Exploring and Encouraging a Healthy Life Marked with Joy

Archive for February, 2012

Let’s …



Looking for Positive Aspects — Neal’s Sick Test

In response to Sean’s honest and insightful comment about the difficulty of always looking for good, I told him that I would be blogging about the topic later.  So here goes.

I posted today’s affirmation, “I look for positive aspects in every experience,” mainly (and selfishly) because of my personal current circumstance: I’ve.  Been  Sick.  (Isn’t “sick” an uglyish, sick word?)  Sick yesternight and today.  Reached a temperature of 102 (and sympathized with/momentarily understood Riboclavin’s thermometer obsession a little more).

I”M GOING ON A TANGENT FOR A SECOND–MIGHT BE BEST TO SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH:   I need to make a confession: I’m nothing but a big baby when I’m sick.  I fully expect EVERYONE around to coddle me–NOT just to  sympathize and intone purportedly uplifting sentences such as, “Oh Neal, I’m so sorry to hear you’re not feeling well.  I hope you get to feeling better soon.  Butterfly kisses to you.”  I mean, what good does that do?!  I want EMPATHY, not exactly that the empathizers get sick themselves (well maybe a little so empathic understanding is increased), but that they somehow make me feel better–LITERALLY.  I want them to be a little like Jesus (doesn’t Christian mean “little Christ”?), healing the diseased and lame.  I told you it’s hard to be around me when I’m sick.  It even gets on my nerves that CNN, for example, just continues broadcasting normally, as if I’m not sick and still feel like watching.

Okay, time to get serious.  As I experience the symptoms of my flu-ish feeling stomach virus (or whatever it is), the last thing on my agenda is to hunt down the positives in my sick state.  Why so hard?  Because I don’t FEEL like doing so. And it seems fake somehow to look for good in the midst of bad.  But holding to that logic, I allow my feelings to override my ability to be Pollyanna, to look for good.  Because good (like CNN) is still “on.” I’m just not watching.  So what I try to do (emphasis on “try”) is somewhat empowering.  I thank my feelings for showing me what I don’t want (to feel bad, sick, sorry for myself, victim-like)) and then to reach for a thought (any thought) which contains a bit of a relief.  For example, when I felt my worst earlier this morning, I still knew, KNEW, the following assertions to be true:

*  “I’ve been sicker than this before.”  (Though it’s a predominantly negative claim, a nugget of hope is imbedded there.  Do you see it?)

*  “I’ve always gotten better.”

And then a little later, I said this beautiful affirmation to myself several times:

*  “My body knows how to be well and is always moving toward wellness.”  (Because, for the most part, doesn’t it?)

These kinds of statements and beliefs FEEL better to say and embrace  (And much of happiness and joy is feeling-based, if we really think about it.)

A couple of hours ago, I went to the convenience store to get my third bottle of Gatorade since all this started.

And I noticed good.

Good would have still been there, of course, even if I had not noticed it.  What did I notice?  Well, you may think it’s silly or trivial, and on one level it most definitely is.  On another level, however, both the following tiny examples served the purpose of getting me out of the frequency of bad and into that of good.  Pulling up to the store, I saw this Coke sign:

I laughed a little (an improvement), took the above picture, and thought about the implications of “open happiness”: First, I can open joy if I so choose, if I’m in the “right mind” to do the work of the opening.  Second, I must be open to happiness, available for joy to rush into my life at any moment.  I don’t know about you, but so many times I stay in frustration simply because I do not make the effort of opening happiness or being open to happiness finding me.

I walked into Chu’s and, maybe because I was more open to happiness thanks to Coke, heard the song that was playing inside–Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.”  I know it’s an overused cliché, but what Clarkson sang is true, that is, if we LOOK for the strength in that which hasn’t killed us, if we are open to the strength.  Of course, now (like it is with most Abba songs), I can’t get that song off my mind either.  But hey, if it doesn’t kill me, I’ll be a stronger and more musical man.

By now, you know the moral to this diatribe: Look for the Good.  We usually find what we’re looking for.  Take a glance again at the affirmation card I shared with you in the previous post.  Notice the word “positive”–it’s a little harder to see than the other words.  You have to really look to see it.

It’s Hard To Do, But …


Four Things I Pretend to Like; Four Things I Like but Pretend Not To

Here are four things I pretend to like:

1.  Baked Lays.  I really want to like them because they are supposedly better for you, but to me they taste a little like very thin cardboard.  The next time I’m at Subway, I’m thinking about buying a bag of Baked Lays and a bag of regular Lays, switching the contents, and from then on keeping the regular bag with me as my cover.

2.  Wal-Mart Greeters.  I know, this is so mean of me, but REALLY, come on.

3.  Green Tea.  I drink it, but I don’t like it.

4.  Elves.  I don’t care if they’re from the North Pole or not, elves are creepy.  I know I’m a fine one to talk, with my ears and all, but still.

And here are four things I like but pretend not to:

1.  Susan Boyle.  She’s the best thing that’s come along since The Beatles.  I love this song:


(Maybe the outfits are a bit much for the English countryside.)

2.  Gold Bond Powder.  You don’t want me to get started.  Let’s just say that if I can’t find my GB, everything this blog stands for disappears.  EVERYTHING!







3.  Pork Rinds.   Barbequed, the kind they peddle at the Statesboro Fair in that little back alley where all the locally made food items are sold.  I buy one BIG bag for immediate consumption and another for a midnight snack.  The barbequed variety are really pretty hot, and I can’t feel my mouth for a day or two after the gorging, but they are worth the temporary inconvenience.

4.  The Greeters at Moe’s.  Like everyone else, I make fun of them: “Welcome to Moe’s!” I jokingly yell occasionally.  But when I rush in for the Ruprict Nachos at lunchtime, and the workers behind the sneeze guard greet me with such enthusiastic passion, I get a little choked up, like they really care, and that I’m, well, “home.”  (Now, if the Wal-Mart greeters did the same thing, the first list might just have three instead of four items.)

Now you know.  And you’re smarter because of the knowing.

Amazing Grace

Mr. Happy’s Saturday Evening Post










(Remember him?  If not, see “Introducing Mr. Happy” 1/30/12.)

UPDATE — Five Friday Happy Bringers (2/24/12)

It’s Friday again!  And here are Five Things I am Happy about:

1.  My incredible students I have the privilege of working with.  I enjoy the best job in the world.

2.  Being able to say, “Sup?  You like dubstep?”  (And feel all cool and hip.)  Recently in one of my composition classes, as we were sharing from our gratitude journals, Jayson said that he was thankful for dubstep.  Of course, I had no clue what he was talking about.  It’s at this point when teachers always have to make an internal decision: “Do I simply acknowledge the student with a neutral ‘Oh, ok, thanks’ or the more honest ‘huh’?”  (‘Huh?’ has played a significant role in my career and life.)  I asked Jayson to explain.  It seems that dubstep is pretty hot right now, a type of electronic dance music that got its start in South London.

Jayson, with laptop upright, said, “I can pull some up real quick if you like.”  On a scale of 1-10, I rank a high 10 in Student Ease of Getting Prof off Subject.  I immediately and completely forgot what the day’s lesson was, and even that I was a teacher, and said, “Sure!”  In much less time than it takes me to remember that music devices no longer have knobs, Jayson had found and started playing Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”:

Now you’re cool and hip too.  (I tried dancing to dubstep when I got back to my office, but messed up my left hip.)

3.  Continuing coolness by creating a QR Code myself for my blog, and sort of knowing what that means.  Quick Response codes are cropping up everywhere these days: in magazine ads, on bulletin board posters, etc.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them being tatooed 666-ishly on arms soon.  If you have a smart phone, download Scanlife (or a similar app), point your camera toward the QR code, and a correlating website zaps up on your screen.  Here’s mine.  Try it, but of course you’ll just end up right back here.  Go ahead; I’ll wait for you.

























4.  Gladness because you’re back.

5.  Possessing the wonderfully liberating ability to laugh at myself and at life.


Tag Cloud