Thoughts on Happiness

Thoughts on Happiness


Have you ever struggled with how to be happy? Who hasn’t? It’s one of the deepest pursuits of life. I seem to find I obtain happiness through constantly striving to be and do more. When I consider this struggle, I think I am misguided. I feel like the “struggle” should be more about the feelings I attain through my day which occur through my tasks and interactions. I have often believed that I have to have a purpose to be happy. We all do. However, living a purposeful life and making meaning out of each hour of the day requires constructive (as opposed to destructive thoughts) which leads to our happiness on this earth. Since thoughts originate from feelings, it is imperative to look at what we do with the feelings which come and go through the day. If we have the contentment, joy, and happiness (which I feel to be synonymous), we will live more giving lives which what Jesus asks us to do in Matthew 28: 19 and that is to make disciples and build His kingdom. Isn’t being happy, then, a principled obligation to our fellow man?


So with this said, I would like to look at some lessons I have learned about the whole “Happiness” concept.  It is important to differentiate between what is happiness and what is pleasure. Happiness is like love. It cannot be defined in a dictionary. Pleasure can be, however. Pleasure is short term, spikes of excitement which can come and go throughout the day. Many people seek pleasure only to find that it is futile and short-lived. In fact, many become addicted to the “feeling.” If we are guided by our “feelings” then  we are in for major disappointment since feelings change as fast as the moment of the day. It has been said there are 20,000 moments in the day, ergo, it would be quite tiresome to let our feelings rule our moments. So perhaps happiness has to come from a habit of mind, and not a habit of feeling. This is to say, the use of our minds and intelligences is essential to achieving happiness.


Does it sound strange to say,” I am in pursuit of happiness?” Did God ever say that we are to be happy and that we are put on this earth to be happy?” I would surmise that that it is not our ‘purpose’ per se, but it is an obligation to be happy because this is what occurs when our focus is on God and His glorious gifts he gave to us undeserving souls. He did not have to pursue us to create a relationship with us, but The WORD exemplifies a tremendous love story between God and His human creation. He chose to save us and build in an opportunity to have a personal relationship with Him through the sacrifice of His son (He paid the sin price for all of us). That seems the first step to finding happiness: GRATITUDE. In that way, I do think God would like us to be happy. It is difficult to be unhappy if we are full of gratitude for our existence, no matter what our circumstances. I mean, we as humans, are forgiven! We are being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that one may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks. (Col 1:11)


Joy is discussed often in the Bible. Joy and contentment are great synonyms for happiness. “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24). How is this possible when human nature is to always be satisfied? Human nature is working constantly against us and this is  the greatest obstacle to finding happiness. This is  probably one of the primary reasons we need to have a relationship with God. He gives us the ABILITY and POWER (through the Holy Spirit) to battle our human nature. (“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” ) -John 3:5-7. It is not possible “by” ourselves to be happy although it has to come to us not from outside forces, but from the power of God “within” us. “But now I (Jesus) come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they (Us) may have My (Jesus) joy made full in themselves. (John 17:13).

This verse corroborates the point of not being able to seek it from another person or “event.” It must be sought from OUR work, not someone else’s work upon us.

So how can this be? Circumstances constantly change and life is hard. What happens to us when we fall victim to our feelings? If our feelings become thoughts, then we must have discipline to overcome the natural tendency to become deeply troubled. “And bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) This means it is a discipline or HABIT of the mind to extinguish a negative thought (which erupts from a negative feeling). It is not our hearts for which we can trust because our feelings are misleading. If we don’t do this, our thoughts potential become bad decision and sinful behavior. This IS part of the plan of God which again makes it a biblical concept, that we may not sin. In that case, happiness, being part of our disciplined mind’s activity, must be sought in order avoid sinful activities. The genesis of this has to come from an attitude which must be adopted.

This is why I argue for gratitude. Imagine, if we walk around with an attitude of gratitude? We avoid these pitfalls which inevitably steal and rip apart our joy and happiness.

The first one is the comparison game. Most of the comparisons we make are based on false assumptions of others. Have you ever caught yourself saying, “If only I looked like that” of “She has the perfect life” or “They have no problems.” The list is endless. It is totally in our imaginations because virtually all people put on some sort of mask when they are around others. If all people do this, then it is inevitable that others will make assumptions based on those masks. This is why it is so key to have intimate relationships with others. First, it enables you to talk out your misguided thought which then can become quenched once you realize we all have similar issues. Also, it allows us to become more real which in turn makes people want to be around us. No one likes to be around someone who is perfect and has no faults. It’s not reality!


The second one is IMAGES. Yes, comparing others is a form of image worship, but when we have it in our minds as to the expectation of what the “perfect” marriage is..or the “perfect” body..or the “Perfect” career”, we set ourselves up for failure. The only perfect person is Jesus. It is important to understand that hope is different than holding an idyllic image in our head. This is why being a follower of Christ, we know that this world brokenness and trouble does exist, but it won’t be “perfected” until we are glorified in Heaven and Jesus reigns supreme.


The third one is a “What is missing?” problem. Is it not so easy to focus on what is not there than to see what is? This is sabotages our happiness because there will ALWAYS be something missing. The “Most Important Thing” in our hearts changes like our feelings…constantly! Think about it. When you woke up this morning, you had your mind on the LATEST issue in your life. Two weeks later, you probably can’t even remember what that was but at the time it was MIT! With a grateful heart, we can deal with our issues but keeping a healthy perspective which says that it’s not as important as we may give it credit. Have you ever thought how much energy and time it takes for things to go RIGHT? Why don’t we celebrate those days. “Gosh, my body has not aches today!” or “My mom is alive and doing sell.” We maybe should look at what is “good” in our lives for a change instead of constantly seeking out what is not.


Finally, the opposite of gratitude is expectation. If we hold expectations or feel entitled constantly, it’s pretty impossible to be grateful. When we start to expect perfection from people, or when we feel certain things are “owed” to us, we basically lose control. That’s it and authority is handed over to others to make us happy. That means we are waiting on others (And GOD) to give us love, gifts…whatever.


Life is hard. It takes work. It takes discipline. But pursuing a habit of mind when feelings come along  (which breed misery), we can actually control those feelings to be extinguished and focus back on the reality. This reality has to be an attitude of gratitude. This is not easy as life throws us punches which seem unfair. However, with  a deep, personal, intimate relationship with God, (which has to stem from gratitude since (“He loved us so much that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him shall NOT perish but have eternal life”-John 3:16), we can actually take our feelings to God, ask for help in turning these feelings into constructive thoughts which lead to a closer relationship with Him. This does not mean a “Pollyanna” existence. It does mean acknowledging the feeling through the dilemma or issue, working through it with intimate friendships and with God, and creating a Habit Of Mind to remain content and happy through the storm.


The Golfer Wears Prada

Something has to change. Yes, it’s a new year, and a chance to do ONE thing differently. However, if you Google “Golf New Year’s Resolutions,” you will uncover over 100 million results! Sheesh! Suffice to say, you may be expecting to read an article about what you should do to tweak your swing, putt, or grip. Well, I hate to burst your golf bubble, but it’s no secret that you’re basically not going to significantly change the WAY you play the game of golf, but maybe there is one thing you can change; how you look doing it!


Stop “caring”. Stop “trying”. Just play. The irony is you’ll actually play better anyway. Life isn’t an emergency. Smile. It takes far fewer muscles to smile than to frown.


That’s right. Look at what you have on–are you wearing the same comfort- able old pair of baggy khakis and your ultra-cool yellow waffle shirt? Please! Do us all a favor and get something more edgy. Did you know that what you wear has a direct influence – not just on how others perceive you – but on how you see yourself? In a study, it was determined that university students outperformed their shabby competitors by a long shot. I’m a great believer in the saying, “look the part, play the part”.

Many men may think they are being a bit effeminate if they spend even the tiniest amount of brain energy on what they wear. They want comfort, of course! But, how many women do you know who put on makeup and wear stilettos because they are “so comfortable?” Women know that what they wear has a direct influ- ence on their confidence in the game of life, and moreover helps them to perform at their true potential.

Now think about it….if you feel good and sophisticated when you are playing, don’t you think you’d logically perform better? Start dressing the part and you may start playing the part! Walking through miles and miles of green and knowing that it’s all up to you whether you will win or lose your game is stressful. It takes a lot of guts to hold that pressure and be victori- ous. To gain these “guts” you need to be confident! Maybe looking down at your clothing and getting a bit of fashion “guts” is a fine place to start. As you master the art of dressing appropri- ately, you’ll continue to experiment in what you wear. Given that there is an “assumed code” on what you may wear on the green, you will learn how to be able to beef up your wardrobe with- out being disrespectful to the game.

Haven’t you noticed how Tiger Woods established red as his color? Other players settle for a sensible pair of Stromberg Golf Quinta Funky Prince of Wales Check Trousers. Some choose to play in snazzy white and bright orange Puma golf shoes while others settle for subtle hints of interesting prints. Why don’t you check out some of the available clothing lines? ). Have no fear men–you can do all this viewing in the privacy of your own computer. Take a look at Sligo Wear ( or the op- tions from Bunker Mentality (www. There is always the wacky Loudmouth Golf ( or even Tattoo Golf (


Golf advice is a dime a dozen! You’ll find countless websites with advice and tips to tackle this year. Peter Jacobsen said it best: “One of the most fascinating things about golf is how it reflects the cycle of life. No matter what you shoot – the next day you have to go back to the first tee and begin all over again and make yourself into some- thing.” SO maybe this year start with looking groovy on the outside, and perhaps your look will give you that confidence to stay strong when you’re ready to throw your five iron into the lake.

Gratitude and Golf

Gratitude begins the holiday season, and frankly, should be carried throughout the year. With Christmas and New Year’s around the corner, perhaps an attitude adjustment could do us all a favor. By the time you read this, it will be the season of consump- tion, over-spending, and debt accumu- lation. But as the writer of this article, I want you to adopt this gratitude attitude, and carry it throughout the year. So, here is a friendly reminder by considering the game of golf. Now, I know what you’re thinking.

How can I possibly be thankful for the fact that the course I enjoy is over- priced, my clubs need upgrading, and I need to “swing THROUGH the ball, not at it!”? Yes, you might want the latest Callaway driver or the newest high-MOI mallet putters (sorry to tempt you), but STOP. Sit back and count your blessings.

How can you be thankful for the game? How has it impacted your life? If you can’t seem to think right now because you are obsessing about that shot that went water- bound this morning, perhaps you need an attitude adjustment.

Here are some reasons to be grateful for this game!

1. It’s A Healthy Activity

Ok, so you can’t run 10 miles, 5 days a week anymore. Your knee is shot, your back is giving you fits, and clipping your toenails is an effort. But, you can get pretty fit walking
18 holes. Golf keeps your competitive fires burning and helps keep you well rounded by forcing you to stay away from your cell, to people watch and to enjoy nature. (Yes, there
are birds to be seen and heard).

Some don’t notice the rewards of what golf offers until they are much older with perhaps knee transplants; it’s the one thing that keeps you out of the lounge chair and out near nature.

2. You Get In Touch With Your Emotions

You will laugh

You will cry

You will get angry

You will find joy

3. You Can Release Stress

The key to golf is relaxation. Ironically, the less you play, the more relaxed you are because you have such low expectations. You don’t expect to play well, so you don’t over think or over swing. (No wonder I have been so relaxed lately!!) If you are playing often, however, golf refreshes

your mind because it forces you to focus your energies on a “target not a ball!” (as my instructor preaches).

4. It Teaches Life Lessons

Just when you say, “I got it!”, you get pummeled. Yes, humility is part of golf; it kicks your butt just when your head needs a little shrinking.

There are also memorable moments which are built on the golf course. Have you ever hit a shot that you can re- member the play by play? This teaches us to appreciate the little things.

And finally, meeting people you would have otherwise never en- countered occurs on golf courses daily. What a beautiful setting to just connect with a stranger. Not many other events can bring people in harmony, and this comes from having manners with strangers one learns by being on a golf course.

5. It Builds Relationships

I am reminded of a friend who told me that he created such a strong bond with his father through golf, and he would not trade that for any- thing! Now he’s creating that same bond with his children. Also, some women find that is a way to connect with their husbands and vice versa. Where else can you have four solid hours in a natural setting with people you love (or are trying to love!)

6. It Doesn’t Age Discriminate

Where else could a 75-year-old man school a 28-year-old in a sport- ing event? Golf is the great equalizer: everyone can compete on an equal level. It is about skill levels, not about race, gender, religion, or anything else.

Just remember: “PLAY” golf. I love the word “play.” Yes, adults we are, but as adults we need to be kids on occasion. Golf is not about being perfect. It’s about constantly setting a new bar for ourselves, and this can be a picture into the rest of our lives: We can always strive to be better! So be grateful and PLAY more golf.

Golf is the Grand Irony

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult for people nowadays to sit for 30 seconds without having to tweet, post, blog, text, or search? But, usually the most mentally tough golfers, according to Mr. Quote, Jack Fertig, are the top golfers in the world. But sometimes, mental toughness means NOT thinking! It means having the discipline to turn it off and turn on the game. That takes practice. But, how does one practice the art of tough thinking in an age where 123 thinking is challenged by all the distractions? It’s the old chicken and the egg theory. Does one become a tougher thinker BY playing golf, or does one become a better golfer BY becoming a tougher thinker? Hmmm. To me the mental side of golf has two parts.

Part 1: Approaching the game. Can you put your ego aside and allow yourself to have a terrible shot in the middle of a round? Can you let even the stupid mistakes not let you get really frustrated and mess up the next two holes? It’s like life! Take it one by one…step by step….shot by shot. This is a hard thing to change, but if you can focus on scoring, rather than impressing your playing partners, you’re on the right path.

Part 2. The mental ability to stay strong and committed in spite of distractions! You should be an expert at recognizing distractions since that’s what this electronically stimulated era is filled with. In golf, there are three ways to practice mental toughness. Expect to SEE shadows. Expect to HEAR: whispers, sneezing, and coughing. Expect to FEEL itches, twitches and your heart beating.

Therefore, your next golf practice should be setting up your habits of MIND. There’s a term called metacognition which means thinking about your thinking. Next time you’re practicing, notice the moments where you tend to have a mental hiccup or basically where you dozing off in your mind. Your goal is to have that ability to say to yourself, “Self, you are in charge of how you feel and how you’ll perform, not anything or anyone else.” It’s been said that we can over think our golf game on the range, driving to work, at our desk, and in the shower. This is perfect, but not when you approach the tee. There is a difference between thinking and assessing. You pick your club; you evaluate your shot; you carry out your routine; and you craft your swing. You did your thinking in practice. At tee time, you just do it.

There’s a scene in Tin Cup where the stressed Kevin Costner character mis-hits continuous shots on the range. His caddie advises him to turn his hat backwards, isolate all of his change into his back pocket, and put a tee behind his ear. All of a sudden, he contacts the ball and he realizes that now he’s not thinking about the mis-hits. In fact, as the caddie put it, “You’re not thinking at all. Your brain was getting in the way!”

The minute you tee up, the noises will get louder and your list of do’s and don’ts will be shouting in your head. But this is where your habit of mind of not thinking too much will kick in. This is where you need to shut it all off and not focus on any distraction.

So the next time your children won’t sit and read their book or focus on their homework for longer than five minutes without texting, emailing, or facebooking, sign them up for golf lessons. Maybe golf is the answer for the next generation to train their brain to become mentally tough.

The Golf of Politics

If you’re anything like me, I’d like smaller government. No, this is not an article persuading you to vote for fewer taxes or for government to get out of your life. It’s a plea for politicians to play more golf! Politics and golf go together like peas and carrots. We can armchair quarterback all day about how the government shall be doing their job, but for some reason it’s much more fun to critique the political figures’ golf swing. How did they vote on the debt ceiling? What about their voting record on immigration reform? Who cares! More importantly, what is their handicap? That’s what matters in politics. In Washington more than anywhere else, politics and golf have long been linked. (No pun intended).

I have this theory that maybe the world would be a better place if they’d play more golf and play less politics. I mean just recently, there was much ado about an infamous foursome. Yes, it was the “Battle O-Bo” ac- cording to Gold Digest. Speaker John Boehner and Barak Obama joined Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Governor John Kasich for a round of golf on June 18th, 2011. Boehner is listed as a 7.9 and Obama a 17 in Golf Digest’s annual recap of Washington’s power players. Lyndon Johnson once said, “One thing you better learn if you want to be in politics is that you never go out on a golf course and beat the president.” Apparently, Kasich and Biden heeded that wisdom as the succumbed to a Boehner/Obama victory as they won on the 18th hole. According to U.S News, they all enjoyed a cold drink on the clubhouse patio and spent some time chatting with ser- vice members before the president headed back to the White House. Ah, can’t they all just get along!? What a lovely scene.

Maybe the way to world peace is a few rounds. Passion for golf has come from politicians for years; from lobbyists who have used it to sweeten the members of Congress, and the members of Congress have used it to gain knowledge of each other’s habits. The presidential habit of getting on the green seems to be building. Presidential candidates maybe should take note. Instead of campaigning, maybe they better get on the greens and start swinging their club instead of their votes.

Obama seems to be taking that ad- vice. He has logged more rounds of golf (32) in his first 14 months than George W. Bush did in his two terms (24). A deeply committed Bush used to focus wholeheartedly on his swing. In fact, one could tell his passion (for golf) as he stopped to comment on the looming terrorism problem. “I call upon these nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killings. Thank you. Now watch this drive.” Reagan’s passion for golf trumped that of his love of Congress. He commented once, “My golf-loving friend Bob Hope asked me what my handicap was. So I told him- the Congress.”

Sadly, Ford should have taken Obama’s lead. “I know I’m getting better at golf because I’m hitting fewer spectators…either that, or fewer people are watching me play.” I think they are both true. But as far as presidential swingers go, oddly enough, the most avid White House golfer was Woodrow Wilson, who played twice as many rounds as Ike, which is hard to believe because Ike managed to squeeze in 800 rounds during his two years. There have been only three presidents since Taft — Hoover, Truman and Carter – who didn’t touch the game. JFK was rated the best presidential golfer, but only because of his graceful swing. As president, he rarely played the game, but mainly hit range balls on weekends to let off steam apparently.

It seems that golf provides relief for politicians with great responsibility, while still challenging their minds and bodies. But the way I look at it, golf teaches valuable lessons and offers priceless mea- sures of a man or woman’s character, which politics needs. Politics takes place on the golf course, but golf transcends politics. Maybe if they would play more golf, we’d know who has the character to run this country. So, as the election season looms, you politicians, get out there and play more golf.

What I “Carpe”

What I “Carpe”


“Seize the day”  (Walt Whitman)


Carpe cushioned reclining chairs

Carpe doggie play dates

Carpe coffee and conversations

And free refills from Circle K

Carpe old and new friends


Carpe hand-written “I Love You’s”

Carpe a slow-soothing song

Carpe Scrabble and Words with Friends

And Tesseract Wikis

Carpe old and new movies


“Carpe Diem” says this crazy teacher

Carpe all flavors of Hershey’s kisses

Carpe beautiful sunflowers

Carpe U2

Carpe Now

The Green Electric Box

The Green Electric Box


“Yes, Shelley, you are president again.” It was going to be Kelly, Annabel, or Shelley, but not me. No, I was not to be president, as I did not want to speak up. What if they did not like me? I knew I was special in that I did not want to be like everyone else, but I also knew I wanted to be liked, even at this age of 7. I always felt like I was in observation mode, stepping outside myself to examine others around me. I never really felt a part of any “group.” Being the square peg, I never seemed to fit into the round hole which everyone seemed to be a part. I could not put my finger on it, but I knew I was different in some way. I was more sensitive and affected by everything around me. The introspection I would face daily, would drive me crazy. However, little did I know that God was preparing me to be a leader and a teacher. One thing I did discover, nevertheless, is that every child has these deep insecurities, but they are covered up by bullying, snickering, gossiping, or extreme shyness.


This club that we had formed took place on a small green electric box in the town homes for which we lived. It was just the right size to fit 4 tiny bodies, sitting Indian style. Shelley would call the meeting to order and we would discuss the latest issue of “Tiger Beat.” Sean Cassidy was the heartthrob, but I had my eye on Andy Gibb. This was a never-ending controversy, but I did not want to have the same crush as everyone else. We would decide what fan club we were going to support. We finally agreed that Leif Erickson was a superior choice. Again, I did not concur, but I felt it would be fun to be a part of the “club.” This became our daily routine until we got bored with that and decided to play “Charlie’s Angels.”


Now, the most sought after “Angel” was Kelly (played by Farrah Fawcett).  Unfortunately, the loser had to be stuck being “Sabrina” played by Kate Jackson. Again, it was rare that I got to be Kelly, but the fantastic thing was that I was small, so I did not usually get stuck with Kate’s role. I just remember how cool we thought we were. This game would usually, in turn, create animosity between Shelley and Annabel. They were always fighting. I typically would try to assist in them making amends and I knew I did not want to anger friends. I always wanted to keep things peaceful. I found early on that it is impossible to please everyone and keep the peace. Conflict management was applied in my life which soon came natural since my home life was filled with chaos and conflict.


To this day, I still strive to keep the peace. I don’t have the same desires to be in the “club.”  Of course, I want to be liked and be “popular.” However, the standards I follow now are God’s standards which are not always what the masses believe. I have found that having good character is a pathway to happiness and peace of mind. As Ray Magdalene says, “Like ripples in a pond, your character radiates outward and touches the hearts of people within your sphere of influence.” What I do to live a godly life and how much I love others will determine not only my happiness, but will permeate the lives around me and create a better world. I pray I can live with this type of grace for others and for myself. The green electric box still stands today and is a constant reminder of my newfound strength, hope, and encouragement to self-inflicted “square pegs” around the world.