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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

 

 

 

Thank You Maya Angelou

I’ll never forget the first time I read something by Maya Angelou. It was a number of years ago. I had been in New York City, and found a used bookstore. Bookstores are something I rarely pass up, and used bookstores are a treat for me. I love finding old editions of books, and also old cookbooks, which I used to collect.

I saw a book on the table, picked it up and randomly opened it. The words immediately struck my eye, and then down into my soul:

“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size, but when I start to tell them, they think I’m telling lies. I say, it’s in the reach of my arms, the span of my hips, the stride of my step, the curl of my lips.
I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.”

I was so insecure at that time in my life, with a very low self-esteem. I went through my days thinking I wasn’t good enough, and that my body was ugly. Those words were a revelation to me! They told me, “You have a choice. You control who you are, and let no one else decide that for you.”. Wow…powerful.

I believe that those words Maya Angelou wrote, the ones that had such an impact on me, were the first of the healthy seeds to get planted that would eventually take root, so I could grow and blossom when I was ready to start my journey to be healthy, years later. Now I do believe that I am phenomenal, and don’t judge myself so harshly as I used to. My thoughts are rooted in love with any self-change being brought with positive thought, not negative criticism.

What book, poem or author has inspired you to take action in your life, or to see things in a new way?

GOT PLANS?

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Hourglass

An_Hourglass____by_MPtribe 

Every day I’m reminded how short life is and how we have to take advantage of every moment we have.  This article is not intended to be morbid in any way, but, perhaps, a “wake up” call. 

I know the concept of life is short is a hard one to grasp.  I know, for myself, that we believe we are immortal, that we have endless time and endless possibilities.  But, alas, that is not fact.  There is inevitability in every person, animal, plant, and thing on this Earth.  Everything has a life cycle.  Sure, we may know the average life cycles for each species, but there are no guarantees for anything that exists. 

“Wow, Doreen… what a way to ruin a party!”  I hope you will continue reading, as I can hear you thinking this right about now.  But, let’s put things into perspective.

Over these last few weeks I have had so many “messages” and realized I needed to pay more attention to the day-to-day and make sure that what I am doing is not wasting my own precious time.  One lovely friend had a fire at her business that caused significant changes to her long term plans.  One gentleman I know lost his job of 9 years.  Another wonderful person I know suddenly experienced a life-altering illness.  These are examples of life events that we have no control over but tremendously change our plans from what we expect to “do tomorrow”.  In an unexpected, life-altering situation we have two choices.  We can either allow the event to cause a downward spiral and spark self-destructive behavior, or we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and adopt a mindset that the event that occurred was a blessing in disguise. 

What would / do you do?  Would you become stagnant and wallow in despair, or would you create a plan and evaluate options for what you can do to move forward? 

Neither choice is easy.  Events that are not planned are extremely stressful for everyone involved, and many times our decisions on what to do involve many others including our family.  I, for one, know firsthand what it is like to lose a job at a most inopportune time.  I acknowledge that a first impulse may be to scramble in a “survival of the fittest” response.  However, after many years, and a ton of self-help books and research, I realize that if you look at an occurrence as an opportunity to move forward and make your life even better, you have an opportunity to get further, faster.  Most things that happen that we consider a “negative” occurrence can be turned around if we take a moment to stop and reevaluate things.

OK… now for an even more serious discussion.  In the past few weeks I have been informed of three deaths of people who I knew and one I did not know.  One lovely woman was preparing to retire and travel.  She was 61.  One was a person we worked with for a short period of time; he was in his late 40’s.  One was a volunteer firefighter in his early 30’s, and one was a friend’s childhood friend in his 40’s, as well.  With today’s average life expectancy, we could say that these people passed way too early; however, as we know, death does not discriminate. You can be one hour old, one day old, or 100+ years old.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), none of us is stamped with an expiration date. 

Why am I discussing this?  It is my intention to create a spark in each of us.  What are you doing in your life right now that does not make you happy?  What do you dread doing?  What can you do to make a change?

By now I hope you got what I’m trying to convey – the discussion that life is short.  But, just in case, I’ve taken the liberty to go a little further in my explanation.

I came up with an analogy knowing that, sometimes, people understand things that are more visual.  Take a $1 bill out of your pocket or wallet.  I know you feel silly, but please do it….

Most of us value every dollar we have and the possibilities of what we can use that money for, don’t we?  In this example, the $1 you are holding will signify this very second of your life.  To further explain, for our purposes, you just (symbolically) paid $1 for this very second and for each and every second thereafter as long as you are alive.  Oh, one more thing… there is NO return policy.  You can’t get a refund or a do-over.

Take another look at the dollar.  Was it worth it?  Did you find value?  Did you CHOOSE to be doing what you want to be doing in that 1 second time period?  Of course, in this case, you found great worth because you are reading this eloquently written, amazingly informative article! 

Seriously, though, I want you to take a few moments to reflect on your days, in general. 

Look at that $1 bill.  Are your precious seconds worth what you are paying for them… every second of your day? 

Let’s still go a little further.  If you are pleased with the majority of your day, then that is excellent.  Keep on spending those dollars the way you are.  However, if you find you are spending them being sad or being angry, or if you spend them in a job you hate, or if you spend them in a relationship that is abusive or not progressing, I want you to ask yourself if you are spending your dollars (seconds of life) the way you should.  Are you spending your dollar being fearful, resentful, or unforgiving?  Are you healthy and able to physically do all you would like to?  Or, even further… perhaps you are experiencing depression or using alcohol or substances to dull your pain.  In some of these instances it may be necessary, if you have not yet done so, to look into counseling to help you alleviate your negative feelings.  Perhaps you can begin to make a change towards moving forward. 

Life is short. How do you want to spend your dollar?

A quick disclaimer:  I am a very practical person.  I know we may set ourselves up for disappointment if we believe EVERY second is going to make us overwhelmingly happy.  We are emotional beings and I don’t want to apply extra pressure to any one of us.  However, I do request that you consider the example as a motivation to evaluate your life and determine if a change is necessary so you can create the best life possible. 

Got Plans?  We all do.  But we need to also determine what will make our current situation and current day the best that it can be.  Maybe it’s time to ask yourself:  Isn’t it time to enjoy YOUR life?  Isn’t it “Time to Play”?

 

JOIN US!  Did you know we do a weekly FREE podcast called Empower Half Hour?  Click here http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timetoplay for further information and our weekly schedule.  It is recorded live on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to 10 am EST (and available to listen any time after if you can’t join in at that time of the day).  As of 3/31/2014 we will be moving the podcast to 5 pm on Mondays with a one hour group life coaching session afterward (you can also participate via telephone or skype).  See www.clubtimetoplay.com for more information about the group coaching sessions or contact me at 631-331-2675 or email me at doreen@timetoplay.com for more information. 

P.S.:  A cheap “plug”:  Our book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life”, is full of powerful stories of obstacles and life situations we have experienced but have overcome.  The book is intended to help a reader learn from our experiences.  More information and reviews:  www.IfIKnewThenBook.com

HOLIDAYS ARE OVERRATED

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This article does not focus on the religious meaning behind the holidays. My focus in this article is to share my thoughts as to WHY some people feel blue, sad, depressed, and lonely on or around the holidays. ~rln

I’ll never forget the day my only son, who was 16 at the time, said, “Mom, holidays are overrated!” My son’s comment is really an important one. Why? Because to him holidays felt overrated. At the time, I didn’t understand or even agree with his comment, but now I can say that I get it.

What I’m about to share with you is from my own experience and perspective. I do not pretend to have the answers as to why some people feel depressed, lonely, or sad during the holidays. What I can do is share how I changed the way I celebrate the holidays.

How can the season of merriness, joyfulness, festiveness, happiness, and warmth create so much depression, sadness, and loneliness? In my opinion, one of the main reasons is having enormous expectations. Expecting the day to unfold without a glitch. Expecting to be surrounded by loved ones that behave perfectly. Expecting the day to unfold on a timely schedule.  Expecting to give and receive the perfect gift. Expecting magic. Expecting an illusion.

Background

I was brought up in a home where the holidays like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, New Years Day, Fourth of July, along with my own birthday, were celebrated on a large “Super Bowl” day scale. Yes, my birthdays and holidays were more than just another day. Those “anointed” days became events with growing expectations. So, not only did I have huge expectations for the day, I spent an inordinate amount of time preparing for the day.

Prior to each birthday and holiday I’d purchase new clothes, new shoes, and even new undies. My hair and make-up had to be picture-perfect too. And the gifts; oh, the gifts. I spent a lot of time shopping for gifts with anticipation and high expectations of pleasing someone else! And, if the person I gave the gift to didn’t respond in a manner that I thought was honestly happy and grateful, my day was literally ruined.

As I grew older, my expectations of the anointed days also grew. Houston, we have a problem. Preparing for any holiday actually taught me how to maintain extensive expectations. Preparing for any holidays also taught me how to NOT live in the present moment. When I look back and think about all of the expectations I had prior to the actual day, no wonder I stopped enjoying the holidays, like I did as a child. For me, holidays became an obligation, instead of a celebration. There was too much pressure – too much pressure to enjoy the day.

In 2006, my son left for college in New York City. It was only then that my perception of what a holiday should feel like to me changed. For me, the change came when I discovered that all expectations lead to unhappiness. If you don’t already know, being happy is a major priority for me. When I began eliminating expectations, I literally became happier. Along with eliminating expectations, I began to feel better about spending time alone. I would have never felt good about spending a holiday alone until I felt good about being alone.

Shortly after I began feeling good about being alone, I also began to shift my perception of “special” occasions, including holidays. Let’s think about it. There are 7.2 billion people living on this planet. Are you telling me that on a particular day I’m supposed to celebrate the way other people are celebrating? Who wrote these holiday rules for me to follow? What if I don’t want to celebrate the holidays the way the “masses” celebrate the holidays? Why do I have to talk to or hang out with family on a specific day? Does that mean I don’t love them? No, it does not. It means that I am living and doing on that day what I’m inspired to do – not what I’m obligated to do. It means that I’m living in the moment, and living in the moment means that I don’t know how I’m going to feel on any particular day, including the holiday, until that day is here.

The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been. ~Albert Einstein

What if I want to spend the holiday meditating? Or, what if I want to spend the holiday to hike, or exercise – by myself? Or, what if I want to spend the holiday reading, watching a movie or writing an article about what a fabulous day I’m having? What about that? If I don’t want to hang out with family or friends, am I supposed to feel bad about it? Not any more. You might argue that my loved ones will be disappointed if I chose to exclude them on such an important day. Honestly, if you claim to love me, then you will love what makes me feel connected to the Universe!

What are you doing for the holidays?

I don’t know about you, but the majority of people I know spend a lot of time asking each other, “What are you going to do for the holidays?” Before my new found freedom, I used to make stuff up because I wasn’t convicted in my convictions.

Now, when anyone asks me what I’m doing on Christmas, New Years Eve, Thanksgiving, etc., I state with renewed conviction … “absolutely nothing”. I usually hear (out of concern), “Would you like to come to my house?” “No thank you,” I respond lovingly. “I’m spending the day alone”…again. People always look confused because I have a huge smile on my face, and I then I add, “I’m looking forward to the day.” The idea that I should be with family or friends and/or attend a ritual function is a man-made concept anyway.

Finally, after all these decades, I’ve eliminated the pressure and expectations that the holidays used to mean. Yes, holidays are special; however, they’re no more special than any other day in my life. That’s why I celebrate each day, every 24 hours.