Happiness and satisfaction are in your own hands

bird in hand

There is an old story that I have heard that I will re-tell in my own words:

The Wise Old Man teaches the Fool

There was once a wise old man living on the mountain. This man could answer correctly any question posed to him.  He was remarkable, especially because this was in the days before the internet was invented.  One day, a young man in town thought he would fool the Old Man.  He decided to ask the Old Man a question that he couldn’t possibly answer correctly.  So, he found a baby bird.  His plan was to carry the bird to the Old Man and ask, “Is the bird in my hand dead or alive?”  If the Old Man answered, “It is alive,” he would squeeze it to death and prove the Old Man wrong.  If the Old Man answered, “It is dead,” he would simply open his hand and show the lively bird.

He took the bird in his hand to the Old Man. He held the bird cupped in his hands not visible to the Old Man.  He asked the Old Man, “Is the bird in my hand alive or dead?”  The wise Old Man pondered this question for a moment, then answered, “It is whatever you want it to be.”  The Old Man proved his wisdom and the Fool went away dejected.

In many ways, the wisdom of the wise Old Man also applies to our life or our careers, “It is whatever we want it to be.” We hold the answer in our own hands.  We will spend our lives as a giver or a taker?  Is our focus to better the lives of others or to enhance ourselves?  Do we care more about what happens to us or to what happens to others?  Are we sacrificing for others or expecting others to sacrifice only for us?  The answer to each of these questions is completely within our own hands.

The same applies to our careers. Are we controlling our own career destiny or relying upon others to carry us along?  Are we enhancing our skills and abilities to make us more valuable as employees or simply resting on our laurels?  Are we investing in the careers of others or do we expect all the investments to come in our direction?  Are you chasing a title or seeking adventure, challenges, or fulfillment?

Happiness, satisfaction, enjoyment, hope, and motivation are completely within our own grasp. None of these should depend upon anyone else.  Stop waiting for others to make you happy… you hold that in your own hands.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you can or cannot, you are right.” I would enhance that and say, “Whether you believe your life or career can be happy and satisfying or not, you are right.”  Take charge of our own happiness and satisfaction… starting today!

Have a great and enjoyable day! Do what you can to make this day special for someone else!


Keeping life simple

M&M 4

We often try to make life much more complex than it needs to be.  Devices, intended to simplify our lives, consume us.  We have more “time saving” things in our lives now than ever, yet we are busier.  If you are like me, every project at home is harder or more complex than I thought it would be.  Let me illustrate with one of my favorite recipes.

Summertime is a great time for get-togethers with family and friends.  But, when you are invited to attend one, the same problem arises that might even take the fun edge off the event, “What shall we take?  Not everyone likes that.  How will we keep it warm/cold until we get there?  What if someone else brings it?  Isn’t he allergic to it?”  The questions keep coming until we give up and take something we didn’t want to take that others like less that we hoped.

I am personally for keeping life simple.  So, when you are asked to attend one of these summer events (especially one that I’ll also be attending), try this one (this has been in our family for generations – it was improved from one obtained from others – the originator is unknown):

M&M Casserole


  • One large bag of Regular M&M’s
  • One large bag of Peanut M&M’s
  • One large bag of Almond M&M’s



  • Carefully open the bag of Regular M&M’s.  Pour approximately one-half of the bag into a sealable container.
  • Carefully open the bag of Peanut M&M’s.  Add approximately one-half of the bag to the container with the Regular M&M’s.  Mix carefully.
  • Allow mixture to sit undisturbed for one minute at room temperature.
  • Carefully open the bag of Almond M&M’s.  Add approximately one-half of the bag to the mixture.  Mix carefully.


    • (Note: Do not use any M&M that falls from the bags onto the floor or countertop.  If you dare, you may eat these.)
  • Refrigerate the mixture for about one minute.  Do not over-cool!
  • Remove the mixture and add all remaining M&M’s from the bags.  Use a wooden spoon (not your bare fingers) to mix this carefully. 
  • With minimal disturbance to the mixture, transfer all contents into your chosen serving bowl.  Cautiously scrape the sides of the mixing bowl to remove all ingredients.
  • Serve at room temperature.

Why do we make our lives more complex than needed when we could accomplish the exact same thing in the most simple fashion possible?  This recipe is always a hit anywhere we take it for any occasion.  Why worry about doing anything else?

The same often holds true in other aspects of our lives or work.  We overthink the issues, then “complexify” matters by making it harder, rather than simpler.  For example, I have actually seen situations in which 3 or more forms are needed to accomplish something that could have been done in less than one minute!  We need to get in the habit of asking, “How can I accomplish that task in the best, yet most simple manner?”  And, we should always be on the look-out for activities that add no value at all.We can also simplify our lives be de-cluttering — eliminating both the figurative and literal junk in our lives.  The simple approach is often the best approach.Thanks for making a difference in the lives of others.  Think today about how you can make your life simpler and better.  Have a fabulous day!