Cheering each other on
I don’t know if you watched the new show Nashville last night, but being a Connie Britton fan, I had the show’s debut date saved on my iCal. Luckily, I loved it! And one part of the show made me think of the struggle we sometimes have in love. But before I tell you which one, I must say…
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t yet seen the Nashville premiere and want to, watch it before reading this post!
The big question on the show was how veteran country star Rayna (Connie Britton) would handle her poor concert sales. She could either A) agree to “co-headline” and open for the former teen mean sensation Juliette (Hayden Panetierre), or B) she’d be on her own, as her record company would no longer promote her album. In other words, should she settle for sharing the stage with someone she didn’t believe in or try to make it on her own?
As Rayna told the record company executive: “You can kiss my decision as it’s walking out the door.” And that’s how I think we should handle those same cheap decisions in love.
When I think back to my dating days, I come across all kinds of dating “deals” I nearly or actually did settle for:
• I either A) only got to see the guy I liked if I met him at some bar after midnight or B) I’d be on my own to find someone who wanted to see me for breakfast, lunch and dinner, too.
• I either A) hung around with a guy I liked who only saw me as a friend or B) I’d be on my own to find someone who wanted a romantic relationship like I did.
• I either A) stayed in a relationship with someone I wasn’t my best self with or B) I’d be on my own to find someone I could shine with.
On paper (or, hey, on computer) these seem like easy choices! But we all know that in love, it’s hard to choose the tougher path. It can be lonely and sometimes scary to be on your own, unsure of what’s to come.
But like Rayna showed last night, it’s really the only way. If you believe in yourself and want the happy, fulfilling life you deserve, then you must choose the path that takes you there. It may be the tougher path. It may be the scarier one. But it’s the only choice you can make if you want your happy ending.
The foundation of dating optimism is that you believe you can have a great love on this earth. So the next time your date or hookup or friends-with-benefits or partner is making you feel “less than” the greatest catch on earth? Tell them they can kiss your decision as it’s walking out the door, too.
We’re all pretty good about what we do when people are watching. We might pick up a pen our boss has dropped. Say “Bless you” to a coworker who sneezes in a meeting. Or open the door to let our date walk into the restaurant first. But who we really are is us on our own—the one we think no one is paying attention to.
What we say and do in those moments affects how we feel and who we are. That’s why I love this quote: ”Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” —H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
On one beautiful day in Venice, it was warm and breezy and sunny, the day people imagine every day in California is like. I walked into the bank and witnessed this interaction of woman in line speaking to the man behind her:
“What a beautiful day, right?” she said. “Wow.”
“Terrible,” he said.
The woman laughed. She assumed he was kidding. ”I know, it’s perfect,” she replied. “I could be out there all day.”
“What, with this wind?” he said, shaking his head. “It’s drying everything up. Pulling the smog from the Valley. It’s awful.”
The poor woman stood there stunned. And it was a reminder to me how the smallest interactions throughout our day say a lot about how we’re feeling and who we choose to be. Sure, maybe this guy was having a terrible, awful no-good day for many reasons, and that “drying wind” was the straw that broke his camel’s back. But maybe if he knew—if we knew—the way we were coming off in the world, it might inspire us to try to do it differently.
Try this: Imagine for an afternoon that some kind soul upstairs is doing a Powerpoint presentation on how to be a happy person, and your live tape has been pulled up to illustrate it. What can you do this afternoon that feels in line with the positive, good person you want to be? aHere are some ideas:
• Hold a door for a stranger.
• Make friendly small talk with the shyest-looking person at the party.
• Compliment the jacket of the person next to you.
• Pet the dog.
• Offer a ride.
• Lend a quarter to the guy out of change at the coffee counter.
• Smile. Laugh. Clap. High-five.
Go on, give that Powerpoint guy a real show. And then, after you do a few of these things, tune into how you’re feeling. Pretty great, right? Probably proud of your actions, warm in your heart and perfectly happy to have someone say, “You’re on Candid Camera!” Because this is how you want to feel and appear all the time.
Choose a bumper sticker motto for life that helps you make the right decisions, put on the right expression and be the person you want to be. Even if no one is looking, you’re looking. Want to feel like the good guy character? Be the good guy. Amazing how that works.
The motivating messages we use in our lives affects what we do and how we feel. So try using that bumper sticker motto for life and see how you feel.
Decisions, decisions, decisions…
If you struggle with making any of ‘em—from what to wear to work to whether or not to give love another shot—then today’s little happy life idea is for you!
My husband Gus and I can be pretty bad at making small decisions. It takes us 20 minutes to choose what to eat for lunch and 15 minutes to actually eat it. It takes us 45 minutes to pick a movie to watch, and Gus is asleep 10 minutes in. And our next vacation? My word, we’ll be debating the options until March. But I know we’re not alone.
With all the decision-making our modern world allows, sometimes we get so caught up in making the right choice that we paralyze ourselves from making any choice at all! In his book Paradox of Choice, author Barry Schwartz writes, “Choice no longer liberates, but debilitates.” What’s really behind all this? Well, I think that with all the information at our fingertips to help us make a perfect decision, we’re now terrified of now making the wrong one.
But here’s the thing. No matter how many pros & cons lists we make about a choice, sometimes it won’t work out. Sometimes the lunch place has stale bread, the movie stinks, the second date is a disaster and the job makes us miserable. And that’s okay! Becuase that’s how life works. We’re moving forward all the time. Like John W. Gardner once said, “Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” No, you don’t have an eraser, but you have a huge, bright, empty piece of paper in front of you to draw in whatever direction you want to go next.
Try this: Give your brain’s decision department a break. Be bold! Imagine taking a permanent marker to draw your sign on the one piece of posterboard you have left. Just trust your gut, listen to your heart, and go for it. If you find yourself feeling along the way that it’s just not working out…redirect! There are very few decisions or mistakes in life that can’t be fixed. A wedding can be called off, and a called-off wedding can also be called right back on. Money can be mostly refunded, jobs can be quit, movies can be walked out of. And that piece of posterboard, it has a backside, too. Sure, maybe you end up with a little headache trying to fix it…but weren’t you giving yourself as much of a headache in struggling over the decision in the first place? Free yourself my making any choice at all, then see where it takes you next.
Gus and I have another trick that helps: We have an app called “The Decider” on our iPhones. And when we find ourselves torn between two great options, we declare, “Let’s let The Decider decide.” We type in the choices, watch the arrow spin, and see our future chosen for us. Really, it’s a relief. And so far, it’s worked out just fine.
Let’s not spend 30% of our lives debating what to do with the other 70%. What a waste of our spirit! Be fearless. Put the pencil to paper and just draw. Let your hand and heart guide you (or a Decider decide for you) and see how free you feel just making a choice so you can get back to living the brilliant art of your life again.
Did you know that if you change just one word in your life, you can make a huge impact on what comes to you in life? With just one word, you can affect what comes your way in love, in work, in friends and in fun!
See if you remember this quote from Star Wars:
Luke: “I can’t believe it.”
Yoda: “That is why you fail.”
Yoda’s right. (Well, duh, Yoda was always right, wasn’t he.) And the message is clear: If you can’t believe you can do or have something, you’ll never do or have it. Ever. You just won’t.
When I was single, I went into a shop for a friend of mine to pick up her fixed engagement ring. And when I saw all those other rings under the glass, I thought, “I can’t even imagine myself ever having one of those.” And that, I realized, was a big problem. So I started to picture it. To believe I would one day have a ring like that—I wasn’t focusing on the flashiness, but on the idea that I’d meet a partner who would give me one as a symbol of wanting to be with me forever. I have a ring like that now. And an amazing guy who has vowed to be with me to go along with it. But I didn’t meet him until I believed I could. And it wasn’t an easy road.
Oh, trust me, I tried to believe. I wanted desperately to believe. I begged the universe to help me believe. There was just one word that kept getting in the way: the word but.
Recognize it? It usually sounds something like this:
• “I want to meet someone but there’s no one good out there for me.”
• “I want the job, but they’ll never hire someone without the right experience.”
• “I want to own a house with a pool someday, but there’s no way I’ll ever make enough money for that.”
Those “buts” are the biggest thing standing in the way of you believing you can do, have and be what you want. So…
Try this: Say out loud the thing that you want most in life right now and come up with the “but” that is keeping you from achieving it (or the “buts” if there are a few). Then, replace “but” with “and…because” and change the outcome of your sentence and your life. Battle the but! So now, you’ll sound more like this:
• “I want to meet someone and there has to be a good person out there for me, because I personally know a lot of people who have found love for themselves!”
• “I want the job, and even though I don’t have the exact experience they require, I know I’m capable because I have skills that could do even more for their company.”
• I want to own a house with a pool someday, and though I can’t afford one today, I know I’ll have one in the future because my appetite for success, my perseverence and my desire to swim my summers away won’t let me settle for anything less!”
If you can’t believe it, you will fail. This Yoda know. So get started on the road to believing by not letting your buts get in the way! Change that one word and you can change your life. And I know this because it’s worked for me.
You can have everything you want. Please, believe that and be on your way.
We all suffer a little from Tomorrow-itis. We think that if we do a few particular things today, then tomorrow will be much better.
Well, sometimes that’s very true: Put the ointment on the scar today and it will look better tomorrow. Do twenty minutes of crunches today and you will have stronger abs tomorrow. But in many cases, it pays to think about the fact that sometimes things don’t always need to be better tomorrow. Sometimes what you have today really is enough.
As I write about in Bright Side Up, true happiness can come from appreciating the floor models of life: as is. But that’s easier said than done. So here are 8 ideas on how to be happy with your life today, just as it is.
1. See how far your life has come. Where were you one or ten or twenty years ago? Where were you living? What were you doing for work? Who did you love and who loved you? Note all the ways you’re better off in love, or surrounded by better people, or better skilled at work—and even if you don’t love the work you’re doing, how you’re learning and growing from it every day to be better prepared for tomorrow. Maybe your physical space is better, or maybe your mental space is better. Instead of gazing to the future you wish you had, look back in amazement of how far you’ve come.
2. Stop striving for a minute. I look at my kitties Tarzan and Guinness sometimes and I’m reminded that while goals are great, sometimes so is having no goals at all. Find yourself fifteen minutes to follow a more aimless approach to your day. Sit if you want, eat if you want, or sit at the edge of your couch and do nothing at all.
3. Look at someone who has far less. The homeless guy camped out by the highway entrance? Oh, what he wouldn’t give for a day in the comfort of your “as is” life. If we look around, we may be reminded we have more than we think.
4. Notice your home for how perfect it really is. I’m obsessed with House Hunters International and at any given time, there are fourteen saved on my TiVo for whatever mood I’m in. (A country cottage in Cork for half a million? Nah. Ooh, a Nicaraguan getaway with a budget of just $200,000? I’m in!) But the show can also bring me down. Why do they have half a million extradollars to buy a second house when I can’t even afford to buy even one? This is when it’s time to shake sense back into ourselves. Houses aren’t about impressing other people or living in rooms so grand our voice echoes through it. A house is a place to protect ourselves from the elements. A place to gather with our family, our pet or our favorite books. A place to sleep at night and dress in the morning. And a place that makes us feel safe in the world, where we can always come back. If we have any of this, we have it all.
5. Appreciate what you can do. My friend Dee just said goodbye to her dog, Ciara, who had been living with an injured hip for years. And even though she couldn’t run after a ball as easily or sprint ahead on walks like her doggie sister, she was happy taking her walks slow, or just sitting in the shade of the pine tree in her front yard, gnawing on a bone.
6. Enjoy the hard work, not just the goal you’re aiming for. Reaching goals isn’t just about, well, reaching goals. Because once you get to the top of the big mountain you’ve been climbing, you’ll see that the peak isn’t astoundingly better than the journey that got you there. You can’t enjoy one without the other. The climbing is, truly, half of the fun. So tighten your laces and enjoy the work.
7. Embrace the mess. I’m a serious proponent of making my bed every day. I think it sets up a day where we feel in control and uncluttered in home and mind. But a day full of mess? That can be beautiful, too. Because it’s your mess. Dishes dirtied with food that satiated your belly, comforters crumpled from a long sleep, and sneakers in the hall that’ve had fun on your feet or your family’s. Your as is mess? It’s all yours.
8. Inhale the scent of your life. You know how you walk into someone else’s house and it just smells like them? Well, your house has a scent like that, too: Your coffee, your candles, your pets, your perfume. Really, it’s the perfume of your life. Be proud of everything that goes into the potpourri today.
9. Pretend you don’t have a tomorrow. A sure cure for Tomorrow-itis is to imagine there isn’t a day after today at all. What would you make sure to do? Who would you make sure to call? Maybe, just maybe, now’s the time to do it.