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5 Gifts You Can Give and Receive Today

January 1, 2013


Welcome to the new year.  May it be your best ever.

by Lori Deschene

“Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.”  ~Ruth Ann Schabacker

Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, or how you honor it, there’s no denying this is an emotionally loaded time of year.

We either remind ourselves how grateful we are for all the people we love, or we remember how much it hurts that we don’t have people like that in our lives.

We either celebrate all our blessings, or we look toward the year to come, wondering if we’ll have more then.

You may find yourself reflecting on last Christmas in awe of how much has changed for the better in just one year’s time.

Or you may look back on the last twelve months wistfully, wishing things could be the way they were.

We’ll all experience the holiday season in many different ways over the course of our lives.

Whatever your unique situation this year—whether you’re in a growth cycle or working through feelings of loss—you have a lot to give and receive.

5 GIFTS YOU CAN RECEIVE TODAY

1. Your breath.

It’s one of those things we take for granted—the air that gives us life. We don’t even need to think about breathing; we do it automatically.

Clearly we can appreciate that our breath sustains us, but it can do so much more. When we focus on breathing deeply, it can ground us, calm us, detoxify us, and even heal us.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Look at your hands, your feet, the tip of your nose. Fully inhabit your body. You’re here. You’re alive.

2. Your freedom.

I write this knowing this may not be true of everyone, but I’m willing to bet most of us have our freedom.

Most of us can choose what we do today. We can choose what we think, where we go, who we surround ourselves with, and whether or not we allow ourselves to appreciate what’s in front of us. It’s not a question of whether we have freedom; it’s a question of whether we’ll use it.

3. Your senses.

The smell of warm pie, which evokes something visceral from happy childhood memories. The crisp air that makes you feel alert and alive. The full blend of voices harmonizing holiday songs.

We have the capacity to perceive and feel so much. Fully experience it all. Let yourself breathe it in. See it, hear it, taste it—live it.

4. Opportunities for connection.

Whether we spend the day with family, friends, or acquaintances that have yet to become them, we all have the opportunity to really connect with the people in front of us.

We can open up, invite them to do the same, and remind each other that we are part of something greater than ourselves.

5. Lessons for growth.

Every day teaches us something that can help us going forward. If we’re self-aware and open, we can learn about ourselves, who we want to be, how we want to live, and what we need to do to facilitate that.

Whether it’s a laid back, relaxing day, or a challenging, stressful day, take something from this experience that will guide you on the journey ahead.

5 GIFTS YOU CAN GIVE TODAY

1. Your attention.

As adults, we often rush children to get to their point, when sometimes they’re just excited to have the spotlight. It’s not about finishing their story; it’s about their joy in getting to share it without interruptions.

We still want and need that as grown-ups, and we’re always grateful to receive it. Listening fullybeats a sweater any day.

2. Your appreciation.

Everyone enjoys a compliment. That might mean praising someone’s stuffing or festive shirt, but I’ve found the most gratifying compliments are the ones that come from thoughtful observation.

It’s recognizing someone’s consistently upbeat nature, or how often they try when others would give up. It’s noticing the things we all want others to recognize, but fear that maybe they don’t.

3. Your acceptance.

There may be some people in your life you simply don’t understand. Try as you may, you just don’t get why they do what they do.

We should never tolerate being mistreated; we need to set boundaries to take care of ourselves. But once we’ve done that, we can then choose to accept people for who they are.

We can focus on the things we can control—our choices and responses—and then release the need to push others to change.

When we treat people how we want to be treated, we not only treat them with care; we also show them how it’s done.

4. Your forgiveness.

The other day I found a quote by Henry Ward Beecher that read: “I can forgive but I cannot forget is only another way of saying ‘I don’t forgive.’” I disagree.

We need to remember so we can learn and make smart decisions in the future. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fully feel compassion, release our anger, and free ourselves from the pain of bitterness and resentment.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: No one gets to the end of their life and says, “I wish I stayed angry longer.” One day, you’ll know it’s time to let go. Why not make that time now?

5. Your light.

Somewhere underneath all our fears, insecurities, and hurts, we each have a light.

Those lights may actually be brighter because of the darkness we’ve experienced, but in order to access them now, we need to take a deep breath and see beyond all the weight we carry around.

We need to clear our heads and hearts of worries and gripes and choose to be fully where we are.

We are all worthy, beautiful, and valuable to the world around us. Believe it and then act on it by doing something from your heart.

Even it’s something small—especially if it’s something small. Every tiny act of love and kindness makes the world a better place.

I’d appreciate the gift of your thoughts! Leave a comment and let me know if there’s anything you’d add to the lists. :)

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A Simple Way to Increase Your Joy

December 18, 2012


Tony Schwartz, HBR

For several weeks now, I’ve been in terrific spirits. It’s not that I was depressed before that — I’ve generally been feeling fine — but I’m talking about another level here, something akin to elation.

There are some external explanations for how I’m feeling, but on reflection, I don’t think it’s fundamentally about what’s going on outside me so much as inside.

Instead, it’s about a very small, purposeful shift I’ve made — what the professors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein call a “nudge” in their book of the same title. It’s too early to know if the effect will last — and I certainly won’t stay in this mood forever — but the deceptively simple notion is that small choices we make can deliver big consequences.

My shift began in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. We lost power in our home for 11 days, during which I slept in five different beds at five different locations. At times, I felt deeply upended. But something else also happened.

Along the way, I learned a powerful lesson about taking anything for granted — even having a warm place to sleep.

I felt this even more viscerally when the employees at our company spent a day helping two retired, single women who live on the water in Far Rockaway clean out their flooded homes. They couldn’t imagine how they’d replace what they’d lost, which was nearly everything. It was heartbreaking. Even so, they were incredibly determined to rebuild.

Here’s the very simple question I started asking myself: “What’s right in my life?” I’m trying to do it every day, even multiple times.

After a month back at home, I still find myself appreciating the heat when I get out of bed in the morning, and the lights shining bright when I come home at night. I’m trying not to take even the most basic elements of my life for granted.

But it goes beyond that. I also find myself asking “What’s right about the people in my life?” — or, more specifically, “How can I appreciate the best in people?” Far too often in my life I’ve reflexively defaulted the other way — focusing on what irritates, or frustrates, or triggers me about any given person. It’s so easy to move to judgment — the righteous feeling of being “one up” — as a way of protecting against the awful feeling of being “one down.”

Not long ago, someone I know through work said publicly that he didn’t like me. I struck him as too self-serving, egocentric, and self-satisfied. In fairness, he went on to say that those qualities were ones he didn’t like in himself and that he’d projected them onto me. We hadn’t ever spent much time together, but the words still stung. No one enjoys being criticized or wants to be disliked.

When I thought about it, however, I realized I had long felt the same way about him, for the same reasons. The qualities I objected to were ones I also saw in myself, and disliked.

Last week, in an attempt to find some common ground, we decided to have lunch. I came to our meeting determined to see the best in him, rather than the worst. To my amazement, it turned out to be easy to do. I found him charming, thoughtful, and genuine. I believe he had the same experience of me.

I had nudged myself, by making a simple decision to shift the focus of my attention (and so, perhaps, had he). I left the lunch feeling great, not just because I felt we’d made such a strong connection, but also because a simple move made such a powerful difference in my experience.

Something else contributed: I was able to resist feeling defensive. Yes, I can be self-involved and self-serving, but that’s not all of whom I am. My imperfections are part of me, but they don’t define me. It’s not a zero sum, either-or game, which I’ve often assumed it is.

Just as I can choose to focus on the best in others, I can appreciate the better parts of myself without pretending I don’t have plenty to work on, including — ironically — the inclination to be judgmental.

The more accepting I am of myself — the more I can embrace what Zorba the Greek once called “the full catastrophe” — the more generous I find I am with others.

I’ve discovered a lightness in my life these past few weeks because I’ve made a slight shift of my attention. I’ve been able to focus on what I can appreciate, embrace, and celebrate. That energy has proved to be contagious. The more I share it, the more I get it back. I’ve replaced a vicious cycle with a virtuous circle.

Change that lasts doesn’t happen easily, and I don’t kid myself that I’m going to feel this way in every moment going forward. The crucible is whether I can stay the course when something really difficult arises. What I have seen is how big the payoff can be.

What’s right in your life?

More blog posts by Tony Schwartz
Tony Schwartz

TONY SCHWARTZ

Tony Schwartz is the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything. Become a fan of The Energy Project on Facebook and connect with Tony atTwitter.com/TonySchwartz and Twitter.com/Energy_Project.

How the Pursuit of Happiness Makes Us Crazy

October 2, 2012


By Barbara and Shannon Kelley, Huffington Post

I got to thinking about all this happiness business the other day via a piece in the New York Times that suggests that our all-American pursuit of happiness leads to nothing but angst. The writer, Ruth Whippman, a Brit who recently relocated to California, contrasts British grim to American happy and says she’ll take grim any day. She starts her piece with a quote from Eric Hoffer — “The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness” — then sails right in:

Happiness in America has become the overachiever’s ultimate trophy. A vicious trump card, it outranks professional achievement and social success, family, friendship and even love. Its invocation can deftly minimize others’ achievements (“Well, I suppose she has the perfect job and a gorgeous husband, but is she really happy?”) and take the shine off our own.

Point taken. We have tied ourselves up in knots of late by using happiness as the barometer of who we are, what we are and what we’re doing. And we find that no matter what, the scale is such that we don’t measure up. How could we? I can’t even define happiness. Can you?

Nonetheless, this endless quest for what we consider our birthright lands us smack in the land of “yeah, but…” A good job that pays the rent? A job that’s maybe even engaging for some part of the day? Yeah, but… If I put in a few more hours, if I got that raise, if I had a better title, if i didn’t have to grade those papers… Then I’d be happy.

Family and friends? We had a blast the last time we got together, but if only we could do it more often. And, you know, the last time the wine was kinda sub-par….

Great kids? Well, yeah… He/she plays well with others, and indeed rocks the playground, but, sigh, we’d all be happier if he/she could get into that Chinese immersion program, get on the select soccer team, score off the charts in math or get into that pricey school that everyone is talking about.

You get the drift. We’ve bought into the idea that happy is measurable. For women especially, it breaks down like this: A great career with a fat paycheck and smug title. Exotic vacations (cue Facebook). Adorable family that shows well in the Christmas card photo. And, of course, scores well, too. Sexy as all get-out (and thin to boot). A closet full of killer boots. (Okay, my own personal preference. Note: I do not measure up.) Yoga class and book club and granite in the kitchen.

Is it all about the shoulds? The quest for perfect? For most of us, the package is unachievable. But even if we could lay claim to the whole checklist, there’s always this: The next big thing. Call it the “If-then” fallacy that keeps us living in the future and blame it on what Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes in Stumbing on Happiness as our uncanny ability to blow it when it comes to predicting what will make us happy. There’s something else at play here, too: the American culture itself. As we wrote inUndecided:

What gets us into trouble is a culture that is both acquisitional and aspirational, leaving us in a constant drool for the Next. Big. Thing. But once we get it, guess what? We’re happy for five minutes, and then we’re off on the chase. We’re back to square one, lusting again over that greener grass. And here’s an irony: Once we’ve jumped the fence, we sometimes wonder if what we had in the first place might have been what we really wanted after all.

Consumer culture doesn’t help. We’re constantly fed the message that we will be happy, sexy, thin, loved — pick one — if we buy the new and improved face cream, wheat bread, plastic wrap. Do we ever see the message that we have enough? Sure, we’re smart enough to know that ads in glossy magazines do not promise happiness, but the subtext spills over: This thing will make you happy. Get the externals in order. Happiness to follow.

But anyway, back to Whitman, whose column sparked this riff. From her across-the-pond perspective, she has us down:

Since moving to the States just shy of a year ago, I have had more conversations about my own happiness than in the whole rest of my life. The subject comes up in the park pushing swings alongside a mother I met moments before, with the man behind the fish counter in the supermarket… While the British way can be drainingly negative, The American approach to happiness can spur a debilitating anxiety. The initial sense of promise and hope is seductive, but it soon gives way to a nagging slow-burn feeling of inadequacy. Am I happy? Happy enough? As happy as everyone else? Could I be doing more about it? Even basic contentment feels like failure when pitched against capital-H Happiness. The goal is so elusive and hard to define, it’s impossible to pinpoint when it’s even been achieved — a recipe for neurosis.

Bingo. In our lifelong chase after the impossible ideal we can’t even define, we’ve blinded ourselves to what happiness may be all about after all: a certain contentment with what is. An ability to savor the moment. We might even get there if we could ratchet down our expectations.

Do a “This is Your Life” Slideshow…for Yourself!

June 4, 2012


Breathe & Smile

You’ve probably made them yourself for other people.  Maybe a friend was getting married, moving away, or retiring.  You collected the best photos of that person, put some nostalgic music behind it, and everyone cried, even you!  It may have been a touch corny, but it served it purpose.  That person and everyone appreciated what a wonderful, glorious life that person has led.  Regardless of circumstances, there’s always something to celebrate.

Now I want you to do the same thing but for you, using your own photos.  You don’t need a special occasion, in fact, it’s probably better there’s not.  Take the best photos from all your trips, schools, friends’ parties, holidays, family, etc, choose your own apropo music, and let it fly.

Why?  Because there are times that you probably aren’t so high on life, times you don’t think you went down the right path, and time you’re wondering where you went wrong.  You didn’t.  You’re OK, and you have the photos to prove it.  Despite whatever long, strange trip its been, you have moments where you’ve reaped the bounty of life.  I just want you to remind yourself sometimes.

Give it a try.  It’ll be fun.


Substitute ‘Have To’ with ‘Get To’.  It will change your whole perspective.

Substitute ‘Have To’ with ‘Get To’

April 26, 2012

One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and Finally Let the Sunshine In

April 22, 2012


Happiness radiates from within

KEVIN CULLEN Commercial-News

Todd Patkin had it all: the respect of his community, leadership of his family’s growing auto-parts business, and a great wife and son.

But over time, he became paralyzed by depression and anxiety. At 36, he suffered a nervous breakdown.

His new book, “Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and — Finally — Let the Sunshine In” is a primer in how to set priorities, establish limits and find happiness.

Several of his suggestions hit home with me, for instance:

— “You have to choose and prioritize happiness — it doesn’t just happen.”

Long ago, someone told me that real happiness requires three things: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. You may live in a shanty in ol’ Shantytown, but if you have a job, a dream, and the right girl, life is sweet.

— “Striving for work/life balance is worth its weight in gold.”

I once knew a reporter who earned four weeks of paid vacation each year, but took only one week; the other three were forfeited. His job was everything to him. He acted as though the newspaper would shut down if he weren’t there. He’s gone now, but the paper has never missed an issue. Lesson learned.

— “We are our own worst critics.”

Comparisons are corrosive. No matter who you are, there always will be lots of people smarter than you, richer than you, better looking than you. Run with your blinkers on.

— “It’s never too late to start living in the present.”

It’s one thing to be nostalgic, and another to constantly relive mistakes, become mired in disappointments and wallow in regret. When someone asked George Burns what he would change in his long life, he replied that he wouldn’t change a thing … but he would like to live it all over again, just as it was, one more time.

— “Focusing on what you’re good at is best for everyone.”

I once knew a Nobel Prize laureate. In his 90s, he still came to work each day, directing post-doctoral students in his university laboratory. He wasn’t on the payroll; he loved chemistry. The happiest people are those who have a knack for something and find a way to make a living doing it. As Robert Frost said, vocation and avocation should be one, “as two eyes make one sight.”

— “Exercise is worth its weight in therapy.”

Physical exertion — even scrubbing a floor — can cleanse the mind, ease sadness and mend a broken heart.

— “Being friendly is a good investment.”

Strangers used to make eye contact and say “hi” to each other on the street. Now, it seems, they’re glued to their smart phones and iPods. We need to unplug, smile, and radiate kindness.

— “A grateful heart is a happy heart.”

We Americans are the luckiest people on earth, but we love to gripe, gripe, gripe. Our country isn’t perfect, but nobody’s leaving.

Danville native Kevin Cullen is a former Commercial-News reporter. Reach him at irishhiker@aol.com.

#Happiness Actions

April 22, 2012


By RYAN M. NIEMIEC, PSY.D

Need a happiness boost? Discover your signature strengths and use them in a new way each day. Research has found this intervention gives a boost to happiness and a decrease to depression, with some studies finding effects lasting up to six months.

Below are examples of how this intervention might be applied with each of the 24 universal, character strengths of the VIA Classification.

I created a Pinterest board that provides images for many of these “new ways,” including at least one image for each strength. Visit ithere.

After you take the VIA Survey, consider one of the following ideas with one of your signature strengths:

1)      Creativity:

  1. Think of one of your problems and two possible solutions. Present the solutions non-verbally as an act or mime to someone.
  2. Turn an inanimate object (e.g., like paperclips, toothpicks) into something meaningful.

2)      Curiosity:

  1. Try a new food for the first time, preferably from a culture different than your own.
  2. Take a different route home and explore a new area or neighborhood.

3)      Judgment (critical thinking):

  1. Watch a political program from the opposite point of view of your own, and keep an open mind.
  2. Ask one or two clarifying questions of someone who has a different approach to life or different beliefs than you (e.g., a vegetarian).

4)      Love of learning:

  1. Read some of the original works of Gandhi online.
  2. Consider your favorite subject matter. Do an Internet search and surprise yourself by discovering something new about the topic.

5)      Perspective (wisdom):

  1. For one of your interactions today: First, listen closely. Second, share your ideas and thoughts.
  2. Consider the wisest quotation you have come across. Think of one way you can live more true to that quote.

6)      Bravery (courage):

  1. Take on a new adventure or hobby that fits with one of your areas of interest.
  2. Consider one of your personal fears. Take one small, healthy action toward facing it right now.

7)      Perseverance:

  1. Complete a small project that you have been putting off.
  2. Set a new goal today, list 2 potential obstacles that may come up, and ways that you will overcome them.

8)      Honesty:

  1. Write a poem that expresses an inner truth.
  2. Contact a family member or friend whom you have told a “partial” truth and give them the complete details.

9)      Zest:

  1. Exert your energy in a unique way – jump on a bed, run in place, practice yoga or body stretching, or chase around a child or pet.
  2. Express your energy through an outfit, pair of shoes, and/or accessories that are striking and colorful.

10)    Love:

  1. Surprise somebody with a small gift that shows you care (e.g., flowers, a Starbucks coffee).
  2. Tell someone about a strength you saw them use and how much you value it. Words of affirmation are a powerful, verbal force for the expression of love.

11)    Kindness:

  1. Put coins in someone’s parking meter that has run out of money.
  2. Stop by a hospital or nursing home and offer to visit with someone who is lonely.

12)    Social intelligence:

  1. Start up a conversation with someone whom you normally would not say much more to than typical pleasantries. This person might be the woman at the checkout counter, a telemarketer, or a new employee.
  2. Express a feeling of frustration, disappointment, or nervousness in a healthy, direct way that someone can easily understand.

13)    Teamwork:

  1. Spot and express appreciation for the strengths expressed by your team members.
  2. Savor a positive team interaction from the past by replaying it in your mind; share it at a team meeting.

14)    Fairness:

  1. Look for beings (e.g., people, animals) that are cast aside or typically held in disgust and go out of your way to treat them right.
  2. Include someone in a conversation who is typically excluded from groups or is a newcomer.

15)    Leadership:

  1. Discuss with someone who reports to you about how they can align their top character strength more in their work.
  2. Gather and lead a group to help support a cause you believe in.

16)    Forgiveness:

  1. Let go of a minor irritant or a grudge.
  2. Give yourself permission to make a mistake.

17)    Humility:

  1. Consider an interaction that typically involves you doing more talking/sharing and flip it to where the other person talks/shares more.
  2. Ask someone you trust to give you feedback on your struggles and growth areas.

18)    Prudence:

  1. Before you make a decision that is typically very easy, take one full minute to think about it before you take action.
  2. Write down your plans for each hour of the remainder of the day, no matter how trivial.

19)    Self-regulation:

  1. The next time you feel irritated or nervous today, pause and breathe with the experience for a count of 10 breathes.
  2. Monitor all the food and drinks you put in your body. Write it down on a tracking sheet.

20)    Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence:

  1. Go outside and stand still in a beautiful environment for 20 minutes.
  2. Listen to a song or piece of music that is viewed as extraordinary; allow yourself to marvel at the talent that went into producing it.

21)    Gratitude:

  1. Tell someone “thanks” who deserves it and is typically not recognized.
  2. Share your appreciation on a Post-It Note that you put on someone’s desk as a surprise or send it in a spontaneous e-mail.

22)    Hope:

  1. Consider a problem or struggle you are having. Write down two optimistic, realistic thoughts that bring comfort.
  2. Watch a movie that promotes a message of hope and think about how the message applies to your life.

23)    Humor:

  1. Do something spontaneous and playful around another person (e.g., saying something silly, contorting your body in a weird way, or telling a funny story or joke).
  2. Watch a classic comedy show you haven’t seen before and laugh as much as possible.

24)    Spirituality:

  1. Read about a religion/spirituality different from your own and look for ways in which the core messages parallel one another.
  2. Contemplate the “sacredness” of this present moment. Allow yourself to find meaning in the moment.

Remember: the intervention shown to be effective is using a top strength in a new way every day (for a week) so these ideas will just get you started. You might need to use creativity and curiosity to create other new ways or you might put a twist on one of the above suggestions (e.g., the activity “surprise somebody with a small gift” might be used with different people in your life).

For more ideas, see my previous blog post that offered a ROAD MAPfor character strengths use. The action verbs – reflect, observe, appreciate, discuss, monitor, ask, and plan – can provide an endless array of options for you to use your signature strengths in new ways.

Perspective and Gratitude

April 7, 2012


Gratitude

This will make you think

Gratitude 3.0

April 4, 2012


By Jim Rettew

If you haven’t noticed a theme with me, its this…I get frustrated with the oversimplification of happiness advice.  It starts to turn into superficial, watered-down drool.  One piece of happiness advice we often hear is about gratitude.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think gratitude is a KEY to happiness.  I just think when experts say, “be more grateful”, that’s not helpful.  It’s akin to saying “lose some weight”.  Everyone would agree with both statements.  The key is always HOW?

Through a regular day, I just don’t remember to be grateful.  It’s not habitual.  What I found is…I need a trigger, something that 1) reminds me to realize how good I currently have it, and 2) happens when I’m most able to receive it.  I’ve found that this can happen when you may be most in pain.

Pain is the trigger.  A trigger has to be something disruptive.  It has to be something that is currently shaking you down.  What if every time you started down the ‘grass is greener’ mental minefield, you were triggered to remember how lucky you really have it?

With that logic, anything could be a trigger, like a ringing phone.  Why I like to use times when you’re having negative thoughts is because 1) gratitude disrupts that thought process very quickly and efficiently, and 2) its such a start contrast (a good contrast) to where you just were.  It shakes you back to reality.  It makes you actually authentically feel the gratitude, instead of it being just window dressing.  Something about the stark contrast between the negative and the positive makes it more powerful, like coming out in the sunlight after being in a dark room.

So the next time you’re comparing yourself to someone else and feeling down about it, use that event as a trigger for your own gratitude.  Try it out and tell me if you think its more effective.

50 Ways to Nurture Your #Happiness

March 30, 2012 2 Comments


By Angel of ‘Marc and Angel’s Hack Life’

Here are 50 simple ideas to get you started with nurturing your happiness.

  1. Act like today is already an awesome day. – Do so, and it will be.  Research shows that although we think that we act because of the way we feel, in fact we often feel because of the way we act.  A great attitude always leads to great experiences.  Read The How of Happiness.
  2. Make yourself smile first thing in the morning. – It’s difficult to feel down when your face is happy.  Fill your bathroom or bedroom mirror with post-it notes of your favorite quotes, goals, mantras, photos, etc., and then reflect on them for a minute or two when you first wake up.
  3. Spend time with people who make you smile. – Who nourishes and supports you?  Surround yourself with these people.  Spend time with those who reflect the person you want to be – people who do good things and make your life a little brighter simply by being in it.
  4. Try something totally new. – Go somewhere you’ve never been.  Do something you’ve never done.  It will shake up your vision of what theworld is like and give you a fresh new perspective on things.  Variety truly is the spice of life.  You can see or do something a million times, but you can only see or do it for the first time once.  As a result, first time experiences usually leave a reflective mark in our minds for the rest of our lives.  So spice it up!  The more experiences you have, the richer your life will be.
  5. Work on something that’s meaningful to you. – Engage yourself in a meaningful personal project, or pull the trigger on doing something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but haven’t yet had the resolve to do.  Life is short.  Today is the day to take action.
  6. Keep track of the things you’re grateful for. – You can’t help but feel good when you literally count your blessings.  Start a gratitude journal and express your thanks on a daily basis.
  7. Dream big. – You can do anything you set your mind to.  Visualize your dreams coming true and work at making them a reality.
  8. Listen to your inner voice. – Your instincts are good.  It’s important to listen to your own head and heart.  Don’t always listen to others.  Dowhat you know in your heart is right, for you.
  9. Trust yourself. – You are kind.  You are smart.  You are important.  Your choices are just as valid as anyone else’s.
  10. Truly appreciate those around you. – Tell your friends you adore them, say thank you and mean it, flash your biggest and most sincere smile at strangers on the street, hug people for longer than normal.  The more love you give out, the more it builds inside of you and the more you’ll get back.
  11. Give out compliments. – Give sincere praise every chance you get.  Compliment and cheer for those who deserve it.  You’ll be hitting two birds with one stone, because when the person you compliment smiles, you’ll smile too.
  12. Call an old friend and reminisce. – There are few things more satisfying than recounting some of the greatest moments of your life with your closest friends who lived these moments alongside you.
  13. Be vibrant and colorful. – Express yourself.  Inject energetic colors into the atmosphere at work and at home.  If not in dress, then in words and deeds.  The world has enough grey!  Be the antidote!  Read The Happiness Project.
  14. Be silly. – Sometimes we take ourselves entirely too seriously.  Let go.  Be spontaneous and outrageous.  Sometimes you just need a good laugh to lift your spirits.
  15. Slow down. – When you’re living your life at top speed, you’re missing most of it.  Stop and take a breath.  Look for ways to adopt a more humane pace.  Pay close attention to what you’re doing.  Don’t waste time juggling forgettable tasks.  Instead, concentrate on a few things that really matter.  Engage fully in each day.  Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  16. Be present. – Life is happening right now.  Instead of dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future, just practice being and living in the ‘now.’  You can’t learn something new or uncover a new opportunity that’s happening now if your mind is stuck in another time.  Remember, right now is the only moment guaranteed to you.  Right now is life.  Don’t miss it.
  17. Disconnect from the world for a little while. – Shut off your electronics, phone, computer and television.  So many of us use technology to distract ourselves and keep our minds busy when we would be far better served by just sitting still and learning to relax.  It’s not healthy to be plugged in and accessible 24/7.
  18. Take a deep breathing break every hour. – Take a deep breath, and another, and another.  It’s like a mini-break to reset yourself during the day.
  19. Move your body. – Run, jump, climb a tree, take a dancing class, power walk – anything that feels good that gets your blood moving.  The only limitation:  it has to be fun.  Don’t get on a treadmill if you hate the treadmill.
  20. Stretch. – Take a few minutes for a good muscle stretch.  It gets the blood moving, fires up your brain and it gives you a few moments to unwind and get grounded before you start the next task.  Plus, it just feels good too.
  21. Take a walk without a destination. – A brisk walk is a great way to get some exercise and clear your mind.  Enjoy the breeze, breathe the fresh air, and be mindful of what you see, hear and feel.
  22. At least once a week, do something that’s only for you. – Remember that hobby that you used to have time for, or that food that no one else in your house likes?  Indulge in it.  Reclaim it for yourself.
  23. Dress up and do something fun. – Get all dressed up and go out dancing, or to an event.  It’s a good way to inject a little excitement into your routine and let loose.
  24. Listen to good music. – Listen to music that motivates you.  Put on your favorite song, turn it up loud and sing.
  25. Do, watch, or listen to something that makes you laugh. – Laughter is the best medicine.  And some of the most memorable moments in your life will be moments spent in laughter.
  26. Buy or pick fresh flowers every now and then. – Brighten up your place.  The aroma and sight of flowers is comforting.
  27. Get more sunshine. – Go to the beach or park.  Bask in the warming rays of the sun.
  28. Take a hot bath. – Add some bubbles.  Sink into your tub for a long, luxurious soak at the end of the day.
  29. Get enough sleep. – Everything is harder when you’re tired.  An exhausted mind is rarely happy and productive.
  30. Stand tall. – Your spirit can’t soar when you slouch.  You will feel much more powerful and capable when you stand up straight and look the world in the eye.
  31. Declutter your space. – Purge everything in your life, both physical and mental, that you don’t honestly need, use or love.  The excess distracts you from your true intentions and bogs you down.  Read The Joy of Less.
  32. Purge bad habits and negative influences. – Anything that doesn’t nourish or support you – unhealthy foods, cigarettes, a miserable work environment, toxic people – get these things under control and do what you have to do to set boundaries and demand the highest quality of life.  You deserve it.
  33. Plan ahead. – With a few minutes of organizing your time and to-do’s, you will be better prepared to take on the day.
  34. Stop procrastinating. – Start taking action to tie loose ends.  Putting something off instantly makes it harder and scarier.
  35. Allow yourself some private time each day. – Even if it’s only for a half hour, go on a fun excursion by yourself, read a book or spend time with your pet.
  36. Get things off your chest. – Bottling everything up indefinitely will end badly.  Say what you need to say.  Do what you need to do.  Also, write in a journal.  Write down anything that calls to you, ideas, experiences, dreams, frustrations – get them out of your head and down on paper.
  37. Be kind. – Be nice to someone else.  Help them.  Trust me, it will help you smile, and you will have made the world a better place.
  38. Tell someone you love them. – We often forget to say it out loud.  It matters.
  39. Make a new friend. – People are interesting creatures, and no two people are exactly alike.  So meet someone new today.  Find out what makes them tick.  They’ll likely open your eyes to fascinating ideas and perspectives.  And you never know, they just might change your life.
  40. Spend quality time with children. – Children live by their instincts openly and without hesitation.  They are enthusiastic about life, eager to learn, and curious about everything.  Watch how they play, how they live, how they create, how they ask questions, how they daydream, etc.  Play with them and admire their innocence.
  41. Cut yourself some slack. – We sometimes hold ourselves to impossible standards and then beat ourselves up when we don’t meet them.
  42. Take pride in the hard times that you have overcome. – What didn’t kill you made you stronger.  It wasn’t easy, but you got through it.
  43. Keep your words positive. – Happiness and negativity cannot coexist.
  44. Make your home a haven. – Your home should be a place where you can take a breath and really relax.  If it isn’t, you may have some work to do.
  45. Get your finances in order. – Manage your money wisely so your money does not manage you.  Always live well below your means.
  46. Volunteer or make a donation. – Can you offer time, money, your voice or influence?  In life, you get what you put in.  Being reminded that the world is bigger than your bubble can inspire and uplift you.  When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life.  Do something that’s greater than you, something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less.  I promise, it will be an extremely rewarding experience – one you’ll likely remember forever.  If you want to make a big difference in someone’s life without leaving your computer chair, check out GoFundMe.
  47. Say “yes” to a spontaneous opportunity. – Everything in life can’t be planned.  Some of the greatest opportunities will knock on your door when you least expect them to.  Be flexible, be spontaneous, and just say “yes.”
  48. Forgive someone and reconnect with them. – Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness.  If there’s someone in your life who deserves another chance, give it to them.  If you need to apologize, do it.  Give your story together a happy ending.
  49. Read something that inspires and motivates you. – Would I be out of line if I recommended this blog.  :)
  50. Smile and notice what’s right, right now. – Everything that happens in life is neither good or bad.  It just depends on your perspective.  And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  So stay positive, appreciate the pleasant outcomes, and learn from the rest.
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