Happiness is the reward for our success. Right?

Tell that to a giddy child.
According to psychologists, that's backward.
Happiness creates success and all the great things we hope for in life.
To twist your brain further, happiness is not only a choice of perception, it's also a habit we can learn.

Some of you are arguing that there is a genetic link to your happiness quotient.

It turns out that this is only partially true.
Your mental capacity for joy can be altered with practice. Yep.
You can no longer use your DNA as an excuse for pessimism or a grumpy mood. Sorry.

 Scientists have found that you can create new pathways in your brain for the positive.
Gratitude, positive attitude and belief that you have control and choice in every situation are powerful tools.

It's not the circumstances that defeat us, but our perspective of those circumstances.

It's the old glass half full or half empty.

 HOMEWORK:  Look for the good by finding three things each day that you're grateful for.
It's a start to creating that new pathway in your brain.
Wield your joy like a sword. Believe! Whether you think you can pull Excalliber from the stone or not, you're right.
Believe in your success and act accordingly. Your joy and energy will increase.

I have to take a moment to give a plug for a wonderful book on positive psychology. Groundbreaking!
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.

It rocks.
The book explains the science behind happiness and success as well as giving the tools to create lasting change in your life. It's a keeper. This fine work inspired this post.

Be happy. Be successful!
 
 
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How do you make decisions?

I’m not talking about choosing between that gooey hot fudge sundae and decadent cherry cheesecake. That’s easy.

 Some of each. Please.

I’m referring to the meaty issues like career, marriage, school or moving to Australia.

While molten fudge ice cream bliss makes me smile, it’s not likely to change my life, but hauling my butt to Australia could. Those gigantic decisions can throw us into a tizzy. Yes, my mom says, tizzy. When it really matters, we can fret away sleep and burn calories pacing a groove in the wood floor.

Does this work?

Not so much.

Take a breath. Calm your mind and ask:
If I were independently wealthy and had no family or friends, what would I do?

Have an answer?

And that’s what pure emotion, ignoring reality and responsibility will get you. It's not good.
I’d be booking my trip for Australia and packing sun block.
While emotion and desire have their place, they aren’t the end of the matter. Bring in more tools.

1.    Reasoning

Make a pro/Con list.
Example: Pro
I get to taste exotic crocodile.

Con
Exotic crocodile may eat me.

You get the idea. No. I wouldn’t eat crocodile.

2.    Knowledge

Gather information including what you know of yourself.
Example: Australia has some wicked bugs.

I hate bugs.

3.    Circumstances


These are basic truths in your life.

Example: I’m married. I like being married and so does my husband.
I won’t be married if I move to Australia.

I’m getting too rickety to sleep on the ground and still move in the morning.

4.    Counsel

Speak with others who have done what you’re looking to do.
Speak to family and friends you trust will be honest.

Example: (Mom) “Are you nuts? The Dingoes will get you!”
(Husband) “Are you out of your mind? How is our marriage supposed to work if you’re in Australia?”

There were some good points to consider. There are Dingoes. Grin.

There you have it, my short list for making important choices in life.

Australia?

Nope. I’m not moving in with the aborigines.

I can barely get off the floor after a rousing game of “Candy Land” with the grand daughter.
And I’d miss my family.
And being married to my husband.

I’ll plan a vacation to Australia and sleep in a bed and eat normal food. No crocodile or bugs on the menu.
Tonight, I’ll snuggle up to my hubby and watch Crocodile Dundee.
Now that’s a good choice.

Comments always encouraged!


 
 
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I’ve been nominated by the talented blogger, Stanalei Fletcher, for the Sunshine Award! I’m in awe of Stan so it took me a moment to collect myself.

This award is given to bloggers by bloggers “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” Thank you Stan for the nomination!

Stan’s ‘Friday Favorites’ is a smorgasbord that inspires and educates along the writing path. I come away stuffed with motivation, knowledge and a few chuckles. She’s one of the most humble, hardworking and giving writers I’ve come across. And the woman can write! Her writing career has exploded this year with Wild Rose Press, her latest success, Lightening Only Strikes Twice.

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_8?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=stanalei+fletcher&sprefix=stanalei%2Cstripbooks%2C180&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Astanalei+fletcher

Stop by her blog: http://www.stanaleifletcher.com/blog/

And see what I mean.

The rules of the Sunshine Award are as follows:

1.     Thank the person who gave you the award in your blog post.

2.     Answer the questions below.

3.     Pass the award to 10 – 12 deserving and inspiring bloggers, inform them and link to their blogs.

Here are the questions:

Favorite color: Tough one, I like them all, but I’ll go with pink.

Favorite number: Does ‘infinity’ count as a number?

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Mocha anything.

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook.

Your passion: My adorable husband, kids and the Wild Child, beyond those, health, reading, writing, and the pursuit of spiritual truth.

Giving or getting presents: Giving. I don’t need anything.

Favorite flower: A bunch of Sunflowers and Iris.

And my nominations are, envelope please:

Rhonda Hopkins: http://rhondahopkins.com/

P J Sharon: http://www.pjsharonyawriter.blogspot.com

Calisa Rhose: http://calisarhose.com/chit-chat/

Ella Quinn: http://ellaquinnauthor.wordpress.com/

Anastasia Pollack: http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com/

Eliza Knight: http://www.historyundressed.com/

Harley Brooks: http://www.jcolemanauthor.blogspot.com/

Enjoy!


 
 
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Don't get me wrong, I love merry-go-rounds and fun,
but some rides aren't worth the price of a ticket.

I love to give. Serving others puts a grin on my face and a bounce in my step.
Seeing joy light another's gaze fills me.
It's in receiving that I struggle.
Sound familiar?

For me, this stems from a long held belief that I don't deserve. I know this is bunk. If a friend hesitated to accept a compliment or gift, I'd remind her that I loved her and she's worthy.  Allowing me to show my appreciation and gratitude makes me happy.
We all feel this.
So why do we push off compliments and gifts with negative remarks?
We deflect with comments like:
Oh, you shouldn't have. This old thing? I picked it up on sale. It's nothing.
Guilty?
Oh yeah. I've used them all at one time or another.
Each time we brush off a gift or compliment, we tell the giver and ourselves that the gift is wasted. We won't receive it.
They were wrong to offer it.


Bull and double bull!

These statements are not signs of humility. They are proof of broken self esteem and leave the giver feeling bad. We didn't want their gift.
With our deflecting words, we sent it back unopened.
Rude! Selfish not humble! Selfish? Yep. We are more concerned in protecting our twisted view of self than being gracious and allowing them to feel good for a moment.
It's time to get off the merry-go-round of crap and scrape off our tennies.
Don't rob others of the joy of giving. Accept graciously with a simple, thank you.

This week, practice accepting graciously. Thank you with a smile is enough.
Appropriate acceptance promotes more giving and joy.

Spread joy and leave the crap in the pasture.

Your comments are greatly appreciated.


 
 
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We’ve talked about words that hurt. Today I want to turn our minds to the positive and healing opportunities of language. 

Words matter.

Those phrases that damage and tear down can be healed.

Allow me to share a personal story to illustrate:

My husband’s family tormented him as a child with cruel words and physical abuse. By the time Rob entered Jr. High School, he believed he was stupid and worthless.

Thank heaven for a teacher who saw Rob differently.  Mr. Johnson told this skinny boy that he was as smart as any of the kids in the class. He just needed to believe in himself.  To prove his trust in Rob’s abilities, Mr. Johnson gave him the task of audio-visual man for the school. If a film was to be shown, Rob set up the projector and made sure all went smoothly.  Mr. Johnson commended his excellent work and dubbed him the ‘immortal audio-visual man’. Rob’s grades improved. His damaged self-esteem began to heal and sprouted under this teacher’s nurture. This was the beginning of this boy’s successful life.

Would he have gotten there anyway? Rob doubts it.  This was a turning point in his life and Mr. Johnson made all the difference. Years later, Rob stopped by the school and found Mr. Johnson in his classroom preparing for tomorrow’s class. He looked up and saw a grown man where the child once stood.

Mr. Johnson smiled, called him by name and added, “the immortal audio visual man.”

Seeing worth in another and using words to lift them to their potential is a great gift.

There is no accident that you’re reading this. This message is for you. Know that you are valuable. You’re more than you think and greater than you seem.

Deep down, we are all immortal.

Has anyone made a difference in your life with kind and truthful words?



 
 
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Who do you listen to?

 As children we listen to our parents and teachers. Teens follow their friends. Adults add to this council from media and employers. We ask others to weigh in on everything from our new hair cut to our mate’s infidelity. It’s great to have emotional support. We need it.

But many of us have neglected to confer with the one person that knows us best, ourselves.

Being brought up to please everyone but myself, valuing my own opinion came hard.

I trusted people who used me. I believed it when I was told my instincts were wrong.
There was a price to pay for trusting everyone but myself and it wasn’t pretty.

Why don’t we listen to ourselves?

Because we’re told that acting for ourselves is selfish or our gut is wrong. This brainwashing began as children, took hold, and now many of us question our gut and that small voice of reason.

When I pondered this, I realized that people lie to children to cover uncomfortable situations:

“No dear. Daddy isn’t drunk. He’s just tired. Where do you come up with this stuff?
Such a wild imagination you have.”

No wonder we don’t value our inner voice. The truth is, Daddy had been toasted to the gills. You were right!  Time to own that truth and renew the relationship with your inner wisdom.

How?

The same way you would in any friendship, by making contact and listening.

Contact can take the form of meditation, journaling or prayer. You choose what feels right for you.

A few minutes a day will make a big difference in your ability to hear and understand the quiet voice of reason.  In a recent meditation, I learned that I was out of balance. I needed more exercise and time with family. This allowed me to alter my schedule and I’m happier for it.

I challenge you to make time for a daily visit with yourself. Let us know what happens.



 
 
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I won! I won! Okay, this is more of a nomination by a good friend and talented author than a win, but I accept. Thanks Stanalei Fletcher for nominating my blog.  Stanalei is a wise woman with experience in martial arts, the military and computers. She’s also kind and a hoot. You may check out her blog here:

http://www.stanaleifletcher.com/blog/2013/02/21/stanalei-fletcher-the-reality-award/

This award comes with a list of rules:

Visit the blog of the person who nominated you, thank them, and acknowledge them on your blog.

Answer the questions below and nominate up to 20 bloggers whom you feel are awesome and deserving of notice. Visit their blog and let them know.

Cut and paste the award to your wall.

The questions: If you could change one thing, what would you change?

That’s tough. What I’ve been through has made me who I am. If I had to change one thing, I think I’d stand up for myself more. I’ve gotten better at that, but there’s room for improvement.

If you could repeat any age, what would that be?

Repeat? I do not believe in going back. I prefer to focus on the future. No do-overs.

What is the one thing that really scares you?


Water. I almost drowned as a kid. On a deeper level, I’d say failure. I hate to mess up and feel irrelevant. I fear at the end of my life that I’d find it wasted on things that didn’t matter. My grandmother said as much about her own life when she passed. I do not want that same experience.

If you could be someone else for the day, who would it be?

Hmmm. I don’t relish being another person. I don’t want to trade their troubles for my own. As for being able to pick their brain, I want to sit down with my ancestors and learn what they would do differently.

And my nominations are:


Joelene Coleman

Doree Anderson

Jewel Adams

Rhonda Hopkins
And I want to announce that my vampire romance, CONQUERED, goes FREE on Friday 2/22 through Sunday the 24th on Amazon.



http://www.amazon.com/CONQUERED-Kivronian-Vampire-Series-ebook/dp/B008GTHGTA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355242952&sr=1-1&keywords=conquered+by+sandy+l.+rowland


Thanks my friends!



 
 
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Those were the words that erupted from my father’s lips any time one of us kids complained. My parents didn’t want to hear it. Now that I’m grown, I understand the frustration of listening to people complain, leaving the issue at my feet and expecting me to fix it.

One day, a light flashed on in my head:
I can’t fix another’s complaint and I don’t have to listen to it.

Some of you are wide eyed in shock at this, saying, “But you’re a life coach.  Fixing is what you do.”

Not really. I can only guide and support people to find the truth. They must act to improve their lives. I can’t do it for them. Okay, I at times complain, too. Not happy about it and working to improve that flaw.

Why do people complain?

Some are looking for attention and sympathy, but most often it’s a means to feel like we’re doing something, while we avoid the issue. That avoiding the issue, that one would be my reason to whine. Having been raised as a people pleaser, confrontation was not going to happen easily for me.

Avoid. Avoid. And avoid again. Yes, My name is Sandy rowland, and I have whined.

It's much like when we hear the whine of the police siren. We pull to the side of the road and let them race past. We may feel sympathy or irritation, but we all want to get clear of their path. People are not happy to hear the siren. Do not be the whine people want to avoid.

We think it’s easier to complain to someone about our crappy job with low pay than to ask for a raise or hunt for another career. It’s simpler to whine to our friends about the state of our marriage or the unsatisfactory job someone did for us. We avoid confrontation, but we don’t suffer in silence. We bend our friend’s ears until they run for cover.

And nothing changes for he better.

We are adults and have the power to shift from complaint to action. It’s time to grasp success, stop whining and ask for what we want.

Be honest. Does the idea of confronting the person you’ve been complaining about cause your heart to race in terror? Yeah. That’s why we complain rather than act. We assume it will be a fight or argument, but that is rarely the case. Most people are reasonable and want to help us given the chance.  Decide to stop complaining and ask what specifically is driving your annoyance. Once you’re clear, act on that knowledge. Ask the person for what you want.

They have three options:

They can agree to your request, deny you or counter-offer. Negotiation is fine. Make it a win-win for both of you.

You have nothing to lose.

I say this because if they get angry, most often it’s to hide their guilt. People do this when they know they are in the wrong. Great to know what kind of person you’ve been dealing with. Knowledge is a good thing.

If you do not act and continue to whine, you might join the ranks of the other complainers that five years from now will still be yammering about the same things and nothing will have changed.

Is that what you want for your life?

NOT YOU! You’re capable of more or you wouldn’t be reading this. Act. Move forward. Succeed.

I hope this assists you in trading in the impulse to whine for the action to ask and communicate. As always, I thank you for your comments. We all learn from your experience and wisdom.


 
 
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Are you a good listener?
Most of us believe that we’re attentive, but there is a huge difference between being quiet while someone speaks, and the skill of active listening.

What is active listening?

You listen with focus. You hear and let the person’s words fill you without passing judgment or thinking about what you’ll say next. You are 100% there.

It’s an art and it takes practice to become proficient.

I listen!  Yeah, that’s what I use to tell myself.
But my listening skills sucked.


See if you employ any of these tactics:

When we argue, it’s a sign that we are not listening.

When we don’t understand, we may not be listening.

When we interrupt, we are not listening.


I have tended to use tactic number three, interruption.

First, it is rude. Butting in or talking over people sends the message that you know better and what they have to say has little value.

They feel that they have little value.

Not the message I’d wanted to send.

I worked hard to learn to listen with focus and intent. I had to invest myself and shut my mouth and my judgments.  Yes, it was difficult, but it was the best thing I’ve done for my relationships.

Why did I call the list ‘tactics’?

Because it can be a way to protect ourselves from being marginalized and ignored, it’s the three-year-old inside yelling, look at me!

When I stopped acting like a spoiled child, my relationships improved. How do you feel when someone listens to you, makes eye contact, nods, and asks questions that bring clarity. How do you feel? I feel loved and cared for.

I decided that I wanted to make others feel—valued.

This week, work toward active listening, time yourself as you focus for a solid 2 minutes. It’s much longer than you’d think. Nudge the speaker if needed with questions that bring clarity. It gets easier with practice.

People feel close to and trust those who listen with their heart. We feel accepted. If you want to improve your relationships, love others by listening so they know that they matter to you.

And you will matter to them.



 
 
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The only things in this life that you’ll regret are the risks that you didn’t take.
Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard that before. Me too!
But do we do anything about it?
We have the choice to go after our dreams and make things happen or we can sit back and take it easy.

If you stare at a box of cake mix does it get baked?
No. Nothing happens.
Nothing. My three-year-old grand daughter can tell you that. The same is true for our dreams and our life.

It’s human nature to fight change and do what’s easy. Easy is a choice, but choosing it means that you won’t reach your goal of losing weight, write your novel or learn Russian.

Easy means we won’t act unless we’re forced to. This means you won’t lose weight until after a heart attack. You may never finish the novel or learn the language because most dreams are things we want to do, rather than must do to survive.

Easy means we’d rather watch TV, eat a burger and goof off than get off of our sorry butt and make the cake.
Those cupcakes won’t bake themselves and neither will your dreams.

Dreams take effort. Walt Disney didn’t create Disneyland by sitting on his tush doing nothing. He made it happen.
He knew the secret of success.

I’m going to share it with you: Sustained effort. That’s it!

Work hard.

Keep at it.

Repeat.

Most people don’t succeed because they aren’t willing to work. They play, hoping that somehow the cake will be baked and someone will hand them a thick luscious slice.

Guess what, not happening.

Creating your dreams and making your life work is up to you.
I won’t sugarcoat this:
No one else really gives a damn about your dream.

That’s harsh. But getting to the end of your life full of regret and having never tasted that cake, that’s far crueler.

Open the box of your dreams, read the directions, set your goals and then follow them. Do something! If you find the cake wasn’t as good as you’d hoped, try another flavor and go for it. Keep at it. You will accomplish something just through the effort. The biggest regret is having never tried.

Dreams are what make us human; working toward them is what makes life worth living.

 I hope to see you bake your hearts out and eat your cake.