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Share a Smile Today. Have We Become an ‘Unfriendly’ Society?

Share A Smile Today! Has Society Become Less Friendly?

And have you ever witnessed the Power of a Smile and a Friendly Gesture?

Today, people spend so much time connected to their electronic devices that they rarely see the world around them. Not only do we have laws forbidding people to use their phones while driving, in many metropolitan areas there are signs on the sidewalks telling pedestrians to put their phones away and pay attention. Has this led to a society that walks through life with its head down? Have we become scared to make eye contact with other humans without feeling awkward? But most importantly, are you a willing participant?

There is a fun alternative.

Back in August, Rachel and I took a trip to the Olympic Peninsula. For the geographically challenged, it is in the northwest corner of the State of Washington. Both of us being tree/nature people, not to mentioned the 60-70 degrees temperatures in August, it was a wonder we ever returned. Of course, while we were there, we took numerous hikes. Not the strenuous kind with backpacks and all the other hiking gear, our hikes were more like a leisurely stroll through the forest. One morning we went for one such stroll after breakfast. Our destination, a nice 90-foot waterfall.

As we walked, we would pass other people out enjoying the day as well. When we passed people, we would say “Good morning!” or some other pleasantry like “it’s a beautiful day isn’t it?” It really was a gorgeous morning. We were amazed at the responses, which were often nothing. Seriously.

We became so intrigued that it didn’t take long before it became a game.

How would someone respond to a simple “Good morning” or “Hello”? Now, in all fairness, there were some who were from other countries who probably had no idea what we were saying, so they get a pass.

Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.

Most people seemed in shock when we spoke to them. I told Rachel it’s almost as if they don’t know how to respond to direct dialect. Cynically, (of course), I thought, “gee, if only I had an app. An app that would automatically detect a nearby phone and then would auto-send a pre-set message.” You know, like the ones you can send when you are driving. You could set this app so that when you were passing someone with a phone it would buzz their phone and say “Good Morning, it’s a beautiful morning isn’t it?” since they had trouble with human contact. The app would then offer them a few reply options.

Now, back to our walk and the really cool part.

The people who did respond with a returned “Good Morning or Hello” replied, without fail, with a smile on their face. Now I realize to the non-observant this might go totally unnoticed, but it obviously didn’t go unnoticed with us. The other thing that we noticed on these walks was that most, and when I say most I’m talking 99% of the people we passed, would look at the ground as we approached them. When we looked far ahead on the path their heads were up taking in all the splendor and wonder of nature. It was as though they didn’t want to make eye contact. Why, why would people not want to make eye contact with others?

Now believe me, as a person who classifies himself a true introvert, I do understand the answer to that question, but I also believe there are not as many introverts in the world as extroverts. Then I wondered, is this the way it’s always been or is this a byproduct of the digital/electronic revolution?

Well, all that is good for speculation, but the take away from all this is the people who responded did so smiling. Stop and think about this for a minute.

You pass a hundred people and you say “good morning.”

I bet, 60% ignore you and continue to walk. Another 40% lift their heads, smile and say “good morning” in return. To a statistician, the odds would say, “shut up, mind your own business and keep walking.” But, just think of the 40%; to some, that “good morning” and smile might make the difference in their day. And what about the 60%? Just because they didn’t respond doesn’t mean you haven’t impacted them in a positive way as well.

So, what does all this mean?

“Small acts of kindness.” There isn’t a much smaller act than sharing a smile and a simple greeting. The thing that makes it such a powerful and fun act, is the fact that it gives back. It gives back because it makes you feel good. Just think of the power that you can pose over others; whenever you can put a smile on their face and possibly change their mood and their day. This small act will help you live a Happier Life – and it’s given to you – by you – giving to someone else.

Amazing & Fun!

Game Exercise:

The next time you are in a public space greet strangers with a smile and a simple greeting. If you can’t seem to muster the greeting at least smile and make eye contact. Remember that the success rate may only be 40% – heck, it may be even less, but don’t get discouraged. Often, the real differences we make in the lives of others go totally unnoticed. But, you’ll feel a whole lot better.

Live Happier! Live Well!

I would love to hear your thoughts. Share your own SMILE experience. Just leave a reply below.

 

Here’s an “oldie, but goodie” when we first published the book (and the early cover). This should make you smile!

 

What Does This Picture Say to You?

Well, I sent this photo to some friends and here are a few of the responses:

Close up of a sunflower communicating happiness

  • Happy
  • Sun
  • Good Morning
  • Happiness
  • Growth
  • Summer Sunshine
  • Dove Field (ranks among the best)
  • Sunflower (needed to add, I’m a plant I can’t speak any words you idiot!), and
  • Purdy.

It’s simply amazing when you think of all the images that our eyes and mind process every day. Many of these images actually speak to us and some don’t. Think of all the words one image can communicate where not a word is spoken.

Where is the expression/body language …

Rachel and I recently watched Hitched, a 1995 movie (it tells you how up to date our movie watching is!) starring Will Smith. In the movie, he says communication is 60% expression and body language, 30% tone and only 10% verbal. Close your eyes for a minute and think about those percentages. Now think about today’s communications: With texting and emails probably constituting 80% of today’s communication, his calculation of expression and body language means 90% of communication is not utilized … because we’re just using electronic means to talk to one another.

… and where is the tone?

The unfortunate part is that because these two aspects of communications are largely missing, they can become implied. Seriously, have you ever read an email and wondered why the person seemed so uptight, angry, or just uninviting? I’ve even gone back to a previous email I sent to see if I said something that was misinterpreted. The fact is,  that we really don’t know what the person’s tone is because we can’t hear it; personally, I try to create a tone based on words on a sheet of paper (or screen), but not everyone bothers.

Try calling or visiting an old friend and reopen the lines of communications in your life.

I’m not quite sure why I remember this but I do. It was a television commercial from many years ago. It was for United Airlines. A bunch of sales people and executives sitting around a large conference table. The boss is walking around the table handing out airline tickets to everyone seated at the table. He is saying something to the effect, “we are all going to make some personal visits to our clients.” One of the attendees ask the boss, “and where are you going?” He pulls an airline ticket out of his back pocket and says, “I’m going to visit our oldest client.”

Translation: Nothing can replace personal contact.

Modern communications are an amazing thing. One of the things that is funny to me is that I can’t hardly remember a time when we didn’t have cell phones. I don’t know about you, but I have enjoyed some good laughs texting, and some of the jokes that have crossed my desk via email have been great; however, they can’t replace real live human interaction.

Humans need personal interaction.  Now I know there are some fellow introverts out there, but we all need it, albeit maybe in varying amounts. Remember the movie where Tom Hanks gets plane-wrecked on a remote island? An excellent example of what happens when we are removed from any human interaction.

Soulful Quote:

Communications are 60% expression & body language, 30% tone, and only 10% verbal – Will Smith’s character in Hitch (2005)

Song:

“Communication Breakdown” by Led Zepplin

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Close your eyes and repeat the soulful quote. With your eyes still closed,  ask yourself “how can I bring back the 90% of communications lost in my life?” Meet an old friend or family member for coffee, lunch or maybe even an afterwork beverage this week. Make the time and make the agreement to leave your phones out of the conversations except to show a picture or two. Not only is this a really fun Game Exercise, but can be very rewarding in our pursuits of Happiness!

For more great soulful quotes, songs and game exercises, get a copy of  our book, Don’t Be a Cow! available online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Independent Books.

And feel free to comment below: What does the SUNFLOWER say to You! 

 

Homonyms – Liken or Lichen. Say what?

What’s this have to do with living a happier life?

Southern dialogue is well known for running words and phrases together as to shorten ‘em. It was long said that this was because us’ens here in the south are lazy. Well y’all, I’m just here to tell you that I don’t think it’s laziness. I like to think we’re just efficient. 

Another example is “liken.” It is used in place of “like something or a comparison. Example: I “liken” his temper to that of a rattlesnake, or I “liken” her to a rose, beautiful from a distance but if you get too close you might get an ouch!

There is also a living organism called a lichen. That’s what’s called a homonym – when two words sound alike but have different meanings. Yes, yes, I know “liken” isn’t a real word according to Webster and the likes, but it would certainly be found in any southern dictionary. 

What’s that on the tree?

Back to lichens. Rachel just recently found a very interesting article on lichens.  https://awaytogarden.com/what-lichens-are-telling-us-with-dr-james-lendemer/ Other than a few questions from people asking me, “what’s that growing on that tree?” I haven’t thought much about lichens since biology class many moons ago. Upon reading this article, I realized that there is a lot about lichens I have forgotten or probably never learned. lichen on a tree

For example, lichens are actually a combination of fungi and algae. They live symbiotically, meaning they help each other out. The fungi protect the algae and the algae feed the fungi. Then there’s this other critter that’s often involved called a “water baby.” A water baby is a small invertebrate, meaning it has no backbone (and, we’ll just leave that for the time being lol).

What does this have to do with happiness?

Okay, okay, I know, enough of the science lesson. What does this have to do with being happy? Well, think about it. There is this whole little system going on in this seemingly simple lichen. We see them growing on rocks, trees, soil and almost anywhere. Looking at a lichen, who would ever think that this complex ecosystem exists in this seemingly simple looking thing growing on a rock? To some, it doesn’t even look alive.

Here are two takeaways from lichens to live a happier life:

  1. We live in a vast universe in which we really know so little. Our own individual lives are such a small fraction, yet our role is vital to the entire system. This is why it is so important for you to know your role and not follow the herd. To make your own path.
  2. The fungi, the algae, and the water baby all living intertwined together. Each fulfilling their role. None worried about which is stronger, which is prettier, which is smarter, or which possess more. They just fulfill their role to help each other.

I liken, lichen to the way we aught live!

Soulful Quote: 

Lichen up, and find and fulfill your purpose – life is short!

Song:

One” by U2

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Go forth and see if you can find a lichen operating near you! And enjoy the outdoors, it’s spring!
If you find some really good lichen, send us a pic!

Smile. Go ahead, pass it on.

You’ll be better off

I am not always a fan of the insta-message posted on church signs, but I am a huge fan of smiling. Forcing yourself to smile can change your mood. Change it for the better that is.

Now I’m not saying that it is always easy, but it is doable. There have been times when I’m having one of “those days” that I literally have to go in front of the mirror, and using my fingers, force a smile. I will stay in that position until I can walk out of the bathroom maintaining the smile. Dale Carnegie in his bestselling book (for decades, I might add) How to Win Friends & Influence People very early on discusses the value of a smile. Here’s a couple of his words:

  • “Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, “I like you. You make me happy. I   am glad to see you” p.63
  • “Your smile is a messenger of your good will” p.69
  • “Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it” p. 69

It’s amazing how this simple act can positively not only change our moods for the day but all those who we come in contact with as well.

Change a life one day at a time. SMILE!

The power you posses by simply smiling and causing others to smile: Amazing!

 

Soulful Quote: 

“For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give” Dale Carnegie.

Song:

Smile,” by Nat King Cole

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

This week, find a way to cause someone else to smile. Repeat often! (Also a featured day in Don’t Be a Cow!)

And this will make you smile. Pass it on. (One of our earliest videos, with the original BOOK COVER!)

 

 

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.

 

 

Be Who You Are! The first step in living a life of happiness!

“Happiness is actually an art of living, which is in us.”

It sounds so simple, right? Be yourself. Be unique. The fact is, I imagine almost everyone struggles with it at times, if not often, within their life time. Why? Because the problem is that when we are truly ourselves, our uniqueness will shine through. This uniqueness makes us different. Although this uniqueness should make us shout from the mountain tops, it often has just the opposite effect. I think some of that stems from a simple matter of semantics: Being “unique” has a nice ring to it; however, when we see ourselves as being “different,” often we have the tendency to go negative and feel “like an odd ball,” or someone who isn’t liked. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Why? Your friends are your friends because of your uniqueness, not in spite of it.

Just remember: your friends are your friends for your uniqueness. If it were for your sameness – and we were all the same – then everyone would be everyone’s friend and eveyone would be the same. My head hurts.

How to: It begins with risk, as in are you willing to risk being seen as who you truly are?

Risk has always been a fascinating word to me. When looking at risk from a dictionary definition, risk always equates with danger or adverse circumstances. But, there is another side to risk. It is the side that also holds the potential for great things to happen. Sometimes it feels like we risk our lives for the great thrill of a roller coaster ride. But there are times when we truly do risk our lives, for better or worse. What I really like about risk is that it is this great balancing act between the possibility of a negative outcome and a great outcome.

In the world of finance, this great balance is described as risk vs. return. In finance this balance is directly correlated. This means that the greater the risk the greater the return. Like Newton’s Law’s of Relativity, this law of risk vs. return is absolute. ( Note: believe in this law. Anytime someone offers you great returns on an investment, the risk is directly correlated. Just like the saying “going out on a limb,” we also have “if it’s too good to be true …” both adages based in truth, and risk vs. reward.) But this is an blog on happiness not finance, right? So what does all this have to do with happiness?

It’s really quite simple: If you want an abundance of happiness in your life, be willing to take the risk. A lot of it. You see, I think most of us live somewhere in the middle. We are willing to risk somethings, sometimes; however, often it’s hard to make the next step toward “risking” being happy. Therefore we have good days and bad days.Take the next step. Take the risk in becoming happier.

In our book Don’t Be A Cow! at the end of each chapter we offer a Soulful Quote and Song to round out that day’s exercise. Here’s a quote and a song for today’s blog:

Soulful Quote: “Cause the greatest risk we’ll ever take is by far to stand in the light and be seen as we are” -from the song,  “Stand in the Light” by Jordan Smith

Song: “Stand in the Light” by Jordan Smith

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Change – Change to a Happier You

I am always humored when I hear people say things to the effect, “I’m not going to change, I like being the way I am,” or “It’s not going to change me.” News Bulletin: Change occurs, you don’t have a choice in the matter. The only say you have in the matter is in which direction do you wish to change. You basically have three choices:

  • Direct my change to where I want to go
  • Change how others want me to be
  • Happenstance – just drift around going wherever the currents take you

Change Happens

For those who have their heels dug in refusing to submit to change, I suggest you go back and take a look at some photos of yourself, family and friends (people you see on a regular basis) that are five, ten years old. This is really a good exercise for us all to do from time to time. Change is often so slight, so incremental that it goes totally unnoticed.

When we start embracing the change that is naturally occurring in our lives on a daily basis, we can then begin to manage it, lest I say actually control it – well at least in part. There will always be things in our life that are beyond our control.

Use this Technique

Same tree 15 years later

Same tree, fifteen years later

Remember doing fractions in school? Reducing everything down to its ‘least common denominator”? This is also a major philosophy employed in problem solving. Strip away all the minutia, all the distractions surrounding the issue, and get down to the core of the problem.

Now let’s try to apply this technique to change in our lives. Let’s reduce it down to its least common denominator. Change occurs daily (actually by the minute and by the second, but we won’t go there!) For this exercise, I am also assuming you have chosen the first bullet from the list above and want to direct the change in your life, for this is the only way to a happier you.

We must first strip away everything down to the least common denominator. And in the case of change, since it occurs daily, it only makes sense that we consider only the changes of today – this day.

How might this look in our lives?

  • I need to eat healthy today
  • I need to exercise today
  • I need to put a little money into savings today
  • I need to call an old friend today
  • I need to ………………………. today

Does this seem ridiculously simplistic?  Maybe, I also understand that you may say this works with some things but not all things. But remember, problem solving techniques work on all types of problems. Whether its math, what to wear or changing a hairstyle, even a job,  problem solving is a logical sequence of procedures to, well, solve a problem. No matter the problem, it always works.

Putting it to work

Let me put in context from the list above. Today “I am going to exercise and eat healthier.” Doesn’t that sound much easier and more doable then, “I have to lose ten pounds this month”? I get started, I’ve made the commitment to do this diet and jog every day. I will do this by diet and jogging every day.

Day one I sprain my knee. So much for that plan. What next? Change to a new plan!

To incorporate the Don’t Be A Cow!lifestyle into your life, you must learn to embrace and direct the change in your life on a day-to-day basis.

Because remember:

  • “Today is all you have, yesterday is gone, and tomorrow never comes!”

Soulful Quote:“We are the change we seek” President Barack Obama

Song:(From Day 28 – Don’t Be A Cow!)Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitude. Jimmy Buffett

Game Exercise/Life Changer:Look back at some old photographs, take one or several with you today so you can look at them throughout the day. Make a mental note: “I have changed.” Then give yourself one little thing to change for only today.

*An exercise guaranteed to help you live a happier life!!

Don’t Be A Cow!Be You, Be Happy!

Spontaneity vs. Planning

As the new year gets rolling to a full head of steam, I’m sure many resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. Of course, I know there are still plenty of you dedicated souls out there still holding true to your aspirations for 2018.