“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!
“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
“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
If you spike the ball when Friday hits that you made it through another week and lament the brevity of the weekend, it’s time to change your mindset from survival mode to thrive mode, from scarcity to abundance. I certainly have fallen into the trap of Friday delight and Monday dread.
Time for some seven-day living filled with joy, laughter and some serious play. Negativity is a spiral that produces more of the same useless, time-wasting, life-sucking results. Optimism multiplies, fuels, energizes, creates light, uncovers possibility available right in this very moment. A much better choice for thriving no matter the circumstances. No more dabbling in optimism – commit.
Looking for a way to shift your perspective? Go opposite. Too close, pull back. Too far out, pull in. See the whole picture. Can’t come up new ideas, stop trying and let them find you by taking a walk.
The quickest way to shift your perspective – music. I’ve started a “dance party” playlist and just added Lizzo’s Good as Hell – “I do my hair toss, Check my nails, Baby how you feelin’?, Feeling good as hell!” I can’t help but smile, sing loudly and bust a move.
Music, art, nature are all gifts that remind us to lighten up and enjoy this very moment. Change the playlist in your mind and let your heart, spirit and soul out to dance every single day. Turn up the volume! Hair toss, check nails, feeling good as hell!
“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!
“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.
“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” – Joyce Meyer
As I waited in a four-block line just to check my luggage, people started complaining. It’s understandable to be frustrated when we are inconvenienced. I was a bit concerned about making my flight as others were as well. However, complaining and worrying won’t ever change the outcome and it makes the journey a drag.
A woman ahead of me asked the airport staff “what’s the strategy on the line?” The staff person looked at her and calmly answered, “patience.” Patience as a strategy? Brilliant!
We overdo, over-complicate and want to control everything. And in the process, we make our lives miserable and spread it to others too. When we focus our energy on what we can control and let the rest unfold as it will, we have suddenly have more “magical” days.
Listen carefully to your thoughts and words. Choose patience, optimism and light. Have a magical day, indeed!
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” John Quincy Adams
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein
Watching kids’ excitement at Halloween is a delightful and much-needed reminder of the importance of imagination in our daily life. Smiles are deep and wide. Joy is pure.
I had a wonderful night walking the neighborhood witnessing kids running excitedly door to door yelling “trick or treat” and saying thank you with vigor for a few pieces of candy.
Logic is linear and how we roll through our days, checking off the task list. Imagination brings color, possibility and bigness to our days. Nonsense makes good sense.
“I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells.” – Dr. Seuss
“Halloween is not only about putting on a costume, but it’s about finding the imagination and costume within ourselves.” – Elvis Duran
“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
“The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” – Helen Keller
It’s safe in the harbor of the past, assumptions and sameness. But we are built for adventure, discovery and high seas living. For beautiful sunsets, for gliding across open waters and yes, for waves and high winds.
Resilient, strong and ready for overcoming and victory, living each moment fully. Stay the course, keep the faith, trust your journey.
No more wasted days. Only vibrant awareness of possibility and abundance. Enter the marvelous richness of uncharted waters. Pull the anchor up, furl the sails and venture out into the open, deep water.
Day 30 of 30. I’ve written a post for 30 days focusing on optimism and the power of positive thinking which results in positive living. I’ve not been perfect in my thinking and doing, but I have been more aware of how I start my day and where I allow my mind to wander. A habit is formed in 30 days and optimism is good medicine.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
“While you can’t control your experiences, you can control your explanations.”― Martin E.P. Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
We want things to be different but are unwilling to change. When we shift our energy and effort from trying to change other people and circumstances, we can focus on the only thing we can change – ME.
Studies have shown that optimism and gratitude improve our health including preventing chronic disease, improving our immune system, reducing stress and increasing life longevity.
And, yes it can be difficult to be optimistic when other people are pessimistic, complaining, gossiping and chirping. But with attention and practice, you can strengthen your optimism muscles and be healthier and happier. A worthy pursuit to be sure.
In her article How to Be Optimistic When the World Around You Isn’t, Amy Morin, LCSW offers a few suggestions:
- Optimism is a choice – turn your mindset around and think positive thoughts;
- Decide to be optimistic – it’s a daily decision, start each day reading, thinking and saying positive things. Force it until it takes hold;
- Avoid positive energy vampires – boundaries and limits on toxic people and the news;
- Recognize your negative thoughts – catch yourself in the act, reframe and flip it;
- Bestow positivity on others – share positive feedback with others – BONUS – it returns to you!;
- Imagine a positive future – dream big;
- Practice gratitude – an instant boost of optimism.
There is no risk, only reward in becoming optimistic. Changing your perspective, old stories and explanations = happier life.