The Key to a Great Holiday Season, the 4 Pillars. Here they are.

Benches in a park at night with holiday lights and snow on the ground

Festive or Fearful?

This time of year is considered a joyous time of year. Christmas. Chanukah. Kwanzaa. Solstice (Winter Holidays around the world). It’s a festive time with family and friends. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of year filled with stress, anguish, and pain. So, whether this is a time you find festive or you fear it, it is definitely a time of year filled with emotion. So, what better time to practice conquering those emotions than the “most wonderful time of the year.”

The Four Pillars

When my emotions start to get the best of me, I like to rely on what I call my 4 pillars. These four pillars are Peace, Joy, Love, & Hope, which by the way, are also the four weeks/candles of Advent. If you think about it, these 4 pillars are great guiding principles to carry with us year-round.

  • Peace. I often think of peace as in war and worldly peace, but what about peace in our own hearts? Do we hold grudges, or are we envious of what we do not possess?
  • Joy. Living with joy is living the happiness lifestyle that we often refer to. I like to call joy the fruit of living happy.
  • Love. The center piece of our existence.
  • Hope. A word, I think, we all rely on from time-to-time in our lives. Hope carries us through times in which Peace, Joy, and Love seem to escape us.

Rachel and I hope that you make this Christmas season the best you have ever had. For it is, the only one you have! This is an especially good time of the year to practice the “Don’t Be A Cow!” lifestyle.

Soulful Quote: Tis only a moment in time that I am present in this world, may it be filled with Peace, Joy, Love and Hope, and more Peace, Joy, and Love than Hope!

Song: “Carol of the Bells,” performed by Mannheim Steamroller is my favorite version but there are many. And, if you haven’t heard this one before, take a listen. It is unique, bright and definitely “uncow!”

 

Game Exercise/Life Changer: Say Peace, Joy, Love and Hope 3 times everyday from now through Christmas Day.

The Great Transformation. It has begun.

People fighting for gifts on Black Friday

The Great Transformation. Why, why, why? Do so many who seem to be so normal for 11 months out of the year, transform into crazy people at Thanksgiving … then Black Friday … Cyber Monday! And, now it’s in full swing. Suddenly normal is something different than it was just a few days prior. It’s hard to explain, but let’s just say that the “Walking Dead” has nothing on this week of Transformation.

Remember:

  • Tickle Me Elmo?
  • Cabbage Patch Dolls?
  • X Box 4 (Pick a Number)?

The fights, the stampedes; all in the ruse of celebrating the birth of peace! All come and go, yet there’s always the “newest new thing” to create a stampede over? And for what?

All because:

  • Your kid has to have this;
  • Your spouse must have that;
  • You must cook this, that way;
  • I bet you can list a hundred more!

Please, please, please! This Christmas season above and beyond anything else:

Don’t Be A Cow! Be You!

This is the guiding light that will never fail you. For if you look at it in the proper perspective, this transformation is nothing more than cowism. That is getting you to be anything but you.

Soulful Quote:There is nothing more powerful and inspiring than being you!

Song: “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” sung by Bing Crosby. Irving Berlin (1940).

Game Exercise/Life Changer: Write in large print, on a sheet of paper, “I am not a cow!” Look at it every morning.

Giving thanks.

Close up of pumpkins and squash at market

My wish this Thanksgiving is for each of us to take the time to be thankful, giving thanks to what we have, our families, friends and colleagues. This is a very crucial part of living a lifestyle of happiness.

In today’s society, with 24/7 contact with friends, family (and people we actually don’t even know) it’s easy to lose sight of all the things we have to be thankful for. In days past, when there wasn’t television, radio, and cars, you would seldom see the blessing of others. On the other hand, today with television and social media it is impossible not to see all the things we may feel we are missing out on.

A close up of a glass of water filled half wayHalf Full. Half Empty. Or is it simpler than that?

“Seeing the glass half empty”

Is what we often call pessimism. Yet this is the same attitude when we desire the good fortunes that others seem to have while ignoring our own blessings. Understand that often we may not necessarily want exactly what other have, but it can leave us with the feeling of wanting more than we have. Having a glass half empty!

“Seeing the glass half full”

Is the saying of the optimist: however, is the attitude of being thankful for the half of glass of water that you do have ? (What? Finish the thought … and I added this: We all face obstacles. However, how we handle those obstacles can make all the difference in the world. After all, maybe it’s simply a half a glass of water. And be thankful for that!

Here’s the thing:

Remember in life, one of the very few things you can actually change is your attitude.

My holiday wish is that we all devote just a few seconds every day to be thankful. And, to see your glass half full. In doing so, who knows maybe in just a short while your glass will fill to the tippy, tippy, top.

Song:

“Thanksgiving Song,” by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Starting on Thanksgiving Day spend just a few seconds to write down one thing – and only one per day – that you are thankful for. Do this through the end of the year. A 41-day list. (Yes, just until the end of this year!) You can do this. And please feel free to share. To start the ball rolling: I’m thankful to all of you who read this blog especially those of you who send me comments.

Soulful Quote:

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” Oprah Winfrey

 

HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Time Changes. Have You?

Autumn leaves

This time of year, there are all kinds of changes going on

Leaves are turning color, trees are becoming naked, the ground is becoming soggier, the air is getting cooler and yes the dreaded/celebrated time change (at least still for most of us). And the holidays are quickly approaching.

With all of this change, it may be a good time to examine the change in your life. Oh, you say it’s not a good time to change? I get it. “Too much going on,” or “things are really going great,” so the last thing you want right now is change. However, the only problem is that change is always taking place.

Embrace it.

The problem with change is that we only want to recognize abrupt change or change that we’ve been ignoring until one day we see a picture of ourselves or we take time to reflect on days gone by. However, embracing the daily change in our lives can be one of the most rewarding things we can do.

Most importantly, every day we have what I like to call “life experiences.” In other words, everyday things happen. You may meet or encounter new people, co-workers, a friend tells of events in their life, you see new things, or maybe old things that you just now notice. In addition, all of these encounters shape who it is we are and they occur daily. Most of the time without you ever noticing or recognizing it these daily occurrences change:

  • your thought processes
  • your opinions
  • your mannerisms
  • the way you dress
  • possibly what you eat, where you go. So, you get the idea.

All without you consciously noticing.

Don’t analyze. Realize.

Quote of Andy Warhol They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

Now, I’m not proposing that you start analyzing everything that occurs in your life and how it may change you; however, I am proposing that you recognize that it is occurring, and here’s why that’s important.

Most change in our lives occurs very subtly and without us even recognizing it. Because, when we start recognizing it, we can start changing little by little by little things that we may want to change, or may not want to change. Either way, this my friends is called “taking control of your life.”  Day, by day, by day. You will be amazed at small changes that will provide you with big results. As a result, you will begin to wake up every day with renewed energy seeking every opportunity that arises that day to enact daily positive change in your life in a direction you control.

In a nutshell (they are dropping this time of the year too 🙂 you can shape your own direction to where you want to go. You don’t have to drift in the directions others may be leading you to go. And, that can be a real challenge in our current age of social media!

You can achieve it.

Life Long Happiness! Live It! Don’t Be A Cow!


Soulful Quote: “The only thing that stays the same Is, everything changes, everything changes.” – Bobby Braddock, American country songwriter, author and record producer

Close up of Singer Tracy LawrenceSong: “Time Marches On” by Tracy Lawrence

Game Exercise/Life Changer – Before you drift off to sleep tonight, take a few moments to reflect upon the day that you just experienced.

Is there something you can change?

Share with me your thoughts.

Are You Happy? Make it your Latest Fashion

Happy Little boy throwing leaves in the air

Consider this: Fashion. Yes I said fashion – I mean, it is fall and fashion is society’s way of influencing our outer covering.

If we are not careful, society will also attempt to influence our inner being – our soul.

As this happens, we stop being who we are, and we become some version of what society wants, or thinks it wants, us to be. When we allow this to occur, lifelong happiness will always elude us. Sure, we will have our moments, but that is all we will have – moments as opposed to a lifelong stream of happiness.

Now I know what you may be thinking …

I’ve been there too: “I would never allow this to happen to me. I am who I am.” But, be careful. It is a slow and inconspicuous process. I like to call it “Cowism.”

So, what exactly is “cowism?” This is where we leave our path and blindly follow the lead/influence of others. Don’t be too alarmed, because to some extent, I think we are all guilty of it at times in our lives. We all have those times in our lives where we simply act on the recommendation or swaying of others, for instance. (“Practicing Cowism”). The key is to make sure that you always return to your own path. For this is where true happiness lies. In short …

Don’t Be A Cow! Be You, and Be Happy!

How? Follow us here at Don’t Be A Cow!

Soulful Quote: Be still my soul, for society shall not weave your fabric as it weaves the covering of the flesh. George Barker

Song: “YMCA,” The Village People. Simply because of the costumes, and it is a “Happy” song.

Game Exercise/Life Changer – Ask, and then answer the following question: Who Am I?

Stressed Out? Can’t Seem to Shake It Off?

woman pulling her hair out

You’re Not Alone.

It is said that pressure is standing over a 5-foot putt to win the Masters Golf Tournament when you know you have trained as hard as you can train for this moment. Stress is standing over a 5-foot putt to win the Masters when you know you haven’t trained.

For the non-golfer, pressure is having to make an ‘A’ on a calculus exam when you have studied and know the material inside and out. Stress is having to make an ‘A’ on a calculus exam when you were out with friends all weekend. Okay, enough about sports and academia; how does stress differ from pressure in our daily lives? Below, in multiple choice format, I’ve outlined a few of the things that may have caused stress in your life. See if any of these sound familiar:

a) Air conditioner, drier, and transmission all fail the same week (and it’s mid-July)

b) Child raising – pick a year or decade

c) Paying the mortgage

d) Work, and Co-workers, bosses, employees, & deadlines

e) ALL OF THE ABOVE

collage of words stress shedule busy timeIf you didn’t choose ‘e’ you either haven’t lived long enough or you’ve been very fortunate! But, for most of us, it can sometimes be a little overwhelming, don’t you think?

Several years ago, there was a time in my life where for 18 months, give or take a month or two, I felt as if I were standing over that 5-foot putt to win the Masters. I was confronted with a serious health condition as well as a business that I had started 20 years earlier that was struggling to stay afloat. Can anything else go wrong? It can! Imagine standing over a putt for 18 months, or studying for a calculus exam for 18 months. That’s how this felt.

During this 18-month period I thought I was stressed out. (Now, don’t get me wrong. I was thankful for the fact that I was still standing. And, I have always been thankful for the successful years I’ve had. It just seemed that no matter what I tried to do to turn things around, everything made things worse). I tried all the normal stress relief activities. You know the gig, I’m sure: exercise, yoga, reading, A pressure gauge in the redmeditating, praying, walks in nature (well okay that doesn’t count for me since that is my job), but you name it, I tried it.

Stress or Pressure?

Then one day it dawned on me:

I did all these things to relieve stress yet when I laid down to go to sleep at night all of those challenges that were stressing me out were still there.

This isn’t stress after all, I thought, this is pressure. It was pressure to perform the way I knew I could. All the days in life leading up to this period had trained me for this moment. Think about that calculus exam. It’s not just the material on the exam, but it’s a lifetime of studying and practicing math that all play a part in the final performance.

As we all know, sometimes life can be extra challenging. These challenges don’t go away just because we do a 45-minute yoga session. Sure, you may feel better, but the problems, obstacles, and challenges are still there.

When we can understand that our previous life experiences have prepared for these moments, we can put these challenging times into a context of our entire life. And actually, that is what all the stress-relieving activities do for us. They help us to see our challenges in the proper context. Thus, they become something that is very manageable and not so overwhelming.

Stressed? You’ve Got This.

When I had realized that all my struggles and so-called misfortunes in life had prepared me for this moment, albeit an 18-month moment, it totally changed my perspective on the situation I was facing. And as I gained this new perspective, miraculously the stress went away.

Of course, if instead of studying for that calculus exam, you were outside looking at leaves, twigs, and earth worms, maybe, just maybe it’s time to make a life change! You may be stressed! And the pressure is getting to you. See what I did there? 🙂 A blog for another day.

In the meantime, to live a happier life, try looking at the stress points in your life and see if you can put them in the proper context so you too can gain a new perspective and a happier life.

What a game-changer moment in life!

Song: 

Reader Choice: Choose the happiest/ feel good song you know. I chose “Cheeseburger in Paradise” by Jimmy Buffett. Probably had to do more with the diet I’m on than anything else. Another day and time, I may have chosen something different.

Game Exercise/Life Changer: 

While listening to your chosen song, write down a few stress points in your life. Are they going to go away with Yoga or whatever your stress release may be? Now look at these stress points as pressure points that you have been training your whole life for.

Soulful Quote: 

“Stress and Pressure. One is perceived, one is real, both come from within.”

 

I think this is Fascinating! You?

Isn’t that fascinating!

I was recently having a conversation with someone, who was telling me about something that was really fascinating to them. I could tell they truly were fascinated because of the emphatic way in which they were describing the event. Of course, it was something that was unfolding on a newscast and pertained to politics, both of which are major turn-offs for me these days; my thoughts were wanting to go someplace else. Eventually, I lost the battle of trying hard to listen and let my thoughts drift where they wished.

Surprisingly enough, where my thoughts took me were somewhere fascinating. No, literally fascinating, because I People on cellphonesthought about the word itself and what is fascinating to me. Naturally, before they had finished speaking I had already formulated my response, which I hate doing because it means that I wasn’t listening, right? Okay, that’s my confession for the day; now on to my response.

You know what I find fascinating?

So, you think that’s fascinating, huh? You know what I think is fascinating? I think that my life is fascinating. Each day I wake, I find a whole new set of challenges. There are so called “bad things” that occur and there are also “good things” that occur. Generally, it is some combination of the two. When you wake every morning, you just never know what the mix of bad and good might be that day. Isn’t that fascinating? With so much fascination contained within my own life, I just can’t imagine why someone would want to turn on the television and watch the fascination with someone else’s life.

Now don’t get me wrong: I totally understand how it is easy to get caught up in these moments. Back in the day, it was just television that drew people into this situation, but today we have social media which just begs us to get fascinated with other’s lives.

It’s you.

Person in silhouette of tv screen of white noiseAs a person who likes to promote happiness within people, I want to ask you: What are you fascinated with? Is it your own life? Through my life, I have known and met a lot of people. Enough to know that all of us have fascinating lives. I like to think of them as stories, fascinating stories. And that’s it. Because each day holds an adventure for each and every one of us. Please make sure that you enjoy your adventure, and if you are fascinated with another’s story, that’s okay; just don’t be consumed by it. Remember, you’re life is fascinating.

Don’t be a Cow! Become fascinated with your own life.

Soulful Quote: ” … don’t be fooled by the radio, the TV or the magazines/ They show you photographs of how your life should be/ But they’re just someone else’s fantasy”  – Songwriter Dennis De Young. Lyrics from the song “Grand Illusion”

Song: Grand Illusion, Styx

Game Exercise/Life Changer: A toughie this week. Go one day without television or social media. Then throughout the day as you pick up your phone to check social media, ask yourself what is the fascination with my life? Believe me. it’s there; you just need to take time to find it.

 

 

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11 BOOKS to read to improve your social skills

Man speaking in front of a group

We are thrilled to be included in this list of books to read to improve social skills.

And we’re in very good company. Please take a moment to look at the list, make a comment or share. It will mean a lot to us. And if you don’t have a copy of Don’t Be a Cow! or would like to share with a friend or family, be sure and take a look!

Many folks have told us we have already empowered them to “find their own paths.

 

Procrastination: Are you guilty? Would you like to end the control it has over your life?

fighting procrastination concept - do it phrase on color sticky notes posted on a cork bulletin board

There are actually two types of procrastination that I learned recently:

  1. Procrastination with deadlines – with this type of procrastination the effects are contained due to the deadline itself
  2. Procrastination without deadlines – with this type of procrastination the effects are not contained, as there is no deadline. This type of procrastination is long-term, can lead to unhappiness, and regrets. He says “the frustration was not that they could never achieve their dreams, but that they couldn’t even start chasing them.”

We all Procrastinate.

I learned this from a great presentation by Tim Urban, “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator.” Tim goes on to say that he thinks that we are all procrastinators to some extent. I tend to agree; however, I don’t believe that this is a function of procrastination as much as it is a function of not really knowing what it is you want. It is the ole “what do I want to be when, I grow up?” (when your 60). Sometimes it might sound more like this: “when I retire, I’m going to do ‘X.’” If you can procrastinate for 30+ years until you retire, I would say that you are a pretty good procrastinator.

I think this goes beyond procrastination: I call this “cowism.” It’s going through life not thinking about what it is you really want to do and be (Wait for retirement? Really?). 

What happens when we don’t think about what it is WE want to do? We end up following the lead of others. Someone give me a ‘moo’ please, MOOOOOO! Thank you!   

When did we get here?

“How could this happen, and certainly not me!” I hear you say. Careful, it creeps up on you so very subtly, and it can go on for many years. It’s no wonder why so many people feel like they are going through life not living up to their full potential. Feeling like something is missing. Because they are.

The Don’t Be A Cow! lifestyle is the answer. As I lay out in our interactive book, I’m going to share with you a Soulful Quote and Song.

Soulful Quote: From the lyrics from “The Impossible Dream” Man of La Mancha

“This is my quest, to follow that star

No matter how hopeless, no matter how far

To be willing to give when there’s no more to give

To be willing to die so that honor and justice may live

And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest

That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to rest”

What is your quest?

Song: Digging deep for this one: “Dream Weaver” by Gary Wright

Game Exercise/Life Changer: What’s your dream? What do you want?  Find a quiet comfy place maybe even include some comfort food, lean back and allow yourself to dream. Don’t allow the voices of the herd to creep in and tell you things like “it’s unrealistic” just dream and enjoy the moment.

BONUS: Check out Tim Tebow talk about his new book, “This is the Day.”

Have You Checked Your Pride Lately?

What I ‘m talking about is internal pride: That pride that gives us self-confidence, makes us believe in ourselves, and makes us happy and productive individuals.

This time of the year there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of pride in the air. It’s often easy to see pride displayed when it comes to our favorite ball team. But, what about when you look in the mirror? Pride is something we often don’t think about on a daily basis, but pride provides the foundation to who we are. Pride can be a very positive asset; it can also be somewhat detrimental as I think we have all see this displayed in the sporting world.

What I want to talk about, however, is that internal pride. The pride that gives us self-confidence, makes us believe in ourselves and makes us happy and productive individuals.

Which would you prefer?

Now, how I came upon this particular subject matter at this time was from listening to a local radio program. The deejays – I guess they still call them that – were discussing a poll that asked people if they were given the choice of someone giving them a million dollars or the choice to work and earn a million dollars which would they choose? In both cases, a million dollars was guaranteed and there were no specifics on time; therefore, you would have been given the million dollars in the same time span that it would have taken to earn the million dollars.  So, which would you choose?

I was in disbelieve that the majority of people would rather be given a million dollars than to be given the opportunity to earn a million dollars. This is the perfect example of pride, or should I say, the lack thereof.

We all accomplish many things each and every day. Yes, many of these may seem rather small and of no value, but our daily accomplishments fuel the pride that should exist within us all.

Photo of Peggy Wills the "We Can Do it" Model for the poster

Peggy Wills, the “We Can Do It!” Girl

Give yourself some credit

We as humans build on our accomplishments through life. It is these accomplishments that give us a sense of worth, and ultimately, give us self-confidence and pride. What accomplishment is achieved from someone giving you something? The problem is, we develop this disillusion that our accomplishments need to be on the scale of earning a million dollars, and if not, then we consider it useless. When we refuse to give ourselves credit for our daily accomplishments, no matter how big or small, we can develop a sense of worthlessness. A feeling of worthlessness can lead to many places: none of which is good.

I’m fearful that in today’s world, with so much sensationalizing from television and social media, there are far too many people that don’t understand. Hence, why so many people are willing to just be given the million dollars? Remember, when given the million dollars, the worthlessness still exists. It’s just in a bigger nicer house.

I would rather earn $100 than be given a $1,000,000, because the $100 is worth so much more!

I feel like this has had to have been said by someone before me and if so I apologize for not giving credit: If not, heck I’ll take credit! Hey an accomplishment woo who!

Make your Bed.

Navy Seal Admiral Mc Raven explained at a University of Texas commencement why making your bed every day means you accomplish something  at the start of every day.  Accomplishments don’t have to extraordinary but when you stack all of yours on top of one another you have quite a few. Let accomplishments serve as the base for your pride.

Accomplishments are to be built upon and not rested upon. And yes, there are some days where making out bed would be a great accomplishment. I’ve had days where I’ve thought merely making it out of bed was a great accomplishment.

In our Book, Don’t Be a Cow!, our interactive guide on finding happiness, we share soulful quotes and game exercises for each day’s topic. Here’s one for this blog post:

Soulful Quote: 

“If the accomplishments of yesterday are still a big deal to you today, then you haven’t done much today” 

Mikhail Gorbachev

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Make a list of your accomplishments, give special attention to the small ones (at least small in your mind – likely not so small in the minds of others). Use this list as your pride check and use your pride check to improve your self -confidence.

… and if you want to pursue your own path to happiness, or know someone who could use a little encouragement, please consider purchasing Don’t Be a Cow!