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Posts from the ‘Happiness’ Category

Happy Bird

“If you want to be happy, be.” – Leo Tolstoy

My nephew Liam loves going to Target. I enjoy taking him and watching him pick out a toy. Our last trip, he picked an Angry Birds playset. In addition to the ritual hanging on the side of the cart through the store, he politely asks the cashier for a sticker when we are checking out. This trip, he hit jackpot and got four stickers. His forehead was an obvious place to put one of them.

As he was examining his new toy, I asked him if he was an “angry bird.” He promptly responded “no, I’m a happy bird.” No truer words have ever been spoken. Liam is innately happy, joyful and an empathetic soul and spirit. He generously shares that light with all who cross his path. For a 3.5 year old, he is a sage, figuring out the secret of life.

Practicing and mastering optimism, joy and delight are the only reasonable approaches to daily living. Anything else just leaves us angry birds. No hesitation – be a happy bird!

Commercial Break

“When you are grateful – when you can see what you have – you unlock blessings to flow in your life.” – Suze Orman

“Sometimes you need to press pause to let everything sink in.” – Sebastian Vettel

With Netflix and other streaming services, we can “binge” watch series one after another without being bothered with commercial interruptions of network and cable television. Sitting for hours on autopilot without stopping to take a break or breather.

With old network television, before DVRs, commercial breaks would allow you to get up and go to the kitchen or let the dog out, etc.

We need more “commercial breaks” in our day to get out of the trance of binge living, checked out of the reality of joy and delight. Whatever you are binging – entertainment, work, lousy relationships – take a break and pull your head up to see the world in its entirety, overflowing with possibility. There’s more right in front and available to you than you dare to believe.

This is your “commercial break” to stop and choose differently. To get off autopilot and start directing the plane of your life, to aim in the direction of your dreams and purpose.

Abby, Sasha, a run in the woods, friends and family, writing are my “commercial breaks.” Reminders to stop and steep myself in gratitude. Our tomorrow is determined by today’s decisions of how we spend our time. When say “no” to more work, no to mind-numbing entertainment and no to negative thinking, we discover joy in ordinary moments. Weave more “commercial breaks” into your day. Be fully present and deeply aware of gifts you should open and enjoy. Binge on gratitude and joy, so worthy of our time and attention.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward

Forward, Full Speed Ahead

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” – Marcus Aurelius

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” – Marcus Aurelius

We spend so much time running FROM things – change, the past, regrets. What if we invested half of that time running TO things, head on, full speed, filled with optimism? Planning for the best-case scenario rather than settling for worst-case thinking that steals our joy.

My latest article on Start3Things is on releasing the vise grip of limiting beliefs. Change your thoughts, change the depth and quality of your days.

One of my favorite daily activities is to run the dogs up to a wooded path where they can run off leash. Sasha wanders and explores while Abby stares until I throw the ball. She chases every ball like it’s the first time she’s ever chased a ball. Rigorous, focused, disciplined play.

Stop running from the dark and run swiftly to the light. Hurl yourself forward into awe and wonder.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

8 Percent

“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Last week, I received a certificate of recognition from the Guideposts Foundation for being a member since 1986 – 34 years. I joined after reading the founder Norman Vincent Peale’s seminal book The Power of Positive Thinking. I’ve returned to this book regularly and it is foundational to who I am, want to be and fall short of often. It really defines what Cast Light aspires to be – encouragement and optimism in the midst of all that life throws at us. Joy can transcend our circumstances when we think, act and see differently, choosing gratitude and abundance over cynicism and scarcity.

“The way to happiness; keep your heart free from hate, your mind free from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, scatter sunshine, forget self, and think of others.” – Norman Vincent Peale

One of the main things that steals our daily joy is worry. “Someone actually did a study demonstrating the pointlessness of much of our worries. The researcher found that 40% of the things people worried about never happened; 30 percent concerned old decisions that couldn’t be altered; 12 percent were about other people’s perceptions that may or may not even be true, and 10 percent were related to health, which worsens when you worry. Them remaining 8 percent of worries might possibly be called legitimate,” stated Norman Vincent Peale.

92% of worry is about things that never happen, the past, false perceptions and health. Guard your joy daily and diligently direct your thoughts. Release worry, restore your energy and invest your power in worthy pursuits.

Free your mind and go be a light in the world! No worries!

Pay Attention

“When you take your attention into the present moment, a certain alertness arises. You become more conscious of what’s around you, but also, strangely, a sense of presence that is both within and without.” – Eckhart Tolle

The only thing that is real is this very moment. The past is done, it has had its turn, served its purpose and need not be repeated. The future is unknown, despite best-laid plans. Distractions steal our days, our years, our life.

Pay attention to the abundance of gifts hidden in plain sight. See the people you pass by unnoticed, redirect your thoughts that wander to someday, pursue rapt awareness and gratitude of what is right now, imperfections, complexities and all.

I hung out with my nephew Liam tonight on his request to come see me. Be still my heart. We went to Target to get a few things (a few toys made it into the cart). When I was taking him out of the car, he noticed that I had a new jacket and told me he liked it.

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” – Pablo Picasso

Three years old and he has more awareness and empathy than most adults that I encounter on a daily basis. Empathy is the greatest gift we can instill in our children and re-instill in ourselves daily.

Pay attention to others, to yourself and to the messy beauty abound while you are right in the middle of it. Ordinary moments are the thread that make up an extraordinary life. Eyes, heart, mind and spirit wide open to take it all in.

PAY ATTENTION followed by a thank you and AMEN.

The Focused Life

“Living the focused life is not about trying to feel happy all the time…rather, it’s about treating your mind as you would a private garden and being as careful as possible about what you introduce and allow to grow there.”― Winifred Gallagher

With rapt attention, the bee moves into the center to fulfill her purpose. Pick your flower and dig in.

“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, One clover, and a bee, And revery. The revery alone will do, If bees are few.” – Emily Dickinson

Care for and guard your garden. Clarity comes in slowness, unfolding in gentle solitude of an open heart. Wonder, possibility and awe follow.

Never stop asking or answering Mary Oliver’s question “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

The focused, wild and precious life. One attention-rich day at a time.

Pull Over, Daily

This past week was my first week off this year. No meetings, open time to think rather than react, sleeping in without an alarm (made it to 7:00 am, but still a victory.) Simply delightful and longgggg over due.

We need to create space daily to witness and participate in our life, to see what’s right in front of us, to set our priorities and be conscious.

Pulling over shouldn’t be an annual event but a daily practice. Slow the pace, pull over to enjoy the view, fully awake, deeply aware and profoundly grateful. Racing from one thing to the next is no way to live, unless you’re in hot pursuit chasing a tennis ball to catch it on the first bounce, of course.

As we enter this new year and decade, commit to creating space daily, expanding your capacity for gratitude and basking in joy. Catch the ball on the first bounce. Happy New Year and Decade! Pursue joy!

“It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.” – Denis Waitley

Alleluia

“Life itself is an exercise in learning to sing alleluia here in order to recognize the face of God hidden in the recesses of time. To deal with the meaning of alleluia in life means to deal with moments that do not feel like alleluia moments at all. But how is it possible to say alleluia to the parts of life that weigh us down, that drain our spirits dry, that seem to deserve anything but praise? The question is a worthy one. Life, after all, is a struggle, a journey in uncharted space, an exercise in both gain and loss, joy and sorrow. No life consists of nothing but success and satisfaction, security and self-gratification. Failure and disappointment, loss and pain are natural parts of the human equation. Then what? What use is an alleluia then, except perhaps to encourage some kind of emotionally unhealthy self-deception? But alleluia is not a substitute for reality. It is simply the awareness of another whole kind of reality—beyond the immediate, beyond the delusional, beyond the instant perception of things.”— Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is by Joan Chittister, Rowan Williams

Today is someday.

No more putting off joy, AWAKEness and gratitude for our imperfect, frustrating, fleeting, abundant and beautiful life.

If we wait for the perfect time, when all is well to sing alleluia, not a note will be sung. Our resolve, practice and commitment to “alleluia” daily living defines the essence and substance of our life. It requires action, rigor and hope amidst our natural inclination to pull the covers over our head and weed out all people who are a pain in the a** out of our life. We are not called to perfection. We are called to love, often the “unlovable.” Love is nothing if not unconditional.

While a sunset, a dog gazing into your eyes and the simple delight of a child prompt shouts of “alleluia” and “amen,” we must be alleluia people amidst people and circumstances that are a drag and drain. Empathy, compassion and understanding beyond the surface of our knowing are the greatest gifts that we give to ourselves and others.

Keep singing alleluia beyond the instant perception of things. You will then be in control of the only thing you truly have control of – your own response, outlook and ability to contribute positively to this world by singing loudly, regardless of what the world is serving up right now.

Do I have an “alleluia”!!??

Tough and Soft

“Be soft, don’t let the world make you hard. Be gentle, don’t let the people make you difficult. Be kind, don’t let the realities of life steal your sweetness and make you heartless.”― Nurudeen Ushawu

Outlook is grounded in what’s inside. Be careful with your words and thoughts for they create the path on which you walk. Nurture and foster goodness and light, letting the noise and distractions fade away. Never give into circumstances, outside negativity and easy cynicism.

Own what is yours and let others own what is theirs to own. Show relentless empathy. Forgiveness is freedom. Break no one’s spirit, especially your own.

Optimism is a daily choice worthy of practice, discipline and rigor. Build your mental toughness so you remain soft, capable of delight in the smallest of things. Gratitude is the fuel.

Focus your thoughts, expand your life. See colors, there are many to see. Be foolishly positive and trust the unfolding of each day, anchored firmly in possibility and awe. Any other path is a dead end.

Soft. Gentle. Kind.

Petals

“There is that in the glance of a flower which may at times control the greatest of creation’s braggart lords.” John Muir

“Do not waste time dreaming of great faraway opportunities; do the best you can where you are. Open your petals of power and beauty and fling out the fragrance of your life in the place that has been assigned to you.” – Orison Swett Marden

Deep vibrant hues, fragile elegance, open arms embracing the sun. The flower is whole from the sum of the petals.

As brilliant petals complete the flower, moments are the petals of our life. Wake up, observe and participate in each moment fully, entering the beauty to be found in a single day.

Celebrate the full bloom of life that is rooted in details of the petal.

Where you are. Petals of power. Flinging uninhibited.

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