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Can you be happy and still want more?

“Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.” ~ Helen Keller


How can you be happy with what you have if you still want more? 

Being happy with what you have helps you

  • Appreciate every day blessings
  • Have an attitude of gratitude
  • Choose happiness every day
  • Focus on all you have instead of what you don’t have.

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And while you are happy with what you have right now, continue working for what you want. Being happy with what you have doesn’t mean you settle for where you are.

  • Stay focused on your goals. If it’s worth having, it’s worth working for.
  • Decide what you want, then take action toward your goals, and don’t give up.
  • Be patient. Success takes time. It doesn’t usually happen all at once.
  • Trust the process. It’s in the journey that we gain the most.
  • Do the work. It’s up to you to figure it out.

Being patient can be a challenge. You may have to work at it. (That’s one of my daily challenges.)

Impatience leads to distractions. And there are so many potential distractions. 

You’re responsible for your own happiness. No one can do it for you.

The good news is, you can do it. No excuses.

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No one knows everything about everything

Everything we know, we’ve learned somehow – by watching, hearing, reading about, and/or doing.

Being a lifelong learner is good for your health and happiness. It helps keep you engaged in the world, so ask questions, research, and keep learning.

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Being a beginner can be awkward because you’re figuring things out as you go. You can learn a lot from experts, but some people may try and make you feel ridiculous because you don’t know something they think is obvious. They forget that no one knows everything about everything.

Sharing Ideas

A few months ago, I joined a bloggers meet-up because I wanted to connect with fellow bloggersI thought it would be a great opportunity to share “best practices” and gain insight from their experiences.

Bloggers at the meet up ranged from total newbies to experts with years of blogging experience.

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I’d just recently started reading Seth Godin’s blog. Seth blogs about marketing and business. He’s written a ton of books and been around a long time, but he was new to me.

I thought a newbie might like Seth’s blog too, so I asked a brand new blogger, “Have you heard of Seth Godin?”

And a blogger who’s been blogging for years said, “Everyone knows about Seth Godin.” It was  the kind of statement that would’ve had a drawn out, “Duh” coupled with an exaggerated eyeroll.

“Nah-uh,” I wanted to say, but instead I said, “I hadn’t heard of him ’til a few weeks ago.”

I thought to myself, “No, that’s not true. Everyone does not know about Seth Godin.”

(Interestingly, Seth Godin blogs about how ideas are shared.)

No matter where you fall in the spectrum of experience, remember: No one knows everything about everything.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comIf you’re a beginner:

Learn all you can. Do your homework and show up as prepared as possible.

Take your time, take notes, and practice. Keep at it. Don’t worry if you forget what you learned and have to keep re-learning it. 

Get extra help if you need it. It’s okay. Don’t let pride keep you from learning all you can.

If you’re an expert:

Be open to new ideas. Even a teacher can learn from a student.

Be patient with others. Don’t assume people know what you’re talking about. We’re all at different stages of learning. 

Be humble. You were a beginner once too.

Sharing ideas is important. It’s a give and take. Sometimes we teach, sometimes we learn. Don’t let people to make you feel bad about being a beginner.

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Where you look is where you’ll go

A few years back I took a bad spill from my mountain bike. The crash left me with bruised and bloody knees. It hurt, but while it wasn’t a pleasant experience, it helped me realize something important: Where you look is where you’ll go. 

Cycling baggage

I’ve never been very good at things on wheels. Skateboards, bicycles, skates. I tend to fall for some reason. I’ve had my share of memorable falls. I once fell off my bike when it wasn’t even moving.

So getting on a mountain bike presented a mental challenge for me because I had to let go of memories of skinned knees and painful falls. I had to expect to stay on the bike.

It was a beautiful day for a ride.

I started out fine. My husband and I were cycling on a smooth, easy trail (my favorite) in a scenic state park. 

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The easy trail turned into a gravel trail and then a little further along we wound up in an even more difficult trail in a rocky creek bed. 

I was trying to stay positive and confident, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, “I don’t want to fall. It’ll hurt if I fall.” 

Up ahead there was a large rock, probably about the size of a football and I kept thinking to myself, “Don’t hit the rock. Don’t hit the rock.”

Well, sure enough, my front tire hit the big rock and I went flying off my bike. I skidded on the rocks before coming to a stop.

Blood ran down my legs. My knees and hands burned. I screamed a few choice words and cried like a small child. I was right. It did hurt.

What happened? I was doing so well!

Where you look is where you’ll go. 

I was so focused on the rock, I didn’t see anything but the rock. I was saying, “Don’t hit the rock.” Of course I hit the rock.

The mind is powerful. Where I focus my thoughts and attention is the direction I’ll go, even if it’s not where I want to go. 

It’s a reminder to be aware of how your thoughts direct you. What you focus on is an indicator of where you’re going.

How many times does it happen that the one thing you decide you don’t want to do is what you end up doing? The one thing you don’t want to happen is what happens?

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Where you look is where you’ll go.

Avoid focusing on what you don’t want. Focus on where you want to go and on what you want to do, because where you look is where you’ll go.

Fun extra: Here’s another illustration of the principle that where you look is where you’ll go. It’s from Bob’s Burgers when Tina learns to drive a car.

Let negativity roll off your back

Let negativity roll off your back

Negative and insensitive comments that can be hurtful and leave you doubting yourself and feeling stupid.

Little jabs like:

“Are you wearing that?”Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“You can’t/won’t be able to do ________ .”

“Can you try to pay attention, for once?”

Off-handed remarks can float around in our heads for a long time. We analyze them to death and think, “What’s that supposed to mean?” If you’re already self-conscious or lacking confidence, negative comments can have an even bigger impact. 

Positive vs. Negative

Negativity stings. Psychologists say it takes at least 10 positive comments to cancel out 1 negative comment.

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How can we get past it and not let it shake our self-confidence?

Is the negative comment worth my time and consideration?

If not, consider the matter closed. Visualize yourself walking away from it. Don’t let it get to you. If it starts to re-surface, remind yourself that you’ve put it behind you.

Understand that often people are negative because it’s easier to knock things down than build them up.

Don’t worry about it. Let negativity roll off your back like water off a duck.

Blow it off like bubbles in the wind.

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Words have power.

Do you trust the person who said it?

People speak without thinking. Feelings get hurt.

Consider giving people the benefit of the doubt instead of thinking they intend to shake your confidence.

I’d want that consideration. As much as I try to be encouraging, sometimes I speak before I think and wind up sounding negative or insensitive.

Words have power. We must choose wisely. And this applies to how we speak to ourselves too. Encourage yourself with positivity instead of speaking negativity towards yourself.

Stay focused on your goals. Be patient. Ignore negative comments. Don’t let them shake your confidence. Let them roll off your back like so you can’t remember them even if you tried.

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Choose the Opportunity of Now

My husband introduced me to a website wolframalpha.com “an engine for computing answers and providing knowledge”. The website provides facts – quantifiable facts. It doesn’t provide opinions or recommendations.

Interesting information

Type in Chicago, Illinois and you’ll get Chicago’s population statistics, current weather and time, income statistics, demographics, and more.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Put in today’s date and you’ll get information about observances and holidays, moon phase, sunrise and sunset times, and more.

Type in a specific date and year, like your birthday, and you’ll get the day of the week it was and how many days have passed since that date.

It provides facts. Facts alone aren’t disputable. It’s what you do with the information that can make a difference. For me, the information it provided spurred more questions and judgement.

Facts made personal

For example, I put in my birthday. I was born more than 20 thousands days ago. That’s more than 2800 weeks. That’s really a long time. I had to ask: Have I done enough? It makes me wonder about how many more days will I have and how will I do everything I want to do?Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

It’s easy to get discouraged about the time that’s passed, to feel sad about getting older.

Most of us struggle with that at one point or another.

But I realize it’s better to get excited about right now and living each day being as happy and productive as I can. Not so much to live each day as if it were my last, but to not waste it regretting the past. It’s much better to be motivated about the opportunity of now.

Almost exactly a year ago, that’s 365 days, I quit my job as a school librarian and decided I wanted to do something different, that what I really want to do is write. I finished my 1st draft of my 1st novel on March 15 of this year. As of this blogpost, that’s just over 80 days ago.

I’m on the 3rd draft of revisions.

Here are some of the questions I ask myself:

Isn’t it a little late to start a new career? Maybe.

What could I have done if I’d started when I was in my 20’s. A lot more than starting in my 50’s.

Would I be a better writer now? Almost certainly.photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

And yet, I know it’s pointless to re-visit past career choices and wonder if I’ve made good use of my 20 thousand days.

The more important question is “What now?” Better to move forward grateful for every day and the opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to do.

It’s not just about living in the present. It’s also about looking forward to the future.

We all know our time is limited. That reality can be either depressing or motivating. Each of us has to decide for ourselves which it will be.

Choose to be motivated by the opportunity of now.

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5 Ways to Get Past Regret

What would you do differently if you had a do-over?

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.comSomething you said, something you did?

Everyone messes up sometimes. It’s normal to look back with regret.

And that awful, terrible feeling of regret can stick around for a while.

But regret keeps you in the past and youPhoto courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com:

wish you’d have done/said/acted differently.

think/talk about it.

keep thinking/talking about it.

feel remorseful/sad/angry about it.

know you can’t change it, but you can’t get it out of your head, even though you know what’s done is done.

How can you get past it?

Try these 5 tips to get past regret:

1. Remember, you can’t change the past.

It would be great to be like Superman and be able to turn back time. But our reality is that what’s done can’t be un-photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comdone.

Wishing it were different is a waste of time and energy. Even so, we have to do it sometimes. There’s an old saying, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” It’s okay to cry a little. It might help you feel a little better about the situation. But crying won’t clean it up. So cry a little if you want, but then decide your next course of action, and move on.

2. Be accountable for your actions.

Whether you ask others for forgiveness, offer restitution, or whatever you decide to do to try to right a wrong, accept responsibility for your actions. It may turn out that it’s not as big an issue as you made it out to be and you worried and feared the worst unnecessarily.

3. Forgive yourself and others.

Forgiveness is liberating. It acknowledges imperfection and helps give us the ability to move on. Ask some one you’ve hurt for forgiveness, without expectation. Forgive yourself and others.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com4. Learn from past mistakes.

Ask yourself: What would you do differently and how would that make it better or worse? You may discover that you made the best choice with the information available at the time. And everyone makes mistakes. Use them as a learning experience so you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.

5. Live in the present.

When you dwell on the past, it’s impossible to live fully in the present. You can’t trip over what’s behind you. Remember, no do-overs.

We can’t change our past but we can change our future.

Regret keeps us stuck in the past. It pulls us back and keeps us there.

Every minute of every day is an opportunity to be better. If you’re stuck regretting the past, you won’t be ready for the opportunities that lie ahead. Instead, be ready by getting past regret.

Note: Sometimes, regret can be the source of deep and long-lasting pain, such as forgiving an assailant who harmed you or a loved one, or forgiving yourself for unknowingly harming some one, such as in an accident. Seek professional help if you find yourself unable to get past the feeling of regret.

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Don’t Let Self-Doubt Kill Your Dream. Keep At It!

Starting a new venture can be overwhelming. When you set out to do something new, you make yourself vulnerable. You put yourself out there. Your confidence ebbs and flows and you start asking yourself, “Can I really do this?”Photo from Flickr.com the commons project published on strong-woman.com

Maybe it’s something you’ve put off doing for a while because you know it’s going to be tough, like finding a new job, quitting smoking, starting a business, losing weight, training for a sporting event, or learning to play an instrument.

You decide to go for it. You’re committed.

Things move slowly at first. Maybe so slowly it feels like you’re not moving at all. Doubt sets in:  “What was I thinking? Why did I ever commit to this? I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. Is this even worth it? Why am I putting myself through this?”

Shake off the doubt. Remember why you started, why you wanted it. Re-commit.

And then keep at it. Keep moving forward, little by little.

One step at a time

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comIt takes a while to gain momentum.

There’s so much to learn, so many setbacks, and things rarely go as smoothly as you’d like. Just when you’ve leaped one hurdle you find another one waiting for you.

“Why bother?” your inner voice says. “There’s no way I can do this!”

You’re not alone

Everyone battles doubt, even people who seem to get everything so easily.Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

When you’re attempting to do something different that gets you out of your regular routine and puts you at risk of failure, it’s normal to doubt yourself.

Steven Pressfield calls it “Resistance” in his book The War of Art.

He writes, “Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long term growth, health, or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any of these will elicit Resistance.”

Doubt is Resistance

Resistance is anything that makes you want to quit in the face of challenge. Doubt is resistance. Most resistance falls under the umbrella of fear.

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Fear of failure, alienation, change, pain, the unknown.

When it’s tempting to quit, remember why you started. Look at how far you’ve come instead of how far you have to go.

Whatever the challenge, whatever the obstacle, keep at it. Keep moving forward, little by little.

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See the Beauty of Failure

Failure Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comcan feel awful.

So awful that it’s easy to be paralyzed by fear of failure, so that any new venture, undertaking, or adventure is off limits unless it’s almost 100% safe.

What would life be like if we could the see beauty in failure instead of the terror of it? How can we do that?

How can failure be a beautiful thing?

We learn in Biology 101 that one of the signs of life is growth, and one of the signs of growth is change. If you’re not changing, you’re now growing.Photo from Flickr.com the commons project published on strong-woman.com

Failure means you’ve tried learning or doing something new and different, even if success is not guaranteed.

But it’s scary! I don’t want to fail!

Thomas Edison once said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

In the movie Edison, The Man, there’s a pivotal scene in the story. Edison is close to giving up on his pursuit of creating the electric light bulb. He’s discouraged and worn out from years of finding “ways that won’t work”. He’s tired of fighting all the forces against him. Then something happens to set him back on course.

He has a dream that reminds him of why he started and wakes up renewed and determined to continue, no matter what.

Failure’s a great teacher.Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

It takes time and effort to figure things out. If we take Thomas Edison’s approach, discovering a way that won’t work is still a discovery. There’s no failure. What you’ve tried hasn’t worked? Try something else. Tweak a little here and there. Make adjustments. 

What could we do if we were more like Edison and not give up when what we’ve tried doesn’t work?

It’s a pretty big question.

What would the world be like if we were taught to look at failure as a beautiful thing instead of a source of shame?

The founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, says dinner conversations with her father centered around failure. He wanted to know what she had tried and failed.

In an interview with CNBC last year, she talked about how those conversations helped her:  The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”

She had her share of ways that didn’t work and people telling her no. She kept at it. Spanx made her the first woman self-made billionaire ever.

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Failure means you’re trying – you have a dream, a desire. It means you’re working toward a goal.

When you look at it that way, failure’s a beautiful thing.

What will you fail at today?

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Mindset Monday – Have a Dreamer’s Mindset

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. 

~ C. S. Lewis

Age really is just a number. Some people feel old when they’re thirty and some seventy-year olds think of themselves as “getting up there”, but they’re not there yet.

What’s the difference? How can you get the most out of life and be thankful for each day instead of longing for the “good ol’ days”?

You’re never too old to dream

No matter your age, keep setting new goals. Keep dreaming new dreams.

Start where you are now and move forward. Make the most of your life experience and play to your strengths. Or try something new just for the fun of it.

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You’re never too old to learn or dream.

Every day’s a chance to learn something new. You don’t have to make massive changes or take great risk.

It’s okay to start small.

Be willing to change up your routine and start as a beginner.

Don’t talk yourself out of it. Go for it.

Do it for you.

Where will it lead?

Who knows?

Do it for the love and sheer joy of it. You never know what wonders await you.

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Mindset Monday – Have a Mindset of Self-Control

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. 

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Back in the day, we used to call it a “put down”. Something said or done to make you feel bad, to make you feel inferior.

Some one may “put you down” in order to feel superior to you in some way. Maybe it’s an attempt to manipulate what you say or do.

Words have power

We can be mean to each other. It’s normal to feel bad when some one says something

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Eleanor Roosevelt

hurtful, especially if it’s some one you love and trust.

But when a person tries to put you down and keep you down for the purpose of making you feel like you:

Aren’t good, smart, or deserving enough,

Know that you control that.

You can’t change people, but it takes two to play that game. And you don’t have to play.

You can’t control what people say or do, but you can control your reaction to it.

What can you do to help yourself?
  • Let your actions speak louder than your words
  • Listen
  • Be respectful

Then, you can walk away with confidence, peace, forgiveness, and grace.

We can’t control others. The best we can ever hope for is to control ourselves. For most of us, it’s a constant work in progress.