Happiness is not happenstance.
Life comes and goes, with its ups and downs, but happiness is a choice.
Glenn Van Ekeren discusses happiness, among other attitudes, in his book, “Love Is A Verb: 10 Ways to Make All Your Relationships Great.”
Van Ekeren uses the example of child star Shirley Temple Black’s husband, Charles, who asked his mother what the happiest moment of her life was. “This moment – right now,” she responded.
The happiest moments of her past were the happiest then. But today, she is living in the present. It’s great to have cherished memories of the past, but you need to be happy today. Happy people only have two things in common, Van Ekeren says. They knew exactly what they wanted, and felt they were moving toward getting it.
Circumstances will confront you, but not control you. Happiness is a choice. Others will have what you don’t have. It doesn’t matter. Happy people make the best of what THEY have.
Van Ekeren uses the term “inverse paranoid” to describe happy people. They are people who think everyone is out to make them happy. Happy people, therefore, devote their time to making others happy. Usually, the favor is returned many-fold.
Happiness is not a state of being. It’s a created attitude. When you ask someone as you greet them, “how are you,” do you get responses like, “I’m here, aren’t I?” Or, “I’m living to see another day,” these folks have not created happiness in their lives.
On the other hand, no matter what they are going through, happy people will respond, “I’m great,” or “life is wonderful.” They have worked on being happy. It doesn’t matter what their circumstances are. They are happy, and they want YOU to be happy.
We all experience anger, disappointment, resentment and other negative emotions. We might all occasionally ask, “why me?” But happy people never say, “woe is me.” Their inverse paranoia takes over. They want to make someone else happy today, and they probably – though it’s not an expectation – will be made happy by someone else today.
You see, happy people give without expecting a quid pro quo. They are happy because they believe they can offer someone value, and will gladly donate it to them. Now, people need to earn money, but even in business, the happy businessperson gives his clients more than they pay for.
Did you work on your happiness today? Have you been working on it for a while? Have you worked on it for so long that it just comes naturally to you? Are you paying it forward, by making someone else happy? Are you a person who knows what he wants, and is moving toward getting it?
If that is NOT you, stop. Don’t think about your circumstances, think about your relationships. Are you helping make other people happy? Are you doing that gladly? (In some jobs, your boss may be happy with you, but you are not happy about making him happy). Do you see where you want to be in life way in the distance or, in your mind, unachievable?
Regardless of how you see yourself, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. People who’ve worked on their happiness might see a vehicle with which they could make many more folks happy. People who haven’t may see a vehicle that could help them build their own happiness.
Bobby McFerrin’s song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” is a cute tune and a cute lyric that disguises his musical genius. Happy people may have worries, but they are short and temporary. You will never see it when you talk to them. Their attitude is on the big picture. They want to make YOU happy. Undoubtedly, you’ll want to do the same for them.



When you were young, even now, were, or are, there people telling you that you’ll never be whatever it is you want to be?
Are they telling you to accept your station in life, even if YOU believe you don’t have to?
Are your (pick one: parents, relatives, teachers, friends) telling you that you should stop dreaming and start thinking practical thoughts — a job, with benefits, pension etc.?
Is all the talk about finding your passion being blown off by those closest to you?
First, there are some things you might never be. For example, to be an opera star, you have to have both the natural voice and the rigorous training. You might have the drive and passion to go through the training, but without the natural voice, it might be futile.
But, more likely, those close to you are telling you things like, “you’ll never be rich.” Or, “you’ll never go on a trip like THAT!” Or, “you’ll never live THERE!”
Perhaps you grew up in a working-class household. Your parents wanted a better life for you than they had, but their goals for you may have yet been limited. After all, they are working-class parents. They see what the kids of rich families have, and didn’t want you to aim too high. Parental wealth begets privileges and opportunities that you don’t have.
There is nothing wrong with the working class. We certainly need people to do certain jobs. They make the world a better place. But if you have something inside you that tells you that you can do better, don’t brush that aside. Don’t think yourself unwise to aspire higher than those close to you have mapped out for you.
Here’s the thing: in today’s world, having a traditional job is risky. Most in your parents’ world found safety and security in working for someone else who paid them a decent salary, benefits and pension. They made a life – even a good life – out of their 40-40-40 life. They worked their 40 hours, for 40 years and believed they could retire on the 40 percent of the income they earned. It may not have been a luxurious life, and there may have been things they believed they had to do without, but in their minds, things worked out.
Those set-for-life circumstances are hard to come by. Jobs come and go. Technology and cheap overseas labor are making the secure jobs of your parents’ era nearly impossible to find. A college education is certainly desirable, but, if college isn’t right for you, you should not be forced into it. You should not be forced into accruing the debt it takes to get through college. Depending on what you study in college, the time and work you spend on education may be as futile as operatic training without the natural voice.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t fulfill your dreams. With a computer, a good idea and a little knowledge of the Internet, you can do lots of things. Even without a lot of knowledge, you can do lots of things if you are willing to explore non-traditional income avenues. For a look at one of the best of those, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau . If you have the dream and the drive, and don’t want to listen to those who would limit you, you might find just the thing to change your life.
So when someone uses the words “you’ll never be …” referring to you, listen with the proverbial third ear. Are they saying you’ll never be … because they weren’t? Would THEY be more comfortable to see you limit your potential? Would it make THEM feel better if you followed their advice? If you hear that in your third ear, take heed. They may not necessarily be talking about YOUR best interests.
Remember that if you want something badly enough, unless you’re an opera buff without the voice or have some other God-given limitation that will keep you from certain pursuits, you can get it if you find the right thing to be passionate about.
If the naysayers try to stand in your way, tell them you are doing today what they won’t, so you can do tomorrow what they can’t.


One would think that with still-too-high unemployment, people would be afraid to change jobs.
And, one would think that even if an employee moved on, he or she could be easily replaced.
Yet, companies today talk about the difficulty retaining good employees.
Those companies are putting in nice extras in the workplace to make it a place people want to work.
Lance Williams, business editor for The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, says seven out of 10 American workers admit they are “checked out” at work or they are “actively disengaged” on the job. Williams also says that out of 100 or so Americans on the job, about 30 are actually engaged or involved in, or enthusiastic about their jobs.
Williams wrote a about this in a June 30, 2013, column in The Tennessean.
That means that the “good” people in any organization are about 30 percent of the workforce. They are the ones employers want to retain. The odds are against the employer finding another good one to replace a good one who has left.
That same edition of The Tennessean spoke of “intrapreneurial” spirit, as Anita Bruzzese calls it, and finding purpose in everyday life to help your motivation soar, as Gregg Steinberg talked about. Both Bruzzese and Steinberg are authors and experts on the subject.
Bottom line: if you aren’t motivated at work, find something there that WILL motivate you. If you own a company or manage people, create an atmosphere at work that will motivate people. Employers like entrepreneurial types within their organizations. Before the word entrepreneur became in vogue, these folks were called self-starters. They didn’t require much direction from their bosses and figured out new and better ways to do things.
No one expects a job to be a vacation or a hobby. Everyone expects to work – even handle unpleasant chores. But if you are employed, you need to find some perks in your job – something other than a paycheck that motivates you to do well and enjoy your time there. Sometimes you have to create them. Sometimes, your boss needs to create them. But you can’t depend on the boss to make your work life a total kick.
If you are among those who are “checked out” at work, it will be noticed. If you don’t care, then no one else will care if you go. If you do care, it will be noticed. No one will want you to go, and other employers will want to steal you.
Companies can replace skill, but it’s more difficult to replace MOTIVATED skill. Every employer wants its staff to be motivated, and each must take action to help find that motivation. Otherwise, the few motivated ones will be gone and difficult to replace.
If you are a motivated person, but not working in the right place, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. It may be just the thing to keep you from “checking out” at work. It may be the thing that will help you find purpose in everyday life. It may be just the thing to be “intrapreneurial” with others.
To bosses: work on not just getting out the product, but getting the most out of your workers. To workers: if you have a good job, but don’t feel it is right for you, try to find something you can like. If you can’t, keep looking. There are good places to work.
You need to be working in a place that gives you more than money and benefits. You might even already be working there, but haven’t yet found your purpose.


“The good old days weren’t always good. Tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.” Billy Joel, from “Keepping the Faith.”

We just celebrated July 4 and America, though not yet perfect, is better off than it was decades ago.
How do we know? The numbers bear it out.
In his July 3, 2013, column, Jay Bookman of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quotes these figures: the U.S. murder rate has fallen by more than half in the last two decades, from 9.8 murders per 100,000 residents in 1991 to 4.8 per 100,000 in 2010, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. The Georgia murder rate is down from 9.5 per 100,000 in 1996 to 5.6 in 2011.
The national high school graduation rate is almost 75 percent, according to Education Week. That’s the highest rate in 40 years and up eight percentage points just in the last decade. Latino graduation rates are up 16 points in that time frame; black graduation rates are up 13 points.

Who wouldn’t want a less violent, better educated society? As Bookman says, there’s a whole education industry whose profits depend on “failing” public schools. Though our schools may not be where we’d like, they appear to be getting better.

Though people have very different viewpoints, even the most criticized institutions appear to be accomplishing something. There is reason for everyone, no matter your point of view, to be optimistic.

Bookman says the “America’s Going to Hell” crowd will find fault with these numbers, but the rational among us will pay them no mind. America is looking pretty good for 237 years old.

What will it look like in 10 years? Or 20 years? We know that things are changing more rapidly than they ever have. We know that some jobs of decades past are gone forever. We know that technological advances are making things obsolete the minute after we buy them.

How do we navigate this new world? We become good people. How do we do that? By helping others and thinking of others first and self second. We do it by being friendly, upbeat and optimistic. Before you say, “woe is me,” say, whoa! Then say, all in all, I have it darned good.

Next to Bookman’s column was one by Mona Charen , who is glad she lives in America instead of living in the many places in which people are taking to the streets to protest their standard of living. Egypt, Brazil and Turkey come to her mind.

Yes, there was much to celebrate this July 4. But, there is more to go.

If you are at a crossroads in your life – not yet sure what the future will bring, or what you can do about it, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You might have to think differently from what you are used to thinking, but it could be just the thing to set you on a path to wealth, personal growth and, yes, fun!

As things change, we often need to change as people. By all accounts, employers are looking for good people despite the high unemployment rate. Companies hire and lay off at the same time. They are not necessarily cutting for the sake of cuts, they may be transforming their culture. If you are interviewing for jobs, be yourself, but be upbeat about yourself and the situation you are looking at. Show your prospective employer that you can be innovative within his system. Show him not only that you are right for the job, you are right for the culture.

Employers want to know what you want to do, not just what you’ve done. Be creative. Show the employer you can be transformative. It may take practice for some to be themselves AND optimistic. If you have trouble being optimistic, remember Billy Joel’s lyric above. If tomorrow seems bad to you, look at figures Bookman quoted, and the goings-on in other countries that Charen cites.

Give natural optimism a go. You could be going places you never thought you’d see.