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Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

Simply put, the key to happiness is to stop looking for the freaking key to happiness.

The fact is, the doors have never been locked up in the first place.  There is nothing to wait for.  You can open the doors to that sort of life anytime you choose.

Maybe you have lofty goal and plans.  So do I.  Trust me, if you could see the vision of my life that is taking shape right now, I know  a lot of you would wonder at my sense of reality and sanity.

That’s okay.  I get it. I’m dreaming really big these days and not everyone is ready for that.  I think I’ll just let them wonder until they see me taking strides and steps and moving closer and closer.  After all, showing is far more believable than telling right?

Still, I’m really happy today too.  I’m not going to sit around waiting on something to ‘let’ me be happy.  Or for some magical goal to get crossed off, or threshold to be crossed or please…certainly not for the proverbial knight in shining armor to come ’round and save the day.

Seriously.  Why wait?  There really isn’t anything you need to wait for!  I’ve discovered that happiness isn’t a destination anyway.  It’s not something you can go out and get.  And you can never use it all up.

There is only one thing you have to do to find your own happiness.  Choose it.

Allow yourself to decide that you are already happy.  Be grateful for all the blessings you have in your life and love your people right here today.

It’s always been within you, waiting for you to let it loose and choose to jump in with both feet.

happyIf you want to be happy, then be happy.

Start by smiling.  Too many of us don’t smile because we wonder what others will think.  You know what they will think?  Wow, she’s such a happy person.  And then they will wonder how they to can be happy just like you; and maybe, just maybe they will start smiling too.

Then look what you did.  You are a carrier of the happiness virus and you are spreading it all over the freakin place.

I’m not sure when humanity got everything so bloody mixed up.  We all say we want to feel happy and joy and love.  Yet, we hesitate, we worry about reactions and we push down those feelings so they don’t get out of hand.  That makes no sense.  We celebrate and admire those who are postitive people that make life joyous, yet we are hesitant to allow ourselves to do the same.

Don’t you find it weird we all seem to think that negative emotions like sadness, anger and frustrations are okay to be talked about and seem to be more socially accepted?  And a lot of the time we feel the need to keep our happiness and joyful feelings ‘under control’ or dampened?  Like we don’t want to bother anyone with them?

Okay so it’s your turn.  I’d love to hear your take on why that is in the comments below.

 

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so-what-is-joy-anywayWhat is joy?  The online dictionary defines it as “A feeling of great pleasure and happiness”.

This is not how I would have defined joy.  I think it’s so much more than that.  It reaches far deeper than just feeling  happy.

Happiness, in my view is a reaction to events that are unfolding or remembered.  It is a wonderful feeling.  Just as sadness is a reaction to events.  These are emotional responses.

I think of joy as more of an attitude and a way we can approach life.

Joy is what we have when we learn to find the good in all things.  When we live in gratitude, we cultivate joy.

Joy comes from the wisdom to know the difference between what matters and what can be released back to the universe.

A few years ago I learned how joy can be found even in the midst of the worst experiences.  Actually I should scrap that…it isn’t found, in all truth it is really brought with you because it comes from deep within us.

Someone very close to me passed away quite suddenly.  I had never experienced such incredible depths of pain in my life.  The emptiness, loss and grief were almost too much to handle.  And yet, I was in such gratitude for the time we did have together, the lessons taught, the love freely given.  It was then I realized that the reason the loss hurt so much was because of all that I had been blessed with.

There was joy in that.

When you hold joy in your heart it’s much easier to be grateful and to live in the present.   There were times when I was physically unable to work due to a car accident that I wasn’t sure how I would eat.  Sometimes people asked me how I could still have such a good attitude towards life.

The truth is I think we all have to head down our own roads and along the way we are going to have some dark nights.  I heard someone say that we all take a trip down the rabbit hole at some point and I kind of love that expression.

You have choice just like Alice did when she went down the rabbit hole and had to wander in Wonderland.  She had many times when the choice was to do nothing and stay stuck, or eat the cookie and see what happens.

I think when you approach life with an attitude of joy, you would eat the cookie.  You realize life happens and there is a lot of opportunity to experiment with it if you only have some faith in yourself and in that the world is essentially a good place with lots of wonderful people in it.

Joyful people talk and act differently.  They approach everything they do with a positive attitude, even the hard things. They build people up rather than tear them down and speak in an uplifting way.  They live from a place of love rather than fear.

You see ‘joy’ is within us.  It’s a choice, a lifestyle even.  When we take our trip down the rabbit hole, we bring it with us and we only have to choose to embrace it.  This is why some people can find peace even among chaos.

It’s my thinking that being able to hold joy in your heart is a sort of wisdom; a deeper understanding of the connectedness of life and all that is in it.

What would it mean for you to make a commitment to choosing to live with an attitude of joy?

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This December has snuck up on me a little bit.  I mean…I knew it was coming.  I haven’t lost my mind completely…it’s around here somewhere.

Still, I personally have had a number of huge milestones in my life that I’ve been dealing with and putting to bed (so to speak). 

This Monday saw the tail end of a really, really big one but that’s not my point (and you know I tend to get going on tangents..I”m working on it!)  My point is holy moly look at that date!

21 days lift til Christmas and all I have done is hang my sad, tired wreath on the door.  I have a beautiful plan in my head for a new one that really reflects my personality but truly by theHolidayStress time I get it done it should be ready for next year!

In all honesty, it’s not that bad for me.  My list is small and I love the shopping, gift wrapping, cooking, baking and decorating.  LOVE it.  I may even be at home with my fur-family Christmas Day and I’m okay with that.  I love those guys and hiking on that day is spectacular because everyone else is busy, busy, busy!   So Mr. Charlie Bear gets to run off leash on the trails.  When I lived on the East Coast I often went snow hiking and it was awesome.

For others though, the holidays brings other emotions.  Stress, fear, worry and exhaustion.

I have a friend who was volunteered to host not one but TWO dinners.  She isn’t really up for it physically, but doesn’t want to risk disappointing other people.  She is a beautiful soul and a people pleaser.  The problem is, like many out there (Ladies especially…listen up) she pleases others at the expense of her own health and happiness.  Not cool!  I love my friend…she is like a second mother to me and I want her to be joyful, not upset.

I have been thinking of how to help her and in turn realized that a lot of people worry about disappointing others over the holidays and just about kill themselves to do it.  They break themselves mentally, emotionally, physically and with their budget.  That’s not fair! Everyone should be able to enjoy the blessings of time with family, the love in giving and joy in gratitude without despairing. 

I have some ideas (shocking I know!) on how to make the holidays better for everyone…and I do mean EVERYONE.  Yes, that includes you people pleaser.  You can enjoy making others happy without having to punish yourself in the process.

Putting First things FirstFirst of all we need to be realistic in our expectations of what we can do and what we are willing to do.  For a select few hosting many dinners would be like striking gold!  For others one is more than enough.  Being realistic about our family, our events and our … well everything and putting it in perspective first will help us from getting sucked in to deeply and having a melt down.

Learn to say No, but thanks!  Honestly, this has got to be one of the hardest things for people to learn to do.  Listen up…every request has 3 possible responses.  1 – yes, 2- no, 3 – not sure I’ll get back to you (which flies back to 1 & 2 eventually).  All are perfectly okay and perfectly reasonable responses.  Stop assuming that people will only love or like you if you use #1.  It just isn’t the reality of life.  People are more likely to be fine with it if you are calm and collected when you say no to a request.  Stop squirming..it’s better to be honest upfront then try to wiggle out of it later or be miserable.

If you do find yourself feeling a bit over your head – ask for help.  It’s been my personal experience that when you ask – people respond.   When you don’t ask, they don’t know you need help.  Trust me, most people aren’t ignoring you or your situation.  They just don’t know what you know….so tell them.  

The key?  Be specific and polite.  Yelling “why won’t you help me?” isn’t going to cut it.  Asking “can you take out the garbage” nicely is almost certain to get that garbage outta there.  Yes it would be nice if magically those loved ones around you can see into your head and just ‘know’ what needs to be done but until then….just get over it and ask.

Make it easier on yourself.  Seriously, if you are having 20 people over for dinner or a party and the thought of the pile of dishes waiting for you later is upsetting you..screw it and use disposable (and recycled of course) plates.  Or see above…ask for help cleaning up.  Make dinner a potluck for all the sides.  Gifts can be wrapped at the store or put in gift bags from the dollar store.  Planning ahead a little can really help reduce the pressure and work for you.

Let it go.  So what if my new wreath idea doesn’t get done til next year.  That’s not a really big deal in the larger scheme of things.  What does matter?  What memories will I want to take with me from the holidays?  5 years from now I’ll remember laughing and feasting with my loved ones, I most likely won’t recall what brand of wine I was drinking or if the decorations were exact and perfect.   You deserve the time to celebrate with everyone else, the other stuff is just trimmings.  Take that time! 

Find your joy and hold it.  Anything else is just gravy! (pun intended!)

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This past weekend I was reminded of the difference between living a life of true Gratitude and being Grateful.

I know, I know.  You’re probably thinking “nitpicking at words again Bonnie?”  But stay with me okay?  Sometimes getting to the nitty-gritty of what a word or phrase means in contrast to another similar idea can help us understand better or even just clarify things for us.

To me Grateful is what you are when you remember to say thank you to others for the things they have done for you or gifts you have been given.

It’s when you show appreciation for kindness given and you are able to show thanks.

Living a life of Gratitude hImageas a deeper meaning in my eyes.  It’s when you can appreciate everything in your life – the good and bad – as a gift or blessing.

A silly, but actually rather good example of this happened just recently.  I was reminded that in everything it all comes down to how we choose to view and relate from our minds and hearts.
Even this!

It’s been rather cold here in my area.  We aren’t used to really cold weather.  Rain – oh yes! But not the clear cold that was around the past few days.  To be honest I really enjoyed it. I think the rain can wear out your patience after a while and seeing the sun no matter how cold can perk you right up.

The point is the heat in my place is electric baseboards so the air gets SUPER dry and I usually end up with dry skin that is uncomfortable if I don’t take care.  (Stay with me…lol this isn’t a skin care lesson I promise).

Add to that I did a lot of cooking and cleaning and my hands were painfully dried out.  I started to complain about it and a thought suddenly slammed me really hard.  Complain?  Stop and think about that it said.

So, I did.

Yes, I stopped and listened to that voice.

It occurred to me I was missing the gratitude. No…not for the rough dry hands exactly, but for the heat I had in my condo <- a blessing.  For the food I was cooking <- blessing.  For the place I had and the supplies I had to clean it <– blessing.  For the hands that might hurt a little but work well for me <– blessing.

The last big blessing I realized is that while I may have uncomfortable skin at the moment, I also was blessed with the hand cream to soothe it.

So…if you’re keeping score there that’s one problem that came with what? 5? 6? blessings?

Not bad at all right?

You see, life is never going to be perfect.  You can win a billion dollars and still have problems. Just different ones than someone who is just barely making ends meet.  Those billionaire problems aren’t yours to solve on your life path.  You’re stuff is all you need to be worrying about.  Your gifts and blessings are what you need to be grateful for in this life to create a life of real gratitude.

You can’t expect perfection or a perfect life. It’s only foolishness to think so.  However, you can focus your thoughts and energy on the blessings in your life and be grateful and humbled by them.

Me? I’m also grateful for all of you.  I learn so much from your comments, emails and other blogs that I really believe you are all gifts to this universal shift in energy.

I’m grateful right now also for my cracked skin.  It reminds me that I have many other wonderful things in my life.  Of course I’ll also be honest…I’m super grateful for that hand cream!

Blessings

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I think I may have a birthday hangover…and not one caused by the delicious wine I enjoyed last night either.

It’s a happiness hangover. As in, the happiness from the celebrations and well-wishes have hung on over til today.  Okay..that might be stretching the analogy just a wee bit.  Still I gotta say I woke up this morning with a huge smile on my face none the less!

Before I share the list of the acts of kindness and compassion I have to say a couple of things.  The most important thing being I LOVED THIS.  I am so SO going to do this again but better next year.

Random is fine…but a bit of planning would have made this a thousand times better.

So here’s the list.  Some of them you would might have seen on my fan page. I hope if this inspires you to do something (even one thing) yourself you let me know.

1. I’ve already left a Starbucks gift card with the person behind me in line. They said no at first! lol I explained it was a birthday gift..mine. I then asked them to pass it down the line til it was empty. Talk about smiles!

2. I also made it a point to hold the elevator for an older couple who were way at the other side of the garage. They were all smiles and surprised. It only took an extra 8-10 seconds but that elevator can take forever to come back if you miss it.

3. Took extra time out of my morning to walk with an elderly gentleman that Charlie and I sometimes see and lament with him over the loss of his driver’s license. I let him talk it out and nudged him to think of things differently. He was smiling at the end. It would have been easier to simply wave across the park and keep going but he seemed deflated today. I’m glad I took the time.

4. Stuck up a flyer in my building’s elevator that said “I am in charge of how I feel today, and today I choose to feel fabulous! Make it a wonderful day”

5. Dropped off some clothes/shoes and a couple of motivational books at a women’s shelter

6. Waved over a packed car that was looking for parking in the very busy lot. Told them I parked two rows over and I’d meet them there as I was leaving. Now that got me a HUGE smile!

7. I went to Chapters today to use up my gift card I had received as a thank you a while back. The book I wanted was on sale so I had just over $2 left. Handed it to the lady in line who I noticed searching in the kids bargain bin with her  two little ones. Many of those books are around that amount so yay!

8. Driving down the busy street I noticed a car trying to leave a lot. I know that lot and its a pain to see whats coming so I slowed, stopped and waved her out. The reduction in stress was almost visible.

9. Picked up a big bag of cat litter, cat food, added in Charlies collars/leashes he outgrew before they barely saw the light of day and dropped them off at the local shelter.

10. Brought the volunteers at the shelter a box of chocolates. I am so grateful for people who do this heartbreaking work I figured a thank you was nice..but a chocolate one was nicer.

11. Offered to let the lady who was just buying one thing at the check out to go ahead of me.  She was so surprised.  Hey, it only took a few seconds extra for me and I was in no hurry.

12. At the grocery store near me you can get a small discount for bringing a reusable shopping bag.  I love that.  Behind me was an older lady who said she wished she had one like mine because the straps are wide and wouldn’t hurt her hands like the plastic shopping bags do.  I had three…needed only one…so I left one with the cashier for her.  Goodness knows I tend to collect them and certainly have enough!

13.  Walking Charlie at the park I made it a point to say hello to all the people who walked by us.  I said it with a smile and almost everyone smiled back.

14. I spent extra time with a child at the park who loves Charlie.  It’s pretty clear to me this boy has some trouble socializing with the other children.  I realized this over time and also noticed how much he enjoys petting and talking to Charlie.  I think he feels important too when I ask him to tell the other children about holding your hand out so Charlie can say hello by sniffing it before they pet him.  It’s amazing how a simple thing can transform a boy from withdrawn to confident.  We spent a long time there but this kid thrived at least for a  while.  (way to go Charlie!)

15. Left a gift of children’s books for a family I know of with some pretty lovely kids.  I know the family isn’t well off and I also know the kids will love the books. 

16. Helped my a couple wrangle their groceries and two huge boxes of pampers and a stroller with a sleeping baby into the building.  How do you parents DO it?  Baby stayed asleep and the parents were pretty  happy about that.

17. Let someone know that they were parked in a tow-zone.  They had no idea.  They didn’t understand the sign…I swear the government wrote the days you can’t park in such a cryptic way as to confuse people on purpose.

18.  Searched out the caretaker in my building and thanked him for all his hard work. I know that he works his butt off, especially as they cut his hours recently.  He still gets everything done and with a smile.  I let him know my appreciation for that.

19. I printed off all the coupons for Michael’s and when they were still out of the glue I needed I found someone to give the coupon too. In fact, I had 4 coupons.  One was only for frames so I wandered over to the frames/pictures area and looked for someone.  I found a lady who was really excited to get a 40% off coupon.  She stated that now she could get the frame that she really wanted! who hoo!

20.  Left 2 other coupons in the areas because I didn’t see anyone there.  Hopefully someone who needs ’em finds ’em!

21.  Opened my change purse and dumped all of it into the Seeing Eye Dog charity box.  The work they do is amazing.

22. Bought the man in a wheelchair asking for money a coffee and a cookie.  He’s there all the time, rain or shine, with something positive to say or simply hello even if you have no change for him. I had already given all my change away so used my debit card to get him something to warm him up at least.

23. Took a moment to tell the cashier I see all the time at the grocery store that I enjoy seeing her when I come and always come to her line.  I told her she is so warm and friendly that it’s a treat to chat for a few moments with her.  All true! 

And that’s what I have for my list.  I know I said I’d do 27 things for the 27th day of the month. I didn’t quite make it.  I had lots of great ideas but needed more time to implement them.

Next year, I’m going to plan ahead a little for at least some of them.  I thought maybe making some doggie cookies for the doggie friends at the park, cookies or pies for friends to surprise them with might be fun but there just simply wasn’t enough time in one day.

I also think I’d like to take some pictures next time.  The smiles lifted my hearts and I think it would be lovely to have a photo of some of the ‘event’s that took place don’t you?

That being said I learned a few things.

  • it doesn’t cost a lot of money (or any for that matter) to change the course of someones day
  • it doesn’t cost you a lot of time either
  • random acts are something we can always be on the look out for..like the car in the tow-away/fine zone
  • planning an act of kindness that is random for the other person is pretty awesome too…like the drop offs for the shelter
  • one random act can ripple out into a beautiful wave of positive energy
  • this is what Grace looks like

Walking through life looking to serve others brings a great deal of joy to ourselves.  It isn’t as a servant of people that you do them. It’s as a servant of love.  That is what makes all the difference.

It was my imagining that if many people started to do these types of things we might send more positive energy out into the world.  Perhaps it would start a shift in the total energy and move all of us to a happier and more joyful life.

A big image, a big goal…but I think it can be done…one act of love at a time.

Join me?

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Yup, tomorrow is the 27th of September and I am officially another year older. Now, I have a special birthday request from all of you out there in the big wide world.

I want you to join me in my birthday celebration.

I haven’t always had a lot of great luck in celebrating my birthday. So this year I’m not waiting for anyone else to do anything to celebrate. I have been disappointed far too often so this year, I’ve got something fantastic in mind!

I’m going to celebrate MY way!

I am going to do 27 random acts of compassion starting today. Yes it’s not quite my birthday but hey…I might need the travel time!

I’m asking that you join me in this fun and do a few of your own then head over to my facebook page and simply bombard it with your comments and stories about what you did and what happened.

This would make my birthday amazing.

Pull your kids into it, grab your partner, keep in simple and do it with love. Whatever you can, with whatever you have. That is what real compassion is all about after all.

So far today,

  1. I’ve already left a Starbucks gift card with the person behind me in line. They said no at first! lol I explained it was a birthday gift..mine. I then asked them to pass it down the line til it was empty. Talk about smiles!
  2. I also made it a point to hold the elevator for an older couple who were way at the other side of the garage. They were all smiles and surprised. It only took an extra 8-10 seconds but that elevator can take forever to come back if you miss it.

See? Easy peasy. I really hope I see you over on my wall!

Blessings!
Bonnie

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Last week I talked about a little experiment that I was about to embark on. In fact I challenged you to join me. Some of you wrote here or on my facebook page that you would and that made me very, VERY happy.

In case you missed it, (click here for the full story) I decided to go without complaints and only talk to others about all the good..no strike that…fabulous things that were happening in and around my life.

I figured I’d annoy some people, surprise a few and at the same time keep myself in a positive place. It turns out my expectations were wrong. I don’t usually enjoy admitting I’m wrong but this time I’m loving it.

My favourite example is one I shared on facebook.

Here’s what I wrote

“Okay day 2 of my experiment was fun. I was in a number of offices and when asked “How are you?” I decided to reply either ‘super-fabulous” or “I’m amazing”. Yes, I got some strange looks but every single look was followed by a smile and something along the lines of ‘good for you’. There was definite surprise though..of the good sort.

When I replied in kind and asked How they were the responses were far more positive and heartfelt. Not the usual ‘fine’ either. I got whole and interesting replies. There may be more to this than I originally thought.”

In fact, there was far more than what I thought to this whole venture.

Some things I learned about life from this.

  • misery loves company, but so does happiness!
  • it’s sad that people are entertained by someone simply being happy and enjoying what is in their life.
  • it is wonderful that my outlook can change their outlook at the same time
  • I got much better service from everyone when I was excited about life
  • although a few times I had to really work at it, the fake it til you make it plan does work.
  • Responding that I was ‘super-fabulous” elicited smiles every single time
  • When you offer up the courage to share your happiness, others are more willing to do the same
  • Happiness is a freakin choice! No Fooling!

Not to say it was all a bed of roses and rainbows. I did have one person who shall remain nameless (but you know who you are) try to dampen my happy parade with a few comments like “what are you on?” Because clearly no one can be happy unless it’s chemically induced, right?

But the worst comment was “gah, you’re so annoying being all like this-what’s your problem?” That comment did kind of set me back a little. Ouch. It kind of stung to hear that. I really was deflated for a moment. However, I quickly realized that this was not my stuff. It was a sign of this person’s own discomfort with feeling blessed, grateful and happy.

Still, this was a BIG lesson for me. I was initially hurt and deflated, but then i rebounded. I however, was acutely aware of what was going on because of this little experiment. I wonder though – how often do we do this to each other? Is this one of the reasons we are so afraid to just be happy and show it?

I find it so very strange to think that we need to develop a thick skin in order to allow ourselves to embrace the joys if this life.

Please folks. Even if you are in the depths of despair and miserable; if you see someone who is celebrating life don’t destroy it for them.

Instead, embrace what it means – that you too can find joy again. Embrace and love them for bringing that spark into the world and nurturing it.

The emotion of joy is a wonderful thing. Like love, it is incredible in its ability to be shared and grow instead of being diminished. Take some of their joy and stretch it; wrap it around your misery and know that things do get better, there is joy in the world and you can feel it.

This is the meaning of the saying “If you want to be happy, Be“.

I plan to continue this joy-sharing. It’s a wonderful place to be and to drag people to with me! I’ll be enjoying my bliss, right here with my coffee and dog. Let me know what you think.

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