What’s your play list?


Cows produce more milk when listening to tunes. Especially slow tunes, or country. Apparently the cows don’t think too much of Willie Nelson, but love:

 REM’s Everybody Hurts, closely followed by Aretha Franklin’s version of What a Difference a Day Makes. Simon and Garfunkel’s epic Bridge Over Troubled Water and Danny Williams singing Moon River were next. Lou Reed’s Perfect Day was a not-quite-ideal fourth, while Celtic Woman’s cover of Enya’s Orinoco Flow was anudder (sorry) favourite.

The theory is the music helps them relax, and relaxed cows produce more milk than agitated, jumpy cows.

The same is true, as it turns out, for people. Loud frenetic music makes us agitated. Calm music is soothing. Happy, rhythmic music fosters cooperative behavior. While that may have all sorts of implications for work places and malls, one important take-away is that music affects behavior and mood.

In Ally McBeal, a show about a slightly neurotic young female lawyer, Ally’s therapist suggests she figure out a theme song to boost her confidence and mental health. When that isn’t enough, the therapist suggests Ally add some back-up singers, like Gladys Knight’s Pips, into her mental image. Playing that song in her head, with her Pips, gives Ally more confidence to get through stressful situations.

What’s your theme song? What song gives you confidence and courage or helps you pick yourself back up after a stumble? What song gives you energy?

No reason to pick just one. We can assemble a whole play list of songs to listen to as we go through life. And don’t forget the extra support of picturing your very own Pips in your imagination as you listen.

Show a stranger a little kindness

strangerkindnessHave you ever been at a restaurant or grocery store with a crying or tantrumming child? It’s awful, that feeling of everyone staring at you and blaming you for somehow disrupting their lives. Not to mention, the criticism and judgment! Some people are only too eager to point out just what you are doing wrong and how you shouldn’t be out in public if you can’t control your children. But, sometimes, a stranger reaches out and helps– offers to amuse the baby, gives you a wink of encouragement, tells you they’ve been there, too, and that things will get better. That little act of kindness makes all the difference. We can’t control whether we will run into the kind sort of stranger when we are most overwhelmed. But, we can remember what it was like when someone was kind when we were overwrought and BE that kind stranger to someone struggling. When we remember what a difference that type of kindness made in our lives, we realize that simple things–holding a door for someone carrying packages, smiling when someone is overwhelmed with their kids, offering to help pick up fallen papers– matter tremendously.

Spread some joy.


Have you seen the video of Chewbacca mom? It is now the most watched video of all time. That laugh! That joy! After this video went viral, Chewbacca masks flew off the shelves. They were virtually unobtainable, with prices going into the tens of thousands of dollars online. Candace Payne became an overnight celebrity, featured on talk shows and invited to Facebook, Kohls, and the Star Wars show. There is even a Chewbacca Mom doll available now.

Why was there a stampede for the masks? Perhaps when watching her unbridled joy, people wanted some of what she was having. And the masks are funny, no doubt. But the joy is in her as you can see by the beautiful video she made in response to the Orlando shooting.

In the second video, singing Michael Jackson’s, Heal the World, Candace Payne invites us to “Make a better place, y’all. Fill it with joy, not hate. Come on.” The lyrics are something we can draw on every day:

If you want to know why
There’s love that cannot lie
Love is strong
It only cares of joyful giving
If we try we shall see
In this bliss we cannot feel
Fear of dread
We stop existing and start living

Today, follow Candace Payne’s lead, not in buying a Chewbacca mask, but in spreading the joy and making the world a better place.


bubblesAnswer: Play. Question: What is something children do that adults need desperately?

What did you like to play when you were little? Can you remember losing track of time because you were busy tracking caterpillars or coloring or sculpting sandcastles or building a fort? Is there any way you can take a break today and play?

Nurture love.

honeylove  We all know what love is, don’t we? You can’t really measure it scientifically. There’s no formula for how to produce it, but we definitely know when it’s there and when it’s not. And we all value love and want it in our lives. More, please, even. So how do we cultivate more loving relationships?

One thing we do know how to make is a garden. We plant seeds, carefully chosen to thrive in a particular environment–sunny or shady, temperate or tropical, warm or cold.  We water the plants. We fertilize. We trim branches and vines when they become overgrown. We keep weeds out.

What if we cultivate love like we cultivate our gardens?

In her lecture series, The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage, Brenè Brown says,

We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.


Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.


Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.

So, to follow the analogy, what soil, sun, water, and tending are to a garden, trust, respect, kindness, and affection are to a relationship. That is the place where love thrives. We hold ourselves in that space, that garden, and treat ourselves with trust, respect, kindness, and affection. Then, once we’re used to how that feels, we invite others into that garden and shower them with trust, respect, kindness, and affection as well.

Can you imagine a place where trust, respect, kindness, and affection flourish? It’s a tender place. A beautiful place. It encourages rather than criticizes. It is considerate rather than thoughtless. It treats others as itself. And it gives of itself to help the union grow.

How would that kind of garden transform your home, your classroom, your neighborhood, your world?

But, remember, in any garden, we keep out weeds and do some pruning. Stomping on plants, wild animals, too much or too little sun and water, weeds, and neglect can kill a garden. In the same way, shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection destroy loving relationships.

Today, as you engage in relationship, shower yourself and those in your garden with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Keep shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection far, far away. They don’t belong there.

And then watch your love garden blossom. It will delight you and make your life fragrant and colorful!

Count blessings instead of sheep.


Are you ever sleepless? Sometimes it’s hard to stop ruminating over things long enough to fall asleep. We replay events of the day, preview possible scenarios for tomorrow, stew over grievances from yesterday. It’s hard to just sink off and get the sleep we need.

In her short story, “The Cure for Sleeplessness“, Maeve Binchy creates a magic cure for sleeplessness:

Molly read the advice slowly. It was a detailed instruction about how the cure would take three weeks and you had to follow every step of it. First you had to buy a big notebook with at least twenty pages in it, and stick a picture on the cover, something connected with flowers. It could be a field of bluebells or a bunch of roses. Then on the night you couldn’t sleep you must get up quietly and dress properly as if you were going out visiting. You had to fix your hair and look your best. Then you made a cup of tea and got out the notebook with the flower on the cover. In your best handwriting you wrote “My Book of Blessings” on it. That first night you chose just one thing that made you happy. No more than one, and choose it carefully. It could be a love, a baby, a house, a sunset, a friend. And you wrote one page, no more, no less, about the happiness that this particular blessing brought you.


Then you spent a whole hour doing something you had meant to do, like polishing silver, or mending torn curtains, or arranging photographs in an album. No matter how tired you felt, you must finish it, then undress carefully and go back to bed….


Every night she wrote about a different blessing.


Things like the night Gerry finally told her he loved her, when his face was white and red alternately, in case she might not love him too.


Like the moment after Billy was born when she held him in her arms.


Like her parents’ silver wedding anniversary, when they had said that they knew their daughters would be as happy as they were and everyone had cried.


Like that time in the advertising agency when the boss said that Molly had saved all their jobs by her quick thinking and they had all raised a glass of Champagne to her for winning the account.

Now most of this advice and all of the examples are pure Binchy, but the gratitude part is backed by science.

A gratitude journal is good for what ails you. As you call to mind your blessings, think about why you are grateful for that particular blessing, the details surrounding it, the sensations associated with it. Write it down somewhere so you can remember. If so inclined, write a thank you note to someone who made a difference in your life. Remember to say thank yous at work, home, and school. If you encounter a problem, try to see if there is an unexpected blessing hidden there somewhere.

And then, tonight, if you should have trouble falling asleep, count your blessings instead of sheep.

Are you keeping up with the Joneses?


Do you find yourself comparing your life with that of your friends or co-workers? Science says that Facebook and other social media can actually make people feel sad rather than connected because it seems like your friends are having a better time than you are. Often that comparison is misleading.

But always that comparison is beside the point. There will always be someone smarter, richer, more accomplished, happier, etc. than you; just like you will be all those things for someone else.

The challenge is to be happy with what you are and have. At times like these, it is comforting to read Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s words:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

Don’t worry about the Joneses. Instead, keep your heart grateful and your actions focussed on making a positive difference in this world.