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

A Place Where Suggestions Become Reality

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

I’m getting a late start today, so this post may be a bit shorter than most of the others. And as I’m writing this, I’m hearing a loud chorus of “Woohoo!” in the background. I know I get a bit long-winded sometimes. It’s just part of my personality. I’ve never been known to be at a loss for words.

It means a lot to me that you folks take time to read these posts each day, and that some of you actually look forward to them. Not so much because you’re reading and commenting on something I wrote, but that you’re taking a few minutes each day to fill your mind with what I hope is a message of positivity and inspiration.

I’ve said this before, but our minds are like a sponge. When you put a sponge in any kind of liquid, it soaks it up. It may be the cleanest water, or the foulest-smelling spill, the sponge doesn’t care. Its job is simply to soak things up. And, regardless of what it is, the sponge will pretty much soak it up equally fast, and hold it a long, long time. Especially the nasty stuff.

There’s a part of your brain that creates conscious thought – it processes everything coming in to fully assess the situation, and then spits out its best-possible response. And that response is based on everything we’ve learned to that point in time, good, bad, or indifferent. Because everything we’ve learned over the years is there in your brain’s hard drive, just waiting to be used.

And much like a computer’s hard drive, there’s a part of the brain in which all input becomes a source of truth. If I were to misspell a word in this post (believe me, it’s happened), that word will be sent around the world exactly as I wrote it. If I’m lucky, the computer will put a red squiggly line under the word to let me know I made an error.

But the brain isn’t quite so gracious. The much larger part of your brain handles subconscious thought, and that’s the part where all those things we see and hear each day, the words we hear, the messages we read, and the things we experience, are stored away for instant recall. And every one of those bits of information, to that part of our brain, becomes a source of truth.

Have you ever watched a hypnotist onstage? It’s hilarious, the things they can make people say and do. And they’re not really “making” people do anything. All they’re doing is tapping into the subconscious mind, and then making suggestions. When you can bypass the conscious mind and go directly into the subconscious, every suggestion becomes real.

So, yes, it’s possible to filter out some of what goes into your subconscious if your conscious mind is actively on the job. The problem is, much like a magician’s sleight of hand, what you consciously see and hear is only part of the equation. They get you focused on one hand to keep your attention off the other. And that’s how negative thoughts slip unchecked into your subconscious.

So, be careful about the input you allow into your brain. You can’t control other people, or the things they say and do. But you can control the amount of time you spend around them, and the surroundings in which you choose to be. You control the things you read, the shows you watch, and dozens of other things that affect what feeds into your subconscious.

To the extent that you can control your surroundings, you can control what goes into your brain. Feed it with positive thoughts, and it’ll return positivity when you need it most. Control what goes into your brain. Garbage in, gospel out. You can’t filter out all forms of negativity, but you can certainly overpower it with the positive. And that, my friends, is the foundation of happiness.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Sunny Days Are Made, Not Born

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is starting off really well.

Have you ever met one of those people who never seems to have a bad day? The person who walks into work with a smile, greeting everyone by name, telling everyone what a beautiful day it is, and they’re not even a politician? You wonder sometimes if they woke up on the same planet as everyone else, or if they’re just oblivious.

Okay, I’ll make a little confession here … I try to be that person. It doesn’t always work, and sometimes I’m suppressing how I really feel, because we all have our days when things just aren’t all glitter and puppy dogs. But I’ve found that if I keep those negative thoughts to myself, things just seem better. It’s a really old concept I learned as a teenager – fake it till you make it.

And there’s something to be said for that. We tend to believe what’s repeated, whether by ourselves or others. It’s the very basis of advertising. The more somebody tells us we need a certain product, that it’ll make our days better, our lives longer, and drive the opposite sex wild with desire, the more that message begins to wear on us. Before long, we’re out shopping for something we didn’t even know we needed.

It’s also the basis of misinformation, both intentional and unintentional. From politics to medicine, we’re constantly bombarded with “truths” somebody else wants us to know. Of course, some are much more factual than others, but when did that ever stop anybody from sharing an opinion as gospel? And, again, the more we hear the same message, the more believable it becomes.

I remember years ago, we tried an experiment in a leadership class. The instructor picked out one person in the room, and the rest of us were to convince that person that they didn’t look well. Naturally, that person had no idea what we were doing. He was just the unlucky soul who took a restroom break at the wrong time and left the rest of us to plot his demise.

When he returned, the instructor asked, “Do you feel okay? You look a little pale.” For the rest of the morning, several of us took turns doing the same thing. Or we’d point to the clouds and suggest a storm was coming or tell him we heard the company was getting ready to cancel vacations and force overtime. He didn’t even have vacation scheduled, but by lunchtime, he was visibly distressed.

Okay, it might have been fun to see how long we could ruin his day, but that wouldn’t have been very nice. Right before lunch, the instructor let him off the hook and explained how the repeated suggestion that things are not going well can change your perspective to the point that you overlook all the sun peeking through the clouds and only see a looming storm.

It’s been said that we all tend to live up to the expectations that others have set for us. Not demands, expectations. There’s a difference. A demand is something to which you’ll be held accountable. An expectation is a belief that it’ll happen simply because you’re the one in the driver’s seat. And we all tend to be a lot more successful when others genuinely expect us to succeed.

The same is true about our own perceptions. Put ten people in a room together, close the door, and walk away without saying a word. Just leave them to wonder what’s going on. Every one of those people is experiencing the same reality, but you can believe there are at least ten different ideas of what that means. At that point, they form a few expectations of their own.

And those expectations have a strong influence on our perception. While one person is waiting for the boss to walk in with a stack of pink slips, another sees little more than a chance to enjoy some quiet time among friends. And for both of them, until that door opens, and they find out what’s really going on, their perception is reality.

If you wake up in the morning expecting a gloomy day, you’re probably off to a real good start toward fulfilling that expectation. If, on the other hand, you wake up excited about the new day and look forward to it with anticipation of all the good things you can accomplish, the odds are much more in your favor.

That’s not to say nothing can come along to change your day. Storms will arise, things will go wrong, people will get upset, and some of that will try to rub off on you. But if you started the day happy and positive, it’ll take a lot more to get you down. It’s all about expectations. Set your expectations high, and you won’t have to look too hard to spot the good when it comes your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

When Life Hands You Lemons, Squash ‘Em!

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

Yesterday was one of those days that could have gone either way, and it turned out to be another exercise in frustration. It happens, and especially when people with an ulterior motive decide to make sure it happens. But you know what? Today is a brand-new day.

We all have those times when things happen that shouldn’t. People get sick, people die, jobs are lost, homes are lost, friends are lost, or any of a hundred other things that leave you feeling completely hopeless. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, so all you can do is wake up the next day and move forward.

My mom always used to say that, once you hit rock bottom, the only way you can go is up. There’s some truth to that. And even at the worst point yesterday I was far from rock bottom. But after a few hours of sulking and just trying to make sense of the day’s events, we had dinner, exchanged some laughs, and found a renewed sense of purpose to set things right. It’s a good feeling.

And I guess a big part of the reason we were able to turn things around so quickly is because of the type of things I write about in these posts – dreams, visions of success, positivity, and the reality that our destiny is much more in our control than it sometimes appears. It may feel like we’re only along for the ride, but the steering wheel is very much up for grabs. You can take it any time you want.

Happiness and positivity are a frame of mind. We can choose to be happy (generally) or choose to be downtrodden. It’s all in how we view the little things around us each day. Walking outside to cold air and gray clouds isn’t what most of us would call a good start to the day. But we can either moan about it all the way to work or turn up the radio and sing along. It’s a choice we can make.

Much of life is about perspective. You can drive past a dilapidated home on a dirt road with rusted out cars in the yard, people sitting on the porch commiserating about their lot in life, and in the yard you’ll see young children running and playing without a care in the world. They all live in the same reality – they just see it differently.

And part of that is just age. When we’re young, our parents try to shield us from the negative factors in life, especially those we can’t control like money and bills. But there’s nothing sweeter than the smile on a child’s face as they invent new games to play, laughing and singing without a care in the world.

I have little doubt I’ll step outside to less than ideal weather. Somebody in traffic will try to put me in a bad mood, and something at work will go wrong. These things happen. And, to be fair, when enough of them happen all in the same day, it can pretty much wreak havoc on your general mood. But it’s our ability to handle those little things that makes us better able to handle the big ones.

If we allow the little things to get to us, there’s no way we can handle life’s real challenges. Our family suffered a blow yesterday, one that came as the result of somebody else’s misdeeds. It happens. But we were able to quickly shake it off and get back on mission. And I know it’s because we’re generally positive and hopeful.

Positivity, like many other things, is simply a habit. It’s a choice you make at some point that becomes a part of who you are. It kicks in automatically all through the day, and when you need it the most, it’s there to help you face challenges with a clear mind and the knowledge that you can rise above. It’s what makes the difference between happiness and despair.

So, as you go through the day, pay attention to the little things that bother you. Don’t dwell on them, just be aware of their existence. Then find something positive about the situation and focus on that. It only takes a few seconds to change your perspective. Then you can face the challenge with a renewed sense of spirit. Do that often enough, and it becomes a habit.

Buildings are raised a brick at a time, beginning with a strong foundation you can’t even see once it’s been covered. But it’s there, supporting the whole structure when the storm clouds blow in. Build that foundation within yourself – a foundation of positivity – and you’ll find there isn’t much in life you can’t handle. Each day is only as good as you choose to let it be. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Makes You Happy?

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

This is the time of year when we begin to think about life after winter. Unless you live in Australia, in which case you’re still enjoying the better half of summer. I guess it’s just a matter of perspective. I always admired birds for their ability to follow the warm weather, and their common sense in doing so. Except the birds here. I’ve heard them chirping in the snow. They must work here.

Before I get too deep into this topic, I know there are a lot of people who absolutely love cold weather and as much snow as Heaven can dump. I also know people who think smacking your head into a brick wall is invigorating. I’m not assuming anything here, just making an observation.

Let’s just say that, for most of us, warm weather is a lot more pleasant and enjoyable. And I’m finding that, the older I get, the colder cold gets. What used to be tolerable is just downright freezing. They say it’s a slowing metabolism. I say it’s common sense improving with age.

For somebody who just wrote yesterday about making the most of each day, you probably had an image of me outside in the snow, bundled from head to toe with nothing showing but an ear-to-ear grin. Now you’re making assumptions. I do try to make the most of every day. But when it’s cold, I tend to find my enjoyment inside where it’s warm.

There was a time when I loved playing outside in the snow. I remember our first winter in Ohio, pushing my daughters on their brand-new sled. They’d squeal, I’d fall, and we all got a big laugh. But it was something new. Much like that dust-covered treadmill in my office, it didn’t take long for the newness to wear off.

And I know that, in about six months, we’ll step out the door and it’ll be hot. Not just warm, but the kind of sweltering, stuffy hot that takes your breath away. And then, my friends, you’ll see that ear-to-ear grin. I may comment that it’s hot, but I’ll never complain about it. That’s just my time of year.

Which begs the question, if I love warm weather so much, why do I live in Ohio? I had to answer that question several times when we first moved here from south Florida. And I still remember my answer: “When it’s hot and I’ve stripped off everything the law allows, that’s as good as it gets. But when it’s cold, I can always get warm.” Famous last words.

Okay, there’s some truth to that. I can put on a heavier coat and a ski mask. They won’t let me in the bank like that, but it’s a start. Still, there is no cold on earth like standing next to a slow-moving gas pump in near-zero weather and the wind is cutting through like a frozen dagger. And the probability of an empty gas tank increases as the temperature goes down. It’s Newton’s law of relativity.

I’ve had a little fun with this, but there is a point to be made. If weather can have such a profound effect on our happiness, why don’t we do something about it? Right now, as I look outside at the remaining snow on the ground, people in the southern hemisphere are planning a day at the beach. And somewhere in the middle, it never gets cold. And you know what? They have houses there, too.

We all make choices. I moved here thirty years ago looking for work, and I’m still here because this is where my daughters and grandchildren live. And when my little ones walk through the front door on a snow-covered day, I remind myself this is a choice I’ve made and it’s the right choice for me. Sometimes, the greatest warmth comes from within.

Still, my wife and I have this idea that the same roads that run south also run north. As long as we have the means to travel, distance is simply a matter of choice. We can choose to let that distance separate us from family or pay them a visit. Or invite them to come see us. Or even meet someplace in the middle for a vacation the kids will never forget.

It’s all about having the means to make those choices. I have friends who visit Hawaii every year because they can. They’ve traveled all over the world because of choices they made. And every one of us can make those same choices today. We just have to want it.

It’s one thing to be stuck in the cold because you enjoy it. But we should never let our lives be controlled by circumstances we have the power to change. No headstone was ever inscribed with a person’s dreams – only their accomplishments. Get out there and make the most of it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Happy People Live Happier Lives – It’s a Fact!

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

It’s that time of year when all the germs that have been closed up in our homes over the winter are starting to take their toll. Trust me, there are no germs left outside. They froze weeks ago. In fact, according to the National Pest Management Association, this last “polar vortex” wiped out about 95% of the stink bug population. That means it’ll take them until June to fully repopulate.

But as the cold weather wreaks havoc on bad things outside the home, we’ve done a bang-up job of preserving all those germs indoors. They’ve not only survived, they’ve thrived. After a while, it’s like last week’s leftovers. They all get thrown together for a stew nobody can quite identify.

Until now, everybody was fighting a cold. It was an especially brutal winter for that. But with each cold, we build our immunity for the next one. Of that strain. Next year there will be a whole new batch of germs to contend with. Still, people seem to be getting over the worst of it. But, apparently, we haven’t built up our immunity to the norovirus that’s making its rounds. Lovely.

So far, I’ve dodged the bullet. Both of my grandkids had it over the weekend. They gave it to their mother, who called my wife to pick her up from work when it hit. Well, guess what my wife was up doing all night? I tend to be a little more resistant to these things, but nothing gets past her.

When things aren’t going well, I’ve always said we sometimes need days like this to help us appreciate the good ones. Well, maybe. But I don’t think anybody needs this. I can appreciate a day of backaches and stiff joints just fine without an intestinal bug as a basis for comparison. This is just plain evil.

And all those pounds we thought we shed overnight are just nature’s way of rubbing salt in an open wound, because they’ll be back the first time we eat a slice of peanut butter toast. There’s no up-side to this, except possibly the power-flush of the digestive system. You pretty much start from ground zero on that.

I always try to impart some kind of lesson in my morning posts, but I’m not sure there’s much of a lesson in this one, other than don’t kiss grandkids when they’re sick. And nobody’s going to follow that advice, least of all me. That’s a chance I’ll take any time. Believe me, they outgrow that age far too soon. And those moments are worth whatever consequences they may bring.

I guess if there’s something to be learned from any of this, it’s that we should try a little harder to enjoy each day as it comes. No day will be perfect. You may wake up with a headache (deserved or not), somebody may cut you off in traffic, the boss may be in a bad mood with you squarely in the crosshairs, dinner may be late, whatever. Life happens, and it’s not always pretty.

But that feeble gratitude you feel as you wake up from a night glued to the porcelain with a bucket in your lap, and realize the worst is over and you may be able to eat a cracker for lunch, will overcome just about any bad thing that happens for the rest of the day. It certainly has a way of putting things in perspective.

We’ll all have bad days. And we’ll have even worse nights. But if we take more time to enjoy the good things as they come, the bad stuff just doesn’t have as much of a lasting impact. It sucks for the moment, but when it’s gone, we’re able to get back into enjoying life that much quicker.

I read something yesterday that pretty well sums it up. It said it’s easy to spot a yellow car when you’re thinking of yellow cars; it’s easy to find opportunity when you’re thinking of opportunity; and it’s easy to spot reasons to be mad when you’re thinking of being mad.

We are the sum of our thoughts. If we spend our days looking for reasons to be upbeat, they’re a lot easier to find. And when something we didn’t really deserve comes along to knock the wind out of our sails, it’s that much easier to get back on track. Happiness is a choice we make. And the more we practice it, the easier it becomes.

That’s all for now. Have a happy, healthy, and completely awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What’s The Rush?

I don’t know of too many people who wake up in the morning yearning to take their spot in the rush-hour commute. There are a few occasions where some people are determined to show the very worst side of their personality, and that one ranks at the top of the list. Can I get an amen?

And, other than an accident that ties up traffic even worse, few things can ruin the morning commute more than rain. Anything more than a sprinkle is enough to do the job, but a downpour is a special kind of messed up. Wipers blazing, puddles in the worst possible places, and people driving like the green flag just dropped at Daytona. That describes my commute yesterday.

I’ve often wondered what goes through a person’s mind to make them drive just as fast as they can, weaving in and out of cars that are at least trying to maintain a safe distance, on days when every instinct and everything they were taught in driver’s education tells them it’s about as dangerous as a coiled-up rattlesnake. “It’s raining! I need to hurry up and get there!!!”

I usually say a silent prayer that they’ll get where they’re going in one piece, and without taking anybody else out along the way. Because that’s usually how it happens. The accident they cause is behind them, and they race on oblivious to the mess they just caused.

It makes you wonder, are these people even half as energetic when they get to work? Do they approach their whole day with an equal sense of purpose and urgency, determined to outdo everyone around them? Or are they the ones sitting in the bathroom stall for a half-hour reading the newspaper, right before they clock out to take a break? We may never know.

In his 1974 song, Mac Davis reminded us all that it’s important to “stop and smell the roses along the way.” And, given the hectic pace in which most of us are forced to live, I can’t think of a more befitting sentiment. Sure, we need to get things done. But we miss a lot of the world’s beauty when our eyes are only fixed on that car in front of us.

Okay, I’m not suggesting we should take our eyes off the car in front of us. But you get the point. It’s easy to get tunnel vision, so short-focused that we never see the wonder around us. The baby calf in the pasture, the eagle perched in a dead tree, the snowman carefully crafted a day earlier, or the toddler lovingly waving goodbye to an older sibling.

It’s easy to see our world as a challenge to be conquered, full of people who are determined to get in our way. That guy in the left lane who’s only going five miles per hour over the speed limit. The person you have to reach around to get a can of corn off the grocery store shelf. Or the child who won’t stop crying when it should be obvious to the whole world you’ve got a headache.

But it’s just as easy to take a step back and enjoy those same situations. Instead of lamenting heavy traffic, turn up the radio and sing along. If you can’t race through the grocery store, take a little time to read some labels and find healthier alternatives. And when a child is crying, think of the innocence of youth. Try to remember a similar time in your own life.

It’s all about perspective. George Carlin once said the same words that hurt can heal. It’s that way with just about anything in life. Even the deadly venom of a rattlesnake can be used to make blood-thinning medicines that can lower blood pressure and prevent stroke. Now, I don’t suggest petting one, but they do have a purpose in our world. So does everything and everyone around us.

When the pace of life starts raising your stress level, slow down and take a deep breath. Take a moment to enjoy the world around you. Smile a little. Wave somebody else into traffic in front of you. It’s therapeutic – try it sometime. And when the jerk behind you starts blowing his horn, just wave and wish him a better day. You may get the finger in return, but that’s on him, not you.

When we take time to smell the roses, we find another level of existence. We find enjoyment in things that once were a source of irritation. We make new friends. We find new paths and enjoy new scenery. But most importantly of all, we enjoy this journey a lot more, and maybe even help those around us to do the same. That, my friends, is living.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved