The Happiness Lottery

Imagine there was a Happiness Lottery.  Once per week some lucky person would be awarded a lifetime supply of happiness.  Of course there would need to be some payment for the ticket.  Since the normal lottery requires a small amount of money in exchange for the chance at the big cash prize, it stands to reason that the Happiness Lottery would require a small happiness sacrifice to into the big drawing.  How many times would you play?  How much of your daily happiness would you sacrifice on the long odds of Happiness Lottery?  My hope is that you wouldn’t hang your hope for happiness on luck but rather come up with a systematic plan to create happiness and compound that which you already have.

  • The first step would be to take stock of what assets you already have.  Be grateful for the people and situations that are already in your life that cause happiness.  Write down the happiness assets that you have in your life.  The more grateful you are for what you already have, the less likely that you are to squander it.
  • The second step would be to look for ways to create more.  Accentuate the areas where you are creating great happiness and put more time into happiness areas that may be lagging.
  • Diversify your portfolio.  Don’t expect all of your happiness to come from one area.  If you lean to heavily on one happiness source, tough times in that area will leave you living very thin.  Friends, family, hobbies, entertainment and a slew of other possibilities exist for you to have a balance to happiness.
  • Cut down on waste.  Recognize where you are putting in great efforts but getting little returns.  Perhaps an area that used to be your biggest happiness producer is now a leach but you don’t see it.
  • Watch out for thieves!  There will be thieves looking to steal your happiness if you let them.  With money we use banks, vaults and safes to protect our assets.  With happiness we need to vigilant watchers of our world and who we allow access to it.

Happily ever after is a nice idea for the end of a fairy tale but it’s not a realistic plan.  The lotteries, both monetary and happiness, are not a plan.  They are a pipe dream.  Happiness and finances both need to be cultivated through some strategic planning.  Very rarely are either the result of the luck of the draw.


Garage Sale Trophies

Imagine it. You’re walking through a garage sale in a nearby town. Among all of the junk that people have put out on display, you find a State Championship Trophy from your graduation year. You pick it up, dust it off, pay the small cash amount they’re asking and take it home.  The year is right but the school name needs to be changed, so you go to an engraver to put your high school’s name on a little plaque that you’ll affix to the trophy.  As he asks if there is anything else, you decide “What the heck?!?!  Add my name and MVP too!”  After the plaque is added to the trophy, you display it proudly on your desk or mantle.

My hope is at some point this scenario became overwhelmingly absurd.  The trophy has very little value without the memories of the events that earned it.  The wood, metal and plastic are merely a representation of great deeds.  Trophies are not worth very much except to the people that earned them because the experience is what has true value.

Unfortunately too often we seem to have become obsessed with the garage sale trophies.  The transaction of something for nothing or almost nothing.  The diploma that has very little education behind it.  The diet pill that drops 20 lbs. in two weeks.  The marriage that happened more for the wedding than the relationship.  Perhaps the trophy will fool someone for a little while.  In the end, the momentary joy that it creates is fleeting.

Garage sale trophies are all around us.  Some are created to be sold to us.  Some we sell to ourselves.  When we buy them, we say that perception is what matters rather than substance.  So in the end we are as plastic as the trophy that was won by another.


The Heat Generator

I run at 5am most mornings. OK, it is really more like 5:20 after I hit the mental snooze and get into my gear. Some people question why I run at that time. They especially question it as the temperature drops. The main thing that people don’t realize about running in those temperatures is that humans are actually very good heat generators. If you do adequate preparation to insulate yourself from the cold, it is easy enough to be comfortable and even sweat. Insulating ourselves from the elements is the key component to surviving and thriving in the winter because with that insulation we are able to generate our own heat in ample supply.

This principle is not exclusive to heat. Humans are amazing creatures of generation when they learn to insulate themselves from the “elements”. As I spend most of my time walking the halls of a high school, I am going to focus on the “winter” of high school. I refer to high school as the winter because most of the social systems of high school are not set up to breathe life into young souls. It is the time when many are unsure of themselves and look for definition of self through others.

The heat of self-esteem is thrown out into the air as there is a desperate hope that everyone else will heat us up enough to feel truly good about ourselves. The truth of the matter is that you were always meant to be a generator. You can build up enough self-heat/self-esteem if you are selective about the people that you insulate yourself from or surround yourself with. There are heat hoarders, heat stealers, heat givers and heat takers. Which are you?
Start as a heat generator. Start with yourself. Write a list or just tell yourself about all of the great things about you. Once you are sweating with self-esteem, lend your excess to someone who needs it more than you.


Oh Captain! My Captain!

The role of a captain can be very important on a soccer team. I say “can be” because on some teams, the captain does nothing more than the coin toss. My perspective is that the captain has a great deal of responsibility and should have certain characteristics that help her to lead.

Job Description: The captain is the liaison between the players and the coach. She is also the “coach on the field”. It is her responsibility to give players direction and keep the team focused on the task at hand. Away from the field, she should represent the team in positive ways. Other players and community members should see the captain as a representative of what all players in the program should strive to be.

Guidelines: There are many ways to lead others. Although I will make several suggestions about how to lead, one key component is that you need to be yourself. You may need to be a better version of yourself, but acting like someone else is not the answer.

  • ·        Arrow to the Action: Inherent to the word leader is the idea of going first. A captain/leader should never ask someone else to do something that they are not willing to do themselves. Captains set the example. If they lead by saying but not doing, they will be found out eventually.
  • ·        We before Me: A captain needs to put the good of the group before the good for herself. The role of captain is one of giving and not receiving. It requires a person who can control their desire for individual recognition. It does not mean that the captain receives no individual attention, but the team comes first and she knows that.
  • ·        The Diplomat: As the liaison between the team and the coach, the captain needs to understand what problems need to be brought to the coach and which need to be handled within the team. She is not a spy or an informant, but a representative that is the voice and ears of the team.

Not all coaches will view the captain in the way that I do, so it will be important to understand the role under your particular coach. It is possible that your coach only wants captains to do the coin toss. If that is the situation, recognize that you can do more. Despite your coach’s view of the role, your teammates may be looking for more from their captain.

If captain is a role that you aspire to hold at some point, look at the leaders that you respect. Take stock of the attributes and actions of those leaders and assimilate the positives into your personality when possible.  Remember something else.  You don’t need the actual title to be a leader.