Category Archives: growup

Three Secrets To Happiness

Last week, I came across this video via Upworthy. In it, Sam Berns, who was only 17 years old, talks about living with Progeria, “an extremely rare genetic disorder wherein symptoms resembling aspects of aging are manifested at a very early age,” (from Wikipedia).

Stratch that.

Sam did have Progeria, but the disease did not define his life. Yes, it clearly caused him to make some accommodations, but it was not the driving force behind his day-to-day mood, or even his life goals. Even though the Upworthy post indicates that he passed away about 3 months after this was filmed, he clearly lived a full life.

There are times when I get down about minor things. Things much more easily navigated than a disease like the one Sam dealt with. Hearing him speak and listening to his simple but profound rules for happiness, I’m humbled. And inspired. And shamed. And encouraged.

Life is simply too short to get all worked up over everything. Sometimes, even over big things. We have to seize what joy we can and live in this moment, right here, right now. I know that’s far from an original observation. Hell, it verges on trite, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

If you have about 13 minutes, I strongly encourage you to give the video a bit of your time. If you don’t, make the time. It’s well worth it.




Earlier today I posted an article on my professional website: “Forget SEO — Content is Still King”. A few minutes later, I linked the article on Facebook, where an insightful friend of my replied with this article: “Content Used to Be King. Now It’s the Joker.”

My friend wasn’t being contrary, argumentative or mean. I actually agreed with the article she posted. In fact, nothing in her link disagreed with anything I’d said in my article. The issue wasn’t a collision of concepts, but completely different meanings applied to the same word.

(For the curious, I intended “content” to convey the literal meaning, “the subjects or topics covered in a book or document.” However, sometimes the same word is used to refer to low-paying ghost writing gigs.)

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. Neither my friend nor I got snippy. It was easy to see we were talking about two different things, but this well illustrates something that often happens in communication. Just because two people use the same word doesn’t mean they’re saying the same thing. And, conversely, just because two people use a different word it doesn’t mean the disagree.

The key is learning to listen. 

Before you let any conversation get confrontational, take the time to really understand what the other person is saying. Assumption is not your friend in those moments. I don’t care how good you think you are at reading between the lines, it’s always better to dig a little and make sure you’re picking up what the other person is laying down.

(And yes, I know I used the same picture not 10 posts ago. It’s solid quote and a great movie.)

Little Things

Be Happy

I got a bit of disappointing news today.

On the one hand, it’s really not a big deal. Scratch that. It is a big deal. It’s not just not unexpected. I won’t go into details here. It’s a personal matter best left personal. However, in the most general terms, someone (or, this case, someones) made a decision that left me feeling crudy.

The thing is, I know these someones. The thing that happened today doesn’t surprise me in the least. Still, it hurts.

Earlier this week, one of my Facebook friends ask if anyone had suggestions for a word that means happiness in the sense of something more than fleeting joy. Something permanent and deep, something resilient and chosen. I gave a few suggestions, as did several others, but I’m not sure any of us nailed it. I don’t know what the right word for that is, but I know I’m choosing it.

There are all kinds of things that impact our joy in life. Mostly, we point to things outside ourselves, crediting them with our good times and blaming them for our bad. It’s the job we have, the relationship that eludes us, a surplus of unexpected funds, or unfair treatment at the hands of someone else. Ultimately, however, all those outside forces are little things compared to the internal choice we make to either embrace light or embrace darkness.

I know. It sounds all new-agey, but I’m completely serious. The decisions you make are what determine your joy in life. Not your job, your bank account statement, your marital status, your circle of friends, your level of success or your health.

Do those things matter? Of course they do! It’s harder, so much harder, to choose joy in the face of a series of unfortunate circumstances. But…take a deep breath…happiness is still a choice, no matter what’s going on around you.

Anne Frank said, “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” Anne Frank. If someone living through hell can make such a declaration, just what do we think constitutes a valid excuse for moping around, whining about all the reasons we can’t be happy?

Stop it. Stop it right now.

If you want to be happy, stop focusing on all the reasons you aren’t and focus on all the things you have to celebrate. Make a choice. Don’t be a victim of circumstance. Instead, be the master of your own mood.

Be happy.

The New Rules of Etiquette


An awesome article was published online yesterday by Forbes. So awesome, in fact, there’s no point in summarizing it. Instead, I’m just going to encourage you to read it!

You’ll have to actually click through to read Asghar’s 27 rules, but it’s well worth your time.

27 Etiquette Rules For Our Times
by Rob Asghar  |

“It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built upon a renunciation of instinct,” Sigmund Freud said.

There’s always a tension between how much we should follow our instincts and how much we should yield to social conventions. But at times like ours, the tendency is to tilt too far toward our instincts, since the conventions are changing fast and there’s no consensus about them anyway. There’s a risk in that. You don’t know whom you might be offending or how you might be sabotaging your own success.

The original etiquette manuals of Western civilization were in fact success manuals. As author Steven Pinker notes, they taught knights and nobles how to conduct themselves in the court of the king—which is where we get the concepts of “courtly” and “courtesy.”

I asked some tasteful and civilized friends and colleagues what an updated manual for 2014 would look like. Here are 27 rules to help you, whether at an office lunch, the company gym, or the birthday party of your child’s schoolmate.

You’ll notice a common denominator in all of them: Think about other people’s feelings first, because it’s not all about maximizing your personal convenience.

Read more…

Speak Kindness

Kind Words


So very true, and yet, so easy to forget.

It takes almost no effort to offer criticism, but compliments sometimes feel like they drain us. What is it we feel like we’re giving up when we send kind words in someone else’s direction? It’s as though we irrationally think there’s some sort of quota on the number of nice things people can say to one another. In speaking kindness to someone else, we seem to believe we’re limiting the amount of kindness that can be returned to us.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Kindness comes back around, and the raw power of spoken kindness is hard to match. Say something nice to someone today. The act alone will be rewarding, and you might be surprised by how often and how quickly you hear something nice in return.

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