An answer a day.

I love libraries.
Really big ones like this.

Boston Copley Public Library, Boston, USA

And very teeny, tiny ones like this.     

Britian's Smallest Library

April 11-17, 2010 is National Library Week. Since 1958, the American Library Association (ALA)  has sponsored National Library Week across America to promote the services and celebrate the value of libraries.   

I worked for a library system for 11 years (head of public relations & partnerships) and volunteered for libraries for at least 20 years.   

During National Library Week I often traveled to Washington DC to talk with our legislators to convince them to continue or enhance funding for libraries.     

Every February or March, I did the same with state legislators, which is really important because most funding for libraries is at the state and local level.   

Throughout the year I find answers, enlightenment and entertainment at the library for free.  

Did I mention, I love libraries?  

At a library I can go and take anything I want off the shelf and home with me for free.   

If I want something that is not on the shelf, I can order it for free and they will let me know when it arrives for free.   

I can also order my books online for free and they will be pulled and waiting on a special shelf for me for free.  

All you need is a library card, which as you might have guessed is free! (Many libraries let you sign-up for your library card online for free.)     

When I was a kid, libraries and bookmobiles were magic to me and transported me around the world, until I was able to go on my own.   

And, even today when I sit with a pile of books at a long wooden table in a really big fancy library, I feel wiser and smarter and well, just plain cooler, for free.   

Now that’s a deal.    

Do you have a great library memory?  I would love to hear it.  Feel free to share.     

A question a day.

Here is the magic question:

Are you ready?

Just checking.

It’s big and magic and all that, so I want to give it the proper fanfare.

Okay, here goes . . .

“What one thing can I do today to bring more joy into my life?”

Now, now, do not turn away with a “bah humbug” like thought, or an oh, so cynical and yet, still somewhat appealing to mutter – “whatever”.

Instead, be happy and start this question-a-day habit.

“What one thing can I do today to bring more joy into my life?”

Find the perfect time to ask yourself this free, awe-inspiring, life-enhancing, 14-word question.

  • right before you get out of bed each morning;
  • when you are brushing your teeth;
  • checking yourself out in the mirror 
  • or with your first cup of coffee – it’s up to you.

“What one thing can I do today to bring more joy into my life?”

The magic question is perfect: It is beautiful in its simplicity; one-size-fits all and it never wears out.  Please feel free to share it with those you love. It makes a perfect birthday gift!

“What one thing can I do today to bring more joy into my life?”

And, it’s oh, so cozy and sweet as bed-time talk with kids.

For bedtime please substitute “tomorrow” for “today” as you are tucking them in.

Be ready to relax and spend a few minutes listening to the interesting stories and ideas they will come up with – just let them flow, eventually they will get to something specific and it will probably be something you would never expect.

Oh, and if you start with “What brought you happiness and joy today?” You’ll have a sure-fire hit with kids, and you will be subtly shaping their life outlook – it will be more joy-focused.

Just like yours.

That’s the magic.

PS  I am heading to the airport this afternoon.  My response to my daily joy question is: more time at the airport – I love them!  Crazy, I know, but true.

PSS For more about the magic question and other life transforming ideas, I recommend Jacqueline Kelm’s The Joy of Appreciative Living.

Last night and more

Last evening I met with 33 interesting, talented women to discuss happiness: what it is and how we get it.

Thank you to each and everyone, who attended.  It was great fun to be presenting in my home town area of Cleveland, Ohio.  Seeing family and friends made it extra special.

During the workshop, I asked each participant to write a total of 9 things they liked about themselves.

Usually we add one more at the end, leaving them with a top 10 list about themselves to take home, review and reflect upon to remind them just how wonderful they are.  (Sorry, ladies – I forgot #10, now you have homework.)

With a little bit of work, and shot of confidence, I hope each of them, and you, someday has a list of 100 things you like about yourself.  (It is worth challenging yourself to create a “100 word list of what I like about me.”  in 2010.)

Creating the list also helps folks feel more comfortable with the last activity of the night, which I will write about in a future post.  One person commented that the exercise was the first time she had ever done anything just about herself.

Throughout the workshop these great women also listed 9 people they knew.  The list was a starting point for another wonderful and proven way to bring more happiness into our lives, and the lives of someone special to us.

Martin E.P. Seligman, author, researcher, professor and leader in the positive psychology field, has each of his students in one of his classes each semester write a 300 word letter to someone they care about and whose help or friendship has deeply touched them.  Then they must – here is the surprisingly hard part, read it in person (technology is wonderful, but this really is a face-to-face kind-of thing) to the person they have written about.

Sounds simple, letting someone you appreciate know you care about them – and it is in theory, but actually putting the words on paper and sharing it with that special person can be a bit intimidating, but trust me and the thousands of other folks, who have done it:  It is worth the effort for you and the person you are thanking.

Please do not skimp on the words, 300 gives you enough time to round out your thoughts.  The in-person part gives you a chance to look into their eyes and tell them how much you care.  It is a small act of bravery, and one each of you will benefit from.

Please do try this at home. The weekend is a great time to begin gathering and writing down your thoughts.

Oh, and it is free.

And, to quote a well-known commercial – the feeling is priceless.  For you and for them.

Seligman calls it a “Gratitude Visit.”

That’s what I feel like each time I present a workshop.

With gratitude,


PS to workshop participants:  You gave Marci a perfect score and even some bonus points for her kindness on the evaluations!  Thanks again, Marci for hosting the workshop, and for being you.

And, thanks to all of you for your great comments about the workshop, glad you enjoyed it

Words of wisdom

My friend, Marci, has a wooden plaque with these words painted on it by her backdoor at the eye-level of her three young sons.

“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Those words were written by A.A. Milne (who is almost as wise and wonderful as Marci) for Christopher Robin to Pooh, and now from me to you.

White-tipped moments

My sister and I walked this morning along a beautiful lake near her cottage and an abandoned, decaying, but once extremely popular amusement park.  

In the dying trees along the water’s edge, large, dark, crook-necked buzzards leered at us from their roosts on grey, weathered branches.  

The scenery evoked feelings of sadness.  

Seconds later these harbingers of death took flight and their long white-tipped wings became visible.  

Each tip was distinct, perfectly shaped, delicately edged and absolutely beautiful reminding me I am always happier when I take a moment to check my memories and my life for white-tipped edges.

Have a white-tipped weekend.

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