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Archive for May, 2008

Star and tree by IJsendoorn

What’s in a name anyway?  Does it really matter?  As an avid reader, I understand the wonderful power of words. As any music lover can tell you, you can feel the power of words; put the right melody and lyrics together and they’ll go straight to your soul.

So the question is: Is your name important?  Does it matter?  If your name is Brad and you feel like a Greg does it change anything?  If you’re a Cathy would you rather be Sheila?  Or something entirely more extravagant like Princess Glitter or King Supercool?

If you’ve ever read a comic book you can certainly understand the power of a name. Would the green guy with the big muscles be the same if he was known as Lima Rage or Grass Crusher instead of the powerful Incredible Hulk?  The same goes for our favorite movie characters.  Would Darth Vader be the same imposing figure if his name was Eugene Johnson?  Somehow I don’t think so.

Over the years I’ve heard the suggestion of re-naming yourself in order to reflect your personality.  How empowering, how entertaining, how fun, playful and remarkable! Like the main character in Jerry Spinell’s book, Stargirl is a fascinating, magical creation.  She is a person who does not let herself be limited by what others think.  Her prior names reflect that well, as she transforms herself from ordinary-sounding Susan to Pocket Mouse, Mudpie, Hullygully, and finally to Stargirl.  As her name suggests, she is full of limitless passions, and boundless energy.

Imagine what would happen if we all tried the same thing?  Even if it wasn’t a life-changing event, it would be an amusing experience.  Just the chance to try on new personas.  Who would you be?  Major Paine, Captain Clean, Madame Bliss, Sunny Skies or Brilliant Betty? What could you accomplish with such a name?  What strengths would you gain?  What tasks would you tackle?  How would your choice make a difference in your life?

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Big Smile by Kansir

If you’re a seeker like me, someone constantly looking for ideas to improve their life and overall happiness, this tip was made for you.  Focusing your attention on the good things in your life is one of the best ways I have found to appreciate what you have, to find joy in your surroundings, and value the little delights we might otherwise overlook.

Just like it says in one of my favorite books “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” it’s important not to let small problems turn into big mountains.  Being aware of everything around us means both the bad and the good.  It’s the insignificant events of the day where we can find the most pleasure.  Things like green lights on the way to work, hearing your favorite song on the radio, or even the peace and beauty of the stars when you take out the trash.

Of course it’s all too easy to pay attention to the problems we have.  Television and radio constantly reiterate the world’s problems.  Our spouses, siblings, coworkers and bosses feel it is their duty to remind you of the things you are doing wrong or need to improve on.  But it’s so much more productive and energizing to put a stop to the snowball effect of constant complaints.

Instead use your urge to be unique and comment on how the raindrops sparkle like diamonds after the rain. Be grateful for the wide array of food available the next time you’re in the crowded grocery store.  Notice the flower beds outside your office building before you step inside.  You’ll feel better about the world around you, and odds are friends and family will be happier too.

Here are a few more ideas to help you focus on what’s right.

  1. Look out the window right now and write down five things that make you feel good.
  2. Keep a calendar filled with all the fun things you’ve done or plan to do this month.
  3. Put together your favorite songs, albums or artists.  Keep them in your car, on your MP3 player or even on your phone for a quick boost.
  4. Write down 3 people who make you feel good and give one of them a call today.
  5. List the benefits of your job; money to spend, learning new skills, a fun coworker, or even just that it gets you out of the house.
  6. Notice how good it feels to wear your comfy “at home” clothes.
  7. When you pay your next bill, think about how many people don’t have access to computers, the Internet or even a simple phone to call loved ones.  Don’t take your luxuries for granted.
  8. Count how many times in a week people smile at you or do something nice for you.  You may be surprised at the results.
  9. Pick the one relationship in your life where you feel really accepted and appreciated for who you are.  It could be your spouse, your mom or dad, your brother or sister, a coworker or your best friend.  Give thanks for the people that love you.
  10. If work sucks, be thankful for your home. If home sucks, be glad you can escape to work.  If you owe a lot, enjoy the things you own.  If you don’t have much, be grateful to be clutter-free.  There’s a bright side to everything if you look for it.

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Working like a dog by KM Photography..

It’s true; work really is good for you. I’m not talking here about those 60-80 hours work-weeks that some crazy people call normal. No, I’m talking about the simple everyday demands of your daily job. The duties and tasks of business offer activity that occupies our minds and bodies, creating energy, learning and a sense of accomplishment.

I wouldn’t have believed it myself. Back in my old job, it didn’t seem like the stress and confusion that passed for our daily schedule could possibly have a hidden benefit. It was repetitive and boring, and it seemed many of the weekly changes were done more to look impressive on paper than to actually improve efficiency or work functions.

But after being out of work for quite a while I can clearly see the benefits that come with work. For one, it gives your mind something to focus on. Your mind craves input, and thrives on change. Hard to believe yes, since many of us fight change whole-heartedly, but it’s true. Our minds function best when they are full of information, purpose and have a sense of direction.

When you are home alone and you have done all the household chores, completed all your errands, and finished cleaning your closets, your mind reaches a point where it just goes blank. You loose your creativity. You’re no longer producing anything of value or receiving feedback on your growth. You feel useless and un-fulfilled. All the exercise, reading, TV and shopping in the world won’t take that feeling of emptiness away. Work gives us something we need – recognition and a chance to contribute to society.

Volunteering to help others can make a difference as well, but since this doesn’t pay the bills, and most of us have mortgages, car payments and that good ol’ gas bill, giving our time away for nothing is not an option. Work on the other hand, even work we don’t particularly love, will bring us fulfillment and the satisfaction of contributing our knowledge and skills toward a goal bigger than ourselves.

Take it from someone who has experienced it first-hand, too much un-structured free time leads to boredom, fatigue and feelings of worthlessness. Work, no matter what kind we do, gives our days meaning and adds purpose to our lives. If nothing else, it gives us a good focus for our complaining and whining and will make our home life seem that much brighter by comparison. :0)

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So sheepish! by annia316

Too often I find myself worn-out, tense, worried, or just plain bored. Since I don’t enjoy feeling that way for long, I thought I’d share some tips and ideas with my friends and readers. Here are a few of my personally-tested tips to lift you out of a slump, raise your energy, and put a smile on your face.

  1. Listen to peppy music. Anything that makes you want to dance – rock, jazz, country, even disco. It takes all kinds of tunes for all kinds of people.
  2. Watch a comedy. Try a movie, your favorite sitcom, a kids cartoon, or the newest Saturday Night Live. Whether you love Office Space, Princess Bride, Earl, Seinfeld re-runs, Spongebob, or Bugs Bunny, there’s something for every taste.
  3. Try a little exercise. Make it an activity you enjoy, like a few bounces on the trampoline, some water aerobics in the pool, practicing your Kung-Fu moves, or grab a stick and a friend for some Jedi maneuvers. Exercise your imagination and your body.
  4. Retreat. Lock your bedroom door, turn out the lights, lie on your bed and take a few deep breaths. Get as comfortable as possible and try counting backward from 50 to 1. Keep your privacy and your sanity. It works wonders!
  5. Get some praise. Next time a friend sends you some kind words or you get a written note from your boss, put it in a box. Then when you’re feeling down, read through them to help yourself remember your strengths and that what you’re going through is only temporary.
  6. Share a joke. Nothing makes you feel better than a good laugh. Find a book of funny one-liners, surf You Tube for some funny videos, or listen to a comedian on tape. Then share it with a friend. It’ll make you both feel better.
  7. Write it down. I don’t know how it works, but putting your thoughts on paper really does get them out of your head. Often this alone will not only help you stop worrying, but will provide a solution to your problem. Try it for yourself.
  8. Get some quiet time. Go outside and sit for a few minutes under the stars. Look out on the vast expanse of the universe and let the solitude wash over you. Let the silence fill your body and mind. Listen to the sound of the wind in the trees. Let yourself drift away in peace for a few wonderful minutes.
  9. Read an inspiring story. Get a book of inspirational quotes or short stories to keep nearby. When you feel overwhelmed and underappreciated, read about the struggles of someone else. You won’t feel so alone anymore, and your difficulties won’t seem so insurmountable.
  10. Do some cleaning. Yes, I know, not what you want to do right now. But once you get going and start getting things in order, you will receive a boost from the beauty of your home and your sense of accomplishment. Plus you’ll have one less thing to do later. (I always say better to clean in a bad mood, than waste a good one on something you hate.)

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Fun House by ~Semi Sweet~

Inspired by several posts I’ve read on one of my favorite websites, Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project,” I decided to delve into why it is so hard for us to just be ourselves. So often we put aside things that make us happy, doing things to please other people, or making decisions to increase our finances, instead of working on what we love for a little less pay.

It’s tough to look inside ourselves and admit that our goals, joys and dreams don’t match anyone else’s.  We feel vulnerable, exposed and directionless, trying to forge a new and different path.  Our instinctive fear of the unknown poses doubts and uncertainties in worst-case scenarios that play through our brains over and over.

Other times we left ourselves get caught up in the fast pace of living, and don’t make time to slow down enough to find out what we’re interested in.  Like college students who change their major every year, we drift along taking whatever job is offered, feeling dissatisfied, but not knowing exactly what we want.

It takes courage to admit to our family, friends and coworkers that our fantasy life is far different from what we are living. As Gretchen states in her Secret’s of Adulthood, “What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you – – and vice versa.”   Maybe you love dealing with numbers, but hate the chaos of teaching.  Perhaps you like staying up late, but you work a day job.

To help you identify what you really enjoy start by making a list.  Like the old children’s game Hot and Cold, make two columns. Put the stuff that makes you smile just to think about in one column, and the stuff that seems boring, dull or a pain to do in the other column.  Now just let yourself write.  Put down as many ideas as you can think of, shooting for at least 15 minutes, but taking as much as an hour.

Don’t worry about changing your life.  That can come later.  For now, just use a couple of ideas and add some fun to your day. Like Gretchen, I too have a wonderful addiction to children’s books. Like her, I used to hide the enjoyment I got from these books, as people looked at me somewhat strangely when they saw what I was reading.  But luckily I found another soul who enjoyed the innocence and playful that adult books lack and together we traded titles and authors, sharing the Harry Potter years together.

Your second step to more joy and happiness is to let go of expectations -yours and other peoples. Let yourself try that new Nintendo Wii system.  Buy yourself a copy of the original Scooby Doo cartoons on DVD and get out the popcorn.  Volunteer at the animal shelter and play with the dogs.  Join a reading group and share your love of books with others.  Don’t be afraid to be yourself, and you’ll find you have more energy and pleasure to give to others in return.

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I want food! by foxypar4

Don’t do it.  Don’t listen to those voices that diminish and downplay your dreams and hard work.  Don’t let the limiting beliefs of others become part of the inner dialogue in your head.

It’s hard enough to get ahead in this world with all the bad news, forecasts of dire events, complaints and overall negativity.  The last thing any of us need is to give in to our critics.

I realize this is easier said than done.  We have to practice.  If you’re like me, you’ll get lots of it.  “That’s crazy,” or “Nobody’s done that before.”  One way to brush aside these comments is to imagine them said by someone in the past. Maybe Columbus or the Wright brothers.  Perhaps we could just imagine an ancient Egyptian or Native American saying those words.  It would give us a little more perspective and take the sting out of the pessimistic observations we hear.

Another great technique is to agree with it. I know – sounds weird right?  But sometimes agreeing with the criticism helps to diffuse it.  If we know the possible truth of someone’s words, we’re able to see past it to the opportunity it leaves us.  Maybe our idea is crazy – but is it also marketable?  Maybe no one has done it before – but could it be because you have the expertise they didn’t?

When you have a great new idea or creative concept, take it to people you trust.  Find a mentor who will give you honest feedback. Or run it by some anonymous people online.  They will have no problem telling you what they really feel, and it won’t bother you as much coming from a stranger.

Whatever the naysayers’ opinions, you can always do it anyway.  Even if you fail, you will learn a valuable lesson.  Many of the best inventors have said that their failures gave them more insight than their successes. Edison and the others can’t all be wrong.  Actually you can’t be all wrong either.

Get a support network together. Read some inspiring books to learn what others have overcome to achieve their goals.  Keep a list of what you know you’re good at to remind you of your strengths.  Have an optimistic friend on speed dial.  Find a mentor in a hobby group in your area of interest.

Keep your head up and your mind focused on the positive. Let the disapproval and blame wash away like dirt down the drain.  If occasionally you fall prey to feeling blue, use your support system like a crutch to prop you up until you’re back on your feet.  Above all, keep up the good work.

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Smiling Pug – Happy Valentine’s Day From the Sweetest Smiling Pug/Bug Baby by *SMILING PUG*

Many are the times when what we have does not match the dreams we picture in our heads. Our house may be too small, our cars too old, or our bodies too flabby. Ask anyone – life is full of disappointments.

The key to living an enjoyable life is learning to do the best you can with what you have. It’s an optimistic point of view that says that your bed is worn, but it’s warm and comfy. Your clothes may be as old as your kids, but they fit well and are clean. And even if you can’t go out to eat every night, you can still afford a good steak for the grill when the mood strikes.

Life is all about give and take. Often life takes more than you are willing to give. But if your choices is to whine and moan about what you’re missing, or rejoice in what you have, your best option is obvious.

For instance, as an avid reader, I walk through any bookstore like a hungry lion that hasn’t eaten for a week. But I use my visit as an opportunity. I take a pad of paper and pen and write down the names of authors and books I would like to read. Then when I go to the library or used book store, I can find good choices easily.

Maybe you have a friend who hates the movies – so you go out to dinner instead. Or a family member who complains too much on the phone – so you learn to write letters in between calls. Using your creativity to solve life’s dilemmas is a successful strategy to more comfortable living.

When you find the positive in any given situation, you have achieved a real and lasting peace. When the trials and tribulations of life turn from barriers to stumbling blocks, you will know you are victorious.

Of course, new ideas are always welcome, and I would be thrilled to hear how you have learned to make the best out of what you already have. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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