Vision Boards, Dream Boards, and Treasure Maps are collages to help you accompllish your goals. Declare your intentions, tell others about them, take action, and watch them manifest.
Vision Boards are collages also known as Dream Boards, Treasure Maps and Goal Sheets. They are tools that display pictures and affirmations of the goals and things you want or desire in life. They help you focus your energy on your specific goals and attract that same energy back to you. They require you to use your senses thinking about your goals, seeing the pictures which engage your subconscious mind to “go after” them, and remind you of actions to take to accomplish the goals.
Whether you want a new career, a healthy investment account, a vacation in Italy, a new Mercedes SL550, a trim and fit body weighing 130 pounds, a better relationship, or peace of mind, your vision board can help initiate the results.
Using a Vision Board requires you to take action!
1. Dream and Decide Your Goals.
Dream, visualize, imagine, and think about your goals. What do you want your life to look like 1 year from now, or 5 or 10? Your vision board can be about one area of life or all. It can represent one goal or many. Decide what you want in one or several domains of life:
2. Collect Pictures and Words.
After you have made decisions about the time period and goals, cut out pictures from magazines that represent the specific goals you want to accomplish. You can also find sites on line that will help you create a virtual vision board.
Be very careful to put the exact messages of what you want - the exact pictures that represent your goals. If you want a red car, do not put a picture of a blue car or paste over a blue car. I had a client who got the blue car! Just include a picture of the exact make, model and color of your desired car. If you want to have a certain amount of money, be sure to represent it in the full amount. Show a picture of a bank account or perhaps put real money on your board. Look for the kind of house you want, with the right kind of yard for you. Include a picture of the book you plan to write; show a picture of your happy family having summer vacation fun. Be sure to include a picture or photo of yourself in the collage.
Be sure your desires fit with your values. Spend time thinking about this before you spontaneously add pictures. Represent your spiritual self in the Treasure Map so you are recognizing your desire to have and be what is in your best interest and the best interest of all others.
You also want to cut out words, phrases or make affirmations - positive statements about your dreams and goals. Include things like, I am a global speaker teaching the secrets of how to flourish in life, be happy and fulfilled. Perhaps simple words representing powerful concepts are for you: Empowered, Millionaire, Earning a seven-figure income, Love and peace at home, Olympic Gold, Ph.D. (after your name), Winner, The Best, Successful children, No more hunger, etc.
Paste your pictures and words on poster paper, construction paper, display boards, presentation boards or something you might put inside a frame. If you are doing a themed vision board - on your wedding, promotion, or losing weight - you might use a smaller size. If you are showing your goals for 5 years, you will want a substantial size to display your major goals. Some people have been very creative and did decoupage on a chest, table or trunk to show their dreams and goals.
3. Display Your Vision Board and Use It Daily.
Put your vision board in a prominent place to see it every day. Some people like to put it in the bathroom to look at while getting ready in the beginning of their day. Others on the kitchen table to look at while having coffee. Others hang it in the family room. Still others take it to the office and some make it the wallpaper on their computer and phone.
4. Share Your Dreams and Goals with Others.
Get social support by sharing your dreams and goals with family, friends, and colleagues. Let them see your vision board and talk about it with them. You might even help them do one of their own. If you really want to go for it in a BIG way, create a mastermind group to help all of you accomplish your goals. I’ve been in one for 9 years and we’ve manifested books, major consulting contracts, public speaking gigs, lots of money, grandchildren, vacations, second homes, relationships, retirement, meaning, and much success. By sharing your goals you will get direct and indirect support from those around you.
Caution: DO NOT let people try to talk you out of it or tell you it’s too big a dream. If they are toxic people, don’t bother to share with them. But do talk with all the others in your life who want you to be the best you can be.
5. Take Daily Actions to Bring Your Vision Board to Life.
Use your vision board to remind you of what you want. Be sure you have actions in each day that are steps towards making the pictures manifest in your life. Write steps in your daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly, To Do Lists. When I wanted to add a different service to my business, I simply put it on new business cards and in two weeks I received 4 requests, all leading to paid gigs - and NONE of the people had even seen my new business cards. But the big eye in the sky did…
Declare your intentions, tell others about them, take action, and watch them manifest.
6. Celebrate Your Successes.
Savor your progress and small successes. Savor in advance, during the process and after the accomplishment.
Celebrate the accomplishments of your goals. Some people need to celebrate the process and not the completion. Invite some friends and reward yourself with the celebration and well-deserved regard.
You can use the vision board right along with your 5 Year Plan. (If you don’t have one, turn the pictures into outcome goals, benchmark steps backwards and write your next steps.) Today, begin to make your dreams a reality.
Copyright 1987, 2002, 2010, 2011 D’Arcy Vanderpool
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEBSITE? You are welcomed to share this article. When you do, please include this entire blurb with it: “Are you a talented entrepreneur who is ready to flourish and take yourself and your business to a new level? If you would like to learn how happiness can produce better results in your personal and professional life, you have come to the right place. It’s time to leave a good life and business and, instead, create a personal life and business services that will allow more happiness and fulfillment in positivity, time, wealth and the lifestyle you deserve. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.DrHappiness.com where you will find resources and enrollment for our current coaching, trainings and retreats.”
This is the season to enjoy love, celebration and peace.
This is the time of year we all celebrate. We have loving times with family and friends, sometimes traveling many miles to bask in and share the love. It’s the time to play games, set the card table up for a bigger (or smaller) puzzle than last year. Its time to get the cards out for a few games of hand and foot. And the video games and Wii. Get out the sleds, snow shoes, snow boards, skis and rev up the snow mobiles.
We enjoy the Nutcracker, the beautiful voices of carolers, the Christmas bells, gorgeous decorations, and parties of the season. We sing song, bake Grandma’s favorite goodies, stuff the turkey, rub the prime rib, enjoy the Ethel M’s and Bisinger’s after the Christmas pudding and pies. Stollen for breakfast, leftover ham sandwiches for lunch and too many appetizers…
Angels, nativity scenes, the gift of God’s Son, and prayer add special feelings of the holidays. But the glee of children stirs the deepest joy in all of us. The days of play, the laughter shared by all, the dogs in their bows, the nuts and cider, and peppermint hot chocolate brings the savoring of past Christmases and ones to come.
Experience the joy, feel the peace, share the love and take these into the next year with the best flourishing of your souls.
Bentley and Beau
Embrace the life you have. Don’t be upset about it and wish you had something else. Accept it and blossom within what you have.
Clearly you are living right now where your decisions and life circumstances have taken you. If you want life to be easy, your job is to accept this and blossom. That doesn’t mean you have to just stay where you are forever. It does mean that you have the opportunity to be the best you can be where you are right now. When you do that, things will change and evolve.
You may be learning and preparing for something else that requires you to be where you are now. So you are learning something now that will help you in the future. Maybe you are where you are to help someone else. By staying there you may help another and, of course, that comes right back to you. There is a reason for you to be your best right now and blossom with the life you have.
While you are in your blossoming life, take the high road. Be kind and thoughtful. Stay out of the drama and gossip and be the best you can – blossom with the type of person you are – be your best right now in all areas of life.
Enjoy your job. Find new ways to be creative, to be giving or to learn something new in your job. If you have coworkers you don’t seem to have much in common with, try being curious and getting to know their strengths. If you are unhappy in your marriage, find positive things on which to focus. Think about some good memories or something truly wonderful and special about your spouse
Bloom within the challenge or situation. You might find by accepting it and making yourself happy within the situation, you might really like it. It is never about changing the other person – boss, co-worker, spouse – it is always about you changing. . The main thing to put your attention on is yourself. Whether you have relationship, job, financial, or friendship issues and dislikes, find the goodness in these areas and others. Make yourself focus on positivity and gratitude.
Blossom and be the best you can be. Embrace the life you now have and see where it leads you. Probably to something even better that will allow you to bloom even bigger and brighter.
Thanksgiving began as a tradition of spending the day in church worshiping.
Make this a day of prayer, of love with family and friends, of being your true spiritual self. I wish for you a loving day and season of peace, freedom and kindness to all. Live in gratitude each day, and you will be spending the day as it was done in this country a few centuries ago. Enjoy your celebrations.
When was the last time you thought about your values? How are you living them? If you’d like, take out a pen and paper and lets’ take a look now. Pick five or six values of importance. Then make a list of actions or ways you live these values. Finally, write about the symbols you have in your home that reflect these values.
You might consider values such as honesty, love, spirituality, forgiveness, curiosity, bravery, helping others, health, financial health, learning, wisdom, adventure, humor, achievement, good judgment, perseverance, energy, resilience, playfulness or any of the hundreds you can think.
I chose these values:
How do You Demonstrate Your Values?
Next, what actions do you take to demonstrate these values? What symbols do you have in your home that reflect your values and remind you of them? Here are some of mine:
1. I live my life according to what I believe is my Soul’s purpose.
a. I meditate, stop and pause often during the day and reflect on my purpose, compulsions, interests, inner guidance and dreams. I pray and ask for guidance a lot. I am attentive to what the universe brings into my life.
b. In my home and garden I have gentle reminders: statues of Buddha, St. Francis and Pan; The Crucifixion, Transformation, 2 pieces from The Divine Comedy all by Dali on my gallery wall; various family and other Bibles, meditation books; candles everywhere; a favorite saying about being in God’s hands at the front of my Jacuzzi tub; and another on my desk about how in His infinite wisdom He made the world round so I can’t fall off it when I get too near the edge.
2. I use everything for my advancement, accept my “lessons” as a joyful part of my evolution, and commit to my personal growth.
a. I reflect; I journal to correct my direction, review my errors and set corrections into motion as much as possible. I keep certain loving relationships in my life that are difficult as ways to continue growing.
b. Around my home, I have the most beautiful journals I can find and I have a Borders and Amazon collection of friends in the “self-help” category in my study. I also have a rose garden with many flowers as symbols of growth. I have a ceiling-height plant in my bedroom, originally a $4.95 plant that was a Christmas tree for my son and me over 35 years ago. I keep it as a reminder that I can compost and rise like the phoenix from the bad times and create the good.
3. I have loving intimate relationships with friends, family and significant others.
a. I communicate intimately with my close friends, some relatives and a spiritual family I have helped create. I spend time relating and having fun with them. I am enjoying my significant others and dedicate time and loving energy to our relationships.
b. In my living room hanging over the fireplace is a lovely painting of a man and woman entwined in their love. I also have a large woodcut of a man and woman dancing and intertwined in grace over the fireplace in my bedroom.. I have a photo collection in the upstairs hall, reminders of fun intimate times. There is a picture from my parents’ foyer when I was a child, my Godfather’s stein, Sterling Silver from my Godmother, toys from childhood, and antique pins from Sis. My home is filled with homemade gifts from friends, rocks from special nature days, rose petals from special dates. In the kitchen, a Moroccan cooking oven from my best pal recalling many breakfasts and workout sessions together; a coffee pot like my other best girlfriend’s, recalling mornings of complete laziness and dreams; books of Italy and France recalling special trips; beautiful wine glasses filled with robust sharing and laughter; and conversation places throughout the house and garden.
Write your Values, Actions and Symbols
I want to encourage all of you to be sure and have symbols of your values as reminders of what is important. The more we live in integrity, the more satisfied and fulfilled we experience life. I’ll give you some time to complete yours and next I’ll share my other three top values.
If you suspect your child is being bullied or if you get evidence that he or she is, there are important and necessary steps to help. There are also things you can do to be proactive.
Have Open and Trusting Communication
Both you and your spouse should talk with your child and share your suspicions or evidence of bullying. Be sure to have him share and participate in the solutions. This is an opportunity for an important conversation about values, behaviors and your expectations.
Listen carefully, get the specifics, and find out more about his relationships. Stand behind your child 100% and be sure he is honest and understands the consequences of possible threats. If he is not honest, you have bigger problems to deal with immediately.
Talk with Other Parents and See a School Administrator
If you learn about something going on that involves students at his school, you might visit with a school administrator. Call the other parents, get their perspectives, and if their children are being bullied, encourage those parents to see the administrator.
Be Involved with Your Child’s Friends and Their Parents
It is imperative that you be involved with your child’s friends and know their parents. Know how everyone communicates his or her feelings and handles teasing. You know these things when you participate in your child’s activities and your home is a place where his friends hang out and are welcomed by you.
Teach Your Child How to Deal with Bullying Behaviors
Discuss strategies with your child to stop bullying by walking away, not communicating with the bully, and not getting physical. By helping him talk about differences and develop problem-solving skills, he will have building blocks for bullying prevention or management.
Build Your Child’s Self Esteem
Always find ways to develop your child’s self-esteem. Help him discover and cultivate his talents. Help him apply his strengths when he has challenges. These things will assure he finds true friends.
Encourage only positive friendships.
Life flourishes when you take care of your needs first. Then you have plenty of love and energy to help others.
You Come First
Make yourself happy first, then it’s fulfilling to give to others. Stop giving up yourself for the sake of your spouse, family or career. There is plenty of love to go around. You come first, then others.
Men seem to learn this – they focus on their career and their recreational interests. Moreover, they often seem selfish. Women seem to focus on everyone else’s needs and interests while managing their career and their family. Women must learn to put their needs and desires first while expecting their husbands to give a little more to the family and household. If I could but both of the sexes in a blender, I think we would be in good shape on this issue.
If you love yourself first, then you have the desire and energy to love others. There is no need to burn yourself out loving and taking care of others. Stop it! Be healthily selfish. Take care of your needs and then the others – your loved one, your kids, and your friends. Flight attendants tell us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first, then on our children. There might not be a you to love others if you do not love yourself first.
Lily Lost Herself in her Taking Care of Family
Women in their 20’s 30’s 40’s 50’s and even older are learning to put themselves number one. Lily is a 45-year-old wife and mother who finally could speak up and say she was depressed and unhappy. On a Tahitian vacation, she woke up in her marriage of 20 years, unable to find herself. She knew she had been unhappy for about 5 years but she didn’t realize she had lost herself in her family. She felt fortunate to be able to quit her highly paid administrative job and stay home to raise their three children. Oliver was a happy man and was surprised to hear about her misery. Lily had hidden it from him and not talked about it, hoping the denial might make it disappear and the lovely vacations would bring back the long dying spark of chemistry with Oliver. By the time I saw them, she, like thousands of other wives, was blaming her spouse and seriously considering divorce.
The Answer Lies Within, Not in Divorce
The answer is usually not divorce. The answer lies within. Lily only had to create her own happiness. She needed to find the part of her that was not being nourished and spend time fulfilling those needs, wants and desires. She joined the board of a local women’s club doing charity work and using her leadership skills. She also joined a book club to make friends with other professional women with whom she could have an intellectual conversation. Having been a jogger in her twenties, she also decided to join a running club and train for a marathon. Lily created the parts of her life that were missing and in the process, her marriage improved. Oliver was supportive of her activities, wishing only for her happiness, willing to do whatever he could. Usually your needs will fit with your spouse’s. Focus on yourself and choose happiness and well-being.
Lots of the buzz these days is about women after 50 finding themselves and everyone recreating themselves for the “new” retirement. I remember turning 50 and saying to myself – oh, now I can be who I really am and only do what I want to do. I say, STOP! That is excessively late. This is what you are supposed to do as an adult. When we are in our twenties we are exploring the world of adulthood, getting educated, deciding on a career, dating, deciding on a spouse, where we live, what we believe in, what we defend. In our thirties, we are really honing our skills and polishing our talents. Certainly, by this time we need to be focusing on what makes me tick. What do I need to satisfy and fulfill me in ways of love, children, family, friends, interests, recreation, spirituality, intellectual pursuits, emotional satisfaction, financial security, service and helping others, fun and pleasure.
What You Can Create When You Don’t Address Your Needs
When you put others constantly first at the expense of yourself, you can create depression, anxiety, anger, victimization of yourself, divorce and often debilitating illnesses. You could choose healthy self-love and happiness. Every week for over 35 years, I have sat across from men and women in emotional pain from not paying attention to their own needs, wants and desires. I have probably told an average of 15 to 20 people a week to love yourself first and get a life! The life YOU want! Those who listen and get it go out and create a life for themselves – one that addresses their individual needs and desires as well as their family’s. In three months, you can have your cake and be eating it too. Just don’t forget to be kind to the ones you are closest to while you are focusing on your desires, purpose, engagement, and meaning. Go for your joy and happiness while balancing your needs for family and relationship. When you are happy and your life is flourishing, you will experience the joy of loving yourself and helping others.
We know from researchers who study the science of happiness there are many activities we can do to experience greater happiness. These activities take effort and commitment. Like exercising, we reap the benefits of our endeavors. Today let’s take a look at helping others and volunteering.
BUILD YOUR MOTIVATION
When you want to help others as a way of increasing your own happiness, it is important to understand your motivation as something altruistic or spiritual and a manner of expressing an important value in your life. It is not as effective to help others because it is a selfish way to make yourself feel better.
Most spiritual or wisdom traditions include something like the Golden Rule as a core value and we have incorporated the saying. “It is better to give than to receive” into our everyday language. Helping others and being kind can do a lot to add more happiness and meaning to our lives. Helping does these things:
• makes us feel good or brightens our day
• distracts us from our problems and allows us to relieve the stresses of others due to seeing our advantages
• offers a way to feel more connected to others
• increases self esteem and confidence by allowing us to view ourselves as compassionate and useful
• leads others to appreciate us
• provides the possibility of others being reciprocal when we need help
• benefits society as the ripples of altruism spread out
• develops a stronger avenue to the meaning of life
MATCH YOUR INTERESTS, GOALS AND VALUES
Acts of kindness toward individuals can be small things like letting someone go in front of you in line at the grocery store, paying someone’s toll charges behind you on the toll road, giving someone you care about a massage. You might buy groceries for someone, take a friend to dinner, or leave a $100 bill in a card for someone who is out of work.
When you are able, you might take a younger relative into your home, baby sit for the young couple down the street so they can have a date night, or pay for someone’s college education.
Find acts of kindness that are meaningful for you. In the same way, search for organizations which match your interests and find ways to give or volunteer. It is important to identify interests and ways of helping others that fit your goals and values. You can be of service and you can improve your community through civic action.
EXAMINE YOUR RESISTANCE OR OBSTACLES
Before you commit to regularly doing acts of kindness, or a day each week doing several acts of helping others, or on-going work with a charitable organization, look at the obstacles to your volunteering or the reasons you would quit. Solve the time issue, lack of interest, how to get started, social anxiety, lack of social skills, and anything else that might sabotage a magnificent way of adding meaning to your life and increasing your happiness. We know from many positive psychology researchers that people who help others get happier.
ESTABLISH A CONSISTENT PLAN FOR HELPING
After you have dealt with your resistance, establish a consistent plan of helping others. Implement a routine as a way of making it part of your lifestyle. I have a young 19-year-old client who, as a way of heading off narcissism and dealing with depression, is conscious of being kind and connecting with each individual with whom she comes in contact daily. She is enjoying giving kindness to others and it fills her life right now, after having to leave home at the request of her parents.
A friend of mine takes every Tuesday as the day she devotes to helping others. She cooks for the homeless, she washes someone’s car for them, she takes neighborhood elders to doctor appointments, and any other meaningful act she can think to do or stumbles across in her day.
We all know people who serve on non-profit Boards, serve on committees, buy tables or tickets, provide entertainment, host events, provide foster homes for children or animals, work at the hospital gift shop one day a week, design mailers for their organization or type the newsletter. Volunteering adds pleasure, engagement and meaning if you find the perfect fit for yourself.
I have an executive client who awards college scholarships to students at his alma mater and who loves participating in annual department events in his honor. You might not be able to do big projects like building a department on a campus or a bell tower at your nephews’ school, but you can take one day a week to devote to helping others.
Sonja Lyubomirsky who wrote The How of Happiness suggests that her research shows that one day a week derives more fulfillment than spreading it out over the week. Immersing yourself in giving seems to provide you with more happiness, satisfaction, and meaning.
EVALUATE AND PLAN FOR THE NEXT YEAR
At years end when you evaluate your accomplishments and design your next year, remember to assess your helping and modify it for any improvements you can make for helping others, volunteering or giving. Incorporate helping others a part of your lifestyle as important as the activities you do with family and friends. You are increasing your happiness and well being by improving your community.
It is wonderful to give back to those who give to you. It makes for beautiful relationships and builds up a savings account of love and friendship. I have also been partial to helping others who were not the ones who helped me. And I love “secret acts of kindness!”
PAY IT FORWARD
As a young girl, I read Magnificent Obsession a 1929 novel by Lloyd C. Douglas and saw both the 1935 and 1954 film versions. I loved the philosophy of the book, based on a passage in the Gospel of Mathew (Chapter 6: 1-4), the idea that good deeds received are not to be paid back to the doer of the deed, but to a person in need in the future.
This concept provided a key plot element in the denouement of a prize winning play by Menander, Dyskolos, in Athens in 317 BC. The philosophy has come through the centuries. Ben Franklin rediscovered and wrote about the concept and Ralph Waldo Emerson followed up with the idea in Compensation. Since 1916 when Lily Hardy Hammond wrote, “You don’t pay love back; you pay it forward” we have had literature, film, the law, and sociology referring to “pay it forward” or “generalized reciprocity.” Many universities have done research and begun foundations and societies on the concept. In 2006, Oprah gave 300 audience guests $1000 and a camcorder and asked them to record their acts of kindness, to give the money to charitable organizations or someone who needed it who was not a relative, and do it within one week.
We have “Secret Santas” in our work places at Christmas time. You could become a “Secret Angel” in the fabric of your life. I would love to hear from you about the ways you have helped others. If it is secret stuff, you will have to tell the angels or leave a message without name or caller ID. Sorry, technology does not allow the average person to send an email or text. Nevertheless, let me know the non-secret acts of kindness.
I encourage you to find inspiration for your helping others, volunteering and giving. Happy helping!
Good memories are made within the cradle of love among family, friends and spiritual family. Within this context, we experience caring moments of doing for one another. Sometimes great memories are made because one or two people in the group are so special their love emanates through their service. Memories are made with good food, beautiful settings, old stories, new experiences, and loving communion. Weddings and other family gatherings are times for giving, telling stories, and taking the love into the future. It is a special grace-filled experience to bask in the love of family at a wedding.
BUBBLE OF LOVE
Recently I attended a family wedding where people were so loving they joined two families and the extended spiritual family members, not just the bride and groom. The experience of being in their presence and being part of that presence was like living in a bubble of love for three days. As I think of this event, the thoughtful man with whom I attended, the interesting people met, the old friends connecting, the young couple blooming with love, I feel an all-encompassing unconditional warm and fuzzy love. Recalling the many meals together, late night margaritas, morning coffee, ethnic foods, pine scents in the breeze, drizzle, warm sun, snow-capped mountains, sequestered mountain lakes, and lots of fragrances of fun, I feel full and cozy.
It didn’t matter that someone forgot the flowers at the ceremony and no one noticed. It didn’t matter that everyone could never get together for the official picture-taking event. It was great that the MC announced the program with love and laughter as he moved the festivities along. Fathers, best man and maid of honor made their traditional, revealing and devotional speeches of adoration. The bride and groom exchanged musical expressions of love, bringing tears with the lyrical notes of grandmother long passed. The bride did a belly dance for the beaming groom. A dancing professional surprised her friends by performing an exquisite hula while children mirrored with three and four year old zest. We saw a slide show and learned many details of the lives of these two special people being blessed with our love and we with theirs. Eyes were not dry, faces were not long, and abdominals were not relaxed.
ONE LINERS AND BELLY LAUGHS
We had three days of one-liners topping Leno and Letterman. The bride’s comment as they were attempting to feed each other cake, “No! We don’t have sanitizer!” as a fork anally lifted the cake to their gentle lips (no smashing-of-cake-in-the-face at this wedding) was a belly-laughter topper. Another one at the top of the laugh list was from the best man after the bride told stories of her first year of teaching fourth grade, “I hit my fourth grade teacher!” Perhaps Uncle Merle at 92 was the most delightful as he told family stories of everyone, especially an uncle hanging out of the car to check the tires as he drove.
FAMILY STORIES AND LONG AGO SECRETS
Personally, I like the mother of the bride’s story for full belly laughs. Uncle Master of Ceremonies himself, drooling with jealousy not knowing this BEFORE the reception, heard his big sister tell the Wet Shoulder Pad Story. In a transitional feminine year, the bride and bridesmaids as young teens went swimming with new boys of the summer. (Think about it!) All families have this type of tell-all stories or fun secrets. The family lore is important to continue sharing and retelling as families get together to love and laugh throughout the years.
WHAT IS SPECIAL BECOMES THE MEMORY
The day after the wedding, we spent time in a hotel lobby sharing more stories and the special moments of the wedding. The mother of the bride asked each of us to share what made the wedding special. The heartfelt acknowledgements, appreciations, and touchstones helped create another very loving and positive experience. The expressions of regard and love mark and set the special moments as we take them through time.
LOVE, UNITY AND GRACE
Each of us goes away from an experience with our own memories. These are special moments suspended in time to carry with us forever. We have our own special moments of laughter, of love and of joy. Some carry forward the ring round the rosie memory of moving of the towel to keep the bridal dress clean and circling the big trees to escape the drizzle minutes before the ceremony. Some carry the long-awaited moments with exes as there is a touch of the shoulder and a “Goodbye, take care,” filled with the deep healing of old wounds. The rest of us feel the touch and the smile as they reverberate through the room. Some carry the moments of children dancing with unbounded joy. Others feel the special touching of spirits as the parents look into each other’s eyes during the parents’ dance. We all feel the grace of the parents’ love hug. We carry a memory and tear of the young couple’s vows as they mix with the memory of our own. We leave a wedding touched by the glue of these two mothers’ love, the watchful guiding love of the fathers, the blossoming hope filled love of the newlyweds, and God’s unconditional love for the unity of His family. We feel the Grace.
I am blessed with people, experiences and memories like this. I hope we all carry the love, unity and grace to help guide us into our futures. May you carry it in your hearts and memories forever.
Are you stuck? Unmotivated? Directionless? Empty? Bored? Maybe it is time for you to shake yourself up a bit. Push yourself in some direction. Take a risk. See where you move yourself. Sometimes I have to jump start myself. How about you?
How Stuck are You?
So often, we have low periods, ebbs within the flow of life. If you find yourself stuck, you might want to look at what has you there. You could be sabotaging yourself. On the other hand, maybe you are just temporarily stuck and need to work though the next step.
Check Your Values
Sometimes our ebbs are indicative of a value to which we are not paying attention. What do you value that you are neglecting?
Evaluate Your Survival Needs
You might do an intensive search inside of you to see what needs you are not fulfilling. There are so many needs for you to look at. Are you meeting your physical needs? Do you have all your survival needs in place? Especially in these times of economic recession, you may have to evaluate and assess your financial position. With homeowners being upside down in their mortgages, do you need to do something in this area? Do you have six months cash set aside? You cannot address your higher-level needs well if you have something in this survival area to fulfill. Start taking action if you have any financial circumstances in bad shape. Be sure to look outside the box for different solutions. Brainstorm.
Then move yourself into an investigation of some higher-level needs. Do you have lots of pleasure and fun you are participating in and creating? Do you have some form of recreation you love to do? Are you eating well, exercising, and playing? What do you do for fun? What makes you laugh? Do you have enough of this? If not, put some fun into your schedule each week or day. You cannot wait to laugh on Saturday. If you are having financial difficulties, it is especially important to add pleasurable activities to your life.
Need for Engagement with Life
Let’s take a look at what activities you do weekly that are really engaging for you. If you have a hobby or interest like quilting, needle pointing, playing bridge, baking pies, golfing, tennis, travel, antiquing, or sailing, you have many opportunities to feel some passion, contentment and fulfillment in doing something you love. Finding an activity in which you lose yourself brings a lot of happiness. If you find this in your work, you will be among a third of people and one of the wealthiest people alive. This is the concept of Zen and the art of “X”. Find something you enjoy doing in which you become one with the activity – where you lose yourself in space and time. This optimal experience or “flow” as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has termed it is one of the key elements of happiness.
Be of Service
One of the most important things to do to get yourself fully “living” your life is to get beyond yourself. Think about someone else. Help someone. Help many others. Find a way to be of service to others. Donate your time and talent to improve the lives of others. Sometimes you keep your world so small you drown yourself in your own self-pity. Get beyond the walls of your house and your heart, to pay attention to others.
Make Your Relationships Magnificent
If you are still stuck, directionless, empty or bored, get involved with people. Call friends and suggest getting together. Join activities where you might meet people who share your interests and values. Reach out in friendship. Continue developing meaningful relationships and do things regularly together. You will be happier and live longer if you have friends to see and places to go every week.
Get out of your own little world and connect with others. There is a lot of love and happiness waiting for you to create.
Would you like to know how to take real New Year’s Resolutions and turn them into goals you accomplish? Take a look at the past decade and evaluate, look into the dreams and visions of this decade ahead, and learn how to make your life full of fun, satisfaction, and success by life planning. Let’s start the journey to actualize your goals.
This is the beginning of a new decade, a natural “marker” to reflect and gauge our journey. This provides us with an opportunity to look at the highs and lows, the success and weaknesses of our last decade. January becomes an imaginary “new start” when we can compost the past and with a beautiful new pen set priorities and create a magnificent decade ahead. Many of us may have made New Year’s resolutions that already have slipped and here at the end of January, we aren’t any more successful than we were in December. So what can we do about that disappointment?
Getting Started – Reflect and Daydream About All Areas of Life
Take the majority of a day or two to establish a plan for this decade. What are the most important things you would like to do? Spend a little time daydreaming and visualizing how you would like your life to be. Look into the specific areas of importance: health, love relationship, family, career, spirituality, interests and hobbies, finances, personal growth, service, etc.
Write Outcome Goals
Make a decision about what you would like each area of life to look like ten years from now. Write what that looks and feels like. Express the specialness of that vision or goal in the present tense, as if it is NOW true: I am enjoying the excellence of my health; the fulfillment of eating organic and “clean” foods; the ease of movement I experience as I walk, dance, and do everything with my 130 pound feminine, fit and sensual body.
Now go backwards and benchmark the goals or milestones from that outcome goal to where you are now. That outlines the steps you take to get from where you are to where you want to be. It fills in the gap or the part to which we usually do not pay enough attention.
Next pay attention to all the small steps you will start with to attain the next goal. These are the attitudes, plan of action and support you need to accomplish the beginning of your journey. Write each step in detail.
What It Looks Like
You will have a paper, a wall, a notebook, something that shows your movement from left to right, present time to ten years in the future for your first goal. You’ll have lots of detail in present time and just sketchy milestones as you move through the ten years. As you get to the next milestone, or perhaps the next month or quarter, you’ll fill in the details of your steps.
Do the same thing with each area of your life: write the outcome goal, fill in the milestones, and complete the details of your next steps. You will have the next decade completed of your life plan. If the decade seems too long, try 5 years or a marker that makes sense for your life.
Keys For Success
It is up to you to work on these goals daily and weekly so you establish new behaviors and habits. Savor your successes. Celebrate the accomplishments of milestones. Get someone to be your accountability partner or a group of people who are doing the same thing so you can support each other. I have a group of friends who have been doing this together for eight years. We meet on the phone at least once a quarter to review our progress and get help with anything we need. We add additional meetings to learn or address specific items, such as organizational systems, educational/business systems, etc. We also set up special calls with each other for coaching when we need the on-going support of a coach. (We are all coaches by profession…) We have written books, started new businesses, expanded businesses, been hired as consultants, secured corporate contracts and speaking engagements, supported each other through deaths, births, marriages, divorces, relocations, second homes, awards, and many other highs and lows of life. The support and accountability make this life-planning enjoyable and worthwhile.
You have one week left in January. Do you want to get started on your life-planning journey? If you read this during another month, well, you can still get started!
Thanksgiving is a time to create a meaningful experience with those you love.
We set this day aside to be with family and friends, eat a lot of food, and enjoy a day or two or more relating, shopping, decorating, playing games, etc. It’s a time for several days of leisure. The main focus is to share a great meal and have wonderfully caring conversations.
I’m grateful the Pilgrims and nearby Indians had a harvest and successful hunt. I’m grateful we celebrate this event on a Thursday every year. I love that it opens the season of love.
Thanksgiving is a time to drop the old heavy hurts and unsuspecting slights by family members.
Repair some of the “regrettable events” by focusing on the positive. Dr. John Gottman, marital stability and relationship analysis expert says,
“Respect, gratitude, affection, friendship, and noticing what’s going right is a ‘habit of mind’ which creates a culture of appreciation.”
“Scan for things which go right, notice them more. This leads to more searching for positive things, to positive feedback, and therefore positive actions.”
It truly is a time to focus on the positive things about family members and what they have done for you. The times they helped you move, the times they baby sat, the times they fed you and your friends, the times they gave you a place to stay or live for awhile. Remember all the late night family stories? The eventful family holidays and gatherings? Times of celebrations—baptisms, confirmations, showers, weddings, funerals? All the cards and gifts they gave? The hugs and kisses? The tons and tons of love they have given throughout the years? Through the years of togetherness and absence, they thought about you. They called. And came to visit. They were there during your hospitalizations and surgeries and they stood by you through difficult times. And if you didn’t tell them about the challenges, they were praying anyway for your life of success and well being. Yes, its great to have the family you love and who loves you. Thanksgiving is a time to let them know how much you are grateful they are in your life.
I hope as you are sitting around the Thanksgiving table, you all take the opportunity to express the deepest gratitude for what each person has given you. Tell them how they have touched the most precious part of you. Be sure also to share the light moments of shared secrets, mistakes, and life flubs.
I love you Sis for ALWAYS being there for me, for being with Mom through so many years while I lived so far away, for you and Tim opening your hearts and home helping to take care of Dad those last precious months, for the childhood innocence and fun, sharing friends and schools, and stories into the night. Thanks for all the glorious venting of therapist bashing we shared, shopping trips, apple martinis, long phone calls and your smiling face and tough protection when I really needed to feel your love. I’m eternally appreciative for all the many ways you show your love. Thanks for being my “Sis”, Dorene. You are a most precious being God has given to me.
Your turn—make a phone call, write a card, prepare a little “Thank you” for your dinner or after-dinner conversation with family and friends. Create a meaningful experience with those you love.
When starting on the road to self improvement and at various places along the way, we must pay some serious attention to turning off the negativity in ourselves and coming from others. How do we do that?
Don’t interact with your negative thoughts
First, there are our own thoughts. These are negative thoughts that just seem to come up in our minds like pop-ups. These can be self critical or they can be about other people or situations. It is our job to refrain from interacting with these thoughts. In other words, don’t follow a negative thought with another thought as if in conversation with the first. Do everything to not enlarge or enhance the negative thought. That way you will avoid rumination and reinforcing your own negative beliefs.
Ask others the end their verbal negativity
There are negative comments we hear from others in the form of gossip and sarcasm. Right along with these is the continuous flow of negative comments that others make. They might be about other people, maybe their own victim type stories, or about situations that evoke their criticism. We can choose to not listen to these. We can attempt to have the other person change by encouraging him to speak more positively or to not share gossip with us.
Deal with others’ negativity by changing something in oneself
More importantly we can change the situation by changing something in ourselves.
Distance oneself or end relationships with negative people
Our last resort might be to choose to end the relationship with negative people or to reduce our involvement. It is very important to rid ourselves of negative influences if we cannot deal with negative people and situations.
Reduce or end other negative influences
It is easier to be positive if we reduce or eliminate as much negativity as possible from our lives. We could stop much of the violent television we watch. Turn off the negative news. Stop the newspaper. End the negative music, movies and video games. What might life be like if we didn’t feed our minds and souls with such negativity? There would be so much room for positivity. I suspect it would be a mental muscle we’d all have to get used to exercising!
Dispute negative thoughts
When you experience your own or others’ negative thoughts, you will want to work hard at disputing them. Examine the facts and prove the positive is true. Argue with yourself as if you are the best attorney. Prove the thoughts to be incorrect.
One of the most important skills to control your negativity is mindfulness. Mindfulness means to pay attention to your thoughts and responses in an aware, objective and detached manner. You eventually learn to detach or create distance in watching your reactions and responses to things that happen. You are trying to not have an emotional action or reaction. This allows you to create neutrality or more positive emotions while you simply allow the negative thoughts and emotions to pass through you. It’s like watching them but not building on them. You want to build on the positive but not the negative. Mindfulness reduces stress, pain, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive experiences, and self-injury, improves immune functioning, and changes metabolism in brain circuits known to underlie emotional responding. It even increases a certain part of the brain. You can learn to meditate by taking a workshop, reading a book, or just sitting and relaxing
Take a look at your negativity this week to see how you can refrain from interacting with your own negative thoughts, change your behaviors or thinking in relation to others, don’t participate in or listen to gossip and sarcasm, turn down the amount of negative media in your home, dispute your negative thoughts, and begin to meditate, even if you are only quiet and slow down your breathing for 5 minutes a day. You might want to make a chart to help you keep track daily of reducing your negativity.
What have you done with your summer? How have you had fun or pleasure? What have you been engaged with? What meaningful things have you done? What people have you spent time with that gave you wonderful and loving experiences? If you have done things in all four of these areas, you have accomplished a lot on your road to happiness.
There are four major roads to happiness: pleasure, engagement, meaningfulness, and relationships.
What have you done this summer to add experiences in all of these areas of your life? Consider writing things down in all 4 categories and see which ones you may have scored an A+ and which areas you could pay more attention to.
In terms of pleasure, I have attended and watched many movies this summer. Julie/Julia hit the top of my list. I’ve had lots of laughs thanks to the movies. And I finally started Netflix so I can see many of the independent films I’ve missed or that didn’t make it to Las Vegas. Jersey Boys was filled with great music from the past, as was Love, and the other Vegas shows provided me with plenty of summer pleasure! Water for Elephants, Best Friends Forever, and The Reader have been great pleasurable summer reads.
I’ve eaten at several new restaurants, had great Thai and Italian dishes. I have made several great salads and many seafood dishes. I actually had a Whoopee Pie on vacation. I thank my friend Kathryn for telling me about them – wow! I’ve even allowed myself to have chocolate and vanilla shakes whenever I wanted them this summer.
I ate eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, and lots of herbs from my garden. I spend a number of hours finding all the 5-leaved rose markers for clipping. And when I want to space out a bit or be totally engaged, I water my struggling, new lawn. It is easy to spend 30 minutes getting every little space filled with water so it grows in thick. It is also fun chasing the pigeons away with the jet spray from the hose.
Books such as Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Love as the Way to Live, Creating Your Best Life, The How of Happiness, and Positivity have provided me with my reading for engagement. I have had many days of being in flow writing for my blog, Happiness Talk. I also felt quite engaged when I read the chapter I wrote which will be published this fall.
Much of my flow or engagement comes from cooking. I’ve tried several recipes from the new chefs which allowed me to spend weekends in flow while also having good food for entertaining friends. The conversations with friends always provide me with great engagement. Meeting and getting to know a few new friends this summer was most engaging and pleasurable.
I think a lot of my work with clients is pure engagement. Separating it from meaningfulness is sometimes difficult. Helping others is always meaningful. But helping while engaged can be a purely spiritual experience. I have both couples I see for relationship coaching and individuals I talk with virtually and in person for life and business coaching. At times we are running through the daffodils or smelling the roses, riding the waves, going down the tongue of the river or floating in the clouds on our way towards their dreams. It is the most blessed experience to be asked into the journey of someone else’s life and have the pleasure and reward to traveling to new and adventuresome places. I’m honored to help access and provide meaning for them as it is reflected right back to me. Every day I receive magnificent gifts of this nature.
Another most meaningful part of my week is when I call my beloved 83 year old friend. She has hospice care but is otherwise alone and lonely. She was meant to be with people but at this age and with her condition, she spends her time, as so many older people do, isolated. She has an active mind which is always thinking and processing the political scene, DNA and now the meaning of life. It is special to listen to her and resonate with her, bringing joy to both of us. To spend an hour on the phone laughing with Bev is the food of angels. Seeing her this summer was also meaningful in the discussing of her death and the joy of her life.
Going to the beach with a friend who has had several heart attacks this year was also quite a special time of engagement and meaning. The connection we felt as he went into the Pacific for possibly his last time was like waltzing the tango. Time was suspended as we talked and soaked up the vitamin D. Watching him swim was such a joy, the smile on his face too precious for words. I have to admit it felt like we were about 20.
Being at Priest Lake on the boat with Stephen, Barrister and Jewell was pleasurable and engaging because of the beauty of nature. Watching Jewell fly at the picnic site was a pleasurable experience without bounds. A week of personal connection with the bonds of friendship with Stephen and his family added deep meaning to my life.
I redid my trust and will – writing some of it was engaging, but it has much meaning when I think of how right it feels. Cleaning out my closet and giving things to Sis was engaging and meaningful. Spending time on the lake with her and Cy was too. Enjoying a family breakfast with a sorority sister I have not seen for 43 years was a beautiful connective experience. Beyond words. Spending time with my great granddaughter was filled with the laughter and love of the generations. Being with my kids and best friends and feeling the loving safety of those relationships topped off my summer. The joy of a phone call from Paul my step son, a beautiful note from him, the “I love you” at the end of calls with him, Sis and friends, are such indescribably delicious relationship moments. Hanging out with girlfriends, old and new always goes through all four of these categories. Enjoyable conversations with my ex, the same. Being at the hospital with my dearest friend and having him be alive, was again a loving connective experience. It feels like something without time that endures for eternity.
The relationships in our lives are precious. I hope you are having pleasure, engagement and meaning in the most important ones in your life! I hope your summer was filled with as many moments creating happiness as mine!
How do you go about making things better in your life? How do you deal with your guilt, hurt and anger? How do you get past your excuses? What can you do to start moving through and letting go of past hurts, failures, and “stuff”? This week we will take a look at where you can start on your own or with your coach or therapist.
When you want to improve your life, where do you start? How do you go about it? Many clients have come to my office wanting to be out of the pain they are in and desiring to experience more happiness. They arrive with many different presenting problems and we always look at the superficial solutions to those symptoms. But there is always something underneath that we can discover which dictates their sabotage or repeated failures in life. It’s usually about their excuses. So, whether they come in for help with depression, anxiety, trauma or a relationship, we look at the underlying causes, the excuses, and the patterns that began in childhood which do not work so well in adulthood. So often we learn beliefs and behaviors when we are two, three, four or five years old that do not work quite the same when we are 30 or 40. This is the stuff of therapy.
For those of you who are reading this who are not in therapy and who do not wish at this time to begin such an adventure, I’d like to offer you some things which you can do on your own which will give you insight into your core beliefs and help you clear unfinished business of childhood and early adulthood. I also want to help you stop your excuses and start being successful in the areas you have avoided. I also want to help you forgive yourself and others and get onto the business of loving – loving yourself and loving others.
If you are in therapy, this will help you in working with your therapist. It may give you an outline for self-help work or you may pick and choose what you and your therapist think will help you with your particular issues and patterns. If you are in coaching, it will also help you to work with your coach on what you do to excuse and sabotage your success.
Where to start?
What makes you mad? What can’t you stand? What drains you or zaps your energy? What causes you pain? What are your guilty about? What would you like to change in your life? These questions about negative influences in your life or negative reactions should shed some light on where you can begin. Start journaling about these questions. You might separate them into items or issues or people or situations. When you are writing about them, just let your thoughts flow and your feelings get expressed. Be sure to indicate what happened, who did what (including yourself), who had less than respectable behavior? What did you do that was a mistake or wrong in some way? What did others do that was a mistake or wrong in your opinion? How did you feel or how were you affected by what happened? How do you think the other people involved may have felt? What good came from this? What good could come from this if you determined that it would? What action do you have to take to compost this experience and make it a learning experience in your life rather than a drain because of negative emotions? How will you take this action? When will you do it? Who will know about it? Who can give you recognition or praise about correcting this lesson in life?
Whenever you have a negative experience or something that has affected you in a negative way, try to identify your errors, the others’ errors and what you can do to correct it. Also identify the lesson in it for you. Find a way to become grateful for the experience and feel and express your gratitude. It might take you a couple months to get over the anger or hurt. It is important to get over it. It’s important for you to move past this place to a place of acceptance, understanding and even gratitude for having an opportunity to learn and grow.