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Programmed for Unhappiness

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Dear Rebecca,

I have some questions for you and would appreciate your insights. How is it possible to just stay present when it feels like unlimited potential presents itself? Potential is futurizing. I get that. But how is it possible to just stay present in an experience when potential feels so real? And when a plan is in place and people are working toward a goal, then one person bails? Is potential the same as having expectations?

I was in a musical collaboration that was the absolute best musical collaboration of my life. We were writing A-list songs together. My music partner was a guitarist/songwriter/singer. We were about to professionally record our first CD. I already had been offered a venue for our first house concert and a beautiful cafe had offered their space for our CD Launch party.

We’d been playing consistently every week to work up the material for the CD and for concerts. It was truly the most joyous experience of my entire musical career. I had never felt so matched in a collaboration as I did with this guy. And I had never felt so much unlimited potential for our music as I did in this experience.
He told me how unbelievable it was that we created two A-list songs entirely in one sitting each.

There were so many things that were positive and moving forward. This past week was my birthday. At my birthday dinner, he gave me a card with a pictures of an umbrella – a possible name for our group. The inside of the umbrella was a beautiful sky with puffy clouds. He told me he had ordered this umbrella for me for my birthday but it hadn’t arrived yet.

Three days later, he told me he changed his mind and does not want to be in a musical partnership. Done. Gone. He just wants to do his own thing. Emotional whiplash. Wow. I’m sitting with a major disappointment. It’s shocking to me.

Disappointment comes from having expectations. What does this mean in life? To go through life with not caring about outcomes? To never be attached to anything or anyone? Is this humanly possible, or only for a select few who spend their lives on mountains but never have to interact with people.

I appreciate any insights you can share with me. Thank you!

Signed, Major Disappointment

ANSWER:

Dear Ms. Major Disappointment,

Thank you for sharing so much of your heart and soul. As always, my intention is to answer your questions with clarity and truth. Many times people don’t want to hear or accept the truth about themselves and the choices they make, but without acknowledging and accepting the truth, you will never be free or happy.

The truth is, your reaction to what has “happened” to you is a programmed response. It’s not your fault. You were taught at an early age to have expectations of people – especially people you really like. Look around. You can see human programming everywhere. The majority of the world’s population has expectations of the people they love.

The problem is whenever you have expectations of anyone, the feeling of disappointment and heartbreak is right around the corner waiting to appear. Your email contains key statements that are clues to how you’ve been programmed for unhappiness. I will attempt to dissect each one.

“How is it possible to just stay present when it feels like unlimited potential presents itself? Potential is in the future. I get that. But how is it possible to just stay present in an experience when potential feels so real?”

Living in the present moment is our only reality. When you live in the past or the future, you are literally wasting your time and subtracting from your happiness. You were not born knowing how to live in the future or dwell in the past; you were literally programmed to live that way.

You arrived here living in the present moment, but then your parents unknowingly, ruined your life and brainwashed you into practicing the same habits their parents taught them. From birth until probably one or two years old, the future and/or past did not exist in your head. When you passed the age of three, you were already programmed to “look forward to” something other than the present moment. It all started innocently enough with looking forward to your birthday, Christmas, holidays, summer or even the first day of school. The program was locked in. The value of the living in the present moment was lost forever.

I don’t know about you, but no one taught me to appreciate each moment of every day. In fact, I was programmed to “look forward” to just about everything except the present moment. The practice of living in the moment is just that–a daily practice. It was only later in life, when I began to prioritize happiness, that I realized I needed to live in the moment.

“And when a plan is in place and people are working toward a goal, then one person bails?”

You used three words in your email four times. The three words are, “he told me.” He told me is interchangeable with (fill in the blank) told me. Just because someone tells you, or promises you that doesn’t mean that what they promise you they’re going to do is going to happen. It’s a hard reality to accept, but the bright side is when you don’t expect people to keep their word, you can experience the emotion of gratitude more often when what they promise actually happens.

“Is potential the same as having expectations?”

Yes. Potential, by definition, is the future. All expectations happen in the future. In fact, a synonym for expectation is potential. Having expectations is part of the human programming that creates unhappiness.

“Is this humanly possible, or only for a select few who spend their lives on mountains but never have to interact with people?”

Just because a person spends their life living in a monastery or on top of a mountain doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re happy people. The measure of how happy a person depends on how they process and handle life’s challenges on a routine basis. I mean I’ve heard plenty of stories about monks having no patience. It’s impossible to be impatience and happy at the same time. What would happen if the Dalai Lama is served soup when he ordered a salad? What would happen if the Dalai Lama’s alarm clock wasn’t set and he missed his morning meditation? How about the washing machine broke at the monastery and His Holiness had to wear yesterday’s underwear?

Unless you witness how a person navigates through their challenges, you are not able to conclude their internal state aka their happiness. Just because you have muscles, doesn’t mean that you’re strong. Your internal state of happiness or contentment is measured when you’re challenged regardless of where you’re living.

My dear Major Disappointment, let me share a similar story when I practiced the religion of the having expectations about people and future potential.

On October 3, 2014, I underwent arthroscopic hip surgery. A couple of weeks after surgery I began physical therapy. There was an older gentleman who was also recovering from surgery, and, coincidentally we shared the same doctor/surgeon. An excellent doctor by the way; so if you ever need arthroscopic hip surgery, hit me up for a recommendation. I digress.

What usually happens when I meet someone new is I ask a lot of questions. This gentleman, I’ll call him Tim, told me he used to manage several very famous rock bands in the 70s and 80s. I will not be specific as to exactly who he managed, but trust me, the bands were world-renowned.

I asked him what was he currently doing and he told me that he waiting for his boss to retire. His boss was David Letterman, the famous nighttime TV talk show host. My mouth dropped open because here I was sitting next to someone who was obviously very connected in the “business” I wanted to be apart of. I began to make a pitch for my own television show. I started off by saying, “I’m the next Oprah!” I shared the idea I’d had for my own show—–starring me, of course. Well my new BFF loved my idea and told me he knew a few producers looking for fresh shows with unique content. That’s me, fresh and unique.

As you can imagine, I was so excited that I literally began planning my first show. Did I mention my new best friend managed world famous rock bands, knew producers that were looking for new shows and most importantly worked with David Letterman? I gave him my business card and promised to follow up with my resume, social media links, website, media contacts, photos, references, and the kitchen sink. Hollywood, network TV, here I come! But before I went to Hollywood, I needed to make a few phone calls. I called my mother, my son, a close family friend, I think I remember telling one of my next-door neighbors who, unfortunately for him, was outside mowing his lawn.

I sent “Tim” a friend request on Facebook and my request was confirmed. I privately messaged every link on the web I was featured on, including links to my own online radio show. I will admit, I was very impressed with myself and what I had accomplished during the many years of preparation for my big break. I was ready for network TV. I was going to Hollywood, and I could smell success.

Let me go back to Ms. Major Disappointment’s email for a minute here.

“I was in a musical collaboration that was the absolute best musical collaboration of my life. We were writing A-list songs together. We were about to professionally record our first CD…I already had been offered a venue for our first house concert and a beautiful cafe had offered their space for our CD Launch party. We’d been playing consistently every week to work up the material for the CD and for concerts. It was truly the most joyous experience of my entire musical career. I had never felt so matched in a collaboration … and I had never felt so much unlimited potential for our music as I did in this experience.
There were so many things that were positive and moving forward.”

What she describes above is exactly what I felt at the time.

  • Excited about the future
  • Planning the future
  • Attached to “possibilities” in the future
  • Hopeful about the future (hope is for dopes)
  • Emotionally attached to an outcome
  • Expectations galore

Back to my story. On December 16, 2014, I sent a private Facebook message to my new best friend.
From me: 12/16/2014 8:42 am

Greetings Tim. (not his real name) Wishing you and your family a memorable holiday season. Did you ever receive my email? Let me know! smile emoticon

From “Tim”: 12/20/2014 6:48 am

Hi Rebecca, yes I receive everything. I was just thinking of you when I got your message. I met with ________ yesterday and discussed you with both WorldWide Pants and Oprah’s contact. I’m sorry it took so long, but I was away and, believe it or not, ________ was in Florida and Cuba for weeks. Nonetheless, Oprah combined her company with Discovery, and no longer works on new projects and all energy go to her network. Dave’s last show is in May, and Dave is moving in a totally different direction. ________ is also retiring in May. Also we discussed the importance of the numbers game, and it seems your numbers have a long way to go. By numbers I mean followers on FB, followers etc. On a personal note, although I get what you’re thinking, I wouldn’t call yourself, the next Oprah. Oprah already exists, and you really don’t want to open that comparison. Anyway sorry for the delay, but I hadn’t forgotten you or our conversation. I hope you have a perfect Christmas and great new year. “Tim”

Thank you sooooo much Tim! And I “get it” about saying I’m the next Oprah…great point! smile emoticon

Love to you AND your family!

One day … sooner than later …you will hear my name mentioned ….heart emoticon
Chat Conversation End

Side bar: While I was copying the Facebook message from Tim, I noticed the small print at the top of the chat box. “You and ‘Tim’ aren’t connected on Facebook.” What? Are you kidding me? Tim de-friended me! Without so much as a good-bye, so long, adiós, arrivederci, au revoir, bon voyage, sayonara or even a see-you-later-alligator? I was de-friended by the only person I knew that knew David Letterman. The crazy thing was this newsflash didn’t even register on my emotional Richter scale. Not one bit. Why? Because from October 3, 2014, until December 16, 2015, I made it a daily practice to eliminate expectations of people and attachments to outcomes from my life. It was easy for me to experience probably the most connected person I knew in showbiz disconnect from me.

Let me get back to Ms. Major Disappointment’s email again because there’s another lesson to be learned from this type of experience.

When you find yourself in a moment or moments of joy, happiness, elation, excitement, enjoy it and soak it all in while it lasts. Enjoy the moment(s) without attaching an expectation to future moments. Enjoy the moment(s) without attaching to an outcome of a future moment. To be happier, enjoy the moment without expecting the moment to last into the future.

I am a huge football fan. I love watching the professional games every Sunday. I also watch the “A Football Life” documentaries. I’ve listened to many interviews from athletes that have won multiple Super Bowls. I can only imagine the emotions after years of playing, preparation, training, injuries, the highs and lows all climaxing on a Sunday in February. The Super Bowl is broadcasted all over the world. After you win the Super Bowl, they say there’s a glow that lingers. But that glow does not last. You can never go back in time to get that exact feeling back. But in the moment, the feeling is beyond description; a natural high.

If you talk to an athlete who’s won the Super Bowl more than once, they describe their emotions for each Super Bowl win with a different adjective. Why? Because each win feels different. I’ve heard an athlete from the Dallas Cowboys say that his third Super Bowl win wasn’t a feeling of happiness or excitement but of relief. Why? There was so much pressure to win the Super Bowl for the third time that he couldn’t enjoy the win until months later.

My point is this. The programming for unhappiness runs deep. It takes a conscious effort, and most importantly, daily practice in every moment, to let go of your past and future moments. Remember, the present moment is your only reality.

Warning: Choosing happiness as opposed to the programming that is offered by most of the world, is road not traveled by the masses. When you make the decision to rewire the programming that keeps you unhappy, you will feel like you’re going through emotional withdrawals. Trust me; I know first hand. It’s possibly the hardest and loneliest journey you will make in this lifetime, because you will have to look in the mirror for solutions to all of your problems. That alone doesn’t feel too good.

Good news: When you recognize that your current program is hindering your happiness, you may want to prioritize rewiring that program.

HAPPINESS IN A NUTSHELL

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Thousands of books have been written (and read) about happiness—what it is and how to achieve it. So, why are so many people still miserable? As a self-proclaimed Happiness Specialist, I feel compelled to answer that question.

This is a critical time in our global history. Just take a look at “reality” TV or the news, as examples, and something becomes obvious: Happiness is at an all-time low. More than ever before, the growing number of unhappy people is affecting our world in significant ways. Yes, unhappiness is the root cause of all human pain and suffering—a bold statement, I know, but nonetheless true. Is there a solution to this individual and global epidemic? I say absolutely yes – and I would like to offer evidence and solutions to the world’s happiness deficit.

When asked “Do you want to be happy?” most people reply with a resounding “Yes, of course! Who doesn’t want to be happy?” However, merely wanting to be happy is not enough. Why? Because creating more happiness in one’s life is similar to learning to play a musical instrument. It requires learning new skills, modernizing and changing old perspectives and beliefs, and, most importantly, ongoing daily practice. Warning: Creating lasting happiness is not an easy jog through the tulips.

Happiness is an emotion not fully understood by the majority of people in the world. I define happiness as an inner state of peace and contentment, regardless of what happens and regardless of what doesn’t happen.Is it possible to be happy, regardless of any circumstances? Again, I say yes. In my latest book, RealitySpirituality: The Truth About Happiness, I offer real-life examples of how to maintain happiness—yes, regardless of what happens or doesn’t. Can you imagine being happy if:

  • You’ve been disinherited?
  • You’re broke?
  • A loved one dies?

I say that an individual can still be happy experiencing each of the above scenarios, with, of course, the right perspective. And guess what? Our perspectives are our choice! Know this. It is possible to be happy regardless of what life “throws” at you.

I would like to share a few examples of everyday situations that are not often discussed in prior happiness books. There is only one reason why people get angry; argue; are negative, resentful, jealous, impatient, complain, and hold grudges; why children bully other children; why parents hurt their children; why “road rage” happens; why people murder; why people try to control, blame, and judge others—the reason is, they’re unhappy. Unhappiness breeds wars and terrorism. Happy countries do not wage wars, and happy individuals do not commit acts of terrorism. Yes, those behaviors are obvious signs of unhappiness. Now that you know that, what are you going to do to make a change in your life that will be effective and long-lasting? Your path to genuine happiness is vital to our global community, now more than ever.

I have another succinct message, and that is to communicate how important it is to prioritize happiness over all other goals; above all other achievements. In fact, happiness is the achievement—the greatest achievement of all. I say it’s time mankind chooses happiness before choosing careers, before making goals (unless happiness is the goal.), before financial status, before family, and even before health. This is a radical message; however, when a person makes happiness their number-one priority, then all aspects of life will automatically improve. I guarantee it.

We’ve all experienced occasions of happiness, and some people experience happiness more than others. Is it possible to make happiness our primary emotional experience? Again, I say yes.

I enjoy dissecting happiness down to its least-common denominator to determine which common everyday behaviors actually subtract from our happiness. Did you know the following? 

  • All expectations subtract from happiness
  • All attachments subtract from happiness
  • All judgements subtract from happiness
  • All labels subtract from happiness
  • All comparisons subtract from happiness
  • Living in the past or the future subtracts from happiness

Yes, the above mentioned behaviors literally subtract from happiness on a daily and moment-to-moment basis. Do you recognize practicing any of the above in your own life?

The Laws of the Universe and Happiness

Laws of the Universe work in conjunction with increasing and sustaining happiness. The Laws of the Universe are imperative and must be included in any conversation about the pursuit of happiness. Why? Because the Laws of the Universe are always in effect, regardless of whether we believe they are or not. Like gravity, these Laws do not require our agreement for us to experience their effects. And, the Laws of the Universe are, in fact, foundational building-blocks for obtaining lasting happiness.

One of the many reasons why I love the subject of happiness is because our circumstances do not need to change to create more happiness in our lives. You don’t have to do anything to be happier in the present moment. Why? Because, all happiness comes from within. There are 360 ways to be happy in any moment. If you are not happy in a moment, any moment, all you need to do is change your perspective. Remember, we do not have control over what happens to us, but we definitely have control over how we perceive and respond to what happens to us. And allow me empower you even further, happiness is your responsibility and no one else’s. Remember, when you raise your consciousness and self-awareness, you will also be able to raise your happiness level.

Why Is Happiness So Important?

Happiness is really all there is. Happiness is our ultimate reason for living. And as human beings, we all share the desire to be happy. The emotion of happiness, which includes a plethora of feelings such as contentment, peace, harmony, purpose, enjoyment, relaxation, love, acceptance, and the like, is really the ultimate human experience. When you think about it, the only reason we do anything while on this journey we call “life” is to maintain and enhance our happiness and the happiness of others. Can you think of a better gift to give or receive than true, lasting happiness? The significance of happiness has always been recognized for its contribution to quality of life. Scientific research now shows the happier we are the better people we become. The better people we become the better we leave our world for future generations.

Terminal C – Lessons Learned for Happiness and My Behavior

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turn your frown upside down
turn your frown upside down

I’ve learned a lot since starting the Time to Play, my “reminder to enjoy life” project.  Here’s a quick story about an experience I encountered just this past Wednesday, February 19, 2014. 

After the fact, it “hit me” that my behavior in the face of a trying situation was pleasing, and I realized I was truly proud of how I handled my response.  I realized my reaction was quite different than it would have been just a few months or years ago.  I’m sharing my story with the hopes that my experience will help another person avoid having hard feelings.

I was in South Carolina to present a talk entitled, “The Ability to Play is Not Just Physical”, at the US Play Coalition’s National Conference the week of 2/17/2014.  I believe everyone in the Northeast has experienced crazy weather lately.  My airplane was a little delayed on the way down to South Carolina.  The delay was not so bad, though, as it was a direct flight, and we even landed pretty much on time.

The way back was a little different.  We were over a half hour late taking off.  That would have been fine, but I had a connecting flight in Washington Dulles Airport back to New York’s JFK airport.  I was never at the airport in Washington before, and had traveled alone to attend the conference.  It’s definitely easier to figure things out when you have a companion, but here I was, on my own.

Before we landed I asked the stewardess if she knew what gate I needed to go to for my connecting flight back to New York.  I knew that, with the delay, there would only be minutes between when we landed and when my connecting flight would be taking off.  She said she did not know, but expected the gates would be close together and that I shouldn’t have a problem making my flight.

Well…. the gates were not close by to each other.  Not even a little bit.  My flight landed at the absolute furthest point of Terminal A.  I got out of one of the smallest planes I ever saw (it was a commuter plane, I was told) and went into the hallway of the terminal to search for a flight directory.  I soon found that I had to be at Gate 28 in Terminal C! 

I started following the signs to Terminal C.  I walked and walked… quickly, I might add.  The time was ticking.

I went down a huge escalator and found a “travel adviser” at the bottom.  He was standing in front of a huge directory board.  After waiting much too long for a woman who got to him before me ask where the rental cars could be found, I asked him how to get to Terminal C.  He told me to take the “SUBWAY” to terminal C, and it should take about 7 minutes for me to get there.

“SUBWAY?” I exclaimed!  Oh, my goodness, the time was ticking!  So I started running down the hallway to find the subway.

At that point I could have started to get frustrated, grouchy, upset and angry.

BUT, I didn’t.  I actually started running down the hallways and people movers and escalators I had to travel on making jokes to people I passed along the way.  I even made a few comments about how impressed I was about the person / people who designed this massive underground network connecting the airport, and how amazed I was at how huge it was.

My only moment of panic was when I was on the subway between the terminals and the train’s computer voice said, “This train is now out of service”.  Not that I minded if it was in or out of service, but I just had no desire to be stuck inside an out of service train.  Once the train doors opened to let us out, I was fine.

I credit the education I have learned from what I’ve learned through my Life Coach training and what I’ve learned on Time to Play from my fellow Time to Play professionals, especially Rebecca L. Norrington.  Rebecca speaks of internal peace, the universe, spirit and freedom, and I’ve learned a lot from her. 

I realize it is up to us how we are going to react to situations.  We can allow situations that occur in our day to rob us of our happiness.

I learned it is up to us how we are going to react to others, to how they speak to us, or to things they do “to” us.  We can let people rob us of our happiness, our feelings, our confidence, and/or our self-esteem.  We can allow our reactions to affect our day, week, or even longer. 

OR, I have learned, we can CHOOSE to react in a manner that enables us to shine.   Sometimes we have to take a moment to STOP and to reevaluate a situation that may be escalating around us.  But, truly, I have found that it is worth it to do so.

I made it to Gate 28 in Terminal C and had a great flight back.  I wound up talking to a wonderful woman who was sitting next to me.  I was in a great mood and enjoyed the experience, and after I landed met my wonderful husband at the airport who had come to pick me up.

After the fact, I realized I was proud of my behavior.  I am very proud of how I’ve grown, due to what I’ve learned through Time to Play.  I am proud of having created a place where people can learn what they need to know so they can enjoy life.  That is the ultimate goal of www.TimetoPlay.com.

If you have gotten to this point in my story, I thank you for taking your time to read this.  If you have a story to share where you are proud of how you handled a situation, please contact me.  Sometimes examples of situations we encounter can help another learn how to not “let them in”!

We can’t control others, but I now know that it is truly up to us to control how we will behave.

With many blessings for great happiness and peace,

Doreen 

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.