Saturday, January 28, 2012

3 Ideas to Help You Create a Positive Life

It's not easy to be an Optimist. There are too many things in life that go on to evoke emotions ranging from the most extreme positives to, unfortunately, the most extreme negatives. And none of us is an exception to that rule - even the most optimistic optimists. But, the good news is that everyone can change their way of thinking so that the positives far outweigh the negatives, and so that finding inspiration, hope, and motivation from life's most trying times doesn't seem out of reach. 

Being an Optimist is not about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses all the time, or ignoring the challenges in life in pursuit of lofty, less realistic goals. In fact, that's probably a sure-fire way to land face-down on the sidewalk, disappointed and hardened by ignorance. Not good. Instead, being an Optimist is more about learning to identify negative emotions (and what triggers them), managing them, and finding ways to turn them into positive feelings. 

So how exactly can we learn to do all of that? I'm so glad you asked. Here are 3 ideas to create a positive life. (Note: These are my ideas, er, opinions, but you can Trust me, I'm Not a Doctor)  ;)

1. Recognize that a positive shift must ultimately come from you. There are thousands of self-help books out there (and probably 20 of them are on my bookshelf right now!) along with whole collections of blogs, websites, TED talks, YouTube videos, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and other inspiring mediums aimed to help people get on a positive track. They're all awesome - believe me, I have most of them. And while I love them all and am probably the biggest fan of books and movements like Delivering Happiness, Life is Good, etc., I know that it is ultimately up to me to make the decision to find happiness in each day and to make positivity a way of life. 
Marcus Aruelius said it best: Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig

2. Use the "bad" situations and big challenges in life as fuel for good. More often than not, a not-so-deal life situation is just the kick in the pants that we need to get going and to focus on improving our lives. Ironically, I have found that sometimes, the worst parts of life have pushed me to create the best parts of my life. If we can work on making our way through the bad, we can create an incredible system for fighting our way towards the good. There's no better motivator for change than something that is uninspiring, depressing, or just no fun. What's important though, and probably the hardest part, is not to get stuck in a rut in the process. It's happened to me. It's not fun. Don't let it happen....seriously. 
When something had happens to you, you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you. 

3. Don't be scared. Yikes! There's nothing like flipping through the channels when "Halloween" is on TV or hearing creepy noises when you're alone at night. But that's not the kind of fear I'm talking about. Some just can't seem to make the change to living a positive life because they're scared to change. ::insert grumbly voice here:: "I've been this way for 30 years so why should I change things now?!" Change can be a scary thing - most definitely! - but it can also be the most uplifting and freeing thing you can do when you find that negativity is creeping its way into your everyday life. 
Thanks to Abena for submitting her favorite quote on the OO Facebook page. Fits perfectly here: Fear is for children. Enlightened men do not fear.

These are my ideas to help create a positive life. What are yours? Leave a comment below with at least one more idea to add to the list.

Keep Smiling,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

4 Traits of Good Leaders


It's amazing what happens around 4:30 on Friday afternoons. At least, what happens to me, anyway.

There I sit, in my uncomfortably comfortable office chair, staring into the white glow of my computer screen, completely checked out for the weekend. It's not time to leave the office, no, no...there's still time on the clock, but I've basically already left. My work is done, and pushing forward onto a the start of a new project just isn't a good idea. I'd rather not start something that I will likely have to do over again on Monday morning.

So to help myself unwind, yet still stay productive on some level, I navigate over to some of my favorite websites for a bit of end-of-week know-how, or maybe, a pinch of inspiration.

This Friday, I hopped over to, one of the best go-to sites for business, and browsed through the headlines for a few good articles to read before packing up for the highly-anticipated weekend. Before long, I had 4 shiny new tabs opened up on my browser. I was read to roll.

Though all of them offered up some great tips and advice, there was one in particular that I wanted to share with you today.

4 Traits of Good Leaders had me at hello. And by "hello", I mean a page-width size picture of JFK at the start.   :) But it was more than just a pretty picture. The paragraphs to follow had some incredibly insightful and inspiring advice.

The article cited these traits as the four common to all great leaders:

Aspire |  Plan  |  Inspire  |  Execute 

The explanation of the first trait concluded with some really insightful words, and today, I plan to share those words of aspiration to inspire you to go out and execute the goals that you have set for yourself.
Great leaders do not aim for the easily achievable. They aspire for loftier goals. Why, you may ask? Because if you plan for mediocrity all that you and those around you will ever achieve is just that, mediocrity. But if you aspire for greatness, even if you come up short, more likely than not you will still achieve a level greater than that which you knew you could reach. Great leaders always aim for goals higher than others think can be achieved. Aspire to greatness. 
It makes you just want to get up and go, doesn't it? It's ok to have lofty goals, to be what some may call "a dreamer", because in the process of just setting up for those goals, you will surely achieve great things, and maybe you'll even end up doing greater things than your dreams could have dreamed.

I'd love to hear from you about other traits that you think make a good leader.

Leave a comment below with your ideas.

Keep Smiling,

 If you haven't already, be sure to Like OO on Facebook - I'm sharing a lot of great quotes, articles, new stories, and images that are sure to give you a boost of optimism!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why Football Fans are Seeing the Benefits of Positive Thinking

Sometimes even when we're not totally into something, we just can't escape it.

Take for instance, football. I'm not much of a pro football fan (much to the dismay of my die-hard Eagles fan colleagues and my sister's love for the Ravens), but it's nearly impossible to avoid the newest "big name" in the sport.

A while back, it was Michael Vick and the unravelling of his illegal and abusive treatment of animals.

More recently, it has been all about the Penn State University scandal that rocked the program to its core.

But finally, finally, there is some good news with the newest face of football. Tim Tebow has made his name in the game not only for being a quality quarterback, but also for the new "athlete personality" that he is bringing to the game. It's refreshing to see a high-caliber athlete, who is being paid a handsome salary, be a bit different.

With Tebow, there's no big ego. There's no disrespect. In fact, there's quite the opposite; Tebow shows us a new side of the game with his humility, respect for himself and the other players, and commitment to his beliefs. So it was no surprise when I came across an article about him entitled, "Tebow and the Power of Positive Thinking".

In it, psychologist Dr. Stacey Scheckner had some great insight into this player's success and I thought I would share her insight with you for today's featured quote.

 "...if you're not in a positive frame of mind, you're not going to be able to reach that full potential that's inside of you because your thoughts are going to create your actions."  

Quite right, if I may say so myself. We sometimes forget just how powerful our inner thoughts can be and how much of an impact they have on our actions.

So, while I probably will not be a season ticket-holder anytime soon, I may have found a little piece of the game that can offer something more than oversized egos with some athleticism thrown in.

Whether you're a football fan or not, share your thoughts in the comment section below about a time when you turned your positive thoughts into positive actions.

Keep Smiling,

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happiness: Why Thinking About it Less is Really More

I was thinking today about things that make people happy - you know, like maybe cute puppies, or traveling, or even a big ol' bucket of ice cream. (That seems to do the trick for me, on occasion.) But I decided to put my own opinions aside and do a little bit of research to see if I could find some more concrete evidence of practices that were scientifically proven to make people happy. 

After sifting through a number of surveys, articles, and polls, I came across a post about 7 things that were proven to boost this emotion in people, and there was one in particular that caught my interest.

According to this article, concentrating less on being happy will increase your happiness. Yes, you heard me. Concentrating less on finding happiness will actually increase your chances of being truly happy.

Hmm. For how odd that seems, I think I actually get it. Here's the evidence that was cited in the post:

 "Wanting to be happy can make you less happy," study researcher Iris Mauss, an assistant professor in psychology at the University of Denver, told LiveScience. "If you explicitly and purposely focus on happiness, that appears to have a self-defeating quality."

The study, published in the journal Emotion, found that women who valued happiness more or focused on it more exclusively had trouble actually achieving it. Perhaps these people set their happiness standards too high, Mauss said. Or they may be focusing on personal happiness at the expense of things that really make people happy, like relationships with friends and family.

It's not that trying to be happy is a lost cause, Mauss said, it's just that you may want to pursue activities that make you happy, rather than happiness itself.

After mulling this over for a bit, I came to understand that when it comes to thinking about happiness, less really is more. Have you not noticed that the more you think about what it would take to be happy - about the things that you don't have that you think would improve your life - it only makes you feel less appreciative, a bit more sad, and maybe even depressed about the things that you do have?


But what I think is even more important to learn from this finding is the last piece of this quote: " may want to pursue activities that make you happy, rather than happiness itself." Exactly!

No one person can set the definition for "happiness", as it represents something different for every single person on earth. So to pursue such an non-concrete, faint idea at a high level will leave us always reaching for something more. Only you can establish what happiness means to you, and only you can make the decision to pursue the people, places, and things in life that bring this emotion into your life. 

I'd love to hear what you think about this. So when it comes to thinking about happiness, do you believe that less is more?

Keep Smiling,