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.


  • 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.

Scottish Grandma reads “Wonky Donkey” and it is hysterical

Talk about happy! We guarantee this will bring a smile to your face. And it’s practically impossible not to join in the laughter. Watch and see.

From the “Toronto Star”
Thanks to a viral video of Janice Clark reading Craig Smith’s The Wonky Donkey to her baby grandson, and her breathless amusement over lines such as “He was a honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” the 2009 picture book about a three-legged, one-eyed donkey has started flying off the shelves again, suddenly becoming No. 1 on the Juvenile list and the No. 2 overall bestselling print book in Canada, according to BookNet Canada. In the U. S., it sold more than 100,000 copies alone this fall, much of that in the past week, according to NPD BookScan.

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.


“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



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?


Are Self-Help Books Worth it?

We were recently asked to weigh in …

… on whether Self-Help books are good, whether they work and how they work. We thought you might enjoy hearing from some colleagues and their perspective, in addition to our thoughts.


Click on the image below:


The Upjourney screen capture to the article on Why Self Help Books are good


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


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!


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.



, ,

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.