Tag Archives: Calendar

Keys To Happiness

We are not owed happiness.

It’s something we have to create for ourselves. Sometimes we even have to fight for it. Heck, even the Constitution of the United States only guarantees us the right to pursue happiness.

Which means that sometimes we have to go out of our way to create our own happiness. It’s not all that easy either.

It is, however, vitally important to each and every dude and dudette out there. The author, Robert Louis Stevenson, said, “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.”

Fortunately, I received a nice bit of promotion in the e-mail inbox just the other day, sent by publicity agents for Henry S. Miller, Author of The Serious Pursuit of Happiness.

Miller, also author of the author of  Inspiration for the Pursuit of Happiness:  Wisdom to Guide your Journey to a Better Life, sent along a month-by-month guide to increase your sense of happiness throughout the upcoming year. Here’s the first six.

 January:  A Month of Hope and Plans

The beginning of the year is traditionally about new years’ resolutions. This year, write one positive goal you have for the coming year down on your calendar each morning of each day of January. Also write your plan to make it a reality. Then, resolve that you will intentionally invest your time and energy to work on your resolutions during the year and to live a happier life by implementing these 12 happiness strategies – one each month.   

 February:  A Month of Gratitude

Gratitude is the antidote to greed, envy, and jealously. We feel much happier when we are being grateful for what we have, rather than envious of what we don’t. Remember, no one has everything! This month, each night before going to bed, take a daily gratitude inventory. Write down three things you are grateful for about your life – your relationships, your work, your character, your family, your country, the world around you, your life. 

 March:  A Month of Kindness

Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” And, if you look around, it’s still true today. This month, find one opportunity each and every day to perform some kind act for someone else – even the simplest act of holding a door open for another will do. And, each day, after your act of kindness, enjoy the feeling that, for at least one shining moment, you are the personification of all that is good about the human race.

 April:  A Month of Optimism

Each day this month, be more conscious of your negative thoughts – if you have any. And every time you do, immediately “dispute” it by intentionally replacing the negative thought with a positive one. Do this each time you think a negative thought for a month, and notice how your thinking might change.

 May:  A Month of Friendship

Close relationships are one of the longest-lasting of happiness-increasing strategies. But, sometimes, we take our friends for granted – or are “too busy” to see them. This month, at least one time per week, reach out to a friend and arrange to spend time with them. This can be as simple as a walk, a meal, coffee, drinks – whatever you choose. But find the time to visit with your friends face-to-face this month.

 June:  A Month of Love

Traditionally, June is a month of weddings – and love is all around us. Each day this month, call, write, or email someone you love or care deeply about – one per day – and tell them how much they mean to you – and how happy you are that they are a part of your life – even if you haven’t been the best communicator up to now. Notice reactions – yours and theirs.  

Some pretty salient points, I thought. Definitely something I’m going to be considering as the new year draws closer.

We’ll be back with the second six months tomorrow.

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An Ode To Fall

The air is getting a little bite to it.

Sure, it’s a bite in the same way that a nonagenarian gums at his smushed prunes every morning, but it’s still a bite. The cool air is beginning to make its way down the jet stream and heading South.

And I love it.

My two favorite seasons here at Casa de Dude in Charlotte, NC (as if there is a Casa de Dude anywhere else. Not like we can barely afford this place or anything.) are fall and spring.

They’re why we moved north from Florida, after all. Both my wife, known to one and all as She Who Must Be Optimally Thermo-Regulated Through External Means, and I lived in Florida for a long while. And we got used to the slight temperature variation of the Sunshine State.

Sure, there are four seasons in Florida. There’s Summer. Late Summer. Three Days of Winter and Early Summer. See? Four seasons.

We just wanted a place where you could actually tell the seasons apart via a means somewhat more intuitive than flipping through a calendar. Hence the move north, where we ran into a great number of people who made the move south to Charlotte because they were sick of the cold weather. I guess we learned to meet in the middle.

While I have come to love fall and spring, it wasn’t an easy transition. About fourteen years ago this month, during our first October up north, I stood at the back window washing dishes. Looking out in our backyard, I started getting really depressed.

We’d only just moved and purchased the house, partly because it had a wonderful back yard, full of trees. Now, gosh darn it, all the trees were dying. I’d have to call an arborist and have them all cut down, hauled to the front street and then disposed of. Which would mean saying good bye to the wonderful mini woods there in the back yard.


At which point I realized what was actually going on: It was fall. The leaves were turning brown and falling off. Just like they were supposed to do.

I’d lived in Florida so long I’d forgotten that trees turned brown and went dormant during winter.

I did eventually manage to get over the bout of intense stupidity. Well, according to me I got over it. Not so much others.

Now, though. . . Now I look forward to the fall, dudes. I enjoy watching the sun set a little later every night. Not so much having to get up when it’s still very, very dark out, but it’s a nice change up from what we normally have.

The cooler air. The annual return of the jackets to being strewn-o round everywhere. The annual frantic search for a warm hat to put on a bald head for an early morning dog walk.

Ah, yes. This is the best time of all.

And then I get to dress up and pig out on candy.

What’s not to love?

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Time Management, Or The Hour That Got Away

Who knew Breaking Bad was so good?

Okay, sure, fine. Everyone, all right. Everyone knew that Breaking Bad, the award-winning story of a high-school chemistry teacher and his descent/ascent into the life of a big-time meth king was a tremendous show.

I’d heard about it, but never checked it out. Until I decided, one boring weekend afternoon, to give it a try. I was instantly hooked on the characters, the situations and, well, just about everything. Yes, I understand that, for a show revolving around addiction, that statement has a great deal of possibly unintended irony. It still stands.

So I started watching. And watching. And the next thing I knew I was finished with the seven-episode first season and was ready for more. The only problem was that the afternoon was gone and evening had taken a runner. Time, you see, had slipped away while I was watching this.

It’s something I began thinking about again when I was talking to both Zippy the College Boy and Hyper Lad. Both are studying hard at their respective schools, University of North Carolina Wilmington and a Falcon High. Both have time-management needs that must be fulfilled if they’re to do a good job in school.

The difference is that Zippy the College Boy is doing it on his own, while Hyper Lad has help. That is, his parents are likely to come around and thump the back of his head if he’s goofing off and not using his time wisely. Well, perhaps not wisely, but at least well.

Zippy the College Boy is out on his own and, knowing him as I do, is not using his time either wisely or well. He’s a smart kid, who learned well during high school, both his academic lessons as well as the things that his teachers had to say about how best to study. The problem is there are far too many distractions for college students, especially for those with ADD and/or a learning disability.

Time, for people with those disorders, is much different. They, even more than most people, can get involved in something and never notice the passing of time. Even if it’s studying, that’s probably not a good thing, because there is more to study than only one subject or one part of a subject.

Despite my words of encouragement on the subject, Zippy the College Boy still relies on his internal clock and a sense of when things are due for his time-management skills. I understand. I was the same way in college and for most of my life after.

However, I’ve come to understand that I’m a lot more like Zippy the College Boy, Sarcasmo and Hyper Lad than I had thought. I get caught up in things as well, and not just episodes of compelling television like Breaking Bad. I’ll start writing and never even notice four hours go past and I’ve still got work to do other than the writing.

Enter the futurephone. I’ve become somewhat reliant on the thing. I will look at my list of to-do items for the day and decide how much time needs to be devoted to each item. Then, when I’m starting that item, I’ll set the alarm on the futurephone to that number of hours or minutes and work until the alarm goes off. I also use the calendar app to schedule when things are due. I’ll set up a repeating schedule to make sure I’m continuing to work on things with plenty of time left before deadline so I’m not caught in a crunch.

I tried to work on those things with Zippy the College Boy and Sarcasmo, but the whole futurephone thing came along too late for those dudes. Not so with Hyper Lad.

He’s the one on whom I’m really experimenting with using the futurephone for more than games. So far, I think it’s working. We’ve still got work to do, especially considering that he got homework detention for not turning something in during the second week of school. Still, it’s good to have a path laid out ahead of him.

Now we only have to make sure he stays on the path.

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