I probably can make the connection to the phrase “we are what we eat”, this post isn’t about food, although as I’m sitting here writing this I’m also thinking “I wish I knew where I could get some good cookies besides heading to the store for some mint Oreo’s”. Such is my life. 🙂
As I’ve probably stated multiple times in the last 10 months, I’m presenting working a consulting assignment out of town. This basically means that I’m showing up in an office and working at least 8 hours each day. Because I’m not working in a leadership capacity, it’s basically the same thing every day, and, well, my mind doesn’t work like that because it likes diversity of work. Sure, I get to basically create a lot of my own work, but it’s dull, mundate stuff, though necessary.
The lucky thing about living in the 21st century is that we have all these different things we can take with us to work to watch & listen to, although folks frown on your “watching” stuff per se. However, you can listen to a lot of stuff, and I’ve always enjoyed documentaries so it’s a great time to catch up on a lot of things I’ve never seen. YouTube is a lifesaver… or is it?
I was going along pretty well there for a time until I noticed that my mood had started to change. I wasn’t feeling all that happy mentally, and it was extending outside of the office. Frankly, being out of town all by myself is pretty lonely, and yet I was starting to embrace the loneliness as a shield and didn’t want to bother with anybody, even on the weekends. I wasn’t getting depressed, but I was getting a little bit paranoid.
Then I figured it out. The documentaries I was partaking in were, for the most part, about the darker aspects of human life. There are lots of documentaries on serial killers, gangs, drugs, despots and dictators, death, murder… in other words, there’s lots of negativity that looks like information we all need or might crave.
I liked this stuff because I was learning a lot… of useless stuff. Sure, we all need to be careful of our surroundings and watch out for nefarious characters, but we also need to be ready to enjoy life a bit; wouldn’t you agree?
I decided I had to change up a bit. I started looking for comedians and funny stuff. I started listening to more motivational speakers and those TED talks that are pretty popular. I love Neil deGrasse Tyson so I started listening to everything I could find with him in it, as well as a lot of science stuff, mainly astrophysics; I’ve always been fascinated by things like that.
I also decided to go back and listen to some of my own videos on my two channels, something I really hadn’t done much of because, like blog posts sometimes, once they’re written it’s often on to the next thing. A couple made me cringe, but many of them just made me laugh, even the serious stuff; sometimes even I wonder how I come up with the things I talk and write about.
What happened? I started feeling good again mentally and even the boring work took on a different feel. I found things to laugh about that may have only been funny to me, but it’s a better state of mind than where I was, and truthfully it’s a state of mind that I strive for most of the time.
But I went further than that. There were some people I was following on Twitter who kept up the negative stuff, even if it was stuff I agreed with. I’m a liberal in my politics, but there’s just so much conservative bashing one can take without getting riled up. I don’t follow any conservatives on Twitter, so no problems there.
On Facebook, because of F.B. Purity (come on, y’all aren’t using this yet?), I block a lot of stuff but some gets through via images. If I kept seeing the same thing from certain people I just stopped following them, because my closer friends don’t put that stuff out all the time. I don’t really mind the occasional thing, but 24/7? Who can mentally be in a good place putting stuff like that all the time?
I like this blog, I’m Just Sharing. You know why? Because I vacillate between happy and serious stuff, teaching stuff, opinions and the like, but overall I think the tone of this blog is more towards the uplifting, motivational side. I think that when one’s mind is in the right place, their writing style improves and, hopefully, others can read their words and know that even when there are complaints it’s coming from a place of love and joy, such as my post on commenting courtesies.
Think about your own life for a bit. What types of things are coming into your life on a daily basis? Is it positive stuff that makes you feel good? Are there a lot of things that you deal with that make you feel bad? Are there things you can change to help change your mindset towards more positive feelings, even if they’re small changes? In the long run, doesn’t everyone really want to feel happy at least most of the time?
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately; actually, I guess I could say that I’m always thinking, which sometimes gets in the way of actually working. However, in this particular case I’ve been thinking about ways to make myself happier every day. The reality is that I know everything I need to be happy, but some of these things are elusive at times, while others I forget to concentrate on as often as I should.
I figure that if there’s a day where I should write a post like this, it’s a Sunday. That’s because more people are home and thus may have more time to read what I expect might turn into a long post. It’s one of the few times I’m setting out to write a long post, but I hope you stick with me and at least see all the headings because I feel I’ve figured out the 10 things we all need to have in our lives to be truthfully happy. And if you have other ideas, well, please share them later. And I’ll ask now for retweets, Facebook shares, and +1 shares as well; if you believe others might like to be happy for once, share.
Some of these might seem a bit strange; some might make you say “duh”. These aren’t in any particular order except the last one. No matter; let’s get to it.
1. Dreams. Everyone needs to have something that they want to reach or achieve in their life. Even when things are keeping you down you need to have something you’d like to do or have or become.
Some people think that saying “I want to live a comfortable life” is a dream; nope, not even close. That’s because it’s not definable; how does one really define comfort? If you want to be able to buy anything you want to do, not ever worry about having enough money to pay bills, always be able to afford food and clothes, maybe be able to go on vacation whenever you want to, you need to dream about it, see it in your mind, and dream big.
You always shoot for the moon, whether you get there or not. James Canfield of the Chicken Soup books talks about wanting to make $100,000 in sales the first year that book was out. The book ended up making $92,000; was he disappointed? Heck no! The idea is that if you dream for big things you’ll have the opportunity to achieve big things, even if you don’t get exactly what you want. My dream is to get $20 million in the bank; I’m not going to cry if I eventually get $1 million there.
2. Goals. Yeah, I know, I talk about having goals all the time. I talk about it because it’s true; if you don’t know what you have to do on the journey then you’re probably not going to get there. Think about Christopher Columbus for a moment. Sure, he set out to get to China and ended up in North and South America, but it wasn’t for a lack of having a goal that got in the way. Without a goal he’d have just stayed home, sailing the seas of Europe and not getting anywhere fast.
Goals do need to be measurable, but they don’t have to be big or audacious; that’s what dreams are for. If you want to be a dentist there are steps you have to take. First you have to graduate from high school. Then you need some kind of advanced degree. Then you have to go to dental school. In the previous two steps you need money to do it so you have to set a goal for how you’re going to get the money. You also need study time so you need to have a goal for how you’ll accomplish that.
Does it all look complicated? It’s supposed to be; sleeping eternally waiting for a prince or princess to come along and kiss you so you can live happily ever after isn’t going to happen. Very few people get “there” without any effort; goodness, even buying a lottery ticket takes the effort of leaving the house, going to the store, and pulling a dollar out of your pocket. Progress is success, and success is built by having goals and following plans towards those goals.
3. Humor. Very few people ever achieve happiness without a good sense of humor. Everyone has different levels of finding those things that make them laugh. Some folks laugh heartily if they watch the Three Stooges; some need something more subtle like Seinfeld. Some people are good hearing or reading a good joke. I tend to like certain comic strips and the Muppets.
Humor is not only something to wish for, it’s actually been proven to be healthy. There are studies showing people have been able to cure themselves by finding ways to relieve stress by humor. In the book The Primer Of Humor Research by Victor Raskin, there are numerous psychologists that give testimony as to the health benefits, both mental and physical, of humor and laughter throughout history, and even that sexual deviant Freud (kidding!) talked about the importance of humor for mental health.
Find those things that not only make you happy but make you laugh. I look for things to help me laugh every single day. I might not always be successful but most of the time I am. It’s amazing how much better a day seems to be with a few laughs in it.
4. Friendship. If you’re always happy and you’re alone, you might get put into a mental institution. lol The truth is that most of us are happiest when we get to hang out with our friends, or talk to our friends on the phone or on the computer or wherever. There’s something special about the bonds of friendship that are only eclipsed by one thing, which I’ll get to later.
Where the problem sometimes comes is when people don’t know how to evaluate friendship. On my business blog I’m always warning managers and employees the people at work for the most part aren’t their friends, and probably shouldn’t be. I tell other people that if someone doesn’t have your best interest at heart, they’re not really your friend.
Friends boost you up. They don’t even have to be there all the time for that. I have one friend from high school that I talk to maybe once every couple of years, yet when we talk we fall right back into our roles of kidding around with each other. We both know that we can call the other at any time if we need help or assistance. Yet we also know not to abuse it. I’m thankful to have some very long and very loyal friends, some more than 30 years, and I think of each and every one of them with a smile.
5. Love. I had to follow friendship with love because they’re two different things, yet they’re also related to each other. You can love your friends in one way but it will never compare to the love you feel for someone specific or even family members.
The point with love is that it takes risks, even with family members. Those risks include divulging secrets and emotions. They involve making sure you think of them most of the time before thinking of yourself. It involves sometimes having to tell them something for their own good without regard for whether they’ll accept it well or not. And it involves them deciding they need to be out of your life at some point, either temporarily or forever.
Yet, when you’re in love you’re unstoppable. You’d take a bullet for that person. You want to spend all your time with that person. You want everyone else to know this is the person you want to be with intimately and possibly forever, even if it doesn’t work out. That’s the thing about ultimate happiness; sometimes it takes a great leap of faith that might end in failure. But love, even for a short time, is worth it.
6. Health. No one is truly happy if they’re not healthy. They might put on a great facade of geniality but once you’ve left, you can bet it’s a struggle. Think about your own health; how happy are you when you’ve injured yourself, or feel bloated after a big meal, or get a headache because you’ve had too much to drink?
Here’s the truth; all of us know what it takes for us to feel healthy. If you have some kind of disease that’s incurable, that’s a different story, but even there you know the things to do to help alleviate some symptoms if it’s possible. Hopefully you saw my post a few days ago where I talked about losing 11 pounds (it’s now 13). The way I’m eating isn’t totally new. Back in 2002 after my dad passed away, I went on an eating plan and lost 10 pounds in two weeks. In 2007 I went on another eating plan and lost 21 pounds. Losing weight is easy; sticking to the plan and keeping it off… not so easy long term
We each get to determine how much we value our health. We need to eat better; we need to stop putting things into our bodies like drugs, alcohol and cigarette smoke that we know aren’t good for us; we need to cut down on how much processed food we eat; yada yada… I’m not really any better than anyone else long term because my history doesn’t prove I have the ability to sustain it; as I’m writing this I’m thinking of a Snickers bar (are there more candies other than Reese’s peanut butter cups as perfect as a Snickers?), but I’m also thinking about how bad I felt after dinner Friday night when I ate something on my night off that, before my eating plan, would have been considered a more healthy option than most anything else I’d regularly eat, but this time made me feel tired, stuffed, and cranky.
Remember what healthy feels like and how happy you are when you’re healthy because you can do anything when you’re healthy.
7. Wealth. I’m putting this here because it rhymes with health. 😉 It’s also very important for everyone’s happiness, even if we’re all happy with different degrees of wealth.
As I stated earlier, wealth is what allows us to live our dreams, no matter what they are. It also allows us to put the daily problems of things we need to take care of that involve money out of our minds as well, so we can concentrate on our goals and dreams easier. Of course there’s a symbiosis many times between goals and wealth but there doesn’t have to be.
As I said, wealth is a different figure for every person, and it might even be a floating figure based on circumstance. If you don’t have a job and your unemployment is running out, wealth might be any job that pays enough so you can live on your own and eat. Wealth might be enough money to buy and pay for your home. Wealth might be enough so you can travel, whether you have to save up for it or not.
People who say money can’t buy happiness either don’t have any or have too much for too long and are bored. Of course money can buy happiness; it can even buy happiness for others. With money you can donate it for good causes, or use it to help friends and family, even start businesses that help employ a lot of other people. Money buys comfort, comfort leads to happiness if you know what to do with it and how to figure out how to use it in the best way possible. I can’t remember who said this but if you don’t think money can buy happiness give it to me and I’ll let you know how it all works out. 🙂
8. Challenges. I know, you’re thinking this is an odd one to put in here. Yet, you need challenges for two reasons. One, without challenges you’ll be bored, and boredom is the antithesis of happiness. Two, without challenges you’ll never know what true happiness is.
Challenges don’t need to be things put on you by others. No one wants to have to deal with the challenge of finding a job because you’ve lost one. No one wants to deal with the challenges of getting over a broken relationship. Those things happen and sometimes it’s not our doing, but in these cases once we’ve overcome the challenges we’re happier for having gone through them and once again know what happiness is.
Other challenges are those you create by dreaming and then having goals via plans. If you want to be anything, dentist, pilot, gourmet cook, you don’t just fall into those positions. There are challenges to all of those things and more, but if you want them, you “volunteer” to tackle them. And when you achieve them (we’re not allowing “if’s” into this conversation) you’ll be a pretty happy person. What you do with it after that is on you, but you’ll always be happy at overcoming the challenges you put on yourself to be better, no matter what it is.
9. Serenity. Are you at peace? Are you calm? Have you found a way to deal with the stresses in your life, even if it’s only for a moment?
Without serenity you can’t be happy, but serenity isn’t always easy to get to. Even if you have 13 days in a row of peace and tranquility your next bad day or bad moment is just around the corner. Yet, there’s nothing saying you have to stay in that place.
The thing about serenity is that with a bit of concentration and focus you can get through it. Sure, I always say that if you’re feeling depressed there’s nothing wrong with wallowing in it for a short period of time, but you can’t stay there forever and ever be happy. If you believe being miserable or making others miserable brings happiness, you’re wrong.
What kinds of things can you do or bring into your life to help bring serenity, ergo happiness, into your life? For me it’s looking at pictures of scenes that make me smile, puppies and children mainly. It’s scented oils that I have going in multiple rooms around the house. It’s opening the curtains and letting outside light come into the house, even if I’m not in that room all the time, because I know at some point I will be walking by that room. There are so many things I can do to bring serenity into my life that I can’t name them all. What about you?
10. Perspective. Yes, this is the one I wanted to intentionally close with, because it’s the most important thing overall. Happiness can be big things or it can be small things. Happiness can be found even when things aren’t going great.
It’s perspective that determines how you’re going to decide to be happy whenever you can be, and how happy you’re going to be. In the movie The Secret there’s a scene where a woman stumbles out of bed, then gets to the bathroom to find she has run out of toothpaste. She allows these things to put her in a negative mood for the entire day. Then they rerun the scene where she wakes up and looks down before getting out of bed so she doesn’t stumble, and when she finds her toothpaste has run out she brushes her teeth anyway and is happy just doing that. Small things, but each one plays a big part in how one’s day will go.
Perspective colors everything all of us do. Perspective will make you decide whether this post is too long or long enough, valuable or a waste of your time. Perspective is how you see yourself; are you too heavy, too thin, pretty, unattractive, smart, dumb, charismatic, boring, happy…
Happiness, unfortunately, isn’t a 24/7 thing. However, each of us has the option of deciding whether we want to be happy most of the time. And most of us can control those things to help make us happier all the time as well. So, what are you waiting for?
What a strange week this seems to have been. It started out with my buying my first couple of pairs of shorts ever, with my wife’s help, and finding out that I can actually wear a waist size of 42; I haven’t worn a size 42 waist in 20 years! Working out seems to be doing at least part of the job; glucose isn’t down though.
Then a consulting gig I’m supposed to be working hasn’t started yet; I haven’t even heard from the client in about a week. That’s how it goes sometimes when you’re an independent consultant, which is why I was so key on my earlier post this week about getting some money upfront; it’s not always the fault of the people trying to do work for you.
And now this; I’ve been interviewed again, this time by Christian of Smart Boy Designs. I was kind of surprised because I actually did the interview back in April, then forgot about it until I was going through old emails yesterday and started to wonder about it. And then there it was this morning; nice timing, eh?
Of course, it was also fun being a part of Ileane’s Basic Blog Tips this week with my post on 5 Ways Your Blog Might Be Irritating People. I really put out for that post because I always believe that you give as much to others as you’d give to yourself, and if you can you should give more since you’re reaching out to a new audience that you’re hoping you can drive to your site.
All that and tonight I’ll be staying in a hotel about 5 minutes from my house in a room with a jacuzzi… all by myself. My wife is holding a large garage sale with her friends and asked if I not be present; I can take a hint. 🙂 So I’ll be pampered tonight on my own, then heading to the casino in the morning. Yes, I do live a strange life; but it’s pretty fun as well. Is it any wonder why I smile so much?
I thought I’d go in a different direction today because, well, we’re hoping our weather goes in a much different direction today. Yesterday was miserable in central New York.
The temperatures were initially predicted to get into the mid 50’s. Instead, we had periods of snow all day which brought along these very high winds. And it wasn’t that fluffy snow that people look at and say “awwww”, it was hard, beady snow that hurt. Most of us complained loudly; yeah, I was part of that crowd. It’s just the kind of day that makes us all miserable, even though we’ve had snow later in the season than this.
However, even with that misery there was some joy to be found. If you look to the right there you’ll see that I wrote a post on my business blog titled “Think Like You’re Awesome”; I think that’s a post you might enjoy checking out, and it’s something that made me happy.
In general I think it’s easier to be sad than happy, yet sometimes it doesn’t take much to get us laughing or smiling. For instance, I posted a video of a puppy falling asleep that people seemed to like a lot, and I posted a video of laughing babies, this first one having quads laughing, the second one on New Years Day with lots of videos of babies laughing.
Sometimes all it takes is someone else or something else having a good time. And to me, Fridays are the day for that type of thing, when we’re all hoping to unwind from what might have been a tense week of work or issues. To this end, I present Cookie the Penguin. Make sure you watch until the end, then try to tell me this didn’t make you smile:
Every once in awhile there crops up an issue that gets you thinking “if it were me how far would I go?” Sometimes it’s something that you do have to confront in some fashion and you have to ask yourself the same question.
What is it most of us want? We want to be happy; almost everything else you can mention ends up with you being happy. I want the same thing; I really want to be happy. Not that I’m in a bad mood right now, but I want to be happier.
What brings us happiness? Money is a good start. Yeah, I know the “lie” that money can’t buy you happiness. Money buys you peace of mind, or at least it does if you’re not one of those people who just can’t be satisfied with anything.
Love brings us happiness. Okay, the cynical part of me is going to say this; money helps in the love and happiness area. Don’t believe me? See how many couples that say they’re in love and get married when they don’t have money will stay happy when they realize that they need that money to sustain themselves. Add children and it’s even more overwhelming.
One more thing that brings us happiness is “stuff.” Ah, now there’s a good one. Truth be told, you don’t need a lot of money to buy stuff, as long as you’re not trying to buy too much stuff or stuff that’s too expensive for you. In my mind, a new Hyundai Santa Fe would make me as happy as a new Bentley, even though they’re thousands of dollars apart. A chocolate cake makes me as happy as having a meal at Ruth Chris Steakhouse but the difference in price is dramatic.
What’s even better than buying stuff? Getting free stuff! That costs no money at all, and often it’s unexpected. Sure, you might expect to get gifts for your birthday or for a holiday, but you don’t always know what gift you’re getting, and thus it’s a happy experience.
It’s also great when you know what you have a chance to get. Many of us play the lottery when we know how much money we have a shot at winning. In New York, we say “a dollar and a dream”. I don’t do it often, but when the money gets really high, I’m there with my “2 dollars” hoping for my dream.
How do you view contests? Well now, here’s a dilemma I’m facing at the moment. We all love winning contests if we get into them; after all, if you don’t want to win why get into it in the first place? If the thing you can win is nice enough, it’s always worth giving it a shot.
I’m in a short story contest at the moment. The story had to be 750 words or less, and I’m competing against 9 other stories. The rules were that we could ask people to vote for us if we’d like, but we all had to decide how fair it was or not.
Well, I thought about how I could ask some people without being all that overt about it. I wrote a few friends and asked them to check out the site, which story was mine, and to compare it to the other stories and if they liked my story to please vote for it. But I did say they could vote for other stories if they wanted to; after all, I wanted to be fair. Truthfully, though I like my story and think I should win, there’s another story there that I think is wonderful, and since you can vote “yes” or “no” on every story, I would always vote for that story as well as mine for the winner.
What else have I done? Well, I did mention it to a few other people, including my blogger group on Facebook. But I didn’t come right out and tell them which story was mine, though I alluded to it, and I also told them they could vote for other stories as well if they chose to do so.
A few days ago I got an email from the person running the contest; actually, all of us in the contest received the email. She was giving us a heads up as to where we might stand after half the money, since the contest runs through the end of the month. She listed the top 3 stories, and it seems I’m not in the top 3. What the hey? One of the stories in the top 3 didn’t even stay within the rules of the contest, as it’s not a complete story but only the beginning of one that’s more than 2,000 words.
So my quandary; how far would I go to try to win a gift, in this case a Kindle, which would be really cool even though I’ve never seen one in person? How much do I really want to win? How far would I go? Would I finally cross the line to selfishness and ask outright for you to go to the site and vote for my story, and tell you which story it is?
Actually, no, but not for the reason you might think. I had a post all set to, through my own version of subterfuge, ask people to go vote for me and help me win this bad boy. I wanted to take a shot; after all, if I wasn’t even in the top 3 I needed help. However, later that evening, I first got an email refunding my $3 entry fee; that was weird. Then I got an email saying that the contest was changing because one of the entrants had cheated. I knew it wasn’t me since I was really far behind so I asked the person running the contest on Twitter what was going on. She said one person was oddly so far ahead of everyone else that she knew it had to be technology that was pumping up the votes. Thus, she decided to cancel the contest as it was and ask 5 judges to make the selections instead. All votes were being thrown out, which meant I now had a legitimate shot once more; yay!!!
Whew; there you go. I didn’t have to think about crossing the boundaries, although it wouldn’t have been crossing them anyway since the rules stated we could do it. My mind is clear; I can go eat cookies now in peace, and hope the judges see my work of “art” in a different light Ah Kindle, you know you want to be here with me. 😉