Managing a Bad Day — (Speak Happiness replay from 4/29/13)

We all have bad days.

We all have bad things that happen in the middle of a perfectly good day that turn it into a bad day.
What we need to do is make sure we aren’t the main reason a bad day gets worse.

Let me share with you the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen a person do in real life.
(I’ve seen a lot worse on YouTube, but this is one I was present for.)

I was sitting outside at Starbucks and a young woman came out with her frozen coffee beverage and discovered that she had a parking ticket.

For those not in Los Angeles, let me explain that parking tickets here are $68.00 or more.  It’s brutal.

But this girl saw the ticket on her car, screamed (which made us all stare at her), then…I’m not making this up…threw her frozen coffee beverage at the ticket.

So now, she still had a parking ticket.  She did not have the $4.00 drink she had just paid for, which was the reason she got the ticket in the first place, and she had frozen coffee beverage all over her windshield.

It’s easy to laugh at that, but ask yourself, what do I do to make my own bad days worse? Do I pick a fight with my spouse?  Snap at my boss?  Say something mean to one of my kids?  Do I drive like a maniac?  Do I eat an entire cheesecake? What’s my “coffee on the windshield?”

And next time you’re having a bad day, stop.  Recognize your rotten mood.  Change your circumstances if you can, and if you can’t, commit to yourself to get through it without throwing a frozen beverage at a parking ticket.

Your bad day will get a lot better the sooner you stop making it worse.

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Happy Quote Sunday!

049 Happy Quote Saturday

George Carlin is responsible for just about everything I know about comedy, and it looks like he probably gave me a few tips about life along the way.

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Happy Quote Saturday

happy imperfections This is the core idea of Happiness as a Second Language.


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No, I Cannot Control This Dog (Speak Happiness Replay from 4/15/13)

My dog doesn’t like to poop.  I think she gets that from me.  I mean, isn’t that the very definition of anal retentive?  Not wanting to let go of your poop?IMG_0091_2

But the dog knows when I take her out in the morning that I want her to poop.  And I know she knows because she was trained to do so when told (the command is “get busy get busy get busy!”)  Seriously, why have a German shepherd if you aren’t going to take advantage of that big brain and impress all your friends with how many words your dog knows?  For Pepper, it’s 65.

Pepper knows every family member by name and can be sent to go get any of them on command.  She knows all of her toys.  She can be sent to any room in the house, (yes, “go to the kitchen” is something she understands and will do when told).  None of this is rocket science, especially with the Hound of Heidelberg.  Just say a word over and over, giving her a liver nugget each time, until she shows you that she knows what the word means.  Then, once or twice a week, go through the whole list.

IMG_0005What can I say?  We got the dog when she was six weeks old and we don’t have kids, so there you have it.

But given all that, she still won’t poop when I tell her to.  She will for my husband.  He’s even taught her complex concepts associated with doing what she’s told.  When she won’t go, he’ll ask if she wants to play, and when she replies yes (oh, yeah, we also taught her that she has to ask for what she wants by barking once in response…), he’ll then tell her to “get busy” and SHE WILL!  She understands that she can’t play until she does her other business.

This never works when I try it.  Nothing does.  She just will not poop for me.

So, I look at that as one of the things in the universe that I can’t control.  My attitude is that if it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, I’m not the one who has to wait until the next walk.  Why get mad at what you can’t control?  I guess sometimes it takes facing off with someone even more anal retentive than you are to get you to simply let go, not sweat the small stuff, and allow things to happen as the universe intends, not as you command.

Thanks for the reminder, Pepper.  You bitch.

IMG_1821 IMG_0053

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Happiness Replay: How to Overcome a Loss of Momentum (from 03/08/13)

Last week, in a giant burst of creative energy, I wrote several posts and scheduled them to go up each morning, so didn’t have to think about the blog after last Wednesday.   I knew I would be traveling Monday and Tuesday, and figured I could skip posting on Tuesday, but would be back into it by this Wednesday, no problem.

As you know, Wednesday didn’t happen.  Then Thursday didn’t happen.  Now it’s noon on Friday and I am literally forcing myself to type.  Luckily, we’re heading into the weekend and the “Happy Quote” posts, so that will provide the break I need to get back on track.

Here’s the thing I’ve figured out about losing momentum – getting it back matters more than the outcome.  I think we can all agree that this is far from the best entry ever posted on SpeakHappiness, but it exists.  Writing it gets me past the hurdle of not writing it, even if I’m doing something as trivial as writing about writing it.  Ooph! I have gone meta in the worst way.

The only way to get out of a slump is to get out of the slump.  Do something – anything – to move past inertia.  Don’t worry about the outcome, just move…or type…or cook…or read.  Whatever will get you one micron closer to your goal.  And if that doesn’t end the slump, do the same thing the next day.  Motion, even a millimeter at a time, is better than stasis.

I hope this message finds you slump-free and well on your way to success.  Moreover, I hope to join you there soon.

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Happiness Replay: The Big Squeeze Makes Me Happy (from 02/28/13)

This is not an April Fool’s Post — it is 100% Sincere!

Not to speak in code, but I am a woman over 40, so yesterday I had to have my annual big squeeze.  It sucks.  No one can deny it.

As I started talking with the radiology tech about the process, and how many boobs she handles in the course of a day and the various attitudes she experiences, she said, “No one’s happy to get this done,” and I instantly replied, “Oh, I am.”

I can think of so many reasons off the top of my head to be happy about it.  Here are just a few:

  • I’m happy we live in a day and age where the technology for early detection exists.
  • I’m happy to live in a country where I have access to the machines and people who can do this detection.
  • I’m happy whenever I take the time to take care of myself.
  • I’m happy that our family has health insurance (this is a biggie in the entertainment industry, where qualifying for health insurance changes year-to-year.)
  • I’m happy that the law now requires my insurance carrier to cover this procedure (sorry to those who oppose affordable care, but this is a very big deal.  Until the law changed, our insurance gave women the choice between an annual physical or an annual “well woman” exam, which meant I had to choose each year whether to be examined for cervical cancer or heart disease.  Now, I get to do both.  Woo-hoo.)
  • I’m happy I had a fun conversation with the technician.  She really seemed to be having a bad day before that, and she left the room laughing.

Whenever you have to do something unpleasant (go to the dentist, renew your car registration, clean out the gutters), try to make a list of all the reasons you are happy to be doing that activity.  Chances are, you have a lot of reasons, and they far outweigh the negatives of the thing you’re doing, so go ahead – bathe that filthy dog, get that colon examined, squeeze those boobs.

And never forget how happy you are to do it.

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Happy Quote Sunday

happiness-quotes-very-little-is-needed-marcus-aurelius One of the earliest writers on Happiness — from 2000 years ago.

Everything old is new again and vice versa.

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Happy Quote Saturday

happy quotes-smile quotes-love quotes-wallpapers-picture-photo (13) Be both!

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Happiness Replay: Go Ahead…Get Your Hopes Up! (from 03/22/13)

Recently my husband and I were awaiting news about something that was pretty unlikely, but would have made us very happy.  Throughout the waiting process, we both kept saying, “Now, let’s not get our hopes up.”  So we checked each other’s excitement at the possibility of good news, and just kept waiting.

Then it hit me – why not get our hopes up?  During the 24 hours of uncertainty, what is the downside of celebrating as if the answer is yes?  Don’t we do that when we buy lottery tickets?  When the Lotto is $80 million and you buy your ticket, don’t you start to spend the money in your brain?

Okay, after the reduction for the lump sum payment and taxes, that works out to $32 million, so we put ten million into a retirement fund and spend two million on a house, five million goes to family, five million goes to charity, and the other ten million goes to investments, indulgences and living our new life…but what if we put eight million into the retirement fund and bought a second home, or what if instead…?

So why is there a difference between your unlikely lottery winnings and any other unlikely good outcome?  Enjoy it while it’s still possible.  We did and it was really fun.

Then, when we got the news this morning that we didn’t get what we wanted, it didn’t sting any more because we’d had so much fun with it during the waiting period.  In fact, we have that to look back on as a good time.

So go ahead…get your hopes up.  As long as you don’t know the winning numbers yet – they’re yours!

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Happiness Replay: The Joy of Fearless Self-Inventory (from 03/11/13)

I was forced to do a fearless self-inventory on Sunday, and it was one of the best things I could have done.  The rewards are endless.  Well…not exactly endless.  They’re quite nice though.  In fact, they’re hanging on drying racks in my den right now, as I type.

Who forced me, you ask?  My friend, Dawn Alden, the wise and beautiful actress who introduced me to the concept of:  The Clothing Swap.

Yes, a girl’s first clothing swap can be as magical and memorable as her first kiss…her wedding night…getting the results she wanted from the little stick she peed on three minutes ago…

Sunday was my second clothing swap, and if possible, it was even better than the first.

This time, I did it right.  I was completely and totally honest with myself about the size of the clothes in my closet, and the size of clothes that fit on my body, and I emptied an insane number of hangers.  Of course, so did everyone else who came, and as a result, those empty drawers and hangers are all filled back up – only this time with clothes that are brand new to me, and look, feel and fit better than the old ones.  All for free! (or for the price of clothes I was going to donate anyway).

And do you know what’s most joyful about a clothing swap?  Watching someone fall in love with the sweater that fits her like a glove and never quite hung right on me and that my husband always hated.  I want to say I’m even happier for the women who got my slightly used clothes than I am for myself, but as I look around at the shirts, skirts, dresses, shorts, jeans, sweaters, bras (yes, bras!), tank tops and even an adorable sailor hat that came home with me, I must confess – I’m happier for me.

This was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with amazing women as they flowed in and out of Dawn’s home, some not knowing a single person at the party, having only heard about it through a forwarded email, all at different stages of our lives and body types.

There was the young girl looking for clothes for her first job interviews, the one who came with her mom (and refused to try on anything too “girlie”), the woman who had just lost 40 pounds, and the costume designer with a fabulous stash that had only been worn once by the occasional actress.  Then there was me – six and a half years into a happy marriage with all the extra pounds that comes with, admitting that my size now involves two digits and soooo grateful that the woman who just lost 40 pounds showed up!

Seriously, some of her bras still had their original tags.  Score!

Fun update — over the holidays this past year, I saw Dawn as she was on her way to a Christmas party and she was wearing the cutest top.  In face, I said to her, “Wow, I have that exact same shirt!” To which she replied, “I’m pretty sure you used to have it, then you brought it to a clothing swap.”  I couldn’t help but crack up.  It looked great on her!

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