Yesterday I watched a TED video from Shawn Achor (see it here) and was reminded of the power of perspective and how backwards we normally see things.  It also took me back to the original purpose of this blog: do things to intentionally increase happiness and joy and it will spill over into every area of your life and the lives of others.  To quote from my very first post (almost 1 yr ago!): research says happier people are more fun to be around (isn’t that surprising?!), contribute more to the lives of others, and outperform their less-happy peers.

Shawn states

If I know everything about your external world, I can only predict 10% of your long-term happiness.  90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.

The American world basically uses this formula: work harder, so I can become more successful, because if I’m more successful I’ll be happier.  The problem is that formula is broken.  It simply doesn’t work that way.  Achieve a goal (good grades, getting a job, starting a family) and immediately the goal post moves (get better grades, a better job, be the perfect parent).  The other problem is that our brains work in the opposite order.  We perform significantly better in every area when our brains are working from a positive perspective, versus negative, neutral or stressed.  Yikes!

Shawn’s formula for success looks something like this. Rewire your brain through consistent, daily, easy efforts.  He lists 5 things that will contribute to the rewiring process:

  1. write down 3 new things that you’re grateful for every day– this retrains your brain to scan your world for the positive and not the negative (the opposite of what the news does for us!)
  2. journal about one positive experience you’ve had over the last 24 hrs.– writing about it allows you to relive it
  3. exercise– teaches your brain that your behavior matters. 
  4. meditation– allows your brain to focus on one thing, rather than the “cultural ADHD” we experience by constantly multi-tasking
  5. practice random acts of kindness– he specifically suggests writing one positive email to someone in your circle of influence every day when you open your inbox, but expressing kindness in any way certainly counts!

Shawn gives a 21 day challenge to practice each of these things and I’m going to go for it.  I did them all yesterday and it was fun.  I recognize that day 1 is typically the easiest and it will be more challenging to be consistent as I build these habits.  I’m focusing on progress and not perfection.  I can’t wait to see how my brain gets trained a little more through these exercises.  Wanna join me?


Today I’m Happy

Why do I blog?  Mainly because I LOVE to share what I’m learning, reading, discovering.  For me, there’s just something about having an insight or a new thought that compels me to pass it on to someone else and blogging enables that compulsion!

I’m currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  In a nutshell, she discovered that she was relatively happy, but she wasn’t really enjoying the things that should have been bringing her joy.  Rather than wait for a catastrophe to cause her to look back and realize how great she had it, she decided to embark on a one-year adventure to increase her happiness quotient.  It has been very energizing to read her journey!  She is very methodical about it, which suits her style.  She took each month of the year to focus on a different aspect of happiness (January = boost energy, February = remember love [this one focused mainly on improving her marriage],  etc.).

I am marginally famous (yes, I know I’m only famous in my own mind, but work with me here) for taking someone else’s idea, tweaking it, and making it my own.  On the rare occasion that I have an original idea, I really do literally shout it from the rooftops and tell the world about it because it so seldom happens.  Really.  You should see me climbing the drainspout to stand on my roof.  It’s quite a sight.

Anyhow, this is a great example of that famous proclivity.  I am not methodical so I don’t want to sit down and work out my own 1 year plan for a Happiness Project.  But I am going to borrow from Gretchen’s epiphanies and create my own version, which I am calling Today I’m Happy.  To that end, I’m creating an offshoot of Finding Your Best Self specifically for this project.  Who knows how it will turn out?  I might be the only one who benefits from it.  I’m okay with that!  You can find the new blog here: Today I’m Happy

I hope YOU are happy today, too!

Is there more?

This question seems to be asked all around us.  Whether you are 20 or 50 or 70, you may have come to a point in your life when you’re thinking, “is this really all there is?” and you wonder how you could have gotten this far without accomplishing/becoming/experiencing more.

I think it’s a valid question and one that is appropriate to ask throughout our lives.  There are times when we realize that mediocrity has gotten too much of a foothold in our lives and we need to reevaluate.  Maybe this is God’s calling to us to “go higher”.

In the economy of God, I believe there is always “more”: more depth, more abundance, more peace, gratitude, and fulfillment.  Also more opportunity to sacrifice, love deeply, and give generously.  Are we just looking for the perks, without the obedience?

As the year progresses and I continue to press in to my words for the year, I’m realizing more and more the significance of how interrelated “ask” and “surrender” really are.  God loves to give.  And he asks for nothing less than our complete surrender and obedience.  A tall order, yet so freeing at the same time.

My heart aches for everyone reading this to know God in this personal and life-altering way.  To be overwhelmed by the knowledge that, even at the best of times here on earth, there is a “more” God is preparing for us in heaven (and it has nothing to do with harps and clouds!).  To be consumed by the desire to know him now and draw others to him.  To become more fully “you” as you step into God’s “more” for your life.  God never called us to “easy”, but he always desires a life of significance for us.

Will you be called up higher into the “more” that God has for you?

Life-Altering Moments

I have, at times, been “accused” of using hyperbole.  It is not true.  Okay, possibly once or twice, BUT  this truly has been life-altering for me and I hope it is for you as well!

I was at a conference and had the privilege of rooming with one of my mentors.  In somewhat casual conversation, we had the following exchange.  (Her)  So, how regularly are you saying your affirmations?  (Me, hanging my head in shame)  Well, not very regularly… or much… okay, I’m not doing affirmations at all. (grimace)  Then the heavens opened and she shared this technique with me that has made all the difference.  This is probably a great example of “when the student is ready, the teacher appears”.  It’s simple, like most great ideas are.  The details are as follows.

  1. Purge your brain—or, as she put it, “puke out” all the negative thoughts, fears, concerns, disappointments, failures, anxiety, and general lies that you tell yourself.  Write till you can’t think of anything else (I did this on the computer, but a legal pad and pen would work, too)
  2. Go through that list and deny each and every statement, adding “it is a lie” or “it’s not true”, then the statement.
  3. Write a series of positive statements that elaborate on what you would like to be true, in the present tense
  4. Record onto a CD/voice recorder/your phone and play it back to yourself several times daily.  If you don’t like the sound of your voice or think you sound dumb, write another affirmation addressing that.  If you don’t believe yourself, write one for that, too.

Here is an example of what those first 3 steps might look like:

  1. I’m bothering people when I call them.
  2. It’s not true that I’m bothering people when I call.
  3. People are always excited to hear from me!  I do a great job of encouraging people, giving them great customer service, and making them feel important.  Phone calls are easy for me to make because I know what value I offer to people and I’m committed to making a positive difference in the lives of those I’m contacting.  I’m saving them a phone call by contacting them first and they always feel better after a conversation with me because I’m so joyful.

This technique can be applied to whatever stressful situations you face.  You might want to create one set of affirmations around your business, another for personal relationships or your health, whatever is important to you.  Creating a great affirmation does not eliminate the need for good, old-fashioned WORK.  But, you are much more likely to be motivated to do the things you say you want, when you empower yourself this way and envision the future you want.  It’s easy to do… and just as easy NOT to do.  That’s what sets you apart from the masses.  YOU are the person who will get out there and DO IT!  I believe you can and you will.

There is a God…and it is not me!

In my last post, I shared that there were 2 words that I feel God is impressing on me for to live out this year.  The first is ASK, which I elaborated on last time.  The second is SURRENDER.  Admittedly not a terribly popular concept in our culture these days.  We’re self-made women/men, independent and going places, making it happen.  I find myself buying into this too much sometimes, thus God’s nudge to transform my mind and behavior in this area.

I want to share a somewhat lengthy quote from one of my fav authors, John Ortberg.  In his latest book, The Me I Want to Be, he says, “Surrender is not the same thing as passivity.  God’s will for your life involves exercising creativity, making choices, and taking initiative.  Surrender does not mean being a doormat.  It does not mean you accept circumstances fatalistically.  Often it means you will have to fight to challenge the status quo.  It doesn’t mean that you stop using your mind, stop asking questions, or stop thinking critically.  Surrender is not a crutch for weak people who cannot handle life.  Instead, surrender is the glad and voluntary acknowledgment that there is a God and it is not me.”

Newsflash: controlling outcomes is not up to me.  Pretty much no one describes me as “laid-back”.  More often I think I’m seen as ambitious and business-minded.  I think I’d rather be seen as joyful and living life to the fullest.  So glad that we don’t have to stay where we are today, aren’t you?  As I allow God to shape me into the woman he designed me to be, I will surrender the outcome, work hard and diligently, and look for the joy along the way.  Stay tuned!


Is your mind/heart ever so full that you have a hard time sorting through your thoughts to put them into words?  I’ve been trying to write this blog post for about 2 weeks and every time I sit down to put pen to paper (okay, to put fingers to keyboard!), I can’t seem to make it work.  Take this as your fair warning: this may or may not end up  making any sense! 

You may be familiar with the popular trend of picking one word as a theme to focus on for the year.  I happen to be a very trendy girl, so I have chosen to jump on the bandwagon this year!  As I’ve prayed about what direction God wants to take me this year and what he wants me to learn and grow in, I’ve not been able to escape the impression that there are actually 2 words that I am to live in this year.  So I guess I’m a trendy rebel?  (And to think I was such a compliant, first-born child!  Sorry, Mom and Dad.  I started my “independent” phase at age 30 or so.  Always been a late-bloomer!)  My 2 words are ASK and SURRRENDER.  Today I’ll touch on the first and save the second for another post.

ASK.  I’m convicted by the thought that is beautifully expressed in a Billy Graham quote: “Heaven is full of answers to prayer for which no one ever bothered to ask.”  What if I asked God for everything?  Guidance in the smallest decisions of my everyday life.  Peace when there’s conflict.  Success in my career.  Specific things for specific people and situations.  Ask with boldness and confidence.  I am fully aware that God often chooses to say no because he sees many things that we don’t.  But I believe he is pleased when we ask because it’s part of a relationship of trust and he loves to give good gifts to his children.

I’m also diving into the idea that it’s okay to ask others.  Now we all know people who are constantly asking for things and it never seems to be enough.  The “takers” in life.  Those who have a spirit of entitlement.  This is NOT what I’m talking about.  I don’t want to make others feel obligated, nor do I like the possibility of rejection that comes into play when I ask.  What I’m finding, though, is that it can be a privilege for others to respond to our requests.  Doesn’t it feel good when you can do something to help someone else?  Don’t you feel honored when someone asks for your expertise or your help with something?  If you’re constantly asking the same people for things and pestering them, it’s less of an honor!  I’m careful about this, too!

Let me wrap up with an example.  One of the hardest things for me to ask for is time from others because I know how much each person has on their plate.  One of my best friends is also my Senior Director in Mary Kay.  She and I are more peers than “parent/child” where we are in our careers now, but she has done several things that I aspire to and have yet to accomplish.  She has a thriving career, a husband who works crazy hours as a state trooper, and 2 small children.  I asked her for an accountability/mentoring call once a week, even though I was afraid she would feel obligated to say yes when she really wanted to say no.  Turns out she felt honored that I would ask and was more than willing to schedule that with me.

Other times, I know the answer will be no, both from God or from others.  But it still feels good to ask, to build relationships spiritually and emotionally by interacting in this way, and learn to be okay with the outcome.  What about you?  Do you have your word for the year yet?

Winning Vs. Not Losing

It’s a funny thing.  I am in a company that practically imbues me with the will to win (English majors: is that the correct use of “imbue”?  It seems right, but I’m too lazy to go and double-check.  Please advise.).  And yet, I have subconsciously reverted to a default setting of simply playing not to lose.  I had no idea!  Side note: this is why you MUST not, I repeat, MUST NOT isolate yourself!  We all have our blind spots and mine are many and varied.  It takes a horde of friends, family, and mentors to keep me from veering wildly off-course at every opportunity.  And I do mean a horde.  Perhaps, for you, it only takes 1 or 2 trusted confidantes.  That is fantastic and I applaud you.  And I cannot relate.

Back to the point.  When I’m playing not to lose, I’m firmly ensconced (I really do love the word “ensconced”) in my insecurities.  I find myself anxious and trying to conserve any shreds of control.  I read this and think, “that is not me!”.  And yet.  Sometimes God really has to get a hold of me and redirect me to trust Him.  There are many times when I think I’ve been trusting but my behavior or attitudes do not reflect that.  As my dad said last night, though, I’m so thankful that no matter how I’m performing, what my emotions are, or how I’m “dealing” I have a God who holds on to me.  He will never leave me.

Although I teach this every day, I am still learning the lesson of staying true to my mission, walking in obedience and then allowing God to let the pieces fall into place… or not.  It’s not up to me.  I don’t get to control the results, all I can control is my willingness to listen and obey His calling on my life.

I want to play to win.  I’d love your feedback on what that looks like in your life!  How are you playing to win, rather than just playing not to lose?

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