How to be Happy Everyday

How to be Happy Everyday

27Every Sunday morning I start out the day wondering what I will do for my Sunday night post.  I try to make these more reflective, a little more focused on my everyday life.  I try to eat fairly low-carb, a result of having inherited some blood sugar issues and having a small addiction to Coca-Cola.  So I watch what I eat and usually don’t eat cereal but occasionally I get a craving for fruit and cereal and buy a box.  I am particularly fond of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but there’s a trick to this, like many cereals.  You see, you have to soak it in milk long enough to slough off enough cinnamon to form the cinnamilk at the end, but not so long as to lose the crunchiness of the cereal.  As I was admiring the fact that I had pulled off that delicate balance this morning, it hit me that I had my post for tonight.  Appreciating the small things.

26You see we can talk all we want about the big changes in life that will make us happier.  Those things are legitimate and what you should strive for in the end.  But what can you do to be happier along the way.  Recently a study identified gratitude as the single most important factor in happiness.  Whether or not that is true, it certainly is one of the key things that makes people happier.  Long-term happiness is typically most closely associated with strong ties to family (biological or selected) and friends.

For tonight I want to talk about gratitude.  We need to be grateful for the things we have in our life that make us happy, the small as well as the big.  Sure we are grateful for family, friends, good health, the money, food and shelter that has been provided for us.  But if you want to be consistently happy you have to do two things.  First, you have to remember that your attitude, how you choose to react to things, determines most of your happiness.  The second is to appreciate all of the little things around us that bring us happiness.  A beautiful blue sky, a partridge running across the yard, a magnificent sunset or maybe the roses in your garden.

25I often see in November people post 30 days of being grateful to their Facebook pages, that’s great, but if you only have that level of gratitude in November, well then it’s sort of like a fad diet.  You make yourself happier for a time but then lose those gains when you stop.  What I’d rather see people do is a gratitude Monday once a week, that way at least gratitude would stay on your mind year-round.  Maybe I’ll start doing a post on gratitude once a week.

So tonight my friends, be grateful for what you have, remember the little things that make you smile and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

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A little pause on the coast

A little pause on the coast

My mission in life is to not just merely survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style. ~ Maya Angelou

So, as someone who writes a blog on happiness you might think that of course I’m just yippy-skippy happy all the time.  That of course is not the case, and if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that’s not how I roll.  Maybe it should be what I do, I’m sure if everything was about being fantastically happy all of the time and how to be that way, I’d have a lot more readers and page views.  Which also would then to translate me monetizing the site and making money off of it.  As you can tell, this thought has in fact crossed my mind.  However, that has never really been what the Ministry of Happiness has been about and I have more respect for all of you than to do that.  My goal has always been to portray an honest appraisal of my life and the things I’ve researched, tried and experienced in trying to live a happier life.

So of course, because I’m human and like most humans, not living in a constant state of happiness and bliss, at times I write about being less than happy.  As I’ve discussed a number of times on the site, I used to suffer from depression fairly regularly, I’m happy to say that I’ve beaten that back and rarely find myself in the type of well I used to regularly have to crawl out of just to function.  But right now I find myself in an interesting and not all that comfortable of a place.

beach, sunsetFirst, let me be clear, I have a great life.  I’m fortunate to have a few friends I can truly count on, I have people who love me, and people who think positively about me.  I’ve worked hard to put myself into a place where I get to do a lot of things people wish they could.  I have the opportunity to travel to amazing places, I mean just this year I spent time in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Mexico.

But I find myself in a weird place right now.  I’m staying at the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  I’ve got a great place across the street from the beach and my days are pretty good.  I get to walk the beach every day, I have a gym nearby so I’m working out daily and I’m actually eating more healthily than I have for a while.  My goal was to come here to do a few things, get my job search rolling which is coming along, albeit slowly.  But also to do some writing and I find myself, oddly, with the time but no motivation.  None of the projects I have to work on are inspiring the passion I need to dive into them.  Maybe, it’s just a glitch and my recent illness, I actually lost my voice for the first time in my life, has just not run its full course yet.  Maybe I was just tired and needed a break.

beach, sunsetHowever I feel there is something deeper involved, something that’s been gnawing at me for a while, a lack of anything to be passionate about.  Again, great life, but there is nothing driving me right now, I’m not in love, what I do for work is good, but not rewarding on a significant level, and there is no cause or idea I’m incredibly passionate about right now.  What I really need, I think, is just several days of really long conversation with someone I trust, but that is just not an option.  And that simple fact has me feeling a bit lonely.

sunset, beach, photographyLook, we all want to be happier, but at times things just aren’t going to be what we want them to be.  That’s ok, we have to take value from the positive things in our life, push ahead on the things we have to do, and look for opportunities to make a change.  The really good news, is that I’m sure what’s missing right now is something that is completely my fault.  The reason that is good news, is that if it’s my faulty, it’s under my control and I can make the changes necessary.  To be honest my friends, that’s usually the case, so stay positive, look for those change opportunities and have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness and Cycles

Happiness and Cycles

Taoism, happiness, cycles

Taoism, happiness and cycles

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.  ~ Lao Tzu

Taoist philosophy says that the wise never get too excited when things go really well, they understand that nothing is forever and so even at the zenith of happiness, they prepare for sadness.  These cycles even exist for happiness.  This may seem unfortunate, that at the happiest point that you should prepare for sadness.  However the perspective has a better look when you consider the flipside.  The wise also understand that bad times likewise are not permanent, so even at your saddest, at your worst; you should begin preparing to be your best and happiest self.

Philosophy is a wonderful thing, an intellectual exercise that is fun to play with, however the only philosophy worth anything is that philosophy which can truly improve our lives or expand our minds.  I’m writing tonight because it has been this very philosophy I’ve been dealing with lately.  Things haven’t been so good for the last couple of weeks, a good friend of mine seems to have disappeared from my life, another friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, work has seemed a bit more pointless than usual and the plans I have to improve things have seemed further away then they usually do.

But in reading my daily meditations I came across the idea I discussed above and I was patient.  Not passive, I did what I always do when things go south and my mood starts to dip.  First, the essentials, good food, exercise and get enough sleep.  Then of course preparing for things to get better.  For the last three weeks things have seemed pretty dismal, but in the span of a few days things have turned.  My friends illness may not be as bad as previously thought, she’s recovering well from her surgery.  Some opportunities have presented themselves and my plans again don’t feel so far away or as unachievable as they once did.  Even at their worst, things will get better these are the cycles of happiness.  Remember this and remember to have a happy day my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts on Happiness!

TED Talks on Happiness

Acceptance, Patience and Persistence

Happiness can be a Rollercoaster

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Happiness Resources: Mindfulness

Happiness Resources: Mindfulness

happiness mindfulnessThe best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Tonight a look at an idea that is gaining a lot of attention these days, mindfulness.  Mindfulness and specifically mindfulness meditation has some excellent benefits in life.  A great book on the subject is Thich Nhat Hanh’s, Miracle of Mindfulness a book I very much enjoyed.

First from the Greater Good, The Basics of Mindfulness

A piece on everyday mindfulness, exercises to relieve stress

Want a Happier Brain, Try Mindfulness

Finally a nice little four-minute video with Thich Nhat Hanh answering the question, What is Mindfulness

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Fun and Funny Posts

Fun and Funny Posts

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Kids explain Santa & Christmas

Fun Internet Memes

The Onion & The Oatmeal

Funny Kid Pictures

Happiness is Laughter: Funny Signs

Happiness is Star Wars

Amazing Festivals for your Bucket List

Funny Baby Images

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Happiness Resources: DIY Happiness

Happiness Resources: DIY Happiness

Maybe the truth is, there’s a little bit of loser in all of us. Being happy isn’t having everything in your life be perfect. Maybe it’s about stringing together all the little things. ~ Ann Brashares

build

A quick tour around the web and a bit of a focus DIY happiness, sites with specific tips on what to do to have happier days my friends ~ Rev Kane

How to be happy, tips for cultivating happiness from the Mayo Clinic

How to be happy, 11 steps you can take to be happier from WikiHow

The habits of supremely happy people from the Huffington Post, a really detailed and interesting piece

Six unconvential scientific ways to be happier from LifeHacker

Also from LifeHacker, Want to be happier, stop doing these things now!

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Our Best Happiness Resources Posts

Our Best Happiness Resources Posts

happy 9Tonight a collection of our best Happiness Resources posts, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

 

Resources to Boost Your Mood

On Being More Mindful

Resources for Overcoming Loss

The Power of Hugs

How to be Happy

Habits for Happiness

Resources on Meditation

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Happiness and Passion

Happiness and Passion

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. ~Harriet Tubman

I have hit a certain point in my life that calls for reflection, you see I’ve been relatively successful.  I have achieved many of the things in my life I had hoped to achieve, in some ways I’ve exceeded rational expectations for someone coming from my beginnings.  I have a good career, respect, I’ve traveled, I speak a couple of languages and have had a range of experiences that would make many people enviable.  I enter at this point in my life what many people would call middle age and it brings on a certain of level of contemplation.  You see at this point in life you have a history, you have made mistakes, but more importantly you have made lots and lots of decisions.  All decisions have consequences and once you have enough time, you can see what the consequences of those decisions have wrought.

At this age you begin thinking about purpose and mortality, you delve into a strong mixture of fear and a need for seeing a purpose to your life.  Within the depths of this I completely and totally understand the two outcomes, the two paths that lay open to me in life.  Those paths are either hedonism or significance.  The first path is the cliché of the mid-life crisis, the stereotypical chasing of material things and pleasures.  There is a pointlessness you can find in life if you look hard enough and a hedonistic response does not seem unreasonable facing that reality.

However, if you take a look beyond yourself, use a wider lens if you will, think about a longer timeline, I don’t thing hedonism is the answer.  You see either path calls for passion and passion spent on hedonism has always felt more than a little empty to me, I took that train in my twenties, I didn’t like where it went.  So it’s time for passion in the pursuit of significance and for many people this is an easy call, they pour their passion into their children.  Raising their children becomes the passionate pursuit for significance in their life and quite a worthy one in my opinion.

So my question tonight, and for me, at this time in my life as someone without children, is where to put my passion?  So my question for you tonight my friends is the same, what is your passion and how is it directed, find that and happiness won’t be too far behind.  As always, have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Our Best Happiness Posts for 2015

Revisiting Some of Our Best Posts & Pictures

Readers Favorite Appalachian Trail Posts

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What is your Calling?

What is your Calling?

highway, travel, adventure

Lonely desert highway

Career is what you are paid for. Callings is what you are made for?                   ~ Ed Young

What do you want to be when you grow up?

One of the questions people are most familiar with is, what do you want to be when you grow up? I really don’t like this question, I circumvent it with a really easy answer, I’m not planning to grow up?  Now as flippant an answer there is, there is some underlying wisdom that I accidentally stumbled upon.  You see, it is in childhood that we are able to get lost in something we love.  Remembering playing as a kid I can remember hours playing sports, building dams on streams, playing with toys in my room or just walking in the woods.

clouds, skies, photography

Dramatic skies in the Mojave Desert

I’ve worked in education for over 25 years and a lot of that time I’ve worked with students in helping them find their way to a major and direction in college.  One of the ways we first try to help students do this is by asking them what they are interested in.  One way to do that is to think about the types of things you do where you lose track of time.  So if you can lose track of time while drawing and painting for hours a career in the arts might be something you’ll enjoy.

For students, honestly, the process isn’t that hard.  You establish what they like, you find out what their aptitudes are and those two pieces of information really narrows down the possibilities.  You can’t  be an engineer if you’re terrible at and dislike math, no matter how much you like building and designing things.  But you might be a great construction worker, welder or project manager.  So after narrowing the field, a student can explore a bit by taking classes or other activities and come to a pretty solid decision on where their career will start.  We also recognize that people will change jobs multiple times over their lifetime.

lanterns, photography, lights

Floating lights

Making a change in life

The tougher job is of course when you’re trying to help someone in their 30’s, 40’s or 50’s find their way.  Even harder when the person you’re trying to help is looking back at you in the mirror. As we get older we all accumulate obligations, our decisions have a tendency to impact more than just ourselves, we have debts.  All of our obligations make the process of pursuing our calling that much harder even when we can identify that calling.  It can still be done, it just takes a lot more planning, work and negotiation with those whose lives we’re intertwined with and of course patience.

Finding your calling

I’m in the midst of all of this myself.  This week while on a business trip I was working with a company that has a software package that helps students identify their calling.  While talking to one of their people about my adventures over the last couple of years he said, “you’ve found your calling.”  He was referring of course to traveling, writing, photographing and speaking about my adventures.  Without a doubt this is my calling.

PCT, hiking, photography

The PCT as it leaves the deserts and enters the Sierras

If I were in my 20’s its an easy call, flat-out jump in with both feet.  Of course I’m in my 50’s, I have a significant student loan debt ($800/month) and then there’s retirement looming.  I have a good life, a good job, I make good money, I have health insurance and if I put enough time into my retirement system I’ll have a decent pension.  My job is ok, I like what I do, but the question, in such a short life, do I wake up in the morning excited to go to work, no.  It is a job, a good one, but a job.  Would I be excited to get up everyday to hike, and cycle, to write and photograph what I do, to go out and be a speaker to help motivate people to make positive change in their life, absolutely.

Retirement Planning

The retirement issue is probably my largest obstacle, I wasn’t in a position early on to start saving for retirement the way I should have, and worse, not wise enough to do the minimum that would have absolutely paid dividends through the miracle of compound interest.  But that didn’t happen, so you make the best of where you are and that is the first step, having a positive attitude.

So I do what I can, it’s partially the reason I take significant time off every 5 years.  My book is being edited and will hopefully be published before the end of the year.  I have a couple of speaking engagements lined up and plans for a couple of other books that I’m already working on.  I look forward to my next leave in about three years and try to find ways to the things I love in between.  Of course I’m always looking for a crack, a way to make a significant change that will work and that hope is part of what sustains me day-to-day.

lights, festival, photography

Light festival in Spokane

So that’s the process my friends, for those of us who are older and more obligated.  Find your calling, and start to develop a path.  Find incremental ways to test the waters and to feed your soul.  Plan for the time you can jump full-time but always be on the look out for that lucky break, if you get that shot and you’ve been planning, it’s that much more likely to be successful.  Finally, be prepared to be a little bit fearless, life is short and the last thing anyone wants to do, is to be laying on their deathbed regretting never have taken their shot.  So feed your soul, plan, be positive, be fearless and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Writing Away the Darkness

 

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Happy New Year – 2019

Happy New Year – 2019

If you are the kind of person who is waiting for the ‘right’ thing to happen, you might wait for a long time.  It’s like waiting for all of the traffic lights to be green for five miles before starting the trip. ~ Robert Kiyosaki

It’s New Year’s Day, the first day of the new year, so what?  Seriously, New Year’s Day is just another day, the only difference between January 1st, and August 12th is the significance that we place on that particular day.  You see every new day, can be the start of something new for you.  However, since we all place so much emphasis on the new year I’m writing this post today.

What I’m asking you today friends, is to start something new, commit to it, make it something you will get done.  I know, I know you think I’m talking about the same old New Year’s resolutions talk, it’s not.  I’m really not, our New Year’s resolutions are almost always the same old things, lose weight, stop smoking, be nicer to your relatives, go back to school, whatever.  I see this every year at whatever gym I’m a member of at the time.  In early December the gym levels start to diminish.  By the week of Christmas the gym is a ghost town, there’s hardly anyone in there.  Then, a few days after Christmas it starts, the numbers increase right around the New Year, with all of their weight loss, stop smoking, start exercising resolutions in their head, people appear.  You see the gym staff constantly giving tours, you see people who don’t know how to use the machines and people are always on the machine you want to be on.  The really sad thing, is that by the end of January the gym is completely back to normal, it seems people’s resolve to create something new has a half-life of about four weeks, until it is resurrected next year for another four weeks.

So no, I’m not asking you to go through the same old process.  What I’m suggesting is that this year, you do something completely different.  Let’s almost start the same way, let’s pick a goal, a resolution if you need to use the same old language.  However, that’s where the similarities will stop.  We have a tendency to pick resolutions that society thinks we should pick, things that society and sometimes, we think are best for us.  Things like stopping smoking, exercising and losing weight.  Now these are all things that would be great for us to do, but if we truly have no desire, if there is no passion for this resolution we’ve selected, then four weeks sounds about right to me.

So for this year, let’s ignore what we’re “supposed” to do.  Let’s think about what gets us fired up, what gets us excited, what is that thing that will get you out of bed without having to set the alarm.  Is there something you love to do, knit sweaters, build bird houses, walk in nature or photography?  Or maybe there is something you’ve always thought in the back of your mind, man I wish I could speak Italian and travel in Italy.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar.  Whatever it is, that’s were you need to focus the resolution, where you need to start.  So let’s say you’ve decided you want to speak Italian and travel in Italy.

Italy, travel, happinessSo, a trip to Italy isn’t cheap and you can’t learn a language in 3 weeks no matter what the ads for Babbel say.  So, you have your goal, start with a little dreaming.  Spend sometime online looking at images of Italy, envisioning sipping wine on the Amalfi coast looking at the ocean.  Look at tours, self-guided trips, find and read some blogs on traveling in Italy.  Start constructing that perfect trip to Italy, maybe it’s walking galleries and museums in Florence, floating on a gondola in Venice, strolling past ancient ruins in Rome or all of the above.

Now, start setting timelines, develop a budget and get a plan for learning Italian.  Figure out, how bit by bit you’ll put away the money for the trip.  Start learning Italian, there are so many ways to do this, sometimes there are free community classes, you can take out Italian language learning books from the public library, there are community college language classes, there are free apps on the net, I’m particularly fond of Duolingo.  BE REALISTIC, make sure that your budget timeline has some cushion in it.  Give yourself lots of time to learn a language and don’t make fluency your goal.  Make your goal something I call survival language skills.  Learn hello, goodbye, thank you and please.  Learn the names of foods, key phrases like I need a taxi or where is the train station.  It’s amazing how well you can navigate modern cities with a smart phone and some rudimentary language skills.

Make all of this fun, watch Italian movies, make Italian friends online, visit museums and cultural sites virtually online.  Read the blogs of travelers who are traveling in Italy and take note of, but generally ignore any negativity about their experiences.  Go to Italian food festivals and restaurants in your or nearby towns.  And most importantly, make sure, five days a week you do something related to language and travel in Italy.

Finally stick to it and in the end go to Italy, enjoy, have fun, blog it out, start an Instagram page for your trip and share it with other people so that you can help motivate them.

oaxaca, mexico, travelWhy am I suggesting this whole process, shouldn’t I be suggesting something health and happiness related?  Well my friends I have.  First a trip to someplace you always wanted to go will help make you happier.  I am, as you know if you read this blog, a huge proponent of all the positive things getting out of your comfort zone and travel does for you.  Second, if you’ve developed even rudimentary language skills you’re learning and education will always help make you happier.  If you pull this trip off you’ve created a goal and achieved it, you’ve proven to yourself that you can do that, and then you can plan bigger and bigger goals that will make your life more satisfying and happier.  This works even if your goal was to paint or play guitar one hour a week for a year.  Even if your goal was to take an hour, one day a week and do nothing but relax, listen to music or read a book.  It’s the goal setting and success that matters, not the topic. This will bleed over, for me, just going to the gym, turned into eating better, losing weight and even more consistently writing this blog.  This process has led me to take on a new language Spanish and even to living in Mexico for two months this past year.

I believe in you, now you need to believe in yourself, and really importantly don’t let your fear get in the way, fear is killing your happiness.   You can do this and not only have happier days, but happier years my friend, go out and make 2019 your year. ~ Rev Kane

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