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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Excuse me! Are You Listening??

I felt myself fidgeting, glancing sideways at the clock, mind wandering, head bobbing, not so much in agreement, but as the slightest indication that I was still somewhat listening. Between moments of tuning out, I picked up a snippet of what was just said that held a great deal of depth and profundity. It made me wonder…

What else had I missed?
Everyone is busy; so much so that it’s hardly an accepted excuse, anymore.

Everyone has places to be, things to do, errands to run and people to meet.

With the demand for multi-task-ability, it’s increasingly difficult to just be present; to slow down; to give undivided attention to the task at hand. But, as long as we’re only partially-attentive to what’s happening, there must be some great things we’re missing as our minds undulate in and out of present consciousness. 

I started thinking about how I feel when, as I am speaking to someone, I see their eyes darting side to side, their focus everywhere but on my words, their fidgeting and so-called subtle peeks at their watches.

It feels pretty awful.

Like what I had to say held no importance and that I might as well have consulted a brick wall… or bobble head doll.

(So, time to time I’ll play the let’s-see-if-you’re-really-paying-attention-to-me game and embed a blatantly random statement between my sentences. Perhaps I’ll toss in a fun fact about emusas I’m talking about something great that happened in a Zumba class. Head nodding and “mmhmm-ing” continues without a hitch? You lose!)

My point is this: I do respect the importance of each and every one of our busy lives and packed schedules. There is a time a place to for complete and utter consideration. Sometimes, we just want to simply decompress the stuff in our minds by putting thoughts in to words and we don’t expect undivided attention.

Then, there are times when our minds are clearly scattered elsewhere as we “listen” to someone speak when we should question how importantly pressing the other stuff really is. Is it really imperative we think about it at that moment? Is it worth possibly missing something significant spoken to us?

When I was noticed that I was hearing, not listening to what was being said, I realized my rudeness in assuming my “stuff” held more importance than theirs.

So, I stopped the fidgeting, held my gaze and refocused attention to the moment at hand, reallypaying the same respect I would hope to receive if I were the speaker.

After all, that other stuff I thought was so pressing wasn’t going to spontaneously combust into a chaotic disaster… it would all be there when I was ready to pay attention to it. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who's Living YOUR Life?

Focusing on ourselves is scary. 
Like, really turning our view inwards, seeing what's there, and giving ourselves the care and time we need. 
I mean, taking all that energy we put out there, trying to fix, organize and arrange other peoples' lives and redirect it towards ourselves. 
Could you imagine? 
Even though it's more difficult and, actually, near impossible, to control others' lives, we opt for it because we are afraid to take control of our own. We expend so much energy worrying about things that really don't matter, if we are truly real with ourselves. 
We spend so much time living other people's lives for them... but, who's living ours? 
Don't get me wrong- It's wonderfully caring and giving to worry about others' wellbeings, making sure to do all we can so that those we care for are happy. But, there's a fine line between being helpful and making yourself a martyr. 
Doing so much for others and not doing anything to take care of ourselves isn't doing anyone any favors.

Actually, we're doing them a disservice by not taking care of ourselves.

How can we really provide the best care for others if our wellbeings are not at optimal levels?

I'm not suggesting we neglect everyone in our lives and hole away in a spa to pamper ourselves (although once in a while is actually pretty nice!). 

Balance. It's always about balance.

What I AM suggesting is that we inch ourselves up our hierarchical list of priorities.

Maybe we won't put ourselves at the absolute top, yet. But, by realizing how worthy we are of our own care that we selflessly dole out willy-nilly, we can start taking the necessary steps to show ourselves the love we all individually deserve. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reshuffling the Hand We're Dealt

There's someone in my life that I care very much about who has been perpertually miserable for quite some time now. For the sake of anonymity, we'll call her "Daisy." 
Granted, Daisy hasn't had the easiest of lives, she certainly doesn't have the worst life possible- not even close. She may beg to differ as she's been so immersed in her own negative energy for so long that the half-filled portion of her glass may as well be invisible to her. She believes that the only way her life will be better is if the people and situations that surround her change. 
See the problem? 
It's what I always say: Change your perspective, change your experience, change your life. 
There's only so long we should be allowed to indulge ourselves in self-pity. We can keep our faces long and cry about the cards we've been dealt, but after a while that song gets old and tired. After a certain amount of time, it becomes a matter of personal responsibility to take the situation in our own hands and reshuffle the deck, instead of perpetually staring at the crappy hand. 
The Serenity Prayer comes to mind...
"...grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference..."
There are things we have no control over and sometimes that's unfortunate. Daisy can't change the fact that her family members deal with addiction. She can't magically double her income to alleviate her financial woes. She can't take away her parents' pains associated with old age. 
But, she can change her attitude. She can change how she sees things. She can shift her focus on to what she does have to be grateful for, like a home, a steady job that challenges her ample abilities and family that loves her regardless of her grumpiness, instead of honing in on what's not so perfect. She can stop scoffing at me when I suggest she try these things and realize there is no harm in trying something new that would only do her a world of good. 
Today is actually Daisy's birthday. I gave her a hug, wishing her a good day, and she coldly responded to my open arms with what could hardly pass as a hug. She said, "thanks," as if we were passing strangers. 
Later in the day, I got a call from Daisy's family member ooking for gift suggestions, asking if I knew of anything Daisy needed. 
And all I could think of was...
A smile. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What Magazine Headlines are Really Saying

Statistics show that magazine covers highlighting weight loss articles or features like "best and worst bodies" sell more copies. Although men aren't exempt, female targeted magazines are littered with these your-body-isn't-good-enough messages and we, as women, snatch them off the shelves with the hopes that this issue holds the magical answer to the ever-elusive body-happiness we are constantly in search for. 
We thumb through the pages, read the article, see the same diets of weighed and measured out bits of boring foods, see pictures of smiling women who have found bliss after losing such and such amount of weight and wonder what the heck is wrong with us that after one week, the scale hasn't budged, much less shown a decrease of 20 pounds. 
It won't be our smiling faces in those perfectly sculpted "after" pictures. Nope. We're perpetually stuck in the "before" frame. But, clearly, we're at fault here. 
I call shenanigans!
How can we possibly begin to start feeling good about ourselves as long as the media tells us we are in need of change in order to be whole? 
It's unfortunate that because of the numbers, the sales driven media will continue to plaster their glossy pages with the same negatively charged message hidden as secrets to happiness over and over. After all, they are businesses and need to give their readers what they want. 
Unfortunately, "Lose 20lbs By Friday" sells more copies than "Don't Change, You're Perfect." 
Yes, I'm a nutrition counselor and a personal trainer. Yes, I am in the industry of reshaping bodies and a great deal of my clients have weight loss in the forefront of their minds. 
But, I always start with reshaping the mind. 
Only when the mind is healed, the negative self-talk stops, and external messages are filtered out can real change begin. Otherwise, any attempted work is superficial, literally and figuratively, and it won't last. 
In my practice, I always preach self-love and self-acceptance. 
Because we are all whole, complete and perfect, just as we are
And no amount of weight gained or lost will ever change that. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why Chicken Soup is So Good for You

There's no doubt that certain foods are more emotionally charged than others. The tastes, smells, textures bring back memories and conjure up feelings specific to when you had that dish for the first time. Even though "cozy" is not a spice in the cupboard, certain meals definitely have an extra dash of coziness in them. 
Mama's chicken soup. 
As I finished off a big bowl for lunch, I thought, "What is it that makes this soup so darn amazing??" 
Sure, the nutritionist in me thinks of all the nutrient dense vegetables and healing properties of the bone broth. Mom even throws in whole knobs of ginseng for an added stress-busting boost.
But, there's something more to this magical soup that just makes me feel oh-so-wonderful. 
Putting my nutritionist hat aside, I begin to realize why "Mom's chicken soup" is always the go-to comfort food for so many people. Yes, we can discuss the benefits of the added fluids, sodium, vitamins, protein, blah blah blah, but I think it would be doing the great soups of moms everywhere a great disservice if we overlook the most healing ingredient of them all: LOVE
::Roll eyes, scoff, "yeah, yeah, yeah"::
Ok, maybe this is a bit on the crunchy-holistic side, but hear me out!
When the weather is cold and rainy or if I'm just not quite feeling physically up to par, chicken soup off the supermarket shelf just won't do the trick. Something about the processed, uniform bits floating in a tin can doesn't make me feel like eating it will make me feel any better. 
But, sit me down in front of a steamy serving of the day-long, homemade, rustic stuff and relief is only a spoonful away! 
The difference, here, is knowing Mom had been in the kitchen chopping the vegetables, trimming the chicken, layering the flavors and tending to the pot. The amount of detail that goes in to even the simplest of soups is bolstered by the sentiment that time was put in to peeling every carrot, slicing each celery stalk and tasting every step of the way to ensure it comes out just-so. That is the love I was referring to. That is the love that completes every bowl. 
Yes, it is important to eat whole foods that are nutrient dense, take a multivitamin, etc and so on, but there are more things that feed us other than food, itself. The magical ability for Mom's Chicken Soup to lift my spirits and give me a hug from the inside is proof that food is not the only place we seek nourishment. 
Happy eating!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

To be Safe... and Heard

Feeling protected from danger or harm is something important in life- otherwise, we'd live our lives in constant fear of being robbed or injured at any waking moment.
It's a known fact: "Safety" is a necessity for happy living. 
But, knowing we are safe from physical danger, though important, is not enough. What we also need, that is highly overlooked and under-appreciated, is a safe space to just... talk. 
No, I don't mean finding some secret hideaway on a private island where you share deep dark secrets with a friend at (although, that would be pretty cool!). 
I'm talking about having someone in our lives that we feel we can talk to openly, candidly, honestly and freely without being judged. 
It may sound silly. Everyone has friends and family, right? 
It is possible to have several friends, many acquaintances and a huge family... but, not feel safe enough to open up to any of them. Chalk it up to a personal inability to trust another person or being shot down before when we did allow ourselves to be vulnerable, sometimes we can have so many people in our lives.... but, still feel lonely. 
So, what happens when these things we want to talk about... insecurities, personal problems, conflicting thoughts... have no outlet from our minds?
They build up. And they grow. And they fester. And the negative energy recycles through the body. And they seep outwards as negativity and stress. And then, eventually, you crack under the built up pressure and you find yourself depressed, angry, and on a psychiatrist's couch, walking out with a new prescription for a pill that's supposed to fix it all. 
Many times we find ourselves afraid that the response to our words will leave us ridiculed, lectured, punished... anything but heardwhich is all we really need in the first place. 
I'm going to cut myself short here, because I could go on for a while on this subject because it's something I'm passionate about, which is why I incorporate in to my health coaching practice in a big way. 
Bottom line, here, is that some people have a close group of friends that they feel safe talking to. Others have just one or two. Some are fortunate enough to even have these people as family members! To those that do have these people in your lives, I hope you understand how valuable they are. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Keep Smiling and Be Grateful

I drove my car to the auto-parts store, parked in the lot at 6:30, estimating I'd be in and out of there in under 20 minutes for a very simple routine replacement. I'd already paid for the part online and the technicians there allegedly switched car batteries out several times per day, so I was sure I'd drive off in no time. 
I watched as the technicians poked and prodded under my car's hood, pulling out WD-40, popping off bolts and making use of plastic zip-ties.
At 8:30, I stood in the lot, waiting for AAA to come tow my car home. 
Mysteriously, after the new battery was installed, my car refused to turn on. 
I smiled through the whole process, knowing anger and blame would do nothing to help the situation. I was also lucky enough that a great friend came to keep me company (after I realized I was running a tad late for grabbing a bite to eat with him). We cracked jokes and laughed, making light of the situation. 
It's good to have a friend that shares the same everything-is-fixed-by-laughter-and-dancing mentality. 
The AAA agent came within 20 minutes of calling for him. At this point, I was already thankful enough. I called home to explain the situation. My heart started to sink as Dad reminded me of the ensuing costs that were piling up in front of me in order to repair my car. I told him to expect me towed home in a bit. 
But, this night wasn't really an as-expected type of night. 
Enter, the most amazing AAA agent there ever was. 
Not only did he spend an hour diagnosing and making adjustments to my car, he fixed the problem, followed me home in case my car broke down again, pointed out more work my car definitely needed and offered to help fix them himself for an unbeatable price! I trusted his words and sensed absolutely no ulterior motive to his kindness which, unfortunately, is a rarity, these days. 
He double checked to see if the problem was truly fixed (it was) and gave me his information so I could call him for the other repairs. He drove away and I was filled with the purest of gratitude for having been sent such a pure-hearted savior that night. 
As I ate a late dinner, I couldn't shake the overwhelming thankfulness I had for both my friend that kept a smile on my face as I waited for help and for the amazing AAA agent. 
Later, I heard my mother on the phone with Grandma, wishing her a happy Korean Thanksgiving. 
Today, I am absolutely more grateful than usual for the wonderful people that are cross my path and for all the things I have.
Not only is life not that bad... it's actually pretty amazing. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Another Reason to Work Out

Exhale, lift, squeeze, hold, release, inhale, pause....

I was so lost in my meditative state, mid bicep curl, I didn't even notice a friend standing a mere few feet behind me, waving for my attention. 

This is why working out is my escape. 

The mind-body connection is, undoubtedly, highly important to pay attention to in order to avoid injury when lifting weights, but often overlooked is its incredibly centering, calming and empowering potential. It is meditation in motion with an added muscle-challenging intensity.

There are many things that drive my work outs and I've touched on them more than once throughout my relatively young blog. I've gone over why I choose not to work out for the calorie-burning effect, the amazing bond shared in a group fitness class, and the joys of trying something new, among other reasons. This reason is more quiet and strength driven. 

When I train clients, I try my best to make sure they understand the reasons for why they are performing a certain exercise. I don't care so much that they can lift something up and put something down- that's all well and good, but we'd both be doing each other a great disservice if I were just being paid to watch that happen. 

I want clients to understand what muscle they are working and why it matters. I want them to focus on the contraction and relaxation of the muscle fibers and mentally hone in on the firing of the nerves. I want them to not only strengthen their skeletal muscle, but their mind-body connection muscle as well. Working out then becomes a total experience.

Within the 24 hours of our day, there is already far too many actions that we mindlessly move through the motions of. Most of our days are spent on autopilot as we repeat the same things, follow the same schedules and carry out the same tasks, day in and day out. Personally, I believe we can all benefit from daily practice of being in the moment, even if only for a few minutes at a time. 

It would all do us good to learn to slow everything down and just breathe. 

But, I get a lot of scoffs when I try to get people to actually take time to sit. And breathe. and do nothing else. 

Sometimes, I don't even have the patience for that. 

So this is my alternative when I'm not trying my darndest to practice seated meditation. 

Exhale, lift, squeeze, hold, release, inhale, pause....

Strengthening my mind as I strengthen my body with every rep, every set, every workout. 

There's nothing like it. 


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Disarming Negative Emotions

When I coach clients, I teach them not to fear cravings because they are signals from the body.

Emotions are messages coming either internally from our bodies or externally from our lives. They arise for us to experience, assess and decode them, if we so choose to. Otherwise, they come and go, at times bringing us on a roller coaster of ups and downs. 

Uncomfortable emotions are the scariest to deal with. To fear or try suppress them is to give them power. If we take the time to understand these emotions, we can disarm them of any power they have taken on and actually come out with a valuable bit of insight. 

It's like finding the diamond hidden under the coal- we just need to chip away at the dark exterior. 

For example...

Jealousy, commonly perceived as a negative emotion, is wrought with insecurity, anxiety and fear. Seeing someone happier than yourself, a colleague being promoted to a higher-paying position, a significant other talking highly about someone other than yourself... All these things spur an ugly, uncomfortable feeling of wanting what someone else has. 

But is it a bad thing?

Let's find the diamond underneath. 

Jealousy is an indicator of a deep desire we have for something that will potential make us happy. 

So, you're thinking, "Well, that was kind of obvious. But, I still want something I don't have." 

Here's the beauty in it though- now that you know there is something that you want, you can start taking steps towards having it, yourself. 

Jealous of your coworker's promotion? Ask yourself- what is it that is making you feel this way? Do you feel like you want to move up at work? Do you envy your peer's drive to reach higher levels? Or is it the recognition that comes along with the promotion that you want for yourself?

Regardless of what is really going on underneath the surface, figuring out the answer to the question "what is it that I am really jealous of?" will guide you towards the steps you must take towards being happier and more satisfied with what you have and where you are. 

Then there's the whole issue of being content with exactly what you have. But, that's for another day. 

The message here is that a positive spin can even be placed on perceived negative emotions.

As long as happiness and positivity are always the main focal point, there is always a way to find meaning, purpose and a reason to smile in anything. 

Even when you're green with envy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Seeing Past the Red

Back and forth, my mom and I volleyed words of anger. Her face turned red as she yelled and it was difficult for me to get one word in, edgewise. 

I avoid confrontation; I'm a lover, not a fighter, every day, any day, in the majority of situations. I prefer talking about a situation in a rational manner and responding instead of reacting. 

But, sometimes, fights happen. 

And they suck. 

Especially when they are with family and others that are close to us. 

But, that's who we usually end up fighting with. 

I'd like to believe that most people choose their battles, opting only to engage when the fight is worthwhile. Usually this takes a certain amount of care and consideration. Otherwise, why bother? 

That's the beautiful thing about most family fights- on most occasions, what lies beneath the yelling, the blaming, the tears... under all that ugly negative energy... is love

Whenever I can momentarily pull myself away from a fight and gain some perspective on the situation, I can usually find an empathetic understanding for my opponent's stance. In just about every case of Mom versus me, the reason for her anger stems from some mutation of her want for the best for me. 

Our differing views of what constitutes life satisfaction and happiness often creates conflict. I fight for acceptance of my views and she fights for me to adapt hers. (Ironic, the amount of negative energy coming from the common goal of happiness). The important factor to highlight here, though, is that my well being is important enough to her to be fought for. 

How could I be mad at that? 

In the heat of an argument, it's difficult to even attempt to find a positive angle to the negative situation. We see red, in anger, and it blinds us to the whole picture as our focus can concentrate on nothing else. 

Step back 
Create distance
Find the love- it's hidden under all that negativity... somewhere. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Feeling Fat?

How are you feeling? 

"I feel angry."
"I feel sad." 
"I feel happy." 
"I feel scared"

... All valid answers to the question at hand.

"I feel fat."

...Not so much. 


Feelings describe our state of emotion, not our state of appearance, and even if they did, I'd reason to say that bodily mass surely didn't develop overnight to suddenly create exacerbated sense of "fatness." 

It makes just as much sense to say "I feel fat" as it does to say "I feel purple." 

There's something more being said in this "feeling fat" statement- a lowered sense of self-esteem, a heightened self-consciousnesses, a harsher self-judgment... "feeling fat" definitely has an all around negative connotation. 

My main concern when I hear this statement, however, is not the identifying of oneself with this negative feeling, but more so identifying of oneself by a physical attribute (or perception of one). 

We are more than out appearance. 

Who we are is a compilation of our talents and hobbies, our likes and dislikes, the impact we make on others and the world- the way we look is, by definition, a superficial way to identify ourselves. 

Looks are fleeting; so much so that they can be changed through diet and exercise, plastic surgery and makeup. 

Personality and who we are at our core is everlasting. 

No amount of lipstick or designer clothing can beautify a bad attitude. 

Similarly, no amount of extra body weight or bad hair days can keep a bright, positive disposition from shining through. 

The next time we hear ourselves say we feel fat, let's dig deeper and find out what's really going on... What are we missing? What message are we really trying to get across? 

When I hear "I feel fat," accompanied by sad eyes and a wounded whimper, I know what I'm really hearing is more akin to, "I am feeling down on myself and could really use a hug." 

Of course, there are days when "feeling fat" can be accredited to overdoing sugar and salt intake the day before and the body physically retains more water... but, that's what elastic waist pants and flowy tops were made for. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Predicting Success

My grandmother intuitively knew when my mother was pregnant, both times, with my brother and me, without ever having to be told. She's made "predictions" like this multiple times- enough to be, almost, eerie. 

But, she's no psychic. 

She picks up the most subtle of cues in my mother's voice when she speaks and senses her energy, even from halfway across the world, in Korea. 

But, my mom believes my grandmother to have superhuman, prophetic powers. 

And therefore thinks her word to be the be all end all.

Good or bad. 

Grandma has told my mom to pursue business opportunities in the past because she felt they were sure to be successful. She's told her to have patience with me because she knew I would eventually come to my senses. She's told her to have faith in my father because he would do the right thing in the end. 

And each time she's been right.

Don't get me wrong, my grandmother has a powerful gift of intuition that she's strengthened over the years and it is awe inspiring, nonetheless. But, I can't help but wonder, what's really going on here? 

As much as I enjoy imagining my grandmother like this...


I'm thinking more that there's a self-fulfilling prophecy effect happening here. 

My mom trusts her own mother's judgment, putting faith in her words, never questioning their validity. If Grandma says it will be one way, so it will be. 

Most of her "visions" happen to be of positive nature, with my mother's best interest always in mind. Naturally. Every mother wishes the best for her child. 

When my mom gets off the phone with Grandma, she's always filled with not only wonder and amazement, but, most importantly, hope. 

Hearing my grandmother's encouraging words fills my mom with positive energy, illuminating her outlook on the future. Grandma assures my mom that everything will be okay- so it will be. 

Without hope, a positive attitude or trust that things can and will go the way we will them to, the already unpredictable future becomes overshadowed with with anxiety-provoking unease. 

To shine a bright light on our perspectives, seeking out the best possible outcome, and putting faith and energy in to pursuing that beautiful prize greatly increases the probability of success without even having to make the first move. 

Our minds are more powerful than we can ever imagine. 

We all have the ability to damn ourselves from the beginning by believing the worst will happen...


We can confidently have faith in ourselves and our individual greatness from the get-go.

Sometimes we need that "It's all going to be okay" push of positive energy from someone we love and trust to bolster our potential. 

But, how wonderful would it be if we could each start from within and be our own greatest source of positive reinforcement? 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stop Feeling Guilty About Food!

We are our own worst critics. 

We tell ourselves we are bad and hold on to that badness, unwilling to forgive ourselves. 

We feel guilty for not always doing the right things or not treating others as we should. 

OK, I understand feeling bad for wronging someone. 

Or taking a toy from a baby. 

Or tripping a stranger and running away. 

But, for eating a cookie??

Please, we have enough to criticize ourselves for. 

Who's the jerk that vindicated the eating of delicious foods like a big juicy cheeseburger or a hot fudge sundae with all the fixings? I'd like to have a word or two with this person. Clearly, said person gets off on sucking joy out of life. 

Associating "badness" with foods is a wasted, negative-energy filled effort.

There is nothing innately angelic about sitting down to a slice of fruit as opposed to a slice of cake. The only thing that happens when we label certain foods as "good" or "bad" is that we label ourselves as "good" or "bad" for eating them. 

This goes hand in hand with being on a diet (I shudder at the word, itself) that has restrictions that define what is and isn't allowed. The dieter is then subject to many opportunities to cheat if the diet isn't followed, thus feeling the resulting guilt from eating the bad items. 

So much negativity!

I ate a french fry the other day. I do not think myself to be a bad person. 

We are responsible for how we treat our bodies. The hope is that we choose foods that support optimal health while also allowing ourselves to have foods that have little nutritional value, but great enjoyment value. 

We live in a world where these nutritionally-devoid, pure enjoyment-value foods exist. 

Instead of barring ourselves from them and creating feelings of guilt when we succumb to their allure, why not just accept their deliciousness and learn to coexist with them? 

Step one is to remove labels of "goodness" or "badness" from foods.  

Step two is to honor our health by feeding it the wholesome nutrition it needs. 

Step three is to be gentle with ourselves and allow ourselves the wiggle room to enjoy those "other" foods for the pure sake of enjoying them. 

We have enough to combat in this world. Let's leave the negative energy to the wars, crimes and offenses. 

Not food. 

Food is too delicious for all that negativity. 

Happy eating! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Reason To Be Happy

He's the happy-go-lucky, white beagle everyone loves that has a nose-in-the-air dance that is joy, personified. He exudes positive energy, no matter what the situation and never gets hung up on a negative thought for more than a single cartoon frame. He gives no explanation for his happiness and needs no reason to always live on the greener side of life's fence. 

He is happiness.

He is Snoopy. 

I find that simple things have great potential for life impact due to their vastly open capacity for interpretation. Enter, Snoopy, the cartoon dog from the Peanuts Gang.  

Funny how a simple black and white cartoon character from the 1950's that speaks no words can be an influential figure to 24 year old me, today. It's hard not to smile when you think of his trademark happy dance complete with piano tune in the background. 

Everyone, today, is busy. Everyone is stressed. Everyone has an endless to-do list and no one has enough time to do it all. 

We have become accustomed to being tired and frazzled. Antidepressants and self-medicating tactics are turned to far more often that they should be. We numb out the pain and demands of life and have no energy left to be happy. 

We don't smile and dance nearly as much as we should.

Perhaps, it may not always be appropriate to break out in a full out dance, but even when life is the crappiest of crap, we have the ability to break a smile across our faces. 

Life only puts things in our path that we are capable of handling. Sometimes these things seem so monumentally impossible to deal with, smiling and laughing about it initially is the only way to take the first stab at it. It takes the edge off. Try it.

But, how could we smile? There are bills to pay, places to be, deadlines to meet... What is there to be happy about? 

Snoopy needs no reason to be happy. Why do we?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Make it a Great Day"

In high school, the Dean would come on the loudspeaker and make the morning announcements. He would notoriously sign off with, "Make it a great day." 

It was customary to mock and laugh at that closing statement, especially since the tone of his voice was always so stoic and robotic with little to no warmth. It also didn't help that he was a disciplinarian that was somewhat feared among the students. 

Hearing it every morning, five days per week, for four school years, I must have subconsciously absorbed it; it popped in to my head, seemingly out of nowhere the other day even after being out of high school for years now. Today, though, I look back at those five words in a completely different light. 

Make it a great day. 

Not, "Have a great day." or the more informal, "Have a good one." 

MAKE IT a great day. 

It was as if he was empowering us all to choose the fate of our own days, hoping we would opt for the good over the bad. Maybe he was. 

It would be nice if "bad days" didn't exist. It would be wonderful if every day we felt healthy, motivated, energetic, positive. If only everything was always rainbows, glitters and unicorns. 

But, it's not. 

And that's reality. 

The bad days do help us to appreciate the good days much more, in comparison. After all, "the sweet is never as sweet without the sour," to quote "Vanilla Sky."

Here's the beauty of the Dean's sign off message though...

To a certain extent, we all have the power to choose to make our day as great as it can be. 

Yes, there are limitations on what we can control in the level of greatness possible in our days. We can't control the weather, the jerks on the highway that should have their licenses revoked, the clerk with the attitude or the mosquito that chooses to bite you on the nose on the day of your blind date. 

But, what we can control is our perception. 

I've said it before: change your perception, change your experience. 

Look through rose colored glasses and the world seems much more beautiful. Positive energy is a powerful force and one that is far underutilized. If we see our glass half full, the empty portion isn't just a lack of filling- it's a space for opportunity. 

It would be wonderful if everything in life always lined up so perfectly as to never have a bad day to suffer through. Wouldn't it be just peachy if every day, "goodness" just fell on our laps? Don't you envy those that seem to never have an "off" day? Those that are surrounded in and radiate positive energy? Lucky them...

But, does luck really have anything to do with it?

We could all benefit from being the positive force we want to attract in to our lives. We could all do well to laugh more and take the little things less seriously. We could all feel so much better about the lemons we are handed in life if we just learned to breathe, smile, respond instead of react, and make more lemonade... or at least make it a great day.