Posts

What do our people need?  A Sense of Community and Belonging

, , , ,

communityA few days ago I was privileged to attend a conference that focused on our veterans, the issues they faced after discharge from service, their expectations, their feelings of social isolation, and how, together, we could provide resources and opportunities to improve their quality of life.

I came to a conclusion after just the first speaker at the event:  The discussion presented described not only to the experience faced by our veterans, but could be applied to every member of our society, no matter what state or city they live.

As you read on, I am confident that you will agree that the Enjoy Life Community® program developed by the Time to Play Foundation provides a valid solution to address many of the issues being faced today, not only by our veterans, but by a majority of our youth and our people.

Perhaps it is time for the people within our communities to stop just “existing” and “surviving” and to start “living”.

The first speaker at the event was a Vietnam Veteran and a chaplain.  For the purposes of this article, we will call him Mr. O.

He presented how a soldier is trained and embraced into duty and described what becomes missing in their lives upon return to civilian life after discharge.

#1:  A sense of purpose:  Mr. O explained that, when a soldier is in active service, they have a “job”.  He explained how the soldier is important in that job, how the members of service “liked” them in that job, and how the armed forces wanted the soldier to succeed in that job.

#2:  A sense of community / belonging:  Mr. O discussed the soldier’s sense of community and belonging while on active duty and how the soldier knew who they were and where they stood with the others in their command (community).

#3:  A sense of Intimacy:  Mr. O described the sense of intimacy felt by the soldier in their command.  He explained how soldiers not only knew the members of their command (community), but how they stood by each other and supported each other.

Mr. O noted that, after the soldier left active service, they no longer felt this sense of community, of belonging, of purpose, or of importance; that, upon discharge from service, they no longer felt the sense of intimacy or sense of value.

Mr. O noted that there is no system to integrate the soldier back into their home community, and that, without their military unit’s support, they cannot “get home”.

Mr. O said that this is when the dilemma of “where do you belong when you no longer belong” sets in, which is when, he noted, that many soldiers turn to drugs or alcohol to find a sense of comfort.  He described his experience talking to incarcerated veterans who feel more comfortable in jail because they are around people who understand them.

Mr. O said that the feeling experienced by veterans becomes most disturbing when no one understands them, when no one understands who they are, and when they no longer have a voice.  He described how these become the feelings that breed the feelings of hopelessness.  He described how the soldier feels lost without the sense of values given to them and lost because what they believe is not what others believe.

It is, at that time, when the soldier feels very lonely and isolated.

After hearing Mr. O speak, it becomes evident how every person would benefit from being embraced by the community in which they live in the manner the armed forces embraces their soldiers.

Further, Mr. O noted that, years ago in our civilian communities, there were clubs and organizations and a sense of belonging in a community; that people socialized together.  Now, he noted, people are increasingly socially isolated and not embracing of others.

As I imply that there are similarities in the feelings experienced by people who are not veterans, I am in no way minimizing the experience of those who have served.  Thankfully, the general population has not seen the circumstances of war that many of our returning veterans have experienced, and I do acknowledge that our veterans may need support services and programs to face the resulting trauma.

But, think about it. . .

What community member is really integrated into our communities throughout their lives starting with our youth? What programs are available that help the general population feel “at home” or help them develop a sense of belonging or a sense of support?  A sense of not being alone even if facing a negative life situation?

How many articles or events do we need to read about where those who feel “different”, not supported, socially isolated or bullied adopt negative coping techniques including the utilization of drugs or alcohol or cause harm to themselves or others in their communities through violent acts?

I believe the need for self worth and the effects of social isolation are the same for every one of us.

I believe that, no matter where we live, WE ALL NEED a sense of community, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a sense of importance, a sense of intimacy and a sense of being of value.

We all need a sense of community.  We all need to belong.

The Enjoy Life Community® model presents a solution to all who live in any community.  It will not only help our veterans re-integrate and feel welcome and at home, but the intention of an Enjoy Life Community® is to:  Bring together all organizations and individuals in a community, encourage proactive community collaboration, utilize the community organizations to trickle information throughout a community, showcase the good work of community organizations to encourage participation by community members, identify areas where community participation is available to increase community involvement with the intention to decrease social isolation, and to utilize the strength and experience of community members in a community.

The Enjoy Life Community® model is a low cost social intervention that is a visible, non-threatening approach to create quality of life for those in a community.

The Enjoy Life Community® model provides a positive reminder and reinforcement to enjoy life by offering visible cues, establishing pride in a community, and encourages a focus on the positive and the possibilities.

It is a SOLUTION.

It is also important for me to mention here the fact many people do not proactively seek assistance when they are experiencing a negative life situation.  The Enjoy Life Community®, due to its visibility of resources in the community, also offers an opportunity for a more proactive approach to solve this issue.  Additionally, I believe the current system that provides individual counseling may perpetuate (continue) the individual’s experience and current belief system.  Even with outreach or counseling or support programs, the individual may remain isolated and continue to feel “unwelcomed” or segregated from their communities.  That would potentially change in an Enjoy Life Community®.

The Enjoy Life Community® utilizes the resources and people in a community to make it stronger to enhance the quality of life for all.

The Enjoy Life Community® model can be applied to any community, including a school community, college campus or corporate environment to create the feeling that people are important and belong.

If you are interested in learning more about this easy to implement solution, please contact us at 631-331-2675 or email: doreen@timetoplay.com.

Just imagine the possibilities if people in their communities felt supported, not alone, and lived in a place where they were able to share or develop their talents.

Just imagine…

After all, I believe every moment of every day should feel like “play”.  It is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

 

# # #

Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC:  Doreen holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, a Masters in Business and Policy Studies, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Certified Social and Emotional Intelligence Coach, Certified Professional Coach, Certified Life Coach, and the author of the book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.

Doreen is the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit organization with the mission and purpose to enrich the lives of others through programs, public awareness outreach activities, events and learning opportunities that further the concept of enjoying life.  The Foundation’s website, www.TimetoPlayFoundation.org, has resources, events and articles for a person to learn what they need to know for a better life.

Photo credit:  http://thedinoffschool.com/about-us/community

Rational vs. Irrational

, ,

rational vs irrational

Today’s reflection stems from my thoughts regarding this past week’s emotional roller coaster.

With people getting attacked for their views, I believe it really emphasizes the idea behind the science of social and emotional intelligence education.

Personally, I have to admit that this past week was hard for me.  Even with all the training I have had in life coaching and emotional intelligence coaching, I unfortunately allowed the whole negative energy to get “in” and affect me in a negative manner.  I can’t remember being so exhausted.

That being said, each experience does broaden our own personal awareness in order for us to use the experience to make future changes to enhance our quality of life.

Based on my conversations with many people, very few seem to have awareness about social and emotional intelligence. I find it worthwhile for this article to focus on what it is and what it can do for individuals and corporate organizations going forward.

Social and Emotional Intelligence is a learned behavior which I believe is the root of individual behavior and our quality of life.

Social and Emotional Intelligence has been defined as:  The ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage ourselves and manage our relationships.

I believe that having an individual strong Social and Emotional Intelligence is so important.

I also believe there is an appropriate level of behavior that people need to exhibit when reacting to any situation, whether personal or in a workplace.  I believe that reactions need to be one of rational expression where we need to consider the whole situation and that we need to consider the ramifications of our own personal behavior.  I believe our behavior and reactions positively or negatively impact our lives and our relationships.

For example, think about explosive behavior in a workplace.  If you have a boss that does not consider all sides to a situation, but just reacts in an explosive manner, how does that make you feel?

This can be applied to any circumstance or relationship including that between yourself and your spouse, your parent, your child, your coworker, a checkout clerk, or that of a person driving a car next to you.

Our reactions are truly important to consider, which brings me back to why I wrote this article which discusses the potential different perceptions of people regarding rational vs. irrational behavior.  I believe we need to become aware of, and have a need for, broad social and emotional intelligence coaching.

In today’s society, I personally do not think we have the filters we used to have for our behaviors.  I also believe we have, as a society, have come to accept less controlled reactions from others.  It has become commonplace for bullying, riots, road rage and mass shootings, and we seem to have become desensitized and have come to expect these occurrences.  Personally, as we are not a barbaric society, I believe that this is step in the wrong direction.

While I do believe self expression is important, I also believe it is necessary to consider the “whole” and that it is the responsibility for each of us to control our reactions to not impede the rights, health, or to negatively impact the lives of others.  Ever hear the idiom “it is a two-way street”?  It may be necessary to consider that compromise is a necessary consideration in our interactions with others.  The problem with this is that we have to recognize how our behaviors and reactions relate to compromise and finding solutions to situations in a manner that is best for all.

I believe a strong social and emotional intelligence is necessary to have a quality of life for not only an individual, but the whole.

The following is an excerpt from the book, Emotional Intelligence written by Daniel Goleman in 1995:   “The emotional lessons we learn as children at home and at school shape the emotional circuits, making us more adept – or inept – at the basics of emotional intelligence.  This means that childhood and adolescence are critical windows of opportunity for setting down the essential emotional habits that govern our lives”.  He noted that hazards await those who, in growing to maturity, fail to master the emotional realm.  He further noted that deficiencies in emotional intelligence heighten a spectrum of risks from depression or a life of violence to eating disorders and drug abuse, and how teaching children the emotional and social skills they need can keep their lives on track.  Mr. Goleman reported that a survey of parents and teachers showed a worldwide trend for the present generation of children to be more troubled emotionally than the last:  more lonely and depressed, more angry and unruly, more nervous and prone to worry, more impulsive and aggressive.

Again, acknowledging that social and emotional intelligence is learned behavior, I advocate for the need for us to learn these necessary skills. Emotional Intelligence is an important component of the Foundation’s PREinvent YOUR Life® program.

During my Social and Emotional Intelligence coaching education, I learned there were 26 competencies that affect our reactions and behaviors that include: Emotional self-awareness, accurate self-awareness, personal power, behavioral self-control, integrity, innovation and creativity, initiative and bias for action, achievement drive, realistic optimism, resilience, stress management, personal agility, intentionality, empathy, situational awareness, service orientation, communication, interpersonal effectiveness, powerful influencing skills, conflict management, inspirational leadership, catalyzing change, building bonds, teamwork and collaboration, coaching and mentoring others and building trust.

I believe that you can build on your emotional intelligence strengths and that, if you have vulnerability in any particular area, it will negatively impact your quality of life and the quality of life of those with whom you interact.

Please feel free to contact me at 631-331-2675 if you have questions regarding social and emotional intelligence.  I would be most willing to discuss your personal situation.

With the knowledge that we are only able to control ourselves, our behavior, our feelings and our actions, I believe it is necessary to start with ourselves to insure a better future.  I believe it is time for us to each be personally responsible for our ability to achieve quality of life.

Just imagine the possibilities.

After all, it is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

# # #

Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC:

Doreen holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, a Masters in Business and Policy Studies, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Certified Social and Emotional Intelligence Coach, Certified Professional Coach, Certified Life Coach, and the author of the book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.

Doreen is the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit organization with the mission and purpose to enrich the lives of others through programs, public awareness outreach activities, events and learning opportunities that further the concept of enjoying life.  The Foundation’s website, www.TimetoPlayFoundation.org, has resources, events and articles for a person to learn what they need to know for a better life.

The Foundation offers an unconventional approach in a non-threatening manner to provide solutions for the life situations that people may encounter.  Working in healthcare since 1987, and with her background in quality improvement, she has followed statistics showing our society’s current evolution to be more “sick and sad”.   She developed the Time to Play Philosophy:  you have to be happy, healthy, have money and a work / life balance for quality of life and believes everyone has the ability to enjoy life.

Photo credit:  https://sophistics.wordpress.com

 

HAPPINESS IN A NUTSHELL

,

Thousands of books have been written (and read) about happiness—what it is and how to achieve it. So, why are so many people still miserable? As a self-proclaimed Happiness Specialist, I feel compelled to answer that question.

This is a critical time in our global history. Just take a look at “reality” TV or the news, as examples, and something becomes obvious: Happiness is at an all-time low. More than ever before, the growing number of unhappy people is affecting our world in significant ways. Yes, unhappiness is the root cause of all human pain and suffering—a bold statement, I know, but nonetheless true. Is there a solution to this individual and global epidemic? I say absolutely yes – and I would like to offer evidence and solutions to the world’s happiness deficit.

When asked “Do you want to be happy?” most people reply with a resounding “Yes, of course! Who doesn’t want to be happy?” However, merely wanting to be happy is not enough. Why? Because creating more happiness in one’s life is similar to learning to play a musical instrument. It requires learning new skills, modernizing and changing old perspectives and beliefs, and, most importantly, ongoing daily practice. Warning: Creating lasting happiness is not an easy jog through the tulips.

Happiness is an emotion not fully understood by the majority of people in the world. I define happiness as an inner state of peace and contentment, regardless of what happens and regardless of what doesn’t happen.Is it possible to be happy, regardless of any circumstances? Again, I say yes. In my latest book, RealitySpirituality: The Truth About Happiness, I offer real-life examples of how to maintain happiness—yes, regardless of what happens or doesn’t. Can you imagine being happy if:

  • You’ve been disinherited?
  • You’re broke?
  • A loved one dies?

I say that an individual can still be happy experiencing each of the above scenarios, with, of course, the right perspective. And guess what? Our perspectives are our choice! Know this. It is possible to be happy regardless of what life “throws” at you.

I would like to share a few examples of everyday situations that are not often discussed in prior happiness books. There is only one reason why people get angry; argue; are negative, resentful, jealous, impatient, complain, and hold grudges; why children bully other children; why parents hurt their children; why “road rage” happens; why people murder; why people try to control, blame, and judge others—the reason is, they’re unhappy. Unhappiness breeds wars and terrorism. Happy countries do not wage wars, and happy individuals do not commit acts of terrorism. Yes, those behaviors are obvious signs of unhappiness. Now that you know that, what are you going to do to make a change in your life that will be effective and long-lasting? Your path to genuine happiness is vital to our global community, now more than ever.

I have another succinct message, and that is to communicate how important it is to prioritize happiness over all other goals; above all other achievements. In fact, happiness is the achievement—the greatest achievement of all. I say it’s time mankind chooses happiness before choosing careers, before making goals (unless happiness is the goal.), before financial status, before family, and even before health. This is a radical message; however, when a person makes happiness their number-one priority, then all aspects of life will automatically improve. I guarantee it.

We’ve all experienced occasions of happiness, and some people experience happiness more than others. Is it possible to make happiness our primary emotional experience? Again, I say yes.

I enjoy dissecting happiness down to its least-common denominator to determine which common everyday behaviors actually subtract from our happiness. Did you know the following? 

  • All expectations subtract from happiness
  • All attachments subtract from happiness
  • All judgements subtract from happiness
  • All labels subtract from happiness
  • All comparisons subtract from happiness
  • Living in the past or the future subtracts from happiness

Yes, the above mentioned behaviors literally subtract from happiness on a daily and moment-to-moment basis. Do you recognize practicing any of the above in your own life?

The Laws of the Universe and Happiness

Laws of the Universe work in conjunction with increasing and sustaining happiness. The Laws of the Universe are imperative and must be included in any conversation about the pursuit of happiness. Why? Because the Laws of the Universe are always in effect, regardless of whether we believe they are or not. Like gravity, these Laws do not require our agreement for us to experience their effects. And, the Laws of the Universe are, in fact, foundational building-blocks for obtaining lasting happiness.

One of the many reasons why I love the subject of happiness is because our circumstances do not need to change to create more happiness in our lives. You don’t have to do anything to be happier in the present moment. Why? Because, all happiness comes from within. There are 360 ways to be happy in any moment. If you are not happy in a moment, any moment, all you need to do is change your perspective. Remember, we do not have control over what happens to us, but we definitely have control over how we perceive and respond to what happens to us. And allow me empower you even further, happiness is your responsibility and no one else’s. Remember, when you raise your consciousness and self-awareness, you will also be able to raise your happiness level.

Why Is Happiness So Important?

Happiness is really all there is. Happiness is our ultimate reason for living. And as human beings, we all share the desire to be happy. The emotion of happiness, which includes a plethora of feelings such as contentment, peace, harmony, purpose, enjoyment, relaxation, love, acceptance, and the like, is really the ultimate human experience. When you think about it, the only reason we do anything while on this journey we call “life” is to maintain and enhance our happiness and the happiness of others. Can you think of a better gift to give or receive than true, lasting happiness? The significance of happiness has always been recognized for its contribution to quality of life. Scientific research now shows the happier we are the better people we become. The better people we become the better we leave our world for future generations.

Ask Rebecca Anything

, ,

Dear Rebecca,

I thought a marriage is about give and take and mutual support. I keep giving, but now I am resentful because it’s not mutual. My husband is good at taking and thinks mostly of himself. His actions are guided by doing what makes him happy. He shies away from responsibility. But he follows your principles of making self happy, putting his own happiness above all else. Example: When my son was fourteen years old and doing poorly in school, and clinically depressed, my husband was busy making plans to travel to New York to teach a workshop. That’s the part about the pursuit of self-happiness that I don’t quite understand. And I get it: I have to look out for myself and create my own happiness. I’m married to someone who is looking out for himself. I’m not faulting him, but it’s taken me twenty years and a major financial set-back to recognize the imbalance and why I feel so drained.

Dear Drained,

I am going to respond to you without a single reference to your husband. What your husband did, does, or doesn’t do has nothing to do with you or your happiness. Furthermore, your circumstances, including your child’s health, have nothing to do with your happiness. Nothing.

Let me be perfectly clear. It’s not your fault for thinking other people and various circumstances are responsible for your happiness. That’s what we all are taught at a very early age: Someone else is responsible for our happiness; something else is responsible for our happiness. Take a look at the media. There’s always someone else to blame. I did it. I placed the blame on everyone except myself as to why I was so unhappy. My dear Drained, the reason you feel discontentment and unhappiness is coming from inside of you. And contrary to what you think, the reason why you feel “so drained” is because your focus has been on everything and everyone else other than you.

 

The formula for happiness never includes another equation other than you. Everyone else is excluded including children, spouses, parents, friends, co-workers, cashiers, bus drivers, medical staff, travel agents, astronauts, animals, and the mailman. This is a very powerful concept to “get” because now you—and you alone—are solely responsible for your happiness. Let me repeat. You are responsible for your happiness. Spiderman, who quoted Voltaire, said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

 

Now that you know the truth, what are you going to do about it? As I see it, you only have two choices: (1) You can power-up and take on the responsibility for your happiness or (2) you can continue to feel powerless and make excuses and blame other people and or circumstances for your unhappiness. I look at life like this: If I’m solely responsible for my happiness, and I am, what do I need to do now? What do I need to change? How do I change? How do I integrate this new information into my daily life? I’m glad you asked. Here’s how.

 

You want to be happy? Practice the following every day, for the rest of your life.

  • STOP criticizing (yourself or others)
  • STOP complaining (about yourself or others)
  • STOP judging (yourself or others)
  • STOP expecting anything from anyone
  • STOP blaming someone else for your unhappiness
  • STOP having opinions about what someone else is doing
  • STOP discussing anyone else unless its complimentary (including yourself)
  • STOP focusing on what’s wrong

Now you don’t have to practice any of the above. But I promise you that if you don’t, you will remain unhappy. You want to be happy? “Unlearn” what you’ve learned and

 

  • START accepting people just as they are
  • START allowing people to be themselves, without judgment
  • START taking deeper breaths throughout your day
  • START focusing on what’s good in your Life
  • START becoming more self-aware
  • START being honest with yourself
  • START living consciously
  • START making small changes
  • START looking in the mirror for answers
  • START asking the Universe for guidance

 Remember, every time you criticize, complain, judge, blame, have expectations, and focus on “what’s wrong,” you literally subtract from your happiness. Now that you know the truth, what areYOUgoing to do about it? Remember, your happiness is never, and I repeat, never dependent on anyone else. I don’t care what they’re doing or what they are not doing. No one has the power to make you unhappy.

Finally, I’d like you to know that you will find the happiness you seek if you are willing to journey on the road less traveled. The reason why people are not as happy as they could be is because they arenot willing to committo the arduous daily task of monitoring all moments. It’s called living consciously and becoming self-aware.

Warning:Taking responsibility for your OWN happiness is not necessarily easy, pleasant, or fun.

University of Happiness Attendance Guidelines

You’re in training every day, including weekends. You don’t take vacations. You’re always on duty without lunch or breaks. And you’re constantly looking in the mirror because that’s where all your answers are. The only time-off you get is when you’re sleeping. When you’re ready to make that type of moment-by-moment commitment, I promise you, you will live happily ever after. Heavenison Earth, patiently waiting for you to discover it.

P.S. I want you to know how much I love your courage to share the truth of your experience with the world. Every single one of us is not without multiple challenges. You are exceptional because you’re asking the tough questions. You’re asking tough questions because you want answers. Why do you want answers? Because you want to be happy.

A short time later, Rebecca writes:

Dear Drained,

I want you to know that this is your time. It’s time to make changes and begin living happily ever after. I have an important question for you. If I asked your husband about the marriage, what would he say? There are always two sides to every story. I’m curious: Are you able to create a list as to what your husband would say about you? Be honest. Honesty brings freedom and clarity. Think about that and write back.

Love,

Rebecca

 

Drained writes, he would say that:

  • We have a lot of issues that need to be worked out, and it will take time
  • I repeat myself
  • I don’t listen
  • It’s not tit for tat (I want “compensation” for what I do)
  • I compare our marriage to other marriages
  • We have a long history
  • I am “all over the place” with discussions, I am hard to talk to, and impossible to have a meaningful discussion with
  • I am too pointed in my comments
  • I start too many projects
  • I don’t put things away
  • I am disorganized and I should do things the way he suggested.

I’ve written down all the things I do (taxes, monthly bills, managing property, remodeling rental property, homeschooling, grocery shopping, cooking, tending to kid’s health issues, financial planning, gardening, etc.). And I asked him to mark those that he feels are most important. All other things will either be hired out or given less priority. This was about two or three years ago, and he claims he responded and returned the sheet of paper. Then he said maybe he still has it because I certainly did not get it. (I wrote it down because he was generally too “busy” when I asked to have a talk in person).

 

The only responsibilities he has (meaning things he can be relied upon to do on a regularly basis) is he brings in the mail. He does other things, but if he has the time, and does not want it to be responsible. He doesn’t acknowledge that I do just about everything in the house. If he doesn’t acknowledge it, then he doesn’t have to give credit. Somewhere along the line, that’s where I started to get resentful and lost the joy.

Here’s my second enlightened moment. I’ve been taking on more and more each year. The more I did, he’d be happy, but only for a while. Then I’d have to do more and more until we are here and I do just about everything in the house. Maybe I thought it would help him by taking care of business. Maybe if he was happy, then our marriage would be better. Or, that he would love me more. And, sometimes it was easier to just do it than wait for him to get around to it and/or avoid a big discussion. In all fairness, I definitely have my flaws and my own neuroses and am not easy to live with. I am trying to recall all his other complaints. He has a lot, for sure. That’s about all I can recall for now.

Rebecca responds:

Please remember that when I answer you, it’s always my intention to (1) find the truth and (2) assist you with finding peace.

This might be difficult to hear but the truth is that if your husband did everything you asked him to and he behaved exactly the way you wanted him to, you would still be unhappy. Why? Because happiness is an inside job—period. One of the reasons for your frustration is you think that if your husband changed, you’d be happy. I’m here to tell you, unequivocally, that is not the case. Your husband is not the source of your unhappiness.

Remember:

  • Your happiness does not depend on what anyone else says.
  • Your happiness does not depend on what anyone else doesn’t say.
  • Your happiness does not depend on what anyone does.
  • Your happiness does not depend on what anyone else doesn’t do.
  • Your happiness does not depend on your circumstances either, regardless of what they are.

Unless you engage in a daily moment-by-moment commitment to growing beyond who you are now, you will never find the happiness you seek. Happiness comes from within. There are no exceptions. The road to happiness begins and ends with the person in the mirror.

What Else Is Wrong?

A second issue, according to you, is that you carry the majority of the household responsibility. Let’s say that’s true. Let me share with you what I’ve learned about “giving of myself” and happiness. Whenever I decide to give someone something, whether it’s my time, or an actual gift, or take on added responsibilities like the example you stated earlier, I make the decision and choice to give without expecting anything back in return—including expecting a thank-you. In other words, I give without strings or conditions attached.

I didn’t always have that perspective—give without expectations of anything in return. In fact, the majority of my life I unconsciously and sometimes consciously gave to get something back in return. What were some of the things I wanted in return? What I wanted varied from love, time, attention, kindness, praise, acknowledgement, credit, compassion, concern, sympathy, friendship, responsiveness, and money, to name a few examples of what I expected when I extended myself just as you stated earlier.

Happiness Is Always My Priority

While on my journey of prioritizing happiness, I learned that when I give I cannot expect anything in return. I have to give without strings or conditions attached to whatever I’m giving. As I mentioned before, I can’t even expect a thank-you. Why? Because expectations subtract from happiness. Expectations always subtract from happiness. My dear Drained, you have so many expectations, it’s no wonder you are so unhappy.

A Few Characteristics of Happy People

  • Happy people don’t expect anything from anyone.
  • Happy people don’t complain.
  • Happy people don’t compare themselves to others.
  • Happy people don’t get angry too often, and if they do, they realize their anger has nothing to do with another person or an existing circumstance.
  • Happy people don’t try to control anyone else.
  • Happy people don’t talk negatively about others or themselves.
  • Happy people are conscious and aware of the energy they emit.
  • Happy people take responsibility for their own happiness.
  • Happy people know they cannot change anyone but themselves.
  • Happy people are kind.
  • Happy people are patient.
  • Happy people accept others unconditionally.
  • Happy people are not critical.
  • Happy people don’t make judgments.
  • Happy people are self-aware.
  • Happy people don’t blame others for their unhappiness.
  • Happy people do not create drama.
  • Happy people live in the moment.
  • Happy people don’t try to change anyone else.
  • Happy people are constantly evolving into happier people.
  • Happy people spread happiness.
  • Happy people know that their happiness depends on the person in the mirror.

Now, the only reason I can vouch for all of the above is because I used to be extremely unhappy and the opposite of everything I listed above. I was one of the most miserable persons you’d ever want to meet. I was trapped in a cycle of blaming and finger-pointing. I was easily offended, easily irritated, quick to anger, bossy, opinionated, controlling, confrontational, moody, critical, and I needed to be right—about everything. Need I go on? Did I want to be happy? Had you asked me that question then, I would have said, “Of course I do.” However, I had no clue that my behavior was literally sucking and subtracting the happiness out of my life. When I discovered that my former behavior and my need to be happy weren’t compatible, I was forced to change my behavior. And, I don’t mind admitting any of the above, because, quite frankly, I’m very proud of the behaviors I chose to eliminate from my life.

Finally

So, you see, it’s up to you, and only you, to make all the necessary changes if you want to be happy. It’s up to you to change your perspectives. It’s up to you to change your behavior. It’s up to you to choose your focus. It’s up to you to become a happy person.

I guarantee that when you change, your life changes. You have the power and ability to be happy, regardless of your circumstances and regardless of what anyone else does, says, or doesn’t say or do. Now that you know the truth about happiness, the ball is in your court. You can change your life, but you have to change you first.

Warning: Finding peace and happiness is found on the road less traveled. And that road is less traveled for a reason. Your journey is going to be never-ending, extremely difficult, and brutally challenging. However the reward is heaven on Earth.

Love,

Rebecca

 

 

 

What's Wrong with the Campaign to Ban the Word "Bossy"?

, , ,

What do Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook), Condoleezza Rice, The Girl Scouts of America, Jennifer Garner, Diane von Furstenberg, Jane Lynch, and Beyoncé have in common?

Answer: They are all sending the wrong message to young girls if they want them to be happy.

“The campaign to ban the word ‘bossy’ is unintentionally creating a foundation for young girls to grow up to be unhappy women,” says Rebecca L. Norrington, Happiness Specialist and author of RealitySpirituality: The Truth About Happiness (available April 2014). Rebecca says banning words because they are “offensive” actually subtracts from an individual’s happiness. Rebecca further states:

1)    When an individual chooses to allow words to have power and influence over her emotional state, she can expect to feel bad and, ultimately, be unhappy.

Solution: None of us were born with an ability to be offended. We all had to learn how to be offended. What you learned, you can unlearn.

 

2)    All labels, and I mean all labels, subtract from happiness. You can’t label something “good” without having an opposite opinion of what’s “bad.” In addition, it’s illogical to believe all women and/or girls feel the same about one word. 

Solution: Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. The same concept applies to labeling anyone ‘bossy.’ Rebecca says, “I was born bossy, and I never thought of it as a negative term.” Eliminate labels and substitute a neutral thought with one like, “I’m experiencing reality.”

 

3)    “I’m offended.” What does that even mean? For their own personal reasons, women who believe being labeled ‘bossy’ is offensive can change that belief in an instant. How?

Solution: Change the definition and connotation of bossy. You don’t have to change the dictionary; you can change your perspective in your mind. Can you imagine a world where no one is offended by mere words? Can you imagine how strong an individual would be if words no longer had power over how s/he felt? When you rise above unconscious, conditioned responses, you will be happier.

 

4)    Controlling others. When you attempt to control anyone outside of yourself, you are essentially asking for an unhappy ending. One of the reasons people try to control others is because of their own internal disconnect. We were not born needing others to do, be, and/or act like us.

Solution: Realize that the only thing you can control is your own behavior, responses, and perspectives. Wanting to control someone else needs to be examined closely, while looking in the mirror.

 

5)    The real issue has nothing to do with banning the word “bossy.” The real issue is deep-rooted and personal to each individual who supports this campaign. 

Is It Possible to Be Single and Happy on Valentine’s Day?

, ,

February 14th is Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air: you can’t escape it. It’s a day to celebrate being and falling in love. But what if you don’t have that special person in your life on Valentine’s Day? Is it possible to be happy on Valentine’s Day even when you’re single? I emphatically say YES, and I would like to share 5 creative ways and show examples of how to be Happy on Valentine’s Day, even when you’re single.

  1. This is a perfect day to focus on you. Use the day to fall in love with You. The truth is the more you exhibit love for yourself the more you open yourself up to love from another. Just as you would plan a date with a special someone, plan to treat yourself to things you love to do. Buy yourself flowers. Get a massage. Dine in or take out from your favorite restaurant. Watch your favorite movie and/or listen to your favorite music.
  2. Cheer someone else up. Volunteer your services at a convalescent home, or a children’s’ hospital, or a Veteran’s hospital. Purchase Valentine’s Day cards in bulk, sign them, and hand them out to perfect strangers throughout the day. Contact people whom you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Make it your intention to be the reason someone else smiles on Valentine’s Day.
  3. Create a list of 10 things you are grateful for. There is no substitute for expressing gratitude. You cannot be grateful and depressed at the same time.
  4. Change your perspective. There are several ways you can immediately change your perspective so that you feel good being alone on Valentine’s Day. Example: Instead of thinking you are spending the day alone, change your perspective to reflect a celebratory day of meditation.
  5. Face it, there are several reasons to celebrate being single. Most of our greatest moments of self-improvement, insights, and periods of growth occur while spending time alone.

Ask Rebecca Anything

,

Hey Rebecca,

Recently, I have been having some trouble with my ego and moving into my heart. What happens is, thoughts that are not so constructive, constantly enter my head. I am always focusing on the present moment, opening my ears to listen to what’s real in the present, putting focus on my heart, and looking at people through the eyes of love and treating them all equal. But these negative thoughts enter my mind over and over that judges and keeps me in this mind-made world. There seems to be little improvement, and I feel like I have been in the same position for a long time. I’ve been doing different things like donating to causes that feel right and using the money I have left to give joy to my friends. Every now and then I will get into a state of pure peace and wonder in the present moment, but it just goes back to this mind-made world where I don’t feel the power of me moving forward to great things in my life.

Dear Randall,

Thank you for your letter. I love how conscious and self-aware you are. And, Randall, you’re already ahead of the game because when you’re self-aware and have the ability to live in a conscious state, it’s much easier to find solutions to any challenge you’re experiencing.
I would also love to live in the present moment 24/7. In my not so humble opinion, living in the present moment 24/7 is the ultimate way to live. And the fact that you already know how important living in the moment is to maintaining peace and happiness, lets me know your foundation is directly connected to the Universe. I too had issues with my ego’s never-ending negative banter before I took “its” power away. Now, for the most part, my ego is a starving entity held in check, when I’m living consciously throughout my day.

The Truth About the Ego

Let’s remember, the Universe does not make mistakes, and creating the ego was a necessary entity to our human evolution. (I think it would be fascinating to know how much we all will evolve in the next 500 years…but I digress.) I like to think of the ego as a job applicant with a limited amount of skills and functions. YOU have to designate which position you allow your ego to hold. For example: You wouldn’t let a 5-year-old drive a car. Why? Because the 5-year-old isn’t qualified to drive. It’s the same concept with the ego. In fact, the ego and the 5-year-old have some similar traits.

Traits of the Ego

  • Needs lots of attention
  • Needs to be fed
  • Needs to be heard
  • Disguises itself as being YOU
  • Lives in fear of being exposed

Behavior of the Ego

  • Bathes in negativity
  • Showers in judgments and comparisons
  • Dresses in feel-bad activity and feel-bad thoughts
  • Lives in fear

Again, the ego possesses a limited amount of skill and function. The problems arise when we allow the ego to hold positions of power that it’s not qualified for. My experience with my ego is that it never has anything good to say about me or anyone else. And since I know that, why would I allow that “voice” to make decisions about how I feel about me?
Let me be clear, the ego is not an enemy. The ego has its role, its purpose and its place. If it weren’t for my ego, I’d walk out of the house wearing plaid and paisley prints…around my head. I might even refuse to shower or brush my teeth or apply make-up. No, the ego is not the enemy; however, the ego has been allowed to dominate positions that it’s not qualified to hold. Allow your ego to only be in charge of the jobs it’s qualified for (make-up, hair, and wardrobe), and your life will change.

What We Resist Persists

Finally, in order for me to find peace with my ego, I had to STOP resisting it. I had to stop the struggle. I began to accept, allow, and flow with whatever the ego thought. Why not? I recognize the truth when I hear it, and I recognize the opposite of the truth when I hear it. I can’t stop the ego from trying its best to make me feel bad, but I can stop resisting its existence, and I can stop giving its words any credence or power. I started by paying less and less attention to the thoughts the ego had and begin replacing them with thoughts that served me better.

How I Interact With My Ego Now

I embrace and accept the ego as an important part of me. I allow the ego to be itself without judgment and reprimand. Also, I don’t resist any thoughts the ego has. Why? Because resisting the ego takes me out of the present moment. Instead of resisting the ego, I just observe and witness. Sometimes, just sometimes, I actually have fun with the ego. When I’m feeling really feisty, I talk back to my ego and say, “Hey, is that all you have for me today?” or “Is that the best you can do to make me feel bad?” When I ask those questions, I usually receive silence in return. Try it.

Change Your Perspective

Change the way you think about your ego. Think of your ego as being a bad reality show on TV. Bad entertainment can be funny. Lighten up. Now that you know the truth about the ego, have some fun and chillax (chilling+relaxing). Remember, you are not your ego.

Randall also wrote:
“I don’t feel the power of me moving forward to great things in my life”

When you say you’re dissatisfied because you don’t feel the power of moving forward to “great things in my life,” know that that thought is spoken by none other than Mr. Ego. Remember, your ego has one job and one job only – to keep you in a state of dissatisfaction, for as long a possible. That’s why it’s so important to know the difference between the two “voices”. The truth is, the Universe would tell you, “Randall, your life is unfolding in the exact manner it’s supposed to unfold.” Further, the Universe would tell you to relax and start appreciating and loving where you are NOW. Life evolves and changes. Randall, your life is also evolving and changing in every moment. Know that. Trust that. The Universe knows what IT is doing. By the way, you’ll continue to experience great things, and even more great things; however, the Universe wants you to love and embrace were you are now…the present moment. Surrender to the plan of the Universe and relax. Your life is unfolding in perfect order. 

Randall also wrote:
Also, when I am at social gatherings, I find it hard to get into a conversation with people. Like, no words will come to my mind. I just smile and try to be at peace with myself, but I see everybody in a conversation except me. Then on certain occasions, I will get into a conversation where it feels like everything is going perfect and the way it should. It just feels like a lot of confusion at this point in my life.

My dear Randall,

The first thing I would say to you is to STOP trying so hard. I’ve found that when I’m struggling with anything, it’s because I’m disconnected from the Universe. Have you ever seen a rose bush struggling to bloom? Have you seen a dog struggling to be a dog? Have you ever witnessed the sun struggling to shine? Whenever I’m struggling, I know the Universe is NOT involved. Further, it’s not the event that’s causing your struggle. It’s your thoughts about the event that’s causing your struggle.

Who Am I?

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn was to just be myself. The reason why it was so hard to be me is because I didn’t even know who I was! I spent years discarding layers and layers of someone else’s stuff. It was like I had someone else living in my body. Now that I’m learning who I am, I know what feels like a fit and I know what feels like a shoe that’s 3 sizes too tight. Yes, it’s taken me decades to be at peace with who I really am. Who am I? I’m happy, fun, funny, light, introvert, extrovert, and a hippie that expresses herself trough teaching fitness classes, speaking, and writing. When I attend social gatherings, I don’t know how I’m going to feel when I arrive. Sometimes I’m quiet and observe other people and sometimes I feel like chatting. Either way, I’m okay with whatever I feel inspired to be and do in the moment.

Let me share a real-life experience that I recently had at a social gathering. Last month I attended my high school reunion. While in high school, I was shy and socially awkward with a total of 2 friends. Yes, I said 2 friends. And to make it worse, I didn’t even like them. I was hanging out with them because I thought it was odd for me to be alone. I thought it was weird not to have friends.

When I attended my reunion, I was basically the same type of social person (introvert and extrovert), with one major difference: I was very comfortable being me. I was happy in my skin. Because I wasn’t one of the “popular kids” and I wasn’t a member of a “click”, I remember thinking before I arrived, I was going to be okay if I talked to anyone and I was going to be okay if I didn’t talk to anyone. And, it was also going to be okay if no one talked to me! I was ready.
When I arrived, I purposely decided to sit at a table far from the “action”. I did what I was inspired to do in the moment, which was to observe other people enjoying the evening. My entertainment came in the form of “people watching”. The only people I talked to that evening were people sitting at my table or fellow classmates that made the long trek across the room to speak to me.

Quiet as a Mouse

There were 10 people sitting at my table. Half of the people sitting at my table were husbands or wives of my classmates. A gentleman sitting to my left was the husband of a classmate. This man didn’t utter one word to anyone of us at the table the entire evening. In fact, he spoke only to his wife when she engaged him in conversation. When his wife left the table to socialize, he sat quietly in silence. Even though he didn’t speak to anyone at the table, there was a peace about him that I definitely felt. He was very comfortable not speaking. You, my dear Randall, are not. Why? It’s a question that only you will discover the answer to. If you ask me, and you did, there’s nothing wrong with attending a social gathering and not uttering a word, if you are at peace with yourself.