The Little Things.
2:54 PM | Author: Spencer
Choosing Happiness

Entry 1.

The Little Things.

I think a lot of our personal happiness comes from within.  It is decided and determined by our perception and perspective of the little things. What we assume is meant by a word or phrase can change the entire feeling of a conversation.  How we react to a given situation can make or break the mood.

Perception.

What is it and why does it affect our happiness?  Perception in the simplest of terms is how our mind sees things. It is our experience of the world through our senses. We often mistake our perception of a situation for reality.  Our senses are easily tricked or confused.  We see things from one angle or view, whereas reality sees from every angle and view. This is a very important factor to our happiness. A large amount of confusion and frustration is caused by this small mental error of assuming that our viewpoint or perception of a situation is in fact the whole truth and reality.

Once we come to understand that our perception can and will be misleading from time to time, we can begin the groundwork to overcome this obstacle. They are our senses. We possess and own them. In the same way that people with poor eye sight need glasses to adjust their sight, people with poor perception need to make mental adjustments too.  Recognize your weaknesses. This allows you to overcome your pride and avoid making waves if you may have perceived something incorrectly.  How this helps. Your happiness is what is at stake here. Avoiding the things that hinder our happiness is half the battle.

Perceive Positively.

Our perception will always be flawed, we don't have the capacity to experience every event from every angle, simultaneously and without bias. Face it. It isn't going to happen. Recognize that in large amounts our perception operates on educated guesses and rough estimations.  We get as much information as we can but at the end of the day there is still an assumption made that fills in the gaps. Often times it is the assumption that determines our emotional response to a given situation. Here is the twist. Those assumptions are ours. We create them in our minds. We control them. If we over think a situation or assume the worst we are bound to hinder our happiness.  The good news is that this is in our control.  We can assume for the best. We can have positive thoughts and infuse our days with happiness.  This sounds easy but will take a lot of practice to master.

Make it a goal to stop yourself from filling in the blanks with anything unless it is positive.  Try it out and see how it works.

Perspective.

Perspective and perception go hand in hand. Perspective in this sense is defined as a Mental view or outlook.  I've already taken a moment to talk about making positive assumptions in our personal perception of reality, but where does that positive viewpoint come from? That is where your perspective comes into play.  Our minds are powerful beyond our comprehension. The simple principle of whether or not you believe something is possible can enable or limit your ability to accomplish it.  Establishing a positive outlook on things is imperative to achieving our happiness and maintaining it.

Thinking positively comes naturally to a lot of people, but not everyone. Being positive is a choice.  You can do it. We all can. It starts with the little things.  Find something new to appreciate every day.  It doesn't have to be anything big.  Learn to pick something and consciously choose to appreciate it and find something positive about it. This mental exercise that will help you think more positively.

Let's get one thing straight, no one is asking you to change who you are. If you are naturally quiet, you will probably stay quiet.  If you love adventure, nothing should change that. Thinking positively should only enhance who you are.  Don't forget the endpoint. We deserve to be happy, doing what we love.

Make it a goal to find something positive about every situation you run into.  Write it down if you think that will help. Make a game out of it. Try and find as many positive things about a situation as you can.

I truly believe that by teaching ourselves not to jump to negative assumptions and pushing ourselves to see and value the positives in our lives we will increase our happiness.

Choosing Happiness
1:50 PM | Author: Spencer
Intro.

We all have a list of things that we think will make us happy. We assume that once we have checked the boxes next to everything on that list that we will be happy no matter what, and to protect ourselves from such flawed logic we add a few things to the list that are virtually unattainable.  That way there isn't a risk of having everything on our list and still not being happy. 

Well, my list is looking pretty good right now. I have a lot of things in my life that I truly love and cherish.  I would be truly crushed to lose any of it and I know that these are things that I truly enjoy.  So what is the problem? Why isn't there a constant waterfall of joy and comfort pouring down on me to validate my list?  Honestly, I don't know. I'm not sure life would really be worth it if it were that easy. I would like to believe that the greatest life lessons and achievements come from within.  I would hope that they are born through overcoming obstacles and self validation.  

I truly believe that happiness is not a place that you can move to and never be bothered.  In my mind I see it as a living thing. It requires constant effort and attention, it suffers when we don't make it a priority and flourishes when we do.  I don't believe it is perfect or constant, but unique and vulnerable.  It is a fluid relationship that ebbs and flows every moment of every day.

Why all this matters.

I mentioned my list. I have worked for and gained a lot. Family. Love. Friends. Money. Work. Possessions. I am checking a lot of boxes.  The problem is that I have been waiting for my waterfall of happiness to just start raining down on me.  It hasn't been though and I am worried that I may have damaged things or at the very least taken things for granted. I'm worried that I have put my list in jeopardy. 

Turning moment. 

I feel that because I have not been good at working for the happiness that I want in my life, I could lose opportunities, people and relationships. I don't want to lose what I have just because I didn't show that I was happy. Here is what I am going to do about it. I truly believe that it is possible to be happy at all costs. I am in the driver's seat and I control my own destiny.  I am starting fresh. I am going to try harder and prioritize the important things. I am going to choose happiness.  I think that this falls into the category of "Easier said than done" but I know it is worth it.  

Why am I blogging about this? 

I have decided to keep track of what works and what doesn't and share the things that really help me choose to be happy.  I want to do this because I know that I am not the only person out there who is looking for ways to try harder at being happy.  I am not positive how this will turn out.  I will attempt to keep it fairly impersonal and focus just on the things that helped and why.  

The outlook.

We all want to be happy. Everyone has their own perspective on what will work and why.  I am doing this for a few reasons.  I am doing it for myself.  I deserve to be happy.  I am doing it for the people in my life that I love.  They deserve to know and love and be loved by a happy person, by the very best person I can be. I am doing this for hope. I know that so many of us struggle with hope and knowing whether or not we were meant to be happy. The truth is everyone deserves to be happy and with work we all can be.  If all this and all that follows it can help one person, even if it isn't me, then it will be worth it. 
Positivity
12:39 PM | Author: Spencer
I had to post this. At work we were giving feedback and there were comments made about the feedback being critical and negative. We talked about positivity and doing our best to be inspiring and how certain words identify that you are being positive, such as "hope". There was an emphasis put on constructive criticism and positive reinforcement and we all promised to do better. Well, a little while later someone made the comment that they were going to get fired, to which my boss responded to be positive and so I said "Yeah, I HOPE they fire you." That is positivity at its best. So the next time you hear someone being negative, take their sentence and add "hope" to it, that will teach them to be positive! For those of you that like to mix it up, try using other positive words or phrases. Examples include I would "love" to see them fire you. I "wish" they would fire you. And I have "faith" they will fire you. Enjoy your new positive outlook on life, I know I am.
Love
10:55 AM | Author: Spencer
Love is hope. It is believing in an upward curve, the idea of a constant happiness among the immutable changes in this life long journey. Love is the courage to press on, succeeding amid opposition. Love is pure, love is disciplined, love is the ability to conquer temptation. Love does not tolerate distractions. Love is not blind nor is it blinding, rather, love is a pillar of light contrasted against a darkened world. Love needs no reward, but requires constant effort. Love is hard, nothing worthwhile comes easy. Love cannot be imitated, mocked or bought. Love is unshaking in the face of aversion. Love is giving the ungivable, promising the unspoken, feeling the indescribable. The incomprehensible value of everything desirable convoluted into an exact moment, experienced as a feeling, described as a word, the will to live, the epiphany of existence. Love.
Food for Thinking.
2:56 AM | Author: Spencer
Philosophy is like sit-ups for the mind, and to be honest there are times where we all feel like throwing up, but one day we'll all be grateful for the exercise.
I've been thinking long and hard about this series of blogs, and I am glad to finally post this long awaited chapter.

Today's topic is fast food and the lasting mentality.

Burger, fries and a drink. Pull around to the next window. Pay and leave.

To so many of us time is a rare commodity. We do anything to save time, even if it is admittedly unhealthy for us. Fast food has been a staple and a corner stone for hungry and pressed for time individuals for many years now. There have been countless studies on the physical effects of fast food, but I would venture to say that not many people have waded through the effects of fast food as a behavioral science.

Many of us are familiar with the scientist Pavlov and his dogs he was studying. Every time he fed the dogs he rang a bell, until such a time as when the dogs were so accustomed to the bell signifying food that they would drool/salivate upon hearing the bell alone.

The dogs reacted to the sound of the bell both chemically but also mentally by assuming there would be food.

I don't think we are all that different biologically than the dogs in Pavlov's experiment.

If we go to the drive through at McDonald's why do we get upset if it takes longer than 2 or 3 minutes? Why do we grow impatient when we are asked to hold, when we are on a phone call? Why is it that wherever we are driving and when we get there is more important than the speed limits that have been established for our safety? Why is losing a cell phone a life ending event? Why are we, the people, so impatient as a whole?

I think the answer is simple. It might sound silly, but really honestly think it through and you'll see the truth in what I am saying.

Fast food is one of the reasons that society lacks patience. I am not trying to prove or state any facts, but look at the reasoning.

I think proper phraseology would be "instant gratification". It is something people have come to expect. Could you imagine what the world would be like if every farmer was so mad he he quit working because the corn he planted 5 minutes ago wasn't done growing yet? It's illogical.

It makes me worry when people are so impatient around me. It stresses me out just being around them. Helping an impatient person is a nightmare.

I don't want to come off ungrateful or condescending, because I am very very glad to live in a world that has tasty things like Carl's Jr., but I really feel like people need to sit back and relax a little more. Save yourself the heart attack, eat healthier, and be a little more patient. It certainly won't kill you, but it might save your life.
Instant gratification is like a cancer spreading through society at break neck speed, weakening our morals, strangling our values and smothering the very core of our existence.
Divorce. Let's talk about it. Why is it that divorce rates are higher than they have ever been? Are people worse than they used to be? I would sure hope not. Some people attest divorce rates to be on the rise because society is no longer religious as it once was. I am not so convinced. Divorce rates are just as high among religious groups as they are anywhere.
Don't misunderstand me, the issue I have is far deeper than a failed relationship.
What about information? Text messaging, emails and the internet have conditioned society to an instant access of knowledge, or at least the appearance of knowledge.
Fast food is cheap and easy, it appears to save us time until we eat ourselves to death.
Medicine is a rampant pest among society. We have a cure for almost everything. Cough, itch, pain, depression, anxiety, zits, you name it there is a pill. Why? Why is there a cure for everything? Is it really that simple? Do all your problems go away by taking a simple little pill?
I'm not suggesting that any of these pills are useless, rather that a society so dependent on cure-alls and quick fixes is not headed in the right direction.
Speeding. Yeah I get it you are in a hurry. Who isn't? I would wager that you want to arrive there in one piece as well.
The amount of "get rich quick" scams out there is ridiculous, only more sickening is the number of greedy people who fall for them.
The list goes on and on. Every facet of our lives is encompassed by something that damages our society.
It boggles my mind that instead of utilizing the technology and resources we have to accomplish more and progress as a society towards utopian goals like solving world hunger and establishing world peace, we would rather let the technology do the work for us so we can be a fat lazy society coasting off yesterdays achievements.
I don't want to be that person. It's not that I care about what other people say, or what my ancestors will think of me. Those things don't bother me. What really gets to me, what really itches and nags and screams in my ear is the feeling of knowing I could be better than I am. The thought that I could miss my chance to make something of myself, all because I was too worried about my "favorite" TV show, or whether or not someone else was fixing all my problems.
There isn't a pill or a scam or a magical URL that can cure the rot and disease that threatens our society. There isn't a new world to run away to. This mess is ours. We must fix it.

The road is not easy, but difficult and steep,
to climb to the mountaintop high;
To anchor one's flag, on the mountain peak,
to wave in the bright blue sky.
Beware of the danger, the weather, the sleet,
but be not discouraged to die;
For they who sit safely in their hidden retreat,
Are dead because they don't try.
Untitled
3:59 PM | Author: Spencer
There has always been a philosophical side of me that ponders at often times even the most peculiar of things, and in most cases I shrug it off and try to focus on the real world. Every once in a while, however, I will have a thought so interesting that it seems I cannot continue my day to day activities until I think it through. This time I am going to try and write it down.

To be honest, I am not quite sure how this will turn out. Clearly hoping for the best, I am optimistic that I will write several sections of this new undertaking. In doing so, I hope to convey a message of intrinsic thought rather than sounding critical of the world around me. The root of the writings I wish to accomplish is the question "why?". I wish to encourage others along the same path of inward learning, to think and ask themselves the same questions. i.e. "Why do I act the way I do?" "How am I affected by the things around me?" "What can I do differently?"

In an attempt to shorten what feels like an already elongated precursor, I want to recount the event that ignited this fuse of logic, and then introduce my topic.

It was an evening like any other at your neighborhood Blockbuster, I was helping a customer find Terminator 2 in the action section when I was rudely interrupted mid sentence. I turned around to see a woman, who must have been in her thirties. She said "Excuse me sir, I have been waiting in line for almost two minutes now and I would really appreciate it if you came and helped me." I asked her if she was in a hurry and she said no, and that she "just didn't understand why it should take 5 minutes to checkout at the movie store, when Wendys right next door will have you done in 45 seconds." I looked at the registers and saw that the cashier was finishing helping a customer and that no one else was in line. I helped the lady, and as she left, she told me that "Blockbuster ought to have self checkout counters like Walmart or Red Box so that people wouldn't be frustrated waiting around all day."

It really bothered me. It burned all the way down to the core. I kept thinking about it. I just couldn't figure it out, I was looking for a reason or an answer to explain her behavior, but I just kept coming up blank. As I fought to reason with it over the last few weeks, I have paid a very keen attention to the behaviors exhibited in our store, but also everywhere I go. I noticed that I too am very impatient, and that there are a great deal of things that aggravate me. I began to notice the same behaviors in many, many people, all in differing amounts, but nonetheless, these traits existed. I concluded that these behaviors must have their roots in something we are all exposed to, they seem to me, almost cultural.

Ultimately I have come to the table with one question.

In an ever increasing customer service and convenience oriented world, life is geared to be fast, cheap and easy; but at what cost?

I hope that each of you will find my subsequent posts thought provoking and helpful in the days to come.