Fill your day with joy

We spend a lot of time in the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is a great thing, but can be subjective, based on circumstances. Joy brings a deeper sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Joy is foundational; a sense that all will work out, even when the immediate circumstances aren’t going the way we would like.

Richard Wagner said, “Joy is not in things; it is in us.” We chase happiness, but we build joy. There are many ways to develop a joyful attitude; here are three simple daily activities anyone can try:

Start each day with a pleasant word – When the alarm sounds in the morning, the first words I say to my wife are, “I love you”. Start the day with a positive thought or word, even if —or especially if— you’re not a “morning person”. If the first thought in your head as you wake up involves grumbling, you can bet the rest of the day is going to feel lousy.

Smile more – You don’t have to spend the day grinning like an idiot, but there is nothing quite as infectious as sharing a smile. It’s impossible to remain miserable or angry while smiling. People who develop a sense of joy can smile even through the deepest loss.

Encourage someone everyday – One of the quickest ways to build joy is to shift the focus from yourself to others; and an easy way to shift that focus is to encourage someone. This is active behaviour. It’s not good enough to think positive thoughts about some else. Take the time to communicate the encouragement.

Joy is infectious. Not only can we share it with those around us, but as we share joy, it continues to grow within us. Get out there and share some joy.

Review for Success

When we come to the end of a project or activity, it is common to review the outcomes. It can be very easy to consider these outcomes from a negative perspective, what went wrong rather than what went right. Next time you need to review a project, try looking at its successful outcomes. At the very least, try balancing each negative consideration with a positive.

Negative/neutral question Success-focused alternative
What went wrong? What went right?
What are our needs? What are our strengths?
What did we learn? What did we learn to do better?
What issues should we put on the agenda? What issues can be taken off the agenda?
How can we improve? What strengths could we make more use of?
What’s missing from this group? What are the assets of this group?
What would you do differently next time? What would you do the same next time?
What do you want to achieve? What is your recipe for success, and how will you apply that?
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Benjamin Franklin – 13 Virtues


Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
Image via Wikipedia

Benjamin Franklin developed this plan when he was 20. Based on , he reviewed one of these virtues each week, cycling through the list four times per year. Franklin carried a collection of charts where he would add a mark for each fault committed against the virtue of that day.

13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
  6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
  11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
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10 Tricks to Help You Remember

Between meetings, to-do lists, preparing supper, shopping and driving the kids, how do you remember all you have to do? David Allen says that your brain is not the most efficient memory tool and it will only trust systems that it knows works. Good memory recall is as simple as finding those things that will jog your brain at the time it needs to remember.

Here are 10 easy tricks to jog your memory:

    1. Write it down – My number one favourite trick: carry a notebook, have good lists, etc. I carry a small 2 X 4 inch notepad and a Pilot G-2 Mini pen in my wallet. That way, no matter where I am, I can write a quick note to process later.
    2. Record it – Use the “record” function of your smartphone to grab your thoughts. There are times when writing a note is not convenient or even safe. There are many apps that let you record things as they occur to you. Personal Assistant devices such as Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant allow you to trigger the service with a voice command, so you can add notes “hands-free”. When you’re back at your desk, you can transcribe the recorded notes into your tracking system.
    3. Call yourself – If you’re at the office and want a reminder when you get home, call your home phone and leave a message.
    4. Send yourself an e-mail – This trick can work a couple of ways. You can use it in much the same way as calling yourself. I will often send a quick e-mail from home to work as a reminder of something I can only do from the office or during work hours. As well, most calendar software or services can send a reminder of a scheduled event via e-mail. When you enter calendar data, use the settings that send an e-mail reminder.
    5. Use sticky notes – My wife’s favourite is the sticky note. She keeps them everywhere. She writes her errand list on a note and sticks it to the dashboard of the car as a reminder. Bathroom mirrors, fridge doors, outside doors and briefcases are all fair game for one of her sticky reminders.
    6. Have a place for things – Those things that need “regular” remembering -car keys, wallet, glasses, cell phone, etc.- are easy to recall if they are in the same place every time. Hang your keys by the door. Take them from the hook as you leave and hang them up as soon as you return. Dresser tops, purses, briefcases, hooks are all good places to keep those things you need frequently.
    7. Set timers and alarms – Use audible reminders for short-term recall. They’re not just for baking. If you have to call someone back in a half hour, set an alarm on you computer or cell phone to jog your memory in 30 minutes. If you have 30 minutes to enjoy a coffee before leaving the house for a concert, set the alarm to remind you.
    8. Self-motivate – Instead of saying, “I’ll probably forget.” Tell yourself that you’re going to remember. A positive mental approach goes a long way to stimulating your mind.
    9. Visualize – Some personal development involves a bigger sort of reminder. If you’re trying to lose 20 pounds, you need to “remember” your goal and the process. Stick a picture of a skinny person on the fridge. Write your desired weight and target date on the picture. That will help you to remember to  ignore the ice cream and eat some fruit instead.
    10. Keep Healthy – Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, that you are exercising and eating balance meals. All of these things contribute to keeping your memory working well.

The first five tricks are concrete tools to which you can refer to help recall. The second five are more mental in nature, stimulating your brain to make its best effort. Together, these tricks should keep you from forgetting, not only the urgent things that can control your thoughts and time, but the important things that will improve your life.

4 Tips for Basic E-mail Management

Is your email killing your productivity? Then it’s time for some basic e-mail management. With a few simple steps, you can maintain control over your in-box:

  1. Use the software: Set up your e-mail client to manage as much of the incoming mail as possible. Create filters to route unnecessary messages past your in-box and into a folder. Make sure your spam settings and databases are active and up to date. The more you automate your e-mail, the less time you spend reading and deleting.
  2. Turn off your new mail notification: You don’t have to read every piece of e-mail the moment it arrives. Pop-ups, beeps and “you’ve got mail” notifications can be too distracting to ignore. Turn them off!
  3. Don’t read and respond to each incoming message: Dealing with each e-mail as it arrives can create constant interruption to your work-flow. Set aside time each day where you deal with your e-mail. Have a process —such as this one— for clearing your in-box.
  4. Manage e-mail during times of lower energy: Don’t deal with e-mail during your most creative or productive times of the day. Processing e-mail doesn’t require much energy. Don’t waste your creative periods on something as routine as e-mail.

Keep it All in Balance

A corporate executive on holiday in a small Greek seacoast village was strolling by the docks and drinking in the local colour. He complimented one fisherman on the quality of his catch.

“How long did it take you to get all those fish?” he wondered.

“Not very long,” answered the Greek. “An hour or two.”

“Then why didn’t you stay out longer to catch more?”

Shrugging, the Greek explained that his catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The executive asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a nap with my wife. In the evening, I go to the village to see my friends, dance a little, play the bouzouki, and sing songs. I have a full life.”

The executive said, “I have an MBA from Harvard. I can help you. You should start by fishing longer every day. You’ll catch extra fish that you can sell. With the revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring you, you can buy a second boat and a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can ship fish to markets all around the world. In time, you can then move to New York City to direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Greek.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the executive.

“And after that?”

“When your business gets really big, you can sell stock and make millions!” exclaimed the executive with zeal.

“Millions? Really? And after that?”

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a small village near the coast, sleep late, play with your grandchildren, catch a few fish, take a nap with your wife, and spend your evenings singing, dancing, and playing the bouzouki with your friends.”