Monthly Archives: October 2017

HELPING OTHERS IS KEY TO ACHIEVING HAPPINESS

Harvey Mackay is a motivational speaker and author of many books, including “Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten.”  This article was taken from the Pacific Coast Business Times.

“There is a fable about a little girl who was feeling particularly lonely and blue when she happened across a gorgeous butterfly trapped in the thorns of a blackberry bush.

“Taking great care not to tear its fragile wings, the girl’s nimble fingers finally worked the insect free, whereupon instead of fluttering away, it turned into a golden fairy who offered to grant any wish.

“‘I want to be happy,’ the little girl cried.

“The fairy smiled, leaned forward, whispered something in her ear and vanished.  And from that day forward, there was not a happier spirit in the land than that child, who grew into a merry woman and a contented old lady.

“On her deathbed, her neighbors crowded around, desperate that the secret of happiness not die with her.  “Tell us, please tell us, what the fairy said to you,” they pleaded.

“The little girl, now turned old lady, smiled benevolently, and whispered, ‘She told me that everyone—no matter how rich or secure or self-contained or successful they might appear—had need of me.’

“How true.  Everyone needs to be needed.  It brings tremendous satisfaction to know that you have a vital purpose in life, one that surely contributes to your happiness and contentment.

“I’ve learned over the years that happiness comes from making other people happy.  Successful people, as well as successful businesses, take great joy in finding ways to spread happiness.  Why is Disneyland the ‘happiest place on Earth’?  Is it any wonder that one of the biggest songs of the year is Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’?  How many Happy Meals do you think McDonald’s sells?  Have you ever attended a happy hour at your favorite watering hole?

“Businesses that are clued in to what customers want find ways to incorporate ‘happy’ into the sale.  A new car doesn’t drive any better because the dealership was decked out in balloons and offered free hot dogs.  But a happy experience beats an ordinary one, all the time.

“Following that line of thought, it turns out that the conventional wisdom is wrong; it is possible to buy happiness—when you spend your money on others.

“Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard University found that people who buy gifts for others and make charitable donations report being happier than people who spend their money primarily on themselves.

“The scientists studied 630 Americans and asked them to rate their general happiness, their annual income and their monthly spending—including bills, gifts for themselves, gifts for others and charitable contributions.  Again, it illustrates the point that knowing that others have need of you brightens your outlook.

“Even our nation’s Declaration of Independence places a premium on happiness, stating that we are ‘bestowed with certain unalienable rights, which among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’  Thomas Jefferson and company left it up to us to figure out how to pursue happiness, but I have some thoughts for you.  Here’s my prescription for happiness:

  1. Don’t let the little things bother you. There is always something better to think about.
  2. Keep your perspective. Put first things first and stay the course.
  3. Only worry about what you can control. If you cannot do anything about a situation, worrying won’t make it—or you—better.
  4. Do your best, but understand that you can’t always be a perfectionist. Don’t condemn yourself or others for not achieving perfection.
  5. When you are right, be gracious. When wrong, be even more gracious.
  6. Trust or believe people whenever you can, and when that isn’t possible, accept them at their worst and weakest. You can keep your convictions without destroying others.
  7. Don’t compare yourself to others, which guarantees instant misery. People are different for many reasons.
  8. Brush away the chip on your shoulder so that, when something happens to you that you don’t like, you can take the high road.
  9. Give of yourself wholeheartedly or enthusiastically. When you have nothing left to give, someone will return the favor.
  10. Make happiness the aim of your life instead of bracing for life’s barbs.
  11. Remember, you are responsible for your own happiness. Others can do kind things for you, but you must be open to being happy. But don’t let that stop you from trying to make others happy!

“Mackay’s Moral:  You are only as happy as you decide to be.”

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8 DAYS AT SEA – SEARCHING FOR 7 PORTS

In the early 1920’s, my parents as young children along with their families made the long arduous journey across the Atlantic to land on Ellis Island and open the gates to America.

It had to be an exhausting experience that probably took almost two weeks.

By contrast, we recently did a reverse passage on a luxury cruise ship with good food in a comfortable cabin and many ways to occupy our time.

What a difference the years make.  Our trip went from Miami to Rome—and I’m sure it was a lot more enjoyable than theirs.

We arrived in Miami for an overnight at the airport and it was humid supreme.  We boarded the Oceania Serena the next day and had lunch while waiting for our cabin to be ready.

The ship left on schedule at dinner time for our first day-and-a-half at sea.  With a first-class gym, jogging track, lots of outdoor lounges in the shade or sun and five choices for dining, it went very quickly.

When the ship is full, it houses 684 passengers with a crew of 400 representing about 50 different nations.

Our first stop was St. George, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Bermuda.  It’s a delightful sunny isle only two hours by plane from New York or Miami.  The water is beautiful blue and they boast pink sand beaches.  It was a delight.

Now we were off to five days at sea and our first test.

It was great.  Totally relaxing and they had several lectures and games available.  There was nightly entertainment for those who want and a small casino.

Before we knew it, we arrived in Funchal, the capital of the Portugese island of Madeira, situated some 350 miles from North Africa.  The island is lush and mountainous with a mild, sunny climate, conducive to the growth of the many varieties of exotic plants and trees to be seen blossoming in every direction.  The clear warm waters of the Golf Stream surrounding the island provide a natural recreational facility, as well as a good fishing source.

The orange slate tile roofs of most homes and buildings present a striking picture.

For over 100 years tourists have enjoyed its rugged volcanic peaks, beautiful tropical coastline and a climate that’s never too hot or cold.  Madeira lace and Madeira wine are both still produced here in the Old World tradition.

And then one more day at sea to reach Malaga, Spain.

Malaga is the sunny capital of the Costa del Sol, famed for its beaches and mild climate, and gateway to Andalusia, with its Moorish architectural heritage in Granada and the Palace of Alhambra.  The city’s Alcazaba is an 11th-century citadel sitting in majestic splendor overlooking the African coast.  It contains three magnificent palaces and graceful gardens with ornate fountains.  In addition to their rich cultural heritage, Malaguenos are also very proud of their most famous citizen—Picasso, for whom there is a museum commemorating his birth here.

Next it was on to Cartagena.

Cartagena is a historic port city located on the southeast Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula.  As it has been from ages past, Cartagena remains an important outlet to the Mediterranean.  When sailing into port it is easy to imagine that this is the exact same sight that awaited the ships of the early Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Moors, Barbary Coast, pirates, the Spanish Armada and ships from France and Great Britain.

In a somewhat unusual timing for a tourist town, the museums and the on/off buses were all closed on Monday.  We found a nice harbor cruise to replace the other attractions.

After an overnight sail we arrived in dynamic Barcelona with all its famous architecture; from the magnificent medieval buildings of the Gothic Quarter to the Modernist movement typified by the work of Antoni Gaudi.  Though his materials were stone and metal, his forms were organic, awash in curves, swirls, and colors.  His masterpiece is the amazing Church of the Sagrada Familia, colossal and as yet unfinished, though construction began in 1882.

Barcelona is the most important city of Catalonia as well as being the administrative capital.  With a population of approximately three million, it is the second largest city in Spain and the largest on the Mediterranean.

The on/off bus has three separate routes which cover the alluring highlights of the city quite well.

We then went on to visit Marseille, the second largest city in France and the largest port in the Mediterranean.  This delightful old city is quite charming, not the dirty old port town I imagined.

It also serves as the gateway to the popular area of Provence.

Now it was on to our final stop to spend a day visiting the famous world of glamour, sophistication and sun-drenched luxury.  Saint-Tropez, France is a wonderland of gorgeous beaches, gorgeous yachts, beautiful people and fashionable living on the French Rivera.  It’s another world.

When we arrived the next morning in Civitavecchia, the port city of Rome, Italy, we have covered 5,083 nautical miles which translates to roughly 4,300 land miles.

All in all, a very enjoyable sojourn across the Atlantic.

We took this cruise because we liked the timing and the itinerary, and to explore two questions:  How would we like so many days at sea?—answer, most definitely; and, could we entertain a 30-day cruise later this year from Capetown to Singapore with many attractive port stops along the way?—answer, definitely not.  Sixteen days was long enough.

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THE SECRET INGREDIENT IN RELATIONSHIPS

It takes more than love to make a relationship work. There are probably a few dozen factors that influence the chances of making a relationship workable, as well as fulfilling. You all probably know that.

Think about it. There is the meshing and/or tolerance of; levels of maturity; how you disagree and fight; understanding of each other’s sense of humor, as well as the values of honesty and friendships. Then there are the necessary compatible amounts of caring and concerns; degrees of worrying; the blending of control issues; the need to be right and/or win; as well as acceptable degrees of neatness, cleanliness, orderliness and organization.

We could go on for some time on this explanation, but I would like to nominate one particular area that is crucial in making a relationship work. It’s timing as illustrated in two areas. The first area of timing is living on the same or similar time clocks. Having at least similar timing of your eating, sleeping, and work schedules is essential.

If you’re an entertainer working at night and I’m an office worker, you can see that’s going to be a problem. That might be an exaggerated example, but you have to have some compatible lifestyles that can be meshed.

The other aspect of timing is the point in life when a relationship can work with you and a specific partner and/or a time when it can’t work. Let me give you two examples: In a previous blog (1/21/15), I described how Gabriele and I initiated a relationship. We are two very directed, controlling personalities who worked out some territory for each of us to exercise our need for control. Gabriele has absolute domain over our joint finances and the kitchen. I do all the travel and trip planning and fulfill assigned chores like emptying the dishwasher and disposing of all the garbage (where does it all come from?).

It has been a very smooth transition to a mutually enjoyable life. We have agreed many times, however, that it would never have worked at any other period in our lives. Twenty, thirty or forty years ago we were much more directed to our work and our careers. That was the highest priority, not a relationship,.

We jointly decide on entertainment, dining out, decorating and furnishings, and we are both a little amazed on how little disagreement we have in these areas.

A second example is the often repeated early relationship centered around college-age people. Some of them evolve successfully, but a great many just don’t mature at the same pace and grow in the same directions. Many who fit in that category stay together with some adjustments but it’s not often a successful, fulfilling relationship. Just check the divorce rate to validate that thesis.

When we bought our condo, we easily agreed on everything except the art each of us was bringing to the party. So as a compromise, we assigned walls. That way there was ample room for Gabriele’s traditional and some contemporary art, as well as the multi-colored coat she knitted and we framed.

That left plenty of room for my southwest Indian art, rug and kachinas. In our travels, we acquired some contemporary art and chotkes indigenous to different countries we agreed upon.

Timing and compromise are essential.

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WOMEN LEADING THE WORLD

The vast majority of current world leaders are men, but women have rapidly entered the political realm, and women now lead some of the largest, most populated and most economically successful countries in the world.

Here are some important female leaders whose countries have important connections to the United States.

ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY
Angela Merkel is the first female chancellor of Germany, which has the largest economy in Europe.  She was born in Hamburg in 1954.  From 2006-2009, Merkel was ranked as the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine.  She was just re-elected for a fourth term.

PRATIBHA PATIL, PRESIDENT OF INDIA
Pratibha Patil is the first female president of India, the most populous democracy in the world, and has a rapidly growing economy.  Patil was born in 1934 in the state of Maharashtra.  She studied political science, economics, and law.

DILMA ROUSSEFF, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL
Dilma Rousseff is the first female president of Brazil, which has the largest area, population, and economy in South America.  She was born in Belo Horizonte in 1947 as the daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant.

ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF, PRESIDENT OF LIBERIA
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the first female president of Liberia.  Liberia was mostly settled by freed American slaves.  Sirleaf is the first, and currently the only, elected female president of any African nation. Sirleaf was born in 1938 in Monrovia.  She studied at American universities.

Here are some of the other female leaders of other countries.

EUROPE

Ireland – Mary McAleese – President
Finland – Tarja Halonen – President
Finland – Mari Kiviniemi – Prime Minister
Lithuania – Dalia Grybauskaite – President
Iceland – Johanna Siguroardottir – Prime Minister
Croatia – Jadranka Kosor – Prime Minister
Slovakia – Iveta Radicova – Prime Minister
Switzerland – Four of the seven members of the Swiss Federal Council are women

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

Argentina – Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner – President
Costa Rica – Laura Chinchilla Miranda – President
St. Lucia – Pearlette Louisy – Governor-General
Antigua and Barbuda – Louise Lake-Tack – Governor-General
Trinidad and Tobago – Kamla Persad-Bissessar – Prime Minister

ASIA

Kyrgyzstan – Roza Otunbayeva – President
Bangladesh – Hasina Wazed – Prime Minister

OCEANIA

Australia – Quentin Bryce – Governor-General
Australia – Julia Gillard – Prime Minister

The country with the most female heads of state is San Marino with 16, followed by Switzerland with seven.

QUEENS AS ROYAL LEADERS

A woman can enter into a powerful governmental role by birth or marriage.  A queen consort is the wife of a current king.  The other kind of queen is a queen regnant.  She, not her husband, possesses the sovereignty of her country. There are currently three queen regnants in the world.

UNITED KINGDOM – QUEEN ELIZABETH II
Queen Elizabeth II became queen of the United Kingdom in 1952.  Britain still had an enormous empire then, but throughout Elizabeth’s reign, most of Britain’s dependencies gained independence.  Former British possessions are now members of the Commonwealth of Nations and Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state of these member countries.

THE NETHERLANDS – QUEEN BEATRIX
Queen Beatrix became queen of The Netherlands in 1980.  She is the queen of The Netherlands, and its island possessions of Aruba and Curacao (located near Venezuela), and Sint Maarten, located in the Caribbean Sea.

DENMARK – QUEEN MARGRETHE II
Queen Margrethe II became queen of Denmark in 1972.  She is the queen of Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands.

FEMALE LEADERS
There are now 70 female leaders in all parts of the world, and they inspire all women to be more politically active in a world that is gender-equal and peaceful.

In the recent past, there have been a number of internationally prominent female heads of state:

  • Indira Ghandi, India
  • Golda Meir, Israel
  • Eva Peron, Argentina
  • Margaret Thatcher, England

Any volunteers to lead America?

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