Bill redid his downstairs floor because of, Tiger, his cat. Tiger was getting old, at 17 he walked slowly, occasionally bumping into things, he needed his daily thyroid medicine, and often he would forget to use his litter box. The carpet could only be cleaned so many times, so Bill put in a wood floor for ease of cleaning. Tiger doesn’t like to go outside much any more, and whenever he did, Bill would have to go look for him, wandering in the neighborhood lost and confused.
We’ve had many conversations about what to do about Tiger. Several people suggested that Bill should put him down. Put down his loyal companion and friend of many years? The thought just felt horrible to Bill. How do we determine what is best for Tiger?
It’s been two years since Bill put in the wood floor. Tiger is even slower. He weighs 6.8 pounds now, a fraction of the 18 pounds of his younger days. He still comes when Bill calls him, albeit haltingly, when he hears him that is. And Tiger still purrs and rolls over for his tummy rub. Bill decided that Tiger is going to let him know when he is ready to go. How? When he sees that Tiger is unhappy. Hmm…
Thankfully, whether we are happy or not is not such a deciding factor in our lives. Or is it? How do you live? Are you happy in spite of your challenges and see the positive and the potential, or do you look for the doom and gloom in each situation? We have the choice in how we feel. And how we feel affects how we experience each moment of our lives.
When we are happy, we live healthier and longer, too. A longitudinal research in the U.S. that tracked 1,500 people from childhood to old age and death started in 1921 and is still ongoing. Howard S. Friedman, Ph.D., and Leslie R. Martin, Ph.D., published the results of this eight-decade study in their book, The Longevity Project. It showed that people who are following their life purpose and are contributing to what they feel is meaningful live longer and healthier. Having social connections was another aid to longevity and exercising too.
Choosing to look for the lessons and blessings in each situation is good for our emotional, mental and financial health. We can release the stress, regain our emotional equilibrium and find within the circumstances the insights and opportunities to do better next time. It’s at least a triple win! In the process we also infect the people around us with optimism and lessons on how to improve — even more good reasons to learn and grow instead of to stew and stagnate.
Here are seven simple steps to a more vital way of living:
1. Acknowledge your current situation without blame — finding the cause of your current pain/discomfort is instructive in avoiding future mistakes. Then move on to finding out solutions and new alternatives instead of focusing on finding fault — that doesn’t move anything forward in a positive way.
2. Give gratitude for the good in the present — giving thanks for what is good calms and tunes our mind and perspective to make progress and realigns our emotional, chemical and physical balance.
3. Review your options for improving your current status — broaden your outlook and ask the question, what are my options if I allow myself to dream? Make a note of the answers and explore the ones that show promise.
4. Choose a course for action — assess all your options and choose one. Seek advice and feedback but ultimately choose the option that resonates most with your inner wisdom.
5. Move forward with courage, optimism and full commitment — once you make a decision, take action with dedication knowing that you are on the right path.
6. Reassess and adjust course as you proceed — be aware and alert to the feedback and developments on your progress, and adapt your approach as needed while keeping the goal in mind.
7. Take time to give gratitude and smile regularly — they really help!
“Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending.” — Author Unknown
Marilyn Tam grew up as an abused and neglected child in Hong Kong. She found her life purpose at age 11 when she found out as bad as her life was; she was much better off than her classmate, Rebecca. Wanting to help others and to right the wrongs, she left home as a teen to come to America alone to study. She became a business leader (CEO Of Aveda, President of Reebok and Vice President of Nike) and global humanitarian. She shares in her latest book, “The Happiness Choice” how you can live a life of happiness, health and success. It’s her way of giving back to the world for all the blessings she’s received.
The Happiness Choice tells the stories and insights from Marilyn and many experts, including, Jack Canfield, Joan Borysenko, Harville Hendrix, Arielle Ford and others on how to live the life of your dreams. The book was #3 top business book in March (800 CEO Read), and won the Silver Medal in the Global eBook Awards 2013 in the Inspirational/Visionary category. Her radio show, The Happiness Choice on FMG Network is broadcast globally to over 30 million listeners.
Marilyn Tam is an international selling author, speaker, entrepreneur, humanitarian and former CEO of Aveda, President of Reebok Apparel Products & Retail Group and VP of Nike and the Founder and Executive Director of Us Foundation.
For more by Marilyn Tam, click here.
For more on happiness, click here.
“Do I divorce my family, or do I stick around … keeping in mind that I will always be criticized and judged?” she asks in the above clip.
“I think it’s important for you not to ever cut off from your family because cutting off from your family deprives you and them of really important energy,” Rev. Bacon says. “They have the opportunity to change and grow, also.”
Rev. Bacon goes on to share two essential things Ravneet can do to find inner peace with her situation.
First: “You have to find a way for you to meditate,” he says.
“That’s always the answer,” Ravneet says, smiling.
Rev. Bacon laughs. “It’s not the only answer, but it’s a huge part of it. Whenever any of us gives ourselves the opportunity to be still and know that inside is the great ‘I Am’ or the great God or the great spirit of the universe, … we are accessing the greatest power in the world,” he says.
The second essential piece, Rev. Bacon says, is to find “some form of meaningful, empowering community — with your partner, with your chosen family. All of us have chosen family and friends, you know what I’m talking about? You have to keep saying to yourself and knowing that you are beautiful the way you were made, and that you have a unique gift to offer.”
After hearing Rev. Bacon’s advice, Ravneet shares her next step. “What I plan on doing with the advice is putting it into action and plugging into my community and keeping my lines of communication open with my family, and just maintaining a positive outlook and being myself,” she says.
It’s difficult not to breathe in beauty, splendor, and awe when in Bali. It surrounds you and is all-encompassing. No matter what you believe in, there is a closeness you feel to God, the Universe, Source or something much bigger than just you, and you’re reminded how we are all connected to that Being-ness. It has a way of bringing you back to your essence — the being that is you. As all the stress begins to melt away one drop at a time, you are returned to your core. Bali is magic and not because the Balinese still worship the supernatural. There is something much deeper than meets the eye. This is what I discovered while being on a month-long holiday in Bali.
Beyond the chaotic traffic, hundreds of scooters beeping their way through two lanes of traffic turned into four, one begins to discover there is a natural flow on Bali, reflected in even the traffic that Westerners would be appalled by. It’s the flow the Balinese seem to understand very well, like the flow of blood in our veins. Once plugged into that flow, the chaos seems normal, and as you let go of control, the flow takes over you, as it did me.
From the perfectly-sculpted rice terraces, to the luscious green jungles, or to the vast Indian Ocean, everywhere you look there is immense natural beauty. Although the Balinese unfortunately have not yet discovered recycling or preserving nature, looking past all that, one can’t help but think this is paradise. Living amongst nature is Balinese way of life, reflected in their architecture in the traditional “bale”-roofed open homes and villas. Their temples have open plans as well, and there are thousands of them everywhere you go in Bali, with exquisite stone sculpting and intricate wood work, inlaid with gold, red, and blue adorning temples lucky enough to have been restored. All this nature is inspiration for creativity and the Balinese are extremely talented artists as we saw in their streets filled with art vendors — wood carvers, stone carvers, painters and furniture makers as far as the eye can see.
The Balinese are the happiest and kindest people I’ve ever met. You recognize the humanity looking in their eyes and recognize their content with life through their smiles. Even though most of them live in poverty by Western standards, there is a sense of gratitude and appreciation that exists. Community is ever-present — taking care of others, even strangers, is considered normal for them. Devoutly religious with an interesting blend of Hindu and Buddhist traditions, they are always asking for protection, happiness, and health for others, marked by blessings conducted twice a day. At the villa where we stayed, Wayan, our house-keeper, explained to me they pray so that their visitors have a happy time, a safe and enjoyable stay. Balance is key to the Balinese — and maintaining this energetic balance is what they strive for through self-less blessings and ceremonies every day.
For me personally, Bali has helped me regain my sense of self and reminded me how human connection is the key to happiness. Living amongst people who are genuinely happy, who genuinely care for others, and are self-less and giving, not because they are materially well off, but because they have a richness of spirit, so evident with the lovely smiles you get everywhere you look, makes you ponder your own state of happiness. Why is it that with all the material comforts and objects we surround ourselves with, we feel more and more disconnected?
It’s obvious to me that in Western cultures, feelings of disconnection stem from our belief that happiness lies in material wealth and success. On the contrary, the Balinese know it lies in our heart and in our willingness to share our hearts with others. It requires vulnerability and taking a risk to connect with the other. This fundamental core of who we are is lost in our insatiable hunger for more as that competitive spirit separates us from each other. And as we grow more and more separate, the pain and loneliness manifests itself in a myriad of ways, but primarily in unhappiness. When is the last time you’ve seen a stranger genuinely smile to you while walking down the street?
As I sit on the long journey home and reflect on the gifts I’ve received from Bali, my intention is to cling to the humanity I’ve rediscovered in myself. And I pray that others back home have the courage to do the same, so that we all might once again integrate back into the natural flow of life.
“How do you make yourself be vulnerable with somebody you don’t completely trust, like in a relationship?” an audience member asks in the above video.
“You don’t,” Brown answers.
“Because you know what? This is it,” she says, gesturing to her heart. “What’s under here is the most valuable thing you have. It’s the most valuable gift you give to all of us. It’s the most valuable offering you have in your life and people have to earn the right see it. They have to earn the right to see it and they have to know when they’re seeing it that it’s an absolute honor and privilege for you to have let them in.”
Oprah points to a similar question she and Brown received on Twitter: “How do you foster an environment of #vulnerability when your partner sees it as #weakness?”
“If you’re being vulnerable, you’re opening up your heart, and the other person thinks that that’s weak of you — you are with the wrong person,” Oprah says.
“It’s an awesome filter,” Brown agrees.
As an example, Brown tells a story of a time she tried to be vulnerable with one of the mothers at her daughter’s school.
“I was talking to someone and I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, last year there was a whole week where every day I gave the wrong kid the wrong lunch half the time,'” Brown shares. “And she looked at me and she goes, ‘Oh, I don’t think I’ve ever had that experience.'”
“And I was, like, off the list, baby!” Brown says.
Though in this case it was easy for Brown to see that this woman didn’t deserve her vulnerability, she goes on to say that in other cases, it can be painful.
“Here’s what’s scary, and we should not B.S. you about this,” Brown says. “You start trying this on,” she says — meaning becoming more authentic and vulnerable — “there will be a pushback. You’re going to freak out some people. You’re going to scare some people.”
By showing your vulnerability to someone, Brown explains that you’re asking that person to be vulnerable in return. “The pushback will be, what are you doing? We had a deal. You keep this closed. I keep this closed. That was our deal,” she says.
“This is transformational stuff,” Brown says.