Happy Families Don’t Just Happen

Everyone Has to Do Their Part

Quote About Home

The One Place…

I spend a lot of time thinking about families – husbands, wives, children, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles… the whole shebang.  That’s why I made “Building Happier Families” the focus of Self Help Daily for 2015.

My family is my treasure on earth. I’d rather have this colorful cast of characters and nothing else in the world than to have everything but one less of them.

They’re crazy, but by gosh, they’re my crazies!

A family should be a safe haven, shouldn’t it? A happy band of people connected by blood as well as love. People who have one another’s backs and would go to battle for any member of the tribe.

Problem is some families spend so much time battling one another that their home and family seems like anything but a safe haven.

When I hear about broken relationships within families, my heart breaks because I know somewhere, in the middle of it all, there’s someone who cherishes their family the way I do mine – and I know that what they want more than anything else is peace and happiness.

Doesn’t seem like that much to ask for, does it?

Fortunately strained and even broken relationships can be mended. Love is a powerful force and if it’s a factor in the equation, few things are impossible.

However, the best way to REPAIR broken relationships is to PREVENT them from ever happening in the first place. Within every shattered family is at least one person who wishes with all their might that they could go back and UNdo or UNsay something.

If you’ve ever been in that agonizing position, you know that it’s very much like hell on earth.

Once you’ve wronged someone – either through action, neglect, or harmful words – you simply can’t undo it.  You can’t erase your wrong and (even worse) you can’t erase their pain.   All you can hope for is forgiveness and that, in time, the pain you see in their eyes will fade and happiness will take its place.

If we could all learn to control our tongues and actions, we could avoid seeing this pain in our loved ones eyes in the first place.  The problem is, the “average” person is completely and utterly ME-oriented. They live under the firm belief that the world revolves around them.

  • I want our Christmas meal at 4:00 and WILL NOT budge for anyone else.
  • I hate my daughter’s music choices, so I will berate her every chance I get.
  • My mother in law gets on my nerves and I intend to let everyone in the family know about it.
  • My son needs a haircut and I will humiliate him in front of the entire family to make my point known.
  • My wife spent too much at the store and I’m going to yell until my face turns red.
  • My husband watches too much sports on tv, but if I continually nag him, he’ll eventually watch what I want to watch.

Too many people with too many thoughts revolving around their favorite person in the world… them.  You know what these people remind me of? Pre-Schoolers.

  • I don’t want to take a nap, so I’m going to scream and cry.
  • I want to stay at the park, so I’m going to throw myself on the ground and scream my favorite word – NOOOO!
  • That’s MY toy and she can’t have it.
  • I do not want to be in this store anymore, so I’m going to cry my eyes out.
  • I don’t want this green food! I’m going to throw it on the floor!

Like children, adults make everyone around them miserable for selfish reasons.

I saw a mother in Kroger recently with an adorable but obviously irritable little boy (probably around 2 years old).  The woman looked like she was walking on eggshells as she tried to hurry through the process before the little guy blew his stack.

She didn’t make it. Right as she wheeled into the checkout lane, the complete and utter mini-meltdown began. It was something to behold, too.

While he was, in spite of himself, downright cute with his red face and clinched little fists, the same CANNOT be said for adults who cause others to walk on eggshells as they hope to avoid one of their fits.

Nothing cute or adorable about them.

If you’re one of those people who, God love you, tends to think of self THEN others, I’m not asking you to change your focus. In fact, if you’re past the age of 45, it wouldn’t do any good anyway.  After all, you’ve been in the center stage of your own thoughts for a long time, I won’t try to budge you.

As they say, you do you!

What I am saying is this… Within each family there are people who are, basically, the HEART of the family. They’re the moms, dads, grandmothers, grandfathers, daughters, sons, brothers and/or sisters who just want everyone to get along, be kind, and fill the house with laughter.

These are the people who not only “don’t rock the boat,” they spend 90 percent of their time keeping things afloat.

I want you to think about them for a minute. Think of people in your family who you love completely – the ones who you would be utterly lost without.

How do you make them feel when you behave like a 2 year old in a grocery store? What happens to the smile on their faces or the joy in their eyes when you cause them to walk on eggshells?

Do you really want that?  Shouldn’t we all want to see those we love so happy that they burst out in laughter?!

I hope that if you ARE someone who tends to gravitate toward this kind of behavior you’ll recognize yourself. I  hope that next time you’ll see yourself as a little red-faced toddler and that you’ll completely change your thoughts and actions.

It’d be highly unlikely that a little child would look at his mom and think, “I love that mommy person. She is having fun in this boring, bright store. I’m tired and I miss my toys but my mommy person is happy. I can make her even more happy if I smile at her…

Nope. That’s not going to happen. But it can.. and it should… happen with adults.  The next time you want to nag, yell, pick, complain, “make your point,” or anything else that takes place in the center stage, please take time to think about the people you love.

Make no mistake about it, there IS someone in your life who wants one thing more than anything else in the world – peace and happiness.  Do your part and give it to them.

Imagine the look on their face when, as they’re waiting for you to justify the eggshells on the floor, you simply brush them away.

That is when magic happens.

Three Week Challenge: Be Kinder Than You Have to Be….

Why This Will Lead to Greater Peace and Happiness

Be Kinder than You Have to Be
This is one of those “Self Improvement Hacks” that is so simple and so “flowery” that the average person dismisses it without a single thought.

I hope you aren’t average.

We’re all after the same thing – peace, happiness, joy, stress-free days, good health, and more reasons to smile than to frown.

More reasons to laugh than cry. More opportunities to speak positive words than negative ones.

We want happier families and relationships – everyone getting along, laughing, and enjoying life’s ride together.

One of the simplest paths you can take to this “ideal world” doesn’t involve hard work, special talent, acquired skills, or even money.

It simply calls for you to show up!

This challenge is simple: you just have to be kinder than you have to be for three weeks.

What does being kinder than you have to be entail?

  • Saying kind things to others when you’d rather just say, “Hi.”
  • Biting your tongue when you want to ridicule, criticize, or even “tease.”
  • Telling people to have a wonderful day… and meaning it.
  • Asking how their day was, THEN listening and actually caring.
  • Allowing others to think differently than you do.
  • Complimenting people for the sake of seeing them smile.
  • Doing little things that you know will make someone else happy.

The list goes on, but you get the idea – being kinder than you have to be means thinking about THEM instead of YOU.

But here’s the thing. This challenge isn’t even for them. It’s actually for you…. but, shhhh, no one has to know.

 

It won’t even take the full three weeks for you to reap the benefits. I promise you, you’ll feel happier and more at peace almost immediately. Watch how others respond to this kindness and watch how it makes you feel.

It feels good to be make others feel good… so good, in fact, that it’ll become a lifelong habit.

I promise. Please try it. Be kinder than you have to be for three weeks. You’ll never go back to being any other way.  It is truly one of the secrets to happiness, happier families, peace, and even better health.

~ Joi

People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys (Review)

Get Your Hands, Eyes, and/or Ears On This Book

People Can't Drive You Crazy if You Don't Give them the Keys
 

Continuing the Focus of 2015: Building a Happier Family!

A while back,  I downloaded an interesting sounding e-book, People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys (Kindle edition link) by Mike Bechtle.  I fell in love with the cover image Come on, who wouldn’t be? It’s a duck. In a snazzy jacket with a whackadoodle hat.

And can we talk about the fact that he has green hair?

The title is, to be honest, what initially caught my eye. Even before the duck. The title reminds me of a something I always said to my three daughters while they were growing up. I don’t know about where you live, but in Kentucky we have a popular saying, “He’s getting my goat…” or “That really gets my goat..”

With three little girls, I often heard, “She just gets my goat…” In one of our infamous, “table talks,” I told my girls, “People can only get your goat if you put it out in the open. If they know where your goat is, it’s easy pickings.”

The title of this book just kind of reminded me of homespun wisdom and it had me at “crazy.”

When doing book reviews, as I often point out, I want to give a great “feel” for the book without giving the entire premise away. If I were to lay out all the brilliance of a particular book right here, why would you need to read it for yourself?

Since I VERY much want everyone to read People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys (paperback link) as soon as they humanly can, I’m going to tread lightly.  I hope you’ll stick with this book review, even if it gets lengthy – this book is extra special.

As we continue the focus of 2015 on Self Help Daily, Building a Happier Family, I have to strongly suggest everyone read this book. If you are a really, really busy individual, and simply don’t have time to devote 30 minutes to an hour reading each day, I have a few solutions…

A reaction is how we feel; a response is what we do. Reactions are automatic, but we choose our responses. – Mike Bechtle, People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys

Like most books, this particular WINNER is available in a variety of formats, so there’s simply no reason NOT to make this the next book you read… even if you read it with your ears.

The beauty of People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys (as it relates to building a happier family) is that it gives you the motivation, information, and inspiration you need to do your part to make your family the happiest family in town.  This book is, also, ideal reading for anyone who’s looking to improve their relationships at work or school (or anywhere for that matter) – but since our focus is on families… we’ll just stay seated around the dining room table rather than a board room table.

The food’s better anyway.

As I said, I read People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys on my iPad – so I couldn’t highlight or underline extra-insightful and/or humorous quotes and paragraphs. I could, however, write them down – and I did just that. You never saw so many notes and notations!

…. Your emotions got the best of you, and your crazy person has you dangling in her grip like a bungee jump gone bad….  Mike Bechtle, People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys

True story: One night a History Channel show that my husband and I wouldn’t miss for a million dollars had just gone off.  I knew I had about 15 minutes to read a little something before bedtime, so I grabbed my iPad to read from one of my e-books. I flew past PCDYCIFDGTTK (looks like a cat just walked across the keyboard, doesn’t it?) and chose an Agatha Christie mystery I was in the middle of. Why? I didn’t have my pen and notebook with me and I knew that even just 15 minutes with PCDYCIFDGTTK would have produced more than a few note-worthy points.

It’s that good.

For one thing, People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys is a very enjoyable and entertaining read. The author is absolutely hilarious. I’ve read that he’s a popular speaker and I can absolutely see why. GREAT sense of humor.  The sense of humor and warm stories about his own family and friends (including precious granddaughters) make for a very, very special book.

A certain passage about the author’s oldest granddaughter reminded me so much of my oldest daughter (Emily) that it’s beyond uncanny.  I was delighted –  the world can never have too many colorful, detail-oriented, little girls who march to the beat of their own drum. They grow up to be colorful, detail-oriented young women who just keep on marching.

People Can’t.. is also a really “fast reading” book.  When you aren’t taking notes, that is.

A lot of self help or self improvement books are good, while you’re reading them, but fail to “stick.”  This is not one of those books. It’s fantastic while you’re in the middle of it, and it sticks like super glue.

History brings us to where we are right now, but it doesn’t have to dictate how we respond in the future. – Mike Bechtle, People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys

I will, in the foreseeable future often quote or refer back to this wonderful book. However, I have to give you one of the most profound messages or points from the author and his wonderful book.

Ever read a quote or a passage that is so profound and packs such a wallop that you go back and re-read it… allowing it to wallop you from the other side? Early in the book, Mike Bechtle hits the nail on the head when he says, “Never allow yourself to become a victim of anyone else’s shortcomings or weaknesses.

I read a lot.  A LOT. But it has been ages since a single cluster of words had such an impact on me. When we allow others to impact our peacefulness or happiness, we become their victim. This could be anyone..

  • rude servers
  • inefficient store clerks
  • family members
  • co-workers
  • friends
  • toxic people online…. I’m looking at you social media

…. anyone, anywhere, anytime. If we allow them to remove us from where we want to be —- content, peaceful, happy —- and place us anywhere else, we are at their mercy. Worse, we are their victim.

I guess I’d just never thought of it that way before. Since reading (and re-reading) the words, however, I’ve thought about it plenty!  There are a lot of jackals in this world, after all.  Not one has victimized me since.

Not even vile online toxicity rattles my cage anymore.  If I see someone being a complete jackal, I just thank God that it isn’t my jackal and go about my business.

Book Synopsis: Strange as it may seem, other people are not nearly as committed to our happiness as we are. In fact, sometimes they seem like they’re on a mission to make us miserable! There’s always that one person. The one who hijacks your emotions and makes you crazy. The one who seems to thrive on drama. If you could just FIX that person, everything would be better. But we can’t fix other people – we can only make choices about ourselves. In this cut-to-the-chase book, communication expert Mike Bechtle shows readers that they don’t have to be victims of other people’s craziness.

With commonsense wisdom and practical advice that can be implemented immediately, Bechtle gives readers a proven strategy to handle crazy people.

More than just offering a set of techniques, Bechtle offers a new perspective that will change readers’ lives as they deal with those difficult people who just won’t go away.

How Can People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys help You?

Let’s get right down to it, want to? Why should you get your hands, eyes, and possibly ears on this book as soon as possible?

Because you deserve to be happy. Simple as that.

Yes, reading this book can help you keep peace within your family. Yes, the author’s wonderful advice can help you get along with even the craziest of the crazies, at work or home.  Yes, if you read this book and allow it to sink in, you can have the kind of peaceful, happy family holidays you see in tv commercials.

But, just for a minute, don’t think about any of that. Just for a minute, put everyone and everything else out of your mind and only think about yourself. It isn’t easy to live in a world of crazies – they’re everywhere, after all.  They can, and will, leave their footprints on your psyche. You’ll find yourself coming unglued, sighing deeply, whining, crying, and arguing with people over the silliest things. If it continues, you may even find yourself unable to sleep or unwind as well as you once did and your health can (and will) pay for the turmoil.

A lack of harmony in your life and an inability to “deal” with the handiwork of a crazy person can affect every corner of your life.

This book will help you clean out those corners. You’ll be happier and, as a result, everyone around you will be happier.

Think about it – if you feel tension in your family or at work, everyone feels it.  A tense individual in a room is like a caged tiger. Everyone focuses on the show, holding their breath waiting for the roar.

If you aren’t handling your crazy person (or crazy people, if you’re an over-achiever) well, you’re making everyone around you tense, unhappy, and downright miserable. Whether you encounter your crazies at work or home, you will be happier when you know how to cope with them.

You know I always level with my readers – and I’m telling you right now, this is a book you have to read.  This one’s a life-changer. ~ Joi

 “Never allow yourself to become a victim of anyone else’s shortcomings or weaknesses.” – Mike Bechtle

Like branches on a tree, we may grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one. Each of our lives will always be a special part of one another. – Unknown

 

Having a Happier Family Means Accepting People as they Are

The Bos AND the Carlys.....

Carly

Carly

Continuing the Focus of 2015: Building a Happier Family!

See the character above? Her name was Carly and she was a pill. A perfect pill. When people see this picture they inevitably ask me, “Was she yawning?” While it’s an understandable assumption, she was actually doing something I called Meow-ling – something she, and only she, ever managed to do… a combination of meowing like a normal cat and howling like a wolf.

Neither of which she was.

More about her in a moment, but be assured, she does have a contribution to make to our Building a Happier Family focus.

Families are made up of family members and these members are each individuals in every sense of the word.  If we were all alike, there probably wouldn’t be any disputes,  rolling of the eyes, disagreements, or expressions that beg an answer to, “What is with this person????

Things would be peaceful, but they’d get boring fast.

Carly with Bo and Adam

Carly with two of her babies, Bo and Adam

In the second picture, you’ll notice that Carly is pictured (with attitude intact) with two of her three babies, Bo and Adam.  Like Carly, Bo will play a role in this post.

Over the years, I have had far (far, far, far, far) too many cats to even begin to count. However, Carly and Bo stand out from the rest for completely opposite reasons. Their temperaments are also perfect for taking a closer look at our family members and close friends – the individuals who, ultimately, have a large say in how happy we are.

Most humans will fall somewhere in between Carly and Bo – but, make no mistake about it, they’ll probably lean heavily in one direction or the other.

The Carlys of the World

Carly was born into our family over ten years ago. Her mother, Bree, was a very small, dainty, sweet-natured cat. From the start, it was obvious that Carly would not carry on Bree’s sweet tradition. From the time she was able to be handled, right up to the day (years later) when she disappeared, we always kept band-aids and first aid ointment on hand.

Heck, we usually just kept it on the counter – as we knew it’d be needed at some point.

I had it in my mind that the more I handled Carly, the sweeter she’d become and the less apt she’d be to scratch arms, hands, and fingers.

For a span of 6 years, I had ever-present scratches on my arms and hands.

You could be in the middle of pouring food on her plate and  SWASH, you’d feel a scratch on your hand. She would purr the entire time – that’s what always amazed me. My little beauty enjoyed tormenting her humans.

Carly’s attitude was even obvious on her face – even from a kitten.  She didn’t sit and stare at her surroundings like most animals… she sat and glared. The picture above (with two of her kittens) displays this expression perfectly.  Ears pulled back, cheekbones tight, mouth pursed… that was my girl.

Carly would often “bop” other cats on the head for absolutely no reason. I’d watch her as she’d quietly position herself higher than her victim, then gasp as she lowered the boom. The claws were never out when she did her patented head bopping – but the message was always received. The “bopped” was to remove himself/herself from the “bopper’s” presence.  They never failed to do so.

When, a few years back, Grumpy Cat became an internet sensation, I thought, “Big deal. I knew the original.”  In fact, Carly made Grumpy Cat look like pushover. A ridiculously high-on-life pushover.

Some people are kind of like Carly was.  Their “resting” facial expression is a snarl and if they ever have anything pleasant to say about anyone, you all but faint.

Once, an especially bad storm was coming and my daughters and I rounded up Carly and her babies to bring inside until it passed (hoping our inside cat, Prissy, would look the other way for a few hours).  I volunteered to hold Carly and thought I just might require a blood transfusion.

 

They’re what would be referred to as “difficult” people.  Those that aren’t always easy to get along with and aren’t ever easy to understand. They may not (I certainly hope not, anyway) bop other people on the head with their hands – but they will try to “emotionally” bop them with jabs, insults, rudeness, snarliness.  The end game is pretty much the same: I want to be left alone.

The sad thing for human Carlys is this, one day they probably will be left alone. All alone.

Carly wasn’t always a little grouch, mind you. She had moments when she’d purr without scratching. She’d allow me to hold her as we walked around the yard or even sit in my lap occasionally while watching birds.

She filled my days with so much amusement – I gotta admit, I found her cranky disposition funny. Even the head bops.

(Continued beneath the handsome picture…)

Beautiful Bo

 Bo

The Bos of the World

Bo.  The name should be synonymous with sweetness. This cat was one in a billion. Sure, I’ve had ridiculously sweet cats over the years – including the ones who currently grace our family.  But there was just something different about Bo. Something that was decidedly UN-catlike.  For one thing, most cats aren’t that wild about being held. Bo would stand up against your leg, requesting to be picked up and held. If he was put back down before he was ready for it, he’d simply request another trip up.

Our youngest daughter would wrap him up in a blanket (like a baby) and hold him and he would purr with delight. She’d lay down with him bundled up and they’d both sleep for hours.

I’ve never known a cat so intent on cuddling and “lovey dovey” as Bo was.

Where Carly’s attitude was decidedly, “What can you do for me to make me happy??,” Bo’s attitude seemed to be, “What can I do that’ll make you happy… because that’s what makes me happy?!”

Something else that separated him from most cats was his VERY laid-back disposition. Storms freaked Carly out as they do most cats. In fact, every cat I’ve ever had hated storms.

Except Bo. He’d just go right on about his business.  He’d open his eyes when it thundered and even twitch his whiskers when lightning struck – but I always got the impression he was more amused by storms than annoyed by them.

Some humans are like Bo – uncommonly dialed into a Zen channel.  Not only do they not cause drama, they do all they can to avoid it. All they’re after is a world filled with laughter.

And hugs. Lots of hugs.

If you have a room full of Bos, there will be NO drama until… you guessed it… a Carly arrives on the scene.

Here’s the funny thing, though, and something we’d all do well to think about: I loved Carly with all my heart, just as I loved Bo with all my heart. They disappeared (as outside cats in the country often do) years ago – several years apart.

For months, I watched out the window for each them.  At any point then.. or now… I’d have given a million dollars to see either one stroll up the yard.

Either one.  I loved them equally and, if I had one million dollars to spend on the return of one… I’d never be able to pick one.  That seems kind of strange, doesn’t it?  Wouldn’t you think I’d go for the one that came with blankets instead of Band-Aids?!

But there you have it.  They were each members of the family – warts and all.

We all have to remember that about each member of our human family. There may be things about their disposition or temperament that we don’t identify with. They may come across as snarly at times and downright rude other times.

But they’re our “Carlys” and we’d be completely lost without them.

Tips for Dealing with Carlys

  1. Say, “I’m not going to be able to change this person.”  Now say it again. In fact, say it until you accept it! A person’s basic disposition, temperament, and personality are what makes them THEM.  You can’t change who they are… and, can we be honest for a minute? You shouldn’t want to. Accept them as they are and avoid the head bops whenever you can.
  2. Improve your People Reading skills.  When a “Carly” is in a bad mood, it usually shows on their face. Maybe I’m extra perceptive, but I can even tell from the “energy” a person puts off whether they’re in a good way or not. When they’re in a bad way – I simply stay clear until it’s safe. You get fewer bops that way.
  3. Don’t push it. Imagine that Carly had been in a particularly cranky mood one day. Imagine that, just that morning, she’d scratched both of my arms and hissed at every cat in the county. How many shades of stupid would I have to be to walk out, scoop her up, and plant one right between her eyes. It would have meant a trip to the ER. If someone is in a dark mood, don’t try to “pull” or “push” them out – UNLESS their personal temperament responds to this approach Most do not, however, respond at all to the taffy approach. It just makes things worse.

In the end, it comes down to acceptance and amusement. Accept who they are and how they are and, when possible, try to see the amusement in the situation.  Above all, do not… do not take their temperament or disposition personally.  Carly loved me more than anyone, and yet, guess who wore Band-Aids more than she wore socks for years?! I knew it wasn’t ME… it was HER. Taking it personally would have a waste of time and energy.

I’d have been a real sap.

Remind yourself that families are made up of all kinds of people. Love them and enjoy them as they are. Any time spent trying to change them or wishing they were different is simply time wasted.

~ Joi

Bo

Bo

EDIT: It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – The Carlys I’m referring to are not physically, emotionally, or mentally abusive. People like that aren’t
Carlys, they’re jackasses. What’s more, they aren’t to be tolerated. Period.

 

 

Focus of 2015 on Self Help Daily: Building a Happier Family

Everything Begins and Ends with Family

Birtt and Steph
 

 Want to build a happier family? It’s time to stop just talking about it and do it!

When I say the word “treasure,” what do you automatically think of? Some people picture Pirate’s treasure (especially those who are just really, really into pirates!). Others may picture cars, big screen televisions, jewelry, or anything else money can buy.

Me? I picture a crazy, colorful cast of characters I call my family. Humans, cats, fish, and a guinea pig make up this family and, quite frankly, they make my world go around. They set the sun, the moon, and the stars in my sky.

They are my treasure.

Are they perfect? The world might not think so, but they’re all more than perfect enough for me.

I learned long ago that nothing matters as much as your family (which includes, of course, friends who are so close they’re “like” family).  There’s no doubt in my mind that you agree 100 percent with me on that.  I’m sure you also agree that you will only be as happy, when all’s said and done, as your family is.

Close, happy families that are filled with equal parts love and laughter… that’s what everyone wants, right?  We want holidays without tension, reunions without rudeness, Sunday dinners without judgement.

A happy family isn’t just going to happen, though.  What’s more, if we’re being completely honest, sometimes they take a little work.

Think about it: Families are made up of individuals. Individuals with different temperaments, outlooks, core beliefs, dispositions, attitudes, style, etc. And, regardless of what you may have heard – opposites don’t always attract. Sometimes there’s nothing “attractive” about them whatsoever!

Yet, in my opinion, it’s these very differences that keep things interesting. I wouldn’t want to, for example, sit around a table at Cracker Barrel with 10 other MEs. Sure, we’d all agree on television shows, favorite baseball players, food preferences, and political views. We’d talk non-stop about cats and sweet tea – but frankly, the thought isn’t that appealing. For one thing, they’d never have enough sweet potatoes for all of us and for another, the thought of not being exposed to any fresh or new concepts or ideas seems kind of like a drag.

I don’t want everyone to be like me and I don’t want to be like anyone else.  That’s one of the things I love the most about my own personal cast of characters. No two nuts in this tree are alike and no single nut seems to mind.

During Christmas season 2014, I read a lot of people’s comments, tweets, and posts about family and family get-togethers. So many people were anxious, nervous, apprehensive, and downright scared and that struck me as sadder than sad.

Imagine that. A time of year when we should all be excited about getting everyone together – there are actually people who dread it. They “hold their breath” until everyone has gone their separate ways.

That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. It also sounds downright unhealthy to the body and mind.  Stress, in any picture, is disastrous but when it’s in a family picture, it’s even more so.

I decided to make one of the focuses of 2015 on Self Help Daily building happier families.  The regular posts, articles, quotes, and book reviews will continue to flow, but there’ll be a lot of happy family related material woven throughout.

I’m in the middle of reading a book that’ll I’ll tell you all about next week. It is what can only be called a “difference maker” and I’m really excited to tell you all about it.

As soon as I finish it, that is!

In the meantime, here’s an article I wrote a while back called Treasure Your Family.  It’ll help to sort of set the stage for our 2015 Family Focus and remind you of how blessed you are to have your own cast of characters. Some really can be characters, can’t they….

~ Joi

Ice Skating

How You Treat Others is a Reflection…

But Just What is it a Reflection Of?

Quote About Treating Others with Kindness

When you think of a “hateful” person, what do you think of? Someone with a biting sarcasm and so much nastiness about them that they’re pretty much a human repellent? I’ve known a few people like that – so mean-spirited it’s a wonder they could stand themselves.

Then again, maybe they couldn’t and that’s why they’re so mean.

I’m actually not thinking about the word “hateful” in regards to how a person acts, though.  I’m not thinking of it as an action verb as much as a state of being verb. I’m actually thinking about the following definition of the word:

Hateful – full of or expressing hate; malignant

Sadly, there are a lot of people who are full of hate and this makes them, just as the definition says, malignant.

Malignant:

  1. disposed to cause harm, suffering, or distress deliberately
  2. very dangerous or harmful in influence or effect.

Ugly stuff, right? It’s especially ugly when you think of a truth we’ve all heard for years: How we treat others says more about US than it does THEM.

Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. – T.H. Thompson

I can’t imagine that anyone would wake up in the morning and tell their cat, “I’d sure like to be malignant today! Yep, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to spread destruction, suffering, and hatred. If I get cracking, maybe I can contaminate a good 10 people or more before lunch.”

Nah. Maybe I’m naive, but I doubt there are any human Grinches walking around. More likely than not, having a sour disposition has crept up on them and they don’t even realize it. They’ve become a negative, cynical, pessimistic, and hateful person without even realizing it.

That’s how all bad habits take root in our lives. Over time, they slowly soak into us until they become one with us. If left to their own devices, they come to define us. Think for a minute about the people you know – most of them, when you think of their name, conjure up an attribute or characteristic. Personally, I can’t think of anything worse than to be considered “hateful.”

The problem with being filled with hate (anger, resentment, bitterness – or any of its other cousins) is two-fold:

  1. hate makes its host miserable
  2. the host then takes it out on everyone else

Personally, I think some people treat others badly – not so much because of who the other person is – but because of the hateful seed deep within themselves.

By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach. – Winston Churchill

Here’s an example, without going into specifics:

Recently one of my favorite athletes shared a family Christmas photo. The shot included himself, his girlfriend, his mom, and his grandmother! Precious, right? Most of us who commented on the picture wished him and his family a wonderful Christmas. One person (it may or may not have been me) commented on how downright adorable his grandmother was.

But there were others who, disgustingly, left cruel comments about him and his family. Some hate-filled jackasses simply said, “Shut up.”

Seriously. There are people like this in the world.  When I saw these comments…. left on an individual’s family Christmas photo, mind you!.. I grew angrier by the minute. I ran away from Twitter and practically threw my iPad down. I’m not sure I could have been any angrier if this young man had been my own son!

As I sat there wondering what was wrong with humanity and how such vile humans could even exist, the anger slowly turned to sadness.

Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns. – Author Unknown

Let’s face it, for anyone to leave UGLY, HATE-LACED comments (which is literally speaking to someone) like this, they have to be filled with hate and ugliness, themselves.

When I pour myself a glass of sweet tea out of my favorite glass pitcher, sweet tea goes into my glass. Sweet tea is in the container. Sweet tea comes out.

Those of us (Thanks be to God we outnumbered the Nasty Nellies!) who wished this athlete’s family a wonderful Christmas and echoed his happiness with our own words were filled with happiness, kindness, and love for others.

Sweet tea’s in the container. Sweet tea’s in the glass.

The others were obviously filled with unhappiness, bitterness, ugliness… not just the cousins of hate – I think they were hosts for hate’s entire family.

And an ugly sight they make.

The kindest word in all the world is the unkind word, unsaid. – Author Unknown

I was thinking earlier about some of my favorite people. I’ve always been particularly fond of people who are agreeable, funny, and kind-hearted. People who are so busy living their own lives and trying to perfect the person in the mirror that they haven’t time time to criticize and demean people around them.

They’re happy with their life. They’re happy with themselves. They don’t want to knock anyone down or spread toxicity because they’re too busy enjoying life.

Show me that sort of individual and I’ll walk to the ends of the world with them. I’m lucky to have a great number of people around me who fit that bill.

The next time you catch yourself even thinking something mean or hateful about another person, catch yourself and MAKE yourself think something positive about them instead. After a while you will have developed a newer, better habit and no one will benefit from it any more than you will.

What if any one of the individuals who lashed out with ugliness and toxicity had stopped themselves and typed in: “Beautiful family! Y’all have a wonderful Christmas!” instead.

What would have happened? Well, think back to the Christmas classic “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”  Remember when his little bitty heart grew larger?

Yeah. Something like that.

Very often the way we treat others is the way we look at the world. It’s a reflection of how we feel about life, in general – especially as it relates to us.  Someone who is never content or happy with life – the one who thinks nothing is ever good enough – is often the one who treats others the worst.  Their discontentment with life makes them discontent with just about everyone in it.

Like most things in life, the choice is ours. We can improve the way we treat others by improving our outlook on life or we can become so toxic and negative that small children run from us.

Not much of a choice is there?

Here are a few Calls to Action (because nothing is ever of any  use until it’s put to use!):

  • Start being kinder than you have to be.  When you feel the temptation to say something negative to someone (whether it’s about their job, their weight, how they wear their hair..), say something nice instead. Not only will they feel wonderful (and possibly even surprised), something unexpected will happen – you’ll feel even better than you make them feel!
  • Do something unexpected and kind for someone. It doesn’t take much (time or money) to make someone smile.  If I haven’t said it recently (which I know I have), I’ll say it now – I’m the luckiest person in the world when it comes to family.  This colorful cast of characters that fill my life are wonderful about doing extra little “somethings” for one another. Whether it’s me grabbing a great looking color of nail polish for my girls simply because, my youngest daughter leaving unexpected gluten free treats on the kitchen counter for me, one of my other daughters (or sons-in-law) bringing me a favorite drink from Starbucks, or my husband ordering me something awesome off of Amazon just to make me smile – we are all always thinking about ways to bring smiles to one another’s faces.  What a wonderful world it’d be if everyone had the same mindset – about family, friends, neighbors, and complete strangers.
  • Remind yourself each day to be the kindest person you know!  New concepts, habits, and mindsets can quickly be tossed aside. After all, that’s why we have to make NEW New Year’s Resolutions each year.  If you’re striving to be a kinder person – to life, to yourself, and… by reflection.. to others – remind yourself each day that life is a wonderful gift! To behave differently is a slap in the face to God, himself. Stop dwelling on negatives and dwell, instead, on positives. Doing so will affect the way you feel inside and the way you make others feel outside. The way you make other people feel is a reflection on you more than it is on them.
  • Be careful what you THINK and how you TALK about others behind their back.  These thoughts and “private” words will come to the surface and do more damage than you have right to do.

If you improve just one thing this year, improve the way you treat others. You may be thinking, “That’s fine and good for them… but what’s in it for me?!”  Well, everything! If you treat others with kindness, you will be the biggest benefactor of all. Should that be your number one goal? Of course not, but it’s the truth.

Spread kindness. Spread happiness. There’s enough toxicity and negativity out there and the world doesn’t need any more of it.

~ Joi

See More Quotes About Kindness.

Quote About the Way You Treat Others

People Who Talk Behind Your Back

A Couple of Quotes, a Couple of Thoughts, and One Big Question

Quote About People Who Talk Behind Your Back
Sometimes I’ll hear from individuals who are troubled by things that resonate with me. For example, when I hear from people who struggle with eating healthy, I automatically think, “I know, right!?!”  As they go on about how fried food simply tastes better to them than quinoa, my taste buds and brain agree with them completely.

Even if it’s a problem I don’t, myself, associate with (loneliness, for example) – I’ll often be able to empathize with their emotions by putting myself in their place.  I can almost always identify with someone by putting myself in their place. I find their footprints and put my own feet in them.

However, I’ll occasionally hear from someone (or talk with them) who’s going through something that’s so alien to my way of thinking that I struggle to find their footprints… let alone step into them.

Here’s a perfect example:  Girls, boys, women, or men who are heartbroken because their “significant other” talks badly about them to….

  • their best friends
  • their co-workers
  • their own family

Why am I unable to find these particular footprints? Because I can’t figure out what makes this sort of person worthy of being called a “significant” anything.

Honestly.

Think about words for a minute.  As someone who writes (to the tune of all day.. everyday..) and reads a great deal,  I may attach more emphasis, importance, and value to words than the average person. Having said that, I don’t think anyone can or should undermine their importance.  Feelings, emotions, and knowledge are conveyed with words. Whether it’s the spoken language or written language – we convey the essence of our thoughts and feelings with our words.

If we’re hurt, it comes out in our words.

If we’re angry, it comes out in our words.

If we’re bitter, it comes out in our words.

If we’re happy, it comes out in our words.

If we’re grateful, it comes out in our words.

And on and on and on.  Our words, in many ways, identify what we feel inside.

Do you see why I said what I did about some people not being worthy of being called a “significant” anything?

Some people talk about their families in a way that seeks only to build them up. If they call a friend up and happen to mention their wife, girlfriend, or children – the friend knows it’s going to be a positive conversation. The friend (or co-worker) will think this guy’s family is the greatest family in the world! Why? Because the friend feels that they are the greatest!

Other people talk about their families or friends in such a way that others start wondering, “Are they complete losers?” or, worse, “I don’t think this guy /girl really loves her/him.”

After all, if the only thing out of someone’s mouth about someone is negative, after a while, you can only draw one conclusion: This person doesn’t care about them.  IF they did, their words would back it up.

So. What do you do if you KNOW someone is running you down or talking about you behind your back? For what it’s worth, here’s my advice:

  1. Make sure of your facts before you say anything. If an individual who you can trust explicitly tells you that this person has been talking about you OR you have seen or heard the evidence, yourself – then you probably have all the proof you need to confront them. However, when I say “confront,” I’m not talking about an ambush. You’re cooler than that.  Also, don’t ask them if they HAVE BEEN doing it – that only gives them an “out.” Without getting (or at least, without appearing!) angry, tell them, “I just need to know something… why do you talk badly about me to ________?”  Let them know that you know they do – you haven’t run for the hills, you aren’t armed and dangerous – you simply want to know why they feel the need to do this and if there’s anything you can do to make it stop. Please make sure you KNOW the facts before saying anything. Few things are less attractive than a paranoid person on a hunt when there simply isn’t any prey.
  2. If the information they’ve spread is LIES, you have a right to ask them to set things straight.  If they’ve exaggerated the details (in an attempt to garner sympathy, I suppose), tell them it’d mean the world to you if they’d let the person know they were upset when they spoke about you and that they shouldn’t have said the things they said.
  3. If the person gets angry and defensive, just drop it for the time being. You absolutely cannot reason with someone when they’re like this. Simply say, okay, let’s forget it for now. There’s no need in escalating the situation or helping a hot head get even hotter.

In the end, if you have someone in your life who you think of as “special,” yet they continue to run to others anytime you have an altercation or they tend to paint you in a less than positive light to other people, please ask yourself just how “special” they are.  That’s the “big question” I mentioned in the title. Words convey what’s in our heart. There’s a little flow chart:  OUR FEELINGS —> OUR THOUGHTS —> OUR WORDS. If someone’s words are unkind about an individual, their feelings or thoughts are polluting their words.  That’s why you have to talk to them.

I saw a quote graphic on Pinterest one time that encouraged girls to find a guy  with whom “you know your name is safe in his mouth.” I love that. It can go for guys or gals, of course, but the gist is this: You want someone in your life who… whenever your name is on their tongue… it is as safe as a baby in its mother’s arms.

You should seek to surround yourself with people who you KNOW – beyond a doubt – speak highly of you. People who, whenever they speak your name to ANYONE, there is kindness, love, and even pride involved.

That’s what you deserve. Don’t ever forget that!
~ Joi

The Names We Call People are A Lot Like Post It Notes

For Better or Worse.. They Just Might Stick

I can still feel the impact of a musical friend who one day called me ‘musical.’ No one had ever called me that. I didn’t really play an instrument. I was no soloist. Yet . . . I instantly felt known and loved. . . . [He] noticed, validated, and appreciated something deeply true about me.” 

These words were written in an article by Mark Labberton and beautifully remind us of the importance of “names” we assign to one another.

Whatever “names” or even “images” we assign to other people carry a lot of weight, and for better or worse, you’d better believe they stick.

Power of Names

Long before I considered myself a writer, I thought of words as little pieces of puzzles. The end result of piecing them together might be a letter to a loved one, an essay at school, or a few lines in my diary about the impossibly cute boy who worked at an arcade in town.

Naturally I never thought about my effectiveness with words. I simply knew I loved being in their presence.  I remember when I actually began to feel like, maybe… just maybe… they enjoyed being in my presence as well.

My aunt (one of the sweetest people in the world, by the way) was always one of my favorite family members to write letters to.  She loved to hear about my pets, friends, school, clothes, etc. If I had an interest in something, she wanted to know all about it.  One Christmas (I believe I was around 14-15), she and my uncle came home for Christmas. Right smack in front of the entire family, she launched into how much she loves getting my letters. She said I had a “gift” for writing.   She went on to say that she kept all of my letters.  Then my mom said that she kept all of my poems and short stories that I’d written in school.

I thought, “They KEPT all that crap???”

My aunt told me, “You should be a writer,” and my mom replied, “She already is.”

I have no idea what gifts I unwrapped under the tree that year, but I know that two of the most important people in my life gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten – belief in myself.

Since that day, whenever I’ve written anything I’ve sat a little taller and felt a lot more confident.  Whenever I’d get anything less than an A+ on an essay, I’d think, “Well, you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m the writer here.”

Some might say my mom and aunt created a monster and I can’t say they’d entirely be wrong. But it’s a writing monster and that’s what counts.

Many years passed between the day my mom and aunt made me feel 10 feet tall.  I became a wife (to the cute arcade boy, by the way) and mother of three beautiful daughters.  I threw myself completely into these roles. The only writing I did was letters and curriculum for my daughters, who I home-schooled all the way from Kindergarten to 12th Grade.

When I decided that I’d very much like to be a web publisher and blog writer, I remembered what my family had said all those years ago.  Their words gave me confidence to try.  They stuck.

When I first began writing online, sometimes I’d read the work of truly great authors and I’d begin to doubt myself. I’d think, “I haven’t been doing this as long as them… I don’t have their education…” ” Right around this time, a friend of my husband’s who happened to have a great reputation online as a web publisher said that he was “in love with my writing.”

This compliment was like a shot in the arm and I felt positively sassy again.

Words carry so much weight! Whether they’re words we say to our children, our spouse, ourselves, or people we barely even know.

Power of Names

Think of words like this: When you call someone “dumb” or even say they did a “dumb” thing – it’s as though you’re writing the word on a post it note and pinning it to their top.  They WILL live down to your expectations.

When you call someone “gifted,” “smart,” “witty,” etc… they WILL live up to your expectations.

Think about things people have called you. No doubt both good and bad names come to mind.  That’s a perfect illustration that these labels STAY with us and a wonderful reminder to watch what words come out of your mouth.

Now for a harder exercise – think about the names you have called other people or the titles you’ve given them.  If you’re the sort of person who has pinned far more negative words than positive, make it right. If you think you’ve been particularly harmful to someone’s self confidence or fear that someone doesn’t think you believe in them – don’t let another day go by without clearing things up.

Words have the power to change lives.

Thanks for reading… you’re awesome!
~ Joi

“If you wouldn’t write it and sign it, don’t say it.” – Earl Wilson

 

What You Allow is What Will Continue

One of the Most Powerful Quotes EVER is Always Right

What you allow is what will continue. - Unknown
As you know, I’m an avid collector and great lover of inspirational quotes. I’m not sure I ever met one I didn’t want to sit down and spend a little time with. Over the years, I find that I always have a few “favorite quotes of the moment”  at any given time. The quotes that just seem to find their way into every conversation and seem to be applicable to whatever is going on around me.

Funny thing is, the quote you see above has been a favorite quote for as long as I can remember.  What you allow is what will continue. It never goes out of style, never gets old, and (as far as I’m concerned) should never leave your side.

This past week, alone, the quote came to mind in three different instances.

  1. My husband and I were at a favorite restaurant in town that often seems to have a problem with being understaffed. We’ve heard, on several occasions, that they have a problem with servers simply calling in at the last minute. As the manager ran around like a chicken in search of its head, I wanted desperately to write the quote down and slip it to him as he flew past our table on one of his rounds. If he keeps allowing his workers to treat him, the restaurant, and their co-workers with such blatant disrespect, they will.  It’ll continue.
  2. I heard about a girl (from one of my daughters) who has a ridiculously unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend. He treats this girl in a way that makes me want to smack him in the head… with an electric eel.  And she isn’t even MY daughter – I don’t want to even think what he’d be in for if she were! The relationship (if you can even call it that) has been going on like this for a few years and, by now, this unhealthy and abnormal reality probably seems normal to this young girl.  What I wouldn’t give for 10 minutes with her.  If she continues to allow herself to be treated like a doormat, this jerk will continue to trample on her.
  3. Okay, time to rat on myself. I try to eat healthy. Like most people, these days, I try to make the right choices in the store, in my kitchen, and in restaurants.  A few times this week (alone!) I messed up big time. Let’s see, I messed up in the grocery store by buying unhealthy snacks, I messed up at home by choosing the unhealthy ones over the beautiful fruit that was sitting on the counter, and I messed up in a restaurant (Seriously, Joi? Three rolls?  With Butter? Three?) I whipped out the beloved quote on myself last night in the grocery store. I had a bag of Doritos in my hand, licking my lips as I was thisclose to throwing it into the cart.  Then I realized that if I keep allowing my inner snacker (she with the rationality of a 10 year old) to call the shots, my downward spiral will continue.  I put the bag of crunchy goodness back on the shelf and got some celery instead. It was cheaper, healthier, and is one step in breaking a cycle I want to break.

The celery over Doritos choice may seem small – and I guess, compared to gleefully eating 3 rolls… with butter… it is small. However, we’d all do well to keep in mind that every choice we make either carries us one step forward, one step backward, or sinks us further in the ground where we stand.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the most searched things on Google is How to Be Happy. Ironically, that fact makes me pretty sad.  The thought of so many people out there who may be so removed from happiness that they’re turning to a search engine to remember where it is… well, that’s sad.

The thing is, we’re born happy. When we’re babies and toddlers, we wear our happiness on our face for the world to see.  Think of the insanely popular videos on YouTube with nothing but babies laughing.  People (including me) love these videos and spend copious amounts of time watching them… laughing with the babies the entire time.

Why? Because pure joy is a beautiful, intoxicating thing.  If we allow the wrong things to keep playing out, we’ll continue to be further and further removed from happiness and joy.

Leave behind anything that stands between you and happiness and, while you’re at it,  tuck this life-changing quote into your pocket so you never forget it again…..

What you allow is what will continue. My wish for you is that you’ll only allow positive, uplifting, joyous things in your life because… mark it down.. they’ll continue! Pure joy is what I want for YOU – the kind you just can’t keep in or hide.

~  Joi