“Instead of complaining the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses.”~Proverb
Complaining can be a bonding experience.
You meet up with your friends after work and immediately start rehashing frustrations with your boss. You have dinner with your siblings and commiserate about confrontations with your black-sheep uncle. Or you release tension on a blind date by noticing the wait staff’s shortcomings.
Commiserating is a great way to immediately establish rapport. In that moment you feel connected—you both have grievances, problems, and wishes for a better world.
It’s even easier to do in a challenging …
“Give yourself permission to immediately walk away from anything that gives you bad vibes. There is no need to explain or make sense of it. Just trust what you feel.” ~Unknown
Last year I graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Writing.
During my college career I created public relations material for both my Business Writing minor and the public relations firm where I interned. As I thoroughly enjoyed my minor and the internship, I decided to apply to more PR positions.
About a month into the job search, I was …
“When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad and that is my religion.” ~Abraham Lincoln
It’s no secret that we live in a world that’s obsessed with wealth, fame, and celebrities. Some call it the “age of narcissism.” I’m not sure I want to label or judge our current circumstances. Instead, like Gandhi suggests, I’ll put my focus on being the change I wish to see in the world.
I’m planning to mix things up a bit for 2010, and I invite you to do the same. Instead of creating New Year’s Resolutions that …
“Being right is highly overrated. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” ~Unknown
We all know someone who always needs to be right.
She turns everything into an argument worthy of a courtroom, complete with counter arguments and below-the-belt accusations. She finds holes in everything you say, even if you were actually agreeing with her. And in the end she needs the last word, even if means belittling you or ignoring your feelings.
Not everyone acts this righteous all the time, but we’ve likely all tried to win in an argument at least once before.
Maybe it’s the …
When I first sat down to write this piece for 5 Rules for Life, I wrote “Live without rules” five times, each followed by a reason to keep your approach to life flexible.
The way you live is largely a reflection of where you’ve been, who you’ve been, and the beliefs you’ve formed. Who am I to create a cookie-cutter hard-and-fast code that makes sense for everyone?
That’s when I realized I’d need to make a sixth rule to introduce these ideas: judge my words, and anyone else’s, against your own reason and moral code.
Buddha said, “Believe …
“We must never assume that which is incapable of proof.” ~Unknown
You can never truly know someone else’s intentions.
If a coworker offers to cover your shift, she may be trying to ease your stress—or she could be vying for your job. If your sister-in-law offers to pay for your meal, she may want to help you out during tough times—of she could be trying to remind you that you’re inferior.
You can always find a negative assumption that allows you to believe the worst in people. Or you can give that person the benefit of the doubt and believe …
“Happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors.” -Dalai Lama
I’m now convinced that the above quote is true. Let me explain why.
When I was studying for my psychology degree, I came across an interesting module called positive psychology.
It’s a section of the field that looks at the positive side of life, including a scientific study of what makes people happy. So potentially, it would put concerns I already had about pop-psychology, self-help, and spirituality to the test. I immediately signed up.
The idea that happiness comes from our attitude is a popular one. …
“Some people think it’s holding on that makes one strong—sometimes it’s letting go.” ~Unknown
Maybe your life doesn’t look like you want it but you’re not sure how to change it or even if you can, so you feel hopeless, frustrated, and even a little bitter.
Or maybe someone hurt you so deeply that you don’t know if you can trust them anymore, so you feel angry, defensive, and indignant.
Every day we can find a million and one reasons to feel discouraged, or incompetent, or vulnerable, or harried—all things that hurt when we hold them inside like a …
“Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are.” ~Julius Charles Hare
I admit, I have a beautiful life. I don’t mean to brag, but I love the life I have and there is no other life I’d rather live. This wasn’t always my truth.
Many years ago, I didn’t think I would one day have a beautiful life. I had a terrible attitude, a soul-sucking job that I occasionally enjoyed, superficially at best, and I pursued things that would always leave me feeling empty. It took me a long time and a lot …
“Make finding the good in others a priority.” ~Zig Ziglar
One of the most exciting parts of writing about happiness is getting the opportunity to connect with people who make sharing joy a priority.
If you’re looking for it, you’ll find positive people everywhere—in your office, along your morning commute, on blogs you follow, and within your Twitter stream. They won’t be the only type of person you see; there are plenty of people out there who walk around holding onto a lot of pain, and knowingly or unknowingly spread it.
But an uplifting person—someone who believes in the good …
“The biggest problem for humanity, not only on a global level, but even for individuals, is misunderstanding.” ~Rinpoche
Someone cuts you off in traffic.
What a jerk!
A date stands you up.
She obviously doesn’t like you.
Your colleague gives you a dirty look across the room.
Your last email must have really pissed him off!
In so many places in our lives, we see a behavior and automatically make a meaning out of it. Everything from a glance to an email gets snappily run through our minds and attached to a reaction or feeling.
Part of this is biological. …
“I could never make a living while traveling the world; it’s just not realistic.”
“My guitar won’t pay the bills. People think I’m crazy for trying.”
“I don’t have the money to go back to school. I’m stuck in this dead-end temp job.”
Most people dream of doing something that gives them a sense of excitement and purpose. Only some people believe in the possibility of that meaningful, exciting reality. Even fewer people pursue those goals in the face of adversity and discouragement.
Belief in possibility and the willingness to try can mean the difference between feeling alive and feeling …
“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” ~H. Jackson Browne
When I was fifteen, I “died” for about a minute or so and then came back to life. A very severe case of bronchitis that lasted for over a week caused my brush with death. What complicated the situation was my allergic reaction to one type of medicine.
I had what’s known as a near death experience, and it was typical of all other near death experiences.
There was bright light, lots of love, and a huge reluctance to come back. I tried …
“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” ~Unknown
Even though I couldn’t possibly care less about oil-based raincoats, I listened to him talk for about fifteen minutes one rainy morning last week.
This little guy, with his colorful button-down shirt and funny-looking hat makes my day most mornings. He works at the 7-11 where I get my coffee. And he always seems happy.
At first I thought he was just putting on a good face, making the best of a tough situation. After all, he couldn’t possibly enjoy working at …
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” ~Voltaire
There are a lot of impressive people in the world. Some innovate and invent things that help masses of people. Some use art to tell powerful stories that move viewers to action.
Others make the world a better place by being helpful within their own sphere of influence, however small or large it may be.
Those little things define people.
The way your neighbor asks how you’re doing and really listens for the answer. How your coworker supports your ideas and gives …
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~Dr. Seuss
As children we’re taught to just say no, and we do it with abandon.
Want to come inside and get ready for dinner? No! Want to shut off the TV and go grocery shopping? No! Want to wear the glittery holiday sweater grandma bought you last year? You know where this is going.
Then we get older and learn about etiquette. We get that sometimes we need to do things that we don’t want to. We understand …
“The secret to success is constancy to purpose.” ~Benjamin Disraeli
Most of us want to be successful, if not in monetary terms, then by our own definitions.
We want to feel a sense of meaning, to do something worthwhile that we can be proud of. Something that matters to people. Something that will live on after we do.
We often get so caught up in becoming who we want to be that we miss on being those people right now.
We get so focused on striving—getting things done, crossing items off the to-do list—that we forget to simply enjoy that …
“Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” ~William Shakespeare
Research indicates lottery winners are no happier than people who didn’t win, and in many cases, become depressed in the years following their win.
Scientists have surmised that we all have a baseline level of happiness—a range of joy we’ll stay within regardless of our external circumstances. The greatest factor in determining this joy is our mental attitude.
If you’d like to alter your baseline, instead of trying to change your circumstances, change the way you interpret them.
It sounds much easier said than done because it …
“On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a joyous energy behind what you do.” ~Eckhart Tolle
At seventeen I had it all. I made straight As, was the vice president of the Honor Society, held two jobs, took the lead in four community theater performances, and joined Donnie Osmond onstage as part of the children’s chorus in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
I was busy. I did things well. I got attention. I was ready to snap.
I was so hungry for success and approval I’d do anything to get it, …