Take a Breather – You’ve Earned It!

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Those of you who have been with me for a while know I try to be an upbeat person who can find the good in just about any situation. I’ve always believed life is what we make of it, and if we choose to focus on the positive, we’ll get a little extra bounce in our step and find more reasons to smile. And let me tell you, it sure beats wallowing in the negativity that is just looking for a chance to sneak in.

But lately, it seems I’ve allowed that negativity to take a more prominent place in my mind. I find myself letting little things get under my skin more than normal, to the point that I don’t really even notice it. And I guess it’s starting to show. Several times lately, my wife has suggested I should go back and read a little more of what I’ve written each day. Ouch!

It can happen to any of us. Positivity isn’t something that comes naturally. It has to be practiced, sometimes with a conscious effort, in order to become a habit. That’s the way habits work. Negativity, on the other hand, doesn’t take much effort. If you pull the plug out of a sink, the water will drain out and air will take its place, because nature seeks to fill a void. Let the positive thoughts slip away, and negativity will rise to the surface.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned signs of stress. We all like to think we can handle stress. Some folks even brag about it. “I thrive on stress!” No, you don’t. You may think you do, but the reality is stress erodes away your spirit until there’s no room left for anything but more stress. And along with stress comes the inability to enjoy life’s little treasures. Positivity out, negativity in. Just like clockwork.

Well, in a conference call yesterday afternoon, I was asked a simple question, and I gave a simple answer. No big deal. Twenty seconds later, another person on the call sent me a text message … “You sound happy!” Wow. I had to think back to what I’d said, and still didn’t realize it came off a bit abrupt. The next message was a little more direct. “You need a vacation.”

It’s easy to get so caught up in everyday life that we forget to slow down and enjoy everyday life. There are jobs to be done, bills to pay, people to see, things to fix, walls to paint, grass to mow, stores to shop, oil to change, trash to take out, and all those hundreds of little things that consume our day. At some point, we need to take a step back and say, “TIME OUT!”

And you know the answer most people give when you suggest that? “I can’t take time off … I’m too busy!” In the immortal words of astronaut Jim Lovell, Houston, we have a problem! It’s like saying you can’t go to sleep because you’re too tired. Trust me, you WILL go to sleep. It just may not happen exactly when or where you choose.

We all like to think nobody is quite as busy as we are. We wear it like a badge of honor. Because, if we’re busy, it means we’re productive. We’re getting things done. The world depends on us every day for its very existence, and we’re not about to let the world down. Sound familiar?

But sooner or later, your body and mind go off in a corner to chat behind your back, and when they come out, they have one word for you … enough! It’s time for a break. And if you don’t take one voluntarily, your body will find a way to make you do it. Now, let me ask you, which sounds more appealing? A week on the beach, or a week in bed wishing you were on the beach?

We’re raised to believe life is about working hard and getting ahead. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we remember that life is also about taking time to smell the roses. It’s about dropping everything to enjoy what we’ve worked so hard to build. It’s about family, and dancing, and laughter. And if you dance like me, those last two come as a package deal.

When it’s time to work, give it your best effort. If you have to be there anyway, make it count. But know when it’s time to step away and give yourself a break. If you’re waiting for a “good” time to take off, forget it. Put something on the calendar and let it be known that you’ll be doing something else during that time. You’ll be happier, and so will everyone around you.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Who’s Your Expert?

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

Hump day came a little early this week, or so it would seem. After a three-day weekend, it was hard getting back to work yesterday. I sat there valiantly trying to remember what I’d worked on the previous week, and my mind went blank. That’s either a sign that I didn’t do anything, or that I’m consciously trying to forget it. I’ll go with Door Number 2.

Experts say that’s a sign of stress and, since I’m no expert, I guess I’ll have to take their word for it. On the other hand, who died and put them in charge? I mean, at what point in their life did somebody lay a hand upon their head and say, “Forever more, you shall be known to all mankind as ‘Expert’”? I think they’re making it up.

If you want somebody to believe what another person is saying, all you have to do is use the “E” word. “She’s an expert!” Wow. I didn’t know that. Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place? An expert? Okay, where do I sign up?

We’d like to think we’re not quite so gullible, but the facts would suggest otherwise. As a comedian, I can’t count the number of times I received a solicitation for a “business of comedy” class that promised to teach me all the secrets of success, taught by somebody I’ve never heard of and who never achieved any appreciable success himself. As they say, those who can, do – the rest teach.

I’d like to think most people who tout themselves as experts at least read a lot of books on the topic and learned from the true masters of their craft. But more likely, they’re just trying to sell a book of their own. You see, anybody can become an expert simply by making a bold declaration – “I’m an expert!” Get a couple of people to agree with you on that, and you’re off to the races.

I’ll be the first to say that, when it comes to motivation and success, I’m certainly no expert. More accurately, I’m an enthusiast. I know what I know because somebody else wrote it first, and I formulate all my ideas based on a combination of the things I’ve read and some of my own observations through nearly 62 years on this planet. After a while, you learn a thing or two.

And, even though my banker may not be overly impressed, I’ve enjoyed a fair amount of success over the years, largely because of what I learned from others. I guess I picked some pretty good teachers. And believe me, there were plenty of people along the way trying to convince me I’d never make the cut. You know, people who knew absolutely nothing about what I was trying to do.

Have you ever noticed the people who are most vocal about a given topic are usually the people who know the least about it? They think turning up the volume will make up for a lack of knowledge and people will flock to their side to hear their opinions. But the people who know the most, the ones from whom we should truly want to learn, just sit there quietly and nod.

Still, when we have that rare opportunity for a successful person to offer some suggestions, what’s the first thing we do? We go straight to our best friend and eagerly await their advice, even though they’ve never even attempted the suggestions we were given and have no experience on which to base an opinion. In less than a minute, that uninformed opinion becomes our source of truth and we quit before we even get started.

And it’s not that your friend really wanted to crush your enthusiasm or keep you from attaining your goals. But we all speak from the only reality we’ve come to know. I’m sure if your friend knew the secrets to success, they’d share those secrets with you. The question is, have they ever been successful in what you’re trying to accomplish, or are they just talking?

None of us are experts on everything, and we can all learn something from those around us. That includes your best friend who was so generous in dispensing advice. Not advice in how to succeed, but in how to pick an idea apart. Because, that’s really all they know. They speak, not as an expert on succeeding in your chosen endeavor, but in finding fault with those who do.

If you ask people for advice, they’re usually happy to give it. The key is asking the “right” people. Successful people are usually just as quick to offer advice as those who aren’t even willing to try. The question is, which one will you choose to follow? Who will have your ear today? You decide what goes into your brain. Choose wisely.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Will You Do After the Storm?

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

This was an incredibly productive and relaxing weekend, highlighted by my youngest granddaughter’s fifth birthday. It’s amazing how quickly they grow up. For a little girl who doesn’t like being the center of attention, she had an awesome day. Watching the kids run and play outside, none of us could have imagined how the day would end.

I went to sleep knowing there were thunderstorms looming from the northwest, but most of our weather comes in from the southwest, so I went to sleep thinking about the people north of us who would bear the brunt of it. Well, as it turned out, “north” was a lot closer than it seemed. By 11:00, I was awakened out of a sound sleep to spend the next hour hunkered down in the basement.

We were spared the worst of it, but early indications are that several tornadoes tore a path across several counties after most people had gone to sleep for the night. For many of those people, as the rest of us settled back into our beds once the storms had passed, they were left to wonder where their bed had gone, because it wasn’t where they last saw it.

We live in an area of the state that’s known for tornadoes. My own neighborhood, the very spot on which my house sits, was ground zero for one of the most destructive F5 tornadoes in history. That one leveled a large part of our town and took 33 lives in the process. There were injuries last night, and a lot of destruction. But thankfully, it appears everyone at least survived the storms.

But last night, we were among the lucky ones who were able to return to our own bed and call it a night. The closest confirmed tornado passed less than three miles to the north. As we counted our blessings and tried to unwind, images of unbelievable destruction were broadcast on the TV. And even as I went to bed, the storms were still wreaking havoc in counties to the east.

I can imagine a lot of those people enjoyed the day yesterday much as we did. Cookouts, family gatherings, kids playing in the sunshine, everybody just making the most of a beautiful day. I doubt anybody put their kids to bed after a long day spent even an instant thinking about having to wake them up and run for shelter in the middle of the night and whether they’d have a house by morning.

Life happens, whether we’re ready or not. Things can change in an instant, and none of us can ever be completely prepared for the reality we’ll face when the current storm is over. We’re not just talking about meteorological storms, but any of the things life can hurl our way to completely change what we thought the day may bring, and the pieces we’ll be left to pick up in its wake.

Storms come in the form of serious accidents. Sometimes they manifest themselves as health issues, a family crisis, or financial loss. This year has seen an unprecedented amount of flooding and storm damage across the U.S. that nobody could have imagined. And every day, families around the world deal with the loss of a loved one. You wonder sometimes how they can muster the strength to go on.

Some storms never fully pass. But even a hurricane has a spot of calm sunshine in the middle, a chance to survey the damage and get ready for what’s to come. And it’s in those brief moments that the human spirit begins to shine through. Disbelief turns to acceptance, and acceptance turns to determination. And in that moment, we begin to move away from the storm instead of waiting for the storm to move away from us.

I can look around my neighborhood today and it bears no resemblance to that awful day in 1974. Homes are standing, trees have grown to maturity, kids are playing, and birds are singing. That’s the cycle of life. Bad things will happen. We’ll face adversity, and some of the challenges will seem insurmountable. But it’s what we do to move forward after the storm that defines us.

Hopefully your day started off like any other, and hopefully that’s how it will end. We can never predict the challenges we’ll face, and most of them will be completely undeserved. But somewhere among those challenges we find blessings – a friendly smile, a warm meal, the laughter of a child, the love of a pet. And in focusing on those blessings, the challenges become more manageable.

You can never anticipate all the storms life will throw your way, and you can never be fully prepared for any of them. But in the way we handle life’s most insignificant challenges, we prepare ourselves to move forward from whatever life throws our way. Put a little positivity in the bank each day. You never know when you’ll need some.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Freedom is a Choice You Make

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Well, the weekend is finally here. For most of us in the U.S. it’s a three-day weekend. More than that, it’s a weekend to remember and honor those who laid down their life for this country, and the families they left behind. Having spent twelve years in the Navy, I know the risk our service men and women face every day, even in times of peace. It’s a dangerous job, and we owe them our respect.

Freedom is a word that means different things to different people. We often think of freedom in terms of the Constitution – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom to do just about anything that doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. In fact, one of the founding principles of our country was the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

But there’s more to freedom that we don’t often think about, simply because it goes against what we’ve been conditioned to think is “normal.” We learn at a young age, mostly by watching our parents, that life consists of getting up every day, going to work, coming home tired, and only taking time off on weekends or when the company says we’ve earned a vacation.

Worse yet, we’re expected to do that until we’re too old to keep working that way, which means we’re too old to do much of anything else except sit around the house and wait for the grandkids to come by. Maybe we take a long-overdue European vacation, but instead of climbing the 768 steps at Germany’s Ulm Cathedral, we’re left to gaze up and wonder what we’re missing.

I guess it’s no wonder young people are so heavily in debt, because the one lesson they’ve learned is if you want something in life, you’d better get it now. If there are things you want to do, you’d better not wait. And they’ve learned this, not by listening to their elders, but by watching them. Who wants to work every day for 45 years just to end up sitting on the porch watching squirrels?

That’s not freedom. Oh, we had the choice to do it that way and that’s the route most of us take. But we also have the freedom to choose something a little more fulfilling. I watched a TV show about RVs and the people buying them and was amazed at the number of young couples who decided to forego the traditional brick & mortar house with a fixed address and just experience life on the road.

You see, freedom goes way beyond the freedom to go to college, pick a major, and interview for the job we want. It goes beyond buying whatever house we can afford in a location that’s close to where we work. It goes beyond deciding what to do on our week or two of paid vacation. Freedom is the ability to decide if that life appeals to us at all and, if not, to enjoy life in our own way.

Granted, most of us will never enjoy that life. Not because we can’t, but because we never made it enough of a priority to do something about it. Sometimes it’s easier to just follow the crowd and do what everybody else does. Blazing a trail of your own takes courage, and the willingness to put up with a lot of naysayers along the way. But it also can lead to a life none of them will ever enjoy.

We’re taught at a young age that it takes money to buy food and pay the bills. That’s true. What we’re not told is that there are hundreds of ways to earn an income besides punching a clock every day for 45 years. And there are just as many ways to supplement our full-time income by doing something extra on the side so we can have the freedom to enjoy a little more along the way.

As you celebrate freedom and the people who made that freedom possible, remember that it goes well beyond a set of laws that tells you what you’re allowed to do. Freedom is the very personal choices you make each day, and the extent to which you allow others to make those choices for you. It’s about enjoying your life, in whatever way you choose. Most of all, it’s the courage to accept that freedom and make the most of it – today, and every day. It’s your life. Live it!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Where Do You Want to Be?

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I was listening to a CD a couple of weeks ago where the speaker said that, for each and every one of us, where we are today is exactly where we want to be. And my first thought was, are you delusional? I want to be on a sunny beach with a Pina Colada in my hand and a bucket of shrimp by my side. He must have been talking to somebody else. You know, those “other” people.

But the more he talked, the more that statement made sense. Everything we’ve done in life has led us to where we are right now. Actions, some inadvertent but mostly deliberate, one stacked upon the other, have created the life we now enjoy. Or not, whichever the case may be.

I hope most of us are at least happy with where we are today. I am. Okay, contented is probably a better word. If nothing were to change between now and the end of my days, I wouldn’t complain too much. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want some things to be different. There is still a lot I’d like to accomplish, and if I were to miss any of those goals, I’d always feel I could have done better.

Yesterday we talked about the characteristics of successful people – belief, action, and resolve. They don’t just believe they can do something – they know it. Based on that knowledge they take action. They do something about it. And when something stands in their way, they either step over, go around, or kick it out of the way so it doesn’t mess up anybody else’s day.

But there’s one more very important characteristic that drives them to succeed – it’s the realization that, based on their belief, knowledge, and resolve, they deserve success. It’s no longer a matter of luck. They’ve put in the required effort, and the reward is theirs for the taking. Others may deserve it as well, but nobody else deserves it more.

Thankfully, for most of our goals, there’s plenty to go around. I want a motorhome. If there were only one motorhome on the face of the earth, my pursuit of that goal may be a bit selfish. But I’ve seen pictures and videos of factories where they churn these things out one behind the other. There are plenty for everybody who wants to work for one. And if they run out, they’ll just build more.

The other side of that equation is the type of effort it takes to succeed. What do you have to do, and how will it impact those around you? If putting myself in the driver’s seat of a motorhome meant I have to step on other people and take away their chances at success, I’d have to find another dream, because that’s just not who I am. Thankfully, most of us would feel the same.

There’s a difference between deserving something because you’ve worked for it or attaining a goal because you took from others to get it. Material achievement comes easy when you control all the cards. Put people in a position where they have no choice but to support your goals, and you’ll win every time. But that’s not success. That’s coercion, and it’s a sad way to live your life.

What I’m talking about is the feeling that you deserve whatever it is you’re working for simply because you’ve put in the individual effort to have it. You didn’t just dream about it. You got up off the couch when everybody else was relaxing in front of the TV and went about doing the things you need to do to succeed. And you’ve been doing it every day, whether you felt like it or not.

And it all began with an itch, a little dissatisfaction with things as they are today. That doesn’t mean you’re unhappy with the life you have. It just means you want to use your God-given abilities to take it to a little higher level. It means you’re not quite ready to lay down and quit. It means you have the drive to keep setting new goals and working to attain them. It means your masterpiece isn’t quite finished.

All your life, you’ve worked to be exactly where you are at this moment. “But this isn’t where I want to be!” I get it. Most of us feel that way. So, what you’re saying is, this isn’t where you want to stay. And the moment you begin working toward something different, you’re where you want to be – moving toward something better and deserving of the success it’ll take to get there.

The things you’ve done have put you where you are today, but it’s the things you’ll do that will move you forward – today, tomorrow, and every day. You deserve any level of success you work to achieve. Your future begins today.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Winners Always Win – And So Can You

Good morning. It’s Hump Day and we’re halfway to the weekend. I hope your day is starting off just right.

As you look forward to your day, there are things you know will happen. They’re just certain. You’ll eat. You’ll have to use the restroom. Somebody will cut you off in traffic, and for a moment you’ll be upset about it. These things are as certain as the sunrise. Even when the sun is hiding behind clouds, you know it’s there.

Mom always used to say there are three things in life that are certain – death, taxes, and changing planes in Atlanta. You can complain about them. You can even try to avoid them. But unless you choose to live under a rock, those three things will be a part of your life at some point. Okay, the first one happens regardless, but you get the point.

But good things happen, too. You woke up this morning. That’s always a good thing. Odds are the car will start when you turn the key. Traffic may be heavy, but you’ll get there. Somebody will smile at you during the day, and that odd person who wants to be everybody’s friend will stop by to say hi. Certain things are just … well, certain. You can count on them like clockwork.

Have you ever met somebody who just can’t seem to lose? No matter what they touch, it turns to gold. They get all the breaks. They have the perfect job, they live in the perfect home, and drive an awesome car. They eat cake and never get fat, they run and never get tired, and they always have the perfect solution to any problem. Nothing ever seems to bother them. Must be nice!

Part of it is perspective While you’re complaining about heavy traffic, they’re saying, “Where? I didn’t have any problems at all today.” And you know you both drove the same route. How is it possible that they didn’t hit any traffic? Well, maybe their perspective is a little different than yours. If they grew up in Los Angeles, any traffic that moves is pleasant.

It’s also possible that they were too busy singing along with their favorite songs on the radio to even notice the traffic. Or maybe they were listening to a motivational CD, where somebody else is telling them they can have anything they want, and then tells them how to do it. Sure, they see all the cars, and they stop at the red lights. But they’re too busy thinking about good things to notice the bad.

Successful people all share a few common characteristics. At the top of the list is belief. They don’t just think it’s possible they can accomplish a goal, they believe it’s a sure thing. Other people may get a chuckle out of their enthusiasm, but it doesn’t even faze them. They just keep doing what needs to be done and end up laughing all the way to the bank.

Armed with that belief, they do what it takes to succeed. It’s not hard when you know the inevitable result. If the boss offered to send you on your dream vacation at the completion of a project, how hard would you work to make that happen? On the other hand, if the boss said, “Hard work gets noticed around here,” the reward is a little less certain. Successful people keep the goal in front of them all the time. They know the outcome – they just haven’t attained it yet.

Finally, successful people don’t get mired down in the details. Yes, traffic is heavy. And how, exactly, is that impacting their ability to succeed? A year from now, as they check in at the airport for that dream vacation the boss never promised, will they even remember this morning’s traffic? No, because their mind is already too busy thinking about the next goal.

A friend of mine often asks what your goals would be if you knew you couldn’t fail. I have that little gem on a note at my desk. If you knew success was inevitable, as certain as sunrise, taxes, and changing planes in Atlanta, what would your goals be? Do you think just maybe you’d be setting them a little higher?

You see, the successful person accomplishes all those amazing things for one simple reason – they decided to do it. They took that first step because they knew they could take the last. Every step in between is just part of the journey. And if heavy traffic gets in their way, they simply find a way around or use that time to plan the next move. Belief, action, and resolve. Those are the traits of a winner.

What goals would you set if you knew you couldn’t fail? You were born to win, and there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. Aim high, believe in yourself, and don’t let anything get in the way. You’ve got this!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Happiness Rocks!

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

Have you ever met somebody who just always seems to be happy, no matter what? They work all day, sometimes in a job most of us wouldn’t care to do. They put up with petty people whose only goal seems to be making everybody else miserable. They go home to a family that doesn’t appreciate them, or maybe to no family at all. And yet, they never seem to let it get them down.

Sometimes you wonder if they’re living in a fantasy world. Or maybe they’re just “not all there”. It happens. Some of the happiest people I’ve ever seen have developmental handicaps. They may never be able to complete a crossword puzzle, solve a complex equation, or do any of the things most of us take for granted. Yet they find inexplicable joy in the simplest of things.

I’ve often looked at some of these people and wondered who has the real handicap – them, or me? We think we’re better equipped to “make it” in life, but we’re the ones grumbling all the time and they’re the ones smiling.

Sometimes the perceived handicap isn’t developmental, but simply situational. Maybe they’ve had a run of bad luck over the years that would have brought most “normal” people to their knees. Whether it’s job losses, family losses, poor health, or a dozen other things, they just can’t seem to catch a break. Yet some of these people are the happiest. Maybe they’re just delusional.

I guess that would be a simple enough answer, if it were true. But the more likely answer is, they’ve learned that the secret to true happiness is to stop looking for something or somebody else to make it happen. I’ve often said it’s not what happens to us that makes us miserable – it’s our reaction to those events. We choose, in the moment, whether to brush it off or give misery a permanent home.

And if we believe that, we must also believe that happiness works the same way. We can’t make people do things that will make us happy. We can’t make the sun shine, we can’t control the lottery numbers, and we can’t make heavy traffic magically clear a path just for us. Life happens. The only thing we can control is how we react to it.

We can always point to any number of reasons we shouldn’t be happy, about a particular situation or about life in general. And yet, nobody ever says, “I had a choice – and I chose misery.” It’s easier to blame somebody or something else. And when we’re happy, we never seem to accept credit. We always point to some other person or event as the source of our happiness.

But, as most of us have been told our entire life, happiness comes from within. Bad things will happen. Unpleasant people will try their best to ruin our day. We can’t control any of that. But the moment we decide to dwell on it, we embrace the misery that comes with it.

Mom used to always say, “Shake it off.” What’s happened has happened. You can’t change that. It’s forever written in the history book of your life. And it’s natural to be unhappy, maybe even devastated, about some of the things we’ll experience along the way. Some of that pain never goes away, and happiness doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten. It just means we’re not letting it define us.

We can find misery in the fact that we’re not living our dreams or find happiness in the simple the simple things in life. We can find misery in the things other people do or find happiness in our ability to do better. We can find misery in the behavior of a rebellious child or find happiness in the memory of all those hugs and kisses in the past.

And, no matter what, we can find happiness in the future, because the future has not yet been written. We can’t change what’s already happened, but we change or at least influence most of what’s yet to come. There will be bumps in the road, to be sure. And one day this journey will end. We can’t change that. But we can choose to make the most of every experience along the way.

Choose to be happy. It won’t work every minute of every day. But the more we practice, the easier it becomes. And when that day comes when we need to pull out all the stops and make use of every trick we’ve learned along the way, we’ll be that much better equipped to handle the situation. And that, my friends, is happiness at its very best.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved