Finding peace, joy, and gratitude

As I have gotten older, my focus in life has changed a bit. I care more now about my family, friends, community, and work than I have in the past. I not only care about my professional success, but about the happiness that success brings to others.

In my work I spend a great deal of time visiting with students and professionals. I don’t like to beat around the bush, but to get straight to the point. Some say I am a connector, a person who likes to find solutions instead of going round and round on a topic. I would agree. I like to see the end results as well as appreciate the process.

I love house projects and have recently taken on several major projects in our 100-year-old home. What I loved about this project was the care and thought that we put into the process. We chose a great person to install the floors and work with us. We decided on reclaimed wood that had come from a home from the turn of century. Each step of the process was thought out with care. Why tell this story? Because I believe the more care you put into anything you do, the better the results will be. As with our floors, they are beautiful and have brought our home to a new level of warmth. I feel that the wooden floors from one home has given new life to another. Those floors have a story and that story is now continued in a new space.

During this holiday season, maybe now is a good time to reflect on who you are and how you impact the people and community around you. Each one of us has a story and our story is important. So often, we don’t take the time to reflect and figure out how what we have learned has an impact on the people and community around us.

There is a great deal of hurt, fear, and hate in our world. I guess I am an optimist, but I believe in my heart that each one of us can make a difference. That we can make our part of the world a better place. That we can love and care for one another.

So here are some tips to making your space in this world better:

1. Before the end of the year, reconnect with someone whom you have not seen or spoken to in a while. Take some time to just enjoy a cup of coffee and have a conversation. Enjoy the experience of remembering why you and that person become friends or learned to care about one another.

2. Spend some quiet time reading a book with a story line. Get lost in the author’s words and the emotion it brings to you. Put your electronic devices down (unless you read from them) and just enjoy some “you” time.

3. Extend a helping hand to someone in need. Maybe it’s a neighbor, an elderly person, a teen, someone who needs to know that someone actually cares about them. Trust me, you will get more from that act of kindness than they will.

Many focus on the beginning of a new year and what they will do different. I challenge you to make the most of the rest of this year. Leave 2015 in a better place by doing a few things to bring warmth and goodness to your world. Just like my floors, you will be helping to create a better space for yourself and others. May this time of year bring peace, joy and gratitude to all of us.

Credit // Author: Dr. Mari Ann Callais

Having spent over 20 years working in higher education, Dr. Mari Ann Callais is a highly respected and sought after keynote speaker, researcher, and thought leader. Learn more about her fraternity & sorority life and leadership keynotes at