Posts Tagged ‘keynote’

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. 

Rediscover the “Elf” in YoursELF!

January 20, 2016

Sometimes I think people put way too much emphasis on being a grown-up. I know it’s a strange thing to say, but the world seems to be full of lots of cranky, whiny folks who must think that being a grown-up means “groaning” all of the time.

I have to admit that like most other people, I sometimes I get my pants in a bunch…usually over something that I have made into a bigger deal than it really is! When I feel myself morphing into a troll, I try to remember that perhaps I am taking myself too seriously and not properly nurturing the elf in myself. That’s when I know that I need a recess. Remember recess? We all looked forward to it because we could break out of the classroom, put work aside and run outside to be free for a while. Then we would have a snack. It made everything better.

So when did we decide it was no longer appropriate to take a recess sometime during a busy and stressful day? When did we cross over from having the wisdom to appreciate the value of taking a play break to thinking it is necessary to drive ourselves into the ground every day?

The transition takes place when we lose our childlike sense of wonder about life. It happens when we give up living in the present moment in favor of worrying about the future and holding on to grudges from the past. It happens when we put limits on our imagination and our curiosity. And it happens when we stop taking recesses!

I know that very few businesses have playgrounds, although I have visited some who do! But we can all take the initiative to take little mini-breaks when we feel we are about ready to either explode or collapse. We can connect with the little kid we used to be by doing something fun every day…not counting going out to happy hour. I mean we should keep things around us that remind us of who we used to be before we started to carry the pressures of the world on our shoulders; things that can provide us with a little mental recess!

I’ve always loved to color and now it is all the rage! Get yourself a coloring book and see how it reduces your stress. Try keeping bubbles in your car and when you’re stuck in traffic, see how many you can blow before you start moving again. Don’t be afraid to act silly every now and then! Remember that we are really just children in stretched out bodies! In chronological years, our childhood may be over, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to play! Will it fix the world’s horrible global problems? No…but it just might get you through the daily frustrations and stresses in your own little world.

If you really want to get it right, follow a little child around and just observe. Of course, you really should know the child you are following! True, they don’t have the burdens and responsibilities that we have, but if we could recapture just a fraction of the joy they get out of simply being alive, we would probably never have our pants in a bunch again…at least they wouldn’t stay that way for long!

Linda Henley-Smith presents keynotes, workshops and coaching on how to find more joy in life. Check out

You May as Well Face it, You’re Addicted to Approval!

May 28, 2015

Do you remember the Robert Palmer song “Addicted to Love” which was popular in the 80s? If you don’t, then you are probably younger than most of my shoes. But I think of those words when I see people trying so desperately to please everyone in their lives. At home, they cultivate a hectic and unsustainable routine of cleaning up after others, volunteering for every extracurricular event, being the caregiver to anyone who needs help; hosting family events and making sure everyone is happy.  Every night, they fall into bed still wearing their Super Hero capes! At work, they are constantly seeking approval and sometimes they don’t offer their opinions because they don’t value their own ideas.

In order to avoid conflict, a person might continually acquiesce to the desires of other people, for fear of rocking the boat.  This person probably doesn’t understand that if you don’t rock the boat when it’s necessary, your boat may hit an iceberg and sink! If someone will only be in your life if you do what they tell you, that is not a relationship worth continuing!

The “People Pleaser” always wants to make sure that he or she never gives anyone a reason to be angry or to dislike him or her. People Pleasers will usually say that it is all done in the name of love, but that kind of love isn’t always healthy. If you have no boundaries, people will push you until you lose yourself.

When we are addicted to finding approval from other people, we’re on the wrong track! We try to please everyone else, even when it’s not in our own best interest. And that kind of validation is never enough! No one else can prove your self-worth; the only long-lasting and worthwhile approval is when you value yourself! If you base all of your decisions and feelings on how others are going to view you, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment. Everyone is not going to like you and that’s okay! Invest in yourself because YOUR opinion of you is important!

Remember these wise words: You may as well like yourself, because wherever you go…there you are!

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”…


Ostriches and Zebras

April 2, 2014

Nature is full of symbiotic relationships. For instance, looking at a zebra and an ostrich, we wouldn’t necessarily think that they were good buddies. They don’t look alike and I wouldn’t automatically assume that they would have much in common or even want to hang out, or get together for drinks after a hard day on the savanna.
I was surprised and delighted to learn that zebras and ostriches DO often travel together and they look out for each other. This relationship keeps them safe from predators, because they make a great team. Zebras have a keen sense of smell and hearing, but they have poor eyesight. On the other hand, ostriches have great vision, but their hearing and smelling capabilities are not so great. Each animal benefits from the strengths of the other and they warn each other of impending danger.

When I read about this phenomenon, I once again marveled at the amazing intricacies and relationships in nature. There are many examples of how members of both the animal and plant kingdoms work together and depend upon each other for survival. That started me thinking about humans and how we relate to one another.

The news reports are full of accounts of conflict between various people, countries, political parties, etc. and that isn’t new; it has been going on since the beginning of humanity. Even more troubling to me are the stories I hear every day from people who are embroiled in arguments, bitterness, jealousy, resentment, and other negative situations in their personal and/or professional lives. Some people seem to be so concerned with competition and being “right” about everything, that they have lost that precious element which makes any relationship work….symbiosis or mutual benefit.

It isn’t about helping someone so that they will, in turn, help you. It is about respecting the value and opinions of people in our lives and appreciating that when it boils down, we all really want the same thing out of life…we want peace of mind and it just might be possible to help each other in that quest. Sadly, some people are under the impression that in order for them to feel peace and joy, someone else has to give up those feelings.

Sometimes, I guess it doesn’t seem possible for problems between people to be solved. Egos become involved and things get blown out of proportion. Perhaps we would all benefit from emulating the zebras and the ostriches and all of the other creatures in nature who seem to have worked things out in more simplistic terms than the human race. Granted, we usually don’t eat each other….but are we willing to hang out with those who look and act differently than we do? Are we quick to lend them our strength in an area in which they are not as strong? And are we willing to work together for a common goal?

Think about that the next time you are at the watering hole.

Resolutions, Revolutions and Revelations

January 3, 2014

Well, here it is again….another new year! Another 525,600 minutes to spend making wonderful memories, trying new things, experiencing a variety of emotions, building and maintaining relationships and eating chocolate. Even though it is just a date on the calendar, January 1 represents a clean slate.

People tend to want to make fresh starts in the New Year, so we make resolutions. I like to think of it as cleaning out a junk drawer and keeping only the things that I need and will serve me well. My problem is that after I have done that, it looks good for about a month and then it once again appears as if packrats were having a party in there. That is because I haven’t really made a commitment to keeping things neat and orderly. So it is with our resolutions….we can resolve until the cows come home, but without action, resolutions don’t mean much. They just end up like my junk drawer.

If we want to improve an aspect of life, we must break the negative pattern that is keeping us out of balance. Thoughts and behavior patterns can become deeply ingrained in us and sometimes, that isn’t a good thing. If you want to change your life, you need to get out of your self-constructed box and then stand up on the box to get a view of all of life’s possibilities. Think of it as a personal revolution…you are revolting against any limiting beliefs and actions that are holding you back.

In this New Year, you will probably experience a revelation or two. It may involve making a decision to try something for the first time, or perhaps adopting a new attitude of altitude. It is possible that you may decide to choose joy over bitterness and laughter over whining. Maybe this will be the year that you put yourself somewhere on your “To Do” list and move away from things that cause you unnecessary stress. The revelation will come when you finally realize that you are sick and tired of trying to fix a problem or change a situation by doing the same things and getting the same results.

I think I will start a new tradition for myself. I am going to adopt the idea of a Joy Jar. I know people who have done this, and I think it is a great way to reprogram my brain and focus on the possibilities. Every day, you write something positive that you have experienced or a joy you have felt and put it into a big jar. After a while, you should have quite a collection. You can either wait until December 31, or dip into that Joy Jar when you need a jump-start. Reading and remembering the good things that have happened to you may help to lose the “Stinkin’ Thinkin’” and have the best year ever!

Metal Chains Aren’t as Restrictive as Mental Chains!

August 18, 2013

Most people probably wouldn’t find the idea of being locked up in a prison very desirable. Given the choice, we would rather be free to roam and romp and do whatever we like to do. It is ironic, then, that we often lock chains on ourselves which make us feel trapped and powerless.

Of course, these aren’t physical chains. They are chains made of thoughts and habits which can restrict you as much as any metal restraint. Each link is made of a counterproductive belief about yourself. It can take the form of negative self-talk, self-sabotage, feelings of unworthiness, false ideas about your abilities and talents….and the list goes on.

Every time you allow your mind to spend time on these thoughts, you are tightening the grip of your shackles, and you’re putting one more lock on the door of your self-made jail cell. You will eventually find it more difficult to even ponder finding joy, success or freedom to live the life you desire.

Each one of us has a choice. The only guard at the prison door is yourself and you carry the key! You can sit on your pile of chains and mournfully sing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” or simply claim your “pardon” and step out into freedom. The key is in your pocket. It is your ability to love and accept who you are, as you are. It is your willingness to turn your back on old fears, worries, doubts and resentments and speak to yourself kindly, with affirmations of your value.

The path may not always be easy, but it sure beats sitting chained up in a prison!

Spin the Wheel and Guess My Stress!!!

May 15, 2013

Do you ever feel as if you live and work in a battle zone? Do you awaken every morning expecting to go through your day ducking the slings and arrows of stress, frustration and anger? Do you ponder how stress will zap you? Will it come in the form of traffic jams, negative people, budget cuts, increased workloads, impossible schedules, sick kids, or some other equally overwhelming form?
Sometimes, we set ourselves up for stress from the moment we open our eyes. We have prepared ourselves to expect the worst. We spin the stress wheel and play “Guess My Stress! What will make me anxious and possibly sick today?”
So we start our day girded in battle array…ready for the stress snakes to wrap around us and squeeze out all of our air….and we usually get what we expect. Sometimes it feels as if we are stress magnets! We are so used to accepting it, that it becomes a part of us.
Often, we tend to expect the worst because we are creating a reality before we even have all of the facts. Anticipation and presumption can be our enemies. And whether the danger is real or imagined doesn’t matter to our bodies! So, when we convince ourselves that trouble is ahead, we are setting ourselves up to get sucked into the stress spiral and down we go! If we can learn to resist catastrophizing and jumping to conclusions, we will have a better chance to meet whatever comes our way, with calm and clear focus.
It helps to remember that we do have the power to choose the thoughts that we allow to rent space in our brains. It isn’t easy because most of us have been entertaining and nurturing the “Stress is Going to Get Me!” attitude for a long time. We have accepted stress as an acceptable way to live…and die! We program our brains to go into ANT mode (automatic negative thoughts) and ANTS attract the stress snakes
A successful personal stress management program includes identifying stress triggers and stress busters, but just as important, is a person’s ability to step away from the stress wheel and refuse to hang out with ANTS and Stress Snakes!
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
~ William James

Don’t Let Trolls Block Your Goals!

January 29, 2013

There are a lot of well-meaning people out there, who insist upon telling you things “for your own good.” I have found that whenever someone begins a comment with, “I don’t want to discourage you, but I feel that for your own good; before you attempt this, I need to tell you something”… I am about to have a pitchfork pop my happy bubble.

I’m not really sure why it seems to be in some people’s nature to want to derail another person’s dreams, but I’m guessing there are a few reasons. It is possible that a warning is issued out of genuine concern, which is probably the case when a parent sees a child heading in a dangerous direction. But, as for the rest of the “goal trolls” out there who just seem to want to burst balloons….maybe it is because of jealousy, or fear that another person will do something that they want to do, or maybe they are just trolls. Who knows?

If you have ever had a passion to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, you may have heard some of these Troll “buts”:

“You can try, BUT only a very few people ever make it!” Well, that is probably because those are the ones who got off of their “buts” and tried it!

“You can try it, BUT I’d hate to see you fail!”  You can tell the troll that he or she needn’t worry about you failing because you know that the only way you would feel like a failure is to stay stagnant and never try to get out of your box!

“You can try if you want someday, BUT don’t you think you should be more careful now?” This is an interesting one because it means that the issuer of this question has put himself in the lofty position of knowing what is best for you. It is an assumption that you are not wise enough to weigh the pros and cons of a decision and be smart about it. Besides, when is “someday?” It isn’t even a day of the week!

The world is full of dream stealers who may not even realize what they are doing when they offer misguided advice. They just may be frightened and sad that they don’t have the courage to step out and dare to follow their own dreams. Whatever the case, each of us has the ability and the personal responsibility to make the most out of every day with which we have been blessed.  We can listen to the words of the naysayers and then make our own decisions. I love this quote by Steve Jobs: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuitions.”

If you have a dream, decide whether you want to keep it in your own head or make it a reality. If you choose the latter….claim this triumphant victory call: “Goal Trolls…. be Gone!”


Avoid Brain Chaos Syndrome

February 6, 2012

I recently found myself in a place of great chaos. I’m not referring to my garage, which is where everything that can’t find a resting place on a wall, a table, a counter, or the floor of my house goes to hang out. Nor am I referring to the interior of my car, which is the breeding ground of many science projects due to regular transporting of small children who eat part of their Happy Meals and stash the rest between the seats.

This chaos was in my head. As often happens, I had overloaded my brain with “stuff.” Every now and then, I fill every available crevice with what I call the “shoulda, woulda, couldas, oughtas, and what ifs” of my life. These are the things that I need to release, but I keep them around just in case I need to feel lousy. Add to that, the list of self-imposed duties that I feel I should accept when I am in my Wonder Woman frame of mind. These things, combined with my actual every day responsibilities, often cause me to go on Stress Overload. When this happens, I hear myself saying things like, “I’m at the end of my rope!” Completing this cycle, are one or all of the following: tears, a barrage of negative and possibly naughty words, a sense of panic, misdirected anger, and finally, total exhaustion.

How ridiculous is that? But, I believe I’m not the only one who goes through Chaotic Brain Syndrome. It occurs when we don’t regularly delete unnecessary and negative thoughts, and we keep filling our brains with more and more things that cause pressure, stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.

I think of my brain as a storage closet. I keep lots of stuff in there, but I need to rearrange and discard items on a regular basis. There are things that I don’t need any longer (guilt, remorse, bitterness, feelings of martyrdom) and if I don’t remove them, there will not be room for the things I do want to keep or any new items that I’d like to store in there (joy, hope, healthy balance, confidence, self-value.)

If you are feeling chaotic, look into a mirror. If you are not wearing metal breast plates or a cape that blows in the wind, chances are you are not a Super Hero and you don’t have to fix all of the problems in the world. And if you are feeling like you’re at the end of your rope, first of all…just be glad that you have a rope. Then, try climbing the rope, rather than hanging yourself with it or waiting for someone to pull you up. Begin by saying “no” to extra responsibilities that you just can’t handle right now and saying “yes” to things that allow you to have good mental health.