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.

Trying to understand the greater happiness…

February 22, 2017

Jack Freed use this quote in his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – recently – “Smile, things are going to work out.  You may not see it now, but you’re being directed to a much greater happiness.”  (ThisInspiresUs). Jack went on to write – Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled or afraid…I am with you.”  That’s the greater happiness.

hurry hurryIn today’s find it now, buy it now, do it now world, having the patience, the perseverance and faith to wait for that greater happiness goes against the grain. We have become an instant gratification society, while religion has remained a “hope for it, pray for it, wait for it” practice.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to having the faith that the promised “greater happiness” will come is dealing with the fact that this state of greater happiness will come after we have left this earth. For many people, the thought that they have to die to be born again into the state of greater happiness is not something that can easily accept or internalize. People want that state of greater happiness now, here, while they can enjoy it within the

mystery head

current physical world that they know. They cannot even conceive of the next life, the one promised to those who believe in and accept Jesus as their savior.

Another factor is the kind of hazy descriptions that we have of that next life – a house of many rooms, one of which will be ours or a peace that passes all understanding or looking upon the face of God. We have a hard time relating to that within the context of what we understand about this life. Some other religions have created extensive and elaborate descriptions of the afterlife, mostly using terms and examples from this life, so that the adherents can relate to it. It is so much easier to imagine Heaven as being just like this world only better.

Perhaps a big part of our challenge as Christians is to let go of any thoughts about this life and this world and just trust that the next life and the greater happiness that is promised to us there. We need to stop worrying about whether we’ll be reunited with our lost loved
ones in heaven or whether our past pets will be there with us. That’s all the stuff of this world. We should focus instead on the fact that we will be united with Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit and all of the Saints in a greater happiness that we can’t even imagine – fee of pain, free of cares, free of fears, free.

So, maybe believewe need to substitute much more believing, in place of all of the effort we make to try to understand the unimaginable. We can’t and don’t need to understand, we just need to believe and accept. Once we let go of the things of this life, we are ready for the things that come in the next. It is sort of like those cute ads for the web site; we have to let go of the things we don’t really need any more for this life and certainly not for the next. If I can let go of the baggage of this life and just believe; I’ll be better prepared to experience the promised greater happiness – maybe I’ll even experience a little of it here. What a wonderful thought that is to focus upon today.

Let go and have a great day!

The choice is up to you…

June 24, 2016

“When you can’t have what you choose, you just choose what you have.”  (Owen Wister) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Life is full of choices, but many times we cannot have what we would prefer to choose. Sometimes we feel like we’re “stuck” with what we have, instead of being thankful and happy that we have anything. One has only to watch the nightly news to see stories of people who have no choices and/or have nothing. If that gives you pause to say to yourself, “There but by the grace of God go I”; at least you’re in the right ballpark, but maybe no yet on the right track.

As a society we have become enamored of the basics of life, taking them for granted. I get a kick out of the news stories were people are proclaiming that they have a “right” to this orbill of rights that, whether it be clean water or electricity for their home or the many other things that people believe are somehow “owed” to them. Somehow the things that we should be thankful for have become expected, even proclaimed as rights. Even the rights that we have that were enshrined in our Constitution were extended to us by the consensus of the people at the time they were written and were not somehow innate.

There is nothing wrong with choosing to try to attain something that we currently don’t have, whether it is more education, more money, more possessions or new relationships; but we cannot just choose to have them. One choice that we must constant make in life iswomen looking at watch whether to be happy with what we have now, even while perhaps striving for more or newer or bigger or better somehow. I have learned from experience that the attainment of most of those strivings brought much less satisfaction or joy than I initially imagined it would. It’s just another thing or a bigger thing; but still just a thing.

The really rewarding attainments in my life came out of new friendships or new relationships. Perhaps the most rewarding of all comes from continuing to choose what I already have – a marriage that celebrates 50 years of choosing each other this year. I think the trial period on that is over and I’ll keep that relationship and choose to be thankful for it every day.

bored2The other big choice in my life that really worked out was choosing to allow Jesus into my life. Sure, I went through the period of doubt or disbelief that most people do in their youth. I went through the “Going through the motions” period, too; where going to church was more of a social event or just another task to get through at the end of the week.

Then I had my “Come to Jesus” moment, as most people eventually do and my life
changed forever. Mine, as happens with many, came at a very dark time in my life, when hopelessness and despair were in control and I saw no future in living. At that dark helping handsmoment I reached out in desperation and Jesus was there to reach back to me, take my hand and lead me out of that pit. I have found comfort ever since in the little prayer that I said that night – “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

I will never look back into that pit. I have made a different choice and I have chosen what I have in Jesus. You can, too. Try that little prayer and see if it doesn’t make a difference for you.

The choice is up to you.


Don’t be stressed; think blessed…

May 12, 2016

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought for the day – “Stop focusing on how stressed you are and remember how blessed you are.”  (Gratitude  Gratitude Habitat is an online site where people can share blessings they’ve received and inspiration that has come to them.

mind at workOne could start by asking what it is that you might be stressing about. For most that might be something left undone at work or at home, some possession that you don’t have or can’t afford, some bills that you don’t know how you are going to pay, some person that you haven’t met yet, something new that you’ve never tried before, or maybe a decision that you have to make that you just aren’t sure about. All of those things have something in common – they are about the unknown (one might say for many about the unknowable). We all tend to stress when we get outside of our comfort zone and face the unknown.

Today’s inspirational little saying is trying to get us to stop worrying (stressing) about the unknown (and unknowable) ad focus instead focus upon on being happy with what we have, what we know. There is another little popular saying, “it is what it is”; which I’ve opined about here as being to passive for my tastes. I’ve suggested the alternative view of “it is what we make of it”. Taking that approach doesn’t mean that we spend time stressing about it; but, rather, that we proactively pursue whatever resolution is required sluggoto make it what we want it to be. The foundation of that approach to life it to first be happy with what you have, with where you are and with who you are – to remember and be thankful how blessed you already are.

Building upon that base you can then ask God for help with the things that you would still like to do or to provide for yourself or your family. There’s nothing wrong with having those kinds of goals in life and pursuing them, but they are not worth become points of stress in your life. If you start your daily prayers by giving thanks for the blessings that you already have and perhaps that will help put the things that you don’t have, but want, in better perspective and take some of the stress out of your pursuit of them.

So, spend some time counting your blessings each day, before you get to the tasks needed to achieve or get the things that you don’t have.

Be a peach and not the pits…

April 28, 2016

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, but there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”  (Dita Von Teese) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Everyone wants to be liked. In fact I get messages everyday asking me to “Like” someone like meor something. Jack wrote about that social media phenomenon in his post that went along with this quote. He observed that young people in particular seem to crave the acceptance of “likes” on Facebook or other social media. “Likes” are even a measure of the acceptance of posts to blogs like this one and I must admit that it feels good to have some of my readers take the time to “Like” a specific post.

The gist of today’s quote is that it’s impossible to have everyone “Like” you for everything that you are or that you do, even if you behave like you are “the ripest, juiciesbad attitudet peach in the world.” Understanding that and accepting it will make life much easier and help you avoid getting down on yourself because someone doesn’t “Like” you, which is the pits. Some people are just natural contrarians who find the behavior of happy, friendly people to be offensive. They enjoy being grumpy and resist any amount of effort from you to cheer them up. For them, disliking you is as much a mark of your impact on them as a “Like” might be from someone else.

You could just write off this reaction and go about your merry, happy way; however, you might also accept this as a personal challenge. The challenge is to really take the time to understand what it is that is bothering this person so much that they express their pain or kissing mirroranger or frustrations with life by disliking you. Perhaps you have become, as some might put it, “too sweet, too cute or too syrupy” in your approach to others. What that says to them is that you are oblivious and insensitive to their needs or situation and too wrapped up in yourself to make the effort share in their current feelings or needs. To their way of thinking you’ve become the pit and not the peach that you think you are.

A lesson for us all out of those types of experiences is that “Likes” in life are to be earned and not just ask for or expected. The way that you earn a “like” from others is to be genuinely interested in them and sensitive to their needs and not just wrapped up in girls huggingyourself. It’s OK to try to cheer them up or to share your happiness with them, so long and you first understand their situation and make an effort to earn their “like” through empathy to their needs and not just through the aura of your own happiness.

So, be a peach today, but be sensitive to the needs of others that you meet, so that you don’t come across as the pits to them.

Start a new ending for your life today…

March 28, 2016

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

Easter is a harbinger of Spring – that time of the year when most of nature’s plants start making a new ending. It is also a time of year when life us hit the reset button on lives and springbegin to make new endings for ourselves. It begins with Easter, which is a celebration of the new beginning that was ransomed for us by the death and resurrection of Christ. If one can accept and embrace that thought, then the trials and tribulations of this life fade into the background noise.

So, put the past in the past and face the future and the new ending that you can create from what you do from today on. Life is like a maze, full of false starts and dead end paths; but, it is also full of possibilities and new beginnings. Like a finding your way through a maze with help signmaze, life starts for everybody at the same point and ends at the same point. It is the journey through the maze that is different for each person. Perhaps, if you look at all of life’s trials or set-backs up until now as learning experiences, you’ll find it easier to see the path through the maze. The other thing that can help in traversing the maze of life is a good moral compass rooted in faith. If you stop and really consult that compass at each decision point in your life you may find it easier that you think to make the right the truthdecisions.
There is an oft heard saying that “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”; perhaps it can also be the first step in your journey to a new ending. Start by understanding that no one else can dictate your ending and nothing in your past can pre-determine your future. If you admit to yourself that you don’t like where you are headed, then change directions. Step off to a new ending. You might eve start enjoying the journey.

Have a great week ahead on your journey to a new ending.