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I love to see a curious mind at work. This young photographer (and family friend) really enjoyed capturing photos and seeing the results of her snapping. For her there is as much magic in viewing photo after photo in the camera as there is in clicking the shutter.

Synapsis fire, eyes shine, dimples appear, joy spreads.

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Spicy, dark drinking chocolate

Spicy, dark drinking chocolate

Sitting on a park bench reading the underlined passages in my copy of Ask And It Is Given, I was reminded of the power of feeling good. “There is no greater gift you can give than your own happiness.”

Esther and Jerry go on to say that when we are happy, everyone around us benefits (which is now scientifically proven by Fowler and Christakis).

I don’t know about you, but when I think happiness, chocolate is almost sure to follow. This is an opportune time to practice seizing the moment.

In the interest of happiness and the greater good for all, I quickly texted my two chocolate-loving co-workers and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves sitting at Cacao.

Cacao is a heavenly place.  It’s nirvana smack-dab in the middle of Portland, Oregon. And we three, sipping, savoring our drinkable chocolate were elevated to levels of joy untold.  The spicy dark chocolate with a touch of cayenne is my favorite.  I pledge my undying love to it.

We were all so thrilled with ourselves and the liquid loveliness before us that we decided we should do something fabulous every single week. Tuesdays are a good day for fabulousness, we decided. “Treat Tuesdays,” affirmed Kristin. And so it is.

From now until forever we are celebrating Treat Tuesdays with something marvelous. I highly recommend you join us.

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Jill & Kevin's Wedding Entrance (compiled from jkweddingdance.com)

Jill & Kevin's Wedding Entrance (compiled from jkweddingdance.com)

One of the best ways to be happy is look at every thing in a fresh and open-minded way, without the bias of what has been.  Circumstances change and people change; which means outcomes can change.  If we can be willing to begin a meeting, a discussion, a day unfiltered–knowing that every aspect has had an opportunity for growth–our openness leaves space for possibility and surprise.  And a lot more space for joy.

I don’t know Jill or Kevin, but I know they are willing to look at things with a fresh, open mind.  The way they began their wedding attests to that.  Weddings are ceremonies steeped in tradition, from the entrance of the wedding party to the introduction of the newly-joined couple.  Jill and Kevin began their life partnership differently.  They began it with a bright and joyous dance.

Their exuberance for life and love is not only apparent, it’s appreciated and adored by millions.  Nearly 18 million people have watched this video on YouTube.  I’ve seen it at least seven times and their joy, along with their friends and family, makes me cry every time.  The good kind of crying.  You know, the kind where your chest aches from the pressure of your rapidly expanding heart.

Give yourself a gift, watch this video.  Watch it a few times.  Then, when you get out of bed tomorrow morning, before the filters of last week or last month or last year creep in to predetermine your day, remember how Jill and Kevin and their wedding party entered the room, and how beginning the ceremonial start of their life together with an open mind and joyous heart spread a bit of happiness and love to 18 million…and counting.  Then begin your day in joyous dance.

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Superhero

Superhero

It’s always nice to have good examples to follow.  My friend Kristin is setting one of my favorites, and I can already see the effect she’s having on people.

A couple weeks ago she gave her notice at work.  She doesn’t have another job to go to; which is proving to be hard to understand by some amazingly vocal and well-meaning folks around the office.  What Kristin has is a calling.  She now knows, beyond a doubt, what she wants.

She knows what she wants, and she trusts in her ability to arrange the circumstances in her life to accommodate the drummer (however measured or far away) she hears.

I’ve been thinking about Kristin, her certainty and the actions she’s taking as a result. She is leaping, and I absolutely believe she’s going to land on her feet.  She will be more than fine, she’ll be fabulous, because she has what most people look for all their lives and never find: a sound belief in herself and her abilities.

What better example could we have to live by?  Learn more about Kristin and how she’s leaving her job and selling her house to travel around the world at midleap.com.

If you’re willing to live from your convictions and fulfill your destiny, then what others perceive as taking chances are simply the ways you choose to elevate your life.   -Dr. Wayne W. Dyer from Excuses Begone!

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Happiness Clusters

Happiness Clusters

I always believed happiness was contagious.  Now, like so many other things I feel innately but tend to doubt without external verification; I can say I know it to be true.

We now have scientific proof that happiness spreads.  James Fowler (UCSD) and Nicholas Christakis (Harvard) recently released the results of a 20-year study showing the “dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network.”

They analyzed data collected from nearly 5,000 people over the course of 20 years and found that happiness, like health, is a collective phenomenon.

If I’m happy, a friend of mine living less than half a mile from me is 42% more likely to be happy because of it. The increased likelihood of happiness drops to 22% if that friend lives within two miles from me.  However, if you’re my next door neighbor, your increased probability of happiness is 34%.

Amazing, yes?   There’s more.  This effect, although somewhat diminished, reaches out to three degrees of separation. Increased probability of happiness for the friend of a friend is 15.3% and 9.8% for the friend of a friend of a friend. The diagrams in this post show the ripple effect of happiness.

WOW.

Examination of this same group of people shows that having an extra $5,000 increased a person’s chances of becoming happier by 2%.  But if a friend of a friend of your friend is happy, it can increase your chances of becoming happier by 9.8%.  So, someone you don’t know and have never met can have a greater influence on your spirits than thousands of dollars in your pocket.

Wow again.

Combine this with the knowledge that being happy greatly improves the likelihood of being healthy and we now have more than ample reason to make choices that support our joy.  Our happiness is not only good for us, it benefits the friend of the friend of our friend.

I don’t know about you, but that thought alone puts a smile on my face.

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money heartIn addition to being very intentional about experiencing joy at every opportunity, I have been working on making friends with money.  This may sound silly, but financial stress can be a serious downer and I know when I’m worried about money I’m not as likely to see or feel joy.

It seems that money is like one of those super popular kids in school–so cool and mysterious and utterly uninterested in hanging out with me.  And what I’ve been learning is that, just like the popular kids, money is just money.  If money was a person (popular or not), it would have bad hair days, get a pimple now and again, burp and fart and even have moments of insecurity and low self-esteem.

Money is just money; in and of itself it’s nothing more than paper, or even a mere idea imprinted on paper. AND, it’s a wonderful tool.  Not too dissimilar to a good hair gel or a facial astringent, money can help us get to the good stuff. 

In a fabulous book by Esther and Jerry Hicks, there’s an exercise I’m having some fun with. Every day (or almost every day) I write myself a check from The Universe in increasingly larger amounts.  Starting at $1,000, then $2,000 the next day, then $3,000 the day after that, and so on. And every day I spend every penny of it.  Just like real money, this is all on paper.  I cut out the check of the day, put it in the Bank of Abundance (which is a glass jar on my desk with a sticky note on it that says Bank of Abundance), then I log in the register all the things I’m able to bring into my life with that money, ie: take the family to Disneyland, pay off a credit card, replace the back deck, take my friends out to a champagne brunch, etc.

So far, I’ve deposited $45,000 in 9 days and I’m already seeing a shift in how I think, feel and experience money.  A few items have already made their way into my hands and I’m pretty excited about that.  I feel like I’m on the verge of discovering the secret to the Rubik’s Cube or a cure for the common cold or a way to eat chocolate every single day without gaining an ounce.

Wanna try?  Print out ISpyJoy.com’s Checks from Universe and give it a whirl. 

See you at Disneyland…

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Ahhhh...

Ahhhh...

Mom and I arrived in San Diego yesterday for a girl’s weekend with long-time friend and mom’s ex-business partner Ginita.  After a leisurely lunch of chicken Caesar salad and chardonnay, we headed for the beach.

The ocean breeze ran through our hair, the fresh salt air filled our lungs, and the fine sand kissed our toes with every step.  There are few things as pleasing to feet as walking barefoot on a sandy beach. 

Add to that popping the washed-up kelp bubbles like a child jumping on plastic bubble-wrap and I felt as though I was 4, rather than 40.  A fabulous day, indeed.

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