Where is your happy place? Do you remember how to get there?

January 20, 2016

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this little piece of advice – “You gotta go to that happy place in your mind and remember–everything’s gonna be all right.”  (Daniel Schetter)  Daniel is that man who continues to surf the waves of Lake Superior all winter long, even with ice on his whiskers.  He believes that cold is all in the mind; so, when he’s surfing the Great Lakes in freezing weather he heads to his happy place and isn’t cold anymore (at least in his mind). He did admit to suffering bouts of hypothermia, but he was still happy.

I read that story in the paper recently, too. I had a tough time imagining being able to get to a place that was happy and warm while surfing in the Great Lakes in winter with ice on my face; but the advice applies well to everyday life. We all face adversities or situations single momthat are not of our own making. How we react to them and our ability to go to our happy place in times of stress or pain determines how well we make it through those times.

The basis for many of the meditative-based religions or beliefs of the world is the concept of being able to get to that happy place and control our bodies and our reactions to things through our minds. It is also a tenet of hypnosis that we have the ability to block out pain with our minds. I’ve been hypnotized at a dentist’s office once and it did work to block the pain of his work on my teeth. I certainly believe that practices like yoga and meditation work to relieve tension and stress.

listening toi musicA key thing that both yoga and meditation focus upon is helping you find a way back to your happy place, so that you can let go of the stress and let your body’s natural ability to heal itself make you well again. Of course there are lots of other things involved, but being able to get to that happy place is central to both. It is also a key to a happy and healthy life, whether you practice those disciplines or not.

So where is your happy place and do you remember how to get there? As children it was easy to get to that place, usually through play. As we matured and “learned” to be adults, we wandered away (or were pulled away) from that place and found it harder and harder to get back to it. We were taught not to waste our time in idle thoughts of happiness, but to “keep our noses to the grindstone”,” be serious” and “get it done”. There was no time allotted for seeking to return to your happy place. Some turn to alcohol or drugs in the false belief that getting a buzz on or getting high is equivalent to getting to their happy place. Both are false and actually add to the stress that they were trying to find relief for in the first place.

How do find you way back to your happy place? You might try yoga or mediation classes ormeditation even seek out a good hypnotherapist. Talk with the instructor/therapist and let them know that you are there to try to recapture the ability to put aside the day’s stresses and get to that place that gives you peace. They will understand. Then, focus upon the process that they take you through to relax and let go and begin your search for that happy place that is still there, somewhere in the deep recesses of your mind. You knew it as a child and you can find it again. When you do find it; you will know that “everything’s gonna be alright”.

For some people, their happy place is a spiritual place, a place that they reach through prayer. They can start each day with a prayer and that means that they start in their happy place, before the day even gets underway. The nice thing for them is that they can pray anywhere and anytime, without even being noticed. It’s all done in their minds, as is the journey to their happy place. For some of these people it is possible to live all day long in their happy place. You know that you have met people like that, because you cannot figure smiling womanout why they always seem so calm and happy. They are at peace with God and themselves and that is a happy place to be, indeed.

An interesting by-product of making the effort to get to your happy place in times of stress is that it tends to stop whatever was going on in you r mind, because you are focusing on trying to find that place of peace. Just making the effort is a big help in coping with the day-to-day stresses of life. Sometimes we don’t have time to make the full journey back and sometimes we may not be in situations or settings where going through our whole routine (perhaps with eyes closed or in a yoga position of some sort) is possible. In those times, just the mental pause that starts the process may be enough to relieve the pressure.

You can make a mental note to go all the way there when you get home, but for the moment, just realize that you have loosened the grip of stress or panic and can go on with what you need to do in a more relaxed and confident manner. You know that your happy happinessplace is out there waiting for you and you know that you can get back to it when you want to – and that’s a good thing …a happy thing.

So, take a moment before you start each day and try to get back to your happy place, so that you carry a fresh memory of it in your mind throughout the day. Then, when stress or turmoil hits it won’t be that guard to see your way back to it for a quick refreshing dose of happiness.

Have a great and happy rest of the week.

 Be happy with what you have…

July 11, 2015

“Just remember there is someone out there that is more than happy with less than what you have.”  (Unknown) From the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write – When I first read this quote, I could not help but STOP and put aside my personal complaints.  I have so much, and there are so many who have so little.  Is it that way with you?  It’s an old saying, but it’s true.  “I complained, because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet.” 

Sadly, we live in a society that conditions us to be unhappy with what we have and to always be striving for more. Whatever we have is not enough to make us happy because someone else has more or different things.  Now there is certainly nothing wrong with striving to get ahead, but one has to stop every now and then and ask, “Ahead of what?” Very few of us live in survival mode, scraping along for our next meal or a place to sleep tonight; exercise wheelbut there are those people among us. In general we are able to provide at least food and shelter for our family and for most a good deal beyond just those necessities. But, are we happy with what we have; or, do we constantly want more, in the belief that having more will make us happier?

One of the most unhappy men in the Bible was the man who asked Jesus what he needed to do to get into heaven. When Jesus replied that he should sell everything that he had and give the money to the poor and follow him; the man wandered off unhappily muttering to himself, for we are told that he was very wealthy and obviously did not want to give up that wealth. Are we the same way today? Do we reach and reach and reach for what we don’t have, instead of being happy with what we do have and what would we do if Jesus asked us to sell everything that we have, give the money to the poor and follow him? Jesus might be a pretty lonely guy in today’s world.

The key to being happy with what you have, it seems to me, is to change your focus from things to people, from possessions to relationships, from those that you’d love to be like to those who love you as you are. Learn to girls huggingexpress your love for them without holding out a gift of some sort or buying a new possession to share with them. If you ever get to an honest state with them, they’d probably tell you that they could care less about your car or your house or your boat or any other of your possessions. What they value is your time and attention; your love and affection; you sharing of yourself and not your possessions.

What happens when you get to that state of understanding and happiness with your loved ones is that you grant yourself permission to be happy with what you have. That doesn’t mean that you just quit your job or don’t accept the next promotion or even stop looking for a bigger house someday. Giving yourself permission to be happy with what you’ve got just means that you will no longer use the pursuit of possessions as the measure of your life and your happiness. You stop keeping score on that scorecard, because you’ve started keeping score based upon the smiles on the faces of the one that father-daughter danceyou love; and those smiles come because you were there sharing your love and not because of what you brought with you. Once you change to that focus getting the next possession will be much less important to than attending the next little league game or the father daughter dance or maybe going out to dinner with your significant other.

Dale Carnegie  put it well when he said – “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” May you find happiness in what you have.

What was that all about?

June 16, 2015

It occurred to me after I posted yesterday’s blog about the Calvin and Hobbs story that I found to be so moving that many of the people who follow this blog may not even know what the heck this Calvin and Hobbs is  that I was referring to in the post. Here’s the WikiPedia post to explain – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvin_and_Hobbes.It was the most popular cartoon for years in the U.S. I’m not sure how far it made it outside the U.S.

On the surface it was a humorous cartoon about the adventures of a young boy (Calvin) and his imaginary friend Hobbs, who was, in fact a stuffed tiger toy, much like a Teddy Bear. In practice it was a lesson in life as seen through the eyes of innocence, wonder and imagination of youth.  Calvin represented life before it is forced to acquiesce to the demands of growing up. He and Hobbs had great adventures, discovered great truths and generally had fun withouplayingt fear in a world bereft of the rules and cautions of adulthood. It was the world seen through the eyes of someone who had not yet been subjected to the regimentation of schools and the oppressive expectations of others. Though Hobbs often cautioned Calvin about trying some of the things that they did, he always went along for the ride. While it lasted it was one of the most enjoyable comic strips around. But it, like the youth of all of us, had to end.

The story that was at the end of the link in my post yesterday (here it is again, in case yo missed it)  was someone’s very well written attempt to pick up the story of Calvin and Hobbs years later; at the end of Calvin’s life. Of course old and youngHobbs, like all memories never aged, so he was still the playful, fuzzy Tiger that he had always been. I think we all have some “Hobbs” memories somewhere in the back of our minds. Maybe it doesn’t involve a stuffed animal or even an imaginary friend; perhaps it was a best friend from your very early days as a child. It’s actually kind of sad if you meet those people today, because something happened to them – they got old. But the ones that live only in your memories will never age. As the song says they will be forever young and that great adventure that you sneaked off to with them will live forever in your mind.

Do you ever let your mind wander back to the days of your youth? It is not an easy thing to do, since we have been so well conditioned by society to put those things behind us and “act like adults.” I’ve written here before that I think it is funny facesomehow more health for us all to be able to drop the shields and pretenses of our adult demeanor and just be silly like a child, if only with ourselves. I do that by making a funny face in the shaving mirror each morning. Shaving each day is such an adult thing, but sticking out my lounge or making a funny face gives me that tiny instant of childhood release that seems to make a better start to each day. Try it some time.

Do you need to change before you go?

May 15, 2015

“A bad attitude is like a flat tire; you can’t go anywhere until you change it.”  (Guideposts)

Many times when we are going out, whether for diner or something else, we may feel the need to change clothes. Perhaps we get a little more informal, if we’ve been working in a suit all day, or maybe a little more formal, if we’ve been in jeans all day and we’re going to a nicer place or event.

bad attitudeSometimes it’s our attitudes that need changing. A tough day at work can result in you bringing home a grumpy or down disposition and perhaps being too abrupt with our family members. Sometimes a bad day that can result in incidents of road rage before you even get home. A recent incident involving road rage actually resulted in one of the participants being killed and the other party being convicted of murder. Those were both attitudes that needed to be changed before they got on the road.

Sometimes we wake up with a bad attitude – called getting out on the wrong side of the bed by many. Perhaps we are facing a day with something scheduled or expected during it that we dread – having to let someone go or maybe a break-up with someone; or perhaps we fear being let go that day. Whatever the cause, we really need to try to change our bad attitude before we proceed. There are things that we can’t change in life, but we can approach them with the outlook that we will get through whatever it is and that we will make the best out of it.

So, before you set out to whatever is ahead of you next, check your outfit and your attitude and see if either needs changing. You would just embarrass yourself if you showed up at a swanky event in your jeans and it can be just as embarrassing to realize later that you were acting like an ass at an event or with a family member, or whomever, becausemirror you had the wrong attitude on. You can actually see both in a mirror if you look. The clothes issue is perhaps more obvious; however, that scowl that you may see looking back at you is not appropriate attire either. No one wants to see you show up at the party in a Speedo or with a scowl on your face – both are embarrassing.

I have found that, if I stand there for a minute of two just looking in the mirror, I will eventually ask myself, “What’s that scowl all about? What are you mad at and why?” Then I might make a funny face at myself to break the mood. That usually works and helps me re-adjust my attitude.  I may get one of Red Nose Daythose red clown noses that will be used on Red Nose Day and keep it by the mirror for future attitude adjustments. I have a feeling that sticking on a red nose and standing there looking at yourself with it on will break just about any bad mood. Get one and try it.

One thing that most people are unaware of is how they look in their normal, relaxed state. It’s not that you really are scowling at the world, but rather that most people’s faces just naturally droop into what looks like a scowl. So, you may have to be more conscious about trying to smile and look friendly to those whom you encounter. People may initially wonder what you’re smiling about, but that’s better than them trying to avoid you because you look so unhappy. People will actually ask, “What’s got you looking so happy?” If you answer, “The thought of meeting (or talking to) you”; you will be off to a great start with them and have a great attitude at the same time.

Have a great weekend and start it off right by checking your attitude and making adjustments as needed. And, if youbad attitude cartoon
should happen to see someone who obviously has a bad attitude, see if there’s anything that you can do to help them change, too. Perhaps just being around you will be enough, like Kevin Spear showed in this cartoon. It’s better to glow than to glower.

It’s a new week – jump in, don’t limp in…

June 9, 2014

“Lose the anger, lose the attitude, lose the prejudice, smile more, stop feeling sorry for yourself, see the good in people, appreciate what you have, and go out and do something for someone else.”  (Jeff Brayton)

It’s Monday and time to jump into a new week ahead. Perhaps we should all print off this quote from Jeff Brayton and hang it next to whatever mirror we use before going out to face the day. That way we would all start off each week and day with the proper attitude and in the right frame of mind.

Monday’s have certainly been given a bum rap for some time, so it takes a special effort to get back into happy going to workthe grove and start the week out on a positive note. So, instead of taking the attitude of “Oh crap, it’s Monday and I have to go back to work again”; perhaps starting off with the thought, “Wow, I get another chance to succeed this week; I’ll make the best of that.” There have been no books on success that I know of that advised being grumpy and down on Monday mornings. There are lots of books with hang-over cures, but that’s a different issue.

The other key to Brayton’s quote is the last part. Do something for someone else. It’ll make them feel good and you’ll feel good, too. That can be as little as holding a door open for someone or picking up something that they’ve dropped. Sometimes just recognizing someone with a cheery “Hello” is enoughhappy greeting brighten up their day. Going beyond the perfunctory greeting and inquiring about them or their family shows that you care and for many (even the initially grumpy) that is important.

Grumpiness feeds upon itself; and schlepping along with your head down and exhibiting a foul mood becomes a self-reinforcing thing.  People will avoid you, rather than engage you. You may initially think that this is what you want (after all you are in a grumpy mood); however, most people really don’t want to feel alone or outcast.

If you go to work with your head held high and with a smile on your face and a warm greeting on your tongue, some may wonder what you had in your coffee this morning, but they’ll all want some of whatever it is, too. People like meeting happy people, not downers. A wonderful side-benefit of all of this is how great it will make you feel, even if you had to fake it to start. A second benefit is the energy that happy winneryou’ll gain from interacting with others, especially other cheerful people.

So, put on a happy face and jump into a new week. This is your week to excel. This is your day to meet new people, have new experiences and reach new goals. Go for it.

A thousand reasons to smile

May 2, 2014

Back to Jack – I’ve decided to give the three little words theme a rest and get back to the source that has been a primary inspiration for many of my past posts – the blog Jack’s Winning Words, which I get every day. I’ll revisit the three little words theme from time to time.

“Jack” is Pastor John (Jack) Freed, the retired pastor of my church. Although Jack “retired” many years ago he never really retired from doing most of the things that you might imagine a pastor does, he just shifted to a more leisurely pace and into different venues, one of which is his daily blog.

Jack starts each day’s blog with a quote, usually an inspirational one and then comments upon that quote – usually no more than a paragraph. I’ve used Jack’s quotes for years as the inspirational fodder for my more lengthy posts.

I believe that the quote I chose today is from one of Jack’s past blog posts  – When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.” – unknown.

I’ve written in the past about the world’s greatest author – Anon. Today we have a quote by that quite prolific quotemiester – Unknown (Aka Unk.)


Life is always throwing stuff at us that makes some of us cry. A good cry can be a great way to get pastlady under cloud the initial emotional response to something bad; however, it can also be a gateway to despair and depression, so get it over with quickly and move on. In today’s quote the advice is to fight back by reinforcing in your own mind all of the reasons that you have to be happy, to be upbeat and positive.

Every time I’m complaining about something that I don’t have or about something that went wrong, my wife tells me to think about all that we do have – a nice home, a great family with wonderful grandchildren, two loving and loyal dogs and on and on. It’s true. I know that it’s true and before long I’ve usually forgotten what I was bitching about. I have a thousand reasons to smile, to be happy and to be content in life. I just don’t have time to spend worrying about stuff that I don’t have and probably don’t need. I have a garage full of that kind of stuff already.

What are your thousand reasons to smile? Have you taken stock of them lately and paused to think about them long enough to let that smile come to your face? Why not? Sometimes we seem to spend all of our time and energy worrying about things that maybe didn’t turn out like we would have liked; or, even worse, worrying about things that haven’t happened yet and may never happen – things that live mainly in our imaginations. Why instead don’t we celebrate the things that are right in our lives; puppyembrace the people and pets that we love and who love us back; be happy with the things that we do have instead of coveting the things that we wish we had; and bask in the things that we’ve already accomplished in life, instead of being dissatisfied with the things that we haven’t accomplished, yet. We have a thousand reasons to smile.

So, maybe print out that little saying and tape it to your mirror, so that you can start each day looking at it and remembering all of the reasons that you have to smile. What a great way to start off on the right foot for the day – with a smile on your face and a positive attitude towards the day. As they used to say on the Men’s Warehouse commercials – “You’re gonna like the way you look”, and so will those around you.

Don’t be a victim of your own imagination…

June 22, 2012

Oft times I’ve found myself worrying about something that hasn’t happened and may not ever happen – it’s just my imagination running away with me. That can happen when one is facing a potentially contentious confrontation with someone else. Confrontations can occur over disagreements or because bad news must be delivered to someone. If you let it, your own imagination will take wing and create all sorts of frightful scenarios for that upcoming confrontation. The reality is most often much less contentious than you had imagined it might be. In some cases I’ve even had people (clients in many cases) express relief that I had delivered the bad news that they lost a bid on a house. It seems that they had already had second thoughts about the bid and were secretly hoping that it failed.

In other cases the initial reaction to the confrontation of an issue or problem was initially surprise or shock and then, almost always, much less contentious and stressful than I had imagined it would be. I often reflect on the wasted energy that I had expended worrying about something that turned out to be a non-event.  I’m not a big fan of the phrase, “it is what it is”; however, the attitude behind that phrase is probably worth adapting, rather than spending a lot time worrying about it. “It” certainly is likely to be less than what you imagine it could be.

I suppose that there are lots of books and self-help articles that have been written about techniques for dealing with upcoming events in a more positive way than worrying about them and letting your imagination run wild. Everything from praying about it, to yoga relaxation techniques, to doing positive visualization exercises are likely well documented.  All of them have the same goal – to stop your mind from taking you to dark places, which can then actually affect your health, too.

When I was growing up MAD Magazine was very popular with kids and, in my mind’s eye, I can still see Alfred E. Newman on the cover saying “What, me worry?”  Then there’s the sound of Bobby McFarland singing “Don’t worry, be happy” that comes to mind. All of a sudden, I forgot what I was worrying about.