Saturday, December 17, 2011


Weeks ago in the US and a couple months ago in Canada, we celebrated Thanksgiving.

Imagine being an extraterrestrial(ET)...and looking at typical North American behavior at Thanksgiving. Most stores and workplaces are closed; the roads are typically quite empty. Every has typically gotten where they need to be a day or two prior to the holiday.

And within the homes, typically the women work their fingers to the bone, stuffing an enormous amount of food into the oven in hopes that everyone will overeat and feel stuffed themselves. The observant ET has to ask itself, "Why do these humans first stuff the birds and then stuff themselves?"

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, to show appreciation...for the fall harvest...for the plenty in our lives. But to whom are we thankful? And, truly, for what are we thankful?

Thanksgiving, to me, is more than a day on the is a way of living, a way of life.

That's why this post is relevant today, no matter what month or day your eyes spy these words.

Living with true thanks and gratitude in your heart will enrich your spiritual life, your relationships, and will strengthen your love of life, all thereby increasing your happiness.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The stress can get to all of us!

The holiday season is upon us. And apparently even Santa can indulge a bit much!

Literally, "holiday" comes to us from old English meaning "holy" day. But, for many, there is little holiness associated with the hectic process of getting ready for Christmas.

After all, Christmas necessarily involves a number of stressors.

For instance, it means we have to shop. And what's worse, it means shopping pretty much at exactly the same time as everyone else.

Hands up, who loves crowds?

Even Mother Teresa would get frustrated at the situation in all the parking lots near you. Even Mother Teresa would jump on the last "Tickle me Elmo" doll to provide the child on her list with that pleasure.... Or would she?

What does Christmas mean for you?

Setting up a tree in your living room? Attempting to unilaterally support the economy by buying things beyond your budget? Spending time with relatives you don't really enjoy but do it anyways at least three times a year....

Or do you have a Christ figure in your Christmas?

Do you have a sense of all that Jesus did when He died on the cross for us? Or is Christmas just another opportunity to simply look at it as a civic day off work?

Many drink or use drugs in life because they cannot control the addictions that have resulted from the stress of it all.

Is this you or someone you know? Get help. Go to Thousands have. And anyone open has been helped!!

Good luck...Happy Holy days, and Happy Christmas to you all!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Richard A. Wietfeldt

This picture of my dad was taken when I was just a little fellow, sometime in the early 1970s.

In 1986, he looked just as young and as fit as in this photo.

Yet October 9th, 1986 - 25 years ago today - marks his last breath on earth. Dad died of a massive heart attack at his desk in his home office.

My family and I were devastated.

A man who never smoked, never drank...a man who was a lean 6'3", 180 pounds...a PhD scholar in medieval philosophy, a teacher, an economist, a prolific researcher and writer, a government lobbyist, a neighbor, a husband, a son, a brother, a dad...and he was suddenly gone.

Just a week prior to his death, my dad did for me something he never had done before: he did my homework for me!

I had just started university and was taking primarily sciences. But my breadth class was in creative writing. (Go figure.)

In my second week of classes I developed a pretty serious pneumonia; I was on antibiotics and my back for the better part of 10 days. As a result, my dad took pity on my situation. I had a writing assignment due on the Monday in question -- my first day of being vertical again.

Dad didn't just give me some pointers or start a draft on, he wrote the entire piece on his huge Compaq laptop. He printed it for me and had it ready Monday morning.

I didn't even read the paper...I literally just handed it in without even glancing at it. This was Monday.

On Thursday, I returned home around 5pm to be told by my eldest brother that Dad had died. I remember clearly the shock of it all. "I guess we won't be having dinner together," I mumbled.

You see, Dad and I had a particularly close relationship. He wasn't just my dad...he was my everything! He was my Hero.

Every evening, for many years, he and I would sit after dinner talking -- talking about anything. Life. School. Politics. Religion. He had studied at Purdue, Yale, the University of Toronto...and had so much to say, so much to give. Like a parched sponge, I had so much to soak up!

My peers in school quietly ridiculed me for living what they called a "deprived" life. I didn't attend school dances, I didn't have a skateboard, I didn't have a girlfriend... etc, etc. I didn't have or do what they thought everyone would want to have the good life.

But they didn't know what I had.

Losing Dad was the hardest thing at that age. And for over four years I went to bed, each night, sobbing.

I wasn't crying for him. My faith instructed that God would honor His faithful servant with a special place in heaven. I was crying for me. I had a gaping hole in my heart. It was pain unlike anything I had ever experienced.

But let's get back to that creative writing assignment. Two weeks after his death I got the paper back. The paper had, in red ink, a big "A" on it.

No surprise there. Dad had written and given speeches to Presidents and Prime Ministers.

What was a surprise was the title dad had chosen for the paper he wrote for me: "For Everything There Is A Season And A Time."

Those words have comforted and guided me throughout the past 25 years. And often.

For within six years I was again pallbearer , this time for my mother, who died of cancer.

And then, by age 33, I had buried three sons, Richard, Lucas, and Josef, as well as a baby princess, Mary.

For all children reading this: remember and honor your father and mother. For all parents, keep your children close to your heart. And always remember: For everything there is a season and a time.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What is this? A pipe or a canon?

I've always been attracted to the second hand (second lung?) smell of a pipe.

Ever since I was shorter than I am now, I have loved the scent of someone smoking a pipe. Now, I have never actually smoked, let alone smoked a pipe.

Sigmund Freud spoke about the "oral phase" of development. Clearly he enjoyed his oral phase -- even though he had had more than 30 surgeries for mouth/throat cancer, Freud was a long-time lover of cigars. Whatever you think about Freud -- and to be straightforward, he's had his share of bombs -- the whole infant sexuality thing, the phase of using Cocaine -- but he is widely regarded as a highly influential voice of the 20th century for his work on understanding the human unconscious and for highlighting the benefits of talk therapy.

But when I came across this photo I was reminded of this simple truth: A pipe gives a wise man time to think ... and a fool something to suck on.

That said and with Freud (consciously) in mind, here's to being able to think and reflect without having to bite on a cancer cannon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Is this where I need to be?

Life has an awkward way of telling us that we are not where we should be.

Sometimes the message comes loudly and dramatically -- like when the pink slip comes.

Other times the message is far more subtle. Perhaps we notice sweaty palms or a dry mouth.

Not feeling comfortable in our own skill is a very valuable bit of information. But what we DO with and about that information is what separates winners from non-winners.

What do I mean?

Think of it this way. You know that feeling when wearing a short sleeved shirt and the sun goes down and the breeze picks up? Goosebumps, right? Shivering...maybe even chattering of teeth if it is REALLY cold enough?

Okay, so what do we do when we feel cold? Usually, if there is something we can do about it, we make a change: we either put on a sweater or coat...or perhaps we turn up the heat...we come inside from being out in the cold...Maybe we jump up and down to get warm blood to our extremities...or maybe we snuggle with someone to create some body heat...or maybe we rely on some other type of intervention.

Bottom line, we tend to DO something.

Having been cold, we then use our experience to prevent the problem from re-occurring: we take a sweater with us next time we're in those circumstances again -- bottom line, we learn from the past and use that information in a protective way for the future.

Now...drum roll please....

What if I was to suggest that emotions are just another form of information? What if fear or sadness could be seen in the same light as goosebumps from a cold temperature?

Think about it. When we come in from the cold, do we typically get really upset and take it to heart? Or do we just do what we need to do to warm up?

Do we presume that God is out to get us because we got cold? Do we presume that people don't like us or that something horrible is going to happen to us?

No. We just do what we need to do.

Now, apply this to your life....

When you next feel worried or upset or sad, ask yourself: "What do I need to do to feel better?"

Then, so long as your answer is not self destructive and not against the law, do what you need to do.

Then let me know how this works for you...either in the comments below or on twitter @CoreOfHappiness.

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Vancouver Fan Pictured in Beantown

AP News (Boston): June 8, 2011

This photo of a young Vancouverite in Boston for Game 4 of the NHL Finals says it all.

Boston pacified Vancouver in the TD Garden by a solid 4-0, leaving Vancouver fans speechless, if not drooling.

The search for Stanley's Cup returns to the West Coast on Friday at 8pm Eastern as the Bruins evened the series at two games a piece.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The HOW of Happiness!

"Keep your eyes on the prize!"

How many times have we all heard that one?

One of the inherent problems with this phrase is that it tends to get people focused on the WHAT of happiness, the STUFF of happiness.

People think about how to get the stuff that makes them feel good and somehow believe that doing so gives them the happiness they are seeking.

Of course, as the wonderful phrase goes, "anyone who thinks having a lot of money can buy happiness clearly has never had a lot of money."

This highlights a rather serious, if not academic, point. Happiness is of two types-- the "what" type and the "how" type.

In "The Core of Happiness," I've suggested that the STUFF of life provides for roughly 10% of our overall happiness.

This fits with the notion, repeated in survey after survey, that the richest are not necessarily the happiest.

So what's this about the "How" of happiness?

Through what lens do you look at life? Are you optimistic?

My eye doctor -- now she's an optimist!

(Sorry, I couldn't resist that one.)

Do you look for the good in others, in well as in yourself?

Are you able to enjoy detours?

If your answer to any of the above is less than a full "thumbs up," consider practicing more of living in the moment.

Living in the moment is the art of opening and savouring the greatest gift of all time: the present.

We'll continue to discuss this...but, for now, don't hesitate to post your thoughts below. Share with us your greatest detours -- either on a road journey or on the path of life... And feel free to contact me directly @CoreOfHappiness on Twitter.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Big Bad Bruins are BACK!

I'm going to date myself here with this, but when I was a kid, I loved everything about Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins. The Celtics and Red Sox weren't bad either, but as a Canuck growing up in downtown Toronto, hockey ruled.

Today's the first day in probably over two decades that I watched quite a bit of a Bruins hockey game....

I missed the first period because of a meeting...and I missed part of the third because of a jog...but oh! wow! what a second period!!

The Bruins, having lost the first two games in close battles, cracked this series wide open with today's 8-1 slaughter of Vancouver.

The Bruins of today are different in respect to level of finesse...but they have the same big hearts I remember them having in the early '70s..... can't live happily without it.

Here's to heart...and here's to the Bruins!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Creating Happiness!

Happiness is not just a destination, it's also the path we take to get there.

Many people mistakenly look at the "pursuit of happiness" as the chase for faster computers, faster cars, bigger homes, more vacations, and so on.

And, as you've heard me say before, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with a fast computer or a fast car or, for that matter, a laser-driven barbeque that grills chicken in six seconds flat.

But there is something wrong when our desires for those "things" of happiness interfere with or supercede the TRULY important things in life.

What are the TRULY important things in life? I suppose we could debate that for quite a while...but let me suggest - instead of getting to specifics - that the truly important things of life are those things that don't require lots of money, a prestigious job, or even good health, for that matter. (Though that last one may surprise you!)

Do you know what I'm getting at here?

Post your ideas below...or send them to me via Twitter:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011!

Like a sunset, 2010 has graciously faded away....

What will 2011 bring?

Will there be good health, happiness and prosperity?

Or will there be wars, natural disasters, economic strife, and ongoing personal problems?

A new year tends to make people more sentimental than usual with respect to the change of calendar: January 1st brings a new day, a new month and a new year.... it signifies a lot to a lot of people.

Let's work together to make 2011 a happy year!

What things are you most looking forward to this year?

What things are you wanting to do to make this year better than any year before it?

Write your responses below or send them directly to me via Twitter: @CoreOfHappiness.