In Search of Real Giving to find Happiness

I truly saw my most impactful experience of giving as an outlet of joy when I was in the 9th grade. I had a teacher take a group of us (students) to the zoo where we met up with a large group of homeless children. It was an incredible experience that will stay with me my whole life. I was a young girl surrounded by children in a different circumstance, but wanting and needing the exact same things. These kids wanted the same toys for Christmas, they were happy seeing animals in a zoo in the dead of winter and eating sandwiches on a cold, pavement floor. It didn’t matter. Joy was everywhere that day. I specifically remember one, little girl who clinged to me for safety the whole day. By the end of our zoo day, she did not want to leave my side. It was hard to know that I would let go of her hand and she would be swept back into a different reality of homelessness. I will be forever grateful for that memorable day and the gift of service it shared with me.

I just finished reading an incredible book that was so well written, researched and done incredibly in-depth on many levels. I was drawn to the book in hopes of better understanding our innate need, desire, and reasons for giving. The book, “The Giving Way to Happiness” by Jenny Santi is full of stories from around the globe (wealthiest people, celebrities, givers of good) in interviews that help unlock reasons for giving. She packed it full of psychological research, stats, interviews, stories, so much that you will definitely finish feeling like a well of knowledge was given. Its a great read.

I wanted to highlight some of my favorite moments, quotes, stats and a few stories. Hope you enjoy! Hope you feel like reading further.


“I believe we’re all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose…When you connect with that love and that compassion, that’s when everything unfolds.” -Ellen Degeneres

“It is clear that meaning in life contributes to a happier life. Dr. Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, whose research concentrates on what makes people feel happy and fulfilled, concluded that happiness has three dimensions that can be cultivated: the Pleasant Life, the Good Life, and the Meaningful Life. The Pleasant Life is relayed when we fill our lives with the sensual pleasures, such as food, good sex, and nice things. The pursuit of pleasure, research determined, has hardly any contribution to lasting fulfillment. The Good Life is achieved through discovering our signature strengths and using them to obtain gratification. The Meaningful Life goes one step beyond this, and happens when we use our unique strengths in service of something larger than ourselves.” “To live all three is to lead a full life.” says Seligman.

“High levels of meaning in life predict low levels of psychological distress and high levels of happiness and self-esteem, and the relationship between meaning in life and psychological well-being is substantial.”

“Meaning must be found and cannot be given.

“When you have a sense of purpose, you never get up in the morning wondering what you’re going to do with yourself. When you’re ‘In Purpose’ that is, engaged with and working toward your purpose, life becomes easier, less complicated and stressful. You become more mono-focused, like an arrow flying toward its target, and your mind feels somehow taut and strong, with less space for negativity to seep in,” says Steve Taylor

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain

A few of My HIGHLIGHTS and favorite cannot miss stories: Story of model Petra Nemcova pg 1 & here will to serve, Viktor Frankl story pg 39, From Russia with Love–the story of Natalia Vodianova (famous model) pg 43, Incredible power couple who created The World Economic Forum pg182, John Foster story and so many more. Lots of good stories woven within the pages. Ric O’Barry story on pg 80

Goldie Hawn and the Hawn Foundation

Highlights from Goldie Hawn pg 48–When Goldie is asked, “How is the happiness you get out of your charitable work different from the happiness you get from your career?” “It’s quite different. One is self-centered, and there are lots of happy things that can happen to us that way. You know, you can get enough money to buy a new house; you can buy new shoes. These are all fleeting aspects of happiness. they don’t last. They’re like ripples on the water. They come and go. As long as the money is there, you’re happy and you’re okay. but when you’re really working toward making a difference, you get a deeper, deeper level of satisfaction, because it’s not for you. It’s for something bigger than just you, and the people that you meet along the way are your soul mates. They fortify you. They thrill you. They make you happy. And when you get into it, you really that you’ll attract people who are doing things aligned with your vision. Your connection to them also brings you lasting joy.”

She also says, “Those who are looking for happiness will find it in giving. “That has been researched time and time again. It really brings people out into the light from the darkness. It’s a very important aspect to continue to exercise in our lives–how you give back, how you think about humanity, how you consider yourself of value. You can go and be of help; you are engaged in the world. This helps people become happier. Giving back is as good for you as it is for those you are helping, because giving gives you purpose. When you have a purpose-driven life, you’re a happier person. You’re engaged. You’re alive.”

Super Happiness pg 116–The story of the Grameen Bank, which was started by the incredible Professor Yunus. He is known as “Banker to the Poor” & a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He never set out to become a lender, he just saw a problem and a solution. “Every time I see a problem, I create a business to solve the problem. This leads to “Superhappiness,” he says.

[I am jumping around a bit on these quotes—his whole philosophy is helping others as a community and economically] “Human beings are built in a different way. There are two things inside of us: selflessness and selfishness.” “Making money is happiness; making other people happy is super happiness. But if you don’t know that yet because you haven’t tried that, so you think there is only one happiness–making money.” “All I’m saying is take a bit of it; find out. Then if you know the super happiness, you can decide which happiness you would like to go through, or you mix both: You have happiness from making money, and the super happiness from touching people’s lives and changing the whole world. You have the capacity of changing the whole world. You didn’t know that because you are too busy taking care of yourself.”

So many great tidbits of great giving throughout.

Another great story: Billionaire John Paul DeJoria, who cofounded Paul Mitchell hair products in 1970, was raised in a European immigrant community in downtown Los Angeles. His mother once told him and his brother the three had just twenty-seven cents between them, but with food int he fridge, a backyard garden, and happiness, they were rich. For a time, DeJoria lived in his car while selling products door-to-door. He said, “One Christmas, when I was six years old, my mother took us to see the window displays and decorations in the big department stores in downtown Los Angeles. It was a big treat for us. We saw puppets that moved and trains that circled…It was really special and added to the Christmas spirit, but it didn’t cost anything. That same year, my mother gave my brother and me a dime. She told Bothe of us to hold half of it and put it in the bucket near a man who was ringing a bell. We did, and then we asked my mother why we gave him the dime (at the time, a dime could buy you three candy bars or two soda pops). My mom’s reply was, “This is the Salvation Army that helps people who are really in need. Remember boys, no matter how much you have, there is always someone who is more in need than you. Always try to give, even if it is a little.” Needless to say, that stuck with me in my adult life. Whether it’s feeding thousands of orphans in third world countries, saving whales, helping the homeless find employment, protecting our waterways, resting young girls from prostitution, teaching and supplying families in Appalachia with equipment to grow their own vegetables, or any other worthwhile endeavor….giving back is a practice and joy I want my family to continue.”

There is a lot of the book that has depth, direction and additional stories, so if you enjoyed some of these stories, then you will find additional jewels throughout this book.

Overall, the point is to truly find purpose in giving. It will not only impact your life and health, but those you touch in the service of giving. It is a good all around.

Peace. Love and Light to you today. -H

Spread the LOVE

2012-valentine_s-day-gisft-and-wallpapers-with-special-quotesWith Love week around the corner I thought it would be good to spread some LOVE. Our hearts yearn to share LOVE, to ignite a spark of connection, to spread goodness and radiate a light so bright that the world would see a glimmer of HOPE, a sea of positive change, a peace that would domino, a grand song that would play in the hearts of every single person who needed a little LOVE.

This morning I sat around our breakfast table & asked a question—“If you could change three things, what would you change?” We went around the table sharing different ideas, and I instantly thought of how different the world would be if we had a change of heart throughout the world. I immediately thought of times throughout my life that if I needed any advice, any direction on an idea, any encouragement and I asked complete strangers for their help,  how amazed I continually am to see people open their hearts wide open and give. They give for the sake of helping someone’s dream grow just a little, an idea to blossom into a possibility, they give their knowledge, their time. It never ceases to amaze me.

love-couples-beautiful-with-quotes-the-greatest-hd-free-585203When we look at the world through media lenses, we are often jaded by the stories, the misery, the broken parts of the world, but when we step just outside ourselves, we begin to see people all around with open hands and giving hearts. I have recently been working on an idea to possibly put into museums & had no idea where to begin, so I reached out & you know what happened? People from all over the country stopped, took time, gave me direction and did not hesitate to give. i have seen this over and over again because I know people give from their hearts and that is the perfect place. I genuinely think people are good and want to help if they have something to give.

fb_share_challengeyou-1I challenge any of you to try it for yourself. Don’t be afraid, be brave. Is there an idea you would like to see come into view, is there a dream you have been holding onto, is there direction you need, is there something you want to do, but just need a little nurturing. I encourage you to reach out and give someone else an opportunity to spread some love to YOU. Give someone the opportunity to share their knowledge, to share their contacts, to enlighten you with their experience…Let them help you, let them give to you and then when you are feeling connected and loved, find some way that you can also spread some love to someone who may need you, your smile, your time.

Quote81I do believe this is a big reason why we are on this snow globe of life—to give, to help one another, to learn this greatest gift.


Peace and LOVE to you. -Heather

What do you want from the holidays?

What are some things you think you would want from the Holidays?? You give time to what you believe is important!!


LAUGHTER: Watch some funny holiday movies together as a family. ‘Christmas Vacation’ is always a classic!!


PEACE: Take time to be quiet. We never give ourselves the time we need to be still. Peace should be at the top of our holiday lists. Put Peace as a priority and see what happens. 


LIGHT: Candles are always a good reminder of the light we need. Where I live the days are shorter & night is so dark. Light from a candle brings a special glow that calms. Light is a symbol of where we have come from and who we are within. Light a candle and find a little spark of love for the amazing person you are.


MERRY & BRIGHT: Enjoy the magic. Kids love the holidays because of the wonder, the magic, the stories, the legends, the presents, the lights, the snow….find some things you love about the holiday season. Make christmas lists & burn them in your fire pit. Color, create and make the best Christmas mural together as a family & hang it on the wall over the fire place. Plan fun things everyone wants to do & give each child a special night during December to do whatever they want with the family (ice skating, ice cream, seeing the reindeer, going to a light parade, making a snow fort, etc) Play, have fun, be with your children!!


LOVE: Make sure you take the time to hug & kiss your kids. EVERY DAY!! This holiday take a night & have everyone write down something they love about one another & put them in a special stocking. Some time on Christmas day–share them.


ImageADVENT: I have always loved the idea of the advent calendar, but every year we usually just get the chocolate calendars that have no special meaning. This year I decided to go all out for advent. There is something special in talking about a special symbol or tradition of the holidays. There are many traditions regarding the advent—many light a new candle each day, have stories they tell, a nativity fast, special colors, etc. 

I came across a sweet advent book called, Celebrate Advent: 25 legends and ornaments 

I thought this would be a fun advent because it has stories from around the world about the legends that surround Christmas. It even has little paper ornaments that match the story, so you can hang them on your tree once you read the story with your family. 

I was also talking to one of my daughter’s friends about the fun traditions they do in her home & she talked about having a felt advent calendar that has little pockets where an elf leaves little notes for the children to find special gifts each day. FUN!!

There are so many ways you can celebrate advent—light a candle each night, hang a special ornament each day, read a bible story each night, take a gift to a friend or neighbor each night, have 25 acts of service for your family to do, buy or make an advent calendar to bring delight to everyone in your family.

Here are some fun ideas for any type of advent you wish to create:

Advent Storybook

Lego & Playmobil has a variety of advent calendars: for those little ones that need a fun surprise each day.

Kurt Adler & Byer’s Choice has a variety of wooden advent calendar’s–search amazon or google for details 

Make your own: here is a link on Amazon of a unfinished wooden tree you can paint–Ready-Unfinished/dp/B004BTU6R8/ref=sr_1_25?ie=UTF8&qid=1384194641&sr=8-25&keywords=advent   There are also felt templates… Alex Toys has a crafty advent calendar to make®-Toys-Crafty-Advent-Calendar/dp/B004M8RRRK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384194752&sr=8-1&keywords=do+it+yourself+advent+calendar


ImageDIFFERENT CULTURES: Every Christmas holiday I come up with some crazy theme for Christmas day activities & this year we are traveling the globe by Polar Express to different countries around the world, learning about their traditions and being very grateful for all we are given. So, I have been researching and learning about different cultures & trying to figure out how to incorporate different things into our holidays to make it even better. Here are some ideas I wanted to share:

In Italy the children write letters to their parents promising good behavior (and apologizing for misdeeds), as well as telling them how much they love them. The letters are then placed under Dad’s plate on Christmas Eve; he reads them all aloud once the meal is through.  *

In Scotland they celebrate the holidays with bonfires to keep the mischievous elves from entering their homes & getting into trouble. They dance around the fire while playing the bagpipes.  I thought this would be fun to incorporate having a fun outdoor bonfire & dancing around it singing Christmas songs.

In Australia they are in the middle of summer, so many of the neighbors have a Christmas lighting contest. I thought you could do this with friends or family—have a special prize for the winner!!

In Switzerland the families gather together and make huge doughnuts they call ringli and hot cocoa. Fun idea!!

In Asia children make special paper lanterns for their tree, which is called “the tree of light.” Paper lanterns are always fun, so find some festive ones & hang them over your dinner table or make them for the tree.

In Norway they have a special dinner rice pudding where they hide a lucky almond for someone to find. This would be fun too!!


ImageCAPTURE THE MOMENTS: While you are unwrapping and gift giving, take the time to share some special interviews. Turn on a recorder and ask everyone special questions about the year, what they like about themselves, what they look forward to in the new year, any special highlights or incredible memories. Share and capture the moments. Take lots of pictures, ask fun questions & make every moment memorable. 

Here is a link to fifty questions for family history interviews:  Look at them and then pick your favorites to ask your family.  

You can also buy the box of questions for Thanksgiving or Christmas by Melissa and Doug–cute idea. 



GIVE: This is a no brainer, but put your own personal spin on it. Last Christmas I came across a whole bag of naked Barbie Kelly dolls. My daughter has been raised with Kelly dolls, so I was heart broken to see them at a thrift store. I bought the bag & knew we could fix them up & give them to children in need. It was such a fun project for me and my daughter. We fixed their hair & got really creative in making them cute outfits. We bought holiday cards for a fun background & packaged them up for a good cause. Memorable!!


Well, that is all for now. 

Here is my link to last years post about the holidays and making the days a little more ‘holy’

Happy Holidays. Make every moment count. It is priceless time.



A beautiful gift to give

The holidays should not focus on the opening of the gifts, but opening our hearts to those we care about.

The process.

If you can give your child one gift…give the gift of your loving words, your prayers for their life, your belief in who they are and the beautiful potential you see in them. Writing a loving letter is a perfect way to express all these things. It is a gift they will cherish and have the rest of their lives. Write as often as you feel necessary (once a year, every six months, as a Christmas present, on their birthday, a special occasion, etc.) You choose the timeline that fits for you.

A few different style ideas:

1. You can just write a letter describing things you love about your child, special memories, their favorite toys, movies, songs, books at this particular age. Include funny things they say, activities they are participating in, how they are doing in school, events they have enjoyed attending, their friendships, their dreams, etc.

2. You can also put a scrapbook heart in the center and branch off of it specific details you love about your child and then write a letter below. Add small pictures to the page (you can have mini pictures 2×3 printed at Walgreens–probably anywhere) that would add to your letter. You can decorate the page in colorful markers, add favorite song lyrics, quotes, words, memories, etc.

Share the Love.

There is no question of the special bond that ties a child and mother, but these letters would be a beautiful gift to anyone. Write one to your spouse, a friend, mother, grandmother, Heavenly Father or to youself (you are important and need to feel loved—even by your own words)

Take the time to share feelings, life lessons, thoughts and inspiration, gratitude, gifts of this life. The people who are part of your life add the little details, the conversations, the heartache, the experiences…they are the witness to your life. Sharing with them the love you have within, makes living more valuable. It creates a full circle of love that continues to grow, sharing in love and leaving letters of remembrance. It is a beautiful gift.

Happy gift giving. Would LOVE to hear about the gift you love giving during the holiday season.