Category Archives: PATHS TO HAPPINESS


We must reflect upon our most compelling reasons to live with great passion! The more passionate we feel about our life, the more compelled we will be to act in accordance with our Purpose. Thus, our Purpose becomes synonymous with our passion. In fact, what other Purpose should we have than one that totally absorbs, involves and enthralls us? If we have any inkling of what truly motivates us, then that very motivation must, by definition, be inspiring and stimulating. There is really no other way to live. If our Purpose, our Vision, our Values and our Mission are not extremely motivating to us, then of what value are they?

Life is not meant to be mundane, ordinary nor boring. In order for it to be significant and meaningful, it must be relished and deeply savored. We cannot live on the sidelines unsure of our strongest convictions and desires. We have to believe so strongly in our Purpose that we literally live it in everything we do, from our life at home, to our work and to our community. When our Purpose is activated with passion, we will discover infinite opportunities to enjoy an intensely exciting life. Let’s think back to those moments when our Purpose seemed as if it was on-fire, when we had that burning desire to do something and nothing could get in our way. Did we not feel profoundly immersed in our own happiness? Were we not sensing the greatest joy ever in being alive?

The human brain has infinite capacity for this self-induced passion. It is a pinkish-gray, almond shaped organ weighing approximately 3-4 pounds. It consists of 100 billion neurons each capable of firing at a rate of about 80 times per second. There will never be any computer capable of producing the range of feelings, emotions and thought processes that we already possess – resting quietly between our ears. Within our brain’s structure are myriad receptors for opiates such as heroin, morphine and even marijuana. The incredible thing is that we already produce these chemicals (known as endorphins) naturally within our own bodies. We already know about the runner’s high or feats of strength from mothers lifting automobiles off of their children. These intense emotions are actually produced through our own will.

Imagine what life would be like if we could call forth these naturally passionate feelings whenever we wanted to? The fact is that self-induced euphoria is within our capacity to achieve whenever we desire these feelings. Ordinary people accomplish this every day of their lives by tuning into their own passionate attitudes toward life. They know how to achieve the fire-in-the-belly feelings by becoming fully engaged in their Purpose, their Values and their Mission in life. They literally become lost in their pursuit of what is most important to them. Nothing stands in their way as their passion fuels their brain with euphoric chemicals and intense nerve impulses. Their energy level soars, their actions are powerfully self-directed, and their passion for achievement is unstoppable!

Our passion is most always evident in our life’s work. As the late George Burns reminded us, I would rather be a failure doing something I love than be a success doing something I hate.  At some point, we have all felt this passion to succeed and accomplish something with our life. When we passionately pursue a career or a task that is vital to us, we are certain that our Purpose is at the root of our feelings and our actions. For in knowing our Purpose, we know exactly what it is that we will do with our lives. It is not difficult to observe those people who are passionately pursuing what they love. These people seem to possess a certain vitality and an ability to accomplish extraordinary achievements.

Imagine for a moment we are so excited about going to work that we actually arise from bed at 5:00 AM while a blinding snowstorm rages outside; we are humming the tune from Rocky while making a pot of coffee; then pound our chest and let go at the top of our lungs, I love my life! Not something we do every morning? Sound a little strange? While rare, there are people who actually think and act like this. They believe that anything is possible with the right attitude and the right effort.

And these people are not just motivational speakers. They are everyday people who are in touch with themselves and their Purpose. They make life happen because they have chosen to be self-directors of their own destiny. They have realized their highest sense of Self by developing a positive self-image and are continually in pursuit of happiness in everything they do. They are at the peak of the hierarchy of their human needs, continuously striving to reach Abraham Maslow’s concept of self-actualization.

As we challenge ourselves to discover and then act upon our highest needs, the more likely we are to also realize our own true Self. With Purpose we can loudly proclaim, I love my life! as we begin each day. Let’s suppose for a moment that we really do love our job, our family, our financial situation, our health, and our future. Suppose also that we love breathing, smelling, seeing, hearing, feeling and learning. Let’s assume that we think we are important, worthwhile and valuable to ourselves and to the world in which we live. We are self-confident and proud of our accomplishments. We believe that we are unstoppable in our quest. We know ourselves, what we want and expect to get what we want . . .and we believe that tomorrow will be an even better day.

Does this sound like a script for a Walt Disney, happy-ending movie? Perhaps, but this scenario is not as unrealistic as it may first appear. We actually can create that script for ourselves. It is purely a matter of holding self-beliefs and creating a powerful self-image based on a strong sense of Purpose. If, as we have repeatedly stated, Purpose is the meaning that we give to our life, then whatever meaning we choose will be the meaning that we live by.

If we choose our life to have little meaning, then that is exactly what we will receive. If we command a greater meaning for our lives, that belief will also make it so. William Shakespeare said, There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Virtually every aspect of our lives can be controlled through our thought processes. Our attitude is paramount. We can become the person we wish through adopting a passionate attitude of great expectations.


Feeling uninspired . . . stuck in a rut . . . that your life seems to be going nowhere?

If that resonates with you, chances are  a.) You don’t really know what you want, or b.) It’s not important enough for you to do anything about it.

Let’s tackle the first point: You must know what you really want.  If you don’t have a clue, then you are saying you don’t value anything. However, few of us would admit to that.  If you value your life at all then there must be a few things that are very important to you. Values are your highest needs for self-fulfillment – your hopes, aspirations and expectations. Take some time to think about them and make a list. If you become emotional about them, then you are on the right track.

On the second point: Decide if it’s important enough to take action.  What you most value or aspire to will never happen unless you take the initiative to make it happen. This is such common sense it’s amazing how many of us don’t recognize this. Life owes us nothing. We have to take ownership of it or it will turn out no better than what we put into it.  it’s really your choice: either live it to the fullest or waste it away.

So why is it so easy to get sidetracked to doing what is most important? Why do we so often find ourselves stuck in the ditch with no way to get back out of it?  There are many reasons but here are some key ones to reflect upon and consider changing in your life:

  1. YOU DON’T HAVE A PLAN:  Once you decide what is most important and where you want to go, you need a roadmap to follow. Living in the present is good, but only after deciding what you want your “future-presents” to look and feel like. Create a path to follow and stay on it.
  2. YOU’RE STILL WAITING FOR TOMORROW:  Again, there is no time like the present. This is when things happen. Procrastination kills the spirit and derails motivation. If you say you will do something when the timing is right then you will never do it. There are always excuses but the bottom line is they will never get resolved to your satisfaction. If you wait for the perfect timing, then you will always be waiting – never doing.
  3. YOU LIKE BEING IN THE COMFORT ZONE: Taking action means change. And if you don’t like change then you will never move forward. You might feel that what you are giving up is a loss, but that is where you have growth and positive self-renewal. It may seem difficult at first to give up your comfort zone but once you move forward you will not miss what you left behind.
  4. YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN YOURSELF:  This is self-sabotage at the extreme. If you don’t believe that you have the right or the worthiness to design and live your own life, then someone else will do it for you. In fact, if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will either. Negative self-talk is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Having no confidence leads to failure, but a positive self-belief will lead to success. Whatever you say to yourself creates that reality. You are free to choose either so choose wisely.
  5. YOU HAVE THE WRONG INFLUENCES: Look around and see who is impacting or affecting your life.  Are you hanging out with the wrong people? Are they pulling you down or draining your life energy?  If your circle of friends has low expectations, you will subconsciously adopt their attitudes and beliefs. You must find better role models or consider a mentor that you respect. Most successful persons will state that modeling themselves after someone they really admired made all the difference in their own life achievements.
  6. YOU MISTAKE “BUSYNESS” FOR PRODUCTIVITY:  The proverbial treadmill requires effort but goes nowhere. In today’s fast-paced world, we deceive ourselves by working longer and harder but often find it leads to more stress and little else. When we only respond to our daily urgencies, we seldom find we did what was most important. Ask yourself if you’re just going in circles or are you spending quality time supporting what you most value. This is also the key to life balance – move away from meaningless activities and move toward those that are more rewarding.
  7. YOU’RE NOT RESPECTING YOURSELF:  Are you spending countless hours in front of a TV or at a computer monitor surfing the web or playing video games?  Are you ignoring sleep, exercise and healthy eating habits? Are you mindlessly going through the same daily routines without any regard to improving yourself? If so, you are disrespecting your talents, your mind and your potential. At some point, you will look in the mirror and not even recognize who you are. Decide now if you want to reach old age and regret the missed opportunities you could have made for yourself.
  8. YOU HAVE NO PASSION:  At some point, you must ask yourself what you are passionate about.  And once you discover your passion, you will know your purpose. Dig deep to discover what stirs your soul. Life is not meant to be lived on the sidelines so acknowledge what really lights your fire and begin to live it.  While you may have buried your passions deep inside you, they are still there. You are free to bring them forth again.   

Make today a new beginning. You don’t need to remain in the rut or feel resentful about how your life is going.  It’s all about the attitude you adopt and your willingness to make changes. Your only obstacle is your own mind. Think differently and you will begin to change your life.


Live Higher 11x14 jpgLife mastery is not difficult once we believe in its possibility and also desire to achieve it. Following are my top 25 principles for living a higher life and I hope you find them to be a helpful guide:

  1. Worry Less – Laugh More

  2. Sit Less – Move More

  3. Analyze Less – Feel More

  4. Text Less – Talk More

  5. Work Less – Volunteer More

  6. Complicate Less – Simplify More

  7. Rest Less – Sleep More

  8. Conceal Less – Discover More

  9. Discriminate Less – Understand More

  10. Complain Less – Appreciate More

  11. Consume Less – Give More

  12. Waste Less – Save More

  13. Think Less – Act More

  14. Abuse Less – Support More

  15. Eat Less – Taste More

  16. Critique Less – Love More

  17. Follow Less – Lead More

  18. Amuse Less – Learn More

  19. Blame Less – Value More

  20. Control Less – Flow More

  21. Doubt Less -Trust More

  22. Hesitate Less – Risk More

  23. Watch Less – Read More

  24. Resist Less – Accept More

  25. Plead Less – Pray More


Expressions-7 copyWhat are you passionate about?  Have you found it?  If not, quit thinking about it.  In fact, don’t even try to understand it.  Discovering your passion will not be revealed by logical analysis; it is only found through your heart – that moment when you feel totally lost in your own joy. Your passion becomes evident when you are most in tune with yourself,  when your heart pings with excitement and your inner voice is telling you it is okay to feel this way.

If you haven’t experienced this lately, you’re probably not listening to who you really are.  You are blocking your emotions by responding to outside influences or voices telling you how you should feel.  If you are forsaking your own opportunity for joy, you are conforming to these external expectations and not those that you created for yourself. Over time, you can literally forget what really makes you happy and what you are most passionate about.

So if you can’t remember when you last connected with your passion, it’s time to do some serious soul searching.  Life is meant to be lived passionately, not with a boring sameness day after day.  You should seek every opportunity to make your heart sing with the excitement of life itself. You only need to reflect upon and then recreate those moments when you were euphoric about something you did, felt, experienced or were engaged in.

You may need to return to your childhood to recall those moments. Or you can possibly remember a more recent situation where you felt totally absorbed in your own joy –  a hobby, book, movie, song or even a stimulating conversation.  It may have been something difficult where you felt the challenge of achievement. Perhaps it was assisting someone else that needed your help. It could be something that required your physical energy, creative spirit or even your quiet reflection observing a sunset.

If you listen to your heart, you will know what has stirred your passions in the past. And it’s your right to bring them back into your life again . . . whenever you choose and as often as you desire.  This is what a real life is all about.  Allow yourself  the freedom to enjoy it to the fullest.





OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATake a moment and survey your horizon. What is it telling you?  Is your future full of hope and promise or is it foreboding and worrisome?  Are you feeling optimistic about the rest of your life or does it look like a minefield of obstacles still facing you?

The fact is that your perception of the future will  most likely determine the outcome.  Having hope will project happiness . But if you approach it hopelessly you will find  happiness difficult to come by.  Dr. Richard P. Johnson refers to this as “the self-fulfilling prophecy principal.” If you have high expectations you will begin organizing and preparing yourself to make good things happen.  Conversely, if you dread what lies ahead you will not take any actions to change your future,  thus assuring the negative outcomes to follow.

Either set of self-beliefs will likely govern the results.  What you expect to happen probably will.  So spend some time thinking about the future and decide if it is calling you to be optimistic or pessimistic.  You have the freedom to choose between the two viewpoints.  You should choose wisely.





Life happiness is not the same as life satisfaction. While happiness is a desirable emotion it is temporal and fleeting, much like a light bulb that can be turned on and off as often as one chooses..

Life satisfaction, however, is a constant state of belief. Once the conditions for it are understood and accepted, life satisfaction (unlike happiness) is not dependent on one’s changing moods or circumstances. It would then follow that life satisfaction is a more worthy pursuit, that once achieved it would support more opportunities for life happiness.

So how does one bring this to the forefront of our set of self-beliefs? Life satisfaction is a conscious choice and emerges once we adopt the following attitudes and perceptions:

  • Accepting who we are rather than what others expect us to be.
  • Recognizing that life is good regardless of its difficulties and obstacles.
  • Acceptance of change as the natural order of our evolving life.
  • Maintaining faith in ourselves and the divine order of life.
  • Connecting with our authentic and genuine self.
  • Being aware of our unique and inherent purpose.
  • Being attentive and responsive to our core values.
  • Awakening to life’s grace and the beauty that surrounds us.
  • Manifesting our life meaning by sharing our talents and gifts with others.
  • Being confident that our life has great significance which we alone direct and control.
  • Living mindfully “in the now” rather than lamenting the past or worrying about the future.

Again, life happiness cannot exist without first having a broader feeling of life satisfaction.  By focusing on these conditions for life satisfaction while maintaining a positive outlook, we can then create infinite opportunities for life happiness. In other words, focus on life satisfaction first . . .  happiness will then follow.








Knowing when to retire is a challenge in itself, but deciding where you want to live in your encore years can be equally perplexing.  One option is to stay right where you are (known as “aging in place”), but keep in mind your present home could become a financial burden in the distant future. Also, your current accommodations may need some structural changes if mobility ever becomes an issue.

Relocation always seems like an attractive option but this too will require some deep analysis. Are you wanting to be near your grandchildren, aging parents or your own children?  Or do you simply want to run away to the mountains, to warm beaches or even to an urban center with lots of cultural and entertainment choices. For some, a second home could prove to be a good interim choice allowing more time to check out the area before making the final leap.

Obviously, one size does not fit all – both financially and emotionally. It is imperative, however, that you and your spouse are on the same page and that you also have some discussions with friends and family before making any major decisions. Even the location and quality of medical services needs to be factored into the relocation equation.

Knowledge is king if you are seriously planning a move in retirement.  Fortunately, abundant information can be found on the websites of US News and World Report, Forbes, AARP, Kiplinger and Money Magazine.  They all provide reports covering  topics as diverse as:  Bargain Places to Live, Best Places for Military Vets, Best Towns for Wine Lovers, Places with the Youngest & Oldest Populations, Terrific Towns for Second Careers,  Sunniest Places to Retire, Most Affordable Mountain Towns, etc.  Again, doing your homework beforehand will make a huge difference in choosing the place that ideally matches your real needs and desires.

If you become stuck on this issue, please contact me to explore your options in more detail. As a retirement specialist, I have a plethora of information and data resources for you to consider.  My probing questions and helpful exercises will be very beneficial, giving you the clarity you need before making this important decision.





I think most of us can recall FDR’s famous quote “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But his less well known quote is “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”

This resonates with me because coaching new retirees always involves hearing about their “doubts of today.” And sadly, these fears and uncertainties will often lead to their “regrets of tomorrow.” If, however,  they could overcome their present doubts they would likely find their future lives to be much more fulfilled.

Most of us would agree that at the end of our life we’d like to go back and re-do a few things that could have been changed – maybe spend less time at the office to make more time for ourselves and our families, taken our studies more seriously, made better career choices, etc.

And while these are important considerations, these are not the main reflections of those at the end of their lives. According to palliative expert Bonnie Ware, the top five regrets of the dying are:

1. I wish I’d lived a life true to myself,  not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

And I’d like to add that Nadine Stair on her 84th birthday said, “I wish I had waded in more mud puddles”.

Living with no regrets places the responsibility upon us, not just to decide what we want out of life but to then go and live it. Since we have a finite timetable for life, why not decide today what risks we are willing to take and then begin the process of taking them. Why not reframe our current fears and self-doubts into a more positive and optimistic outlook for the future.

So will we answer this question for ourselves, or will we let others answer it for us? Will we act out of fear or out of courage? If we decide to go for it, what will It be? What do we want the rest of our life to look and feel like?

Now would be a good time to answer these questions.  The choice is ours . . . to be able to look back one day at our life without any regrets at all!


Hugging the CoastOur objective should not be to eliminate all unhappiness but rather to balance it with increased opportunity for joy. Buddha may have reminded us, A hundred loves, a hundred losses. No loves, no losses, but are we prepared to abandon the potential for love because we fear the potential for loss?

Would there be any value in giving up our rights to search for a single sliver of happiness because we must first dig through a mountain of sadness to locate it? For that matter, would we not search for truth because it is hidden among deceit? Or would we not seek honor because we feel that it is surrounded by contempt? Or not seek courage because it is covered with cowardice? Or not seek morality because it is shrouded within an immoral society?

Happiness is ours to discover despite the deterrents that stand in our way; it is our human right to be elated despite a world that flagrantly flaunts its despairing side. Our purpose, therefore, is to strive toward a sense of internal peace within ourselves.

This does not mean that we will live in perfect contentment but rather we will be contented with ourselves. The difference is that the former implies an unrealistic, stress free state of consciousness while the latter implies that we are in conscious control of our state of gratification.

We will feel it is possible to rise above the vagaries of unhappiness that may surround us. We will resist the feeling of being dragged into a maelstrom of discontentment because we will see ourselves as the calm center of the storm. And our joy will abound through our sense of calm purpose being recognized and lived through our daily actions.  Inner peace then becomes our right and our choice.


No Cares jpgFor some baffling reason, we have gotten caught up in an insatiable need for more stuff – from clothes, cars, houses, electronic gadgets, toys, furniture and fixtures to new hairdos, pedicures and tummy tucks. We want to possess everything imaginable and never seem to be content anymore with the basics. According to comedian George Carlin, we even need to own stuff to put our stuff into. We like to take our stuff with us wherever we go, and when we get there we have to buy more stuff so we can take it home to be with other stuff!

Our fascination with stuff, however, is not the problem. It is the lifestyle that we must pursue to acquire, maintain and manage our stuff.  All of this stuff is the antithesis to a sane, balanced and purposeful life. While we tend to believe that our happiness emanates from our possessions it is, in fact, these same possessions that become the bane and curse to a joyful and meaningful life. According to Elaine St. James, Wise men and women in every major culture throughout history have found that the secret to happiness is not in getting more but in wanting less. Only when we make it our purpose to not make stuff the measure of our contentment, will we truly understand how simply beautiful (and beautifully simple) life can be lived.


Purpose Image 4Future time is really no more valuable to our happiness and success than is our Past time, since Future time exists only in our minds, hopes and dreams. Like Past time, Future time is not even occurring in our lives; these times are either coming or they’ve already went, but they’re not happening right now which is where our lives are – Right Now! Kay Lyons said it best, Yesterday is a canceled check; Tomorrow is only a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.  This means that there is only one time that is relevant to our happiness and fulfillment of a meaningful life – The Present!


There is rarely any need for us to concentrate on matters that take us off the various pathways to happiness. But invariably, we do stray! The principal reason is from the clutter that we accumulate in our minds from our complicated, covetous lifestyles. The effects of the material world that we live in are anaesthetizing to our real Purpose and pursuit of happiness. Matthew 16:26 warns us of the fate of losing our chief Purpose in living: For what has a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

The point is that we are literally losing our way in the world with our mindless attention to insignificant matters and materialism. For enduring happiness, we must let go of all of the extraneous pursuits of life that conflict with what is really important to us. If we could only learn to live with an austere attention to what is significant and abandon all that is the antithesis to a quality life, we could rediscover our sense of Purpose and our true sense of happiness. The indispensable key for each of us is to keep life focused and simple. As a collective society we have thus far failed to realize this, but we still maintain our individual right to do so . . . to march to a different drummer.


Who said life has to be fair, kind and nice to us? Life can be difficult, and the sooner we recognize and accept this fact, the easier our life will become. In fact, just acknowledging this statement somehow makes life’s burdens easier for us to bear. As humans we crave perfection of ourselves, of others and of the world in which we live. We wish not to see death, famine or disease. We even wish that we would never run out of gas, get fat or have our children talk back to us. But this is not the way life works. The entire universe is very much out of our control. Living with these constant imperfections frustrates us. However, once we accept the premise that life is difficult, that life’s events are not always going to be in our control, then we can relax, learn to accept instead of resist and get on with the creative, intelligent management of our lives. To overcome the burden of having to constantly deal with the unfairness of life, we must first, accept this unfairness and second, rationalize how we are going to deal with it. We cannot let life’s unfairness defeat us. Rather, we need to conquer these unfair situations by designing our own set of responses to them. Life’s events may largely be out of our control, but we do have control over ourselves.


A simple life is where we are simply living! It is nothing more and nothing less. When we are in touch with just the simple process of living, relishing in the uncomplicated pleasures that are abundantly available to us, we will find the inner peace that we are seeking.

A simple life focuses on what we do have rather than being critical of what we don’t have. It finds less joy in material possessions and greater joy in natural wonders, hearty laughter, warm embraces, stimulating conversations and long walks in the woods. It values ideas over things, peaceful meditation over argumentative debates, reading over television, quiet solitude over pushy crowds and lasting trends over temporary fads.

The simple life favors giving more than receiving. It is to live humbly with pride, rather than ostentatiously without virtue. A simple life knows what is most important, content with the quiet conviction of lasting principals.


Chill OutOur fascination with stuff is not the problem. It is the lifestyle that we must pursue to acquire, maintain and manage our stuff.  All of this stuff is the antithesis to a sane, balanced and purposeful life. While we tend to believe that our happiness emanates from our possessions it is, in fact, these same possessions that become the bane and curse to a joyful and meaningful life.

According to Elaine St. James, Wise men and women in every major culture throughout history have found that the secret to happiness is not in getting more but in wanting less.

Only when we make it our Purpose to not make stuff the measure of our contentment, will we truly understand how simply beautiful (and beautifully simple) life can be lived.

Thinking and living simply is not a character flaw, a weakness of drive and ambition; rather, it is vigorous, inspiring, courageous and reflective of our conviction of Purpose. Life and happiness is not made from stuff; it is a state of mind, made from the interwoven fabric of purposeful attitudes and the belief that life, in itself and by itself, is sufficient and plentiful. Our most meaningful rewards in life will always be the simplest ones.


Do you feel you are running through life like Forrest Gump? Simply running without knowing why you are running or to where you are running?  And running in a rat race that never seems to have a finish line?  Feeling like you are running on empty most of the day?

There is a simple reason for that: You are more preoccupied with doing life than living life. You are consumed with the Busyness of life rather than the Purpose of it. Maybe today would be a good time to stop focusing on Human Doing and instead focus on Human Being.