How to be HAPPY. HAPPY. HAPPY.

I just watched a great documentary on HAPPINESS, called HAPPY. Here is the trailer. Go out and watch it!! You will definitely be better for it. You will learn so much. I am going to give you a few thoughts and ideas that I took away from this great show, but I am not going to tell you everything because you need to see the show. FYI-On Amazon in has over 430 4.5 star ratings.  Enjoy!

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“The constitution only guarantees the American People the right to pursue Happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”                   -Benjamin Franklin

What do you want?? Most people say…to be HAPPY. Happy has undergone a revolution. It seems everyone is in search of HAPPINESS. Look at Coke’s marketing “Open Happiness” the numerous books on the subject (Happiness Project, The Happiness Advantage, Stumbling on Happiness to name a few) and Harvard’s biggest class that has thousands of students each week attend, a class on Happiness (Positive Psychology).  Here is the link for professor Tal Ben-Shahar who is teaching this course (the largest course at Harvard). Make sure you check out his quick  Five Steps for Being Happier Today. There are some great links and videos on this site. http://bigthink.com/users/talbenshahar

Happiness helps you achieve your other goals in life. What is interesting is you are born with a 50% genetic set point OR range of happiness, BUT what is astounding is that your CIRCUMSTANCES account for only 10% of our happiness. WOW!! that is so small. That leaves us with 40% of things that we can do on a regular basis that are intentional activities that will bring us happiness. That is HUGE!! This 40% leaves us with options to add variety, add changes, seek out experiences that increase happiness triggers like dopamine (our bodies natural happiness chemical in the brain). A big activity that increases dopamine—EXERCISE. Also, activities that get you into a natural FLOW, like playing music, something you enjoy doing that has a specific rhythm that makes you happy. It gives you a sense of control over what you are doing.

The WRONG Assumptions of outcome. People believe if something good happens (they get married, win a championship…) they will feel SO HAPPY & they do for a short time. The same is when something bad happens (car wreck, divorce…) some sort of devastation & for a short time they are devastated. THe fact is…People actually do really well even when things go bad.  Scientific research does not support adversity as a bad thing. You have to have pain to have pleasure.

Can MONEY buy Happiness? They literally looked at 50 years of income vs happiness and even though the income level went up. People were no more happier living in their bigger houses, more cars, etc. then they were 50 years ago. The happiness levels were stagnet despite the increase in income.  The ONLY time money brings happiness is when you are homeless or are not having your basic needs (water, food, shelter) met, after that it doesn’t make you any happier. Between the income of $5,000 and $50,000 there is a difference in happiness levels, but between $50,000 and $500,000 there is no difference.

Extrinsic vs Intrinsic motivations: Let’s look at Extrinsic (external) motivations–getting stuff, getting money, concerned about your image, your status VS Intrinisic (internal) motivations—personal growth, friends and family, helping your community, something bigger. People who were more extrinsically motivated were less satisfied with their life, had less energy, were depressed and more anxious. The people who were intrinsically motivated were happier, had less depression, had a sense of meaning in their life.

This movie then took a look at different countries who were the happiest (Denmark) and least happiest (Japan) and looked at the circumstances and stories of why. It was a great show that has so much more and I would highly recommend. Go out and buy it, rent it and enjoy it. It is definitely worth the time.

Here are a few personal tips to take away: Exercise, write down 5 things you are grateful for each night or at the very least once a week, invest in relationships, learn to meditate on compassion, get out into nature, smile, share love, do things you enjoy, be grateful for where you are at…and happiness will follow.

Peace and Happiness to you. -Heather

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Are you Sleepwalking through life?

Oh, the wonder and magic of learning!! Yesterday I took an hour and watched a young man’s journey, Take it with you, where he went across the world to a variety of countries in search of meaning, the peace that was missing in his life and his soul’s yearning for something better. 

It seems for many of us there is always a constant searching, a yearning for something more. 

I just read an amazing quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, “the greatest enemy of the spiritual life is the human tendency to sleepwalk through life.” That thought hit me square in the heart because I have been thinking a lot about spirituality, creating a beautiful understanding of it in my family and having that as a center for all things we do. My husband is in a job that is a revolving door of no time, stress and a void of any type of spiritual awareness. He has been caught in a exhausted state, unable to balance and I have been praying to know how to help him, so this quote hit me and almost knocked me down. THE GREATEST ENEMY of the SPIRITUAL LIFE is the human tendency to sleepwalk through life!! WOW.

ARE YOU SLEEPWALKING?? We all do it from time to time, from one mundane activity to another, so would you like to hear something that is the solution…PRAYER calls us to wakefulness. -Thich Nhat Hanh

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Prayer is a beautiful piece to any puzzle that longs to fit contentment. Watching the movie yesterday made me see even more connections that the world has in happiness and prayer. Every tradition, different rituals, different religions, no matter there place on earth, has a well of history, knowledge, symbolism and divinity held within their temples, their churches, their synagogues, their arch ways…it was beautiful to see the Japanese gardens filled with large, red archways that symbolize stepping into a more spiritual place. It was humbling to see a tribe of people in South America who, to this day, still protect their ancient, natural spiritual places and the deep beliefs they hold with the deepest part of their hearts. It was interesting to see the one symbol that is seen all over the world–the flower of life symbol that this young man (from the movie) was able to find in every part of the world, in every temple, every sacred space. It made me understand the even deeper connections that have been placed on this earth so long ago. I enjoyed watching the different rituals of prayer, with candles, crosses, clapping, beads, kneeling, symbols…to see the respect and love of something bigger than us all. Prayer has a deeper connection for all of us, if we take the time to tap into the beautiful beyond.

 

Prayer is different for everyone. You may be able to focus through meditation or yoga, maybe you sit outside and give thanks with your mind, some may need to kneel in darkness to find clarity or maybe you can talk out loud while driving in your car, or maybe you feel it necessary to be in a church, prayer is different for everyone…BUT…everyone can pray.  Here are some resources and ideas to help you get more connected on a deeper level with your higher self:

 

ImageMaybe you find meditation or visualization a gift & the easiest way for you to get lost in your mind. Wisdom Film’s has done some amazing videos that are beautiful images with messages to slow you down and be mindful. Here is one of their videos: “Set Your Champion Free”—They have additional videos on youtube.

 

ImageGreat Article. Wow! Another quote just struck me—Reading this great article by a women who I have loved listening to [great podcasts], Elizabeth Lesser, I came across this “The Sufis say that our longing for GOD is GOD’s longing for us.” WOW. Does that not break you open and make your heart sing of peace! Here is the article—take what moves you. http://www.oprah.com/spirit/What-Prayer-Really-Means-Elizabeth-Lesser/2

 

ImageI have been reading, pondering and trying to get the best sense of how to help instill the faith of teaching prayer to my daughter. I just began reading the book Parenting with Spirit by Jane Bartlett and here is what she says:  Prayer is a language, a way of dialoguing with the divine. Like any language, it has to be learned. Prayer is not the preserve of any one religion: all faiths have prayer. It’s humankind’s most natural and important way of connecting to a larger reality, and it is available to us all. 

Here are her tips to help your family through prayer—-Prayer Nurtures a Family’s Spirit:

Prayer helps children feel connected to a larger reality. Prayer is an expansion of the consciousness and a suspension of ordinary thought. In some ways, prayer is a small act, as easy as reaching out and flicking on a light switch. However, once that light is shining, everything appears differently. You are seeing life as it truly is, albeit briefly. In praying with your children, you are showing them how simple it is to press the switch: to close their eyes, go inside, and “turn on” an experience of a larger reality.

Prayer promotes the development of an interior life. In prayer we quiet the hubbub of the day and hear a deeper part of ourselves instead. Children, just as adults, have an inner life, a world of thoughts and feelings. In prayer, they begin to learn how to attend to these emotions, to sort through them, understand them, and possibly change them. Prayer teaches children self-awareness.

Prayer encourages an examination of conscience. In prayer, we allow God to enter in. In so doing we shine a light on the dark corners, where we might otherwise have preferred not to have looked.

 Prayer acts as a tool of transformation. Prayer is an act filled with hope. We pray in faith that things can be better, that the world may become a happier place, and that we may fulfill our human potential. In so doing, we accept that we currently have limitations, but we invite God to help us overcome these.

Prayer develops gratitude and joy. In prayer we count our blessings. Think about all the good things that you have in your lives, and to thank God for them. Big and small things can be included in thanks. Prayers and gratitude help everyone appreciate their world and the people in it, and cultivate an attitude of joy. They also counter feelings of greed.

Prayer increases children’s engagement in the world. We can use our prayer to contemplate the wider world and set our lives into a bigger perspective. Encourage your children to think of people who are sick or lonely or experiencing personal problems. Think too of people in other countries who might be suffering from poverty, famine or war. Prayer promotes compassion.

Prayer brings parents and children together. Praying with your children can be an extremely intimate moment. This is especially true if you are speaking aloud spontaneous prayers. On one level this type of prayer is a profound sharing of thoughts and feelings. In joining each other in this, we overcome our sense of isolation. Your children feel tremendously valued and cared for when you say prayers and ask God to help them in their personal struggles.

Prayer develops reverence for the world. In prayer we take a moment to value the world God has made. Reverence helps nurture respectful behavior in children.

Prayer helps children feel safe. Prayer is a comforting ritual that prepares children for sleep, for their day…It is an opportunity to let go of cares and worries, to feel safe and loved.

Prayer encourages positive behavior. Loving and compassionate thoughts will ultimately translate into loving and compassionate behavior. Children will be more mindful about their actions and aware that they should be behaving in a way that is acceptable to God.

Prayer may have a mysterious power all of its own. You may find it easy to believe that prayer changes something within the person who is praying. But prayer traditionally has another function too: it is thought to change the world beyond ourselves. [She expounds more in her book]

 

I hope these thoughts and ideas help you to get in touch with a deeper side of your self and avoid sleepwalking through your life.

Peace to you.  -Heather

Wake up! Are you lost?

I think the ideas of Life Wake-up Calls is very thought provoking and makes me wonder and look for moments in my life that may be calling me to change direction or listen a little harder for personal needs for my life. I LOVE inspiring stories of change, stirring moments that may lead someone down a different path, so I thought I would compile some great stories and a fun song to stir your soul. Enjoy!!

 

Wake Me Up by Avicii—Now, I don’t know anything about this band besides I liked the beat and the lyrics of this song. They resonated with me, so hopefully you will find some hint or need to find the emotional reason why this song resonates with so many. Here is the song  

 

 

What is the meaning of a wake-up call? To each person it holds a different meaning. For one person it is her son who has a serious illness asking questions about heaven, God, the bigger questions. For another, it is a life altering decision, to stay or go, that shifts the outcome of life. To someone else it may be a dream of better things to come or a feeling of hopelessness that cannot be shelved any longer. 

Life is on our side, it is just a matter of how we look at it. Maybe you just lost your job—Did you really love it that much??  Most people may look at that type of situation and see failure, but life is trying to give you a free card–MOVE ON!! Don’t waste anymore time where you are & go forward in your hopes, your passion, the road that will better suit you. Maybe your house was just blown down by a hurricane or burned down from a fire. Was it by accident? Look at the bigger picture–What is trying to wake you up and tell you something? What is important in your life, maybe give you a fresh start… 

Here is a great story about Thomas Edison to illustrate

ImageThomas Edison, who started 100 companies, all before the age of forty had more than 1,000 patents and invented three major industries: motion pictures, recorded sound and light. One of his core principles was  never to give up. We all know Edison invented the light bulb. What many don’t realize is that it took him 6,000 attempts before he found the right solution.

Thomas Edison’s laboratory was virtually destroyed by a fire in December, 1914. Although the damage exceeded $2 million, the buildings were insured for only $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof. Much of Edison’s life’s work went up in spectacular flames that December night. At the height of the fire, Edison’s 24-year-old son, Charles, frantically searched for his father among the smoke and debris. He finally found him, calmly watching the scene, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind.

“My heart ached for him,” said Charles. “He was 67–no longer a young man–and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, ‘Charles, where’s your mother? When I told him I didn’t know, he said ‘Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this again as long as she lives.”

The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” *taken from Chicken Soup for the Soul 3

 

ImageAbout a hundred years ago, a man looked at the morning newspaper and to his surprise and horror, read his name in the obituary column. The news papers had reported the death of the wrong person by mistake. His first response was shock. Am I here or there? When he regained his composure, his second thought was to find out what people had said about him. The obituary read, “Dynamite King Dies.” And also “He was the merchant of death.” This man was the inventor of dynamite and when he read the words “merchant of death,” he asked himself a question, “Is this how I am going to be remembered?” He got in touch with his feelings and decided that this was not the way he wanted to be remembered. From that day on, he started working toward peace. His name was Alfred Nobel and he is remembered today by the great Nobel Prize.

Just as Alfred Nobel got in touch with his feelings and redefined his values, we should step back and do the same.

What is your legacy? How would you like to be remembered? Will you be spoken well of? Will you be remembered with love and respect? Will you be missed?  -Story taken from great-motivational-stories.blogspot.com

Talk about a wake up call!!

 

 

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One last story that hits a little closer to home

I am The Human WakeUp Call. My story reminds people that life is a gift and every day counts. It’s time to wake up to the fact that none of us have endless tomorrows, even though we might be living as if we do. Contrary to the frequent fear-driven messages we hear, this is a lesson of finding the possibility for change, then pursuing it. It’s the small, consistent changes we make that lead to big differences.

I wasn’t always on this WakeUp call mission however. Like so many others, during my career I never played a very active role in where I headed. The promotions and job changes were spaced out well enough to give me the illusion of progress, but in reality I simply ‘floated down the river’ letting life take me from one place to another. None of it truly felt like it was my ‘right’ work. I was not really happy, but moderately comfortable.

Then, one day when I was in my thirties, the ‘river’ I was floating in took me to another Fortune 500 company and I found myself in yet another j-o-b. Great people, the work was fine but yet again, it didnt feel like it tied into something more meaningful for me (even though I had no idea what that would be). I had just moved to Connecticut from New York City and the new office was all the way in downtown Manhattan, increasing my commute from 25 minutes to more than two hours each way! Each morning my wife would drive me to the train station with our one-year-old daughter sleeping in back, tucked sweetly into her car seat. I would come home each night and my little girl would be exactly as I left her, asleep in the backseat as my wife waited in the parking lot for my train to arrive. Days would go by where I wouldn’t see her awake at all. Children look peaceful while sleeping, but seeing her mostly in that state started to remind me that this was not the kind of parent I wanted to be, absent from her waking world.

I soon found myself wishing away my weekdays, hoping for each one to finish sooner than the clock would allow, in favor of the weekend and time – awake! – with my family. I realized that my work felt unimportant to me yet AGAIN, I felt out of place AGAIN, and I didn’t know what to do about it. My wife was taking care of our daughter and upkeep on our new home so I was the sole financial provider. However, I didn’t know what would fulfill me and had no direction. So I did what many people in that situation do – nothing. After all, life was just fine… wasn’t it?

Then, one Monday afternoon, I was sitting outside my office having lunch. It was a beautiful late summer day in New York where the sky was a stunning cerulean blue with not a cloud in sight. As I sat there enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face, I felt more grounded than I had in a long while. I looked up at my office building and was overcome by the sense that somehow it controlled my life. I realized at that moment that I HAD to make a change… even if it was a small change. A new intention was born.

This time had to be different! I had to take action. So I decided that the next morning, instead of rushing to catch the early train in keeping with my new morning ritual, I would take a later train so I could have a nice relaxing breakfast with my wife and (awake) daughter. I remember smiling at the thought thinking this was a good first step. Not a big step, but at least a new beginning. One of the most important lessons I realized from that small decision was that nothing would change until I changed it. It was clear that I would never FIND the time. I had to CREATE it!

The next morning my wife, surprised to see that I was already dressed and ready to go, asked quizzically, “I thought you were taking the later train today?” She asked me whether we were still having breakfast together or if she should drive me to the station so I could make my normal train. Little did I know, at that moment, I was standing at the crossroads of my life and my answer to that innocent question would determine my fate.

The chatter in my head started: “Do I just take the early train and have breakfast together another day? Will my daughter even be aware that we’re having breakfast? Do I risk going in late? Will I get in trouble at work? I’ve only been there a few months, can I even do this?” But then I had a moment of truth and my true values came forth to guide me, stirring something inside me and stopping my hesitation. “No,” I said to her. “The whole point of the morning was to have breakfast together, so let’s have breakfast together. I’ll catch the next train.” It was a simple declaration; as innocent a decision as if made on any other day of my life.

So we spent some wonderful time together having breakfast in our small dining room. It was another beautiful morning and I looked at my family and just smiled. I had known my wife since we met on a Junior High School trip to Quebec in 9th grade and I knew the moment I saw her that she was the “one”. Here we were 18 years later and I was living the reality of my dreams. Life was good!

She dropped me off and I took the train into New York City, smiling the whole way. I’m sure I looked out of place among the cranky faces of so many other commuters who were beaten down by the many hours they had spent getting in and out of the city at such a cost. But nothing could bother me that day – I felt I had some control of my life! It felt great!

I got on the subway, and instead of being in my office, I was underground at 8:45am when the first plane slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, into my floor, hitting my desk. Most of the members of my group were up there when it happened, including my boss and team. The morning I had breakfast with my family just happened to be September 11, 2001.

So now you see why I feel compelled to share my story with you and why I recreated my career to serve as a WakeUp Call for others – so you don’t have to experience a tragedy or a near miss to wake up to the possibility of your life. So you stop drifting downstream looking back at your life asking ‘why?’ and instead turn around to look forward and say, ‘What now? Where do I want to go?’ So you and the many thousands of people I now work with can stop ‘losing’ precious days.

In many ways my life began anew the day before that memorable day in September, but not for the reason that you may think. Most people believe that it was my close brush with death that changed my outlook on life. Yet my feeling of being alive and having control over my life spread a smile over my face long before I arrived to see my office engulfed in flames. It wasn’t the fact that I didn’t die on September 11, but instead the reality that I had already begun living on September 10.

In the simple act of choosing a small step toward my larger goal, I had turned myself around to face downstream and take responsibility for the direction in my life. Sometimes we give in to the illusion that we have no control over our lives. Yet small decisions can make big differences in your life. Do you realize that life is a gift and every single day counts? You don’t have endless tomorrows and the ‘some day’ you are waiting for may never come.

I gave up my comfortable corporate life and chose what for me is a harder road. Today I am a business and personal leadership coach, sharing my message and empowering others through individual and team coaching, mentoring, workshops, seminars and keynote speaking. I have been blessed to have touched people across the US, in Canada, Europe and even as far away as Nigeria in Africa. I love my family and my life as much as ever (including my son who has since been born.) Now, I even love my work! How can you live any other way?

If you feel that you have no control over your life, it’s time to find one small thing you can do to move your life in a better direction. You may have continued down uninspired paths because you were simply stuck or afraid or uncertain of how to break this powerful spell. But if you can find one thing to change, one thing that makes you feel more alive, then you must do it.

September 10th was a day that looked just like any other day. That day was my wake-up call. Today is yours! Today is that ‘someday’ you’ve been waiting for. Ready to get started?

(Note: My story is included in my new book, “Wake Up! Your Life is Calling.” Click here to get started today.)

– See more at: http://www.humanwakeupcall.com/mikes-story/#sthash.13xue3Km.dpuf