Little things BIG wins

We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things. -Charles Chestnutt

Today is a great day to share some personal gems I have come across in the past week. The picture above illustrates that so well. When you find little treasures on a beach, you pile them in your pockets and carry them home. I do that with rocks, agates and life gems of wisdom that seem to endlessly abound from so many great places. Seek and find them. Here are some of my favorites I found. enjoy!

My husband and I have been listening to Matthew McConaughey’s book, Greenlights while we have been commuting here and there through life. It has been a fun ride learning about his journey. At one point he was talking about roofs and how they are a man made thing and that we need to not create ceilings for ourselves, the dreams we have, the lives we live. We need to look beyond.

Reach beyond your grasp. 
Have immortal finish lines and 
turn your red light green 
because a roof is a man made thing.
~Matthew McConaughey, actor, philosopher, author, b.11/4/1969SOURCE: Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey

I love this thought, of how we, as individuals seem to construct personal limitations of what we can do. We begin to tell ourselves that we can only rise so high or go so far in life. That if we step beyond our own boundaries we will not be safe. We begin the life lies that end up ruining so much that life has to offer. When we begin to believe that we are powerful beyond measure, that is when miracles begin and life opens doors to greater places within us. Love that. DONT put a ceiling on yourself. Reach beyond within your own mind for those higher places your seek.

The easiest way is to dissect success, is through gratitude. Giving thanks for that which we do have, for what is working. Appreciating the simple things we sometimes take for granted. We give thanks for these things and that gratitude reciprocates, creating more to be thankful for.
~Matthew McConaughey, actor, philosopher, author, b.11/4/1969

Gratitude has this incredible power to almost fix anything. When we feel an energy lag in our life or feel things are not going quite right or we hear complaints or whines—-gratitude has a beautiful chime that can wash away and change the energy in a moment. It is almost like an instant switch, a brighter light that turns on a new perspective, a greater awareness, a place that awaits for a simple, thank you to help balance everything.

We are all made for every moment we encounter. Whether the moment makes us or we make the moment. Whether we are helpless in it or on top of it, the predator or the prey, we are made for that moment.
~Matthew McConaughey, actor, philosopher, author, b.11/4/1969SOURCE: Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey

A few of our family mottos: Just show up and play full out. Always do you. Say yes to things that will challenge or help you grow and always look for opportunities to be of service–especially when we get stuck in ourselves. Life is a series of moments & it is how you make them, how you respond, what you say in the moments and the feelings you follow. Life can try to trip you up, throw curves and hurdles, highs and low points, but it is how you handle it. Do you come out stronger? Do you break, but then figure out how to rebuild a little better and brighter. It is also more importantly, the energy you carry and live by. As Matthew says, the predator or the prey, your energy of who you are, what you allow to propel you, the insecurities you let own you, the thoughts you think, all play a factor in your life. You either make the moments count to your best ability or you don’t. You walk away feeling energized or you feel let down by the encounter or experience. Moment by moment, life takes you on a ride, it is how you live it that makes the moments matter most.

Those were a few of my favorite lines. The book is full of fun stories, wild rides, colorful language, great insights, an enjoyable read. The audio book is Matthew reading, so he makes the stories truly come to life. Highly recommend–you will take away some good things for your own life. Even his energy and charisma is contagious.

Speaking of CHARISMA—this takes me to another treasure to share. A podcast, called The Good Life Project. This is a great place to find incredible interviews with all types of people who have come from various places, projects, books, institutes, award winners, etc. You will definitely find some worthwhile interviews of great things to learn.

I recently listened to the podcast with Zoe Chance, teacher at Yale, author of Influence is your Superpower. When I ask people which influence skill they’d like to develop, the most common response by far is “charisma.” When I ask them to define it, they tell me, “It means people pay attention to you” or “It means you have a lot of presence.” But why do we pay attention to charismatic people? What are they doing? A dictionary definition of charisma is “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others,” but as a tool for influence, that language is awfully vague. Yes, charisma gets people to pay attention to you, but it’s not just any kind of attention. You wouldn’t say a guy running through the office in his underwear is charismatic. People who try to make themselves the center of attention just become annoying.

The first paradox of charisma is that trying to be charismatic has the opposite effect.

Most of us, most of the time, aren’t consciously trying to be the center of attention. But we can fall into this trap subconsciously, focusing on ourselves in ways that are anti-charismatic. Humor me for a moment and try this exercise.

In each row below, guess which group uses the word “I” more often.

Leaders…or followers?

Older people…or younger people?

Richer people…or poorer people?

Happy people…or depressed people?

Angry people…or fearful people?

Better students…or worse students?

Men…or women?

According to analyses of formal and informal conversations, speeches, emails, and other written documents, people in the groups listed on the right-hand side tend to use “I” and other first-person pronouns more frequently and by a large margin. In a book called The Secret Life of Pronouns. He found that people who feel they have less power or lower status tend to use more self-referential language. Sometimes the gap has a basis in reality—followers must take orders from leaders, and the poor are less powerful than the rich. But unconscious linguistic patterns derive more precisely from feelings of personal power—or lack thereof. -Yale Insights

A few of her other tips: Just ask for what you want, Be okay with saying No and the magic question to always get what you need…WHAT WOULD IT TAKE?

To be a BIG INFLUENCER, she says to do one thing with every person you encounter—CHOOSE to like them. It may be hard, but find SOMETHING to appreciate about that person.

Finding a Happy, HEALTHY BALANCE with Positive Psychology. Jonathan Fields from Good Life Project also shared some great tips about a MODEL FOR NOURISHING…a well being theory called PERMAV [Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishments, Vitality]

Pursuing these things is the best way to happiness…not just pursuing happiness.

POSITIVE EMOTIONS: Negative emotions are inevitable but you need to learn how to move through it to avoid getting stuck in this state.

ENGAGEMENT: Being fully absorbed. Finding flow in something you are aligned with. Ask yourself, “What makes me lose track of time?” Do more of that!

RELATIONSHIPS: Studies show LOVE is the key ingredient for positive relationships. Those can be chosen family, biological, friends, partners…romantic love, companions, compassionate love (could be a stranger you feel empathy or compassion for), attachment (relationship for a length of time–ease or connection) He suggested doing an exercise of Arthur Erin—2 people, 36 questions that connect. He also suggested doing a Friendship Text Roulette—flip randomly through your contacts and send out a loving message(s).

MEANING: Purpose. In service of others, something that benefits something or someone beyond yourself. You will experience the Givers Glow.

ACCOMPLISHMENT: or Achievement. We are more alive and better beings when we are actively setting a goal or seeking to achieve or do something. The movement towards something that allows us to feel we are alive and on purpose. The feeling of progress and competence is incredibly powerful. Accomplishing things that truly matter to you as an individual. Not just going up some ladder of success. Doing the things that matter to YOU. It is about rising up your own ladder. Accomplishemnt tied to a personal reason of why is what we are looking for.

The above is all BRAIN, thoughts….But what about the BODY? You need to have the body in alignment with the thoughts and actions or you are missing something huge. They feed back to one another and if you don’t connect the two, it will be a dis-service to you truly feeling alive and flourishing. That is why they added VITALITY.

VITALITY: The feedback mechanism. The way the mind and body communicate with each other. So, what can we do for the body to help it truly come alive? It all comes back to simplicity. No hacks, new pill or diet fad–the basics. Nutrition and nourishment—how we FEED the body. Also, MOVEMENT. We are not built to be still…not moving. Have some MIND STILLING practics and good SLEEP.

ALL good TREASURES to be found. Little things that can make an overall BIG difference in our lives. DO GOOD. BE GOOD. LIVE WELL.

Peace. Love and Light to you. Always SEEK good things that lead to HAPPINESS. -H

Is Happiness a Game?

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The word happiness is derived from the thirteenth-century Old Norse word hap, which means “a chance or luck occurrence.” Thus, our question—or perhaps, our QUEST—can be framed as “If happiness is a game of chance, then how might I increase my odds of winning?” -Dr Craig Rodgers

According to a Harris Poll in 2013 of 2, 345 U.S. adults, just ONE in THREE say they’re very happy.  According to another source, 70 percent of Americans hate their jobs.

According to Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology,  says 60 percent of happiness is determined by our genetics and environment, the remaining 40 percent is up to us. In his 2004 Ted Talk, Seligman describes three different kinds of happy lives: The pleasant life, in which you fill your life with as many pleasures as you can, the life of engagement, where you find a life in your work, parenting, love and leisure and the meaningful life, which “consists of knowing what your highest strengths are, and using them to belong to and in the service of something larger than you are.” [huffington post]

The pursuit of happiness is not uniquely American either—in a study of more than 10,000 participants from 48 countries, psychologists Ed Diener of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Shigehiro Oishi of the University of Virginia discovered that people from every corner of the globe rated happiness as being more important than other highly desirable personal outcomes, such as having meaning in life, becoming rich, and getting into heaven.[Psychology Today]

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Here are some tips to TIP HAPPINESS in YOUR direction:

I took & combined ideas from huffingtonpost, Inc, Psychology Today

HAPPY PEOPLE…

Express thankfulness.  Whether it is your personal relationships, those at work or on a personal level, actively expressing gratitude increases good feelings. One study showed people who wrote down five things they were thankful for once a week were 25 percent happier after 10 weeks; in effect they dramatically increased their happiness set-point.

They enjoy being outdoors. Want to feel alive? Just a 20-minute dose of fresh air promotes a sense of vitality, according to several studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. “Nature is fuel for the soul, ” says Richard Ryan, Ph.D, the lead author of the studies.      I know for me personally, getting outdoors is definitely fuel for my soul. I feel like something is missing from my day if I don’t get outside.

They exercise. Exercise lowers symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. I can personally tell you from experience–my husband has had some depression and exercise has been a huge key in being able to bring him out of such a dark space. Exercise give you a natural ability to feel happy through the endorphins that are created through exercise. It is like a natural, happy pill.

Surround themselves with other happy people. Joy is contagious. Researchers of the Framingham Heart Study who investigated the spread of happiness over 20 years found that those who are surrounded by happy people “are more likely to become happy in the future.”

They have to allow a certain bit of curiosity and adventure into their lives.  Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like. It also requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. Happy people, are, simply put, curious. In a 2007 study, Todd Kashdan and Colorado State psychologist Michael Steger found that when participants monitored their own daily activities, as well as how they felt, over the course of 21 days, those who frequently felt curious on a given day also experienced the most satisfaction with their life—and engaged in the highest number of happiness-inducing activities, such as expressing gratitude to a colleague or volunteering to help others. Curiosity, it seems, is largely about exploration—often at the price of momentary happiness. Curious people generally accept the notion that while being uncomfortable and vulnerable is not an easy path, it is the most direct route to becoming stronger and wiser. In fact, a closer look at the study by Kashdan and Steger suggests that curious people invest in activities that cause them discomfort as a springboard to higher psychological peaks.

They actively pursue goals.  Pursuing goals, though, does make you happy. According to David Niven, author of100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life, “People who could identify a goal they were pursuing [my italics] were 19 percent more likely to feel satisfied with their lives and 26 percent more likely to feel positive about themselves.”     If you want to envision a happy person’s stance, imagine one foot rooted in the present with mindful appreciation of what one has—and the other foot reaching toward the future for yet-to-be-uncovered sources of meaning. Indeed, research by neuroscientist Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin at Madison has revealed that making advances toward achievement of our goals not only causes us to feel more engaged, it actually helps us tolerate any negative feelings that arise during the journey.

They Bounce back up after they fall. Happy, flourishing people don’t hide from negative emotions. They acknowledge that life is full of disappointments and confront them head on, often using feelings of anger effectively to stick up for themselves or those of guilt as motivation to change their own behavior. This nimble mental shifting between pleasure and pain, the ability to modify behavior to match a situation’s demands, is known as psychological flexibility.

Do what you excel at as often as you can. the more you enjoy what you do and the more fulfilled you feel by what you do, the happier you will be.  In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor says that when volunteers picked “one of their signature strengths and used it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier and less depressed.”

They get plenty of sleep. Anyone knows if you don’t get enough sleep you are more irritable, cranky and not enjoyable to be around. When you get the right amount of sleep–all is well.     Dr. Raymonde Jean, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center told Health.com. “You get more emotional stability with good sleep.”

They laugh. Laughter releases the same ‘happy’ chemicals as exercise, so laughter truly is one of the better medicines.  I can personally attest for laughing to fight of sadness and depression. When my husband was out of work, we would put in comedies to take away our worry and pain. It definitely helped.

They TRY to be happy. You have often heard the phrase–“fake it to make it” Well, I LOVE the word TRY. You truly can’t “TRY” anything. It is like “trying” to push a pencil. You either have to or not. there is no middle, so if we are “trying” to be happy—we are doing it.

They enjoy the simple things. When you begin to notice the small things that make your life beautiful happiness will fill up the empty spaces. It’s just being grateful for the small pleasures…the evening walk & the way the light plays on the forest floor, the yummy taste of a waffle cone, the warm shower

They understand that money does NOT buy happiness.  Money is important. Money does a lot of things. (One of the most important is to create choices.)  But after a certain point, money doesn’t make people happier. After about $75,000 a year, money doesn’t buy more (or less) happiness. “Beyond $75,000… higher income is neither the road to experience happiness nor the road to relief of unhappiness or stress,” say the authors of that study.   “Perhaps $75,000 is the threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals’ ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure.”  

I have also head another statistic—there was a study done on 22 people major lottery winners & 22 people who had become crippled. A year later—the lottery winners were not any happier than the paraplegics.  Doesn’t that make you think!

They “give” They enjoy spending money on other people, they enjoy the “high” of doing something that makes a difference for another. They take the time to write a thank you note, to make cookies for others on the weekends, to help build conscious awareness about a cause, they volunteer for a local organization, they do little things that make a difference—big or little, it is about the giving feeling.

They look on the brighter side. Optimism creates less stress & better health. When you look at the world with rose colored glasses you are choosing a better life.

They power walk. Ever notice your joyful friends have a certain spring in the step? It’s all about the stride, according to research conducted by Sara Snodgrass, a psychologist from Florida Atlantic University.     In the experiment, Snodgrass asked participants to take a three-minute walk. Half of the walkers were told to take long strides while swinging their arms and holding their heads high. These walkers reported feeling happier after the stroll than the other group, who took short, shuffled steps as they watched their feet.     Try it! See if you feel happier. I think even holding your posture straighter makes you feel better too.  I always tell my daughter to sit tall & when you walk to pretend there are strings pulling you up from the tip of your head that run all the way down your back. It helps to visualize. I know I definitely feel better when I have better posture and walk the walk!

The sound of music. Music is powerful. So powerful, in fact, that it could match up to the anxiety-reducing effects of massage therapy. Over a three month period, researchers from the Group Health Research Institute found that patients who simply listened to music had the same decreased anxiety symptoms as those who got 10 hour-long massages.

They unplug. Whether you do big, belly breaths, meditate, go on a walk, or just deliberately unplug from our world of technology, you will have happiness advantages. Talking on your cell could increase your blood pressure and raise your stress levels, while uninterrupted screen time has been linked to depression and fatigue.

They get spiritual. When you create sacred space, a place that allows for stillness, gratitude, compassion, you are opening a door that will allow calm moments, time for reflection, a deeper space.

Be HAPPY.