Category Archives: Happiness

A Simple Happy Day: Making Memories

 


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“Today is life – the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today.”

~ Dale Carnegie 

 

Yesterday was a memorable day for my family. My older daughter is a hair stylist so she almost always works on the weekend and is typically not available to do things with the family on Saturdays or Sundays. She happened to have yesterday off, and we planned a special day of making memories.

I am very fond of butterflies, and there was a butterfly exhibit at Roper Mountain Science Center here in Greenville, SC. It was an opportunity for us to walk among several species of butterflies in an enclosed area. The staff of the science center provided us with sticks dipped in Gatorade, telling us that the sugar would attract the butterflies.

It did. My younger daughter and my grandson were able to experience having a butterfly land on the end of the stick they were holding.

Moments to remember such as these are priceless.

Other Simply Happy Activities

We also enjoyed other indoor exhibits at the science center yesterday, including turtles, a few snakes and a touch tank. The grandkids were able to make paper butterflies at a craft area. My younger daughter and all but one of the grandchildren that were present joined Roper Mountain’s “Eat a bug” club. They rose to the challenge of eating a cricket! That wasn’t something I wanted to experience personally, but it helped make it a day to remember.

We were told that the science center also had an area with farm animals, but we opted not to go there because of the heat and humidity. It was probably 93 degrees or so, which meant we thought we’d be more comfortable if we sought out air conditioning.

Later that afternoon, we all went to see “Finding Dory”, the sequel to “Finding Nemo.” It was a fun, heartwarming movie which we thoroughly enjoyed.

What we enjoyed the most was the opportunity to spend time together.

How Life Evolves and Changes

In my family, we are on the brink of major change. My younger daughter is heading away to college in the fall and will be hundreds of miles away. My oldest granddaughter will be starting middle school.

Did you ever watch a flower grow on time lapse photography?  Everything around us is actually evolving and changing imperceptibly right before our eyes. We just can’t see the tiny signs of change. Images caught on time lapse photography give us a glimpse of how things are changing even though we can’t see all that’s going on right under our noses. Check out the work of Louie Schwartzberg if you have never seen it.

The simple, happy moments of family togetherness are the stuff memories are made of. These are experiences that will never come again. If we get to visit the butterfly exhibit again sometime in the future, we will all be a bit older and we will be changed. We all will have had our own different experiences between now and then that give us different perspectives. We will each have our own reactions to the experience.

In a lot of ways, we won’t even be the same people two, three or five years from now that we are today.

Every single day gives us a chance to have brand new experiences. Some are more memorable than others.

To me what is the most cherished of all is the opportunity to spend time and make new memories with the people who are most important to me.

A simple, happy day is one of life’s greatest blessings.

4 Myths About Happiness

Boquete - Snowy-bellied Hummingbird

“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.”

~ Albert Camus

 

If you feel like you are not as happy as you could be, it may be that you are holding onto certain beliefs. In fact, what you believe about happiness may hold the key to how much joy you actually experience in your life.

Some of the most common myths about happiness may cause you to hold yourself back from experiencing the best of all life has to offer. Here are some examples.

Myth #1: You can only be happy if….

I think if I had to choose one happiness myth that causes people pain, this would be it. Do you ever find yourself feeling that there is one particular thing or person missing from your life, and without it you can’t possibly be happy?

You may wish very much for a new car or a bigger house. You may wish for someone to share your life with if you are single. You may wish for more time to yourself if you have a smothering spouse or a large family.  You may wish for small things like a certain pair of shoes, or big things like a new job or the ability to travel to exotic places.

Don’t postpone your happiness. You have exactly what you need today, and it’s possible to be happy with exactly what you have. Sure, you might be able to be happier if you had more money and more people surrounding you. But you can choose to be happy in your present circumstances, because happiness is not something that lies outside yourself.

Myth # 2: You can’t be happy because….

Rather than longing for something that you haven’t yet attained, the opposite side of the coin is believing you can’t be happy because of some external thing that has happened to you, such as a recent death, divorce, car accident or health problem.

While loss frequently requires a time of grieving and rebuilding, it doesn’t mean you can’t experience some happiness now, or that you will never experience happiness again.

The subject of loss is very familiar to me. Some of the major losses I have experienced include the death of my husband and my mother. I also experienced an apartment fire while my husband was on hospice care. If you are in pain, my heart goes out to you. But trust me, you will survive the pain and learn from it. Often there are blessings in loss.

If you are hurting today, you may want to read the chapter on loss in my book Happiness for the Clueless. You can be happy again.

Myth #3: You don’t deserve to be happy

Sometimes people think they don’t deserve to be happy. For some people, this could be the result of childhood abuse or trauma. If you grew up in an environment where you were treated like you were worthless, you may have a deep-seated sense of toxic shame and a belief that you don’t deserve to be happy.

Let the past stay in the past. Get in the habit of noticing and recognizing all that you do right each day. Shower yourself with all the love you may not have received up to now.

Another reason you may think you don’t deserve to be happy is guilt over things you have done. Guilt is a terrible emotion that can wreak havoc with present-day happiness. Whatever you have done in the past, there is absolutely nothing you can do to undo it. All you can do is try to do better in the future.

No matter what others may have said to you or what you have done, you deserve to be happy.

Myth #4: You have to work for happiness

How hard do you think you have to work for happiness? The answer: not at all. Happiness is positive emotion that comes from living in today and accepting your circumstances as being exactly the way they are supposed to be. You can hope for certain things to change, you can make a plan and start to take steps toward new goals, but in the meantime simply experience whatever positive feelings you can each and every day.

Don’t work so hard at it. Don’t struggle against what is. Look for the good in this present moment.

As Chuang-Tse said, “Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.”

The Joy of Completing a Goal

Sunrise over Ellesmere

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

~ Nelson Mandela

 

When you set a goal and then see that goal through to its completion, it can give you a pretty good feeling.

I know, because I recently completed a book about happiness, which is something I have wanted to do for quite a while. The topic of happiness, particularly in the sense of spreading positive energy to people who might need to be lifted up, is something that is very dear to my heart.

In order to complete the book, like many writers, I had to overcome a bizarre inner resistance to doing the thing I wanted to do most. I’ve done a lot of ghostwriting for other people, but in the recent past (and as a middle-aged woman, the recent past encompasses probably at least a decade), I have done very little writing just because I wanted to. My focus has been primarily on writing what clients tell me to write, and on taking care of other people.

I’ve been having a hard time putting the focus on me, or my life or goals that I want to accomplish. It’s been even harder to follow through and complete projects I start.

I have just been putting one foot in front of the other for years.

I have become clueless about life and about happiness.

Lessons and More Lessons

This blog and my book Happiness for the Clueless: 7 Simple Tips for a Happier Life have been evolving because I have an eager student who needs to learn about happiness, joy, contentment, satisfaction and inner peace.

The eager student is me.

I like to think the things I write about might be touching others who have been presented with challenges and difficulties that tripped them up or knocked them down.

Other writers have done that for me.

For as long as I can remember, I have drawn courage and strength from the writings of others, people like Maya Angelou and Wayne Dyer and Kahlil Gibran. During dark days, I have been comforted by the written words of people who took the time to share their thoughts in writing.

Getting to the Finish Line

Recently I found that I needed to prove to myself that I could actually complete a book that I started, a book that I wrote just because I wanted to write it and not because I had been hired to write it.

And then I decided to follow this project through to completion by releasing my book to the universe as an indie writer.

I did it.

My book Happiness for the Clueless: 7 Simple Tips for a Happier Life is free on Amazon from now until Saturday June 18.

My hope is that maybe my words will touch the lives of at least a few people. I even hope that maybe in taking the time to write this book, I might make a tiny difference.

I know that I have made a difference in one life.

My own.

25 Thoughts to Lift You Up on Gloomy Days

Water Autumn RipplesSome days it feels like it doesn’t pay to get out of bed. You may start the day by arguing with your spouse or your kids, or your car won’t start. A passing motorist may cut you off or express hostility toward you for no apparent reason.

Let’s face it. Not every day can be a good day. When you’re feeling down, reading a few uplifting quotes can help to lift you up.

Overcoming adversity starts with changing your thoughts. Take a deep breath. Better days are coming.

Focus on uplifting thoughts such as these:

“Don’t let a bad day make you feel like you got a bad life.        ”

                                                      ~ Author Unknown

“Problems are only opportunities with thorns on them.”

                                                        ~ Hugh Miller

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

                                                         ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.”

                                                          ~ Robert H. Schuller

“Let us be of cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those that never come.”

                                                           ~ Amy Lowell

“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire – then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.”

                                                           ~ Sigmund Wollman

“People are resilient. After all, every person born has recovered from nine months on life support.”

                                                          ~ Robert Brault

“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”

                                                         ~ Maya Angelou

“Every flower must grow through dirt.”

                                                        ~ Laurie Jean Sennott

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

                                                       ~ Napoleon Hill

“I am one of those people who just can’t help getting a kick out of life – even when it’s a kick in the teeth.”

                                                       ~ Polly Adler

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn.”

                                                    ~ Author Unknown

“By trying, we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s I mean.”

                                                  ~ Mark Twain

“No one really has a bad life. Not even a bad day. Just bad moments.”

                                                   ~ Regina Brett

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

                                                     ~ Albert Einstein

“There’s nothing wrong or evil about having a bad day. There’s everything wrong with making others have to have it…with you.”

                                                    ~ Neil Cavuto

“Difficulties strengthen the mind as labor does the body.”

                                                      ~ Seneca

“Always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity.”

                                                        ~ Og Mandino

“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”

                                                     ~ Barbara de Angelis

“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it…. This will miraculously transform your whole life.”

                                                       ~ Eckhart Tolle

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

                                                      ~ Samuel Beckett

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”

                                                      ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Your highest self is revealed in your lowest moments.”

                                                    ~ Matshona Dhiliway

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

                                                      ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful Strive to be happy.”

                                                      ~Max Ehrmann

 What are your favorite uplifting quotes? I invite you to share them in the comments.

8 Authors Who Can Help You to be Happier

Candle

“I owe everything I am and everything I will be to books.”

~ Gary Paulsen

 

Picture yourself sitting in a cave by yourself. There is no light. You are consumed with pitch darkness.

Suddenly there is the light of a single candle. It burns silently and subtly, but this tiny light breaks through the darkness and allows you to see the way in front of you.

For me, that light is often found in the pages of books.

I am a self-confessed self-help junkie.  I devour self-help books, and because of that passion, the words of others have often been that candle in the darkness that has allowed me to see the way

The following list is just a few of my favorite writers who have written about personal development and happiness. Reading their books is like stepping into the light of knowledge, wisdom and comfort.

Wayne Dyer. I first fell in love with the self-help genre back in the late 1970s when I read Your Erroneous Zones by Dr. Wayne Dyer. It was the first of several books I read by this brilliant author. As I read his simple, conversational writing style, or whenever I heard him speak on television, I began to get a glimpse of the things I could control in my life. As a naturally depressive person, the one thing Dr. Dyer gave me from the beginning was hope, hope that in controlling the things I could, life could get a whole lot more manageable.

Louise Hay. I can’t think of anyone who exudes more grace and positivity than Louise Hay. Louise teaches that your thoughts create your life, and I learned from her the power of positive affirmations. Her book You Can Heal Your Life is a must read for anyone facing emotional or physical challenges.

Steve Chandler. I can relate to the experiences Steve Chandler has had in his life, and the impact they have had on him. My favorite of his books which has helped me to put things in perspective when life doesn’t make any sense is 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free.

Gary Zukav. This is a person whose words have a hugely calming influence on me. Gary Zukav’s passion is personal authenticity. For an amazing journey into self-transformation, I highly recommend Seat of the Soul.

Eckhart Tolle. One of the most powerful lessons in happiness involves learning to live in the moment, and Eckhart Tolle is probably the main expert on that topic. The Power of Now is a must-read on a journey to a happier life.

Byron Katie. What is holding you back from happiness? Often it is your own perception of the things that are going on around you. There is work to be done to end personal suffering, which puts healing squarely in your own power. Learn how in Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life.

Shawn Achor. For the perspective of a true expert on happiness, read the work of Shawn Achor. He has spent over a decade researching and learning about happiness. In The Happiness Advantage, Achor shares what it takes to reprogram your brain to become more positive.

Valerie Dansereau. If I may be so humble as to add my name to this list, I feel my upcoming book Happiness for the Clueless holds a message that is simplistic, yet powerful. If you can’t figure out what is standing in the way of your happiness, you may want to check out the roadmap I have designed for an easy-to-remember system for a happier life. Sign up here to be notified when the book is ready for download.

Who are your favorite self-help or happiness authors? How have they helped you to transform your life?

3 Important Lessons Learned From my Mother

 

Cardinal“Our mothers give us so many gifts. They give us the precious gift of life, of course, but they also leave treasured lessons that can guide us along our journeys even when they are no longer with us.”

                                                ~Maria Shriver

 

My mother passed away in 2009 at the age of 78, but there are many blessings and lessons she brought to my life, and there are many constant reminders of her. Whenever I see a cardinal, I think of her. She passionately loved these brilliant red birds and had a collection of little statues of them. She also loved robins, and would say that she knew when it was spring when she started to see robins.

She had many motherly sayings, as many mothers do, like “Always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.” One of my favorites was, “What doesn’t break you will make you stronger, Valerie.”

Of the many important lessons she taught me, here are 3 of the most important.

If you can read, you can cook.

I’m in my fifties now and it amazes me when I meet women my age who don’t cook, saying that they can’t. Some of them live exclusively on take-out or frozen foods, which horrifies me.

My mother taught me that as long as you read, you can cook. All you have to do is follow the directions. She tried a new recipe just about weekly.

Some of my fondest memories of childhood involve coming home to my mom cooking homemade spaghetti sauce or a New England boiled dinner, or the scent of snickerdoodles baking at Christmas time.

Because of my mom, I seek out new recipes and follow the directions. I’m not always successful and wouldn’t say I’m a great cook, but I’m not afraid to give it my best shot. Thanks, Mom.

Learning and reading make life worthwhile

What is your earliest memory as a small child? One of my earliest memories is sitting curled up next to my mother while she read me a book, which was something she did frequently.

Reading and learning was such a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mother read voraciously, and was almost always familiar with what was on the bestseller list. She devoured information and facts and was so good at Jeopardy that we used to encourage her to go on the show, which she never did, but I know she would have done well.

I think my love of reading and ultimately writing came about because of her. Without her influence, my life may have gone in an entirely different direction and would have been nowhere near as rich and fulfilling.

Love others

My mother was a living example of loving other people. She cherished people and made friends almost everywhere she went. She had long-term friends that were her hairdressers, waitresses and neighbors. A large number of her friends were friends for life.

She set an amazing example of love and tolerance for others. She taught me not to be judgmental or discriminatory.

She was extremely devoted to my dad and set such a power of example of what it takes to make a marriage work. Sometimes love doesn’t come easily and requires effort. This is true not only in marriage, but in raising children and in friendship. My mom taught me that.

There were many more lessons besides those mentioned. I do know that one of the greatest blessings of my life was having a loving mother throughout my life. As an unknown author said, “A mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go.”

12 Things I Love About Spring

Curious Cutie
“With the coming of spring, I am calm again.”

~ Gustav Mahler  

I remember when I lived in Massachusetts and my mother would say that spring was her favorite season. I couldn’t relate. The problem for me at the time was that in New England, spring comes late and doesn’t stay long.

Now, living in the south, spring comes much earlier and with much more gusto. It’s truly a time of new beginnings and every spring I get a sense of relief that the cold days have passed again.

I have come up with 12 things I love about this time of year.

Living creatures are twitterpated. If you have seen Bambi, you know what I’m talking about. Geese segregate into pairs. So do ducks. So do bees and small birds. There is a feeling of happiness and mingling in the air.

Butterflies. I love the sight of butterflies. Big ones, small ones, brightly colored ones, less colorful ones. They dip, soar and fly quickly, announcing the arrival of spring.

New life. We have geese living behind the apartment complex where I live, and every spring they deliver a fresh batch of tiny yellow goslings. In the trees are new nests for smaller birds, and everywhere I look there is new life: tiny toads, tiny birds, tiny fish.

The sound of birds singing. More than any other time of year, the air is filled with the sound of songbirds singing happily. There is a cardinal that comes to my window daily and tweets until I look up and acknowledge his presence. There is a mockingbird that begins making a variety of sounds right outside my window at dawn.

Crocuses. Maybe my New England roots are showing, but I’m very fond of crocuses, the first plants to show a sign of life in the spring.

Buds on the trees. Another sign of rebirth is the hint of life that starts to show on bare branches. As trees are covered with more and more leaves, some of them burst into flower, seemingly overnight.

Green grass. When the grass gradually transitions from brownness and drabness into a burst of bright green, it is a reminder that the season of beauty and life has returned.

Dandelion seeds. I am not a homeowner, so I find tufts of dandelion seeds delightful. My grandchildren blow the white tufts off the stems, and my heart smiles, remembering.

Lilacs. What is more refreshing in the spring than the smell of lilacs? In high school, I walked to school and passed several lilac trees on the way. I could inhale the unforgettable fragrance, and the smell of lilacs still brings me joy.

Tennis and other spring sports. Tennis will always be dear to my heart, and as the weather starts to warm, it’s a reminder that it’s time to pick up a racket. Some prefer baseball, biking or jogging, but whatever sport appeals to you, it’s time to step outside and be more active.

Warmth. The feeling of the sun on my face is one of the best things I can ever experience. What a relief to put away sweaters and winter coats.

Hope of a new beginning. It’s time to start over, experience joy, comfort, curiosity and rebirth.

It’s spring.

The late Robin Williams said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’”

Enjoy this exquisite spring day.

What do you love about spring?

50 Reasons to be Happy

Beach Fun
“Be happy for no reason, like a child.”
~ Deepak Chopra

Can you think of reasons to be happy today? Here are 50:

 

 

  1. You’re alive
  2. Somebody loves you
  3. You can read
  4. You have enough to eat
  5. You have safe, pure, drinking water
  6. You have a roof over your head
  7. You have experienced the kindness of strangers
  8. There is more to learn
  9. There is more to do
  10. You’ve made a difference in the life of at least one person
  11. You have a dream
  12. Hugs and kisses
  13. Sunshine
  14. Learning from others
  15. Learning from your mistakes
  16. You have at least one friend
  17. There are many more friends you haven’t met yet
  18. The internet puts the world at your fingertips
  19. The power of imagination
  20. The hope of new life: babies, puppies, kittens
  21. The eagerness and excitement of children
  22. The wisdom of the elderly
  23. The joy of memories: you can remember the happiest day you ever had
  24. Clouds
  25. Stars
  26. You are right where you are supposed to be
  27. The universe is unfolding as it should
  28. Seasons
  29. Music
  30. Social media keeps you connected to old friends
  31. You can express your opinion
  32. Deep breaths
  33. The aroma of good food, fresh coffee, the ocean, candles
  34. The new opportunities of each new day
  35. You have another chance to try again
  36. Family: parents, grandparents, children, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles
  37. You believe in something or someone
  38. Unconditional love of children and pets
  39. Flowers
  40. Movies
  41. Color
  42. Birds
  43. Butterflies
  44. Taking time to play: sports, dancing, board games, swings
  45. Smiles are contagious
  46. Laughter
  47. You have what you need for this one day
  48. The inner peace of loving what is
  49. Possibilities
  50. The best is yet to come
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Spreading Happiness When We’re Feeling Sad

Broken Flowers
“The greatest gift we give to someone who loves us is simply to be happy.”
~ Robert Brault

Some days it’s easier to be happy than other days. We suffer disappointment and loss and it shows all over our faces.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have our way all the time? In a perfect world, we would always have plenty of money and be surrounded by love. We would be free of aches and pains and have no memory of hurts or disappointments. All the traffic lights would be green. It would never be cloudy or rainy or too hot or too cold. Cars would never break down, strangers would never be rude. There would be no illness or death or unemployment. We wouldn’t have to be afraid of not getting what we wanted.

It’s not a perfect world.

When we choose to dwell on what isn’t perfect in life, we allow our inner peace and contentment to slip away. Worse than that, when we carry an aura of gloominess or sadness, our negative energy quickly spreads to others. Frowns can be as contagious as yawns to everyone we run into, including strangers and those we love the most.

When people we love see us frowning or scowling, it may be hard for them to hang onto their own good mood. Suddenly their smiles become frowns too.

Hanging onto what is good

Life is like an hourglass and the sands are slipping through imperceptibly. In spite of today’s imperfections, there is still plenty to be happy about in this one day.

What is good in your life today? Did you have the opportunity to listen to your favorite song or to walk through the park? Did you enjoy a good meal or get a hug from a child?

Hang onto what’s good.

And remember to smile.

When our hearts feel wounded or sad, we can remind ourselves that the people we love need to see our strength and courage. Even if we feel gloomy, we can practice pretending to be happy.

Can you find the strength to smile at a dozen strangers today?

Can you bring some positive energy the people who love you?

Sometimes pretending to be cheerful can make us feel a little more cheerful.

Whatever bad times we are experiencing, they are temporary. They aren’t the end of the world.

Better days are coming. And everything is going to be ok.

 

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Enjoying Happiness in This One Moment

Joy (Explored)“Be happy for this one moment. This moment is your life.”
                       ~ Omar Khayyam

 

You can choose happiness just for this one moment. You don’t have to decide to be happy for the whole year or the whole week or even the whole day. Take a single moment out of today and choose to be happy.

Do you think this is difficult?

Life is full of bumps in the road and times that aren’t perfect. If you’re living a life that is full of sadness, loneliness or disappointment, bring your focus back to this one day and this one moment. Look for one thing or one person to appreciate right now.

If the sun is shining, enjoy the brilliance and the warmth.

If it’s cold or rainy, experience the refreshment of the universe all around. Be grateful for your home where you have a roof over your head and a place to call your own.

If it is quiet around you, lean into the peace and tranquility you are able to experience in this moment.

If you have family or friends, feel the love that they bring to your life. Realize that children are growing and changing right in front of your eyes. So are flowers. So are trees. Life is ever-evolving and each individual moment is an irreplaceable gift.

Blessings All Around

 If you have a computer or a smart phone that allows you to access uplifting quotes, realize what a blessing that is. These devices also allow you to access social media where you can connect with other people at any time day or night.

Wow.

In this moment, notice that your ability to read is a wonderful gift that allows you to tap into the words of many people who have shared their wisdom and energy through poetry, prose or music.

This one moment in time won’t be repeated. The things you see, smell and hear today won’t pass this way again.

Savor this one moment and all the people and events that have led you here.

Embrace and enjoy the wonderful moments and experiences that make up your life.

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