Monthly Archives: August 2009

10 Day Vacation

As I’ve been posting to this blog for 1000 days, I have decided to take a short vacation. 10 days to be exact; starting on Sunday, August 30, 2009 and ending on Sept. 8, 2009.

I’ll start regular posts again on Sept. 9, 2009.

So, with that said, I’ll see you in 10 days.

Michael

1000th Post

Today’s post is the 1000th post since I started this blog almost three years ago. This is a major milestone for me. It only seems like yesterday when I started writing on a daily basis. But, 1000 days later, here I am.

It’s hard to tell if many people read what I have to say. I know of some, but most I don’t. That’s okay, because I had two goals for this blog project. The first was to journal what I was thinking, feeling or experiencing on any given day especially on the topic of living a happier life. The second was that I wanted to share that writing with at least one other person, hopefully more. I’ve met both of those goals.

I have to say that I have had a multitude of emotions over the last 1000 days while writing down my thoughts. At times it has been easy while other days extremely difficult. I’ve had insights that I’ve enjoyed while other days I couldn’t seem to think myself out of an open box. I’ve felt exhilaration and I’ve felt frustration. The common thread has been perseverance and dedication.

Bottom line, I’ve enjoyed this project. That’s my only reason for doing anything nowadays. I don’t have the time or the inclination for anything else. I want to extract the most out of my life. Doing things that make me miserable is not my idea of a fulfilling life. So, I look for ways to be happier and many times I’ve chronicled those techniques here. Not all will work for you, but many will. We all have to find our own way. That’s okay, but we can all help each other just a little.

The number 1000 is a great number to me. It feels like the completion of something; not the end of something, more like a chapter closing.

I look forward to what the next chapter brings. I’ll be sharing some of that right here.

Michael

Smile a Lot

Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad. – Christina Rossetti, “Remember”

There are no language barriers when you are smiling. – Allen Klein

Smiles are like medicine for the soul. Just the act of smiling, even for no reason, can lift your spirits. It seems that in almost every culture a smile means the same thing. That is amazing to me.

I smile a lot; sometimes alone, but many times with other people. I smile at strangers. Some smile back. Some don’t. I smile at friends. Some smile back. Some don’t.

I smile when I’m alone. I smile for no reason at all. I smile at the small things. I smile at the big things in life. I really don’t need a huge reason to smile. It comes naturally, but I got to this point consciously and with focused effort.

There is very little effort now. For me, smiles come easy and spontaneously. If I find myself around some grumpy, non smiling people, I seem to go into overdrive to compensate for the lack of smiles.

Contrary to current beliefs, we’re supposed to have fun. So, I take my smiles very seriously. :-)

Have a great day!

Michael

Insatiable Curiosity

Fascination is one step beyond interest. Interested people want to know if it works. Fascinated people want to learn how it works. – Jim Rohn

Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind. – Samuel Johnson

I am extremely curious about a wealth of things, people, places and etc. I continually find “stuff” that intrigues me and I immediately start asking dozens of questions, sometimes to the dismay of those around me.  :-)

I find the world fascinating and I’m never at a loss to learn something new. I take inspiration for my general obsession about things from children. They are the ultimate curious humans. The world is fresh and new to them. They are intensely amazed at everything around them and can’t seem to get enough information. I love their passion for exploration and desire to experience everything.

Children can teach adults a lot about living, about passion, about living in the moment, about the beauty of the world around us and about getting inspiration from the simple things in life.

I’ll never apologize for my curiosity. I’m thankful I’m that way.

Michael

Pick Your Company

Join with those who sing, tell stories, enjoy life and have joy in their eyes—because happiness is contagious….Join those who walk with their heads held high, even though they have tears in their eyes. Stay away from those who hold their heads high because they’ve never shed a tear. – Paulo Coelho

The people we choose to spend our time with can subtly influence our moods and state of mind. It’s a form of peer pressure but not as overt. If you hang out with people who are continually talking in a negative fashion, it can wear on you. You slowly become involved in their less than positive conversation and before you know you are not feeling well. It usually happens slowly over time, but it happens.

Diligence and being conscious of these types of people and their conversations is critical for maintaining a positive state of mind. I choose my friends carefully. I do not want to be around people who complain, moan, continually criticize and have an overall negative view of the world. I’ve worked hard to be where I am and do not want to go back to the “old” ways.

Sometimes these choices can be hard because the negative individual is a close friend or family member. That doesn’t mean you should continue to associate with them. I’ll typically drop some positive comments and see if I can re-direct a negative conversation. If I have no effect, then I move on. I don’t believe in forcing people to be something they are not. I believe in being who I am which is optimistic and positive.

My happiness does not depend on whether others are happy. Everyone has the choice. I choose those who enjoy life and want to have fun. I also don’t judge where they are in their life. I just choose to be somewhere else.

Have a great day!

Michael

Starting Your Day

Watch your manner of speech if you wish to develop a peaceful state of mind. Start each day by affirming peaceful, contented and happy attitudes and your days will tend to be pleasant and successful. – Norman Vincent Peale

How do you start your day?

Is it a struggle? Are you grumpy? Do you love the mornings? Are you slightly comatose (like me)? Is it the best or worst part of your day? Do you start with a great attitude or one of dread?

How you start your day can set the stage for your entire waking experience until you go to sleep. In fact, the first thoughts of the morning can help set both positive and negative expectations. I personally choose the positive thoughts. I’ve tried the other way. It’s not near as pleasant.

Before you get up in the morning, take a few moments to set the stage for a better day. Your thoughts can be as simple as enjoying the feel of your bed as you stretch your limbs. You could think of some enjoyable moments you will have later in the morning. You could begin to savor that first cup of coffee or tea before you even boil the water. The specific thoughts are not so important, but the feeling behind them are extremely vital for carrying positivity throughout your day. Whatever works for you, make sure that your thoughts right after you wake up make you smile and feel great. The effect on your day will be dramatic.

At the end of your day, before you fall asleep and as you lay in your bed, remember all the good things that happened. Think about how nice it will be to experience some good things tomorrow. Make your last thoughts be positive ones. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll be slightly ahead of the game and can get an easier start on positive thinking.

Try this out. You could be pleasantly surprised and find these two small techniques to be quite addicting.

Michael

Expect Happiness

You will never be happier than you expect. To change your happiness, change your expectation. – Bette Davis

The expectation you have of your own level of happiness is a powerful influence. There may be other indicators, but this one is big. If your expectation is that you will not be happy, you are starting from a place that almost completely precludes you from being happy. At the very least, with that negative expectation, you would not reach a high level of happiness nor one you deserve.

What’s interesting to me is that we hide these negative expectations in a variety of ways. Sometimes we blame others or things that happen. We also tend to look too much at what is currently going on in our lives and extrapolate that bad experience into the future. Going to work seems to bring many negative expectations. Bad relationships, lack of money and physical problems round up the other, most popular excuses used in negative expectations.

The good news is that true happiness is state of being completely within our minds. It really doesn’t have to do with anything else. We have the power to change and control what we are thinking. Therefore our expectations are directly related to what thoughts are swirling around our minds.

I have found that I get what I expect. It can be surprising at times. I expect a lot from people at my job. I expect to have good things come my way. I expect to be happy throughout the day so much so, that I spontaneously smile.

Learn to control or change your expectations and watch you level of happiness increase.

Michael

Following Your Dreams

When a dream takes hold of you, what can you do? You can run with it, let it run your life, or let it go and think for the rest of your life about what might have been. – Patch Adams

Follow your dreams, for as you dream you shall become. – Anonymous

I’m in New York City this weekend to watch my niece perform in a dance recital. For the third year, she has auditioned and won a place in the summer Joffrey Ballet summer workshop. For the last two weeks she has been dancing many hours a day with around 150 other people to prepare for this afternoon’s performance. I don’t want to talk about how good she is and how well she did in the performance. Instead, I want to highlight a person who is fully following her dream.

My niece has wanted to be a dancer since she could walk. It’s been amazing to watch her grow up and never take her eye off what she loves to do. It seems that her dream of dancing has been with her almost from birth.

As you watch her dance, you can easily tell how much she loves to dance. Every move, every turn and every jump seems effortless. It’s very inspirational to watch.

We should all follow our dreams, our passions and our interests. This is the stuff that makes our lives worth living and extremely fulfilling. We all have this capability. It’s our birthright.

Thanks to my niece for being a great example of following your dream. It makes me smile.

Michael

Get Interested in Something

You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind. Your mind gets bored and therefore tired of doing nothing. Get interested in something! Get absolutely enthralled in something! Get out of yourself! Be somebody! Do something! The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have. – Norman Vincent Peale

What gets you excited? What drives your curiosity? What makes you feel excited and alive? What interests you?

It’s important to keep the mind active. Boredom can have a huge negative effect on your state of mind, attitude and your emotional level.

Participating in fun activities that keep your mind involved is a great way to increase your energy level also. Sitting around all day doing nothing, watching TV, staring at the ceiling or moping around is not the best use of your time. You’ll feel tired, your attitude will be terrible and your life will not be interesting.

Find something you love to do or better yet several things that keep your interest. Find your passion. Don’t worry if you aren’t good at it. That’s not the point. Having fun and keep your mind active is the way to go.

Michael

Talking to Yourself

95% of your emotions are determined by the way you talk to yourself. – Brian Tracy

This is so true and the implications of this statement are enormous. It means that by using our mind; i.e. changing our internal dialogue, we can dramatically change the emotions we are experiencing.

In fact, we can use our emotional state to determine what our self-talk is actually telling us. In other words, if we are feeling negative emotion, then 95 out of 100 times it’s something we are telling ourselves. Obviously, this works for positive emotional states also. We don’t typically want to change those, unless of course we would like to either enhance those positive feelings or learn what we are telling ourselves so that we can repeat.

Next time you are feeling down or just not as happy as you can be, listen to what you are telling yourself. Listening is an important step and all change will happen from that point. Once you know how you talk to yourself, than you can start to slowly change what you are saying. Overtime your attitude and average emotional state will improve.

Michael