Sunday, October 03, 2010

It's not Life, it's You.

Life is neither good or bad. It's your attitude that makes circumstances appear positive or negative. The following is one example of that from my life.

2001. Thanksgiving Day. My Mom had finally moved into a two bedroom condo-style apartment 3 years after my Dad passed away and we were going to have the first family holiday get-together with my new wife, my kids, her kids and my Mom.

I go to her apartment to pick her up around 3pm. No answer. I go in with my key and all is quiet. Her car is in the garage.

It is deathly quiet and eerie.

I call out for her and there is no answer. So I start looking around.

I walk into her bathroom and turn around and see her behind me.

She is half sitting, half laying on her bed with her back to me. I realize she is either paralyzed from a stroke or dead.

I stare for a moment to see if she is breathing and she isn't.

I'm not sure who I called first, 911 or my wife. Instantly my life changed and in the days ahead the overwhelming feeling of being a 41 year old orphan hit me.

Later we found out she had died from a heart attack the night before. How do you place a positive spin on these circumstances?

First, there's my mom. She had been in a state of grief for 3 1/2 years after my Dad died. Now that was over.

As an only child, all the responsibilities of taking care of everything was in my lap. During the year before she died, I had helped her in many, many ways including her will, finances, sales of a home, all the things she didn't want to do, but knew she needed to do.

And now it was up to me to move things forward without her. With the loving support of my wife, it all worked out.

Since my Mom had just moved out of her house 3 weeks earlier, most of what she had was still boxed up, either in the apartment or a storage facility. The task of moving her things was so much easier due to these circumstances.

Financially, things worked out too. There were some funds from life insurance and investments that I inherited that went to help others including my Mom's grandchildren as they went thru their high school and college years. And while we miss both her and my Dad, as well as my wife's parents, we can look at the positive side of these circumstances too.

One week from today, my son Josh will be getting married. (That's his picture at the zoo several years ago). For his wedding ring, he has chosen to wear a ring that my Mom wore around her neck constantly for the last 3 1/2 years of her life on a chain.

That wedding band was my Dad's wedding band and now it is being passed on to another generation of Howards.

Now how about some practical advice from the DLM Blog on how you can look at your life with a positive attitude, despite the circumstances:

The 15 Timeless Secrets of Happy People

Posted: 02 Oct 2010 07:37 AM PDT

happiness How we achieve happiness can be different for each one of us. Our passions, expectations, life experiences, and even our personalities all contribute to the level of happiness we experience in our lives. Some people find happiness in their careers while others prefer the bliss found in their marriages or other intimate relationships. No matter how you define happiness for yourself, there are certain universal and time-proven strategies to bring, and sustain, more happiness into your life. These 15 timeless secrets of happy people can be adapted and even customized to fit your needs. Over time, these strategies will become positive and life-changing habits that will begin to bring more happiness, joy and peace into your life.
  1. Notice What’s Right
    Some of us see the glass as being half-full, while others see the glass as half-empty. The next time you are caught in traffic, begin thinking how nice it is to have a few moments to reflect on the day, focus on a problem you have been trying to solve, or brainstorm on your next big idea. The next time you get in the slow line at the grocery store, take the opportunity to pick up a tabloid magazine and do some “guilty pleasure” reading. Take all that life throws out you and reframe it with what’s right about the situation. At the end of the day, you will be more content, at peace and be happy. Take the time to begin to notice what’s right and see the world change.

  2. Show Gratitude
    How many times do you say the words “thank you,” in a day? How many times do you hear these same words? If you are doing the first thing, saying the “thank yous,” the latter will naturally happen. Learn to be grateful and you will be open to receive an abundance of joy and happiness.

  3. Remember the Kid You Were
    Do you remember how to play? I’m not referring to playing a round of golf or a set of tennis. I’m talking about playing like you did when you were a child – a game of tag, leap frog, or street baseball when the bat is a broken broom handle and the bases are the parked cars. One way to find or maintain your happiness is to remember the kid you were and play!

  4. Be Kind
    There is no question that by merely watching acts of kindness creates a significant elevation in our moods and increases the desire for us to perform good deeds as well. Kindness is indeed contagious and when we make a commitment to be kind to ourselves and to others we can experience new heights of joy, happiness and enthusiasm for our lives.

  5. Spend Time with Your Friends
    Although an abundant social and romantic life does not itself guarantee joy, it does have a huge impact on our happiness. Learn to spend time with your friends and make the friendships a priority in your life.

  6. Savor Every Moment
    To be in the moment is to live in the moment. Too often we are thinking ahead or looking ahead to the next event or circumstance in our lives, not appreciating the “here and now.” When we savor every moment, we are savoring the happiness in our lives.

  7. Rest
    There are times when we need the time to unwind, decompress, or to put it simply, just “to chill.” Life comes at all of us hard and fast. Time, as do the days on the calendar, keeps going forward at its own natural pace, which is not always the pace we would choose. Fatigue, stress and exhaustion may begin to settle in on us faster than we may think, or notice. The best remedy for this is indeed rest.

  8. Move!
    The expression a “runner’s high” does not infer an addiction, but a feeling or a state of mind - a state of euphoria. There is no question exercise, or any physical exertion, elevates your mood and enhances a more positive attitude as well as fosters better personal self-esteem and confidence. Indeed, one way to increase your happiness is to move!

  9. Put on a Happy Face
    Sometimes we have to fake it until we make it. I’m not suggesting that we not be honest, real or authentic, but I’m suggesting, sometimes, we just need to put on a happy face and keep moving forward. Researchers claim that smiling and looking like we are happy will indeed make us happier. Studies further show that if we act like we are happy then we can experience greater joy and happiness in our lives.

  10. Pursue Your Goals
    The absence of goals in our lives, or more specifically avoiding to pursue our goals, makes us feel like we are stuck and ineffective. The pursuit of goals in our personal lives, in our relationships, or with our careers, is the difference between having a mediocre life or a life full of passion and enthusiasm. Pursue your goals and watch your happiness soar.

  11. Find Your Calling
    Some find meaning in religion or spirituality while others find purpose in their work or relationships. Finding your calling may be much more than accomplishing one simple strategy for increasing your happiness, but having a sense of purpose – of feeling like you are here for a reason – can perhaps bring the greatest joy of all.

  12. Get into the Flow
    Flow is the form of joy, excitement and happiness that occurs when we are so absorbed in an activity we love that we can lose ourselves and time seems to stand still. What creates flow is unique to each one of us. To find and sustain true happiness in our lives, we must get off the sidelines and get into the flow.

  13. Play to Your Strengths
    One way to achieve flow is by understanding and identifying our strengths and core values, and then begin to use these every day. Once we aware of our strengths and we begin to play to your strengths we can better incorporate them in all aspects of our lives.

  14. Don’t Overdo It
    Know when to say when. What gives you joy and happiness the first time may not work the second time. Too much of a good thing may begin not to feel as good if the “thing” becomes more of a routine, or an expectation. Set healthy and reasonable boundaries for yourself and don’t overdo it.

  15. Appreciate What You Have
    Want exactly what you have and know that what you have can be taken away in the blink of an eye. Hold on to it, treasure it, and let it cover you with love, comfort and happiness.
Written on 10/02/2010 by Alex Blackwell. Alex writes for his incredible readers at The BridgeMaker, an honestly-written blog about faith, inspiration and personal change. To receive twice-weekly articles subscribe here. Photo Credit: Scarleth White

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