I have written before about memories and their impact on your happiness.  But I wanted to share one quick anecdote.  People continue to strive for different material things that they believe will make them happy, but at the end of the day (or more importantly end of one’s life), memories are what you will always have.

Do a quick test of this hypothesis.  Think of something in the past where you bought something that you “needed” to have, e.g., that latest device.  How does it make you feel today?  Now, think of a time where you invested in an experience, like a trip to somewhere that you always wanted to visit, e.g., London or Europe.  Which one created the best memories?

This past weekend, I attended my 40th high school reunion.  My former classmates and I not only relived old memories but also built new ones that we can put in our memory lockers to pull out and experience again later.  While I was apprehensive going in, it was a great weekend.  The smiles and laughs were so contagious that I am sure everyone had a fantastic time.

Part of creating a memory is taking time to truly enjoy the experience.  You will hear some people say to mentally take a snapshot in the moment – meaning to truly experience the moment and not just let it pass you by.  In the future, there will be things that trigger your memory vault and you will be able to relive the experience.  The good news about technology and social media today is that posts, pictures, and stories automatically stimulate memories.  I can tell you that I have been reliving my reunion already based on all the pictures being posted.

So the next time you are thinking to yourself, “wow, I am having a really great time”, pause in the moment and enjoy the moment.  You will be able to relive it again over and over in the future.

How do you capture memories?



Listen with Appreciation

Have you been in a conversation where the other person (people) don’t seem to be listening?  Do they interrupt to make their point?  Are they simply missing the message you are trying to convey?  Of course, you have.  If we are honest, we have been on both sides of this scenario. However, if we begin to listen to understand and not to respond, our conversations will be a lot more enjoyable and effective.  Whether in your personal or professional life, establishing a level of appreciative listening will allow you to build stronger relationships and have more relevant conversations.

Appreciative listening starts with a basic understanding that we should want to listen to understand the other person’s perspective.  You are open to their thoughts and ideas.  You aren’t positioning your next statement in your mind, as doing this will cause you to miss a large piece of the other’s point and message.  If you truly listen to gain their perspective, your responses will be more thought out and effective.  You will be able to compare with your perspectives, have a more conscious thought process and maybe change your narrative.  However, appreciative listening doesn’t mean that you must change your view to be aligned, it simply means being open-minded and authentic.

While not the direct subject of this article, appreciative listening is also tightly aligned to Emotional Intelligence – the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions while also recognizing, understanding and influencing the emotions of others.

Since appreciative listening happens so rarely in our fast-paced world of always being connected where we communicate in short bursts of information (texts, tweets, etc.) needing to share thoughts, ideas and even pictures of our dinner, if you effectively listen with appreciation, you may surprise yourself and the other person.

While this seems like common sense and sounds easy, the actual execution is more difficult and takes time to build into your persona, but you can take minor steps each day and in every conversation.  Eventually, you will become a more appreciative listener.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • It should go without saying but disconnect from technology. You obviously won’t be able to truly listen with appreciation if you are checking text messages or emails during the conversation.
    • On a personal level, leave your phone in the car while out to dinner.
    • At a professional level, close your laptop and leave your phone in your pocket.
  • Assess how you participate in your next conversation right after it is over. Did you listen with an appreciation or still compile your response before the other person was done?  Write your thoughts down and reread later.  How could you have done better?
  • During the next conversation, be mindful of how you are listening. Quiet your thoughts.  If you feel yourself stepping away from being an appreciative listener, catch it and bring yourself back.  It’s kind of like meditation when you let go of thoughts coming into your mind.  Don’t punish yourself, just recognize it and let it go.
  • Ask for feedback from the other person. Ask them if they felt like you were attentive in the conversation and if they felt like your responses considered their perspectives.

Listen with appreciation and see how it makes you feel and improves your overall communications.



Always Know Your Value

“Try not to be a man of success, but rather a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

Have you ever asked yourself – What value am I providing in my current role?  If you can’t confidently answer this question, it is unlikely that anyone else will be able to either.  This is something that you could be asking yourself daily, but at a minimum, you should be reviewing on a regular basis.  The timing decision is a personal one.

We all get caught up with our day to day activities and don’t take the time to step back to reflect our value to the company, organization, etc.  The challenge is that others are continuously in observation mode and while they may see a high level of activity, can they see the value output from the activity?  In the perfect world, others would recognize your value; however, they are in a similar position of busyness and don’t necessarily carry the same perspective as you do.

There are several reasons to reflect on your value.  First, there is a level of positive psychology in reviewing your value and contributions you are making.  It stimulates positive thinking and sets you up to be more positive throughout the day.  While “positive psychology” was initially seen as a fluffy term, since the late 1990’s, research has proven the beneficial impacts to not only a person’s performance, but also their health, learning and many other benefits.  At a minimum, creating a habit of thinking about the value you are contributing will provide a plethora of personal benefits.

If you can’t clearly articulate where you are adding value, you have an opportunity to modify what you are doing to remedy the situation.   A value assessment allows you to either modify what you are doing or look for another role where you feel more comfortable that you’ll be able to contribute.  This will be a positive practice, if you are taking action on your finding.

Additionally, assessing yourself helps you clarify your value into your communications and helps build your level of confidence.  You don’t want to come across as arrogant, but you do want to ensure that your value is understood.

Let’s face it, work life is competitive.  While we all want to work within a “family” environment, there is also competition within a family.   Have you ever been confused as to why someone received a promotion or got the position you wanted, even though you believed you were more qualified?  It may have been that they were able to communicate and promote their value better.

Ensure that you are relevant to the success of the organization and company.

What value will you add?



Collaboration Even Successful in Nature

In Shawn Achor’s latest book, Big Potential, he starts off with a story of lightning bugs in the mangroves of Southeast Asia.  This particular variation of lightning bug (Photinus Carolinus) synchronize their flashes to increase the likelihood of finding a mate.  Flashing alone, fireflies have a 3% chance of finding a mate, but by synchronizing, that probability rises to an astonishing 82%.  This is a simple example of how nature understands that working together collectively and collaboratively leads to greater combined success of the group and the individual.  This same phenomenon can enhance individual performance in organizations through collaboration that drives mutual success leading to personal growth.

By the way, in nature, this also causes a spectacular sight when the entire forest lights up at the same time with the lightening bug synchronization.

While, in this instance, nature figured out that collaboration produces better results than competition, it is counter intuitive to our beliefs or how we are raised that this could be possible for humans.  We continue to believe that we need to shine above everyone else to gain the spotlight.  This belief starts early in our lives and has been around for generations; however, it has been proven, through studies, that over time this obsession with being #1 has strengthened and has had a negative impact on true cooperation and ultimately both personal and organizational performance.

Companies continue to maintain “cooperation”, “collaboration” and “team work” in their corporate values slides; however, establish measurements that are counter to these statements.  For instance, it is very common for a challenge to be created along the lines of “the first team to achieve $100M in revenue receives a special bonus”.  On the surface, this may seem like friendly competition to drive both teams to strive harder to reach the $100M target.  But what if by cooperating the teams could have achieved $200M more quickly or even $250M by identifying additional synergies?

Throughout my career, I have seen examples on both sides of this equation – individualism undermining potential success and true collaboration driving greater success.  While maybe not flashing in 100% synchronization as the Southeast Asia lightning bugs, the teams operate toward common success and support the value of team strength.

In one instance, I was lucky enough to be part of an organization that grew revenues 7X in 4 years.  Additionally, we went from operating at a loss to significant operating margins.  While there were many reasons for this growth – great people, strong market and a leading product, other regions had many of these same elements, but lacked the level of collaboration that we created in our region.  While the corporate culture was more cut throat, we were lucky enough to be a remote region and isolated from that divisive atmosphere.  We knew that we wanted to deliver the highest corporate results, what we often referred to as “big bags of cash” to corporate (in the form of operating margin), and we had our style to drive that success.  Being in the Americas region and part of a UK based company, we were considered “cowboys”.

Our team was built with diverse core capabilities that could operate in unison to continue to deliver sustainable successful weeks, months and quarters.  4 key elements of the culture we built were –

  • Respect – the foundational core value that everything else layered on was respect. We listened to each other’s inputs, exchanged ideas and accepted constructive advice for improvement. Once organizations lose respect within their teams, the core will begin to crumble and put it in a downward spiral.
  • Commitment – each member of the team was committed to achieving our greater purpose and ended up with seeing significant opportunities for their personal growth. The team also experienced personal joy of collaborating.
  • Team Results – by setting a collective team target, made up of a combination of the individual goals with clear responsibilities, the team worked together. Even if an individual focused solely on achieving their personal targets, they may achieve that particular goal, but wouldn’t be specifically recognized until the collective target was achieved.
  • Accountability – as we worked toward the team targets/goals, there was a level of holding each other accountable as well as ourselves individually. Based on having a core value of respect, this was managed in a professional manner, but the reality was that everyone wanted to perform to support the team.

As you build out the culture of your company and team, remember the phenomenal increase in success that the lightning bugs in the mangroves of Southeast Asia achieved by collaborating and operating in unison.  I know you will see significant results.


If you know me well, you know that I like to research, read, learn and better understand happiness and positivity – what drives happiness, why some people are happy when others aren’t and is there a relationship between being happy and being positive.  Recently, I started reflecting on the “why” of my focus on happiness and the underlying influence in my life…

Most studies show that there are three primary areas where happiness comes from – our genes, our circumstances and ourselves.  The percentages across each of these varies slightly from report to report; however, I am safe in generally saying that 50% comes from genes, 10% is due to our circumstances – leaving 40% that is within our control.  This is why they say that much of your happiness is your choice.

Looking at these percentages, understanding that a percentage of a person’s happiness is genetic and based on their surroundings, I looked to understand where my positivity and happiness came from in my developmental years and beyond.

Growing up I was generally happy and positive; however, I didn’t understand the drivers behind my perspectives.  We had a great neighborhood, one of those that we’d be out with friends playing kick the can or some other activity that involved $0 investment “until the street lights came on”.  The good news is that due to the power of technology and social media, I am still connected to many of those that ran the streets around Livonia.

While never really being a person who reflected on the past, it was a challenge for me to be open minded to discover these influences.  I did have a number of good teachers, but at the time, I wasn’t really the studious type (shocker) to have one that I could say was an influence.  I also had a number of good mentors in my career, but by that time, I believe my perspectives were already ingrained.  The one thing that kept coming to me was my Dad.  Again, I haven’t been one, previously, to say that my Dad was one of the bigger influences on my life, but this time of reflection allowed me to see a variety of different things.

My Dad generally saw the positive in things, so much to a point that there is actually a joke in the family about him saying that every meal he had was the best he had ever had – no matter what his meal was, it was the best he’d had… that was the best steak, that was the best burger and so on.  I can’t remember a time when he said that his meal was “bad”.

This doesn’t mean that my Dad saw everything as sunshine and rainbows, he was realistic, but generally saw things from a positive perspective.

As I continued to think through this process and remembering back to the key areas where happiness comes from (genes, environment, ourselves), I can align myself with the fact that 50% of my perspective on life and happiness comes from my Dad’s genes.  As he was an only child, I am unable to compare his perspectives with his siblings and his father died at an early age so I never knew him.  While I knew his mother, my grandmother, I can’t say I knew her well, but I do know that she wasn’t the most positive.

Reflecting on my memories, I think my Dad was simply grateful for what he had and wasn’t trying to compete with others.  He set an example of his gratitude by working to give back to the community.  We weren’t wealthy, so I can’t say he was a philanthropist, but more of a servant to the community.  I don’t remember a time that he wasn’t engaged with the church – St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church – Livonia, Michigan.  Then after he retired, he expanded his volunteer work with the Open Door program at Fort Street Presbyterian Church in Detroit.  He’d be at Fort Street every Thursday morning supporting those in need with not only food, but other basic necessities of life – hygiene kits, access to medical facilities, clothing, etc.

Another example that stands out for me around his focus and gratitude, was the day my daughter was born.  While he’d been planning his retirement from Chrysler, the day I called to say that my wife was in labor, he handed in his papers, retired and headed to Indianapolis to welcome his first Grandchild.

So, if the studies are accurate and 50% of one’s happiness comes from genes and another 40% comes from within themselves, I believe my Dad’s genes and his overall perspective had a significant influence on why I generally have a more positive perspective and try to be happy.  It really took me a while to dig through my memories to determine that it was my Dad that influenced me in this way.  I am not sure how much this influenced my professional life and career; however, I do believe that positive psychology in a professional environment does tend to drive success.

Trust is in your hands…

Let me start by saying, what I am writing is contrary to the teachings people have heard in their personal and professional life.  It is something that impacts us 24/7 and is an underpinning of every facet of our lives.  It may sound like I am exaggerating, but it truly is.  What I am talking about is TRUST.   I have a different perspective.

You have heard the statement – “trust is earned”. There have been numerous books that talk about earning trust and how important trust is – How to gain trust in others and what it takes to earn your trust.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that trust is crucial to any relationship – personal or professional.  However, I think it is sad that we are being taught to take a negative perspective as a starting point.  I have grown up with more of a positive attitude which leads me to the perspective that people are generally good and wake up in the morning, just as I do, wanting to be the best person they can be.  I truly believe that it is a small percentage of the population that is out to undermine others or do “bad” things.

From a business perspective, if we all agree that having trust in an organization is our goal and distrust in an organization negatively impacts the overall performance, why would we start with the negative side of the equation?  Distrust automatically drives a level of suspicion which in turn makes a relationship less effective.  If we start a relationship with the perspective that “trust is earned” and not habitually given, we are automatically accepting a level of ineffectiveness until actions are taken to “earn” the trust.  While many actions can be taken to speed up the level of trust in a relationship, as Stephen M. R. Covey outlined in his book “The Speed of Trust”, I am convinced that initiating a relationship with trust will minimize the time it takes to build trust even at warp speed.  If you are willing to accept anything other than assuming trust from the outset, you are willing to accept a cost to the business for at least a period of time.  While distrust may feel like a level of protection, it is more than likely destructive.

“The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.”

Mahatma Gandhi

The negative impacts to a business can be huge from paranoia to micromanagement and the establishment of bureaucratic processes.  Additionally, when employees don’t believe there is a level of trust in their ability or intention, they will tend to be more apprehensive in taking action.

While I don’t believe that people will outwardly project this immediate distrust, it is an underlying trait that we are teaching people with the current – “trust is earned” – mantra.

There will be times when trust is broken and repair is needed.  However, it is at this time that books providing actions to be taken to build trust can be utilized to save the relationship.  My perspective is expecting trust as a base, we will be more productive overall and actually happier at the same time.

When I have shared my perspective with others, they generally ponder, but tend to agree with the premise and then begin to put it to use – for instance, why would you hire someone if you didn’t trust them?  Maybe this means it is situational and there are levels of trust that can be given immediately while other situations require more verification (trust, but verify model).  This may be true, but I‘d still rather start with the positive view on trusting others.

All I ask is that you try it and see how it changes your perspectives and effectiveness.

11 Things That Decide The Future Of Your Love Relationship

By Rachel Pace

Relationships are a key indicator of both your happiness and your success.

Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a few years or you’ve just had those first few slightly awkward but really sweet first dates and you’re hoping they’ll call again soon, there’s one question that most people ask about their relationship at some point.

Where is this going?

If you’re in the first flush of relationship fun, you’re wondering if this could turn into something long term. If you’ve been together for a few months or a couple of years, you’re wondering whether you’re going to be settling down and maybe even having a family together. And even if you’re married, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ve wondered what the future of your relationship looks like.

So, does your relationship have a bright future? Well, we don’t have a crystal ball, but we do have a handy list of things you can look at to give you a sneak peek at the future of your relationship.

Here are 11 things that decide the future of your love relationship.


  1. Whether You Share Values

Shared values are the foundation of a strong relationship. You don’t have to agree on everything – different opinions are absolutely ok! – but having core values in common   is vital for long term relationship success. If you both value the same things in life, you’re more likely to stay the course.


  1. Whether You Can Have Healthy Fights

Every couple fights sometimes. It’s just human nature. However, whether or not you can have healthy fights has a direct impact on the future of your relationship. You need to know going forward that whenever you and your boo don’t see eye to eye, you can resolve it amicably.


  1. The Way You Measure Intimacy

Intimacy is about so much more than sex, gifts, or romantic gestures. Sometimes life will throw challenges your way that put sex on the back burner or drain your bank account so gifts are out of the question. But true intimacy is measured in being there for each other and being able to trust and talk to one another. Couples who know this  could well have a bright future ahead.


  1. Being Able To Work As A Team

Being in a relationship means being part of a team. Your partner is not your opponent, and there’s no room in healthy relationships for holding grudges or scoring points off each other. Couples who tackle life as a team are setting themselves up for a happy life together.


  1. Having Good Communication Skills

Good communication is so important in relationships. Good communication means you can weather life’s storms together without getting caught up in misunderstandings. No matter what life throws your way or what each of you is going through, you can meet each other in a place of honesty and openness.


  1. Your Levels Of Commitment

Relationships with strong futures are ones where both parties are committed to staying the course. If one of you isn’t all in, you’ve got much less chance in the long term. After all, why stay with someone who isn’t as committed to staying with you? Make sure you’re both on the same page.


  1. Whether You Make Each Other Laugh

Life will get rough sometimes. Jobs will fall through, someone’s health might suffer, families will bring stress and heartache. It sounds gloomy but these challenges are just part of life! If you can make each other laugh no matter what is going on, your relationship will be an oasis for both of you.


  1. The Ability To Make Compromises

Compromises are just part of being in a relationship. Of course you don’t have to give up yourself and your dreams – your needs and goals matter – but when you share your life with another person, you need to compromise at times. Learn the art of compromise and your relationship will have much better odds.


  1. How Much You Trust Each Other

Trust is key to long term happiness. It’s hard to build a future with a partner that you don’t trust. If you find yourself questioning what they say or where they’ve been, it’s time for a serious talk and perhaps a look at your attitude to them.


  1. Your Attitudes

Talking of attitude, it makes a massive difference. If you both approach your relationship with an attitude of positivity, appreciation, gratefulness and commitment, it will be much easier to keep it strong in the long term.


  1. Being Friends As Well As Partners

Look for a partner who is also your friend. Someone you can share anything with, confide in, talk to and laugh with. Someone you look forward to catching up with and sharing all your news at the end of the day. Those relationships are special, and likely to last.

There are many things that can decide the future of your love relationship – and several of them are in your hands.


 Author bio:- Rachel Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.


A Teenager’s Perspective on Stress and Anxiety

By Gabriele White

Many teenagers get stressed out before tests or presentations in front of their peers.  It’s true that nearly every high school student goes through this. It is not true that this response has to take control and overwhelm you. Stress in these situations is self-induced and can be controlled by your own positive thoughts and actions. Believe in yourself and stay positive.

You can reduce your stress in many ways.  You can accept that you can’t change the way things happen or what people think of you.  You can prepare more for the test and you can choose not to panic or let the stress take over your thoughts.  Many teenagers become so focused on the story, “oh, I lm stressed” that they create increasingly more stress. In reality, if you tell yourself, I can do this and take it one step at a time you will be able to manage the stress and end up more successful and happier.

Teenagers tend to struggle with the concept of taking responsibility for their actions. They never think it’s their fault for putting everything off until the last moment.  They believe that the teacher shouldn’t have assigned such a dumb project.

Take responsibility for your actions.  More and more often you see teenagers blame their failures on others.  Not even other people but other objects too.  A lot of the times kids start believing that it really was “Sandra’s fault for not giving me the pencil so I couldn’t take the test” or “it’s my math teacher’s fault for not teaching.”  But let’s get real; you should have brought a pencil to class.  I mean it’s annoying Sandra didn’t give you a pencil, but it’s your fault for not coming prepared, and your math teacher is a teacher for a reason. She went through 4 years of training for this and I’m sure she’s doing better than most people would.  When you fail a math test, it’s your fault. When you screw up and get caught cheating, stealing, or doing something you shouldn’t be doing, it’s your fault. This may seem obvious to some people, but not to others. You have to admit it’s your fault and realize that consequences come with every decision.  You may not like them or want them, but they will help you learn and grow from these experiences.  Once you’ve done this and accepted the blame and failure, you’re no longer a victim. You can take control of your life and your feelings.

People feel pressure to always be in touch and posting online.  I mean, if it’s not on Snapchat did it really happen? Social media influences us to fit into society by being perfect and cool and funny and smart.  This can be stressful, overwhelming and lead to bad decisions, but we still check Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter during every free moment.

Whenever we go online we automatically start comparing ourselves to the beautiful filter covered photos. For me I know get jealous seeing all my friends on Snapchat hanging out while I’m practicing sports or just at home with my family. Some people would say this give you “anxiety and stress”. If that’s the case then maybe it’s time to put the phone down.

Snapchat is a great example of how technology controls us.  It makes me feel like I must Snapchat every day so I don’t lose my streaks.  Once I ran out of data and it was really stressful because I didn’t want to lose my streaks.  Rather than a choice, it became a burden. Once I stopped, I found that losing my streaks made me feel better, almost freed.

Also, don’t define your best friends by the list of 7 people you snapchat the most. Snapchat who you want to Snapchat; and don’t worry if they aren’t who you hang out with. Don’t let this computer generated list define your life.

I recently noticed that I have touched my phone every day for nearly 2 years.  Yet I am not sure I have hugged my parents or brothers or anyone every day of those two years.  Also, my phone has seen my face for a longer period of time than any one person. Our phones have become the center of our lives .

We use them to connect with people who are hundreds of miles away from us. As cool as that is, there’s actually people who are less than 20 feet away from us who are perfectly capable of having a conversation in person. I believe many teenagers do not realize that our body’s already have this connection feature and it doesn’t cost extra or take time to install.

I am not saying that having a phone or social media is bad.  I ‘m just saying if you allow it to control your life, you miss out on more personal connections.  You become a victim of technology rather than allowing technology to enhance connection. We are allowing our phones to consume us. While reading this, you’ve probably gotten 3 new notifications, and you may have even stopped to read them or at least check to see if they were important.

Appreciate where you are in life and who you have around because eventually they won’t be there anymore. My family consists of five people; me, my two older brothers and my parents. One of the hardest things lately is that my two older brothers are moving out of the house. I never thought the day would come.  They will always still be children, even if legally they are considered adults. I’ve been scrambling to absorb every detail of these last years.  I don’t want to forget what it was like rushing, pushing, and shoving as we race up the stairs to bed. I realized that not one of these memories came from my phone through Snapchat.

Stop wishing you were somewhere else with someone else. If you aren’t where you want to be, then change it. If social media brings you down then put it down. Make real life memories. Stop letting the virtual reality become your only reality.

Throughout your life you will face hardships, but you have to persevere. Don’t give up because life is difficult. You can’t expect a great life to be handed to you; you’ve got to work for it.  This has been said many times, but it hasn’t sunk in for many of us. So I am saying it again.  You are in control of your life. You decide what to do with the difficult times. Don’t give in to stress and anxiety.  Take responsibility, make good choices and fight through it.

Lesson #27 – Keep a “To-Do” List

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.


Today was the first day of classes for me. I got A LOT done in PLP office hours today and feel confident about kicking off the semester with our SD meeting and member meeting tomorrow! In addition, I got a final approval from Central Housing today to take an LSAT prep course. After that, I registered and secured my spot in the class I wanted!

In between it all, I got a lot of little things crossed off of my to do list! It has been a bit of a long day, but a pretty productive day as well! Talk to you soon!




This weekend was exactly what I needed! I was able to spend some time with my friends and my family, as well as get some work done! I was able to spend some time getting my to do list put together and making a plan for the week so that I can get as much done as possible! In addition, I was able to spend some quality me time and tons of playing with my dog time! I am feeling very refreshed and ready to go for the week!  See you in the morning!




Today has been quite a long day for not having much on my schedule. I have gotten a handful of things crossed off my to-do list, but I do have a lot left. It will have to make for a productive weekend! I’m tired and now off to bed! Can’t wait for our meeting on Monday… It feels like its been forever!



Today I had a very productive day at work, productive class and a pretty productive night as well. I had some me time and some friends time and also got a workout in. I still have a lot on my to do list for the week but I feel like I’m at a good spot as of now! I’m off to bed!




Lesson: Keep a “to-do” list.

If you want to get things done, you will need a “to-do” list. If you want to be a leader, you need items on your “to-do” list related to accomplishing your goals and the goals of the team. You want activities that will matter and make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Review your “to-do” list; if it includes things like “buy milk” and “stop by the bookstore,” then it is good you have those items captured. But what you really need is a list of the activities that are most important to reaching your goals and helping the team reach its goals. Don’t just think about what you have to do, but think about what is the most important thing you can be doing? Look at your “to-do” list and add the actions that will move your goals forward. Make sure those are prioritized so you get them done first. Then add all of the other smaller items swirling around in your head. But be sure to mark them a lower priority and fit them into the schedule vs. spending your time on the lower priority items and never getting to the activities that will make you successful and happy.

One important note; make positive relationships one of your top priorities. Nurturing positive relationships is an investment in your happiness and success.


Opportunity: Create a “to-do” list. Put a priority level next to each item. Do the high priority items first.

Activity: Schedule your to-do list

Make a list of things you need to do tomorrow and schedule each one on your calendar to hold yourself accountable. Make sure your most important activities get the highest priority times and the most cushion in your calendar. Check your calendar often and stick to your scheduled times.

At the end of the day, tomorrow, review your success. Check each item and confirm whether you were able to complete it or not. Did you schedule enough time to complete the activity? Did you schedule enough transition time and down time? Honestly evaluate your progress. Did you get side tracked by something unexpected? Was it more important than what you had originally planned or just more urgent?

Your schedule should remain flexible, so don’t worry about being perfect and never missing a scheduled activity. It is more about creating a habit, learning to budget enough time, and making sure the highest priority activities don’t get replaced by the lower priority activities.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

What is Pleasure?

So if happiness is an inner state of well-being that can be created, what is pleasure?  To oversimplify, pleasure is an activity that makes you “feel good now.” Pleasure is different from happiness in that, instead of being created within and by you, it comes from outside stimuli. You get pleasure from an event, activity, or occurrence that generates positive feelings. Eating a good meal, buying something nice, playing Xbox, or watching a movie can create pleasurable sensations. Because pleasure comes from outside stimuli, it is short-lived and limited to the timeframe during and immediately after the activity occurs. Pleasure is also different from happiness in that we quickly adapt to the level of pleasure an activity provides, and we need more and more of that activity to provide more pleasure.

Pleasure is subject to a phenomenon known as Hedonic Adaptation, or the Hedonic Treadmill. In other words, a person gets accustomed to the activity creating the pleasure; and in order to experience continued pleasure, the level of the activity has to be elevated. Video games are a great example of this phenomenon: there are always more levels to advance to, so the game is constantly changing and becoming more difficult. How fun would a game be if there were only one level, with one degree of difficulty? Personally, my kids gain a lot of pleasure from playing video games, but I’ve noticed they can’t play the same game at the same level for an extended period of time. The challenges of the game have to be constantly increased. They want more and more challenging levels; or they want to break their previous records; or, even better, they want to switch to more realistic game experiences.

Many of us believe that once we get that {fill in the blank: car, house, boyfriend, money}, that is all we’ll need or want. We will not want anything else. Has that ever really happened for you? How long after you bought your new car were you ready to buy another one? How about that girl in high school— the one who, if she would just go out with you, all your dreams would come true? Did that work out? What about the beliefs that “if I can just graduate college, or if I can just get that first job, or if I can just get a promotion, or a raise, then I will be happy”? After those things happened, you were probably happy, even giddy for a while. But soon you returned to your normal level of happiness. This principle can also apply to more dangerous situations, such as drug addiction. The first time a person tries a particular drug, he only needs a little to get an intense reaction. But his body adapts quickly; and the next time he needs a little more, and the next time even more. His body continually adapts and needs more of the drug (or a more potent drug) to get the same feeling.

Over the centuries, our ancestors survived and prospered because of their amazing ability to adapt to changing circumstances. This is great when conditions are negative, such as in harsh climates or with limited food sources. They adapted so they would survive and not be miserable. They adjusted to the new normal and began looking for ways to flourish. The trait works similarly when conditions are good. Rather than being happy and comfortable with warm weather and plenty of food, they adapted to those comforts and looked to add more. Their brains were wired not to settle completely so they wouldn’t become overly comfortable and stop trying to make things better. This trait we inherited pushes us to always get better, and to continue to evolve and move.

Unfortunately, it can also work against us now that we have all the comforts human beings could need. We are still trying to evolve, so we keep adapting, even to the great things in our life. When we encounter pleasure, chemicals in our brain are released that make us feel very good and make us want more. We instinctually look for ways to repeat and increase that level of pleasure. We are programmed to want more rather than to be grateful and satisfied with what we have. We find something pleasurable, and we adapt to it and want more. This is the basis of Hedonic Adaptation and the reason many of us run on the Hedonic Treadmill.

One of the most famous and surprising studies about Hedonic Adaptation was done in 1978. It showed that whether a person had won the lottery or became a paraplegic, as quickly as two months later, that person had returned to the level of happiness experienced prior to the event. It also showed that often, over the long term, the paraplegics actually became happier. The lottery winners quickly adapted to their new mansions instead of apartments, and champagne instead of beer. They had no way to move up after a series of initial improvements. The champagne was top of the line and the beer didn’t taste as good anymore. Going back to a job paying $30,000 per year held no interest for someone who had won millions of dollars in the lottery.

The paraplegics, on the other hand, reached rock bottom. Every movement was new and appreciated. They had nowhere to go but up. Every day brought a new challenge, and overcoming each challenge brought joy and confidence that built on itself. The happiness came from overcoming lots of challenges and running into and overcoming roadblocks that they could face because of their experience in winning tiny battles in the past.

Winning tiny battles and overcoming obstacles builds self-confidence that can’t be easily undone. If you appreciate and celebrate what you have accomplished, the next bigger challenge seems more doable. This creates a virtuous circle of success that builds on itself. Your ability to experience happiness over time becomes stronger. That is why older people and people who have experienced significant trauma in their lives tend to be happier. They have been through the trials and tribulations that strengthened their confidence, provided perspective, and gave them a reservoir of memories and successes to call on whenever life presents negative challenges.

One other reason lottery winners are not as happy as people might expect is related to activity in the brain created by earning a reward instead just being given the reward. Researchers at Emory University measured brain activity when subjects had to complete tasks to earn money vs. when they were just given envelopes of money with no effort required. The subjects who worked for their money showed significantly more activity in the pleasure centers of the brain, and these effects lasted much longer than those in the subjects who received money without expending any effort. It seems the Science of Happiness supports what grandfathers everywhere have believed and taught for years about money: “I get my money the old-fashioned way. I earn it.”

Hedonic Adaptation also explains why the standard of living in the US has gone up 250% in the past 50 years, while the average level of happiness has not kept pace. We are adapting to the nicer houses, cars, and general consumerism faster than we can earn more money to buy bigger and even better stuff.

Pleasure, by definition, is something that is positive. If it is negative, we call it pain. Happiness, on the other hand, includes both positive and negative events. Happiness does not mean everything is always good and we are always wearing rose-colored glasses. Happiness is experiencing negative events and emotions and knowing that we can get through them and come out okay. It is also knowing how to get through those tough times, knowing how to use our minds and our memories to make the best of our current situations. People who have developed the skills for happiness are aware of something my mom has always said: “This too shall pass.”

Another important point is that we can experience pleasure even when we are not happy. Again, drug use and alcoholism are clear examples. Addicts experience short-term pleasure when they indulge, even though they are often depressed, or at least unhappy. As soon as they sober up, a potential inability to deal with the present situation can cause them to jump back into chasing the quick pleasure again and again.

As an analogy, buying art is a pleasure. Putting it in your house and looking at it is pleasurable. Becoming an artist is more like happiness. You have to work at it. You can’t buy it. It is not something you can get from outside of yourself. It can only happen if you spend the time and cultivate the skills necessary to become an artist. The small but important difference in becoming an artist and becoming happy is that talent may be a requisite to be a successful artist, while truly anyone can be successful at finding happiness if he or she is willing to put in the time and acquire the skills.


Let’s do a quick review of the differences between pleasure and happiness:


Happiness Pleasure
Internal External
Ongoing Present during the pleasurable activity
Builds on itself Subject to Hedonic Adaptation
Lasting state Temporary state
Way of thinking Often an impact to the senses
No Limits Too much can become addictive and disconnect you from happiness
Includes negative events Defined as positive
Includes dealing with the pain Attempt to avoid pain
Includes Pleasure Can occur without happiness
Within our control Dependent on external factors


book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.