Be useful

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson quote

In my work, I get the privilege of speaking to and learning from different people every day. Last week, I was interviewing one of our executives, and I asked him if he had a mantra or a saying he lived by. His answer was, “Be useful”.

There is a lot written on the power of purpose. Motivational speakers like Oprah and Les Brown have built entire careers on it. Most of these speakers have a common message: to live a happy, fulfilled life, you must live a life of purpose or service. Being useful is the key to happiness.

The grand concept of purpose is a topic for another day. For some of us, it may be harder to see a clear path to what our purpose is for being here on this earth. But all of us can be useful.

We are useful when we plant seeds that will reap a bountiful harvest. We are useful when we take the time to listen to the cares and worries of a friend. We are useful when we make a special meal for a family member, or run the kids to yet another baseball game or practice.

A couple of years ago, I made it a personal mantra to do one thing every day at work to make my workplace a great place for people to work, learn and grow. Some days it’s buying a coffee for the person standing next to me in line. Other days, it may just be sending a note of thanks or appreciation to someone who helped me on a project. I realized the greatest way I could be useful was to help make my work a happy place to come to every day.

This week’s #HappyAct is be useful every day. Don’t worry about grand gestures. Focus on the little ones.

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What will matter

Author's mother in her wedding dress
It’s Mother’s Day, so this week I’m going to give myself the morning off and share words of wisdom that have resonated with me over the years about life and happiness. It’s a poem from Michael Josephson called What will matter.

What will matter
Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten
will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations
and jealousies will finally disappear.

So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from
or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.

It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought
but what you built, not what you got but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success
but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned
but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity,
compassion, courage, or sacrifice
that enriched, empowered or encouraged others
to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence
but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter is not your memories
but the memories that live in those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will be remembered,
by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

Choose to live a life that matters.

This week’s #HappyAct is to choose a life that matters. For the photo for this week’s blog, I chose a photo of my Mom who has been gone for 35 years now. She led a small life, but definitely a life that mattered.

Happiness comes in waves

Sign about happiness

I came upon this sign last week on Broadway on the Beach in Myrtle. It said happiness comes in waves.

It was for some surf shop, but I thought it was very true. Happiness comes in waves. Some days the surf is calm, and you wade easily through the still waters. Other days moments of sadness or happiness wash over you like crests of a wave, all part of the normal ebb and flow of life.

When this happens, you just need to ride the wave.

My #HappyAct this week was literally riding the waves. The kids bought mini surf boards in Myrtle, so we spent the week body surfing—so much fun!

 

Learn which bridges to cross and which bridges to burn

Oprah Winfrey quote

Every once in awhile, I come across an article that resonates so deeply about what happiness is all about, I feel compelled to share it. This week, it was an article from Inc. called, “Oprah Winfrey Says One Decision Separates People Who Achieve Success From Those Who Only Dream.”

The gist of the article is to be successful, you need to move forward and embrace new opportunities, and that means sometimes knowing which bridges to burn and what baggage to leave behind. This includes

  • Worrying about what other people think
  • Worrying about what you have, instead of what you do
  • Counting on finding that one big idea or moment
  • Worrying about perfection
  • Worrying about what other people do
  • Worrying about whether you’re happy

It’s a great article. Read it. But there are two things I challenge the inimitable Ms. O on. She states that success and happiness go hand in hand. While there is a correlation between success and happiness, there are stories daily in the media of seemingly successful people who commit suicide or overdose who suffered from depression, feelings of low self-esteem or unhappiness. Success does not guarantee happiness. It all comes down to how you find and define success.

I also think that while you definitely shouldn’t worry about whether you’re happy, you should practice self-awareness and self-reflection about whether you’re happy. Only through self-awareness can you make changes and be brave enough to cross that next bridge.

This week’s #HappyAct is to think about which bridges you should cross and which bridges you should burn this year. And read the article.

Best happy acts of 2018

Author and her daughter

When I started this blog four years ago, I hoped I would find a community of people who would join me on a journey to explore what it means to be happy and be inspired to take action to create our own happiness, one happy act at a time.

I also knew there would be others who would never “get it” and think I’m crazy. I once had someone ask me, why do you blog about the same thing every week?  Sigh.

While there is always a common thread in my posts: exploring what makes us happy, I hope dear loyal readers you have figured out that like life, happyact.ca is a smorgasbord of content. Some weeks, it is a blog for foodies or commentary on work; other weeks it’s a travelogue or a humour column.

Some weeks it’s an advice column where I’m seeking advice for a problem or issue in my life. Other weeks, I’m sharing a tiny drop of inspiration or motivation. Either way, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it and it’s helped you on your journey to be happy.

I know life gets busy and there is a good chance you may have missed some happy acts this year, so to help you overcome FOMO (fear of missing out), here is a reprise of my top ten favourite happy acts of 2018. I hope you keep reading every Sunday morning and continue on with me on this journey in 2019.

On travel and exploring

On being happy at work

For giggles

Motivation and inspiration

Happy New Year everyone and here’s to a happiness filled 2019.

Hang out with happy people

Song album cover for Save yourself

Two weeks ago, I shared a post called Seven Habits of Highly Unhappy People.

As much as it’s important to avoid unhappy habits, it’s just as important to avoid hanging out with people who are pessimistic, focus too much on themselves and see themselves as victims in this world.

As Ed Sheeran in his beautiful song Save Yourself says, “human beings are destined to radiate or drain.”

This week’s #HappyAct is to surround yourself with people who are positive, bring out the best in you and who radiate. Avoid those who drain.

Live a right life

Saying live a right life

This week’s #HappyAct is courtesy of a colleague who posted this saying on his Instagram account, “Do everything with a good heart and expect nothing in return and you will never be disappointed.”

He said he has made many mistakes in his life (haven’t we all), learned many lessons and changed behaviours. His mantra from now on was going to be “live a right life”.

His words really spoke to me. I’m not sure how many people do things nowadays with a pure heart, expecting nothing in return.

Live a right life is going to be my mantra from now on too. Thanks for the inspiration, Paul.