All posts tagged Powered By Happy

Working Moms: Do You Schedule Happiness?

361565csb42jzbd

As we finish our discussion of Powered By Happy, let’s get really practical.  It’s high time we schedule happiness.  Author Beth Thomas encourages us to literally put happiness on the calendar. 

In simple terms, many of us are tied to “the schedule” – if it’s not on the calendar, it simply won’t happen.

Yet in the midst of our busy routines, I wonder what we’re missing.

As I read Jesus Calling last week, these words spoke deeply to my heart: 

“Do not blindly follow your habitual routine, or you will miss what I have prepared for you.”  (May 18)

Yep, I think God is talking.   

How many of us blindly follow our routines every day?  Could it be that God wants to give us so much more?

Scheduling happiness means breaking our habits.  It means being willing to do something different.  Yes, we must put happiness on the schedule.  But we must also unschedule.

1)  Getting happiness on the schedule

Several of my co-workers set the bar a couple of weeks ago when they scheduled a pedicure for me.  During the work day!  This is extreme happiness at it’s best.  It’s also about making other people happy – a sure way to treat yourself.

For me, getting happiness on the schedule means spending time with my family and setting aside time for important relationships.  It also means finding the time to write!  (For example, I’ve noticed I get cranky during the weeks I don’t have time to blog.)

2)  Deciding to unschedule

We can also “schedule” happiness by clearing our schedules.  For example, my sister didn’t go to church last weekend.  Her husband is a pastor, and she’s going to kill me for putting this in a public blog, but she knew that she needed the time alone, at home.

No, I’m not saying that we should all quit church to get happy.  But I am saying that sometimes the good things in life can be a distraction to what’s really important.  Are we investing our time and energy wisely, or are we simply busy because we can’t say no?  (As a mother who juggled gymnastics, a piano recital, a guitar recital, a soccer game, five baseball games, and an unexpected broken arm last weekend, I can use a little of this wisdom!)  

Have you decided to schedule happiness?  If so, what have you put on the schedule?  As important, what have you unscheduled? 

********

Related posts from the Happiness Series:

Powered By Happy:  What’s Your Definition of Happiness?

Are Some People Wired For Unhappiness?

Overcoming Negative Thoughts And Worry: It’s Time To Take Control!

Paying It Forward:  The Secret To Happiness?

 

Paying It Forward: The Secret To Happiness?

Paying it forward is good for business.  It’s also the right thing to do.  Yet we live in a society that rewards instant results.  Not future possibilities. 

What have you done for me lately? Does it contribute to the bottom line? Show me the money!

Yet paying it forward – at home and at work – it vital to our happiness.  (It will also bring us greater long-term success, so long as we properly manage our expectations.)

We can start paying it forward three ways:  STOP, LOOK, and ACT.

Step One:  STOP

We must STOP keeping score.  There is a lot of talk in our business communities about “building relationships” and “investing” in others before expecting results.  We need to take it to the next level.  If we stop keeping score, we give to others freely — without expecting anything in return.

It’s easy to invest in people who will reciprocate.  “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”  Yet if we’re not careful, unmet expectations will crush us.  What happens when we don’t get scratched back? 

If we give without expecting in return, we’re blessed by giving, not receiving.  In fact, we should regularly give to people who aren’t in a position to reciprocate. 

Every once in awhile, we’ll be caught by surprise when the people we least expect are in a position of influence.  When they become our advocates, they will know our initial investment was sincere. Trust-based relationships don’t keep score.    

Step Two:  LOOK

LOOK around at the people you admire.  Do they give without strings attached? Do they “pay it forward” because it’s the right thing to do?

In Powered By Happy, Executive Beth Thomas encourages us to make a list of the ways we can make other people happy.  As I read her words, it dawned on me.  God is the ultimate Master of paying it forward.  When Jesus died on a cross, he was doing it for me without any guarantee of my response.  I wasn’t even born yet!

Jesus provides an incredible role model.  His selflessness inspires us to give without strings attached – to extend grace to others, even when they don’t “deserve” a favor.  If God can “pay it forward” centuries before my birth, I too can take a long-term view of people. 

Step Three:  ACT

Paying it forward actually works.  But don’t take my word for it.  Try it for yourself.  Pick something you know you can do – but something that will challenge your natural instincts and test your limits. 

For example, I really hate sitting in traffic.  When I take my 6th-grader to school, there are a line of cars in the “drop off” a mile long.  Inevitably,  instead of getting at the back of the line, some parent always cuts in front of me.  I find this so annoying!  For months, I would try to inch up as far as possible to the car in front of me – to give the signal that there is no way you are pulling out in front of me!   Then, one morning, I  decided to let someone cut.

Nick yelled, “Mom, what are you doing!  This guy is cutting in front of you.”

I gave the other car a friendly wave, and he waved back.  It was exhilarating. 

Granted, it was only a baby step.  But baby steps count.

Are you ready to STOP keeping score?

When you LOOK for role models, who pays it forward best?

How can you take a simple step and ACT? 

Working Moms: Time To Dump The “To Do” List?

13446l4dricipq3

Most of us have a “to-do” list.  It’s a list that consumes every minute of our day.  A list that keeps growing.  A list that never gets done.

Unfortunately, our daily “to do” list can prevent us from establishing two lists essential to our growth and sanity:

  • A “refuse to do” list.
  • A “wish” list.

In Powered By Happy, Author Beth Thomas encourages us to make these lists a priority.

1 – The “refuse to do” list 

Let’s face it, most of us get roped into things we really don’t need to do. 

When I first considered developing a “refuse to do” list I was pretty excited.  Writing it down can be even more empowering.  Here are a few items on my (growing) list:

I will not grocery shop on a Friday evening.  Our refrigerator is always empty on Friday nights.  Although I love to cook and equally love to eat, the grocery store is always a circus on Friday evening – something I’ve learned to avoid after a long week.

I will not make my children’s beds or pick up their rooms during the work week. I am not a talented task master.  But holding my kids to a list of “chores” during the work week has made life easier for me and my family.

I will not travel the day before a holiday weekend.  I have gotten stuck in too many airports. Unless it’s absolutely essential, I’m working in town before a holiday weekend.

2 – The “wish” list

We can’t spend all of our time focusing on what we won’t do.  We need to move on to more important things.  Like the wish list. Every author or leader I admire encourages us to dream.  And dream big!

Like some of you, I’ve been reading Lean In by Sheryl Sanberg.  Sanberg encourages women to have both an 18-month plan and a long-term goal. 

I appreciate this two-tiered approach.  While I’m a big fan of chasing dreams – and writing them down – we need short-term, realistic goals to move us in the right direction.  While one year is often too short, two years can feel like a really long time.  So I’ve decided to take Sanberg’s advice and tackle a few 18-month goals.

For example, I plan  to have a video series in place for Working Women of the Bible in the next 18 months.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but 18 months is within reach.  As important, I’m keeping a healthy “wish list” that I continue to revisit.

No, I haven’t dumped my daily “to do” list.  But it no longer consumes me.

What about you?  Have you ever made a “refuse to do” list?  A “wish” list?  If not, what’s stopping you? 

*******

Looking for a Mother’s Day gift?

Work, Love, Pray (by executive Diane Paddison), Working Women of the Bible, and Chasing Superwoman are currently selling as a bundle on Amazon!

Working Moms: Are Friendships Worth The Time And Effort?

friendship92

Most working moms don’t have enough time with our own families.  Between working all day and barely keeping our homes in order, who has time to invest in friendship?  For many of us, time with friends is a pure luxury.

Yet I’ve come to realize that meaningful friendships aren’t just a luxury, they are a necessity.   The key is investing in the right relationships.  “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

In Powered By Happy, author and executive Beth Thomas encourages us to “Hang With a Gang That Get’s It.” (Chapter 4)  In other words, spend time with people who build you up.   Friendships are worth the effort, but we must invest wisely.

1- Avoid Negative Circles and Gossip Sessions

A reader recently explained to me why she no longer attends bible study.  As a new mom with little time on her hands, she decided that “group prayer” was really nothing more than a “gossip session.”   Not only did she decide the study was a waste of time, the negativity actually started to bring her down. 

Have you ever noticed how exhausting it can be to spend time with people who constantly complain?  While a little venting is healthy, it can be draining to spend dinner with a friend who complains about her boss the entire evening or can’t seem to move the conversation off of her ex-husband. 

I am not suggesting that we only spend time with people who have it all together.  I am suggesting that we spend time with people who are more interested in the solution than the problem.   Let’s face it, negative people – and positive people — are contagious.

2-Develop A Personal Board of Directors

Thomas likewise encourages us to develop a group of mentors – or, as she calls is,  a “personal board of directors.”

Who are the women and men you trust most to give you advice and counsel?  Who are the professionals you most want to emulate?

Over the last year, I have been intentional about spending time with a core group of mentors.  Specifically, I try to have coffee or lunch with a woman I admire at least once a week. I’m not talking about women who lead storybook lives of “happiness.”  These are real women who struggle with the tough issues – like career disappointment, broken relationships, and serious illness.  Yet all of these women are rock star mentors because of their faith in God and positive attitudes.

What does a “personal board of directors” look like?  I personally think it should be a diverse group  –  in terms of age, family status, and career path. (I also believe that women benefit from male mentors.)

 A couple of years ago, I approached a neighbor who has three amazing, grown children who love God and each other.  Even though our career paths are completely different, I asked her,

“Would you mentor me?  You obviously did something right with your children.” 

She was both flattered and humbled.

3-Seek To Be a Mentor

Likewise, we should look for opportunities to invest in others.  A little over a year ago, a brand-new lawyer named Acacia sought me out as a mentor. 

My response?  

Here’s what I thought:  I am a wholly inadequate mentor because I haven’t figured it out.  I don’t want anyone to emulate me.  I don’t have time.  Yet I do have the desire and passion.

Here’s what I said:  “I have no time.  I am completely overcommitted.  You will often have to email me three times before I respond.  But never take my non-responsiveness as disinterest.  I’d love to meet with you on a regular basis.”

So we started meeting.  And praying.  Believing that God had brought us together for a reason.

Acacia is now a dear friend and a true mentor to me!  I’m so glad I didn’t put this relationship on hold or wait for mentoring to become convenient.  Together, we are blessed to co-chair The Gathering of Women – a sold-out event of some 200 women who will meet this Friday.  One of our goals is to connect professional women of faith who need mentors!

It’s easy to dismiss relationships during this busy season of life. (And if you’re in the middle of nursing and diapers, you must give yourself time and grace.)  Yet investing in the right relationships can give us strength and encouragement, as well as the community we desperately need.  

Are you too busy to invest in meaningful friendships?  Have you considered gathering your own “personal board of directors” or serving as a mentor to someone else? 

******

Looking for additional mentors?   Be sure to check out these authors I know and admire:

Work, Love, Pray: Practical Wisdom for Young Professional Christian Women and Those Who Want to Understand Them, by Diane Paddison (2011) (Recently trending as a top book on Women & Business)

The Christian Mama’s Guide to the Grade School Years: Everything You Need to Know to Survive (and Love) Sending Your Kid Off into the Big Wide World (Christian Mama’s Guide Series), by Erin MacPherson (Just released with my endorsement!)

And in Working Women of the Bible, we discuss 13 incredible, timeless mentors!

Overcoming Negative Thoughts And Worry: It’s Time To Take Control!

 What holds your happiness hostage?  For many of us, worry and negative thoughts are at the top of the list. 

Whether we’re worried about being a good parent, the family finances, or our performance at work, worry can downright consume us and rob our happiness.  And since this is National Stress Awareness Month, let’s not forget that worry and stress are completely connected.  Research shows that worry and stress are leading causes to both physical and psychological illness.

So what’s the solution? 

Powered By Happy provides some amazing wisdom.  Chapter Three, Avoid What Holds Your Happiness Hostage:  Minimizing Worry and Negative Thoughts, is my favorite chapter.  Importantly, Thomas doesn’t minimize stress and worry.  Instead, she challenges us to do something about it!  Here are some of my favorite tips.

Tip #1 – Identify What Worries You Most

Thomas challenges us to write it down – to answer the question what worries you most?  It’s a simple but necessary step to overcoming stress – defining the root of the problem. 

For example, Thomas suggests writing down everything that worries us for one week.  “Get some three-by-five-inch index cards, and every time a worry pops into your head, write it on a card.” (p. 51)

At the end of a week, you may discovery that your worries have been in vain – or even a waste of time.  Or you may discover a reoccurring theme – an area of your life that is causing you most stress, or a constant worry that you can’t seem to let go. 

In any event, you’ll be better informed to tackle negative thoughts and worry if you identify the source. 

Tip #2 – Confront Worry With Action

Once we identify what worries us most, we’re ready to take action. 

Take your top 5 worries.  What’s the worst thing that can happen?  Is the solution within your control?  Regardless of the outcome, what are some positive steps you can take to address the concern?

For example, if you’re financially strapped, you can take steps toward adjusting your budget, paying off debt, or increasing your earning potential.   While a solution may not be quick or easy, we can do our part to affect what we control and at the same time accept what we can’t control.  By writing down the “worst case scenario” plus our action steps, we confront worry with action.

I firmly believe that inaction breeds worry.  An idle mind breeds fret and discontent.  Have you ever noticed that the stress before starting a new project at work or the anticipation of a tough personal situation is often worse than the situation itself?

Tip #3 – Separate Fact From Fiction

The imagination is a powerful thing.  Most of us spend too much time worrying about things that never happen.  In fact, we invent stories in our minds based upon “what if’s” and work ourselves into a frenzy.

Thomas tells a powerful story about a situation at work where her imagination ran wild.  Basically, once she sent her boss a project, she felt insecure the next time she saw him.  She interpreted his actions as dismissive and thought to herself, he must hate the project!  It was terrible!  After spending months worrying about the project, she later learned that he hadn’t even reviewed the project  — he had forgotten all about it altogether.

In other words, we impute our negative thoughts and imagination onto the motives and words of others.  Most of the time, other people are not thinking about us in the first place!

I found this tip to be the most powerful in the entire chapter.  Don’t worry about what you don’t know.  Stop basing worry on imagination instead of the truth. 

Tip #4 – Take Control With A Baby Step

While these tips are all helpful, we’re not going to be able to stop worrying overnight.  What if we took the next 24 hours and committed to take every negative thought and worry captive?  To turn those worries over to God as we sort out the next step? 

Other baby steps include making your “worry” list or planning a favorite activity to de-stress this week. 

So, what worries you most?  What tip do you find most helpful as you tackle worry and stress? 

**********

Join us next week as we continue discussing Powered By Happy, Chapters 4 and 5.