The Happiness Connection  

Be clear, and get results

For many, this time of year brings transition.

Graduates from high school or university are faced with the question, “What next?” This isn’t the first or last time they will ask that question.

Humans are meant to grow and learn. As you progress through life, you will change and want something new, or different than you currently have. This might be a new home, job, or relationship.

When I work with people who are in transition, they are much more likely to know what they don’t want than what they do.

Because in primitive times danger was more important to notice than safety, you are programmed to pay greater attention to things that spark negative feelings.

Being aware of this tendency is important.

If you only notice what you don’t want, you will get stuck in a loop that has no resolution. Before you can find the job, you want, you need to know what that is.

A word of warning. Don’t get caught up in the physical details.

Instead, focus on how you want to feel and some of the specific tasks or responsibilities the position might include.

The same goes for those of you who want a new house or relationship. How do you want to feel when you are with that person or in that home? It doesn’t matter how tall someone is if they communicate with you, and make you feel valued.

If you get a very specific picture in your mind, you might miss a type of job, home, or person you didn’t know existed, but is the perfect fit for you.

If you think your dream position is being a party planner, and focus specifically on that job, you may miss a fabulous opportunity as an event manager for a large company. Being too specific about the physical, doesn’t suit in this instance.

Start getting clear by asking yourself some questions.

Let’s use finding a job as our example.

  • How do you want to feel when you are getting ready to go to work?
  • How do you want to feel when you think about the job you do, or tell someone else about it?
  • What work values are important to you? (Connection, trust, responsibility, good management, respect, informality, work/life balance, growth, fun, etc.)
  • Choose your top three or four from the above list.
  • What skills do you have or want to develop? (Computer, logical thought, problem solving, research, practical, management, bookkeeping, working with people, leadership, teaching, creative, writing, etc.)
  • Which of these skills do you enjoy, or find satisfying? Cross out anything you don’t enjoy.

This is the start of your dream job board.

When interior designers begin a project, they often create a sample board. They put colours, fabrics, finishes, and other elements of the room they are decorating, onto the board.

Nothing is permanent. As they collect items, they can remove anything that no longer seems to fit and add in new ones that they discover.

This is the same technique used when people create vision boards. They take words and pictures from a variety of sources and put them onto a board. This is hung somewhere visible so they can see and remember what they want.

In the case of a dream job board, use the questions above to assist you to find words and pictures that portray how you want your job to make you feel and the skills you want to use or develop.

If you are currently employed with an organization, but aren’t in love with what you do, being clearer can help you find ways to adjust your job, so you enjoy it more.

Your thoughts create your reality. They establish the perspective you view your life from.

Your thoughts are created from the things you notice or focus on. Instead of focusing on what you don’t like or want, shift your view to what you do.

Get clear, get focused, and then get results.

Shadow side of mom's day

“Be careful what you wish for; it just might come true.”

This saying has always intrigued me, especially when I was younger. How could wanting to go to Disneyland be a bad thing? Why wouldn’t I want that to happen?

In life, every situation has both light and shadow sides.

By a shadow side, I mean a less desirable, slightly darker outcome than the bright and cheery one you focus on when you wish for it.

I believe that there is a shadow side to just about everything, including Mother’s Day.

In fact, the woman who is responsible for establishing Mother’s Day in North America, ended up trying to have the holiday rescinded

Obviously, she wasn’t successful as there will be countless numbers of families enjoying brunch together today.

Anne Reeves Jarvis was a social activist who lived in the States from 1832–1905. This was a time when infant mortality was high. Although Anne gave birth to around a dozen babies, only four reached adulthood.

She worked to improve health and sanitary conditions in homes by establishing Mother’s Day Work Clubs. She devoted herself to honouring and helping mothers.

Her daughter Anna Marie Jarvis was moved by her mother’s devotion. She recalled a prayer her mother said one day as she ended that week’s Sunday school in 1876.

“I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”

    Anne Reeves Jarvis

When her mother died, Jarvis began a campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States. She chose the second Sunday in May, because that was the day her mother died.

It took her six years, but by 1911, all American states recognized Mother’s Day.

Jarvis intended the day to be an opportunity for everyone to show appreciation for their mother. She intended it to be personal and intimate.

Have you ever noticed that it is Mother’s Day, not Mothers’ Day? This reflects the personal nature the day was intended to have. It was meant to be about your mom, not all moms.

In the early 1920s, card companies and florists began to cash in on the occasion. They started selling Mother’s Day cards and bouquets. It turned out to be very profitable.

Jarvis believed that they were exploiting what was meant to be a sentimental occasion.

She was so incensed by the unexpected commercialism, that she organized boycotts of the day and started a petition to have Mother’s Day removed from the calendar.

The anger she felt consumed her. Many people saw it as a sign of lunacy.

When she was 80, she was admitted to a mental asylum. That is where she spent the last four years of her life. She died aged 84, deeply in debt.

Ironically, a group of grateful florists helped pay her asylum bill.

When Jarvis began her journey to establish a special day for mothers, I’m sure she had no idea where it might lead.

Perhaps it is time to honour Jarvis and return Mother’s Day to its roots.

Just because companies want to profit from the day, doesn’t mean we have to play their game. You can make a change in your world and pull things back to the original intention of the day.

If your children are young, show them a new normal. Focus on sharing time, not stuff. You don’t need to spend money on your mom to show her you love and appreciate her. A home-made card is more meaningful than one you bought.

I don’t intend to buy my mom a card, or a present this year, although I did give her the option. I let her choose between a present or some time together at Orchard Park.

Don’t judge me. I could give her both, but I was curious which she preferred. Now, I know more about the origins of the day, I’m choosing to bring Mother’s Day in my world, back to the one Jarvis intended it to be.

Even if you’ve already bought a card, or present, make sure the sentiment isn’t lost. Write your mom a letter, give her a call, or take time to be with her. That will be the best present she could hope for.

Thank what you give away

During your life, you have opportunities to experience what it is like to be on opposite sides of a similar situation.

You’ve been both a child and an adult. You may have been both an employee and a manager or supervisor. If you are a parent, you will also have been parented.

Most times, your experiences of two sides are separated by time. When this happens, it is more difficult to remember what it was like when the shoe was on the other foot.

Recently, I had the opportunity to experience a situation from both sides with virtually no time in between.

Our house has been on the market. It is a typical 1990s style home with some updating still to be done. We love our house.

As everyone kept telling us, it is a buyer’s market. House prices have dropped, and purchasers are looking for a good deal.

As a seller, the money you get from your home is important. It provides the financial security for the next phase of your life. Add emotional attachment into the mix and you may find yourself seeing a low offer as a personal insult.

We received an offer that was much lower than we hoped for. We began negotiating. It was emotional. We believed the house was worth the asking price and they didn’t. Maybe they did, but regardless of how they felt, they didn’t want to pay it.

At the same time, I began looking for a new home. I found what seemed like the perfect place. It was also built in the 1990s and dated. Getting it for a good deal became the goal.

While trying to decide on an initial offer, thoughts of the people who wanted to buy our home came into my mind. As I struggled to choose a price that suited my budget, I remembered how we felt about the low offer and counter offer we received.

This awareness gave me a new perspective. I was selling a home emotionally and buying one logically. I loved the house I wanted to purchase, but I didn’t have any real attachment to it yet.

Emotional attachment can make financial transactions and major decisions much more difficult. It can also make minor decisions seem major.

This thought was re-enforced as I watched my dad struggle with a decision of his own.

My father is no longer driving and is ready to sell his car.

Correction: he knows he should sell his car. The price doesn’t really matter, but somehow, he feels that if he gets a good amount for it, the loss will hurt less.

I doubt there is enough money in the world for that to happen.

I believe that my dad will begin to heal his sorrow of no longer driving once the car is sold. But I’m not him and I can’t guarantee that will be the case.

Only he can make that decision or take that journey.

Watching him struggle with the process of getting rid of something that has such an emotional attachment has mirrored my own process of downsizing.

Do I keep items that I will never use again, but that I am emotionally attached to? Or do I let them move on to another life with someone who will benefit from them?

That is a decision that no one can make for me. No one can make these types of decisions for you either.

What they can do is help you be aware of your emotional motivations. If you know they exist, you can work with them rather than letting them be in control.

When I sort through my belongings, I plan to be rested and calm. I intend to allow myself to feel the emotions that surface, but not to let those feelings control my decisions.

I am going to take a suggestion from de-cluttering guru Marie Kondo. She advises that you thank each item you decide to give away or sell.

This is my intention, although I’m not sure how successful I will be. I’m willing to accept that it will be a process with a learning curve. Wish me luck.


What do you see?

Look at the picture above. What do you think is happening in this photograph?

I’ve asked this question in many workshops and received answers about happiness, enjoying the sunshine, and gratitude. These all make sense — based on appearances. If you go below the obvious, what you can see from the outside, you’ll discover something different.

This is from a few years ago when I had purple highlights in my hair. I love purple! The colour showed up best in bright light, especially in the sunshine. Sadly, it was around Thanksgiving and I was spending more time inside than out.

I wanted a photo that allowed the highlights to shine through. My husband agreed to take the picture. We went into our backyard and I explained what I wanted.

I wanted the background to be blurry. This can be accomplished by zooming in on the subject. My husband is a great photographer, but at that time, creating a soft background was something that happened by accident, not by design.

In the world of digital cameras, you can see the result immediately. I could see that he wasn’t creating the image I had in my head.

As I struggled to get him to understand what I wanted, emotions became tense. Perhaps a few harsh words were exchanged. That was the atmosphere between us when this picture was taken. I wasn’t feeling happy or grateful. I was frustrated and annoyed.

It is a great example of seeing a situation from the outside and assigning meaning to it as if you were on the inside. That is what you do when you judge others.

Have you ever seen a mom struggling to get her toddler to behave and judged whether she was doing a good job? Maybe you had coffee with a friend and left thinking that they should be doing things differently or making better choices.

Perhaps you see a family with perfectly behaved children and judge the adults to be great parents. You may think you know what is happening on the inside, but there is every chance that the offspring are verbally abused and scared to do something that will upset mom or dad.

Unless you are evaluating your own life, you are always standing on the outside looking in.

Even if you are evaluating your best friend or a close family member, you aren’t them. You only know what you observe and what they tell you. What they say is from their perspective. Their partner may see it differently.

This is why it is so important to stop judging others. Your view is limited. The way you interpret what you see is coloured by your experiences, values, and beliefs.

Remember this the next time critical or judgmental thoughts jump into your head. Remind yourself you are on the outside looking in. You are just an observer.

I keep the photo of my purple highlights near at hand to remind myself that appearances can be deceiving.

More The Happiness Connection articles

About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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