Thursday, January 31, 2008

Be Inspired Every Day

Double Bows by Nicholas_T

Each new day is a blank canvas waiting for you to fill it. There are so many opportunities for joy, laughter and fun.
Inspiration can come from anything. For me it is often something totally spontaneous, like a song on the radio, a funny commercial, or hearing a child laughing. Anything that causes you to play, smile, and enjoy life.

I am often awed by the beauty of the world around me; a rainbow after a storm, the bright white glittering of stars in the darkness, even the reflection of the sky in a puddle of water. I am amazed by the compassion and love of strangers who rescue a child from a burning building, donate a kidney to their sick friend, and adopt handicapped children into their families.

Faith and the power of the human spirit shines through in the words and deeds of some of my favorite mentors like the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, the teachings of Buddha, Jesus Christ and Confucius. I am enthralled by the dedication and remarkable advancements made daily in the fields of science and medicine.

I’m captivated by the everyday items many take for granted; the small size and versatility of the cell phone, the light weight and durability of the laptop, and incredible resolution and detail of the digital camera and LCD TV. The ingenuity of corporations to produce ever more useful and convenient electronics for the everyday person is astounding.

No matter where you look you can find an endless supply of splendor, wonder and delight. Whether you are watching the undersea world of whales on TV, reading the newest scientific developments in the paper, or simply taking a walk through your neighborhood, beauty and marvels of all sorts await you around every corner.

Here are a few every day sights and sounds that endlessly spark my imagination and stimulate my senses:

  • Fluffy white clouds against a brilliant blue sky.
  • The green rolling hills where deer and cattle graze.
  • The delicious scent of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.
  • Drumming raindrops lulling me to sleep at night.
  • Catching a smile on the face of a child.
  • A butterfly fluttering along on the wind.
  • The heavenly sounds of the classical greats; Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and others.
  • The songs of birds high in the trees.
  • The playful antics of my two dogs.

I also love to see new art, even if it’s just the drawings of my 12 year old niece or the doodles of a bored coworker. I love special effects in TV and movies and the vivid writing of the many fiction writers out there – both adult and children’s authors. There is so much out there to see and experience. Don’t let a chance to stop and smell the flowers pass you by.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How to Stay Positive When Your Life Is Falling Apart.

One cute nose! by WTL photos

Gas prices are rising. Bills need to be paid. Ordinary tasks are confusing and difficult. Like dominoes falling in a row, problems are piling up. Frustration and irritation follow you like a cloud of doom. How do you keep your sense of humor and sanity while you’re standing in the downpour?

When troubles come knocking at your door, how do you retain your inner calm and stay balanced so you don’t let stress and anger aggravate the problems you already have? It’s easy to be peaceful when things are going well, but having a few ready-to-use techniques when you're overwhelmed is very helpful.

Here’s a few of the ideas I use to help keep myself centered:

  • Call a friend. Find someone to talk to, who can keep your troubles private, while letting you vent and perhaps even give you a fresh perspective on your problem.
  • Write a daily gratitude journal. This can be vital in helping you see the good things in life. Just this simple step can help you feel more in control of your life, aware and in charge.
  • Have some chicken soup. Literally and figuratively. Have a big bowl of comforting homemade chicken soup and pour over inspirational stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul. Both body and mind will get a lift.
  • Find your motivation. What helps you feel better? Faith and church, friends and family, proving your worth? Maybe you need a day away from your problems to gain perspective. Look for what motivates and excites you into action.
  • Let go of what you can’t change. Don’t hold on to guilt and pain about things that are out of your control or that have already happened. Instead focus on improving what you can and do your best to move forward towards your goals.
  • Count your triumphs, not your failures. Remember to give yourself a pat on the back for all the smiles you’ve given, the love you shared, and the gifts you’ve given. When your good outweighs your bad, you’re on the right track.
  • Give yourself some credit. When things go bad and we make mistakes, we may tend to forget the good things we’ve done. Keep a folder of people thanking you, certificates of your skills, and other tidbits of your better days. Look it over when you’re feeling unloved and unappreciated.

These are just a start, of course. Feel free to share your own ideas here for me. Meanwhile here are a few other related articles to help you out.

How to overcome those bad days.

Everyday perks not to be missed.

Don’t stop believing in yourself.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Imagination – the Gift of Possibilities.

The world through my eyes by aussiegall

Besides laughter, imagination is one of the greatest gifts of human beings. Our imaginations allow us to contemplate such mysteries as how we can lower our electric bill and save money, to the merits of brawn versus brain in a Hulk versus Superman fight to the finish. With the power of our minds we can create new worlds, new ideas, and new ways of thinking. With a little help we can make our imagination limitless.

Imagination is often underrated and overlooked. Parents are heard shushing their children, “There are no such things are monsters under the bed,” while in later years advertisers pay millions for successful product ads filled with the same type of originality and wonder.

Imagination is part of our world in a wide variety of ways; from new recipes and taste combinations, to the books we read, movies we watch and of course the art we enjoy in our homes. Imagination is the powerhouse of creativity and ingenuity that create new products and services and grow our economy and our world. Inventive and visionary people from all walks of life are sought for an assortment of jobs, businesses and careers.

Imagination has played a part in my life since the very beginning. As a child my love for reading and learning came in large part from the colorful, creative and unusual world of Dr. Suess. Cartoons which allowed a suspension of reality filled my head with wonderful and marvelous new ideas. Fun and playful commercials enticed me into a fantasy world with my favorite characters where adventure and excitement lay around every corner.

Here are a few of my favorite imaginations:

  • Shel Silverstein – author of “A Light in the Attic,” and several other wonderful books. Childhood poetry and books opened my mind to meeting new people and seeing new places.
  • Roald Dahl – author of “Matilda,” and “The Big Friendly Giant (or BFG).” Dahl’s creative wordplay, playful attitude and funny characters are still a joy to read.
  • George Lucas – director of Star Wars. Okay, we all know George. His movies have created one of the hugest fan bases in this universe. For over 30 years he his beloved films have inspired new generations of scientists, researchers, explorers across the globe.
  • Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart and other classical artists have touched hearts and minds with their musical genius. Their legacy continues as the beauty of music continues to inspire countless generations.
  • Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Graham Bell, and the many past and present inventors, whose very job it is to have the biggest imaginations possible. Without them and their wonderful minds we’d still be in the dark.
  • Your children and grandchildren. If ever you need a boost in how to access and use your imagination, spend a little time with some kids.

If this has inspired you as much as it has me, you may want to jump right out there and start using that noggin of yours. Use it or lose it as they say. Here are a few web sites to help you do just that:

Develop Your Imagination by Using it.

Guided Imagery for Relaxation

Robert Alan Black’s Creativity Challenge #14 (1999)

International Centre For Creativity and Imagination

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Things I’ve Learned From My Dogs.

My two little fuzzy bundles of joy have taught me many great lessons over the years. Here are just a few:

  • When you want someone’s attention all you have to do is stare at them for 10 minutes.
  • Nothing is better than being reunited with your family.
  • Just driving your car can be a great adventure.
  • When you keep your mouth shut and eyes and ears open, you’ll be amazed at the things you notice.
  • A full belly and a good nap can make your pain disappear.
  • You can adapt to almost any new situation if you have to.
  • Body language is an extremely effective means of communication.
  • Be willing to try new foods, you might love them.
  • It’s not how educated you are that’s important, but how you treat the people around you.
  • Being willing to approach new people is a good way to make friends.
  • Fresh air and a long walk often make you feel better.
  • Living in the present moment is a healthy way to live.
  • You’re never too old to roll around in the grass.

What great lessons have your pets taught you? I’m constantly amazed at how much of my dogs needs I can understand simply from their body language and behavior. Often what people DO is much more important that what they SAY. I’m grateful every day for my dogs love and affection – as long as I love them, they love me right back!

Monday, January 21, 2008

What Makes You Laugh?

Happier squircle by tj scenes

Everyone wants to enjoy a good sense of humor and a playful attitude, but how does one begin? If you don’t laugh often, or have a mindset that says humor is something that can only be indulged in after the hard work is done, you may need a little help to begin. But almost everyone can learn to add more pleasure, fun and playfulness to their day.

You can start by identifying what makes you laugh. Make a list of your favorite funny movies, comedians, cartoons, and commercials. Perhaps you’re a slapstick kind of person, drawn to the Three Stooges, SNL stars like Chris Farley, or one Mr. Wile E. Coyote, dastardly foe of the speedy Roadrunner.

Maybe you enjoy spoof comedies like Airplane or Hot Shots. Perhaps you have a favorite columnist or author who excels in witty commentary or sarcastic jokes. You might enjoy the off-key hilarity from the next crop of delusional contestents to audition on American Idol. Whatever your taste, there is something out there for everyone. You only need to identify the type of humor you enjoy. Here’s a list of different types of humor to get you thinking.

It’s also important to know what kind of humor you dislike. If you love Adam Sandler but find Jackass star Johnny Knoxville offensive, it will help you choose what to watch and what to skip. Do you love Mad TV’s celebrity impersonations, or are the exaggerated stereotypes from NBC’s The Office more your style? Finding the types of humor you enjoy is a key factor to increasing your appreciation for fun.

Most of all, approach humor with an open mind. Read the newspaper for inadvertently funny headlines. Skip down the hall when you go to the restroom. Leave a humorous message on your answering machines. When you relax and let go, the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few great humor techniques:

  • Wear a clown nose during your drive home from work.
  • Visit your local comedy club once a month.
  • Buy a great cartoon book like The Far Side, Calvin & Hobbes, or Peanuts. Read often.
  • Get a humor ally. Find a friend who enjoys the same type of humor as you do.
  • Get some humor toys; a super bouncy ball, a Scooby Doo figure, some juggling balls, the Shrek soundtrack or a CD from your favorite comedian.

Be open and enjoy the process. Don’t expect instant results. Here is my own confession; when I first started playing with humor, I often hid it from other people. I would sing alone in my car, dance in my bedroom with blinds drawn and door shut, and my funny file was in the bottom drawer at work where no one could see it.

Now I’m a little more public about my fun side, but I’m still not as free as I’d like to be. I still worry about what people will think of me. Sometimes I still sink into my chair when I spill something on my new shirt or when I’m caught dancing to music while I shop. But little by little I’m getting better.

I’d love to hear your story. To help you get started with your journey into fun, here are a few great sites:

Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter

Benefits of Humor in Healthcare

Chief Happiness Officer (Being Happy at Work)

500 Fun Things To Do

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Link Love

There are so many great sites and wonderful articles out there. Here are a few sites I’ve submitted articles to this month. You’ll find lots of information and ideas on a variety of topics. Take a look:

Carnival of Life, Happiness & Meaning

Carnival of Healing

Personal Development & Happiness Carnival

Carnival of Observations on Life

Movie Monday

Carnival of Positive Thinking

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary Through Gratitude.

Gratitude makes your life better. It’s a truth that comes back to me again and again. Practicing gratitude daily and weekly helps you see the beauty and wonder that we lose when we start taking the comforts of our lives for granted.

Simply by watching coworkers who struggle with an unhappy marriage while yours is happy, or seeing that your family is financially stable while a sibling or family member is plagued by money troubles you can find a reason to be thankful. When you click through the television channels and see people in third world countries struggling to find clean drinking water, or receiving the most basic of medical care such as bandages and aspirin, we can come to realize the blessings of the conveniences we use every day without thinking.

How about the benefits of clean, fresh running water? Think of not having clean water to drink, wash and cook with. The next time you turn on your tap, give a big thank-you to the universe for your good fortune. Give a prayer of thanks for the healthy, wholesome food available in your local grocery store. Think of all the people involved; from the farmers to the truck drivers, stockers and cashiers, everyone that helps grow and deliver that food to you.

You can move your attention to the clothes you are wearing. From the plants, factories and workers that make the clothes, to the stores that stock and sell them, and finally to the production and sale of the affordable machinery that washes and cleans the clothes in the convenience of your own home. You can give thanks for the workers who maintain the roads you drive on, from the asphalt layers to the engineers and city planners who regulate and plan the layout and design of interstates and city streets.

Gratitude can be found almost anywhere. Once you start looking, it’s easy to keep finding more and more things to be grateful for. There are books to read, libraries to borrow from, thrift stores with low prices that recycle books and goods for others to use. We have movies to entertain us, video games to play, board games and card games, playgrounds for the kids, zoos to visit and more.

These are just a few of the ordinary, everyday things I am grateful for. I’m sure your list is quite different or even longer. Gratitude is like a magic pair of sunglasses; when you put them on the world seems brighter, kinder and more connected than before. Appreciation for the good things in your life can help you feel more satisfied with life overall, making you feel happier, calmer and more at peace. Increasing the awareness of the beautiful things in life like family, friends, health and home is a great recipe for a fuller life and a more positive perspective, and that can only be a good thing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Great Pranks on Video.

I’ve been saying for years that people are losing their sense of humor. So many people are afraid to laugh, uptight, reserved and tense. While pranks aren’t for everyone (you don’t want to worry about hurting the feelings of your more sensitive friends or family members), harmless pranks are a great source of fun and playfulness. They inspire creativity and those big belly laughs that are so great for your health.

Here are some great videos from Just For These are great examples of fun pranks, with a wonderful side of resourcefulness and humor. Sit back and watch them for a giggle, or use them as a spark to create your own fun tricks.

Blind Man Has To Go!


Parkinson Cashier

Friday, January 11, 2008

Movies That Make You Laugh Out Loud!

I love watching funny movies – they can make almost any day seem better. You know great movies when you see them. They’re the ones you can watch over and over again and not get sick of them. Here’s a few of my favorites (some of which I haven’t seen in a while.) Feel free to share your favorites with me!

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) – (will make you want to play hooky from work).

Ferris uses his imagination and charm to entice his girlfriend and best friend to join him in some fun while they play hooky from school. His sister Jeanie just doesn’t have the same kind of luck as her popular brother. A cult classic!

The Princ
ess Bride (1987) – a movie about the power of true love. Watch this comical fairytale about Princess Buttercup and those who wish to do her harm. First Prince Humperdinck wants to marry her even though she doesn’t love him. Then three bandits kidnap her to induce war between her homeland and another. It’s inconceivable that you wouldn’t watch it!

Better Off Dead (1985) (one of my favorites)

Depressed teen Lane Meyer whose miserable life just got worse when his girlfriend Beth breaks up with him. Watch the fun as he deals with his mom’s horrible cooking, a sly and sneaky younger brother, the paperboy from Hell and his next door neighbor Ricky. Laugh out loud fun!

Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

–one of the funniest movies in recent years. (Even if you don’t like NASCAR.) Watch as Ricky Bobby pursues his dream to be one of the top drivers in NASCAR, until a horrible crash puts a stop to his career. Now he must be beat the pompous foreigner Jean Girard to return to the top.

Over the Hedge (2006) – a great romp! Those cute and cuddly forest creatures awake from hibernation to find suburbia has taken over their woods. While RJ the raccoon leads them to pilfer food from the locals, they soon find themselves in trouble as an exterminator is called in to remove them.

And a few more:

  • Young Frankenstein (1974) – Gene Wilder & Terri Garr. That’s Frankensteen.”
  • Bringing Up Baby (1938) –Cary Grant & Katherine Hepburn.
  • Office Space – 1999 office classic.
  • The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) – Don Knotts is great!
  • Raising Arizona (1987) – Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter.
  • Blues Brothers (1980) – John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Make Time for Fun.

I’m forever blowing bubbles by Zanastardust

If you’re not doing enough things that make you laugh out loud, giggle like a schoolgirl with a crush, and smile for days on end, you probably wish you were. Adding pleasurable activities to our daily routine gives us something to look forward to on bad days, keeps us active, and encourages positive social interaction. We schedule all the other important things in life; doctor’s appointments, car repairs, family vacations and your exercise time. Doesn’t it make sense to schedule fun too?

Fun means different things to different people. Wikipedia defines recreation as “the use of time in a manner designed for therapeutic refreshment of one's body or mind.” You’ll also note that Wiki states “Play is essential for the development of skills, the most basic of which are motor skills in young creatures.

How fascinating - recreation or fun is therapeutic for the body and mind, and play is essential for the development of skills. No wonder so many people want to have more fun!

Here’s a list of just a few things you may find fun:

  • Beach fun – a day of sand and surf
  • Hiking in the mountains
  • Riding a rollercoaster
  • Petting every puppy at the local SPCA
  • An all day Star Wars movie marathon
  • Dancing (or your best attempt at rhythm)
  • Paintball games and Off-road four-wheeling
  • Water balloon fights and pool games
  • Pizza and a movie
  • Learn to juggle
  • Have a kissing contest with your spouse
  • Go roller skating or ice skating
  • Go underground and explore a famous cave
  • Watch cartoons with your kids

Fun can be big or small, adventurous or close to home. It can be as exhilarating as sky diving or as ordinary as reading a book. Fun is whatever you enjoy doing. There are no limits except your own imagination. One of my favorites is learning to juggle. I don’t really try that hard, but I juggle tennis balls – in front of my dog. She tries grabs all the ones that fall to the ground so it gives me an incentive to keep them up in the air longer. I’m not very good at it, but my dog just loves for me to practice. :0) It cracks me up every time!

For even more great ideas, check out Discover Fun’s list of 500 fun things to do. Share your favorite fun activities in the comments section. Have a fun day everyone!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Star Wars Funny Videos.

For all of you who need a good laugh today, here are a few of my favorite funny Star Wars videos. Have a look around and enjoy!

Darth Vader Meets a Woman.

A Clone Apart. (Clone life.)

Troops! (Star Wars version of Cops).

Robot Chicken Star Wars Parody – hilarious!

Weird Al video – The Saga Begins

Friday, January 4, 2008

Puzzle Time! Use It or Lose It!

Sky puzzle by jared

We all know that if you don’t exercise your muscles, they get weak and limp. So why, I wonder, don’t we do more with our minds? Sure, many of us are busy and have much to do, but surely we can find time for 30 minutes of enjoyment? Recently when my 12-year old my niece was visiting for Christmas, I got hooked on crossword puzzles again. It was a real workout to figure out what the clues meant, and I’ve found it helps me if someone else reads the clue while I’m doing something else – I seem to get more answers that way.

A great bonus from concentrating on the games is I discovered that they help to calm my mind and keep it from going in 15 different directions at once. Especially with word games or the Sudoku numbers game, my mind is only focused on that one thing and nothing else. I usually find I feel a bit more calmed and centered after completing a puzzle, as well as a bit smarter because I was actually able to finish. :0)

There are many different puzzles to choose from; jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, word finds, logic puzzles, trivia questions and brain teasers. I like to do them playfully, like a game. If the puzzles are too hard, it turns me off and I look for something else to do. It’s amazing though how quickly I notice my brain patterns changing to the point where it begins to be easier and easier to do. (Although so far I haven’t stuck with it long enough to make these things a piece of cake!)

I highly recommend trying out a puzzle or two. Sure it’s challenging and a bit hard, but then that’s the whole point. If you can get a spouse or child involved as well you’ll find it’s even more fun. You’ll also feel better when they get just as stumped on the next word or move. Many of the web sites even have timers so you can gauge your progress and see how you’re improving.

Here are a few places to get started:

Web Sudoku

Black Stump Puzzles and Brain Teasers

JigZone – jigsaw puzzles Trivial quizzes, IQ tests, logic tests

Free Crossword Puzzles

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Resolutions You Can Keep.

Welcome to another brand-new year my friends! Like me, you may want to take some time to think about what you want to accomplish this year. Goals you’d like to achieve, places you’d like to visit, habits you’d like to start, and improvements you’d like to make. The beginning of the year is a great time to get a head start on deciding what direction you want to go for the next year. The best place to start is by going over your goals and expectations from last year. Here’s a look at my 2007 Goals:

  1. Find out what makes me happy.
  2. Become happy with who I am today.
  3. Learn about film-editing school.
  4. Learn about photo slide shows (of weddings, past memories, birthdays and more).
  5. Clear out – if you don’t enjoy it, get rid of it. If you don’t use it, throw it away.
  6. Indulge. If you love it – use it, touch it, smell it, play with it. Don’t “save” things for the future. Use it now, tomorrow may never come.
  7. Use aroma therapy. Try flower essences. Experiment.
  8. Blog every day. Write and try to add give something useful to my blog readers every day. Write down those elusive ideas – those are the best ones.
  9. Stop complaining. Stop the whining and complaining. Focus on the positive in my life. Try to go for 24 hours without one complaint. See how it affects the rest of my day.
  10. Be tolerant of criticism. Use my own techniques (armor myself, pretend it’s someone else) to keep criticism from getting me down.
  11. Volunteer. Doing things for others takes your mind off your own troubles. Volunteer somewhere, even in a library literacy program, just so it helps me be grateful for what I already have.

Now, as you can imagine, I didn’t achieve all of these. For instance, I still complain too much (mostly to my poor husband), I don’t take criticism that well (though I am getting better), and I didn’t get to volunteer or clean up my junk as much as I wanted to.

I did however use my aroma therapy more often – especially the lavender, which is so wonderful for a calm and peaceful mind. I also learned a lot more about what makes me happy and what doesn’t. Plus I did other things that I plan to add to this year list, like having more adventures (flying in a open-air plane and riding my ATV more often), and finding ways to make exercise fun enough to do more often.

In the past 4-5 years, my resolutions have changed dramatically. They’re much more free-flowing and flexible, and they reflect more of what I really want in my life. They’re always short and to the point, and include lots of fun things to keep me motivated. My one flaw is that I only wrote these on the computer and didn’t have them out where I’d see them every day (or at least every week). So this year I plan on printing a copy or two to keep out.

Here’s a few of my favorite goals from 2006:

View failure as fertilizer – it helps you grow!

  1. Meditate often –daily if possible.
  2. Make more money.
  3. Have fun everyday.
  4. Stretch for 10 minutes a day.
  5. Buy more comedy tapes.
  6. Practice eye exercises and try to improve vision. (Vitamins)
  7. Worry less.
  8. Walk once a day at break time.
  9. Practice juggling. It’s fun therapy.

Don’t wait for opportunity to come to you. Look for opportunity.

  1. Practice humor every day.
  2. Visit someplace you’ve never been.
  3. Scan family pictures to computer and save on disk.
  4. Read cartoon books –Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, Far Side.
  5. Practice Reiki and energy healing.
  6. Pray for others.
  7. Memorize acupressure points – especially for pain, headache, anxiety and tiredness.

The secret to happiness is: a good sense of humor and a bad memory.

If you’re like me and love making lists, and writing down your brilliant ideas, think about making a list of goals for yourself. I don’t have to write down my goals by January 1, January 31, or any set deadline. I just write them down as they come to me. Make your goals varied, some very easily obtainable, others harder to do. Make sure to add things in that really excite you and make you feel want to run out and start now.

Make your list fun too. Add a few favorite quotes, put it on colored paper, or write a suggestion that makes you smile or laugh every time you read it. When your goals are truly about you, and making your life fuller, more satisfying and happier, you won’t struggle to do them. Find the things that bring you joy and happiness and do those first, and the other items will fall into place.

I’d love to hear back from anyone on their goals and dreams for the next year. What positive habits do you want to start? What Good luck everyone – and Happy New Year!!!