Put on Your Oxygen Mask First

This morning as Jenn was packing her things and preparing to leave for Farmer’s Market, she remarked to me about the breakfast foods in the house and what we had that cold be the basis of lunch. This discussion caused me to ask ‘what are you taking to eat?’ In typical fashion Jenn replied ‘I’ll be alright’ and I realized she had planned for me and my comfort but had given no consideration for her and her needs.

As I have been pursuing my theory of happiness I realize that it is easy to put someone else’s needs above our needs. We want those we love to be happy. However, I am smacked by the reality that we can not make someone else happy. We can try to not make them unhappy but we can never be the epicenter of their happiness.

It has been a while since I have flown; but I clearly recall the instructions to put on your oxygen mask first then help small children or others who require assistance. I believe the same is true of our happiness. We MUST find our place of happiness before we can help anyone as they seek their happiness.

I do believe we can help each other as we seek happiness. For this reason I have started a Facebook group ‘The Theory of Happiness’. It is a space where we can openly and honestly discuss our personal pursuit of happiness. If you would like to be a part of this group drop me a line me @ gayletabor.com and I’ll add you. It is a closed group (you can see the members but can not see the post without membership).

Which brings me to my fourth commandment: put on your oxygen mask first.

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Pursuing The Theory of Happiness


Last week I shared my interest in pursuing happiness. I had stumbled upon a blog post by Gretchen Rubin and was impressed by what she had to say in  10 Counterintuitive Tips For Being Happier. My interest in happiness did not stop there. As I confessed, I have been demanding happiness for months (maybe even years) without a true path to finding happiness. Last weeks post prompted me to take a closer look at happiness and my own responsibility in the pursuit of finding it.

My first step was to buy  The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I expected to find a dry clinical approach to happiness but what I found was an interesting (and at times light hearted) story of the struggle to be happy(er). Although our life circumstances are VERY different, I do relate to the stories and the struggles. I am no book reviewer, but what I am is inspired – inspired to begin my own happiness project.

Jenn says that I have a theory for everything (she says it is endearing – perhaps she is smidge delusional) and because Einstein is VERY popular in our house (he’s Jenn’s hero);

I am calling my project ‘Pursuing The Theory of Happiness’.

I’m still not sure where this little project will take me, hopefully to a happier and more productive place.

The Sunport

What I do know is that my first step in ‘Pursuing The Theory of Happiness’ was to create a nice space conducive to reading and enjoying the great outdoors. We cleaned our sunport and dejunked it; added plants (which Jenn is in charge of keeping alive – it’s safer for the plants), and comfy chairs. I can’t imagine this space won’t get a great summer workout – I’ve already started spending a little time there in the morning with my first cup of coffee.



I have given myself an assignment to start my pursuit:

  • listen more and demand less (that’s tough for me).
  • consider that everyone wants their talents and efforts noticed (not just me).
  • keep in mind that my view on an event, incident, life isn’t the ONLY view and I need to listen to hear another perspective.
  • remember that minor annoyances and irritations of life  (although they may seem HUGE when piled on top of each other) are really just tiny aggravations. Letting them pass would feed my happiness not my unhappiness.

Go Be Happy Today


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I love a plan! I enjoy the process of making a plan. There is just a special joy about deciding a course of action to deal with a specific problem. Left to my own devices, I usually stick with the plan. As a matter of fact, I often find myself in the position of wondering why something did not happen….and my response is ‘BUT, WE HAD A PLAN’.

The reality is that having a plan and implementing a plan live at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Make a Plan

So here are steps to help you accomplish what you are planning:

1 – Make your plan realistic. When making a plan it is tempting to want to see everything in a Pollyanna, pie in the sky way; DON’T DO IT! Have lofty goals and reach for the stars but make your plan for accomplishment rooted firmly in realistically what you can accomplish.

2 – Get the entire teams buy in. If you are a boss making the plan, you can demand compliance but if your team doesn’t understand the reasons and agree with the plan, the implementation will be less effective.

3 – Document the plan. It is easy to lie to ourselves. It is easy to ‘modify’ the plan in our minds as an excuse to not implement it. It is also easy for a team member to claim they didn’t understand the plan.  If the plan lives in a written format there is no chance for confusion and less chance of mental justifications.

4 – Create visual cues. I like to do this in my calendar (or in a task manager that offers a ‘pop up’ on my computer or a text message reminder). For example, I have a pop up that says, ‘Go to the gym’.

5 – Build a reward into the plan. Everyone loves to be rewarded for a job well done. So, feed your team, give a bonus, or relax your dress code for a day; whatever reward works for your team.

Meeting your goals is just a matter of knowing where you are going and how you are going to get there!

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I don’t like worms (or morning people)

I am not a morning person! I prefer to stay up later and get up later. However after almost 14 years of living with a morning person, my ways have shifted and I rarely stay up too late (midnight or one is usually the latest) and am generally up before eight. And I definitely like to ease into my day. It is one of the reasons why working for myself as opposed to ‘the man’ works best for me.

On a surprising note, I have discovered that I prefer to write in the morning. My thoughts seem clearer and I enjoy the solitude of the project.

This morning while grousing about the overabundance of conversation before I had finished my morning ritual and made it to the coffee pot, I discovered this graphic. Naturally, my first thought was to share it (that’s why I am a social media enthusiast). For the polar opposites who live in my house, this graphic is 100% correct.

The graphic is based on the research of Christopher Randler, a professor of biology at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany. You can read more about it in the Harvard Business Review in an article titled “The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm“. In his research, Randler found the following:

“Though evening people do have some advantages—other studies reveal they tend to be smarter and more creative than morning types, have a better sense of humor, and are more outgoing—they’re out of sync with the typical corporate schedule. When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards. My earlier research showed that they tend to get better grades in school, which get them into better colleges, which then lead to better job opportunities. Morning people also anticipate problems and try to minimize them, my survey showed. They’re proactive. A number of studies have linked this trait, proactivity, with better job performance, greater career success, and higher wages.”

Not surprising genetics plays a significant role in whether you are a morning person or not…yes, you can blame your mother. It seems that about 50% of a person’s chronotype is due to genetics. (According to wikipedia Chronotype is an attribute of human beings, reflecting at what time of the day their physical functions [hormone level, body temperature, cognitive faculties, eating and sleeping] are active, change or reach a certain level.)

In an interview Randler says, ‘People can be trained to alter what we call their “chronotypes,” but only somewhat. In one study, about half of school pupils were able to shift their daily sleep-wake.’ schedules by one hour. But significant change can be a challenge. About 50% of a person’s chronotype is due to genetics.

The real answer for me is don’t talk to me before my first cup of coffee.

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Today is the Day to make a Memory

Last night I was sharing a story with a friend. It is a story I have told over and over in the last 30-plus years but one I have not related here. In 1979 or 1980 my dad and I cut down an oak tree. I wish I could tell you more about the tree, but I really don’t remember. What I vividly remember is loading the logs onto a trailer pulled by my family red belly ford tractor and hauling the tree to the sawmill. The sawmill was run by an old man, Mr. Tuttle, who walked with the benefit of a cane.

I can not recall how many days we worked with Mr. Tuttle, it may have only been one but we worked. It was hard manual labor. However, when we were done we had a stack of beautiful oak lumber. And an idea for what I wanted it to become. Being a teenager, I had no concept of time and wanted to hurry the process and begin to build right away. However, my older and wiser father said we should stack the wood and let it air dry.

It was a test of my patience. I sketched and drew. I talked about my project and anxiously checked on the wood and its progress. Until one day when my dad told me it was time – Time to take the wood to be kiln-dried. Again my patience we tested.

After what seemed an eternity, we were ready to begin building. We took my idea and my sketch and turned it in to a cabinet. If you visit my house today, it sits prominently in my living room. I’d like to say that my original drawings still exist. And perhaps they do in some random box or among some childhood papers. Nonetheless, I am relatively certain the cabinet we fashioned from the wood reflects my original idea.


The Cabinet

You would think I might have learned a lesson in patience from this adventure. But I did not.

What I always thought I learned from this project was the ability to take an idea and add in hard work to create a finished product. But today, looking back, I know the real lesson I learned is that you can never over-estimate how important the time you spend with someone will be.

I believe I love the cabinet, but the reality is that I love the memory of building it with my dad. What memories are you making today? And who are you making them with?

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Sharing is what it is ALL about

Part of the way I feed, clothe and have the ability to live indoors, is the use of social media. In case you are reading this and want to ask the question my mother asked last week ‘SOCIAL MEDIA, what’s that?’ The answer is social media is any avenue that acts socially using online technology. Because keeping up with the trends in social media and being well versed in using social media sights is my job, I’ve been spending time on Pinterest lately (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

What my time on Pinterest has taught me is, well, there are so many delectable foods in the world AND people love to share inspirational sayings. Some are cute. Some are insightful. Others are funny or witty. Which has me thinking, why do we love to share them so much?

After minutes of solicitous consideration, I believe I have the answer. We share the sayings for the same reason I write this blog….we want to inspire OURSELVES to be better. We believe that if we can live by the saying just for today we can improve our lives. Maybe we think we can magically hold on to the feeling we felt when we read that bit of inspiration. Maybe we want to share that feeling with others.

My post today is light hearted, but my message is serious. Get inspired! Find the thing that moves you and share! Share it with your spouse, your friends, and even the world!


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