Joyful Living

happy girl at sunset
Last week my friend Irma posted a You Tube link on Facebook that brought me great joy. On a dark and dreary winter day somewhere in Moscow, a wedding celebration flash mob occurred. The dance was choreographed to “Puttin on the Ritz,” a snappy song written in 1929 by Irving Berlin. What a memorable way to mark a special day in the lives of a young couple and spread joy to the Muscovites and the rest of the world as the video went viral. I had to give those crazy kids beaucoup credit. Living in Southern California, the land of perpetual sunshine, I could not imagine Mother Nature daring to rain or snow on a bride and groom. Yet, across the globe the bridal party in white finery, ignores the bleakness and light snow flurries. They dance joyfully as if the wedding reception were held on the patio at the Ritz Carlton in Miami Beach. Well done young people!

The creation of a flash mob which according to Wikipedia is “a group of people who assemble suddenly in a place and perform,” remains one of the greatest internet trends. The first time I opened a link to a flash mob I had no idea what to expect. Pressing play my eyes became riveted to the screen as the Opera Company of Philadelphia performed “Hallelujah!” in Macy’s as a random act of culture. I was so excited about the concept I immediately wrote “participate in a flash mob” on my bucket list.

A joyful event has a magic about it that serves to chase away even the darkest cloudy mood. On days when I need a pick-me-up you can find me surfing around the You Tube channel to watch a few of my favorites. Observing the faces of passers- by as they watch with huge grins and begin bouncing to the music fills me with delight. Viewing a flash mob scene is therapy better than a 50 minute hour in a therapist’s office.
Learn to excel at creating joy. In her book, “The Joy of Appreciative Living“, author Jacqueline Kelm offers the reader a 28-day blueprint to make a life change by focusing on appreciation. One of her key suggestions is to query yourself each morning and decide on one thing you can do during the day to increase your joy. Think about that for a moment. It can be a simple act such as taking the time to play catch with your dog or making a lunch date with a good friend. Puppy with frisbee
By answering the question daily your focus shifts to continually creating joy. Furthermore, whatever you focus on grows.

Why not begin such a habit today. Start focusing on creating joy. Have a nasty morning commute? Switch on the comedy channel on Sirius radio in your car or listen to an insanely funny morning DJ. Try waking up your vocal chords by singing your way to the office. According to the internet news media company, the rock band Journey’s song, “Don’t Stop Believing,” is a classic happy tune to belt out in your automobile. Getting the rest of your carpool buddies to join in will heighten the fun.

Got the Monday morning blues? Decorate your office or cubicle with photos that conjure up happy memories; or start thinking Friday by planning a weekend getaway. After that boring salad you consume for lunch, pop in a piece of decadent dark chocolate to give you a serotonin boost.
Beautiful young brunette with long hair eating chocolate

Get visual. Create a vision board or sign on to and fashion a bulletin board of images that delight your imagination. Spread the joy by sharing your pins with your friends.

Tired on Netflix binging? Spend your leisure time on a new hobby. Learn to play the guitar or form a book club. I’m thinking of investing in a set of drums. My philosophy is not only learning something new, but beating on a set of skins can release any pent-up stress I may be carrying around.

Speaking of stress, finding one thing to do each day to decrease stress can also bring you joy. If all else fails, watch a flash mob, or better yet create your own and invite me to be in it. I promise it will bring you joy.

Act “As If”

My friend Carolyn is a cautious driver. The one exception occurred many years ago. On that day, a very surprised Carolyn was pulled over by a local sheriff for exceeding the speed limit. She dutifully accepted a ticket for the moving violation and scheduled a date to attend traffic school.

Several weeks later while sitting in class at a certified traffic school my friend felt antsy and bored. She had never taken a traffic class and was looking forward to the learning experience. Unfortunately, the course, designed in lecture format, was delivered by an instructor who droned on and on ignoring any opportunity to make the material even a tiny bit interesting.

Carolyn, an innovative and creative individual drove home disappointed. Later that evening over dinner, she lamented her lackluster experience to husband Michael. It was during that conversation Carolyn experienced an “aha” moment.
A thoughtful young businesswoman looks away from the camera before a dark background with copy space.

She suggested Michael, an author, lecturer and all around humorous fellow could breathe life into a traffic class. After all, there is certainly no law against making learning entertaining.

That conversation took place over twenty years ago. Since then, Carolyn and Michael have helped ticketed offenders become better drivers while enjoying fun and interesting classes. In fact, they even named their operation Fun Traffic School.

When was the last time you turned a negative experience into a positive outcome? We cannot prevent unwanted situations from crossing our paths, but we can learn the art of converting the lessons learned into something positive by applying a strategy called reframing. I love that term! That is exactly what Carolyn did. While rewinding the mind-numbing traffic class, my creative friend put her spouse in the picture. She visualized Michael running the program.

Advancing a step further Carolyn researched the traffic school industry and found it to be an ideal business to launch in her geographic area.

The art of reframing experiences may take some practice. The first step is to get rid of any limiting beliefs. For Carolyn, it was easy. She believed traffic school need not be boring. But let’s make this a little more personal. Imagine wanting a promotion you worked extremely hard to achieve. You feel you deserve it; however, you also know the boss’s pet is vying for the same opportunity. If you give into thinking; she is the fair-haired child…I don’t have a shot at trumping her alliance with our manager, you create a limiting belief. What to do? Power through that crippling thought process. Realize the situation does not have inherent meaning. You see it that way because you have assigned it those thoughts. Furthermore, you are also projecting a premise that only buddies of the boss get promoted.

Now that you understand the negative context you created, work on changing the picture. You may have to use baby steps. Rather than thinking, I’ll never get the promotion, reframe your internal dialogue. Tell yourself repeatedly…I have a good chance at it.

Think positive and list all the reasons why you should be promoted. Then do what Carolyn did. Explore and research. What other steps can you take to make the promotion a reality? Perhaps an aspect of your resume requires upgrading? Obviously your competition has qualities the boss admires. If your level of expertise is evenly matched to hers, the answer may lie in your soft skills. Personality plays a role in how others perceive you. Take a step back and review what increases your likeability factor. Are you enthusiastic about your work? How do you rank your communication skills? Do you show a genuine interest in others? Think of someone at work you admire. What makes that individual so special? Use that comparison to fine tune any of your sub-par soft skills.

Ready for the final reframing?

Visualize yourself in the new position. Carolyn pictured Michael in the frame as seminar leader. Follow suit, then take this a step further. Act “as if.” In 1884, American philosopher William James encouraged followers by espousing… “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” If you really want that promotion write your own ticket. Act as if it already happened. Chances are just like the creation of Fun Traffic School, the job is yours.

Finding Your Passion

Pensive Young Woman with Thought Bubble of Greatness Just Ahead Green Road Sign.
I met a man named Michael who told me how much he was looking forward to one day owning his own push broom. No, he wasn’t in the custodial services industry; my new acquaintance is currently an artistic director at a rented local playhouse. Each season, when the final curtain goes down Michael takes up the broom and gives the stage a thorough once over. Pushing that broom across the floor both inspires and reminds him to keep pursuing his dream of one day opening his own 250 seat theater, equipped with broom.

Giant-sized dreams are passion based. Oprah is quoted as saying: “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Michael of the push broom dream did not start his career as an artistic director; however, he was always passionate about theater. Like many individuals in the entertainment industry, his theatrical career began in the chorus line. Over the years he honed his skills, added significant credits to his acting career and subsequently evolved into his role as the executive of a theatrical organization.

Have you identified your push broom dream? It begins with defining a passion that makes your heart sing. Passion is the foundation upon which dreams flourish and grow. Passion is the driving force fueling your dreams and keeping you going when life surprises you with setbacks, sprinkles in disappointments and erects speed bumps in your path. Passion brings out the incurable optimist in you and provides the positive energy and stamina required to achieve your goals and become the best version of yourself.

Not feeling the passion yet? Granted, it is not always evident. Sometimes it lingers beneath the surface requiring some excavation. Often clients approach me with a desire to reinvent themselves but have no idea where to begin. Here are some recommendations:
• Visit a bookstore. Of the many departments, where do you linger? For me, it’s easy. I could spend an entire day in self-help racks. It was during this very exercise I discovered a passion for coaching.
library books
• Follow your curiosity. I love the scenes in the movie Julie and Julia when a determined Julia Child embarks upon a number of endeavors before discovering food was her true passion.
• Sign up for courses that interest you and attend speaking event to learn more about a subject that piques your curiosity.
• Interview individuals in a profession that interests you
• Another method is to opt for a course like the one created by Janet Atwood the author of several books on finding your passion and discovering your life purpose. You can learn more about her method at The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can also be helpful in determining your personality preferences which can help point to your passion triggers. More information at
• Do not limit yourself to a singular passion. Perhaps you would enjoy creating a composite career. For example, when my friend Christine left corporate America she discovered a passion for both art and writing. Her days are divided between creating lovely works of art and working on her memoir or writing poetry.
Dance With Me Christine Hall’s “Dance With Me.”

Another friend of mine, Dominique, owns a lucrative computer repair business. She loves her business but is also passionate about public speaking and has earned numerous awards as a member of Toastmasters International.
• Volunteer your services. If the idea of owning your own bookstore appeals to you, start by volunteering at a local library. If you are thinking of a culinary career, ask a caterer if you can assist with prepping and food setup.
• Ask yourself what you care about. I am working with a client now who is preparing to leave her banking career and run for office in her local community. She lights up like a Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center when she talks about having a seat on the city council. What is it that lights you up?

Keep searching and maintain an open mind. Eventually you will uncover your passion and set your sights on acquiring your own push broom.