Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Are you happy? (part deux)

Responses* to yesterday's happiness essay were twofold:

First fold: spot on! Great blog! So true!

The second fold is the subject of this blog.

It's the concern that sometimes we indulge ourselves in the delusion that happiness is an excuse to do nothing. To simply accept everything going on around us no matter how dysfunctional, abusive or empty.

Um, no.

Genuine happiness means we know and are pleased with who we are, how we treat others and are treated and how we live. That doesn't happen if we passively let life happen without participating, therefore letting life itself pass us by.

In fact, the reason I believe that happiness should be such an important component of our lives is because when we are happy - we are true to ourselves, we're energized, we excel, we are industrious, we are caring, generous and loving, we are forgiving, we do what we were put on earth to do - for ourselves and others.

Fundamental happiness is created when we dig in, discover who we are (our true identity) - like and even love the person we find - recognize our life's passion, determine how we want to live, the type of people with whom we want to surround ourselves and how we would define our personal state of joy.

None of which necessarily comes easily or without cost.

True happiness takes courage.

Don't like your job? It's making you unhappy and you wish you could quit. Think of the courage it takes to speak up, to try creating a more positive atmosphere, better personal interactions and performing tasks in a way that would not only make you happy but please your coworkers and boss?

Most people would rather stand by and allow whatever miserable developments take place - and remain unhappy; quitely accepting a miserable working circumstance; waiting nervously to be laid off or transferred.

The worst dilemma takes place when there is a buyout.

A medium-sized local company - where employees were over the moon happy - was bought out by a very large company with the promise that the healthy positive working culture would continue as usual.

Loyalty and hard work were supported 100% by every employee at the company being bought out because they were included in all decisions that would affect them, people were allowed to be creative and were actually rewarded for speaking up about problems they saw or were concerned would grow. The very reasons the company grew so much, so quickly.

The pitch was that the financial support from the mega-corporation would only boost business, create more possibilities to be innovative, expand the number of employees, yadda yadda yadda.

I warned someone working at the local company that the buyout corporation has a wretched reputation of being greedy, cold, inconsiderate of non-executive employees and having serious customer service problems.

Despite that, my friend told me they were "guaranteed" that the fantastic working conditions, creativity and freedom at the company would continue. As usual.

Ouch. I knew avoiding the truth would leave everyone consummately unhappy. The mega corporation has a reputation of not just buying out companies, but of crushing them.

Sure enough, the megacorporation changed a healthy working environment from literally feeling lucky to show up for work (on time) into fear; employees no longer felt important or part of the process but just lackys expected to execute orders - and not very interesting tasks at that.

Mega corporation executives who knew nothing about the smaller, successful company or its culture were placed in key positions and dragged it down rapidly with their inappropriate rules and treatment of the employees. And last, but not least, these formerly happy workers found themselves fielding ridiculous customer complaints they never had to deal with as part of the original business.

The quagmire: whether to continue unhappily, to challenge The Powers That Be (which was seen as useless or they may be seen as a "complainer" or "troublemaker") or to quit.

Having experienced a genuinely healthy, happy working situation before the buyout, the vast majority quit.

Not everyone found employment right away - some remained happily unemployed until they could find a new position at a healthy enterprise; some became entrepreneurs, creating their own businesses - willing to ride the rough tide as they worked to establish themselves pursuing their passion.

In short, they loved themselves enough to find their passion, to love what they do, who they are with and how they live.

If simply showing up to do the tasks assigned for money so you can go home and live a rich, rewarding life makes you happy? Kewl. That's your definition of a happy life and you're living it!

Of course the same is true of relationships.

It can feel way easier to live from day to day without paying attention to your needs, wants or desires; without paying attention to your partner's needs, wants and desires; or without paying attention to your relationship's needs, wants and desires.

While you might present yourselves to the world as "happy," you know exactly what is going on behind closed doors.

I don't feel lonely. That is, I don't need to be around people to feel OK or not alone.

However, the only time I did feel lonely was when I was in a dysfunctional relationship. I felt extremely alone and unhappy.

It takes tremendous courage to step up and discuss these matters because it may mean the termination of the relationship.

True, but it can also work the other way. It can strengthen the relationship if both people are equally as invested in the relationship - finding new ways to make each other and themselves comforted and happy.

I confronted a relationship in which I lost trust - a relationship I did not want to lose, but the thought of being treated in a way I experienced as neglectful, untruthful and disrespectful was worse.

The relationship ended.

After grieving its loss, I found myself surrounded with people I not only trust, but who treat me very well, indeed.

I've also discovered happiness is dynamic.

The more we understand it, the more successful we can become at re-defining what happiness is, how it feels and what it looks like.

Being in touch with ourselves and our feelings can give us the courage to seek what we need to be happy - finding and living our passion and enjoying the company of others who share those values.

Caveat: The one person whom I have known to never recover from trauma and unhappiness is the adult who loses a child. No matter the age of the child, no matter the reason. To them, I can only say I hope you find some comfort in this lifetime before you, hopefully, join your child in a more peaceful, loving place.

*Please feel free to respond to my blogs by clicking on "comment." Thanks for the emails - they are wonderful! But feel free to share your thoughts with the community as well. Incredible readers from 68 nations read my blog!

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Are you worthy?

Too often people sabotage themselves because they don't believe they are worthy of great opportunities, relationships, gifts (of all types), real love, genuine friendship, true happiness and success.

In some cases they sabotage themselves because they suffer from an "impostor syndrome," believing themselves to be basically a fraud - not really the successful person others perceive them to be. Or that their success is undeserved - a mistake or the result of sheer luck.

People who feel worthy experience fulfillment from life, their life's work and relationships.

Because they feel worthy they're not afraid of losing a negative influence in their lives - no matter how strong a connection there might be and how great the loss might be experienced.

You are worth positive, caring, respectful relationships - with yourself and others, in the work place and at home.

We all are.

It all starts within ourselves.

We see how cruel people are to one another and click our disapproving tongues, yet the way we treat ourselves can be pretty treacherous.

I know people who would never allow their children or their pets to be treated the way they abuse themselves.

Yet they allow their own hand to light up the cigarette - poisoning their system; drink too much alcohol; take mind and body-destroying drugs; eat junk food; criticize themselves relentlessly; remain trapped in a snakepit of unhappiness, and refuse to pursue their passion or do what it takes to enhance their lives and self-worth.

If a lifestyle is built upon destructive behavior, it takes awhile to retrain ourselves.

But it can be done - and excellently - when the decision is made that we are worthy of a good and healthy life, filled with work about which we are passionate, as well as loving, caring, healthy and enduring relationships.

Interestingly, when I put in extra time or make a special effort to help an actor, they thank me for going "above and beyond" the call of duty to assist them succeed in an audition, or role they're filming or a step up in their career.

I smile and say, "Sure. You're worth it."

To a person, they snap turn to me as if I've told them something they've never heard.

I hope they pass it on to someone else - then hear it back all the time.

We are worthy.

You're worthy. Be happy.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

The "early" deaths of former playmates

There were several stories in the media recently about many former Playboy playmates who died young.

From drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, homicides, a plane crash, car accidents and other ostensibly preventable misfortunes.

One of the men who photographed the women blamed their tragic early deaths on their beauty.

"It's a curse to be beautiful," he said.

Um, no.

Beauty is not a curse. Their beauty did not kill them.

What killed them was emptiness. Emptiness they tried to fill with drugs, alcohol, sex or whatever else they were "famous" for.

When people are heralded for their looks and sexuality, that does not a fulfilling life make.

Looks change greatly with age, sexuality can be enjoyed in the moment, but it's not something one can build a life on. A career? Maybe. But not a life.

Because they've been so feted for doing *nothing* - except showing up, they usually don't understand how much trouble their soul and personal identity are in until they run into one of life's brick walls that they - unbelievably - did not see coming.

Too many (to me one is too many) are left without personal resources, psychological and personality tools to handle the rejection, self-examination and motivation to build a great life because of the hard work that's involved.

And let's face it, the people they hang around don't exactly push education, personal development, community service, sacrifice, delayed gratification and relationship skills.

I've known too many people who are beautiful and because their looks have been such a focus of who they are - by their families, friends, and others in their lives, they failed to develop other aspects of their persona, humanity and personality and are left feeling empty -- and in turn, worthless.

Feeling worthless is just as toxic as feeling empty. Probably more toxic, actually.

Us normal looking folks are left to wonder how that could possibly happen to such great-looking people, whom we assume to be filled with all sorts of happiness and good fortune.

But it's true. After all is said and done, it's true. Beauty is only skin deep. It's what we do with our beauty - inner and outer - that makes our lives fantastic.

When we develop ourselves, our skills and our talents - and share ourselves with others? It makes for a rewarding, fulfilling life that only gets better as we learn more about ourselves, others and the world around us.

Which is why when you're gorgeous on the inside AND the outside - contributing to your "best" self, others, friends, family (birth and adopted) and the world in your own inimitable way - you are DA BOMB!

And there are many of those show-biz beauties in our world: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Charlize Theron, Pierce Bronson, Courteney Cox, Angelina Jolie, Ted Danson, Angela Bassett, Alec Baldwin and so many more who do such wonderful things without a stitch of publicity or noteriety.

I've seen a whole lot of beautiful people who could be in films but they choose not to because they want to do other things - and they live extremely rewarding, fulfilling lives. They focus their lives on what they do and who they are - not what they look like, though they certainly pay attention to taking good care of themselves!

Oh - and when you start out more gorgeous on the inside than the outside - and develop yourself and contribute in some way to better others and world around you?

Your outside becomes more and more beautiful as you get yourself out there, step by step.

You can't help it.

And when people greet you? They say, "Hey, Beautiful! Wassup!?"

*They* can't help it!

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