marionettes

It is never wrong to be kind, but there is kindness to be found in some acts that may seem harsh.

For instance:

When you always pick up toys for your child, you don’t allow them to learn to care for themselves.
When you feed your family only what they already love, you deny them the experience of new flavors and textures.
When you allow someone to treat you badly, to teach them that they can be cruel to people.
When you spoil your pets, you make it harder for anyone to care for them in your absence.

Being too kind is also bad for your own psyche.
When you carry each small burden for everyone else, you often find you don’t have time or energy to care for yourself.

The solution is to allow the people (and pets) you love to grow by being kind and firm.

thanksHow many times a day do you say, “Thank you.”? How many times do you hear it?
It might be difficult to count because you probably say it more often than you hear it. To some people,”thank you” is an invisible phrase along the lines of, “Beautiful/horrible weather today.”, “How are you?” (to a stranger) or “Have a nice day.” It often passes through us rather than to us.

But when you think about a heartfelt thank-you, the ones you remember mattered. A call from a family member to thank you for a gift, a eye contact thank-you from someone whose groceries you carried, or a note from an associate thanking you for a referral or a lead; THOSE ‘thank-you’s carry more weight because they are NOT invisible.

A heartfelt thank-you is a memory you keep in someone else’s mind.
What do I mean by that?

When you think of someone who has shown you genuine gratitude, you may not remember what you did to earn it but you can describe their face and the sound of their voice, maybe even what they were wearing, know why? They got in your head. They appealed to a part of you that feels good and you now associate that person’s characteristics with feeling good.

Are you starting to understand the value of gratitude? If you remember someone who thanked you from the heart, you will be remembered by someone else for the same reason.

When forming a new relationship with someone with whom you would like to do business in the future, or even someone you would like to see again socially, one very smart thing you can do is instill in them the good feeling and connection of being thanked.

What if that person has never done anything to earn your gratitude?
If you’ve talked to them or corresponded with them, of course they have! They gave you their time and attention!
In this social media addicted world if someone looked up from their phone long enough to acknowledge your existence or send an email, you have a reason to thank them. You can even use social media to make the next step.
I don’t want to give you the impression that false gratitude is a good tool to promote yourself, but genuine gratitude is a great way to make new connections.
Try it with someone this week and see what it does for your life. Send a card or a basket of something lovely, email a short nice note. Scribble “Thanks!” on a post-it and stick it to a desk and watch the reaction. People will start to remember your name and your face, but mostly they will remember the warm feeling of being valued.

Thank you for reading this blog post and have the very best week ever.

I believe that when you randomly come across wisdom meant to help others, you should share it. So with credit to a Reddit user who calls himself “Jockobutters” (and with apologies for the expletives) here are three ideas that I hope will change your life.
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1. The human being is meant to bear the burden of 24 hours — no more, no less. If you live in the future, you will get anxious; if you live in the past, you will get depressed. Twenty four hours is all that you have to live in. Give up all the other burdens to the universe, to god, to your cat, to whatever – but the burdens of the past are not yours. The burdens of the future aren’t yours either. Let them go. The day is your material. It’s what’s in front of you, it’s the only thing that you have the power to change or to shape or to use. It’s your canvas. It’s your material. So use it well.

2. Happiness is not something you can pursue – but instead the byproduct of doing the right thing. We get so tripped up thinking that happiness is an end goal — and then get frustrated when it slips through our fingers. Instead, focus on whatever the right thing is – and happiness will follow. Feel like shit at the end of the day? Maybe it’s because you ate a tub of ice cream for dinner, forgot to call your mom back, blew off homework to play video games, etc. On the surface, those are all things that should make you “happy” – but I’ve found that when I’m feeling most depressed, its usually a factor of actions I either did or (more likely) did not do. If you’re passively waiting for happiness to wash over you like a wave — it’s not going to happen. Instead, take action, do whatever the “right thing” is, and that feeling of warmth and fulfillment will follow of its own accord.

3. The world’s idea of success is total shit. Don’t get sucked into it. On television, on the street, when talking with friends or family – it seems like everyone confuses the concept of rewards with success itself. Whether it’s money, fame, recognition, praise, sex, the rewards are not up to you — they are all dependent on someone else. Instead, think of success as sustained effort of will. It begins and ends with YOU, and no one else. Think of any fantasy or goal you may have — say you’ve always wanted to be a great artist. Imagine it. What does that look like? I guarantee you’re thinking about palling around in Paris with beautiful women and having your art work admired in galleries and being given the Nobel prize – basically you’re fantasizing about having been a great artist and not actually making the art. That way of thinking can totally mess you up because it once again puts the emphasis on passive recognition over active, sustained effort. The more you shift focus onto your own actions, the more you create sustained effort, and the more likely it is that the rewards will follow.

Lastly, as a bit of an addendum – it’s good to remember the difference between stopping and quitting. This helps me when I’m feeling a bit lost or down on myself — or during those times when I’ve just chucked these three ideas to the wind and sat on the couch all day instead. If you’ve ever strayed from what you feel you were supposed to do or who you were supposed to be – remember that everyone has to stop. Whatever it is we’re doing, whatever our grand ambitions are in life, we stop. We have to stop. We have to take a piss, or go to bed, or go on vacation, or we have a kid and not have much time to ourselves etc. But quitting is stopping without ever beginning again. So as long as you’re here, as long as you’re alive and pulling air through your lungs, you can begin again. And if you begin again, then you haven’t quit. So fucking begin again.

Leave it behind.

past

There is an old saying, “After 40 your face is your own design.”
It’s the same with your life.

When we are young all we have is what we were given.
Good parents make happy children, bad parents make unhappy ones.
The advantages given in those first few years, (or the scars) can mean the difference between early success and failure.

But the years are ours to shape.

Someone with a happy childhood can become addicted to alcohol or drugs or caught up in a criminal situation that destroys that early happiness.
Someone neglected or abused can find the right college, friend or job situation that propels them to heights they never dreamed possible.

In both cases a life is changed by choices made in the present, the past was utterly irrelevant.

Fortunes can flip again later in life due to things like illness, windfalls, hard work or hard times and the only sure thing, the only way to control the elements of our lives is to decide that the past has passed and focus on what is happening right now.

How are the decisions you make today going to affect your future? What choices can you make that the ‘you from five years from now’ will look back on with pride?

If you make every decision based on that question, you have “foresight” working in your favor. Of course no one can see into the future, but the only good thing about your past is that it taught you what you need to know to make decisions now!

What happened yesterday was no more than lessons learned.
What you do with your mind NOW decides your future happiness.
Your past? Leave it behind.

Believe in Children

lil pirateWhen a child tells you he or she is going to be a pirate when they grow up, or that they are going to invent something that makes broccoli taste like ice cream or even that they are going to learn to fly, it is very important that you play along. Kids have amazing imaginations and if they get to keep those thoughts for as long as possible, they can build on them and plan what they are really going to do with more confidence and the feeling that they have you on their side.

Buy a pistachio ice cream for your little pirate and teach them to fly a kite, one day you might ride in their corporate jet, to the headquarters of their 32 flavor salad bar chain!

Find your dream.

nice deckYou may not always know what you want to do or what you want to be, but everyone knows what they like.
Think about all the things that make you happy. Here are some ideas to spur your imagination: Cooking, math, art, music, electronics, animals, sleeping, a good cup of tea, reading, lasagna, running, canoeing, dancing, good friends, gardening… Could any of them be part of the path you are meant to take?

Try this simple exercise to help you begin to figure it out.
Imagine you won the lottery, paid off your bills and your lawyer, bought the house and car and took the vacation, the publicity of the event is over and you never have to worry about money again. How would you include the things you already love in your PERFECT day?

My friend Jay’s answer to the question was: “I would build a house on a lake in a forest with an amazing deck with tempered glass rails a stone BBQ pit and a sunken jacuzzi. It would wrap around two sides of the house so I could enjoy the water and the trees. In my perfect day I would sit out on that deck and play my guitar, eat BBQ, drink and hang out with my friends.”

(Great day in my opinion.)

We talked about what someone would have to do to get where he was (unemployed) to where he wanted to be and surprisingly, the answer was right there in the first sentence. “I would build…an amazing deck.”

He built a nice deck on a mobile home for a friend, which led to jobs building amazing decks on houses, then he hired helpers that became employees, then he started a company.

Long story short, Jay’s deck on his forested land, which overlooks a river is beautiful, he loves playing songs there for his friends and he makes a mean BBQ!

Sit back and think about the things you love, then incorporated them into your perfect day. Find the one thing that shines out.

It could lead to your dream!

(Above photo courtesy: Exterior Concepts http://exteriorconceptsonline.com/wordpress/deck-on-the-hillsborough)

Just be yourself.

Why do you think everyone wants to be thin, rich and famous? Is it because we feel unhealthy,deprived of material objects or we don’t feel loved?
If you think so, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Can I walk up a flight of stairs carrying a bag of groceries?
2. Do I have parents, children, friends or a significant other that cares for me?
3. Do I have the necessities and some things I don’t need?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of those things, you have goals to reach, but if you answered yes, you are fine!

Most of us are fine! We are just pelted with images of ridiculously inflated lifestyles every day so we will buy more products!
Gertrudis

I watched a movie once with two male friends in which:
One sister was slender and tragically beautiful.
One sister was beautiful had everything she wanted.
One sister was not thin, beautiful nor wealthy.

I was surprised when both of my friends said at the end of the movie that they were most attracted to the one that was chubby and had nothing.
“Why? I asked, to which they both answered in their own way,
“She is herself.”

The character was not influenced by trend, she loved heartily and had no feelings of shame or guilt. (She did have a good kind heart!)

I encourage you to spend some time away from screen and print media, perhaps reading a book written before television or experiencing art and music from the time before television.
When you see what life was like before money became our society’s strongest driving force, you will feel better.
Meanwhile, try, for just one day to forget image and social status and just be yourself!