Wanna Be Happy?

“It doesn’t matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn’t matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week, or ten thousand years — we turn on the light and it is illuminated. Once we control our capacity for love and happiness, the light has been turned on.” —Sharon Salzberg

Yeah, of course we all want to be happy, that wonderful feeling inside that makes us excited about everything, and hopeful for the future.  Happiness is a strange thing, it comes and goes, it is conditional to how we face things in our everyday life.  Most of the time it hinges on our mood that day which in some cases can be like the weather on a tropical island that can tend to change an hour at a time.

What I wanted to talk about here is our overall state of mind, and what it is that can make us happy.  There are an awful lot of unhappy people in the world today for a myriad of reasons.  However, I believe that one huge problem which causes a great deal of discontent has to do with the fact that too many people spend a great portion of their life looking for what can make them happy. That to me is like the proverbial, “placing the cart before the horse”, it simply does not work that way

I am going to let you in on a very important secret, and that is a very important key to happiness. True happiness is borne, not through looking for whom or what might make you happy, but rather looking for who you might make happy, and then happiness will find you!  Whilst you think you know what will make you happy, and off you go to pursue it, you soon find out that happiness tends to evade you. Why is this?  Well for one, by setting a mental standard of what to you might seem to be just what will make you happy, once you finally get what is coming to you, more often than not, it does not come up to snuff and you end up not being “as happy” as you had hoped.

One example of this concept is, have you ever really wanted something so bad, like a computer for example, you save up for it and the time finally comes that you buy it!  Yahoo!  You take it home, you get it set up, and it is great and all, but then you notice the following day that they just put out a new model that performs a bit better than yours! Oh my! You are once again not as happy as you had hoped!  You are looking to be made happy, instead of having that joy of gratefulness that you finally got that computer you had been saving up for, and are so happy that today you are able to do so much more than you were doing before.  Seems like a silly example, but that is how we tend to operate as individuals, we tend to look around and compare with others and see what they have and we don’t.  Not a good idea!

So, if you want to be happy, look around you and see who you might  make happy and you will soon find out that true happiness comes from this very principle, and that is once again, give and it will be given to you!  It will work in your love life, it works at work, it works always.  Just don’t ever expect anything in return and you are sure to never be disappointed, in fact in time it will all come back to you multiplied many times over!

Try it, you just might like it! Then tell me about it!

Finding a Balance

“Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them”. —Thomas Kinkade

There really should be more hours in a day!  I heard someone say, perhaps you have heard it as well that, “life is like a suitcase, some people are able to pack more into it” and I find this to so true!  There is and always will be so much that we need to get done that truly it would be cool if we were able to have a little extension permit to the day!  But the fact of the matter is, there is more to life than “getting all those things done” that is just as important and in fact will help us to be even more productive.

I heard it shared like this: Eat right, exercise right, work right, play right, love right, this is the formula for success.  And this is so true!  There are a few things that we absolutely cannot go without and they are eating and sleeping.  If you try to do away with those two activities you will be good for nothing else.  And even those activities need to be done right in order to maintain a balance in your life.  You do also need some “off time” to just let your hair down and relax and have some play time, all work and no play makes a very dull person in general.  And love right, yes inter-personal relations is all important, time to love and share moments together with others brings richness to your life and that of those around you!

Let’s break this down:

Eat right: Stop and take the time to eat a good balanced meal at the proper times during the day!  This does wonders to give you energy, try to avoid over eating in the middle of the day as this will cause you to lose concentration and will lessen your productivity during your working hours!

Exercise right: A few stretches everyday to get your body ready for the day, and take at least 3 days out of the week to have a real thorough work out in order to stay fit and healthy!  I just started up at a gym recently and have been amazed at how much more energy I have.

Work right: Did you know that the day actually starts the night before?  That’s right!  Plan your next day out so that you can make the best of it!  Make your schedule the night before and stick to it as much as is possible.  There are times that you will have an emergency to tend to, or things will not work out just as you planned but you can always work around that.  This will help reduce stress, raise productivity and make you feel good about yourself!

Play right: Yep, play is important, don’t take life too seriously, get some “off time” with your spouse, children or friends and do something fun together.  Get your mind off of your work for a bit so that once you have to get back to work, you will be refreshed, re-envisioned and renewed!  The person that you spend time with needs it too, and relationship will also be strengthened!

Love right: Yes, love plays a very important role as well.  Time with your family, and in particular your spouse! This can be simply enjoying a relaxed moment to share your heart together or a time to have a good love up time and some good sex (if available)!  Yes I did say sex and I think that now I will get 1000 hits more a day on my site! But having good sex is not only enjoyable, it is a necessity in life and God-given gift.  It certainly helps to reduce stress, so make sure you include this as well.

This is a pretty simple list, and to include all of this in your life will help you to bring a better balance and perspective to your life.  There is always a balance even in these different activities, too much of anything can be harmful, we are all different and our personal needs are also different so you will have to decide how much of what is best suited for you!

Do you have a balanced lifestyle?  From 1-10 how would you rate your ability to fill your “suitcase”?

Love IS Sometimes Having to Say You Are Sorry

There’s one sad truth in life I’ve found  
While journeying east and west –
The only folks we really wound
Are those we love the best.
We flatter those we scarcely know,
We please the fleeting guest,
And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best.
~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

How sadly true the words Ella shares above, we are more often guilty of hurting the very ones we love the most!  However ill intended it may be, it is a fact we tend to mistreat those we are close to and flatter those we hardly know.  We are then left with one very important action, and that is to seek forgiveness from those we love through apology.

Some of you will recall the old 1970 movie by Eric Segal starring  Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw. A very touching love story of two young people who meet fall in love and then tragedy strikes.  The most famous line of the movie was “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”  Well, were this true, there would be possibly no love in existence at all. Very idealistic and I must say, wow it would be great were it possible!

Why might you think that this is so?  I have a few thoughts on this myself, but would interested in how you see this as well!  For one, we grow familiar with people through time and tend to expect a lot from them.  We expect them to see things as we do, or at least to know us well enough to understand why we act the way we do.  It is a bit pretentious but true, “she (he) should just accept me as I am, beside she (he) knows I love her (him) so what it the big deal!?” Or two, “why do I have to always admit mistakes, she (he) has made her (his) share of mistakes and he (she) never apologizes to me! The old always and never fallacy!

We expect a lot out of those we love, and tend to forget just how important reassurances are in a relationship.  It takes a lot of humility to love someone and it kills our pride to have to admit that we are not perfect as much as we would think we are.  Well, we aren’t perfect and so it unfortunately is necessary to admit this fact especially if we have hurt someone due to our lack of sensitivity towards them.  If we can rest assured with the fact that no one has of yet died of indigestion after having swallowed their pride, then we can be certain that it can’t be so harmful to swallow it now and then.  In fact it not only is not harmful it is healthy to apologize when we have wronged someone.

When you do apologize, it is a true sign that you are not thinking just about yourself, but you are taking into consideration the feelings of others.  So, given that fact, it is a definite sign of love, therefore saying you are sorry is saying that you do care and that you do love…it is love! It takes courage, it takes humility, it takes love, so if you need to apologize for something,  go for it!  It usually takes the air out of anyone that may be upset with you for something you did, and most often it can help solve a lot of problems before they become even bigger.


The Pitfalls of Praise

Few people have the wisdom to prefer the criticism that would do them good, to the praise that deceives them. — Francois de La Rochefoucauld

We all just love to hear our name mentioned, it is like music to our ears, unless it means that we are in trouble! We all need encouragement and praise is a very important practice that will surely lead to greater results and even save the lives of the praise depraved! It is so important to give credit where credit is due, praise your kids for the things they do to express your appreciation for their compliance, praise your co-workers for a job well done so that as a team you can continue to progress.  Praise is valuable and we do not do enough of it when it really counts.

But there is a time that praise can lead to not-so-positive results and I wanted to share a few here and see if you can come up with other examples. For one, false praise is detected quite easily when you want to gain some status for yourself so you are generous with your praise with the hope that you will be recognized and considered for promotion.  The kind of which I spoke in a previous post “Brown Noser or Contributor”.  It becomes obvious to those around you that you are quick to praise your boss or a leader for personal gain, then your sincerity and praise will  be placed in doubt when you finally acknowledge others.

Then there is when you are on the receiving end of praise, and perhaps you are a public figure, successful in business, an artist of some kind and you are overwhelmed with praise from the General Public, friends or subordinates.  This throws you in the limelight and you now “have a name”, unfortunately this can become an addiction and be downright dangerous.  It can easily go to your head and fill you with a pride that becomes toxic and dangerous to your very being.  It can  feel good, but it can also eventually make you feel above everyone and everything around you leading to do things that previously you would have never thought about doing.

It is good to bathe in the praise offered you for a time, but remember to get out of the shower and come back down on earth lest you be set up for a big fall.  You have remember that praise lasts only a while, and once you are addicted to it, and it is no longer, there you might find  yourself in great misery.  Just take a good look at those who have risen to fam, what kind of lives they have led, where did it lead them, are they really happy?

Praise can be great, just use it in small doses, otherwise it could led to pride and keep in mind that pride comes before a fall!  Make sure when you praise that you praise sincerely in order to help those who need encouragement.  It is amazing how some seemingly negative things like criticism can bring good, and other seemingly positive things can bring about something bad.

I covered some pitfalls of praise, can you think of others?  What are your thoughts on the matter?

The Compliment of Criticism

“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing” –Aristotle

Criticism is truly hard to take no matter how it is given.  There are however different types of criticism, constructive criticism that is meant to help you do your job better, usually administered by someone who would like to see you succeed in your work, and criticism given by a born critic.  Some people are plagued with a negative mindset and pretty much anything and everything will fail on the scale of their opinion.  They tend to thrive on negative thoughts, and if there is nothing bad going on, they are sure to invent it!

It is easy to grow defensive of our own work, after all you have spent a good amount of your personal blood, sweat and tears laboring away to accomplish something and then someone comes along and tears it all down with a comment.  The fact of the matter is, there is no way on earth you will ever be able to satisfy everyone, you can try hard at it, but if that is what you are attempting to do, prepare for great disappointment!  The best attitude to have when working on anything is to be ready and accept the fact from the beginning that you will be met with criticism.

The good news is, being criticized means that you are doing something!  Only those who do not do anything, never try anything, are too afraid to make any move are the only ones that never receive any criticism! So if you are being criticized, this could be a wonderful compliment, it means that you are going somewhere.  Criticizing can be due to many things, perhaps others are jealous of you and what you are able to accomplish, so in order to elevate themselves they will attempt to put you down.  They might just be chronic criticizers who have little or nothing else to do and therefore they have taken on this activity as their “profession”.  And yes there is the true friend who really would like to see you succeed and so he offers you a sincere criticism in order to help you to perfect what you are doing.

Leaders are usually subjected to a lot of criticism.  They are often in their position because of the fact that they are good leaders, but good or bad as they may be, because they are going places and doing things, they are the target of a lot of criticism!  You cannot desire leadership if you are afraid of being criticized, spoken bad about or eventually even hated by others.  This unfortunately comes with the job of a leader.  But a good leader will be open to this fact, be able to wade through the criticism, pick out what might be relevant and learn from it without being offended. If you are affected by criticism, do not seek out a leadership position!

I really do not look forward to election time, as despite the fact that debate is necessary in order to arrive to the solution in any matter, during the campaign stage there is so much senseless mudslinging on both sides of the aisle.  What those who tend to sling mud don’t take into consideration is:”he who throws dirt loses ground!” Most of the criticism is not constructive, if it were it would not just accentuate the obvious problem but rather clearly offer a solution.

So if you are a victim of criticism, cheer up, you may be doing something.  Just don’t let it get you down and to stop moving at all! Look at the criticism and try to evaluate whether it holds any possible point in truth and make any modifications that you deem necessary. We are all subject to the gossip of others, unfortunately that comes with life, just don’t let it be what influences your every decision!

How do you take criticism? Do you use it to make you better or allow it to  weaken you through feelings of failure?

Sensitivity-A Communication Killer!

The other day I wrote about tough love, which can come in the form of discipline or correction.  Correction to most of us is not so easy to swallow, it is like being given a plate of boiled liver, tough and not tasty, nonetheless  it is a necessary part of life because if there is no one there to help correct us in order to insure that things are done properly, we will go on through life making the same mistakes.

Today I wanted to share a point concerning the killer of communication and this is sensitivity.  There is a good sensitivity when you are sensitive towards the needs of others or their feelings.  When you are able to empathize with others and learn to walk in their shoes so as to avoid causing unnecessary hurt feelings or pain.  The other is not that positive, it is when you are overly sensitive to other’s words or situations and are easily offended, this is the sensitivity that I am addressing.

Some might defend themselves and say. “I have to be myself and let others know how I feel otherwise I am just being a wimp.”  Yes, while this to a certain extent is true, it is important the be able to express ourselves so that our position is understood, but when it comes to being overly defensive when our boss, friend or co-worker is trying to point something out about us that may need to be fine tuned or changed, it is best to keep our emotions toned down a few notches.

As time goes on, should we react continually in a defensive manner, we will find ourselves very lonely!  The fact of the matter is, on the work place, amongst real friends etc., should our reaction to any suggestion that we may be wrong be sensitive or offended, sooner or later our colleagues, or friends will simply stop attempting to communicate with us!  It becomes too much work to have to “pick up the pieces” when others fall apart each time we have to mention something that they may need to work on. So, human nature tells us to avoid the situation and pass on by.

By being overly sensitive we begin closing the door to any hope of growth or even social life.  The fact is, we all could use some fine tuning, and not that we are all always “wrong”, but we do need to co-exist with the rest of the world, and this is why we need to be open to change and willing to adapt to our surroundings.

In a marriage or relationship this problem, although initially may not exist, tends to surface after you have been together for some time. After growing familiar with one another, for one it is difficult to take criticism ever, and two you wonder why after such a long time your partner is getting “picky” over something that they used to seem to be fine with before.  You feel, “what is the big deal, this is how I am, just live with it” while the fact is, you have been doing something that has always been a little bothersome but it was overlooked through your “in-love” stage. But if you cannot learn to communicate honestly with your partner, you are soon to run into some pretty big problems.

Communication is absolutely essential in life! Not all communication is done “the right way”, so we need to learn to listen in order to respond in such a way that will leave the door open to others.  If we don’t, within time we will find that everyone will be side stepping us everywhere we go, and the world will become a very lonely place!

How do you handle correction or criticism?  Do you take in stride or do you tend to make it hard to deliver?

Appreciation–An All Too Neglected Practice

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary. — Margaret Cousins

There are so many things in life that we simply take for granted, particularly the people that we live with, work with, and encounter in the course of the day.  It is so common to grow used to things being the way they are that we don’t pause long enough during the day to take notice of them let alone to express our appreciation for them through words or acts of appreciation.

It is interesting that this might be so since we all know how wonderful it is when someone takes notice of something that we took the time to attend to at work, or a special something we do for our spouse, or family member.  Not that this is why we do things for others in the first place, but when anyone sits up and takes notice of us, and expresses their appreciation to us, it makes us want to go out of our way to do even more things for them.

Knowing how appreciation helps to spur us on to do better, it is a wonder why we don’t show our appreciation more generously to those who we live and work with.  Of course if you have been raised in an environment where little or no appreciation has been given for what you have done, then it can seem normal to you to treat others the very same way that you have been treated. In the Bible it says to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you“, but this often is miss quoted or miss applied as “do unto others as they have done unto you“.

Have you ever worked really hard to accomplish something at work or at home that you felt real satisfied with and that brought about real progress or improvement, but then it only gets a passing glance?  No appreciation for all the hard work, the long hours, the concentrated effort that went into it, and in the end no one acknowledged you for it?  How did that make you feel?  Did it make you want to continue to do it again or rather did it make you feel like “what’s the use”?” Most likely you felt like saving yourself the effort the next time around.

Now try this…stop and take a moment to thank your wife for having cooked a wonderful meal and let her know how much you appreciate the way she prepared the meal. Tell you husband how much it means to you when he takes the trash out with out you having to remind him.  Thank your son or daughter for the extra chores that they do around the house and make sure to reward them in some significant way for their good job! Express today to your co-worker your appreciation for all the details that they tend to throughout the day!  Do this regularly for a few months and see if you don’t notice a major difference in how they work, respond to you and reciprocate your attitude!

By applying this principal and putting it into practice, you are sure to notice a tremendous change for the better!  Appreciation is powerful, appreciation is yet another way of expressing love and it is love, not money that makes the world go around!  How has it changed your life when you have been appreciated? What was it like to go largely unnoticed? Your comments are appreciated!  (Yes they truly will be!)

The Weed of Bitterness

Song Verse: “So watch the garden of your heart, never let the evil start, little thoughts are little seeds, growing good or evil deeds, into flowers sweet…or weeds….they all must grow!“–Author unknown

I talked about forgiveness in my last post and how it can be liberating if you learn to forgive. Today I wanted to talk about the potential consequences of holding on to bitterness and ill feelings towards others, your current situation or towards anything for that matter.

When you occupy your mind with ill feelings or bitterness or negativity of any kind, you are blocking the way to any potential forward movement or progress of any kind.  Holding on to bitterness or negative feelings wastes so much of your valuable mental resources that it leaves little room for constructive thought or creativity.  Your mind tends to go on and on building up a case to justify your feeling the way that you do.

Bitterness is like a weed that unfortunately doesn’t just stop at the negative feelings that you may have towards a person or situation, but then it will go beyond this and will begin to  absorb the nutrition from the blossoming flowers of progress, creativity and life-giving thoughts or ideas that you may otherwise be able to nurture.

Bitterness can grow to such overwhelming proportions just as certain weeds can tend to do, that once they have grown to a certain size, they are much harder to eradicate.  The roots grow deeper, and the stalks grow so thick that in order to cut them it will take an axe instead of a simple weeding tool were you to have tended to it from the beginning!

If allowed to grow and fester for a prolonged period of time, bitterness can even cause you to develop into much more serious physical illnesses that can even be fatal!  You have to guard yourself from this awful weed! Guard the garden of your heart from the terrible weed of bitterness.  If you take notice of bitterness popping up its ugly head in your heart, take action right away, do whatever it takes to get ride if it, before it grows into a monster of a plant that saps you of your strength, both mental and physical!

Have you had experiences where you held on to bitterness and were able to finally let it go?  How did it make you feel once you were freed from its grip.  Share your story!

The Liberation of Forgiveness

We all are here on planet earth, and we are not alone! Thank God!  But on the other had, we are all just human and we make our set of mistakes.  Mistakes that hurt us, and mistakes that have serious consequences to others as well.  We live in a “dog eat dog” environment, where competition is high on all fronts and in order to get ahead, some people end up getting trampled! This is a very ugly reality that we live with, and sad to say along life’s arduous road some people get hurt, others get left behind, and then there are those who get ahead.

It is not a fun thing to be wronged by someone, and in particular it is most difficult to be wronged by someone who we have been close to, or emotionally involved with, as it hurts even more, and the scars can last for a very long time! But actually, what is it that causes these “scars” to go on for so long?  They are contingent on our ability or inability to hold on to them or to let go! At the end of the day the decision is ours .

To forgive is not always that easy to do, it costs us great courage, strength and even some times our dignity.  However if you weigh this pain against that which can be caused by holding on to the past, bitterness, anguish, hatred and vindication, it can have a far less negative effect on the overall.  All the energy that it takes out of you when you get so emotionally wrapped up in the ordeal can work against you in the long run! Science has proven that  anger and rage built up over time can have serious adverse affects, not only on your mental state but even on your overall physical health.

To learn how to forgive and yes, even forget, is not all that easy, but it a power that will bring an incredible liberation.  When you hold on to a negative sentiment, the only person that you end up hurting is yourself! You are surrendering to the person who has wronged you, and in the case of one who may have deliberately wronged you, you have handed over to them victory and satisfaction.  However, when you are able to forgive, forget and move on, you have gained an incredible freedom of mind which will liberate you to move on. There is no sweeter victory!

Have you experienced difficulty and misfortune at the hand of another?  How did you handle it?

Making Others Be Just Like Us!?

We have all been created equal, yet we are all different one from the other.  That is what makes life so wonderful, the world so colorful and life so amazing!  And yet, despite this wonderful difference, many of us spend a great deal of our time trying to make others just like us! We think, erroneously, that if others would just be like us, then we would get along so much better.  The world would be a better place if only we were all the same! This is a mistaken thought that we tend to have in relationships, in politics and on the workplace.

Why is not good in a relationship?

When we find our “soul mate” and fall in love, we enjoy our partner so much that the differences that are between us go largely unnoticed. We are so over-the-moon, love-struck, mesmerized and are just down right having fun, we do not notice the gazillions of idiosyncrasies that our new-found love has. Then, once the honeymoon’s over and realty sets in, you start seeing the areas that you are not so sure you like.  So many begin at this point to try to stuff their partner into their mold, trying to make them become what they are not.

It can be a pretty confusing period to go through to suddenly find out that, the love of your life, no longer accepts you for who you are but now has begun have you become what he or she would prefer you to be. Without realizing it ourselves, what we are really trying to do, is to get them to be just like ourselves so that we can now get along better. But this actually is not why we fell in love in the first place, in fact, by doing so it could be the very thing that will continue to separate you even more.

Once you have partially been successful in “cloning” your partner into someone compatible with how you think they should be, then enters the competition stage.  They finally comply with your wishes (or try to) and then you find yourself together with someone who will compete with you in everything you do instead of being themselves.  So, how do you avoid all of this and keep a relationship from this downward spiral?

Well, it is time to take a step back and make a list of all of the attributes that attracted you to this person in the first place.  Realize that it was not that they were so much like you, but that they were actually complimenting you.  Make a list of  all the things that you are thankful that they are good at and that they do that you are not and how they have completed you. Allow them the freedom to enjoy what they like doing most, as time spent on separate activities is healthy for your relationship and you will then appreciate your time together even more.

Why is it not good at the workplace?

The main goal you have in a company is to get the most done in order to accomplish the agreed upon goals and policies.  To do s, it does not necessarily mean to do it all in the very same way.  Follow the rules and policies of the company yes, but at the end of the day, the results are what you are looking for, not how they are reached.

Some bosses are on the look out for little “mini-mes”, but a good boss will be on the look out for those with some personality and initiative to find new and better ways to get the job done.  If you are trying to squeeze everyone into a mold, trying to get them to do things exactly like you, you could be squelching the very thing that could catapult your company into a totally new and successful adventure.  Do not put a lid on novelty, many of the most successful entrepreneurs have become very wealthy because they tried things that had never been done before, thanks to the contribution of other people.

Thank God we are all different, you need your co-workers as much as they need you as no one is the all-in-all and really knows it all.  So instead of getting everyone to be like you, be thankful for each and everyone’s personal talents, get them to work together in cooperation.  Can you imagine if our body was one big huge head and nothing else?  We would not get very far, in fact we would be totally unable to move!

Why is it not good in politics?

In the running of a country, if everyone were totally the same, believed the same way, and never questioned the other, we would be in a real mess!  Debate can be healthy, it is only when the different parties start to pick on tiny details that it then becomes a tremendous bottle neck and things can come to a literal stand still! You need the diversity in order to see the big picture, but what is it that we should be looking for through this diversity?  The answers that are necessary to keep the nation going forward for the better of the people of that nation.

It is not good to try to convince the other party that yours is the right party, this is silly, there is no right party, they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.  Having diversity in a country helps to avoid a totalitarian dictatorship, but it should never be a reason to cause total stagnation and lack of progress. It should stimulate thought and innovation which is what makes a country into a great nation!

In Summary

Diversity is a gift to man kind, not a curse.  It should be embraced, welcomed and accepted as a wonderful opportunity to combine two or more great people to form a more powerful entity.  We should never think that we have to try to push others into being just like us and thus robbing them of their individuality! Granted, it can be a challenge at times to work with others of diverse beliefs, customs or habits, but it can bring out the wonderful colors of a rainbow if you succeed!

Have you experienced situations in your life where someone was trying to make you into what you are not?  What was the result?