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?

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.

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.