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Posts from the ‘Happiness’ Category

A Year from Now

“In basic research, the use of the electron microscope has revealed to us the complex universe of the cell, the basic unit of life.” – Gunter Blobel

“The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.” – Henry Ward Beecher

While I encourage savoring the moment and being present in today, we also need to put the microscope down and pull out our telescope to look to the stars, trigger our imagination and get a new perspective when life’s challenges get too close.

Moments are rich with joy that can be discovered with a microscopic view. When the details of the day are steeped in chaos, it can distort our view requiring the use of our telescopic view. Pulling back and getting a new view. Moments are snapshots that accumulate into the entire album of our life.

Using both our microscope and telescope at the right times keep us balanced through our day to prevent “rollercoaster” living. Zooming into to see moments of connection, joy and delight in simple interactions. And then, when necessary, pulling back to remind ourselves that “this too shall pass.”

So, do both. Savor the moment, the beauty and detail in the petal of a flower. And when things get distorted and lead us down “frustration lane,” look up and remind yourself that you won’t be here in a year or even tomorrow for that matter.

Carry your microscope and telescope with you today and use each one appropriately so you can enjoy the gift of this day.

Winter, Again

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

We often think that we are done with something, it’s over, and then it comes back again. Sometimes finishing takes a bit longer and it’s more of a circular rather than linear path.

We allow outside circumstances and people to limit and control our own outlook, keeping us from seeing the full beautiful, complicated view. Our outlook begins and always remains with what’s inside. We own it. Our view of the world is in our hands not others so stop trying to pass off the responsibility of ownership.

Kids have their Ph.D. in a joyful perspective, and so many other areas as well – multidisciplinary to be sure. They know how to suck the most out the present moment and simply engage in possibility.

It’s the second week of April, the start of Spring. And, yep, one more round of winter. From 50s to snow, ice and cold. When visiting my nephew Liam yesterday, I asked him if he wanted to build a snowman. It took 10 seconds for him to rush the closet in search of his boots. And being the sweet, intuitive guy that he is, he handed me a hat from the hat bin before he put on his own to ensure I was prepared for this adventure as well.

And thus the launching of a special memory and actual fun amidst the “catastrophe” of winter’s return. We can flip our perspective in but a minute and turn our winters into “invincible” summers by doing the opposite of our natural inclination to complain. Dive in and make some fun.

Snow? Go build a snowman. Rain? Go dance in it. Sun? Go soak it in to refill your inner light.

Winter, again? Preparing for the brightest of Spring blooms. Start budding.

 

Teflon

So much of the narrative of our life is defined by others, our past and what we all have allowed in. Change the narrative, change the story. Be mindful and careful of what you allow in and keep out.

Like Teflon, don’t let fear, other people’s shallow criticism and comments control your now and your future. Our regret rarely lies in what we’ve done but rather what we haven’t done. Dreams we didn’t pursue, activities we didn’t try, things we didn’t say.

Worry and fear hold us back from trying at all ages and stages of our life. And with one step, we can change it all. Do it afraid. Silence those voices by trying things, learning and growing until your last day on this earth.

Like a sponge, soak in possibility, confidence and hope. Let that feeling of “I Can” stick. Fear is a liar.

“When he told you you’re not good enough
When he told you you’re not right
When he told you you’re not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you’re not worthy
When he told you you’re not loved
When he told you you’re not beautiful
That you’ll never be enough

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar”

Zach Williams, – Fear is a Liar

Get your Teflon on.

Look Back, Move Forward, Anchored in Today

“The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.” – Eckhart Tolle

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

Sasha’s second birthday was on Thursday. Both Sasha and Abby were as happy as they were the day before. That’s the thing that dogs and kids have in common. The ability to be fully present in today and to achieve one thing – joy.

And in their process and pursuit of joy, we witness for ourselves the possibility that resides in each one of us and in each day. The capacity and the call to simply be present and aware without going too far back or reaching too far ahead.

The past has gotten to us to today so it serves to provide lessons, ground us in memories keeping those who have gone ahead of us on their journey in this world in our heart and builds our resilience. The future provides hope, fuels anticipation for new beginnings and comes slowly then quickly.

The present is the real gift hidden in ordinary moments, conversations and quiet reflection filled with gratitude, if we choose.

Be open to and seek joy and depth in today. The past is not the map to your future. Been there, done that. New, wonderful and abundant living lies ahead only to be discovered by you one day at a time. Today, that’s it.

Daily Gratitude

“It was the rainbow gave thee birth, and left thee all her lovely hues.” – W. H. Davies

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Milton

A simple glance to the left and the rainbow caught my attention and awe entered, setting the tone for the day. That’s all it takes. Opening our eyes to what is present in this very moment and rediscovering gratitude in daily encounters.

According to research, simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain:

  1. Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions;
  2. Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it;
  3. Gratitude’s benefits take time;
  4. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain.

For more inspiration and ideas on living well, check out the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley which I just tripped on looking for quotes on gratitude. The joy that comes from simple pursuits indeed.

To be more grateful, lift your head up, open your eyes and find the rainbows woven through each day.

No Reason at All

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.” – William Blake

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.” – John Burroughs

While running a few errands this morning to pick up the “must-haves” that I forgot at the store run yesterday, I walked by the flowers and stopped for a moment. And then I thought “why not?” So along with the necessities, I frivolously bought an $8 bouquet of carnations for myself for no reason at all. Often no reason at all turns out to be a very good reason. Flowers are a simple and attainable way to be reminded of God’s brilliance bursting in bud of a flower. Now that’s a very good reason.

We so often look for our circumstances or someone else to give us what we need – flowers, affirmation, acceptance, happiness. We search wide and far, often trapped in the past, yearning for what was or what didn’t happen or caught up too far in the future in worry or waiting for the “perfect” time that is bound to come.

When we pause our busy, errand-running life for a moment, we discover that all that we need is within each of us. And it can be found in daily simple acts of buying flowers, lighting a candle and listening to music. In quiet moments, we find the silence that we need to hear our own voice and chart a path to our own daily contentment.

Go buy some flowers for yourself and enjoy today. Pretty simple.

What Stops You in Your Tracks? Anything? The Right Things?

“On your journey, don’t forget to smell the flowers. Take time out to notice that you’re alive. You can only live in one day.” – Ray Fearon

As we rush onto the next thing on our “to do” list, we race past those daily track-stopping moments. In our nonstop, do more and more with less and less working longer days to create mediocre work, we are losing our sensitivity meter to notice the simple track-stopping beauty that surrounds us right now.

Looking directly into another human’s eyes, an embrace, the sculpture forming in a pile of snow by the mail box, the edges of a flower shining in the sun at a conference hotel where you are working for six 16 hour days, a bouquet of balloons at the same hotel that look like big jewels, your best friend savoring a cookie-frosting first of course, your other best four-legged fluffy friends playing and resting after play. These are the things that stop me in my tracks and make me smile from inside. And they are what matter the most – the symphony in a noisy loud world.

The blessing of the cell phone is not the technology of being on our email 24/7 or on social media liking someone’s dinner choice – that’s the curse. The blessing is the camera that allows us to capture moments that stop us in our tracks, that make us see our blessings while we are in them, that remind us to be grateful, and that show us the stupidity of our never-ending pursuit to be busy and “productive.” Efficiency at the loss of meaning and depth – blah.

Wake up and be open to being stopped in your tracks today. And stop.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” – Alice Walker

 

 

Gifts AND Fruit

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

We are all given gifts, but we often fall short on producing fruit. When we don’t fully engage and release our gifts, we don’t fully produce fruit and bloom. Recognize, be grateful and accept your gifts and start producing some fruit to nourish and light the world.

There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Strength, Knowledge, Fear of the Lord, Piety

There are nine fruits of the Holy Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control

Imagine if we align with the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit within us. A very worthwhile life. No small ball. Play it big, all out.

Gifts AND Fruit, a power combo.

Joy Habit

“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Just like exercise and good nutrition, joy is the result of habit and discipline. Repetition, practice and doing the work daily to reach our long-term goals and aspirations. Our intentions, thoughts and actions lead us down the path to fruition. And no matter where we are at in our journey, even if we are steeped in difficulty, we can experience joy, daily.

Our own joy does not reside in others, in circumstances, in the past or in the fictional “someday” we’ve created in our mind. We search broad and far until we figure out yet again, joy is borne within. The secret is found in returning to ourselves. Joy always comes from within and is available right now, experienced fully in this moment. Joy is a choice and a habit.

Joy strengthening exercises: gratitude, generosity, laughter, reflection, forgiveness, compassion, prayer and throwing ball in a field with your best friends witnessing the delight and awe in simple, soft moments.

“When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.” – W. Bruce Cameron

There is discipline in joy and joy in discipline. Practice, practice, practice. The journey is completed one habit, thought, action, day at a time. Get in the habit.

Come Out and Play, Now

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ― Mother Theresa

Can Kathie come out to play?

We rush, multitask and race through the day with little thought but to keep up the pace and get to the next thing. Wishing for time to pass quickly in struggle and linger longer in bliss.

Looking back, we long for more time, a chance to have one more deep conversation and long hug from someone who’s gone. Looking ahead, we fear change, clinging to what’s familiar, even if it’s uncomfortable. At least we know it.

And in the process of this back and forth, this paradox of living, we miss the only thing we truly own – this very moment, this day. The joy, delight and power of now. This is the stuff that the past is made of and directs what the future will hold. What we think, feel and who we interact with and how we do so. This is it, it’s not an illusion. This moment, the present is where we are called to be.

Stop. Look around and settle your thoughts long enough to be grateful and allow contentment to enter and remain. Your presence in this very moment is requested and required to open up to the joy awaiting illusively in this very moment and hour at hand. Not back, not ahead. Right now.

The search is complete. Engaged and immersed in awareness of your next breath, your next thought and the words that can gently and softly roll off your tongue. All of your senses sharpened in silence to anchor the day ahead in full presence and anticipation. What you think, say and do today determines your future past.

The true gift of children and dogs is that they understand and embrace the magic of being fully present in the moment with no regard for the past or future. Mere, pure being fully in the moment free to let loose and explore.

So go for a run, throw a ball, play hopscotch, jump a rope, pick up that book that you’ve been reading three pages at a time for the past three months. Be frivolous, unplanned and unstructured for a slice of each day, woven through every hour and in between the busy.

Break free of the illusion of looking back or too far ahead and seize this day. There is awe, ease and wonder right around the corner. Come out and play.

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