joy

if only we all enjoyed eggs this much, or anything this much really

My favorite buddy

My favorite buddy

It's Friday, it's summer time. You don't want to read a long blog post. For this reason today's post is all about sending you out with some positive energy and something to inspire you to enjoy all that comes your way this weekend.

This is Otis. he is my nephew and basically m favorite person in the whole world. You could have probably guessed that already. Recently, I had the opportunity to go to breakfast with this little nugget and the pure excitement he expressed when his food came out and was put in front of him made my whole week. 

When is the last time you enjoyed something this much?

When is the last time you enjoyed something this much?

It wasn't just that he was enjoying his food. I mean that is great and clearly he takes after his aunt just a bit. The truth is, watching him scarf down those eggs and seeing his facial expressions reminded me of something I think we often forget. 

joy in the moment

As an adult, it seems as if we forget to enjoy moments. We are so caught up in what is next and making sure we "stay connected" via the variety of social media networks that we say connect us but really just keep our head down and eyes on a screen rather than connecting directly with someone. Because of this, it is often not until a moment is long gone and we go back to the idea of reminiscing that we remember the joy we actually had in the moment. 

The problem with this may not seem obvious at first but when we remember the joy, it isn't the same as experiencing and recognizing the joy in the moment. It is more removed, sedated. It would be easy to skip moments this way, to forget how truly delicious something is, how hysterical your wacky relative is or how amazing a sunset might be and that would be a shame indeed.

So, as you head out this weekend, I wish you the joy of scrambled eggs in the morning, or something equally as simple and decadent and I hope you take a moment to live there and savor it.

joy comes in the morning

In November we are constantly bombarded with the thought of "gratitude and thanksgiving" but for December I think that word has got to be "joy". Just about every song you can think of that talks about the holiday's mentions the word. (The below one just happens to be one of my favorites.

It is with this in mind that we continue our goal setting process with a focus on joy. It is a simple question really...

what brought you joy this year?

I don't mean, "what made you happy". Anyone can talk about what makes them happy but what actually brought you true JOY in 2015. Joy is a much different focus. Joy comes in small moments and is almost always unexpected.

here is what I think you should consider when trying to decide what truly did bring you joy this year.

  • the people in your life that you spent time with and left feeling good

  • accomplishments you made

  • moments of peace

I don't think it is a secret that for me joy came in the form of my little nephew this year. I also realize that I probably sound like a broken record when I talk about him but  it was truly a big thing. My decision to move home seemed to validated by the birth of Otis because there is not a single person who has me me smile or laugh more in the past 8 months than that little guy. When I was sick, in bed, back and forth to the doctor's and not wanting anyone to see me, this kid would make me smile and laugh out loud. But more than that it was the joy in knowing that he had been brought into the life of my brother and his wife and completed their family. Knowing that they had the missing piece to their puzzle brought a level of joy I didn't expect.

So, as you work on this question today, think about the different kinds of joy around you.

 

if you can't think of anything nice to say, you're not thinking hard enough. it's National do something nice day

Apparently today is "National Do Something Nice Day". I say apparently because even though my research did in fact find information about the day, I was unable to find any information on its origin. Weird but kind of cool. It makes sense that someone who created a day all about kindness wouldn't be concerned with getting glory for it.

Maybe today hasn't been the best day for you. You woke up late because your alarm didn't go off, traffic was ridiculous, you stepped in a puddle and then a car drove by and splashed water all over your favorite outfit and then work is just...well...crummy. Imagine being at the end of that kind of day and needing to go to the grocery store (because all bad days include an empty refrigerator and/or emplty gas tank, I have no idea why this is) but imagine for a second that this is your scenario today. Suddenly the person in front of you let's you go before them or maybe the car before you paid your gas before you even filled your tank. How amazing would that feel? It is this idea that no matter how bad your day is, the smallest kindness can turnt he whole thing around.


So the only thing you really need to know is that today is that somebody is having a crummy day. But most of us are strong proud individuals who don't want to burden anyone with that day so we keep a stiff upper lip and just do everything we can to get through the day. When you know this and know that the simplest kindness might not mean much to you but it could mean the world to somebody else. It is for this reason it makes sense that we should be kind every day but assuming this just doesn't happen, which is probably a good assumption with all the things going on in our world today, being kind to everyone gives you infinite possibilities to be the reason somebodies day turns from good to bad.

Here is the kicker...it doesn't even have to be anything major. Here are a few small ideas from Kid President that take very little time out of your day but could make all the difference in someone else's.


a few extra from me to you...

  • did you know that some people have NEVER had a clown cone? This should be rectified, what better day than today?

  • help someone carry their groceries to the car

  • Leave a note on somebodies car to tell them what an awesome job of parking they did (I got this one from Kid President and I love it)

  • hold doors open for people

  • compliment people

  • put your phone down for an entire conversation, look in their eyes, give them non-verbal feedback...WOAH...this one could be huge

  • give up your seat to someone who may need it more

  • call your MOM...it will turn her day around for sure

  • call your DAD...we always forget to call our Dad's 

  • for either of the above DO NOT TEXT them, make a real call with words and laughs

  • If you are near your parents, take them out for happy hour, catch up with them and pick up the check....they'll love it

  • make your co-workers get up and have a 30 second dance party, they'll resist at first but then totally get into...I mean, who wouldn't

  • tell someone a silly joke...it doesn't even have to be good

  • never underestimate the power of a smile

OH...and don't forget it is SOCKTOBER, so why not stock up some socks and donate to your nearest homeless shelter or make little hygiene care packs with snacks and self care items and keep them in your car and give them to a panhandler on the street instead of ignoring them. When you do this, don't forget to look them in they eye and say a kind word.


To hammer in the point, here is another KP video on "how we can change the world". 


Be nice to each other today. Tell me what kindness you are going to do today in the comments below. It might give someone else a good idea.

Till next time.

happiness project

laughing on boat.jpg

It's hard work to be happy. It is something we each have to seek for ourselves and ultimately happiness means something different for each of us. This is probably why it seems so hard to define. I think that it can also be said that people are confused by what it means to be happy. Does it have to involve laughing and smiling? Can it simply be a feeling of contentment? Do we always know happiness when it is happening?

In the book "Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin, there is an exploration of happiness, that while personal for the author gave me some insight into facets of happiness I had never considered. Energy, for example and how it relates to happiness. The author starts here first. She researched energy and its relationship to happiness through the ages and puts a number of theories to the test. Does getting more sleep make you happier? Can you get happy simply by acting happy? This first chapter had me hooked. 

I came across this book a couple years back while "window shopping" with a friend. We had just finished brunch complete with champagne that centered on our search for happiness when we stumbled upon this book in a store. As with most situations with this friend, it seemed the ultimate definition of kismet.

One of my favorite passages from the book is this:

One conclusion was blatantly clear from my happiness research; everyone from contemporary scientists to ancient philosophers agrees that having strong social bonds is probably the MOST meaningful contributor to happiness. The positive-psychology superstars Ed Diener and Martin Seligman cite studies demonstrating that ‘of 24 character strengths, those that best predict life satisfaction are the interpersonal ones.’ Epicurus agreed albeit in slightly more poetic phraseology: ‘Of all the things that wisdom provides for living one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.’
— Gretchen Rubin - The Happiness Project

In fact, studies agree with this.  Some have shown that having 5 or more friends you can go to when discussing matters of significance were far more likely to describe themselves as "very happy" people. These studies even imply that everything we do is enhanced by having people join us for the process, even the ones we dread doing. (apparently misery loves company because it makes the misery...well...less miserable.) By the way this passage and section is discussed in Chapter 6 of the book; "Make Time For Friends."

So, why am I telling you all of this. it is simple really, number one, happiness comes in and from unexpected places, it is good to keep your mind open to the possibilties of where you might find it and to pay attention when it comes along. I like to tell people to make sure they are listening to the whispers of happiness and contentment for they are typically much more enjoyable than screams of happiness. They live in every day life and friendships but are easily missed and often have the greatest impact on our life and memories. 

The second is that FRIENDSHIPS MATTER! CONNECTIONS MATTER! Cultivating these friendships and connections is what matters most. How are you doing this? How are you taking the time to focus on these friendships and connections? If making time for others you help build your own happiness then I guess Phoebe Buffay was right, there is no selfless good deed. You know what thought? I am okay with that. I meant why can't we all win right?

Full disclosure, I do not own this image and found it on Google from this website   charitywinehouse.co.uk

Full disclosure, I do not own this image and found it on Google from this website charitywinehouse.co.uk

I had to put the rest of the conversation here, it is just too funny...

Rachel: Maybe Joey’s right. Maybe all good deeds are selfish.

Phoebe: I will find a selfless good deed. ‘Cause I just gave birth to three children and I will not let them be raised in a world where Joey is right.

Phoebe: [on phone] I have found a selfless good deed. I went to the park and let a bee sting me.

Joey Tribbiani: How is that a selfless good deed?

Phoebe: It makes the bee look tough in front of his bee friends. The bee’s happy and I am definitely not.

Joey Tribbiani: Uh, Pheebs, you know the bee probably died after it stung you?

Phoebe: [stares blankly] ...Dammit.

This book really is a great.I mean having a project is always fun, but one focused on happiness, what could be better? So I started my own happiness project I even created my own "Happiness Commandments" and "Secrets of Adulthood at the author's suggestion. Since you are my loyal readers, I decided to share them with you.  These are mine....what would yours be?

secrets of adulthood.png

That's enough from me...you ready for your own happiness project? Get the book, don't get the book, your choice, but whatever you do, do it for you.

Click on the image of book to pick it up on Amazon and start your project today. Don't forget to tell me all about it.

http://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Project-Morning-Aristotle-Generally/dp/006158326X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428968281&sr=1-1&keywords=happiness+project

The Exclamation Point

According to Wikipedia the exclamation point in the form we know it today came in the middle ages. As with most words, at least from what I can tell from the Scripps Spelling Bee, came from Latin. The idea is explained as being taken from an exclamation of "joy" which in Latin was represented by "io". As the legend continues into the middle ages where "io" also was said to mean "hurray". Later the modern form that we all know and love "!" was introduced. As time when on the mark was referred to as the "sign of admiration" in the 15th century by the English. Then in the 17th century admiration referred to a "sense of wonderment".

What a wonderful piece of punctuation! Why do we not use it more? According to a speaker I saw some time back, Bridget Brennan, author of The Female Factor, women tend to use the exclamation point far more often than men. You need only to look at the cover of any number of magazines aimed at women and compare them to those aimed at men to see that she is right. You can also check your text messages which in my experience have way more exclamation points than those coming from any of the men I know.

I wonder why this is. Do women have more "joy" than men? Do we have more of a "sense of wonder" than men? Do we say "HURRAY" more than men? Does anyone really say "HURRAY" anymore? (I can tell you this much, my spell check doesn't recognize the word, did it disappear?)

I don't actually know the answers to any of those questions and while I could have researched further for you, it defeats the point of this soliloquy. The point is, whether you are male or female, shouldn't we be using exclamation points more? If it means JOY, HURRAY and a SENSE OF ADMIRATION AND WONDERMENT, sign me up!

Hope you are Living Your Life In An Exclamation Point Today!


P.S. I just had to share another book with you."The Exclamation Point" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld