"I want to be like you when I grow up."

dressup-resizedI hear this a lot, and until I read Tim Miles response to a similar question, I didn’t have a good comeback.

Now I do.

So you want to be like me when you grow up?

Okay, here goes in no particular order.

  • Get up at 5:30 AM every morning whether you have to go to work or not. (Yes, weekends too.)

  • Each day if you are able to get out of bed under your own power, or you are still alive,  say “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118: 24

  • Write in your journal, morning pages, reflect on your day, go for a walk, meditate or other activity that sets your intention for the day.

  • Stop watching the news. It’s designed to scare and distract you. Someone will tell you if you need to evacuate your neighborhood.

  • Stop waiting for the right time to do what you want. I couldn’t figure out the order in which I should have a teaching career, a family, return to graduate school and be an entrepreneur. So, I did it all along at the same time. (Try giving birth to your 3rd child on the first day of school in the second year of your doctoral studies and returning to classes the next week.)
  • Strive for harmony in your life by making time for work, health, fun, family, friends and spiritual needs.

  • Be willing to do things that make sense to you even if  not to other people, even your family and friends.
  • Learn to enjoy your alone time. Major projects require blocks of thinking and working alone.

  • When you have a burning desire to travel or go to some  event, don’t postpone it waiting for a willing companion. Go by yourself.
  • Risk making a fool of yourself or failing miserably at something.
  • Face frequent bouts with  self-doubt, knowing that you’ll regain your self-confidence and forge ahead.
  • Follow your dream for years even if you aren’t making any money from it.
  • Admit you don’t know everything. Take classes and read constantly.
  • Always be open to learning, especially from your kids.

  • When you figure something out, be willing to share it with others even when they won’t pay you a cent for it.
  • Accept the fact that when you open your heart to love someone (even your kids) they may not love you back in the way that you would like. Love people anyway.
  • Adapt to change. It’s the only constant.
  • Make a plan.
  • Abandon your plan and be spontaneous sometimes.
  • Show gratitude for all your life experiences, even the ones you that didn’t seem so great at first.
  • Then, when you are about to enter your 7th decade, share your life tips with someone who says to you “I want to be like you when I grow up.”

Want to Be Happier? Get with the New Program

Hotel cash ATM machine by cupcake fan on FlickrWhen I was preparing to travel to China the teller at my credit union advised me that merchants around the world preferred their own currency to traveler’s checks.

So, armed only with my debit card and credit cards, I went on my trip. Just as the teller suggested, I got cash from the hotel’s ATM machine and was well prepared for day trips and shopping.

One traveler who was part of our tour group, however, had insisted on buying traditional traveler’s checks because that’s what she had always done.

This disappointed traveler was almost in tears when the hotel front desk manager told her that they wouldn’t accept her traveler’s check. Even though she signed it in front of them the manager insisted that the signatures looked different.

You will be happier on the day that you accept the old way has been replaced with a more efficient and safer version.

Let me give you another example.

Many years ago when newspaper presses were computerized, some employees unwilling to learn to operate the new presses found themselves without jobs. If you’re on any job these days computer use is no longer optional, it’s part of the requisite skills.

Likewise, many people who are seeking temporary employment until they find the jobs they want are discovering that they need to upgrade their computer skills in order to compete. It doesn’t matter whether we think this is fair or not, it just is.

There are likely things that are still equally as good done as they were long ago, but if you’re stuck on doing things the old way you will find many great experiences and opportunities passing you by. In some situations you will just be shut out all together.

Want to Be Happier? Riding a Dead Horse Won't Help

Riding a Dead Horse by James Cridland from flickr

Riding a Dead Horse by James Cridland from flickr

I recently listened to a teleseminar with Brett Harward, author of The 5 Laws That Determine All of Life’s Outcomes He shared many powerful tips on running a successful business all based on the idea that we are not in a recession, but a revolution.

He emphasized that the way of running businesses has changed. The consumer has many choices and a strong voice. Businesses who don’t recognize this are trying to get back to normal. The only problem is that normal has changed.

If you are trying to be happier, but experiencing frustration, you may be trying to live by the old “normal” in your life.

Let me give you an example.

A friend expressed her upset that her teenage nieces and nephews never call her on the telephone or write letters. She continued with accusations of how thoughtless they were. After all, she had done for them when they were growing up.

She confessed that when she complained to them they told her that if she had a computer they would send email or a cell phone they would text her, but that they seldom make phone calls anymore.

That made her even more upset. No way was she going to be forced to get a computer or a cell phone.

Her unwillingness to recognize that modern communication has changed has kept her from more frequent contact with her relatives.

She certainly does not have to invest in a computer or a cell phone if that’s her choice, but she also won’t achieve her objective of keeping close relations with her nieces and nephews by ignoring the changes in how we communicate.

Another example.

A few years before I retired from teaching, we received a notice that all future minutes of our division meetings would be in the form of email. We were urged to read the minutes before the next meeting, notify the Dean’s assistant of any errors or omissions and bring our printed copies to the next meeting.

The Dean went on to stress that “I don’t like to read email” would not be an acceptable excuse and that the only print copy we would receive would be the ones we printed from our own computers.

Our school was actually behind the times compared to the advances in technology on other campuses, and yet some faculty members were upset at this change.

Their upset didn’t block the change in communication. They had to scramble along kicking and screaming, finally learning to use their computers, at least the email.

Are you one of those people who grumbles about the rapid pace of changes in communication, entertainment, transportation and many other things in our lives?

You’re not alone. I can remember dragging my feet on some gadgets and changes along the way. But I soon realized that my success, well-being and happiness were dependent on acknowledging and embracing change.

Riding a dead horse, especially upside down, makes for amazing art full of symbolism.(See photo above) But it’s not a good practice for life progress.

If so, watch out for those bumps and scraps you’re sure to sustain as you get pulled along at the tail end of progress.

Want to be Happier? Longing for the Good Old Days Will Keep You Stuck

42-15530533Many people believe that somewhere in the past were the good old days and that the old way of doing things is best.

If you are want to be happier but feel stuck, it may because you are clinging to this misguided belief.

Over the next few posts I will share why longing or trying to do things the old way will keep you frustrated, stuck and unhappy.

The truth is the good old days were not always that good. It may seem that way in retrospect, but if you examine all the aspects you may be able to put those memories in perspective.

And if you did have some great times but didn’t savor them because you were constantly trying to be in the future, you missed them anyway.

The number one reason the old way won’t work anymore is when it solved a problem that no longer exists.

There’s a story about a new bride who was cooking her first dinner and invited her mother. Her mother arrived early she was observing her daughter as she cooked.

She noticed that her daughter cut a roast in half and placed each half in its own pot on the stove to cook.

The mother looked at her daughter with curiosity and asked, “Why did you put that roast in two small pots instead of cooking it in just one large one?”

The daughter looked at her mother with surprise and said, ” Don’t you remember, that’s the way you always cooked roasts when I was a child.”

The mother threw her head back in laughter and said, “Oh. I just did that because we were so poor that those two small pots were all that I had.”

The daughter was following her mother’s practice without ever knowing why.

It reminds me of the way my mother rolled out dough with an empty beer bottle because she didn’t own a rolling pin. Wouldn’t it be silly for me to follow my mother’s habit when there’s no longer a need.

Take a look at your habits or your longing for the good ol’ days. Are you behaving according to an old problem that no longer exists or tradition that is no longer serving you?

Tell us about it.

How to Cultivate Happiness: Flow with the Seasons

Shortly after birth of my son in 1975

Shortly after birth of my third child, my son, in 1975

When my children were young our family life revolved around their care, school work, and extracurricular activities. During that season of my life my husband and I had jobs, but our children were at the center of our planning. It was our childrearing season.

Here is what I shared in Chapter 6 in my book, “Color Your Life Happy: Create the Success, Abundance and Inner Joy You Deserve.”
about balancing family and work

Once committed and in tune with your spiritual source you will attract into your life the many things, people and circumstances that will make your intention manifest.

When my husband and I were raising our children, their concerns and needs were at the center of our planning.

When we remodeled our kitchen, for example, I wanted a work island even though our kitchen wasn’t quite big enough to give the preferred clearance according to the designer. But while he was just designing a meal preparation and eating center, I was also designing a homework and project center.

On week nights it was a wonderful spot for all four of the children to gather and complete their homework assignments and craft projects. On weekends it became the family cooking center. Sundays after church we’d experiment with new recipes that I found in the local and weekly newspapers. Each child helped do the chopping, grating, measuring and pouring. One of those recipes was such a hit with us that decades later it is still our favorite dish.

I successfully completed the season of childrearing and have enjoyed a number of other seasons since.

Your life,too, goes in seasons. It’s important to throw your energy and efforts into the season in which you are currently living rather than fighting against it.

Resist the temptation to look back to a season that has passed or forward to one whose time has not come. Be fully in the season you are in.

Perhaps you are in your spring preparation season where you are attending college, trade school or completing an internship. Open yourself to all the benefits of this season to create a firm foundation for upcoming seasons where you will enjoy the full bloom of summer.

Or perhaps you are in a wintry transition season between the end of a job, a relationship or death of a loved one and the start of a new way of life for you. Examine what you need to remove from your environment and what you need to gather to expedite the growth. Be patient with yourself as you grieve the loss, and know that the new growth that is not yet visible is forming and preparing to emerge to a full harvest.

To curse the season you are in is not productive. It makes you feel stuck and resentful. The worse part is you miss the beauty of that season and its potential for happiness. Notice the season you are in and flow with it.