So what happened to change my attitude this week, you might wonder.  Well, first of all, the sun came out.  It’s been a long winter.  And then, oddly enough, the next shift came about after reading my daily e-mail from Oprah.com.  In it was an article about a program called Awakening Joy, an on-line class (with off-line options) taught by James Baraz, a meditation instructor in Woodacre, California .  The first and most important step, he says, is intention: making the decision to be happy. 


Robert Holden, PhD, author of Happiness Now! Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good Fast and director of the Happiness Project in the United Kingdom, agrees that this is key. “‘Intention’ is another word for ‘focus.’ Whatever you focus on will become more apparent and will grow. For centuries, optimists and pessimists have argued over who’s right, and the answer is they both are; each sees what they’re looking for. If you focus on happiness, that’s what you become more aware of.”


Some of the things that James Baraz suggests doing are:


 * writing what the word ‘joy’ means to you

 * MOVEMENT – such as dancing, yoga, tai chi, Wii System

 * making a “nourishment list” (I love this!) of activities that you enjoy, checking off the ones you do often and circling the ones you need to try to do more

 * SING OUT LOUD – even if you don’t sing well ( I might stick to ‘dancing’ out loud)

 * Find a “joy buddy” – ” a kind of running partner in the pursuit of happiness”


All of these items seem easy enough to do.


He also speaks about guided meditations, including instructions on how to be mindful–being present for whatever you’re doing ( a la Eckert Tolle, in his book “A New Earth” ) and, as Baraz says, “simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different.”
To find out more about Jame’s program, see http://www.awakeningjoy.info


The third item that affected my outlook came straight from church and our pastor’s sermon on “Phobias: Fear of the Future”.  Psalm 46:10a (NIV) states “Be still and know that I am God”.  Being the designated worrier is draining.  This week I decided to trust that God will provide and to continue to move forward. Again, Eckert Tolle discusses this in his book “A New Earth”. 


So this week, I have been more mindful in finding joyful experiences in my role of care giving.  I have been asking my father more questions about his past.  We are doing a series of videos ( The Flip video cam is super simple and great for that! ) where he discusses past memories about life on the farm, his mom who made bread EVERY DAY, his air force days, etc.  And we have decided to laugh, along WITH my Dad when he does things like confuse the ‘C’ batteries I bought for his card shuffler as shot gun shells and wonders where the gun is that goes with them.  We play Cribbabge almost every night, and although his short term memory is very bad, I think this helps him utilize his brain power in SOME way.  I’ll always have these memories to look back upon, and like his happy memories of the night we barbecued “shrimp”, mine will be happy too.


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