Blogging on The Brightside

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." -The Little Engine That Could

The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy.

–Robin Williams, Patch AdamsBuzLaVyCYAAgy1v


While the loss of Robin Williams is tragic, we must remember the innumerable lessons in happiness, cheer, comedy, and laughter that he taught to us, sometimes, as in Dead Poets Society, quite literally.  He played some of the most iconic characters to ever have touched our hearts, like Peter Pan who taught us to never grow up, and Patch Adams, for whom laughter was the best medicine.  Mrs. Doubtfire exemplified that our parents will always be there for us, but even Genie couldn’t bring people back from the dead.

“The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy.”  And I hope that you delight in stirring glee in someone else’s heart by making them smile, and laugh, and roll their eyes because, in his words,  “you’re only given a little of madness.  You must not lose it.”




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“When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.”

Chief Tecumseh



In the morning, light pours into my bedroom.  It’s kind of a pain to fall asleep with the blinds open and the curtains pulled back, but it’s worth it to be greeted by light.  Then, for me, it’s baked oatmeal and one shot of espresso.  I’m not a morning person, and I probably haven’t had a single thought about anything worth remembering until I’ve begun to absorb some caffeine.  A quick aside- I’ve never understood why people don’t drink more espresso, is it the whip cream thing?  And then, a clean shave.  I (almost) always use a sharp razor, not a Gillette, and have replaced that blue goop with fluffy and fragrant lavender shave soap applied by a badger hair shave brush.

I’m sharing my routine with you, because I’ve found that from the first ray of sunshine to the first bite of oatmeal, the last sip of espresso to the last bit of shave soap, I tend to concentrate on how lucky I am to enjoy these little luxuries.  They are simple joys.  When you appreciate your situation first thing in the morning, you start the day off right.  And when you start the day off right, the rest of the day tends to follow suit.

If you’re a snooze button 12 times, rush out of bed and into the car to sit in traffic on the way to the job you dread kind of person, consider what you give up each morning.  You’ve missed the chance to be gracious, to take a few minutes to yourself to think about your day, to think about what you can do for someone else today.  By the time you’re expressing you’re road rage, you’ve given up the chance to work out that day or your opportunity to reflect in your journal.  Approaching the beginning of your day differently might change your outlook on school or work, especially if you’ve taken a few minutes to give thanks that you have gainful employment and think about how you can make a difference at work that day.  An improved outlook is often the key to improved performance.

So much of this blog is about having a positive and gracious attitude.  The reason is simple- life is better that way.  The time to establish that attitude is first thing in the morning.

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“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.”

– Jackie Robinson

This post was submitted by our friend Joelle Wisnieski, a graduate of Akron University whose laughter lights up the room.


As a first basemen myself, Jackie is one of my role models. A wonderful ball player and a passionate civil rights activist, he continued to play his hand when anyone would have understood if he folded, but more than that he really PLAYED. Not only was he the first African-American to play in major league baseball, but he was then named rookie of the year. I mean who has the courage to steal home 19 times! And I’m not talking about 19 attempts… that is 19 runs that Robinson scored by stealing home base during his baseball career. I think that this quote by Jackie pretty much sums up his attitude toward baseball and toward life. Life is NOT a spectator sport. Unfortunately, still sometimes find myself living as if it is one… letting my life pass before my eyes with minimal involvement, challenge, passion.  I don’t want to live that way – and I’m guessing neither do you.  Recently I found that I had all these dreams and aspirations for my life. I want to help people. I want to teach, and travel, and love. I want to enjoy the little things but experience the big things… but most importantly I want to make a difference. But then I took stock of my life and I was very upset at what I found. I’ve been wasting time, precious time. When I could have been making an effort to help someone, be a friend to someone, or maybe even to learn something new – what was I doing instead? – watching the latest episode of “The Bachelor” or rereading “The Hobbit.”  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some TV drama and I enjoy an excellent literary story, but what else was I doing.  At that moment I realized that I was sitting in the grandstand with my feet resting on the railing in front of me, but I also looked at the field and realized that they had been calling for a first basemen to come play.  I refuse to take a seat when there is one amazing life to be lived! We all have moments in life when we look around and don’t understand how we fell into a ditch. But don’t forget it is never too late to get your hands dirty and climb out.  Don’t live your life as a spectator (because I agree with Jackie on this topic) – it would be a waste. Instead, go out and play. Learn something new, go somewhere you have never been, challenge yourself and the people around you. I promise you won’t regret grabbing your glove and taking the field.

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“Permanent is not; impermanent is not; a self is not; not a self [is not]; clean is not; not clean is not; happy is not; suffering is not.”

Seventy Verses on Emptiness, Nagarjuna (as referenced by “The End of Your Life Book Club”)

Reading a new book recently, I stumbled across this quote. Regardless of your philosophical beliefs, this may find it’s way into your understanding of each moment of your life and how you see yourself in those moments.

Things that may seem to be certain are not. Things that seem uncertain and impermanent may become solidified and confused for concrete. You cannot let the ground beneath you become quicksand within your mind. You can’t let something you “pencil in” become gospel at a moment’s notice.

You are here. You may not always be. Believe me, THAT  part was hardest for me to read. And while that may be difficult, it is nicer to know that you are yourself, that YOUR SELF is as balanced between two sides of the same coin. You ARE here and THAT means more than anything else.

Clean or not, doesn’t matter. Life can be messy. You know that and you can be prepared by simply showing up and being your genuine self.

Happiness. We all want it to stay forever. Unfortunately, it make take strong gust or a simple breeze to scatter the pieces of our lives all over the place. The “good” news remains that suffering is as permanent as happiness. Both cannot last forever, and while that may be unfortunate, it can be an enormous blessing as well.

Take a moment to recognize how the only thing you can count on is this moment. Right here, right now. And if you can do that, you can accept that the next moment requires no more focus than this one. Be ready for this moment. That is all you can do. Find within yourself the grace to accept that permanent is only a word, never a promise or a point of fact. Right here and right now. Be present.

I wish all of you the peace in knowing that this moment is your own. I also wish you comfort in knowing that you decide whether or not you face the next step, moment, days, weeks, months, with the same strength and perseverance. It won’t always be certain. It won’t always be clean. It won’t always be happy or unbearable. You have to trust in yourself that whatever it turns out to be, you are ready for.

Take it from me. You are always more capable than you believe yourself to be. That is what IS.

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Genius is eternal patience.



Michelangelo, the world’s best known sculptor, was commissioned to paint well over 5,000 square feet of frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  The project required him to learn the technique of buon fresco, the most difficult type of painting undertaken by only the masters, and challenged him to learn to paint perspective correctly on a curved surface 60 feet above the viewer.  Besides these challenges, it was truly an exercise in patience.

He did it mostly by  himself.  Sure, there were assistants to carry his paints up and down the scaffolds, but most of the brushstrokes were his own.  He painted for four years, bent over backwards and painting over his head.  The master complained that the project forever ruined his vision.  500 years later, all who visit the chapel stand awestruck for a few minutes to soak up the splendor of the work.

You’re going to lose your patience this week.  You’ll sit in traffic or get put on hold for hours.  Your computer is going to freeze, probably before you remember to hit ‘save’, and your boss is going to give a ridiculous and tedious assignment.  Your baked potatoes will take longer to bake than you expect.  The check out line will be too long.  Your kids will need to use the bathroom when it’s time to get on the bus.  But if you can take a deep breath and keep it together, your patience might lead to a stroke of genius.

Have a great week everyone.


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“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”

— Mae West

Let yourself overdose on joy. Find your bliss, let it fill each day, and find yourself floating from one thing you love to the next. Too much of a good thing can be wonderful– do not talk yourself out of happiness.

Take the good that finds you, and when it does, do not limit yourself. Moderation is nothing in the face of soul-stirring joy.

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“Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.”

— Hafiz of Persia

Do yourself a favor. Stop running. Let happiness catch you.

Walking Down the Street

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A simple reminder I need. Here’s hoping reading this reminds you of the good we can draw from life and the choice to be happy is ultimately our own.

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“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.”

— Paulo Coehlo

Expectation is the thief of all joy.

Let today’s blessings, big and small, obvious and otherwise, be recognized and celebrated for what they are.

Just because things don’t turn out the way we want doesn’t mean they’re not turning out the way they are supposed to.

Expect to be surprised. Expect to be challenged. Expect the unexpected and smile at the cards you’re dealt.

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“Keep your dream alive. Dreaming is still how the strong survive.”

Oliver and Company


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