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Monthly Archives: July 2008

Never Stop Learning:: More Wisdom from Eleanor Roosevelt

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Every Friday honors Precept #5 of my Happiness Manifesto: Never Stop Learning.

Today, more wisdom from Eleanor Roosevelt:

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

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Veggies first?

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I’m an eat-your-vegetables-first kind of girl, and it’s causing a bit of a problem right now. My “vegetables” at the moment are all the important tasks at hand regarding a cross-country move and career change. And “dessert” is all the things I love to do, like write this blog, practice yoga, and sleep, to name a few. And in my classic habit of getting the bad out of the way to allow room to savor the good, I’m being good and packing boxes, posting items for sale on Craigslist, and returning calls from recruiters. But as the infrequent posts plainly show, I’m not getting around to the good stuff! Not that I’m living a completely ascetic life at the moment – my friends aren’t letting me leave without many dinners and goodbyes, which is a pleasure. But I am finding the imbalance to be a bit of a stress.

I’ve decided the best way to handle it is to forgive myself for all the things I’m not doing (the blog and that book can wait), schedule time for the important stuff (like exercise and sleep), and just put my head down and power through. After all, at some point soon the boxes will be packed and the new job will kick off and life will be back to normal. That said, I feel better acknowledging that I can’t do everything all at once. There’s something helpful about just saying that out loud! Here’s to more energetic and frequent writings once my world slows down.

If You Want to Succeed Faster, Fail Faster

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One of the labels that’s been tacked on to me in the past, usually by someone trying to talk me into slowing down, is that I live my life on fast forward. I make decisions quickly, act with swift efficiency, and move into major change more rapidly than most. And (like most people) I’m not always right, so sometimes these choices don’t result in the success I had hoped.

But something deep inside me knows that this method works for me, and has brought me more joy than sadness, more opportunity than frustration, and that I’ll have some great stories to tell when I’m old. So when I ran across the phrase, “If you want to succeed faster, fail faster,” something inside me resonated with the sentiment.

I think we find happiness by process of elimination, rather than looking at all the beauty and opportunity in the world and selecting our perfect life. We know which career we’d like to have because of the jobs we quit. We learn about our ideal spouse from all those dates that didn’t go anywhere. We have to try things on and shed them to know where we want to go next. So being willing to fail often is actually a mechanism for finding your perfect life more quickly.

The more I think about it, the more I realize this blog is not just about seeking happiness, but about taking calculated risks and making hard choices in pursuit of the happiness payoff.

Sharing is Good

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I am so happy that Craigslist.com exists – for those of you who haven’t found this E-bay inspired, local online market, check it out. Whatever you’re looking for, you can probably find, from roommates to refrigerators. And if you have stuff to sell like I do, it’s so much more efficient than a garage sale. I love the idea of my old stuff being recycled; not just sitting on a shelf at Goodwill, but going to someone was actually looking for what I was about to throw away. It also feeds my passion for trying to live locally – my stuff stays in the neighborhood. And it just makes me feel better – I took great pleasure in watching my girlfriends rave over “new” clothes that I no longer had a use for.

With every item I no longer own, I feel as though I’m physically losing weight. My stuff is losing it’s hold on me…

My Own Care and Feeding

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It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere. Agnes Repplier

One of the things I take pride in is taking responsibility for my own happiness. As much as I love the people in my life, none of them get tasked with making Jenny happy, which is a good thing because I believe they couldn’t succeed anyway – happiness and confidence come from the inside out, not the other way around. It’s my own job to decide whether I’m good enough, up for the task, and having fun.

Which is why it surprises me sometimes to look up and realize that I’m leaning. I caught myself fishing recently, looking to have others tell me that I’m on the right track and that I’m going to do fine. It’s normal as I’m in transition, but it doesn’t fit with my idea of myself. Usually I wait until the decisions are all made and I’m settled and confident of my direction before I tell anyone what I’m up to. I don’t let them see me “making the sausage” as the saying goes – and by then I’m not seeking their reassurance because I have things figured out. The downside of this is that I can seem aloof and disconnected. So I decided to try another tactic for the career change and cross-country move I’m currently staging; I asked for advice and opinions – and didn’t realize how much I wanted everyone to prop me up.

It’s just a different dynamic, but one that challenged my own sense of independence. It’s a big question, how much others’ opinions should factor into our own happiness, and one that everyone answers differently. Should we need reassurance? Or should we wean ourselves from it and simply be grateful if it comes our way? How much of our connection with others depends on the leaning?

The Course of Change – Words from Thomas Jefferson

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As we sit on the cusp of new leadership in the United States of America and our countrymen fret about what changes may come, I like to think of Jefferson’s words. America, always growing, adapting, has kept ahead with our willingness to be flexible and open minded. May we not forget this as we exchange one coat for another:

I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.

We might as well require a man to wear still the same coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

— Thomas Jefferson, to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1810

Never Stop Learning:: Wisdom from Eleanor Roosevelt

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Every Friday honors Precept #5 of my Happiness Manifesto: Never Stop Learning.

I was watching the news and it occurred to me that it seems there is less discussion of ideas, and more time spent repeating details of events (usually tragedies) or worse, dissecting someone’s character. It reminded me of a great quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that chastises me into avoiding gossip:

Great minds discuss ideas;

Average minds discuss events;

Small minds discuss people.

I love discussing ideas and wish there could be more of it, but it seems so many people are afraid of offending others, or getting into an argument, or taking a stand for something, that we avoid ideas all together.  Be inspired! Be great! Pick an idea today and share it with someone…