my

Are we here yet?

Then there’s the other phenomenon of being physically present but not fully present such as in the cartoon above.

It reminds me of my recent first-time experience of a live baseball game.

While attending my oldest grandson’s graduation from Air Force bootcamp we went to a baseball game. I was looking forward to experiencing the game in the open air, watching the action and maybe even eating hot dogs.

What I discovered, however, that the baseball game on the field was the least of what was happening. My grandkids were listening to music on their iPods or playing word games on their Blackberries,  the groups all over the stadium were chattering throughout the whole game, and at frequent intervals there were contests, a webcam zeroing in an unsuspecting couple in the stands, advertisements on the screen and even one advertiser rolling on the field in a cart shooting rolled up t-shirts into the stands.

I caught one.

My goodness!

Occasionally a baseball game was in progress.

Continuing to look ahead or multitask is like spending our entire lives blindfolded or our hands over our ears blocking out the sound or swallowing a  piece of chocolate without it ever touching your tastebuds.

We are missing out on here and now.

And what a loss it is.

I can still remember

  • the awesome feeling of seeing palm trees lining the streets of Los Angeles when I was a new California resident
  • the joy of watching the ground slowly loom closer over London as the plane was landing for my first trip to Europe
  • the huge shot of love in that tiny pillowy palm of my first baby

Wouldn’t it have been a shame to miss these when I was there?  These precious memories always bring me joy, warmth, a smile. They sustain happiness.

Look around you.

What is going on today that you can observe, absorb and enjoy while you are here and now?

More important than the question “Are we there yet?’ is “Are you here now?”

Well, are you?

Practical Happiness Tips: Researchers Prove Grandma Right About Naps

It amazing how things our Grandma told us about quality of life and happiness are now being discovered by researchers.

Grandma knew, for example, that taking a nap was beneficial. Part of grandma’s motivation, of course, was that putting the kids down for a nap gave the adults a break.

But she also knew it was good for us.

In a recent study at UC Berkeley a sleep study was conducted with 39 adults. The subjects were divided into two groups and given a rigorous learning task. The intent of the learning process was to tax the hippocampus, the area of our brain that stores fact-based memories before they move to long-term memory. Both groups performed equally well.

But later that afternoon one group was allowed to take a 90-minute nap while the other was not. The nap group was better able to learn new material better than those who did not take a nap.

Researchers concluded that sleep clears our short-term memory, making room for new knowledge.

In other words, working nonstop, cramming for exams and depriving yourself of sleep diminishes your mental alertness and effectiveness. We also know that this affects our happiness as well.

Duh! Grandma already knew this.

Next this team will study whether the reduced sleep we experience as we get older is related to a reduced capacity to learn as we age. Since I just celebrated a birthday, I’m interested in what this one will find.

Of course I could just save time and ask a Grandma.

Practical Happiness Tip: Take One Small Step

Rome2007Whenever you think of making a change in your life, the biggest obstacle is trying to make it in one leap.

Although it’s said that we should think with the end in mind, thinking of it as one step will block your progress and threaten your happiness. You are much more likely to succeed and feel gratified if you can think of one small step, one tiny move that will start your journey. Then take it.

That one small successful step boosts your self-esteem and gives you confidence to take the next one.

On his blog, Work Happy Now, Karl Staib talks about this in his article Loving What You Do is An Ongoing Process when he suggests letting go of a fixed perspective and asking yourself how you can improve by 1%.

Setting out to improve your job, your relationships or your life by just 1% at a time is so much easier to visualize and easy to do. Instead of making you fearful it is encouraging and in line with the way change occurs anyway.

If you’ve ever watched a plant, a child or a project grow, you know that the day-to-day changes are so tiny that they are imperceptible. And yet, you know that little by little they are progressing toward full growth.

Every idea, plan, dream has a first small step. Even if your goal is big one, it still has a small first step. Learn to respect that small step and congratulate yourself for taking it.

What is your big plan, dream, goal?

Whether your goal is getting a job, starting your own business, attracting a life partner, writing a book, traveling or some other wonderful thing, the progress toward it is the same. One small step.

The small step may be just gathering information, completing a phone call or application, talking to someone who is doing what you want to do or making an outline.

The ancient proverb “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” has survived for centuries not because is colorful, but because it is an encouraging reminder of the slow and steady progress it takes to accomplish meaningful and impressive work. (As a matter of fact, when I visited Rome, it was still undergoing construction.)

What one small step can you take toward your change, goal, plan today?