"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.”

Another Thing Happy People Do

Photo by blmurch

Photo by blmurch

I recently asked my customers to answer a few questions about their experiences with my book, Color Your Life Happy. Here are responses that customer Renee Gailey, was kind enough to share:

What motivated you to make your first purchase?

I was feeling overwhelmed and very much wanted to get to overjoyed! I also joined the meetup for that reason.

What is your favorite feature of my book?

My favorite is the everyday language that you use and the stories to illustrate your points. Real life examples helped me to understand and also to know I was not alone in this situation.

What life lesson or change have you made as a result of reading my book or receiving my coaching?

I have made several changes. One, I have learned that when I am feeling overwhelmed I am looking at too much of the “picture” at one time and need to break it down into smaller “steps” or sections. Focus on the step you are working on and maybe the next step just to keep yourself on track. I have also learned that no goal no matter how outrageous, is achievable.


Who seems the ideal kind of person to benefit from my book?

Actually anyone who is struggling with their goals or with just handling life. The organization, coping, and “curing” tips are invaluable to them all.

Renee is referring to some of the points I made in Chapter Four.  Here’s an excerpt from pages 79-80

If you’re like many people, then you may have trouble visualizing a big dream. Even if you aspire to becoming a millionaire, owning a beachfront villa, running a successful business, or traveling the world, you may not be able to see it just yet.

No amount of mental calisthenics can help you reach goals if you can’t visualize or believe you can achieve them. So why not set small, reachable goals that move you toward your big goals?

Approach it the way you eat a steak (sorry vegetarians, but work with me here). There’s no doubt you can finish that sizzling steak on your plate, but you wouldn’t try to get the whole thing down in one bite and gulp.

There’s an old joke: “How do you eat an elephant?”

Answer: One bite at a time.

Instead of frustrating yourself with the fact that some goals take time, think about what you can do today and tomorrow that will move you an inch toward that goal.

I spent years longing to travel to Europe, for example. I would browse travel magazines, read travel books and watch travel shows. My friends patiently listened to my daydreams until one of them hit me with a key question: “Do you have a passport?”

All those years of longing to travel abroad, wishing I could save enough money for a trip, and I hadn’t even taken the VERY FIRST step to foreign travel—getting a passport.

Getting a passport was very much within my reach. Post offices and libraries make passports accessible. I didn’t have to know where I was going to travel to apply. As a matter of fact, I discovered, it was less stressful to obtain my passport before making any travel plans, while I was in no rush to receive it.

If I didn’t have the money to buy my passport immediately, smaller steps would have been finding out where to apply and picking up an application. Even just discovering the passport fee is an important small step.

The Chinese proverb is right. “A trip of 1,000 miles begins with one step.”

If you enjoyed this article, click here to subscribe to our newsletter and get a free download of our popular ebook, “It’s About Time: Managing Your Life to Create the Happy Life You Deserve.”

3 Things I Learned in College That Help Me Embrace Happiness

Photo by chrisfutcher from flickr

Photo by chrisfutcher from flickr

Successfully completing college has benefits that reach far beyond my degrees and have helped me embrace happiness.

Here are three of them.

Accepting things as they are

Just as I had to take required courses to complete a given degree, life serves up experiences that I don’t exactly prefer, but seem to show up anyway. Since I can’t control circumstances outside of my sphere, I find aspects of the experience that tie in with my goals and about which I can develop interest.

Recently I had to visit the Social Security office to get clarification about Medicare, for example. I knew that I may have a long wait, so I took my laptop so I could work on projects while I was there. Other times, I may take a book or decide to engage in people-watching to get ideas for my blog.

When I approach an anticipated long wait or meeting with the expectation that it will be productive for me, things always go well and quickly. I spare myself the stress and frustration by accepting and preparing for the situation.

Appreciating and managing the precious gift of time

Managing time well was one of the keys to my success in college, especially in graduate school when I had a family to manage as well.

College courses are conveniently chopped into quarters and semesters, structured by professors and punctuated with tests and projects. It has always been helpful for me to chop my time into chunks as well and keep a calendar and to-do lists to help propel me along the way.

Just as professors assign work, I assign myself tasks to complete, and take them just as seriously as I did my college work.

My purse-sized month-at-a glance calendar is still my favorite, but I’m beginning to use my Google calendar more and more to keep track of appointments and events. Because it syncs with my phone, I get reminders of events and milestones, as well as have the option of getting driving directions if I’ve entered the address in the details.

In addition, I keep a spiral notebook or legal pad nearby at all times, even during business and personal phone calls. That ensures that I will note anything I need to remember and later act upon.

In college, I found that starting on an assignment the day it was given made it so much easier to return to it later and finish it on time.

Likewise, responding quickly to email and phone calls has been very useful because it lessens the chance that I will forget. (Even with a to-do list forgetting an item can happen)

One of the most important entries on my calendar is Pamper Day, usually Wednesdays. That’s when I indulge in self-care such as going to the hairstylist, manicurist or masseuse. In addition, I make time almost weekly for lunch with friends or networking with fellow entrepreneurs.

When you treat yourself well you are also showing the Universe how you want to be treated. It can’t help but respond in kind.

Long ago I learned to schedule fun and relaxation time just as seriously as I do all my other activities so that I get the rejuvenation to keep me feeling joyful and fulfilled. (I just booked my New Years’ Eve excursion. What are you doing New Year’s Eve?)

Committing to projects and relationships wholeheartedly

Completing college required a firm commitment that held fast over many years. Fully engaging and committing to other activities in my life has brought success and deep satisfaction.

Whether it was raising my four children, helping raise my three grandchildren, inflating balloons for the church picnic, writing my dissertation, making kitchen curtains, planting tomatoes, hosting my weekly radio show or chauffeuring a friend to the doctor, I do it with gusto and full commitment.

Just as there were times when I dropped a class in college, there are times, of course, when an activity conflicts with my goals or needs to be postponed for a future date. That’s when I say “no” to the activity and “yes” to myself. That way I’m free to carry out the remaining projects without distraction.

Accepting things as they are, appreciating and managing the precious gift of time and committing to projects and relationships wholeheartedly have put me in the driver’s seat of my life where I embrace happiness during this trip called life. I encourage you to do the same.

It's About Time: Learn to Laugh Your Way to Health and Happiness

Laughter and Cake by tompalumbo on flickr

Laughter and Cake by tompalumbo on flickr

In our culture, we spend an enormous amount of money on doctors, medicine and medical treatment.

It’s too bad that many of us haven’t grasped the truth set forth throughout the ages: laughter is the best medicine.

If you don’t believe it, treat yourself to a belly-deep, robust laugh and watch how much better you feel.

Dr. Madan Kataria believes so much in the benefits of laughing that he started Laughter Yoga and Laughter Clubs. Dr. Kataria says that laughter is nature’s stressbuster. To learn about his clubs and conferences, visit his website http://laughteryoga.org.

This week,the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) is holding its 23rd conference at Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, CA. The 2010 theme is “Biology of Hope/Healing Power of the Human Spirit”
A Tribute to Norman Cousins.

Norman Cousins, former editor of Saturday Review among many other notable achievements, is well known as author of Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient In it he chronicles his recovery from a life-threatening collagen disease with high doses of vitamin C and daily doses of belly laughter.

At their conference AATH attendees will learn how humor and laughter can improve your health, your productivity, and your ability to learn—and as an added bonus, of course, they have scheduled in loads of fun!

Presenters will include experts in humor, laughter, positive psychology, and psychoneuroimmunology. Stressing the power of humor to transform our careers and lives, are also leading researchers, scholars, speakers, authors, and professionals.

And proof that this field is no joke, attendees can earn graduate credit through the AATH Humor Academy.

There is lots of evidence that laughter reduces blood sugar levels, helps blood vessels function better, reduces pain and enables us to tolerate discomfort. Laughter releases hormones that increase performance, creativity and happiness.

So, along with eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, add daily doses of laughter to ensure a healthier and happier life.

“Time spent laughing is time spent with the gods.” Japanese proverb

Get more tips about using your time well here.

It's About Time: What are You Doing with the Time You Have (Left)?

Tree Climbing by eszter on flickr

Tree Climbing by eszter on flickr

You’ve heard speakers, authors and coaches remind us that we all have exactly the same amount of time–24 hours a day.

I’ve said it myself many times, but an email from a friend gave me another perspective.

Last June my friend traveled from the Netherlands to attend a party held in Seattle, WA. That may seem to be a long trip, but my friend was propelled by an undeniable urgency.

She had been diagnosed with a debilitating cancer and was advised by her doctor that she only had a few months to live.

She decided not to waste any of her remaining time, but to have fun and be with friends wherever they were. Along with my friend who travelled all the way from the Netherlands, 30 of us showed up from many other places around the USA.

The first night we enjoyed a pajama party complete with movie, delicious food and popcorn. The next day we met for a Chinese brunch, and then on to visit an island the next. We shopped, ate, drank, laughed and enjoyed each other the whole weekend.

Nine months have passed since my friend returned home, uncertain of her future.

I recently received an email from her updating all of us that the treatments she has been receiving have given her and her doctors hope for a bit longer life. Even though she still faces more radiation and more surgery, we are all happy with this good news.

That’s when it hit me that while we all have 24 hours a day, we don’t know how many days we have. None of us know that.

Those who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses and told by their doctors to get their affairs in order often do just that: get their affairs in order and seek to enjoy activities and goals they may have long neglected.

But what about the rest of us. Why do we need the push of a doctor’s prognosis? Wouldn’t it be great if we all pursued our goals with a sense of urgency?

After all, if we think about it for a minute, we are all terminal. One thing we can absolutely expect from life on this Earth is that it will end. None of us know when.

So, if we acted with urgency, we would get busy moving toward our neglected goal today. We would be less fearful of failure or more concerned about leaving our dream lives unlived.

We would say “I love you” to those who need to long to hear those words.

We would say “thank you” to those we have made a difference in our lives but haven’t been informed by us.

And most of all, we wouldn’t hesitate to take off our shoes and skip through wet grass, climb a tree or pause to watch a lizard doing his pushups on the ground.

How about you? What are you waiting for? What are you doing with the wonderfully delicious and precious time you have left?