Feedback is Your Friend! — (Speak Happiness replay from 5/8/13)

I had an email exchange recently that started with the other person asking me a lot of questions about self-publishing and promotion, which were clearly coming from a place of him having read everything one is supposed to do and deciding that I somehow wasn’t doing any of that.

As I was getting pissier and pissier in my replies, I stopped, took a deep breath, and realized that this man was doing me a favor.  In a forum as small and intimate as an email, he was asking questions that I am likely to be asked in all sorts of places where it would be good to already have the answers in advance.

Challenges to your personal status quo are always, always good if you’re open to them.

I’m in a writing group in Hollywood where screenwriters bring in pages from their scripts and actors act them out, then everyone gives the writer feedback on what works and what doesn’t.  Everyone in the group pays monthly dues to be part of it – both the writers and the actors.

The last script I put up was a first draft of a new genre for me.  It needed a lot of work.  I knew it needed a lot of work, which is why I brought it to my writers group to work on.  That’s kind of the point of being in a writers group.

We do scenes from two writers each week and the other script that was being staged along with mine was a remake of a horror classic written by an amazing writer with the producer of the original movie involved.

In short, the other script was awesome and mine sucked.  Week after week, I got to hear everyone give that writer feedback on how awesome his writing is, then had to sit through much more extensive feedback about the scads of things that didn’t work in my script.  It was awful.  It was painful. It was demoralizing.  I loved it!

Because it was making the script BETTER, and that’s what I’m there for.  It’s why I pay to be a member of this group, and drive 40 minutes in horrible LA traffic each week to get there.

Feedback is always, always good if you’re open to it.

So now, I’m staging a new script, which is already in pretty good shape, but still needs honing, and the other writer’s script needs a lot of work.  A lot.  So the writer has to sit there and hear all the things that are wrong with that script while on the same night hearing everything that’s magnificent about mine.  I’ve been there. I feel that pain.  I loved it, remember?

Sadly, the other writer feels the pain, too, and doesn’t love it.  The other writer is closed off and argumentative and actively resistant to what’s being said – by everyone.  (Okay, not everyone.  This group has a few super-nice people who will find something good to say regardless.)

Honestly, I don’t understand it.  Why pay to be in a writers group if you are not going to soak up like a sponge everything people want to give you?  We are all PAYING TO BE THERE, to do nothing more than give feedback on the writers’ work.  Where else are you going to get a deal like that?!  The actors PAY to act out our words and give us their (very worthy) opinions.  The writers whose work isn’t being staged still PAY to come each week and give other writers feedback.  This rocks!

But some people just aren’t able to absorb honest, open, agenda-free feedback.  They keep asking themselves why they aren’t succeeding, without being able to see the answer, even when written in lights.

If someone gives you feedback, thank them. They are doing you a favor.
If someone points out that you roll your eyes in meetings, or have a nasty tone when talking to your kids, or lack listening skills – that person is doing nothing but helping you.
You have everything to gain from taking that information and using it to make yourself better.
Don’t get defensive, don’t counter with a little “feedback” of your own, and don’t storm off in a huff.

Say, “Thank you,” then, if you didn’t like what you heard, do whatever it takes to make sure no one ever says it to you again.

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Happy Easter Sunday!

Change Your Life Even if all you do is start every day by taking three deep breaths and saying, “I am a happy person.”

It doesn’t matter if it’s true when you say it, just say it every day, before you even get out of bed, and change will start to happen.

For more daily tips, get your free copy of “One Day of Fluent Happiness” and for even more comprehensive instruction in Happiness, pick up Happiness as a Second Language.

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Happy Quote Saturday!

talk behind your back

I know I’ve run this one before, but we have so many new readers, and it is always good to be reminded of this now and then.

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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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