Happiness is like jam

“Happiness is like jam. You can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself.”


Ella and Weston, Barry’s grandchildren

For the past few years my wife Wendy, our daughter Rachel, and I engage in a multi-day peach preserve project. With 75 pounds of Georgia’s best, we blanche, peel, chop, can, and seal over five dozen jars of this sweet precious goo.

Doing our best to avoid cuts, burns, and keeping our relationship intact, we always feel very satisfied when the job is done. Given Wendy’s generous nature, about four dozen go out as gifts to sweeten the lives of others throughout the year.


What are some ways that you plan to spread a little happiness around this holiday season and into the year ahead?

So many conditions of happiness are available

“So many conditions of happiness are available. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh, late Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk

Image from Amazon

As part of my coaching process, I introduce my clients to a concept called “creative tension” coined by Robert Frisk in his book, The Path of Least Resistance from the early 90’s.

The idea that an envisioned or expected future has the power to excite and pull us toward it has been a classic and useful tool in leadership training and enrolling people in new opportunities for millennia. It turns out that people tend to be pretty happy and engaged when their efforts lead to progress toward a desired future.

This means of generating a sense of happiness is, however, not the only condition available to us.


How can you use your amazing memory as well as your mindfulness capacities to examine the past and present to bolster your ability to seek and find more happiness?

“Look beyond yourself, see a need and meet it.”

“Look beyond yourself, see a need and meet it.”

Joshua Becker, author of Becoming Minimalist

Image from Amazon

There seems to be a continuum between selfish and selfless tendencies for most of us. On one hand, sustainable happiness and life satisfaction are rarely seen by focusing solely on ourselves. On the other, the complete focus only on the needs of others  — although noble — has been demonstrated to also have a down side, including burnout and health challenges.

Where do you see yourself between these two poles?

How do you meet your own needs to have the capacity to serve and support others in your communities?


Where and when is it appropriate to be SELF-ISH to meet your own needs, or to be OTHER-ISH to meet the needs of others?  How would doing so meet your own need for purpose and a more meaningful life?  Consider checking out Joshua Becker’s new book, Things That Matter, for additional ideas on this subject.

Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous yes to one’s own true being

“Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous yes to one’s own true being.”

—Paul Tillich, 20th Century German-American existentialist philosopher

Image from Unsplash by Zachary Nelson

How often do you jump for joy? When was the last time you experienced this feeling, lifting you to new heights of self-expression?

One way to explore this topic and perhaps make a few more leaps in the years ahead is to examine all the roles you play in life. How you spend your time and who you spend it with will offer clues to where and when you give yourself permission to shout yes to your own true being.


Who are the happiest and most joyful people you know? What is it about them that attracts you and others to them? How might you use their example to be more joyful yourself? If your list is a bit short, look to the children in your life for some coaching.

The heart is very much like a miraculous balloon. Its lightness comes from

“The heart is very much like a miraculous balloon. Its lightness comes from staying full. Meeting the days with our heart prevents collapse.”

—Mark Nepo, Author of The Book of Awakening

Image from Unsplash by Ali Goldstein

Last year around this time my daughter and grandson — who was then 2½ — came to spend part of the holidays with Wendy and me in Michigan. Since little Weston had a far more limited selection of toys at grand-mom’s and pop-pop’s house, we did our best to entertain him.

Among his favorite diversions that week was a small happy birthday balloon we had kept on our window sill, still fully inflated from the previous year’s celebration.

It was a miracle that a two-dollar balloon could fill this little boy’s heart with such joy for the entire time. His engagement with this shiny orb and lots of heartfelt attention filled us all with lightness and the joy of being together.


What balloons do you intend to fill this holiday season? What heartfelt activities will you bring to the days with those you love to keep things light?

Friday Review: Happiness

Friday Review: HAPPINESS

Who are the people, what are the things, where are the places that define your level of happiness? Here are a few related posts you may have missed


“Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower.





“You carry the passport to your own happiness.”





“Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry.”







“Set a daily quota of fun. Positive activities act as a happiness supplement.”

“Set a daily quota of fun. Positive activities act as a happiness supplement.”

—Mo Gawdat, Author of Solve for Happy

Image from Unsplash by Mindspace Studio

Where do you use metrics, milestones, scoreboards and quotas to measure your achievements and level of success?

Examine both your professional and personal life. What activities produce these results, and how many of them do you consider fun and a source of happiness?

What are some of the fun activities that come to mind that seem to be reserved for weekends, vacations, or other special occasions? Examining how you feel on Friday and Sunday evenings can be one way to see if your work has the positive elements of fun you look forward to.


What activities can and will you add to your days or begin doing to score more fun in your life?

What activities can you do less of or stop entirely to make room for these happiness supplements?


“Life is like dessert. Keep your fork; the best is yet to come.”

“Life is like dessert. Keep your fork; the best is yet to come.”

—Andy Andrews, The Noticer

Image from Unsplash by Max Panamá

Today’s quote makes me think of my wonderful wife, Wendy. We have been together for over forty-five years. During our time together, I have gained a far deeper appreciation and love for her and all that she brings to our lives.

Following dinner, she frequently asks for something sweet to alter the flavors from our often savory or spicy meals. She sometimes takes only a modest portion of the meal in order to assure there is room for dessert. Perhaps this is the reason she has become a skilled baker during the pandemic — to remind us that the best is yet to come.


Where and how can and will you save a bit more room for the sweeter things in life?

What would be the value of having dessert at the start instead of it being an afterthought once you are too full to enjoy it?

“There is a gap between stimulus and response, and the key to both our growth and happiness is how we use that space.”

“There is a gap between stimulus and response, and the key to both our growth and happiness is how we use that space.”

—Stephen Covey, 20th century American author & educator

Image from Unsplash by Brett Jordan

This past year has been disturbing and remarkable at the same time. My initial experience of the pandemic and other challenges confronting us was to become angry, frustrated, and down. My world seemed smaller and I felt increasingly confined and limited.

Eventually I stopped looking exclusively outside myself and began a far more intentional and rigorous journey within.

Through numerous practices such as meditation, daily walks, and extensive reading, I found the gaps. I took longer pauses in my thinking and feelings, which provided significant freedom and greater opportunities and possibilities to choose my responses.

Discovering this capacity to be increasingly mindful and aware of my own inner power has enhanced my growth and life satisfaction in many surprising ways.


How can and will you use the spaces between stimulus and response to more mindfully navigate life?

I’d very much like to learn about your efforts and progress, and hope you will consider replying to this and future posts.