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Senior Correspondent

In the blink of an eye, I went from being focused and purposeful to confused and conflicted. I went from being happy and carefree to agitated and grouchy. Not enjoying my own company one little bit, I'm sure it was not an accident that others in my group were keeping their distance. I seemed to have misplaced my positive attitude. "Where oh where had I left it?" I wondered. Stewing and chewing on the matter just seemed to make it worse.    

"Lighten up," I told myself. Eventually, I found myself humming a few lines from "Garden Party," an old favorite from the early '70s by Rick Nelson. "But it's all right now, I've learned my lesson well. You see, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself." 

Aha! I had forgotten that I could not make everyone else in my group happy. I had taken it upon myself to please them, make sure they were having a good time and that their every need was being met. And, after having a little chat with myself, I decided to focus on my own happiness for the duration of the trip and give others the space to do the same. 

Ironically, once I vowed to "mind my own happiness" and not attempt to micro-manage everyone else's, it seemed to have a positive and productive impact on others. 

Back home, I decided to research the song lyrics to get the story behind the song.

In 1972 Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band recorded "Garden Party." The tune went on to reach number six on the charts. In the song, the 1950s-era star tells the story of being booed off the stage at Madison Square Garden because he was playing his newer, country style music instead of the 1950s-era rock that he had been successful with earlier. This terrible experience led him to a profound realization, which he wrote about in the song. "You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself."

We all find ourselves in situations where we are responsible for meeting our customers' needs, helping them to be happy with our services and products. If we are a manager or business owner, we are probably focused on meeting employees' needs. And, back home, we become concerned with meeting the needs of our family members and friends. In our 24-7 world, these demands can seem never-ending. We may become discontented and exhausted. We can easily become so busy trying to please everyone else that we lose sight of what it takes to please ourselves. Or, we may know, but we tell ourselves that everyone else must come first.

I have found that just humming the tune reminds me to check in with myself in any given moment and ask, "What would make me happy in this moment?" If I fail to ask myself this important question, I can easily lose my way in the day-to-day. It turns out that most of the time, choosing to act on something very tiny can make me happy in any given moment. Sometimes, it is as simple as taking a five-minute break and going outside for a breath of fresh air. And, by tending to my own happiness, I am able to provide better services. Others around me seem less stressed. And things seem to work better for all concerned.

A visit back to the '70s really paid off for me. To take your own journey back in time and learn more about Rick Nelson, visit here.

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