Time for a spring makeover

Girl with hair cut

 

It’s another crisp, cold wintry morning. A blanket of snow covers our yard and the ice is reforming on the lake. Dave is in the final throes of his annual sap boil off. Spring feels like it is weeks away.

One way to usher in spring early is to give something in your life a spring makeover.

Yesterday, Clare and I went to get new haircuts for spring. Clare had been growing her hair with the goal of donating it for cancer. I was planning to join her. While I had to defer my pixie cut because my hair was still too short, my beautiful girl cut off her golden locks and is now rockin’ a new look for spring.

I also refreshed my blog this week. I hope you like the new look. I was going for something sunny, bright and inspirational.

It’s still easy to follow my blog and share my posts. Just click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner, and enter your email. Social sharing icons appear at the end of each post. If you read something you like, share the happy.

Thanks for continuing on with me on this journey to make the world a happier place, one happy act at a time.

Girl with long hair

Girl with long hair

Advertisements

A bagpiper walks into a blog

Man in kiltSpecial guest blog by David Swinton.

Ok, I’ll admit it. When my wife started this blog, I rolled my eyes and said ‘God Help Us’. Why would any person feel she is in a position to tell others how to be happier?

For a while, I even nicknamed it the ‘Crappy Act’. But personally deep down, I knew that there was no one better qualified to accomplish this mission. I have known my wife for almost 35 years. To this day, she continues to amaze me with her positive, energetic look at life. You might not always agree with her take on happiness (what the heck is an Easter Chicken anyway) but you loyal readers still come week after week to expand your happiness quotient.

When she asked me to fill in for her this week, I knew exactly what I wanted to say. After my Mom died over a year ago, I spent a lot of nights asking myself why should someone so giving of herself be taken in such a cruel manner. As with all tragic events, I started to question my own existence and where I fit into this continually evolving saga we call life. As my thoughts drifted more and more, I realized how complicated my own life had become. Between work, hockey practices, 4-H, bagpipes and the general pace of the world these days, I felt myself struggling to stay engaged. What kind of life is that? You only get one shot at it, folks.

So, in response to this, I have decided to focus at least a half hour each day to the appreciation of the simplest things in my life. One day, it might be the cardinal that has mysteriously appeared after my mother (an avid birder) died. The next day it might be the sound of wind whistling through the large pines around the house. One night I might watch a flying squirrel drift into the feeder from the darkness of the forest. The next, read a good book in a quiet corner boiling maple syrup. Laugh with your child as she pranks you for April Fools or savour a cold Corona at 10 in the morning on a hot day. Kneel down while your 9 year old shows you how intricate insect galleries under pieces of bark from a dead tree can be. Explain to her that the simplest of organisms created something this beautiful.

Your assignment this week? Put the world away for a half hour, slow down and take the time to glean a moment of pure joy from your world. And next week, enjoy while someone with actual writing talent takes back this blog.

If I were Prime Minister

PM for a dayTomorrow is election day in Canada. We are blessed to live in a country where we have the freedom to choose our leaders and have a voice on the issues important to us. I admire most politicians for their tenacity, drive, vision and most of all for the huge personal sacrifice they make for their country. It has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world.

Having said all that, I can be as good a critic as the next person and sometimes think, what would I do if I was Prime Minister?

I asked the people in my household this morning what they would do if they were Prime Minister.

  • Clare said she would create the NWHL: the National Women’s Hockey League
  • Grace said she would rename every street in Canada Grace Street: Grace Street 1, Grace Street 2.
  • Kaya, Clare’s friend who slept over said she’d order jelly beans for every person in the country (she also asked me if I was going to vote for Stephen Harvey)
  • Dave said he would ban all electronics so people couldn’t blog

Here’s what I would do:

  • Merge the Catholic and public school boards to save the costs of duplicate administration, bussing and improve our schools and education system
  • Make brands that have reduced their packaging size put warning labels on their products that says “We’re charging you the same amount for one-third less”
  • Provide tax breaks to businesses that introduce wellness, mentorship and early retirement programs, where employees over the age of 50 can scale back on the number of hours they work, and share knowledge and provide jobs for the new, oh-so-smart generation of workers entering our workforce who can’t find jobs. This would solve the work-life balance issues so many Canadians are struggling with and create jobs for the key 18-35 demographic
  • Figure out a way to break the teacher’s unions (don’t get me started)
  • And make more than three hashtags in a post or hashtags longer than 14 characters long illegal

This week’s #HappyAct is to exercise your democratic right and vote, and leave a comment. What would you do if you were Prime Minister? #elxn42 #cdnpoli

 

 

Listen with your heart

listen with your heartI need your advice. One of the things I’ve learned since starting this blog is it’s just as much important to understand what doesn’t make you happy, as what does make you happy. I also know that sometimes you just have to Let it go, and channel your energies into something positive instead of focusing on the negative.

Last week we spent the evening with a group of people we see often and are close to us. It was a nice night but it occurred to me at the end of the night, they didn’t ask a single question about my work, what we’ve been up to lately, or a big trip I’m taking in a couple of weeks. It really hit home when we got up to leave and not a single person said “Have a great trip” even though they knew they wouldn’t see me before I left.

I’ll admit I was a bit hurt. This same group of people have stated on many occasions (including that night) that they are way too busy to read my blog and have never read it.

For those of you who do read this blog, you’ll know I often post about my family. I know there’s lots of people out there who won’t like what I post and who don’t get this blog and I’m okay with that. But I would have thought people close to us might check in from time to time if for no other reason than to see what my family is up to. To blatantly dismiss it and show no interest is bizarre to me and frankly a little hurtful. Since they’ve told me many times they don’t read it, I don’t have to worry about them seeing this post.

Dave and I had an interesting conversation afterwards about the art of conversation. I observed that it seems people don’t truly listen anymore or take an interest in what others are doing. He agreed and told me that to this day, a close co-worker has still not said “sorry for your loss” or acknowledged in any way the death of his mother this February.

There’s a funny little column in the Toronto Star called The Dating Diaries. Each week, someone goes on a date with a person they met online, then describes the date and rates it out of 10. I’ve noticed a theme in these columns. Often the person writing the column rates the date low and says that the other person talked about themselves the entire time. No second date.

Dave blames social media for the narcissistic society that we have become. We post what we’re doing every minute of the day on Facebook and bloggers like me take to the net in a never-ending stream of self-gratification. We are living in selfie age. I agree, but I also think social media is a great way to keep in touch with those you might not be able to see, support people, and engage and share in conversations.

So, dear readers, now it’s your chance to weigh in on the debate and give me your advice. Am I unrealistic to expect people to take an interest in my life? Have we stopped listening with our hearts? And do you think social media is to blame or are we just so busy in our lives we’ve stopped listening with our hearts and caring about what is going on in other people’s lives?

This week’s #HappyAct is to leave a comment to help me understand and to actively reverse this trend by listening with your heart. Make a conscious effort to stop what you are doing, shut your mind to distractions and completely focus on your conversations with people and ask about what’s happening in their lives.

Top 11 Happy Acts of 2014

Best of 2014In keeping with the time-old tradition of looking back at the best and worst of in 2014, I thought I would share my Top 10 Happy Acts of 2014. These are posts that are my personal favourites that are worth resharing in case you missed them. (Let’s make it eleven, for that “extra push over the cliff” (movie trivia–know the reference? See the end of the post for the answer.) Don’t miss last week’s post from guest blogger Craig from Today’s Chapter, Christmas sweaters, me stuff and Father Time—great post, Craig, my number eleven!

Thanks for following my little blog and joining me each week in doing one happy act and sharing the happy. Happy New Year everyone.

The only All-Year’s Resolution you’ll ever have to make

8 things not to do if you want to be happy

Stand on your desk

Spend time with someone older and wiser

Watch a baby grow

The crappy act

Eight acts to make you feel like a kid again

Talk to strangers

Clear some columns on the spreadsheet of life

The most important blog post you’ll ever read: the secret to happiness

What was your favourite happy act in 2014? Leave a comment. Trivia answer: Famous line from This is Spinal Tap, the rockumentary when character Nigel Tufnel shows off his amplifier and explains why the controls go to 11 instead of 10.

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…

Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?

Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.

Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it’s louder? Is it any louder?

Nigel Tufnel: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?

Marty DiBergi: I don’t know.

Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?

Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.

Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

Marty DiBergi: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?

Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.”

 

 

 

A year of #HappyActs

Happy in AfricaThis week is a milestone for my blog. It has been exactly one year since I started on this journey of doing one happy act a week and inviting others to join me. With any venture, at some point you have to take stock and see if what you are doing is making a difference

So if money could buy happiness, here’s the million dollar question. After one year of happy acts, am I happier? Oddly enough, I think the answer is yes.

Not, in the “OMG, I have a fabulous new job, get to travel the world and meet fabulous people” way (mainly because I have the same old job, travel only occasionally and usually to Napanee, and only get to meet new people at parent council meetings or at work), but in a more subtle and sublime way. And I suspect the reason why all boils done to one revealing truth: self-awarenesss.

There were many reasons I started this blog. Being happier myself wasn’t one of them (the irony). But by simply being more aware of what makes me happy and actively engaging in acts of happiness, I think I am happier.

This week’s #HappyAct is a double assignment. First, take stock. Are you happy? Why or why not? What parts of your life are you satisfied with? What aspects are leaving you feeling less fulfilled? Pinpoint one thing you would like to focus on or change, and make it a goal this year to be happier in this realm of your life. I did this recently when I cleared some columns on the spreadsheet of life. Your second act is to keep joining me each week in this journey of discovery and help me by sharing the happy by sharing an occasional post or two.

 

Like next week’s post, where I’ll share what I think is the key to happiness—don’t miss it!

Crush the seeds of doubt

Seeds of doubtI thought about starting this blog for about two years. Then I finally did it, and posted my first post.
At first, it was encouraging to see other bloggers follow me, and friends commenting. This was going to be fun. But as the day went on, and as nighttime creeped in, seeds of doubt started to germinate in my mind.

Was I crazy? What do I know about happiness? And who is really going to care one iota about my stupid blog?

Doubt is an interesting emotion. On the one hand, it’s good to doubt ourselves. The world would be
a pretty obnoxious, arrogant place if we didn’t. On the other hand, doubt can seep into your consciousness and eat away at your confidence, causing you to question yourself, your abilities and everything you believe in. Doubt is insidious. I actually think the word is spelled wrong. It should be a four letter word (what purpose does the “b” serve anyway)? It serves no purpose, just like the emotion itself. It’s negative, destructive, and the biggest buzzkill around.

This week’s Happy Act is to crush the seeds of doubt the next time you find yourself questioning your abilities. Make it a physical act. Write the word doubt on a piece of paper, crumple it up and throw it in the recycler. If you’re chewing gum, chew up your doubt and spit it out. Crush the seeds of doubt and revel in newfound confidence. Leave a comment: what do you doubt about yourself?