Posts Tagged ‘change’

How to Find Your Porpoise

February 4, 2016

jump porp

Anyone who has ever taught in a classroom has a plethora of funny anecdotes about things that students said, did or wrote. One of mine involves an eighth grade student who chose, as his English class theme subject, the philosophical topic of finding and pursuing one’s purpose in life. The finished product came to me with the title, How I Found My Porpoise.

At first, I thought that his purpose involved a porpoise and he intended to pursue his porpoise purpose. I was rather looking forward to learning about how he came up with that, but then I realized that he had obviously misspelled the word…probably because he had waited until the last minute and no doubt had hastily finished the paper that morning before class.

I had to give him credit for choosing such a complex topic, since most of us spend a lot of our time trying to figure out what we really want to do in life. Trying to find your purpose; why you are here on earth, and what you are meant to do, can be confusing and frustrating. Even though you may have a genetic predisposition for a specific talent, sometimes it isn’t always as easy as just writing a mission statement and carrying it out.

First of all, there is a big difference in having a purpose and living WITH purpose! Don’t get too caught up in the word “purpose.” The best any of us can do is to live life in the kindest, most compassionate, joyful way we can! Although some people claim that they have always known in their hearts what they were meant to do, most of us find meaning in many different life experiences along the way. The way I see it is if you are here on earth, you’re here for a reason and sometimes you may never really identify one particular purpose!

But if you ever get stuck and wonder what you are meant to do, here are some tips:

Use your emotional intelligence. Check your passion! Purpose and passion are related so if you are extremely passionate about something, your emotional intelligence is leading you to move toward fulfilling one of your life’s purposes. If you are meant to do it, you’ll find a way.

Review your patterns. If you look back on your life and think about the things you have always enjoyed and to which you find yourself gravitating, you will get a pretty good idea of the things you hold most important.

Your purpose doesn’t have to be your job. What if your purpose in life is to be kind…to others and to yourself? What if it is to forgive…others and yourself? What if your purpose is to encourage and to be a mentor? Don’t think that because you don’t get paid to do something, it isn’t your calling.

Listen to your gut. You are smart. You know what feels right and what you are meant to do! Don’t wait for other people or circumstances to make decisions for you. You have the power to make the rest of your life the best of your life!

Live life with an exclamation point! The worst feeling of all is to be wishy washy and never be able to lock into any goals. We all want to live with an exclamation point and not a question mark! You can’t feel jubilant about everything all of the time, but your moments of exhilaration, curiosity, and contentment should outnumber your moments of boredom, frustration, or despair. When you are living on purpose, you feel a sense of harmony, satisfaction, comfort, peace and hope. If you are living with a porpoise, you are probably in the ocean. Lucky you!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life-mapping coach. 

Why Would You Want to Have Your Pants in a Bunch?

January 13, 2016

It seems that there is an abundance of negativity floating around these days! You hear people being snarky to one another and there are some who seem to treat complaining as an Olympic sport! They practice it daily and work to hone their negativity to gold medal perfection. Sometimes it even becomes a blaming and whining competition. People seem to be reveling in speaking their minds, with no filters…no matter who they hurt!

Recently, while sitting in an airport, I was struck by the conversations I was hearing all around me. I began to become aware of the number of negative words that were falling out of people’s mouths! Whether on the phone or in face to face conversations, there seemed to be a lot of toxic energy flowing. There was a lot of talk about stress and people explaining why their lives were not satisfactory. I even saw a really angry man pounding on the desk and screaming that the airline attendant behind it was messing up the week for everyone. Hmmm….he was crediting her with a lot of power to be able to ruin everyone’s entire week! My first thought was that she looked too small and quiet to be able to pull that off!

It started me wondering why we often choose negativity over being positive. It IS a choice, you know. We all have to decide how we are going to deal with whatever comes our way. You can be upset or disagree with a situation without spewing venom, so why do some opt for being negative? Does it make them feel better? There has to be some gratification derived from nurturing toxicity, or they wouldn’t wallow in it. Here are some possible explanations:

  • Negativity could be a result of feelings of frustration, jealousy or a sense of inferiority. If a person has low self-esteem, putting down or blaming someone else is a convoluted way of boosting his or her sagging ego.
  • Being cynical makes some people feel special and even “cool.” Think of the high school kid who was the smart aleck and complained that all the teachers were against him.
  • Some people just like drama! They either think it is entertaining or they like being the star of their own soap opera! If they can gather a receptive audience, they will perform.
  • Sometimes, a negative attitude can serve as an excuse for not participating in something that causes a person to face the possibility of failure.
  • Fear is one of the main factors behind a negative outlook. Some people become like animals who lash out when they feel threatened. Negativity can mask our fears and act as a camouflage when we think we’re going to be put on the spot. If we lay the blame on someone or something else, we can divert attention away from our own accountability.
  • Some use negative talk and action to create fear in others; possibly to gain a sense of control.

Most importantly, is the fact that many people just aren’t aware of the negativity they are exuding. They may attract other negative thinkers, but most other humans will run like ants from an ant hill when they see someone wearing the cloak of despair. As a matter of fact, I am learning that the best way to react to someone who has their pants in a bunch, is to just walk away.

I think it would benefit each one of us to regularly assess our attitudes and make sure that we are not carriers of doom, gloom, anger and angst! Negativity sucks the energy out of the air. You can’t fix anyone else’s attitude, but you can sure adjust your own! Don’t choose negativity because even if you get the results you want for a while…it will turn and bite you in your bunched up pants!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, author and coach. Check out her website at

Three Habits of Highly Self-Defeating People

July 6, 2015

Most of us have read books informing us of the habits of highly successful people. We know that in order to be successful, we must program our minds for success and we also know that particular mindset doesn’t always come easily. I think it is equally important to know the habits we should NOT embrace. I call these the habits of highly self-defeating people.

  • Always compare yourself to others.  This is a great way to feel lousy about yourself! If you measure your every accomplishment against someone else, you will probably always be successful in finding some shortcoming in your own performance.  This is because you are NOT someone else and someone else is NOT you!  Every one of us has a unique personality, style and talent. Modeling a successful person whose accomplishments you respect is one thing but it is important to realize that you cannot live anyone else’s life because they are already living it, so blaze your own trail!
  • Always expect the worst and you will never be disappointed…and make sure you always panic.  These are trying times and everyone loves to talk about how we’re going down for the count! Watching the news will straighten your hair if it’s curly and curl your hair if it’s straight! You can’t pick up a magazine without seeing a headline about impending doom and it is getting tougher to muster up any optimism.  Now is the time to just say “no” to despair! Panic doesn’t help anything and it makes you look like a deranged squirrel. We attract what we most often think about so if we expect failure and angst to come knocking at the door, we will probably find it on our front porch. Maintaining an optimistic attitude doesn’t mean believing that everything will be rosy; it means entertaining alternate possibilities, fostering creative ways to meet challenges and being proactive in your own success!
  • Keep old feelings of past failure, guilt, fear and other bad things alive and in the frontal lobe of your brain at all times….and don’t forget the negative self-talk!  To maintain that fearful feeling of never being good enough, be sure to constantly conjure up and nurture your past woes. Right? WRONG! You cannot move ahead while looking backward. Don’t allow your mistakes to define your worth or dictate your future.  Fight the urge to relive the past. Get off of the hamster wheel that keeps you on the same track and take a different path with a different attitude! Refrain from reminding yourself daily that you do not deserve any good things and treat yourself with respect. Deal with the situations at hand, glean the good “stuff” from your past failures, do the best you can and don’t rent your brain cells out to negativity! Above all….don’t be your worst enemy! You may as well like yourself because wherever you go…there you are!

Please Come To My Pity Party

July 2, 2015


You are cordially invited to attend a celebration of misery.

Guest of Honor: Me

Time: Whenever I feel like it

Place: Anywhere I happen to be when the self-pity hits me

Come and help me wade and wallow in the wastewater of worldly woe!

There will be no entertainment because I am to be the center of attention.

Whine will be served. 

How would you like to receive an invitation like this in the mail? Would you want to attend? Probably not, yet people extend such invitations all of the time! We all love to moan and groan every now and then and it makes it a lot more gratifying to have an audience. When we are wading and wallowing in our woe, the last thing we want is for someone to tell us to cheer up because every cloud has a silver lining. Personally, when I’m contributing to Global Whining, I don’t want any stupid silver lining…I want sympathy and I want it now!!

Part of the fun of being human and imperfect is that it’s acceptable to feel lousy sometimes. The trick is to feel it, wallow in it for a little while and then move on without spoiling everyone else’s day…or week…or month….or life.

Friends will usually sympathize and comfort you for a while, but after the appropriate pity party period of time has come and gone…so will your friends. That’s healthy because a true friend will stick by you when you really need it, but will also give you a clear message that it’s time to put on your grown-up pants and deal with life, when you’ve stretched the Whine Festival long enough.

We all know people that cause us to run in the other direction when we see them coming toward us. We do this because that person is always going to have a problem and life will never be treating them fairly. They also feel the need to share this with everyone in their path.  Remember that you do not want to be one of these carriers of bad tidings! You want people to be glad to see you, not hide in closets as you walk down the hall. Nobody will fault you for having a genuine problem and feeling blue, and most will be glad and even honored to give you emotional support in your time of need. But to constantly be a beast of burdens and to always be bemoaning your fate is to cause others to doubt when you are really and truly in need of help.

Life is a roller coaster and we have to stay on it through the dips as well as the highs. When you stop to think about it, that’s OK because without the dips, a roller coaster would be pretty boring and you’d probably want your money back. So try to hang on and celebrate the dips because it makes the highs that much better. And the next time you think about throwing a pity party for yourself, try to remember that it’s hard to get people to attend and they usually don’t bring gifts.

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.

What’s In It For Me?

September 29, 2014

This is a question that drives almost every decision that 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 want to do the right thing, but life can get complicated and the world seems to be going at such a 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?

For instance, here are some possible scenarios: 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 someone else, 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?

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 what’s in it for me:

• 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.

The world has a way of balancing things out. But if you are still having trouble doing the right thing because you’re not sure what’s in it for you, reward yourself with chocolate. It works for me! But…I’m easily bribed.

Rebuilding With Hope

May 19, 2014

Those who know me well are aware that I often refer to the lyrics of songs to illustrate my points. Sometimes the words of a song or a poem will express what I want to say in far better ways than I could ever present it.

There are times when life throws us some unexpected lemons and we really don’t feel like using them to make lemonade. As a matter of fact, it would probably give us a lot more satisfaction to throw those lemons at the ones who have caused us pain!

When someone or something pulls the rug out from under you and it feels as if your foundation is crumbling, you have a choice as to how you are going to let it affect you. Feeling anger, disappointment and confusion are normal reactions…for a little while. We need all of those emotions in order to process what has happened but if we allow them to linger too long in our minds, they begin to take root.

Before too long, it’s a good idea to replace those negative feelings with something that will actually allow us to heal and grow rather than to keep us feeling empty and hollow. That is where hope comes into the picture. Hope fills up all the broken and empty places and helps to make us whole once again. I like to think of it this way: Holding On to Positive Expectations.

If you replace fear, doubt and frustration with the belief that you can recover, regroup and rebuild; you will enjoy a future of possibilities rather than continue to live in remnants of the past.

Consider these words from the musical “Godspell”…


Two Appropriate “F” Words

April 29, 2014

During my days of teaching kindergarten, I was approached by a five-year-old who ran across the playground with a red face, intense eyes, and a mouth poised in preparation for a tattle. When she got to me, the words just spilled out. Someone had used the “F” word. Before I had a chance to ask any questions or follow up with the offender, the rest of the explanation came out. “He called me the F word and it isn’t true because I am NOT Fat!” She was correct. He had used an F word, but thankfully, it wasn’t the one I was dreading.

I had to hold back the laughter and deal with the situation, but the memory has stuck with me and I still chuckle about it. Recently, due to events in my own life, I have had occasion to think about two more words starting with the letter F; and these are acceptable words. One is Fear and the other is Faith.
Fear can paralyze you. It can stem from anything you have ever experienced, learned, seen or heard. Most of our fears come from past failures or experiences which have been unpleasant. They can also rise out of low self-esteem. Fear is learned. It has its roots in many things and those roots can reach right down into your gut and stay there in a big knot.

So how do you deal with it? First of all, you take a good look at it and decide whether what you fear is really based in fact, or if it is just something that you perceive to be threatening. Next, realize that you have the power to reduce that fear down to the size of a little speck and then squash it. You do this by taking steps to face it. Maybe you need to take baby steps or maybe you need to jump in with both feet; that is up to you. But, when you begin to deal with the situation, expose it for what it really is and understand that the chances are good that you are exaggerating the danger in your mind; fear loses its power over you. Visualize yourself conquering your monster, whatever it may be.

Faith can help you deal with fear….but it has to be greater than your fear. If you have a Higher Power in which you believe, then you must nurture your faith and turn to it when you feel fear’s icy grip creeping in. And you must have faith in yourself; who you are and what you can accomplish. You are probably stronger than you think and you have the ability to overcome challenges. But faith cannot be put on the shelf and just pulled off every now and then. It has to be used and practiced on a regular basis. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes and the Faith word can conquer the Fear word any old day!

It’s Not About Being a Pollyanna

February 11, 2014

When someone tells me to have a positive attitude, I have to admit that sometimes I want to tell them to shut up! I know that sounds strange coming from a person who teaches about the importance of attitude, but I don’t think I’m much different than most other people. Sometimes it is just hard to imagine having any positive feelings about what is happening in my life!

But I have been working to get past that immediate reaction and I have come to the point of understanding that maintaining a positive attitude doesn’t mean shaking my head, and like Scarlett O’Hara, living in denial that there is a problem. It isn’t about being unrealistic, nor is it believing that if you think positively, everything will work out the way you want. I have found that optimism is about understanding that there are options. You don’t have to resort to despair or negativity when troubles arise, because there are other solutions, paths and possibilities.

Maintaining an attitude of altitude means working toward a level of self-confidence that allows you to remain strong when challenges arise. It means opening your mind to alternatives when plans go awry. It means pulling yourself up and realizing that “this, too, shall pass” and just because things look bad now, doesn’t mean that there is no hope for the future. You possess the ability to rise above and move beyond disappointments and obstacles.

Is attitude important? You bet! Take a look at this:…each letter is given a numeric assignment according to its place in the alphabet: A=1 T=20 T=20 I=9 T=20 U=21 D=4 E=5 and when you add them up……attitude is 100% of how we live our lives!

This was given to me by a sixteen-year-old boy who had every right to have a negative attitude, because due to an accident that was not his fault, he was left a quadriplegic. Yet his attitude transcended his physical condition. He said to me, “That accident took away my arms and legs, but nothing can ever take away my hope and my positive attitude…the quality of my life depends on those two things!”

Something to think about.