Saturday, May 19, 2012

If Dogs Were Our Teachers


Most of us spending an average of about 12-16 years of our lives in school, learning some of the most relevant (and sometimes irrelevant) facts about life and the world that we live in. With all of that time spent in the classroom, it goes without saying that we owe a lot of our knowledge to those who have dedicated their time to teaching it to us. 

Sure, a good portion of the knowledge we acquire over our lifetime can be attributed to our own personal pursuits and experiences, but a lot of our core and foundational learning comes from teachers.

Some are more inspirational than others, and some do a better job of conveying information to their group of students, but we can't deny the important role that they all play. Thinking back, I can remember some important lessons that I learned from my kindergarten teacher, those in middle school and high school, and most recently, from professors in college. 

One thing I know for sure is that learning is not purely academic. In fact, "teachers" come in many shapes and forms; not all are sitting at a desk before a blackboard with a ruler in hand.

Teachers can be friends, children, authors, Disney characters, news reporters, brothers, parents, and co-workers.

Or, as I learned in an email today, they can even be dogs. 

Yes, you heard me. Dogs. 

You'd be surprised to see how much we really can learn from our best furry friends. Read through the list below and you'll see just how much they can teach us about life.

If Dogs Were Our Teachers, they would advise....

  • Always run to greet loved ones when they come home.
  • Never pass the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
  • Recognize the ecstasy of fresh air and wind in your face.
  • Take naps and stretch before rising.
  • Run, romp and play daily.
  • Thrive on attention and love
  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
  • On warm days, lie on your back in the grass. On hot days, drink lots of water and find the shade.
  • When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • Enjoy long walks.
  • Be loyal.
  • Never pretend to be something you're not.
  • If what you want is buried, dig deep until you find it.
  • And, when someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

How's that for a solid lesson plan? I'll take it!

See, learning can be fun! And it doesn't always have to involve lessons in math or science - it can (and should!) involve life lessons that we can take away from the classroom and apply in every day situations.

If dogs were our teachers, I think we'd have some great life lessons integrated into our curriculum.

Take it from Roger Caras, who says:
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
So if dogs were our teachers, what else could they teach us? Share you thoughts in the comments below...

Keep Smiling,

P.S. Bliss Habits is having a Blogversary party! Hop on over to help celebrate and join the fun - there is some great content and giveaways!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

5 Things You Need to Get a Fresh Start


I have always welcomed the Spring season with open arms. Flowers blooming, birds chirping, sun shining...they're all things I love. Not to mention the warmer temperatures, longer days and the impending arrival of Summer. I love starting my day by taking in the fresh, clean Spring air - Ahhhhhhh.

But I'm not the only one who loves this season. In fact, most of us use Spring as a way to get a "fresh start" after thawing out from a long, cold Winter. It's kind of like a renewal of the spirit we have when we set New Year's Resolutions. There's Spring cleaning, shopping for new Spring clothes, prepping our windows to allow the outside air to flow through our homes, dusting off the patio furniture, and putting away the boots.

Sure, there's all of that. But there's also another way to get a fresh start - and this one is solely for our own physical and mental well being.

I'm seeing the arrival of Spring as a way to clear our heads and rid our mind and body of the negative thoughts, emotions, and habits that have been hibernating inside of us throughout the Winter.

If you know you're the one in need of a good Spring cleaning - whether it be figuring out "what's next", revamping your career, actually starting that project you've been thinking of for 5 months now, finally letting go of negativity in your life, or taking the first step in starting a new journey - then this one's for you.

Here are 5 things you'll need to get a fresh start:

1. Courage - This is a big one. Seriously, this is not the time to be a wimp. Find the courage to take the first step towards renewing your life, or your thoughts, or your actions - just take the first little step that you know you need to take in the direction you want to be heading. Believe me, this is the hardest thing to do. But once you've started, you're so much closer to getting to where you want to be. (Or at least, further away from where you don't want to be.) It's just one step. So just do it. Make it happen. Be courageous.

2. Time - You will come to the realization that starting fresh feels good, that you're ready to move on, move up, and move out - it's exciting! But you've got to give it time. It's easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of change, in the exhilaration of the "newness", and the prospect of doing something new. This is, for sure, a good thing. Just don't forget to take some time to evaluate your options, assess what is best for you not only now, but a few months down the road. Sometimes we need time to just relax for a moment, take a breath, and reassess. When given enough time, clarity is sure to ensue.

3. Focus - Getting a fresh start means that a lot will be happening, and probably all at once. You're going to need some serious focus to concentrate on finding and/or pursuing what it is you really want. If you're not quite sure what that is right now, then you've got to stay focused and concentrated on honing in on that sweet spot. Don't get side-tracked by meaningless distractions.

4. Strength - Not necessarily "muscle power", but the strength to listen to yourself. This is where you'll need to use The Gut Check, learn to trust your instincts, and do what you know is best. Getting a fresh start is not easy and it will take an incredible amount of strength - but only the kind that comes from deep inside. Be strong.

5. An Open Mind - I know I just told you that you'll need focus, and now I'm telling you you'll need an open mind. Sounds contradictory. So which one is it? Both. You're going to need to focus and concentrate on starting anew, but you're also going to need to keep your mind open so that you don't miss out on the opportunity to better understand where you are or where you could be headed. Besides, getting a fresh start by staying closed off to new things won't really be a "fresh start", now would it?

Oh, and one more thing. Remember this:
 "One of the most courageous things you can do is identify yourself, know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go." 
Sheila Murray Bethel

So as you're putting away your wool sweaters and admiring the lovely tulips blooming outside, don't forget that this is a great time to get a fresh start for yourself.

Do you have any other suggestions for the things you need to get a fresh start? Let's add to the list...leave your ideas in the comments below.

Keep Smiling,

Saturday, April 14, 2012

45 Lessons Life Taught Me, by Regina Brett

Image: MLB Daily Dish

Hello Optimists,

I stumbled upon this lovely post a few days ago and I just had to share it with you today. Each one of these 45 things hit the mark in terms of words of wisdom and great advice, so there's not much left for me to say after this one. 

Read through it all. You will be happy you did. Then leave me a comment with your favorite life lesson from the list.

Written by Regina Brett 

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught
me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.. Change the way you think.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and
Family will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month...

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. Release your children when they become adults, its their life now

9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay cheque.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their
Journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye.

16. Take a deep breath It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one
Is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no
For an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.
Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Just because you believe you are right, doesn't mean you are. Keep
An open mind.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24.. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26.. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years,
Will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. Your job is to love your children, not choose who they should love.

35. Don't audit life Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,
We'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42 The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield..

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How to Do a "Gut Check" and Learn to Believe in Yourself

Image: eakdesign on

Have you ever done a "gut check"?

You know - that slight pause and reevaluation of some action that you've just done or are about to do? That all-important moment in time where you stop and think, is this really what I should be/want to be doing?  It's that instinctive feeling you get when you know, under ordinary circumstances, your own moral compass would have directed you in the complete opposite direction. 

You may not do these all the time, and you may find that sometimes they "pop up" and take you by surprise. 

But one thing is for sure: when you do a gut check, you do it for a reason.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about a situation that I was involved in that I wasn't particularly keen on. From the outside, it looked great. It was successful. I was even congratulated, by multiple people, for my involvement. Everyone else that was involved was ecstatic. Yet I was torn between sharing in the excitement and being weighed down by an incredible sense of guilt for going against what I personally consider to be the right approach. That's when my friend suggested the gut check. "What's your gut telling you?" she asked. "There's your answer."

And so, there it was. I, in fact, had already (and unknowingly) done a gut check the moment I was asked to stray from my own path. It happened that first time I got that twinge in my stomach - a little internal toss up and signal that something wasn't right. Now came the difficult part of separating myself from the buzz around me and learning to believe in my own true direction.

As it turns out, I learned a lot from this, and so can you.

How to Do a "Gut Check" and Learn to Believe in Yourself

1. The moment you get that first little knot in your stomach, take note. 
Your conscience is telling you something...and you better listen. This is the first warning signal to alert you that you may be headed in the wrong direction. 

2. Do the "gut check" to see if there really is any merit to your second-guessing.
When we step away from a situation for a moment, it gives us incredible clarity. Our view is no longer fogged by the opinions of others or by the excitement that is spreading around us. This is our moment to decide for ourselves whether or not we should follow on this path. 

3. Consult others (that are removed from the particular situation and have no involvement) about your concerns. 
Sometimes our mind plays tricks on us or just works a little bit too hard and presents ideas and concerns that may really not be a big deal. Sometimes that knot in our stomach is there just to keep us in check; other times it's there to ring the alarm on a bad situation. Consulting with someone you trust and that shares your values can help you validate or disqualify your concerns. 

4. Consult your gut again.
It never hurts to double-check. That's why we go for second opinions from physicians, it's why we go back to the parking lot at night to check if we locked our car doors, and it's why we need to do another gut check when things don't line up. If, after thinking things through, you're gut is still telling you something's up, then something is definitely up. 

5. Believe in yourself and follow your true path.
You're not crazy for feeling differently about some things than others -even if you're the only one who is seeing it the way you are (though that does make things a bit more difficult.) However, we've got to believe in ourselves. We've got to have faith in our own internal GPS. Your true path can be easily found if you're willing to have faith in the driver. 

6. Make a mental note.
So now you know. You know that gut feeling, and you know when things are headed in the wrong direction. Make a mental note of this so you know for next will save you valuable time and energy in trying to figure things out.

If all of that didn't convince you about the power of the Gut Check and the value in believing in yourself, perhaps a few words of wisdom from the great G.W. will have some impact:
Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.
-George Washington

After all, that's what we're all looking for, isn't it? Happiness is something that everyone wants and needs in their life. Following your gut (your moral duty alarm clock) and believing in yourself are two sure-fire ways to find it.

Do you have any gut check stories to share? I'd love to hear about them and how you learned to find the answers by believing in yourself. Leave your stories in the comments below. 

Keep Smiling,

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happiness and Success: Which Comes First?

Earlier in the week I posted a link to an article called, "Happiness Makes Your Brain Work Better" on the OO Facebook page. Seems like something that would be quite obvious to us optimists, but nonethless I'm always interested in reading about things like this and thought you would be too. Anyway, the article included not only great content, but also a great TED talk called, "The Happy Secret to Better Work" by the author of The Happiness Advantage , Shawn Achor.

I wanted to include it in today's post in case you didn't have a chance to check it out yet, or, of course, if you just want to watch it again. ;)

It's 12 minutes that will bring you great information, interesting insights, tips to improve your level of happiness, and a good laugh. I promise!

One of the things that resonated with me was this:

"Success doesn't define happiness. Happiness defines success." 

Interesting. I've written a bunch of times about the link between happiness and success, but for some reason, this time I think it really "stuck" for me. 

I don't think I would be alone in saying that most of us believe that our level of happiness is directly related to our level of "success" in life, whatever that may be. Or perhaps we think that in order to be truly happy, we must be "successful", and until we reach that point, we can't be at our happiest.

I find this so interesting because these two ideas, "success" and "happiness", are some of the most hard-to-define concepts we have in life. Who can really say what "success" is for everyone? And the same goes for happiness. Isn't that the million dollar question: "How do we define happiness?" We must measure these two elements on a strictly individual scale - and no two persons' ideas of these can be the same. 

That being said, I do think that we should all be in the mindset that "happiness defines success" because having a positive outlook and attitude fuels our engagement and relationships, whether they be with friends or family, strangers, or even at work.

For me, the connection is clear:

When we are happy, we are more inclined to do the things that help us continue to feel those great emotions, which leads us to the building upon our strengths, having the courage to go the extra mile, and having pride in the things we invest our time in - all allowing us to become "successful" in every area of life. 

So, you've sold me on the idea, Mr. Achor.  I agree that happiness does, indeed, define success. 

What's your take?

Keep Smiling,

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Happiness and Health: Boosting our Moods by Eating Happy Foods

Image: slashfood

 You all know I'm a big believer in "signs" - those subtle little hints in life that point us in the direction we need to go in, that give us the ok to move forward with something we've been contemplating, or that send us a message just at the time when we need it most. I've written a lot about my own "signs" quite a bit, in 2 Signs of Positivity, and in all six of my Signs, Signs, and More Signs series. So it should come as no surprise that I stumbled on another one yesterday.

This sign, however, came through in the most unexpected of places. In doing some research at work for a health-related article I was writing, I came across some nutrition infographics and decided to browse through a few to see if there was any relevant information for my article. As I browsed through the thumbnails of about fifteen images, I found one that was entitled "15 Facts You Didn't Know About Bananas", and since I do love bananas (especially with peanut butter) I decided to read through it. I really don't know that much about bananas, so why not, right?

After learning about their origin and that they're actually a seed (did you know that!?) I came across Fact #11 which read: Eating a banana can cheer you up. Bananas are the only fruit to contain the amino acid tryptophan plus vitamin B6, which together help the body produce seratonin - the natural chemical which alleviates mental depression. (It's also found in Prozac).
Leave it to me to find a fact about happiness while randomly reading an infographic about bananas, of all things. So odd. 

Well, that peaked my interest in mood-boosting foods, so after work I continued my research to learn more about how we can use our diet to increase our happiness. I found some more proof backing the fact I read earlier about the benefits of bananas - specifically a report from a study at Oxford University, where researchers found that women recovering from depression who were deficient in tryptophan had a higher chance of regressing back to depressive states.

I made a note of the other facts that I found along the way and thought I'd share the info with you. Here is a list of what I'm calling "Happy Foods", or foods that have mood-boosting benefits:
  • Turkey, pinapple, cottage cheese, soy-based foods, and lobster - Like bananas, these are all are good sources of tryptophan which help create mood-enhancing seratonin in the brain. 
  • Chocolate (but we already knew that, didn't we?) - Apparently it's the combination of the emotional response - the velvety texture, sweet aroma, good memories it produces - along with a little bit of caffeine and its sugar content, which boosts seratonin levels.
  • Spinach - This veggie is rich in folate, which also helps to boost seratonin. A study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that people who consumed the least folate were 67 percent more likely to suffer from depression than those who took in the most. That's incentive enough to stock up on this vitamin, which is also found in veggies like asparagus, broccoli, and beans.
  • Walnuts and Salmon - These are some of the best sources for omega-3 fatty acids and uridine, which in combination with each other, help improve communication between neurons in the brain. This is the same action that antidepressant drugs perform - just in a natural way!

Make sure to add these items to your grocery list and start incorporating them into your diet. I'm loving this connection between health and happiness, and today's featured quote shares my feelings exactly:
To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.  - Buddha
Very true - it is absolutely a duty. It's easy to say that we should eat healthier or that we'll start our new eating plan next week, but we've got to do it now. Today.

Now we've got all the evidence that we need to know that in order to be happy and keep our mind strong and clear, we must make our health a priority. And we can even eat chocolate! Sweet.

Keep Smiling,

Saturday, February 11, 2012

World Happy Day and Random Acts of Kindness Week

Hey Optimists,

I've got BIG news: Today is World Happy Day and this week starts Random Acts of Kindness Week! Can it get any better?!

Thanks to Twitter, I found out about #WorldHappyDay just in time for today's global event and I hope this comes in time for you to celebrate the day too. Here's what it's all about:
World Happy Day marks the screening of "The HAPPY Movie", a documentary film all about what makes people happy and why. Created by filmmaker and Academy Award nominee Roko Belic, this film takes us on a journey through 5 different countries to explore the secrets behind "the world's most valued emotion", and has already been recognized with a bunch of big-deal film awards. It's no wonder....everyone wants to be happy! 
Take a look at the trailer at the end of the post to get a sneak peek of the film and then go find a screening near you and buy your tickets!

Random Acts of Kindness Week runs this year from February 13-19. Last year's movement was quite a success, and as a part of their Extreme Kindness Challenge – Our Ticket To a Kinder World. which encouraged people to participate in RAKW by performing at least one kind act per day for seven days, resulted in thousands of people making a conscious effort to make the world a better place. The thing that's pretty cool about this movement is that stories about RAK are so easily shared through social networks and word of mouth. 

The Happy Movie trailer:

Happy - A Documentary Trailer from Wadi Rum Films on Vimeo.

The power of doing good and making the world a better place is pretty darn strong. 
See what's going on with these events by following:
 @RAKfoundation and tweet about your act of kindness using #DoKindness
 @TheHappyMovie and tweet about your experience using #WorldHappyDay
and, of course,
 @OptmlOptimist (sorry, I couldn't resist)

Start planning your RAK for next week and beyond. You'll be amazed at how many others pay it forward!

Have you seen The Happy Movie? Let me know what you think of it in the comments below!

Keep Smiling,

Saturday, February 4, 2012

50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours: An Excerpt

I have an awesome treat for you today. The amazing words you'll read below are taken from Regina Brett's "God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours", and each one is just so profound and full of wisdom. 

They happily found their way into my inbox last week, and I read through each one, nodding my head in agreement and saying, "Yep! So true!". So after doing it for each one - yes, 50 times! - I knew that I needed to share this with those who would appreciate it most, my OO crew! 

Enjoy today's *50* featured quotes! 

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
45. The best is yet to come.
46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
48. If you don't ask, you don't get.
49. Yield.
50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Regina Brett (born 31 May 1956) is a columnist for The Plain Dealer, a daily newspaper serving Cleveland, Ohio. She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary in 2008 and 2009. Her first book, "God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours" was published in April, 2010 by Grand Central Publishing. It is now in 20 countries.

I think I'm going to have to order myself a copy of the book. I just did a search on Amazon and found it - here's a link if you'd like to grab a copy: God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours.

Do you have a favorite on this list? (I though I did, but then I realized that all 50 are my favorites. Honestly....I can't choose just 1!) Maybe one to add to it? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

Keep Smiling,

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,