The New Normal Is the Language of the Unhappy

Accepting normal or average is choosing to be a loser and choosing to fail.  Any news source, talking head or alleged expert proclaiming a new normal should be ignored—immediately.  Turn off the t.v., exit the site or turn and run.  Accepting normal is a far more deadly pandemic than any virus ever has been or every will be.  The “new normal” is a proclamation of accepting crisis and deterring exceptional actions that would cure the ills.  A dumbing down of the exceptional is never the solution to a problem.

For many, a new normal is unhappy utopia.  It is the promised land to bask in woe and don their masks out in the open.  The unhappy seek to add to their ranks and congregate in their chosen state of despair.  Hopefully, they will practice social distancing in these trying times.  Happiness pursuers are the cure to the chosen ills so they avoid all possibility of an antidote just as they have avoided the vaccine of happiness-pursuing freedom since they were able to (fail to) think.  Marginal, incompetent people subtly drag newbies to their new normal with guilt-avoiding words of phony affection.  After not too long however, the scourge of mediocrity becomes eventual despair and the unhappy like it.

Their language that includes the new normal is really nothing new at all.  It is the languor of life’s losers. There have always been, and always will be, the haves and the have-nots.  The dichotomy has zero to do with money, wealth or anything tangible; it has only to do with a simple choice between taking action to pursue happiness in life or not.  The happy haves reach far beyond normal and the unhappy have-nots fail to seek anything beyond the mediocrity of an ever-lowering bar.  The new normal is a jaded game of limbo and the end is always the same—the bar is set even lower and the willing participants will not reach it.

The language of positive thought and action is the path to happiness.  Do not accept normal whether it is marketed as something old or new.  Reject it.  Think of the best, act to be the best and you cannot fail to advance yourself toward the best.  Now that’s the happy talk.


Top Five Reasons Your Life is Happier Than You Think

1.  You’re reading this.  That means you have life and at least an ability to read the written word and form thoughts.  The best part is that thought is all you need to pursue happiness.

2.  Everything good (or bad) in life starts with thought.  As a matter of simple logic you now have all that you need to get started on anything you desire.  The thoughts that you have should coincide with your desires and point you in pursuit of happiness.  Form your positive thoughts and immediately start acting on them.  Write down small steps that you will take.  Each little step in the direction of your desire gets you a bit closer.  Noticed that only POSITIVE thought is mentioned here.  There is no place for the negative because the stuff you worry about or think negatively about rarely, if ever, come to pass.  

3.  Acting on thoughts is easy, but we are trained to think it’s hard.  We are trained to think it’s hard to act because too many would-be mentors in our lives have taught us that outside influences (ironically those same mentors in many cases) create our lives.  Your life is better than you think because all is under your control no matter the nonsense that you’ve been taught through most of your life.  Today is a new day and right now is the time to turn your positive thoughts into action IN SPITE OF what others have told you.

4.  Actions bring results.  When you have a positive thought and finally realize just how acting on them advances your life, you achieve results.  Some thoughts are merely small desires and other may be significant life changes.  Either way, taking action is mandatory for advancement and pursuing happiness.  Small desires may be achieved quite quickly and are good starting points in forming the habit of timely and decisive action.  The big desires may take a series of positive actions over several days, months or years.  Either way, you have the power on your own to advance your life.  Your life is better than you think.

5.  The power of thought and faith cannot be stolen from you.  No matter the circumstances, your power of thought and the faith in your own thoughts cannot be taken away.  Your perception of events in your life and how you respond to them are yours only.  Cast aside the negative or unsupportive thoughts of others, giving them no room in your mind.  Move ahead by acting on the faith in yourself.

Life is about advancement.  You and only you advance yourself through thought, action and the faith that keeping at it will get you what you desire most.  Your life is better than you think when you think about and pursue happiness.


Top 5 Happiness Courses Paired with Music—Life’s Perfect Happy Meal

First Course:  Gratitude

Express at least three things for which you are grateful paired with the song “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong  When things get tough, human nature often turns to a misery loves company response.  The flip side is what works in creating happier lives.  Rather than wallowing in fear or self-pity, take time to think about the positives in your life.  When you have the things you REALLY NEED, thinking about and expressing gratitude for them makes you happier.

Second Course: Worry-free Days

Focused thought to eliminate worry paired with “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin; or “Don’t Worry About A Thing” by Bob Marley  The best tip for reducing anxiety and pursuing happiness is first understanding that over 90% of the things you fear and worry over never happen.  A significant number of studies support this conclusion.  Start by understanding that your worst fears rarely happen.  You are not a victim of circumstances so even a pandemic may be overcome by perspective and your approach to the day.  Anxiety/fear during a crisis like this pandemic is no surprise. Having the mindfulness to put the fear aside is the best tool.  Coronavirus is today’s fear, but tomorrow’s will be something else.

Third Course:  Life Purpose

Think about your life purpose and put it in one concise thought paired with “My Way” by Frank Sinatra  Social distancing is the new term applicable to staying at a safe distance.  Alone time is an old saying but no less a promoter of health.  Use some of the extra time you now have to reflect on what’s most important.  Having a purpose, whether it’s being a great spouse or parent, a caregiver for the needy, a spiritual advisor or a mentor of others unequivocally increases happiness in your life.  Write out your purpose, make it official, and do it your way.  

Fourth Course:  Time

Think about the time you now have and pair it with “Time Is On Your Side” by The Rolling Stones. More time at home means no long commutes and less long hours away from home. More TIME to work more efficiently, and in turn, more time for families, kids, and yourself.  Happiness and wealth, two complex subjects, are connected to control over your own time and especially to your relationships with your children, family and other loved ones.  More time available means more time to be together and to pursue happiness.

Fifth Course:  Acting Happily

Start acting like a happy person aka, fake it ’til you make it— paired with “The Great Pretender” by The Platters.  Once your new actions become habit, then move forward to “Shiny, Happy People” by R.E.M.  As simple as it seems, acting happily and taking action in pursuit of happiness, makes you happier.  It works, guaranteed.

Evidence That Happiness Is All About Perspective–Even Amidst a Covid Crisis

Naysayers so often scoff at the idea that one may pursue happiness and then reach the light at the end of the tunnel.  Many don’t believe that happiness may be pursued at all.  They reside in an endless tunnel and their lack of vision is their existence.  Seeing only the tunnel walls and the blindness to the light is their only perspective.  The tunnel doesn’t cause the blindness and neither does their eyes; the cause is perspective and perspective is always a choice.

The evidence lies before our eyes during the current climate of crisis.  People in loving relationships are happier people.  This fact has been supported in myriad studies. In short, being with our loved ones is a good thing and promotes happiness.  Enter perspective.  On radio, t.v., social media and in conversation, I have heard endless complaints about “working from home among the kids” and the problems of sharing a home office or the kitchen table during the workday.  “Oh, how will one cope?” is the question.  The techniques for dealing with this new workplace is discussed as if it’s a foxhole in Vietnam. Endless other stories and commentaries speak to being cooped up with spouses or other loved ones for hours on end.  Everyday is Thanksgiving with a toxic family gathering.  What a tragic set of consequences; almost as bad the virus itself!

Are these cabin fever issues really evidence of a perspective problem?  By themselves, no.  However, I have heard as many stories expounding on the fear of loneliness and anxiety created by the stay-at-home orders and the “social distancing” demands that have been thrust upon us all.  If only others were around, things would be great.  “Oh, how will one go on without socializing in the office?” is the refrain.  No doubt, these are the same people who say “Happy Monday” or “Let’s get over the hump!” and the ever-popular “TGIF” week in and week out when they are at the office.  The totality of the negative is that there are always those who can’t live with ‘em and those who can’t live without ‘em.

Perspective is everything.  Hat-ahs gonna hate and the unhappy are gonna be unhappy either at home with family wishing they could go socialize at work, or at work wishing it was the weekend and they were at home.  Begin to change your perspective right now, practice the positive angle on every matter of the day, and soon it will become a habit.  Creating positive perspective followed by positive action is the only way to acquire a new habit and make positive change.  See the light, focus on it rather than the tunnel and bask in it.  The light will warm your soul.


*A perspective addendum in real time:  As I write this post, there is a beautiful snowfall with the large flakes we pray for on Christmas morning.  But, it’s April 17th, typically two weeks into the MLB season every prior year of my life.  Is the snowfall as beautiful as it would have been on Christmas morning?  The answer is found in perspective.

Happiness Is the Mind’s Silver Bullet

Steve Earle sung a great tune about “The Devil’s Right Hand.”  A pistol as the subject of the song is misguided, but it is a great tune nonetheless.  Objects or circumstances outside of us are neither the hand of evil nor the causes of what ails us.  We are our own Devil’s right hand and we are likewise our only defense against its destruction.

There is such a hand, but it touches us from within and stifles our advancement.  The true Devil’s right hand is hopelessness, a mindset created from negative thought founded on fear and discouragement.  Such thoughts go viral and consume from within.  The outward symptoms present in the form of familiar statements like “I just don’t have the time,” “It takes money to make money,” “I have other responsibilities to take care of first,” or the grandaddy of ‘em all, “If I could just get a break.”  Time, money and the “break” in these statements are merely excuses or rationalizations for failure, they are not circumstances of victimhood.  And, the most painful slap of the hand is this—we choose to be slapped.

Many never want to learn that the while a pistol can be a weapon for evil deeds, it is more useful as a tool of self-defense.  Our own thoughts and choices are the sole defenses against the reach of hopelessness.  Like a pistol, our own mind is either the tool that saves us by focusing on pursuit of happiness or takes our life with the bullet of discouragement. In either event, the operations’ purpose is chosen by the user.  Right up until the trigger is pulled, we have a clear choice between the Devil’s right hand or the silver bullet that kills off evil.  Take aim with your thoughts and then take action to be happy.  You are your own right hand.


Some See a COVID 19 Crisis, Others Choose to See “The Whole of the Moon”

The Waterboys made a record in the 80’s, my decade I might add, titled “The Whole of the Moon.”  The key chorus line is “I saw the crescent, you saw the whole of the moon.”  Life is all about perspective and the approach we take to the same circumstances.  Some see nothing, some see bits and pieces, other see the big picture and beyond by using more of their minds—“the whole of the moon” so to speak.

There are two parts of our lives in our exclusive control that make a real difference in how we approach today: our thoughts and our actions.  The way we perceive a circumstance is not the same as others see it.  One may see the crescent, the other the whole of the moon.  During the current Covid 19 experience, people will see the situation differently.  No doubt many will see disease, lost income, lower 401(k) numbers, missed opportunities at work and even the images of death.  Their vision will unfortunately end at the crescent.  Others with clearer vision will see opportunities for more time with family and/or loved ones, a better approach to fitness both physically and mentally, and an enhanced focus on the important things in life.  Perceived crises provide opportunities to those who express thoughts of gratitude.  They come to realize the positive whole from the same events others only see as a limiting crescent.

Crises also create action.  “I talk about wings, you just flew,” is my favorite lyric from the song.  So many waste time and talk about crises; in fact, they actually enjoy spreading the bad news.  The same folks who enjoy crisis-speak so often also talk about things they “would have” accomplished if the crisis never occurred or if they “just had more time” to spare.  They have never flown.  They likely will never fly. Those who have the opportunistic vision allowing them to see the whole do not merely create images with their minds.  They take action.  They fly.   Envision more by thinking more and accomplish more by acting more.  See the whole of the moon.


Evidence is the Place where Law, COVID 19 and Liberty Meet

“Are you going to believe me or your own eyes?”  This famous quote most often attributed to the Marx Brothers in “Duck Soup” has been altered on several occasions over the years adding the word “lyin” because it makes the question even more poignant by suggesting the conclusion.  The distinction between the evidence we see (or hear) and the alleged proof we are force-fed is often quite different, even acrimonious.  As a trial lawyer and advocate for the pursuit of happiness, aka individual liberty, these issues create the perfection intersection for discussion.

To begin, proof portends at least an implied conclusion and hurdles the concept of any critical thought.  Making the statement that one has proof that something works, or that proof is necessary before taking some action, already has the result in mind.  The result may be desired in some instances or unwanted in others.  However, the truth remains that when one argues in “proof” language, one already sees the result and seeks to reach it or to stop it. 

Evidence demands thought and asks the viewer/listener to reach a thoughtful conclusion.  The law deals in evidence, not proofs though many attorneys and “experts” in law use the term.  “The proofs will show. . .” is one of my most despised lines during a trial.  In law, burden of proof has different standards or levels precisely because to meet a burden, evidence is required and then the trier of fact, usually a jury, places those facts on the applicable burden scale for the type of case at hand.  When proofs are proclaimed, facts are usually missing or at least highly malleable.

The COVID 19 crisis poses the question of proof versus evidence quite nicely.  On t.v. and radio, medical experts or “scientists” have repeatedly said that there is no conclusive proof that certain therapies like hydroxychloroquine are effective in treating the virus.  They chirp that clinical trials, statistically significant testing and conclusive data are needed to prove that the relatively safe drug works.  The counter belief is that many physicians, also scientists one may add, have ordered the therapies and relieved very sick patients of the virus.  The results are offered as evidence that the therapies are effective at least in many individual cases.

Evidence is better than proof, at least as any individual should approach the question.  There is a simple question at the heart of the issue.  If you were sick (possibly dying) and offered a drug that was relatively safe and was shown to have been effective in many other individual patients, would you choose to undergo the therapy based on that evidence?  Or, would you choose to forego treatment and wait for the scientific proof from the experts who are looking at the statistical data?  How about for your child, or husband, or mom?  We all know the answer and some pretend they do not.  The same debate raged over HIV many years ago and the same Dr. Fauci was at its center.  As is often the case in matters where science meets ethics meets common sense, those on the side of evidence become those wanting the proof, and those on the side of waiting for proof want to proceed on the evidence.  Interesting?  Not really, just foolish.  

In a trial, juries decide cases based on evidence presented combined with their everyday life experiences, or common sense as we call it.  The proponents of evidence desire no more than allowing individuals to be presented with the facts and then deciding for themselves what actions are warranted.  The advocates of proof want to look for conclusions and then decide for everyone else.  In short, evidence allows liberty and proof suppresses it.  Like Devo, “I’ll say it again in the land of the free”—“Freedom of choice is what you’ve got; Freedom from choice is you want.”

The happy want evidence so they can act, the unhappy want proof so they have an excuse to wait.


Advancement in the Time of Covid-19: A Virus is Always the Vaccine

A virus becomes the vaccine.  Doses of uncertainty, hoarding, panic, reality and then ultimately reflection will be the steps of our current events.  With any perceived crisis, the first response is often the Henny Penny cry.  With time, thoughtful reflection will set in soon enough.  The initial reactionary position will be forgotten like the common cold.  The thoughtful reflection is the portion that will endure and transform our lives in inverse proportion to the initial cry.

Small doses of crises inoculate us from new crises and teach the best ways to respond.  Doses of unhappiness lead us to seek ways to be happy.  Large doses of crises lead to superhuman responses.  Think about a matter of life and death—a rollover accident with a car on top of the driver.  One man witnesses the accident and lifts the car off from the trapped driver.  We have all read about these stories and have seen them depicted on t.v. or in movies.  People reach beyond their former capabilities under real pressure.  People will become more capable out of this crisis.  People will become happier in ways they had been previously incapable of believing or even contemplating.  The virus will spawn the cure in our practical, day-to-day lives and more importantly in the broader picture of ourselves.

Practical changes for each day:

  1. Time:  Being at home now means no harrowing commute for those who typically must jump out of bed and enter the grind to travel to a far away cubical.  No commute time wasted means more TIME to work more efficiently, and in turn, save more time for ourselves.  Happiness and wealth, two complex subjects, are connected to control over our own time.  Enter more time, enter more time to pursue happiness.
  2. Education alternatives:  Students will learn something quite valuable, in more ways than one.  Tens of thousands of dollars are spent annually by college students to congregate in lousy housing, to pay for lousy food choices and to study subjects that offer no real end value.  The crisis will teach the ease of learning through virtual classrooms and cut college costs in half for those who continue the new path to a degree.  Younger students may prefer such methods as well once they learn that it works.  The value of learning may very likely become more valuable.
  3. Work alternatives:   Working from home has been resisted by many while embraced by others.  Old school companies and employees resist working from home due to perceived goofing off, lack of face time with coworkers and myriad other reasons. These folks are the same ones who do not see the time wasted by the gossipers, back-biters and socializers in the office environment.  The crisis has sent many home and as productivity remains steady or increases as predicted here, many more companies will embrace and expand the idea.  The virus will help cure unhappiness in the workplace and increase business revenue.
  4. Personal opportunities:  As above, time granted by the virus can heal.  Cooking our own healthy meals, focusing on fitness, taking care of home projects formerly on the back burner, or getting to the books we’ve promised ourselves to read .  All of these areas of life are now possibilities that the alibi of “no time” has lost some its vigor.

Daily action is full of practical choices.  A virus has caused the choices to be different ones, but still the choices are ours to make.  These practical choices steer our pursuits of happiness or unhappiness.  A virus has provided the cure to poor choices.

Philosophical changes and the big picture.  The factors that lead to increased happiness are well known.  Examining them under perceived extreme times will create positive pursuits within the bigger picture of our lives.

  1. Relationships—Time and again, studies have proven that personal relationships and especially loving relationships make for happier lives.  Difficult times enhance the personal relationships that matter.  With stay at home orders, the excuses of time or distance are removed as barriers to spending time with loved ones.  The number of hours spent with those that matter to us will increase exponentially for vast numbers of people.  They are going to like it and it will change their lives for the happier.  More time for relationships is time well spent.
  2. Gratitude—When things get tough, human nature often turns to an “at least I’m not him” or a misery loves company response.  The flip side however is what works in creating happier lives.  Rather than wallowing in fear or self-pity, there is now time for actual thought about the positives in our lives.  When we have our health, our family members /loved ones/friends and the stuff we REALLY NEED, thinking about and expressing gratitude for them makes us happier people.  More time for gratitude is time well spent.
  3. Reflection on our purpose—Social distancing is a new term applicable to interacting with others but staying at a safe distance.  Alone time is an old saying but no less a promoter of health.  Many will use some of the extra time they now have to reflect on what’s most important in their lives.  Having a purpose, whether it’s being a great spouse or parent, a caregiver for the needy, a spiritual advisor or a mentor of others unequivocally increases happiness in our lives.  More time for finding and reflecting on our purpose is time well spent.
  4. Wisdom/Faith-seeking—With crises come questions and with questions we seek answers.  When bigs things happen big answers are pursued.  The answers are found in faith when reason doesn’t seem to provide any solace.  People who have faithful beliefs in something bigger are nearly always happier people.  If a crisis results in more people turning to faith and seeking wisdom beyond our conscious minds, only positive long term results are on the horizon.  Time spent in faith is time well spent.
  5. Accept happiness as a moral obligation—When confined with others, the necessity of a happy, or at least pleasant, disposition is underscored.  Be happy, act happily, and it spreads to others.  Being together and reliant on the others closest to us will lead to more understanding that pursuing happiness and being happy in our lives and interactions is a moral obligation.  The Founders understood this and so will we.

The unhappy will embrace a crisis.  They will wallow in lost money, depleted 401(k)’s wasted downtime, and any number of doomsday scenarios only imaginable in the “Book of Eli.”  However, no crisis goes un-dichotomized—the happy will pull through and they will pull others through.  The unhappy will moan and gasp, drowning in the sea of crises until the happy extend an arm to save them.  Nothing changes except the crisis.

A big dose of crisis thinking will cause America to be even better.  The crisis is the vaccine for the happy rather than the infection that kills.  Each individual will learn a bit more about how to rely on self, each family will rely a bit more on each other, and the government will learn a bit more about how it may rely on the people who learn to choose to pursue happiness just as the Founders instructed.


E Pluribus Unum & World Happiness in the Age of Covid 19

Out of many, one.  An instructive motto of America.  On March 20, 2020, the UN released its annual World Happiness Report.  According to an article by CNN, the report lists the “happiest” countries based on various criteria that “support well-being.” Those criteria are: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity.  Interestingly, note that the criteria support a different end, well-being rather than happiness.  Interchanging words when discussing happiness is a common practice because it is both an amorphous concept and a complicated subject when people seek to define it.  Happy is a big issue and its pursuit is a subject that commands study and reporting.  However, the study and reporting should actually focus on the philosophical aspect of happiness.

The World Happiness Report is no report on happiness and its premises are not the foundational measures of people’s happiness.  Happiness is a state of being in an individual.  A country or a city cannot be “happy” and it follows that one country neither be happier nor more unhappy than another.  Enter E Pluribus Unum.  John Locke spoke of “loveliness” and how several lovely acts in one’s life add up to something greater in one’s being.  So too does the sum of happy pursuits contribute to an end, one’s state of happiness.  A family, a town, a state and a country are merely the sum its parts, aka its people.  It follows that those who are able to pursue happiness, and actually accept the moral responsibility to do so, contribute to a better society.  E pluribus unum.

Throughout history, only one country has placed the pursuit of happiness at the forefront of its creation—The United States of America.  Life is a given.  Liberty is a given (albeit on sliding scale dependent on the country of origin).  The pursuit of happiness is dependent on only one factor, the individual.  America’s Founders called out this unalienable right as a recognition and as an instruction.  Each individual possesses the right to live in a certain way and the moral obligation to live in that certain way.  That way is called the pursuit of happiness.  Simply put, it is a life lived through virtuous personal personal advancement without stepping on the same right of another.  Aristotle spoke of evaluating a life lived based on the sum of happy, virtuous acts at one’s end.  Happiness is state of being, an end in itself, advanced only from within.  An individual’s life is the sum of one’s pursuits.  A country is the sum of its parts.  E pluribus unum.

The World Happiness Report, like the typical unhappy individual, focuses on outside influences such as environmental factors, discrimination, government programs and so on to determine whether a country is happy.  While the study does look at some more individualized factors, its focus primarily on outside influences ignores the most important factors influencing happiness.  Time and again, interpersonal relationships, a true life’s purpose, expression of gratitude and one’s faith play the largest roles in one’s happiness.  In labeling a country, i.e. a collective, as “happy” these foundational  happiness inducers are not considered.  In reality, the study is no happiness study at all, but rather a ranking of the best countries in which to live as decided by those who value certain collective ideas over individual rights.  Pursuers of happiness will choose the individual rights option every time.  Pursuers of happiness will choose America every time.  E pluribus unum.

The real distinction here is between individual responsibility that rises from the right to pursue happiness versus “environmental factors” or the state’s support for collectivized happiness.  The age only philosophical debate of freedom of action versus equality of outcomes is as exposed as ever in the philosophy of happiness.  America is the center of the debate because it is the “happiest country” by virtue of protecting its people’s right to pursue it.  Added up, the happiness is the sum of the parts.  When the huddled masses line up to pour into Finland, Norway and the like, then maybe additional studies will be warranted. For now, the only conclusive happiness study is the one that began in 1776.  E pluribus unum.

Crisis Of Opportunity

The unknown does not a crisis make.  Thoughts create crises.  Despite the belief of people who claim to be smarter than any one of us, people simply do not know everything.  What follows then is that people do not have all of the answers to every perceived problem that arises.  It is thinking that people should, or even could, have all of the answers that transforms the unknown into a crisis.

As a medical malpractice trial attorney who has a passion for happiness, I often think about how these two subjects merge and may be instructive in our lives.  In malpractice cases, doctors and other medical professionals are judged on their decision-making at a given point in time.  Simply put, did they treat the patient correctly under the circumstances?  The process seems clear and simple.  Yet it is not.  Most malpractice cases are filed in court because there was a bad outcome, not because of any wrong decision or actual negligence.  The fact remains that doctors and the medical world do not have all of the answers.  Just ask any doctor for a “guarantee” of a cure or a complete recovery from a surgery.  Or for a more outrageous reaction, ask any trial lawyer to promise a certain jury verdict.  The fact that you will be given no such promises proves that the only guarantee in medicine or jury trials, and in most areas of life, is that there is no certainty of outcome.

There is one certainty of life however.  We have choice.  In uncertain times, when others think crisis, the opportunity is presented to follow suit or choose Frost’s road less traveled.  The less traveled during uncertain times tends to be the road along which gratitude lay and happiness may await.  Walk the path along which you see the abundance of things you have and the life with which you are blessed.  Shun the road of need and scarcity that emphasizes what you shall have not.  Operate not on the road of the hoarder, but take the route of the provider.  Positive thought, personal gratitude and loving action are emphasized exponentially during times when the opposite is the conventional road taken.