“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is ingrained in our American culture. What makes you happy? Is it the same things that made your parents happy? Do things that made you happy in the past seem to have lost their luster?
            What makes us happy is a lot like marriages when you think about it. I frequently tell couples in counseling sessions that marriage doesn’t work. Never has. Never will. Period. Why? Because marriage is not an entity, it’s a thing. The “marriage” can’t do anything. True, it’s not an object like the other things that “make” us happy. It’s an idea. In either case, things and ideas are nothing unto themselves. What works or doesn’t work in a marriage, or what makes us happy, is not the thing or the idea. It’s us.
            The reason why living life like our parents did may not be satisfying to us is because it’s not the way we want to live our life. Truth be told, our parents may have been living their lives the way they did because that’s the way our grandparents did, or because they thought a certain course was expected of them. The human species is not a “one-size-fits-all” organism. Actually, I’ve never understood how anything can be “one-size-fits-all.” All of what?!?But I digress…
            Each of us is an individual, with our unique hopes, dreams, desires and life course. Finding out what our true purpose is in life is part of the solution to being happy. Happiness, however, is not the goal. Happiness is a byproduct of something far more elusive:  Contentment. To be content with what we have creates the happiness and peace so many people seek. Contentment is not complacency. It is not taking what you get and feeling that’s all you deserve. We can always strive to improve our conditions. We experience contentment, however, when we are blessing everything and everyone around us. This is only possible if we are also willing to let go of the past. That means being willing on a daily basis to forgive people who we feel have wronged us and release all the past hurts, mistakes and things we wish we would have done differently.
            Be willing this week, if you will, to let go of your expectations of how everyone else should be living their lives and focus on what you must do to create a life worth living. Let it be filled with the joy of the present, not regrets of the past. Accept all the good around you and share that abundance with others. Note of caution:  Your ego is probably having a conniption fit right about now. Thank it for being there and for trying to protect you. But this time, send it off to bed. It doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
            Do this and you will be happier than ever before, perhaps not today, or tomorrow, but sooner than you might have expected. With all of this you have a choice. Ask yourself, Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy? Choosing right all the time is exhausting, people will despise you and you’ll get a pimple. Not pretty. Choose happy, okay?
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

How Many Friends Can We Have?

There is so much happening in the world today, or at least that’s what we are told by the media. I would suggest to you that there isn’t anything more happening today than there was last week, last year or a hundred years ago. The Internet has provided the means to inform us of far more than our brains are capable of comprehending. We have allowed ourselves to become inundated with pieces of trivia along with information that might actually be vital for our survival. The trivia almost always wins out. To many people it’s far more interesting, and definitely easier, to consider possibilities or dream and ponder than it is to actually get down to business and do something about the problems we face.
At some point we have to wonder just how crucial it is for us to know that our Facebook friend has forgotten to buy toilet paper (again), is upset with traffic (again) or their cat has done yet one cuter thing than last week (again!). Who cares? What makes us think that our minute-by-minute report should stop time for everyone in our live and even people we don’t know?
If we’re friends on Facebook you know I’m as guilty of posting this kind of information as most people, so I’m not casting stones in righteous indignation. (In fact, I hope you enjoyed the pansy pictures I posted this morning!) Why we post, why we feel the need to express personal details of our lives to the world and why we think anyone will be interested gives me cause for pause.
What can be happening with online media is the same thing that has happened with TV for decades. As we live vicariously through others, either fictional characters or real people, our own lives take on a different perspective. Some things make us feel superior – “I’m SO much better than that!” Conversely, other life experiences may cause us to think that we will never achieve such greatness, thereby failing back into depression and despair at our situation instead of moving forward to better our lives.
The impact of social media on the world today is without question. Governments have fallen and long-lost loves have been reunited. It’s not humanly possible at this point in our evolution to be intimately involved with as many Facebook friends as we have. And while we are busy “keeping in touch” with people we may never see in person, there are loved ones in our own home or community who may be longing for our attention and companionship.
Taking personal responsibility for our own life and how we can impact the rest of the world is the only way to achieve the peace and harmony for which so many search. The place to start is at home…and not in front of the computer, our tablets or mobile devices.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Give Them A Break

From April 11, 2013:

Give Them a Break
I've often said that if I treated other people the way I treat myself sometimes I wouldn't have any friends. Most of us would readily, though not proudly, admit just how much we beat ourselves up through negative self-talk. The "I'm so stupid" comments we say or think might seem meaningless, but over the long haul it does affect us. Imagine if we talked to others the same way we talked to ourselves.
So while being kinder to ourselves should be on the top of our "To Do" lists, there are others who could benefit from a gentler approach as well. They would be our spouses, partners, family members, close friends or co-workers - the people with whom we are in contact the most.
Familiarity can breed more than contempt.  It can foster judgments and assumptions that may or may not be valid. It may be true that our partner's actions are predictable, but trusting that assumption could cause us to miss out on opportunities for a deeper understanding of the person.
In The Creative Process and the Individual, Thomas Troward wrote, "Relying on the maxim that Principle is not bound by Precedent we should not limit our expectations of the future." Just because someone has always reacted in a particular way doesn't mean it has to continue. It may. But it just as well may not. One surefire way to guaranty the same outcome occurs is to set it up that way in our own mind and accompany those thoughts with snarky comments in our out loud voices. I don't recommend that tactic.
Being open to another person giving up a habit or expressing themselves differently doesn't mean we are trying to change them. But assuming they will continue down the same path they have in the past will re-enforce behavior that annoys us, that we simply don't like, or encourage the continuance of a habit or practice that could be life-threatening. It's like trying to teach a pig to sing. It doesn't work and it annoys the pig.
The trick is to let go of our assumptions without any expectation of the result. In other words, if we release our judgmental expectations and the person still behaves badly, we accept the situation and move on. We don't say "I just knew it," we simply accept it. Peace of mind, however, comes from knowing that acceptance does not mean approval.
That's all I have on these thoughts for now. It probably seems a bit unfinished compared to my other posts. There's a reason for that:  It IS unfinished. Take the thoughts into your own consciousness and find your own conclusion. I'd love to hear what you come up with!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Level 28

I’ve never been into video games much, unless you count “Pong” (yes, I AM that old) or the original “Pac Man” (ditto on the age thing). I have been known to download a game app or two to my smart phone or tablet. It’s a great way to pass the time when I’m stuck somewhere. It was recently pointed out to me that I really don’t need to work constantly. My game aps are a means for me to do something that is relaxing, completely selfish and enjoyable!
I currently have 14 games going with people in “Words with Friends” and I’m up to Level 28 in “Bubble World.” I’ve been stuck on Level 28 for over a week and it’s really beginning to tick me off. Once I get to Level 29 I ain’t goin’ back for anyone!
That made me think about how often I have chosen to go backward instead of forward in life. I work out hard for a couple of weeks and watch the pounds drop off, but then fall back into old eating habits. I carefully watch my thoughts, yet find myself engaging in old communication patterns with friends or partners because it’s comfortable and familiar.
Being in a Level 28 position in life doesn’t make us better than those at Level 27 or below, nor does it make us inferior to those Level 29 and above folks. Whatever labels we associate with our lives simply indicate where we are in the game of life, or more accurately, where we think we are. As we gain new levels of expertise in life we acquire new thinking patterns, new skills and perhaps even some wisdom. We must continue to practice our new skills lest we backslide into old thought patterns.
It’s far easier, however, to make ourselves comfortable with others, becoming a chameleon of sorts. For example, we know racial slurs, ethnic jokes and humor about gender orientation are unkind and a sign of ignorance, but when around less educated people we might choose to laugh along. Students, particularly the popular ones, know when bullying is happening, yet may say nothing when faced with a less popular student being poked fun at.
We have an obligation to be just as gorgeous, handsome, intelligent, wise, rich and spiritual conscious as we have the willingness to attain. We don’t get to enjoy those experiences by going backwards, nor do we help the forward movement of evolution on our planet by being any less than we have become. We can help others not quite up to where we are by setting the example, not joining the crowd.
Be confident and proud of who you are and to where you’ve arrived at this point in life. Don’t let anyone knock you down even one level. Reach back and help someone forward. And when the person ahead of you in life reaches back for your hand, let go of your pride, grab ahold and hang on for the ride of your life!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,