Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Category

The “BUT”-Kickin’ Diva’s Rules of Life

July 21, 2017
  • Always take your work seriously and yourself lightly.
  • You need to be responsible for your own happiness. It does not come from an outside source.
  • Do not deny or suppress negative feelings…identify them, deal with them, and then let them go.
  • Make laughter a priority! It is a wonderful communicator, motivator, and healer! It is the spark that ignites balance, health, confidence, and hope.
  • Realize that there is really no such thing as a “bad day.” A day is just a day. Unpleasant things may happen, but it is up to you to decide how to deal with each situation. When you have been given the precious gift of another day of life, how can it be bad? We may not be able to choose the way we die, but we can choose the way we live.
  • Consider all of your options. If something isn’t working, try a different approach. You wouldn’t stand in a darkened room and continue to flip the light switch if nothing happened when you did it. You would find another way to fill the room with light. If your life isn’t working, try another path. Learn to create alternatives.
  • Kick your “BUTS” and don’t live your life in the “IF ONLY” syndrome! Avoid thinking “IF ONLY I was richer, thinner, taller, smarter, younger, more popular, etc…then I would be happy.” Also do not ever allow your excuses to take over your life!
  • Do not throw yourself pity parties. Very few guests will attend and nobody will bring gifts!
  • Maintain an attitude of altitude. Things aren’t always going to go your way, but you do have control about how you approach every situation. Your attitude reflects who you are, what you value, and how you choose to live. Look for opportunities to appreciate life and don’t worry about being “happy” all of the time. Happiness can be fleeting and may depend on outside stimuli, whereas joy is deeper and more abiding.
  • Forgive. Forgiveness isn’t giving someone a pass for hurting you, nor is it giving anyone permission to do it again. Forgiveness is about refusing to allow someone else’s hurtful actions to dictate how you live your life or define who you are.
  • Appreciate each day and celebrate the small victories. Live with an attitude of gratitude.
  • Be a merchant of kindness. Don’t jump on the snarky bandwagon! Kindness is the gift that keeps on giving.

 

e-mail me at laughlady1950@gmail.com for more information about my “But-Kickin’ programs, classes, and coaching.

A New Year and New Possibilities

January 4, 2017

The gift giving is done. The hectic days of frantically shopping for just the right gift and last minute preparations for Holiday dinners are over. What seemed so important a few days ago…the things that caused some people to be so stressed that even their teeth were tense, have come and gone. At my house, all of the hustle and bustle; the planning, the shopping, the wrapping and the opening of presents culminates in 10 1/2 minutes of chaotic package ripping, wrapping paper flinging and food gobbling. Then I find myself sitting in a house that looks like Christmas exploded, with tinsel behind my ears and a sink full of turkey and pie encrusted dishes. The house is in such disarray that it would be easier to just move, rather than to clean it.

The gifts that were exchanged were fun. We always try to give what we think our friends and loved ones would want, even if it is a fragrance with a sexy sounding name in a foreign language, which actually translates into “Scent of Healthy Hedgehogs” or an exercise video which focuses on tightening loose armpits. But there are always the unexpected and entertaining offerings that surprise and amuse, like watching 87 year old Aunt Flossie opening up a gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret and wondering if that store carries bras in a size 38 long.

Next, we commenced with the New Year’s festivities. Since New Year’s Eve is my birthday (which is, of course, why everyone in the world celebrates), my grandchildren traditionally take me out to play Laser Tag and eat pizza. So this time of year is really special to me, and full of non-stop celebration. But, then comes the New Year and the partying is done. No more gifts and no more decorations. Time for real life…ouch.

I’m trying to be mature about it because I’m allegedly a grown up. But I must admit that I feel a little let down when I have to put my Holiday stuff into storage and the world is finished commemorating the day of my birth by dropping a ball in Times Square. (Yes…I know that’s not really why they do it, but don’t take my fantasy away from me.)

So, as we head into the next 365 days, I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with them. It’s really metaphorical to think of a New Year as a new beginning, because really; every day can be a new beginning, but for some reason, it seems as if we are given special permission to wipe the slate clean and begin anew when we take down the old calendar and hang up a fresh new one. Every January 1, I feel like whatever happened in the past year is history, and I get “do-overs.” It’s like when I used to clean out my desk at the end of the school year; gathering up unfinished homework papers, broken pencils and chewed up erasers; throwing them into the trash can and knowing that they didn’t matter anymore and I’d have a new start next school year. Even if my life was a natural disaster, there would be a new beginning and a new opportunity to do things differently and maybe even better. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who chewed on erasers.)

We know that every moment is a choice and no matter what goes on in the world, we have the ability to decide how we’re going to deal with each situation. When we listen to the Terror Trolls and the Negative Nellies, who constantly focus on the woes of the world, we are taking time and energy away from the positive possibilities and opportunities that can provide us with joy, success and peace. As I always say, Remember that this group of letters can be read in two ways, which one will you choose?

                                                    OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE

I am a speaker and coach who teaches people how to find and grow their joy and live the life they love.  www.lindahenley-smith.com, laughlady1950@gmail.com, 602-686-5180

I’m starting a new online program “How to Find Your Hallelujah!” Contact me for details and start 2017 with a bang!

 

 

JOYISNOWHERE

December 7, 2016

Ahhhh….the Holidays! It’s the most wonderful time of the year….or is it? For some, December brings parties, decorations, carol singing and visions of sugar plums. For others, it is a stressful and sometimes lonely time and the fa la las remind them of what is wrong in their lives; what they had and lost or never had at all.

Some people become cranky around this time of year and may walk around with an expression that makes you wonder if their pants are in a bunch. As those who know me have heard me say, you don’t want your pants in a bunch because it does no good and just makes you walk funny. Besides, there are certain places that are not meant to be flossed…and the pant area is one of them!

It’s important not to judge people who seem to have lost their sense of joy, because they are probably in a sad and scary place in their lives. Joy has left the building and left a big empty spot that has been filled by misery or fear or anger or another emotional troll.

Joy is not as elusive as some might think and it’s not the same as happiness.   Happiness often depends on an outside source to make it happen, whereas joy comes from within.  Joy abides with us even in times of trouble because it thrives on hope and if we keep hope alive, joy will remain even when other things fall away.

Joy is rather indescribable; it is a peace that passes all understanding. It doesn’t depend on a perfect life, wealth, success, or any of the things we have been led to believe are necessary in order to be a joyful person. Joy can be nurtured by choosing to have an attitude of gratitude and by moving away from your own disappointments, grief, and fears in order to extend kindness and help to others who may be in need.

Joy can be found in the beauty of nature, in hope for a better tomorrow, and in the face of a child. It grows stronger with each small victory over fear and when shared with someone else, it is the gift that keeps on giving! Joy is a spark inside of you that can light up the world!

The thing about joy is that you have to be on the lookout for it and invite it in. Some will choose to read JOYISNOWHERE as joy is nowhere. Hopefully, many will read it as joy is now here! If you meet someone who seems to have lost track of their joy, I hope you will give them some of yours.

I wish you all a Merry and JOYFUL Holiday Season! If you open yourself up to it, joy is NOW Here!

 

Where Will You Find Your Hallelujah?

November 15, 2016

Since his death, there has been a lot of talk about Leonard Cohen’s beautiful song titled simply “Hallelujah.” There are many interpretations of this piece; and there have been several versions and even word changes but there is no altering the emotional impact of the haunting tune and the powerful and deep meaning of the word Hallelujah.

Everyone’s hallelujah comes from within and no doubt from a place unique unto every individual. The word comes from the Hebrew language and is composed of two elements; praise, and the name of God. Whether or not you are a religious person, when we are moved to say it, the very word comes from deep inside of us and can be called to mind in times of despair as well as in times of joy.

When we have been deeply wounded by a tragedy and are feeling lost and confused, eventually there will be a glimmer of light in our darkness and it is then that we are moved to cry hallelujah in gratitude and relief. Cohen’s lyrics address this in musical terms referring to a song whose melody reflects a minor fall and then rises in a major lift. That is life. There are the somber and troubling times, but if we endure with hope and belief in possibilities, there will once again be a time for joy and a reason for Hallelujah.

In these troubled times, we are seeing a vast span of emotions being expressed by people all around us and those emotions are making themselves known in a variety of ways. It is up to each one of us whether we raise our arms in rage or lift them in a personal hallelujah. Hallelujah is a symbol of hope and gratitude and a cause for joy.

No matter how troubled we may feel in any situation; there is always the hope of a Hallelujah moment if we will focus on the possibilities. Sometimes when we feel as if we are in a dark pit, it’s good to remember that when we are down, we are in a good position to look up and see the light. If we feel broken and cracked, it’s helpful to remember that there is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in. I didn’t make that up; it’s another Leonard Cohen lyric, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I used it.

 

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and coach who can be reached at:

linda@lindahenley-smith.com

Light Another’s Path and Defy Gravity

November 7, 2016

After what seems like an eternity of listening to politicians, pundits and our families and friends give their opinions of what should happen in this election, we are finally near the end. Hallelujah and Yippee!

Our world has become an angry place and I fear that no matter who wins and becomes our new president, there will still be heated discussions about the outcome. We are also constantly bombarded with news of hatred and terror happening all around us and listening to all of the vitriolic rhetoric and just plain scary stuff can weigh us down. Wouldn’t it be lovely if there was a way to occasionally defy gravity and float above all of the worldly woes?

It is for this reason, that I offer some tips on giving yourself a lift and maintaining an attitude of altitude. If each one of us would focus just a bit less on anger, fear, or frustration and make an attempt to rise above these things, there could just be a way to make our world a little bit better. Here’s how to give yourself a lift:

  • Live with kindness, gratitude, and laughter…a LOT of laughter!
  • Inspire with your attitude and illuminate the paths of others *
  • Focus on the positive possibilities
  • Treat others kindly and with respect (even if you don’t think they don’t deserve it!)

 

                                *   Lighting the Path to Greatness  

                                              by Linda Henley-Smith

 

There is a place in each of us where fear and hope reside…

The test of who we really are is when these things collide.

When we let ourselves climb higher even knowing we might fall,

That tumble may just prove to be the greatest gift of all.

 

For it is in our failures that we find the message clear…

In trying, we sing songs of joy and triumph over fear.

We should seek not to be honored for our riches or our fame,

Rather, greatness comes in rising from the ashes of our shame.

 

A life spent without challenge may be safe, but somehow wasted

For without the snares and obstacles, sweet victory can’t be tasted.

We all were born to greatness; we have only to believe

That we were given all the tools to help us to achieve.

 

For the proof of our importance is just that we’re alive

And our purpose on this earth is to help others to survive.

When we light the path for someone else, we light our own as well

And the spark of light with which we lead is where our greatness dwells.

 

I would love to come and share some fun and laughter with your organization; large or small! E-mail me at linda@lindahenley-smith.com

Also contact me about taking advantage of my online, self-paced series  “How to Find Joy in an Angry World.”

WHEN IS LIFE GOOD?

September 28, 2015

I often hear people talk about the wonderful things that are happening in their lives and while they’re describing the vacations, job promotions, financial gains, good checkups, etc. they often add the words, “Life is good.” I have said the same thing…because when things are going well, life IS good!

The last time I heard myself say those words, I began to wonder why I only say them when things are going my way. Life is a gift and it is good no matter what happens! The problem is that sometimes we can’t see the beauty of our existence through eyes that are focused on everything that’s wrong. It is difficult to feel joyful when we are hurting, for ourselves or for others who are suffering. It’s not always easy to see any beauty in some of the events of the world. The important thing to remember is that lousy situations don’t make a lousy life. It’s the situation that is lousy!

So I set about trying to figure out how to appreciate my life and feel joy in times of difficulty. I made an effort to look for ways to change the way I was thinking. I started to make lists of things for which I was grateful. I tried to recall how often I had gone through tough times that I thought would devastate me…but they didn’t. I wrote down how many times I had been able to turn negatives into positives and learn from the experience. I made a point to laugh every chance I got and to create an environment which would remind me of how good my life is no matter what’s going on at the time, because the problems, negative situations and hurt that is a part of living does NOT define who I am. I can be a person with a challenge, but I don’t have to be a challenge with a person attached!

Life is like a roller coaster. During the down times, we have to hang on so we don’t fling off and go spinning out of control. The upswing always comes, sooner or later. At this time, things in my life are somewhat in a state of upheaval. Some important decisions need to be made and there are some stressful situations with which I am dealing. Things aren’t exactly the way I would like them to be, but I am still here and you know what? Life is good!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker, trainer and coach who encourages people to embrace joy. visit her website at www.lindahenley-smith.com

What I Learned While I Was Invisible

September 9, 2015

In the Broadway show Chicago, there is a song about feeling unimportant and invisible. A man sings that Mr. Cellophane should have been his name because people walk right by him, see right through him and never even know he’s there.

Although it sounds pitiful, I think that many of us have experienced that feeling at some point in life. You may have wondered if anyone really cared about what you thought or if anyone really even saw you. It can be a pretty lonely feeling, but it’s important to understand that feeling invisible comes from within you and not from other people.

Sometimes it happens when you have long defined yourself by your relationship with another person or perhaps by a job, and that role ends or becomes less prominent. Many people retire from longtime careers and suddenly feel as if they no longer have a purpose. I have known some who worried as they aged, that people would no longer look AT them, but would look THROUGH them. And sometimes people lack self-esteem and believe that whatever they have to say or offer is not worth anything. They convince themselves that nobody would care about their opinion. They feel invisible because rather than defining their own essence, they leave it up to other people! When you feel invisible to yourself, it’s no wonder that you feel invisible to others!

I know these things because I have felt invisible. It happened at a time when everything in my life fell apart and I was catapulted into a world of confusion. I felt lost, betrayed and rather non-existent. Fortunately, I finally realized that I was creating my own cloaking device and eventually worked through it. Here is what I learned during my self-imposed invisibility.

  • I realized that my feelings of invisibility were a result of me abandoning myself!
  • I had to believe that even though my life had drastically changed and I was no longer in the same position as before, I was still a person of worth. Things were different, but I still had a lot to offer.
  • I came to understand that there are those who will only acknowledge people when they need something from them. I chose not to be affected by those people because their opinions had nothing to do with who I really was.
  • I learned that I needed to love and be visible to myself rather than to worry about being adored and praised by anyone else. My feelings of self-worth needed to come from within me rather than to depend on outside validation.
  • I no longer defined myself by what I owned, who I knew, what position I held or how I looked.
  • I took time to reassess my life and my goals. I realized that my faith had to be greater than my fear.
  • I began to understand that other people’s feelings and opinions were not more valuable than mine and I learned that acknowledging my feelings is very important. If I ignore and discount them, others will not deem them important either. Feelings are a kind of inner guidance and they shouldn’t be ignored.
  • I stopped giving situations, circumstances and other people the power to define me. I started to create my own experiences by engaging with others and participating in life! I realized I didn’t have to wait for someone else to make the first move; I was capable of introducing myself and starting conversations!
  • I started to appreciate who I was and where I was at that time. I allowed myself to heal with the knowledge that my wounded self was carrying a sense of rejection which really didn’t really exist.

Now I know that people are only invisible if they allow themselves to be. Mr. Cellophane felt invisible because he apologized for his existence. No one should ever do that! Our lives are fluid and they will change…often many times. Sometimes we’ll be on the top and sometimes we won’t. There will be times when we may not measure up to someone else’s standard of beauty or intelligence or wit, but that doesn’t matter. We are all worthy, loveable and very visible beings. Just remember that visibility begins with the love you show yourself!

Linda Henley-Smith is no longer invisible. Visit her website at

www.lindahenley-smith.com

All the Sounds of the Earth Are Like Music

June 24, 2015

The opening song in the Broadway musical, Oklahoma, tells of the beginning of a day that promises to be beautiful. One of my favorite lines is “All the sounds of the earth are like music.” It reminds me that if we focus on listening to the positive things around us, the sounds can be glorious!

I am not discounting the horrible events that are happening in the world nor am I suggesting that we ignore them. But if we focus only on the hurt and anger, and don’t consider the positive aspects of life, we will start to see the world through bleak and hopeless lenses. Negativity breeds negativity. A kind, loving and hopeful attitude can help us to break that cycle.

When I am feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, frightened or angry, I have found that if I stop for a moment, move away from sound pollution (noise), take deep breaths, close my eyes and just listen…something magical happens. It as if my sense of hearing is heightened. Everyday sounds of the world around me become music. Sounds odd…I know. But you see, every sound that we hear has a tone. The law of music is working throughout the whole universe. A bird chirping, lawn sprinklers turning, the squeal of a child playing, even the wind blowing through branches…all become a symphony when we listen with a different ear. They are the soothing sounds of normalcy…the sounds of life.

People have been acknowledging this for years and years. You may have heard the phrase “Music of the Spheres.” Pythagorus was the first to theorize that the whirling planets produced tones. Today, musical terms appear frequently in astronomer’s descriptions of space. We may not be able to perceive all of these sounds with our ears, but the music is deep within us, and it is exquisite if we will just be still and listen. And we hear with more than our ears; we perceive the world with all of our senses. As Einstein wrote, “We all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”

The wholeness of the universe is so much greater than what we see on the news. While we can’t turn a blind eye to what’s going on, we will be much more able to make a difference and contribute in a productive way if we take time to listen to the sounds that are good and life-affirming. When we do that, we can reenergize and refocus our thoughts and look at the world with fresh eyes and a new attitude.

It has been said that music soothes the savage breast, and to paraphrase Johann Sebastian Bach, the purpose of music should be to refresh the soul. How wonderful that it is all around us!

Here’s to Better Success!

January 9, 2015

Happy New Year! Here we are, embarking on a new journey around the sun, which will take about 365 days to complete. When the clock strikes midnight on December 31, people usually welcome the year with toasts and kisses, and in my case; chocolate. In my world, chocolate is always appropriate.

This New Year, I noticed how many people expressed their hope that this year would be better and more successful than the last one. That started me thinking about what “better” really is and how most of us would define “success.” The word better is often defined as “improving on or surpassing” and success usually indicates that one has reached a goal. So how do we have a better, more successful year?

I guess it all begins with one’s assessment of what has happened. If there have been losses, trials, tribulations and struggles in the past, it would seem to be an obvious conclusion that a year without hard times would be better. But looking back on troublesome days, consider the fact that you survived! Anyone who makes it through a dark tunnel usually emerges with a new wisdom and a renewed strength! I would consider that a success!

We do ourselves a disservice when we categorize challenges or imperfections as failures. We all live in a flawed world and there will always be disappointments and losses. When we speak of success, I believe that we often place too much emphasis on the concept of winning. In truth, the measure of our success is in direct proportion to the obstacles we are willing to overcome.

If we want to have a “better” year, we are going to have to go about it with an attitude adjustment. Better can mean that we navigate life’s curves with the knowledge that we have the ability to keep going and not fall apart when things don’t go as planned. Better can mean that we accept the fact that life can sometimes disappoint and even hurt, but we only have one piece of the puzzle. We can’t always see the whole picture, which could very well be more wonderful and beautiful than we can imagine.

I wish us all a new year full of wonderful experiences, abundant laughter, healthy attitudes and of course; lots of chocolate!

Monkeys Don”t Keep Score

December 3, 2014

After reading the title of this article, I am sure that most of you are pleased to learn that if you are planning any activities or sporting events with primates, you need not worry about them cheating on their scores.

Researchers at a primate research center have apparently determined that monkeys are prosocial, which is defined as having the motivation to assist others regardless of benefits. In other words, the monkeys don’t seem to keep track of past favors. They respond to the needs of their companions, rather than responding to the rewards offered by their companions.

So, we can assume that monkeys could teach humans a thing or two about relationships. They may not have the social graces needed to dine in Five Star restaurants, but why would they want to do that anyway? They are pretty content to eat while swinging in trees. But it seems that the little hairy guys have it all over us when it comes to giving to others without expecting something in return. People tend to keep tabs on favors.

Keeping score can be exhausting and it is the opposite of giving with grace. When we expect reciprocity for our good deeds, they cease to be gifts and become IOUs that we expect the recipient of our favors to repay. The truth is that we are not always going to get back as much as we think we have given. And that’s OK because it is almost impossible to balance these things out. The healthiest mindset to adopt is one of finding joy in giving and not expecting anything in return, because only then is your gesture genuine.

There are times when we don’t help someone in need because we know they won’t repay us. Sometimes we pass up an opportunity to make a person’s life a little better because we don’t think they really deserve it. We tire of being asked to donate or to lend a hand because there is nothing in it for us and everyone should make their own way. We hang onto our tally sheets and we keep score.

During this Holiday Season, maybe we would all do well to emulate the monkeys.