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Posts from the ‘Happiness’ Category

Cutting the Lawn in Winter

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” – Albert Camus

Mid-April and 17+ inches of snow in Minnesota this past weekend. No doubt, it has been one long winter that continues on. Circumstances, other people, the weather take up too much of our time. We lament and try to change things that we can’t change. In the midst of this effort, we are missing out on our life.

It’s pretty simple, yet we’ve made it hard. We either hibernate or we find the invincible summer inside and burst out into the world, regardless of what’s in our peripheral vision. Our ability to focus our attention and time on what’s important and of meaning has never been more important.

If 17 inches of snow can defeat us, we need to work on our resilience and more importantly our sense of humor needs some exercising. Flex your joy muscles today and bring summer to the winters that surround you, even in July. However, I am not convinced that snow is not possible in July based on this past winter. Bring it on!

Sometimes, you need to get the lawnmower out in the snow.

Flowers Within

“We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.” – Aristotle Onassis

It is April 9th and it snowed again. I worked half the weekend on projects and trying to get my email down which didn’t work. I’m still at 500 emails with “to dos” attached to them. Civility is at an all-time low and adult-bullying is at an all-time high. Friends struggling with death, surgery, elderly parents. And it’s Monday and my calendar is filled with meetings that will produce more “busyness.”

Insert your list here.

We all are justified to be exhausted, frustrated and fed up. But that bus trip gets you to wasted days that never return. So despite our justifications, we must cling to hope and find joy in our winter seasons.

So much of what we suffer is outside of us – circumstances, unreasonable expectations, other people, the weather. We can and must control what’s inside so we can go out into the world and be hope and joy-filled people. To contribute to light rather than darken the darkness.

We have to intentionally, mindfully and actively choose hope over despair. So write your list, acknowledge the challenges and then move on. Also, write a list of your blessing and gifts. It will be much longer and deeper than you think. Gratitude is the bus to get on.

Find your inner “Tigger” and grow flowers within when the soil outside is still frozen and barren. And go out and beam, start a domino-effect of joy. That’s powerful. Joy over despair.

Cast light, bloom, multiply joy. Now that’s worthy of our time and attention.

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” – Pope John Paul II

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” – Pope John Paul II

Magnificent

William James

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” – William James

“Time itself comes in drops.” – William James

Magnificent, spectacular, striking, breathtaking, delightful. We need more of these words and feelings in our daily life. Magnificent is waiting to be seen right in front of us each day. In a sunrise, a smile, a laugh, a poem, a dog’s enthusiasm to virtually everything, a song – all found in drops of time. Awe and beauty amidst the chaos and struggle. They co-exist. What we pay attention to defines our day, our life.

Find the magnificent in your day today no matter what you are going through. It may be like “Finding Waldo” to start, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes and the more we need it. Keep an eye out – there’s a spectacular day ahead.

Chase the Ball

“Life is fragile. We're not guaranteed a tomorrow so give it everything you've got.” – Tim Cook

“Life is fragile. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow so give it everything you’ve got.” – Tim Cook

“Beauty is a fragile gift.” – Ovid

Amidst our “first world” problems of unattainable deadlines, traffic delays, acceptable incivility and general daily irritations, life is happening right before our eyes. These days are the days – the good ole days we’ll look back on and long for even though we missed most of them in pursuit of the nonexistent.

Wake up and be present so you feel the depth and breadth of each day. This is it. Chase the ball and keep having fun in the pursuit of simple daily joy. Join in life and start participating, praising and celebrating all that is right now.

Play the board game with the kids. Make snow angels. Throw the ball. Chase the ball. Be silly. Dance like you don’t give a damn who’s watching. Laugh every flippin’ day. One life. This is it. Start living each day. Beauty abound. You now have the secret, the shortcut, the formula. Today. Be present.

Do It with Joy

“Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps.” – Sharon Draper

When we get stuck in the “whys” and “whens,” we miss out on the depth of now. Without a doubt, no one gets through life without bumps, bruises and scars. But woven through it all right in front of us is a current of grace and awe.

What really matters is not that we have challenges but rather how we go through them. With angst or joy. And we have the choice. So whatever this day brings or wherever you are at on your journey right now, choose light as you move through. Do it with joy and heart all in.

“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

With Great Joy

“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” – Thomas Carlyle

The joy of watching the Olympics is to witness the fruition of years of work, stories of struggle, come-backs and then after all of that a medal or just the mere opportunity to compete among the best and be counted as one.

We reach our dreams and aspirations by opening our eyes and pursuing them with diligence, grit and a “never give up” attitude, no matter what. There will be a lot of noise and clutter along the way. Tune it out and stay focused on the pursuit and most important, enjoy the journey along the way. Don’t let your “to do” list, a snarky comment from another or your own fear and doubts get in the way of becoming who you are called to be. And do it daily with great joy!

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. – Acts 20:24

Airborne

“There's something just magical about flight. Period.” – Graham Hawkes

“There’s something just magical about flight. Period.” – Graham Hawkes

“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.” – Victor Hugo

We all have it in us. The longing and the ability to take flight, to be airborne. To run so fast that you break gravity. Feel the freedom of flight if but for a second to get a glimpse of heaven. It is in us you know. In each one of us.

Chase it. Let it chase you and get caught up in it. There is such delight waiting just outside our thoughts and fears. Calling us to come out and play. Pursue and be pursued. Pure magic.

“Life seeks life and loves life. The opening of a catkin of a willow, in the flight of the butterfly, in the chirping of a tree-toad or the sweep of an eagle – my life loves to see how others live, exults in their joy, and so far is partner in their great concern.” – Edward Everett Hale

One Less Thing

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” – Lord Byron

What is one less thing you can do? Not more, less.

What we say “no” to gets us to the richness of the “yes” things we long for and are called to do. I jam as much activity into a minute better than most and it merely fosters more activity. Yet that which I value most is not quantity of tasks but quality of moments of depth that comes from “single” tasking.

A long run, throwing the ball for the girls, writing, reading more than 3 pages in a book, prayer and reflection that leads to gratitude and grace, a walk in the woods, undivided attention and device free moments with family and friends. That’s my list. What’s yours?

And when we get to more “yes” things that matter, the other stuff that makes up our ridiculously long “to do” list gets done. And if they don’t then maybe those things shouldn’t be done in the first place. Add more quality to your days and your tasks by doing less so the things that you spend your precious and limited time on bring more joy and discovery to your days. Remove items from the list so you can fully participate in life rather than be a “productive” machine.

Add by subtracting. It’s the new math.

Song and Dance

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman

Each morning, set the tone for the day. This requires quiet to be able to contemplate, to see the beautiful forest rather than be lost in the trees. Decide what song you will sing and if you will dare to even dance. There are a lot of distractions, so you must make a conscious decision if you will sing and dance or if you will merely get through.

“Have tos” and “should’ve beens” are joy thieves. And we don’t realize that we’ve been robbed until we’ve wasted many days that turn into years. Struggle is certain, our response is not.

So remain in this day and give it your best voice and step. That is what we are called to do, especially when we don’t “feel” like it. Our joy is not in some far off land or mythical future when everything falls in place. It’s right now, this moment, today.

And when you sing your song and dance your dance, you give others permission to do the same.

My best friends and roommates Sasha and Abby know how to dance to be sure. Ear-flapping freestyle.

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” – Wayne Dyer

If You’re Not in One of These, Start Living

As I was driving back to work after a chiropractor appointment to ease some chronic wrist, hand and neck pain, I pulled up behind a hearse at a stop light. I didn’t really notice it until I came along side it on the road.

It woke me up out of auto-pilot as I was thinking about the 500 emails I was returning to and the nonstop meetings and interruptions that make up a regular work day.

Bottom line – if you’re not in a box riding in the back of a hearse, start living! It may sound morbid but what’s even more morbid and morose is our complacent acceptance of the daily minutia and grind that steals the beauty and joy that we are meant to partake in and offer while we are here for a very short time.

So next time you’re stuck in a negative mood or worse, in a state of numb, wake up and enjoy each day starting now. Take the last-minute trip, call your Mom and Dad if you are fortunate to have them still here, laugh more, try something new, dare to be bold and bright.

Because if you’re not in one of these, you are obligated to live fully, to walk softly and to embrace your days with delight and awe. No regrets. Start living.

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