Make the world a happier place…

July 12, 2018

Today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog is so good that I have to repost the whole thing…

“Happiness starts with a smile.”  (Sent by Carol Stanonik)  When you’re on a bus or subway laughter isn’t what you expect.  A Belgian ad agency, working for Coca-Cola, hired an actor to start laughing on a crowded train, with today’s quote as the tagline.  The result showed how happiness can be contagious.  Even a simple smile at someone will often result with one in return.  This world, at times, can be unkind.  Let’s help to make it a happier place.    😉  Jack    Coca-Cola: Happiness starts with a smile – YouTube

You’ve got to play the video.

I recommend that you save that link to the video and play it back every morning before smiling-sunyou start out on your day. It may help put a smile on your face and that will start the process of making the world a happier place.

Be a contagious carrier of happiness today…put a smile on your face.

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Happiness is…

February 28, 2018

What is happiness for you? In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack used this quote from Rousseau – “Happiness is a good bank account, a good cook and a good digestion.” Jack went on to explain that Rousseau was not happy with many things of his day and died at age 66 of what might have been a stress induced stroke. Too many of us are on the same path as Rousseau.

There has been tons of stuff written about happiness – what it is and how to achieve it. There are T-shirts with happiness designs on them, many featuring Snoopy from the smiling-sunCharlie Brown comics. Snoopy is often used as the epitome of carefree happiness and a large emoji industry has grown up built upon creating variations of the well-known happy face emoji.

Happiness is a very personal thing. It is different for each of us and largely self-defined. It might be defined as being the absence of fears or concerns or other distractions in our minds. One has only to watch a young child playing contentedly by themselves to “see” happiness. Contentment is a synonym for happiness and a part of the definition of the root word happy.

Many of us seem to know more about being unhappy than we do about being happy. We don’t allow ourselves to feel happy because we focus too much on the things that we don’t have, which we imagine would make us happy. The entire advertising industry was built to play upon those feelings and to encourage us to continue to strive for that happiness by buying the products that they are selling. We tell ourselves, “I’d really be bored2happy if only I had this new car or that bigger house or whatever shiny thing we see on TV”.  Maybe we think that happiness awaits us at that next promotion level at work. Whatever it is; it nags at us and keeps us unhappy. For some there is unhappiness in their personal relationships because they have a nagging feeling that they would be happier with someone else.

So, how do we achieve contentment and happiness? First, we must strip away the concerns of the world for a moment and re-establish the foundation upon which we stand. We may find that we have wandered away from the solid foundation of our faith in Jesus and God out onto the shifting sands of human desires and concerns. Once we stop believing that God is always with us, knows what we need and will provide for our needs; we begin to let human thoughts about what we need and how to get those things drive our lives. We become unhappy with our lot in life and that unhappiness drives woman-prayingus further and further away from God. We must stop and re-center ourselves back on our faith in God.

If you re-center yourself on your faith, you will immediately find that you also have time to enjoy the relationships that you have with your family and friends. You will not be driven away from them by the unhappy pursuit of more stuff, but rather will re-discover the pleasures that you find in the love of others. You will find contentment with your life, rather than being driven to constantly strive for the next thing that seems to always just out of reach. Your faith will allow you to let go of the unhappy thoughts about what you don’t have and find joy and happiness in what you already have.

So, perhaps happiness is a good relationship with God; rather than a good bank account, a good cook and good digestion. At least that definition of happiness makes more sense and it is so easy to achieve, if you will just let God back into your life. You will find peace, rediscover that child-like feeling of contentment, and be happy again. What’s not to like about that?

So, take that pause. Stick your head up for a minute and think about what is driving you. Re-asses your current relationship with God. Is He off somewhere in the distance, somewhere in a church that you visit every so often; or, is he right here with you each and every day. Do you start each day with that little prayer that I like to use, “Not my will mebut thy will be done” or do you set your jaw and head out determined to face the world and its problems on your own? No matter what level of unhappiness you have sunken to, God is that beacon of light that you can still see off in the distance. Head towards His light. Happiness lives there.

Have a great and happy rest of the week.


Get headed in the right direction…

February 18, 2018

On a recent visit to Lei Ting – our local Chinese restaurant – my fortune cookie was full of philosophy, rather than predicting my future. Inside my little cookie was a slip that read – “happiness is a direction, not a destination.”

On the surface that seems to be just a cute little throw-way line, sort of like the line form the movie that said “love is never having to say you‘re sorry.” Both lines actually have a depth to them that bears thoughtful exploring.

When one says that they are not happy, they are heading in the wrong direction, a depression3direction that can lead to anxiety, loneliness and depression. That, too, is a direction and not a destination.  You really don’t want to get to the way stations in that direction. There may also be stops at frustration, anger, remorse and other nasty places in that direction.

So, how does one get turned around and headed in the happiness direction? I have a friend who is a self-proclaimed “Happiness Coach”. He claims that he gets people headed in the happiness direction by sharing his life experiences and learning. I have another friend who is dedicated to “making positive changes in otherbeing kind 1 people’s lives.” She doesn’t call herself a “coach”, but that is what she is doing through her writings and personal sessions with people.

I looked up the word coach and the most fitting definition is “a private teacher who trains someone on a particular topic or skill.” I have always tended to think of sports when I use the term coach, but lately there are any number of things in which people become “coaches”. There are business coaches and life coaches, skills coaches and career coaches, and many others. Most coaches are self-proclaimed, since, unlike therapists or degreed and certified medical specialists, there is no formal training or certification for most of the people who call themselves coaches.

I suppose that it really doesn’t matter that much, so long as the “coach” isn’t dispensing helping-2medicines or trying to play the role of a psychologist or psychiatrist. Using a coach is like having a good talk with your mom or dad when you were a kid; only now you’re grown up and maybe you don’t really want to share your problems with mom or dad. Your coach takes on the role of parent or good buddy, but without the embarrassment factor. That allows them to talk straight to you about things that you may need to change, things that you are doing wrong that are screwing up your life and have you headed in the wrong direction.

Can a coach “make you happy”? No. But, maybe he/she can get your thinking turned around and headed in a new direction, in the direction of happiness. The stops along the way in that direction are much better – peace, clam, and contentment. You’ll be headed prayingtowards a much better place.

If the stops along the happiness trail sound like something that you’ve heard before, maybe it was in church. The direction dictated by a religious faith also promises to take one to peace, calm and contentment. You could seek out and consult your pastor or priest for more on that.  I’m sure that they would like to be your coach for that journey.

So, stop and take a look at where you are currently headed.  If you feel that you are headed in the wrong direction – the direction of unhappiness – send me an email and I’ll smiling-sunforward it to one of my coach friends or maybe you can find a happiness coach in your area. Don’t continue down the path of unhappiness. You really don’t want to go there.


Don’t waste your time…Run to the next window

September 23, 2017

There are quotes that I happen upon that, thought totally unrelated, just seem to naturally go together. Here are two that I have collected over time from the Jack’s Winning Words blog:

“Don’t waste a minute not being happy.  If one window closes, run to the next.”  (Brooke Shields)

“You have to be able to laugh at yourself and to take it with a grain of salt.”  (Khloe Kardashian)

While life is obviously serious business, we all tend to take things too seriously, especially when we get down on ourselves. Sometimes we try things and fail. Sometimes we do bored2stupid things that we should have known better not to do. Sometimes life throws a curve ball at us and we react badly. Most of those times result in some amount of our time being spent in an unhappy state of mind. We may be sad or angry or frustrated or disappointed, but we are not happy.

Perhaps we are angry at ourselves, which can be the hardest thing to forgive; just because there is no one else to blame. In any event, we waste time not being happy. Why? Does it really do any good to be angry? Does being disappointed make anything different? Does wallowing in self-pity make you feel any better? Perhaps a good cry depression4relieves some of the pain of the sadness of a lost or a disappointment, but does it change anything? Let the moment pass. Let go of the thing that is effecting you and move on. Step back and laugh at yourself…run to the next window.

I recently got to see this philosophy in action. I good friend had her business literally snatched out from under her, due to circumstances over which she had no control. A big, direct competitor in her line of business bought the building that her business was housed in and basically shut it down by canceling her lease. There was nowhere else to go in the area and the only choice that she had was to shut down her business.

calm personThese events could have been personally devastating for her; but, she has a great attitude and is viewing it as an opportunity to do something new and different. Was she initially bummed? Yes, who wouldn’t be. But, rather than wallow in self-pity and walking around complaining about how unfair life can be; she has decided to see this as an opportunity. She has accepted it better, and probably has a better attitude about it, than the people who were her clients in the old business. She is running to the next window and is actually excited about the new adventure. What a great attitude and reaction to the things that life has thrown her way. I’m sure that everyone who knows her will support her in her new career.

I read a story not too long ago about a man who was diagnosed with a terminal condition and given less than a year to live. Rather than wallow in self-pity, he decided to live to the fullest in the time that he has and to throw a party for his family and friends so that they could all celebrate his life together, rather than waiting for some sort of wake after his death. What a great idea. It is a lot easier to deal with the inevitability of death if you have a firm belief in your faith that this is just a transition point into the next life. You need not fear death as a great the unknown, when you know God and believe in whathelping hands comes next…you can run to the next window of happiness.

So, the choice is yours. You can get down and stay down on yourself, because of what life has handed you; or, you can run to the next window of happiness. Knowing that God is with you makes the journey to that next window a lot less scary. I’ll see you at the next window.


Grow up, be happy and look for the open doors…

June 20, 2017

Recently I was rummaging around the Internet looking for something and came upon one of those sites that featured someone’s list of 50 great quotes. The two quotes below were not together in that list, but they seem to naturally go together.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” —John Lennon

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” —Helen Keller

There are some people whose natural state seems to be unhappiness. They are the sad looking manperpetually disgruntled nay-sayers that you run into from time to time whose mission in life seems to be to try to bring all of those around them down to their level of unhappiness. If these people held the winning ticket in the lotto they would be unhappy that the prize wasn’t bigger when they won.

Then there are those who seemingly have nothing and are still smiling and happy, just to be alive. When we are very young, most of us didn’t know what unhappiness was, other than that frightened feeling when we lost sight of mom or when we fell and hurt ourselves. The kind of unhappiness that many adults feel is a learned response to the world around us. It is a feeling that somehow others have more, were given more or took more than we have. It is a child’s response to understanding the word “mine” and having whatever it is taken away. We learn to stare longingly at the door that has closed, instead of looking for the other door that Helen Keller reminds us has just opened.

We tend to look at our relationships with others in life that way, too.  All relationships eventually end, some due to circumstances and mistakes that we make and some due to death. While it is certainly OK to harbor fond memories of the times and relationships sorry 3gone by, it is not good to fixate on those closed doors rather than looking for the open doors and relationships that are still available. Ruing the day when a mistake that you made caused a relationship to go bad will not change the fact that it has changed and perhaps ended forever. Learning from that mistake will help you avoid souring other relationships in the same way in the future. Learn and move on through the open doors to happiness that are still available to you.

The thing that I like about Lennon’s quote is that is has nothing at all to do with possessions or success in business or winning at some endeavor. It is really about maintaining a state of mind throughout life that promotes being happy with what you have and where you are in your life.  I suspect that the people who live in that state of woman-prayinghappiness have first come to understand their relationship with God and have accepted that He has a plan for their lives that will take care of them. They have surrendered their egos to the will of God and have found happiness in His embrace.

Too many of us tend to measure ourselves by what we have or don’t have in relationship to others. It is this comparative measurement that causes us to be unhappy. Oprah Winfrey put it this way – “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” For many there is never enough, because they are always comparing themselves and what they have against others and their possessions. The open door that God always keeps open for you is to share what you have with others who have even less.

So, grow up and be happy. Share what you have and let God show you the open doors.


Create your own happiness…

March 9, 2017

“A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe.”  (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to also quotes Mihaly as saying – “People are happiest when completely absorbed in what they’re doing.” Mihaly is a real person, a former professor at the University of Chicago.  He’s known for his study of happiness and positive psychology.

There are lots of people who claim to be able to help you be happy. Perhaps what they really do is help you find those things in your life that you can get completely into (bepraying-together completely absorbed in) that will make you happy. I’ve noticed that many people are most happy when they are completely absorbed in their family life; when being with, and participating in things with, their wives and children take away any cares of the world and they just enjoy the moment and the experiences with family.

People who experience happiness in the interaction with others have gone beyond the happiness that Mihaly described that comes from total absorption in one’s own activities. Their happiness is not self-centered, but rather a shared experience that can far exceed any individual happiness because it draws on the strength of the group’s happiness. Ahappy familydmittedly, it is a somewhat rare and perhaps a fleeting experience; but think of the last time you and your loved ones had a great group experience together and how happy that made you feel. Maybe it was a family pillow fight on a weekend morning, or maybe the fun of a visit to an amusement park or the zoo. There’s nothing that can make you happier than everyone in the family laughing and having fun together while doing something together. Not only are you completely absorbed by the experience, but you also get to share in and draw from the happiness of others in the group experience.

Many people find the happiness that MIhaly was alluding to in their hobbies or sports. It is very easy to become completely absorbed in a hobby or in pursuing a sport. It is something that you choose to do, rather than being something that you have to do and it is something that usually rewards you when you do well or accomplish getting to a new level within the hobby/sport, assuming that you don’t become so competitive in the hobby/sport that ismen butting headstakes on the characteristics of a job for you. It’s also important to maintain control of yourself within the pursuit of a hobby/sport, so that it doesn’t start to take over your life or get way out of hand. Many times on the TV show American Pickers, they show people who have crossed over the line from collectors to hoarders, some of whom eventually recognize that and are trying to pull back from had become an obsession and regain control of their collection hobby. In sports we have probably all encountered the uber-competitive fanatic for whom the sport has become totally a win-lose proposition, rather than a pleasant and enjoyable pastime. There is often more frustration than happiness to be found in that approach to sports.

For many people, happiness may be found in service to others. These good Samaritans are found in all of the volunteer organizations in every community across America. If you talk helping upwith them about why they do what they do, why they spend the hours or toil away behind the scenes on jobs with little public recognition for their efforts; they will usually tell you that it makes them feel good; it makes them happy.  There’s lots of business advice that says doing the jobs that no one else wants to do is a good way to succeed in business. I think that it is good advice for life in general and your reward in life is a payoff in happiness. Sometimes you are the only one who knows that you did some of those things; but, knowing that you did allows you to make your own happiness from the effort and the success.

What makes you happy? Is it something like a hobby or a sport? Is your happiness found alone or in group settings or both? Do you find happiness in service to others? Do need to be publicly recognized for your efforts in order to be happy about having done it or doSnoopy joy you find the happiness from inside? The power to create your own happiness is within you. Find those things in which you can become completely absorbed – a family activity, a hobby, a sport, service to others, whatever – and lose yourself in it. You will experience happiness as a by-product.

Have a great and happy rest of the week.


It’s a living; but, is it a life?

March 2, 2017

“Work won’t hug you when you’re old.”  (Bob Dotson)  – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write – Dotson tells of a man whose work caused him to be away from home for extended periods of time.  While gone, he’d plan “Daddy Days” with his daughter when he got home.  Those were special!  We need to be alert so that in our making a living, we don’t neglect to make a life.

I’ve written here a few times before about the danger of getting so wrapped up in one’s family grroupcareer and the need to make more and more money, that one forgets the important things in life – why and for who they are supposedly doing it. All too often it is the parting embrace of the father-daughter dance at her wedding that a father realizes his little girl has grown up and that he missed most of it, because he was so hard at work. Perhaps it is when his son drives away with his bride that the father stops to reflect on years of missed ball games and lost opportunities for father-son bonding.

Whether we admit it or not, a large part of the cause for one’s devotion to a career, is not the drive to earn money for the family, it is the need to feed an ego that hungers for recognition and adoration.  It is the need for external indications of success in life that one may not be able to find or identify from their day-to-day family life. Only later in life do father-daughter dancepeople who fall into that trap find out that the most important roles that they ever had in life were husband and father. At least Dorson recognized that enough to plan Daddy Days when he was home.

Many over-achievers find even more ways to attain self-gratification when not working by engaging in sports or other competitive leisure-time pursuits.  They don’t see being a successful parent and being engaged in their children’s lives to be as a satisfying “win” as being club champion at the country club. I was interested to read recently that Christopher Ilitich, the new CEO of the Ilitch Enterprises pizza and entertainment empire, is also a coach on his son’s baseball team. It appears that he is living a more balanced and rewarding life.

Sometimes trying to achieve that balance can feel a little like the guy with one foot on the dock and one foot in an untied boat. The dock (your family and home life) is, and should beone-foot-on-the-dock the foundation upon which your life is based. The boat will almost certainly try to float away and take you from that foundation. It is tempting sometimes to just jump into the boat and see where it takes you and you may not even look back at the dock until it is out of sight. It takes a stronger person to keep a foot on/in both and not let the boat drift away with you in it. If you really think about it; everything that you really want and cherish is on the dock and not in the boat; so, never give up your foothold there.

So much of the wisdom of life that is shared by older people is couched in terms like “don’t do what I did” that is make one wonder why it took so long for them to realize their mistakes. Perhaps the answer is found in Ecclesiastes 2:2626 – To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Perhaps, instead of chasing the wind, if one man prayingfinds God first, He will give you the wisdom to see the important things in life and show you the right path to take.

I have a feeling that if you center your life around God the rest of the things will take care of themselves and you will have more fulfilling relationships with your wife and children. They will be there to give you those hugs throughout life and not just when you are old. As you count your “treasures” at the end of life, those accumulated hugs will be of much greater value than all of the salary and bonuses that you’ve ever earned.  Make all of the days that you can Daddy Days and Husband Days with those who love you.

Have a great rest of the week. There’s a Daddy Weekend coming up.