Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year --- 2010!

New Year's resolutions are tricky! They're so fun to make and so easy to break and that's why I resolved to stop making them years ago. Now I'm wondering where the issue is and why it's so hard to fulfill New Year's resolutions.

A friend of mine has resolved to stop smoking, cold turkey, at midnight tonight. He hasn't done any planning, hasn't cut down, isn't going to use patches or gum or a support group. I'm standing by to see what happens. I'd love it if he succeeds but the odds are stacked against him. It takes more than a date on the calendar to undo 40 years of addiction!

My son has resolved to be more responsible with the small details of his life and stop avoiding them. He doesn't appear to have a plan for how to do that, just a vague idea that a pocket calendar will do the trick. There too, I'm standing by to see what happens.

As for me, even though I don't consider it a New Year's resolution, I intend to be more active with blog posts. It's so easy to think about writing but harder to actually sit down and do it. I figure I can ease my way into it by committing to one blog post a week, thus increasing my blogger productivity by 1000% without too much effort.

But what's my plan to make that one blog post per week a reality? I'll watch for things to blog about in my journal writing and in my life experiences. I'll remember that I don't have to write a book, just a blog post, a few paragraphs or maybe a little more will do the trick.

So here's my commitment: Every Friday I will get a new blog post up and then announce it to my list and my Facebook friends and fans.

And then I'll stand by to see what happens as I take action on this intention! An action plan should take the trickiness out of New Year's resolutions.

Please share your comments or ideas on this timely subject!

Instructions for Happiness in 2010

My dad died last January at the the age of 80 and I created this refrigerator magnet as an anniversary gift of sorts, honoring his transition.

All his life, my dad struggled with health issues and highly negative thought patterns. He contracted rheumatic fever in his early teens which weakened his heart. He worked hard as a laborer, specializing in concrete for buildings and highways, and by 1997, his poor heart had had enough and he had open heart surgery and 2 new artificial valves installed. In 2000, depression hit hard and he decided to throw in the towel on life.

Giving up living is easy but actually exiting is hard. He was very vocal about his desire to die and he complained incessantly for the next 8 years.

In April of 2008, Dad took a turn for the worse and went into the hospital. Mom asked me to come help because it looked like he was finally going to get his wish. I drove the 250 miles to their town and settled in for 7 of his 10 days in the hospital. I spent most of my time with him, stayed the night a few times to help the nurses --- turned out Dad was still plenty strong, too strong to let go AND he was a terrible patient, couldn't be made comfortable, complained all the time about everything. He drove the nurses crazy.

The morning after one of those long, bad nights, I snapped. I couldn't take it any more! I delivered a detailed lecture on quantum theory, Law of Attraction and the power of thoughts at 6am in a quiet hospital room in Eastern Oregon. Near the end of the lecture, I wrote these instructions on the dry erase board handily hanging on the wall at the end of his bed where he had to look at it day and night:

Feel Better --- Start NOW!

1) Stop Complaining
2) Count Your Blessings
3) Say Thank you

We went over the details of each step, how complaining had become a habit that he didn't notice anymore and how a lifetime of complaining had given him a life to complain about. We held up our fingers and started counting blessings and even in his condition there were many! He agreed to say thank you to every person who walked into his room because the only reason they were there was to help him in some way.

I left the instructions on the board for the rest of his stay. I can't say that he had an amazing turn-around in his health but his complaining dropped off considerably, he willingly participated in blessing-counting sessions and he said thank you so often to everyone, the hospital staff commented and were amazed. The nurses asked if they could write those steps on everyone's boards and we all laughed, knowing it wasn't possible.

He lived another 10 months after that and he practiced the steps even when it was hard. He said thank you more in that 10 months then he had in the 80 years before and I was very proud of him. His last words to me were "I love you, dear." What a treasure!

I've thought of that morning lecture many times since then and I'm often tempted to be sorry for it. After all, he was a sick old man in a hospital bed and he couldn't get away from me. However, that event changed both of our lives and I'm forever grateful for whatever power inspired the words and the energy that poured out of me that morning.

I've shared this story verbally many times and those who have taken up the practice have experienced benefits. It's pretty easy to count blessings and say thank you but stopping the complaining is really hard! It's become a part of our culture to complain, judge and criticize everything around us. The trick seems to be training ourselves to notice when we're doing it, to actually hear what we're saying and/or thinking.

Thank you for reading this story and sharing in the magic gift that came from my dad's last struggles. This story is my gift to him. And this magnet is our gift to you.

by Randy Sandknop

To get your magnet (up to 5), send me a private message ( ) with your address and I'll mail it out. The stamp is on me! See the details in the Event section of the Practice Happiness! fan page, My Gift To YOU!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Get Inspired!

Benjamin Zander is my new favorite teacher! Give yourself the gift of 30 minutes to watch this fabulous video!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thought Training ... using mantras in a busy life

I opened my journal and sat there for a minute listening for the first thing to write and a little song popped into my head:

"Blue skies, shinning on me, nothing but blue skies can I see..."

How fun!

In 1994 I started journaling and every day I faithfully followed my thoughts down a negative path and wrote it all down. Since writing is magical, I never failed to find insights, inspiration and hope, but the changes I was looking for took many years --- it was a slow, grueling process.

In March of 2005 I began using mantras. My first mantra was "Think good thoughts" and I used it whenever I heard my thoughts go grumbling down a negative track. It's so easy to jump on a negative train of thought and ride it to the end of the line, except there is no end. Day after day, year after year, I stayed on that train, rumbling through the bleak landscape of negativity. I didn't know that intentionally changing my thoughts was my ticket to a new train with better scenery and a happier destination.

And it was so simple! Training myself to hear my thoughts was the tricky part. Negative thoughts made me feel so bad and that became my cue to listen in and pay attention. Then my power of choice kicked in and I could decide to stay on that train or jump off.

Mantras were the key --- my ticket --- to a different train.

I would start by repeating my mantra (my new decision, Think Good Thoughts) over and over, 20 to 30 times, and then I would look around and ask out loud, "OK, where is one?" (a good thought) and one always popped in. Often the new thought came disguised as a yellow flower in the sunlight or big, puffy clouds in a bright blue sky or the smell of fresh rain on dirt. Sometimes it came as freckles across the nose of a smiling child. Or it came as the sound of people laughing together.

Mostly, at the the beginning, it amazed me how quickly I could change my thoughts and how many wonderful things surrounded me that I hadn't noticed before. I didn't have to change locations to feel better. I didn't have to drink something, eat something, take a pill or talk to someone. It was all right there, readily available with a quick change of focus. Magic, I tell you! The past four years I feel like I've been riding a rocket to a whole new planet. It took no time at all to consciously retrain my thoughts and they've lead to joyful places and wonder-filled landscapes.

The best part is, I can arrange my mantras to fit different situations. Sometimes they're short and sweet, other times a little longer and more specific. If I find myself worrying about someone, I say things like:

  • "I love and trust in Sally's ability to manage her own life."
  • "I love and trust that Toby is having valuable experiences."
  • "I love and trust in Barbara's ability to be resourceful."

If I'm worrying about something in my own life, I say things like:

  • "I trust that I always have plenty of money."
  • "I deserve to have what I really want."
  • "Good things come to me easily."

I know these sound like simple affirmations, but when repeated over and over, they become mantras and have the power to take your thoughts to a much better-feeling place.

The magic mantra for this year has been, "All experience has value"and it covers everything. I no longer have to judge and criticize people or situations, no worry about anything or anyone is required.This mantra releases me to focus on the benefits of every experience and the value of everyone.

The beauty of mantras is that you don't have to do a lot of homework, you don't have to write out your past or list all the people who keep you stuck. Mantras are a right here, right now tool. They can be done anywhere, any time. All you need is a willingness to notice what train you're on and a desire to jump off! Mantras will provide you with a soft transition.

What a blessing!

Randy Sandknop

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Time and Deadlines

Years ago, I had a cleaning and painting business.
I worked for property managers and I had a small window of opportunity to get into each unit I was hired for and get it ready for the new tenant. It paid well for the hours allotted, but I found I wasn't fast. I cared too much what the end result looked like. I simply could not make myself do a crummy job and that's all I was given time for. I never missed a deadline but I was constantly stressed by the crunch feeling. I grew to hate it.

I started resenting and grumbling while I worked, then it grew to a running resistance going on in my thoughts all the time, even when I wasn't working. Even today, that thought pattern can come up if I'm doing similar work, like when I painted my new house last year. I caught it very early and had a blast painting, even with a tight timeframe. Thoughts are everything, as you know.

Nowadays I know more about myself (because of that experience and others like it) and I work plenty of time into my projects. I let people know that a great job takes more time then a crummy job and it costs more. I only work with people who are interested in quality. Plus, I deserve the time it takes to do my best work!

We perfectionists create interesting times for ourselves when we try to fit our style into someone else's time frame. Remember that all experience has value, and with practice, we can do a great job faster. But only if we keep a positive thought process going as we do the work.

Randy Sandknop©2008

Friday, July 31, 2009

Having a Bad Day?

Have you ever heard someone say that they're having a bad day?

Maybe you've said it, I know I have. It's a very common statement. But it's more than that, it's an announcement --- a creation.

Let's look at it technically. There are 24 hours in a day. Assume that 8 hours are spent sleeping and that leaves us with 16 hours of conscious time, our "day". That's 960 minutes, or 57,600 seconds. Wow! If we were to proclaim each second as a moment, that means that each day of our lives holds 57,600 moments available for conscious creation.

When we announce a Bad Day, we forfeit 57,600 opportunities to create something different for ourselves. Since bad days seem to attract more bad days, over the period of a week, that becomes 403,200 missed opportunities. Over a month? 12,096,000 missed moments of creation. Over a year goes into the billions and over a lifetime? Unimaginable.

Now let's go to thoughts. Since we're always thinking, that's non-stop 24/7/365. Thoughts are fast but to keep it simple, let's average them out to one thought per second, so that would equal out to 57,600 thoughts per day to work with. (I suspect 3 to 5 times more, but like I said, let's keep it simple.)

Now, if we define a thought as an information-filled electromagnetic impulse, what kind of information are we getting with each thought? This is where consciousness comes into play: awareness combined with will combined with the capacity to choose combined with memory combined with beliefs combined with emotions --- and on it goes times infinity! Each of us are living, breathing super computers processing infinite potential in each moment.

So here's the question: why would we consciously create bad days with any of our moments of infinite potential? Practicing happiness helps us claim our power in each moment to create what we choose and skip quickly past bad moments to good days!

Randy Sandknop©2007

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Allowing Happiness - Start Today!

I have a dear friend who falls into a pool of despair when she imagines that everyone else is doing great and she's a failure --- comparing herself and her success to others and falling way short.

I reminded her that everyone has negative qualities and bad days, nobody's perfect. But why dwell on it? I have things about myself that I don't like but she doesn't hear me talk about those things, she may not even know what they are because I'm way too busy being wonderful and feeling good, so that's what I have to share with her.

How did I get so wonderful? Practice! I started by practicing listening, simply hearing my thoughts as they came. Then I quickly had to add the practice of allowing (non-judging) because when I began really listening I found so many critical, complaining, negative thoughts running through my head, I was a tad stunned. Then I practiced talking back to the thoughts, but in a friendly way --- I would say things like, "I heard that, you can't sneak that thought by me!" And then I'd laugh. I made my thoughts into friends with good-hearted laughter.

These first practices took some time and I wasn't happy with many things I heard going on in my thoughts. It's no wonder I spent years feeling depressed and anxious!

When I added the practice of using mantras to change my thoughts, things speeded up and I quickly realized what a great tool that was. I got results and felt much better after the very first effort and I loved it because it was so fast and easy to use; plus I could do it anywhere in 30 seconds or less.

So these practices were the beginnings of my new thought patterns:

  • Listening to my thoughts
  • Allowing all thoughts without resistance or judgment
  • Talking to certain thoughts and treating them like friends
  • Using mantras to alter thought streams

The benefits of these practices were many:

  1. My feelings about myself softened and I began liking myself and enjoying my own humor.
  2. I began discovering my personal belief systems and exploring how those beliefs have played a big role in creating my life up to that point.
  3. I began accepting and enjoying my changing emotional states, tapping into the incredible power generated by my emotions.
  4. I opened up to new ideas and new people, I learned new healing techniques, I read books about quantum theory and the functions of the brain and the workings of the cells --- who knew I was interested in any of that, much less that I had an aptitude and capacity to take in and use that information?
  5. Self-empowerment! I started trusting that I could handle any situation and be successful with any endeavor. My confidence levels grew daily.

And this is just the beginning, more benefits reveal themselves all the time. And it began with a willingness to really listen to my thoughts. Powerful stuff! What's going on in your head? Are you listening?

Randy Sandknop©2007

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Sudden Outburst Method of Personal Transformation

On a sunny morning in May of 1992, my life suddenly changed.

And when I say suddenly, I mean in an instant, with no warning. One minute I was sitting in my favorite chair drinking coffee all by myself, thinking my usual thoughts, and the next minute I exploded. I began jumping around the room, yelling, giving myself the biggest butt-kicking of my life. The episode only lasted for about 10 minutes but it altered the course of my life. If anyone had seen me, they would have thought I was nuts!

What caused the eruption? Thoughts. Just like molten lava deep inside a serene mountain, toxic negative thoughts had been boiling around in my mind for years. Those thoughts took a turn for the worse when, a few months earlier, I started thinking about leaving my family and fleeing my life.

You see, every morning I would get my son, aged 9, off to school and then sit in that chair and imagine going into my bedroom, packing up all my clothes, loading up my mini van and driving off down the street. In my mind I would sometimes leave a note or call someone to pick my son up from school. Sometimes I would imagine where I would go first, like to the bank. The only way I ever got myself out of the chair was to decide not to do it today, maybe tomorrow. And then the whole round would begin again the next day. I was stuck in a depression dew loop with no way out.

On that fateful morning in May, I suddenly realized that I wasn't going to do it. And I was furious! The yelling went something like this:

"You IDIOT! You're not going ANYWHERE because if you WERE, you would have GONE already! I've HAD it with you! STOP this foolishness, GET OVER IT!"

And on like that .... while waving my arms, shaking my fists and I think there was some stomping involved. Pretty sure there was. The best part came next. I ran into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked deranged, crazed, wild-eyed. I was horrified, to say the least. But I looked that crazy woman right in the eye, shook my finger in her face and told her to shape up. Told her I had had it with her and her whining and moaning. Told her she was going to get happy RIGHT NOW or I was going to know the reason why not.

The idea that I could actually be happy sent a jolt of panic through me, I could see it in my eyes. So I arranged a smile on my face and even though it gave me an even spookier look when combined with those wild eyes, I said out loud, "I'm a happy girl." I didn't die so I said it again. And then again. I repeated it over and over until it became a little song. "I'm a happy girl. A happy, happy girl. I'm a happy, happy, happy, happy girl!" Catchy tune, you should have heard it. Satisfied with my efforts, I jumped into the shower singing my little song and went on to the rest of my day.

In the days and weeks that followed, I would sing my happy girl song in my van or in the shower but only when I was alone. I didn't tell anyone about my episode because I really had no idea what I had done.

About three weeks later, I noticed that I felt pretty good. It was a shock of sorts, after feeling so bad for so long. It stopped me in my tracks while I did a mental body scan and decided that, yes, I felt pretty darn good! I wondered if my happy girl song was really working. Could it be true? Could a silly thing like that really help?

Emphatically, YES!