Archive for the ‘kindness’ Category

Let Your Joy Fly!

October 18, 2017

Recently, when I told someone I was going to present a program about joy, she asked how I could possibly think of being joyful when so much is wrong in the world. At first I was taken aback and wondered if I was being insensitive, but then I remembered that joy is something that can lift us out of a pit of despair and in these times of trouble, it is sorely needed!

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. Hopefully these people will soon once again reclaim their joy.

This is what I know about joy: It 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 like a helium balloon in that when we try to push it down, it wants to push back up and fly and if we let it go, it will soar. The human spirit is an amazing thing and even when we are reeling from a disappointment, crisis, or any kind of trauma, joy wants to break forth and heal us.

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.

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What the Heck Can I Do?

August 17, 2017

My heart hurts for what is happening in the world as hatred continues to rear its ugly head. I talk a lot about kindness; I teach it in my workshops. But sometimes, I find myself wondering how being kind can make a difference when terrorists and people with hate in their hearts are causing such horror in all parts of the world. Then I remember that there are many more people on the earth who are kind and compassionate than there are those who want to spread ugliness and hatred. But because of their despicable deeds, the bad guys are the ones who seem to garner the most attention.

We receive daily reports about manifestations of violence and anger which cause us to sometimes be on edge, and perhaps a little snarkier than normal. I have decided that the best thing I can do is to try to make things better in my little corner of the world by spreading kindness and refusing to honor hatred.

Here is what I know about hatred: it stems from fear. Those who hate are hesitant to let go of it because they are afraid of dealing with the pain that is the root of their hatred.

I believe that hateful acts say everything about the hater and nothing about the targets of their hatred. People who deal in unkindness are projecting feelings they have about themselves.

Here is what I know about kindness: it doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t make you a doormat. It doesn’t mean that you don’t stand up for what you believe is right. Kindness gives you strength and treating others with compassion pays big dividends…it gives joy to both the receiver and the giver.

We all know that being kind is a choice, but it is also something innate; we are born with it. When we perform acts of kindness, we are being true to our nature. Not so with hatred and prejudice. I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t know what happens in someone’s life to cause hatred to take root and grow. Maybe it is abuse or trauma. Perhaps they have been taught to fear those who are different. Possibly they feel that something will be taken from them. All I know is that they are somehow broken.

We cannot fix hatred in other people…that is up to them to fix. But we can rise above it and refuse to let the flames of hatred consume us. We can stand up against cruelty, bullying, and vitriolic rhetoric. And we can model kindness because it is one of the best tools in our fight against the dark side. Even if your kind act seems like a small thing, remember that one candle can light the darkness.

 

 

I’d love to work with you and your organization. Check out my website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com and then e-mail me at laughlady1950@gmail.com

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.

Is Nastiness the New Normal?

June 15, 2017

I am becoming increasingly concerned about the trend of “Global Snarking.” It seems as if mean spirited rhetoric and behavior are becoming more and more acceptable in many settings. While it is certainly true that there are plenty of reasons to be upset and troubled by what is going on in the world, I fear that vitriolic words and negative attitudes shared freely by angry and frustrated people are exacerbating the problem.

We are all being affected by things over which we have no control and that is scary and frustrating. But to allow those emotions to define us and to use them as weapons is not the answer. We all have heard of the “ripples in a pond” theory. One unkind word or act can affect more than just the intended target of the negativity. It can spread like a disease.

I understand crankiness. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. This week it is going to be 121 degrees. It is so hot that even roadrunners are taking the bus rather than to be outside for more than 3 minutes. That kind of heat makes people cranky. But what we are experiencing in social media, newsfeeds, etc. is more than hot crankiness. People are writing and saying things that can hurt and inspire hatred and it seems as if society is becoming more tolerant of it. We are finding ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones. Nastiness is becoming the new normal.

So how do we keep from being dragged into a negative whirlpool? How do we heal? How can we help to make things better? Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Resist the temptation to participate in vitriolic conversation. You can feel passion for a cause without spewing negative word vomit! Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes horrific events, but we need to use it as an impetus for doing something positive. Volunteer, donate, express support for victims, or participate in any positive activity that will keep you from feeling helpless and frightened.

 

Reject the notion that it is OK to blame, shame, or bully.

Don’t forget joy! It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing pain. Joy doesn’t mean that you are skipping around and pretending nothing happened, nor is it always about being carefree. Joy is a part of who we are as human beings; it is a starting point for healing. To find joy is to find that place in your heart which defies hopelessness.

Become proactive in spreading kindness. Although our first reaction is often to make our point with violence and rage; standing up for what we believe is sometimes more effectively communicated with an attitude of confident kindness. Perpetuating hatred does nothing but spawn more mean spirited talk and actions. It causes us to become blinded to possibilities. Being kind is not the same as being weak. We have seen what hatred can do and it’s not working very well for us.

 

Linda Henley-Smith  http://www.lindahenley-smith.com  laughlady1950@gmail.com

What’s In It For Me?

February 20, 2017

This is a question that drives almost every decision we make. Those words are subconscious messages from the naughty little voices that we sometimes hear chattering in the back of our minds. Sadly, they sometimes prevent us from doing the right thing because our egos stand in the way.

Most of us probably want to take the moral high ground, but life can get complicated and the world seems to be going at an incredibly fast pace. It sometimes feels as if we can barely hang on and handle our own challenges without taking on someone else’s issues. And there are those situations which involve someone hurting our feelings or competing with us for something we want or need. Are we really supposed to step out of our own ego bubbles and defy our “I have to look out for number one” inclinations? And what if it seems that other people benefit from our work even more than we do and we don’t get credit for it?

Here are some possible thought processes that we might experience: If someone hurts me, why should I forgive him? Sure…he may be off the hook for what he did, but what’s in it for me? Someone needs help; I really don’t have the time and it will be an inconvenience. Lending a hand would make life much easier for that person, but what’s in it for me? After all, we all need to look out for ourselves, don’t we? Someone is being mistreated or bullied. I could intervene and stand up for him, but then I would have to get involved and if I do that…what’s in it for me? Why should I work hard to make life easier for someone else…what’s in it for me?

Yikes! What a dilemma! Or is it? Speaking for myself and my own experiences, here is what I have found to be the answer to the “what’s in it for me?” question:

  • The phrase, “what goes around, comes around” is true most of the time. What we send out usually returns to us. Negativity and mean spiritedness usually come back to bite you in the booty; kindness returns to you tenfold. We reap what we sow.
  • There is more peace in stepping out of yourself than there is in building walls around yourself. When you practice kindness for kindness’ sake, you find that the question of what you’re going to get out of it appears less frequently in your thoughts. There is a kind of contentment that comes with giving and forgiving without expecting acknowledgement or credit.
  • There is a lot to be said for paying it forward. Attitude is like ripples in a pond when a stone has been thrown in. When you are kind to someone, you are increasing the likelihood of that person passing it on to others. It is the gift that keeps on giving. And it works in reverse; as well…snarkiness breeds snarkiness. Don’t be the one who starts the snarky cycle.
  • This is an important one: We are all part of a continuum. Everything that we accomplish; inventions, medical advances, even our philosophies are possible because of those who came before us. We build upon their knowledge, discoveries, and work. Nobody creates anything totally alone….it is a cumulative process involving generations of people. Our ancestors worked and possibly sacrificed to pass onto us, a better life. We are all stewards of the accomplishments and knowledge that have been passed down and it is our responsibility to use them to make the world a better place with everything we do…without asking “what’s in it for me?”

The universe has a way of balancing things out. What’s in it for us is that we get to be part of a magnificent continuous thread that is this life. But if you are still having trouble doing the right thing because you’re not sure what’s in it for you, offer yourself an incentive…something nice, like chocolate. It works for me! But…I’m easily bribed.

Is Kindness Being Kicked to the Curb?

February 3, 2017

Okay….so the world seems to be in an uproar. People are getting nastier. Conversations about life’s joys have given away to social and political arguments. You don’t like what you see going on. You are afraid. You are coming into contact with more and more people who are hostile toward anyone who does not share their opinion. You have three ways to deal with the situation:

  1. You can lose all hope, ring your hands while crying “Oh woe is me!” and join the prestigious yet highly overrated Victim Club. (Not a good idea.)
  2. You can let your anger grow to a fever pitch and allow it to define who you are. If you lose all of your rational thinking abilities and scream at people who make you angry, you can feel justified in your rage while accomplishing nothing. You can also let your life be dictated by the actions of others, and develop anger-induced vein bulges…those are attractive. (Nope…not this one either.)
  3. You can take a stand for a cause in which you believe… without being a troll. When people are nasty, don’t jump right into the bubbling cauldron of snarkiness with them because all that will accomplish is an overcrowded snark pot! Try to let your voice be heard on a higher level, speak up for your beliefs, and lighten up your corner of the world by spreading kindness; even to those who don’t really seem to deserve it. (Choose this one!)

Here is the deal: there are some things over which we have control and others about which we can do nothing. We CAN’T always make others think the way we do. We CAN take a stand against bullying, injustice, abuse, discrimination, and unkindness. We CAN control our attitudes and actions and we can do more to create positive change by staying focused on it rather than just spewing angry rhetoric. In a war of angry words, nobody hears each other.

Does this mean that if there is a mean spirited action or injustice being perpetrated, we should just smile and sing Kumbaya? No, it is about being smart with our thoughts and actions and it’s about being focused and taking positive action with a plan. Of course we should stand for what is right, but while we are fighting against what is wrong, we can’t lose sight of the importance of expressing kindness and respect in our everyday lives, lest we become so embroiled in negativity that we lose sight of the goodness in the world. Along with fighting what is harmful, dangerous, and unjust, we must, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

There are those who will say that this is no time to laugh, express joy, or be kind. I have been told that I am being childish and/or ineffective by refusing to be drawn into negative screaming matches or angry social media posts. I’ve also been told that by showing respect and kindness to people with whom I disagree, I appear weak and risk becoming a doormat. Hmmm. I have looked at myself in the mirror and can’t find the word WELCOME stamped anywhere on my body. I believe that there is strength in standing up for what is right without becoming rabid! And I will always believe that kindness is a part of humanity that must be preserved. Showing compassion to someone does not mean that you necessarily agree with their views or lifestyle. It simply means that you respect another person’s right to exist on this planet.

Being kind does not make you weak, finding joy in life does not mean that you don’t care about what’s going on in the world, and focusing on the positive doesn’t mean that you are sticking your head in the sand. We are stronger when we are balanced in mind, body, and spirit. Let your anger at inequities and injustices impel you to work toward making things better. Let your compassion, hope, joy, and kindness be your weapons in the battle.

I offer one-on-one and group coaching. Check out http://www.lindahenley-smith.com or e-mail me at linda@lindahenley-smith.com

What to Do When the World is Hurting

June 16, 2016

Earth-crying2

Sometimes it feels as if the world has gone mad! The tragedies of this past week have taken most of us to the brink of tears, if not pushed us over the edge! We are filled with confusion about how such things can happen, and grief for those directly affected by the horrific events. With the constant reminders of the evil that has caused these things, our anger grows and begins to manifest itself in physical and emotional exhaustion and even depression.

Tragic events create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, even for those of us who watch and hear about it on our televisions and other news sources. When we witness others experiencing unspeakable horrors, we feel it as well because we are all connected as human beings. We find ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones.

So how do we keep from being dragged into a negative whirlpool? How do we heal? How can we help to make things better? Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Even if the tragedy hasn’t directly affected you or a loved one, you may need to go through the steps of dealing with loss. The key is to realize that you can certainly feel compassion for others without staying permanently in a state of mourning.

• If you are overwhelmed, limit your media exposure relating to the disastrous event. This is difficult, because we are exposed to constant replaying of tragedies. Some people feel empowered by continually watching the coverage of the aftermath and recovery, but if it upsets you, turn it off. Choosing not to relive it over and over doesn’t mean you don’t feel compassion for the victims.

• Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes such horrible events, but we need to use it as an impetus for doing something positive. Volunteer, donate, express support for victims, or participate in any positive activity that will keep you from feeling helpless and frightened.

• Don’t forget joy. It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing such pain. But joy doesn’t mean that you are skipping around and pretending nothing happened, nor is it always about being carefree. Joy is a part of who we are as human beings; it is a starting point for healing. To find joy is to find that place in your heart which defies hopelessness!

• Become proactive in spreading kindness. Although our first reaction is often to make our point with violence and rage; standing up for what we believe is sometimes more effectively communicated with an attitude of confident kindness. Perpetuating hatred does nothing but spawn more vitriolic talk and actions.

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life mentor. www.lindahenley-smith.com 

 

How Do You Re-Stuff a Bean Bag Chair?

October 6, 2015

A few years ago, I decided to relive my days of yore and I bought a couple of bean bag chairs. As you know, they are stuffed with those tiny little squishy Styrofoam balls that stick to everything if they escape from the zippered lining. If they ever get out, it’s impossible to round them all up and herd them back to where they belong. The slightest breeze carries them into corners and they become like little magnets, attaching themselves to skin, hair, clothes and any animals that happen to be within a mile!

The point is, if they get loose, there is no hope of collecting them all because they are carried to parts unknown. You can never re-stuff a bean bag chair and restore it to its original condition.

I recently facilitated a relationship workshop in which we were discussing what happens when you say snarky things and hurt someone. Many people suggested that you just apologize and all is well. Others brought up the point that apologies don’t always make all of the hurt go away because angry words can sting and their impact isn’t easily forgotten. Some in that workshop said that they are still affected by things that were said to them years ago.

That made me think about the crazy little balls in my bean bag chair and how you can chase them ‘til the cows come home, but you won’t ever get them all back. Words can be kind of like those little Styrofoam pieces. You can try to retrieve them all but some are going to stick to the person you hurt and possibly be carried for a long time. And if you gossip about someone, other people may carry those words and spread them.

You may be sorry that you ever opened that zippered chair and let  that stuffing out, but that doesn’t change the fact that you did and and the chair will never be quite the same. And you may be sorry that you let the nasty words fly out of your mouth, but that doesn’t change the fact that someone may still be carrying them around and they will never be quite the same.

We all say mean things at times and regret them soon afterwards. Of course, we apologize and hope that our words haven’t made a lasting impression on the injured party. But every person is like a piece of delicate rice paper and our words leave a permanent mark on that paper.

The message here is that we need to think before we speak unkindly. We may just throw out words in an angry fit and then be over it, but the recipient of those words may not recover so quickly and may hold onto that hurt for quite a while. So be aware of the danger in spewing angry words….and never unzip a bean bag.

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach. Visit her website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

Holding Onto Grudges Can make Your Arms Tired

September 25, 2015

The world can sometimes be an angry place.  Well, at least some of the people in the world seem to be angrier than usual.  I can actually understand that because, as a recent victim of credit card theft, I have been feeling a little cranky myself lately.  I always prefer to think that people basically want to help each other and show compassion. Sadly, some people’s milk of human kindness seems to be skim milk!

Years ago, Randy Newman wrote a song describing the confused state of a world in which people still have the core desire to help and forgive others, yet are afraid that they will lose part of themselves if they give too much, so they hold on to anger and fear. One of the verses goes like this:

“Bright before me, signs implore me to help the needy and show them the way.  Human kindness is overflowing….but I think it’s going to rain today.”

I have had to remind myself that while I might be justified in feeling ticked off in certain situations (did I mention credit card theft?) there is only one letter difference between Anger and Danger. Danger comes when anger runs amok.

There is an old movie, “The Portrait of Dorian Gray.” In that film, Dorian Gray was an angry, bitter man who couldn’t let go of his anger and he treated people badly.  In his attic, there was a painting of Dorian, which began taking on the manifestations of his negativity. Every time Dorian’s anger got away from him, and he hurt someone; an ugly gash or scar or horrible expression would appear on his likeness.  Dorian, himself, never changed; but his portrait became a hideous image of the monster he had become.

I think that’s what happens to us when we allow negativity, anger and an unforgiving spirit to dominate our lives. Our souls become our portraits and bear the scars of our anger. Eventually, all of that poison makes us sick and the weight of the grudges we are holding crush us.  Lest you think that it might be nice to remain young and unlined while your picture takes all of the beating; the rest of the story is that Dorian’s anger finally caught up with him and he turned into dust. Bummer.

Anger can be productive, if you are standing up for something that is important to you and it gives you the incentive to change something that needs to be changed. But that is a result of healthy and controlled anger…not the kind that stays inside and makes you into a hissy, snarky troll. So, before your anger turns into danger, try to channel that energy into something productive. Do it before you turn into dust!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach who helps people find their funny bones and put things into perspective. Check out her website at  www.lindahenley-smith.com

Boomerang Anger

September 18, 2015

Throwing boomerang with a blue sky in a background

It has recently occurred to me that much of the unkindness that rears its head in the world is the result of how people feel about themselves. I have come to believe that sometimes when we adamantly dislike someone, the person with whom we really have an issue is living in our own bodies! At the core of hatred are feelings of fear and insecurity.

Think about it. If you feel secure and confident about your own choices, beliefs and behavior, why would you really have any reason to angrily judge anyone else’s? With the exception of causing physical harm, another person’s ideas should not intimidate you. Also, there is no need for jealousy or animosity toward another if you have a healthy self-image. When we blatantly harbor prejudice or dislike for someone, that hatred could stem from a fear that somehow we are being threatened.

I have learned that when I find myself being critical of someone, I need to step back and wonder why. Usually, I find that I am judging someone for behavior that I, myself, exhibit or characteristics that I possess. And sometimes, I have to admit that another person’s success reminds me of a lack of fulfillment in myself. Almost always, it has to do with some kind of fear. My anger directed at someone else, usually comes right back to me! I call it Boomerang Anger.

We are human and therefore, flawed. We are full of self-doubt and insecurities which often color how we see other people. Our own fears and disappointments are the lens through which we see and therefore, judge. The way we treat others can be a reflection of how we feel about who we really are. I could write much more about this, but someone else has written a poem which describes what our personal fears can do. She writes about it so insightfully; when I first read her words, it took my breath away. The poet is my sixteen-year-old granddaughter and I am very proud of her depth and wisdom. She is one of my “sheroes!”

There is a girl I always see

Standing right in front of me

She has long hair and hazel eyes;

A color I have grown to despise

For a long time I didn’t know

That her huge smile was just a show

Behind the happy expression

Was a girl with frequent depression.

This girl always wore a mask

And I made it my personal task

To expose the little liar

In emotion hot as fire,

I quickly drew nearer

And ran into a mirror.

——Amanda Isabelle Phillips

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker, coach and proud grandmother. Visit her website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com