Fall is the Season to Focus on Happiness!

“Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama XIV

We’re well into autumn, which in New England is a time of significant change in our surroundings and family rhythms. The days are shorter; the weather is cooler; deciduous trees dress themselves in brilliant golds, oranges, and reds before shedding their finery. The season increases energy and feelings of new beginnings and delight. It’s a time conducive to focusing on happiness – our happiness and that of our children and friends.

Our children have returned to school and are settling into the new school year. It is a little unnerving that their experiences and available teaching tools are so very different from what most of us experienced when we were in school.

I went to a parents’ curriculum night for my son, John Robert, last Thursday. Times have changed. I was very struck with the different attitudes and approaches to learning the teachers talked about. They care more about the reasoning and methods for solving problems than the fact of reaching the correct answer. The physical tools are amazing – smart boards, laptops, iPads, video, and so forth. And the available intellectual tools are awesome – word processing, calculators, tables, charts, and more. I do, however, feel that I learn much from John Robert and the new teaching attitudes and tools.

I remember having only a pencil and an eraser in my arsenal of tools. Blackboards and chalk are primarily tools of the past. I am sure that you can relate to the way it was when we went to school.

And then there is the Sasso main story that generates so much gratitude, joy, and sharing for us. The Eagle Tribune, Reading Magazine is developing an article about the Sassos’ unique story in an upcoming issue. Last week a professional photographer came to the house to take photos of John Robert, my husband John, and me. John Robert was over the top excited about the photo shoot and about being interviewed. His excitement is contagious.

The heart of the story is that John and I worked in cardiology for years and grew a cardiology company from $0 to $28M in five years. We left the company to have a baby and, ironically, our son was born with severe cardiac defects. Of course, no parent is really prepared for such an event. But John and I were grateful to be familiar with the world of cardiology. And fortunately, we could immediately launch the needed rescue effort by doing some research and connecting with the appropriate doctors and clinicians. 

When John Robert was born, we knew that he would not be able to participate in any contact sports. So early on, we enrolled him in singing, swimming, dancing, and drama classes, and in Boy Scouts and altar services. As a very active 12-year-old, he consistently does his homework and does it very well; he was recently recognized as Student of the Week. But in addition, he participates in one of his many activities everyday of the week, including weekends. We are so proud of him. We feel so privileged to share the happiness of his remarkable successes. And I know that most parents share in the happiness of and are in awe of their child’s performance, whether it be studies, sports, or extra-curricular activities 

So what is happiness? Positive psychologists say that positive emotions involve contentment with the past, joy and focus in the present, and hope for the future. Other factors include sharing activities and emotions, gratitude, love, being engaged in meaningful activities, and performing random and intended acts of kindness. Of course, the specific activities and relationships are different for each of us.

I loved my childhood, participated in dance and drama classes, and played softball. I still love to dance when the occasion arises but no longer play softball. Playing softball would undoubtedly help my fitness regime, but where is the time? Fortunately, I remain in close contact with several childhood and college friends. I now experience great joy in helping professionals develop their skills and abilities to their highest level and love seeing them thrive. I love watching and helping my son John Robert develop his many skills. It’s so much fun to share. And I have developed many new friendships and working relationships. I’m so grateful for all the good events and people in my life, and I’ve promised myself to keep them front and center this month. This is my current picture of happiness.

I hope you will also take time to focus on the components of your happiness. What do you remember doing as a child? What activities or things did you do that your parents shared with you? Are any of the activities you enjoyed as a child with you today? Do you still have friends from your school years, college years? What are the new activities you enjoy and new social relationships you treasure?

Are you ready to find a coach to help you focus on the activities and skills that can bring you happiness, a sense of well-being, and success? Contact me and we can talk.

With gratitude and best wishes,
Lisa Sasso, Executive Coach & Motivational Speaker    (781) 872-1045

As your trusted adviser, Lisa empowers you to use passion to live your best life and achieve your goals with confidence, accountability, gratitude and balance.

Find & Follow Your Passion

Lucille Ball is an example of a woman who found and followed her passion to become one of the most successful people in the entertainment business -– in television, films, stage, and radio — during a career, which spanned six decades. She was brave, glamorous, and attractive and excelled as an actress, comedienne, singer, and dancer. Even more importantly, she succeeded as a director and producer and became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu Productions, which produced several popular television series -–I Love LucyMission Impossible, and Star Trek.

Although she became enthralled with acting when she was 12 years old, she didn’t achieve real stardom until she was in her 40s. So I think one lesson to be learned from her is that it’s never too early or too late to find and work at your passion.

She recognized that she loved audiences, “I am a real ham. I love an audience. I work better with an audience. I am dead, in fact, without one.” And she knew that her passion made her happy, “It’s a helluva a start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.”

Another example of a person who is finding and recognizing his passion is my 12-year-old son, John Robert.

At the end of August, he was cast as Donkey, played by Eddie Murphy in the movie, in the play Shrek Jr. The number of lines he memorized was second only to the number memorized by Shrek. John Robert’s role required that he sing and dance, as well as act.

I’ve heard him sing in chorus recitals, seen him dance in dance recitals, and seen and heard him act in dramas. But I had never seen him do all three in one performance. He was amazing – his best performance bar none to date. I had tears of pride and joy for my son.

The brief plot: Once upon a time in a far away swamp lived a grumpy ogre, Shrek, who enjoyed his solitude, until it was shattered by an invasion of annoying fairytale creatures – Pinocchio, the Three Little Bears, the Ugly Duckling, the Gingerbread man and many more. An evil, scheming, semi-dwarf, Lord Farquaad, is responsible for this invasion. Shrek cuts a deal with Farquaad, whereby he, Shrek, will rescue Princess Fiona, who is to be Farquaad’s Bride.

On this serious mission to rescue the Princess, Shrek travels with the Donkey, who plays the comic relief. The quest results in Shrek falling in love with the Princess, primarily because of the wiles and antics of Donkey. Everything that Donkey said was hysterical.

John Robert is musical, creative, and works hard. He took private singing lessons to prepare for Donkey’s two solo songs. At one point when Shrek and Donkey were telling the Princess about Lord Farquaad, John Robert got on his knees to imitate Farquaad, the dwarf. This was completely adlibbed. He just felt the need to be on his knees and he did it.

He is passionate about acting and has been since he started drama classes at five. He loves it and is a natural on the stage. He has come a long way from his start in the Wide Mouth Frog in 2013. He definitely has the bug.

What about you? What is your passion? What can you do better than most people can? What activities do you easily get lost in that give you a natural high? Take time to get in touch with your passion. See if and how you can pursue it.

So long story, short: No matter what your age, recognize your passion and pursue it.You might be surprised to see where it leads. What musical, event, match, or adventure is inside of you and just waiting to be unleashed?

And if you want some assistance in identifying your passion, working out a plan to achieve your goals, and devising a plan to counter obstacles, you might want to look for the perfect coach for you. 

With gratitude and best wishes,
Lisa Sasso, Executive Coach & Motivational Speaker    (781) 872-1045

As your trusted adviser, Lisa empowers you to use passion to live your best life and achieve your goals with confidence, accountability, gratitude and balance.

Enjoy Life!

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

A heartfelt Thank You to the 120 participants who braved bad traffic and a monsoon to come to MDG’s 13th annual eventTransitioning into and within the Medical Device Industry. I thought it was very successful, and it was – because of you. About 31 of you asked to receive my monthly Motivational Messages, which I found very gratifying. Welcome to the list, and I hope you enjoy the messages.

The MDG session was taped, and you can view it on my website,
If you missed the event, there is always next year. If you want to be considered for a panel position or a special guest, let me know via phone or email.

Recently, two occasions reminded me of how short and unpredictable life can be.Elias Katsos, a father to one of my high school friends, and Hank Allard, a friend and fellow board member of MDG, died of progressive diseases. Yet they both lived graciously and courageously until the end. I’m very saddened by these losses but encouraged by the implicit message that life is precious.

This message motivates me to continue to take time to interact with and be there for my family and friends and to engage in acts of kindness whenever possible.

I talk to my parents and in-laws every day. I love them and am truly blessed to have them in my life and delight in enjoying them now. To paraphrase Emerson, it’s never too soon to appreciate the living and to be kind.

My appreciation for life is also expressed for my husband and son by spending time with them. Weekends are always dedicated to them, and there is even more time for us in the summer.

My son, John Robert, has been very busy this summer. We had a great family vacation. And then he was off to Boy Scout camp, Drama camp, and Dance camp. But this past week he had five unscheduled days. I told him I would take Wednesday off and do whatever he wanted to do. The other days he played with his best friends. For our day, John Robert wanted to see the Lion King and to go bowling. We had a great time. Furthermore, I didn’t feel the least bit guilty. Rather, I felt refreshed and more energetic when I returned to work.

So my main suggestion this month is to spend significant time with your kids, partners, and friends this summer. Schedule days when you don’t go to work and instead spend the time with your kids and other loved ones. Also, engage in acts of kindness toward others whenever possible.

Having said this, I must also say to be sure to pay attention to your own physical and mental health. We all know the basics – exercise, a healthy diet, adequate hydration, and sufficient sleep. Here are some special tips for mental well-being and maintaining healthy relationships: avoid going to bed feeling angry, instead, recall a couple of things for which you are grateful that occurred during the day, and every day, tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.

I hope you’re motivated to engage in some of these activities during the next few weeks.

I wish all of you a very happy, rewarding, and productive August!

With gratitude and best wishes,
Lisa Sasso, Executive Coach & Motivational Speaker    (781) 872-1045

As your trusted adviser, Lisa empowers you to use passion to live your best life and achieve your goals with confidence, accountability, gratitude and balance.

Work Hard – Play Harder!

“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Living a good, fulfilling, and happy life is all about maintaining a good balance between your work and play, which includes large blocks of time devoted to resting and relaxing. To succeed in our work, we need to focus, to work hard, and to work smart. However, our culture doesn’t really advocate that we also need to play hard by taking time to rest and relax. We need to spend time with family and friends, to gaze across a landscape or ocean, to let our thoughts wander. Since we all seem to think that to succeed we need to be “on” 24/7, we lose sight of the need for slowing down, for doing fun activities, or for doing nothing and letting our minds wander.

My family and I just returned from a week in Orlando, Florida with our friends and neighbors, the McCanns and their two boys. Our son, John Robert, is best friends with the McCann boys —David and Ryan. They had a blast together. And the adults had a wonderful, adventurous, and relaxing time together, too.

We had warm, sunny days and very little rain. On our first day in Orlando, the Moms and the boys went to Universal and we had fun running from attraction to attraction. We were able to make it through the entire park because we had a fast pass and didn’t have to wait in any lines. The Dads enjoyed a day at the Kennedy Space Center and a quiet dinner at Cocoa Beach.

For most of the rest of the week, we floated lazily on tubes in the river, slid down the Hippo Slide, played miniature golf, and tried to master the rock-climbing walls. The boys were all great climbers. And in the spirit of relaxing, I chose to unplug from the outside world. No email or cell phone calls. It was wonderful; I felt so free. Of course, I came home to 1400 emails, but I was refreshed from the time off and able to cope with the challenge.

The vacation was a wonderful time to catch up with other friends.

  • We saw Susan Shatzer (from SDT) and her 16-year-old son, Nicolas, and went to dinner at Cracker Barrel.
  • On another night, we had dinner with Janet Dray (from Radi) and her 16-year-old son, at Ford’s Garage.

On the last day, the Moms went to Epcot. We embarked on the flight simulators of the Soarin’ Around the World ride. The journey took us over the Swiss Alps, the polar bears in Greenland, Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, powerful waterfalls in South America, and so much more. We enjoyed visiting the various sites of each country, but we especially enjoyed seeing their movies. We also had a great time with the Go Karts, driving a gas-powered car around sharp bends navigating up and down inclines, and viewing lush foliage. You would have thought the Dads and the boys would have opted for the fabulous rides. But no, the Dads took the boys to a movie at Disney Springs, which is a themed retail, dining, and entertainment center. 

I noticed some new things on this vacation.  

  • First, when you travel with others, you try new things. One night we went out for Thai food and everyone loved it. Another night, we tried Moroccan food, and it was quite tasty. Finally, we had prime seating for the Fireworks show in a designated area in the front of the pond. It was wonderful and the fireworks were fabulous.
  • Second, when you bring friends for your child the kids play together. John and I were even able to go to dinner one night, just the two of us, and celebrated our Wedding Anniversary. A couple of times, we even were able to lounge by the pool and read.
  • Third, unplugging while on vacation is an absolute must. It just makes the whole experience better. If anyone really needed either one of us, that person could contact us by cell phone. Nothing is that urgent and no one is that important. We need to stop kidding ourselves.

I hope that this brief travelogue has inspired you to indulge in a great family vacation. You work hard all year. Summer is the perfect time to get away and enjoy a new scene and view of the world. It’s a great time to sit on a beach, swim in a pool, walk through woodlands, imbibe the sites and engage in the rides of a theme park, or to try new dining experiences or old favorites, such as a BBQ.

Whatever you choose to do, remember it is important to play hard by resting, relaxing, and doing fun activities. This is the way to recharge for workday challenges that await you when you return home.

With gratitude and best wishes,
Lisa Sasso, Executive Coach & Motivational Speaker    (781) 872-1045

As your trusted adviser, Lisa empowers you to use passion to live your best life and achieve your goals with confidence, accountability, gratitude and balance.