Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Sparks for a Happy Life

Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect.  
It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.

The happy myth

Recently my wife asked me what my “happy sparks” are.  I had no idea what she was referring to so I asked “What are happy sparks?”  She replied, “a happy spark is that feeling you get when you think of something and get so full of happiness you want to do the happy dance or jump with joy.”  This got me thinking about what happiness is.  I believe many of us are deceiving ourselves about our personal happiness.  New jewelry, a promotion at work, a night on the town, a vacation home, fourteen day cruises to exotic ports, a new car or a new motor home are all things that can make you happy but, there in is the myth regarding happiness.  Yes, these things and many others create a feeling of happiness but, it is not a lasting happiness.  In other words, when you find happiness in material things true happiness becomes this elusive thing you desire but never seem to achieve.

What does it mean to be happy?

Becoming aware of the truth that not everything has to be perfect and that happiness is not achieved through the accumulation of material things is a total game-changer.  Being aware means you can choose happiness in the moment.  Falling into the trap that happiness will only come when everything in your life is exactly the way you think it should be is a dangerous trap to fall into.  When material things or conditions are needed to fill you up, validate your life or make you feel whole and complete it only takes a small change to bring an end to your happiness.  Contrary to what you may have been taught, happiness is as simple as a choosing to be happy.  Simply making the choice to be happy empowers you in any situation trumping any material thing or imposed condition.  The moment you choose to be happy you will begin to perceive things differently strengthening your capacity to feel happy.

What does it mean to be happy?  I believe happiness begins when you simply let life happen.  Rather than controlling and forcing things let go; in so doing you begin to become free.  When free you allow life’s imperfections to happen making happiness easier to find.  What defines happiness is different for everyone but I believe everyone can look back to moments in their life where they can say “that made me truly happy.”

My Happy Sparks

I have had many moments that have filled me with so much happiness I did the happy dance or jumped with joy.  Every time I think back to the moment each of my children were born; when I think of my grandchildren; my siblings, parents and growing up; many of my close friends; many of the beautiful places I have visited and photographed; my wife; my life; and so much more are my happy sparks.  Having these cherished memories reminds me that happiness is not found in material things rather in those moments of freedom when I let go and just hung on for the ride.

What is keeping you from letting go and truly being happy?  When you fill your happy spark bucket with life’s little pleasures you will realize how awesome being alive is.  Keeping life simple and in the moment will overflow your happy spark bucket.  What will fill your happy spark bucket?  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What is your passion?

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." -Albert Einstein

The downside of being passionate

When was the last time someone asked you what you are passionate about?  When was the last time you thought about what you are passionate about?  My passions are the reasons I wake up in the morning and many times stay up late in the evening.  They are what excite me every day.  Sadly, not everyone knows what they are passionate about. 

How many times have you heard “just follow your passion and success will come”?  What about the stories of those who have followed their passion; the woman who loves to paint, so she opens a small gallery to sell her paintings; or, the man who is passionate about creating software programs, so quits his job to focus on his first big software release.  Nothing happens – no customers, no buyers, and no clients.  We are told that the money will follow if we do what we love.  When it comes to earning money or building a business based on your passion you must remember that when you first start out nobody cares about your passion.  In business, it isn’t about you or your passion it is about your customers and clients.  The secret is educating them to care about your passion so much that they are willing to pay you to do it.  The problem is many passionate people are so engaged in what they love they neglect to educate others why they too should care.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about veteran issues; helping small businesses; my wife, children and family; sports; photography and video; writing; and travel to name a few.  Heck, I am passionate about life.  My passion is the energy that gets me up in the morning, keeps me filled with happiness, excitement, meaning and anticipation.  It is a force powerful enough to enable you to accomplish anything you set your mind to.  It enables you to experience life to the fullest extent possible.  Harriet Tubman once said “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."  Passion is the strong desire a dreamer has inside that enables a dream to become a reality.

Finding your passion

The saying goes “Love what you do and do what you love”.  If you are like most, you dream of work that is based on your passion but not sure how to make that happen.  Start by asking yourself these three questions.
  1. What drives you to do your passion?
  2. What do you bring to the table that no one else does?
  3. What would you love to contribute to the world?

Once you answer these questions you will have a better idea as to the unique value you offer.  Answering truthfully will give you a clear picture of what you are here to do.  Your mission is to find the unique value that you have inside that has an overwhelming desire to give.  Once you find what that is, it’s your job to make other people care about it too.  It is not a given that others will understand it.  It’s your job to educate them as to why they should care.  Most importantly spend your time doing what you absolutely love.  Stop wasting your life on things that do not matter to you and that you have no control over.  There is no better time than now to define what matters to you most and why others should care about it as much as you do.

Lyrics from Neil Young’s song “Are You Passionate?” sums it up best:

Are you passionate?
Are you livin' like you talk?
Are you dreamin' now
that you're goin' to the top?
Are you negative,
In a world that never stops,
  Turnin' on you?
Turnin' on me?
     Turnin' on you?...