Archive | May 2011

Worst case

We’re just going to jump right in today!  Here is the happiness tidbit: apply the worst case scenario perspective to the fears you experience.  Yesterday we talked about making a list of your fears and using the no-regrets philosophy.  Today we’ll take it one step further and talk about worst-case-scenario.  It’s asking yourself, “what’s the absolute worst thing that could happen?” or “Will the world end if this doesn’t turn out the way I expect?”.

Chris Guillebeau is the author I’m summarizing here and he tells a story of a fairly major mistake he made.  He is what he calls a “travel hacker” and has a goal of visiting every country in the world by the time he’s 35 next year.  He has 40 countries left to visit!  Last year he was in Poland, on his way to Asia and called to confirm his flight home from Japan.  After a series of events, he discovered he had made a mistake and did not, in fact, have a ticket from Japan back home to Portland!  At first, he panicked.  Then he asked himself, “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”.  In this instance, he would be stuck in Japan and need to buy a one-way ticket home.  He says, ” It’s not fun to buy a one-way ticket from Japan on less than a week’s notice, but in the long arc of life, it’s probably not that big of a deal.  That’s pretty much what happened.  I felt dumb for making the big mistake, and I didn’t enjoy paying the credit card bill for the extra ticket– but the world didn’t end.”

So what about you?  Are you creating “the world will end!” drama from minor concerns?  It really does help to think through the actual worst thing that could happen and then deprive that fear of its hold on you.  The emotion may still be there, but it’s power will be lessened.  Try it– I think you’ll like it!

Fear and Insecurity

Now there’s a title for a happiness blog!  Are you excited?!  I’m reading a book by Chris Guillebeau called The Art of Non-Conformity.  He says, “The toughest obstacles most of us have to overcome are the direct result of our own fears and insecurities.”  So, how to turn this into a happiness tidbit?  Well, living with fear is a part of life.  But succumbing to it and letting it determine your choices lands squarely in the realm of personal choice.  So the happiness tidbit for today is: don’t do that!

Of course, this is easier said than done, but I find that the more time I spend exploring the issue and consciously addressing it in my own life, the less hold it has on me.  The other thing I’ve discovered about fear lately is how insidious it is.  It creeps up on me relentlessly.

So, what do we do?  To quote the author again, “Most remarkable people are not remarkable by nature.  Instead, they’ve made a few key choices along the way that helped them overcome their fears.”  I love this!

Step #1 is to make a list of all the things you’re afraid of at any given time.  Be as specific as possible.  This can be more challenging than you think.  I would start a list and then add to it when you come up to a challenging situation that sparks fear.

Step #2?  Apply the no-regrets mindset.  We tend to regret more the things we don’t do, than the things we do.  Often our decisions are determined in our mind by what others will think or our fear of letting them (or even ourselves) down.  What will you look back on and regret NOT going for?  NOT trying?  NOT pushing through the obstacles to attain?

Will you be the average person who looks back a year from now and doesn’t see much change?  Or will you be the remarkable person, making those key choices to overcome your fears and insecurities?  I think you’re remarkable, don’t you?

Expiration date

I am very spoiled.  I have a husband who teaches for 9 months of the year and then has 11 weeks off during the summer.  Yesterday was his first day of summer break, I took the afternoon off, and we just spent time as a family.  Totally and completely spoiled.  He also happens to wash the dishes, do the laundry, mow the lawn, take out the trash, and tell me on a regular basis how beautiful and amazing I am.  He loves God, is a great dad, and has a wonderful relationship with his parents, as well as mine.  I’m not making this up!  Now that you are all insanely jealous, I’m going to move on to my happiness tidbit for today (since “marry Dennis Burkett” is not a practical happiness tidbit for anyone except me!): let the journey unfold.

Building on the tidbit from yesterday of rediscovering the joy in what you do, today I want to ask you, “does your dream have an expiration date?”.  That was thought-provoking for me.  Carol Stoops is the woman who shared this idea, as well as the one from yesterday about The Rookie.  She also said that one of her greatest assets has always been her belief.  Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about myself!  I am constantly building and exercising my belief muscles because this is an area of challenge for me.  Perhaps for you, too.  If you are skilled at belief– belief in yourself, your abilities, your direction, your goals and dreams, your company– you have a leg up on the rest of us!  Part of letting the journey unfold is believing that you’re on the right path, when there is evidence to the contrary.  When it looks like nothing is happening, you continue pursuing the dream.  When it doesn’t pan out or there are roadblocks or… you consider it part of the journey and you keep going.  Who builds your belief?

Inquiring minds want to know:  Does your dream have an expiration date?

Today I get to…

In the midst of the devastating events in Joplin and elsewhere recently, it’s harder to write about happiness.  At the same time, it’s things like this that drive me to explore this subject more.  What constitutes happiness when your home has been destroyed?  When you lose someone or your business?  I imagine it’s hope.  Where can WE bring hope to those who have been affected?

Have you watched The Rookie?  It’s an older movie and I haven’t seen it in years, but I was listening to a CD yesterday and the speaker was telling the story.  Basically it’s about a man who was a professional baseball player in his youth, was injured, and his career was cut short.  Then he gets a second chance at the big leagues.  He’s on a farm team, away from his family for 3 months, knowing that he’s probably not going to be the one to get called up, since he’s twice the age of the rest of the young guys on the team.  He decides to quit and go back home, but before he does, he takes a walk and observes a Little League game.  He comes back all fired up!  He grabs his best friend on the team and says, “Brooks, do you know what we get to do today?  We get to play baseball!”.  He remembered the love of the game.

What if today, you filled in the blank?  Today I get to….teach kids to love learning… use my skills to make my community a better place to live… encourage someone… create delicious food… inspire hope in a friend!  Today I get to work!  Today I get to be a mom!  Today I get to…

Get it in writing

Do you ever have the sinking feeling that you’re not really making progress?  Whether in your personal life or your career– perhaps both– it can sometimes feel as though you’re just treading water.  Or maybe it’s just me?

Today’s happiness tidbit is to get it in writing– from yourself!  This starts with writing down what it is that you want to change, accomplish, or become.  Visual reminders are very powerful!  Maybe it’s something as simple as reading 10 pages a day of a good book, making your bed daily, or spending one-on-one time with each of your children on a weekly basis.  Write it in dry-erase marker on your bathroom mirror, put a note on the fridge, on your steering wheel.

In addition, have some way of tracking your progress.  There is something powerful about saying, “I did it!”.  A resolutions chart is one way– it can have one or several things on it– you give yourself a check mark for each day that you complete your task/goal.  You could even buy a pack of gold stars and use those, just for fun!

My suggestion is to start simply.  I’m often tempted to want an overhaul of myself, but this is usually a recipe for failure because I try to chase too many rabbits.  Choose one or two things in which you’d like to see progress and then get it in writing!

What’s on your list?

When you don’t feel like it

Do you have children?  Chances are, if you’re a parent of a talking child, you’ve heard the phrase (perhaps even recently!), “but I don’t FEEL like it!”.  If you’re not a parent, you may borrow one of my children and I’ll coach them to share this special phrase with you so you can feel a part of this discussion.  Message me.

There are many things in life that we don’t particularly FEEL like doing, yes?  Even some of the things that produce happiness don’t feel happy in the moment.  I’m a producer.  Not like the movie kind (wouldn’t that be cool?!), but the kind where I’m slightly addicted to the feeling of accomplishment.  And achieving does contribute to my happiness.  Except when it doesn’t.  Because when you’re living life with eternity in mind there will be many things that you do with no immediate, check-it-off-the-list gratification.  Like parenting, for example!  That’s one of the things that you really have to be in for the long haul with no guarantees of how things will turn out.  Hence, lots of prayer!

My happiness tidbit for today is: when you don’t FEEL like it, take the next step anyway.  Apply this to anything worth doing, your family life, your career, your ministry, your relationships.  Where it gets overwhelming is when we look down the road and want to know how it’s all going to turn out and is this really worth it anyway and what if and… and… Are you tracking with me?  Ask yourself, “what’s next?”.  Or, “what is one thing I could do today that would make me feel proud?”.  It’s those little victories that keep us on the path.  Chances are, that first step will motivate you to take the next one.

Please comment with your “next step” or the thing that will make you proud of yourself today.  I’d love your suggestions!

This entry was posted on May 24, 2011. 1 Comment

Get clear

One of my favorite funny mental pictures comes from Jan Thetford, a Mary Kay National Sales Director.  She says, “being on the fence is a very uncomfortable place to be.  Because when you’re sitting on the fence, you have a picket up your heinie!  Get on one side or the other, but get clear.”

I have the sometimes-unfortunate quality of being able to see multiple points of view.  Sometimes this serves me well and I feel that it helps me relate to people and be empathetic.  Other times, it just makes it hard to make a decision!   Being clear about what you want and where you’re going is my happiness tidbit for today.  (Side note: what you want shouldn’t be all about you!  This would be a really good place to ask God what he wants– and then ask him to help you desire that, too.)

Time spent doing one thing automatically means time spent away from another thing.  We do sometimes have competing priorities.  A helpful question to ask is, “is what I’m doing right now taking me closer to my goal or not?”.  I’m not referring exclusively to career goals here.  You may have determined that you want to be more intentional about spending time with your kids.  If you’re checking your FB while you’re playing a game with them (I have never done this, but I’ve heard of a mom who did, just for the record!), you can ask yourself, “is what I’m doing right now taking me closer to my goal?”.

Sometimes we find ourselves in “creative avoidance” mode.  Because what we’ve decided we want is difficult, we find other “important” things to do instead, thus sabotaging the goal.  If you don’t have a housekeeper, yet your house is very clean, you may be in creative avoidance mode.  It might look like this.  (I’m going to speak from my career perspective here, but feel free to substitute whatever your action items are.)  You need to book appointments/confirm appointments/follow up with customers.  And yet you find yourself doing laundry/dishes/vacuuming.  (I feel obligated to insert a personal note, so as to not be misleading.  When I experience creative avoidance, it very rarely looks like housecleaning.  Unfortunately.)  Or it could take the form or anything else that is urgent, but not important.

Get really clear about what you want and where you’re going.  Throw your heart over the bar and go for it, no pickets up your heinie!