Let’s Find Happiness Everyday

Happy EverydayLately I’ve seen quite a few posts on social media from people worried that they haven’t found their life purpose. The assumption is that we all “should” have a purpose. While I’m not saying that finding your purpose is wrong or bad, if you’re stressing out or worried about it, that’s probably creating a barrier to you finding it. For when you struggle to find something, you’re going to create more struggle and you’ll keep searching. When you compare yourself with other peoples’ versions of themselves,  you can end up feeling you don’t measure up to their version of success. This is destructive to your own self. Self-love and acceptance are pre-requisites to finding your passions and purposes in life!

If we think about life in general, isn’t being happy the point of it all? What makes you happy may not be what makes another feel the same way. That’s the beauty of the diversity of our choices in life: there’s no “one size fits all.”

What makes you happy may change over time.  What made you happy at age 7 might not be the same at age 47. What brightened your day yesterday may not be the thing that brightens it today.  The journey of life serves us well in discovering our passions, in creating a life of joy, and following what may be more than one “purpose” in our lives.

In my own life, I have been aware of having many passions over time. Growing up, music was my life. I loved to sing and perform and thought I wanted to become a professional singer. I played the clarinet, and taught myself guitar and a bit of piano. I also loved to write and wrote poetry, songs and short stories. I loved theater as well and did every play and musical theater that was offered in my school. I loved taking pictures and photography and took many photos over the years. I loved learning languages, too, and ended up studying abroad twice in high school and once in college and eventually earning a degree in Spanish. I also loved discussing things and felt particularly drawn to politics and law. I also felt drawn to serving others which led to a Master’s degree in Counseling. I also dabbled working in the travel industry, and in elementary bilingual education, as well as in teaching English as a Second Language classes to high school aged kids and  adults. I had a passion for learning, which led me back to pursue a doctoral program in International Comparative Education.  I discovered from these experiences that I felt really “at home” in a university environment, to working with college students, and in the field of international education.  In this journey, I became a mother of two children and that was the best thing that could ever happen in my life.

So is being in international education my purpose? Or did I miss out on a fulfilling singing career? Looking back on my professional career, I realize that I often followed my gut on what came next and I was happy in my choices.  So I choose to look at this with no regrets. I choose to be happy right now. I choose to find  happiness in the everyday moments because it makes me happy over time. The core of finding purpose and passion is not about the career we choose or the number of kids we have, but what makes us feel joy. If you follow the joy, you’ll discover your purpose (or two or three)!  Life will be exciting!

Life is not meant to be planned out in detail and then struggle to make all of that happen. It just doesn’t work that way if you want to feel and be happy. While we can create intentions on what we want and visualize ourselves there, it’s so important to appreciate where we are right now for alignment in getting to where we want to be. When we appreciate, we find more good things that come our way and more to appreciate from it. In that journey, we may get inspired to do something else than what we originally intended. It’s all ok.

As you go through life appreciating, you will be inspired to follow certain paths. So follow your heart in what feels good to you. In the meantime, let’s find happiness in every day!

Are You Happy?

Are you happy? Do you know it? Are you showing it? I know I am! If you’re not feeling so happy, then I challenge you to make the choice RIGHT NOW to feel happy for some moments with this song!

In the last two weeks, I’ve thought about this old children’s song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” It kept coming up for me, so I’ve been singing it a bit here and there and it always brings a smile to my face (and often lots of chuckles)! While the song is “allegedly” for children, I’m loving it (and do remember singing this loudly and clearly as a kid).

It’s playful, joyful, silly fun! And that means one thing to me: it’s a FEEL GOOD song that can raise us up along the emotional scale toward happiness!

So here’s my challenge: Listen to the two versions I found on YouTube and choose the one that feels like the most fun to you. If neither of them do, choose one anyway and MAKE THE CHOICE to try one anyway. Then sing along to the video and music and dance with it! Check in with yourself on how it makes you feel.

Are you feeling silly? Playful? Are you laughing? I know I am! Sometimes the simplest things can bring the greatest joy! Enjoy!

Joy on the Basketball Court

With the basketball season underway, I’m reminded of the story of Jason McElwain, also known as J-Mac for short. I find his passion very inspiring and the support from his teammates, coaches and the crowd very uplifting! Now THIS is how we can move mountains, when we celebrate truly from our hearts the success of another! It’s joy on the basketball court! Woo hoo!

Appreciating What Is and Loving It for Change

So many teachers remind us of the importance of love and being loving if we want to better the world and ourselves.

Here are a few:

“Step number one for changing the entire world, is falling in love with it as it already is. The same is true for changing yourself.”
Mike Dooley

“Be the change you want to see in the world. “

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”  
Ralph Waldo Emerson

How are you seeing the world you’re in right now? And what words do you use to describe yourself in all of it?

If you want more friends, be a friend to someone. If you’re wanting more abundance, start appreciating the abundance that is already in your life and give generously, without expectation of a return. When you operate in a state of love, joy and appreciation, you cannot help but attract more joy and love in your life.

So what kind of change are you seeking to see in the world? What kinds of changes do you want to make in yourself? Find that place in love and joy by appreciating what is (both in the world and in yourself) on a regular basis and you’ll see your life change.

Experiencing Joy in The Ride: While My Mother Transitions

I am writing this from Iowa, where I’ve been almost a week since I made an emergency visit. You see, my mother is slipping away and preparing to transition on. She has been in an assisted living facility with dementia for over three years now but last weekend she had a mild stroke. So her physical body is shutting down.  She’s been under the care of Hospice for over a month or so as well.

If you have never had the experience of the loving care of Hospice services, I can tell you that they are a such a gift for anyone experiencing the loss of a loved one. Since I know that this is not “the end,” I don’t think of it as a loss exactly, and even so, the experience is still emotionally draining at times.

My main goal is to bring joy to my mom’s last days here and keep her comfortable. Hospice provides many tools in which to keep her physical body comfortable but it is the human element that they provide that is making all the difference in this transitional time: the countless volunteers who sit and talk to her when I’m not around, the visits from the nursing team, the spiritual counselor, and the social worker who arranged for me to get a guitar so I can play and sing for my mom, amongst other things. Imagine a world where we all had this kind of care whenever we were sick!

In this joy ride of transitioning, we’ve had some laughs along the way so far.  My mom loves beer but due to her health, it’s been at least over 3 years since she’d had any. The Hospice team provides little sponges on sticks that one can dip into different liquids to wet the patient’s mouth and provide some liquid nourishment. So I asked about the beer and they said, “Absolutely give her what she loves!”  So we got a six-pack! 🙂  While she’s not chugging it down, she was so delighted and filled with joy at the taste of that beer!

Yesterday was also another joyful day. Hospice has a music therapist who came over with her guitar and songbooks in hand. When she learned that I loved to sing, we ended up singing together beautiful duets next to my mom’s bed for over an hour. My uncle came in about half way through and added his humorous musical talent of real-life story lyrics to famous songs.  While my mom kept her eyes closed during the jam session, she was smiling all the way through it. And we were laughing and feeling good, too!

Later, as I was reflecting on our day, I couldn’t help but remind myself that this is how it’s meant to be. Life is supposed to be fun. It is all about joy and love and that doesn’t stop when one is the middle of “dying.” Since I know in my soul that this is not the end for my mom, I use the word “dying” loosely. I prefer to say she’s transitioning. So while she makes her way, I’m intending joyful, peaceful, comfortable and happy times.  In fact, I’m intending that after she goes, too.

Now where’s that beer?