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Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

The saying goes that when Mom is happy, everyone’s happy. But in this busy world, where the ultimate luxury may be a full night’s sleep, here are seven qualities that help moms not only keep it together, but thrive. Which ones would you want to share with the favorite mom in your life?

1. Know your strengths: Happy moms recognize that “effortless perfection” is an outdated myth. Being real, authentic and present is way more fulfilling and meaningful, not to mention a much better model for your children. Focus on your strengths, and what makes you energized, not on what is “missing.”

2. De-stress: Time to de-stress is not a luxury — it is fuel for going the distance. Even a few minutes during a hectic day counts. Whether it’s through laughter, exercise, hobbies or meditation, it’s important to have a way to let go of stress. Take time to return to yourself. You and everyone around you will be happier!

3. Be gentle with yourself: Happy moms try to show compassion for themselves and to others. Mothers who, even inadvertently, put themselves down (I’m too fat, too overwhelmed, etc.) demonstrate that belief to their kids. We are all in the processof evolving. When you choose to be kind to yourself, as well as to others, it will inspire everyone around you to do the same.

4. Know when to say no: Happy mothers set healthy boundaries. This can look like prioritizing quality time with family or deciding not to take on another project that would drain all of your energy. Pleasing people, whether it is friends, relatives or colleagues, can lead to spreading yourself too thin — invest your time wisely.

5. Empower your children to help: Kids feel better when they are a contributing part of a team. Happy moms find creative ways to engage their children in helping out, whether that is assisting in putting together tomorrow’s lunch or feeding the pets. “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” ~ Anne Landers.

6. Find time for friends: Friends help you laugh at your troubles, listen when you want to talk, and remind you of who you are. Being a mother is but one of your roles; real friends help you keep your identity and perspective, and remind you to reach for your dreams.

7. Have an attitude of gratitude: Happy moms know that gratitude opens the doors of the heart. Try having everyone around the table talk about one thing they are grateful for in their lives as well as something they appreciate about the others there. “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

Thanks to LST

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http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/04/21/toronto-second-unhappiest-city-in-canada-sudbury-the-most-content.html

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Canada came in at #5

http://www.aol.com/article/2015/04/24/switzerland-is-the-happiest-country-world-happiness-report-find/21175970/?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00001348 {AUDIO]}

Thanks to LST

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5 Happiness Practices to Increase Levels of Joy

What we’re finding is that it is not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world is what shapes your reality. If we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every educational and business outcome at the same time.

These words, spoken by Shawn Achor in 2011 at TEDxBloomington, can be life-changing. They should be life-changing.

Can you imagine a world where positivity is the focus? Where every person is out looking for the positives in each situation, rather than the sadness, shame, or negativity?

So many people look at their life’s circumstances and say, “If I only had…” Yet Achor went on to say that only 10 percent of our long-term happiness is dependent on our external world and 90 percent of our long-term happiness is dependent on the way our brains processes the world. That tells us that what we perceive to be missing from our lives is not the reason for our woes. Neither the right job, best college, degree of monetary wealth, nor social circle will make us happy. Apparently we make ourselves happy… or not.

Our levels of optimism, social support, and the ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat are the greatest predictors of job successes. Maybe it’s time to think of our entire lives as our jobs. Our jobs are filling our life-cups right to the brim so that we experience every joy and benefit there is to be had; what a wonderful thought!

How can we improve our outlooks and focus more on the positives around us? Let’s all try taking these simple steps and practicing them with consistency:

  • Each night before going to bed, write down three new things for which you are grateful. Don’t just list them in your mind, but put them down on paper where you can look back and, literally, count your blessings. Doing this for 21 days will create a habit, and your brain will start looking for more things to appreciate.
  • Start a positivity journal. Each day write about one positive experience you’ve had in the last 24 hours. As with the gratitude activity, you will soon be on the lookout for those joyful events about which to write.
  • Perform random, but intentional, acts of kindness. Whether it be for a stranger, or someone in your social network, the recipient will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and you will reap the rewards of adding a dose of positivity to your life.
  • Physically exercise every day. A growing body of literature suggests that exercise, physical activity, and physical activity interventions have beneficial effects across several physical and mental health outcomes. The benefits can be found in lowered emotional reactivity and stress levels, as well as benefits to the physical aspects of our bodies, such as coronary heat issues, diabetes, or obesity.
  • Meditate daily. Meditation, even one minute each day, has been shown to help decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, while improving creativity, cognitive flexibility, and overall well-being. Plus, meditation also allows the brain to stop the ADHD-like behaviors we’ve picked up by living in such a fast-paced world, and we are soon able to focus on one task at a time, dedicating all of our brain power to the topic at hand rather than diminishing our abilities.

For most of us, these are not new ideas. They are simply habits we have failed to establish… until now. Make today a fresh start for you. Love yourself enough to realize you deserve a happy life filled with joy, gratitude, appreciation, and good health.

Isn’t it time you gave yourself this gift?

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You don’t have look farther than your Facebook wall or a news site these days to get a face full of “5 Easy Ways To Be Happy.” As a society, we have no shortage of advice on how to improve your mood or tackle symptoms of depression. With lures like “simple” or “fast” dressing our headlines, readers have every reason to believe that with the knowledge and the motivation, there is no limit to their happiness. Right?

If everything about mental health were as easy as we claim in titles, therapists like myself wouldn’t be the neurotic (yet obviously endearing) creatures that we are. As difficult as it is to admit, focusing on happiness has about as much to do with being happy as staring at a broken leg helps to heal it.

I love it when a good psychology text spins our way of thinking about mental illness into a different orbit. Jonathan Rottenberg’s The Depths changed how I think about my own self-improvement schemes and how I talk about happiness with my own clients. While self-help gurus may have the best intentions, Rottenberg warns that our extreme focus on good mood as the goal actually does us a disservice. “Setting a goal to become happier is like putting yourself on a treadmill that goes faster the harder you run,” he writes.

The war against depression still rages because we know very little about how and why people emerge from the depths. Why does therapy work for one person and not another? The same goes for medication. Thanks to the research of Rottenberg and others, however, we are beginning to discover that many of our previous assumptions about depression are dead wrong. Here’s what we’re learning.

We shouldn’t overcommit to goals that aren’t working.

So often we portray the depressed as someone who just doesn’t have the will to roll out of bed in the morning or email his resume the 3,000th time. But researchers have found that it’s not a lack of persistence that prevents a solution, but rather the opposite. We’re so sure that we won’t be happy if we don’t get what we want that we prolong the struggle. If you’re skeptical, think of all the people lining up to be on reality shows, determined they will become famous no matter what.

In nature, animals that are able to stop a tactic when it isn’t working are more likely to survive. People with depression have a harder time disengaging, however, as they tend to overcommit themselves to goals. This is why perfectionists are at higher riskfor mental illness than people who can separate and change course when they need to do so. It makes sense when you think about it. The more stubborn I am about getting up at 6 a.m. to do yoga, the worse I feel about hitting the snooze button over and over. Whoops.

Bad mood is not a character flaw.

The reality is that we wouldn’t have such a spectrum of moods if the lower end didn’t serve some sort of purpose. We hunker down when things get rough, so it’s only natural our bodies would try and conserve energy when we’re depressed. Our evolutionary heritage built us to think and react to a decreased mood, but what helped us survive on the savannah doesn’t necessarily keeping us whistling to the radio on our commute to work.

By treating negative feelings like they are just symptoms to be cured or ghosts to be busted, we may actually be feeding them like stray cats. People are at lower risk for depression when they are able to accept negative feelings when they happen, rather than beat themselves up about not being able to change their mood. In other words, they don’t feel bad about feeling bad. Self-blame about mood is a distinctly human phenomenon. Your dog doesn’t feel bad about being pouty, does he? He just owns it.

We should take wellness seriously, and be creative.

We spend a lot of time gathering ingredients for happiness, but we don’t take mental health as seriously as we should. By fixating on treating depression with the medical model rather than a wellness model, we miss an important piece of the puzzle. In short, we lack the flexibility and creativity needed to live the best life.

So rather than aiming for sheer bliss seven days a week, or even a static chipper mood, science hints that a better goal for yourself is adaptability. This means being willing to change course and pivot when a strategy isn’t working. And above all, practicing self-compassion when you can’t lift yourself out of the depths and need to ask for help.

In the grand scheme of things we are destined to skate back and forth across the spectrum of emotions. A world of perpetually happy people is a world without plot, a world without Shakespeare or another Shonda Rhimes pilot. So we might as well stop pretending that there are “5 Easy Ways” to stop what defines our humanness. There’s nothing simple about us, and that’s what makes us such a great story.

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Happiness is good for you.

Psychology research shows that happy people make more money, perform better at work, live longer, and have better marriages than everyone else.

But the causes of happiness are elusive — philosophers have been trying to figure it out for thousands of years.

Over the past few decades psychological science has found a few consistent trends in what makes people happy.  As  the Gym Lion blog reports , happiness is less a matter of what you have than the things you do.

Here are a few of the top happiness-inducing behaviours:

Committing to goals

Like chocolate and peanut butter, goals and happiness are mutually reinforcing. The process is simple enough: Happy people have lots of energy, and that energy can be put toward pursuing their latest quest.

Psychologists say that the more we see a goal as a part of ourselves, the more it’s self-concordant — meaning we’ll bring more  energy toward tackling it. University of Zurich psychologist Bettina Wiese saysthat “empirical research has repeatedly shown that striving toward self-concordant goals strengthens the link between goal progress and well-being.”

Finding meaning in your work

In 1997, Yale organizational psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski and her colleagues published an oft-cited paper about how people relate to their work. There were three ways of thinking about your work:

• A job: “Focus on financial rewards and necessity rather than pleasure or fulfillment; not a major positive part of life”

• A career: “Focus on advancement”

• A calling: “Focus on enjoyment of fulfilling, socially useful work”

Their finding: The people who found meaning in their work were happiest.

Spending time with people you care about

While it may sound like a Hallmark card, the research confirms that spending time with the people you love (or can at least tolerate) will make you happier. Interestingly, being at the “center” of a social network is a good predictor of well-being.

Cultivating a long-term relationship

The  New York Times recently reported that  “being married makes people happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who remain single — particularly during the most stressful periods, like midlife crises.”

The reason? Two people are more resilient than one.

Eating the fresh stuff

A 2013 study titled “Many apples a day keep the blues away” found that eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables had a positive correlation with happiness.

Specifically, the young people who ate seven to eight servings of fruits or vegetables reported higher happiness levels than their less-nourished peers.

Getting in exercise

A 8,000-person Dutch study of people between 16 and 65 years old made some very strong claims about the virtues of exercise. “Exercisers were more satisfied with their life and happier than non-exercisers at all ages,” the authors concluded. If you’re trying to work out more but can’t quite find the time, legendary psychologist Walter Mischel recommends “if-then” planning.

Buying experiences

According to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, if money doesn’t buy happiness, then you’re not spending it right. Chief among his spending principles is the insight that you should buy experiences instead of things.

In a survey of over 1,000 Americans, 57% of respondents said that they derived greater happiness from an experiential purchase, like a trip, concert, or other life event, over a material purchase, like a car, appliance, or other object. We like experiences more because we get to anticipate and remember them, the research says, and we appreciate them longer.

“After devoting days to selecting the perfect hardwood floor to install in a new condo, homebuyers find their once beloved Brazilian cherry floors quickly become nothing more than the unnoticed ground beneath their feet,” Gilbert and his colleagues say. “In contrast, their memory of seeing a baby cheetah at dawn on an African safari continues to provide delight.”

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Does life ever sometimes seem like one big long to-do list?

With too much to do and not enough time to do it, life can easily become a grind. We often think that an easier life would be a happier life, but in many cases that’s not so. Once you get beyond food and shelter, humans have two fundamental needs, connection and meaning. Parenting expert Amy McCready refers to the two big needs as belonging and significance.

The reason a life of endless to-dos feels hollow, is not because there’s too much to do, it’s because none of it is emotionally satisfying. Without meaning, or connection, life is flat. The secret to making your life happier is sometimes as simple as a shift in perspective.

Here are three groups of people that can help you push the reset button. Word of warning, these are often groups that others shy away from. But I promise you if you spend some time connecting with these groups, you’ll start seeing your own life in a context that improves your daily experience.

1. Customers/constituents
When your job feels hollow, connect with the people on the receiving end of your organization’s work to help you dial into the larger purpose of your job. If you work in a school system, spend some time with students. Find out what they enjoy about their days, and what they plan to do with their lives. If you work in accounting, get out and talk with some customers. Ask them why they buy your organization’s products and how your company helps them.

2. The less fortunate
You know the old parable, I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, then I met a man with no feet. A minister friend of mine used to say she hated that story because it was often used to dismiss problems. She said, “You still don’t have any shoes, meeting the guy with no feet just put your problem into perspective.”

But sometimes perspective is exactly what we need. Every time I take my family to feed the homeless we come back with a greater sense of our own humanity. It’s not about feeling sorry for others. Whenever we’ve worked in those situations, we’ve made a point to connect with dignity and emotion.

We come away thinking, wow, we’re part of a bigger family of humans; one cosmic role of the dice and our roles could be reversed. Suddenly too many events in a single week becomes a blessing instead of a hassle. If you want to experience more gratitude and a greater connection to your own humanity, volunteer for a day working directly with those less fortunate.

3. Toddlers
Yes, I know they have runny noses and kick the back of your seat on airplanes. But children know how to live in the moment and have fun. As my own children become adults, I can easily find myself turning into a curmudgeon. When I complained about some kids in a restaurant, a friend of mine said, “It’s just one step away from yelling, ‘Get off my lawn.'”

Yet, I’ve found that when I actually take the time to speak to young children, I always leave the experience smiling. It’s become my go-to reset button in airports, if the flight is delayed, or the bags are lost, smiling and speaking to a rambunctious toddler reminds you, life is a party, and you were meant to enjoy it, no matter what the grownups think.

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