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Tag Archives: positive psychology

Grandmother Wisdom: Lessons on Life from Gladys on her 99th Birthday

Love yourself first and other grandmother wisdom

You may or may not know that this website is not only dedicated to delivering ‘gladness’ but it’s also named after an amazing woman, my grandmother Gladys, who is celebrating her 99th birthday today. I can tell you, for certain, that this woman knows how to live, and today is a tribute to her, and her strength and wisdom.

Gladys spent most of her life on farms. She had to milk the cows before she went to elementary school, even in the dark cold winter in Wisconsin. On frozen winter mornings, she sometimes stood in fresh cow manure to keep her feet warm.  Many years later, at the age of 96, she shook her new pastor’s hand for the first time and when she cracked his knuckles, he asked her how her hands got so strong, she said ‘milking cows.’  The pastor replied ‘poor cows.’

She may break your ribs when she gives you one of her infamous bear hugs.  She is tough as nails, and sweet as sugar.  In her late teens and early 20′s, she was a live-in nanny for a very wealthy family (Kraft foods heirs) outside of Minneapolis, which is where she met the handsome stable boy, my grandfather.  They have lived a happy life of modest means together for over 70 years, and she can tell you for certain that money can’t buy happiness.

Every single day of her life, she has laid down for ‘siesta’ time. And if you were at her farm home, or her lake cabin, siesta time was required under her roof no matter how old you were. Siesta time means you lie down, close your eyes, and count your blessings. Tell God what you’re grateful for.  ”Siesta” was quite an exotic word growing up in the Midwest. Now, many of us call this time meditation.

I don’t remember her ever gossiping or speaking badly of someone. If she didn’t like your behavior, or thought it wasn’t good for you, she’d just tell you directly.

There’s no doubt that she has a direct line to the angels. Her parents gave her the name “Gladys” because the doctor thought she was stillborn when she came into the world. On that cold January day they wrapped her in blankets and set her tiny body in a box next to the fireplace.  Later, they heard cries coming from the box, and in that miraculous moment, she earned her name. She has been pronounced dead by doctors at least two other times but fooled them all.  One of those times was a car accident that cracked her head open and caused her to live her whole life with severe migraines – which she of course never complained about.

She still lives in her own home, with her ‘younger’ husband, my 98-year-old grandfather.  She has always had more energy than me, but in the last few years, her health has finally started to deteriorate. She has lost her hearing and eyesight, broken her hip, gone into heart arrest, then had her ribs broken by doctors using a defibrillator. She has had a surge in her epileptic seizures, caused by the medication to stop the shingles that covered her eyes and caused more sight loss.  And yet, in every moment, she thanks God for his work, my nurse Aunt for caring for her, and charms everyone in whatever hospital she is in and out of with her grace and gratitude.

To have spent my summers at the lake cabin with her and my grandfather as a young child was indeed one of the biggest blessings of my life. She has always been one of the most present (and pleasant) people I have ever met.  And just to have observed someone who has experienced life so joyfully and fully, and receive her 99-year-old wisdom is a true gift.

I do a lot of reading and spiritual work, and I’m always impressed that the common themes of “being present,”  ”self-love,” “gratitude,” “faith,” and “being of service” repeated by every modern day guru and teacher are the same principles Gladys has lived by and taught.

Below are the words of wisdom that she has repeated to me all of my life. Not in one of those annoying ‘let me tell you what you don’t know’ kind of ways, but in the way that a grandmother tells you, from her heart, what she wants for you because she loves you enough to break your ribs when she hugs you.

Straight from the horse’s mouth (as Gladys would say) – Practical Wisdom to live by:

1)  You can’t love anyone until you love yourself. Mmm – mmm (shake head back and forth.) That’s the most important thing in the world.

2) I wake up everyday and pray that I can be of service to someone. If I can’t be, then what is the point of being here?

3) You can do anything – ANYTHING (she repeats that loudly in case you miss it) if you set your mind to it. And if you don’t believe that, what DO you believe?

4) You’ve got to keep going, because if you don’t then that’s the end, isn’t it?

5) If you can’t find anything to be thankful for, then you haven’t thought about it enough.

6) Every day is a blessing. Every single one. That I know for sure, and that’s how I’ve gotten to 99.  And I plan on counting all the way to 100. And then some.

7) To each, their own. “Well, that’s their business and nobody else’s,” she loves to say.

8) Money can’t buy happiness. I have seen a whole family ruined by it. I would rather have nothing more than a happy healthy family, which I do have, and I thank God for that.

Thanks, grandma, you’re a true heroine.

Gladys herself, 99 and full of gladness.











One reader was so inspired by Glady’s words of wisdom, that they created this art card for their bulletin board, and shared it with us.  We love it!

words of wisdom from grandmothers


You might also enjoy this article on how an 85-year-old supermodel embraces the aging process:

 Have someone special in your life that has shared wisdom with you along the way?  Share it with us please!


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What Does Spirituality Mean To You?

In this regular series, asks leading thinkers, writers and scientists for their perspective on defining what spirituality means to them. Dr. Larry Culliford, psychiatrist, lecturer and author, recommends exploring spirituality like you would a “brilliant amusement park.” Sounds like fun to us!
It is not ideal to consider spirituality as a thing, an object. It does not have the nature of a specimen that can be dissected and analysed. Spirituality is better thought of as a boundary-less dimension of human experience. As such, it must be admitted, it is not open to the normal methodologies of scientific investigation. It cannot completely be defined. It cannot be pinned down. So… What are we to do?

Firstly, you don’t have to give up! You don’t have to be like people who equate spirituality with a religion they decide is false, then abandon. It is possible to look at spirituality another way, as something free of institutional structures and hierarchies, not so much about dogma and beliefs as about attitudes, values and practices, about what motivates you (us) at the deepest level, influencing how you think and behave, helping you find a true and useful place in your community, culture and in the world. Spirituality cannot be explored using scientific methods because it involves deeply personal, subjective experiences, and in this it differs from the over-riding ambition of science: to be objective. Both are necessary and appropriate, complementary formulas for discovering ourselves, each other, our environment, the universe… and especially an enduring sense of purpose and meaning.

This brilliant adventure park called “Spirituality” contains many related themes, such as the idea that the five dimensions (physical, biological, psychological, social and spiritual) are seamlessly interconnected.  And how about the spiritual themes of joy and wonder, dualism and holism, and the two ways of experiencing time?

According to researchers, children’s spirituality flows through their capacities for spontaneous joy and wonder. A sense of fascination, of mystery, awe and delight, are facets of adult spirituality too. However, by the teen years, most people have developed a powerfully ‘dualistic’ understanding of themselves and the world, as if standing outside it. In this ‘self/non-self’, ‘either/or’, ‘right or wrong’ vision of the universe, opposing features are emphasized: either young or old, for example, not both at the same time. Spirituality, on the other hand, involves a ‘holistic’ appreciation of a universe in which everyone and everything is connected seamlessly with everyone and everything else.

The familiar ‘yin-yang’ symbol demonstrates this principle of wholeness in all scales, from infinitesimal to cosmic, as follows: the dark ground (yin) has a small central white spot, and the light ground (yang) has a small central dark spot. The entire symbol is to be imagined as dynamic, constantly changing. Just as day and night forever precede and become one another, what is light gradually becomes dark, and what is dark repeatedly becomes light. The opposites counteract, balance and turn into each other, like the changing seasons of the year.

Yin Yang Symbol

The ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ can symbolize any two polarized forces in nature. Taosts believe that humans often intervene in nature and upset the balance of Yin and Yang.

According to Taoist tradition, Yin (the dark) and yang (the light) are extended to include several polarized forces in the universe, including night and day, earth and heaven, yielding and firm, feminine and masculine. There are many opposites that similarly define each other, among them negative and positive, hot and cold, dry and wet, north and south, east and west, up and down, in and out, ancient and modern, evil and good. Without one, there cannot be the other. Wisdom involves remembering that such pairs always relate to one-another and are inseparable.

The two Greek names for time, ‘chronos’ and ‘kairos’, represent two types of experience that also interpenetrate one-another like the white and dark parts of the yin-yang symbol. Chronos is the familiar, mechanical clock time, advancing steadily in linear fashion, day by day. Kairos was the name of the Greek god who symbolized chance, fortune and synchronicity. He habitually came calling at the perfect moment, when all was ripe and ready. Kairos can therefore be considdered as spiritual time (or ‘God’s time’), and has a different quality altogether from chronos.

Subjectively, when gripped by kairos, it may feel as if clock time has slowed down or stopped completely. Paradoxically, it may also feel as if it has speeded up, so that minutes, hours, even days go by in a flash. Some athlete’s experience this, for example, when they get ‘in the zone’ during a burst of peak performance.

Kairos is in play when things happen unpredictably, but at just the right moment. Eternity and clock time seem to intersect for human benefit and instruction. Such an experience, when something eternal appears to break through into everyday life, is an ‘epiphany’. Heaven and earth may seem briefly to coincide and… ‘Something happens’! Something new and profound, something inspiring and life-changing is revealed in an instant.

The new wisdom resonates powerfully with something already present, deep inside. It feels like a reminder and confirmation of something already known but forgotten. Such revelations herald a kind of awakening, a key moment of transition on life’s journey towards spiritual maturity. As the fallen leaf never rises to rejoin the tree, so is this a point of no return. The significance of these experiences is re-enforced by ‘synchronicities’ unexpected but meaningful coincidences; such as may occur when two people meet for the first time, who later become life partners.

Synchronicities and serendipities – unexpected discoveries – often go together. There is a kind of mystery about kairos. Kairos is spiritual time.

Joy and wonder, dualism and holism, and the two ways of experiencing time are just some of the myriad themes to engage with in the spirituality adventure park. Some of the rides may feel challenging, more intimidating than exhilarating at first. Later, with familiarity, the spirituality park may feel increasingly restful, like a beautiful paradise garden. Entry is free. We are all already in the park. Why not experiment using all five senses and your capacity for mindful reflection? Take advantage of life’s literally wonder-full opportunities for excitement, learning and growth. Why hesitate? What do you suppose a person might have to lose?

What does spirituality mean to you?  We’d love to know, Tell us below!

To read more of Dr. Larry Culliford work visit his happiness website.


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Life Doesn’t Get Better by Chance: It Gets Better by Change

Accepting change requires letting go of how we think things should be, embracing what we have, and trusting that we will understand why change happens. Start by learning to accept the things we cannot change, changing the things we can, and having the wisdom to know the difference. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

We can all use more serenity in our lives, whether we pray for it or seek ways to create it from the inside out. Acceptance lightens us up by shifting those all too familiar and pesky heart-heavy feelings of resistance, and transmuting them into clarity and direction, time and time again.

Change isn’t all bad though. If you’re unemployed, and a job you’ve wanted becomes yours then change is more than welcome, isn’t it? Accepting change also triggers a series of realizations that one might not have been able to grasp without first accepting change, or life as it may be. If you’re wondering, how do we know when we are resisting change? Check in with your heart. Just as the heart sends good vibes and lets us know when we’re right on track, feelings of resistance weighs like a pressurized knot in the heart.

Vibrational cues are sent throughout our body to let us know whether consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously there are misaligned energies to pay attention to and release. If you are in a constant state of physical, mental or emotional dis-ease then you need to LISTEN UP. Your body never lies, but at times the mind can either be misleading or unable to grasp the actual energies, or undercurrent of energies, at work, so always check-in with your internal compass, your center, your heart, for the truth.

Practicing acceptance is a mindful exercise, and depending on what needs to be accepted or let go of, it can be downright elusive when we want to accept change the most. These six steps can help with accepting change peacefully:

1. Pause. Accept. Now, Be in the Moment.

It’s true, we’ve all thought about how we could’ve made different choices leading up to those tough times – but we had to have been operating altogether with a different awareness in order to do so. This means the frequency from which we were functioning in that moment had to be different. Knowing this now, do you feel more accepting of your past and present? If you notice a heightened shift in perspective, then the energy of your thoughts is shifting, opening your heart, subsiding your negative ego (while strengthening your positive ego) and tapping into a higher consciousness where acceptance and better choices are more accessible right in this very moment. Stick with it.

2. Acknowledge That Big ‘Ol Ego.

Undesirable change can be unsettling, especially when it involves matters of the heart. However, the uneasiness needn’t last for long. Once you experience acceptance, there is an undeniable energetic shift in your heart as much as a cerebral shift in perspective. It’s natural to feel pain but we needn’t suffer through it, unless masochism is your thing (totally cool if it is, no judgment here). Just realize that any kind of emotional and mental suffering is a function of major resistance to change that only our injured ego and heart can perform so well.

But, wait…there is relief! You see, the opposite is true too. Embracing change will bring you to a state of balance and upliftment. Be mindful and learn to identify the interconnectedness of the ego, its relationship to change and how this interplay mutes or expands the heart. Identifying this releases us and gives us the internal freedom that only we can initiate and cultivate, if we choose.

3. Live Honestly. Learn to Let Go.

Let’s not kid ourselves, mastering the art of acceptance is a constant work in progress that requires an honest inventory of the current status quo and making iterative improvements to better handle life’s ups and downs with strength and grace. The beauty is, once we’ve spent some time identifying and releasing what no longer serves us, we never lose sight of what we can achieve and what we’ve learned. Consider this the “Art of Getting Unstuck”. It’s a muddy process but well worth the effort once we clean ourselves up, begin to see the forest beyond the trees and live mindfully again.

4. Give Away What You Most Want.

Acceptance can be a difficult lesson to learn, especially if we have unresolved issues from childhood, such as consistently being faced with not being accepted one way or another: either by our parents, peers, or anyone who played a meaningful and crucial role in our young lives. However, the experiences we want the most – acceptance, patience, understanding, love, etc. – are the ones we must put into practice by freely giving these acts of kindness to ourselves and then others (practice makes perfect), especially during times of adversity. Easier said than done, initially, but never impossible.

5. Allow Your Character to Prevail.

As we strive to be more authentic and accepting of ourselves, people, events or circumstances, our true caliber comes into play when faced with elements we either wish to prevail or learn to embrace. The mind is a powerful, powerful tool – don’t let it mislead you. Your (re)actions should always serve to enhance your life not drain you of vitality. Be mindful of your disposition in every situation and stand in your power. If the temptation arises to close your heart and build a great energetic wall of China around yourself (I’ve been there many times, my karmic passport can show you the stamps), opt instead for this exercise: silently repeat the word ‘acceptance.’ You’ll be amazed how it instantly shifts you right to the center of your heart, the safe zone. Take flight from there!

6. Don’t Be a Turkey, Cultivate Thanks Giving.

If you haven’t been able to accept change by giving thanks for past experiences and the people involved, then the growth or realization that is required to learn and move on (ie, detach) from those experiences has yet to fully culminate the valuable lesson it brought. This leaves within you an unidentified aspect of yourself that you either aren’t aware of, don’t like, or have yet to fully understand. Understanding comes with realizing your world is 100% a reflection of you, a mirror aspect, in order to accept the deeper truths about who you are. Who you are beyond the limitations of pain and suffering is absolutely more gorgeous than any “Photoshopped” image, more powerful than all the currency in the world and more lovable than Boo the cutest dog in the galaxy (and he’s terribly cute, it’s unreal).

Change can be welcomed or unwelcomed as any experience that we had not hoped for, planned for, or somehow requires us to alter our life as we know it. If I’ve learned anything from accepting change by now it is that my inner life has greatly improved following change. If you’re seeing the same manure on different days, then freedom comes when we, at very least, recognize that patterns of self-defeating behavior do indeed repeat for our enlightenment until the message clicks and we move on.

Often times, we break patterns through repetition to align us with our true or empowered self and the life we’re meant to live. Change also serves as an exercise to make us resilient – not resistant – to it. So, the next time someone asks, “Got change?”, say ”Yes” and give them change with the consciousness that what you are gifting will indeed initiate positive change in both of your lives. If you can remember to do this consciously, then on some level you’ve accepted change as a multifaceted opportunity to create even more freedom and deeper happiness in all areas of your life. Wishing you peace of mind and heart on your journey!

These are some excellent tools to help accept change and manage stress with ease:

  • Meditation
  • Truth and Higher Teachings
  • Open Mindset: Positive, realistic and honest with an attitude of gratitude.
  • Breathing: correct and conscious.
  • Learning and Reading: Educate and entertain the ego through insight from “out there” [hello article]; eventually the insight gained will facilitate a shift at the core of who you are making you rely more on your inner wisdom.
  • Physical Activity and Music: separate or together, depending on how you feel!


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15 Powerful Things Happy People Do Differently


Editors note:   We think The Purpose Fairy (one of our favorite blogs) has hit a home run with this article on happiness. Our namesake, Gladys has lived everyone of these 15 principles in all of her 97 years. 

What is the difference between happy people and unhappy people? Of course, it may be very obvious, happy people are happy while unhappy people are unhappy, right? Well, that is correct, but we want to know what are the things that these people do differently and that is why, I have put together a list of things that HAPPY people do differently than UNHAPPY people.

1. LOVE vs. FEAR. Well, I can tell you for sure that people who are really happy FEAR less and LOVE a lot more. They see each moment, each challenge, each person as an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.

2. ACCEPTANCE vs. RESISTANCE.  Happy people understand that you can’t really change a situation by resisting it, but you can definitely change it by accepting that it is there and by understanding that there might be a reason for its existence. When something unpleasant happens to them, they don’t try to fight it, knowing that this will make the situation even worse, but rather, they ask themselves questions like: What can I learn from this? How can I make this better? and they go from there, focusing on the positive rather than on the negative. They always seem to see the glass half full no matter what happens to them.

3. FORGIVENESS vs. UNFORGIVENESS. Really happy people know that it’s not healthy to hold on to anger. They choose to FORGIVE and FORGET, understanding that FORGIVENESS is  a gift they give to themselves first and foremost.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Buddha

4. TRUST vs. DOUBT. They trust themselves and they trust the people around them. No matter if they talk to the cleaning lady or the C.E.O. of a multi billion company, somehow they always seem make the person they are interacting with feel like there is something unique and special about them.

They understand that beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies, and because of that, they make sure to treat everybody with love, dignity and respect, making no distinctions between age, sex, social status, color, religion or race. These are the great men that Mark Twain was talking about: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain

5. MEANING vs. AMBITION.  They do the things they do because of the meaning it brings into their lives and because they get a sense of purpose by doing so. They understand that “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life” like Wayne Dyer puts it, and they care more about living a life full of meaning rather than, what in our modern society we would call, living a successful life.

The irony here is that most of the time they get both, success and meaning, just because they choose to focus on doing the things they love the most and they always pursue their heart desires. They are not motivated by money; they want to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the world.

6. PRAISING vs. CRITICIZING. Happy people would probably agree with Carl’s Jung theory on resistance: “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size”. They don’t criticize the absence of the behavior they want to reinforce, but ratherevery time the behavior is present, even if it’s not that often, they know that by praising the person and the behavior, they will actually reinforce the positive behavior.

When a parent wants to make sure that his 7 years old boy will learn to always put the toys back in the box after he’s done playing with them, he will make sure not to focus on the many times the child won’t do it, criticizing him and his behavior, but rather, every time the little boy does put the toys back, the parent will praise him and his behavior and that is exactly how he will reinforce the positive behavior, and in the end getting the wanted results.

7. CHALLENGES vs. PROBLEMS. Happy people will see PROBLEMS as CHALLENGES, as opportunities to explore new ways of doing things, expressing their gratitude for them, understanding that underneath them all lies many opportunities that will allow them to expand and to grow.

8. SELFLESSNESS vs. SELFISHNESS. They do what they do not for themselves, but for the good of others, making sure that they bring meaning, empowerment and happiness in the lives of many. They look for ways to give and to share the best of themselves with the world and to make other people happy.

 ”Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted.” Buddha

9. ABUNDANCE vs. LACK/POVERTY. They have an abundant mindset living a balanced life, achieving abundance in all areas of life.

10. DREAMING BIG vs. BEING REALISTIC. These people don’t really care about being realistic. They love and dare to dream big, they always listen to their heart and intuition and the greatness of their accomplishments scares many of us.

“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” Goethe

11. KINDNESS vs. CRUELTY. They are kind to themselves and others and they understand the power of self love, self forgiveness and self acceptance.

12. GRATITUDE vs. INGRATITUDE. No matter where they look, no matter where they are or with who, they have this capacity of seeing beauty where most of us would only see ugliness, opportunities, where most of us would only see struggles, abundance where most of us would only see lack and they express their gratitude for them all.

13. PRESENCE/ ENGAGEMENT vs. DISENGAGEMENT. They know how to live in the present moment, appreciating what they have and where they are, while still having big dreams about the future.

“When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it. The mind in itself is a wonderful tool. Dysfunction sets in when you seek your self in it and mistake it for who you are.” Eckhart Tolle

14. POSITIVITY vs. NEGATIVITY. No matter what happens to them, they always seem to keep a positive perspective on everything and by doing so, they tend irritate a lot of negative and “realistic” people.

15. TAKING RESPONSIBILITY vs. BLAMING. They take full ownership over their lives and they rarely use excuses. Happy people understand that the moment you choose to blame some outside forces for whatever it is that happens to you, you are in fact giving all your power away, and they choose to keep the power for themselves and taking responsibility for everything that happens to them.


She likes to think she was born on the Moon but her birth certificate says a place located in the southeastern part of Central Europe called Romania.
A student of art, economics, and psychology, Dana draws inspiration from novels by Lao Tzu with The Tao Te Ching to the lives of leaders such as Wayne Dyer and Carl Jung.
She infuses life-changing and mind-transforming approaches in the works she does, challenging people to challenge themselves.
Most of the times she might point out the obvious, but she believes that most of us need to be reminded about these things – out of sight, out of mind.
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Why Are We Here?

We created this site to address a misconception among many of our friends who thought a burgeoning interest in spirituality was only for bamboo-wearing, crystal-toting, hippie types or that it alternatively required renouncing our homes, jobs, busy lives, friends and families.


But as we looked up from our downward dog we noticed the cool creative director from the ad agency. When we opened our eyes in meditation class we recognized the DJ who lives next door. We wondered what had brought them and if, like us, they’d been turned off by a lot of what we’d encountered along the way: False promises, inaccessible and hokey at times—we’d seen it all and had to pick our way thru to find the good stuff.


There are many out there that share our enthusiasm for exploring spiritual literature, positive psychology, alternative health and wellness practices, as well as classes and retreats. They took a class, followed by another, moved on to a book or two, and, before they knew it, they were on a journey to discover what they truly are.


This site was made with the creative community in mind, for those who want to stay connected in a challenging world. It’s a place to be inspired, to find what you’re looking for. It’s about the journey, and helping each other find our bliss.


Spiritual, Inspired, Well-thy. It’s your journey. Call it what you like.


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