#16 Create a “Make Me Happy” List

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#16

Create a “Make Me Happy” List

When my children were young, I made a list of things that “made mama happy” so that if they wanted to ask me for something such as running them to the basketball game after I’d gotten home and put on my jammies, they could look at the list and do something nice for me in return. And, while I don’t generally promote a ‘tit for tat’ attitude in most relationships, it’s no surprise that humans are more apt to concede when their needs are also met.

What is it that makes your mama, your partner, or your roommate happy? [know that the word “makes” is being used in the context of ‘generates’ – what ‘generates happiness for your partner, etc.,]

Love Language

There’s an old fable that goes like this:

A man and a woman show up in a counselor’s office after 40 years of marriage stating that they were on the verge of calling it quits. The counselor asks “why after all this time are you opting to end the relationship?” The gentleman replied with a frustrated and loud voice “Every time she walks by me, she pats my God Damn head. I’ve asked her a thousand times to stop and she won’t. I’m done!”. The counselor looks at the woman who is sitting demurely and asks “and you? What’s your position in this?” to which the woman replies sadly and softly… “he never pats my head.”

The point here being that she patted her husband’s head as a way of telling him she loved him… and because it irritated him so – he never considered that she may actually like it. We each have a different way of understanding and feeling loved. It’s the premise behind Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages and a common problem in many relationships. We are inclined to treat our partners and family members the way we want to be treated instead of stopping to recognize how they want to be treated.

Speak Up

One simple way to have your needs met is to blatantly tell those who matter – what is is that generates happiness for you. Are flowers important to you or would you rather have the house cleaned? Do you value a romantic dinner or a couples massage? Does it bring you peace when the kids pick up their shoes and put away their backpacks? Or when they empty the dishwasher? (assuming you need to choose).

Write It Down

I am suggesting that you make a list and tape it all over the house… on the mirrors in the bathrooms. On the back of the bedroom doors. In front of the Playstation or to the top of the laptop. Wherever it is most likely to be seen most.

You don’t use the list just at those times when you want a favor however… if that’s the only effort – it is manipulative. You use the list when your partner has had a bad day, feels sick, or has gone above and beyond. When a child feels appreciated, they will often step up without being asked so know what is important to them as well.

Appreciation

Finally – be sure to be appreciative! We only have so much to give without a consideration of appreciation before we adopt a sour attitude. Even though appreciation isn’t the motivation – once again, we’re human and unless you are a strongly evolved individual – you probably have limits on how much you are willing to give without any acknowledgement of the effort.

A simple and effective method of having your needs met and meeting the actual vs. perceived needs of others to to have everyone in the household…

Create a ‘make me happy’ list.

TTAH

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I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#63 Use Your Voice

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! My hope is that 2019 is everything you desire it to be!

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#63

Use Your Voice

The phrase ‘use your voice’ is interpreted differently across gender, culture, and age but for the purpose of this writing, it is specifically referring to the effort of speaking the words that run through your mind and heart. You may wonder why that isn’t a universal automatic event because certainly, some people speak with very little consideration and yet, so many do not.

The Unspeakable

Perhaps as soon as we learn to speak we realize that there are things not to be spoken. It’s not polite to verbally address someone’s size or age; to ask about their income or sexual interests; or to openly condemn or criticize. We’ve learned how to be politically correct and how to keep the peace. All of this however, comes at the price of forgetting how to ‘use our voice’.

Shut up & Shut down

When we discover or realize that by speaking our mind or sharing our heart – we may experience negative consequences, we tend to adopt coping mechanisms to make communication easier. In many cases, it stimulates the reflex of shutting down and silencing those thoughts and feelings that might otherwise be shared. We may have grown up with a parent who wasn’t open to other opinions or lived with a spouse who lived within rigid parameters. We might live in a strict culture.

There may also be internal factors that keep us from vocalizing our thoughts; ‘will people still love me?’, ‘ will I sound stupid?’, ‘will anyone pay attention?’. Sometimes, it is the inner voice that controls our courage to vocalize.

Listen & learn

The first step in learning to use your voice is listening carefully to your thoughts and deciphering what you want to say. Clear out the clutter and get to the heart of the matter. Once you do that, make sure to deliver the message in a clear and constructive manner so that it can be heard. Learn how to avoid blaming language, use “I” statements, and offer solutions. Learn to have confidence in your thoughts, knowledge, and presence.

Delivery

Using your voice doesn’t mean that you automatically say everything that comes to your mind without thought and intention. Making sure to speak with clear intention is perhaps, the most important element. Choosing every word – especially when confronting a problem – on purpose is often the key to a successful outcome. And right behind that is the requirement to speak everything in kindness. Confrontation doesn’t have to be ugly to be effective.

If you find that this is an area of your life that could use more resolve, consider a New Year’s resolution to more effectively…

Use your voice.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

My March on Washington

A few days ago my daughter, who lives in Baltimore, called and asked me to make history with her by attending the Women’s March in Washington, DC. It meant that I would get up at 5 am, drive a couple of hours – walk all day in massive crowds – and then, tired… drive all the way home. Of course, I said “yes” – not because I was that invested in the march but because when your daughter ‘wants’ to spend the day with you… a day she will remember for the rest of her life… is there any other answer??

I say that I wasn’t all that invested in ‘the march’ mostly because I am not an overt activist. I have always chosen to change the world in ways that improved my little corner… working in my child’s school, raising money for the PTA, volunteering in my community, etc… I’ve not used my voice for anything on a national scale outside of casting my vote and so this was a first for me. I did not wear a pink hat – mostly because I didn’t have one – but even more so because I’m not a fan of the ‘p’ word and the hats were called p**** hats and even those the intention/message was important I didn’t want to promote the use of ‘that’ word. We didn’t carry signs because Sara was going to capture images and I was the photographer assistant; we needed our hands.

Getting to Washington proved to be a challenge and yet for Sara and I, the perfection of the mistakes and uncertainty made the adventure that much more memorable. This was the plan… I would pick her up in Baltimore, we would drive to the Halethorpe MARC station and catch the train to DC. We picked that location because the large downtown train station in Baltimore didn’t have the greatest parking. Well…. When we got to there we couldn’t find the entrance to the massive parking lot. It was a shame because it was practically empty. We weren’t the only challenged ones, the street parking was filling up fast and we saw people flowing into the station. One local resident, standing out on his lawn with a cup of steaming coffee (which I desperately wanted but was afraid to drink because I knew porta potties were my only option) let us know – in no uncertain terms – that we could (should) be parking there.

We were at the station in plenty of time to catch the 7:40 train but as we arrived, a woman in an official looking yellow safety vest was making the announcement that the train from Baltimore would NOT be stopping as it was completely full. It had filled in Baltimore. Crap. We should have gone to Penn station. The next train wasn’t for another hour… Saturday schedule. (MARC apparently has a good reason for not adding lots of extra trains for this historical event.)  She informed us that our best bet would be to drive south to the Greenbelt Metro station and take the DC Metro to one of the Washington Mall stops.

Sara and I took a minute to berate ourselves for just not going downtown in the first place and for a hot minute we thought about waiting for the northbound train – taking it back up to Baltimore and then coming south again… remember, I hadn’t had much coffee – which is the fuel for clear, rational thought. We opted for the southern option and headed down toward Greenbelt. It was an uneventful forty mile drive but the traffic was definitely building as we got closer to the city and there were an extraordinary number of busses on the freeway. When we got to the exit for the Metro station, it was blocked by a police car and there was a massive LED sign letting us know that the parking lot was full. Now, Sara had been telling me all along about how big this parking lot was “like a football stadium” she had said and so I was bowled over when we saw that it was full… As we drove by we could see what looked like THOUSANDS of people standing in line, presumably waiting to board the Metro. Holy cow, now what??

We went to the Marriott to get some coffee and use the facilities. There were lots of women there, many in pink hats and we asked a couple how they were getting downtown. “the hotel has a shuttle over to the Metro station” they said. We quickly described what we saw as we drove by just minutes ago, and then commented that it may be better to Uber down and get as close as possible. The two women we spoke to were quick to join forces with us and while we took care of nature’s calling – they arranged for a Lyft driver. It was going to cost much less per person than had we taken the train!

Our driver was awesome! SHE was happy to be making some extra money that day and even more so to be helping out in the way that she was able in the formation of such a historical event. We guided her into town, around traffic and she got us all the way into Union Station with very little delay. It was such fun talking to her and meeting our new friends (who were from Salt Lake City, Utah). We were counting our blessings at how the whole thing turned out… here we were without riding a train and/or standing in a line. As we got out of her car we were immediately swept up by the sea of people coming out of the train station, making their way over toward the Capitol building and it was both overwhelming and incredibly exciting to feel the energy of what it is to UNITE.

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Photo by Sara Kantner

There were all kinds of signs. Some were anti-Trump, many were pro-women’s choice, some were specifically for equality. I’ve read that the crowd in Washington, DC is estimated to have been over six hundred thousand. I never had a vantage point that allowed me to view the entire mall area. In fact, most of the time we were simply in a sea of moving people – and for part of that time it was – quite literally – full on, packed, body to body, people. We accidentally got ourselves over by the main stage – behind the American Indian Museum – in a hive of human beings that were so tightly packed together I finally understood the mechanism that activates panic in claustrophobic’s. Not for me. We spent an hour moving ourselves across the mall to the northwest side. After four hours of standing, walking, and watching… we started the march toward the Washington Memorial. When we got a chance to look across town – down the side streets, it was apparent that people had overflowed from the mall onto Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues. They filled Madison, Jefferson, and Independence… all moving west toward the Monument and President’s park. By then… I was over the crowding. I was cold… the weather report had not fulfilled its promise to reach 55 degrees… and I was sore from not sitting for more than five hours. It was time to find coffee… food… and warmth!

We kept moving until we found a street with moving traffic… hailed a cab and went to meet my youngest brother for an early supper.

It was amazing.

It was heartwarming.

It was breathtaking.

It was enlightening.

It was empowering.

It was more, too.

Sara began her day by intending to visually document the March from the perspective of mothers and daughters – motivated in part by her presence there with me. Certainly, one of the most inspiring parts of the March for me was how many children were there. THEY are the future of this country and they were experiencing firsthand how to respectfully demonstrate – how to use their voices. There were NOT just mothers and daughters… there were fathers and sons… entire families. These children were learning how to disagree in a loving spirit… I saw it with my own eyes. There were more signs about Love and Peace and Hope than there was anything else.

Yesterday inspired me, it was impossible to leave Washington without an imprint of that experience on my soul but it was more than that. We were not alone in that city… if you are connected you already know that many millions of people marched in over 30 countries and in every single state. How inspirational is it that people across the world came together unilaterally in support of simple humanity?? Literally…. Across the entire world. My deepest hope is that we all continue to use that spark as only the ignition of continued support for global human dignities.

This March was NOT about the American president. It was about HOPE that the Universal progress we’ve made regarding basic human integrity’s will be sustained and promoted throughout the world; at least THAT is why I marched. THAT is the lesson I hope those children took home and THAT is what I will continue to promote if only in my own little corner of the world.

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