Category Archives: happiness

The One Thing You Can Always Do For Yourself Right Now

This is one of the many techniques I’ve learned to relax and move forward in my life. It’s truly made a HUGE difference (ask my kids!) I learned it from coach Christine Kane, who used it as part of the process of healing her bulimia.

It works if you’re overwhelmed, confused, tired, or if you feel awry and you’re not sure why.

It’s a question you ask yourself:

What do I need to do to feel better in this very moment? That means right now.

Maybe you need to go to the bathroom.

Maybe you need a healthy snack.

Maybe you need to take a nap.

Maybe you need a bubble bath.

Maybe you need to organize and plan  your week.

Maybe it’s budgeting your expenses for the month.

Maybe you need to drink a glass of water.

Maybe you need to turn off the cell phone.

Maybe you need to close the door to your office.

Maybe you need to allocate time for returning phone calls.

Maybe you need to ask for help.

Maybe you need to clean out that drawer in your kitchen.

Maybe you need to find your journal and write in it.

Maybe you need to look at the sky.

Maybe you need to remind yourself that you’re doing your best each and every day.

Maybe you need to sign up for Laura’s Authentic Wealth Creation for Women Only E-Course. (Sorry, couldn’t resist. It’s not even ready yet.)

The thing is, asking yourself this one little question gets you out of your drama, your hurt and possible confusion. It can also help you heal.

So many times we’re too busy remembering our tale of woe, how life is passing us by, how blah blah blah. This question snaps off the circuit of repeated unhelpful thinking and ruminating. It’s even good to ask when things are going fine because asking this gets you in the present moment and aware.

Put it in your cell phone, write it in your agenda. Email yourself the question.

What do you need in this very moment? What would make you feel better right now?

Passion Fruit Writing: Exercise 3, Day 6

This is the last exercise of Passion Fruit Writing. I hope for you it’s the beginning of a profitable habit of daily writing.

I’m posting this a little bit later than usual. That’s because my friend Sally was here for the week-end and we were nonstop having fun until she left a few hours ago. I’m also preparing a talk to give tomorrow on the subject of my dissertation: Venezuelan Prez Hugo Chavez.

When I moved to Venezuela for the first time in 1987, the “normal” thing to experience was shortages of all kinds of basic products. From chicken, to milk, to phone service, you never knew what you would find at the grocery store. (I know you don’t buy phone service at the grocery store but I want you to know that at that time you had to wait 2 years to get a phone, and that was before cell phones!)

If you remember from your college economics class, price controls usually lead to product shortages. That certainly was the case in Venezuela back then, and today.

When a country runs out of a basic food product, like eggs or coffee, locating supply of that product consumes hours and hours of your day. I remember in May, 2007, long conversations in the faculty lounge about where to find eggs. If a certain roadside truck was rumored to have eggs for sale, everyone would rush over there after work to stock up.

In essence your life and creative energy revolved around buying groceries.

So what do economic systems have to do with leveraging your journal?

Only one thing. When your systems are not working properly, you waste a lot time and energy on things that should not require much time or energy at all.

If you’re not feeling confident about  yourself, you spend too many hours trying to prove to yourself and others that you really are competent and likable.

If you’re not clear about what you want, you can literally spend your entire life doing the things on everyone else’s agenda.

If you don’t have a good system for your personal finances, you spend  your energy scrambling to pay off creditors.

If you don’t take excellent care of your physical and emotional health consistently, you’re likely to spend more money and time on doctors and medical  care.

If you don’t have a system of habits and rituals through which you truly appreciate yourself, you will waste untold quantities of your life force fruitlessly seeking that appreciation from other people.

Only you know if your systems are working properly and only you can take the actions needed to make corrections. In some cases, it’s best to get compassionate and objective feedback from a trusted source.

To help you assess the systems of your own life, I leave you one last writing exercise.

What kind of person do you want to be?

Here’s a word bank to get you started, but write whatever jumps to mind.

relaxed

generous

kind

wise

fit

strong

creative

fun

clear

confident

helpful

(For a much larger list of high-energy words, click here.)

It’s your life. Live it like you  mean it.

Passion Fruit Writing: Exercise 1

Passion Fruit Writing

Rescue and Live Your Dreams

I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten, happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another. Brenda Ueland

First of all, I have to tell you something. My original text for this lesson was about 12 times the length of what you’re about to read. Coach Meg hinted that perhaps some of you would not have the time for a doctoral-length discussion about writing in your journal. So, I’ve broken it up into bite-sized pieces. Work on today’s assignment, and see what new ideas/insights come to you.

This is a small-group exercise. That means you are to participate by writing some response to the exercise, in addition to what you write for yourself. It is through interacting, even through a blog, that you profit from new perspectives.

I can already hear someone asking, “But, Laura, I don’t feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and insights on someone’s blog.”

The correct answer is, “Get over it already. We’re here to learn, to connect, and to experience insights about our own happiness. Take advantage of the opportunity!”

And one more thing before you begin. You might want to write down what it is you want to know about yourself. I know some of you want insight into lost passions or dreams. Some of you want to stop working so hard. (Amen.) So ask yourself, what would you like to learn from your own writing? That would be your intention for this project.

First step:

Write down your lifetime favorite 5 movies, books and television shows.

You can do a different list each day, or work on them simultaneously. Go on and write a title “My Favorite 5 Stories” and number 1 – 5 for your favorite movies, books and television shows. If you don’t watch TV, you can skip it. If you love poetry, write your top 5 poems.

If you only think of 4 stories, that’s fine. If you want to combine all media formats, that’s also fine. The objective is to find the stories that appeal to you deeply. It is especially valuable if you can remember what stories you loved before you got your career cranking, starting changing diapers, and all the other activities that sometimes feel like a hamster-wheel of activity.

It’s easy.

Now, here are some things you’re going to write about later in the week. These might be discussion questions, if we were meeting in my living room, on my apricot-colored faux suede sofa with big cushions.

  • Do you see any commonalities in these stories?
  • Describe what it is you love about them.

That’s all for today. Just think about movies and books that you love and write their titles down. Write down anything that comes to mind about these stories. What comes to your mind is what you’re supposed to write.

Happy Groundhog Day. We’re halfway through winter!

58 Days Left

There are 58 days left in this year.

In one sense, each day is a gift and it really doesn’t matter what year we’re in. In another since, we’ve invented the construct of time to help us manage our brief time on this planet. It’s a tool we can use for our benefit.

I’m working on my personal game plan for 2010. After experiencing so much success this  year, I’m curious to what the next year will bring. And I realize that once Thanksgiving gets here, it will be harder to step back and look at things with perspective.

Here are some things I’m doing to prepare for the upcoming year:

* Writing down my accomplishments for this year.

* Thinking about how I like to feel each day.

* Thinking about what Gandi said, “Be the change you want to see.”

* Thinking about how to keep myself in top shape – mentally, physically and emotionally.

* Thinking about the qualities I want to model for my children.

* Thinking about creating value in new ways.

* Thinking about not thinking so much.

I really do get too mental a lot.  It was so helpful yesterday when I spoke to a small group and someone commented that I sounded like a “college professor.” 😉

When I get all wrapped up in too much thinking, I stop and ask myself, “What can I do to feel happy now?” Getting ready for a bodacious 2010 is one answer.

Taking Your Personal Wow Inventory

Have you noticed that this year is whizzing by? It seems like my son’s birthday, which is appropriately on the first day of this month, was just 5 minutes ago. We are almost to the end of the fourth month of this year.

Are you getting any “wow” stuff taken care of? Things that delight you?

For me, reading a good book can be wow. Like The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. Or The Vein of Gold by Julia Cameron.

Sometimes it’s, “Wow, I get to go to bed early tonight.Yippee!”

Or, last week, “Wow, we’re in a real mall….in a big city. Hot diggety!”

There are two perspectives on taking your own personal wow inventory. One is that you’ve got to get your appreciator turned on, so you can actually experience delight.

The second thing is you usually have to plan, or schedule in, some wow experiences. They do happen on their own, but planning for them is often half the fun.

There are big wows – the trip to Paris, a small wow can be getting take-out dinner from your favorite restaurant.

Small wows are easier to do, and even more easy not to do. Thinking, I’m too busy/broke/tired/committed to have a pedicure this month. Six months later you still haven’t gotten your toes done. Six decades later you wonder why you never got a pedicure, or got them so rarely.

Homework: Finish the following sentence 20 times.

It would be so cool/wonderful/interesting to ___________________.

This is a responsibility in your lap, I can almost promise you your boss doesn’t give a flip about your personal wow inventory.

The photo is of one of Sally’s wows, a long week-end trip to the NC coast.

How Much Is Really Enough?

One day last week I was updating a close friend about my Presentation Wow Workshop business. After sharing my excitement about this new, non-academic venture, she said, “Well, no matter how much you make, it’s never enough.”

Let me repeat: no matter how much you make, it’s never enough.

That friend had probably said that to me a hundred times over the years, but that was the first time I really heard it. It explained so much about my friend, who can be conservatively called a “high earner,” yet she seems to be convinced that she’s one small step away from total financial ruin.

And yet there is truth in that affirmation: as soon as you complete one goal, 10 new ones spring up in its place. Part of being human is the permanent desire for creation and growth, only sometimes it looks like insatiable greed.

It’s worth reflecting on how to recognize our human tendency to take on new projects one after the other, without accepting the belief that one isn’t enough, or never has enough. It takes wisdom to enjoy the status and belongings that one currently possesses, while knowing that it’s always possible to work toward making the world a better place.

I doubt that anyone reading this blog is wondering in which dumpster s/he’ll find dinner for the family tonight. I don’t think any of us are living under a bridge. So, take a look around, see the wealth you already have and enjoy it.

As long as we’re on this planet, our lives are unfinished projects. But unfinished doesn’t have to mean you’re not enough, or you don’t have enough.

Short Story About Achieving a Goal

There once was this mom who loved her life of spending loads of time with her kids and teaching a couple of courses at the local university. The university kept telling her that she didn’t have the appropriate letters after her name, and if she didn’t get them, she would lose that fun and easy job. So she started on this journey to get the three magical letters: p, h, and d.

She learned a lot more than she thought she would. The process of finding the letters was also a lot longer and more expensive than she had anticipated. The journey often felt lonely and too difficult to possibly be worth it. Fortunately her friends and family always rallied to her side, encouraged her, and after six years of slogging away on this, she’s made it to the last stretch.

Having the three letters within her grasp now feels good — a goal set and achieved always does. Marking off each step along the way also feels rewarding. Crossing out “successfully defend dissertation” felt fabulous.

There are many lessons from this experience, and one of them is to live life every day, not just after you cross off the goal. For while completing it is great, it does not make up for a life not lived. Fortunately, the heroine of this short story feels confident that she did indeed, live her life throughout the whole process.

And while she is happy to have this part behind her, the happiness comes from the daily decision to be happy now. And while daily euphoria may be out of reach, a daily dose of happiness is surely fuel for achieving all your goals.