Running Through Life – Where is Your Head?

Keeping your head down in football

As the aging clock continues to tick away, the body really starts to feel all of our mistakes from the past. Worn out knees that don’t like to bend much anymore, to ears that were exposed to too much rock and roll and shotgun blast. Whatever the past culprits are in your life, I’m sure you will agree it s _ _ _ s! For you younger readers, just you wait!

One of culprits from my past is posture, or should I say lack of good posture. A life time of walking, running, standing and sitting can be rough habits to change. As a forester, always walking through heavy brush, I never got the tracts that look like National Parks; I have come to discover Read more

An Interesting Phenomenon

A long narrow road

Have you ever noticed how the scenery is different as you travel in opposite directions on the same road? This is particularly true when traveling uphill in one direction and then traveling downhill in the opposite direction. I experienced this phenomenon several weeks ago.There is a road where I normally only travel in the same direction – northwest. On this particular day, for various reasons, I decided to travel this road going in the opposite direction, which is southeast, and I was traveling downhill instead of uphill. I had never really even thought about the slight grade changes before when traveling this road. (When traveling in a motorized vehicle, it’s easy not to pay attention to grade changes, but rest assured, when traveling on bicycle or foot, you notice all grade changes, especially uphill or downhill!)

As I traveled southeast – and downhill – I had views of things off in the distance. There was a large field,  I never knew existed. There was a nice house and yard, offset in the woods, I had never before seen, and I was offered vistas of the distant horizon and the onset of sunrise, all pleasant surprises.

Normally, as I travel uphill (northwest) on this road, I only noticed the forest and small fields adjacent to the roadway. As I experienced this change in scenery with a change in direction, I thought of scenes from tv shows set in San Francisco, for example. The scenery going up a steep hill flanked by row houses and cars is decidedly different than viewed downhill which may take in the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

As I travelled uphill, my eyes saw the adjacent right-of-way and the immediate surroundings – forest, farm land, or tall buildings and houses –  but traveling downhill, I took in the entire landscape, oceans or bays in the distance, and often as far as the horizon. And I thought: It’s as though when traveling uphill we have tunnel vision that is narrowly focused whereas, when we travel downhill we are able to see the entire “big picture.” The reality is that, regardless of which way you are traveling, you are surrounded by the exact same things. The only difference is what you see.

I think the phenomenon has a lesson for life in general: Often we have the same surroundings, but what we need is a change in direction so we can draw a different vision. As we know, it’s not always possible to change our surroundings.

How do you propose I change my direction you ask? Try Something New! (Day 25) is what I would say.

You can accomplish this by literally changing directions and driving a different route to or from work, yes even if it means leaving a few minutes earlier; however, if taking the literal approach doesn’t work for you, try a new restaurant, a new grocery story, visit a different church (just for one Sunday), cook a new meal – by yourself, with your spouse or with the whole family (this can be a challenge, but worth the effort – it can be as simple as pizza).

The list is endless and part of the fun can simply be coming up with “something new,” and certainly don’t limit yourself to just one thing (Word of caution, though, no cheating: you can’t just think about it though, you have to do it!)

Trying something new can bring about a rejuvenation that is refreshing and up lifting. It is an interesting phenomenon, just as traveling downhill instead of uphill.

Try It!

Remember: Cows do the same thing, and eat the same thing every single day.

Don’t Be A Cow! Try Something New!

 

Please share your experiences!

Do You Want To?

Happiness spelled out on a scrabble holder

Want To: Do You Want To? This one seems so obvious. Of course, you want to, especially when we put in terms of do you want to be happy? It always amazes me, after a close hard-fought sporting event, one of the commentators will state, “well it came down to which team wanted it more. I never felt that I ever competed in any event, sporting or otherwise, where I thought my opponent had a greater will (more want to) to win than I did. I say this because I doubt when asked that many people would answer ‘no’ to the question: “Do you want to be happy?”

As with the winning sport team, it boils down to technique, methodology, or possibly even a little luck, and often it’s the little things. When we talk about happiness versus a sporting event or a spelling bee, happiness is a 24/7/365 issue and not merely a few hour event. Because happiness is a 24/7/365 effort, you must check your resolve on a regular basis. This is an area where it is so easy to get in a rut and end up following the herd.

Sometimes the remedies are so simple, if we just stop and think about it. It may be as simple as turning off the T.V. or the radio, both of which serve as great lead cows in today’s world; It may involve finding a different lunch partner or a new crowd to hang out with after work if they are constantly discussing things that anger or upset you. In either case you must first check your resolve: do I want to be happy?

Then, make a conscious effort to remove those things that lead you away from being happy. Remember there is only one thing in life that you can control and that is YOU! Jane and I hope that you have the “Want To” to stay in control of you and not leave it to others.

And remember, check your resolve on a regular basis. Don’t Be A Cow: Have Want To:

Want To Be Happy!

Joe

P.S. We encourage you to share with us, negative influences that you have separated yourself from that has brought about happiness. We can all learn from each other’s experiences.

4th of July – What a Difference It Would Make!

Fireworks surrounding the Statue of Liberty

An Independence Day message using a slight tweak to the phrase spoken by our 35th President, John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address. Just think what a difference it would make if everyone’s first thought every morning or afternoon (if you’re not a morning person) was,

“Ask not what others can do for me, but what I can do for others” today.

Sounds simple enough, but remember, to do so you must first be good with you. For this Fourth of July celebration, I will utilize some phrases from one of America’s biggest pop stars – Katy Perry – from her 4th of July appropriate song “Firework,” one of our favorites, and a featured Soulful Enlightenment Song in our book, Don’t be a Cow! 

DontbeaCowFireworks

 

Jane and I wish you a very happy 4th of July and our sincerest hope that as you watch the fireworks this 4th, you will think of letting the fireworks within you burst and illuminate the world in which you live!

We all have it within us … but, cows don’t!

Don’t Be A Cow!

Joe

 

Practice Living A Happier Life

Close up of hands playing the piano

Practice, practice, practice … practice makes perfect, phrases in which we are all familiar. In his book, Success Is A Choice, published back in the mid to late 1990’s, Rick Pitino, University of Louisville basketball coach, states that practice doesn’t make perfect, but “perfect practice makes perfect.”

Of course from one point of view, this makes sense: Think of shooting a basketball with a major flaw in your technique. Hours and hours of practice only reinforces the so-called muscle memory of the flaw and never really helps with the shot. In fact, this imperfect practice could actually make it even harder to break the habit of the bad technique once the correct technique is learned or discovered.

The opposing viewpoint to this perfect practice idea is that without hours of “imperfect practice” one may never discover the flaw. Certainly a coach or teacher may be available to assist with ironing out the flaw but … Remember the days long ago when we were in grade school and we actually had dictionaries? We would ask our teacher or a parent how to spell a word, and they would make you go look it up. Ugh, it was so aggravating, yet it did help you remember the spelling when you looked it up yourself, even though you probably would never admit it.

I am certainly not advocating going without coaching or teaching that helps us become better at a particular skill or task, but I want to emphasize the importance of practice and the importance of all types of practice, and in particular, practice in living a happier life.

We often think of the hours of practice made by great athletes and musicians; however, what about the practice opportunities we all have each and every morning that we wake? Check out the video at the link below:

http://jbne.ws/6kesj

Haven’t we all experienced similar situations? In fact in varying degrees, we probably face them on a daily basis. If only we could make the perfect response to these type of situations as the driver did. Although I venture to say that it is impossible to always make the perfect response, it isn’t impossible to evaluate our responses to help us the next time around.

In my opinion, practice is important and practice is not so much about being perfect but it’s about evaluating. It’s about understanding that we are going to have good days and bad days, and we should learn from each.

At the end of the day, never be too hard on yourself, and here is why because tomorrow you get a chance to do it all over again! Your fellow humans will guarantee it!

If you practice all the elements that bring about happiness, you will have it!

Laugh!

Close up of a horse showing teeth and appears to be laughing
When was the last time you had a good laugh?

I had a rough day the other day; I’m sure you probably know the kind of day I am referring to. So, I thought, well since I co-authored a book on happiness and all, I need to snap out of this. Then I remembered Day 3: Laugh!

I went to my joke folder and started flipping through the pages … and on about the third page, I hit the jackpot. What a good laugh I had … hadn’t heard that one in three forevers. Boy, was I feeling better.

Several hours later, driving along, I began thinking to myself, I could really use another good laugh. As I was approaching an intersection, I noticed a truck stopped in the opposite lane. I thought, oh maybe this person needs help since he’s basically in the middle of the road. As I got closer, I noticed that it didn’t look like a person in need … What in the world?

There were several baskets on the ground at the back of the truck and sitting on the tailgate was a man, swinging his legs, looking quite content surrounded by baskets of tomatoes. This person had stopped his truck – in the middle of the road – and apparently decided to sell tomatoes from the back of his truck. What made it a little more bizarre was we were on back-country roads, where there wasn’t much traffic, sort of in the middle of nowhere. I’m thinking, what is this a toll booth? I’m going to have to buy some tomatoes to get by? And I start to get the giggles. As I drove by, he gave me his biggest grin and an exuberant wave all the while sitting and swinging, and as I turned the corner, there he was in the rear view mirror smiling and waving, and that’s when I began to laugh hysterically. I mean, a really good horse laugh. Upon gaining my composure, I looked toward the heavens, and said, with a big smile – “Thanks, I needed that!”

Laughter is great medicine. I hope you keep a folder of funny things so you can laugh often. And, never forget, that when you are searching for laughter generally you do not have to look too far, for certainly a fellow human is just waiting to humor you.

Ha-ha! Have a great week!
Have you ever seen a cow laugh? Don’t Be A Cow! LAUGH!!

Joe

Commencement 2017 – 3 simple things

Grads at a commencement holding their mortar boards to throw in the air

What a wonderful time of year.

The grass is green, the sun is shining and the days are getting longer! And, oh yeah, how could I forget graduations are in full swing. Good ole graduation, the ceremony of two tales:

● The Graduate – Give me my diploma and let me get out of this place.

● The Parent – The memories, the future, so much of life left to taste.

Unfortunately, it seems that most commencement speeches are geared more to the parent than the graduate. Long speeches about what the future holds in store. Praise given to the parent, family members, teachers and friends. All the while, the graduate may briefly reminisce about the long nights, the awful tests, but mostly thinks, when will the ceremony end so I can get out of this place.

Well this commencement is for the graduate. For it is my belief, you are the ones that deserves it. You are the ones who persevered, you are the ones who stuck with it, you are the ones who put in those long nights. Everyone else was simply doing their jobs. And, actually by you persevering and graduating, you made their jobs easier. So here is to you Graduate, short and sweet! Three simple things:

#1 ATTITUDE

This is yours. It is the one thing you have that you have total control over. That is, unless you hand control over to someone else. I implore you to never allow your attitude to be controlled by others. You have heard that Perception is Reality. Your perception stems from your attitude; therefore, if your attitude is good your perception will be good and your reality will be great! For, you see, Good + Good = Great!

Attitude. Never ever forget that yours is yours and yours alone!

#2 THE BIG PICTURE

Picture yourself as the only human being left on earth. Even for an introvert such as myself, being totally alone forever is a depressing thought. My point is that people are necessary, and yes, all people. They may not all agree with you, or like doing the things you like to do, but believe it or not they are all necessary. In the Big Picture of everybody in the world, where do you fit in? What can you contribute to the greater good of everybody? You have a talent that is unique to only you. Discovering that talent and putting it to use for the greater good will far outpace putting your talents to use for selfish pursuits over the long run.

The Big Picture. You are not the sole person in this world, nor want to be, remember that!

#3 HOUSING

You all, I’m sure, have heard of the following two phrases:

You are what you eat

No pain, no gain

Food fuels our bodies, and we all have different fuel requirements. Jets use one type of fuel, tractors another type and cars one type and race cars even another type. There is no one set of fuel for all.

Exercise compensates our bodies for the mostly sedentary lifestyles we live today. But like different fuel requirements, we all have different exercise requirements. Some need to put themselves through excruciating pain to feel as if they have accomplished something whereas others can simply go for a nice stroll through the park.

HOUSING. Our bodies are where we house Attitudes, and our Big Picture, so as long as our housing unit does not take away from those two things all is good. We were not all meant to be Barbie and Ken.

I congratulate you and you alone for this is your accomplishment. You, too, should congratulate yourself on a job well done, It’s Over!

I hope you will always remember:

the mind – attitude – is yours to control

the soul – the big picture – your heart

the body – housing – simply holds the other two while you are on earth

Keep all three in proportion, for these are you and you alone!

The Rock and the Odds

Rock with a hand painted cow on it

A friend, one of the first people to read Don’t Be A Cow!, was recently taking a walk on RiverWalk in Columbus, GA. She looked down and something caught her eye. It was a rock with something on it; taking a closer look, painted on the rock was … a cow!

Imagine. What are the odds? Especially the odds of an early reader of Don’t Be A Cow! finding an otherwise unassuming rock with a cow painted on it?

She couldn’t believe it either, so she snapped the photo and sent it to Jane and me. All three of us had the same thoughts: What are the odds? Isn’t this odd? And, of course, was it just a coincidence or a sign? You know, a destiny kind of thing.

Maybe it was telling her that she’s is on the right path. Maybe she was on the wrong path – meaning it wasn’t really her path – and she was simply the messenger – and the real message was meant for Jane and me. One thing for certain: it brought a smile and a laugh to us all.

Although we can use such occasions to mean almost anything we want to believe, a couple things are certain about finding this rock. First, when we are out in nature, out enjoying the great “out of doors” (Day 7), there are limitless treasures just waiting to be found. Secondly, we can find happiness in the oddest of places, under the oddest of circumstances with the oddest odds – a lot of odds – all which may not seem all that odd when we are willing to “Try Something New” (Day 25).

As our friend picked up the rock, she noticed something painted on the back. (No, it wasn’t Don’t Be A Cow! as that would have been mind-blowing), but what she was halfway expecting. No, painted on the back was the following: “Smile SPARK Art.” SPARK Art is an organization established to spread art and kindness into the community. The organization encourages people to paint rocks, placing them in different places around the city, with the idea being they will bring a smile to someone when found.

If such an effort was to bring a smile to someone’s face, it certainly worked. And, maybe it wasn’t coincidence after all; maybe it is a sign, that our destiny is continuing to share with others about living a life that will bring a permanent smile to your face! That happens by living your life and not the life where the herd directs you.

What’s your Destiny? BELIEVE!

– Joe

PS Check out this related article and video from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer about SPARK! 

 

Nature – in the Backyard

Looking at Nature through a window

Nature’s way to speak to us all
If only we stop, to absorb it’s awe!

The vibrant red of a cardinal on a gray and gloomy winters day
The soaring of an eagle in what appears to be an endless sky
The sounds of water as it travels after a torrent rain
It’s there for all to see, it’s there for all to hear, for you see, it is…

Nature’s way to speak to us all,
If only we stop, to absorb it’s awe!

 The swaying of a tree, in a Summer’s warm sultry breeze
The weaving of a web from a spider from tree to tree to tree
The symphony of crickets and frogs, as I sit upon my deck
It’s there for all to see, it’s there for all to hear, for you see, it is…

Nature’s way to speak to us all,
If only we stop, to absorb it’s awe!

 The power of an ant moving a beetle ten times its size
The revolving carousel of birds around a feeder hung near by
The rapid flittering of the hummingbird’s wings,
Is always a wonder
It’s there for all to see, it’s there for all to hear, for you see, it is…

Nature’s way to speak to us all,
If only we stop, to absorb it’s awe!

The warmth of the sun, on a brisk fall day
The harvest moon, or any that is amongst a star lit sky
The emergence of new leaves, ready to spring forth all life, a fresh breath
It’s there for all to see, it’s there for all to hear, for you see, it is…

 Nature’s way to speak to us all,
If only we stop, to absorb it’s awe!

You need not travel far, you need not travel wide
You need not procure additional clothing and wares
All you need, is to be aware, for you see, it is…

Nature’s way to speak to us all
If only we stop, to absorb it’s awe!

Something for everyone, just waiting to please
You need not fret, if you are prone to sneeze
For even an open curtain, may bring you to your knees
For I wish, that all would see, it is…

Always a wonder,

Nature’s way to speak to us all
If only we stop, to absorb it’s awe!

 

Wasting Time! Research I Can Truly Relate To!

“The psychological importance of wasting time,” by Olivia Goldhill

I got this article from a friend the other day, which got me thinking! Of course, I think that was the intent of my friend. Unless, of course, they were just trying to drop me a hint to make me feel better. Because I think I am really great at wasting time, so I’m happy to know there is an Up side! Read more