Friday, February 20, 2015

Lessons Learned on a Ranch

My three youngest kids have had some huge opportunities and huge growth in the last month. They started out the New Year with big dreams of saving enough money to buy a horse. We live in a subdivision in a suburb on a 1/4 acre lot. It didn't seem like a realistic goal to me, but they were committed. They made dream boards with pictures of horses plastered all over them and hung them on their bedroom wall. They had perfect faith that it would happen.

Two days later, we received a call from a friend who owns a horse ranch. He was looking for some kids to muck stalls (swim in horse poop) three days per week. The pay was enough that they would be able to earn enough for a horse in three months. They accepted the challenge with the agreement that if would be really hard work, but that I would support them as long as their education didn't suffer. They had good days and bad days. The job was to clean 15 stalls per day. Some days they cleaned all 15 and some days they only made it through 8. They were paid by the job, so on the days they couldn't get all 15 done, even if it took 9 hours, they didn't get full pay.

They stuck with it for a whole month, but in the end they decided that it was affecting their school work and they wanted a little more time to be kids. I am so proud of them! I asked them to reflect on the experience and tell me what they had learned. What made the difference between a day where they cleaned 8 stalls and a day when they finished all 15? I was blown away by their answers and I think they have huge value for anyone trying to accomplish a big goal:

1. The weather doesn't really matter. If the weather is bad, it makes things less comfortable, but it doesn't really change how much we get done.

2. Attitude is everything. If we started out the day in a good mood and determined to do good, we usually did.

3. Don't get distracted by things that don't matter.

4. Don't take too many breaks. You just have to keep working even when you don't really feel like it.

5. We don't really want to own a horse if it takes that much hard work all the time. We would rather just go ride when we want to and let someone else own it.

Can you see the power in those lessons? So today my wisdom comes from two of my favorite 12 year old girls.

When pursuing a goal, remember that external circumstances don't really matter. Attitude is everything, Don't get distracted, Don't rest too long or too often, and above all, make sure the goal you are pursuing is really the goal you want to achieve. Be willing to change your goal if it isn't right.

Friday, February 13, 2015

How Much Happiness can you Stand?

The other day, I woke up to the sun shining after days of fog and clouds. Yes! This is going to be a good day. I sat in bed for a few minutes and reflected on all the good that I had received over the last couple of months. My kids are all happy, no one is sick, my husband just got a big promotion, my business is thriving, My savings account is growing, I have lost 5 pounds, and the future looks bright. I checked my schedule for the day and remembered I had a lunch date with one of my favorite friends. And it just kept going! The day was awesome! I helped the kids with homeschool, met my friend for lunch, and came home and prepared dinner. All was good in fairyland, until my husband walked through the door from work and before I knew it, we were having an argument. I don't even know what we were arguing about. I didn't know then and I don't know now.   What I do know is that I started it. 

Has that ever happened to you before? Things are going great and then, seemingly out of nowhere, conflict comes. You get sick. You lose your job. You yell at one of your kids. Things in you marriage are going fantastic and suddenly you find yourself picking a fight with your spouse? It makes no sense, does it?

I read a book recently that totally changed the way I look at these situations. Its called "The Big Leap" by Gay Hendricks.

Hendricks proposes that we all have a "happiness thermostat" inside our brains that determines how much happiness we are comfortable with. Just like the thermostat in your home, which works to keep the temperature from becoming too hot or too cold, this internal thermostat works to make sure we don't become too happy or too sad. Its a safety mechanism that ensures we will stay inside our comfort zone, far from the perceived threat of the unknown. (Delirious Happiness, Gasp!)

In the last month, so many great things have happened that I thought to myself repeatedly , "This is the happiest I have ever been! This feels too good to be true! I wonder when the other shoe is going  to drop?" And then, my subconscious mind kicked in to make sure the other shoe DID drop, so I wouldn't have to walk around in fear of WHEN it did. All of that happened without thinking, and I initiated an argument with my husband to bring myself right back to my happiness comfort zone-not too much, not to little. 73 degrees of happiness.

Once we recognize the way we are self sabotaging our happiness, we can recognize it and move past it. 

 How much Happiness can you Stand?