Monthly Archives: November 2008

Acting Your Way Towards Positivity

You can’t think your way into acting positively, but you can act your way into thinking positively. – Nido Qubein

Though I believe you can think your way into acting positively, “acting” can be a great technique to help you think and be more positive. Let me explain.

Sometimes we just need a nudge, a little push towards being more positive. Most of us are closer than we might believe. You can’t get to a more positive state by complaining about something or anything for that matter.

If you are not in a good mood, try to picture in your mind’s eye, using your imagination, what you would do if you were more positive. How would you act differently? How would you interact with people? What would it be like at work? Would you do anything differently during your day? Would you start a project, learn something new or start a hobby?

Now, go out and do what you just imagined. Monitor your feelings while doing these activities. If your mood is not moving towards the positive, then try something else. While “acting” don’t forget to imagine how good this is supposed to feel.

It sounds crazy, but it works more times than not. Add this technique to your tool bag for getting to happiness.

Michael

Going Home

I used to dread heading home from vacation. The pressures of daily life just seemed far too heavy to enjoy. But I’m ready to go home today, and not only because we will be back in Palm Desert in February for a week. We just packed in so many great experiences to the last 6 days that it will be fun to head home and share them with our family and friends.

My stepdaughter’s hockey team played really well and nearly won their tournament pool. More importantly, though, they worked well together and treated each other and the parents on the trip really well. They were friendly and upbeat and sociable.

Thanksgiving dinner for 1,000 hockey players and their families, in the massive ballroom at the J. W. Marriott was a highlight. All of the girls dressed up, and for those of us used to being home with families, it made the even seem special.

The parents were terrific too. They appreciated the planning that went into selecting a hotel. All helped drive girls to meals, and the conversation was friendly and easy.

In all, it was great fun to spend the holiday with a group of determined young people and the parents who love them. More things for which to be grateful.

Small Adventures

The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams. – Oprah Winfrey

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure. – Joseph Campbell

I had decided today would be a day of hiking, geocaching and adventure. I left mid morning and headed to Conanicut Island where Jamestown, RI is located. There were many areas in the south central part of the island I hadn’t explored.

Fort Wetherill State Park was my first destination. I explored the many trails in this park. I found some strange geological formations in the form of very long quartz veins running through the rock on the coast. I discovered that this entire area was once part of Africa over 500 million years ago. The fort has history all the way back to the American Revolution. The views across Narragansett Bay were stunning.

After a short break for a snack and water, I drove north a few miles and discovered an historical cemetery. I then proceeded south again to Fort Getty State Park. I discovered huge coastal estuaries harboring many species of birds and animals. I walked the rocky coasts exploring the nooks and crannies.

Finally, I drove around almost aimlessly and found new beaches, new bird sanctuaries, harbors and more interesting history.

The point is that adventure is a close as you want it to be. I experienced all of this in a day and it was only 20 miles from my house. You don’t have to fly or drive long distances. All you have to do is get out of the house and ask yourself, “What’s around the next turn?”

Change your routine. Go have some fun.

Michael

The Day After

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow. – Edward Sandford Martin

Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths.  At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings. – J. Robert Moskin

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. – Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear

Ah!! The day after Thanksgiving where recovery from eating lots of food can be the primary goal of the day. For others, it’s the biggest shopping day of the year. I typically stay away from those areas. :-)

For me, today was a day of rest, watching movies, relaxing, more eating, taking a walk and visiting with friends.

The important lesson is to be thankful every single day. Find something to be thankful about and relish in those feelings for as long as possible. Make this a daily thing you do.

I started today. What about you?

Michael

Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. It was my father’s favorite holiday, and it is mine. I think he liked it so much because it combined family, food, and church. It’s a great mix.

Yesterday, I thought about him virtually everywhere I went. We are in California for a field hockey tournament in which our child is playing with her club team. All games are played on perfectly groomed grass fields on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. They have 25 full-size fields, with games happening on all of them at once starting at 7:00 in the morning.

From the fields, which are ringed with palm trees, you see the Santa Rosa mountains in a full arc on three sides. Yesterday, during a rare day time rain storm, we saw a full rainbow and part of a double rainbow arced over the fields.

The level of play, from some of the best high school players in the country, was consistently astonishing. My father loved to watch his children play sports, and he loved to travel. He would have loved every minute.

I took a break in the middle of the morning to attend church, which was full of happy people. The children from the Sunday school acted as ushers and welcomed us all as we came through the doors. I thought of the years that dad taught the 3-year old class at our church, getting them to act out Noah loading the ark or the Nativity scene.

And my father loved to sing, how he loved it, hymns and church music especially, so when an 11-year old girl stepped forward to sing a solo, I could just feel how moved and delighted he would have been.

My dad has been gone a year and a half, but he felt close to me all day. I am very grateful.

What I'm Thankful For

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. – Oprah Winfrey

Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses. – Unknown

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. – Woody Allen

I have many external things I could list here that I’m very thankful for; family, friends, “stuff” and etc. But, what I’m most thankful for is my own life. Not just the breathing, walking, being alive part but the entire journey that I’ve been gifted.

Every decision, every turn in the road, every “mistake”, every chance meeting, every relationship, every trial and tribulation, every experience has lead me to this very moment. No regrets. No worries. Just being.

l have no desire for another person’s life nor do I want to change any of mine. It’s all good.

The more I enjoy exactly who and where I am at this very moment, the more I’m assured that will continue. Simply stated I know, but it took some years to get here. Though, looking back, it didn’t have to.

The most powerful gift you can give yourself is the gift of being thankful for your life.

Have a great day!

Michael

The Tool of Appreciation

The tool of appreciation is a great technique for increasing your level of happiness, improving your state of being and shifting your attitude towards something more positive. You can either perform this process with internal dialogue or write it down.

The technique is very simple. Pick a subject, topic, idea, person, thing or etc. For whatever you picked, think or write down everything that you appreciate about it. Go for as long as possible. Set a goal for 5 or 10 minutes. The more things you find to appreciate, the better this technique will work.

You will find, typically very quickly, that your mood will elevate, negative emotion will lessen and you will just feel better all over. It can be quite astounding at times. Another great feature of this technique is that you can do it anywhere and at anytime; while driving (don’t write, obviously), at work, at home, while walking, before going to bed and when you arise.

In fact, this is a great technique to do before falling asleep and upon rising in the morning. You will go to sleep with more positive thoughts and then start your day on a brighter note.

As you gain experience with the tool of appreciation, pick things to appreciate that you feel negative emotion towards. Over time you will start to see your feelings about these things change which ultimately means how you relate to this thing will change.

Have a great day!

Michael

Vacation

We arrived in Palm Desert, California, yesterday for the Thanksgiving long weekend. Our daughter is playing in a field hockey tournament. I’ve written before that I love life on vacation, probably most of us do. Something about discovering new people and experiences gives me a shift in perspective that reminds me to be on the lookout for experiences to appreciate.

One of the best things about it is that my wife and I travel exceptionally well together. On the road, I have a better sense of how to accommodate her and make her life easier. Here, as always, she also encourages me to strike out on my own and enjoy myself.

This morning I walked up the street to a hotel where we ate last night. I had seen they had a nice fitness center, and I hoped to buy a day pass. When I got there at 6:00 this morning, the attendant at the fitness center, a really nice woman from the Indian reservation on which the hotel sits, apologized and told me that they only allow hotel guests. So I asked her whether there was another gym close by, and she told me there was a really nice one just a short drive away.

I walked back to the hotel, took the car, and drove to the new 24 Hour Fitness in Indio, California. It was the nicest gym I can remember using. It’s only been open 3 weeks, so it is state of the art and super clean. The staff there were exceptionally helpful, and I had a tremendous workout. I’ve felt great all day.

Last night was just the same. Some of the team parents, the coach of the club, and half the girls went to the hotel buffet next door. There were 18 of us, and we had an all you can eat dinner. Not only was the food outstanding, shockingly great, but the head chef came to the table when he heard there was a high school team in the restaurant. He thanked them personally for coming to the restaurant, and he wished them good luck in the tournament. When we left, he waited for us at the door and thanked us again.

The entire team and I have been thrilled with how well we have been treated by everyone. It is just great how friendliness begets more friendliness. It is already a marvelous Thanksgiving.

Love the Holidays

I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up – they have no holidays. – Henry Youngman

It’s that time of year in the United States for two of our largest holidays. Thanksgiving is two days away and Christmas is just around the corner. These are my favorite holidays.

I love getting together with family and friends, preparing special dishes to eat, playing games, talking, eating some more, giving and receiving presents, watching movies and relaxing.

It’s a time to be thankful for all we have and cherish the time we have to share it. My favorite part though is all the laughter. I find it contagious and try to make it last as long as possible.

I also remember all the past holiday gatherings and the wonderful times we experienced together. I can’t wait to add another memory to the bucket full I already carry.

Have a great day!

Michael

Collaboration Creates Miracles

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. – Charles Darwin

My good friend Nat talked a little about collaboration a couple of days ago. Today, he and I met to work on our upcoming book. It used to amaze me how well we collaborate and create together. Now, I simply expect it. Only once in 7 years have we not been able to come up with new ideas. I’m assuming we needed that one example of collaboration not working to have the contrast for all the other times. :-)

I love to work with someone else and collaborate on a project. I really do. The exponential increase in brain power and activity is truly a miracle. It’s like watching a positive feedback loop where it just gets better and better the longer it goes on.

I’m very comfortable working alone but I thoroughly enjoy working with one or more people on something that has never been done before. I’ve had that opportunity many times over the last several years. I don’t think I will ever be bored doing that type of work.

If we could only step back and celebrate the diversity of our species, we’ll find there is literally nothing that we cannot accomplish. Miracles are as close as the next thought.

Have a great day!

Michael