Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The three realms of life

People writing about health and happiness often speak of "balance." But what exactly is it that we are trying to balance?

Typically, we readers typically are told about balancing our diet or balancing our budget. Let's take a step back from these specifics for a moment and look at the bigger picture.

A life lived well occurs when there is balance in and between each of these three realms: the physical, the emotional and the spiritual.

Over the next few days we are going to discuss each of these (as well as the interrelationship of these) realms of life. We'll start with the PHYSICAL realm -- in part because this is the area in which we can most easily relate. This is the tangible realm.

As an aside, I think part of our problem these days is that life is SO busy that most people have a hard enough time trying to balance just the day-to-day things in the physical world. Then, when and if there is energy, time, or conscious thinking of it, we may delve into one of the other realms.

Is that not accurate? When's the last time you asked someone about the topic and they said, "Oh, no! I'm not busy at all!" It just doesn't happen!

So another thing we'll need to talk about soon is PRIORITY SETTING and more about TIME MANAGEMENT.

In the meantime, have a happy moment right now...

Monday, November 2, 2009


Follow me for "Happiness Tweetorials" @CoreOfHappiness

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What are blogs?

Blogs are different things for different people.

For me, this Happy Blogger blogspot is a place to express some of the tidbits that I hope will stretch someone else's mind as well as give me the opportunity to reflect and stretch my own.

As of the last decade, the plasticity of the human brain has become well documented. Unfortunately the stubbornness of the human spirit is doubly well documented -- over millennia.

Human attitudes - and therefore human behaviour - are what they are. The reductionist argument can be brought in to bring everything down to sodium and potassium channels between cells. But the fact remains: if we want to change something about our selves or about the world in which we live, we have to start WITH OURSELVES.

The general rule of thumb in fixing a psychotherapeutic problem is: the longer the problem has been in place, the longer it is going to take to make changes. (And if you like the wiring description of the brain as illustrated in the documentary "What the Bleep do we know," then it is the neuronal contacts that have to be changed -- and this takes repetition over time. Remember: neurons that fire together, wire together.)

This is true on a societal level, too. Unfortunately, greed and selfishness rule the better part of many peoples' lives. How many times have we heard the saying, "I've got my rights!"

Talk about PLATITUDES!

Collectively and individually, what are our responsibilities?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Guns don't kill people. Bullets kill people.

That's just the truth. It isn't the GUN that kills people, it's the flippin' BULLET! So I would suggest letting everyone who wants to carry a gun, carry a gun.

In fact, maybe WalMart can go ahead and start stocking bazookas. And as long as nobody can buy bazooka bullets anywhere then everyone is safe.

Many of my American compadres are shaking their heads in disbelief about this position. Cuz the truth is, many Americans feel strongly about their right to bear arms.

Truth be known, this is the one, singularly defining difference between Americans and Canadians: Americans want to carry a gun and Canadians want to carry a hockey stick.

Truth is, since the advent of grocery stores like Kroger or Loblaws, we don't need weapons to feed ourselves.

Let's smile, laugh and giggle more. It's time to evolve past the knuckle-walking stage and learn to be happy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So what is stress, anyways?

Stress is a bit like a weed.

What have I been smokin', you ask? Stress is like a weed?

Before you send me off to the rehab center, allow me to explain. Weeds, when you get down to it, are plants that are growing where they don't belong. So a corn plant in the middle of a bean field is a weed. (But a corn plant in a corn field is obviously not a problem.)

So it can be with stress - especially with the so-called 'good' stress. Consider a promotion or getting married. These are typically considered 'happy' events yet they are often stressful. Any situation or precipitant that weighs on the body, the mind or the spirit is a form of stress.

Even seemingly small stressors over time can cause big problems. Think of the small leak in the roof. No big deal at first. But then the little leak grows and suddenly there is a big problem as more and more ceiling damage is uncovered.

Or consider the person who is asked to hold an apple in his palm with the arm maximally extended outward. No big deal, right? NO? Try it! Sure the first few seconds is fine. Maybe even the first few minutes. But after thirty minutes or so, you'd need to call an ambulance for that unlucky guy! The moral of the story is: even small stressors can give you a lot of trouble if you have to carry them over a long period of time.

Be careful with stress. It is a problem that hides itself silently in the form of hypertension and other 'silent' killers.

Define your stress really well. What things make you upset? What things make you angry? What things make you sad? frustrated? What things make you feel powerless or helpless? Knowing what stresses you is the first step in doing something about it!

Good luck! If you need any help, please email me via rudy@happysolutions.net

Monday, October 26, 2009

Winning the battle against STRESS

While taking a nice, relaxing, warm bath generally helps people feel better, the reality is that by the time we get patted dry, much of the stress can feel like it is right back on our shoulders.

So what are we to do?

This was exactly the question emailed to me today via THE CORE OF HAPPINESS fan page on Facebook. (Have a question? Don't hesitate to email me at: rudy@happysolutions.net.)

Stress is everywhere. Tomorrow we'll go into more details about exactly what stress is. Briefly, there are LOTS of types of stress. There's good stress and bad stress. There's financial stress, work stress, peer pressure, marital strain, parental and familial stress...truly, the list goes on and on....There's stress from getting a promotion, from getting married, having children....

Start by taking a piece of paper and literally writing out - in point form - every individual thing that causes you stress. In over 20 years of doing this exercise with people I can tell you that responses have ranged between 10 lines and nine double-sided pages!

From this list, divide each and every point into one of two categories: 1) Things UNDER my control and 2) things NOT UNDER my control.

This is an INCREDIBLY important step! If something is UNDER your control... drumroll please ... then you can control it! Woohoo! YES! You can DO something about it!

And if something is NOT UNDER your control then you can't do a darned thing about it -- so practice putting it out of your mind! (If it is out of your control, then you have to learn to cope with it. We'll deal with COPING SKILLS later this week.)

Beside each point UNDER your control, write some point form notes about what you can do to solve the issue. Then practice putting all your attention on these items.

Put a date on your note paper and file it safely. Each month, do the same exercise. You'll undoubtedly find you feel much better almost instantly!

If you have difficulty thinking about practical things you can do to help you take control of stressors, approach the people closest to you and ask for some assistance. Together I'm sure you can brainstorm some great ideas!

As always, feel free to get in touch with me if you think I may be able to help in any way. You can reach me via rudy@happysolutions.net.

Thanks for the great question! Please keep them coming!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


HKIS? What the heck is that about?

Every Friday and Sunday I'm reminded of how the vast majority of us in North America go through "the change."

On Friday it is not uncommon to hear variations of the chant "TGIF" aka "Thank God It's Friday." The symbolism runs deep: it means the work week is over -- and now it is time to cut loose and live your life... in a word, it's time to have fun!

The "other side" of Friday, of course, is Sunday. And Sunday represents the beginning of the end of the weekend. Sunday afternoon and especially Sunday evening represent the cusp of a new work week -- they represent the beginning of the imbalance that rules the better part of North American living. Anxiety flares

Sunday is the day when the anticipatory joy of "TGIF" is replaced with the anticipatory angst of "HKIS --Holy Krap It's Sunday."

As I've said before, Sundays represent one seventh of our life...and that's a lot of life to lose if we don't learn to enjoy every bit of it. And what's even worse is the thought that the work week is so unbalanced that all that time is unappreciated or wasted as well. If we only live for Friday evenings, Saturdays, and maybe to sleep in Sunday mornings...we're missing out on life.

Life is a package deal and the only way to make the best of it is to take a step back from the stress and make some decisions and changes such that your values and goals and needs are adequately balanced. You'll find more on this by visiting www.thecoreofhappiness.info.

When life is truly balanced and happy, you'll get to lean back, smile, and genuinely say: How Kool, It's Sunday!

Have a great rest of Sunday, everyone!

Friday, October 23, 2009


The Facebook fan page is up and operational!

Look for it under "The Core of Happiness."

Enjoy the fun!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Happy is as happy does.

And happy does what happy thinks.

So what thinks Happy?

Happy thinks: What good is a rhetorical question if it never gets answered?

Let's all say it together: "Hmmmmmmmmm."

The point of a rhetorical question is to THINK. Solving a problem with a solution is great if one wants to build a bridge. Thinking about a problem builds bridges between concepts, thereby forming connections never previously conceived.

And as Aristotle said: Happiness is knowledge....

But if happiness is knowledge and ignorance is bliss then is it possible to be blissfully happy? (Oh no! Another rhetorical question!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When things go bad...

Perspective is everything.

Things look very different depending on where we are standing, literally and figuratively. But one thing is constant and that is that no one can be truly happy all of the time. That's right, no one can be happy all of the time. Just as no one can be full all of the time.

Carrying along that gustatory example, truthfully we have to acknowledge that, theoretically, if we could be full all of the time that we would likely take it for granted completely!

Taking the good things in our life for granted is a major, major boo boo!

Sometimes we need to be reminded of our hunger. And while no one likes to be in a state of deprivation or starvation, a bit of hunger now and again does help us remain humble in acknowledging how thankful we are about the food we have to eat... especially given how all the world does not share in our riches here in the Western world.

Let's not go into despair on feeling the pangs of hunger... for, truthfully, the anticipation of the next warm meal goes a long way to helping us react positively as we move thru the day.

Let's appreciate all we have, including our heartaches, as a way of truly, authentically living life! Let's remain positive around the clock and focus our selves to do and be the best we can!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Just another Manic Monday!

You don't have to have the sensitivity of a Weight Watcher's lunch scale to sense how crazily busy the world is these days.

Funny in a way, isn't it?

I remember an undergrad course in Anthropology, Physical Anthropology to be precise, and how it talked about Neanderthals working about 20 hours a week to do their work.

Well, since the invention of the WHEEL (!) we've moved passed the stone age, the iron age, and now are engulfed in the digital age.

Neanderthals didn't have planes, trains or automobiles... They didn't have iPhones or any phones. Nor did they have anything else of what we have today. Ahhh! But they did have one thing on their knuckle-walking side: TIME.

Let's remember something: Time is just what we can measure between the breakfast and lunch we eat... yet it is SUCH a precious resource.

People waste so much time just trying to be efficient with this or that aspect of technology. And don't get me wrong, I have nothing against technology. My concern is that we are now working DOUBLE or TRIPLE what Neanderthals worked... and as a result we have created stresses beyond recognition!!

Not everyone can sell their home and moves to the hills of Montana. What we can do is look at our lives and give some consideration to re-ordering the priorities.

Smarter than a fifth grader? I think it is time we lived smarter than a Neanderthal!

Take your time. Enjoy your day. One moment at a time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sundays and Sunday Evenings

In my experience many, many people despise Sunday evenings. They find themselves growing to anxious, moody, even withdrawn.

Sunday evening is also a crisis point for those who battle suicidal thoughts....

The difficulty, of course, is that Sunday evening represents the cusp of a new week of work. All of a sudden "tomorrow" is a gloomy thing, immediately on the horizon.

It is as if the gastroenterologist was just getting ready to insert the sigmoidoscope....

The negative anticipation that so many of us feel on Sunday evenings is a testament to the fact that there is typically a huge contrast between our weekends and our weekdays. It is also, of course, a testament to the fact that the majority of us don't like/aren't stimulated by the work we do to pay our expenses.

The reality of living expenses means that, for most of us, we can't simply quit our jobs and find that "dream job" we have been waiting for our whole lives. So what can we do?

The first step - something we can all do - is to get a pen and some paper and write down some goals: short term, mid term and long term goals. Then, starting with the goals with the highest priority, we need to plan out exactly how we are going to achieve these goals. Step by step we take note of the plan and write it out.

Many people think it out, but, left to its own devices, this can be a fatal mistake! The plans must be written out. This way we can look back and clearly modify the steps necessary to achieving what we want to achieve based on our experiences thus far in implementing the plan....

Once we've written out our plans, we then need to assign a timeline to each of the steps. This puts a deadline on each step -- for if we didn't have deadlines very little in life would be accomplished!

Once that is done, we next need to do something extremely valuable: we need to look for balance. In the long run, all work and no play does not get the job done. (Remember back to the story of the hare and the turtle! Who won the race? The turtle did!)

In a word, we need to be flexible enough to look at the bigger picture and decide about "how much work is too much" and the like.

Don't fear making mistakes in this! Getting it right often involves going too far back and forth, like a pendulum.

The bottom line is: the process is worth the trouble!

Here's to recovering balance in your world! Here's to enjoying Sunday evenings (which, when all is said and done, represent 1/7th of all the evenings of your life!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Welcome to The Happy Blogger, Facebook!

Welcome to all new readers of The Happy Blogger! Let's all sit back and enjoy the ride on the blog train to greater happiness!

My hope is that the words, phrases, stories and pictures will somehow resonate within you... and will touch you honestly in a way that only you can feel.

Choo! Choo!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Three steps to greater happiness

In "The Core of Happiness" and in my talks on happiness, I divide what I understand to be the full story into three component parts.

The first is about understanding what happiness is and what it is NOT. Let's remember that life is packed with situations in which we are told what is going to make us happy. "Buy these Kinsu Knives and you will be so productive and happy in the kitchen! And, if you act now, we'll even throw in a set of Kinsu ceramic gnomes -- a great addition to any front lawn!!" Truthfully only you have the key to understanding your personal realm of contentment, peace, and happiness. Truly knowing yourself - and knowing what personal happiness means to you - is the first step.

The next step is about eliminating the un-happiness from your life. What are the things that really cause you stress? What are the things in life you really wish were different... what are the things you really wish you could change? Are these things under your control? If yes, make the change. If no, it is time to learn about healthy coping skills....

The final step is a culmination of steps one and two: maximizing genuine, personal happiness by approaching life with the type of attitude that allows you to enjoy the scenery when construction has re-routed your journey....

Feel free to learn more: visit www.thecoreofhappiness.info.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Do we tend to be happy on our own?

I think everyone the world over - regardless of age, race, or religion - desires to be happy. As I've blogged before, we often have some tangible in mind to help us. We tell ourselves we'll be happy when we graduate or when we get married or when we have kids...or when the kids grow up and move out...or when we get a new car.... Have you noticed? There is a tendency to substitute happiness with some other thing or event.

Truthfully, there is no better time to be happy than RIGHT NOW! Whatever is going on, however imperfect our world may be today, we need to develop the attitude and techniques to make the "present" appreciated for the gift that it truly is.

How do we do this, you ask? Great question! The first step is to acknowledge that life is a series of challenges. Someone with more of a negative slant may say that life is a series of problems. Either way, the point is that there is a tendency in one's mood to move towards anxiety and sadness: it is human nature to typically get stressed with change. Also we get stressed when we have to deal with situation after situation.

Recognition that we need to anticipate stress and a lowering of our moods as a natural part of life is itself the biggest lesson!

Think of it this way, we can't feel full all the time. Indeed, to feel satisfied we sometimes have to feel pangs of hunger. So too it is with happiness: sometimes we need to experience sadness in order to appreciate what it is to be truly happy!

Said differently, that "junk" drawer in your kitchen will likely get more messy than clean if nature is left to its own devices. We have to put energy into cleaning up that drawer in order for that drawer to be clean! So it is with happiness: we need to put the energy into our lives to keep happiness alive.

Don't make sadness the enemy. Accept what comes...but learn to control what you can to help yourself feel genuinely better!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

YOU ARE KIDDING, RIGHT? Money? And Happiness?

Some things just don't make a heck of a lot of sense. This photo, for instance, which hails from the southern U.S. of A. is a picture of irony.

So is Money and Happiness, though you might not have guessed that.

Suprising as it may seem, study after study has shown that once an individual's or family's income is high enough to meet the basic needs of food, clothes, shelter and the like, then income and happiness are NOT directly related at all!

The point here is clear: it is tough to be happy if you're living under a bridge and have no access to your next meal.

Having said that, the other side of the happiness coin is this: it is also true that it matters not if you drive a 1972 Pinto or a 2010 Cadillac. Okay, maybe the Pinto is a bad example, what with its habit of exploding on rear impact... but you get the gist of my point.

Indeed, someone very wisely once said: "Anyone who thinks that having a lot of money can buy you happiness OBVIOUSLY has never had a lot of money!"

Those are words to bank on!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What is happiness?

Everyone in the world wants to be happy.

Well, do you know anyone who does NOT want to be happy?

As I understand it, the problem is that many of us end up creating scenarios in our minds about what it means to be happy. One of the most common is: "Just let me make a lot of money, then I'll be happy." Or maybe, "Let me pay down my mortgage," or again, "Once I get a new car..." THEN I WILL BE HAPPY.

Have you noticed we have a tendency to defer happiness until some point in the future? Seems like we are, or most of us are, really good at making excuses about why we are NOT happy. As if happiness depends on something that the future promises.

And herein lies the problem and the solution!

The problem is self-evident. The solution is that we need to remember that most of happiness comes from carrying and cultivating a healthy attitude, no matter the circumstances, no matter what seems to be missing.

The idea, then, is to appreciate -truly appreciate- what you have, NOT worry or obsess about what you don't have.

Practiced wisely, this point alone will help you experience happiness more deeply and more often!

Therefore, be careful about what you allow your mind to think about -- because the truth is, we feel what you think!

Happy trails!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Gilmore

In this movie, Adam Sandler plays "Happy," a lackluster, wanna-be hockey player-turned golf pro.

And while I wouldn't recommend the movie for the younger crowd because of some scenes of violence, temper tantrums, and so on - wait, this does sound a bit like hockey - Happy Gilmore does one thing that comedies are supposed to do: it makes you laugh!

And, as the adage goes, laughter is the best medicine.

Which I suppose means belly laughter is the best surgery.

I think I will coin that one, right here, right now!

Ahem, "If laughter is the best medicine, then belly laughter is the best surgery!"

Thank you. Thank you very mush!

Happy Sunday night, everyone!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Release in sight!

After four years of work, I'm very happy to announce that The Core of Happiness is off to the printers very soon!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Controlling Emotions

It happens in countries around the world each and every day. Sometimes it happens in kitchens with granite countertops and sometimes in grass huts with mud floors. The "it" I'm speaking about is the age-old adage of crying over spilled milk.

Let's think about this for a moment. The container falls and the liquid white lurches to the floor.

Suddenly it is time to choose. Not what type of rag or bucket to get -- this choice is hardly worth discussing. Instead it's time to decide how we are going to react. For if we simply allow nature to takes its course then, of course, we are going to become upset. How does this work?

As we consciously recognize the milk falling, our stress hormones kick in. Cortisol and adrenaline get dumped into our bloodstream. Soon our hearts are beating wildly. Our lungs are breathless. Our minds are racing. We are upset. Maybe even angry. "This milk is supposed to be in a cup, not splattered on the floor!" you say to yourself. Then a few choice verbal explosions - words your latin teacher never taught you - automatically pop out of your mouth.

And now the real "fun" begins. Consider yourself front and centre of the biggest, baddest roller coaster ride you did ever see!

But what good comes from all of this? The answer, simply, is NO GOOD!

So what do we do?

Well, knowing what we know now, we prepare ourselves for the next time... and when next time happens and the milk falls, we start to laugh! That's right, LAUGH! Laughing induces good hormones and keeps us feeling good. In the meanwhile we can quickly clean up the spill and move on with our day, unaffected. Because the thing about hormones is this: though they only take a little while to get stimulated, they often linger in our body and show their effects for a while. SO... let's keep the happy hormones pumping! Let's keep laughing! Let's keep the endorphins flowing!


You know the story I just mentioned about spilled milk?


Well... the truth is... everything in life that goes badly or unexpectedly IS just another form of spilled milk. Deal with all these circumstances the same way.

Namely... control your hormones and emotions by laughing at yourself and the situation. While doing so, clean up the mess -- do what you have to do! Do what you can do! Learn to not worry about the rest... after all, there is nothing you can do about the things for which there is nothing you can do, so why worry?

Easier said than done, you say? Perhaps, but that doesn't mean it isn't the right thing to do!

Try it out...be patient and keep trying... then let me know how it works!

Best wishes and don't give up!

Happiness is a CHOICE

It almost sounds ridiculous to hear that "Happiness is a choice." Why? Well, quite simply, because we have all felt the pains of unhappiness and know full well that there are times when it is hard to smile let alone laugh.

Let's be clear about something: whether you are Donald Trump, the Pope, or the guy downtown looking for a handout, life has it's ups and downs.

Being happy is a bit like being satisfied with your nutritional intake: being full only lasts so long and then one feels hungry again. And while the analogy is not perfect, I would suggest that in nature the natural tendency is to be sad as it is to be hungry. In a word -- we have to work to stay full and we have to work to stay happy.

So what is the "work" of being and staying happy, you rightfully ask. If there was a simple, straightforward, universal answer I would share it with you. So while there are many infomercials telling you something different, the truth is that there is a significant amount of individual difference with respect to what makes us as individuals happy. (For a more full review, please visit www.thecoreofhappiness.info and download a free copy of my chapter, "Defining Happiness for Myself."

But the other aspect to keep in mind here is this: if something bad happens... if there is a flat tire, if we get laid off from work, if someone close to us dies... then we have a good reason to be unhappy. Grieving (of whatever type) is an important part of life. (Though contrary to what Charlie Brown said, I really doubt there is anything one would want to classify as "good grief.")

Truthfully, grieving sucks. Just like being hungry sucks.

On the other hand, how much would you enjoy your dinner if you spent the entire day nibbling on various foods? A continuously full stomach creates no enjoyment for the next meal.

The bottom line? Some difficulties, some upsets, some pains in life are unavoidable. The idea is not to spend endless time focusing on what has gone against our master plan. The concept I'm suggesting you buy into is that you allow yourself to grieve your loss and then compel yourself to move on with an openness to smiles and giggles and laughter. I'd even suggest you begin by humming a great song. It is really tough to be sad AND to hum at the same time. Try it and let me know your experiences!

Happy trails....