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Choose Happiness September 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.
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42 comments

We can choose to be happier by changing the focus of our day-to-day thoughts.

Like any skill worth having, changing the way we look at the world will not happen on its own.

We don’t learn to swim, or speak French, or play golf by wishing we had those skills.  We learn those skills by practicing them until we become adept.

If we wish to change our minds, it helps to understand a few key concepts:

1. Thoughts create our reality.  

When we dwell on past hurts and frustrations, our thoughts and emotions are apt to be negative ~ sadness, anger, and resistance fill our world.  When we count our blessings and envision a positive future, our thoughts and emotions tend to follow suit, increasing the level of our happiness.

Sometimes nothing needs to change but our perspective or frame of reference.

2. We can choose the way we view the world.

Our thoughts are tools which help or hinder us as we journey through life.

When we learn to view the thoughts running through our brains in the same way we view images on a TV or computer screen, we realize we can change the channel any time we don’t like the program being broadcast.

Watching the same tearful melodrama for days (or years) is like watching a sad movie over and over again.  Instead of watching stale reruns, we can reclaim the remote, switch channels, and watch more positive and uplifting fare.

Monitoring our thoughts allows us to re-program the default setting on our remotes and trains our brain to broadcast shows that are worth watching.

3. It’s hard to stop thinking about pink elephants. 

If we’re told not to think about pink elephants, the image of a pink elephant is apt to appear, front and center. Telling ourselves to stop thinking about pink elephants is an exercise in futility.

Instead, like training a teething puppy, we must give our minds something else to chew on:  planning our next vacation, writing out a grocery list, playing Sudoku, making weekend plans.

Better still, we can do something:  Read a book.  Watch a movie.  Fly a kite.  Ride a bike. Paint a picture.  Take a hike.  Send a note.  Float a boat. Feed a goat.  Dig a moat. Phone a friend.

One of the best ways to distance ourselves from the habit of negative thinking is by distracting ourselves with a dose of positivity.

4. Emotions follow our thoughts, not vice versa.

Think sad, feel sad.  Think mad, feel mad.  Think glad, feel glad.

As we tune into the ticker tape of monkey chatter racing through our mental corridors, we notice emotions as they arise ~ e.g., a flicker of annoyance.  We take a mindful peek at our thoughts to see if they are true, helpful, kind, etc.

If not, as is often the case, we switch channels to a more positive broadcast.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  A Simple Choice

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.  By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.~ Robert Louis Stevenson

When I Am Well Rested . . . September 14, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Mindfulness.
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36 comments

IMGP3523bSleep and present moment awareness go a long way toward making sure we focus on what matters most to us.

When I am well-rested, I am happy, enthusiastic, upbeat, positive, and at peace.  I exude joy!

I slept LATE
(Til half past nine)
It felt GREAT
Sleep is divine!

In the flow of life, I remember to eat right, remain mindful, and get daily exercise.

Expanding my happiness still further.

I enjoy life, relax, and overflow with vitality and gratitude . . . and all that positivity spills out on those around me.

When I am well-rested, I remain awake and aware.  I avoid getting thrown off kilter by the every pothole in the path:

“A stable mind is like the hub of a wheel. The world may spin around you, but the mind is steady.”

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (BKS) Iyengar

Scruffy-CatIn contrast, when I’m overtired and forget to stay in the NOW, I’m cranky and irritable and the toxic sludge of negativity keeps me from “going with the flow.”

Things slip through the cracks until, exhausted from struggling against the current, I go back to Step One and get some sleep.

Aah Morpheus . . .that’s better!

Related post:  Sleep, Beautiful Elusive Sleep (Views and Mews by Coffee Kat)

The ABC’s of Happiness September 7, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Mindfulness, Simplify Your Life.
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18 comments

Accept the “what is.”

Be Here Now.

Choose your focus and count your blessings.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Embrace all with joy.

Face your fears and follow your dreams.

Go with the flow.

Hardship is inevitable, misery is optional.

In uncertainty lies all possibility.

Joy is never in things, it is in us.

Kindness and compassion are keys to happiness.

Lift your spirit with laughter.

Miracles abound ~ let them astound.

Nurture yourself ~ you are the garden, love grows within.

Obstacles are opportunities.

Peace is yours for the asking.

Quiet contemplation allows our inner wisdom to surface.

Relinquish all with joy.

Simplify your life . . . sometimes less is more.

To learn, teach.

Unity and love are the heart of creation.

Variety is the spice of life.

We do not laugh because we are happy.  We are happy because we laugh.

Xanadu awaits.

You are here.  The time is now.  That is enough.

Zero risk does not exist ~ reach for the stars.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Where Happiness Resides September 4, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Meditation, Mindfulness.
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27 comments

Happiness is never in things . . . it is in us.

Or, to paraphrase The Grinch:

Happiness does not come from a store.   Happiness means just a little bit more.

Happiness is a natural state of being which we can access Here and Now.

Let there be more joy and laughter in your living. ~ Eileen Caddy

Happiness arises as soon as we let go of all the monkey chatter running around our brains and smile . . . for any reason, or no reason at all.

Happiness arises as soon as we tell Ego to shut its yapper so that we can enjoy the bliss, stillness, and happiness within.

Happiness is not something that we need to “achieve.”

Happiness surfaces without effort when we return our attention to the present moment.

Happiness resides in the calm stillness that lies beyond all labels.

In the timeless present, you don’t need a reason to be happy . . . you just are.

My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right? ~ Charles Schulz

Happiness is not waiting for us at the end of the road.

It’s found here and now, by enjoying each step along the way!

♥ ♥ ♥

If you’re not already where you want to be . . .

* Swap out one negative thought a day for a more positive thought.

* Don’t expect others to cheer you up.   That’s not their job . . . it’s your job.

* Focus on what’s going right in your life.

* Create space in your life for what matters.

* Look for opportunities to laugh and smile.  Life improves with laughter.

We do not laugh because we are happy . . . we are happy because we laugh. ~ William James

Sometimes the smallest action pays the largest dividend.  Once we experience happiness “for no reason at all,” we realize how accessible it is.

Aah . . . that’s better!

The Heart of the Matter August 31, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.
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35 comments

Listen to your heart, it’s calling to you.
Be guided by the heart in all you do.

To handle yourself, use your head.  To handle others, use your heart. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

LOVE is such a big word . . . it really should have more letters! ~ Kobi Yamada

You have not lived a perfect day unless you have done something for someone who will never be able to repay you. ~ Ruth Smeltzer

Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused. ~  Unknown

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller

The first duty of love is to listen. ~ Paul Tillich

If you can’t be with the one you love, dive headfirst into a box of chocolate!

Aah . . . that’s better!

A Sense of Humor August 29, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Humor.
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44 comments

Cheshire_Cat_Tenniel“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”  ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Laughter shortens the distance between people.

He deserves Paradise who makes his companions laugh. ~ the Koran

The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer everybody else up. ~ Mark Twain

When we stop taking ourselves so seriously, we become ever so much happier!

220px-JoseOrtegayGasset“Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.” ~ William James

Not being happy during Happy Hour is a self-defeating way to go through life.

“A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.” ~ William Arthur Ward

Life improves with laughter. ♥ ♥ ♥

Aah . . . that’s better!

The Best Is Yet To Come . . . August 21, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
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44 comments

IMGP1667aWe have a message board outside the clubhouse for announcements.

When there isn’t a 4-foot-long gator in one of the lakes or an upcoming social event looming on the horizon, the board is used to post inspirational sayings, trivia questions, etc.

* Kindness Echoes
* Who Shot J.R.?
* Shift Happens
* Which 2 vegetables are perennials?

Yesterday, the board announced:

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

Hmm . . . I’m not convinced.

“The best is yet to come” is one of those rather ridiculous “truisms” we intone with great regularity to remind ourselves to “keep on trucking.”

I don’t think it’s a true statement. Not for most of us, anyway.  At best, the best is yet to come for some of the people, some of the time.

Unless, maybe, it’s meant in the collective sense.

Calvin-gots-an-Idea

Once global warming and climate change and melting glaciers wipe man off the face of the planet, animals like the Black Rhino may breathe a sigh of relief:

Now, that’s good.  In fact, it’s the best!

God should NEVER have taken that extended sabbatical after Day 7.  He should have pushed through the burn straight into Day 8.

But that’s only in the collective sense.

On an individual basis, how many of us really believe that “the best is yet to come”?

Kids, sure ~ especially in the days leading up to Christmas.
Young adults, maybe ~ until the bills start rolling in faster than the paychecks.
New parents, of course ~ those little bundles of joy are full of promise.  A fresh canvas.  Another chance to “get it right.”

But what then?

The-Pink-Panther

Do we really believe that “the best is yet to come” AFTER we’ve ticked all the requisite boxes:

* Grow up
* Get married
* Have kids (or don’t)
* Enter the workforce
* Buy a house . . . with granite counter tops and double sinks!
* Get a gold watch
* Retire

IMGP3957

The idea of retirement keeps many of us moving forward.

But if retirement is “the best” . . . why do so many oldsters look over their shoulders to talk about “the good old days.”

For that matter, if we are convinced that the best is yet to come, why are we not giddy with anticipation, like Goofy, at the start of each new day?

Goofy-Riding-A-Bike

For most of us, life is like riding a roller coaster ~ we reach a pinnacle and then begin a slow descent (or steep terrifying drop) as we age.

As years flow from one to the next, we are forced to say good-bye to people and things we once loved.  In our golden years, after getting that gold watch, we experience aches and pains, difficulty sleeping, and creeping senility.

We no longer stare at the ceiling “too excited to sleep.”  We’re awake at 2 a.m. because insomnia has, once again, interfered with our steadfast desire for deep restorative sleep and peaceful slumber.

I am not persuaded that the best is yet to come.
I suspect that Robin Williams felt the same.

Grumpy gus

Or, perhaps, after struggling with insomnia, he just longed for oblivion.

Morpheus, Morpheus . . . where for are’t thou Morpheus?

The trick to moving forward to the “Finish Line” (rather than jumping ship or pulling the plug) lies in getting a good night’s sleep.  Every night.

Failing that, we increase the odds of enjoying ourselves for the duration of the cruise when we: (a) hang on to our sense of humor, (b) maintain perspective, (c) focus on the positives (like getting a good night’s sleep once in a Blue Moon), (d) eat lots of chocolate, and (e) convince ourselves that things don’t have to be “the best” in order to be “good enough.”

Collect enough drops of joy on a moment by moment basis and life is pretty good ~ even if we no longer feel like a kid in a candy shop who’s too excited to sleep because we’ve been brainwashed into believing the best is yet to come.

IMGP3950

Aah . . . that’s better!  (Stay tuned ~ the best is yet to come!)

The Other Side of Retirement August 19, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance, Life Lessons.
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51 comments

Pooh-With-MailbagI’m reading letters written by my dad’s dad in the 1950’s after he retired from his rural mail route in Vermont after 30 years of service.

While writing the first of the letters, he was only 7 years older than I am now.

He kept busy with a variety of seasonal interests:  gathering sap to make maple syrup in the spring; planting and harvesting potatoes, beans, corn, peas, and strawberries in the spring and summer; cutting hemlocks for sale to the mill as time permitted; hunting in the fall; and heading south to Florida during the harsh winter months (except when the Vermont legislature sat in session in Montpelier and he claimed seat #87 as Town Representative for Hartland).

His second wife also pursued seasonal interests: dressmaking classes in the spring; canning fruits, vegetables, and meat and tending her flowers during the spring and summer; babysitting for my cousins on an as-needed basis; and traveling to Montpelier and Florida during the winter months, with pit stops in New Jersey to visit my parents as they began married life together, bought their first house, and welcomed my older brother into the world.

Reading about how my grandparents “spent their retirement” caused me to reflect on my own choices and pursuits.

IMGP1800bFor the last 10 years of my working life, I worked for non-profits to “give back to the community.”

Now, my time is my own to spend as I see fit . . . and I love it!

My days are populated with a variety of interesting activities.  I am never bored and there is always more to do than time to do it.

If I get bored or run out of things to do, I’ll volunteer or get a part time job, but for now I’m happy with the status quo.

That was not always the case.

When I first stopped practicing law, I searched high and low for “meaning” and “purpose” ~ convinced that I needed to do something “significant” with my life.

Now, not so much.

Much of the desire “to leave a lasting mark” stems from Ego and its incessant demand for applause, accolades, and approval.  Ego wants recognition for its accomplishments while on life’s stage and yearns for immortality in death.

Mickey-OKUsing an internal barometer and compass to direct and govern my actions has allowed me to embrace peace and happiness in relative anonymity.

I no longer feel any urgency to be more than I am.

Realizing that I have nothing to prove provides meaning enough for me.

Aah . . . that’s better!

After enlightenment, the laundry. ~ Zen Proverb

Related post:  “Just Be” and “I Am” . . . Rocking My World (In The Stillness of Willow Hill)

Gifts From The Heart August 8, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Humor, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
Tags: , , , ,
28 comments

alice26thSometimes people talk about the “good” they’ve done to inspire others to do good.

Other people seem to be trying to prove that they are good people by telling others about their good deeds.

It’s like they want applause and accolades for past performances.

Bravo!  Bravo!

Which makes me question whether their initial motivation was to help others or to be perceived as helpful by others.

Cheshire_Cat_TennielAnd, then, there are those that keep an active scorecard of what they did for us and when.

So they can remind us that we “owe” them a favor.

A tit for a tat, if you will.

I don’t see life that way.

Gifts from the heart don’t come with strings attached.

Recipients are not obligated to reciprocate.

When we stop striving to “be someone,” we are free of the Ego’s incessant desire for accolades, applause, and attention from those around us.

We no longer act out of the desire for approval, constantly looking around to see who’s watching.

If we do something kind for others and the act is not acknowledged, we are just as pleased as we would be if the act were applauded.

We make choices and decisions based on the firm footing of the Essential Self, rather than on the shaky ground of the False Self.

We no longer give with the expectation of reciprocity since we do not give to get.

We give to give.

Aah . . . that’s better!

When we let go of attachments and expectations, Spirit frees us to evolve, change and grow, from tiny ripples of peace and acceptance, to tidal waves of love and compassion.

How refreshing the whinny of a pack horse fully unloaded! ~ Classic Haiku

Related post:  She Let Go (Yoga with Maheshwari)

Give Kids The World August 1, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Gratitude, Happiness, People.
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18 comments

Give Kids The World Village is a 70-acre non-profit “storybook” resort and vacation village in Kissimmee Florida where children with life threatening illnesses and their families can enjoy a week’s vacation ~ all expenses paid:

The village is the passionate vision of Henri Landwirth, a holocaust survivor turned hotelier in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

A man never stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.                   ~Father Flanagan

To learn more about Give Kids The World ~> visit www.gktw.com.

To learn more about Landwirth’s remarkable life ~> read Gift of Life.

Henri’s autobiography, with a Forward by Walter Cronkite and an Afterward by Astronaut and Senator John Glenn, was co-authored in 1996 by BFF’s cousin, J.P. Hendricks (“John”).

Revenues from the sale of Gift of Life go to Give Kids The World Foundation to help ensure that children and families who need help will always be served.

To find your way in this world, listen to your heart. ~ P.J.  Hendricks (1972) (“Pat”)

Aah . . . that’s better! 

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