how to be happy

How To Find True Freedom


All we want is to be free.  Free to choose.  Free to live our lives.  Free to pursue happiness.  But are we truly free?  There are so many things that we allow to trap us and keep us imprisoned.  Sometimes it's our job. Sometimes it's an unhealthy relationship.  And sometimes it's drugs, alcohol or even food.  Our lives can get so crazy and so filled with stress.  And it's only natural for us to seek out ways to relieve our stress.  And sadly, many times we choose those things that end up enslaving us.  The comfort that we get from these things makes us think we are doing something to make our lives better.  But these comforts are only temporary and usually leave us feeling worse than we did before.

True freedom comes from letting go of the things we think are making us happy, but are actually making us miserable.  We think that it is more freeing to be able to eat whatever we want and not have a bunch of restrictions on our diet.  But the truth is, you become trapped by the bad food and the bad habits.  You become a slave to your addiction.  Every day you have to do a whole checklist of things to keep up the addiction.  It's a lot of work!  Making sure you have ice cream and pizza in the freezer.  Or the right alcohol.  Or cigarettes.  You spend half of your day running errands to make sure you have your comforts.  And even though you know you will feel gross afterward, you still sit down and eat that entire pizza in one sitting because you are controlled by your addiction.  You may not even want it anymore.  It may not even sound good, but it's your only source of happiness so you decide to do it anyway.  That does not sound like freedom to me.

True freedom is learning to let go of our addictions.  To just let God or the universe take them away from us so we can start focusing on the things that will make us truly happy.  Better health.  More friends.  More love.  Getting a dog.  Going outside more.  Watching sunrises and sunsets.  These are the things that make us feel truly free.  No longer trapped by an addiction that keeps us at home in front of the TV, we now have the freedom to explore the world.  We have the energy to go outside.  To travel.  To spend time with people.  That is the life we truly want.  That is freedom!

So true freedom comes from beating these bad habits.  Eliminating them and bringing more true joy givers into our lives.  For me, it’s time with family, hanging with friends, getting a dog, going to church, spending more time outside and creating original music.  See more sunrises and sunsets.  Go to more movies.  Go to more concerts and Broadway shows.  Get involved in community events.  Give.  Love.  Achieve goals.  That’s where we find true joy and true freedom.  Free from the shackles of our addictions and bad habits.  We can truly let them go and not be trapped.  Not be blocked from feeling true joy.  

True freedom.  It's out there.  It's right in front of you and all you have to do is grab it.  But it comes at a price and that price is the hard work it takes to break these addictions.  Bad habits have a way of becoming engrained in our lives and getting rid of them is serious work.  It takes true dedication and commitment.  But if you can focus on loving yourself and taking care of yourself, then you will start to feel that you deserve better habits.  Once you feel you deserve them, then you will have the strength to truly change.  It's not easy but it's worth it.

Aren't you tired of feeling trapped?  Aren't you tired of not experiencing the joy of being free?  You deserve it and you can have it but you have to go get it.  No one is coming to save you.  No one is coming to take these addictions away from you.  It's time for you to look in the mirror and truly face these bad habits.  Be honest with yourself.  What is holding you back?  Name it.  Say it out loud.  Write it down.  And then make a plan to destroy it.  Because I promise, once you do, true freedom awaits!

Happiness Is For The Birds


It happens every morning.  Well before my alarm clock goes off.  Just as the sun is starting to come up, the birds outside my bedroom window lose their minds.  They start chirping and rustling around, so excited about a new day.  And while I am trying to get a few more hours of sleep, all I can hear is these happy little birds outside my window.  My initial reaction is anger.  I need my beauty sleep!  Don't the birds understand this?  But why does this annoy me so much?  Why can’t I join in on their joy fest?

It’s instinct for a bird to be happy in the morning.  They don’t have the human-made stresses that block their happiness.   They don't have to worry about whose turn it is to drive the carpool today.  They don't have to dread going to a dead end job that they hate.  They don't have to spend the day worrying about if they are overeating or not exercising enough.  When the sun comes up, they couldn’t be more excited to be alive.  Not a worry in the world.  All they care about is how great it is that the sun is coming up.  It's a new day.  New opportunities.  New worms to eat.  How exciting! 

As I started thinking more about it, I thought it was interesting that my first reaction was anger.  How could I be angry at something for being happy?  True, it was interrupting my oh-so-precious beauty sleep, but that was not their intention.  It's not like the birds are out there planning how to make my life miserable.  They just have such a strong sense of joy that they can't contain themselves.  They just have to let the world know how awesome it is to have this new day so they sing.  They shout.  They play.  They live! 

And this may sound a little corny, but I really want to be more like those birds.  I want to be excited to be alive every morning.  I want to see all the opportunities that await me when the sun starts coming up.  And I want to sing it out loud for everyone to hear, even those people that don't want to hear it.  Because it's been my experience that the people that don't want to hear it are the people that need to hear it the most.

I need to hear those birds every morning.  I need them there to remind me that today is going to awesome.  I'm alive and that's a gift.  I don't need to sleep the day away.  I need to get up and start singing.  Start shouting.  Start playing.  Start living!  And I need to tell the world that new opportunities and new worms await!

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How To Find True Joy

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Name your vice.  We all have at least one.  And while some are cute and innocent, others create a huge burden and destroy lives.  And most vices keep us from experiencing true joy.  They steal it away and leave us feeling empty and drained.  There is only one way to find our way back to feeling true joy.

You get to a certain point in life where you have to weigh what's really important.  You need to take good care of yourself but at the same time not torture yourself.  You need to have little things you can look forward to throughout your day.  Some of these can be good for us like going for a walk, talking to a friend, reading a good book, etc.  But sometimes our little things can be unhealthy choices like smoking cigarettes, drinking to excess, or overeating.  All of which I have personally struggled with.  The "joy" that we get from these unhealthy vices is not real joy.  It's temporary comfort and it will only get us so far and then leave us with nothing.

When we spend all your time and energy focusing on these temporary comforts, they become our only source of happiness.  We've all experienced those days where all we want to do is have a cigarette or a drink or a Big Mac and it will make everything better.  We become so obsessed with obtaining our little comfort that we start to ignore all the things that could actually give us true joy.  What's worse, is these little vices usually steal away our energy to pursue the things that would bring us true joy.  For example, the things in my life that bring me true joy are achieving goals, getting in shape, spending time with family and friends and creating music.  When I sit at home and eat pizza and ice cream all day, this temporary comfort steals away my energy and motivation to do anything else.  I feel bloated, lethargic and gross.  Now, instead of pursuing those things that would bring me real joy, I only have the energy to watch Netflix and go to bed.

The real joy comes when we conquer our addictions and achieve our goals.  It comes from changing our bad behaviors and embracing new ones that will guide us to victory.  Losing 20 pounds, that's true joy.  Spending time with people who love you, that's true joy.  Pursuing your dream job, that's true joy.  I know when I start to feel miserable it's because I am spending all my energy on temporary comforts and I don't have enough things in my life that are feeding me real joy.

I know change is hard.  And breaking bad habits takes time.  But while you are working on that, make sure you have lots of "joy givers" in your life every day.  Go outside.  Go for a walk  See more sunsets and sunrises.  Go to more movies.  Go to more concerts and Broadway shows.  Get involved in community events.  Get a dog.  And give money to everyone who asks.  Give more.  Love more.  And go achieve your goals.  That’s where we find true joy.  And eventually, you will be so busy with these true joy giving activities, that you will eventually not have any time or energy left for the ones that steal it away.  And I don't know about you, but that would make me pretty darn happy!

How To Get Out Of A Rut


I have been struggling lately.  I have been feeling frustrated, annoyed and agitated.  I feel like all the joy has been sucked out of my life.  Don't get me wrong, I know that I have an amazing life.  I am truly blessed with so many great relationships as well as opportunities, both personal and business.  I get a lot of satisfaction from the work I do with Soul Motivation Records.  But some of the other things in my life have become such a chore devoid of any real reward.  I feel like I am stuck in a rut.  Stuck in a cycle that I can't get out of.  Things I use to love have become things that I "have" to do instead of things that I "get" to do.  What happened?  What changed?  When did everyday life become so mundane?  I've been thinking a lot about this as well as confiding in a few close friends, and I have widdled the problem down to two things I need more of in my life.


I am a workaholic and I definitely have an obsessive personality.  When I get focused on something, I spend all of my time on that thing.  And that's not always bad.  That is how I became an accomplished musician.  It took years of obsession, sitting at a piano, listening to a song over and over again, and learning it note by note.  Or hours and hours of listening to great piano players and then figuring out how to play what they played.  This same drive then turned into an obsession with Soul Motivation Records.  I am on a mission to reach the world with a  message of positivity and possibility.  I want my business to thrive as well as to help other people thrive.  It is my new obsession and I love it.  It takes extreme focus to develop any skill, so I'm thankful that I have this quality.

But the bad part about obsession is we tend to focus all of our energy on one thing and let a whole lot of other things lack.  We become unbalanced and not very well-rounded human beings.  By focusing on music and business, I have let some other very important parts of my life get away from me.  Mainly my physical health, my spiritual health, and my social life.  I have not been spending enough time exercising or getting outside.  I have not been going to church or having enough spiritual conversations with people.  I have not been doing anything just for fun.  I can't tell you the last time I even went out and saw a movie.  And I have so many amazing people in my life that I just don't spend enough time with.  This is a big part of the reason I have been so frustrated lately.  My life is out of balance and the only way to fix that is to be sure to pay attention to the things that are lacking and make it a point to improve in these areas.  According to Zig Ziglar's "Wheel Of Life," there are the seven areas of life we all need to be focusing on.  Take a look at these seven areas and ask yourself if you truly putting enough time into all seven.



When we start to feel agitated and frustrated, this is often a sign that we need to make a change in our life.  And I'm talking big change.  Leap of faith change.  Sink the ship change.  I think we all get to a point in our lives where things get stagnant and we know we cannot continue on the same path.  And the angst and frustration is God's way, or our mind's way, of telling us it is time to change.  We can fight it as long as we want, but that nagging feeling will never leave until we finally make a change. 

Change is hard.  As much as we need it sometimes, we spend our whole life fighting it.  It is way easier to continue to go to a job that you hate, then it is to go into your boss's office and quit, gather up your things, say goodbye to everyone, go home and explain what you did to your family, start searching for another job, write your resume, go to interviews, etc.  The change part just sounds like so much work so we make excuses to let ourselves off the hook like "Oh my job isn't that bad," or "Nobody would ever hire me anyway."  With the help of our excuses, we just accept our fate and continue down our miserable path.  But what a waste of a life.  If you feel the pull to make a change, you owe it to yourself and the world to see it through!  Yes, change is hard, but amazing things await on the other side.  You truly can be happy.  You can have joy in your life.  You can have a job that makes you feel fulfilled.  Not only CAN you have these things but you DESERVE these things.  So don't run from change, embrace it.  Dream about the life you want to live and then make the changes necessary to make your dreams a reality.

You don't have to just accept that life is unfair and we are meant to be miserable.  This is a lie that you or possibly those around you are telling you.  If you are feeling frustrated or agitated, there is a reason.  And I'd be willing to bet it is one of these two things.  Take a serious look at your life.  Do you have balance in your life?  Is there something you really need to change but have been avoiding?  Now is the time to face these things.  That is exactly what I am doing and I am seeing hope.  There are some big changes on the horizon for me.  It is time to find some balance and to call up the courage to make some big decisions in my life.  It may get a little crazy but I am ready.  And I will keep you posted on all the changes as they come.  I know there is a way out of this frustrating rut I have been in.  And that is truly exciting!  Come join me and let's break out of this rut together.  Amazing things await us both!

Never Stop Fighting

I just got done watching the movie "The Beaver?"  Have you seen it?  It is a quirky and interesting movie starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and some others.  The basic premise of the movie is that a highly depressed CEO (Mel Gibson) finds help and motivation from a beaver puppet through which he communicates to the world.  I know, kind of weird.  But it is actually a pretty good movie.  One of the big takeaways from the movie is the idea that what if everything isn't going to be okay?  Meaning, some of us may always struggle with depression or other mental illnesses.  It may just be in our DNA and there is nothing we can do it about that.  The good news is, however, you don't have to struggle alone.  If you have people who love you in your life, you'll be okay as they can help you through the hard times.

Never Stop Fighting

Do I 100% agree with this analysis?  I don't know.  Honestly, I often wonder the exact same thing.  Maybe we are predisposed to what our mental health will be for the rest of our lives.  But one thing I do know is that there is still something we can do about it.  We can fight.  Everyday we can get up and decide to fight for ourselves, fight for our mental health, fight for positivity in our lives.  We still have the freedom of choice and we can choose how we want to feel everyday.  Maybe happiness comes easier to some than others, that may be true.  But we all have the opportunity to choose the pursuit of joy, peace and contentment.  That much I do know.

I also totally agree with the movie that we don't have to do it alone.  We are surrounded by loving, caring humans who believe in us.  Even when we don't believe in ourselves.  We need to embrace these relationships with our friends, families, co-workers and even casual acquaintances.  And if we don't have enough of these loving people in our lives, then it is our duty to go out and find them.  They are there you just have to go out and create relationships with them.  I have certainly had times in my life where I felt alone and I felt like loneliness was my destiny.  But then I realized that was a lie I was telling myself.  I deserve to be happy.  I deserve to have loving relationships.  All I have to do is get up, go out, find these people and get them in my life.  And what do you know, it turns out I wasn't alone after all!

The bottom line is even if we struggle with depression, we still can find happiness.  Get up and choose to pursue happiness.  Embrace the love that is all around you.  And most importantly, never stop fighting.  As long as we never give up fighting, we win!

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How To Be Happy

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Ok I know the title of this blog post is a little big.  Really dude?  In 500 words you are going to tell us how to be happy?  Isn't that what millions of people have been trying to figure out for centuries?  Scholars have scholarred.  Poets have poetted.  And now you just finally cracked the code, huh?

Well, in so many words.  Yes.

Life is hard.  And not only is life hard, people are harder.  People have to become hard as stone to survive.  If we were all soft and sensitive, the human race would have been extinct years ago.  Life throws us a lot of curve balls.  People get hurt.  People get sick.  People die.  People get screwed over.  It happens everyday.  And in order to survive, these same people have to toughen up.  We learn from the pain that we need to be more careful next time.  We need to protect ourselves and our emotions, so we start building our emotional wall.  (To learn how to break through this wall, see my article called How To Break Through Your Emotional Wall).

The biggest thing we do to protect our emotions and to fortify our wall, is we become bitter.  We become very cynical of the people and the world around us.  In order to make sure we aren't hurt again, we make fun of everything before it can effect us.  We call Hallmark movies "cheesy."  We make fun of simple love songs and call them "lame."  Anyone trying to change us is obviously trying to sell something or they are "full of it."  No one is genuinely happy, right?  It's not possible.  If you are overweight, then that's just the way it is.  You can't lose weight.  If you are broke, then that's just the way it is.  You can't get out of debt.  And if you are unhappy, then that's life.  Life is hard and we are meant to be unhappy.  Aren't these the messages we hear everyday?  No wonder so many people are popping pills for depression.  We live in a bitter, cynical society that tells us nothing is possible.

Here's the thing.  These are all lies. 

People who are saying these statements are lying to you.  They may not know it, but they are.  They can't see the truth anymore through all the bitterness fog.  Cynicism has made them blind to joy.  There is only one cure for this disease of bitterness that is spreading through our society: 

We have to stop being cynical. 

That's it.  That is how to be happy.  Stop being cynical.  And here's why.  Once you turn off the cynicism, you give yourself permission to feel again.  You are telling yourself that it's okay to let go of the fear and to open up again.  You don't have to call Hallmark movies "cheesy" anymore.  It's okay to like love songs again.  You are giving yourself permission to embrace every guilty pleasure you have every experienced.  You are allowing yourself to believe again.

How amazing would that be?  You can stop your cynical cycle today and give yourself permission to feel again.  Let the emotion wash over you.  Feel it.  Sing it.  Love it.  The power you have inside of you is amazing and all it comes down to making a choice.  You can choose this everyday but you have to commit yourself to fighting the army of bitterness marching all around us.  It's everywhere.  Screaming at you and making fun of you.  But who cares what miserable people think anyway?  I choose to be happy.  I choose to feel.  I choose to believe.  I choose to not give into my cynicism anymore.  I'm free.  Finally.  Won't you join me?

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How To Overcome Negativity: Six Steps

How To Overcome Negativity

Negativity is like a leach.  It grabs a hold of you, never letting go, and continues to suck the life right out of you.  Once it gets a hold of you, it is really hard to shake it off.  We spend our time thinking "What is wrong with me?" instead of "I am a human being.  Life is hard.  How do I pull myself out of this?"  That's why it so important to have a plan in place to get you out of the negativity cycle.  When the dark thoughts come knocking, you will be prepared to knock back.  Here are six steps that I have found to be super useful in fighting off negativity.

1.  Do something about it.

I know this sounds obvious and overly simple, but so many times we think we are powerless to fight back.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  All you need is a plan.  There is something really empowering just knowing that you can take action and find peace and positivity again.  So as soon as the negativity starts to overtake you, ask yourself "What event or thought started this negative thinking?  What needs to change so I can start feeling better about myself and my life again?"  Once you have these answers, you can sit down and make a plan to change the thoughts or behaviors that need to change.  And here's the most important part of any plan:  action!  Once you have your plan, take action!

2.  Reprogram your thoughts.

Negativity is mostly brought on by our thoughts.  It is this simple: change your thoughts from negative to positive, and you are all set.  Sounds easy, right?  Of course, it is not that easy.  We are so programmed to focus on the negative.  I do this all the time.  I will play a show for people who are clapping and telling me they loved it.  I, however, will leave that night and focus only on the one note I messed up or how I forgot the words to a verse.  I have all but forgotten all the nice compliments I received.  We all do it.  But the good news is, we also have the power to change this.  So whenever you are focusing on a negative thought, remind yourself to change that thought to something positive.  You have to actually force yourself to do it.  Start thinking about all you have accomplished that day.  Or all the people who love you.  Whatever it is, the more you train yourself to make that switch, the faster it will start to happen on its own.  It takes time, but eventually, the positive thoughts will become your default.

3.  Share with a close friend.

You are never alone.  Sometimes just sharing what you are going through with a friend can totally lift the burden you are carrying.  It's amazing how often we think we can just fix our problems all by ourselves or we think we don't want to bother someone.  But that is exactly what we were created to do.  We were made to love and support each other, so don't hesitate.  Call a friend and let them help.

4.  Take care of yourself.

The first thing to go when we are feeling negative is nutrition.  We don't want to eat kale when we are depressed, we want to eat warm, cheesy pizza.  We want comfort food.  And although the occasional indulgence can be comforting, what our body really needs is the nutrients and phytochemicals to fight the negativity inside us and lift our mood.  If we focus on eating lots of green veggies and raw nuts and seeds, these foods can do wonders for our mood.  Drink lots of water and let your body reset.  It's also really important to get out and move.  Get the blood flowing.  Get some fresh air and sunlight.  I can't tell you how many bad days were instantly turned around by a 20 minute walk outside.  Finish it all off with a good 8 hours of sleep every night.  I know how hard it is to take good care of yourself when you are in a bad place, but we need to remember to love ourselves always.  Even on bad days.

5.  Clean your house

This one might seem a little random, but there is so much peace and joy that comes from cleaing up our surroundings.  Especially our house which is our nest.  It is our fortress of comfort.  And in order for it to be comfortable, it needs to be clean and functional.  Make sure you have good seating and a comfortable bed to sleep on (this is something I am personally working on right now).  There is also an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when you clean up something that was a mess.  It makes us feel like we are cleaning up the mess in our minds as well.  Everything is in its right place again.  Everything is right with the world again.  With a clean house, you can finally have a clean mind.

6.  Believe

Finally, none of this will work if you don't believe that it can.  You have to turn off your bitterness and believe that you can change your thoughts.  If you don't think change is possible, then negativity will settle in and take over.  But if you allow yourself to dream and believe that you are made to be happy, then you can take the steps necessary to make that dream a reality!  An amazing life of positivity awaits you.  The choice is yours.

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