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    May 2011

    Mondays with Mac: It's not about you!

    May 16, 2011 3100 Views

    Why do some people act the way that they do? What I mean is that, sometimes when we find someone in the wrong, it's easy to think of it as all their fault. However, it could have been something outside of their control that made them act a certain way. Therefore, when someone offends us, it's good to take a step back to think and...breathe

    That's what this story is all about...and how it relates to your happiness:

    One of the most common ways we get in the way of our own happiness is by taking things personally when they're not personal at all.

    So many people seem to be sensitive creatures—taking affront at being "disrespected," jumping to conclusions that someone else is being "rude," and quick to outrage over any perceived slight.

    Here's a common example: You call a friend on the phone but he's not there, so you leave a voicemail message Hours roll by and your friend doesn't call you back Th e day ends and still no call Where does your mind go? If you're like most people, you wonder, "Why hasn't he called me back?"

    Another day goes by and still no call Now you're worried, "What's wrong? Why hasn't he returned my call? I wonder if something happened to him?" A week goes by and still no call Now you're furious "What a jerk! The least he could do is return my call!"

    The conversation in your head may be slightly diff erent, depending on who you're waiting to hear from—but it's always negative When someone doesn't call you back, you think something negative about yourself ("He must be mad at me," or "He doesn't like me ") or you think something negative about the other person ("He's rude," or "He's a jerk," or worse.) Either way, you let your happiness be diminished by your interpretation of someone else's behavior.

    The truth is, you have no idea why your friend hasn't called! He could be out of town; he might be ill or injured; he could be up to his ears in work; he might be on a tight deadline with no time to call; perhaps his voicemail isn't working and he never got your message; or maybe he simply forgot to call. There are a hundred possible reasons why he didn't call—reasons that have nothing to do with you!

    Here's a simple, effective happiness tip: Don't take things personally. Don't speculate on why people do things until you have actual facts; don't attach meanings to events until you know the whole story; don't make up stories in lieu of real information.

    All that happened is your friend didn't promptly return your call. That's all.

    You can free yourself from hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and crossed communications by simply noticing what happened (or didn't happen)—but NOT attaching any meaning to it. You'll find freedom and happiness that way.

    Sharing the Pangs of Working Mother Guilt

    May 8, 2011 2344 Views

    Today, I'm happy to share a special post from BJ Gallagher, author of Oh Thank Goodness, It's Not Just Me!, Oil for Your Lamp, and other Simple Truths books. I hope this inspires you this Mother's Day:

    BJGallagherWhen I first started working full-time, my son Michael was 11. I had spent the previous seven years in college, earning my BA and then pursing a PhD, while single-handedly raising my son. Shifting from full-time student to a full-time job was a big change. I was accustomed to spending lots of time at home studying and writing, with only about 25% of my time in classes. And Michael was accustomed to coming home from school to his mom and a snack.

    Now suddenly, I was gone all day every day, and Michael became a latchkey kid. It was hard on both of us.

    One day I complained to my boss Karen: "I feel torn. When I'm doing a great job at work, my kid gets lonely and starts acting out. Then I start spending more time with him and I feel like my work suffers. No matter which way I move, it seems I'm not doing justice to one or the other - my family or my work."

    "Join the club," Karen replied. "Welcome to the world of working mothers. I can guarantee you - all working moms feel the same push/pull that you're experiencing ... and I'll be some fathers do, too."

    "What do you do about it?" I asked her, hoping for a magic bullet to solve my problem.

    "Deal with it," she replied. "There is no easy answer. Just learn to live in the tension between work and family ... do the best you can."

    I shared that story with Lisa Hammond recently, as we were comparing notes on being working mothers. Lisa had founded her own catalog company almost 20 years ago while she still had young kids at home. She understood exactly what I was talking about - feeling torn between career and family. Attempting to console me, she shared her own story:

    "I always wanted to be the best mom in the world but I've rarely been able to live up to that standard.," Lisa said. "I stayed at home when my kids were little and didn't start my business until they were both in school. When my daughter Harlie was in fifth grade and my son Bridger in kindergarten, I gave birth to my new business. I had so much going on - kids, husband, home, and now, a start-up. What I didn't have was sleep!

    "I recall it was late October and I was scrambling to get ready for my first serious holiday season at work. Bridger's teacher had scheduled a Halloween party for his class. Since I am not Martha Stewart, rather than sew Bridger's Halloween costume, I ordered it from a catalog. On the day of the party I got Bridger all dressed up in his green tights, green shoes, bright orange round pumpkin and matching stem hat. He looked adorable. We raced out the door and I dropped him off at school on my way to the office.

    "I had only been at work for about five minutes when I received a phone call - it was the school. Bridger was on the phone in tears. 'Mom, you had the wrong day!' he sobbed. 'The Halloween party is tomorrow!' He was the only child at school in a costume. He had been hiding in the bathroom when his teacher found him. Now I was in tears, too.

    "I made the 'drive of shame' home to get Bridger's school uniform and then back to the school so he could change. I'll never forget this angry little boy with a tear-stained face - dressed like a pumpkin - waiting for me. The look on his face still haunts me and I cringe when I think about it - a 'bad mother' day, for sure!"

    Lisa and I shared a good laugh. And the wise words of British author C.S. Lewis came to mind: "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.'"

    Mondays with Mac: Choose Financial Freedom

    May 2, 2011 2599 Views

    Here's a story from one of the newest Simple Truths books, One Choice. Often, a change in your life can be traced back to a single event. At that time, you made a choice that changed your life.

    That's what One Choice is all about...those watershed moments that make all the difference. Enjoy this excerpt:

    Whether you're born rich or not, the power to be rich is within your control. You have to make the choice… and then follow through. That's the advice of financial counselor David Bach. In his book, Start Late, Finish Rich: A no-fail plan for achieving financial freedom at any age, he relates the story of one of his clients who appeared on the Oprah show, sharing how she made the choice and successfully accumulated $1.6 million in a brokerage account...starting in her early fifties. Her name is Lynn Haley, and Oprah explained that she came to my first "Smart Women Finish Rich" seminar when she was in her early fifties, put a plan in place, and took action. Now here she is a decade or so later, having retired a multi-millionaire. Lynn is beaming with pride—as well she should. Although she got a late start, she didn't let that stop her from taking action to catch up. She wasn't poor when I met her, but she didn't have a plan in place to really finish rich. I told her as much during our first appointment. "Lynn," I said, "with what you have now, you won't starve during your retirement. You'll be able to enjoy the 'early bird special.' But you won't be traveling to Europe or taking any cruises. If you want to finish rich, you are going to need a new plan of action." I made it clear to her that this new plan wouldn't involve anything particularly fancy or complicated. It would all be based on common sense. The thing was, she would have to apply what I taught her. Not just pay it lip service, but actually do it. "The choice is ultimately yours," I told her. "If you want to retire rich, we can work together to make it happen. I'll guide you, but you'll need to follow through. Otherwise, it won't work." Lynn was up to the challenge. "Tell me what I need to do, David, and I'll do it," she said. Fewer than 10 years later, Lynn took early retirement—rich enough to do what she wanted to do when she wanted to do it. And getting there wasn't all that difficult. In fact, the hardest thing Lynn had to do was what she did that first day we met: deciding—and then really believing—that it wasn't too late for her to be able to change her destiny. Which life will you choose? When you contrast the bad news (the paycheck-to-paycheck struggle that kills freedom) with the good news (the phenomenal wealth and opportunity that is all around us), you begin to realize that life is not fair. The fact is, you don't get in life what you wish for. You get in life what you go for.

    What have been your watershed moments? How can you make those hard choices? What advice do you have for others?

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