Simplicity on International Day of Happiness

Keeping it Simple on International Day of Happiness

If you’re looking for happiness in life, you can make that quest complicated. You can also keep it simple.

Today we celebrate International Day of Happiness, so I’m offering my advice to keep it simple.

Simplicity is defined as the freedom from complexity, division or parts. It’s also freedom from deceit or guilt. A rather modest and straightforward word, simplicity is associated with sincerity or an absence of pretentiousness.

In our complex, fast-paced and often dissonant world, today marks a great opportunity for each of us to find happiness, peace and contentment. And we can do it by remembering to focus on the simple things in life.

My Simple Happiness: It’s All About the Dogs

In my case, one simple pleasure has always been found in dogs. My first dog was Brandy, a lovable, slobbery and often excitable boxer. A bright light to our family, Brandy slept with me and often took up most of the space on my bed. Did I care that I had to make room for her? Absolutely not. Her warmth, love and unfeigned companionship was a gift to my youth.

As the years progressed, I never forgot the simple pleasure I found in dogs. In fact, the bigger, gentler and more lumbering, the better they suited me.

For our tenth wedding anniversary, I convinced my husband to buy me a boxer pup. A former paperboy and often chased by dogs during his own youth, Jimmy was hardly amenable to my suggestion. Despite his initial misgivings, Jimmy became hooked on the simple pleasures of doggie love, too. From the moment we brought home 8-week-old Henrietta, whom we nicknamed Henri, Jimmy discovered the meaning of “man’s best friend” in this loyal and best behaved dog, ever.

In the coming months, Henri grew physically and matured in spirit and companionship. When our daughter was born, Henri became Kaley’s self-appointed confidante, playmate and protector.

For Kaley’s sixth birthday, my husband and I added Buster to our family. He was a bruising male boxer with flashy white markings who, as a tiny puppy, could pull our giant kitchen table out to the lanai if it meant being closer to us. He was stubborn, suffered from separation anxiety and possessed escape artist skills rivaling those of Harry Houdini. Despite all his quirks, Buster became alternately known, and dearly loved, as “Buddy.”

After Henri passed, we were back down to just Buster and I campaigned for the mother lode of all dogs.

“Are you sure it’s a dog you want and not a bear?” my daughter asked.

With trepidation on everyone’s part, we brought home an 8 week old English mastiff to whom we gave the delicate name, Lily.

Lily started out small and cuddly, looking more like a mini panda when we found her among a litter and chose her as our own. But small and cuddly didn’t last; she packed on five pounds a week until maxing out at around 200 pounds.

Fearful of thunder, rain and anything taller than 6 inches in height, Lily was the one-in-a-thousand mastiffs who would become known as legendary shedders. Spreading her massive frame in front of the kitchen refrigerator or at the foot of my husband’s desk chair, she’d sleep quietly for 20 hours each day, arising to eat, do her business or claim a 9 pm “treat” before nodding off again for her evening bedtime. 

I no longer have my dearly beloved dogs following me around the house, vying for another walk or longing for their next treat. However, their memories and the simple joys they brought me remain.

Brandy, Henri, Buster and Lily were some of my life’s simple pleasures. They made my life bright, more loving and enormously happy. The joyful experiences they provided me couldn’t be purchased, connived or contrived.

Finding Simple Happiness in New Ways Today

These days, our daughter’s all grown up and on her own (with her own dog named Steve, I might add). My husband and I travel a lot, and we love our newfound freedoms.

Today, I’d be hard pressed to provide the ongoing attention and consistent support to dogs in the same way I did when spending more time at home. However, that doesn’t stop me from enjoying similar, simple pleasures.

I still find ways to connect with canines. Wherever I go, whether it’s walking along the streets of Manhattan or shopping at the Saturday Farmers Market in Sarasota, Florida above, I find plenty of canine “buddies” who can provide me with a momentary dog fix.

Proud owners are generally thrilled when I gush over their prized hounds, exchange some love and hugs with their furry pets or take a few random photos to share on Facebook.

Some dog owners even allow me to walk away with slobber or a bit of dog hair on my clothing. It keeps things real, simple and happy for me.

Wherever you are, I hope you make International Day of Happiness count for you, too!

Maura Sweeney in Foundations of HappinessFor more happiness, download my FREE book of 25 Favorite Happiness Quotes.

For more insights, listen to my latest podcast below entitled, Harmony, Your Secret to Happiness.

Maura Sweeney podcast Living Happy Inside OutMaura is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.

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World Speech Day: Thoughts for a Better World

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

~ Mahatma  Gandhi

If you had an opportunity to address the entire world, what exactly would you say?

Today marks World Speech Day.

This annual event is designed as a 24 hour time period in which unexpected voices from New York to New Zealand and Canada to Cape Town gather at private homes and public venues to literally speak up.

Seizing the opportunity to take a giant microphone, people of every age and background are stepping up before peers, community groups and the world at large to live stream their messages around the globe.

When posed with the question, “What are your thoughts for a better world?” I had my own to share today at the Tampa Bay Computer Society’s live streaming event.

If you’ve ever felt confounded or daunted by a world struggling for peace, prosperity, balance and goodwill, I invite you to listen to my 3 minute speech.

In it, I tell you what I think!

Share this message with others who want a better world, too.

Maura is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.

See Maura’s Amazon Author page to secure her new edition releases from her Art of Happiness ebook series. 

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For those who enjoy the design of yoga clothing and the improved sense of well-being from its practice, I invite you to shop at this sponsored site. Your Gaiam purchases help me financially to advance my “Living Happy – Inside Out” messages around the world. 

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Podcast 112: You Can Be a Bridge

“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”

~ Isaac Newton

You can be a bridge in this world, and so can I.

We don’t have to look far for examples of architectural bridges designed to span over divides. Images of the Brooklyn, the Golden Gate and the famed Sydney Harbor bridge easily come to mind.

However, when asked to consider bridges designed from the heart, we may be challenged to find examples. 

In my latest podcast, I take up the idea of humans becoming bridges.

In a world full of polarizing ideologies and deeply ingrained identifiers, it’s a powerful and timely idea, if not always an easy one to practice. Still, stepping into the role of human bridge carries enormous potential. It paves the way for spanning the human divides of frailties, fractures and dismemberment — those of others, as well as some of our own.

Many of us around the world are inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s adage, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Yet surprisingly few of us are actually willing to step into the role of world changer.

Why? Extending ourselves beyond our carefully crafted comfort zones can prove an uncomfortable, and uneasy, proposition. As we move into uncharted spaces, we meet people in a whole new way and outcomes are unpredictable.

For example, exploring new insights may challenge our carefully crafted belief systems. They force us to reassess the strength and veracity of our long-held dogmas and when necessary, cause us to replace them with new ones. In other cases, discovering new information can expose our ignorance. When sufficiently threatened, our delicate egos can lash out rather than listen, choosing attack and self-protection instead of self-reflection and illumination.   

We all agree that our world needs improvement. But imagine the possibilities as each of us decides to contribute in some small way to the process.

As we do our part, it’s not just we as human bridges who learn, extend and grow. We provide impetus and opportunity for others we might never have previously engaged with to step up . . . and do the same for themselves.

For thoughts on becoming an architect of a different kind, listen here or click below for Podcast 112 – Can You Be a Bridge? 

You’ll also meet Venezuelan-born Vicky Fulop from The Players School of Music as she shares what makes her happy from the inside out, too.

Enjoy the marvels of becoming a lively span all your own!

 Maura Sweeney in Foundations of HappinessFor more inspiration on becoming a bridge, here’s one of my YouTube videos by the same name. 

My latest podcast spoke of the harmony, structure and balance created by a wooden bridge at the top of a guitar.
If you’re a music lover or desiring to learn something new in the arts, discover these course offerings from Learn & Master. One of my affiliate partners, Learn & Master also shares with me a commission from purchases made through this website.  
 
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Check out Maura’s Amazon Author page and pick up the new, 2nd edition releases from her Art of Happiness Series. 

Maura is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.

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Happy at Work: An Interview with Anton Philips

Maura Sweeney interviews Phlips Corp Anton Philips on Happiness Book “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

~ Confucius

I’m forever drawn to people who uplift, inspire and help make the world a happier place.

So it’s entirely fitting that I share with you an unexpected, recent encounter I had while attending the Women Economic Forum in The Hague. The seminal event brought together luminaries from various disciplines and backgrounds around the European Union and Africa, but Mr. Anton Philips stood out to me for his charming wit and timeless wisdom on career happiness.

Author, speaker and education mentor, Anton Philips carries a famous last name: he’s grandson to the co-founder of the Netherlands-based Philips Corporation. Best known in consumer circles for its radios, TV’s and electric shavers, the Philips Corporation’s history dates all the way back to 1891.

Anton Philips’ early career included working twelve years in the family business as an engineer. Philips explained how his education in engineering made sense. It was a natural extension of — and contributing factor to — the family’s innovative, manufacturing business. However, after 12 years of working in the same cubicle, he realized he had been grueling away, uninspired, in a profession he didn’t like.

Today, the octogenarian radiates fulfillment and joy in his current roles. Life and light shine through him as he uses that aha! moment from his early career to help others to systematically connect with, and navigate toward, careers they love.

Listen to this engaging interview as the author shares helpful tips from his Dutch language career book loosely entitled, The Power of Motivation.

For more information on Mr. Anton Philips, check out his professional link at SIMA International.

Wishing you much happiness, fulfillment and fun in your career choice, too!

Looking for more happiness in life? Check out my Amazon Author page and pick up the new, 2nd edition releases from my Art of Happiness Series. 

I am also an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.

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In St. Petersburg, FL: Making the Most of Creative Mornings

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

~ Scott Adams

Creative Mornings believes everyone is creative.

Now, there’s a global community to support those making the most of their creativity.

That’s the introductory message I heard at a recent event in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Brooklyn-based Creative Mornings lecture series currently gathers in 164 creative communities around the world.

Each month, attendees gather at free events that center around a central theme. With coffee mugs in tow, participants enjoy sponsored brew, breakfast and a specially selected guest lecturer.

Stepping into 3 Daughters Brewery in St. Petersburg, Florida, for this month’s “Moments” theme, I was shocked to find over 150 in attendance. Spearheading its second event, the chapter is obviously striking a magnetic chord in this artsy, downtown district.

An opening joke cited the multitude of unemployed millennials in attendance. A second remark, referencing the 8:30 am start time as “too early for others to get out of bed,” garnered a few laughs as well.

Despite wondering if I’d need to slip out some back door if the speaker drifted too far from my polite tastes (the headline topic read: Don’t F*** it Up!), I found worthy content and some solid life lessons awaiting. 

Creative Morning’s Guest Lecturer Jimmy Breen

Jimmy Breen of Wax&Hive served as guest speaker, arriving on the scene to share his developmental story as creative director of tee shirts, mugs and more.

Breen initially appeared as a “cool guy,” but soon brought listeners along on a rocky journey to personal growth, professional refinement and commercial success as a creative. 

Wax&Hive’s Jimmy Breen talks at St. Petersburg, Florida Creative Mornings

What have been your defining moments in life? Breen asked the group before stepping into tales of his own.

His first moment took place in middle school. After noticing a portrait of an Indian woman in the cellar, and then learning that his mom was the artist, Jimmy became inspired. He’d become an artist, too!

We learned the moment Jimmy bought a book called How to Draw Like Marvel Comics. He learned how to copy other artists’ design work, but experienced a second moment of creative disappointment. Jimmy might be able draw, but a fellow middle school classmate bested him: he was drawing dragons out of his own imagination.

During a high school moment, Jimmy and his friends started a band. They claimed to be great, but Jimmy noted they weren’t.

“You know when you’re not good,” he confessed, “when the only ones supporting you are family and friends.”

Another defining moment arrived when the band performed poorly at a local venue and lost money, but the tee shirts Jimmy designed for the event all sold out. He returned to art, developing tee shirts for several music clients.

Stories of defining moments continued, but Jimmy made sure each one connected with Creative Mornings listeners. We heard of mistakes he’d made, aha! moments he acquired, cash he’d earned and burned, relationships he bruised, broke and/or repaired, and decisions that are helping him harmonize a business with his personal values and priorities.

For example, Jimmy now contracts with an on-demand tee shirt printer in California. He makes less per shirt but no longer bears the financial pitfalls of carrying excess inventory. He also has more free time, saving on the extra manufacturing hours required to do print work in-house. 

Breen might have arrived to talk about designing cool tee shirts and mugs. But his real value showed up in sharing the hardships, humility and mundane lessons he’d learned to gain mastery over his craft and profit for his commercial ventures.    

Jimmy concluded with a few great take aways. Keep doing what you really love, stay committed to your craft and make it a priority, and never give up on your dream — even if you have to get burnished while achieving it.

I’m looking forward to this July. I’ll be getting together with Fabrizio Pagani, Creative Morning’s local chapter director, when he arranges a special coffee for us in Rome, Italy!   

Wherever you are in the world, wishing for your creativity to emerge, too. 

Maura Sweeney is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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Can Stubbornness be Good for You?

 
“It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.”
 

~ Albert Einstein

Can stubbornness be a good thing? Perhaps it can!

If we think of the word in its worst form, it conjures negative, often anti-social, ideas about being difficult and unreasonable.

But turned on its head, stubbornness can illuminate some higher level personal qualities that can prove highly beneficial. Channeled in a positive fashion, your once sassy and childlike stubbornness can help you obstinately maintain a course of action when others all around you would succumb or surrender.
 
I hope you find today’s video, filmed in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, to demonstrate the positive side of stubbornness.
 
Though over a century old and taking place during a seemingly different era, it conveys an extraordinary tale of a real life, Stubborn Man. The man’s love for his home was so internally fixed and his unwillingness to move from his own values, desires and single-minded course of action ultimately delivered him great benefits.
 
In short, one rather insignificant, but stoically stubborn, man was successfully able to dictate his requests to the leadership of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
 
The outcome proved beneficial to both parties.
 
The former empire got what it wanted in constructing a Town Hall on the site of their choice. However, the empire didn’t get their new building until they submitted to the will — and filled the wallet — of a seemingly inconsequential, but stubbornly purposed, citizen. 
 
May the strength of your own stubbornness move something major in your life so that it happily complies with your wishes, too!
 

Maura Sweeney is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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What a Wonderful World

Outside the Welcome Center of Safety Harbor, FL Arts & Music Center

“What a wonderful phenomenon it is, carefully considered, when the human eye, that jewel of organic structures, concentrates its moist brilliance on another human creature!”

~ Thomas Mann

When we make it our choice to see, the world truly is a wonderful place in which to be.

German novelist and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate Thomas Mann made this observation years ago during an era when there were likely many reasons to fret, fear and fight. 

In 1967, during a time of civil unrest in the United States, a similar proclamation was made by legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong.

“What a wonderful world!” remains one of his most enduring and uplifting hits.

The grandson of slaves, Louie Armstrong (aka “Satchmo”) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana at the turn of the last century. Abandoned by his dad when he was an infant, young Louie worked in a variety of capacities as a child to keep his mom out of prostitution. Despite challenges, Armstrong found his own reasons to smile at life. A trumpeter, composer, singer and occasional actor, he enjoyed a robust entertainment career that spanned five decades and crossed over many divides.

Each day, we have an opportunity to do more than await a wonderful world. We can choose to see it within and make a beautiful world ourselves. Whether it’s through major works like philanthropy or small gestures like helping a neighbor cross the street, we are all visionaries and creators of that cosmos.

If you’re seeking a reminder today that we already are in a wonderful world, look no further. 

Listen and appreciate the world that we all seek — everywhere.

For more inspiration on the topic, read and listen to my post entitled Seeing with Our Eyes Closed.
Maura Sweeney in Foundations of HappinessMaura Sweeney is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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Fifty Years After the March, How Far Have We Advanced?

 Wikimedia

Today strikes the official half-century mark when over a hundred thousand civil rights activists marched on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his epic speech at the Lincoln Memorial. His immediate message called for the end of segregation and the integration of blacks into American society. But his larger vision extended to a future when the U.S. populace would conduct its legislative, social and moral affairs without prejudice of any kind.

A century had passed since America’s Emancipation Proclamation when King delivered his 1963 speech. But despite a national edict legislating their inclusion into the citizenry, life for most black Americans remained largely unchanged. The soul of America, exercising segregation with an often exclusionary spirit, remained way behind the ideal.

MLK’s oratory a half century ago was strong, stirring and high-minded. His compelling public words cut to the conscience of certain white Americans who remained steeped in fear, prejudice and entitlement. But admonitions to his own people cut an equal, if not different, challenge. He urged black brethren to move forward through peaceful non-aggression and the refusal to answer violence and injustice with more of the same.

Few will deny that MLK’s spirit lives on in legendary fashion. Walking the talk, he led the civil rights movement through peaceful means and paid for the cause with his life.  He stands among figures in U.S. history who have helped define and advance the ideals of a nation alternately referred to as The New World, The Melting Pot and The Land of Opportunity.

Clothed in dark complexion, Dr. King emerged during a climactic time in American history. Yet my view and estimation of the man goes beyond any color. MLK engenders a vision and spirit that melds into mine, calling all of us to a higher standard of character and a better form of life.

As we all pause to reflect on his I Have a Dream speech, I offer my video from a visit to Martin Luther King’s childhood home. I also republish, in no particular order, lesser-quoted but equally compelling quotes from MLK’s historic speech.

 Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning.

In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

My hope is that readers of every age, race, culture and creed consider these ideals. As a nation, we’ve made substantial progress blurring the color barriers of 1963. But let’s continue to advance as a people, equalizing our collective citizenship while aspiring toward the finer character in all of us.

Then, just maybe, we’ll all be free at last. Blog Close on Shoreline copy

Maura Sweeney is an Author, Blogger and Public Speaker

Her focus is inspiring others to happiness – from the inside out.

Podcast 111: What Are You Listening To?

Maura4u Be Happy. Do Better“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” 

~ Ernest Hemingway

What are you listening to, and are you even aware?

In my latest podcast, I examine the way we inadvertently act as self-censors. We screen in certain types of news, ideas, sounds and insights while screening out others!

If you have never considered how what you listen to impacts your sense of well-being, this is a podcast for you.

In just a few minutes, I share a bit of my own background. I talk about the process of learning how to listen in ways that would empower, rather than depress, my sensibilities and thoughts.

I also talk about an easy-to-do listening exercise that I shared with participants during a recent smoking cessation retreat. If you’re looking to become more aware of what you’re hearing, the exercise will help you become more conscious.

You’ll be better equipped to take inventory of your own thoughts and make positive, intentional choices that bring a sense of authority back to where it belongs – with you!

Finally, listen to our guest Sam Dykstra as he shares what makes him happy from the inside out.

Click here or on the icon below to listen to Podcast 111 What Are You Listening To?
 

Maura Sweeney podcast Living Happy Inside OutMaura Sweeney is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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Special Holiday Podcast: Peace on Earth

“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”

~ John Lennon

My inspiration for this holiday podcast originally arose not from the lyrics of John Lennon’s Imagine, but from the remembrance of something else.

For several days, I thought about an ancient star in the sky, the one Magi from the East followed in search of a promised “christ” child.

Surprisingly, these Magi were outside the cultural and religious traditions of the Jews, into which Jesus, or the promised child, would appear. 

The story of the Magi remains a mystery as well as a modern day truism. Presumably, it took “outsiders” to recognize the ultimate “insider” — one who would embody the promise of peace on earth and the physical presence of goodwill toward men. The Magi had an internal knowing that drew them to acknowledge the desire of their hearts and fulfill the yearnings of their souls.

Though my podcast is not religious in nature, it invites every listener to find peace on earth by discovering, and following after it, from within.

Imagine a world where all of mankind became the embodiment of peace on earth? I imagine it all the time and hope that the intent of my words will find their way to your heart and imagination, too.

This is a special podcast because I’ve invited several of my friends and followers to share their holiday greetings.

Listen to the voices of: Debbie from New York; Rogert Ago from Albania; sisters Natalie and Lydia from St. Petersburg, Florida; Francene from Brooklyn, New York; Antonio Fernando Onze from Brazil; Lynn Consoli from Manahawkin, New Jersey; Roger Moran from Scotland; David from Akron, Ohio; Bojan Spasojevic from Belgrade, Serbia; Greg Larsen from Toms River, New Jersey; Patty Elizee from Orlando, Florida; and the Heath family from Miskoka, Canada. 

May the heart of this holiday podcast bring a light of peace to you this season and may that peace become your true and everlasting home. 

Click here to listen to Podcast 110: Are You Peace on Earth? or click the podcast icon below.

Maura Sweeney podcast Living Happy Inside OutMaura Sweeney is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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