everyday success

Blog Archive: Nov, 2013

A Little Holiday Wisdom

The holidays are upon us.  If you’re like me, Thanksgiving is the signal for a breakneck pace, the rush to prepare.  The retailers have been reminding us for weeks that it’s time to start but for most of us, it takes Thanksgiving to get us into gear.

Yes, there are many among us who prepare all year long.  Their gifts are chosen, wrapped and awaiting a position beneath someone's tree.  Not me.  I have done nothing.

For those of us who haven’t begun, there’s still time to be sure our holidays will be memorable.  It does, however, take a little forethought and planning – over the next couple of days.  Before entering the shopping madness, take a moment to consider these.

First, what do you expect from your holidays?  Have you ever asked yourself that - what you expect from your holiday season?  It’s important to nail down expectations so there isn’t a sense of regret or unfulfilled promise at the end.  The holidays are so full of energy and hope but if we don’t know what we’re anticipating, it’s likely we’ll be let down.

Next, recall yours and your family’s favorite traditions.  Your favorites will lead the list of choices for this season.  Remember to consider whether there have been any changes in other, life changes may mean holiday choices will be different this year.

Don’t forget to cross off those traditions that no longer satisfy.  We evolve.  We change.  It’s not heresy to change your favorites.  This might be the year for a new tradition.  What will it be?

Look at the calendar.  Figure out your timing.  The school choir’s performance.  The tickets to The Nutcracker.  What are the things that are already commitments?  What about parties you want to give or you expect to attend? 

Tomorrow is the last day of November.  That leaves little time for a lot of celebrating.  Consider this, New Years’ Eve is a mere 31 days off!  Now’s the time to let your calendar help guide you.

Making choices.  We can’t do it all; there are just too many possibilities in the holiday season.  It’s time to decide what you will do in Holiday Season 2013 and what you will leave for seasons beyond.

What will make this holiday season memorable?  What can you do to be sure it’s a year you’ll happily remember?  Starting a new tradition can make it memorable.

Avoid end-of-season regrets.  Making plans – a traditions plan and a money plan – will help you prevent disappointment or regret.

Savor.  That’s right; don’t forget to enjoy the fruits of your planning.  Enjoy the moment.  Breathe in the scents.  Delight in the sounds, the flavors and your uplifted spirits,.  Appreciate all that you have, all that is a part of your 2013 holiday season.

In the Driver’s Seat of Happiness - Gratitude

It’s very natural to think about gratitude at this time of year.  Or is it?  It’s so easy to just give gratitude a nod and move on.

It’s a funny thing, gratitude.  What is it really?  We can take a quick glance at our lives and say, yes, I’m grateful for my family, for my friends, for my home.  Those are the quick and easy things for which we are grateful.

Why not take a different path this year?  Challenge yourself and take it a step further.  Skip the obvious and go a bit deeper.  Consider, for example, those things that make you, you.  Is it your sense of humor?  Your determination?  Your great cooking?  Your thoughtfulness?  Be grateful for all that you are.

What about your family and friends?  What is it about each person you love that makes them so very special for you?  Their smile?  Their spirit?  Their love for football?  Their crazy stories?  Are they great Words with Friends friends?  Remember to appreciate what your loved ones do that brings you joy.  How do they change your life?

Even when we’re confronted with seeming catastrophe, we can be grateful – if we’re willing.

Happiness experts tell that gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to grow happiness.  Over time, gratitude changes people’s happiness – and it doesn’t take all that much time to make that happen.  It’s not the only tool, but it is one that works for many.

In future blogs we’ll look more closely at ways to grow your happiness with gratitude.  For now, appreciate all that you are and be grateful.  Perhaps it’s not the tryptophan in the turkey that is making us feel so contented; perhaps it’s that we’ve taken the time to count blessings.

In the Driver’s Seat of Happiness

Do you ever wonder where your happiness comes from?  Have you wondered if you could be happier?  Many among us wonder whether theirs is the right amount of happiness.  Some see happy-go-lucky others and wonder why they don’t feel the same way.  The question then, how do we know if we are as happy as we should be or could be?

Well, there are now answers to these questions.  As it happens, happiness has become a hot research topic amongst social scientists and their results are surprising.  They’ve found the sources of personal happiness.  In particular, social scientist and Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, who’s studied happiness for a couple decades, tells us that the basis of our happiness is three-fold.

Genetics.  That’s right, if you want to place the blame on your great-great-grandfather, well, there is some merit to your desire.  50% of our happiness comes from genetics, that stuff that’s passed down in each of our families.  While genetics is fixed and unchanging, awareness can help you with your choices and decisions.  

Circumstance.  I’m betting that many among us will point to circumstance as the main source of our happiness.  Not true.  A mere 10% of our happiness is the result of circumstance.  Yes, you say, but if only you’d win the lottery, your wealth would make you so much happier.  Not true.  Over time, we return to our personal happiness set-point.  Whether it’s circumstantial highs or circumstantial lows, we naturally return to the level of happiness we knew before the circumstantial change.

Okay, so we can point to our ancestors but not to the happenstance of life.  What else is there?  We now know that our everyday happiness is up to us as individuals. 

Intentional Activity.  Our attitude, our activities, everything we choose to include in our lives or leave out of our lives – these are the things that play most heavily on our level of happiness.  All those daily activity choices we make represent 40% of our happiness.  That puts us in charge of our happiness.  

That we are in charge of 40% of our happiness changes everything.  We can make choices that will help to grow our happiness or thwart our happiness.  That’s why we are each in the driver’s seat of our personal happiness


In future driver's seat blogs, we'll look at the things we can do to grow our personal happiness..

We are grateful to Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky for her ground breaking research and her writings: The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky.  2008.  Penguin Books.


Sleep on It!

We say it all the time, “I’ll sleep on it and get back to you with an answer.”  Often, it works.  Some of our greatest ideas, our most creative work can happen while we are sleeping.  It's even a time for problem-solving.

Does that happen for you?  Are your inspirations the result of a good night’s rest?  For me, the answer is often a resounding yes.  I ‘m sometimes amazed at the great ideas awaiting me when I waken.   I’ve even “slept” on some of my biggest decisions and the outcome was terrific.

The challenge in a sleep-deprived nation, how do we actually make “sleep on it” work?  If we go to bed worried or anxious, the odds of wakening with a brilliant solution or a terrific idea are reduced.  For the sleep-deprived, “sleeping on it” may even grow their sleeplessness. 

Naturally, good ‘sleep hygiene’ rules apply: no caffeine before bed, only use your bed for sleeping, go to bed at the same time every night and follow bedtime rituals consistently.  

Going to bed rituals are especially important.  If you like to read yourself to sleep, be sure it’s a book that enables sleep.  If it’s a book that energizes your brain, you’re less likely to fall asleep.  Worse, if your brain is “hooked” on your book, it’s not likely you’ll come up with an inventive solution. 

Instead of an exciting book, choose one that is calming.  Or, when you want to waken with a great idea, skip reading altogether.  Instead, as you lay down to bed, begin thinking about the subject you are “sleeping on”.  What ideas do you have so far?  What are your expectations for the solution?  Can you think beyond the expected?  Fall asleep with your mind on your subject.

Or, fall asleep remembering the good things that happened during the day.  That primes your mind, readies for it for good rest which is the ideal time for great ideas.

For your best “sleep on it” results, plan your nighttime rituals and give it some practice.  You may well surprise yourself with your innovative outcomes.

An Everyday Beauty

The sky is an incredible blue today, did you notice?  The leaves are gold and red, did you see?  Soon it will be winter and the hyper intensity of the holidays.  Right now, however, at this very moment on this very day, it is fall and it is gorgeous. 

Our lives can be so intense, so list and to-do-driven, so scheduled that it’s easy to overlook the beauty that surrounds us each and every day. 

We live in amongst astonishing beauty.  Yes, there’s a lot of cement.  Yes, strip malls are not designed to enhance the beauty.  Still, there are trees and flowers and our gorgeous blue sky.  In the midst of our hectic day, it’s calming to focus and really look at our surrounds.  It’s both calming and energizing.