Start with a Simple Idea

IMG_1611. a simple ideaStart with a Simple Idea.  

It’s as simple as that.  Or is it?  We hear stories about people who are fulfilled and successful, motivated and inspired.  What many of these people have in common is that they started their Journey of Success with a simple idea that ultimately sparked growth in their personal lives while contributing to the world around them.

I had some crazy dream about Skylab, America’s first space station, last night — how I was trying to walk on one of its pinwheel arms while maintaining my balance in a gravity-free environment — not an easy task even within the fuzzy confines of a dream.  All of which got me thinking, mid-dream, about what a wonder the whole contraption of Skylab is.  Having experienced its interstellar wonder in my dream, I woke up thinking about how much research and groundwork and hope and intention and vision and forward thinking went into creating it.

Skylab didn’t just happen.  It started with a simple idea and it grew.  Maybe someone scribbled his or her original idea of it on the back of a bar napkin.  Maybe it was the result of some astrophysicists having breakfast together at a conference.  Maybe some scientist woke up with a detailed dream of it.  I don’t know Skylab’s true genesis, but someone had to take it and move it beyond a doodle or an entry in a lab notebook.

In a TED talk (click on the link below), Tony Robbins tells the story of his family receiving an unexpected and generous Thanksgiving Day kindness when he was younger.  As a teenager, Robbins wanted to pay this stranger’s kindness forward, so he anonymously provided a different family with a Thanksgiving dinner.  This generous and simple idea grew into the creation of an organization that now feeds millions of people.

I love stories like this.  Still, as inspiring as they are, they can also feel to be a bit overwhelming.  The obvious questions enter into my thoughts: How did Tony Robbins grow the organization from this one simple gesture?  How did he organize enough people to join him in his vision?  Where did he get the capital to grow the organization into such a large one?  Sure, the amazing and energetic and dynamic Tony Robbins could pull this off  . . . but could I?

Believe-in-yourself-and-believe-in-love.-Love-something.Details, details, details.  I so often get lost in the details.  If I were to look back on my life and pushpin myself onto any given past moment, would I have imagined all of the dynamics of Today?  Parts of Today?  Maybe parts, yes. But all of the amazing-ness that I now experience?  No.  I don’t think I could have foreseen a tiny glimpse of the bigger picture.  I had to take one simple step.  And believe.  And know.  And feed the vision.toaster oven

Skylab was originally launched unmanned but there were eventually several different crews delivered to the station.  On the latter missions, there was even an additional spacecraft orbiting to rescue the crew should they encounter any emergencies.  Imagine these baby steps.  First, unmanned.  Next, manned missions.  Ultimately, backup and support.

Albert-Einstein-Quote-Happy-Life

For a free download (in workbook format) of today’s journal prompt “Start with a Simple Idea,” provide your email address, and I will send you your inspiring journal exercise for you to print out and to start journaling.  Time to make a differrence! 

And to conclude on an uplifting note . . . This is such an inspiring TED talk: Why We Do What We Do.  If you have 21:45 today to take the time to just relax and to open your mind to possibilities, this is a great TED talk.  In fact . . . watch it before you begin journaling.  The ideas that Tony Robbins shares will expand your thinking and your creativity and your perceptions of what is possible.

Be you.

door. lock. unlock your dreams

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  • Do you have any dreams that are being held captive behind locked doors?
  • Who put the lock on the doors?
  • Who has the key?
  • What will it take for you to grab the key, unlock the lock, and swing those doors wide open?

We all have been in that place where we feel stuck.  That there seems to be no forward movement in the present moment.  That we feel like we are being held hostage by a series of decisions that have brought us to wherever Here is.

I have definitely found myself in this place.  If I could have only seen that I was the one who was building the walls that were holding me back.  I look back and think What was I thinking?!  How could I have thought that that scenario was okay?  And att the time, I knew that I was the only one holding me back from making a change.

But here I am today, a living testimony to my own little self to how blessings magically can appear when I am willing to muster the courage to do something different.  To try something that is the complete opposite of my M.O.

  • When I was silent, to speak up.
  • When I was afraid, to do something brave.
  • When my intuition was telling me that something wasn’t true, to believe myself.
  • When I was fearful of losing the status quo, to let it all go with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.
  • When I was jealous, to laugh at what I perceived to be threatening.
  • When I was feeling bullied by another’s negativity, to feel the freedom and release by my own positivity.
  • When I doubted myself, to believe in me.
  • When I felt small, to walk tall.
  • When I didn’t feel good enough, to love myself.
  • When I wasn’t sure, to be me.

To be me.  To choose beautiful.  To believe.  To err on the side of happiness.  To not confuse loyalty with stupidity.

Am I beating myself up?  No.  Not in the least.  It is good to have perspective on times that were less than fun.   But today?  Today is a day for speaking up.  For advocating for what it is that makes me happy.  For trusting others with the truth.  With my truth.  For believing in others kindness.

We hear it all the time: “It’s all good.”  But is it?  Maybe it’s not all good all the time. There are times when it is best to walk away from It’s all good and take a deep breath and try something entirely new.  It’s scary, and the unknown doesn’t always feel like a benevolent companion.  But it’s okay to give life a chance.  To give yourself a chance.

Am I going to make more mistakes?  Make more bad decisions?  Probably.  But I am going to keep hold of the key in my pocket and be brave enough to use it when it is time to make a change.  I am going to try to remember to try doing something that is the opposite of what I am feeling or doing or thinking . . . and set off in new directions.

piano-1396971_960_720. be yourself

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The Sunday Share: A Perfect Way to Spend a Sunday Morning

coffee. sunday morning. journal. coffee cup

It’s Sunday morning and what better way to enjoy a Sunday morning than to grab a cup of well-brewed coffee (with some raw sugar and organic half-and-half added to it) and a journal.  I just ordered this new journal (see below) that I simply love.  It is one of those super cool organizers that has dream-planning and monthly goals built into it.

I can easily answer each of the questions below with a resounding YES!
❶ Need to Transform Life With Yearly Goals ?
❷ Want to Set Motivating Monthly Goals ?
❸ Ready To Make Every Day Count ?
Boost Quality of Life by Investing In Your Future Now:

Tools4Wisdom Planner 2016 2017 Calendar July to June – 4-in-1: Daily Weekly Monthly Yearly Goals Organizer (8.5 x 11 / 200 Pages / Spiral / Academic Year)


http://amzn.to/2bffIWS

You can click on the image (or on the hyperlink) to take a look at it.  I love sharing things like this and have already ordered another one (with a different cover) for a friend who is in the midst of re-defining her life by starting a new business.

I sometimes feel like a Goal Nerd because I so enjoy mapping out my many dreams and ideas on paper.  The great part about this book?  It lets me step away from my scribble-y white board in my office and actually organize what it is that presents as the next steps.  I truly appreciate innovative people who create organizers like this.  I have been trying to find one exactly like this for several years . . . and here it is.

I so wish you a happy Sunday and happy planning as well. I sometimes think that planning gets a bad rap from those who think that too much structure creates its own brand of chaos.  While I can agree with the thought behind this opinion, I know that I always feel an added benefit to writing down my creative ideas so that I can see them, rather than just think them.  I am ready to make every day count!

follow your dreams. they know the way. IMG_0704

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Riding Shotgun

What is one dream scenario that you have lost sight of?

quote. mission statement dog work

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Yesterday I was crossing the street, waiting for a break in traffic.  A small, beat-up truck passed me — the very kind of truck I used to drive — and I saw a man driving with his dog riding shotgun.  Remembering my one most-amazing-and-wondrous dog who rode shotgun with me in my old truck, I felt a pang of sweet memory pass through my very core.

This particular dog went everywhere with me, so it was a common sight to see the two of us toodling around the county with the windows rolled down while singing along to some tune on a cassette tape.  The dog actually had a better singing voice than I did, but she was no critic.  Happy were we who got to go everywhere together.

When I saw this man and his happy pup in that truck, a dart of awareness passed through me.  It was one of those movie-montage moments where I could view time on film.  I could see me and my furry friend driving here and there in the succession of broken-down trucks that I had the misfortune of owning.

Yesterday as I watched the truck go jouncing down the road, I realized that one of my essential criteria for living a happy life had somehow slipped through the cracks of my ever-shifting paradigms.  At one time in my life, I would not even consider a job opportunity unless my dog could accompany me throughout the work day.  I turned down jobs in Alaska, California, Canada . . ..  If I couldn’t bring my faithful sidekick, I knew that the job wasn’t the right one for me.  As chosen priorities lead to reality, I ended up opting to live in a wall tent on 572,000 acres in a wilderness area.  It was a great situation where my boss did not care in the least if my dog tagged along.

The situation had all the potentiality of being lonely, but I never thought of it that way.  I was living in the midst of all of this incredible grandeur and my dog was right there by my side.  She was my true-blue, thick-and-thin companion in the middle of all that vast quiet.  She would run ahead of me on the trail and defy any bear, cougar, coyote, or free-range horse to come anywhere near us.  My time within all of that beauty there was such a rare opportunity, I appreciated every single day that passed.

All of this was bound to change.  And it did. During my years there, this ace #1 dog-of-a-lifetime passed on to Dog Heaven and other canine companions joined me.  Ultimately, a new job opportunity came up and I couldn’t pass it up.  The only problem?  I couldn’t bring my new dog to work with me.  The schedule was pretty good and the two of us were still able to get out and roam the trails on our 3-day weekends . . . but there was a shift.  And it was bigger than me not being able to bring my dog to work.  It was me compromising on what was important to me.

Looking back, I can see that “Bringing My Dog to Work” served as a bullet point on my Higher Self’s mission statement.

The years have passed.  That job led to another dog-restricted job.  Then I returned to school, and we all know how major universities feel about dogs sitting outside classrooms waiting for their human.  Not a good idea.  The mornings were full of classroom time and the afternoons were taken up by various half-ass jobs that supported me through school.

Outdoor-dog time grew to be more limited for me and free-range hikes turned into long evening strolls through the neighborhood.  Life had changed, as had I.  It didn’t occur to me at the time that I was focused on Ahead instead of looking at Right Now.

quote. Val. IMG_0103

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All of these compromises.  With me feeling so buried by my decisions concerning education and future employment, the changes were all taking on priority status without me realizing that I was granting permission, one way or another, to something that was counter-intuitive to my internal mission statement.  I don’t rightly know how it all happened.  I don’t know when a yes became a no and a no became a yes.  Life changed when I consciously reversed the two and said it was all for a Better Future.

That’s the problem with giving in and giving up . . . you don’t realize that it has all happened until it feels like it’s too late to do anything about it anymore.  But that’s just it . . . it’s not too late.  Not at all.  All sorts of good decisions are before me.  All I have to do is choose.

Life is a lively event.  So many baby steps lead to where we are today.  Today, I want to honor my preferences.  Back up a little bit and review my Mission Statement.  Do a little editing maybe and re-commit to what is still important.  Invite my dream to ride shotgun with me again, roll down the windows, and belt out a tune.

How about you?

  • What’s riding shotgun on your Mission Statement? On your personal manifesto?
  • What’s one dream scenario that you have lost sight of?
  • Is it still alive inside you?
  • Are you ready to take some baby steps to renew it in your life?

We sometimes feel so bogged down by the progression of changes that have taken place in life that it can feel like it is impossible to reinstate one of our long-ago dreams.

Today might be the day that you sit down and ask what is important to you.

  • Commit it all to paper.
  • Keep the items approachable by using simple language. Dreams, written in your own language, will mean more to you than if they are crafted using lofty words and expressions.
  • Put your manifesto where you can see it easily and daily. Maybe it is your bathroom mirror or it is the wall by your desk or on a kitchen cupboard.  The important thing is that you make it visible.
  • Read your manifesto aloud. It might feel weird the first few times you do this, but it is as important that you hear the words as it is seeing the words.
  • When making decisions, think about what is important to you. Let your Higher Self guide you.
  • Dreams are meant to be followed.  Follow them.  They know the way.

 

 

 

 

Author bio: Kennedy Farr’s passion for writing caught light at the age of four when she first learned how to spell her name at a yellow kitchen table on a sheet of lined tablet paper.  Kennedy is a daily writer and blogger, a lifelong learner, and a true believer that something wonderful is happening right now in this very moment.  Kennedy lives high on the mountainside of an emerald-green island in the Pacific Northwest.

Website: https://theunseenwordsproject.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/theunseenwords

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Unseen-Words-Project-1095815913825818/ 

 

What phrase best describes your year so far?

This is the prompt that popped up in my 5-year journal today:

Write a phrase to describe your year so far.

journal and penBeing a person who enjoys words and writing, I was hoping that some neat turn of phrase might bubble to the surface. Maybe something profound or appropriately witty or, even better, both.  Something that would neatly sum up all of the many memorable events that have marked the calendar these past six months . . . experiences that stand as fence posts upon which I have strung the minutes, hours, and days.

It has been a year of many blessings and a year of loss.  I believe that there is much that I have appreciated as a result of the many blessings and also much that I have learned as a result of the loss.

My Top 9 Fence Posts

  1. Long and Short: I have learned that life is not always as short as others write about it being . . . that life can also be long — and sometimes even too long — especially so when it is marked by sadness and sorrow.
  2. Beginnings and Endings: Realizing a dream is not an endpoint unto itself . . . it is just the beginning of newly-found dissatisfactions that grow a new dream.
  3. The expense of poverty: Observing, living, and understanding the truth behind James Baldwin’s words: “Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”  Not fun.  Just saying.
  4. Simplicity and Complexity: Teasing apart the complexity of a simple life and the simplicity of a complex life and recognizing the differences and knowing that they are both the same at different times.
  5. Grieving and Celebrating: Feeling the exact same at the same time.  On certain days, the co-existence of these two puzzles me.  On other days, the co-existence makes perfect sense.  It is possible to feel what are thought to be two contradictory emotions at the same time.  Like there is this mélange of real and true emotions that thickens up like a stew and threatens to burn the bottom of the pot if I don’t keep my awareness active . . .
  6. Thoughts, Feelings, and Things: [a continuation of #5] . . .Which leads me to wonder about the practice of intentional living . . . and how feelings become thoughts and then how thoughts become things . . . and how I now know why my life feels so conflicted at times [see #5].  Or wait a second.  Do I have this backward?  Do our thoughts become feelings which become things?  Or do the things in life dictate how we think and how we feel [See #3]?  Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “What I think doesn’t become things; who I am is what becomes things.”
  7. Confusion and Clarity: [See #5.]  Thank you, Dr. Dyer.  Advice to self: Be who you are.  Give it your best shot.
  8. Moving and Standing Still: The fact that I have moved three times in the last year does not mean that I still don’t experience feelings of stuck-ness.
  9. Success and Failure: Many have written and spoke on this subject of success and failure in life.  We are bombarded with ideas and quick fixes about how to jump start our motivation, our drive, and our success.  We also read of the power in turning failure into success.  But I keep wondering?  Where is the measuring stick that tells me that I have arrived at a place of success?  I do believe that there is an internal sense of reward that tells us we have just driven in another fence post of Accomplishment through the hardpan of our memory’s land bank . . . but then what?  Is feeling “successful” enough? Is it a myth?  Just wondering.  See #2 and #4.
  10. Giving up and Persevering and Granting a Degree of Self-Permission: I know that lists like this shouldn’t end with 9 items (the norm being “The Top 3” or multiples of 5) but I can’t think of anything else right now.  I give myself permission to stop at #9.  [See #9]

So, how about you?  What phrase best describes your year so far?  

If you feel like sharing, please, do so in the comments section.  I would love to read what you have to say.

To conclude . .  What phrase did I write in my 5-year journal?

Looking Both Ways

country roadIt’s the first thing that came to mind and now, after re-reading my list of Top 9 Fence Posts, it makes sense.  Looking Both Ways implies some sense of caution, like what our parents tell us before crossing a street: Look both ways!

Answering this prompt has given me time to pause and to reflect.  To exercise some counter-intuitive caution . . . not with where I am now heading but with where I have been.  More advice to self: Don’t let where I have been determine where I am going next.

The 2nd half of this year is just across the road.  I have Looked Both Ways, and I feel ready for the uncharted territory over yonder.  Maybe I’ll leave my work gloves, shovel, and fence posts on this side of the road and let my tracks leave a trail.  Thinking of this metaphor makes me wonder what I want my Phrase to be for the 2nd half of the year . . .

Click on the sky-blue link below for a free journal prompt that will get you thinking about your year’s Phrase.  Happy journaling, as always.  You are an interesting person.  Take some more time to discover who you are!

Free Journal Prompt: Click below:

 Looking Both Ways. journal prompt

Life + Movement = Balance

bicycle einsteinCan you remember that first time you were actually pedaling, steering, and balancing a bicycle all by yourself?

“Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”  Albert Einstein has had so many wonderful and uplifting quotes attributed to him.  Not only was the man a genius, but he was also very wise.

Life is like riding a bicycle.  If you are riding a bicycle and you stop moving, there’s a good chance that your balance will go all cattywampus and you will fall down. Boom and Ouch.

When it comes to bicycling and balancing, your options are somewhat limited: keep moving, stop moving and fall on the ground, or get off the bicycle completely and start walking.  And when it comes to life, we intuit and believe and know that out life options are not somewhat limited.  In fact, some of us believe that our options are infinite.  But are they?  I’m just wondering aloud here . . . what do you think?   I think that Einstein’s brilliance might be the answer here: Our options stay alive when we stay in balance our Higher Self with the pavement beneath us.

I like the spirit of Einstein’s quote and how he has reduced this simile to its simplest terms: ride or fall.  Keep going or get stuck.  And I do believe that some life changes have necessitated the need to trade in an old ride for a new one.

There are times in my life that I look back on and now can see that parking the bicycle was the best thing I could have done.  After living in a state of stagnancy, falling to the ground numerous times, and feeling the Ouch Factor, I finally came to my senses and parked the bicycle and walked away.  Heck, I didn’t even bother locking it up to a bike stand or a nearby tree because I knew that I was never going to give that bicycle another go.  Let someone else have it!  Some events in life are Good Riddance worthy.  At times like this, it is always good to select a new (and healthy!) set of wheels and ride like the wind off into a new paradigm.

Life, like a bicycle, is the vehicle we are riding.  Our infinite options in life are actually the directions in which we point our front tire.  The secret is to keep riding toward what we know are true directions to our Higher Self.  I have felt my spirit’s unsettling, intuitive nudge when I know that I have been pedaling in the wrong direction, and I have certainly experienced that feeling of What the heck have I done? right before crashing and falling.  Again.  My takeaway?  Patch up any scrapes and get back on the bicycle and find a balance point and keep moving forward.

Can you remember that first time you were actually pedaling a bicycle all by yourself?  It felt so liberating and exhilarating.   There was that split second when you felt your big brother’s hand leave the back of your bike seat and you felt your sense of balance kick into gear.  I so vividly remember this.  I went shooting down the driveway (and thank God that no car was coming up the street!), banked to the left and rode down the street to the cornfield that bordered the cemetery.  (Yes, I grew up in a very weird Midwest town!)

It was that split-second feeling that has stuck with me.  The second when I knew that I was balancing all on my own.  No sibling to steer for me or to keep us upright on two wheels when I was bumming a tandem ride on a back fender.  Just me, my hand-me-down sky-blue Schwinn, and the open road.  I rode all afternoon in the relative safety of the cemetery — the roads there being so peaceful.  I found My Balance while I practiced right turns and left turns.  Stopping and getting started again.  I arrived home feeling triumphant.  Liberated, actually.  I had discovered my independence.  My Movement.

Yup.  Einstein had it right.  Movement and Balance are key.  And let’s not forget Risk with a capital R.  It takes a lot of guts some days to take a deep breath and sail down the driveway, not knowing if you are going to keep riding or if you are going to crash to the pavement.  I believe that we all crave that feeling of Triumphant Balance in our days.  That feeling deep inside that tells us we are doing life justice with the right amount of movement and balance.

Today?  I am going to get back up on my Bicycle and ride like the wind.  There is no cemetery down the road from where I now live, but I am going to head there in my mind.  Back to that ultra-satisfying feeling of Balance and Movement.

Re-writing Your Stuck Spot

car stuck in snow

This looks so miserable!

I was listening to a meditation recording of Deepak Chopra’s the other night.  Deepak said one thing that caused me to stop the recording, rewind, replay, and rewind it again.  He was talking about how our stuck spots in our lives are revealed by repetitive thoughts, feelings, and statements.  In other words, if you find yourself complaining or talking about the same thing over and over, the chances are this is one of your stuck spots.

tuning fork IIThis truly struck a chord of sublime resonance with me.  I felt completely busted — in a good way.  It made me realize that rather than ignore or abolish these stuck spots in my life, maybe it was time to use them, like throwing down kitty litter behind a spinning tire in the snow, to gain some new traction: in other words, re-write my Repetitive (and oftentimes boring) Statements into Rev-Up Statements.

I next decided that it was time for a little qualitative research of my personal gripes.  I created a journal chart so that I could really look at what is going on.  Every time I talked to a friend or family member or even a co-worker and heard myself complaining about the same old-same old, I wrote the topic down in one of the boxes on the left.  In some boxes, I wrote down what I said verbatim.  Other topics were such a random rant, I summarized the general idea.

My epiphany is two fold: The Good News is that I am not a totally-chronic complainer.  Whew!  Yay for not being an incessant whiner!   The Bad News?  I have some serious and consistent Stuck Spots that are definitely holding me back from feeling fulfilled, happy, and fruitful.

spinning-top-1312042_960_720Next, I re-wrote my rants with a positive spin that was designed to get me up and going again.  No more Stuck Spots!  Putting the positive spin on things required ACTION on my part.  I had to visualize and implement alternatives to just spinning into a deeper and messier rut.  The great news is that I felt empowered by my own personal recognition of This isn’t good anymore.  I want different.  I caught myself and verbally stopped myself from launching into Rant Mode.  It felt great!  And I am guessing that my friends and family think that it is pretty nice, too!  There is nothing like a broken record to put someone to sleep.  It generates white noise that blocks a lively conversation exchange from taking place.  Friends and family, I am trying to exercise new awareness!

With the ongoing research, I have been Paying Attention and there are definitely a few topics that are still holding me a wee bit stuck.  Now?  Rather than ignore them or stuff them into some spiritual drawer or closet, I am airing them out, hanging them on the wall, and slapping a new coat of paint on them.

I realized: Why not?  I have learned that it does no good to ignore stuck spots or to bury them or to walk away from them as if they don’t really matter.  To do so only invites passive-aggressive moments into my relationships — which then only serve to create newer and deeper and stuck-er Stuck Spots.  Why not call them out, view them, and like the grand master painters, slap some new paint over the top and create something new and beautiful?  That’s the beauty of creating a masterpiece.  Sometimes they are considered to be even more valuable when there are hidden paintings beneath the one that we can see.

vintage-binocularsThe great part?  This process works!  I have been catching myself as I spin myself deeper into some repetitive statement . . . and I have been stopping myself right there.

Let’s take the topic of work for an example.  Let’s say that you don’t feel appreciated at work.  You have been ignored for two promotions and your boss is utterly ineffective — late, sloppy, and unmotivated.  He doesn’t take care of emails and he is lousy at following through on decisions — often leaving you hanging with your projects that have looming deadlines.  You have complained, griped, and kvetched about this to your friends, your family, and even your dog.

Why not re-write this stuck spot?  Be creative.  There are so many things that we can do when we feel stuck.

  1. Think about one nice trait about your dog the next time your boss does something that drives you batty.  (Silly, I know . . . but the thought of my dog always makes me happy!)
  2. Bring your resume up to speed.  Start shopping it online and to associates.
  3. Laugh.  It truly doeth good like a medicine.
  4. Watch a cute youtube video.
  5. Offer to take on more responsibility at work AND, at the same time ask your boss for a raise.  It can’t hurt to ask.
  6. Put a pencil horizontally between your upper and lower teeth.  Research has shown that by imitating a smile, the Smile Muscles release the same good stuff to your brain.  Try it  . . . it works!
  7. Write one positive affirmation in the present tense and tape it on the wall where you can readily see it.
  8. Go for a super quick walk around the building.  Movement helps.
  9. Close the door on your office (or even the bathroom stall) and do an insanely goofy happy dance.  I guarantee you will crack up.Take yourself out after work.  Go for a beverage of some kind and get out your laptop and google baseball stats, fashion advice, new employment sites . . . your choice!
  10. And . . . click on the heart-warming and life-changing aqua-blue link below for your free download of today’s journal prompt: “Your Stuck Spot.”  Happy journaling!

Your Stuck Spot. journal prompt

Brian-Tracy-Quote

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Your Happiness Criteria: What do you need to raise your Happiness Quotient?

Albert Einstein wrote, “A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?”

Being one who enjoys clutter and chaos while in the throes of creativity, I respect Einstein’s answer very much.   The simplicity of his words speaks to me and inspires me to take a moment to reflect. What does a man need to be happy?

There is a tremendous amount of research being done on happiness, attitude, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness.  It is amazing what is being discovered about how important our Happiness Factor is in our lives.  But what is your Happiness Quotient?  What have you done lately to increase your HQ?

We try to define or measure our sense of success using several different factors, but what is it in your life that critically determines your sense of long-term satisfaction and self-fulfillment?

Does being happy require you to take phenomenal risks in order for you to feel alive and active on your pathway to success?  Or can living a happy life be more analytical or more structured than this?  Can you structure happiness into your life?

Being one who has lived life through radically-different career changes, lifestyles, and academic pursuits, I sometimes find myself at the end of the day wondering where I am going next.  What is the new plan?  What’s next?  What do I want to study now?  Which new instrument do I want to learn how to play?  Which novel should I work on today?  With all of this spontaneity and creativity that governs my days, I sometimes experience a let-down.  When I am skipping a beat, doubt can settle in.  I hear a certain quote by Lewis Carroll playing a haunting melody in my soul: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Well, life is not all about career success and job titles and dollar bills and tropical vacations.  There are many dimensions in life that play a large role in our personal assessment of success.  Our relationships, our spiritual life, our sense of growing and contributing, our personal achievements that we share with others – all play a vital role in our happiness factor.

What makes you happy?  What is key in your life that leads to your happiness?  I once read a great article on “Happiness Criteria” which steered me away from my modus operandi of spontaneously and serendipitous-ly (and what can sometimes feel to be senselessly) seeking happiness.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of this, the thought of creating a criteria for success and happiness gave me pause and inspired some more concerted thinking and action with a focus on what generates happiness in my life and on what happiness means to me today.

In other words, what am I doing to raise my Happiness Quotient (HQ)?

One thought: make a list of Happiness Criteria that critically determine your HQ.

For example . . .

Some things that popped up for me, in no particular order of priority, are

  1. A flexible schedule
  2. Can bring my dog to work
  3. Time for travel
  4. Creative expression in my work
  5. Helping others to grow and to create solutions
  6. Time to exercise
  7. Time for loved ones
  8. Great pay

As you can well imagine, everyone’s list is going to read quite uniquely.  I once asked a group of students how many hours they would want to work in their ideal work week.  I was simply stunned by the number of students who wrote “40 hours” as their answer.  They asked me what my ideal work week was, and I told them “8 – 12 hours.”  They laughed and thought I was joking, but . . . I wasn’t.  My happiness criteria demands that I have time to volunteer, create, exercise, dance, be with my family and friends, etc.  Have I worked 40 hours a week?  Yes.  Was I happy?  Yes.  Would I be happier if I worked my 8 – 12 hours?  YES!

And how many of your criteria are non-negotiable?

For example, having a flexible schedule is non-negotiable to my happiness, but being able to bring my dog to work is negotiable.  If my schedule is flexible enough, there will be enough companionship time at the park and on the trails with my dog.

 

Click on the aqua-blue link below to download your free journal prompt: Your Happiness Criteria.  This prompt has some fun and revealing questions about you and how you choose to be happy and to implement happiness criteria in order to raise your Happiness Quotient (HQ).

Happiness Criteria. journal prompt

What do you think?  Has listing your Happiness Criteria helped you to focus on what is important to you?   On what makes you feel happy?  For some of us, these are not simple questions to answer; still, in my heart, I believe that the answers are vivid and clear.  My Higher Self knows what contributes to my happiness.  Taking time to think on these things and to let my intuition rule inspires me to grow in new directions.  To stay open to coincidence.  To appreciate the people in my life who want me to grow.  To appreciate the joy in laughter.

For all of this, I feel deep appreciation.toaster oven

 

 

 

 

The Meaning in the Count: Making Life a Noncount Noun

IMG_3357Numbers.

When I really stop to think, my Conscious Day is spent counting.  It starts out with counting and it ends with counting.  Minutes left on my snooze alarm.  Pounds on the bathroom scale.  Dollars in my checking account.  Minutes before I have to leave for work.  Pages completed on my writing project.  Calories.  Fat grams.  Minutes.  Hours.  Shots of coffee.  Pieces of toast.  Am I the only one who is consumed with and by counting?

Counting and measuring and weighing.  Reality dictates that I take care of my health and that I maintain a healthy weight.  That I pay my bills on time.  That I be punctual at work. That I move my dream project forward.  That I hold myself to some level of accountability concerning my food choices.  That I caffeine-ate fully and properly each morning.  That I try to stay under the speed limit when I am running late for work.  That I care about things in life that involve the measuring and weighing by number.

I know me.  Without counting, life would be a free-for-all that does not allow for any accountability to myself or to others.  While I think on this, I search for the value, the meaning in the count.  We have all wrestled with the concept of weighing quality over quantity.  But even here . . . we are still measuring and weighing the benefits.  We are taught to think that quality is more important than quantity.  But still.  Like the little girl that would rather have five pennies over one nickel, there are areas in my life where I tend to shoot for quantity.

Quantity in my hand.  Quality of the moment.  Where is the Real Value in the midst of the day and its ticking clock?  Daily, I put my day on pause for five minutes of meditation.  Are these five minutes worth more than five minutes spent watching silly videos on youtube? Research tells me that, yes, meditation is so good for us on so many levels.  And I will continue to take those five to reset my inner self.  But why do we judge ourselves so harshly when we aren’t doing that which is “good for us”?  Yes, I know that I can lose that final ten pounds, but is it worth beating myself up each time I get on the scale?  Am I really going to care, one way or the other, once I hit that Maui beach in December?  After all, it’s difficult to be hard on yourself when you are living in paradise.

But being a linguist, I very much like the semantics that extend beyond grammatical agreements.  For example, we English speakers agree to add the letter -s to most nouns to make them plural.  Lest we get into the exceptions such as person/people, tooth/teeth, mouse/mice, and ox/oxen, we can agree that adding the letter -s to a noun will signify that we dealing with the Concept of More Than One.

And then there are those tricky count and noncount nouns and their plural forms or lack therein.  According to the Purdue OWL, The Basic Rules for count and noncount nouns are as follows:

A count noun is one that can be expressed in plural form, usually with an “s.” For example, “cat—cats,” “season—seasons,” “student—students.” A noncount noun is one that usually cannot be expressed in a plural form. For example, “milk,” “water,” “air,” “money,” “food.” Usually, you can’t say, ‘He had many moneys’ . . . 

Count nouns refer to things that exist as separate and distinct individual units. They usually refer to what can be perceived by the senses.  Noncount nouns refer to things that can’t be counted because they are thought of as wholes that can’t be cut into parts. They often refer to abstractions and occasionally have a collective meaning. 

best when freshThere is simply so much cool stuff going on there.  Quantity vs. quality.  Count vs. noncount.   We think of a life — a count noun — and we count the number of lives on the planet.  But when we think of our our own life?    We think “in terms of wholes that can’t be cut up into pieces.”  It’s one whole life.   It’s my life!  And like grass, rice, and money . . . we don’t actually cut our own life up into pieces . . . even when we think in terms of annual events such as birthdays and anniversaries.  It’s all one big whole that we truly prefer not to relegate to the Noun Category of Count.  We want to make it count in the ways that are important . . . not in some grammatical or statistical way.

There is counting . . . and then there is making life count.  As I go through the days and I count and I measure the pluralizations that I prioritize . . . I wonder.  I wonder about the importance of quotas at work and pounds on the scale and hits on my website.  I wonder about making my life count.  So much to wonder about.  Thank God that wonder is a verb in this context.  Otherwise, I would be inclined to start counting the many wonders in the world around me.

IMG_2800My advice to self:  Just live and give it your best in the moment.  You’ve got this.  While I appreciate the concepts of mindfulness and how important it is to be aware and to be positive, there is more.  There is life as a noncount noun.  It’s okay to count the little things as long as I remember the bigger picture.  And sometimes it is so hard to keep sight of this enormous, huge, ginormous Universe of which I am but a tiny speck.

I think I answered my own Life Question About Counting.  Stop counting.  And when I do count — which I will surely continue to do — I will try to do so with wild abandon and appreciation for the abundance within life’s “separate and distinct individual units.”