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choose happiness

The Sun Can’t Shine Every Day

The forecast for our area calls for two to three inches of rain over today and tomorrow. This has been the forecast for a week, now, and the rain has already started to fall. Even with the advanced warning, I still saw this post on my Facebook feed this morning:

“It’s so gloomy. I want sunshine.”

I wonder how much we focus on wanting more sunshine instead of making the world a brighter place with our own light. We require that our happiness comes from the environment around us, and when that environment turns gloomy, we lose our joy. Of course, the problem with that as a way of life? It WILL get gloomy.

One thing I do know is that the sun cannot shine every day. Even in the beauty of the garden, the rain is seen as just as necessary as sunshine. In fact, without rain and the cloudy skies that come with it, we would all be living in a desert. Nature finds the clouds and the rain as refreshing. Maybe the gloom in our lives sometimes comes with refreshing rain as well.

This past summer, our family made a trip to Walt Disney World before a weekend speaking engagement in Orlando. The beginning of our trip was marred by a tropical storm that refused to move beyond central Florida. It rained. A ton. So much rain and gloom that we found ourselves longing for the sunshine. Once the rain cleared, however, we learned the true meaning of the word “sauna.” It was so hot and so miserable that we found ourselves longing for the rain again. Our happiness was being derived from the weather, which was way out of our control. That kind of external reliance is a way of life for so many, and it does not work.

Life will send problems. It is only a foundation of happiness and positive living that allows us to retain our joy when the dark times come. Maybe it sounds too trite to say that simply choosing to be happy will make you happy, but have you tried it? Maybe dismissing the idea as too simple is simply an excuse for those not willing to give it a try.

Give it a shot. Choose to be happy…to live happy, and see where that choice gets you the next time the gloomy problems of life show up! I cannot promise it will be easy, but I can promise that if you truly commit to happiness, nothing will ever steal your joy.

Dawson and Carroll Middle Schools – Smilin’ Yet?

I love 7th graders! I mean it! They are some of the best audiences I’ve ever had, and I love their zest for life. Yesterday, I spoke to the “Dragons” at Dawson Middle School and today, it was also the “Dragons” from Carroll Middle School. Not only are these the most well behaved students I’ve ever spoken to, but they are also full of smiles and laughter. Motivating them? That was certainly an easy task! These kids are great!

I challenged each school to participate in “Smile Day” on Monday. Each student in the two schools has been given the task of smiling all day long this coming Monday in an effort to act their way into feeling happy. I give them this challenge to experiment with on a Monday because that’s the hardest day to smile, and if you can be happy on a Monday, you can be happy all week long. Happiness is a choice that each and every one of us has to make every day, and these students will CHANGE the attitudes in their schools if they succeed in smiling all day on Monday.

So I Had to Call the IRS…

A few days ago, I received a letter from the IRS saying that I had not filed a certain form for my travel agency that specializes in Disney Vacations.  While they were correct in what they claimed, I had understood from my own research and from consulting with a CPA that I was not required to file that form due to being in a community property state.  So, as the letter requested, I picked up the phone, dreading the next several minutes as I figured I would have to be on the defensive because, let’s face it, who WANTS to call the IRS?

Then…it hit me.  How many people call the IRS upset or incensed about the fact that they received an accusatory letter like I was about to do?  I took a breath, realized that the person who was about to answer my call likely had nothing to do with sending me the nasty letter, and dialed the number.

When the voice answered, I simply explained that I had received this letter, and that I believed it was an error.  She (the IRS rep) looked up my case, and guess what?  I had received the letter because of an incorrect marking in my profile.  She placed me on hold and in less than a minute, she returned to tell me that the error had been corrected and to throw away the letter.  I would not be receiving any other inquiries about this.  I thanked her, and we wished each other a pleasant evening.

Could that have gone differently?  You bet!  If I had gone in blazing mad over receiving the letter, I would not only have ruined her day, but I might have even met a negative response when inquiring about fixing the issue.  The easy way in which the situation was handled was all in my attitude.  Because I chose to treat the situation with a smile, I not only had the problem fixed, but I even got the IRS agent to laugh about how ridiculous computers can be.  We both had a pleasant call because of a choice about how to approach the situation.

Make 2010 the year that you commit to a happy life and a positive attitude.  Without one, you might wind up having to call the IRS a second time!

Dragons Everywhere!

Last Thursday and Friday, I was given the opportunity to speak to 7th graders from Dawson Middle School and Carroll Middle Schoool (both schools have a dragon for their mascot) in Southlake, TX.  The students were very respectful and asked lots of great questions, but more importantly, they were very receptive to the message of living happier lives by choosing happy, positive attitudes.  

They have been challenged (as I do at every school) to smile for an entire day on the Monday they return from Spring Break.  I call it “The Smile Experiment” and students who smile are changing their schools all over this country.   Here is a great picture of some special students at one of the schools:

Smiling Students with Inspirational Speaker, Chet McDoniel

I encourage you to watch this clip to see how you can “use what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have” which is one of the lessons I gave to the students:


Video – Chocoholicfest 2009 – Letting God Show His Strengths Through Our Weaknesses

On February 11, 2009, I spoke to over 150 tweens and teens at the Chocoholic Fest at the Alpine Church of Christ in Longview, TX.  They were a wonderful group, and despite having eaten as much chocolate as they could handle, they were very attentive.  As the festival is near Valentine’s Day every year, my topic was “Love God, Love Others.”  I truly believe that once we learn the good nature of God, and we act on that knowledge by serving others, only then can we truly learn to love everyone around us.  Here is a clip from the evening about how our happiness can only come when we let go of our worries and trust God to use us in His service.  (The passage in the video is from John 9 in The Message.)


Here are some pictures from the event: