Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Month's End

Month's End is the end of a calendar month, when accounts need to be drawn up. Reports are due on where a company is in regard to progress, gains, or losses. It is a time to balance the books, reconcile discrepancies.

Month-end accounting procedures are done to ensure that mistakes are caught and corrected and to provide an accurate picture of a business's finances. So why not identify our mistakes in our personal lives? When we know what worked and what didn't be can better chart a course for our lives in the following months.

What if we each took some time at the end of the month to look at where we, personally, stand? We could look at the progress, gains, or losses toward or personal goals, interpersonal relationships, financial responsibility, compassionate actions, spiritual growth. And what better time to do that than at the end of THIS month?

The past month has been rather turbulent. So much happening that impacts our emotions and our beliefs. Our values have been brought to question. Fear and anger have cropped up nearly everywhere. Grief and celebration, some of each for many of us.

Some in our nation and our communities are acting out in hate while others are countering that with acts of love and compassion. Where have you been in the midst of that this month? What are your regrets? What are you pleased that you did? What worked to make someone's life a bit better? What did it cost you? Do you feel it was worth it?

What did you learn this month - about your friends, family, yourself?  What surprised you? What confirmed what you already believed?

Have you acted on your values? Have you found any new ways to live those values?

What have you gained this month - beyond the pounds from holiday eating!? Do you feel stronger, more connected, more confident? Or have you lost some of that? If you have losses, what can you do to regain what you've lost?

When you look at your checkbook does it reflect what you most value? Where does most of your money go? Is this a reflection of how you want to invest in life?

How much time this month did you spend with the people you care about the most? And how was that time spent? Do you have "screen free" time with them? Do you exchange your thoughts and feelings. Were you a quality listener this month?

How did you take care of yourself this month? Healthy eating? Adequate exercise? Time to yourself? Positive self-talk? How have you fed your Spirit? What would you like to do better next month?

So pat yourself on the back for the positives and resolve to address the negatives. You are a worthwhile person. You deserve good things. Never give up on yourself!

Please leave comments about your process.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

'Tis the Season!

Yep. It is that time of year when nearly everyone is thinking about giving gifts. Holiday gift-giving keeps the economy going. Americans spend huge amounts of money on holiday gifts, decorations, and celebrations.

What all goes into gifting? Obviously, our money goes into gifting. But what else? What feelings do you have for those that you gift? Some of those we give to are loved ones, close friends, people you truly care about. You know about what they like, what they may want, what they need. And you strive to find something nice that they will appreciate.

I know that we have been shopping for family already and thinking about what each person is interested in and/or wants. The better we know them the easier it is to find "just the right gift" for them. For me that is the fun of gift shopping.

There are some folks who ask for a list of what you want, I suppose it is to make it easier for them to shop. But it becomes all too easy to just buy whatever is on the list and not really take the time to think about it. And I wonder if it is really as much fun for the recipient of the gift to know ahead of time what they will be getting. Anyway, we spend a lot of time AND money figuring out what to give.

This year, why not give something that really comes from you? By that I mean give something that is part of you, like time, companionship, assistance, conversation, fun. What might you give that says to them that you are giving something of yourself?

  • You might be good at needlework, woodwork, or some other craft and spend time making a gift for them. 
  • Maybe you love to cook or bake and could give them something they like to eat. 
  • Maybe you could make a gift certificate that promises to help them do some task they could use help with. 
  • Maybe instead of tickets to some entertainment you could TAKE them and spend time having fun with them. 
  • Maybe you could invite them for an evening with you and your family at your home or on an outing - skating, bowling, etc. 
  • Maybe you could put together photos in an album for them to share and remember special times.
  • You might take the time to write a personal letter, by hand, that says what you like, appreciate, and/or respect about the person. 
While you still might choose to buy a gift, I encourage you to also consider the gift of YOU. Building connections is so important in this day and age when everything is fast paced and impersonal. While keeping in touch on-line may feel like connection, it is a pretty tenuous connection. Let's go beyond the surface this year and take some time to build relationships.

Even those folks we gift that we don't know well - people we work with, people who work for us, the mail carrier/paper carrier, teachers, etc. - can have a "special" gift when you put a note in a card that says you appreciate what they do. Go beyond the usual little gift by adding your thanks, hand written thoughtfully. Take a moment to think of all the people you come in contact with on a somewhat regular basis and what you appreciate about them. Then put it in a note to let them know. Little things can mean a lot.

What are some other ways we can "give ourselves away"? Please share your ideas in the comments.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanks for Giving!

It is nearly Thanksgiving. And we have SO much to be thankful for. What are YOU must thankful for?

Even the poorest of our community has more than most people in he world. There are too many places where there is no clean water to drink. To have any water at all, someone must walk miles to carry it home after walking miles to get it. And you can't carry enough to bathe in. (Even in America, if you are homeless or live on some of the American Indian Reservations, you may not have access to clean water.)

So when you next bathe or shower, be thankful. When you have clean dishes, be thankful. When you have clean clothes be thankful. When you have water to brush your teeth or shave, be thankful. For water is a precious resource. This Thanksgiving why not give something to support clean water for those who have none. Or support those that protect the precious resource from pollution. Give something - time, money, etc. - in gratitude for what you have.

Everyone reading this probably has access to adequate food. It may not always be what we want, but it is enough for us to live without the threat of starvation. Vast populations of people are grateful for one meager meal a day. There are children and elderly people dying of starvation around the world. And when you sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner, think of them. Consider supporting a program that provides nutrition to the most needy. Give something - time, money, etc. - in gratitude for what you have.

Imagine not being able to feed your child or your elderly parent. It is mind-boggling to know that in a world that produces enough food to feed everyone, not everyone is getting fed. In our country alone we throw away enough food to feed another country. This Thanksgiving, resolve to waste less and give more.

And you have a roof over your head. It may not be YOUR roof, but you sleep under a roof at night. Around the world there are people who have lost their homes to war, earthquake, flood, tornado, fire, or poverty. When you go to bed tonight, pray for those who have no roof, no safe place to sleep. And consider what you are willing to do to help solve the problem. From addressing homelessness in your community to supporting efforts in foreign lands, there are many ways you can help. Give something - time, money, etc. - in gratitude for what you have. This Thanksgiving - resolve to help provide shelter for those who need it.

Your gratitude list goes on and on. This time of year we are more aware than at other times of all our blessings. Take time to list them and give thanks for them. And consider how you might do more to share your blessings with others who may be less fortunate than you.

What are you most thankful for?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Be Happy No Matter What

So, be happy! When you feel happy,you worry less about what you don't have and have more freedom to do and be what feels right to you. When you feel happy you are less insecure, more centered in who you are. So do it. Be happy!

Being happy gives a certain kind of energy that you can use to change not only your life but also the world. When you are happy you are likely to be more helpful and empathetic toward others. You have the energy to DO things, to accomplish more, to pursue Truth.

To be happy is a skill or habit you can develop:

  • Be more playful, more spontaneous. Disappear into the lighter and more fun experience. Let go of self-consciousness. Laugh with friends, throw a Frisbee, cook something great, play with a pet, play with a small child. Really live the experience. 
  • Cultivate gratitude. Make a list of five different things you are grateful for, once each week. Write thank you notes to important people in your life. Tell them what it is about them that you are most grateful for. Practice saying "thank you" more often. Tell the people you come in contact with in a day what you appreciate about them.
  • Exercise more. Yes, I know. You wonder what that has to do with happiness. But it is shown in many scientific studies that people who exercise twenty minutes a day are less likely to be depressed. Take a walk. Play sports. Do something that keeps you moving for twenty minutes - it doesn't have to be hard or fast, just keep moving.
  • Connect with people you like and love, of course. But also personal acts of kindness toward those outside your regular circle helps you feel good about yourself and give good energy into the world. Vary your kindnesses to include novel experiences that keep things light and happy.
  • Meditate. Meditations helps you to detach from negative judgments that cross your mind. It helps you act more from your center. There are a variety of meditation styles. Find what fits for you.
Remember a while back I talked about finding pieces of happiness throughout the day? Noticing the sky's glorious colors can be a piece of happiness. Look for all the little and big things that bring happiness to your awareness. Consider creating a happiness bank. Deposit pieces of happiness in it and review those deposits at the end of the day. Maybe you want to write those down and put them in a jar. Maybe you want to keep a happiness log. Whatever works for you to keep you looking at happiness in your life.

When you are focused on feeling happy you will be amazed at how much better life is for you and the people around you. Share your happiness. Send out happiness pieces into the world and make everyone's day a bit brighter.

And when you are focused on noticing those happiness pieces, you can be happy no matter what.

[I am Grateful for the book How to Be Alive by Colin Beavan for many of the ideas in these posts about being happy.]

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

So, What DO You Want?

What have you decided about your attributes/goals for YOUR life? Which of those listed are highest priority for you? [You can always look at previous posts to refresh your memory.] Are you investing proportionally in those that are your highest priority? If not, that may be what keeps you from being truly happy and truly authentic.

After looking inward you can begin now to chase after what you REALLY want and follow what is true for YOU. When you are doing this you cannot help but help others somehow.,

Way too many people are terrible unhappy with their jobs. The stay in them for the financial reward of a paycheck and health insurance. But they take no pleasure in the jobs and the rewards give them little pleasure either. They feel stuck and become resentful. They would rather do stuff that feels authentic than because of the reward.

One way to address this dissatisfaction, if you see no way to change jobs, is to look for ways to do the job that relate to the attributes/goals that are your highest priorities. Let's look at them again:

  • Affiliation: to have satisfying relationships with family and friends
  • Community feeling: to improve the world through activism or generosity
  • Conformity: to fit in with other people
  • Financial success: to be wealthy and materially successful
  • Hedonism: to experience much sensual pleasure
  • Image: to look attractive in terms of body and clothing
  • Physical health: to feel healthy and free of illness
  • Popularity: to be famous, well-known, and admired
  • Safety: to ensure bodily integrity and safety
  • Self-acceptance: to feel competent and authentic
  • Spirituality: to search for spiritual or religious understanding 

  • Take some time to consider how you might invest in your higher priority attributes/goals in your job. Be creative. Think outside the box. Talk to someone you trust to brainstorm things you can change about your job - how you do it - that is more authentically you. 

    And, of course, consider changing jobs. This might mean going for some training or education that prepares you for something new. Or it might mean exploring what tasks you do in this job that would transfer to another kind of work. Or it might mean developing better life-skills/people-skills that help you advance in your job to another level or location.

    You may be in a situation where there is no way to leave your job because of financial or health reasons. So you might need to set a long-term goal about how long you need to continue before you can leave it. And while you are  getting to that time limited goal you can change your perspective about your goal in order to get through it intact. 

    I was in a job situation once that I came to hate. It was not going to take me where I wanted to go in my career and I was feeling really stuck. Every morning that I had to go to work I was depressed and angry. It was affecting my health, both physical and mental. So I figured out how much money I would have to have saved in order to just quit and look for another job. I figured three months of my income would do it. So I started saving as much money as possible until I reached that goal. It made going in to work so much easier, because my goal was to earn enough in that job to be able to quit! It worked for me! While the job wasn't any better, my attitude definitely was. And that make the days go better. Thankfully, I was offered a better job in the organization that would lead to my career goals and didn't have to actually quit one job and go job hunting. I'd learned a valuable life-lesson about using my personal power to control my attitude and make my life easier.

    You may also make your life better by pursuing your priority life goals outside your job. Your job is just one part of your life. It doesn't have to be the most important part, however. It may just be what you do in order to pay your bills. You can get fulfillment in many ways by becoming involved in community activities, in developing relationships, by improving your health and wellness, by developing spiritually, or by making the world a better place.

    By now can you see how making yourself happy you can make the world a better place? From the world that is immediately around you to the world that stretched out beyond you, everything you do affects the world. When you are living authentically, your effect is to make everything better.

    Be happy! But you are the only one who can make that happen.

    Sunday, November 13, 2016

    Are You Getting What You Want?

    In my last post I suggested that you explore who you are to clarify what you want. I listed eleven attributes that may be part of who you are. Then you can explore your life to see if you are investing in what you want based on who YOU want you to be.

    After exploring those attributes or life goals did you discover how much you invest in the real you? Are you doing the things that give you greater satisfaction based on your own values rather than someone else's idea of who you should be and what you should be doing? How did they match up?

    To be happier with your life you must be investing in those things that are most important to YOU. There are myriad ways of doing that.

    If you want to have satisfying relationships you can invest more time and attention in those relationships that are most important to you. Schedule quality time with them. Be a good listener when you converse. Show up when you say you will and follow through with promises and commitments. Share your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Be real with them.

    To fit in with other people you'll need to find commonalities with them. It won't make you happy to be fake with others. You must be real with them. So exploring your commonalities can make that happen. Learn better people-skills. Are you lacking in social skills? You can learn! If it is important to you to fit in in order for you to be happy you will want to learn how to do that and remain real.

    To improve the world you may want to develop stronger community feeling through activism or generosity. Even we introverts can do this! :-) There are many opportunities for activism for the causes you believe in. And generosity includes giving of your time and compassion. If you need ideas of ways to participate in making the world better, just check back through some of my previous posts on the subject.

    Financial success has different meanings to different people. Wealth is a relative term, even when looking at material and monetary possessions. Decide what for YOU is enough to satisfy this goal and learn ways to achieve it. Do you need more education or training to get the jobs you need to reach this goal? Are you in a field of work that will give you what you want to satisfy this goal? How important is this goal compared to your other goals? Invest in it accordingly.

    Sensual pleasure has a role in every life. How important is it in yours? You alone can decide that. And there are all kinds of sensual pleasure, from simply experiencing the sights and fragrances of a spring day to erotic pleasures. All of our senses are capable of giving us pleasure (or pain). Many people find that experiencing all of their senses non-erotically can satisfy as much or more than the sexual pleasures, if that is more fitting for them. If you are not in a caring sexual relationship you can experience your other senses in pleasurable ways that fit in with your other values.

    To look attractive in terms of body and clothing can be very important to you. Only you can decide just how important that is. This isn't easy to determine when there are so many voices telling us how we should look or are defining attractiveness for us. Get comfortable in your body and maintain good hygiene to explore this attribute. When you decide how you want to look, do what needs to be done for that to happen.

    It is always important to feel healthy and free of illness. But we don't all seem to live our lives to make that happen. So just how important is that to you? What value do you give to this attribute? How much do you want to invest in your health? Are you giving your body good nutrition and adequate exercise? Are you avoiding illnesses that are contagious by getting your vaccines?  Are your practicing good hygiene? Is your behavior reflecting the value you place on this attribute? If not, what do you want to change? Then find a way to do it.

    Want to be famous, well-known, admired? Nothing wrong with that, no matter what anyone else may tell you. There are all kinds of ways to be famous and admired. Find ways that coincide with your other values to be happy with your popularity. Fame is pretty hollow if you are well-known for something that isn't the real you. So find ways to be known and admired for you other important attributes. This can work for creating a better world!

    How important is it to you to be safe, to ensure bodily integrity? Are you comfortable with physical risk? Are you able to know when you are safe and when you aren't? We are currently in a fear culture in our country. How much of it is real? How much of it is personal to you? What are the real dangers and how do you choose to deal with them? Everything from natural disasters to dangerous criminals can create devastation. How real is the risk to you and how do you want to deal with them?  You have lots of choices. You can live in constant anxiety or you can completely ignore all warnings. Or you can choose something in between the extremes. How important is it to YOU to be safe?

    Do you like who you are? Self-acceptance is the attribute of feeling competent and authentic. Obviously one can't be competent at everything. But everyone is competent with something. The issue, I suppose, is if you feel competent at what is most important to you. Knowing what you value goes a long way in helping you develop feelings of competence. So decide what you want to feel competent about and develop that competence. Like the old question "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The answer is: practice, practice, practice. Get education or training if need be. Develop your self-esteem to be authentically the person YOU want to be.

    The final attribute on the list is spirituality. This is the search for spiritual or religious understanding. Spirituality is not limited to religion.

    Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.*

    *[from the University of Minnesota website:]

    What spirituality means to you is also something only YOU can decide. It may or may not be connected with a religious institution. It is often how people determine their purpose in life. The website noted above offers some insight into how you might define YOUR spirituality.

    Are you wondering how all of this can make a better, happier world? It begins by making a better, happier you. When you are living a satisfying life you then have what you need to begin making the world better, happier. 

    Stay tuned for more on how to do that! And share this post with your friends by email and social media by clicking on one of the "share" links at the bottom left of this page. As always, I encourage you to share your comments below

    Wednesday, November 9, 2016

    What Do You Want?

    Really. What do you really want that having it will make you happy?

    Every day we are being told by way of advertisements what we SHOULD want. And, of course, there are people in our lives who also tell us what we should want, a better education, a better job, a bigger house, etc. Television and movies project images of people they think we should be like, what we should want. We are inundated by messages about what we should want.

    But how many of us know what we really want? So few of us take time away from all the distractions to contemplate who we are and what we want.

    Is that edge of anxiety you are experiencing a sign of dissatisfaction in your life? What area of your life are you least satisfied with? What is it lacking for you? No, not by someone else's standards. From your own inner senses, where is the most dissatisfaction? Is it from trying to live up to someone else's idea of what you SHOULD have or be? Is it from your bosses idea of who you must be to be successful in your job? Is it from not having all the things you see others have? What is missing that makes you feel good about you?

    Where is the real you today? And what are your aspirations? Here are eleven aspirations or goals for many people as put forward in Colin Beavan's How to be Alive.

    • Affiliation: to have satisfying relationships with family and friends
    • Community feeling: to improve the world through activism or generosity
    • Conformity: to fit in with other people
    • Financial success: to be wealthy and materially successful
    • Hedonism: to experience much sensual pleasure
    • Image: to look attractive in terms of body and clothing
    • Physical health: to feel healthy and free of illness
    • Popularity: to be famous, well-known, and admired
    • Safety: to ensure bodily integrity and safety
    • Self-acceptance: to feel competent and authentic
    • Spirituality: to search for spiritual or religious understanding
    Take some time in the next day or two to decide how much of these are YOUR goals, how much would you like to invest in achieving them. Beavan's suggest using a clock face with twelve hours marked on it and you indicating how many of those hours you would want to invest in each of these goals. Try it.

    And share what you learn in the comments below.

    Sunday, November 6, 2016

    Happy You, Happy World

    Those who know me won't be surprised that when exploring an idea I turn to books. So, I'm reading How to Be Alive: a guide to the kind of happiness that helps the world, by Colin Beavan. (Beavan is the author of No Impact Man , the story of how he divested himself of attachments and lived off the grid for a year.)

    I am impressed  with much of his book and wanted to share some of it. For instance,

    Your life + all your relationships added together
    All your relationships added together + Your relationship to the world
    Therefore, your ife + Your relationship to the world 
    which means
    a. What you do in your life affects the world
    b. What happens in the world affects your life
    c. You are important to the world and the world is important to you

    This reflects my beliefs about how we are instruments that create the tomorrows for everyone. We seldom really acknowledge that we are responsible for our lives to that extent. But we do create our tomorrow by the seeds we plant today. Even at the minute choices of the day we create the atmosphere of the immediate future. Think about it.

    Did you know that you cause 600 square feet of Arctic Ice to melt each year? Check it out:

    And then there is something as small as our choice of breakfast. Who really thinks about all that is involved in providing our food - egg, meat, bread, butter, coffee/tea/milk? Yet our very consumption of these creates a relationship, of sorts, with all those who produce them and the ecological effects of producing them.

    Are the eggs cage free or produced on chicken farms with chickens given no more than the space of their bodies in the crowded buildings they are kept in. How is the chicken waste they produce disposed of? Do you know? Care?

    What do we really know about the conditions of the animals that are raised to feed us? What chemicals are sprayed on the wheat that ends up as flour for our bread? Are the coffee and tea from fair trade growers? Do they have pesticides on them? And what are the consequences to the earth from all of this?

    Yes, even our breakfast changes the world. And the important thing is that recognize our personal power to choose.

    What do you recognize as parts of your day that impact others?

    Check out Colin Beavan's book at

    Wednesday, November 2, 2016

    Make the World a Happy Place!

    In spite of all the negative influences in the world we can still be happy. What makes you happy makes your world happier. So be HAPPY!

    When your life is fulfilling you are happy. And doing for others can be fulfilling. So in making yourself happy you are ultimately making others happy and making the world a happier place!

    Try it. Doesn't it feel really good when you have helped someone who needed help? That good feeling will spread as you continue to be doing positive things for others.

    So, today make yourself happy by making someone else happy!