Happiness, with blue and pink flowers and birds, butterflies, and dragonfiles

“Happiness is something that multiplies when it is divided.”

~Paulo Coelho

What is your definition of happiness? Take a moment to reflect on this question before we dive into the topic at hand.

Happiness is a complex concept, one that varies from person to person. It encompasses positive emotions, life satisfaction, and a sense of fulfillment. But can happiness exist when we are alone? It's an interesting question worth pondering.

In our never-ending pursuit of happiness, countless books have been written on the subject. It seems that everyone yearns to experience happiness in their lives, and I am no exception. As I recently found myself disconnected from the world during a six-day power outage, I had ample time to reflect on what happiness truly means to me. In doing so, I examined three key elements that contribute to happiness: pleasure, engagement, and meaning.

Pleasure involves indulging in activities we enjoy. It's those moments of bliss when we immerse ourselves in things that bring us joy and contentment. Engagement, on the other hand, refers to feeling interested and connected to our activities and the people around us. It's that deep sense of involvement and connection that enriches our lives. Lastly, meaning plays a vital role in happiness. It's the feeling that what we do matters, that our actions have a purpose and positively impact ourselves and others.

Throughout my life, I have discovered that one of the greatest sources of happiness for me was my career as a principal. Every moment I spent in that role was filled with immense satisfaction. I formed connections with staff, students, families, and the community. I genuinely felt that the work I was doing mattered and had a profound impact on the lives of others.

However, a near-death accident in 2010 changed the course of my life, altering the way I could pursue my passion. Despite my best efforts to recover from a traumatic brain injury and find alternative paths to happiness and fulfillment, I faced frustration and triggers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Writing a book became my new goal, a means to share my beliefs and insights to help all children. Although I poured my heart and soul into the writing process and sought professional guidance to refine my work, the final outcome did not align with my expectations. Publishing the book came with its own set of challenges and costs.

While my book remains unpublished, I have found solace in sharing fragments of it each week on my blog. The feedback and encouragement from others who desire to see more have been a source of motivation.

I have come to realize that my happiness lies within my family. Each day, I prioritize spending more time with them, and this brings me immense joy. Additionally, helping others who reach out to me for assistance has become another avenue for happiness. The act of supporting and making a difference in their lives fills me with a profound sense of purpose.

As I reflect on my journey, I recall a high school goal list where I wrote that I would write a book in Mr. Bob McMurray's class. Though I may not have obtained a doctoral degree as initially envisioned, I have achieved everything else on that list, including completing the book I set out to write. Mr. McMurray's name is proudly displayed on the dedication page alongside a few other influential figures. Writing the book and accomplishing my goals have been significant milestones in my pursuit of happiness.

Throughout my life, my "why" has always been centered around giving to others. It has been and continues to be my driving force. I have made a steadfast commitment to freely provide whatever is needed to those around me for as long as I am able. Not once have my goals revolved around seeking fame, accumulating wealth, or receiving any sort of personal accolades. Instead, every goal I have set for myself has been rooted in benefiting others and giving back to the community. When I pursued my degrees in education, it was a gift to my parents, fulfilling their request and honoring their support. These aspirations to give to others stem from my spiritual journey growing up in the church, where I learned the profound truth that giving is far more rewarding than receiving.

Ultimately, happiness is a subjective experience that we have the power to shape. It is a choice we make every day. While there may be moments when we feel like giving up, it's crucial to remember that happiness is always within our reach if we are determined to find it. So, let us embrace the things that bring us pleasure, engage fully in our activities, and seek meaning in all that we do. As we embark on this lifelong journey, let us never lose sight of the fact that happiness is not a destination but a state of mind that we can cultivate and nurture.

Thank you to all of my supporters, followers, and new and previous friends. Always know you make a difference in my life each day as you read my words, and I know you are part of the solution daily in a world that needs you.

The box.  A blue present with silver ribbon with pink as the background color

Have you ever been given a beautiful box? You can’t wait to see what is inside it! Then you open it to find it empty?

the box is empty

Maybe you experienced a joke or maybe you are getting what I am really trying to say. You can decorate, wrap things up beautifully, but it does not change what is on the inside. Fake it til you make it….just an empty attempt. Motivating or trying to make everyone happy does not always work.

Some people work really hard to take the time to do things to lift up others and it can fail. People sometimes are just not in the mood to receive fun items connected to cute things. I once spent time in thinking about how to use some extra materials we had we wanted to give to others by using my dad’s name. He was always a giver. It just so happened his name was Walt. Ironically one of my favorite leaders is Walt Disney. So when we sent the resources of to staff we used the message from Walt and a cute message.

Complaints came into the Superintendent’s office from of the staff members instead of gratitude for the fun stuff they received from my office with a message from Walt. They thought it was not a good use of time or money. They indicated the time of my sub secretary and those who had to deliver the items to the building. What they did not know was many things behind the gifts sent. However, I choose not to address it with providing that information. Instead, I stated, “I am sorry you feel this way and we will not do this moving forward.”

One of my favorite quotes speaks about not blowing out the candles of others to get yours to shine brighter. I wanted to let my staff know we would continue to do positive work each day, we would listen to the complaints others made and adjust. I let them know Abraham Lincoln once said, “People are as happy as they let themselves be.” I just went a little over the top and I will calm it down to stick with our principals. I reached past them to the teachers and obviously it did not go the way I intended. I saw an opportunity to give to others while we were cleaning and reorganizing our space. Have a little fun while doing some cleaning and reorganizing at a possible move.

When we provide feedback, complements, encouragement or anything to try to improve or inspire others, it is best practice to know they will not look at is as getting an “empty box.” When you are saying or doing things that are not authentic people know. If you are not out in your buildings and visible, how do you know what is working. Roll up your sleeves and be out there in order to provide the right information to others.

Another one of my favorite leaders is John Maxwell. I have read, heard him speak and listen to him as much as I can. He has said, “people can’t do what I do”. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to hear his words. “People can’t do what I do, until they do the did of what I have done to get to the do.” I get it!!!

You cannot do what anyone does until you do the did of what they do. Give everyone the credit for the did! They have worked hard each day and recognize this first. You cannot give them any kind of advice, constructive feedback or support until you provide credit for the did! Recognize the did in their journey that has gotten them to this point.

Getting rid of the empty box

No need for all of the beautiful wrapping, just getting out there to the did so everyone will see what you do to make the school, company or organization better.

I have to be honest, I still do the inspiration, motivation and what some may say is “Hallmark”. I do this because it is part of my did. I have always been “Hallmark” and it is part of who I am. I can adjust it, scale it back and understand when others think it is too much. However, I still feel it is important to always find joy in the day, love all and always give more than you receive.

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2024 Brenda Yoho
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