Finding Neverland

Justin GarwoodI found myself sitting on the edge of my seat three rows up as a bouncy Peter Pan promises Wendy she could fly if she thought ‘happy thoughts’. I left the theatre thinking – What is my happy thought and could it make me fly?

A person can really soar to undiscovered lands when we’ve identified that specific happy thought, the one that makes us feel like a kid again, lights up that sparkle that life may have dimmed, makes us feel like really anything is possible.

Picture yourself standing in your window and thinking your happy thought… your big dream. What is it? Do you really know? Have you thought about why you wake up every morning and do what you are doing? Have you thought about how what you do today will contribute to your big dream?

How did I find it?  I’ve been trying to put it together for years.  It was a frustrating quest for a person who needs to know all the answers.  I had pieced together parts of the puzzle I just hadn’t put the whole image together yet.  It came to me in my annual personal retreat for 2010 and I’d love to help you find your Happy Thought, your big Dream.

Start by asking yourself – Do you want to make money for yourself, a name for yourself or a difference?  In what order?  (My order is name, money, difference).  Really think about this.  Is status important? What is most important to you?

I started making a bucket list after reading The Power of Focus.  You can use it too – start by making a list of all the things you want to do before you die – a bucket list.  Aim for 101 of them.  It can be anything you can dream of, don’t sell yourself short and don’t expect to come up with 101 all at once.  I am only at 66 after three years of building the list.

Group the things on your list and find a common theme. Is there a theme around say teaching  and working with children?  Travelling and raising awareness of an issue?  Try to find similiarities in your items.

Then try to find the thing on your list that screams at you “I’ve done it, I’ve made it”.  It could be taking your daughter to graduation, it could be getting a book published, it could be getting a certain title on your business card, maybe when you hit a $200,000 annual salary.  What is it that is going to make you feel like you have made it? Write down your happy thought.  What are the things on your list that make your heart beat a little faster, make you want to stay up late at night working on? 

Now stand at your window and close your eyes and think about your happy thought.  Think about it from all angles, imagine the feeling when you are doing that thing that makes you so happy or when you have reached that goal.  Now think about the things that you can do to make your happy thought a reality, how do you start getting closer to that goal with today’s activities?   Now spread your wings and ask yourself Why Not?

Cheers and welcome to Neverland, where reality doesn’t jade your beliefs of what is possible.  Enjoy your stay.

The Power of a Smile

It’s a simple experiment, but the theory is expressed in books like How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie), Happy for No Reason (Marci Shimoff) and likely hundreds of others. A smile is a universal method of communication that crosses all geographical borders, all cultures, all age groups. A baby smiles and makes an 80 year old stranger smile in response. You receive a genuine smile from a stranger in the mall, it can feel like your heart grew a little. It’s been proven time and time again – smiles are contagious.

A smile tells a more complete story about a person than anything else that one could wear. The person on the bus that appears to have slept in their clothes but wears a warm, genuine smile is much more attractive than the lady walking down the street dressed up to the nines but wearing a condescending scowl.

So what can I do in a day to spread some sunshine around? How easy is it to literally turn a frown upside down? It is a fascinating experiment and I would encourage you to do it. Not only is it somewhat of a challenge, but it also makes you feel pretty great when you have made someone else’s day a little brighter.

I was checking out in a supermarket the other day when I noticed that the clerk seemed to be very defeated, uninterested and disengaged. Rather than be annoyed at the lack of customer service I was receiving, it made me think about why that clerk was feeling that way. Was he having a particularly bad day? Did some customer before me pass off a bad attitude (those are just as contagious)? And then… what could I do to change it?

It turns out to be relatively simple and the actions aren’t new by any means. A warm smile, a casual question about the day (has it been busy?), a subtle mention that you notice that they are having a bad day (have you had some rude customers today, you seem a little down), a compliment and a thank you. That’s it. Simple.

Be a nice person. Care. Be interested. Be sympathetic. Be polite.

Sounds ridiculously trivial, doesn’t it? Turns out it isn’t. I managed to make that defeated, uninterested and disengaged clerk smile, relax and find renewed energy to get through whatever was bogging his mind. The impact? The next customer received a smile, was more likely to be satisfied with their level of service, walked out feeling better and maybe even smiled at a complete stranger.

Can you imagine being the one that started that smile epidemic? Try it the next time you find yourself in front of an individual that could use a little cheering up… then stand back and watch the difference you just made on the world.

Feel free to share your results…

Hello world!

Hello World! 

For at least the last ten years of my life, I have been making a conscious effort to discover my true self, and more specifically on a quest to align my ideal self with my theoretical real self.  It has been an interesting journey so far as I watch myself as somewhat of a spectator, analyzing my actions and the subsequent reactions that occur.  I have discovered that I can cheer up a perfect stranger, placate an irate fellow parking stall competitor, and use theories of psychology and sociology to rally support for personal goals…  all in the name of science of course. 

I have taken theories from various personal development books and tested them in my daily activities. It has become a bit of a social experiment mixed with a degree of personal development and it is these discoveries that I wanted to capture.

I wanted to begin with the power of a smile…

Stay tuned.