The right kind of people

So yesterday’s suggestion for a NaBloPoMo writing prompt was to write about your favorite quotation and why. I may be a day late, but here goes mine:

(from here)

These days this quote fits my life almost perfectly.

In terms of my career, I feel like I’m on the verge of great accomplishments. I’ve never felt so much like I belong here in the University system. I have grand plans for my career, and more importantly, I know the steps I need to take (and AM taking!) in order for these plans to become reality.

One major reason why I’m in such a good place career-wise is because of finding these “like-minded” friends “who are also designing purpose-filled lives.”  I have amazing friends!

Yet the biggest reason, I think, of why I’m so happy and successful right now is that I have learned to embrace the first 2 sentences of Twain’s quote: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Over the last year I’ve found inspiring mentors who saw the potential in me, and cared enough to encourage me to pursue greatness.

A few weeks ago, someone sent me this TED talk to watch:

I watched it over a lunch break, and found myself nodding along to what Achor was saying — the secret to better work IS to be happy! And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my work situation hasn’t changed all that much. What HAS changed in my work context is me. I’m in a different, and better, place.

Sure, not everyday on my job is happiness-inducing, but on the balance, I know I’m having more better days than not.

Thanks to Mark Twain for the quote, and for reminding me of where to direct my energies toward. Now for me to be this kind of friend to others.

Fear and Prejudice on Trial

Go. Go now. Go now and watch “8”: A Play About the Fight for Marriage Equality

Jerry and I watched it tonight, and if ever there’s a church service for someone like me, this. is. it.  One of the final monologues by Martin Sheen (playing the role of the plaintiff’s attorney Ted Olsen) is simply ELECTRIC.

The final scene of the play includes the plaintiffs addressing the audience, talking about the reasons why they put themselves, their relationships, and their family in the public spotlight for this trial.  I was struck by how their primary motivation wasn’t to secure their own individual rights to marry, but the rights of other couples.

Hearing this made me think of one of my favorite high school teachers, Ms. Hearn, who taught me AP US History. I remember that we spent WEEKS studying the ins and outs of the Constitution, including many of the court cases fought that ended up securing some of the rights we enjoy today.  Now, 17+ years later, I can remember how Ms. Hearn impressed upon us how hard others have had to fight to give us the freedoms we so often take for granted.

And that’s how I see these plaintiffs. Ordinary Americans who are doing something extraordinary. Not just for themselves, but for everyone — gay and straight alike.  It’s only a matter of time before everyone back home will be able to marry the person they love — and no piously-driven homophobia will stand in the way.

David Boies (the other plaintiff attorney) put it best: “We put fear and prejudice on trial – and fear and prejudice lost.”


Ah, the New Year. That infamous time of the year when your gym suddenly is full again, there’s more people lurking in the produce section, and there’s unrealistic expectations piled everywhere you look. Or you could be one of those who “resolve not to make resolutions” (and then pretend that they are the first person to proclaim such a cliche). I’ve been both of those people.

This New Year I wasn’t expecting to resolve myself to do anything differently, but then I found a copy of The Happiness Project whilst browsing at Coles.  Don’t ask me how I ended up in the self-help section.  But, there I was, and there I was picking up a copy of this book.  I’ve been reading it over the last week, and I’m already starting to see my world differently (which is always the first sign of a good book!).

The author of the book, Gretchen Rubin, dedicates herself to researching and practicing different ways to find happiness in her life over a period of 12 months. So far I’ve read January and February, or the “Boost Energy” and “Love” resolutions she tackled.  What I love about this book (so far) is that she’s all about taking the SMALL STEPS necessary to secure happiness. Too often I’ve wanted to take on my own “happiness project” and failed (miserably), if only because I tried to do too much, too quick.

I’m not going to do that to myself, again.  As I’m reading through the book, I’m looking for these small steps I can take in my own life, to help me find happiness.  Maybe over the course of the year I’ll write about the steps I’m taking.

So far, the one step that’s really stood out to me is Rubin’s twelfth “commandment”: “There is only love.”  Here’s a quick YouTube video where she talks about the role of love and happiness:

Now, when I first read this mantra of “there is only love,” I think my eyes rolled.  At first, it just sounds — well, fluffy. Deepak Chopra-ish. Not something a rational person like me could appreciate, right?

But then I started to think about it.

The example in the book is of a woman who took a job working for a notoriously negative employer.  She knew, going into the position, that her boss would be difficult to work with. So, rather than armoring up to bear the tough environment, she told herself to think, “There is only love.” From the book:

From that moment on, she refused to think critical thoughts about John Doe; she never complained about him behind his back; she wouldn’t even listen to other people criticize him.

“Don’t your coworkers think you’re a goody-goody?” I asked.

“Oh no,” she said. “They all wish they could do the same thing, too. He drives them crazy, but I can honestly say I like John.”

— p. 40, The Happiness Project

This idea of “there is only love” has really stuck with me. All too often I’m able to read people, and interpret their interpersonal communication. While it’s sometimes a bonus to be able to have such an ability, more often than not it leaves me feeling devastated — especially when I can tell that people don’t particularly like who I am.

I can’t help it, I’m a people-pleaser.  What sucks is that I’m the kind of person who you either really LOVE or really HATE — there’s not much middle ground when it comes to people’s impressions of me.  Lately it seems like I’ve had to deal with more of the latter, and if I’m not careful, it can really get me down (read: not happy).

So, rather than interpreting someone’s actions toward me as automatically being critical or negative, why not think to myself: “there is only love.”  Those 4 little words remind me that there’s bigger issues at work here. Maybe this person doesn’t understand my approach?  Maybe this person is herself very UNhappy, and finds me a good target to aim for?  Maybe that car didn’t see me before cutting me off? Maybe I’m not as good at reading intentions in communication, and I’m taking things too personally?

All of these “maybes” are legitimate, and I know I need to consider them before jumping on the conclusions wagon. So, one of my “resolutions” I’ve set for myself to start practicing saying “there is only love” more often.  I think it will help me to see my relationships differently — and I’m already feeling lighter, not having to worry so much about what others may think about me.

Another reminder of why I need to be a happier mama.

What he said:

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Jack Layton, July 18, 1950 – August 22, 2011


Sad today, because Canada lost one of its best politicans — and someone who I would have loved to have voted for.

Go read his last letter to Canadians, and you’ll see why.

What he said:

Penn Jillette on Piers Morgan’s show (watch the first 10 minutes):

Wow, go Penn!

I love this example of atheist/Christian dialogue.  I thought Penn hit the perfect tone — approachable and friendly, yet still able to openly disagree with Morgan.  It’s funny to see how flustered and angry Morgan gets as he tries to bait Penn in the various traps believers like to lay out for nonbelievers (ie., the arrogance of atheists, the beginnings of the universe, death, etc).

I’m going to watch this clip again — and I’ll be buying Penn’s book, too.