Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A thankful Heart

A thankful heart is a happy heart. My happy heart is grateful to you for sharing so much of my life -- triumphs and challenges are all richer because of you.

I'm grateful for:

  • My dear family and friends.
  • My new knee
  • Living in this beautiful spot on this wondrous planet
  • Work that fills me with joy, keeps my interest, suits my talents, and bypasses most of my shortcomings
  • Everyone who ever read my books
  • My teachers 
  • My students
  • Kindness, love and generosity

What are you grateful for? Share your gratitude here with a comment. We can make it grow!

Happy US Thanksgiving and many blessings wherever you are.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Beliefs About Punishment: May Peace Prevail

Here is an excerpt from my book "Emotional Options: A Handbook for Happiness." It deals with life extinguishing beliefs about punishment as a solution to challenging problems.

"Beliefs About Punishment:

Faith in the value of punishment takes many forms that impact our lives in countless destructive and limiting ways. Whether we punish to get even, or punish to change, punish to teach or punish to deter—the toll is high, the results open to dispute.

I want to interject an idea here before we go further into these beliefs. Each of us reacts to punishment, or intended punishment, in different ways. Perhaps the ideas in this book and practicing the Option Dialogues that follow will help you to gain more freedom over how you feel. When someone tries to make you feel bad, to humiliate you, or actually inflicts physical pain, you will know more about your emotional options and how to exercise them.

The goal is to bring awareness to the ways our faith in punishment often surpasses our faith in creativity, love, and perseverance. Here are some of the many ways society’s belief in the value of punishment manifests itself:
The Chiding Inner Monologue: This mind chatter mutters things like, “You stupid jerk. Can’t you do anything right?” while you forge stoically ahead trying to accomplish whatever the task-at-hand may be. Most inner reprimands include some sizzling X-rated language to give them that extra oomph. Ever catch yourself doing that? I cannot believe I still do it—and often. Now I’m on to myself though. I find it mildly amusing. Sometimes I actually counter out loud, “Don’t be ridiculous; I am not a stupid jerk. I am actually very bright.” Or grinningly repeat the childhood singsong, “Am not, am not, am not!”

Verbal Abuse Directed at Someone Else: Pity the customer service representatives who listen to people yell at them people all day long. How often do you hear people, who believe they have been wronged, simply state what they would like instead of what they got? When you want someone to fix something, change something, be more like the person you had in mind, all too often the reproach approach dominates.

Physical Abuse: From spanking a child to the abuse of prisoners, the belief that intentionally inflicting pain works is still widely held. Two favorite authors dispute this, Doctor Spock in his classic, still in print and going strong book, Baby and Child Care says, “discipline does not mean punishment.” Peter Eikann lays out a strong case in, The Tough on Crime Myth, which is unfortunately out of print now. lists several used copies for sale though.

Torture and Death: Taken to the extreme, faith in punishment leads to torture and death.

When it comes to life-enhancing beliefs and life-extinguishing ones, surely beliefs about punishment rank at the top of the list of beliefs we can hold that extinguish our aliveness—moment by moment, or altogether in death.
All sorts of false beliefs can produce strong emotional reactions that make life extremely painful. Other beliefs will hold a particular emotion in place long after it has served any useful purpose. Still other beliefs limit us like the bars of a small prison cell.

Beliefs that foster or allow happiness enhance life. Beliefs that foster or cause un-happiness extinguish life. Can it be that simple? With a smile, I believe it is.What do you do if you suspect you hold beliefs that may undermine your health and happiness? Adapt them? Adopt somebody else’s?

Trying to superimpose a new belief system over what already seems true to you does not work. That is because your belief system represents your version of reality—your unique, private reality, handed down through generations and cultures, cultivated since birth and added to by your own conclusions and observations every moment. Your reality does not change because someone tells you it is bad for you.

Should you try to figure out which ones are positive and which ones are negative? How would you even know which ones to try to change if you knew how to do it? You can’t exactly get up in the morning and start with “Do I believe I’m awake? Do I believe this is planet earth? Do I believe I can stand up?” You would never get out of bed.

Well then what can you do then when you suspect that your own beliefs stand in your way in an important area of your life?

If we abandon the defense of our existing beliefs and search for truth instead we will learn more.

You can learn how to uncover those beliefs—especially the hidden ones you do not even know you have. Then you can explore them, find out if they are true for you, and how to change them if they are not.

The real miracle is that you can feel better now. Feeling better offers a bonus. We make our greatest contributions when we are happy. When we are relaxed our bodies heal themselves and maintain health better. Every time we declare emotional independence from circumstances and events we free creativity and energy to deal with whatever conditions we encounter. We see more clearly. New directions become obvious that once were hidden in a red blaze of anger or the cold gray of despair."

"Emotional Options:A Handbook for Happiness" is available in paperback or digital format from Amazon. Here are links for reviews, info and ordering: in the US in the UK
It is also available in many other countries; check your local Amazon listings.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Prioritize Happiness!

New Podcast! This interview with the insightful Tara Reed and me takes a fresh look at an untapped freedom we all possess.

 In 1982 I visited my dear friend Joe Vitale in Texas. While I was there, we took a trip to San Antonio for him to make an appearance at Pat O'Bryan's seminar on internet marketing.

Tara was one of the participants. Pat gave her some advice that catapulted her career in art licensing to huge success.  When we sat together at lunch I felt one of those sweet instant connections that make life so much fun.

Fast forward a decade. Tara and have kept in touch and surprise! She sold her thriving business to begin a whole new adventure -- "Pivot to Happy." Hey, that's what I do too, so I emailed her and we recorded this free podcast.

It's about 30 minutes. Listen up and get your happy on! 


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Report from the 30 Day Happiness Challenge

It worked. Trivial problems confirm important lesson.

First: Maybe that "challenge" word was not such a great idea. Let's go with "30 Days of Happiness" or the "30 Day Happiness Choice." Here's what happened, what do you think?

I ordered a sofa, love seat and ottoman online after actually sitting on them in the Pottery Barn store in Seattle. The ottoman arrives with chips on 2 legs. I call and send photos,  pack it up again. Then I realize there may be more. I take it out and see one seam is puckered. Of course they want to see that. My camera stops working, but my cell phone does the job. I shoot that seam, send it off and  repack. Now they want one of the whole thing. I unpack it and comply. But after the puckered picture it will not send any more.

I confess to bouts of frustration. Each time I asked myself how I wanted to feel words like peaceful, resourceful, competent came up. And son of a gun, that is how I felt.

Happiness restored, after another go at online cell instructions, camera menu, and. one more customer service conversation when I had to clarify it was puckered, not that word that sounds like it, I got the camera to work and sent that last pic off.

They schedule pickup. Love seat and sofa are due in October. Two guys arrive carrying  the love seat. Don't know anything about  the ottoman.  They call in and, whew, learn, yes, pick up the ottoman.

Next! I'm blessed to have a rental condo with fabulous tenants who call to say the fridge is dead. They find new one with a minor scratch and it and wait  patiently 4 days for it. The delivery guys scratches the front in the way in. Touch-up paint and 10% and we're good to go again.

Then! The  timer on my patio lights fails. Very dark out there.

But wait! There's more. My printer stops working. I perform about 30 steps, About a ream of paper later, the cleaned heads and perfectly aligned new cartridges print 1 line and quit. After about 4 more tries I quit too.

Oh, no! Day 29, Saturday night as midnight approaches, the smoke alarm chirps loudly. I get out the ladder, try to dismantle it, can find no battery.

At least my computer still works. Answers to online chirping questions including the 4 YouTube videos I watched prove useless. There's even an expert, who, for an undisclosed fee, is available to chat. There were some pretty grumpy responses, though. One chirping victim, who was obviously not engaged in the 30 Happiness Challenge, demanded a refund, describing the guy's head using a body part only boys have, The final online solution is to flip the circuit breaker. I know it's outside somewhere, but it's very dark out there now with no patio lights. Dang that chirping is loud.

A memory stirs. When I bought this place the owner filled a new requirement for a hard wired alarm by simply mounting the new one next to the old one.  But that was 8 years ago, could it be? I yanked that sucker out and yes! Now for a little midnight happy dance over a dead battery.

There's more but sometimes enough is more than enough!

Over and over, when frustration threatened to overwhelm my good spirits, I stopped to ask myself how I wanted to feel. Each time I preferred some form of happiness, mostly amusement at the situations.

These problems are so trivial compared to the challenges people face every day from war, disease, abuse. But the experience showed so clearly how easy it is to get lost in a problem and feed frustration instead of creating peace and space for a solution.

How I wish our world leaders would practice peace and happiness before making choices that impact us all.

Wishing you happiness and inspired solutions to all you problems; may they be trivial. Try that 30 Days of Happiness thing and let us know what happens.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"Pivot to Happy" Interview

Just finished an interview with the wonderfully creative, Tara Reed for an upcoming "Pivot to Happy" podcast

Since we met 8 years ago, watching her thrive as an artist and art licencing expert has been a treat and inspiration. 

Now we find ourselves on the same page in life, encouraging and sharing happiness right here, right now. Will keep you posted on schedule. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Happy Fruits of Your Labor

 What are you working for? Whether you labor
  • For peace on earth
  • Tilling the soil
  • To earn enough to feed yourself and others
  • To give birth to a child, an idea, a poem or play
  • For the joy of moving your body to produce something wonderful
  • To share the bounty of your life's harvest
  • Using your mind to find new answers to puzzles old and new
  • To open your heart to love, even in conflict or fear of being hurt
  • To heal from pain in body or soul
  • To break out from untrue beliefs that block happiness and success
  • To fulfill a dream known only to you -- or shared
I wish you a very happy Labor Day Holiday with love and respect for the labor of all.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Spirit of America

I've never really liked Mariachi's or that song, never been much of a patriot, seeing us earthlings more as all in this together learning to find our way.

Then I saw this video! Perhaps the true spirit of America lives in those who struggle to get here (from the first settlers to the newest arrivals) more than those of us blessed to be born here.

Please do not miss this experience of our National Anthem.

My heart fills with gratitude to my Mexican brothers and sisters who bless us with grace, courage and creativity and compassion for those fleeing ISIS and terror. May peace prevail!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

30 Day Happiness Challenge

Popular wisdom tells us it takes 30 days to change a habit or behavior. Does this apply to happiness?Take the 30 Day Happiness Challenge and let's find out. 

Any time you don't like the way you are feeling, choose happiness, right then, even before you fix all of those things you want to change. In any situation, just choose happiness.  

Whoa, any situation? Yes, pretty much. I haven't found one that can't be improved by the peace of acceptance at the very least. For example, if you read the last Breakout Message, you know I spent more than 2 years with a misdiagnosis for emphysema, taking the wrong drugs for the wrong thing, As my ability to breathe declined and the pain in my arthritic knees increased. I confess, I dreaded what appeared to lie ahead. Still, over and over I chose some form of happiness, sometimes, peace, sometime gratitude for this era of the Internet, connected to you and coaching via Skype.

Ready to start? Close your eyes. Take a sweet, slow breath. Notice your answer to this question: If you could feel any way you want to right this minute, what would it be? When you have an answer open your eyes. How do you feel now? Is it some form of happiness?

If you still want to feel some painful emotion, you've got some work to do. "Emotional Options: A Handbook to Happiness" will show you how. 
Reviews/info in digital or paperback format  

Why 30 days of this choosing happiness? Decades of practice taught me that it's a challenge to remember and a bigger challenge to do it. Why would something so easy and beneficial be so hard to do? Because we have learned a different way. We may habitually, unconsciously use other feelings to make our way through life, like:
  • Fear to keep us safe
  • Anger to stand up for ourselves
  • Guilt to correct our behavior
  • Sorrow to prove we care
A guy named Destin posted a YouTube video that shows how hard it is to change the way we do something we've learned to do without thinking. It's well worth a watch to prove you aren't just lazy or stupid. It really is a challenge to change an emotional habit, or any other kind..

Choosing happiness is not the only component of emotional health but it's power and ease make it the best first step I know. Please take it and let us know how it goes for you.

Cheering you on to happiness and success with love, 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

How to Begin Again? First New Steps.

Dear Subscribers, 

This is a new step for me, back from the brink. Maybe you need a new step too?
I was slowly shutting down. A few years ago I began to have more and more trouble breathing. Then came the dreaded diagnosis -- emphysema. I saw my mother and an aunt slowly suffocate from it. I knew I had a lot of work to do to avoid despair, panic, depression.

I've had arthritis since my 30's -- all over, with bone spurs springing up like mushrooms. The combo left me so short of breath that I could only walk about half a block before I had to stop to catch my breath -- with joints on fire.
Grateful for the work I've done on myself and with others for decades, I managed to find peace most of the time. But since I didn't know what I could count on my body for, I stopped planning seminars and most travel. My gaze turned inward, the outer world grew smaller. I didn't feel as if I had much to share that would help anyone but me.

But wait! After the third respiratory specialist fires me for refusing to go on oxygen, I ask my family physician if there is a definitive test for emphysema. You betcha, a CAT Scan.  The results come in on my birthday, three years ago, No Sign of emphysema! The best birthday present ever .Off the drugs, on with life. My breathing slowly improves. But now my knees begin to give out. The left one locking in oddly bent positions, so on March 30 I got a new one. Amazing. Here I am a few days after surgery.

In the middle, there's this cataract surgery, but enough is enough! So what's this got to do with you? I promised useful info, not a litany of my troubles.

At some point, we all have to begin again in recovery, from the loss of a loved one, an addiction, a divorce, getting fired, release from prison, the military, a death sentence. Sooner or later we all have to make some kind of new start. Daunting?

I turn to a quote from my own recovery book, Travelling Free, info:  "If we want to change our lives, all we have to do is turn, perhaps ever so slightly and take the very next step in a new direction. It's never, ever too late to change course and follow our dreams."
  • Tell my dear subscriber list, "I value our connection; this is why it's been so long since you heard from me."
  • Equalize the focus on the well-being of self and others -- from mostly fixed on others
  • Accept new coaching clients
  • Walk or do water aerobics and the dang knee exercises
  • Have a really good time
Time for you to set out I a new direction? Cheering you on to inspired first steps.

With love and thanks,

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Personal Declaration of Independence

I’ve never been the same since that bonfire on the 4th of July. An angel gave me a precious gift — really. Then I learned such a good lesson that I sent an email about it to my friends. Like all good lessons, this one kept on teaching. It still is.

I accepted an offer from a New England camp and conference center to co-direct their first Recovery Camp to offer adults who were recovering from abuse, addiction, alcoholic parents and traumas of all kinds, a chance to finally have a wonderful time at summer camp.
My co-leader had had a reputation as a dynamic, innovative leader. I knew going in that it was really his baby with me serving more as an assistant. It sounded good when I signed on. I figured I’d learn a lot. We did not get along. Even though we both meant well, we strongly disagreed on important issues. It got harder and harder to find a way through our conflicting thoughts and feelings as the week went along. When I spoke up, our conflict escalated. He was furious with me. When I kept quiet, I felt like a hypocrite and a coward. The daily schedule was demanding. The format was new.  Our campers brought deep and intense material with them. What a bunch of challenges for us all.
I am not wild about admitting this. After over decades working on my own emotional independence, I lost the vision. Though I wrote two books on the subject, “Emotional Options” and “Travelling Free: How to Recover From the Past by Changing Your Beliefs” and had taught countless seminars on inner freedom, I was melting down. My whole body hurt. I knew a little kid who used to say to his daddy, “You hurt all my feelings!” I knew what he meant. Most of my feelings hurt. 
As I approached the morning staff meeting my most fervent desire was to make it though without crying. One of our last events was a big 4th of July bonfire and talent show. I suggested that a Personal Declaration of Independence would be apt for our 65 campers as they reclaimed their lives from all sorts of troubled pasts. To my surprise, the man agreed. We decided that each camper who wanted to. would make a declaration and add a stick to the fire as a symbol of new freedom.
I’m not sure how I would have made it to the bonfire without my guardian angel — really. One of the delightful features at the Recovery Camp was our guardian angels. At the beginning of the week, we each drew a name. We became that person’s secret guardian angel for the duration of camp. The craft room buzzed with folks making treasures for the person they “guarded”. My angel was truly heaven-sent. Each day she left special messages or flowers or some other imaginative surprise in my camp cubby.
On the morning of the bonfire a large bunch of tied-together sticks rested on the floor below my cubby, much too large to fit in the cubicle. Someone had attached a note to it. A chill passed though me. My first thoughts were of “sticks and stones” and “switches and ashes” my grandfather said his brother got one Christmas morning. Was the staff conflict even worse than I thought? Hoping it wasn’t for me, I bent down and picked it up. The note said “These sticks are so I can see your beautiful face glow even more brightly at the campfire tonight when you declare your independence.” Surely the best angel a mortal ever had watched over me that week.
Night falls. As we file along the dark woodsy path, the bonfire lights up the clearing ahead. A staff member hands each of us a small twig, about six inches long, to throw on the fire as we make our declarations. I, of course, have brought my own wood, thank you. Not one piece, but a bundle. Not small, but large no-fooling-around firewood.
The show proceeds with a rich assortment of sublime and absurd performances. As it comes to an end with roaring applause, two desires dwell in my heart; I want to be somewhere else and I want to fit in, just like a million shy campers before me. Neither choice seems available. My bundle rests beside me. My big bunch of big branches. One by one people stand up. They step forward. They make heart touching declarations of independence and add their small twigs to the fire. The moment is magical.
Across the campfire, the leader and the loyal staff beam at the campers. They really like this guy. He, really does not like me. In staff meetings, he has by now, accused me of undermining him and of betraying him like no other person in all of his long life.  I feel icily alone. But I know that somewhere in the circle a guardian angel who gathered branches for tonight waits. Person after person adds a twig to the blaze. The last call comes. One or two stragglers summon the courage to share their declarations and burn their twigs. A silent pause follows.
I stand up. My voice trembles, “I have something to say.” The co-director and several of the staff members roll their eyes and make big “Oh, damn, now what?” faces. The director frowns at me and moves his hand in quick circles with that speed-it-up gesture. Gathering courage from the campers who went before me, I say, “I have always dreaded standing out in an inappropriate way.” I hear a murmur of recognition, of ‘me too.’ “But I have the most wonderful guardian angel in the world who gave me this big bunch of sticks to burn at the fire tonight.” I raise my bundle high and say, with tears in my voice, but loudly, “So I’m declaring my independence from fear of your judgments and I’m burning my big bunch of sticks that aren’t like anybody else’s. Thank you Guardian Angel!”
Cheers rang out from my fellow campers.
It was a good lesson for me. And like all good lessons, it kept on teaching. I’ve thought of my angel and that day often. Last year I sent a short version of this story out with the following suggestion: “As we approach this Independence Day celebration I encourage you to throw a declaration on the barbie or write one down and burn it with a candle, or just take a moment to consider freedom and independence. What do you declare your independence from?”
A surprising number of people, almost everyone, responded. Some were touched, some inspired, but just as many people wrote to say they couldn’t do it. They told me about things they knew they wanted to be free from. Then they explained what prevented them from doing it.
Remembering that night and my own fear, I wondered what the big deal was. It was just a campfire gathering at a wonderful place in the Berkshires. But my own inner tyrant had tied me up in knots, inflicted my muscles with tension and pain, filled my heart with dread and pretty much paralyzed me. I looked at my own fear again. I asked myself the breakout questions I use in my work.
What about those judgments was scary? It wasn’t just any old judgments. The thought of impending ridicule and scorn sent those shivers down my spine.”What about ridicule and scorn involves fear?” I asked myself. The sound of my mother’s voice came to mind and a scathing kind of irritation she expressed when I “got in her way.” The way I seemed to be in the way that summer in the mountains. “What about that sound?” I asked. I followed that fear to see where it led. Then I knew; I dreaded total demoralization, succumbing to jeers and taunts and giving up. In order to avoid that final defeat, I had skirted many issues and pulled many a creative punch. I was afraid I would lose my will to live.
I had felt so unwanted as a child, so perpetually in the way that my desire for life was very weak for a long time. I dreaded a return to that feeling. I guarded against it in many, ways, most of them unconscious, all of them limiting.
If it were not for my guardian angel and that bonfire, indeed were it not for my co-director and every single person there that night would I have had the courage to declare my independence from that particular tyrant within, even for one moment? I don’t think so.
Our founding fathers did not know what it would take or how to gain independence from the British Empire. They eloquently and oh, so powerfully declared their independence from an oppressive tyrant and began. Then they fought for years to win their freedom and ours.
Imagine the courage! Today we celebrate the declaration, not the victory which came 7 long years later. We celebrate the vision and enjoy the freedom.
What is your Declaration of Independence today? Do you need to win your freedom from an oppressive employer, an addictive substance, an abusive relationship? Or is yours a tyrant within? Does a critical voice in your mind nag at you continually? Does explosive anger destroy important relationships?
As we celebrate our country’s Declaration of Independence please take some time to reflect on the state of your personal independence. Choose something to tackle and write it down. Toss a twig on the barbie with the burgers and send it into the cosmos. Or frame it to read every day. Keep it to yourself or share it with everyone you know.
I imagine a world filled with people independent and free from hate, violence, revenge and war. And I know I have more work to do on that scorn stuff because I just caught myself wondering if you’ll think this is too mushy.
To your happiness, and independence!
PS, To breakout from self-imposed tyranny read: 
Emotional Options: A Handbook for Happiness
© Mandy Evans 2023. Permission to reprint granted with mention of author and link to this website,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Emotional Health

Did you know?
  • Anger: The fight or flight response protects us, but feeding anger destroys. 
  • Fear:  An awareness of danger heightens our senses, but chronic, abiding fear paralyzes us. 
  • Guilt: The awareness of wrong doing helps us develop ethical values; it only takes a moment to discern i though. Ongoing guilt serves no productive purpose. It not only feels awful, it almost always leads to resentment.
Here's to healthy emotional responses, especially happiness! Good for your heart, your digestion, your blood pressure! It promotes energy, kindness, love, creativity, and makes all of life beautiful.

To your happiness!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Beliefs About Love for Valentine's Day!

What you believe about love determines more about your relationships than you ever imagined! Don't let limiting, untrue beliefs block love in your life.

Here's a Valentine gift for you, a free audio recorded live in San Diego. Listen and love!

Happy Valentine's Day! Like love, this is best shared; please do!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year's Blue Sky List

Sometimes it drops from the sky, just the boost you need. Mine came from a Facebook post from my dear friend, Ellen (Ellen Steendijk-Pels, singer-songwriter, ) in the Netherlands. She said:

"I make a 'Blue Skies List' every year (at least once). Mandy Evans wrote about it in her book Emotional Options. If you could simply pick anything out of the blue sky, what would it be? For me it becomes a brainstorm without censorship. It doesn't matter how silly or crazy or unrealistic my desires are, I can just list them. This process has made many, many things clear for me, and continues to do so.

Breaking dreams down into tiny steps or actions is a great way to make them come true as well! Thanks for the idea!"

This New Year, I'd neglected to do one! People have kept their lists for years to review them later, amazed at the results. More powerful than resolutions,sometimes it works faster than a speeding bullet, sometimes so slowly you don't notice, and sure, sometimes not at all. You're not the boss of everything.

If you really want to shake it up and light it up this year, add being happy now to conscious desire for the next adventures, ask for it from the blue sky, write it down and see what happens.

Gotta go write that list! Have fun with yours.



For that "happy desire" part, there's a youtube video!
Play Why You Want Everything You Want

The book,  Emotional Options (digital or paper, in Dutch, Japanese and English) link