Tag Archives: Kolkata

5 Sure Ways to Be HaPpY

Choose to Be HaPpY

Choose to Be HaPpY

The tears surfaced and rolled down my cheeks as I observed poverty far greater than I thought humanly possible. As I walked the very streets that Mother Theresa walked in Kolkata, India, I noticed something peculiar as I looked beyond the trash, makeshift shanties and barefoot children. I saw smiles and heard laughter!

How could this be possible?  Didn’t they know what they were missing, lacking and deprived of?   Though their circumstantial challenges seemed great, they were happy – focused on what they DO have, not what they don’t.  Right before my eyes, I was witnessing what choosing to be happy looked like.

Be HaPpY

Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl,  and author of Man’s Search for Meaning said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

Game changer.

I went to India to inspire, teach and change the world, but instead it was ME that was inspired, taught and changed.  Forever.  

I realized that if  I desired to live a JOY filled life it was up to ME – it was a choice. My choice.

“When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.” ~Wayne W. Dyer

I have never been a materialistic person, well at least I thought I wasn’t.  Money didn’t grow on trees at my house, but I never felt I lacked any of the essentials.  There were days I stood in my closet staring at a long rack of clothes uttering “I don’t have a thing to wear.” Pathetic.  And there were days I opened the refrigerator, you know the big ice box that keeps food from spoiling for days and sometimes weeks on end, and while staring at shelves filled with food I mumble, “We don’t have a thing to eat – let’s go out.” Embarrassing. 

On the streets of Kolkata, I  made a conscious decision to be HaPpY. Yes, it’s no secret that life’s a rollercoaster filled with twists, turns and loop-de-loops.  I’ve yet to meet anyone who is challenge and trial free. And I would never pray to have less trials or to have my challenges removed – I feel that’s all part of the journey.

If Viktor Frankl is correct, and the only thing I am really in control of is my ability to choose my ATTITUDE then  I’m choosing to enJOY the journey every step of the way. It’s a choice.

I’ve discovered in my almost 52 years of life there are 5 sure ways to ensure HaPpY-ness.

1. Be Grateful.  Appreciate the little things.  Keep a gratitude journal at the side of your bed.  And at the end of each day write ONE thing that you are grateful for and FIVE reasons why.  This exercises creates a mind shift, training our brain to scan for happiness.  Being grateful adds beauty to life.

2.  Be Others Focused.  When you look for opportunities to serve expecting nothing in return, a beautiful thing happens; you forget about your worries and woes, endorphins are released, thus creating a shift in your mood. Being others focused brings joy to life.

3.  Be Creative – step outside the box.  Being creative adds pleasure to life – it puts the FUN in life and relationships. I love the dad who cut his jeans into short shorts to show his daughter that short shorts aren’t that cute – he demonstrated creative parenting.  I love him not just because he is my husband (smiley face), but because he looks for opportunities to lighten up tough or difficult situations.  That doesn’t mean to not take life serious, it just means to DO something each day that makes you and others smile.

“Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”

4.  Be YOU

 Family Fun 3

Everyone is an unrepeatable miracle.  Share your gifts and talents to lift and serve others.  Being YOU adds VALUE to life.

5.  Be Forgiving.  Forgive yourself and forgive others.  This is not always easy and it does not mean you are condoning whoever hurt you, it means you are CHOOSING to move forward, and a better person for it.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”  ~Louis B. Smedes

As I incorporate these five actions, a paradigm shift happens, just as it did when I was in India.  I begin to automatically scan the world looking for good and to see the positive in people, situations and circumstances.  Beautiful.

Life’s Short Lesson: CHOOSE to be HaPpY.

Highlights of my trip to India.

What I Learned From A Four Year Old: True GRATITUDE

I’d like to share a story that took place in 2011 that will live in my heart forever – it’s a story of gratitude from a four year old.

My heart grew larger as I walked the streets that Mother Teresa walked in Kolkata, India. I went to India with the intention of changing the lives of others, only to discover it was my own life that was forever changed.

Never before had I seen such poverty – heart wrenching poverty. But what surprised me the most were the big smiles and the genuine love that oozed from their faces spite their obvious hardships.

It is estimated that over 100,000 children live on the streets of Kolkata. There is an organization in Kolkata that is trying to make a difference – The Towards Life Foundation. This charitable organization has built 8 one-roomed schools called “centers” throughout the slums of Kolkata to provide the street children the opportunity to go to school. Some were lucky enough to have desks, other were not – all were happy just to be in school whatever the conditions.

India School -blog

India dum dum school blog 3

I was part of the Global LifeVision-Inda team; consisting of 8 women and 1 man. We were eager to volunteer at these centers to help in anyway possible.  We arrived prior to the country’s biggest holiday – Diwali. The children at the centers are given new clothes in celebration of the Diwali festival, much like our Christmas – they exchange “sweets”, decorate the streets and dwellings with lights, and parade around in their new clothes.

On this occasion the teachers thought it would be more memorable if the visiting Americans distributed the new clothes to the students. The boys would get a new shirt and new pair of underwear, and the girls a new dress and new pair of underwear.

An unexpected surprise. 

On our last day helping at the centers, a big box was delivered with the new clothes. Each item was wrapped in a clear cellophane package with a child’s name printed on it. The clothes were placed on a table in front of the classroom in two piles. The teacher would call out the name written on the package and hand it to one of us to give to the child. Without hesitation the child would say “Namasté ma’am”, and some would bow down to kiss our feet – the ultimate sign of respect and gratitude.

As I was watching this take place and the excitement of each child as they received their new clothes. I noticed a little boy in the middle of the room inching his way to the front and jabbering in his native language, getting louder and louder while tears filled his eyes – he stayed fixated on the table displaying the clothes. I looked at the table to see what could possibly be troubling him and saw there were only a few shirts left, I thought; “He is worried they are not going to call his name.” When the second to last name was called – he lunged forward grabbing his shirt and hugging it tight, then quickly he put it into his backpack and skipped around the room one happy boy.

As I was observing this priceless moment of gratitude for a new shirt, my colleague was observing the youngest girl of the class, over in the far corner of the room. This adorable little 4 year old had removed her new dress from the cellophane wrap and very gently unfolding it, once opened she slowly slid her hands from the top of the dress to the bottom. Then she folded it back up, slid it back into the cellophane and held it to her chest rocking back and forth in delight. As my friend shared what she had just observed my eyes filled with tears. We had witnessed gratitude in it’s purest form.

My perspective changed, leaving me never to be the same. I returned home with a deeper appreciation for the things I often take for granted; my family, my health, and all our basic needs: clothes, shelter, food, and most of all the simple beauty of  …everything.

Why India?

People get excited when I tell them I am going to India, some ask “Why the HECK India? Aren’t you scared?”  I say…Why NOT India?…. and NO, I am not one bit scared! I am overJOYed, thrilled, excited and humbled that in 11 days I will board a plane in Salt Lake City with six AMAZING women; Ann Webb, Laurie Olson, Wendi Coccimiglio, Patty Liston, Jamie Dalton, and Danielle Wright, to fly from SLC to Chicago where the rest of our group will meet up with us…..Lisa Walker from Texas and our professional video-augrapher Rand Snyderman from New York City. Together we fly 14 hours and 25 minutes to New Delhi, India. Once off the plane we are to look for two men holding signs with our names on them, yep just like the movies:)…along side our drivers we have designated guards who will accompany us throughout our travels. From there I will blog day by day, if internet connection allows me. I get goose bumps thinking about it. This has been a dream of mine since I was a young girl. I put it on my vision board over a year ago and wrote it in my LifeVision….and now I am about to live what has only been a dream! How cool is THAT! 🙂

How did all this come about? I’m still asking myself that question! On January 31, LifeVision Coach, Laurie Olson was coaching me through writing my own LifeVision  and as I would write each section I would email it to her to see if I was doing it right and to make sure I had not snuck in anything negative. In my personal development section, I wrote about my desire to go to to 3rd world countries to serve and to be an instrument in the Lord’s hand in helping others discover their passion and aspirations so they can find JOY in their Journey. What I didn’t know is that Laurie was working with Ann Webb and Lisa Walker in forming Global LifeVision to teach in 3rd world countries. When the opportunity presented itself to the three co-founders to go to India to teach LifeVision at a College for Women, Laurie Olson said my name popped into her head as someone that had to be a part of this. Tears filled my eyes when Laurie first told me it was a possibility. Then the official invite came via email from Laurie, Ann and Lisa….I was ecstatic…..I was about to live a life long dream.

The journey in preparation has been great and grand also…..immunizations, weekly conference calls, writing curriculum, handouts, contact cards, reading and watching India You Tube videos.

Okay so here’s the Plan: First day….shopping in New Delhi to buy  the India attire that we will wear….can’t wait! We will spend two nights in New Delhi and then travel two hours to the College where we will be teaching. We will stay in the dorms with the Young Women. How fabulous will that be, to be amongst these beautiful young women that come from all over the world? I expect to learn much more from them then they will learn from me.

We have each been assigned a LifeVision section to teach in a 90 minute workshop.  Laurie and I will team teach the Spirituality/My Purpose sections and Relationships.  You guessed it….more goosebumps when we were assigned those subjects!!  The graduating class of 600 young women will be divided into groups of 50-100 and will rotate for 2 days through our five workshops; learning, writing, sharing and recording their own LifeVision. Then the process starts again with another group of young women ages 17-22.

Vinay Rai, founder of the Rai Foundation and owner of the College where we will teach, has sent us an invitation to have dinner at his home of residence one evening. I’ve never eaten at a Billionaire’s home….the coolest thing about Vinay is his big heart and the 1000’s of lives he is changing. Every young women at the school is on full scholarship from Vinay.

Second Week; we will be walking the streets of Kolkata working with the Towards Life Foundation, here we will serve the 1000’s of  “street children”.    I know nothing can prepare me for what I will see and do in Kolkata, the slum of the world. It will be a life changing experience and for that I will be forever grateful.

In only 11 more days….I will never to be the same.

Here was last weeks Press Release: Press Release