Sunday, January 22, 2017

Smatterings of Happiness

Happiness mostly happens to me in small bursts, not in gigantic waves.  Sometimes if I am not paying attention I might miss these bursts completely.  Here is one I am glad I did not miss: Yesterday I was at WinCo, the local bag-it-yourself grocery store picking up a couple of items.  Because it was a Saturday there were many long lines at check-out.  I happened to find a miraculously short line and was headed toward it just when a couple with a cart full of food pulled in ahead of me.  I was disappointed, but realized this would still be a shorter line than the ones around me.  The couple glanced back at me.  Seeing that I had only a couple of things, they very generously offered to let me go ahead of them.  At first I protested, but then graciously accepted.  Because of the verbal interaction between us, a sweet friend of mine that I never get to see enough heard my voice behind her and turned around to greet me.  She had a large stack of groceries that she was just beginning to bag.  As I finished my transaction and thanked the couple again, I went over to greet her.  I noticed that her fingers were very white and asked about them.  She explained that she has Raynaud's syndrome, which turns her fingers white and numb when they are cold.  I offered to help her bag her groceries and she gratefully accepted.  We loaded up her groceries and I helped her get them into the back of her car.  I had gloves on, and she mentioned that it would help her if she remembered to wear her gloves.  We said goodbye, and I drove home thinking about how wonderful it was that the couple in my line performed a sweet and simple act of kindness for me, that in turn allowed me to pass that act of kindness onto someone else, small acts that created happiness for all involved.  (I later brought my friend some gloves to keep in her pocket for when her hands got cold)  It is these smatterings of happiness that make life rich and worthwhile.

May I share one more?  My black church shoes were absolutely falling apart.  I noticed it two Sundays ago when the ground was wet, and suddenly so were my feet.  As I stooped to examine why I discovered a large crack extending the width of my shoe right over the ball of my foot.  The shoes were getting old and worn looking anyway, but I don't love shoe shopping and chose to ignore the problem.  Last Sunday when I put my shoes on again for church I could feel the crack from the inside.  The wet ground outside and my once again wet and cold feet reminded me that the shoes needed to be replaced.

Monday morning I decided to put new black church shoes on my vision board.  We could afford the shoes, but the price of time to find the right height of heel and something cute and comfortable would be expensive.  I drew a crude picture of a black dress shoe on a piece of paper for my vision board.  The shoe turned out ugly and deformed, so I decided to try drawing the other shoe.  It was worse than the first, so I decided to write the word "cute" on the paper as well so that I would not end up with a pair of ugly shoes!  As I spent a few minutes envisioning what my shoes would be like (hence the word 'vision board') I visualized cute low but thick heels, something not shiny black, but more of a suede material.  I imagined they would feel very comfortable when I put them on, as I often spend all day in them on Sundays.  Then I taped the picture onto my vision board and went about my day.

The next morning I was late getting to the gym.  As I left the gym I realized that the local thrift store would just be opening.  It would take only 5 more minutes from where I was in town to get to that store.  (I have this thing where I like to look at the thrift store first for what I need before going for something new right off the bat.  It is amazing what you can find at thrift stores in like-new condition and at a fraction of the price!)  As I entered the shoe section of the store I saw a long aisle of shoes in my size.  The first pair of black shoes that I spotted at first looked like flats.  Not what I was looking for.  But as I pulled them off the rack, they were in fact low thick heels.  Cute? Yes.  Suede-type material.  I pulled off my tennis shoe and tried one on.  It was like it was made for my foot, totally comfortable.  I could not believe it.  Funniest of all, it resembled the picture I had drawn, but was much cuter!  I could scarcely believe it.  I had found the perfect shoe 2 minutes after entering the store.  I walked down the long rack of shoes to see what my other options might be.  There were none, absolutely none!  All the other black dress shoes were either open toed, ugly, too high of heel, or too tight.  Literally the only pair in the entire store that worked for me was the first pair I had picked up.  I paid for them and was out of the store within 10 minutes.  I could not have been happier.  Who had granted me this wonderful act of kindness, this smattering of happiness?  It was my higher power of course!  The author of acts of kindness and happiness.

These smatterings of happiness are everywhere when you look for them.  Some you create for others, and some others create for you.  Take the time to create them and to see what is being created for you by others.  It will give you that burst of happiness, that smattering of joy that makes life rich and worthwhile!

Sunday, January 8, 2017


None of us wants to fail.  Yet, everyone fails sometimes.

Take my new year's goal  for example.  I set a goal to track everything I eat, only eat my allotted weight-watcher's points every day, and exercise 5 days a week, thus allowing me to lose those pesky pounds.  It was so perfect too, because the new year started on the first day of the week.  What could be more perfect?  I was very motivated!  I put it on my vision board.

I did not take into account that there was a LOT of junk from Christmas still floating around the kitchen, the kind of chocolate yumminess that makes dieting virtually impossible.  I also did not take into account my son's wedding, also the first week of January, which would not only throw off my exercise schedule, but also present lots of festivities that deter dieting.  And so I failed the very first week.  I did not stick to my plan, my goal, and thus I failed.  Or did I?

Does someone who falls off a bike on their first attempt fail to learn to ride?  Does a baby who falls on their first attempt to take steps fail to learn to walk?  Does a woman who fails the first week of her diet fail to lose weight?  I give you a resounding "no!"

I recently learned a wonderful acronym that puts attempts to succeed into perspective.  F.A.I.L.  This stands for First Attempt In Learning.  In the song from the movie Zootopia "Try Everything" one of the great lines is, "No one learns without getting it wrong".  This is true of virtually everything we do.  We try and get it wrong, then we get up and try again, and again, and again until we succeed.

Allow yourself the chance to learn, to attempt and fail, and attempt again.  After all, the great Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections before being elected president, and failed twice in business.  Milton Hershey started and failed with three candy companies before he was successful at Hershey's Chocolates.  And then of course there is Thomas Edison, who failed 1,000 times before successfully inventing the light bulb.  When asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times, Edison replied, "I didn't fail 1,000 times.  The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."   He found 999 ways how not to invent a light bulb, but he only needed to find one way to make it work.

Success does not mean that you never fail.  It means that you are persistent until you succeed.

This week I will get up off the ground, track everything I eat, eat only my allotted weight-watcher's points every day, exercise, and use my vision board, thus allowing me to lose those pesky pounds.

Will I do everything the same as last week?  No, I will not.  Because, as you may already know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
I have learned from the mistakes of last week, and have made small changes to help me succeed.  And what if I only succeed 5 out of 7 days?  Is that still a win?  It is a huge win over giving up, is it not?  And I will keep trying until I succeed!

No success is easy, but giving up ensures failure.  So remember F.A.I.L., First Attempt In Learning, and guess what?  You get a second attempt, and a third attempt, and as many as it takes to win your goal.  So hang in there!  You are amazing!  Those goals you set last week are still just as valid.  So get back up and keep going until you succeed.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A NEW New Years Goal

All my adult life I have set goals on New Year's Day.  Sometimes I accomplished them, sometimes I didn't.  Last year I learned a new way of setting goals that has put me on the path to success!  Today I would like to share it with you.

The traditional way of setting goals is to write down what you want to accomplish.  (Yes, I did say write it down.)  Then write out details of how you plan to accomplish your goals.  Ideally, one should review those goals frequently and work on them.  Most people give up or lose motivation by March, if not sooner.  Every year at the gym I go to, it is suddenly packed at the beginning of January.  You can hardly find a parking spot, much less a tread mill.  Within a few weeks it starts to dwindle, and by March everything is back to normal.  This is a yearly pattern.

As I said, all my adult life I have set goals on New Year's day, then worked on them on and off throughout the year.  Sometimes I would forget to work on them throughout the year.  At then beginning of the next year I would go back and review my goals from last year.  Sometimes I had accomplished them, sometimes I had not.

Last year I learned something new about goal setting and how to actually have continuous motivation and SUCCESS!  It is called a vision board.  You have probably heard of it.  Last year I set and accomplished EIGHT goals.  Some were little, and some were huge and life-changing goals!

There are a myriad of ideas out there about how to do a vision board.  What I am going to share with you has worked for me, and for many people around me as well. Using a vision board has been revolutionary in my life!    A vision board is like goals on steroids when you do them the way I am about to describe.  This really works!

First you need something to put your goals on that has a border around it.  This can be as simple as painters tape on the wall in the shape of a square, or as elaborate as a frame with cork board or a metal backing.

Next you need pictures and/or words to put on your vision board.  The more senses you can appeal to with your brain the better, so I recommend pictures AND words.  It doesn't need to be anything fancy.  You can draw, cut pictures out of magazines, or print them off.  Make sure you have all positive pictures and positive words.  For example, if you were trying to overcome a fear of something, you would use a word like "fearless", which is positive instead of "no fear", which is negative.  Feeding your brain positive information will lead to positive results.

You can start with just one goal, or you can set quite a few.  They should not overlap on your vision board.

One thing that is different about this type of goal setting as opposed to the traditional way is that you don't actually need to know HOW you are going to get to your goal when you set it.  You know what you want, but you don't necessarily need to know at the beginning how you are going to get it.  Just set the goal.

Once you have your vision board ready with pictures and words you will want to find a place to put it that is close to your bed.  You are going to spend 3 minutes looking at it first thing in the morning right when you wake up when your  brain is the most impressionable, and 3 minutes looking at it last thing before you close your eyes to go to sleep at night.  This allows your brain to work on your goal while you are sleeping.  During these 3-minute time periods you need to employ as many of your senses as possible to envision that you have just accomplished your goal.  What does it feel like?  What does it taste like?  What does it look like? Is there a smell associated?  What is going on around you?  Envision your goal like you are re-living a memory.  Focus, repetition and intensity are key!  3 minutes first thing in the morning and 3 minutes last thing at night..... every day.

"Does just thinking about it make it happen?" you ask.  No, but the brain has immense power to make things happen in your life, and visualizing it as though it is already real is half the battle.

"But how do you figure out the HOW?" you may wonder.  Your brain is so amazing.  It is so amazing that it already knows the answer.  The problem is that you don't know that it knows the answer.  How do you find out then?  It is called meditation.  Meditation is a most amazing tool that I never knew existed.  Find a quiet time and place for 5-10 minutes a day.  I like to sit next to my bed by my vision board.  Get in a comfortable position.  Close your eyes.  Have a pen and paper ready.  Then clear your mind of everything except the thing on your vision board that you are working on.  Don't try to direct your brain, just let it go where it wants on the subject you are contemplating.  It is the strangest secret in the world.  As you sit and meditate and let your brain go where it will with your goal, you will find ideas coming to you.  Write them down as they come.  Then do them, preferably in the order you received them.  You will find that you will get ideas that you have never thought of before.  Ideas that are new and amazing.

As you concentrate on your vision board 3 minutes first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and spend a few minutes meditating every day, you will find that things will start to come off your vision board.  You will find that you will begin to have success.  You will start to accomplish your goals!

So this year try something different!  Try a vision board.  You will thank me later!

Happy New Year!  May it bring you great success!