Three Lessons in Simplicity

The dream was so enlightening I wanted to linger in it for as long as possible. I stayed still without moving a muscle remaining connected to my dream state for a few more minutes. When I finally turned to get out of bed, I made a solemn promise to retain the lesson provided by my nighttime experience.

My fascinating dream started in a panic. I was on a flight to Paris with a group of tourists, all strangers, when I realized I’d forgotten to bring any form of currency. Now in real life that would be something I could resolve, but in this fantasy world it meant spending two weeks in the City of Lights sans money for food, essentials and souvenirs.  My head began pounding with a nasty stress headache. The thing I wanted at that moment, even more than money, was an Ibuprofen, also an item left behind.

Feeling utterly miserable I started to wonder if I died. Oscar Wilde once said, “When Americans die, they go to Paris.” Did this mean I was going to spend all of eternity in Paris without a lousy franc?

Suddenly I had a one of those light bulb moments. I would ask everyone on the plane for a small contribution to sustain me.

Gaining my courage I stood up, announced my plight to the group and walked down the aisle collecting funds from my kindhearted flight mates.

By the time we deplaned, my headache cured itself and I had enough to at least feed myself. I don’t remember much more about the dream except that I was immensely happy with very little in Paris. I enjoyed the simplicity of existing on inexpensive meals and exploring every free venue in the city.

My three takeaways from my dream flight to Paris go like this:

  • If you need help, ask for it. Don’t try to go it alone. Sure I had to swallow my pride and look like a blonde bird-brain who doesn’t have it all together, but such is life. It happens, deal with it.
  • Make the most of the moment. Whether it’s a trip to Paris, or your kid’s soccer game be mindful of where you are. No thinking about the pile of unfinished work at the office or laundry at home.
  • Someone once said, “everything is figure-out-able.” Stay with your problem until you have a plan A and a plan B. Get creative and find some sort of solution.

Wishing you sweet and insightful dreams!

Majoring in Happiness

It happened again last week. While volunteering at a conference, I met Coach Valerie Alexander selling her book, “Happiness …as a Second Language.” One glance at the cover and I was hooked. As I rummaged through my purse for cash, Valerie presented me with a bright lemon-yellow motivational wristband declaring, “Speak Happiness.”  I offered up my most gracious smile. In my book an inspirational band beats a gold bangle.

Full disclosure: I am a junkie, to be specific, a happiness junkie. Whenever I find myself near a book about happiness, I must take it home and add it to my library. Sure, I knowingly practice joy and bliss. On most days, that comes naturally.  But I delight in the study of happiness and aspire to one day earn an honorary degree in the subject.

As a life and career coach, it is sometimes my responsibility to guide clients back on the path to their happy zone.

beautiful girl holds two face masks with happy and angry emotion

Let’s face it, life happens and when discord enters our lives like an unwanted guest, feelings of contentment vanish. Gloomy days turn into dark nights. Unless we make a concerted effort to get back to the light, depression sets in. Mood disorders gone unchecked can influence chronic health conditions. Consequently, happiness is strongly linked to good health thus the popular cliché, “laughter is the best medicine.”

In her book, Alexander writes about achieving permanent happiness. I’m not certain we can always achieve an everlasting buoyant frame of mind, but I do believe a solid understanding of happiness techniques help negate our blue moods.

So when stuck in reverse, what are some activities that pull us out of the doldrums? My first “go to” is to focus on finding one positive in a negative situation. Stay with it until you can find one.

Positive thinking

Next, shift to something that needs your attention. Glimmers of happiness return we when take our minds off our troubles by getting productive. As so aptly professed by the Dalai Lama, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

The Dalai quote brings me to another strategy to blow away the blues. In a word, kindness. Did you know practicing daily acts of kindness generates a physical reaction?

kindness word inside love cloud blue sky only

Your brain produces serotonin bringing a content, almost blissful feeling. A friend of mine refers to it as a “kindness kick.

When time permits, get on the move. Thrust those endorphins into gear by a solid workout. Or, immerse yourself in nature. Head out the door with a notepad or camera. Jot down or photograph any sign of surrounding beauty.

sunset

Want an activity more energizing? Turn up the music and rock out with your favorite playlist.

This week invest some time into understanding how to create and cultivate a positive mindset. Get serious about the study of happiness. The happiest people on the planet are probably individuals who did homework on the subject.

The Power of Patience

Yesterday I found this fellow gracing my patio. He is so regal it takes my breath away. I’ve seen him around here before. It appears he’s established himself as a seasonal resident.

If you don’t know me, I should explain I live on a small man-made body of water called Lake Mirage. I’ve studied this bird a lot. In my estimation, he possesses an admirable quality, one I often lack. Yep, that characteristic is patience.

Perspectives. Inspirational quote typed on an old typewriter.

Whether resting in quiet contemplation or eyeing his next meal, my big bird friend waits, and waits and waits without flinching. Then, at the perfect moment he goes in for the catch of the day. Voila! Mission accomplished, dinner is served.

Do you have trouble mastering patience? If so, please read on. If not, I urge you to read on anyway and please leave a comment explaining how you keep calm and carry on while the rest of us are chomping at the bit to move forward when we should be more like big bird and wait it out.

You may think patience is a passive act. On the contrary, it’s more about control which takes focus and energy. For example, if I placed a wrapped gift in front of a five year old and told her not to open it for five minutes, you can bet the poor little tyke would expend all kinds of energy waiting out the clock.

Someone once defined patience as “the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” So how do you notch it down from full speed ahead to slow and steady wins the race?

Begin by defining what gets under your skin. If it’s the wait that does you in, start using some positive self talk. Take comfort in the fact that patience builds character.

Stopping to pause also results in better decision making. No doubt my big bird friend patiently passes on the tiny appetizer fish and nabs one large enough to whet his appetite.

This water fowl taught me another lesson about patience in thought and movement. He never runs but moves gracefully covering the ground in long strides. I on the other hand have a tendency to rush, to move too fast, hurrying along like a dizzy chicken in a frenzied manner.

It’s taken some time, but I’m learning to emulate the stately big bird by being mindful and carefully considering the journey on my way to the goal line.

The next time your patience is tested think of my big bird buddy at Lake Mirage. Slow it down, think it through, and step on the brakes. Doing so will help you be more resourceful and productive.