Be Your Own Coach: The 2% Jump-Start

I often write and speak about the great (and proven) benefits of noticing and appreciating the good things in our lives, but today I’d like to come at things a little differently. Today let’s pay some attention to what we’re not so happy about.

Think of something you’re dissatisfied with in your life. 

Are you too busy to spend enough time with family and friends? Are you unhappy about your weight or your financial situation? Is getting the kids up and off to school on time a big headache every day? Is your job bringing you down?  It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, just think of something that stands in between you and greater happiness.

If you’ve just come up with a whole long list of them in no time flat, choose one for now. You can come back to as many as you want to later.

Continue Reading

1 Comment Add Your Comments

The Power of Yet

This post is an excerpt from my best-selling book A Short Course in Happiness: Practical Steps to a Happier Life.

tunnel-and-stepsCourage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I’ll try again tomorrow.” — Mary Anne Radmacher

The things we say, whether out loud or to ourselves, have a profound effect not only on how we feel, but also on what we do.

When we tell ourselves “I can’t do it” or “They’ll never allow it,” we undermine our own power and motivation to make change in our lives. When we tell ourselves “I’ll find a way” or ask “What haven’t I tried yet?” we give ourselves a feeling of hope that can help us to sustain the persistent effort we need to make things happen.

So it’s important that we pay attention to what we say.

Ask yourself this: How often are my comments positive and empowering, and how often are they negative and self-defeating? If you can shift that balance, even a little, you can have a real impact on how you feel and what you do.

Here’s one way to start the shift. If you find yourself saying things that suggest that the quality of your life is out of your hands, see if you can find a way to turn them around. One simple way is to use one of my favorite words: “Yet.”

Harnessing the Power of “Yet”

Adding “yet” to the end of a sentence can turn it from an old complaint into a new challenge. It can remind us how much power we do have, help us set goals for the future, and open us up to finding new ways to achieve them. It’s one of the surest and simplest ways to strengthen our hope and persistence – two essential elements of a happy and successful life.

Here are some examples of the power of “yet.”

Continue Reading

1 Comment Add Your Comments

Getting Friendly with Failure

chaos“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Because I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

This lovely ode to the benefits of failure was part of the 2008 Harvard University Commencement address delivered by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series.

Most of us naturally think that it’s only our successes that lead to the good things in our lives, and that we’re best off forgetting our failures, or avoiding them altogether.


But when we try to see failure not as a definition of who we are, but as an inevitable part of engaging with life, we can become more comfortable with it. And getting friendly with failure can open us up to benefits — including self-knowledge, focus, persistence, courage, and resilience – that can directly help us create the lives we want to live.

Continue Reading

0 Comments Add Your Comments

Be Your Own Coach: The “Best Life” Exercise

swirl-treeOne of the best tools in my coaching tool box can be used effectively — and for free — by anyone with access to paper and a pencil. Here’s how.

I love being a coach. I get to work with clients who want to make positive changes, whether in their work, their relationships, their emotional or physical well-being, or other aspects of their lives.

It really matters to me that my clients get the greatest possible benefit from our work together, so I make sure to use approaches and techniques that are supported by substantial research. But not all of these proven techniques actually require a coach. In fact, one of the very best is accessible to just about anyone at any time.

I’m referring to an exercise developed and tested by Dr. Laura King, who has been doing breakthrough research about well-being for more than a decade.

Participants in Dr. King’s most famous study were given the following very simple instructions.

Think about your life in the future. Imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your life goals. Think of this as the realization of all of your life dreams. Now, write about what you imagined.
Continue Reading

0 Comments Add Your Comments

“What Is Happiness?” And Other Questions of the Week

rainbow glowThis week I was interviewed by a number of journalists who are writing articles about either my book or my career change from corporate executive to positive psychology coach. They asked some great questions that encouraged me to distill the lessons of the research into the briefest, clearest responses I could come up with.

Here are a few of their best questions, along with my responses.

Q: What is happiness?

My favorite definition comes from Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, who describes happiness as the overall experience of pleasure and meaning. I like this definition because it makes clear the “both/and” nature of happiness. It’s about the overall experience (both in the moment and over the course of a life) of pleasure and meaning (that is, a life that is both enjoyable and purposeful).

Q: What makes us happy?

One of the best ways to answer this question is to study what very happy people have in common. It turns out that there are four things that very happy people do that make the difference, and we can all benefit by finding ways to do them in our own lives.

Continue Reading

0 Comments Add Your Comments

Stressed Out? Five Proven Ways to Get Relief

relaxed-pandaSometimes stress gets a bad rap. In reasonable doses, stress can enhance our performance, focus our attention on trouble spots, and motivate us to take worthwhile action.

But when we have too much of it without relief, stress can be unhealthy and counterproductive. So we all need to have some go-to techniques that we know we can rely on to relieve stress when it threatens to get the best of us.

Here are some of the techniques that studies have shown to be the most effective. Different things work for different people; what matters is that you find some techniques that are effective for you and remind yourself to use them when you need them.

Why not choose one or two and give them a try right now?
Continue Reading

0 Comments Add Your Comments

Learning About About Living From the Regrets of the Dying


by Lynda Wallace

Bronnie Ware spent many years as a palliative care nurse in Australia, caring for patients who had left the hospital to die in their homes. She must have been a very compassionate nurse, because she says that every one of her patients found peace before they died.

Often, in fact, she found that her patients wanted to share with her the wisdom that came with that peace — some by sharing advice or stories, and many by sharing their regrets, so that she might avoid them in her own life.


Bronnie recently wrote a book about her experiences, titled Top Five Regrets of the Dying.  It’s full of generous wisdom that we all have the privilege of using in our own lives. Here are the five most common regrets voiced by Bronnie’s patients.

Continue Reading

4 Comments Add Your Comments

From Thought to Action: The Power of Interpretation

How we interpret events doesn’t only affect how we feel; it affects what we do.
And that can make all the difference in the world.

the-power-of-interpretationDo you ever have to remind yourself to take your own advice?

I often lead workshops on topics such as managing anxiety, cultivating optimism, and developing strong relationships. It’s something I really enjoy doing. But until now, I’ve only offered those workshops to adults. Yesterday, I led a workshop for a group of tenth grade students.

While I usually look forward to my workshops, I noticed late in the week that I felt a little anxious about this one. What if the students weren’t interested in the material? What if they didn’t take the exercises to heart or participate in the discussions?

I began to wish I hadn’t agreed to offer it. The day before the workshop, I found myself thinking, “I’m so busy right now, I really don’t need this extra thing to worry about.”

Then it struck me – it’s a workshop about emotional well-being and anxiety management, for heaven’s sake. Time to pay attention to my own material! So that’s exactly what I did.

Continue Reading

2 Comments Add Your Comments

Peanut Butter and Positivity

by Lynda Wallace

elephant_with_peanut_poster_print-rec6fff6493c54506bbffe37d4947732d_w5b_400Have you ever heard the one about the construction worker and the peanut butter sandwich?

Writer Dan Millman tells the story of a fellow whose co-workers on the construction site came to expect the same thing every day. When lunch hour rolled around, this one guy would open his lunch bag, look in, sigh, and grumble, “Peanut butter again? Man, I hate peanut butter.”

After weeks of hearing the same complaint every lunchtime, one of the workers finally spoke up and asked the peanut-butter-hater why he doesn’t just ask his wife to pack him something different for lunch.

“Wife?” he responded. “I don’t have a wife. I make my own sandwiches.”

So the question for today is this: In what areas of your life are you making yourself peanut butter sandwiches day in and day out, even though you don’t like peanut butter?

Continue Reading

8 Comments Add Your Comments

It’s “Time” for a Little Mind-Reading

happy-clockby Lynda Wallace

I’m about to amaze (at least some of) you with my mind-reading powers. Ready? Here we go.

Quickly name two things you wish you had more of. 

Now, if you could magically have more of only one of them, which one would it be?

Okay, before we started I wrote down your responses, and here they are.

Continue Reading

14 Comments Add Your Comments