Tag Archives: thanks

How to be happy

29 Apr

Let’s be clear. I’m not a therapist. I’ve never even seen a therapist. I’m not about to provide a magic formula for happiness. So if that’s what you were looking for, sorry about that!

What I can share is some thoughts I’ve had recently on my own experiences with happiness. You can be the judge of whether these experiences are helpful. Or at the very least, you can have a giggle or two. OK, now we have that out of the way, let’s go.

Pay attention to the now. Get up every morning with a firm resolve to make the most of this day. There’s nothing easier than looking backward with regret or looking ahead with anxiety to ruin a perfectly good today. Not to mention, it will probably ruin breakfast. And that would be bad.

Be thankful. I know this sounds kind of corny, but it works. There is a deep and peaceful satisfaction that comes from thinking about what you have, and recognizing the value in everything, big or small. I’ve found it has also freed me from worrying about what others have, or counting the things I don’t have. It’s also made me shop less, which is probably a good thing.

Delight in the small stuff. I know, I know – major cliché alert. But it’s working for me, and as I mentioned at the beginning, this is about my experiences. If you don’t like it, Google something else. At the moment, I’m finding great delight in a family of squirrels that has taken up residence in the old BBQ on my patio. Initially, in the middle of winter, there was just one. I called him Frank. Apparently, Frank turned out to be a girl, who now has two off-spring who have begun to show themselves over the past several weeks. It’s pretty cool to watch them hanging out in the sun, taking their first steps into the world. And yes, before you ask, I realise this has implications for my summer BBQ options. Yes, I will probably have to move them on at some point. But for now, who cares?

Try new stuff. I have no idea if there are official psychological or physiological links between trying new things and happiness.

South Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

But it works for me. My latest new thing was hiking in Arches National Park, Utah with a good friend over Easter. No, I’m not a big outdoors person. Given a nice sunny day, I’d probably rather sit on a patio and read than do something super-active. But that’s kind of the point. I already know how to read and pretty much mastered sitting at the age of 3 months. I didn’t know if I could do a 5 km round trip hike to Delicate Arch, especially since the first 2.5 km were all uphill! But I did it, and man was it amazing! The view is gorgeous, the arch spectacular, and the feeling of accomplishment and exertion is priceless. So even if you can’t go hiking in Utah, try something new. A different drink at Starbucks, a new route to work, a different shelf at the library. You never know what might happen.

OK, there you have it. I’m sure you could find a completely different list out there, or probably come up with one of your own. Good for you. Whether you agree or not is not the point. The point is that you can choose to be happy. Even when crap is happening all around you, there are always choices to be made.

One final note. This post was inspired by my friend Tayo, a fellow classmate and awesome human being. You can read his post on being happy here.

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Beginnings and endings

28 Aug

What a month it’s been! Full of beginnings and endings of all shapes and sizes.  Admittedly, this has meant some time spent away from the blogosphere, but it has been worth it.

First the beginnings.  There’s a new man in my life  – he turned 4 weeks old on Friday, and now weighs in about 12 pounds.  Our family recently welcomed a brand new baby boy, making me an aunty for the second time.  He has a special calmness about him that only tiny babies seem able to achieve, that really makes you want to just close your eyes, sit still and breathe in his fabulous baby smell. When he looks at me (as he is just starting to do) I am filled with anticipation about what the world will be like for him as he grows up, and find myself committing to doing my very best to making it better than he found it.

The other big news was an ending and beginning in one – the end of a 5-year stint with my last employer, and the beginning of being a student again!  It was definitely a bitter-sweet moment to turn in my parking pass, clean out my desk and say goodbye to the great group of folks I’ve worked with. If any of you are reading this, you will be missed. 

And finally, a true ending – moving out of my apartment, and getting rid of almost everything I’ve owned and used to make a home with for the past several years.  It’s amazing how we get attached to things! Not to mention, how many of them we accumulate when we stay in one place for a while. By my count, this is move #5 in 8 years, but it doesn’t get any easier, although your friends get better at moving stuff around.

Oddly, there’s also a strange sense of being untethered, because although I’ve moved OUT of one place, I haven’t really moved IN to the next one yet.  A three-week hiatus before landing in the next place I’ll call home will be an interesting physical and mental space to inhabit.  More on this next time ….

Crowdsourcing a dream

16 Jun

Sometimes, the thing we don’t say out loud enough is thank you. And here’s the thing, each of us probably has more to be thankful for than we realise, because there are very few things in life we do totally alone. Many businesses are discovering what people with good friends have always known – the crowd does better than the individual.

Take me, for example. Just over a year ago, a friend invited me to attend her Ph.D. graduation ceremony. I remember sitting in the auditorium, listening to all these people being recognized for their achievements. It was the first hint for me that I wanted to go back to school. Next I talked to another friend about her MBA experiences, and got some advice about program choices and schools. My uncle’s advice was simple – stop talking and go do it. Colleagues at work, friends and family read countless versions of my application essays, and helped keep me sane through 3 intense months of GMAT preparation. Family and friends found a place for me to stay when I flew from Vancouver to London for 4 days to interview with the University of Oxford’s Said Business School and the Cranfield School of Management. And everyone joined in the party when I was accepted at both!  The real story? There’s no way I could have done it without my “crowd”.

This September, I’ll take off for an intense year at Oxford, along with about 240 other students from all over the world. Already, we are connecting through the many social networks that abound, with folks weighing in from just about every time zone on the planet.  There’s talk of partnership opportunities, new ways of doing business, social entrepreneurship and generally tapping into our collective knowledge to change the world. This crowd is on the move!

So what can the crowd do for you? Are you pondering an idea and feel like some extra brain-power would help? Are you interested in participating in a crowd-driven solution? There are some great examples out there. Here’s an oldie but goodie – the National Audubon Society held their 110th “crowdsourced” bird count this past winter!  So get out there, join the crowd. Maybe we’ll work together on something.