everyday success


I Just Made a Mistake!

I just made a mistake and I can feel it.  The more my brain grasps that I made a mistake, the higher my blood pressure goes.  I can feel my cheeks burning, they’re turning red and my heart is racing. 

Such strong sensations: our entire body reacts to the fact of a mistake; it goes against our grain.  Suddenly our very core is challenged. 

When you think you are doing the right thing and discover that it’s exactly the wrong thing, our whole body reacts.  It becomes physical.  It even feels a bit defensive – probably because our mind is trying to figure out how this new fact that used to be wrong is now right.

Breathe.  Sit down and breathe a moment.  Close your eyes and try to slow your brain; ease it from its mad whirl.  Wrong, I’m wrong.  But, how could I be wrong?  I’m not wrong, I don’t make mistakes.  Well, as it turns out, yes, I do make mistakes and now I’m trying to manage that fact.

The only solution is to calm down.  Once that happens, I can take a look at what happened so I can help my mind understand.  It is a learning moment even if it feels just terrible. 

We all make mistakes.  That’s right, while we don’t like to think so, while are so very certain we are never mistaken, it actually does happen. 

What to do when you are suddenly confronted with the fact of a mistake?  First, give yourself time to process your physical and emotional reaction; your surprise may strengthen your response.  Before you share with others, work at regaining your composure. 

Take deep, calming breaths with closed eyes.  To fix mistakes means you need your full brain power and focus.  That means you need to be fully in control.  Process the physical and emotional side of the mistake.  Then, own up to the mistake and fix it if that is possible.  Finally, figure out how to avoid a repeat of the mistake.

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.