The Key To A Happy Life

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and showing appreciation. It is a mindful acknowledgment of all that we have been given. When we focus on the abundance in our lives, we discover a greater capacity for generosity, cheerfulness, and contentment.

From “A Poem Of Gratitude” By Chuck Danes

I share my debt of gratitude with all my spiritual friends
Whether Christians, Muslims, Jews, and such or even Buddhist zens
Regardless of the place we live or where your faiths begun
My gratitude begins with this, “I’ve learned that we are One”

I’m grateful for the many days when clarity is strong
As well as those it “seems” that life has somehow led me wrong
For it’s those times that awaken me and nudge me toward the light
Till once again my hopes and dreams are clearly held in sight

I’m grateful for the love within the circles that I dwell
My family, friends and even those who’ve made life seem like hell
For each of those have taught me more regarding how to Love
Provide me feelings to express these things that I write of

I’m grateful too for false beliefs which led me on my quest
For mentors met along the way I truly do feel blessed
Who clearly showed me of the need to understand my worth
And “Higher Truth” which promises a life divine on earth

I’m grateful for the joy I feel, I’m grateful for the fear
Understanding what it is and that it draws me near
To the life I know is waiting on the other side
And when it comes I must hold fast and use it as a guide

I’m grateful for all nature, the birds the grass, the trees
The lakes which hold abundant life, a summer evenings breeze
The clouds above the ground below, the moon, the stars, the sun
The days and nights which represent that another day is done

I’ve learned to stay in gratitude no matter how things seem
That perceptions held as negatives will only slow your dream
So even though my path will lead through troubled spots I know
I must keep on, keep focus fixed, on life’s abundant flow

There’s so much that I’m grateful for, though sometimes I’ll forget
Beliefs rekindled from the past that I perceive as threats
But it’s these times I must remind myself of what I know
That when they show their presence, that they’re here to help me grow

One final thought I’ll share today before I say I’m through
I’m so grateful for these words to give today to all of you
It is my wish that they will help you keep the attitude
Which leads to that which you desire and comes through gratitude
Complete poem:

Expressing gratitude is a rewarding habit that affirms the grace of the giver. Gratitude opens our hearts, encourages us to savor each gift that comes our way, and magically frees us from jealously guarding our possessions. It lets us celebrate today rather than waiting for the next level of accomplishment or wealth. It is a reminder that one can always find reason to be glad. open/close from\

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands,
because if we are not grateful,
then no matter how much we have we will not be happy
because we will always want to have something else or something more.
Brother David Steindl-Rast

First posted here on October 18, 2012

We All Have Twenty-Four Hour Days


You can do anything,
but you can’t do everything.
David Allen

What has my attention at this moment? My thoughts are directed at words surfacing in my mind and typing them with a considerably lesser amount of awareness of music playing on Pandora. I’m vaguely aware of the surroundings of my home office, the art and posters on the wall and the noise of an occasional neighborhood car that drives by. That’s all my mind can take on at the moment.

People have a fixed amount that must be allocated according to need. To use a popular analogy, attention is like a bucket of water. People draw upon it as needed, but every dipper full and every teaspoon full leaves less for other purposes. Marc Green

Two interesting components have arisen with the increase of discretionary time I now have: 1) my perception of the world outside me has increased. I notice more, see things more deeply and generally feel good because of it. 2) With a richness of time, it is easy to let hours and days slip by with little to show for them. Some of that is good. Some of it is not so positive.

Zig Ziglar said, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” My conclusion is that expecting myself to settle into new routines within my first 60 days of semi-retirement was too much to ask. Already I feel better letting myself off the hook of that unrealistic expectation.

…the allocation of attention is largely automatic and occurs without awareness. As a result, it is not easily brought under conscious control. You may direct someone’s attention by saying “watch the step,” and temporarily cause a conscious allocation of attention to the step. However, there is a good chance that within a few minutes or even seconds, the memory trace will disappear and the next time the person will fail to notice the step. The same automatic factors that directed attention away from the step in the first instance have not changed. Marc Green

The paragraph from Marc Green helps me a good deal because it tells me that keeping a keen awareness of my desire to form new routines is a great start to having them. All I have to do is follow through on what I have concluded and stay aware with a sense of priority. Then new routines will simply fall into place. Whew. I am grateful to “get off my own case”.

I didn’t pay attention to time or distance,
instead focusing on how it felt just to be in motion,
knowing it wasn’t about the finish line
but how I got there that mattered.
Sarah Dessen

 Originally Posted on September 17, 2013

A Happiness Weapon


In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.
Friedrich Nietzsche

It’s an engrained habit of mine to prefer being the one who drives. I get bored easily on the passenger side. But that changed last weekend. Giving up control has never been more fun.

Someone one else was driving and the day was a stellar fall Saturday afternoon; cool but not cold with beautiful sunny skies. Windows were down and the breeze through the moving car window was strong, but felt good. It had been many, many years since I had last done what came next.

Long had I forgotten the pleasure of flying my hand like an airplane out an open car window. If I tipped my finders up, my hand would fly upwards. Moving them down made my hand dive. To one side or the other caused movement in that direction.

The speed the pickup was moving was fast enough that the air whipping past the vehicle could almost completely support my hand. It was a wonderful near-weightless feeling I enjoyed while flying my “hand-plane” down the road.

I lost myself in the moment, paid little attention to the scenery and barely heard the driver’s voice when she asked, “Are you having fun?”. I replied “Lots” and went right back to enjoying my regression to the wonders of childhood for the next five miles.

Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air – explode softly – and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth – boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either – not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination. Robert Fulghum

Call me childish if you want. I’ll take it as a compliment. This weekend I am going to buy a coloring book, a big box of crayons and a box to keep them in. On the days I feel depressed or down, when life is heavy, at times when a tough decision is weighing me down or a dose of feel-good fun is needed I will pull out my little therapy box and ‘color’. In those moments the good times of childhood will be let lose within to bring me back to what life is for: TO BE ENJOYED. I will be a thousand times better when the little boy is laughing within me again, having fun and centered in ‘now’. I am grateful he is alive within me.

Happy is he who still loves something
he loved in the nursery.
He has not been broken in two by time;
he is not two men, but one,
and he has saved not only his soul but his life.
G.K. Chesterton

As Simple and Difficult As That


A Search…
People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within. Romana L. Anderson

A Hope…
Everyone has a moment in history which belongs particularly to him. It is the moment when his emotions achieve their most powerful sway over him, and afterward when you say to this person “the world today” or “life” or “reality” he will assume that you mean this moment, even if it is fifty years past. The world, through his unleashed emotions, imprinted itself upon him, and he carries the stamp of that passing moment forever. John Knowles

A Path…
One of the reasons why we crave love, and seek it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, and shame, and sorrow. But some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you. Gregory David Roberts

A Gift…
She talked about wanting to be a part of something, wanting to be desired, to be ‘special’, craving to be loved. She talked about experiencing the kind of loneliness so immense it could swallow you up. She called it ‘loneliness that crowds couldn’t cure’. Cupcake Brown

This morning thumbing through quotes for inspiration, I found four that connected so well they spoke what I was wanting to say when I connected them. (Search) The hunt to be more fully connected to my truest self, (Hope) the desire to live more completely in the moment, (Path) the aspiration to feel the full breadth and scope of my emotions and (Gift) the dream of letting romantic love into my heart again.

An architect creates a plan to guide the builder. The builder uses the plan to direct construction. The foreman focuses the labor. And the title-holder receives the benefit. For my life, I am all four: Architect, Builder, Laborer and Title Holder. Only by taking ownership of all four and believing in the guidance of something bigger than me can my needs, hopes and dreams find reality. Create, build, work and believe. It’s as simple and difficult as that.

We dream to give ourselves hope.
To stop dreaming – well, that’s like
saying you can never change your fate.
From “The Hundred Secret Senses”
by Amy Tan

Love At Whatever Age


Romantic Love has been described as… intense emotional experiences such as increased energy, euphoria, obsessive thinking about the loved one, feelings of dependency and craving. When people are ‘in love’ they may feel as if they have uncovered the meaning of life. People often report feeling complete and that their life feels whole.

Bronte superbly captured the experience in Wuthering Heights: ‘‘I am Heathcliff – he’s always, always in my mind – not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself – but, as my own being.” The arts continue to be consumed by efforts to describe and understand romantic love.

The book by Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera, is but one example of a story illustrating the power of enduring love, where a couple fall in love in their youth, go their separate ways during midlife and return to one another’s arms in their old age. Michael Hogan, Ph.D

Ah, ha! So there is yet hope for me! Now some random facts about people and love:

The age-group most likely to find love abroad is the over-sixties. Almost 10 per cent of holiday romances lead to wedding bells.

Engagement rings are often worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because the ancient Greeks maintained that finger contains the vena amoris, or the “vein of love,” that runs straight to the heart. The first recorded wedding rings appear in ancient Egypt, with the circle representing eternity as well as powerful sun and moon deities.

A four-leaf clover is often considered good luck, but it is also part of an Irish love ritual. In some parts of Ireland, if a woman eats a four-leaf clover while thinking about a man, supposedly he will fall in love with her.

Plato asserts in his Symposium that initially all humans were whole, hermaphroditic beings with four hands, four legs, two identical faces on one head/neck, four ears, and both sets of genitals. When these beautiful, strong beings tried to overthrow the gods, Zeus split them into two—man and woman— and created the innate desire of human beings for one another to feel whole again.

Scientists suggest that merely staring into another person’s eyes is a strong precursor to love. In an experiment, strangers of the opposite sex were put in a room together for 90 minutes where they talked about intimate details and then stared into each other’s eyes without talking. Many felt a deep attraction for each other, and two married each other six months later.

To remain in love for a lifetime, therapists advise couples to listen actively to your partner, ask questions, give answers, appreciate, stay attractive, grow intellectually, include your partner, give him/her privacy, be honest and trustworthy, tell your mate what you need, accept his/her shortcomings, give respect, never threaten to leave, say “no” to adultery, don’t assume the relationship will last forever, and cultivate variety.

While living life alone is something I have become accustomed to, I grateful to still daydream about lasting romantic love coming into my life. Until the day I die and beyond, I will remain open to true love; not driven to it… but open to the possibility.

The human heart, at whatever age,
opens to the heart that opens in return.
Maria Edgeworth

A Different Eventual Destination

PastPresentFutureEvery decision you make—every decision—
is not a decision about what to do.
It’s a decision about Who You Are.
When you see this, when you understand it,
everything changes.
You begin to see life in a new way.
All events, occurrences, and situations
turn into opportunities
to do what you came here to do.
Neale Donald Walsch

Starting a new week, I am glad for the reference point Walsch’s words lend me. I am reminded that everything I do makes a difference. It is the “NOW” that matters. Every single thought, action and even inaction in the present work together to shape the direction of life.

Years ago I learned as a private pilot that a one degree error in navigational judgment makes little difference in a short distance, but over the length of a long journey such a mistake will place me far from my intended destination. And so it is with life. Every course correction, big or small, yields a different eventual destination.

How could I have known….

At fifteen years old, a part-time job taken casually would bring a life-long career.

At nineteen moving alone a thousand miles from home and essentially messing up just about everything would in time be the comparison point I would live a well-managed life by.

At twenty-two getting married to a kind and caring woman would bring the first real structure to my life, a son I love dearly and begin turmoil that is still not completely over today.

At thirty-four having an affair outside marriage would start a chain of events that only in retrospect can I see, including a spark in my heart that lives yet today.

At forty-four taking a promotion/transfer would in time change my life so completely, in the worst and best ways, to where it is hardly recognizable compared to what came before.

The answer is “I could not have known”. Life is lived looking forward while moving toward the unknown. What’s ahead is always obscured in foggy uncertainty while the past seemingly takes on crystal clarity.

The purest wisdom I have is what lies ahead matters little compared to what I do in the present. The specifics of the past are only out of focus echoes of what really happened. As long as I learn the lessons, keep the good and cast off the bad, the specifics of what has been doesn’t matter.

The future will take its shape more from what I do NOW than from anything done before. Ultimately, the only sure thing any of us will ever know for certain exists right now, at this moment. All before and after is just a thought in the mind. I am grateful for that knowledge and will continue to improve my practice of it.

…the past gives you an identity
and the future holds the promise of salvation,
of fulfillment in whatever form.
Both are illusions.
Eckhart Tolle

Stored, But Not Being Used


There was just not enough time early this morning to write this blog and still make an important meeting at work. So here I sit eating at my desk and writing during my lunch break.

Before leaving for work, I went into my archive and copied some sayings and quotes onto a flash drive thinking they’d be good inspiration later for GMG. When I brought up the saved list during lunch I was struck by how meaningful the first six felt while reading them. I decided those half-dozen jewels of experience and insight would be good for the blog today and good for me as well. Here we go:

Be wise enough not to be reckless, but brave enough to take great risks. Frank Warren

 Note to self: Take more calculated risks

You and your purpose in life are the same thing. Your purpose is to be you. George Alexiou

 Note to self: Be true to myself.

Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life-and-death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems. J. Jackson Brown Jr.

 Note to self: Lighten up!

When you are unsure about the future, keep doing what is in front of you with all your heart and with love, and what is meant for you will find you. Guru Mayi Chidvilasananda

 Note to self: One step at a time.

You can’t change the wind but you can set your sails. Billie Joe Armstrong

 Note to self: Adapt and keep going.

 I am struck by how much more the nuggets above mean when I slow down and absorb their meaning. This morning I was in a rush and  little, if any, of the wisdom rubbed off on me. Now is a different story.  So much knowledge I put away mentally is like that: stored but not being used.   I am reminded that life is grandly waiting for my arrival. It is happening at this moment and no other time. I am grateful for how much better I feel for being yanked back to the “now”.

Your mind can be either your prison or your palace.
What you make it is yours to decide.
Bernard Kelvin Clive

Note to self: Choose thoughts with intention.