Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Why Aren't We Happy?

Life doesn't give you happiness – it's your contributions to it and the actions you take that create the feelings you desire. The focus on immediate gratification and the pursuit of pleasure is an epidemic; the priority on fun and fair, and easy and exciting. Avoiding discomfort like the plague, by trading momentary pleasure, for self-confidence and joy. There seems to be a belief that we must feel good all the time, and that it should be easy and readily available with little effort on our part. The irony is, this is exactly why so many are miserable and living in a perpetual state of anxiety. Trying to feel good all the time, prevents us from doing what we need to do in order to create true confidence in ourselves and a more sustainable peace. A peace forged from taking on life’s challenges and doing what's necessary.

"You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good." ~ Jerry West


Much of this mind frame has to do with messages in the media that support instant gratification. Another contributing factor is the well-meaning, but often misguided approach for fostering healthy self-esteem in children. Sometimes, rather than building resilience, and hence, internal confidence, the pendulum swings too far, shielding kids from discomfort altogether. By always finding the positive, always preventing failing and falling, and always protecting them from tough choices and harsh realities, these children are now adults who lack emotional mastery. Unfamiliar with feeling disappointment or failure or regret or sadness, they interpret these emotions as bad, and to be avoided. This creates stress, fear, and ultimately stagnation. This method of instilling self-confidence, although genuine and sincere, means that many now lack the ability to handle adversity and strife.

“You will find peace not by trying to escape your problems, but by confronting them courageously.” ~ J. Donald Walters


As adults, there is an importance placed on doing a good job, getting things done and being proactive. Bosses don't give out a participation ribbon because we show up at work –thirty minutes late, and we shouldn't receive ongoing praise from a spouse because we took the garbage out – whoopee, you did what needed to be done. Rather than being internally driven, we're externally motivated, and when this reassurance falters, we falter. Our primary way of feeling good and happy and reassured, isn't there. When we're geared this way, we become dependent on the external to fill the happiness and confidence tank. This isn't sustainable and will eventually wain. What happened to the reward for just being? What happened to the praise for simply showing up?

“As we get past our superficial material wants and instant gratification we connect to a deeper part of ourselves, as well as to others, and the world.”
~ Judith Wright


Joy and confidence comes from making choices and taking action to honor our values. It isn't born from the approval of others, or from immediate or superficial pleasures, but rather from showing a commitment to ourselves. This is integrity, and as Dr. BrenĂ© Brown says, "integrity is choosing courage over comfort." You know what you want; the kind of life, meaning, relationships and to make it happen, you must choose to do what feels uncomfortable, scary and hard. This is where confidence is born; from facing what's difficult and doing what you didn't think you could do, and from feeling uncomfortable and plunging ahead. Do and modify. Do and modify, and through this process you will begin to trust and believe in yourself, no longer relying on the recognition from others, or instant gratification to feel happy, you will learn to create happiness for yourself. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


"Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit” ~E.E Cummings

They tell the truth. They stand for it, seek it and live it. Voices of denial and voices of persecution are given equal weight, and both are dealt with swiftly and compassionately. They don't allow themselves to live in fear; they square up and take reality as it is, and as it comes.  They also don't allow themselves to become a victim of their own negative self-talk and self-limiting beliefs. They square up to that as well ; challenge it, replace it and move on.

Your Turn: See your life and yourself as you are, right now. Own and grow from it. You no longer beat yourself, changing negative self-talk and taking full responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions.

“It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!” ~Robert T. Kiosaki 


They embrace who they are. They learn about their strengths, what energizes them and they stop trying to fix weaknesses. If your life is aggressively organized around what makes you feel good, your weaknesses become a footnote. One person’s weakness is another man’s strength - outsource, give away, give up and move on.

Your Turn: Identify when you feel your best, are in the flow and you lose track of time. Do more of this and less of the things that drain your energy. Own and live your personality – introvert, extrovert, left or right-brained; self-acceptance is one of the keys to self-confidence.


Tuned into their values and what they need, they don't desire to win favor or approval from others by disregarding their own needs. They offer themselves generously and love to connect, but never at the expense of self-respect and self-care.

Your Turn: Know what you want, what you value and what you need: rest, honesty, fun, a phone call before they pop over? Graciously express this and live by it.


They know that mistakes are inevitable and see them as a worthwhile cost to taking risks and trying new things. They own up, apologize, make amends, learn from it and move on. Failure becomes a breeding ground for growth and fostering human compassion, not a notch on the, “look at how much I suck”, belt.

Your Turn: Take responsibility, drop the victim-hood and don't blame. What did you do? What could you have done? What did you learn? Failure isn't a reason to stop; it's a message to re-evaluate and approach in a new way. Celebrate the failures as an indication of a life challenged and well-lived.

“Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale 


They don't base their confidence on anything external: the malleable and shift-able  such as: appearance, weight, money, relationships. Their confidence is based on excellent self-care, self-acceptance, and the recognition of their strengths and the building of their skills. They respect their bodies and care for it because of what it allows them to do and feel, and they enjoy the expression of it. Size, age or bank account balance don't erode or foster self-confidence. Instead, their self-confidence compels them to make the choices and take the actions that affirm their value and worth.

Your Turn: Take care of yourself, eat well, exercise and honor your body. Take time each day to express gratitude for what your body does for you, how it functions. Enjoy moving it, dressing it, loving with it, creating with it. Hold your head up and own it.

True self-confidence, the kind you can’t buy in a store, receive from someone else, lose enough weight to find or make enough money to attain, comes from accepting yourself, taking risks and living your life in a way that honors who you are, not who you think you should be or wish you were

Confidence comes from taking risks and seeing that you can survive and better yet – THRIVE. Self-confidence is an active state and is the acceptance of yourself and your place in the world based on who you are are, not just what you do. It is the practice of honoring, growing and supporting yourself as you journey through life. 

How can you become more confident today?

Monday, June 19, 2017


Are you chasing a dream that doesn't belong to you? And who does it belong to? A parent, your spouse, or maybe you, from years gone by? I see this predicament quite often. It shows up as lazy and unmotivated, unsatisfied and burnt-out. This is how my clients will present themselves, “If I was just more disciplined and motivated then I would achieve x,y,z, then I will be happy.” 

It's easy to chase dreams that don't belong to us; we're fed a continuous diet of glitz and glam, celebrity and reality TV and so it goes. It can be difficult to see where our hopes and dreams lie, and where the world’s propaganda lies. It almost seems abnormal to not want it all; to not be striving constantly in the hopes of reaching the pinnacle of all that is, as determined by others. But I don't want that, just to want that, and I hope, neither do you. What if your dream became aligned with what you really long to experience and feel and embrace each day?

Well for starters, you might take steps, follow-through and find energy you didn't know you had. You might enjoy going to work and learning and taking risks. You might feel more connected to yourself and in-love with who you are and the life you are living. You might feel more purposeful and inspired and you might begin to live the dream, here and now.

“If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.” ~ Anna Quindlen

 1. THINK WITH THE END IN MIND: This is your life and eventually, it'll come to an end. Other’s ideas can be a resource, but it'll be you that lives the consequences of your choices, each and every day. What do you want to be able to say about your life? What do you want to feel and experience?

HOW: Write your eulogy. If you were to describe your life, what would you most want to say about it? Of what were you most proud and satisfied? What brought you great joy? How did you handle difficulty and challenges?

2. INCREASE SELF-AWARENESS: Get to know yourself, what makes you tick, what you like, what is getting in the way. Play with ideas, try and experiment.

HOW: Have fun, try new things, and revisit childhood interest and hopes. Emulate others whose lives you admire. And for the love all that is, turn off, unplug and get quiet long enough to hear the answer.

3. EXCUSE YOU: Pay attention to excuses. Where there's an abundance of excuses, there's usually a deep desire, married with fear, which results in inaction. Tricky little buggers - excuses. Change your beliefs, challenge them and recognize them for what they are.

HOW: Take responsibly for your life. Recognize excuses as fear and not the truth. Get support, create structure and follow a plan to move you towards your goals and dreams. Get assistance and learn how to handle the voices that want you stay comfortable and locked into old patterns. 

4. CREATE BOUNDARIES: Yes, all your sisters are teachers, your brother is saving the world and so and so next door is writing novel. Bravo to them and hopefully it's purpose creating and life enhancing, for them … but when Mom and Grandma and best friend, insist that they know what you should be doing, criticize your choices or beg you to “give it a try” when it's clear that you can talk to children about as well as can speak Italian or you're just trying to save yourself and writing a grocery list is a feat, then their suggestions must be quelled once and for all.

HOW: Speak your mind, share your truth and thank them for caring. Do it often and be consistent with repeat offenders. You must stand up for you, so that your dream is given a voice and a place of honor.  
5. TAKE ACTION: Dreaming can only take you so far. Take a step, a leap and make a stand. Do it consistently and then change course, adapt and reevaluate as needed, but keep moving. 

HOW: Create the vision, feel it and believe it, but remain present because your future, your dream, is happening here and now and exists in every choice you commit to, every boundary you create and every action you take -  today.