What If You Couldn’t Fail?

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Today we have a guest post from my colleague and friend, Dianne Morr. Dianne is an award-winning speaker and author of Choose Happy, 25 Happiness Habits to Transform Your Life. Today she shares some wisdom she recently learned from an art teacher. Enjoy!

What If You Couldn’t Fail?

In hopes of reaching the end of my journey on this planet without losing all my marbles, I decided to enhance my brain power by learning something new.

Even though I suspected that artistic ability was one of those things you were either born with or not, like red hair, I chose to have a go at acrylic painting.

The first art class I found at a local college lifelong learning center proved to be basically a wine and paint experience without the wine. The teacher walked us step by step through the process of duplicating a painting she had created prior to the class. It was fun but I did not learn enough to do anything on my own. After a little hunting I found an art teacher named Kim who taught technique and coached students through whatever project they chose.

Kim asked me what I hoped to learn. I told her I hoped to develop an artist’s eye so that I could learn to create a work that looked like what I saw. She told me she could help me do that.

We began with a sketch of a still life. As she set me up with a sketchbook and pencils, she also handed me an eraser and explained, “Art is the process of trying and revising.”

Trying and revising. Aha! Editing!

Having spent my entire career in various fields of writing, I knew that a writer does not create a perfect page on her first try. I was stunned to find out that an artist didn’t create perfect work on her first try either. What Kim said sounded like what I told clients I had helped write their books. “Don’t judge your first draft, just get it on paper. You can fix a bad draft, you can’t fix a blank page.”

Now that I know art depends on trying and revising, I saw my first attempt at a pencil sketch as a first draft. Kim gave me tools such as a ruler, a skewer, and that all-important eraser to make my sketch lines as accurate as possible.

Learning new things took on a whole new meaning when I found out that trying and revising can apply to anything. Want to learn to dance? Play a sport? Plant a garden? Give it a try. If your first try doesn’t turn out as you hoped it would, revise your approach, make adjustments, and see if your second try is better. There are no limits on trying and revising. You can keep at it till you are satisfied with your attempt or ready to jump to another activity.

Giving yourself permission to try and revise takes away the fear of failing. When you can’t fail, you can try anything. Enjoy the possibilities. What are you going to try first?


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Picture It

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What makes you happy? What have you done last week, last month, last year that made you laugh out loud? Close your eyes and picture it. Go ahead – I’ll wait.

Now that you have an image, take a mental snapshot of it. Pay attention to how you feel right now. So, the next time you begin to slip into sadness, you can remember this moment in time and begin to feel better. Now, I’m not saying you should always feel happy. There are times when we need to acknowledge our sorrow, embrace it and let it be – just don’t stay too long. Picturing a time when you were happy gives you an opportunity to flip the switch and begin to feel better.

One of my sweetest memories is the vacation I took with my husband and my brother. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would all get along so well, laugh so hard, and strengthen a bond that was already strong to begin with.

So, when I am having moments of sorrow and fear begins to creep in, I close my eyes and I remember that trip all over again. I can see us hiking the trail, hear the laughter, smell the flowers and feel the love. It helps me deal with the scary times and makes me remember the moments I cherish most. It works every single time.

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A Treasure on Tissue Paper

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Today I was busy packing away the last of my Christmas decorations.  Yes, I know.  I should have done it last week but I didn’t.  No excuses – I just didn’t.

Well, as I was wrapping some of the more delicate items in tissue paper, I noticed some writing on one of the pieces of paper.  It was very faint so I had to hold it up to the light.  It was a hodgepodge of phrases, and when I took a moment to read them, it really made an impact on me.  Here is a sample of what I found:

  • Live Joyfully.
  • Your first decision of the day is the most important.  CHOOSE HAPPINESS.
  • Live your life NOW.
  • Sometimes we are scared. It’s OK.
  • You have a great bottle of wine.  DRINK IT.
  • Achievement tastes most sweet when first we dare to fail.
  • The only things you will regret are the things you did not do.
  • Tomorrow is promised to no one.
  • Have the courage to live a life that is true to yourself, not the life others expect of you.

There are several other sayings but I’ll stop at 10.  Now, I’m not sure where these phrases came from, I just know that unexpectedly finding them on a sheet of tissue paper gave me a lift, it put a smile on my face, and I wanted to share it with you.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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The Power of Gratitude on My Dresser


So now you know the three phases of gratitude.

Don’t know what I’m talking about?

Just browse through my last three postings and check out the phases of gratitude that helped me recreate my life, and learn to bring more happiness into every day that I wake up.

Now, here’s another idea. Something you can see and touch and feel, and a great way to bring a smile to your face on those “not so great” days.

Create a Gratitude Box. Find a decorative box that you like. You can get them very inexpensively at Target, Pier 1, and a host of other places. Put that lovely box in a place where you will see it every day.

Now, browse through magazines and cut out any pictures that make you happy. Don’t analyze it, judge it, or try to explain it in any way. Just cut out any photo that makes you smile. Put them in that pretty box.

You can also write kind and insightful messages about yourself when you’re having a good day. Focus on what you think is cool about yourself. Put those little notes, mantras, and positive affirmations in that same pretty box along with the photos. Then on those days when things aren’t going so great, pull out one of those notes or affirmations about yourself, or a photo – and feel your mood change.

Here’s a picture of my Gratitude Box along with a few of the photos I keep inside.   This pretty box sits right in the middle of my dresser, and on some days, it becomes my new best friend.

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Find Happiness in Life’s Contrasts

I’m a city girl.  Always have been.  Always will be.

I was born in a big city, raised in a big city, and lived 63 years of my life in that same big city.

But the last couple of years have introduced me to a life that is a total contrast – 360 degrees – from what I’m used to.  Two years ago, everything changed and my life took a turn that lead me to a totally different lifestyle.

It’s interesting how some things can be so different, yet ultimately they are the same.

For instance, when I lived in the big city, traffic had me creeping along at 10 miles an hour until I was ready to scream and abandon my car.

Now, with no traffic, I still find myself creeping along at no more than 10 miles an hour because I’m stuck behind a huge piece of farm equipment and I can’t pass it.  I see all that open road ahead and I can’t get to it.  Again – wanting to scream and abandon my car.

In the big city, I couldn’t sleep at night because of the constant sirens and car horns beeping.  Now, in my quiet community, the frogs, crickets and owls keep me awake.  You may think that the later is more desirable, but if you can’t sleep, no matter what the reason is, it drives you crazy!!!

So what has all this contrast taught me?  One huge lesson – that there is a side of me that I didn’t even know existed.  This different way of life brings me new experiences every day, helps me grow, and become a more interesting, fulfilled person.

What contrast do you have in your life?  If you live in the city, do you take time to venture out into nature and enjoy something different?  If you live in a smaller town, what about stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing the excitement that a city can offer?  Try it, and you will find things about yourself that you didn’t even know existed.

To prove it, here’s a photo of me, the city girl, actually picking strawberries that were grown in my own back yard.  They are delicious!  Yes, this is me, enjoying the contrast in my life.

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