Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Happiness’

Be in the Moment!

Dan Millman wrote in his book, ‘Way of the Peaceful Warrior’ the following, “The world was peopled with minds, whirling faster than any wind…addictions – used to distract from a chaotic inner life…the parade of regrets, anxieties, and fantasies…If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want you suffer.” Millman is pointing out that our minds wander and careen instantaneously though thoughts of yesterday – around regrets such as ‘I wish I would have, could have or should have,’ and thoughts of tomorrow often with the accompanying idea that ‘I’ll be happy when…’ – conditional happiness. But true happiness isn’t conditional and when we allow these types of random, chaotic thoughts to occupy the precious space in our brain we miss the moments of today. Moments that will never be repeated. Just look at the time right now and think…you will never get this moment back again. So how are you going to chose to spend the time you have on planet Earth?
When we lose our keys, misplace a bill, or forget an appointment it’s because we were not fully present at some point. Trying to do or think about multiple things simultaneously – ultimately results in less rather than more. No matter how smart we are we are still human and can’t divide our minds into separate screens like you can on a computer monitor and expect positive results …it just doesn’t happen that way. Think quality not quantity here. We can’t multi-task our way though life, trying to get more and more accomplished as we check off the one hundred and one things we did today without losing an essential part of ourselves and our relationships with others. Life becomes simply…what’s next. Often we get to a point where we are physically and mentally exhausted or overwhelmed with life. No wonder…we were so busy doing we forgot to be…
Being happy – truly happy in life requires that we engage in whatever we are doing. If we are talking to someone it means not letting our minds wander but giving them our full attention. Showing we care enough about what they are saying to fully listen is honoring them as human beings. I’ll bet you do that with the special people in your life what about others? When is the last time you really looked into the eyes of a sales clerk at the grocery store as they were checking out your food items. They are coached to say something like, ‘have a nice day’ but how often do we respond in kind or offer a thank you in return? They are human beings just doing their jobs yet are so often dismissed in our attempt to move faster and accomplish more. In the work setting as well as in our personal lives the greatest compliment we can receive is when someone says ‘I always feel valued, that you truly care. You make me feel like I am the most important person in the room.’ Being engaged doesn’t take more time – just focused awareness. Why not bring your total self to the equation? 
That’s what the practice of mindfulness is really all about and it is amazingly simple. It doesn’t cost anything and yields great personal benefit. It starts with slowly taking a long deep breath and exhaling slowly thinking only about that breath. As thoughts push into your mind (often at warp speed) just let them pass by and go back to thinking about your breathing. If you try your best to practice this calm breathing technique for even 3 to 5 minutes a day you will experience less anxiety and stress and feel more in control. As challenges pop up you will find yourself taking a deep breath before deciding on your next step. This process is all about responding calmly and deliberately rather than reacting quickly and pays great dividends. With practice you will be amazed at the increased depth of your awareness. Don’t be surprised if others begin to comment …they will notice as you begin to respond with a renewed sense of calm in your demeanor. And just think..it all starts with simply closing your eyes and breathing. It doesn’t get any easier than that right?

Have a great few days!

Your Face Speaks Volumes!

The other day I read the following, ‘It takes only 13 muscles to smile but a whopping 64 to frown.’ The math could be slightly off but the point is well taken. Remember being raised with words of advice such as our expression is the most important thing we show to the world, because it tells a great deal about who we are inside and what we think about ourselves. Look in a mirror today. Do you see a face looking back at you with hope, belief in the future and positive intent or one of fear, anger or remorse? The point here is that you can choose…happiness or sadness – belief in tomorrow or regret over yesterday. Free will allows us to decide and to then act out our personal script to create our own reality.
Everyone has regrets. It happens. But it doesn’t need to ill effect your attitude or erode your confidence in yourself. I can’t imagine meeting a person who said they had absolutely no regrets in their life. Sounds rather delusional to me. The important thing is to accept what you cannot change and look for the lesson in it. What you learned makes you stronger and wiser for the future. Rather than beat yourself up over something from the past let’s use it as a stimulus for change – for a more positive view of ourselves.
It’s true, you have to choose happiness – it doesn’t choose you. As a case in point, I read about a bus driver in New York who had a full load of tired, stressed out passengers trying to get home from work at the end of the day. The weather was cold and rainy with traffic jams everywhere. The bus was barely inching along. The negative atmosphere in the bus was palpable. The driver who would also be home late due to the weather challenges could have simply turned a deaf ear or blind eye to the situation but instead he spoke through his intercom to the bedraggled travelers and said, ‘I can’t fix the weather or the traffic problems but one thing I can do is reach out my hand to you as you get off the bus and ask you to drop your troubles in my hand. Please don’t take them home to your families. I’ll be sure they get disposed of properly.’ Interestingly, as the story goes the passengers responded – some with smiles some with tears but they followed through on the driver’s request. This amazing man helped people by this simple but profound gesture because he choose happiness and decided to pass it on. 
Tomorrow if you run into an unsettling thing, just stop and remember the bus driver then check out your face in the mirror. What attitude are you displaying? Try smiling even at the absurdity of it all. Then extend your hand as a gesture to remind yourself that you have a way to drop your frustrations and troubles and believe in the power of personal choice to change your view of the situation. All it takes is a heightened awareness that you and only you have the power to ‘make it a better day!’

The other day I read the following, ‘It takes only 13 muscles to smile but a whopping 64 to frown.’ The math could be slightly off but the point is well taken. Remember being raised with words of advice such as our expression is the most important thing we show to the world, because it tells a great deal about who we are inside and what we think about ourselves. Look in a mirror today. Do you see a face looking back at you with hope, belief in the future and positive intent or one of fear, anger or remorse? The point here is that you can choose…happiness or sadness – belief in tomorrow or regret over yesterday. Free will allows us to decide and to then act out our personal script to create our own reality.
Everyone has regrets. It happens. But it doesn’t need to ill effect your attitude or erode your confidence in yourself. I can’t imagine meeting a person who said they had absolutely no regrets in their life. Sounds rather delusional to me. The important thing is to accept what you cannot change and look for the lesson in it. What you learned makes you stronger and wiser for the future. Rather than beat yourself up over something from the past let’s use it as a stimulus for change – for a more positive view of ourselves.
It’s true, you have to choose happiness – it doesn’t choose you. As a case in point, I read about a bus driver in New York who had a full load of tired, stressed out passengers trying to get home from work at the end of the day. The weather was cold and rainy with traffic jams everywhere. The bus was barely inching along. The negative atmosphere in the bus was palpable. The driver who would also be home late due to the weather challenges could have simply turned a deaf ear or blind eye to the situation but instead he spoke through his intercom to the bedraggled travelers and said, ‘I can’t fix the weather or the traffic problems but one thing I can do is reach out my hand to you as you get off the bus and ask you to drop your troubles in my hand. Please don’t take them home to your families. I’ll be sure they get disposed of properly.’ Interestingly, as the story goes the passengers responded – some with smiles some with tears but they followed through on the driver’s request. This amazing man helped people by this simple but profound gesture because he choose happiness and decided to pass it on. 
Tomorrow if you run into an unsettling thing, just stop and remember the bus driver then check out your face in the mirror. What attitude are you displaying? Try smiling even at the absurdity of it all. Then extend your hand as a gesture to remind yourself that you have a way to drop your frustrations and troubles and believe in the power of personal choice to change your view of the situation. All it takes is a heightened awareness that you and only you have the power to ‘make it a better day!’

The other day I read the following, ‘It takes only 13 muscles to smile but a whopping 64 to frown.’ The math could be slightly off but the point is well taken

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R

emember being raised with words of advice such as our expression is the most important thing we show to the world, because it tells a great deal about who we are inside and what we think about ourselves. Look in a mirror today. Do you see a face looking back at you with hope, belief in the future and positive intent or one of fear, anger or remorse? The point here is that you can choose…happiness or sadness – belief in tomorrow or regret over yesterday. Free will allows us to decide and to then act out our personal script to create our own reality.
Everyone has regrets. It happens. But it doesn’t need to ill effect your attitude or erode your confidence in yourself. I can’t imagine meeting a person who said they had absolutely no regrets in their life. Sounds rather delusional to me. The important thing is to accept what you cannot change and look for the lesson in it. What you learned makes you stronger and wiser for the future. Rather than beat yourself up over something from the past let’s use it as a stimulus for change – for a more positive view of ourselves.

It’s true, you have to choose happiness – it doesn’t choose you. As a case in point, I read about a bus driver in New York who had a full load of tired, stressed out passengers trying to get home from work at the end of the day. The weather was cold and rainy with traffic jams everywhere. The bus was barely inching along. The negative atmosphere in the bus was palpable. The driver who would also be home late due to the weather challenges could have simply turned a deaf ear or blind eye to the situation but instead he spoke through his intercom to the bedraggled travelers and said, ‘I can’t fix the weather or the traffic problems but one thing I can do is reach out my hand to you as you get off the bus and ask you to drop your troubles in my hand. Please don’t take them home to your families. I’ll be sure they get disposed of properly.’ Interestingly, as the story goes the passengers responded – some with smiles some with tears but they followed through on the driver’s request. This amazing man helped people by this simple but profound gesture because he choose happiness and decided to pass it on. 
Tomorrow if you run into an unsettling thing, just stop and remember the bus driver then check out your face in the mirror. What attitude are you displaying? Try smiling even at the absurdity of it all. Then extend your hand as a gesture to remind yourself that you have a way to drop your frustrations and troubles and believe in the power of personal choice to change your view of the situation. All it takes is a heightened awareness that you and only you have the power to ‘make it a better day!’

Something to Think About….

Have you ever noticed that you can read something a million times and all of a sudden during the next reading a thought or phrase jumps out at you and seems to be giving you a personal message – just something you needed to hear at that exact moment? The poem, Desiderata written by Max Ehrmann in 1927 does that for me. Maybe it’s time to inhale and exhale slowly and reread it and see if it speaks to you. 
” Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing forces of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not bind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world, be careful. Strive to be happy.”
Have a great few days!

Remember Yourself in the Process!

Have you ever stopped to think about how many times you say ‘yes’ to do something with or for someone and then later think to yourself ‘why in the world did I agree to do it?’ For many of us this scenario has played out throughout our lives and left us frustrated, tired and at times overwhelmed. It’s all those little things that add up over time which can cause resentment and deplete us of energy. We can even predict with a certain degree of accuracy those people who just seem to be able to get us to respond without thinking to their latest need, desire or request.

There is, of course, another group of people who simply refuse to say ‘yes’ to anything and everything that doesn’t personally bring them joy, pleasure or fun. For some of us that last sentence may seem impossible to believe but it’s true. These folks seem to have a built in radar that detects anything that could require their time, energy or money and they quickly decide if it will make them happy. If not….it’s a no go.

Granted these two examples are at opposite ends of the spectrum. But when you look around at people they really do seem to fall into one of these two categories.

The underlying issue – saying ‘yes’ in an effort to please others and make them happy is a never-ending story and one in which you can become the main character for life. This script does not contain moments of appreciation but simply more and more demands – some subtle and some not so subtle.

The funny thing about saying ‘yes’ to make others happy is that it doesn’t really – not in the long haul because their requests overtime become expectations and appreciation slowly fades. They begin to just expect you do to whatever, whenever because you do.

When we find ourselves saying or doing things that our hearts are not really into the energy we give off speaks volumes. It’s not good for either party involved. No one grows as a human being by being a constant taker or for that matter a constant giver. Is it time to change the ‘have to’ in our thinking and move to a mindset of deciding what we ‘want or choose to do?’ People who have mastered this approach to life do not respond with a quick yes to any and all requests but take a little time to think it through and decide if it’s really necessary and if they truly want to comply. Time is our friend in this situation as we begin to train ourselves to analyze the situation before responding.

Maybe the deeper issue is valuing ourselves enough to believe that we really have the right to choose what we want to do and communicate it in a gentle but firm manner. Going along with someone else’s planning or worse yet manipulation for their personal benefit can wear thin. It all comes down to the belief that we deserve to be happy too – and we do!

When someone has a life altering situation and they need us it seems logical to jump in and do all we can in their moment of need. That just seems like the loving, humane thing to do. But not everything in life falls into this category. Let’s try to save up our ‘yes’ for the big items in life and care enough about our own well being and happiness to remember ourselves in the process. As with everything …balance is the key.

Have a great few days!

Stop Worrying!

Have you ever met someone who seems to have nothing but good luck or conversely nothing but bad luck? We may wonder to ourselves, ‘how do things continually happen that way to them?’ The truth is that these folks simply expect things to happen in a certain way and sure enough they do. Think of the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. One sees the cup as half-full and the other half-empty. Same amount just different perspectives. Their energy is either increased or decreased by the feelings and perceptions that they are allowing themselves to generate.

To become happier in life it takes a bit of work, a bit of focus and a belief that you deserve to be happy. Let’s start with your belief. Do you feel you have the right to be happy? We are all here to learn lessons but nowhere is it written that our lessons need to crush us or stop us in our tracks. When a challenge presents itself we can either perseverate on it and cause it to become bigger and more pervasive with thoughts such as ‘This always happens to me’ or we can recognize it for what it is … a MOMENTARY setback and decide on a course of action. When we are actively working on solving an issue the weight of our emotional baggage becomes lighter. We are being proactive rather than reactive. Making a list can help. It slows down our thinking and helps us gain control of our overactive emotions and imagination.

Recognizing that challenges happen to everyone and that we have not been personally set up by a force bigger than ourselves to be the fall guy for anything and everything in life helps to keep things in perspective. It’s NOT PERSONAL. You do not have an inherent flaw that causes negative issues to surface in your life. The only personal part is the time you choose to spend either worrying about it or developing a plan to address it. The more you worry the greater the challenge becomes due to the negative energy you are drawing to you. Worry doesn’t work but a plan does – is it time to write one?

We get out of life what we consciously and subconsciously expect – nothing more and nothing less. The energy in a simple thought reverberates out to the Universe like a magnet which then attracts more of the same back to us. Change our thinking and we change our life.

We have the power to create the world we want and it starts with our thoughts, words and actions. Happy people were not simply born that way they just learned early on that when confronted with a challenge address it and move on – no worry, no drama just action.

Have a great few days!

Choose Greater Happiness!

Is happiness a learned behavior? What makes some people more resilient, more energetic and just happier be to around? The good news is that we are all capable of becoming happier individuals by following what Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychologist, educator and author, calls learned optimism. He has found that the talent for joy in our lives can actually be something we can teach and cultivate ourselves. Now that’s something to celebrate!

Although Seligman started out studying learned helplessness he discovered that examining why some people were happier in life would be an even greater contribution to the field. Through rigorous research he came up with a simple yet powerful approach that we can utilize to improve our lives. Seligman instructs us to be brutally honest and examine how we view the events or challenges in our life from the perspective of the 3 P’s (permanent – pervasive – personal).

For example, we have all been cut off while driving in traffic. The optimist views the situation as an isolated event and may even think that the driver of the other car may have had an emergency or simply made a mistake. They view the minor hassle as something that will pass and don’t allow it to ill effect their overall attitude or day. Their attitude could best be summarized by, ‘this too shall pass.’

The pessimist, on the other hand starts a diatribe of self talk and views the traffic incident as yet another example that ALWAYS happens to him (personal). He goes on to further generalize that most other people are just basically bad or inconsiderate drivers (pervasive). Soon, the mere act of driving for the pessimist can become a permanent, negative experience which elicits more aggressive tendencies. The pessimist thinks to himself, ‘this always happens to me’ (permanent).

When you think about viewing events in our lives as temporary, isolated and due to causes frequently beyond our control it becomes easier to view the bumps in the road of life as minor ones which will pass. However, when we look at the same event as permanent, pervasive and personal we can easily fall into the trap of overall pessimist thinking. When this happens our negative energy begins to envelop our entire attitude in life and we begin to actually expect more negative experiences. As we know from the law of attraction what we think about most often comes back to us double fold. We become an energy drain on others and soon become too exhausting to be around.

The good news is that research from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton and elsewhere is clear – we can become more positive, productive and energetic people by practicing learned optimism. We all have our share of life challenges. We may think others have an easier life but we have never walked a mile in their shoes. When we begin to view our own life challenges as temporary and not a pervasive indicator of life yet to come we gain more confidence and energy to face our tomorrows.

When we practice learned optimism it helps us keep life in perspective as we refuse to allow ourselves to make mountains out of mole hills. The research is clear, we can significantly reduce depression and anxiety by practicing optimism. It staves off feelings of helplessness and actually gives us a reason to look forward to tomorrow.

Once we choose to examine our own thinking patterns and begin over time to practice learned optimism it becomes an ingrained way of thinking. The temporary challenges we all face in life are kept in perspective and we find ourselves more confident in our own ability to weather the storms in life. As a result, other people want to be around us because they feel energized in our presence. That’s a good feeling!

With everything in life we have a choice. Is it time to reevaluate our thinking and decide to become more optimistic individuals? Life really can be greater than the sum of its parts.

Have a great few days!

Have You Seen a Miracle Walking?

Miracles can happen! I have heard of two just during the first 2 weeks of 2015. Have you ever experienced something in your life that just seemed too good to be true? Well, miracles are like that and they happen all the time. The important thing is to recognize them and be grateful.

When something happens to us that brings us greater joy, peace or love and we are grateful for it we are actually sending a message to the Universe that we are open to even more miracles in our life. It’s not magic but the power of positive thought that pulsates out to the Universe guiding more of the same back to us.

Some people seem to be miracles walking. They are the people who choose to see the goodness and possibilities that exists in this world. They are the ones who are busy helping others along the way. Their selfless acts build up just like an invisible bank account of positive energy and consequently they seem to have good things happen to them often. At first they may attribute these things simply to their good luck or hard work. Although both of those things are important the real powerhouse is in their thinking. They truly live a life of positive expectation.

When they experience difficulties they know in their hearts that it is time for a mid course correction and without fanfare or drama go about making the changes necessary. They accept responsibility for what happens – never using excuses or placing blame. They seem to have found their own special niche in life and are quick to recognize both the large and small things that happen to them as opportunities for growth.

These types of folks have the self-confidence to say no when it is necessary and yes when it is possible. They can always be relied upon to deliver what they set out to do. Their word is their bond. We can feel integrity emanating from them miles away – often just their signature alone is enough to help us breathe easier knowing things will get done.

You can recognize these folks because they seem to walk with pride and happiness as their constant companions. They are humble in their achievements and always give more than is expected. They experience genuine happiness as they celebrate the accomplishments of others.

Above all these types of folks are grateful. They have learned the importance of gratitude and know it is the key that opens all of the world’s doors to them. They just seem to be a living miracle in so many ways.

Over the next few weeks look for miracles in your own life. The more you recognize them with gratitude the more often they will happen. Miracles are beautiful messages from the Universe that you are loved.

Have a great few days!