Creative Space

Do Happy Better – notes

Notes for the book ….

It’s the 25th Anniversary of Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change’

Lovely little reminder to look into this and take some notes. I don’t have to memorize it. I don’t have to review it. I don’t have to sell it to you. I don’t even have to buy it or borrow it from the library. Search it online. There must be something here to make use of.

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” – Bob Dylan

Everything Changes

The king asked the wise man to reduce the wisdom of the ages to something he could inscribe on his ring.

The wise man finally came back with the phrase everything changes. And so it does.

What’s missing from our usual understanding of this idea has to do with scale and pacing.

” … and in between he does what he wants to do.”

Start small. Start slow if you must. Begin. Continue.

Although there’s nothing wrong with pursuing our own happiness, it’s also good to expand our motivations to include others.

~ Elephant Journal

When the student is ready the master will appear. That’s the old quote – approximately.

I see two problems with this idea; waiting, looking, or seeking and the idea of a singular guru.

And, those folks have their shortcomings, too.

I have tweaked it to read:

“When the student is student-ing the teachings will appear”.

Yes, I wrote ‘student-ing’. I could have written studying, but who wants to do that?

Eileen Workman posts frequently on FB about – what I might call – evolutionary topics. By this I mean the opposite of what may or may not have happened before now but on what might happen if we focus on what is better. These are my words. She recently wrote a post about being exhausted under the burden of her own opinions and that caught me at the right moment. That came as I also read a brief synopsis of a brain study that indicated the futility of trying to change a mind that was fervently entrenched in a belief system. Apparently the greater the fervency the less new facts matter. Yes, there are times I am tired of me hearing myself go on and on about … whatever I go on about. It’s nice – for a moment – to let it go and attempt to assume that everything is fine as it is. It is nice to enough to practice stringing such moments together. Perhaps some peace may be found in letting things go; especially those things over which I seem to have little control. And that is compounded by the sense that I am increasingly less sure about so many things. I have more space to allow for the during, the meanwhile, the transition in-between. Being willing to not know something does not mean I will never know and is not an invitation to be fixed or filled in. Who am I to decide what is what with less data than experts when experts are often at odds? Further, some of this experience has to do with my personal work in and on gratitude. Being grateful is easier when I am in a mode of forgiving. Forgiving is easier when I spend less energy looking for and finding fault. Not finding fault is easier when I do not have to be right every blessed moment. Ah, blessed moments. Practice practice.   … “Each of you is perfect the way you are … and you can use a little improvement.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki

How to be Happy by Giving to Others

You get back what you give out and you can’t give what you do not have. Is this a paradox?

Gratitude flows, in part, from our sense of abundance. While abundance can mean extremely plentiful or oversufficient quantity or supply, it simply means enough. Stopping to smell the roses is a way to uncover the abundance.

Learning to be present, to check in with oneself, to breath, to take a moment, is critical to this process.

Maybe some of us have started gratitude journals or postings. That’s wonderful. A brave step in a bold direction.

It’s difficult work. The culture wishes to keep you dissatisfied; even fearful. There is no profit in happy. There is plenty of personal profit, but precious little corporate profit.

What happens when you create your own sports entertainment? Your own musical entertainment? Your own fun? We’d have fewer overpaid experts and celebrities and you’d have more cash in your pocket or you could trade that cash for time.

If time is money then money is time. We might think of disposable income but at what cost to your present quality of life?

Gratitude is a step toward healing yourself of that incessant cultural onslaught that tricks us into believing that more, bigger, faster is better. The feeling, the kick we get, does not usually last as long as the payments. And we buy more to stay high.

So, how do you extend or manifest gratitude? An upbeat attitude works; briefly. A verbal thanks or a handshake are fleeting and soon forgotten.

I have developed a toy, a tool, a token to leave behind, when I am meeting people.

I thank people that should be thanking me if I were to insist on my entitlements.

I call them Mini-Thanks cards and I carry  them with me most times. I fully expect to find occasions to use them multiple times daily. I am generally not disappointed.

I say ‘leave behind’ when what I really do is make eye contact, smile and give a brief gift of my attention. I am acting on purpose.

When you can let go of yourself for a little bit – a few seconds – and connect with another person, you can easily be rewarded with a genuine smile.

There’s a shot of serotonin and a dose of dopamine in there for you. Good feeling. The play it forward aspect cannot be measured.

You do not need to lift a burning car off a child to get a hint of what it is to extend yourself without promise of reward for the simple benefit of another.

The old line is “Do you want to be right or happy?” Occasionally a minor miracle happens and you are both right and happy.

I think that what we want is so basic that it is also what we all want. It’s rare and the lack of it is easily remedied. By rare I mean: R.A.R.E. Recognition. Attention. Respect. Encouragement. When you give it you get it back. Win-win.

Patricia Clason of recently told me something to the effect that the power of gratitude is enhanced with forgiveness.

I think we should look into that a bit further.

Time to buddy up and study that.

Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World by Lisa Bloom

The Power of Story: Change Your Story, Change Your Destiny in Business and in Life

by Jim Loehr

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning by Gary Marcus

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson / Lou Aronica

The As If Principle: The Radically New Approach to Changing Your Life

Richard Wiseman

Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, by Robert Lanza

Close your eyes. Imagine putting 2 cups of water into an 8 quart pot on the stove. Turn the heat on high.We’re making steam; flavored vapors, broth.

Get some garlic powder, cinnamon, anise seed  from the spice cabinet. Pour about a teaspoon of each of your selected powders into the kettle. Whatever you want.

Now, go to the supplements cabinet and get a gelcap; two piece, clear. It might have ashwaganda, boswellia, ginseng, or tumeric in it. Open it and dump the contents into the water.  Save an empty gelcap. We’ll use it in a minute. Stir slowly with a wooden spoon. Watch the steam.

It’s hot. Do not inhale too deeply. Watch the shape of the steam rising. Let yourself move into the clouds. Feel the heat. Watch the clouds.

Now look for the opened, two-piece gelcap you left on the counter. Point to it with your index finger. Feel the vaccuum drawing you in to that tiny space. Let yourself be drawn in. Shrink yourself to fit entirely and comfortably inside the bottom of the cap.

Secure the top over the bottom. Everything you need is here. You have plenty of room for control and comfort. Tip your head back a bit. Chin up.

Beam a hole through the ceiling with your line of sight. Move straight up quickly and out of the house. Survey your rooftop. Move up further and look down over the neighborhood, then the city. Further. See the coutryside and farm fields. Farther.

Now zoom around the world to a tropical island beach. Watch the surf. See the clouds.  Do you see any shapes you know? You may or may not. No matter.

Breathe. Feel the heat. You’re leaning back in the sand. Feel the hot grit of the sand on your fingertips. Remember that you are now tiny. Quite significant but small. You are free to take in the full sun on your small body. Be free. Take in the sun. Feel the heat of the daylight star. Stay with that.

The sun begins to set. Now notice the storm gathering on the horizon. There are dark shapes and lightning in the clouds. The storm is a long way off and not headed directly at you. Watch the sun set. Watch the lightning. The storm moves off. Dissipates. It is clear and dark except for the stars and twinkling surf.

Rise up. Rise up. Rise up. We are now at the border – the in-between of up and down –  and out there – and we are going out there. Dark and sparkling.

You may go as slowly or as fast as you wish. Look at the stars. Twinkling. Sparkling. Look for any constellations you know. Remember when you learned their names. When you see the brightest star in your favorite constellation move inside the constellation. The stars are not painted on a black background. They have a shape defined by the distance between their points.

Find a new constellation. Name it yourself. Say the name. Find another. Give it also a name. This is your new home, or home away from home, as you wish. There is no up or down. No right. No wrong.

You now happily see a transparent jellyfish galaxy, full of lightning, moving toward you and you are overtaken by your own mind. You are comfortable here. You are home.


This exercise of imagination intends to encourage expansive thoughts and feelings and add options to our normal dualistic and linear thinking. I wish you to consider whether you are here accidentally or on purpose.

“We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.” – Titus Lucretius Carus or Luciano De Crescenzo


“Almost all of our suffering comes from defending our story, which we mistake for our selves.” ~ Russell Targ, The End of Suffering


Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. What you see reflects your thinking. And your thinking but reflects your choice of what you want to see.


“Without your smile, the world cannot be saved.” A Course in Miracles


Student says, “I am very discouraged. What should I do?”

Master says, “Encourage others.”

Your mantra, mission statement and marching orders are all right here.

Your job: Sort it out!

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh

Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp

Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy

Zz 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0


“There are plenty of mistaken ideas about writing and publishing; money and fame are a couple of them.”

~ David L. White

When I tell people I’m a writer many of them ask where they might have seen my work. It seems worthwhile, when counseling writers, newbies and would-be’s, to drill down to the actual definition of words; especially since that is the medium we are working in.

I recently atttended a Meetup group for writers where 25% of the people in the group introduced themselves as aspiring writers. None introduced themselves as inspiring or perspiring writers.

So, what goes into writing? Idea generation and gathering, making notes, research, interviews with experts and amateurs. It means having questions and following the answers.

First that, then write. Put one word after another. Paper is fine for starters.

To write can be broken down into two basic steps; draft and edit. It is a stepped process involving both hemispheres of the brain. First one, then the other.

Draft means get it all down. Write. Write. Write. Nothing (nothing) else matters except perhaps legibility. Drafting is very right-brain, no boundaries. Editing is very left-brain, exacting, rigid.

Edit means to decide what NOT to write. Edit means to rearrange. Edit means to start over as necessary. Draft and edit. Draft and edit. Draft and edit. Then, proofread. Involve others. They can see what you cannot see. Then rest. Let it all rest. Start another project.

Often we think that writing is for readers. Without readers why write? You, however, are your number one reader. And the process can start and end right there – with you. The beauty of writing for yourself is that you do not have to be overly concerned about … anything. Grammar, punctuation, typos, facts – it’s all up to you. No tests. No grades. You do have to show up and do the work. (Remember: 80% of success is showing up.)

You can bicycle without imagining you have to be Lance Armstrong. You can paint without having to become Picasso. You can write to write with not thought of outward success.

And, that’s just the writing. To go farther you need to be in touch with others; designers, agents, editors, and publishers. Then you’ll need to become a booking agent or find one because you will now be your own chief marketing beast of burden; book launch parties, signings, libraries, readings, radio shows and more.

“You do not need money to be a philanthropist. We all have assests. You can befriend life with your bare hands.”

~ Rachel Naomi Remen,

My Grandfather’s Blessings : Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging

Do: We’ve heard the line be happy, but do happy? Yep, there is doing involved in order to get to happy. Be Do Have. Happy. There is a relationship. What do you think that means?

Happy: I know happy is in the title and on almost every page. Try to put it out of your mind. You can’t get there from here. Let it go. We’re really looking for the engagement of your passion. When you’ve got a little more of that going on happy will jump on you like a puppy. When you see gratitude, forgiveness, peace and joy you know you are close to happy.

Better: More is better. Bigger is better. Faster is better. It’s America. We hear this all the time.  Actually … only better is better. Think incrementally rather than all or nothing. What is actually better? Only you can figure that out for yourself.

Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

~ Woody Allen

The equation is simple. If your success, or life and times, is not to your liking it is not necessarily the fault of your definition of success. You are simply not showing up in quite the right place. You might be close, but …

The quotation uses the word ‘is’ which means equals. You are exactly that successful (80%-ish) in exactly the place you have been showing up. Where is that?

If the place you are showing up is full of negative self-chatter then that is where you are. Congratulations. You’ve got that down pat. It may be time to move on.

Change your mind. Listen to what goes on in your head. What do you tell yourself? What do others tell you? What do you repeat … endlessly?

Change your mind does not mean change everything. It means change that which will benefit from incremental improvement. A little change. One step. Better.

This work/shop/book might be the last self-help book you will ever need to buy. Why? If you are like me you already have enough of those books. If you’re like me you continue to buy or borrow new ones. If you’re like me you need to show up and do the work that most of those authors have asked you to do.

Once again our dilemma is over-consumption and not enough exercise.

What have you read?

What do you need to read again?

What do you need to study?


1.  Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

2.  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

3.  Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns

4.  Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! by Anthony Robbins

5.  The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard

6.  Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

7.  How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

 8.  Organizing from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life by Julie Morgenstern

9.  Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

10.  50 Self-Help Classics: 50 Inspirational Books to Transform Your Life from Timeless Sages to Contemporary Gurus by Tom Butler-Bowdon

Christian Science Monitor

1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

2. Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill

3. Law of Attraction by Michael J. Losier

4. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

5. Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

6. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

7. I Dare You! by William H. Danforth

8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

9. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

10. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino


1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

2. You Can Nail It by David R. Gross

3. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

4. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

5. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

6. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

7. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

8. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

9. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

10. The Five Love Languages: by Gary Chapman

The first edition of Do Happy Better is put together as a workshop book. There is space provided to write at least a couple of keyword notes in order to get you going.

Obviously you’re going to have to get a notebook if you don’t yet have one.

A self-help author might say that his/her book has been written for you. That might be true in part. However, first and foremost, the author has written a book in order to do the research, gain the clarity, do the actual work that he/she is proposing that you do. That is the value of the prep for the author. They gain some clarity and expertise by doing the work.

Many of the self-help, books, programs and seminars ask you to write your goals, keep a journal, observe and note your activity.

However, whatever the stated intent, we have been groomed to be consumers. That is what our system and culture approves of. We do not generally approve of out-of-the-box thinking, opinions or actions. Mostly I think we’d rather read more books.

If you don’t use the prescription as directed it is of less help for your dis-ease. And so the profit industry counts on us not doing the work.

It is your life and time. The experts cannot live it for you. If you do the work you will be the number one expert about your self and your own world; whatever your sphere of influence.

The refrain sings, “Take your candle and go light the world.”

Let’s get started.


My thinking is that self-improvement books get better results when the work begins. Reading more books hoping to find a way to not do the work is less effective. Study the books you already have. There is no report due, no quiz and no final grade except that which you demand of yourself.

The work is to find, make and dedicate time for oneself; to work, to play, to be in community. Sometimes permission can be given simply by demonstrating and being present.

I see potential for supportive creation communities surrounding this work. If you cannot do this alone, if you continue to put it off till another time, then join a group of like-minded seekers or start one of your own.

“The more a man thinks the better adapted he becomes to thinking, and education is nothing if it is not the methodical creation of the habit of thinking.”

~ Ernest Dimnet

“Don’t goof off.”

~ Suzuki Roshi

Do Happy Better describes a process more than a product.

Brendon Burchard has a great little story quote where his people have come to him

with the story that they have done everything and nothing has changed and he

asks them to show him the proof.

Show the story. Show the paper trail. What have you done, for how long, to what results?

How do YOU know that what has been done does not work?

For some of you consuming self-help material is not helping as much as you’d like. Most of the material goes on too long and is more about the writer than the reader. Suppose you apply yourself, take some notes and write your own book – just for you? Suppose.


Do Happy Better  a workshop playbook for folks that will work on their play in a little more focused fashion.