The Need for a #DailyGiggle

If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that every day I post a #DailyGiggle.  Most days it is either a silly photo or video from various sites.  The only requirement I have for choosing one is that it has to make me laugh out loud.  Whether hysterical laughter, or just a little chuckle, it has to initiate a reaction from me.  And for videos, I try to keep it under five minutes in the interest of people at work who might be checking it out.  I pick a new item every day and usually put in some time searching.  If I’m lucky, something that I recall that has made me laugh in the past pops into my head and I just go find it.

Who is reading these tweets?  Let’s do the math.  I have less than 300 followers  and I’m pretty sure that about 100 of them are bots, businesses or people that don’t even read my tweets.  Still, that leaves about 100 or so that might read them.  Even if only half of those people see the #DailyGiggle, that could be 50 people that I have made laugh.  To me, that is an extremely successful day. 

Why do I post these tweets?  I’ve come to find that if you make it a point to get some laughter each day, you can make a difference in the way stress affects you.  Being happy doesn’t just come naturally.  You have to help it, nurture it and encourage it to be able to keep it.  It may seem like hard work, but you’ll find that when it comes to making yourself happy, it doesn’t feel like work. 

Still not convinced?  Let me list a few of the health benefits of laughter for you:

  • Relieves physical tension
  • Decreases stress hormones
  • Increases immune cells & infection fighting antibodies
  • Improves blood vessel function & increases blood flow
  • Decreases pain
  • Eases anxiety
  • Increases energy

The list goes on and on.  A good laugh may give you temporary benefit, but when you are laughing regularly you could see some real long term advantages.  The improved blood vessel function and better blood flow can protect you from heart attack.  Relieving anxiety can help you avoid stress related illnesses such as anxiety attacks and stomach ulcers.  Taking care of your body can be difficult for people on the go.  We don’t always eat right and exercise.  However, it’s still important to do what you can to keep your health in check.  Better health means less trips to the doctor.  That means less doctor bills to pay and one less stress to worry about. 

I’ve been on quite a journey in this past year and the most important lesson I’m learning is that happiness is easy to come by when you are looking for it.  And with this lesson, I hope the spread around the joy a little.  I feel like if I can be this happy, more people should feel this way, too.  So, if you’re on Twitter, look for me and my #DailyGiggle hashtag.  For those of you that follow me already, I hope you enjoy the giggles.  And for those of you that retweet them, thanks for spreading around a few laughs!

Whether you are or aren’t on Twitter, please, do what you can to get some laughs every single  day.  The more you laugh, the more you’ll see what a difference it can make. 😀

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What Have I Done?

It’s happened.  I have finally succumbed to the peer pressure and set up a Facebook page.  What have I done?  I am already regretting my decision.  I am a Twitter addict, tried and true.  I like the anonymity and the brevity of it all.  I actually receive useful writing information on Twitter.  There’s something to be said for that.  I’ve learned quite a bit about writers, rules and tricks of the trade.  That was my goal from the beginning. 

But now…now I’m looking at a page of gobbledy gooked comments all over the place.  There’s no organization.  There’s random updates of which I have no idea what they are.  I like order!  I would look at one person’s page and find they know someone else I might know so I keep going from page to page saying “I know this one!” and “Hey, I havent seen her in forever!”  What have I done?  I don’t want to open this door.  I don’t want to invite a flood of people I haven’t talked to in ages to chit chat about stuff I don’t care about.

Am I selfish?  Am I conceited?  Maybe I’ve turned into a hermit?  I’m not sure, but I feel like I’ve opened Pandora’s box with this stupid page and I just want to shut it.  I want to fill it full of concrete and lock it up tight and drop it to the bottom of the nearest river.  Is it too late to turn back?  I am really trying to convince myself that this was a good idea, but I can’t do it.  There is one person that I haven’t talked to in ages that I have been dying to talk to.  Maybe I can just send her my email address and then shut it all down.  I’ll shut it down and pretend like it never happened.  That sounds good, right?  No one will ever know? 

Right?

RIGHT?!?!

Crap…how did I get 24 friends already?

The Makings of an Optimist

Life is stressful.  It just is.  We have jobs, kids, friends, family, money and whatever else we deal with weighing on our shoulders.  We multitask, reschedule, overbook and overwork to get everything done.  It’s hard to stop and breathe sometimes.  Our bodies take stress in and it can affect us in different ways.  Headaches, backaches, stomach pain and anxiety attacks are only a few of the culprits. 

I have been on a quiet journey for a few months.  While trying to read more and write more, I have also been trying to calm my mind and body in the meantime.  Maybe we could say I am on a path to enlightenment.  Too cliched?  Ok, I am learning about meditation.  When I first began reading about it, I thought what can it really do for me?  I can barely sit still for several minutes let alone get my mind to focus on a mantra.  Isn’t this only for hippies and people who live for yoga?  Besides, I have kids, a dog and a cat, so there is no chance of me ever having a substantial amount of undisturbed silence to obtain any benefit. 

Wrong.  I was so wrong.  I am so wrong it makes me wonder why have I not done this before?  Meditation does not mean sitting and chanting “Ohm” for hours on end.  There is so much more to know.  You can meditate by looking at a candle, listening to ocean waves or even doing daily activities.  Positions vary from lying flat on your back to performing yoga poses.  The middle of your living room is a great place.  So is your back yard.  Or your desk at work. (You may not want to lie across your desk, though.)  The point is, meditation is not about one position and one practice.  The importance is in the results of your meditation.

The ability to breath deep and allow yourself to let go of your thoughts is a true gift.  The breathing can calm your body as well as your mind.  When we let stress affect us, it can make our muscles tighten and our breathing to become short and shallow.  By forcing a deep breath, you can feel your muscles begin to relax.  And somehow, some way, the more you do it, the more the calm bleeds into the rest of your day.  You are more likely to handle tasks with patience and skill.  You are less likely to be upset by coworkers, spouses or your children. 

My favorite outcome is I feel more aware of my own self.  I am starting to discover so much more about who I am.  I feel much more in tune with my body and mind.  When I feel frustration or anger building up, I am much better equipped to pacify my emotions.  Just one or two deep breaths can help me refocus when I feel like I am losing control.  Most of all, I relish the fact that I can learn to appreciate so much more in my life.  A mere smile from one of my kids or a trip in the car without an accident is enough to make me remember what is important in my life.  Each day, each moment can hold something precious. 

So, has meditation made me an optimist?  Maybe.  Or maybe it just showed me what I’ve been missing.

9/11 In Remembrance

I think every generation has at least one occurrence that brought them to tears as a citizen of this country.  The kind of event that they say, “I remember where I was when that happened.”

I was in a meeting at work.  A regular, monthly meeting to discuss the issues our department was facing, achievements and such.  I remember returning to my desk to find people milling about and looking solemn and nervous.  Then my supervisor walked up the aisle to announce that while we were in our conference room, the Twin Towers had been hit. 

I didn’t know anyone that worked there.  I didn’t even know anyone in the New York area.  I took my scheduled break, a bit stunned, and walked down to the cafeteria.  Televisions were lined up playing the news stories and I stopped to watch.  As I stood there, unsure and shaken, I prayed.  I prayed for the safety of the airline passengers, grim as their outcome was.  I prayed for the thousands of employees in the building.  I prayed for the citizens of the city in and around the buildings.  And I prayed for the good people trying to help them all.  And as I prayed, which is not a common thing for me to do, I cried.  I stood and watched and cried.  And even as I type these words, the tears well up once again.  Never had I felt so concerned, so yearning to help and so utterly helpless all at the same time.  After sufficient exposure to the incident, I wandered, in a daze, back to my desk. 

There’s no answer as to why.  There’s nothing that will satisfy our questions.  To this day, if I watch any show detailing what happened that day, I sob uncontrollably.  Even the Challenger explosion had not affected me to this extent.  Seeing a tragedy like this is earth shaking.  I cannot even fathom the fear those people experienced or the hopelessness they faced. 

So, to remember this day, I send my loving prayers and thoughts to each person affected by this day.  The families, the friends, the strangers.  All of us.  All of you.  My heart hurts on this day every year to think of the lives that have been lost.  And it fills with joy to know that we came together to help each other get through it with love and understanding and empathy.  Please remember this day always and forever.

I’m Mad So I’m Gonna Yell At You!

In the past few days, I’ve seen some pretty poor displays of character in public forum.  Rather than point fingers and say this person is wrong or this one is right, I think there is one big lesson that is sometimes easily forgotten when emotions run high.  Respect. 

Sure, it can be a vague topic, but in actuality, it all comes down to one main focus…not being a total jerk when you get mad about something.  Ok, maybe that’s not as eloquent as I could have been, but you get it, right? 

Emotions can often get the better of us.  Anger and jealousy being the biggest culprits.  It’s easy to attack others with hurtful words when we let these feelings overwhelm us.  It’s ok to be angry and it’s perfectly normal to feel jealous.  But, when  you go after others to make yourself feel better, you only make things worse.  Think about the last time you lashed out at someone.  Did it make you feel better?  Did it solve the problem?  Probably not.  Not only were you still upset, but now someone else is, too.

When you do this in a public forum such as Facebook, Twitter, or even out in a place like a restaurant or other venue, you leave it up to others to be able to judge your character based on this one outrageous incident.  You might normally be a great person, but who would know?  Insulting people you know, or don’t know, just to express something doesn’t solve the issue. 

So, let’s fix it. 

1)  Know who you are angry with.  Snapping at your friends, family or the cashier at WalMart is misplaced emotions.  Beware!  The person you are mad at, may be you.   

2)  Think before you speak.  If you are speaking with someone, wait a few seconds before reacting to determine if they are trying to be hurtful or helpful.  You may have misunderstood them.

3)  Don’t point fingers at people you don’t know.  You may only have one little glimpse into the life of a person on sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Accusing someone based on one or two comments is like calling someone a bad dresser when they had to run out to the store after a session at the gym.  You don’t know them.  Two lines and a picture don’t give you a window to their soul.  It gives you a Polaroid of one day. 

4)  Stop to consider the consequences.  Do you have any idea what is going on in another person’s life?  You had a bad day and feel fed up.  Maybe their day was worse.  Maybe they have less than you do to be thankful for.  You may have just incited a domino effect as they might be rude to the next person they speak with because you have needlessly ruined their day.

5)  Look in the mirror.  Do you have any blame in what is going on?  Are you so busy yelling at someone else that you forgot that part of this is your fault?

The basic lesson here is that when you feel enraged about something, think before you open your mouth.  Consider what the result may be if you encroach on someone else’s happiness.  If you can manage to take a few deep breaths and ponder what might happen, you will have the fortitude and the good sense to prevent someone else from being an innocent victim of your wrath.  And you just might save your reputation, as well.

Discipline, Talking and an Afterschool Special

In the spirit of school starting, I think this post’s lesson should be about parenting.  I’ve seen some discussion lately about parents and the different ways that they discipline, or don’t discipline their children.   My favorite being the following:

http://rockonmommies.com/paris-hilton-was-an-undisciplined-child/

As our kids grow up, we really hope that we’ve done right by them and they won’t end up some sad story on the nightly news.  It is hard to decide if the actions we take when they misbehave are going to be beneficial in the long run.  It’s essential to be able to say no to your kids.  So I would like to follow up on the above video with the next step after discipline.  Sometimes,  it is the actions we take after the scoldings or punishments that are what create the foundation for a solid future.

Part of being a parent is talking to your kids.  They aren’t just a small person that wanders around the house attempting to break one of your rules.  You brought that child into this world to love, support and one day send off to live his own life.  Unless your intention was to provide a nanny with a job, I think maybe some interaction is required on your part. 

I am under the impression that many of the problems kids face could be solved with some genuine conversation with family.  Let’s be real here.  I’m not talking “afterschool special” conversation.  You don’t have to get out the milk and cookies and a reference book.  All I am saying is show your kids that you do care about what is on their minds and talking about it shouldn’t be an uncomfortable situation. 

I have always been very open with my son, who is now 10, about many topics.  Example 1, two girls in the neighborhood keep pushing him off his scooter and then when they get it, they don’t give it back.  He’s afraid to do anything because he doesn’t want to push a girl.  Ok, so I don’t have the perfect answer for this.  But, we talked it out.  We tried to figure out some options.  Point being, he felt a little better afterwards.  Example 2, for years there has be a certain nearby store that we pass that is for, ahem, adults only.  For ten years my son has never noticed this store…until there were protesters outside with signs that say “Pornography Hurts Our Children”.  How ironic.  So, as I am driving by praying he didn’t see them, he asks “Mom, what is pornogra..what does that say?”

*facepalm*

Ok, sometimes we are gonna have conversations we don’t want to have.  If you can put on a brave face and an even tone, you can show your kids that they can come to mom or dad with anything without feeling embarrassed.  That’s the real lesson here.  Just asking how they feel once in a while can be beneficial.  School is approaching.  Ask if they are nervous, excited or scared.  Let them tell you what they think and give them advice if they are unsure about starting school.  Get them to look at the big picture to show that even though things may be tough one day, other days will be better. 

Do you remember what it was like to be a kid?  Were you afraid to raise your hand to ask a question in class?  Did you feel confused in health class?  Did you loathe having to change in front of classmates in the locker room?  There are LOADS of embarrassing moments for us to choose from.  If we can remember those times, we can surely help our kids get through them knowing what we know now. 

Maybe we don’t have all the answers, but just being there to say “I understand” can mean more than you realize. 

I Bet You Think This Blog is About You

We all want to be happy, right? Even the most miserable, self-pitying rogue just wants to have a good day.  I think we can all admit to that. 

With that said, I’d like to file a complaint…with the complainers.  When you spend your time defiling others, whining about what’s gone wrong in your life and basically lamenting endlessly, you will never be satisfied in life.  It is the truth and I’m sorry, but the truth might hurt today. 

Let’s first clarify the difference between complaining and explaining your situation.  It’s completely acceptable to ask friends for advice or bend their ear a bit when you are feeling down.  When you have a great support system, they don’t ever mind being there to help pick you up when you’re down.  I must confess, I have some intangible quality that often gives people the capability to tell me their secrets and woes quite freely.  To be clear, I love this about myself.  I will gladly provide advice or just a shoulder to cry on to any of my friends, or even complete strangers, no matter what the problem.  It gives me a sense of pride to know that I have helped someone I care about improve their outlook.  And for those of you that read this that qualify as one of these people, I adore you all and will always be here to listen.

However, those of you that can only pick apart every aspect of your life need much more assistance than I can provide.  To you, when it’s sunny out, it’s too hot.  When it’s raining, it’s too wet.  When someone brings you flowers, they are the wrong kind.  Murphy’s law is your daily motto.  When you go on Facebook you say what a lousy day you had.  If you see your friends, you tell them your job is horrendous.  You are probably to blame for the insensitive comments at the bottom of web articles that pick apart whomever the piece is about.  None of this is ever going to get you what you want.   

If you want to get out of that rut you are in, you are going to have to make big changes.  You have to start your day finding something good to notice.  It doesn’t matter how big or small it is.  Wear your favorite shirt.  Eat your favorite breakfast.  As the day goes on, find the good around you.  Compliment someone’s outfit.  Read a page of jokes instead of the news.  Listen to your favorite music to put you in a good mood, maybe some Carly Simon. 😉  Instead of publicly announcing your dissatisfaction with everything, be public about your appreciation.  If you can put the negative aside, you will be more likely to appreciate the positive.  And for the times that you need to talk about the negative, find a trusted friend to listen.  Having a one-on-one conversation can provide stress relief and the sense that things are not as awful as they seem.  Don’t forget to return the favor when they need someone, too.

Even when things seem abysmal, finding a silver lining is going to be the first step to turning it all around.  We all have bad days.  No one has a perfectly happy life.  I am not June Cleaver and I never will be.  And that is not a complaint.  I like my imperfect life.  And I am much better off appreciating what I have than whining about another pile of dishes to wash.

So, if you think this blog is about you…maybe it’s time to make some changes.