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Archive for November, 2009

“What?” you ask. Happiness, of course.

Among the people I have met during my season of unemployment have been Howie Lyhte, an incredibly intelligent man who goes out of his way to share articles, tips, hints, with the rest of us who are part of the same list serves and groups. I think he’s been unemployed longer than I have; yet every time I see him, he is completely engaged with whatever is going on and has a welcoming smile on his face.

Another person I have come to know about is Dan DemaioNewton who is Director of Strategy and Business Development at Monster Worldwide. Pretty impressive job, wouldn’t you agree? Well, he has taken the time to create www.betterjobsfaster.org as a place where we work seekers can post resumes, share jobs, learn about upcoming meetings, and uplifting articles like the one that follows which I share with you on this Thanksgiving Eve.

Five Simple Rules to Be Happy

This story was sent to me by our fellow job seeker, Howie Lyhte. He was right, it did make me smile.  I’m sharing it with you in the hope that it also makes you smile and encourages you to focus on that which is most important. – Dan.

Happiness

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.  His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.

As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.

‘I love it,’ he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

Mr. Jones, you haven’t seen the room; just wait. ‘That doesn’t have anything to do with it,’ he replied. Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.

‘Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged … it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful  for the ones that do.

‘Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away.  Just for this time in my life.

Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you’ve put in.

So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories!’

Thank you for your part in filling my Memory Bank.

I am still depositing.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.

2. Free your mind from worries.

3. Live simply.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less.

To all the special people in my life, especially Bob, Kim, Kirt, Britt and GrandBeagle Reggie, thank you for helping fill my Memory bank account! – Diana

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While there are many emotions and personality traits that are important to well being, one particular emotion has been shown to enable people to cope better during life transitions. They are less depressed, handle stress better, are more satisfied with their relationships and lives, and exercise more control over their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and are less likely to avoid a problem or abuse substances.

What emotion is this? Gratitude.

But this goes beyond just saying, “thank you” when someone holds the door open for you. True gratefulness comes from the conscious decision to recognize the blessings in your life coupled with the emotional feelings that accompany a thankful heart. It is having an “attitude of gratitude” which includes not only counting and taking joy in your blessings, but deliberately displaying pleasure and appreciation to others in word and deed.

One of the things I have tried to bring to Seacoast Peers for Careers is this attitude of gratitude. Each week I ask everyone to share a blessing from the preceding week. When someone new joins the group, I ask the person to share a blessing that occurred BECAUSE of being unemployed. It is so easy for gatherings of people who are hurting (and unemployment does hurt!) to turn into a gripe session with conversations turning negative, blood pressures increasing, and frustrations building. How much better it is to focus on the good things, the things that give pleasure and make our hearts full.

A study by McCollough and Emmons in 2003 had three groups of participants. One group recorded daily events, another wrote down unpleasant experiences, and a third wrote down things for which they were grateful. The gratitude group was more likely to help others, exercise, and complete personal goals. They also reported more determination, optimism, alertness, energy, and enthusiasm. The study further found the people who took time to deliberately record their gratitude were more likely to feel loved and found more kindness reciprocated. These grateful people were grateful regardless of whether or not something special happened during their day. They didn’t just have moments of gratefulness, they had grateful attitudes.

Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods and are less likely to judge their own and others’ success in terms of accumulated possessions. They were less envious of others and more likely to share their possessions with others relative to less grateful persons.

And finally, the study noted that those who regularly attended religious services and engaged in religious activities such as prayer or meditation were more likely to be grateful and more likely to acknowledge a belief in the interconnectedness of all life and a commitment to and responsibility to others. While gratitude does not require a religious faith, faith enhances the ability to be grateful.

All of this resonates deep within my spirit and my belief system and can be summed up with a quote from II Thessalonians.

“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances.”

I believe this is the essence of having an attitude of gratitude. It’s all about choices …

William A. Ward, who wrote many inspirational maxims, said “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”

Think about that not just two days from now on Thanksgiving but each and every day.

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Growing Numbers

The last few weeks have seen some successes for the members of Seacoast Peers for Careers empowerment group. We have had three “landings” in three weeks. In the language of those of us in “job clubs,” the word “landing” is used when someone finds a job.

One person was hired as a 90-day possible temp-to-hire in Boston and was hired on after only a couple of weeks. A very new member who joined us just days after her job ended made it to only one meeting before she got a job in Manchester in her very specialized field! The third had two very different interviews about two weeks ago, one with a small company, one with a major employer in the Seacoast. The larger company hired her, and she started Monday.

Our member who had gone an entire year without an interview had a phone and in-person interview with the same local company as well as an interview with a municipality. A new member had an interview yesterday that appeared to be his to lose as the position had not been advertised and a former colleague had recommended him for it.

While I didn’t get a second interview for the job I interviewed for a couple of weeks back and don’t have anything on the horizon, there are some stirrings happening around me that I have to sort through. Some may lead to interesting possibilities.

Things are looking up! Keep your fingers crossed for all of us!

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Wouldn’t it be nice if I could have carried those numbers above into one job offer that I accepted? Unfortunately,  that’s not the case so far. In fact, I have not heard back from my one interview of the last few weeks.

So why did I mention four interviews in my title? Well, that’s because three of them involved media and not jobs.

On September 15, Foster’s Daily Democrat chronicled how Seacoast Peers for Careers came to be along with what it is doing to empower folks in their work search: “Dover woman who found herself jobless now helps peers get back on their feet”

I got my story told from its current vantage point and we got some good publicity for our speaker, Tracey Madden, who was going to talk about Informational Interviews. Well, we had over 20 people show up as a result of the article, a couple of whom have been back a few times. One of those folks was recently hired and another whose very first meeting was this past week told me today that she was interviewed, offered a job and starts tomorrow!

On September 30, another reporter spent nearly 90 minutes with our group gathering information for a series of articles on the economy and the impact of the recession. Part one featured views from UNH economists and other experts and appeared the following Sunday. The second part, “Job clubs help unemployed stay positive,” dealt with how people are reacting and appeared November 1. It contained info and comments from Michelle Hart from NH Works in Somersworth, NH, Nicole Tessier from NHNetWorks in Salem, NH, and Barbara Yates from Seacoast Work Seekers in Rye, NH, all of whom I know from my own job search.

As a result of that article, last week’s meeting had seven people with five of them being new. One woman drove about 40 miles to join us after a friend passed the article along to her. As we have seen almost every time we have had some new members, there are those who have just become unemployed, there are those who have been unemployed for a while and figured they’d now explore a group, and there are those who had been employed by the same employer for 20 or more years and were stunned when their positions were eliminated. It takes a while to come out of the shock and disbelief. It is helped by being in a safe place where people understand. And, boy, do we ever understand the emotional carnage that has occurred. As always, there is empathy, compassion, and encouragement as the stories are shared.

We’ve all learned if surviving unemployment is anything, it is a vast training ground in stepping outside your comfort zone and risk taking of all kinds.

And speaking of risk taking and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, remember my exciting, scary, and enjoyable experience being on TV for CBS News The Early Show? Well, there’s going to be a follow up to The Job Squad. The fourth interview I had in the last seven weeks occurred the same day as the most recent newspaper interview. A video journalist from CBS came to the Thompson School at UNH to ask me a few questions and tape one of my classes.

Three of the original four from The Job Squad, Kelsey Nova, Jack Iannacone and I will be back on air sometime this month. New York City, here I come again.

The journey continues … –

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