As a child, I was conditioned to keep my mouth shut if I wanted to be seen as a good girl. I picked up early that arguing was pointless, and that only bitchy girls insisted on being heard. I did my best to fit in and keep others around me comfortable and happy. It seemed logical to maintain the peace rather than escalate any problem. Besides, the affection and positive attention I received by being a good girl made the choice easier. From teenage on, I perfected my sunny attitude using smoking as a pacifier to entertain myself while staying silent. Unfortunately, when I stopped smoking in my early-thirties, my reliable smoke screen disappeared. Thankfully, through the many years that followed, I’ve gradually grown strong enough to speak my mind when necessary. [Read more…]
Happiness research by Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert teaches that most of us aren’t good at predicting how happy we will be in the future. Not only are our predictions based upon current feelings and events, they also flow out of our previous experiences—none of which necessarily explains what will happen, or how we will feel, far into the future. Instead, Gilbert recommends that we study and learn from those who are living the experience we say we want to mimic. Could it be that only the oldest of old living today can offer us clues about living a very long and happy life? That’s exactly what John Leland suggests in his new book, Happiness is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a year among the oldest old. For those of us who see a very long life as a gift we want to embrace, this book is a window into the wisdom of several elders with a great deal to teach.
A few weeks ago, Thom and I attended a Sunday brunch hosted by a longtime friend. Both Joanne and her husband are in their seventies. Yet, you’d never guess their age by their bright and curious minds. Nearly all their guests were as old or older, but again, everyone was curious, open-minded and talkative. At some point, the conversation touched on how, as many grow older, most seem to shrink back as the years add up. Instead of trying new things and being willing to experiment and explore, there is a strong tendency for seniors to resist the unfamiliar. Many seek safety and comfort rather than possibility and opportunity. Of course, this isn’t just limited to seniors. Lots of people seem stuck these days. So once again it was highly synchronistic when I received a review copy of a book that challenges that outlook, regardless of our age. [Read more…]
A common practice for bloggers and other lifelong learners is to pick one word to focus on as an intention for each new year. For some reason, the word “flexible” or flexibility popped into my mind within the first couple of days of 2018. Ever since then I’ve been playing with the idea. Like buying a new outfit, it’s important to see if your word fits you—to see if it has a hold of you. Now, with January quickly coming to an end, I decided it was time to reveal my word for 2018 to the world. Plus, I want to invite any of you who haven’t yet picked a word, to join me in allowing one word to mold your life in a more positive and SMART way for the remainder of the year.
I recently went to lunch with a friend I’ll call Carol. After chatting for over an hour I told her it was time for me to go because I needed to finish my weekly blog post. She immediately asked me, “So what happens if you don’t?” In other words, does it really matter that every week I spend a great deal of my time and effort writing and publishing articles here on SMART Living 365? Remember, I don’t get paid by writing this blog (other than the sale of my books). So why bother?
The simplified answer is that writing, and what I do with it for now, matters to me and I believe it is my purpose—or you could even call it my dharma. That in itself is more than reward enough. Serendipitously, a few days later I listened to a podcast that further explained how living our “dharma,” offers each of us a path to a meaningful, gratifying and on purpose life. From there I was reminded that whatever unique dharma we have, it’s best not to wait for retirement, or anything else, before finding and living it to the best of our abilities. [Read more…]
There is something about the beginning of a new year that fills me with even more optimism than usual. I won’t deny that last year was challenging on many levels for many people around the world. But that simple digit change on the end of the date invites the potential for something different—something better—something hopeful. And as a person who believes in the power of affirmations to help direct our thoughts in positive ways—I decided to go through a few of my favorite quotes to see which ones I want to focus on as 2018 gets underway. [Read more…]
A couple of weeks ago Thom and I visited the happiest place on Earth (aka: Disneyland.) Like most who grew up in Southern California, both Thom and I have frequented the park dozens of times through the years. And because 2017 is our 40th Anniversary year, it seemed fitting to go back to a place where we experienced a great deal of happiness in the early part of our marriage. Is it still happy? Yes and no. Sure, the magic of Disneyland cannot be denied. But at the same time, the property is packed in December with mobs of kids and adults. So, is it the place—or our attitude, that makes Disneyland happy? Fortunately, a new book titled, The Blue Zones of Happiness helps to make sense of the paradox. According to the author, Dan Buettner, our individual happiness is more than just our attitude. He goes on to explain how the right communities, combined with a few individual traits, best delivers a happy and meaningful life. [Read more…]
Most of the time I consider myself to be a very trustworthy and honest person. I do what I say I will do and typically say what I do without hesitation. But a new book I just finished has me digging a bit deeper around issues of honesty, trust and self-awareness. According to author Kelley Kosow, every one of us holds our own key to The Integrity Advantage. All we have to do is get naked, drop the BS, and embrace the wholeness that comes from living true to ourselves.
That sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately, a big problem is that most of the time when we think about trust and honesty we focus on other people—not ourselves. The nightly news is filled with examples of others who lie and cheat, and that keeps our attention fixated on them instead of the little (or sometimes big!) white lies we tell ourselves. As long as we keep pointing fingers at other people who we believe are doing something wrong, we avoid taking a hard look at where our own actions might be out of alignment. Ultimately as Kosow says, “The reason we don’t trust others is because, deep down, we don’t trust ourselves.” [Read more…]
With Thanksgiving behind us, those living in the U.S. can expect to be swamped with messages of consumerism for the next 34 days. In fact, Black Friday, which many retailers have named as the most heavily shopped day of the year, is today. If you are anything like me, even with the best of intentions it’s easy to be mesmerized by the glamor of things being advertised everywhere—even when we know better. But rather than give in to the impulse, I instead decided to sit down and write out a few simple, but important, ways I want to stay rightsized over the coming holiday season. If you could use some help with your resolve, please check out my list and add some of your own suggestions in the comments below. [Read more…]
For over 30 years I have been self-employed and for the most part, worked alone. Although there are many advantages to being a self-employed writer, I’ve never had the luxury of meeting co-workers after work or sharing life’s ups and downs with fellow employees. And because I am childfree, I also never bonded with other moms over the joys and challenges of raising kids. But since the media recently exploded with news bits equating loneliness and isolation with such health risks as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making new friends is now a priority. Not only is it SMART to recognize that loneliness is a potential life hazard, it is also beneficial to come up with ways to reverse the trend. [Read more…]