The Happy Little Thoughts Newsletter is Coming Soon!

August 18, 2017

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

Did you know that the redesigned Catching Happiness includes a new feature: the monthly Happy Little Thoughts newsletter?

The first edition is just about ready, so if you want to receive it, please sign up here. I promise I will not share your email address with anyone else.

Note: If you are already signed up for blog updates (see sidebar at right), you do not need to sign up for the newsletter. You’ll receive it automatically.

Don’t miss out on this Catching Happiness bonus—sign up today!

Alain de Botton

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are

August 16, 2017

Photo courtesy Public Co

“We are sad at home and blame the weather and the ugliness of the buildings, but on the tropical island we learn (after an argument in a raffia bungalow under an azure sky) that the state of the skies and the appearance of our dwellings can never on their own either underwrite our joy or condemn us to misery.”
—Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel


While I Was Making Other Plans

August 11, 2017

Life happened last week.

Tank hurt himself, doing we know not what, and I’ve been going to the barn twice a day to check on him, and clean and medicate his wounds. (He somehow injured his neck and put a puncture wound in his face—I’ll spare you the photos.)

I had intended to write some extra blog posts for Catching Happiness last week so I could take a little summer vacation.

That didn’t happen.

Life happened.

Tank is fine—it’s not a life-threatening injury, but it does require watching and extra care, and a little babying. Since the “feels like” temperatures are more than 100 degrees right now, these barn trips leave me dripping with sweat and exhausted by the end of the day.

I apologize for not having something new for you, but in the meantime, I’m resurrecting summer reruns. The following post first appeared in December of 2010 (hence the reference to the holiday season), but the message is good any time of year. 

With any luck, next week will be better!

The Gift of Permission

Most of us are thinking of what we and our loved ones would like as gifts this holiday season. Along with the wish lists we generally have, what about a gift we can give ourselves: the gift of permission? Here are three things we should give ourselves permission to do:

Permission to have the life you want
Do you, deep down, believe you deserve the life you want? If you don’t, your dream life will never become real. Women in particular often put others’ needs first, and sacrifice their own goals and dreams in favor of helping others achieve theirs. This is not all bad, of course. Many of us find deep satisfaction in helping others. It becomes a problem when you always sacrifice your own dreams and wishes in favor of others’ and never or rarely have a chance to pursue your own passions and pleasures.

Joy Chudacoff writes in “Smart Women Give Themselves Permission,” “There comes a time when you will begin to feel a calling to create more of what you prefer in your own life. It does not mean that you do not love and care for all of those people who mean so much to you. It’s a signal that the time has come for you to embrace more of who you uniquely are.”

This is definitely an issue for me: why do I “deserve” to have my dreams come true—owning my own horse, working as a freelancer (i.e., often getting paid more in satisfaction than in money), simply having what I have in my life? I feel guilty because I have the time and resources to pursue the life of my dreams, and then I begin to dissipate my energy to such an extent that I no longer do have the time and resources to do what I want. I realize I’ve been waiting for someone to tell me it’s OK to have the life I want. The truth is, I deserve the life I want just as much as—not more than, not less than—any other human being does. And so do you.

Permission to be imperfect
I’m not saying you consciously think you have to be “perfect,” but I’ll bet you think you should be better. We could all be “better” than we are—it’s part of the human condition to be imperfect. If you’re like me, you can probably name 25 things you wish were different about you and your life. Stop worrying over that and feeling guilty about it and give yourself permission to be imperfect. Admit your flaws, then realize that’s just how it is right now. If it’s truly something that must be changed, then commit to changing, but refuse to wallow in the feeling that somehow you should have already overcome this problem and you’re a bad person for not having done so. (Channel Popeye by saying, “I yam what I yam.”)

Permission to try and succeed…or to try and fail
This is one of my biggest issues. When I have a big, hairy goal or project in mind, I often become paralyzed, equally worried about succeeding or failing! If I fail, I’ll be embarrassed and disappointed in myself. If I succeed, people might expect more of me and then I could fail their expectations—or my own. Safer and more comfortable just to do nothing.

And what if trying for your big, hairy goal causes someone in your life discomfort or inconvenience? That may be true. How often does someone else’s important goal cause you discomfort or inconvenience? How do you feel about that? Probably you feel that’s OK, within reason, if the other person’s activity or achievement is important enough to them. (I also refer you back to my first point.)

Regardless of success or failure, you should give yourself permission to try. Either outcome is better than not making the attempt.

So this is what we’re going to do. I give you permission to follow your dreams, to learn something new, to succeed, to do something badly, to be imperfect. And you do the same for me. But truthfully, we don’t really need each other’s permission, do we?

What would you do if you had “permission”?

Seen on a store window in New Orleans

“If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.”
--Grace Murray Hopper

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder on Simple Pleasures

August 09, 2017

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness—just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze
when the day is warm.”
—Laura Ingalls Wilder,
Writings to Young Women From Laura Ingalls Wilder: On Wisdom and Virtues


Hot Links to Love

August 04, 2017

Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash

It’s August. It’s just too hot to do anything except stay inside and surf the ’net, don’t you think? To get you started, I’ve got some hot links for you to love today, so grab a cold drink and let’s get to it!

First up, Marc and Angel’s “50 Ways to Nurture Your Happiness.” We’ve heard most of these suggestions before, but how many of us actually do them consistently?

Check out the YOU-app: “Micro actions” for happier, healthier living, sent right to your phone or email. Perfect for those of us who make progress via baby steps.

I don’t believe adventures have to feel scary—and neither does the author of “Rethinking the Skydiving Mindset.”

Subscribe to the Goodnewspaper. There’s still good news in the world, and this quarterly print publication aims to find and share it. There’s also a free e-newsletter you can sign up for here

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed? So do I. This post examines the role we play in our own feelings of overwhelm, and how we can “own” our overwhelm. 

Twenty-six strategies for happiness, backed by research, in a handy infographic. The article itself is long, but packed with information.

This video made me laugh out loud. Kids are kids, whatever the species:

Have a happy (and cool) Friday!

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