Posts

Get Happy

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get happyI saw this on Facebook the other day. It is a quick visual that really puts things into perspective, and maybe will encourage a positive action to change our lives.

So many times, I believe, we get “stuck” doing the same old thing. Sometimes whatever it is we are doing in our day becomes drudgery, where we are dreading getting up to go to, or to do, whatever it may be. But, yet, out of habit or obligation we just keep doing or going.

My son is a prime example. He had a job he hated. It pretty much sucked the life-blood out of him, but he went. He dreaded going there, hated being there, and felt devalued as a person after he left. It made for an incredibly unhappy existence, as his whole world pretty much revolved around the distress of his job. To add to the despair, the salary he received was meager, and it was difficult for him to pay his bills. He stayed on with this for over a year, feeling like he was trapped and had no other choices.

And complaining.  He did a lot of complaining.

But, no matter what we told him, or how we encouraged him, or with any suggestions we gave to him, HE decided he was trapped and had no other choices.

One day he happened to go to a place that was hiring. Coincidence or not, he was able to change jobs and his whole demeanor shifted to enable him to better enjoy life. He was no longer a “prisoner” in a situation he facilitated, but had experienced a year of his life unhappy, frustrated and stressed out.

Is this something that you find yourself experiencing?

I have learned through working on the Time to Play project that our emotions are a guide. If we feel upset, uptight, frustrated, unhappy (you get the idea) in a situation or while doing or participating in something, that might just be a trigger that you need to change something.

Even though, as you read this, you might be thinking that it sounds easy but that is not possible to change your situation, you might be able to, at least, begin with a small change that can lead up to a larger change towards your better quality of life.

If nothing else, the exercise on the graphic is pretty easy.

Get out that piece of paper. Make a list of things that make you happy. Make a list of things you do every day. Compare the lists. To “adjust accordingly”, make another column with options to begin the process to make the change towards those things. Pick something that is possible for you to begin with to make your change happen.

Just keep in mind that a list is just a list unless you actually cross something off.

Then it is a reality.

Life is short.

Maybe you can take out that piece of paper and make that list today…

After all, it is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is a board certified healthcare executive, a certified professional life coach, the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life and author of If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.  The concept behind time to Play and the Time to Play Foundation was absolutely created out of LOVE. Please see https://timetoplay.com/ for more information.

Gotta Start Somewhere

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Don't Give UpA few weeks ago I was feeling sluggish. I sit most of the day at work. My legs felt particularly achy, and the best way I can describe the feeling in my back was “crunchy”. Those of you who are 50-ish can probably relate to that description!

I decided to start a walking group in our community and posted it on Facebook. The first day we met, one of my neighbors said he always wanted to run the Tunnel to Towers 5K. This is an annual fundraiser in memory of Firefighter Stephen Siller who lost his life on September 11. (For more information about Tunnel to Towers: http://tunnel2towers.org/stephens-story)

I told him, “Hey, let’s do it!” At this point in my life, and through my experience with the Time to Play project, I will work to make anyone’s vision a reality if it is in my power to do so.

So… here’s the thing. Running is not easy for me. The last time I “ran” was in 2004 when I successfully completed a 5K in close to 31 minutes (long story on how I got involved in that!).  And, I do use the word “run” very loosely. I know there are diehard runners, and that’s truly not my skill level. That said, we started meeting every other day to train with a program called From Couch to 5K except for when our schedules did not permit. A few other neighbors also join us at the track periodically.

When my running partner left for a week of vacation, I went out by myself to continue the training program. I found it harder to follow the program without the camaraderie, and did not get as far as when we were at the track together… but, that’s o.k.!

I’m taking “baby steps” and I am still going.

The term “baby steps” may pertain to many things we attempt to do in our lives. Think about it. We sometimes have to take “baby steps” in relationships, job searches, diet changes, learning, or achieving a desire.

BUT, I believe that it is better to take a “baby step”, and to keep at it, then to not take any step at all.

Sometimes we may have to go out of our comfort zone when we’re starting something new. I believe it is rare when we do or try something one time and become an “expert”. There are many sayings that we can utilize here to emphasize this point, for example one I heard since I was little: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”.

Starting is never easy. But the key is to start.  Here’s a link to some more quotes that might drive you to keep going.

With that in mind, what is something you’ve always wanted to do? What is something in your life that you plan to do “someday”?

Well, maybe “someday” can be today.

What’s that first “baby step” you can take?

With the Couch to 5K app we downloaded, we don’t have to do much planning in order to complete the 5K in September. The 8 week program does all the planning work for us, and all we need to do to build our endurance incrementally to run the 3.1 miles is to push a button and following the program.

Maybe what you desire to accomplish requires a little more planning or a little more work to get from “point a” to “point b”.

Take out a pen and paper and start a list to achieve.

Again, the key word is “START”.

It’s time to enjoy life. It’s time to play.

Love, Doreen

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is a board certified healthcare executive, a certified professional life coach, the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life and author of If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.  The concept behind time to Play and the Time to Play Foundation was absolutely created out of LOVE. Please see https://timetoplay.com/ for more information.

No Baggage

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No BaggageEvery morning I read a bunch of emails from different sources that fill my mind with thought provoking, inspirational and positive ideas.

Today there was an email with a concept I had to share. It gave me a visual “aha” that anyone can use.

This article is going to be much shorter than others I have written, as the message is simple, clear and something we can all understand. It’s a “key” that can be easy to remember any time we might need it, and might just be the spark to shift a person towards a happier life.

The message: “No Baggage”.

What exactly does that mean?

How many people take “baggage” with them on a daily basis, reliving something that happened yesterday, last week, last month, last year… how many people blame someone for something in their lives? Do you?

I believe it’s the “Baggage” that keeps us trapped and unhappy. It’s the “Baggage” that may cause us to find fault, give us doubts, or prevent us from loving ourselves.

We cannot change the past. There’s nothing we can do. BUT, when we keep taking “Baggage” with us, we continue to live the same cycle.

Think about how reliving the past keeps us feeling poorly. We can’t change it. Maybe it’s time to take a second to STOP, realize we’re doing this, and let it go. Maybe we can forgive the person who wronged us or the situation where we felt embarrassed that continues to paralyze us.

When we bring “Baggage” to the workplace, we may create a sense of tension. When we bring “Baggage into a relationship, we create an opportunity of displeasure. How many times have you heard a relationship failed because they “brought their old baggage” with them”?

We realize we and others do these things, but continue to let history repeat itself. Perhaps it’s time to break the cycle. Perhaps it’s time to focus on what’s good happening in our lives right now and stop bringing the “Baggage” forward to today and to tomorrow.

I believe the concept is an easy one.

“It’s not that simple”, perhaps you are thinking… maybe it doesn’t FEEL that simple, but I believe that, sometimes, we make things harder for ourselves and for others.

Keep the vision of the suitcase with you as a reminder if that helps.  And, please reach out to us if there is a way we can help you “unpack”.

After all, it is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is a board certified healthcare executive, a certified professional life coach, the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life and author of If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.  The concept behind time to Play and the Time to Play Foundation was absolutely created out of LOVE. Please see https://timetoplay.com/ for more information.

Expectation

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Expectation“This is going to be hard”

“This is going to ‘suck’ “

“I’m going to have a terrible time”

“I’m dreading going to work”

 

Sound familiar?

When we approach something with drudgery, what happens?

Our expectations never fail us, do they?

I think, many times, we create these scenarios by accident or based on previous experiences. And, worse yet, we may even impose our beliefs on how things will go or turn out on others or our kids.

I don’t believe our actions are really our fault.

We just need to be aware we’re doing this, and it’s a really hard thing to do. I believe we’ve become conditioned to “expect” what will or might happen, and our energy put into that expectation can certainly make it so.

Our society runs on expectations. We expect the weather to be a certain way, a person to be sick or well or act a certain way, to get (or not get) a job, or a divorce, or that we can or cannot achieve something, or that you won’t get that call, or _________________________ — you fill in the blank.

Take a moment to reflect on this. What do YOU expect?

Are you sometimes disappointed because you were “right”?

Perhaps it is time to break the cycle. There’s only so much time in our lives to expect the worse case scenario to materialize.

How about if we expect a POSITIVE outcome? Expectation can be a very powerful thing.

Maybe it’s time for that call to come or that “thing” to work out. How about if you begin expecting that this will be: “The best trip ever”, or “The best day at work”, or “The best time with my kids”, or “The best time with my spouse”.

After all, it is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is a board certified healthcare executive, a certified professional life coach, the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life and author of If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.  The concept behind time to Play and the Time to Play Foundation was absolutely created out of LOVE. Please see https://timetoplay.com/ for more information.

WITH vs. FOR

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WITHI’ve had an “AHA” moment which caused me to discover why I’ve had a disconnect throughout most of my life.

I don’t believe in “FOR”.  I’ve lived my life with the vision and expectation of “WITH”.  I’ll explain.

When I work with people, I never consider them working “FOR” me, or me working “FOR” them, but “WITH” me as part of a team.  I now understand why I’ve been met, time and again, with disappointment or frustration.

I’ve gone through life pretty much with this expectation – that no one does things (or should do things) “FOR” me, but “WITH” me. Even with my kids, the “WITH” has always remained prevalent. I believe that they should (or could) recognize things we needed to accomplish as a family unit.

I don’t really think the team mentality is always prevalent in our society.  With my “AHA” moment, I started to think further and realize that, perhaps, it’s hard to change the philosophy of people when we’re in a society that emphasizes “US” against “THEM” instead of “WITH”.

I believe the transition is hard, but not impossible.

I work “WITH” people.  I look for opportunities for “US”.  A way we can ALL benefit.

I believe that should be the goal, in the end, for all of us — whether it is in our jobs, our communities, or our relationships, families, to work WITH each other.  This simple concept can truly end hostilities and unrealistic expectations so prevalent in many families, relationships, organizations and communities.

“WITH” is really not a difficult concept, but more of an awareness of how our actions affect others.

As part of a collaborative effort, things will move farther, faster, while creating a much more peaceful, loving atmosphere for us to share.  So we can ALL enjoy life.

We can look further into this idea with the evaluation of the intention behind the action of another, as well.  What are we trying to attract?  What are we trying to create:  Love or hatred?  Camaraderie or separation?

We see examples of this in our everyday lives:  In companies who create insecurity and fear in even their most loyal employees where one day their positions are “poof”, just gone.  In our youth who create separation and hard feelings through bullying.  In our political arena where partisan politics divide our elected officials, and our society, and resolutions to issues are not reached.  In a scenario where there is “dog eat dog” competition or blame.

“WITH” is such a simple concept.

What is the best option for us all if we work WITH each other?  What can YOU do, TOGETHER, with others?

Think of the possibilities if you just could ask someone their opinion and find a peaceful and common ground?

It’s time for us ALL to enjoy life.  It’s Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is a board certified healthcare executive, a certified professional life coach, the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life and author of If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.  Time to Play and the Time to Play Foundation was absolutely created out of LOVE.  Please see www.timetoplay.com for more information.

 

Do you see beauty in the world?

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tall trees in lake georgeWe recently had the privilege of attending Americade, held in Lake George, New York, the beginning of June.  Americade is a motorcycle rally.  The first year we went, back in 2010, there were 30,000 motorcyclists who attended.  Not a rowdy bunch, but a group of older motorcyclists who just loved to ride.

We’ve gone to Americade three times in the past five years – something we had wanted to do years before, but the kids were younger and it was hard to take the time away.  Adding to that was that only two people fit on a motorcycle.  Americade wasn’t the ideal family vacation for us while the kids were younger, for sure.

Nostalgically, Americade is where the first ideas behind the time to play project began.  We were driving around, enjoying the scenery, when I started to wonder at what age we begin to prioritize life enjoyment and take that most important “time to play”.

Before it’s too late…

But that’s a topic for another discussion.

Today’s reflection is simple.

One thing I love about riding on motorcycles is how big and vast your surroundings can be.  It is a completely different experience than driving in a car.  Living on Long Island where things are generally flat, I was amazed when we rode through the Green Mountains in Vermont.  Driving up and down those roads with huge mountains on both sides of us was a most unforgettable and humbling experience.

This year at Americade, I could not help but marvel at the amazing, massive pine trees we drove past in Lake George.

I have a lot of time to think when I ride as a passenger on the back of Jim’s motorcycle and not on my own.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the residents who live in the beautiful area we drove through notice those amazing trees.  Or, because they live there, do they not notice them.

I wondered if they noticed the smells of the passing foliage that change as you drive down the roads.  I couldn’t help but wonder if they noticed, or, because they lived there, if they did not.

Or, perhaps, were they too busy running through their day that they forget to notice.

I’m sure that most of us rush around without really noticing the beautiful things we may encounter in our day.  Do we notice the sunshine?  Or, if it’s raining, do we notice the beauty of a reflection in a puddle?  Or the smell of fresh air?  Or a bird chirping?  Do we stop to take it in and to embrace the amazing beauty around us, or do we just pass by without noticing because of a priority to on our “to do” list?

I have come to realize that there is so much beauty in every moment of every day.

Now, as I have become more aware of my surroundings and the importance to enjoy life, I try very hard to remember to notice and appreciate things I encounter every day.

It was not always like this.  I truly had years where I was shocked to notice leaves on the trees and wondered when that might have happened.  And then there were the years I was shocked to notice the leaves had fallen off the trees; again, wondering how I could have possibly missed that.

I was just too busy to see.

It is a privilege to see the beauty in the world.  To stop, even for a moment, to soak it in; to catch a smile from a passerby; to smell the ocean air.

Personally, it is a privilege for me to notice something that I might have missed in those past years.

Look at the beauty in the world.  Embrace it.  Welcome it.

After all, it is time to enjoy life.  It is time to play.

Love, Doreen

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life.  Please see www.timetoplay.com for more information.

What is my biggest obstacle?

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Fire within meThe Time to Play Foundation’s BExtraordinary™ program was invited to be the benefactor for the 7-in-heaven Casino Night fundraiser held last night.  The goal of BExtraordinary™ is to remind and to inspire people to know they ARE extraordinary and to bolster self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth and self-love.  I thank Gail Adams very much for her support of the Foundation’s goal to provide resources to help a million people enjoy life and to Stacy Gertz, one of the foundation’s amazing and inspirational coaches, for attending the event with me.  #peoplehelpingpeople

During the event a gentleman, who later disclosed that he spoke around the world about critical thinking, asked us what was our biggest obstacle.

I don’t believe at this point in my life that I have any specific personal obstacles.  OK, well, I might have one… to make time for exercising lately, which I really don’t think is an obstacle, but more of a choice about priorities.

He then asked me if I made lists and goals.  Thanks to Jerry Siegel, an amazing member of the Foundation’s Business Advisory Board and an amazing coach, I have learned the importance of these functions to create more calmness and efficiency in my day.

He further asked me and Stacy if we feel positive every day.  I have learned that it is MY own choice, no matter what pops up, for how I let things affect me.  Something I truly have realized in almost 50 years of being on this earth is that I am the only person who can make me feel whatever way I want to feel.  So, if I feel sad, I choose to feel sad.  If I feel frustrated, I choose to feel frustrated.  An incredibly important thing I realized is that if I recognize I am feeling a certain way, I, myself, have the choice to allow the way I am feeling to continue or to change the way I am feeling.  Stacy agrees with me on this.  We believe that it’s most important to recognize how we’re feeling at any given point of the day and to make our own choice to change our direction.  I have learned, through working on the time to play project, that emotions are our guidance system.  Hey – I’m totally not 100% perfect on this.  And, sometimes I might actually choose to be in a mood that may be less than perfect.  BUT, something I’ve learned is that every day and every moment is a gift, and that it is our choice for how we want to use it.

So, back to obstacles… I think the creation of obstacles in our world is a really important topic. Anything can be an obstacle if we allow it, and, I believe we can create mountainous obstacles for ourselves or by ourselves.  In my professional world, people may perceive that I may face MANY obstacles.  The other day my husband and I spoke about the goals behind the Enjoy Life Community project.  He said he didn’t want to use the word “impossible”; but…

In my heart, I don’t think it is impossible to bring a community together so EVERYONE can work together to enjoy life;  so people can share the good work they are doing; so people can feel needed, wanted and included; so people don’t feel alone; so people can truly care about each other.  What’s the obstacle?  I don’t believe there really is an obstacle when the end goal is to create “hope” and “community”.

We can achieve anything if we work together.

On May 25, 1961, John F. Kennedy, in a speech to Congress, announced his goal to put a man on the moon.  On July 20, 1969, it happened.

Perhaps, bringing a community together is nothing short of putting a man on the moon.  Perhaps, looking at the statistics on life enjoyment, having people work together for the goal to enjoy life is nothing short of putting a man on the moon.

BUT, I believe there is no obstacle too large to be overcome through the power of people.  John F. Kennedy and his team certainly proved that.

I believe that it’s time for us to enjoy life…  It’s time to play.

Love,

Doreen

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life.  Please see www.timetoplay.com for more information.

How to Eliminate Disappointment and Heartbreak

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mendingheart“He cheated on me. I’ve been through anger and grief. Now I am feeling intense pain, like a knife being twisted in my heart.” ~Anonymous Facebook Post

A broken heart is probably one of the most painful experiences this life has to offer. Think about it. How many times have you experienced a broken heart? How many times has someone disappointed you? I know if I had a dollar for every heartbreak and disappointment I’ve felt, I’d be able to finance a cruise around the world…well, maybe a cruise halfway around the world.

Yes, we’ve all experienced countless disappointments and heartbreaks throughout our lives, and if you keep living, it’s guaranteed you’ll experience even more—unless…

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to eliminate all heartbreak and disappointment. The secret is not well-known and hardly ever practiced…unless you choose to prioritize happiness.

Before a heart can be broken or a person can be disappointed, there is a learned behavior we all engage in that needs to be unlearned and eliminated. I’m sorry to say this behavior is considered “normal” but in reality it’s not. It is the reason for all disappointment and heartbreak.

Are you ready for the answer? Are you ready to eliminate heartbreak and disappointment in your life forever? I know I was.

People with broken hearts and disappoints have one thing in common: They have expectations of other people. Expectations of how someone else is supposed to act, feel, think, speak, and behave. If you never want to experience a broken heart, eliminate all expectations from your relationships…and, quite frankly, from your daily life as well.

Now, I’m not pretending that this is an easy practice. In fact, it’s taken me years to eliminate expectations from my own life. What I can promise you is that once you begin eliminating expectations, you will be happier. Think about it. Unless you have expectations, there is no reason to be disappointed. It took years, but today I don’t expect anyone to do or be anything other than themselves.

An added bonus: Make it a daily practice to eliminate all expectations from your life and you will be happier. I promise.

Ask Rebecca Anything

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Dear Rebecca,

I thought a marriage is about give and take and mutual support. I keep giving, but now I am resentful because it’s not mutual. My husband is good at taking and thinks mostly of himself. His actions are guided by doing what makes him happy. He shies away from responsibility. But he follows your principles of making self happy, putting his own happiness above all else. Example: When my son was fourteen years old and doing poorly in school, and clinically depressed, my husband was busy making plans to travel to New York to teach a workshop. That’s the part about the pursuit of self-happiness that I don’t quite understand. And I get it: I have to look out for myself and create my own happiness. I’m married to someone who is looking out for himself. I’m not faulting him, but it’s taken me twenty years and a major financial set-back to recognize the imbalance and why I feel so drained.

Dear Drained,

I am going to respond to you without a single reference to your husband. What your husband did, does, or doesn’t do has nothing to do with you or your happiness. Furthermore, your circumstances, including your child’s health, have nothing to do with your happiness. Nothing.

Let me be perfectly clear. It’s not your fault for thinking other people and various circumstances are responsible for your happiness. That’s what we all are taught at a very early age: Someone else is responsible for our happiness; something else is responsible for our happiness. Take a look at the media. There’s always someone else to blame. I did it. I placed the blame on everyone except myself as to why I was so unhappy. My dear Drained, the reason you feel discontentment and unhappiness is coming from inside of you. And contrary to what you think, the reason why you feel “so drained” is because your focus has been on everything and everyone else other than you.

 

The formula for happiness never includes another equation other than you. Everyone else is excluded including children, spouses, parents, friends, co-workers, cashiers, bus drivers, medical staff, travel agents, astronauts, animals, and the mailman. This is a very powerful concept to “get” because now you—and you alone—are solely responsible for your happiness. Let me repeat. You are responsible for your happiness. Spiderman, who quoted Voltaire, said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

 

Now that you know the truth, what are you going to do about it? As I see it, you only have two choices: (1) You can power-up and take on the responsibility for your happiness or (2) you can continue to feel powerless and make excuses and blame other people and or circumstances for your unhappiness. I look at life like this: If I’m solely responsible for my happiness, and I am, what do I need to do now? What do I need to change? How do I change? How do I integrate this new information into my daily life? I’m glad you asked. Here’s how.

 

You want to be happy? Practice the following every day, for the rest of your life.

  • STOP criticizing (yourself or others)
  • STOP complaining (about yourself or others)
  • STOP judging (yourself or others)
  • STOP expecting anything from anyone
  • STOP blaming someone else for your unhappiness
  • STOP having opinions about what someone else is doing
  • STOP discussing anyone else unless its complimentary (including yourself)
  • STOP focusing on what’s wrong

Now you don’t have to practice any of the above. But I promise you that if you don’t, you will remain unhappy. You want to be happy? “Unlearn” what you’ve learned and

 

  • START accepting people just as they are
  • START allowing people to be themselves, without judgment
  • START taking deeper breaths throughout your day
  • START focusing on what’s good in your Life
  • START becoming more self-aware
  • START being honest with yourself
  • START living consciously
  • START making small changes
  • START looking in the mirror for answers
  • START asking the Universe for guidance

 Remember, every time you criticize, complain, judge, blame, have expectations, and focus on “what’s wrong,” you literally subtract from your happiness. Now that you know the truth, what areYOUgoing to do about it? Remember, your happiness is never, and I repeat, never dependent on anyone else. I don’t care what they’re doing or what they are not doing. No one has the power to make you unhappy.

Finally, I’d like you to know that you will find the happiness you seek if you are willing to journey on the road less traveled. The reason why people are not as happy as they could be is because they arenot willing to committo the arduous daily task of monitoring all moments. It’s called living consciously and becoming self-aware.

Warning:Taking responsibility for your OWN happiness is not necessarily easy, pleasant, or fun.

University of Happiness Attendance Guidelines

You’re in training every day, including weekends. You don’t take vacations. You’re always on duty without lunch or breaks. And you’re constantly looking in the mirror because that’s where all your answers are. The only time-off you get is when you’re sleeping. When you’re ready to make that type of moment-by-moment commitment, I promise you, you will live happily ever after. Heavenison Earth, patiently waiting for you to discover it.

P.S. I want you to know how much I love your courage to share the truth of your experience with the world. Every single one of us is not without multiple challenges. You are exceptional because you’re asking the tough questions. You’re asking tough questions because you want answers. Why do you want answers? Because you want to be happy.

A short time later, Rebecca writes:

Dear Drained,

I want you to know that this is your time. It’s time to make changes and begin living happily ever after. I have an important question for you. If I asked your husband about the marriage, what would he say? There are always two sides to every story. I’m curious: Are you able to create a list as to what your husband would say about you? Be honest. Honesty brings freedom and clarity. Think about that and write back.

Love,

Rebecca

 

Drained writes, he would say that:

  • We have a lot of issues that need to be worked out, and it will take time
  • I repeat myself
  • I don’t listen
  • It’s not tit for tat (I want “compensation” for what I do)
  • I compare our marriage to other marriages
  • We have a long history
  • I am “all over the place” with discussions, I am hard to talk to, and impossible to have a meaningful discussion with
  • I am too pointed in my comments
  • I start too many projects
  • I don’t put things away
  • I am disorganized and I should do things the way he suggested.

I’ve written down all the things I do (taxes, monthly bills, managing property, remodeling rental property, homeschooling, grocery shopping, cooking, tending to kid’s health issues, financial planning, gardening, etc.). And I asked him to mark those that he feels are most important. All other things will either be hired out or given less priority. This was about two or three years ago, and he claims he responded and returned the sheet of paper. Then he said maybe he still has it because I certainly did not get it. (I wrote it down because he was generally too “busy” when I asked to have a talk in person).

 

The only responsibilities he has (meaning things he can be relied upon to do on a regularly basis) is he brings in the mail. He does other things, but if he has the time, and does not want it to be responsible. He doesn’t acknowledge that I do just about everything in the house. If he doesn’t acknowledge it, then he doesn’t have to give credit. Somewhere along the line, that’s where I started to get resentful and lost the joy.

Here’s my second enlightened moment. I’ve been taking on more and more each year. The more I did, he’d be happy, but only for a while. Then I’d have to do more and more until we are here and I do just about everything in the house. Maybe I thought it would help him by taking care of business. Maybe if he was happy, then our marriage would be better. Or, that he would love me more. And, sometimes it was easier to just do it than wait for him to get around to it and/or avoid a big discussion. In all fairness, I definitely have my flaws and my own neuroses and am not easy to live with. I am trying to recall all his other complaints. He has a lot, for sure. That’s about all I can recall for now.

Rebecca responds:

Please remember that when I answer you, it’s always my intention to (1) find the truth and (2) assist you with finding peace.

This might be difficult to hear but the truth is that if your husband did everything you asked him to and he behaved exactly the way you wanted him to, you would still be unhappy. Why? Because happiness is an inside job—period. One of the reasons for your frustration is you think that if your husband changed, you’d be happy. I’m here to tell you, unequivocally, that is not the case. Your husband is not the source of your unhappiness.

Remember:

  • Your happiness does not depend on what anyone else says.
  • Your happiness does not depend on what anyone else doesn’t say.
  • Your happiness does not depend on what anyone does.
  • Your happiness does not depend on what anyone else doesn’t do.
  • Your happiness does not depend on your circumstances either, regardless of what they are.

Unless you engage in a daily moment-by-moment commitment to growing beyond who you are now, you will never find the happiness you seek. Happiness comes from within. There are no exceptions. The road to happiness begins and ends with the person in the mirror.

What Else Is Wrong?

A second issue, according to you, is that you carry the majority of the household responsibility. Let’s say that’s true. Let me share with you what I’ve learned about “giving of myself” and happiness. Whenever I decide to give someone something, whether it’s my time, or an actual gift, or take on added responsibilities like the example you stated earlier, I make the decision and choice to give without expecting anything back in return—including expecting a thank-you. In other words, I give without strings or conditions attached.

I didn’t always have that perspective—give without expectations of anything in return. In fact, the majority of my life I unconsciously and sometimes consciously gave to get something back in return. What were some of the things I wanted in return? What I wanted varied from love, time, attention, kindness, praise, acknowledgement, credit, compassion, concern, sympathy, friendship, responsiveness, and money, to name a few examples of what I expected when I extended myself just as you stated earlier.

Happiness Is Always My Priority

While on my journey of prioritizing happiness, I learned that when I give I cannot expect anything in return. I have to give without strings or conditions attached to whatever I’m giving. As I mentioned before, I can’t even expect a thank-you. Why? Because expectations subtract from happiness. Expectations always subtract from happiness. My dear Drained, you have so many expectations, it’s no wonder you are so unhappy.

A Few Characteristics of Happy People

  • Happy people don’t expect anything from anyone.
  • Happy people don’t complain.
  • Happy people don’t compare themselves to others.
  • Happy people don’t get angry too often, and if they do, they realize their anger has nothing to do with another person or an existing circumstance.
  • Happy people don’t try to control anyone else.
  • Happy people don’t talk negatively about others or themselves.
  • Happy people are conscious and aware of the energy they emit.
  • Happy people take responsibility for their own happiness.
  • Happy people know they cannot change anyone but themselves.
  • Happy people are kind.
  • Happy people are patient.
  • Happy people accept others unconditionally.
  • Happy people are not critical.
  • Happy people don’t make judgments.
  • Happy people are self-aware.
  • Happy people don’t blame others for their unhappiness.
  • Happy people do not create drama.
  • Happy people live in the moment.
  • Happy people don’t try to change anyone else.
  • Happy people are constantly evolving into happier people.
  • Happy people spread happiness.
  • Happy people know that their happiness depends on the person in the mirror.

Now, the only reason I can vouch for all of the above is because I used to be extremely unhappy and the opposite of everything I listed above. I was one of the most miserable persons you’d ever want to meet. I was trapped in a cycle of blaming and finger-pointing. I was easily offended, easily irritated, quick to anger, bossy, opinionated, controlling, confrontational, moody, critical, and I needed to be right—about everything. Need I go on? Did I want to be happy? Had you asked me that question then, I would have said, “Of course I do.” However, I had no clue that my behavior was literally sucking and subtracting the happiness out of my life. When I discovered that my former behavior and my need to be happy weren’t compatible, I was forced to change my behavior. And, I don’t mind admitting any of the above, because, quite frankly, I’m very proud of the behaviors I chose to eliminate from my life.

Finally

So, you see, it’s up to you, and only you, to make all the necessary changes if you want to be happy. It’s up to you to change your perspectives. It’s up to you to change your behavior. It’s up to you to choose your focus. It’s up to you to become a happy person.

I guarantee that when you change, your life changes. You have the power and ability to be happy, regardless of your circumstances and regardless of what anyone else does, says, or doesn’t say or do. Now that you know the truth about happiness, the ball is in your court. You can change your life, but you have to change you first.

Warning: Finding peace and happiness is found on the road less traveled. And that road is less traveled for a reason. Your journey is going to be never-ending, extremely difficult, and brutally challenging. However the reward is heaven on Earth.

Love,

Rebecca

 

 

 

Ask Rebecca Anything

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Dear Rebecca,

I’m totally overwhelmed by the state of my life. We had a huge financial setback ($500k) because of a poorly thought-out investment that my husband wanted and then held onto for way too long, despite all the signs and my urging. So, now we need to reevaluate and rebuild. Moreover, since I was rear-ended in January, I’ve been in physical therapy, etc., and on the mend. I’m slow to get around and tire easily. I’m trying to put the pieces back together, for the most part alone, and it is sucking up all my time. My spouse has moved on to his next pet project, has not been very approachable, and takes on almost no responsibility. He is fairly clueless and believes that my workload should be manageable, and that I just take on too many personal projects. I’ve been trying to talk to him for years but he is not approachable.  

This is not the life I had envisioned. Once upon a time, I faced each day with excitement, filled with creative ideas. Nowadays, I wake up each day and almost dread the relentless amount of work before me. From the time I open my eyes until the time I crawl to bed. I am working on resolving my children’s health issues and also home-school my teenage son, who has a disability. Sometimes I feel like I have to be both mother and father to my son to give him the guidance he needs, since my spouse acts more like a babysitter than a loving parent. I’m feeling less and less like there is much hope that things will improve, even though there is much in my life to be grateful for. A sense of gratitude does help keep me going day to day. What else am I missing here? How can I make this marriage work? What steps do I need to take to find deeper happiness and satisfaction?
Signed,
Questions
 
Dear Questions,
Your letter is filled with a lot of personal questions and life challenges that are daily subtracting from your happiness. Believe me when I say that I can understand your feelings of being overwhelmed with life. You listed several circumstances and issues that I will address one by one. As always, my intention is to (1) find the truth, and then (2) assist you with finding peace.

One of the most obvious themes in your letter is your focus on what’s wrong with your life instead of focusing on what’s right with your life. I read and re-read what you wrote. Your letter is laced with criticism, dissatisfaction, frustration, gloom, misery, sadness, and unhappiness. I’m not using those words to be mean and/or unsympathetic. I’m using those descriptive words to make a point. There isn’t one person, including myself, who hasn’t felt like you are feeling at more than one time in our lives. You are not alone. Life is filled with up and downs, challenges, and bumpy roads. You cannot escape what life brings. You cannot control what life unfolds. You cannot escape the journey. What you can do is change your perspective about your reality. Your perspectives have to change for your life to change.

360 Choices
There are 360 degrees in a complete circle. There is no beginning or ending to a circle. And there is no beginning or ending to Energy. You are Energy. You are conscious Energy. Because you are conscious Energy you have the ability to choose what to focus on. This is a mandatory concept to understand if you want to be happy. At any given moment, we have 360 different ways to respond and/or label any circumstance we experience. Let me be clear: it’s not easy to choose another perspective, but it is possible to shift your focus with (1) intention and (2) practice.

Intention and Commitment
You must have the intention and the commitment to focus on what’s good in your life during every moment. You can verbalize your intention as soon as you wake up. It’s simple and easy. All you need to do is say out loud, before you get out of bed, “My intention for this day is to focus on what’s good in my life.” In fact, you can practice saying that as many times as you want during the day. In the beginning this practice might not seem to be effective and you probably will continue to focus on what’s wrong for awhile; however, as with any new skill, you will get better and better at changing your focus. Also, know that when you make an intention, the Universe always listens. 

I want to also say that whatever is happening in your life is supposed to be happening for a reason that you might not be able to comprehend right now. Yes, everything happens for a reason. When I’m challenged by life, I know without a doubt that the challenge is needed and the challenge is here for me to elevate to a higher level of growth and understanding. All challenges are good—regardless of how they might make you feel. All challenges bring an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth.  All challenges bring an opportunity for you to shine brighter. You mentioned you have children.  How do you want your children to face challenges? Do you want your children to focus on what’s wrong with their lives? Or do you want your children to find peace and happiness with whatever life brings them? Do you want your children to be able to meet every challenge life brings them with gratitude and acceptance? Your children are watching you, and more importantly, your children are feeling your energy. Be the living example of how to navigate through life! 

Your Husband and Making Marriage Work
Your words are screaming a limited perspective.
“My spouse has moved on to his next pet project, has not been very approachable, and takes on almost no responsibility. He is fairly clueless …”
“I’ve been trying to talk to him for years, but he is not approachable …”
“My spouse acts more like a babysitter than a loving parent.”
“How can I make this marriage work?”

My Dear Questions, how do you expect to “make this marriage work” when you harbor feelings of resentment and disdain for your husband? It sounds like (at least in this letter) that you share none of the responsibility for the state of your marriage. To begin with, you are extremely critical of your husband. It’s interesting because there was a time in my life where I too was extremely critical of my ex-husband along with everybody else I knew.  Criticizing others was a daily habit of mine. There is one huge problem with criticizing anyone and that is, you are subtracting from your happiness when you do. Secondly, when you criticize anyone the words you use are actually meant for you! Ouch! So ask YOURSELF:

Am I ever non-approachable? When does this happen, and why?
Are there times or specific occasions when I take on almost no responsibility? When does this happen, and why?
Are there times when I am or act fairly clueless? When does this happen, and why?
Are there times when I act more like a babysitter than a loving parent? When does this happen, and why?
Are there times when I act more like a babysitter than a loving partner? When does this happen, and why?
Now, when are YOU going to change? 

Gratitude
There are 7.2 billion people on this planet, and I’m sure that more than one person would love to trade places with you. Why? You have a home. You have food. You have children. You physically survived a car accident with the ability to walk again. (I have a dear friend who has been paralyzed since high school). You have a husband who is his own person. I could go on, but I’m sure you get my point.

Another Perspective
Let me share two real-life stories. I have a girlfriend who at 36-years-old attracted breast cancer. Her reaction? According to her own words, contracting cancer was a “gift from God to her and her family.” Why? Because before the cancer, she took her own existence for granted. She let small things bother her. She was easy to anger. She found fault with her life and her family. She was living without feelings of gratitude and appreciation for life itself. Her diagnosis changed her life
. Her diagnosis changed her perspective. She chose to view her diagnosis as a gift. 


I met a blind man on the bus last year. I purposely sat next to him and asked him how did he become blind? He told me he was hit on the back of the head with a baseball bat and lost his sight. He was 21 at the time. He then went on to tell me that he was grateful for losing his sight! He told me being blind saved his life! He told me being blind was a gift from God. How could this be possible I asked?  His story was not unique. As a young man, he was a member of a street gang. His daily “to-do” list consisted of gangbanging, stealing and murder. He even admitted to participating in dismembering and disposing of bodies. The blind man told me he would have surely been in prison or dead if he hadn’t stopped his behavior. The baseball bat to the back of his head saved his life, and more importantly, he was grateful and appreciative. Now he shares his story with young men that are in gangs or at risk of following in his footsteps.

You commented that your husband says you take on too many personal projects? Is this true? What are they? Do they conflict with the time you need to focus on your priorities? What are your priorities? What can YOU do to create a livable, sustainable balance between your priorities and your personal projects? I support you and understand that we all need something that’s just for us, especially when we give of ourselves to others on a daily basis? Please continue to engage in whatever nourishes your soul.

Lastly, you wrote, “This is not the life I had envisioned.” Life is never about what we envision my dear Question. Life is what the Universe envisions for us. After decades of suffering due to resisting reality, I’ve finally surrendered and realized that I do not have control over what happens to me. Because if I did, I would have designed my life a whole lot differently than how it has unfolded. What I do have control over is my perspective, my attitude, my focus, my intentions, my words, my beliefs, and my behavior. Finally, I trust and surrender to whatever the Universe has in store for me. The Universe knows what each of us needs to experience. Know this and trust it. 

Do you want to be happy and at peace? Let go, be grateful for your life, and start living.