When I was a little girl, one of my favorite places to go was Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop. They had thirty-one flavors of ice cream and you were allowed to taste as many as you wanted. That was heaven on earth for a sweets lover like me. I would try a few flavors and realized they were all good, how can ice cream be bad? Ironically, I would choose one of two flavors every time- either chocolate brownie chunk or pink bubble gum blast. They were quite different in taste, color and texture, yet each made me smile and satisfied my craving for something delicious.
Today, life offers us at least thirty-one flavors of joy. They are not offered in a cup or cone, yet they can be just as satiating.
What flavor of joy are you craving today? What will put a smile on your face and fulfill your spirit? Maybe it’s doing something nice for someone in your life, like calling them to just say, I love you. For some of you, your flavor du jour may be accomplishing a task you have been putting off for a while. Doesn’t that sound good, taking something off of your list so you are back in integrity with yourself?
Then again, it could be to slow down a minute so you can savor what it is you have created for yourself. The taste of appreciation is mighty good. Not only is it good in them moment, but acknowledging yourself for what you have accomplished will keep you quenched for a long time. And if you are like me, you will try other flavors to see what you like, but will keep coming back to the flavor that lets you feel fulfilled and satisfied. Now that’s delicious!
So how do you get started? Begin by choosing your flavor of joy; swirl it throughout your experience and notice how it enhances a multitude of areas in your life. Then share it with others, even if it is just a taste.
- Notice what you are thinking. Do your thoughts make you feel good? Do they give you energy or are they draining? If the thought doesn’t feel good, then why are you choosing to continue to think it? It’s habit, it is auto pilot. Once you notice, you can then make a different choice.
- Decide that you want to feel good. There are a lot of people out there who enjoy their misery. That is their choice. We are actually wired to feel good, but throughout life, we somehow learn to wallow in the suffering that comes with the drama in our lives. A positive vibration is going to allow you to manifest the things you desire in your life. In my book, The Joy Factor Recipe Book – A Common Sense Approach to a Delicious Life, I share the perspective of using your MSU to feel good. This is a made-up degree, that gives you permission to Make Stuff Up. Make up that you feel good, and eventually you will.
- Replace the negative thoughts with the positive thoughts so that you feel good and accomplish your goals. Take a minute and think about something that you love. It could be a delicious meal, being in nature or cuddling with your children or partner. When you think those thoughts, how do you feel? Yes, your thoughts create how you feel. When you feel good, you can easily move into action to achieve the results you desire. You do not have to monitor every thought, that would make you crazy. You will know if your thoughts are serving your or not by how you feel. When you think good thoughts, you feel good. And when you feel good, the possibilities are endless!
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Life will throw you curve balls. It’s not what happens to us, it’s how we choose to respond. Is the glass half full or half empty? When one door closes, does another one open? You get to choose your perspective. You get to be the chef! If you choose each day to live a more conscious life, I applaud you. Living a fulfilling life is a radical act.
Find “about ” and ” credits” files. Waffle over how much to use. Or how little. Copy and paste. Edit. Format. Correct. Print. Correct. Reformat. Print.
Copy and paste seven files. Edit. Format. Print draft. Damn. Fight with Word. Curse Microsoft. Curse again. Oh. There must have been a page break there. Delete that. Argh. There are two copies of one file – where did the second one come from? Print. Proof again. S**t. Yet another not-so-elegant transition. Forgot a notation. Take a break before I print. Review. Print.
Find camera. Photograph the subject. Upload. Where are the photos?!! Oh, I’ve updated operating system since last upload. Poke around. Find photos. Import to iPhoto. Edit. Blah! Bad shadows. Rinse and repeat. Matte or gloss? Print. Border is inconsistent. Print again.
3pm. Did I have lunch? How do I indicate which image goes with which story? Oh. Doh: number them. Search for razor-point Sharpie. Great gussie! Where are my mailers? Mad search ensues.
4:45. Dash to post office. Address one of their mailers at counter. Hand to clerk. Swipe debit card at 4:58 pm.
5:15. Pour wine. Sit on screened porch. Stare into space. Stare into space.stare into space. stare into spacestareintospace. . .
It took SIX hours to get a twenty-page proposal printed and mailed. SIX. (Well, really five, plus the hour looking for my stash of Priority Mail mailers and the Sharpie. But still.)
Twenty years ago, this project would have taken nearly a week to prepare. Remember when we had to type, and use correction tape or liquid, and retype (and retype) to get it perfect? Then save to a floppy disk and go to Kinkos to print and copy en route to the post office? (I’m still too ticked at HP to give them any credit.) But remember when you had only a dot matrix printer?
I LOVE MY MAC.
His name is Newton. He works hard for me. He holds my data, and he finds it when I ask, nicely. He makes me look good. And he does it quickly. Usually.
Canadian poet Merle Shain understood love. She declared: “If I were to marry again tomorrow, I wouldn’t give up one friend. I’d take them all with me as a sort of dowry and tell my new husband that he was getting a rich wife.”
I’ve always wondered about girls and women who leave their friends behind when a man steals their heart. I don’t get it. What I loved most about The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood was the life-long friendships. Their husbands got a handful!
Last weekend I sat with three women whom I haven’t known long, but already feel that I know well. The breadth of self-disclosure was stunning, the honesty was liberating, the awareness motivating.
I’ve been thinking since about friends—the ones who bring me real joy, what makes them so valuable, and how they touch my soul with such depth, again and again.
There is always genuine interest, good conversation, and enjoyable companionship. We share similar values, but experience and beliefs different enough to be interesting, provocative, and moving. There is empathy and authenticity.
Those who love me most will tell me when I have peas in my teeth, and when I am wrong in my thinking. More, true friends inspire me to be and do my best. They mirror my strengths, and equally, my weaknesses. They’ll let me wallow for a while when things go awry—and they listen completely—then goad me to seek solutions. They nudge me to venture into new territory, and cheer me on whether I stumble or thrive. They laugh at my jokes. As a Native American friend would say, “They give me thunder.”
They are my champions. They give meaning to my life.
And I have the honor of doing the same for them.
Friends and family are oxygen for my soul.
She went out to play Thursday afternoon, and didn’t come home that night. Or Friday, or Saturday. Nor Sunday or Monday. I put notices on the neighborhood message boards, asked friends to hold the vision of her return, and tried not to fret. Cats do these things, sometimes.
There were moments of imagining the worst, then of knowing she was fine. Moments of intense longing, and wishing.
Finally, she came bolting in, mewling loudly, demanding food and water. I filled her bowls, and waited for her to tell me about her five-day adventure. But noooooo. No explanation. No apology.
I tried to be at least a little ticked at her, but wasn’t able to. My friend Christina said of four-leggeds: “ . . . they know not the ultimate depths of how they touch us… which may be part of the charm they hold.”
Dictionaries say joy is “great happiness,” which I think of as a big emotion. But what I love most is her rubbing up against my ankle, or nestling against my side or my neck on the sofa. Sliding under the covers to curl up in the crook of my knee or at my feet as I sleep. Her purr after she dines or when I scratch her neck. My elation at her homecoming was somewhat short-lived, yielding quickly to the simple pleasure of her presence, her company, her touch. Is there something smaller than “great happiness” but equally as grand? As important?
I don’t know what it’s called, but every day Miss Kitty brings me sustainable, consistent, unadulterated joy. I’m glad and grateful that she’s home, and I think she feels the same way. She’s been stuck to me like Velcro ever since.
What is it about adorable dogs that fills my heart with joy? It is there sweet faces and adorable personalities.
Spend some time with Denver and you will know what I am talking about.
Earlier this year, at the National Speakers Association conference in Atlanta, experts shared the latest technology, marketing strategies and best practices to grow our speaking, training and consulting businesses.
The conference concluded with a panel of six “million dollar” speakers and consultants, including the consultant’s ultimate consultant, Alan Weiss, and leadership development speaker Mark Sanborn. Roxanne Emmerich, the author of “Thank God It’s Monday,” said that we are not selling information or knowledge but rather wisdom. Hmmm. Wisdom as a commodity.
Wisdom is defined as insight, the ability to discern what is true. Wise people are often considered enlightened, which means to be free of illusions.
So, how can you bring more wisdom to your work? Here are three ways.
1) Tap into your wisdom. Employ proven practices like meditation, trusting your intuition and paying attention to dreams to solve problems, boost creativity and make wise choices. Confucius advised, “By three methods we may learn wisdom: first by reflection, which is noblest; second by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.” Take time to reflect.
2) Focus on what matters. Distractions can often be mistaken for opportunities and much of what we fear never materializes. Every day, we are seduced by bad news, superfluous interactions on social media sites, and the latest gizmos and gadgets. Just because you can participate, doesn’t mean you should. When you get sidetracked on your road to success, save your precious time and energy by simply asking yourself if this detour really matters.
3) Emulate wise qualities. According to The Talmud, “The highest form of wisdom is kindness.” Whenever you can, express genuine compassion, concern and appreciation for your coworkers, employees, clients, vendors and associates. By doing so, you will inspire them to do the same.
“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edith Wharton. Either way is wise.
I was thinking today about my friend Mark Pekar and what a joy he was in my life for more than twenty years. This time last spring he was gravely ill and mere weeks away from hospice. In mid-summer, I was blessed to speak to a large crowd at his memorial service.
I shared that he “loved being the center of attention, yet he loved watching others shine. He loved succeeding, and equally celebrated other’s successes. ‘A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.’* His was a generous spirit.”
Memory of Mark was keen today as I visited with other long-time friends:
Sylvia is so proud of her grandchildren that she beams.
Donna had a breakthrough in establishing and enforcing emotional boundaries.
Betsy earned an A in a class from a professor who does not give A’s. (Free tuition at state colleges and universities in Georgia is a bonus that comes with Medicare and Social Security! I only have ten years to go.)
Charlie is also a returning student (though not even old enough for an AARP card) and will graduate Sunday, to embark on a new career for which he is splendidly suited and prepared.
Peggy and Gibbs are in a new home that fits them perfectly and makes them smile.
And my friend Carol, having regained some of the vision lost in one eye, is doing nearly everything she wants to do with resourcefulness and élan. She’s piecing a new quilt, and loved one of the fabrics so much that she hugged it.
There used to be a road sign on Lakewood Freeway that read
Give and take. Take and give. Everyone gets his or her turn to lead, or follow. Then it changes again.
Recent months have been exceedingly challenging, but the successes of treasured friends or family can make my spirit soar. Some days I share joy by lighting the candle. Other times, I find joy by having my candle lit.
* Quote from Father James Keller
My mastermind team is reading a chapter from Napoleon Hill’s “Think & Grow Rich” on the subject of Persistence. With this, I’m reminded just how important a ‘never give up attitude’ is to ultimate success. I often hear people say, “I just need one break, one chance, but nothing is happening for me.”
Hill says that “breaks” happen to those who make them happen, to those who are willing to continue on no matter what, to those who have an intense desire despite being surrounded by friends, neighbors and media all telling you, “You’re crazy, don’t you know it’s a terrible economy? Stop trying so hard, wait till things settle down and get better.” Wait? If Thomas Edison waited for a better economy we’d still be in the dark. If Henry Ford waited for a better economy we’d all be in better physical shape from walking all the time. No, they continued, they persisted, they did whatever it took to accomplish their burning desire.
Persistence is the key element to success. Breaks come when you continue moving forward in the face of fear, in the face of “no.” Breaks come when you continue connecting and creating relationships with people, when you continue educating yourself. And most of all, remember the JOY is in the journey. Enjoy each step. Enjoy every moment. Be persistent, keep moving forward and believe that with persistence you will achieve your ultimate success. Because you will.