Where are you on the “happiness index?”

Fay Hart, poet (Yardsale) and recent Plug In member from San Miguel de Allende Mexico, sent an email last week with an intriguing subject line: the happiest place on earth. It was a link to a Ted talk. I love the Ted website, so I listened. It’s about measuring the happiness level of countries. The speaker showed a chart with one lone dot representing a country that was clearly happier than all the others. I about fell out of my chair. The happiest place on earth is Costa Rica!

Here’s the talk if you’d like to hear it.

Of course I sent the link to everyone interested in the Writing Down Your Soul soul-venture in Costa Rica this April. But I don’t think the universe nudged Fay to send this to me just to fill the trip. There’s a bigger message here. A message that applies to all of us.

I thought, if countries can be measured on a Happiness Index, is there a Happiness Index for people? There are, it seems, a gazillion books on happiness. Happiness seemed to be the topic du jour the last few years. To be honest, I didn’t read any of them. I had a gut feeling they were talking about something a bit too superficial for me, and I wasn’t sure that someone else’s definition of happiness and how to get there would fit me.

But, when I watched the Ted talk on the Global Happiness Index, I felt inspired to come up with a human Happiness Index. My life has been transformed from pretty darn miserable to amazingly joyful, so I thought: I can do this.

I started with the things that make me happy: writing, creating, cooking, being with my son, praying, going for walks, watching birds of prey…. All fun, yes, but, I had to admit they were not deep enough.

So I tried to write a deeper list. Things like: I have a purpose and I live my purpose; I am not alone, I have an intimate relationship with the Divine; I am excited about my future…. The second list definitely sounded better, stronger, happier, but nice as it was, I knew in my gut it wasn’t universal. I hadn’t found the universal Human Happiness Index. So I dropped the whole idea.

Until Monday.

On Monday, I started rereading Anatomy of the Spirit for my Soul Vows telecourse. When I wrote my own Soul Vows ten years ago, I was obsessed with Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss. I read it several times, underlining and circling and highlighting something on every page.

In my current Soul Vows course, I recommend each member select one or two books that really speak to them, and read them slowly and thoughtfully so the ideas held within the pages gently and effortlessly enter their subconscious and help them create their Soul Vows, just like Anatomy of the Spirit helped me.

I thought it would be fun to reread a book that meant so much to me years ago. Well, it’s turned out to be a whole lot more. I can’t put it down. Anatomy is an astonishingly clear explanation of the connection between our personal power and our health or illness.

Listen: “Our relationship with power is at the core of our health.” (If you’ve read Carolyn before, you know she’s blunt.) “You need to become conscious of what gives you power.” And you need to become aware of what drains your power: “Always address the question, ‘Why am I losing power?'”

Sound simple? Well, yes, only two things to do. Become aware of what feeds your power and what drains your power. But easy? Maybe not. Here’s the rub. “Never look to another person to make you happy–happiness is an internal, personal attitude and responsibility.”

Oh! That’s why I couldn’t come up with a universal human happiness index. There isn’t one. Happiness is an inside job. Your happiness is inside of you, your choices, your loves, your relationship with yourself, your relationship with Spirit. You have to decide for yourself what makes you happy and what you are going to do to become happy and stay happy.

As I pondered this, I realized, wait a minute, I already have my Happiness Index. It’s my Soul Vows. And there are just 7 measures.

1. unite to create good
2. live in partnership
3. honor myself
4. come from love
5. surrender there is no path but God’s
6. seek truth
7. pray always

When I do these seven things, make these seven choices, live these seven ways, I am deeply happy regardless of what’s going on around me. (Now I know why I burst out smiling when I say my vows aloud every morning.)

Carolyn wraps up her concept with two simple instructions. “Achieving health, happiness, and an energy balance comes down to deciding to focus more on the positive than the negative and to live in a manner spiritually congruent with what we know is the truth.”

Ah, so now all I have to do is live my Soul Vows. And I’ve been moving closer and closer to that over the last ten years. Am I there yet? No, not 100%, but I am getting closer. I know instantly when I’m not being congruent. My stomach does a little screaming act, shouting NO NO NO! It’s really rather difficult to ignore. In Carolyn-speak what it’s doing is screaming: Stop! Power leak! Stop! And I stop. It’s that simple.

So here’s my thought for you: Do some deep soul writing about your very own Happiness Index. You don’t have to call the result your Soul Vows. You can call it “My Happiness Index” or “My Power List.” Call it anything you like. But do take the time to hone in on the things that give you power and the things that drain your power.

Then, take a moment every day to renew your commitment to live in a way that is congruent with your power, your truth. Based on Carolyn’s research and my personal experience, I believe your life will be one of real happiness, not the happiness that comes with stuff, but the happiness that comes with being the powerful loving being you were made to be.

A New Year surprise: We’re pregnant!

I love January 1st. It’s a wildly creative day. I set my intention to receive rich guidance and then settle into my sacred writing chair to extract all the gifts of the past year with my Beloved Voice. Next, we explore all the possibilities of the year to come. Then comes my favorite part: naming the new year. That’s always such a fun revelation. I wrap up my year-starting mini-retreat by creating a vision board with the name of the year across the bottom. But last January. I did two things differently. Those two things set a whole new life in motion.

First, I began the day reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s You are Here and when I stumbled upon “When conditions are sufficient, there is a manifestation,” my mouth flew open and my understanding of the Law of Attraction flipped in that instant on its head.

Second, instead of making a rectangle-shaped vision board, I made a mandala. I drew little pictures of all I want on the periphery and a big yellow lily in the center with the “conditions” that I promise to live written on the six petal. Across the bottom, I wrote 2010’s name on a purple banner: “My Breakthrough Year.”

Did reading Thich Nhat Hanh or making a mandala matter?

Well, let’s just say that 2010 was, to put it mildly, magical. The number of new ideas and events flowing through me were breathtaking. People wanted to know how to create that magic for themselves. So I taught The Lotus and The Lily four times to over 100 people and after each course, my inbox overflowed with screaming emails: THIS WORKS!

So I thought I knew what to do this January 1st. I made a pot of french press coffee (coffee matters), spoke my Soul Vows, set my intention to be open to guidance, and sat down to write. But then, just like last year, instead of writing, I bent down and picked up a book–Thich Nhat Hanh’s Living Buddha Living Christ. I began to read. And, just like last year, I couldn’t put it down. All I can say is, Thich Nhat Hanh did it again!

Listen to this: “The word ‘Buddha’ comes from the root buddh, which means to wake up. A Buddha is someone who is awake.” (I didn’t know that. Did you?) Thich Nhat Hanh goes on to say that the Buddha told his followers to focus not on rules or doctrines or dogmas, but on practice. It is practice that brings our spiritual knowing to life. Or as Thich Nhat Hanh puts it, “We are all mothers of the Buddha because we are all pregnant with the potential for awakening.”

I giggled. Oh my God, I’m pregnant! A bit of a surprise at 62, but I know it’s true. I can feel it. I can feel ideas and books and relationships and all manner of things pressing to be born. Of greater importance, I sense a more awakened relationship with Spirit growing inside me.

Are you pregnant, too? I think so. But like all expectant parents, we must care tenderly for our babies. How? Thich Nhat Hanh says we care for our growing baby Buddha by being mindful,
listening for the voice, being attentive to the messages around us in all their forms–even leaves or pebbles or clouds. But the number one thing we do to bring our Awakening Buddha to life is find a spiritual practice and live it. Live it every day.

My pregnant self floated through the rest of New Year’s Day. I made a 2011 mandala. I asked what to name this year. “Big Pot” came the answer. Big Pot? I looked at my mandala. Oh, I get it. If I look at the 12-inch circle of my mandala from an eagle eye view, it does look an awful lot like a huge soup pot. And, you know what? I think the Master Chef is adding some pretty nifty ingredients and doing a lot of simmering. Ever since I read Heat , I’ve been obsessed with learning how to make Ragu Bolognese. Now I see that I’ve been mimicking the master chef cooking up a “Janet Bolognese.”

I did one last thing on Jan 1–something new. I added up the numeric values of the letters in “Big Pot.” The total came to 33. The master number of creativity. Yeowza. If the Master Chef keeps this up, it’s going to be an amazing year.

Would you like to know the numeric vibration of your year’s name or any words? It’s easy. Just select the numeric value of each letter in this chart and add them up.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

2 + 9 + 7 + 7 + 6 + 2 = 33

Here’s another example, Jazz Jaeschke of Austin TX in the Lotus and Lily class that just ended named 2011 “Harmony Happens.”

8 + 1 + 9 + 4 + 6 + 5 + 7 = 40

8 + 1 + 7 + 7 + 5 + 5 + 1 = 34

Harmony Happens 74 = 7 + 4 = 11

Talk about a power number. 11 is the wisdom channel of the divine. What does the numeric value mean? Well, for that you need a bit of introduction to numerology. Here’s a very simple overview:

1 new beginnings, take action, courage, independence
2 intuitive, receiving, separation, nurturing, forgiving
3 trinity, combining 1 & 2, peacemaking, creativity
4 physical manifestation, structure, form, building step-by-step
5 change, movement, freedom, flexibility, sensual
6 balance, responsibility, commitment, relationships, harmony
7 inner truth and power, trust, deeper answers, mystical
8 abundance, power, material success, inner power, harvest
9 wholeness, oneness, bigger picture, unconditional love

For a richer understanding, I recommend Numerology by Ruth Drayer.

Even if you don’t have a name for your year, we can all tap into the universal numeric vibration for 2011: 2 + 0 + 1 + 1 = 4

Four is the number of organization, structure, foundation. In other words, spiritual practice! (I think the Buddha and Thich Nhat Hanh are smiling on us this year.)

What exactly is Spirit cooking up in my “Big Pot” year? I don’t know. And that’s OK. I don’t have to know the what, when, or how. I leave the details to my Divine Partner. (And, based on my experience, I gotta say the Divine does great work.) I commit to doing my part, the part taught by the Buddha. I’ll show up every day and do my practice.

For me that means speaking my Soul Vows, my Creative Blessing, Lorna Byrne’s angel prayer, the 12 affirmations from UnityNow, and last, standing in front of my “2011 Big Pot” mandala and having a nice chat with the “Master Chef” about the year Spirit is cookin’ up for me! It means engaging in deep soul writing. It means waking in joy and going to bed in gratitude. It means blessing every bite of food. It means calling on the angels for guidance and following the guidance I receive.

None of this is difficult. In fact, it’s really all rather delightful. It’s how I parent my sweet baby Buddha. How about you? What are you doing in this 4 year of foundation and spiritual practice to birth the sweet baby Buddha growing inside of you?


If you want more help birthing that Buddha and attracting a delightful and holy new year, consider joining me and Margo Mastromarchi for 2011 Intentions with the Angels, learning how to write the most important prayer in your life–your Soul Vows, and learning how to Plug In to the creative force of the universe.

Do you know your theme for 2011

I have been deeply engrossed in how to create a life for quite awhile now. I’ve held a Soul Day and created an Intention Mandala on January 1st for several years. Does it work? Well, let’s see… I’ve “manufactured” a major UPI blog presence, Conari came out of nowhere to ask me to write a book, Writing Down Your Soul is approaching its third printing, the new matching journal, My Soul Page, will be out in May, people around the world have fallen in love with deep soul writing, I averted bankcruptcy last year by diving deeply into my Soul Day process, and that experience created my next book, The Lotus and The Lily.

So, you’d think I know what I’m doing. You’d think my Soul Day process was complete. You’d think I could just show up on January 1st and go through my magical motions and VOILA 2011 would unfold as it should.

You’d be wrong.

It’s always new. It’s always a mystery. Something new somehow always lands in my lap and surprises me. Today it was a poem. By Hafiz.

I love Hafiz. I know Hafiz. I keep Daniel Ladinsky’s books close at hand. So I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised that the first thing I did on January 1st was ask Hafiz to step out of the 14th century and tell me what I need to know about the precious gift of 2011.

I closed my eyes and opened The Gift and read a poem I’ve never read before, despite reading this book every day for 3 1/2 years.

The Seed Cracked Open

It used to be that when I would wake in the morning,
I could with confidence say, “What am ‘I’ going to do?”
That was before the seed cracked open.
Now Hafiz is certain:
There are two of us housed in this body,
doing the shopping together in the market
and tickling each other while fixing the evening’s food.
Now when I awake, all the internal instruments play the same music:
“God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do for the world today?”

Thank you Hafiz, for my “theme song” for 2011. I printed out the poem, drew a cracked open seed in the corner, and posted it on my Intention Mandala for 2011. Every day for the next 365 days, Hafiz will remind me what my work is REALLY all about: Not me, but We. Not writing, but “love-mischief.

What a sweet blessing. Thank you, Hafiz, for showing me in just a few lines what the new year is REALLY all about.

Now, it’s your turn. Take your favorite mystical poetry book or sacred text or oracle card set, or anything really that speaks to your heart. Bless it, close your eyes, and ask from the deepest part of your being, “What message do you have for me? What do I need to know right now about the life that is right before me?”

Then open the book, let the words find you, and take them in. They are a gift. They are a blessing. They are an insight from your Self to yourself.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2010. That’s about 24 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 15 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 76 posts. There were 13 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 309kb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was March 15th with 237 views. The most popular post that day was Why writing down your soul? And why now?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were writingdownyoursoul.com, facebook.com, mail.yahoo.com, en.wordpress.com, and mail.live.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for janet conner, writing down your soul, love after love david walcott, from your lips to god’s ears, and lauralyn bunn.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Why writing down your soul? And why now? June 2009
1 Like on WordPress.com,


Derek Walcott “Love after Love” January 2010


Jumpstart 2010 with a “Conditions” Mandala January 2010


From your lips to God’s ear–really February 2010


Our one and only job January 2010