Happy Anniversary To Me!

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Happy 1 year Anniversary to me!  I started this blog 1 year ago today, and I’m so very glad that I did.  Thank you to all of you who have been following my journey and supporting me in all of your different ways.  I am grateful for every like, comment and mention at the family dinner table for they all mean that someone has taken the time to acknowledge me as a writer.  This blog is far from my first effort as a writer and will be far from my last, but it has been an entirely new kind of learning experience.  The Blogosphere has been a spectacular new realm for me to explore!  What a wonderful gathering of information and talent, technology and innovation!

This blog has been read in 50 countries around the world in my first year, has 1,136 followers, and received 2,121 hits as I write this.  I’m grateful, and I hope that I will continue to earn your respect and interest in the years to come.  Thank you.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”  – A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The Culture of Happiness

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My blog has been read in 50 countries around the world and that makes me very happy!  But, it also gets me thinking about how the concept of happiness translates across cultures.  Do my musings about happiness translate to all of you?

We are a multi-cultural household.  My husband is from Australia and I am from the US.  Much of our ideas about happiness overlap, but we have seen some divergence along the way.  So, I have seen that culture does play a role.  That being said, I have learned that it is each individual that ultimately defines their own happiness no matter what their culture outlines for them.

I do think a smile translates into any language.

In some cultures, it is frowned on to flaunt your wealth and good fortune while in others it is perfectly acceptable to declare your worth.  Does that impact happiness?  Can you achieve more or less happiness on your own, or does it make a difference if others know your happiness status?  Is what you broadcast to the world as your level of happiness your actual level, or do you put on a brave face while feeling quite different inside?  What is acceptable in one household or one extended family within the same culture varies, so happiness means so many different things to so many different people.  What means the most is to figure out what it means to you.

Many cultures define their level of happiness by the level of interconnectedness among people within that culture.  There is an interesting book about the link between culture and happiness called “The Geography of Bliss,” by Eric Weiner that explains this idea quite clearly.  For example, the people of Maldova do not have a strong feeling of trust within their people and are known to be some of the least happy people in the world.  Compared to other, happier countries such as Italy that encourage more deep rooted personal connections within their culture, it’s hard not to blame this lack of connectedness for their lack of happiness.

Sad to think that the US may be leaning more and more in that direction.  So many of us spend long hours at work and in our cars and end up having less and less time to connect with loved ones.  Will we end up being a less and less connected culture and therefore a less and less happy one?  Has it already started to happen?  Eric Weiner believes that the US “is not as happy as it is wealthy”.

We each have to take our happiness in our own hands and fight aggressively against that end.  Just as we each must fight for our own health and well being, we must also fight for our own happiness.  Long gone are the days of just being handed these rights as we sit back and enjoy them while our kids play outside until the street lights come on and we all come inside for a family dinner.

So, no matter which generation you were born in, what culture you come from, or what your mindset is right now, you still have the power to decide how you define your own, personal happiness.  Do you want to define you happiness by your personal achievement, your interpersonal connectedness, or the number of zeros in your bank account?  It’s not for anyone to judge but you, but do consider the outcome of each before you make your decision.

“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.” -Maya Angelou

Losing The Game, Happily

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I would lose the game of Survivor as reality television has defined it in modern society.  I like to see the good in people, maybe to a fault.  I would fall for every lie and get voted out of the tribe pretty quickly, most likely; my torch ceremoniously snuffed in no time flat.  I find myself longing for more deep rooted connections with people who make decisions with their soul, I don’t have time for anything less.  “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for”  -Bob Marley.

Along this journey we meet all kinds: the huggers, the secret keepers, the hand holders, and even the ones with broad shoulders that light up our world and give us hope that the energy we give will be well received and maybe even returned to us.  But we also meet the greedy, needy, depleted, obstinate, and egocentric characters who pull us down and drain our positivity and good energy.  It’s never much of a stretch for people who only think of themselves to concoct a useful strategy to get what they perceive will fill their needs.  “The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment”  -Doug Larson.

Our lives are full of choices each day, each minute, each thought.  Our time is too precious to be wasted on anything that doesn’t raise us up and bring us joy.  Anyone who does not get you to that end does not truly have your best intentions tied to their own heart.  “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”  -Abraham Lincoln.

The Thing About A Promise

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A promise is your word that you will accomplish something.  When you make a promise to yourself, it’s a promise that simply can’t be broken without serious consequence.  So, that’s the thing about a promise to yourself, it’s a pretty serious undertaking.  If I can’t keep a pact with myself, I am only accountable to me.  No one to blame, nowhere to hide.  So, I accept this obligation with great urgency.  I did this to myself, pledged this oath all on my own.  The punishment for failure is far too great for me to consider even straying from this path for a second.

I know a lot more about what doesn’t make me happy and who I am NOT than what does make me happy and who I AM.  But that’s a start.  I want to get to know myself better.  Part of this journey is understanding who I am and where my happiness comes from.  “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.”  ~James Openheim   So have I been foolish?  Have I been seeking happiness off somewhere else instead of seeing it and nurturing it right here where I am?  Maybe.

Self honesty is an important part of inner balance and in turn, inner peace.  How you honestly feel about yourself and how you truly feel about your values and your life will form your real opinion of yourself.  See your true value and speak it in your own mind and in your own heart.  Make it a habit to see the positive things about yourself and others will see them as well.   We are usually our own worst enemy.  “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James

‘My Happy Promise’ is a promise I made to myself, and even on the days when I don’t feel at my peak, I hold myself to my highest expectations.  I have seen people go to great lengths, both positive and negative, to gain the approval of others and I hold strong on my need to only gain the approval of myself.  It is not through the eyes of other’s expectations and perspective that I choose to measure my happiness.  Don’t get me wrong, I seek counsel from those whose truths and values are similar to my own, but even they know that I make the ultimate decisions.  It is the best teachers in life that guide your hand but don’t solve the problem for you.  And so I challenge myself yet again to get to know myself in a brutally honest way.  I pledge to be mindful of my thoughts and responses like a research scientist.  I will gather data and record my findings.

How well do you really know yourself? Do you truly acknowledge all the real things about you?  Are you the best possible version of yourself or is something holding you back?  If you can’t have this conversation quietly in your own mind, then you can’t move forward and truly find peace. How can you hold yourself to your own standards, understand your own values or visualize who you want to become if you can’t take the time to understand who you are today?

Throw Yourself Down The Path

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What could you change in your life right now to allow for more happiness?

If only you had more….time?  money?  patience?  stamina?  drive?  talent?  what?

Is it something you can learn?  Something that is already in you?  Something you’ve always wanted to do do but never found the……?

If you could pick one thing to focus on starting today, what would it be?

If nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies.  People like to talk about the before and after pictures, but not many tell the tale of in between.  We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but shy away from discussing the process it takes to become one.  There is no shame in what happens in that cocoon, nature grants us amazing gifts like metamorphosis and renewal.  We see this process each spring.  Nature celebrates growth and evolution because from it we gain beauty, knowledge and transformation.  We tend to gardens and sow seeds from plants and trees that have gone through their own metamorphosis that will now give way to new plants that will grow and change and so on and so forth….

Is there something small you can change in your life that would make a big difference?  Is there something big you can change that you’re ready to shift?  We’re all on our own journey, we all have a path to follow.  “What you’re missing is that the path itself changes you.” -Julien Smith, The Flinch

Throw yourself down the path you choose and let your feet catch up when they can.

We lay the tracks now knowing the train will later come and have a smoother journey down this path.  It takes hard work to lay those tracks, but I lay them with care so my children can ride that train until my hard work runs out and they must get out and begin to lay their own tracks.  I can only carry them so far, and then they must learn and build for themselves, but I can be a positive guide and show them a good path to follow by choosing to make small changes for the better each chance I get.

“For the likes of you, the path to happiness is one mean son of a bitch of a path.” – Dean Koontz, Dead and Alive.  I’m more afraid of the alternative.

myhappypromise

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