Monthly Archives: February 2015

Week 21 – Love Is All You Need

On a cold and rainy day, do you ever just feel like curling up on the couch, lighting a fire in the fireplace, popping some gourmet popcorn, and watching a movie?

Well…that was definitely me today!

What shall I watch today…comedy?  No.  Action?  No.  Drama?  No…

Nothing seemed “just right.”

And then I saw these two little powerful words that spoke to me:  I AM.

“That’s it!”  I thought…I AM.

I AM is a documentary by Tom Shadyac.  You may or may not know his name, but you’re probably familiar with his movies, which include Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Patch Adams, and Bruce Almighty, (to name a few).

And then he suffered a “nasty concussion” as a result of a biking accident.  During his recovery, he began to question his life, his priorities, and the world around us.   So he set out with a film crew of four to interview authors, journalists, historians, scientists, and academics in search of answers the following questions:

  • What’s wrong with our world?
  • What can we do about it?

There are several lessons to be learned in this documentary.  These are the ones that really spoke to me:

Together or Separate?

There is something fundamentally different between machines and life…you can disassemble a piece of machinery and put it back together and it works just fine, but you can’t disassemble a living thing and put it back together and have it work just fine.

Yet we are running our society as if we are pieces of a machine…and the world is a machine.

TRUTH MOMENT:  I spent years on the hamster wheel that is corporate America.  Going to work day in, day out, just doing my job…just another cog in the wheel.  Many days I felt like a robot could have done my job…and I’m probably right.  There was no heart…no soul…in the job.

Wealth AND Happiness vs. Wealth OR Happiness?

Iconic Slogan by Barbara Kruger
Iconic Slogan by Barbara Kruger

Our society places a high value on “stuff.”  In fact, wealth and happiness are in many ways synonymous in our society.  Yet “stuff” doesn’t make us any happier.

Think about it:  have you ever noticed how many people are UNhappy in heir lives, even though they seem to have it all?

At any given point in our life we have a certain amount of stuff.  If we had 10x more stuff, would we be 10x happier?

Society would make us believe that’s the case.  Oh, and by the way, I’m a marketing professional…I’ve been making people believe they need stuff for DECADES!  But I’m not alone in that venture…

  • In the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko says the famous line:  “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”  
  • George Carlin had a whole sketch on “Stuff” that’s pretty funny (and not safe for work!)
  • When many people get depressed or upset, they opt for “Retail Therapy.”
  • And even a whole movie about consumerism, and “Keeping Up With The Joneses

TRUTH MOMENT:  I must admit, I watched this documentary right after a shopping trip to Costco…home of the “gotta have it now, and gotta have lots of it now” stuff.   Even if that “stuff” is food and cleaning products my family uses on a daily basis…and some wine.  🙂  But now I’m thinking about all the times I’ve said to myself “If I only had ____, I’d be happy.”  And I wasn’t.

Have a Heart!

3314737024_4ea1f1671f_zMy favorite part of the documentary is learning that we – as a human race – are HEART based.  By that I mean that the heart is the access point to our higher self.  What’s interesting is that the heart just might be able to predict the future.  [Studies have shown that the heart knows what’s going to happen 3-5 seconds into the future.]

Because we’re all interconnected at a fundamental level, our thoughts and emotions affect the thoughts and emotions of others.  What we do as individuals affects the global environment…the world we live in.

And that means that everyday acts — even small acts — can build up over time into a great movement.  If you change your perceptions the world changes.

TRUTH MOMENT:  Throughout the MKMMA course, I’ve been experiences changes that have been small, incremental, and nearly imperceptible (at least to me)…but the grand sum of ALL these changes has been noticed by the people closest to me.

Love is All You Need

Tom Shadyac may have set out to discover what was wrong with the world…but instead he learned what was right with it.

  • The science of connection and unity.
  • The universal nature of compassion and empathy.
  • The mystery and magic of the human heart.

What’s wrong with the world?

I am.

[Yikes!  That doesn’t feel good, does it?]

So how about what’s RIGHT with the world?

I AM.

I love that!  And…

All You Need Is Love.  Love Is All You Need.  John Lennon

 

Week 20 – Finding Stacy…in Finding Joe

I feel like things are coming together in a natural progression.

Last week I wrote about how we should Live This Day as if It’s Your Last.

So how fitting is it that I watched the movie “Finding Joe” again, and heard these words:

No matter how long you live, life is ultimately short.  It only matters how you showed up, and how courageous you were.

I am usually reminded of how short life is when I lose someone I care about.  And now I am reminded that because life is short, we must show up and be courageous…it’s how we live that matters most.

Finding Joe is one of those movies that you will gain new perspectives with each viewing.  It is filled with thought-provoking concepts, as well as stories of pain, encouragement, and inspiration.

HeroesjourneyIt’s about The Hero’s Journey, a concept popularized by Joseph Campbell, which is the blueprint for nearly every movie ever told.  And it’s the outline of nearly every story…including the story of YOU.

It’s better to have a story than an explanation…it’s richer.

If you watch the movie with an open mind and an open heart, you will find yourself in Finding Joe.

I certainly did.

Here are some of my favorite take-aways from the movie:

  • Being the hero of your own life means being responsible for your own adventure.
    When standing in the face of adversity, you can surrender to victimhood, you can give your responsibility to someone else (i.e.:  ‘tell me what to do and I’ll do it’) or you can say “I have a choice here, and I’m responsible.
  • “Death moments” in stories don’t necessarily mean the end of one’s biological and physical existence…it’s an indication that change is taking place.
    If there is no death, there is no life.  If there is no death, there is no transformation.  If there is no death, there is no change.  We must get rid of things in our lives that do not serve us, and make room for things that will help us grow and thrive.
  • When you follow your bliss, the universe will open doors where there were only walls.
    Joseph Campbell tells us to “Follow Your Bliss.”  What IS “bliss?”  Bliss is listening to your heart and following the truth.  It is the thing you can’t not do…it is your authentic journey.  But how do we FIND our bliss?  We find our bliss by reflecting on what we are passionate about…by what activities we get involved in and HOURS pass away.  Our bliss is what we love to do.  It’s not about money.  Ask yourself:“If I had all the money and time in the world…what would I do?”

  • If you bargain your life away for security NOW, you will NEVER find your bliss.
    Your bliss may not always lead to a financial success…but it WILL lead to a personal success.  And the very fact that you’re LOOKING for your bliss means that you’re in the process of GETTING to your bliss.
  • We all have gifts, talents, hopes, dreams, weaknesses, and lessons in our lives.
    Start looking for your gifts and talents.  Try things you’ve never done before.  If there are things you wish you’d done, but never did, go do them.  Take different routes to work.  Talk to different people.  Put yourself out there.  But don’t anticipate what you’ll find.

  • People don’t follow their bliss because of fear.
    Fear of what people will think of us is the biggest inhibitor of people finding their bliss.  The reality is that YOU make the DECISION to hold yourself back.  We all have a choice, and we must remember…
  • Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.
    When we are challenged, we are being presented with a “dragon” we must slay.  These dragons make us feel like we can’t have or can’t do certain things.  When we are face-to-face with these dragons, we are face-to-face with our fears…and we must conquer them.
  • We must have the COURAGE to proceed in the face of fear.
    Courage is knowing what you need to do…and doing it.  Courage is getting up and trying again.  Courage is exploring the unknown and expanding our comfort zone.  Because when we can SEE our fears, the death of fear becomes certain.  It’s OK to be scared…as long as you DO the thing that scares you.
  • The best, most rewarding moments come after a struggle.
    When we are in an uncomfortable situation, all we can think is “how do I get out of it?”  The answer is to surrender.  Stop fighting the situation, and face it.  You can slay your dragon and come to terms with the fear…or you can LOVE your dragon.  When you love your dragon, you’re no longer engaged in the fight and you’re open to the rewards that are coming to you.
  • The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
    It’s about loving and accepting yourself for who you are.  It’s about healing the gap between your unlovable self and your lovable self.
  • We can ALL be heroes.
    The Hero’s Journey is a never-ending cycle.  What the hero brings back is a story…which becomes an invitation for others to take the journey.  Giving back the essence of the journey is the ultimate end to the hero’s journey.

Speak through your life…your life is the story…you’ll change lives.

Week 19 – Live This Day As If It’s Your Last

SO many things have been coming together this week…

In our reading of The Greatest Salesman in the World, we read:

I will live this day as if it is my last.

There is so much power in that statement!

We are also reading obituaries, studying their photo, reading their story, and thinking about what they might be willing to trade for just one more day on this earth.

And there also happened to be a 60th birthday celebration for my dear friend, Brett Elliott, who was taken from this earth WAY too soon, on March 30, 2009.

StacyANDBrett
Brett Elliott and Stacy Ryan, circa 2008, at one of our many visits to La Vista, enjoying good friends, good wine, and warm brownies.

 

There are many pieces to the puzzle that is our life.

In re-reading Brett’s obituary, I read of his surviving family members, a select listing of professional accomplishments, and a small glimpse into his loves:

He loved music; from loud rock to punk to blues to jazz. His favorite pastime was attending concerts and music venues with his many friends, and then burning a CD of the playlist to present as a cherished gift.  Most of all he loved his family and good friends from all walks of life.

(I am a proud owner of some of these CDs, and they truly are cherished gifts.)

What the obituary doesn’t say, is that if you ever met Brett Elliott, you were immediately drawn in…he had the ability to make you feel like a long loved friend…even your best friend…even if you’d only known him for five minutes.  Brett was special in that way.

His memorial service was “SRO” (Standing Room Only…a fitting description of a service for someone who loved music and going to concerts.  (I have fond memories of seeing Jonny Lang, the Rolling Stones, and Sammy Hagar/David Lee Roth together…as well as some “private, unannounced concert appearances” that only someone “in the know” would know about…and he did)

Brett’s memorial service is also the only one I’ve been to that had an “after party” … complete with SWAG … hosted by the advertising agency where he worked.  The after party was a chance for us to celebrate Brett’s life and cherish his memories…and indulge in some of his favorite things.  Like Rodney Strong wine, chocolate covered pretzels (or “Brettzels” which were Christmas gifts of pretzels “lovingly hand dipped into the chocolate with chopsticks” which were given to friends.)

Brett loved life.
He loved music.
He loved his friends.
He was a world-class copywriter.
He enjoyed mentoring students.
He believed in giving back.
He never missed an opportunity to make you smile or laugh.

He lived every day as if it was his last.

He is an inspiration.

Brett Elliott in his "old man suit" at his 50th birthday party.
Brett Elliott in his “old man suit” at his 50th birthday party.

At his 60th birthday party, he continues to make me laugh, through stories shared by his family.  Apparently when Brett was a young boy he had a toy that shot smaller toys out of it.  While playing with the toy outside, one of the toys that he shot landed on the roof of the house.  Brett promptly marched into the house and announced “Houston, we have a problem!”

Even at an early age he knew just the right words for the situation.

He may be gone from our world, but his memory lives on…both in the hearts of those who knew him, and through student scholarships in his name.

What would Brett trade for one more day on earth?  A better question would be what all of us who knew and loved him would trade for one more day with him on earth.

Peace.  Love.  Wish You Were Here.

Week 18 – Choosing Happiness

If happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets there.  ~Shawn Achor

Yikes!

Once again the MKMMA lesson of the week hit me over the head like a ton of bricks.

I’m talking about Happiness and “Moving the Goal Post.”

I’ve always set goals.  And usually I achieved them.  But rather than be happy about the achievement, and celebrating my success, I set the next goal.

And then I’d be happy…when I achieved that.

I know what you’re thinking…“Yeah, right!”

And I agree.  Now I know that by continuously “moving the goal post” and setting new goals, without celebrating the achievements and successes, I was setting myself up to be UNhappy, and didn’t even know it.

Now, to be fair, I wasn’t exactly UNhappy.  I just wasn’t truly happy.

Nothing was ever good enough.  I was never satisfied.  I always wanted “more” or “something different.”

I’m hearing Charlie Brown exclaiming “Good grief!” in my head right now…

Though I’ve heard it said many times that “You have to BE before you DO and HAVE.”

I guess the words went in one ear and out the other, or perhaps I didn’t know what I didn’t know…

And that is that happiness comes from within, and it MUST come first.  You have to BE happy…FIRST.

I’ve become a MUCH happier person as a result of the MKMMA Experience.  And to take my happiness to a new level I decided I would create a list of 100 Things That Make Me Happy.  Not just things I’m grateful for…but things that make me happy.

The first 25 or so were easy…the next 25 were more difficult…and then it got harder.  I would have to put the list down and do something else, which would ultimately lead me to an “a-ha” moment that sent me running for a pen and my list.

When I completed the list of 100 Things That Make Me Happy I was stunned.  I stared at the list in disbelief.

There were things on the list that I had full control over, such as:

  • Spending time with a friend
  • Watching the Minions in the Despicable Me movies and wishing I had my own
  • Watching a funny movie I’ve seen 100s of times
  • Volunteering
  • Champagne (what’s NOT happy about champagne???)

What stunned me is that many of the things that made me happy are external, and beyond my control…but when they happen they make me happy:

  • Enjoying a cup of Butter-Nut hot chocolate and having the hot chocolate trigger fond childhood memories.  Of course, that requires being able to actually FIND the Butter-Nut hot chocolate!  (And no…other hot chocolates just don’t trigger the memories…)
  • A beautiful, colorful sunset…which requires a sunny day, the right clouds, and the right weather conditions.
  • Making a sale.  Hey!  I’ll admit it…it’s fun to make money.  Yet I’m only one party to the transaction…and it takes two (or more!) to tango!
  • Hearing my fiancé hum while he cleans or does the dishes…it always makes me smile!
  • Receiving a compliment.  (Yes, I could demand someone give me a compliment, but that would defeat the purpose now, wouldn’t it?)

So the question becomes “What is the definition of being happy within, or being happy first?”

Do I need to have control over these things that make me happy?  Or is the fact that I appreciate things, and the process of appreciation is the happiness within?  Or both?

All I know, and all that matters, is that I’m happy.

Happiness is a CHOICE, and I CHOOSE happiness.

And speaking of Happy…

I gotta end this with the Minions.  Because no matter WHAT mood I’m in, they always make me HAPPY!