Category: Happiness

The Spring Of Kindness

“No kind action ever stops with itself.
One kind action leads to another.
Good example is followed.
A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions,
and the roots spring up and make new trees.
The greatest work that kindness does to others
is that it makes them kind themselves.”

– Amelia Earhart

Ain’t it the truth!

One of my favorite authors who really helped me get going in sales way back in ’72-73 is Frank Bettger. His book, How I Raised Myself from Failure To Success in Selling, is a classic and is very encouraging for someone new to sales (or a veteran in sales, for that matter). In it, he talks about getting fired from a professional baseball team because he looked like he had no energy and he seemed to be dragging the team down. So, he decided to change and to become the most enthusiastic player anywhere and he created the popular phrase, “to become enthusiastic, act enthusiastically!” This became his central theme and I have several copies of his signed books, all of which say “Enthusiastically, Frank Bettger.”

The quote above is very similar to me: To become kind, act with kindness! Ain’t it the truth. We already know it. We know when we act with kindness that we feel great and can see on the face of the other that they feel great too. The thing we don’t see is how that great feeling is passed on by that other person throughout their day or even into days ahead.

I try to remember to give sincere compliments wherever I go, to people I see, whether for the first time or the hundredth time. I am always looking for something to compliment people on. Many times, there is no discernable reaction to my comment, but I am sincere and it feels really good to me, so that is all that matters. I know, they heard it, and they appreciated it even though they may not show it immediately. And, again, the best part is that it not only has an effect on them but on others they interact with throughout the day. How cool is that?

Sometimes I do this in bulk and in what some might think are “crazy ways.” I’ll give you just one example that I remember as a bit off the chart. I was a sales manager at a small fledgling dealership in 1989. It was gloomy and struggling. I wanted to inject some life into it and did a number of things that helped. They had a fairly strong service business. Matter of fact, that was what kept the dealership afloat.

So I had this crazy idea come into my head to give a dozen roses to all the employees (13 of them) and have a blank card on it, so they could take it home and pass some of the pleasure on to their spouse or loved ones or just enjoy it themselves.

It was a bit crazy because I didn’t have much money, but I broke out a credit card and bought 16 dozen roses of all different colors, one dozen each in vases, arranged and delivered. It was $660. I couldn’t really justify the expense when my reasoning tried to stop me, but, I was jazzed and I acted immediately. I had each employee stop by the office on their way home and I had them choose one they liked and I thanked them for their service to the company. For all they knew, the company bought them. I also gave one set to the General Manager and Owner who worked at a different location. Plus one to take home with me for my wife.

You had to have been there to see the looks on all their faces. It was priceless. And, guess what happened when they went home. I am sure that it was a hit there as well. In addition, it is the kind of gesture that you so rarely see. It was worth every cent and then some.

And guess how happy that florist must have been.  One action and so many are positively affected. It is like spreading joy!

I was only at that store for three months, when a marvelous opportunity came to me unexpectedly. Is there a correlation? It was an opportunity that changed my life, and that is still with me to this day, 31 years later!

Many times, I get thoughts like this and I am happy that I act on many of them even though some are a bit over the edge like this one. But, you know, life is all too short, and to miss an opportunity like that would be to miss an opportunity to love.

I call those thoughts inspirations. Typically, right after you get one, your reasoning facility takes charge to try to justify that thought using logic and reason. The typical result would be letting the inspiration go down the drain.

If you ever have any of these strange, yet wonderful inspirations, I hope you act on them. Think of the joy that you will create for yourself and many others! I think that is a great reason! And, you never know–that act of kindness might have an interesting side effect… on all concerned!

My Own Celebration

“When you do not love yourself, you become “needy,” and you try to get the love you need through others. When you deny your own needs, you resort to manipulation, control, or pitiful begging to get others to fulfill your needs.

In the early days of our marriage, I was “needy,” wanting love from my husband that I couldn’t give myself. Every spring, I dropped clear hints of my love of daffodils, hoping he would bring me daffodils. While he did many things for me, he never brought me daffodils. One day, some years later, as I was beginning to learn about loving oneself, I thought, “I will buy some daffodils.”

The day I bought myself daffodils was not a sad one. Instead, it was a day of victory in my realization that I could honor my celebration of spring with the beauty of the spring daffodils. In confession, I must say that I have extended this, and now celebrate fall with chrysanthemums, Christmas with pine boughs, and summer with bouquets of daisies. These small gifts nurture my heart. Having lunch alone in a cozy restaurant with a favorite book nurtures my heart. Buying a new book or an inspirational tape recording for listening in my car nurtures my heart. While my beloved nurtures me in ways he things are important, I have great joy in the self-love of my own celebration.”

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

Note: This book, Reflections of the Heart was shared with me by a dear friend and reader. Her mother published this book and I have enjoyed it so much that I’ve found some poems and other golden nuggets to share from it. Thank you, Sherilyn.

We Are All Enough

“We’re not held back
by the love we didn’t receive in the past,
but by the love,
we’re not extending in the present.” 

— Marianne Williamson

[Classic post from 2-20-17]

I read this quote. Then put it down. Then picked it up again and again. In a short time, I became mesmerized by it. There was a wash of thoughts that came through as if this quote opened a floodgate of sorts.

Yesterday I received an email where a reader expressed some thoughts about yesterday’s post about enlightenment and found it hard to let go because there is still a strong urge to seek approval from others. I love it when people write to me, and I gave a response that came to me that I thought might be helpful.

I shared something I learned early in my study of sales that I learned from someone else about having an air of indifference. Not indifference, but just an air of it. It’s sort of a self-protection device to take a ‘no’ as a choice and not as a personal attack. Having an air of indifference as if I won’t die if they say ‘no’ allows me to keep my wits about me and my personal feelings from running amok.

Then this quote came to me this morning and opened that approval idea wide. All that love we didn’t receive in the past that we live over and over again, even as the past is long gone. It is something we hold onto though it is not necessary to continue to do so. But to paraphrase Marianne’s quote, “we’re not held back by what was, but only what is.” In other words, it is the present moment that is all there really is. We can live in the memory or the moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh said, “to be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” I delight in this statement. At the same time, I can so relate to the reader because the majority of my life I craved approval, sought it all day every day, and I would be unhappy if my attempts to manipulate the approval of others failed, which they did all the time. Yet I persisted in my quest.

Then, I found a book that put me on a path toward change from this quest. It is a short book that is so profound. I have read it so many times over the years and have given away hundreds of copies, especially to young people. The title is, Love Is Letting Go of Fear, by Gerald Jampolsky. This book gave me permission to accept myself, to approve of myself, and not have such a need to have others approving or loving me. It was the first book I ever read about loving myself enough to awaken me to the choices I always have had available to me and yet previously ignored.

No, we’re not held back by the love or the approval or anything else we think we were lacking in the past. . . unless we keep living it over and over again in the present. What really matters right now is what we are thinking and doing right now. That letting-go book encouraged me to make different choices and to let the past be–to let go of it, release it, accept it for what it was–a part of the journey to here and now. For it is in the here and now that all my power resides. Here is where I decide to let go or reach out.

It is not the ________ we didn’t receive in the past, but the ________ we’re not extending in the present. We choose every moment of every part of our lives. If we begin by accepting ourselves, our past, our family, our entire history, and our inherent power to choose, we can let go as we choose, and extend all that we are today in as much joy as we will allow.

We Are All Enough. Exactly As We Are. 

Spread Some Joy Today–by laying down the rope of the need to have others approve of us. We are the deciders and we cannot make others do anything. By letting go, we release ourselves to our own freedom.

Jenna

She is nine
and she asked me,
“Grandma,
are you rich?”
“Am I rich?”
What does the
wisdom of my heart say?

“Yes, Jenna, I am rich, for
I own the golden
sunlight of the morning
and the evening star
of the north.
My emeralds are the oak leaves
and my diamonds their dew drops.
More beautiful than rubies
are the crimson roses
that climb the picket fence.

My home is large and very beautiful
stretching from daybreak
to nightfall.
Decorated with fields of wild flowers
and flocks of flying geese.

For you see, Jenna,
the deep blue ocean
with its dancing waves
and the great pines
that sing in the breeze
belong to me.

But most precious
of all my riches
Are the people
of my life.

Each a rare jewel
an original,
a gift.
Each with a smile
like no other,
a beauty
to melt my heart,
a flower
to fill my bouquet of life.

Yes, Jenna
When you run
to hug me;
when the gentle night
holds me in my sleep;
when the sun
warms the day;
when your grandfather whistles–
I am rich beyond measure,
for I have known
the wonder of Love.”

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

Patience Is Just Plain Fun!

“The greatest power 
is often simple patience.”

— E. Joseph Cossman

 
[Classic post from 3-23-14]
 
My Life Lessons 

This is a series of revelations about my life that I am sharing with others for what it may be worth. These come from a lifetime of study and experience of others and myself, and I now translate them to words. These will be numbered; however, they are not in order of importance as all are equally important. It is just a way for me to keep track of them in this series. I hope you find value in them.

Life Lesson #14

Patience is not only a virtue, it’s just plain fun.

I have learned to be a patient man, and I have learned it from people and circumstances that challenged me to make that choice. Well, I accepted the challenges with eagerness because I made a decision that I wanted to learn to be a patient man.

Some people think that having patience is enduring something, which sounds like that stiff-upper-lip thing in England. Patience in the Bible is often spoken in the same manner. To me that is more like tolerance, meaning you are putting up with it though you do not want to. Maybe you can’t even wait to get out of the situation to get back into the world of fast-moving impatience.

I borrowed a bit of a quote from Wayne Dyer and created my own about this subject. Here it is: “Patience isn’t tolerating or putting up with. It is allowing things, situations, or people to be as they are without any insistence that they be anything else.” I think that says it nicely.

To me, patience is also calmness. I remember several years ago when I first read a quote by James Allen, and as soon as I read it, the whole thing resonated with me and I wanted to become that person. Here’s the quote: “The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.” Isn’t that a wonderful image? I love it.

All of these are great. Each is well-spoken and describes the idea of patience nicely. From the time I was a child, I had always heard the quote, “patience is a virtue.” I never really knew what it meant, and putting it into practice was torture. Later in my life, after finally making a decision that I wanted to become a patient man, I found that practice was what helped me get it going, and after a time, I began to have fun with it, and now I look forward to opportunities where I can practice it.

But, before I could really practice it, I had to get rid of the idea of tolerance, endurance, holding my breath, and other ideas of patience. What I found was that it was more real when I would unplug from the situation, suspend all judgment, and the keyword was to relax.

So, I went back to my vision of the tug-o-war and my struggle to pull the rope was my impatience with the situation or the person, and patience was more obvious to me as in letting go of the rope. I began to practice as if I were standing outside just watching the situation with no real interest other than to just enjoy it. That worked extremely well.

By stepping back, letting go of the rope, and just observing brought me joy. I was really having fun and smiling the whole time. Others around me might be complaining, demonstrating their impatience, and so on, and here I was in the same situation, having joy. Who knew? It’s hard to say how much of a difference it has made in my recent life, but it is tremendous.

“Circumstance Does Not Make The Man; It Reveals Him To Himself.” — James Allen 

Spread Some Joy Today–Let go of the rope. Relax. Breathe deeply. Experience joy.

Christmas in July

[This was written in June 2017 and published in a magazine,]

I often sing Jingle Bells in July and celebrate holidays whenever I want. I see no need to wait until there is a majority agreement on a date to celebrate something. It’s so much fun to make my own celebration dates. I like living in the present. There is no time like right this moment to choose to be happy, have some fun, spread some joy, and enjoy myself. In fact, now I celebrate every single day.

Michael A. Singer asks, “Do you want to be happy, or do you not want to be happy? It’s really that simple. Once you make that choice, your path through life becomes totally clear.” In his excellent book, The Untethered Soul he has a whole chapter on the concept of practicing unconditional happiness. He adds, “You just have to really mean it when you say that you choose to be happy. And you have to mean it regardless of what happens.” 

We often have so many rules about how we allow ourselves to be happy, and that sadness, grief, depression, or some other thing gives us permission to disconnect from happiness. We may think that we don't have any control over things and situations that create these feelings, but it isn't any event or situation, but only our choice that rules. 

To say, I want to be happy, but. . . or I want to be happy, except. . . is to choose not to be happy. People might say, “Of course I want to be happy, but my wife died, or my husband left me, or I got fired, or I'm deeply in debt, or someone crashed into my car, or I can't pay all my bills,” or fill in the blank. There's always some reason we can come up with when we only allow ourselves to have conditional happiness by saying, yes, but, or yes, except.

I love how Abraham, Esther Hicks discusses the subject:

“We are really advocates of just getting as happy as you can be–which takes care of everything. Even if you don't have reason to be happy–make it up. Fantasize it. Make a decision that you're going to be happy one way or another–no matter what. “No matter what, I'm going to be happy! If I have to ignore everybody; if I have to never watch television again; if I have to never pick up a newspaper again, I'm going to be happy. If I never have to see that person's face again, I'm going to be happy. If I have to see that person's face, I'm going to find something to see in that person's face that makes me happy. I'm going to be happy. I'm going to be happy. I'm going to be happy.” 

Some people say, “well, you just can't be happy all the time because there is a lot of ________ all around.” OK. That's a choice to be happy when we think it is acceptable or appropriate to be happy. Fine. Have it that way. But the statement that we just can't be happy all the time is purely opinion. We can be happy all the time. We can respond to events without reacting to them. We can decide to be happy no matter what goes on outside, no matter what anyone else thinks, no matter what. All we need do is choose it–and mean it.

Once we choose, our path is clarified. We see life with different eyes, different emotional responses, different perspectives. We can choose and allow ourselves to be happy regardless, and as we practice that, life takes on new meaning. I know this to be true because I made this choice and practice it daily, hourly, constantly. When an old habit of how I should feel comes up, I see it for what it is: an old habit. I then choose to let it pass by as I decide to be happy and at peace anyway.

What Inspires You To More Life?

[Note: This was written at the beginning of 2017 and published in a magazine.]

Recently, a very dear friend of mine was diagnosed with so-called terminal cancer. We spent some quality time together one day in December, and I asked him what seemed like a crazy question. I said, “do you want to live?” He wanted to know why I asked this odd question; I said that it is okay to want to and not to want to, but that it makes such a huge difference. It’s this kind of question that we are often afraid to ask ourselves or others.

This question of wanting to live is one that I was asking myself recently as I was considering what may lie ahead in my life. I had let go of some important disciplines, growing in girth and weight, generally inactive, and more. Though I was writing my daily inspirations blog to inspire others, I was in want of some inspiration for myself.

Then, in late December, I read a new book by Bruce Springsteen titled, Born To Run. I listened to Bruce read his entire book as an audiobook (my favorite way to read these days), and I was amazed. What a life he lived and he is still living it fully. I did some research and found that he and I are both 67, but that there is no way that I could keep up with him in what he does physically, let alone as a musician. He is lean and trim and strong and can do a 4-hour non-stop show singing every song from memory, and then do it again a couple of days later. I saw some on YouTube, and I was blown away by his presence on stage. I was immediately inspired to change my life. I immediately decided that I wanted to LIVE!

This inspirational moment was almost a month ago, and I am more committed than ever to reclaim my life and provide even more value to others by being the best that I can be. It’s interesting how something comes along and inspires one to make a major change in their lives. Whether it is the Law of Attraction, and that I was attracting Bruce and his book into my life or what doesn’t even matter. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have learned more about Bruce, who I knew so little about, and have him inspire me to want to move forward. We all can positively affect each other in our lives.

Do you remember some of those major turning points in your life? You’re going along, bored maybe, uninspired for sure, and then something happens—a book, a song, a letter, a photo, a friend’s concern, or a thousand other things. And then, your life is different. You’ve been inspired to change something or many things that take you from neutral into high gear. I can remember many of these turning points over the years. This one with the book, Born To Run, was another. But, it was more than the book. If I had just read the book, I don’t think it would have had the impact as Bruce reading it. His passion, determination, mistakes, successes, pain, sorrow, and joy are in his voice because he is the one who lived it and wrote it. The book is pure poetry. He is an outstanding writer.

I don’t want to live Bruce’s life. I have my path, and yet our paths have crossed so that he can help me be more inspired on mine. He doesn’t even know how much he has helped me, and yet on some level, we are brothers.

Who inspires you? Are you open to being inspired? Do you want to live?

Young At Heart

In 1953, Lyricist Carolyn Leigh wrote lyrics to a tune that Johnny Richards had put together as an instrumental. That same year, Frank Sinatra, the first to record it, made it a million-seller that year, with many recording artists even up to today who are still recording it. This song is like eternal spring to me because it applies to each individual alone as their own choice of how they will look upon and receive from life. Whether you’re single or married, 50 or 90, it works for all who are willing to live by the powerful words and sentiment.

The first verse goes like this: “Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you if you’re young at heart. For it’s hard you will find, to be narrow of mind if you’re young at heart.” And the last verse reminds us all, “And if you should survive to a hundred and five, look at all you’ll derive out of being alive! And here is the best part, you have a head start if you are among the very young at heart.” The song title is, of course, Young at Heart. When I hear it in my head, Jimmy Durante is singing it. He is the master of the talk-sing style of singing, and I just love his style.

How old are you in your heart? How young are you in your mind? The body changes, but the heart and the mind are free of the body. I’m not as flexible or trim as I was when I was 35, but there is my heart and there is my mind. Even in my forties and early fifties, I wasn’t as prime in my body as I was in my heart, so nothing has changed there! The me that I am is not attached to my body at all. I am young at heart and joyful in mind and I intend to stay there no matter how old my body becomes, and I’m wishing you the same!

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