Why Most of Us Don’t Have the Courage to be Happy.

You say you want happiness.

We all do.

But the truth is, you’re scared shitless of it. Completely bat shit crazy of having it because lo and behold if you get it, if you experience it and get used to experiencing it, you just might lose it. Here’s a little 411 for you: so am I, and so is everyone.

That’s our first problem.

The second one is this: most of us wouldn’t know happiness if it appeared on our doorstep and introduced itself.

Happiness. What is it? We walk around striving for it, hoping for it, and looking for it in all the wrong places; but the truth is, most of us wouldn’t recognize happiness if it tackled us in broad daylight and held us down screaming: “I’m here, I’ve arrived, I am your happiness, see me, see me, SEE ME”.

I know this one like I know the palm of my own hand.

I was a miserable child. From the outside I looked happy and carefree, but on the inside, for as far back as I can remember, I longed to be happy one day. Back then, happiness was simple in my child’s mind, it consisted of staying in one place for more than a year, escaping my mother’s harsh tongue, and dodging creepy, lurking relatives. Even as a small child, I kept thinking: “one day I will be out of this house and on my own, and then I will be happy”.

Trouble is, that search and that anticipation lasted beyond leaving my childhood home. It followed me through college as I longed for graduation day and dreamt of escaping my studies — then and only then, could I be happy and free. Of course once I entered the job force as a diligent nine to fiver, happiness awaited me after work and on the weekends. Happiness lurked about in my mind’s eye through anticipated vacations surely delivering happiness within those 14 days of no work bliss.

But did it?

Hell no. Happiness was never in any of those end point intellectual destinations. Happiness did not arrive when I fell in love, got married and walked down that isle. Happiness did not arrive along with my huge bonus checks and yuppy lifestyle. And happiness certainly did not arrive when I worked my ass off to fit into that bikini and take that trip to an exotic island. Happiness never arrived because happiness wasn’t an outside job. It was, and is, an inside one. One that we are all entirely terrified of grabbing.

Grabbing the brass ring of happiness means that we hold still for a little while and look around at the life we’re living.

Happiness lies in acceptance and gratitude for what is.

Happiness lives in the smallest of small things: the scent of the morning grass when the sprinkler first hits lawn against early light; happiness hangs out on the little hairs of your dog’s ears back lit by sunlight, and happiness exists in the way a lover’s arm feels heavy across your back as you struggle to claim your side of the bed. You see, happiness is so tiny and so small that it’s fleeting if you don’t take the time to see it.

I write about happiness on my blog, and teach 40 day workshops on rebooting yourself so you can live a life you love. My entire message to the world is about positivity and happiness; but the truth is, most of the positive spin we try to put on things is horse shit. We live empty lives searching for happiness, while touting yoga mantras and positive affirmations. Truth be told, our habit of putting a positive spin on things is actually like frosting a cake made of crap with beautiful frosting. It’s a lie and it’s not a pathway leading to true happiness.

True happiness takes courage. I’m talking the vulnerable, put yourself out there and look like a total fool sort of courage. It’s not easy. You’ve got to be willing to break from the norm, appear uncool and stop caring so damn much about what other people think of you. We’ve ALL got to take the time to slow down, break from this crazy pace in life and take a minute to sit and stare at the sky without checking for a text, listen to the birds without multi-tasking in our heads, and walk the dog without the cell phone while risking a missed call. We’ve got to shelve our egos and say yes to love, open ourselves up to being hurt beyond hurt again, and say hell yes to taking chances.

Yet most of us aren’t willing to take a small chance on anything.

We say we do, but we don’t. We say we will, but we won’t. You don’t. You know you don’t. You play it safe and color between the lines like a good girl or a good boy. You’re afraid to open up and be vulnerable and say to someone: “you know what, I adore you, I love you, I’m afraid you might leave me one day, and honestly I’m afraid period”. We’re all afraid. We’re afraid to relax and enjoy life and instead we work long hours to make that money to go on that two week vacation that in the end…ends. Then we’re left with pictures and memories that fade quickly and credit card debt that doesn’t.

If you would slow down and appreciate what you have daily, happiness might just poke her head out from behind your back and say: hey, here I am. If you would count what you’re grateful for on your finger’s and toes every single morning and every single night, you might start to sense what happiness tastes like. When you realize that the fact the sky is blue, the sun rises everyday, and the beat of your pet’s heart are all miraculous, happiness might just start to let you catch her scent.

But instead, we find it easier to chase after happiness which is insanity. Chasing happiness is like trying to catch your own shadow. It’s not possible because it’s part of you. Happiness is inside of you. It’s not out there, it’s in there. But there’s no way to reach it unless you slow down, get quiet, and stop for a little while to notice.

They say that time doesn’t exist, and those same scientists say that when you break anything down, you’ll see a bunch of moving atoms that when you break those down, you’ll see nothing but space– empty space.

They say that there’s no out there either. This means that there’s no time, there’s nothing but empty space and there’s nothing out there. Kinda boggles your mind doesn’t it? Well, if that’s all true (and it is), there is no where out there to find happiness. Psst…because it’s inside of you. Ask anyone dying of Cancer, or going through hell. When life pulls the rug out from under you and you’ve got nothing to grab onto, or hope for, there’s a crystal clear clarity that comes. In those moments, you realize well shit, the smallest of things make me pretty happy right now because that’s all I’ve got to hold on to. And in those moments of hell, you finally realize lo and behold, happiness is in the way my child’s hair smells after an afternoon nap, it’s in the feel of my dog’s paw on my leg and it’s in the way my partner’s eyes look when they say I love you. It’s not out there after all. It’s right here in front of me.

But that’s only half of this troublesome equation.

Even when we do start to recognize happiness, we’re afraid to grab onto it and trust it. We’re afraid to actually relax into enjoying it because God forbid, what if we taste it and start to like it and then lose it? What if? What if? What the F if?

Yeah, that’s the absolute deadliest of problems we all face in this quest for happiness. We’re more comfortable wishing for happiness than we are actually noticing it and enjoying it. Our entire society is based upon anticipation and hope. Striving for what’s next, what’s better and what’s around the corner. All that anticipation and striving delivers us right into the next moment, but you know what? Happiness is back there behind you, like a shadow, in the now moment. Happiness is the polar opposite of someday. It’s the complete antithesis of one day, and it’s never to be found in the when.

Happiness is here now if you relax enough and have the balls to accept it.

Being grateful for the job you have and realizing that regardless of how you feel today, you’re in this job for a reason. At one point you wanted it. At one point you hoped for it.

That partner of yours? At one point you wanted them, but because you’re always searching for what’s better or what’s next, you don’t take the time to appreciate what you’ve got right there in front of you. And that body of yours? I’m betting if you lost your right leg tomorrow, you’d long to have that chubby little cellulite filled inner thigh back again, wouldn’t you?

So relax and let yourself realize right now: you have everything you really need right here. If you relax and appreciate what you’ve got, chances are you might actually slip into a grateful moment; and if you’re really brave enough to totally relish that moment, happiness just might slip over you like a soft warm blanket of goodness- so good in fact that you slowly let you eyes close and let that sweet satisfaction of happiness embrace you for a little while.

Photo: Elisa Moro / flickr

7 Habits of Highly Miserable People.

– Article via The Huffington Post by Tamara Star

According to Psychology Today, University of California researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky states: “40% of our of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change”.

If this is true and it is, there’s hope for us all. There are billions of people on our planet and clearly some, are truly happy. The rest of us bounce back and forth between happiness and well, unhappiness depending on the day.

Throughout the years I’ve learned there are certain traits and habits chronically unhappy people seem to have mastered. But before diving in with you, let me preface this and say: we all have bad days, even weeks -myself included- when we fall down in all 7 areas.

The difference between a happy and unhappy life is how often and how long we stay there.

Here are the 7 qualities of chronically unhappy people.

1. Their default belief is that life is hard.

Happy people know life can be hard and tend to bounce through hard times with an attitude of curiosity versus victimhood. They take responsibility for how they got themselves into a mess and focus on getting themselves out of it as soon as possible.

Perseverance towards problem versus complaining over circumstances is a symptom of a happy person.

Unhappy people see themselves as victims of life and stay stuck in the “look what happened to me” attitude versus finding a way through and out the other side.

2. They believe most people can’t be trusted.

I won’t argue that healthy discernment is important, but most happy people are trusting of their fellow man. They believe in the good in people versus assuming everyone is out to get them. Generally open and friendly towards others they meet, happy people foster a sense of community around themselves and meet new people with an open heart.

Unhappy people are distrustful of most people they meet and assume that all strangers can’t be trusted. Unfortunately, this behavior slowly starts to close the door on any connection outside of an inner-circle and thwarts all chances of meeting new friends.

3. They concentrate on what’s wrong in this world versus what’s right.

There’s plenty wrong with this world, no arguments there, yet unhappy people turn a blind eye to what’s actually right in this world and instead focus solely on what’s wrong. You’ll spot them a mile away, they’re the ones complaining and responding to any positive attributes of our world with “yeah but”.

Happy people are aware of global issues, but balance their concern with also seeing what’s right. I like to call this keeping both eyes open. Unhappy people tend to close one eye towards anything good in this world in fear they might be distracted from what’s wrong. Happy people keep it in perspective. They know our world has problems and they also keep an eye on what’s right.

4. They compare themselves to others and harbor jealousy.

Unhappy people believe someone else’s good fortune steals from their own. They believe there’s not enough goodness to go around and constantly compare yours against theirs. This leads to jealousy and resentment.

Happy people know that your good luck and circumstance are merely signs of what they too can aspire to achieve. Happy people believe they carry a unique blueprint that can’t be duplicated or stolen from- by anyone on the planet. They believe in unlimited possibilities and don’t get bogged down by thinking one person’s good fortune limits their possible outcome in life.

5. They strive to control life.

There’s a difference between control and striving to achieve goals. Happy people take steps daily to achieve their goals but realize in the end, there’s very little control over what life throws their way.

Unhappy people tend to micro manage in an effort to control all outcomes and fall apart in dramatic displays when life throws a wrench in their plan. Happy people can be just as focused, yet still have the ability to go with the flow and not melt down when life delivers a curveball.

The key here is to be goal-oriented and focused, but allow room for letting sh*t happen without falling apart when the best-laid plans go awry- because they will. Going with the flow is what happy people have as plan B.

6. They consider their future with worry and fear.

There’s only so much rent space between your ears. Unhappy people fill their thoughts with what could go wrong versus what might go right.

Happy people take on a healthy dose of delusion and allow themselves to daydream about what they’d like to have life unfold for them. Unhappy people fill that head space with constant worry and fear.

Happy people experience fear and worry, but make an important distinction between feeling it and living it. When fear or worry crosses a happy person’s mind, they’ll ask themselves if there’s an action they can be taken to prevent their fear or worry from happening (there’s responsibility again) and they take it. If not, they realize they’re spinning in fear and they lay it down.

7. They fill conversations with gossip and complaints.

Unhappy people like to live in the past. What’s happened to them and life’s hardships are their conversations of choice. When they run out of things to say, they’ll turn to other people’s lives to gossip.

Happy people live in the now and dream about the future. You can feel their positive vibe from across the room. They’re excited about something they’re working on, grateful for what they have and dreaming about the possibilities of life.

Obviously, none of us are perfect. We’re all going to swim in negative waters once in a while, but what matters is how long we stay there and how quickly we work to get ourselves out. Practicing positive habits daily is what sets happy people apart from unhappy people, not doing everything perfectly.

“Walk, fall down, get back up again, repeat. It’s in the getting back up again that all the difference resides”-Tamara Star

photo via Unsplash by Volkan Olmez

10 Things to Give Up in Exchange for Happiness.

10 Things to Give Up in Exchange for Happiness.

I’m told happiness is a choice.

Unfortunately we complicate our lives to the point of being unable to recognize happiness when it appears before our eyes.

So how to clear the slate? Here are 10 things you’ll need to give up in exchange for your happiness.

1. Give up caring what other people think of you. I know it seems counter-intuitive as we humans are primal pack animals that don’t want to be cast from the village; but spending time worrying what others think, is a waste of energy. You’ll never please everyone and it’s none of your business what others think of you.

2. Give up trying to please everyone. Unless you’re living life to the beat of your own drum, your tribe won’t be able to find you. Be the best version of YOU you can be, and you’ll naturally attract in the people that are supposed to surround you.

3. Give up participating in gossip. 100% of the time, those sharing gossip with you will gossip about you. Believing gossip is like gambling everything on a horse sight unseen. It’s naive.

4. Quit worrying. Where thoughts go, energy flows. Worry is investing time and energy in something you don’t want to have happen. Learn to let go and trust.

5. Let go of insecurity. When we take ourselves too seriously, we think everyone else does too. There is one version of you on the planet. Be it, own it and quit worrying about it. No one really cares or watches you that closely.

6. Stop taking everything personally. Truth is, most people are too consumed with their own life to really consider what you’re doing. As my 1st boss said so well: “the world doesn’t revolve around you. Most people’s reactions have nothing to do with you, so let it go”.

7. Give up the past. We’ve all been hurt, we all had parents that made mistakes and we’ve all been through hell. You didn’t listen to your parents when you were younger, so why are you still listening to their voices in your head right now? Every experience in life has taught you something or made you stronger.

8. Give up spending money on what you don’t need in effort to buy happiness. Living simply allows the space for life to flow. We complicate our lives by spending too much money and filling our home with “things”. Less is truly more.

9. Give up anger. Anger burns a hole in the hand of the person still holding on to it. Move it out once and for all.

10. Give up control. Control is an illusion, as we live in an out of control world. Learn to embrace the new and welcome change; otherwise you’ll grow old through your own rigidity.

Learn to let go.

photo credit: JFXie via photopin cc

about the author: Tamara is a 27 year veteran in the medical sales arena and founder of TStar Recruiting, a nationwide search firm. She’s also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. She can be reached at TStarRecruiting@gmail.com 

6 Resume Mistakes that Make Your Resume Unappetizing- Plus a Bonus tip

Imagine yourself standing outside a new restaurant skimming the menu posted to the left of the door. 

You’re hungry and curious. You know what you’re in the mood for and as your eyes dart through the list of specials, you automatically zero in on keywords that pique your interest.

If you stumble upon the words deep fried chicken when you’re in the mood for fresh and healthy, chances are you’ll keep on walking, but if the menu matches the vibe you’re craving, all bets are on your opening that door and taking a seat.

Hiring managers and recruiters match your resume to job opportunities much like you match food cravings to a restaurant menu. At first glance, you’re either tasty or you’re not.  

Once intrigued by your resume, a good recruiter will call, but what if they aren’t calling?

When headhunters look over copious amounts of resumes during job searches, they’re hungry and they’re skimming. They aren’t initially reading every morsel of your resume. That’s for later. 

Here are 5 mistakes that make your resume unappetizing:

1. Putting a summary paragraph at the top.

According to  Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn: “The average American attention span in 2013 was about 8 seconds- the average attention of a goldfish is 9 seconds.”

Summary paragraphs are outdated and unnecessary, they’re literally extra fluff to wade through by someone with an attention span of a goldfish. Worst of all, they pigeon hole you and often negate a call. Your resume should speak for itself. Most people don’t read summary paragraphs, they go right to the meat and bones of the resume: where you’ve worked and what you’ve done. 

Worse yet, a summary paragraph is limiting. Trying to fit an entire career’s worth of attributes into one paragraph is impossible and diminishes your worth. You might be ready for the next step in your career based on past responsibilities, but a summary only summarizes your past, not your present potential. 

2. Leaving out the months on your dates of employment.

Maybe you started your last job in December of 2010 and left in January of 2011. Do that math. Get the picture? Months matter.

When you leave out partsof your history, hiring managers begin to wonder what else you’re hiding. Do this with every job on the resume, (which is the case for most who do this in the first place) and you’re deleted. Details matter.

3. Hiding anything.

People who are good at what they do tend to go on their gut feelings. Ask any successful CEO or person in a place of power, sometimes factual points aren’t enough to make a decision, gut feelings are invaluable. Successful people know when you’re hiding something because they’ll feel it. 

Let me remind you: in today’s digital world, it’s impossible to hide ANYTHING. 

The truth always comes to light, so it’s far better to include a job gap, lack of degree, or short tenure than to attempt hiding it. The minute you’re caught hiding something, your credibility goes right out the window – regardless of explanation- Poof!

Reasonable people understand that life happens, so be upfront and honest on your resume. Simply put in parenthesis next to your dates the reason for your short tenure or job gap.

4. Making things complicated.

Putting your achievements in one clump at the bottom or top of your resume is a bad decision. If we lose interest early on, the bottom of your resume may never be seen.

List your achievements and awards bullet by bullet under each appropriate job and title.Don’t create long paragraphs of explanation, keep it concise and to the point. Making a hiring agent search for your information is counter productive.

5. Creative or Omissive writing. 

Don’t try to make yourself into something you’re not. 

Put your working title on the resume. If you’re a sales rep carrying a business card with the title of Regional Manager, admit you’re a sales rep on the resume. If you’re a 1st level Regional Manager responsible for sales reps, please say so versus using an Area Director title regardless of your business card. 

“There’s nothing more frustrating than having your time wasted thinking you’re about to call one type of employee, only to find out you’re not”. 

If you have an unusual title, dumb it down on the resume so it’s “street savvy” and easily understandable. Think job function rather than title.

This same rule applies to age.If you’re over 50, don’t leave off your degree date in hopes of hiding it. If you’re going to be age discriminated against, they’re going to eventually do it on a face to face interview. You wouldn’t want to work for that type of company anyway. 

According to MSN Money, national workplace expert Lynn Taylor says: “Trust is like oxygen in the workplace: we need it to survive”.

Your achievements and hard work over the years should stand on their own merit. Don’t hurt your credibility by trying to bluff your way into an interview. 

6. Using mysterious titles.

If you are selling, title yourself by your working title- Sale Representative. If you are a 1st level manager, title yourself- Regional Manager. Your company business card may say you’re a Regional Territory Manager or Area Director, but if you’re not actually doing the function of those titles, you risk the chance of being passed over for jobs you might want. Same goes for Vice President and Regional Director roles. If your business card gives you those titles but you’re actually doing something else on a day to day basis, fess up and use your working title on a resume.

* And a bonus tip:

Don’t try to squeeze your resume on to one page if you have solid experience worth bragging about on paper. Recruiters and HR departments don’t fax anymore, so the length of your resume is unimportant. All that matters is that your achievements shine and your resume is honest.

Sending out resumes and hoping to be called back is a daunting task. Don’t let a poor resume cheat you out of a fair shot.

about the author: Tamara is a 27 year veteran in the medical sales arena and founder of TStar Recruiting, a nationwide search firm. She’s also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. She can be reached at TStarRecruiting@gmail.com 

photo via Abrinsky

6 Ways to Mentor Wisely in a #Metoo Era

CNBC reports 60% of men are afraid to mentor their female employees in this era of the #metoo movement.

Unfortunately, the belief that engaging with female employees is potentially dangerous has become more pronounced as headline grabbing names hit the newsfeeds daily. So where does this leave women as they try to climb the corporate ladder without willing mentors? The F word would suffice as your answer- as in Falling. Falling off the corporate ladder.

According to the American Society for Training and Development, 70% of fortune 500 companies have formal and informal mentoring programs. Clearly, investing in employee development matters both for your culture and for the future of your bottom line.

Here are 6 ways to mentor both sexes wisely.

1. Create a formalized assigned partnership for each employee from day one.

Assigning junior employees with non direct line mentors accelerates the development of future leaders. This also keeps corner office executives in touch with the next generation and fosters a healthy and current culture environment versus outdated and out of touch toxic ones. Currently, 24% of female employees are less likely than men to get advice from senior leaders. Good leaders don’t allow a quarter of their employees to go under-developed. Develop a formal plan of action and put it in writing.

2. Conduct your business in public.

Don’t meet for late dinners, don’t meet in your hotel room, and certainly don’t pick someone up from their home. Instead, have an early breakfast meeting, meet for lunch, sit in a coffee shop, or even better meet in the office during business hours. If you’re in sales, do your pre call preps and post call recaps in the lobby. This is a smart tactic with all of your employees because #Metoo situations happen to both sexes.

3. Keep alcohol to zero.

Yes, a glass of wine or two fingers of whisky might seem social, but is it really worth the risk of using poor judgement, being falsely accused by someone or having one of your work nemesis take the opportunity to remark that you were tying one on? The potential cost simply outweighs the pleasure of cocktails if you’re with someone you’re mentoring. Stick with something non-alcoholic and ask yourself, does alcohol really add anything positive to your mentoring in today’s environment?

4. Mind your first interview manners forever.

Sounds simple but it’s remarkable how often managers get too informal with employees over time. It doesn’t matter if she acts like one of the guys, she’s not. Equal pay and equal opportunity are not interchangeable with poor manners. A woman is acutely aware of when you cross the line because men have been crossing the line with her since she hit puberty. Your safest bet is to treat her like you’re on a first interview. No off color jokes, no personal questions, no foul language, no touching beyond a handshake (if she’s a hugger, give a high five with a smile), and no inappropriate meeting times or places.

5. Follow your gut.

Your gut got you to where you are today and it will continue to protect you going forward if you listen closely. If you sense an attraction to a direct line female employee (it happens) or your gut tells you there might be a problem, limit your one on one exposure time. If you’re mentoring an outside sales rep, keep drive time conversations on strategy and call preps. Limit text and calls outside of work hours. Stay in your first interview mindset with languaging. Above all, do not make it her problem, but do be proactive.

6. Open communication now negates problems later.

Check in. Tell your female employee she’s valued and foster an open channel of communication from day one and follow through. How’s it going questions should go both ways. When you offer constructive criticism and compliments, ask your employee what’s working and what they would like you to improve. Great leaders aren’t afraid of honest feedback, they seek it.

And the take away besides don’t be creepy?

According to LeanIn.org, “Sexual harassment is twice as common in male dominated organizations as it is in female dominated organizations”

There’s no question women are underrepresented at senior levels, but when mentored by male leaders, they rise to positions of leadership. Well balanced organizations have less likelihood of harassment issues, healthier cultures, and better employee retainment numbers. According to Forbes Magazine, the McKinsey report showed companies in the top 25th percentile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 15% more likely to experience above-average profits. The latest data shows that likelihood has grown to 21%.

The #MeToo movement isn’t going away, but your personal liability can with the right game plan. Mentoring female employees is good for business and good for your bottom line.

Photo credit

about the author: Tamara is a 27 year veteran in the medical sales arena and founder of TStar Recruiting, a nationwide search firm. She’s also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. She can be reached at TStarRecruiting@gmail.com