Category Archives: “My Happy”

LOVE

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My first thought was to title this post “A Happy Surprise”, but after thinking about how to write about this happy surprise, I felt the word “Love” was a better fit. If you are new to “My Happy”, welcome! “My Happy” began as a simple scrapbook, in a sense, of the things in my life that add to, strengthen, or create my happiness. It is a way for me to focus on the positives giving me strength, clarity, and appreciation for every day experiences. As I began this journey, I was testing out the positive psychology practices that I had learned.  In doing so,  I wrote “That Makes Me Happy!” a children’s story.

“That Makes Me Happy!” was written and illustrated with love, for my children, and for children everywhere. A passion emerged from my life experiences to show children that we (adults) value happiness and that we love them, whether they are our own child, our neighbor, our friend’s children, our relative, our student, we care about them and want them to feel loved and happy.  

This blog also gave me a doorway to the world. I could connect with people all over the world. I took a chance and reached out to Madame Corinne, a teacher in France.  There was no one to tell me it was right or my story was going to be well received. I only knew in my heart that this story could bring smiles and love. I trusted myself and knew that sharing “That Makes Me Happy!” is sharing my love, and my love is the best thing I can share, right?

Madame Corrine an open-minded, kind, wise teacher accepted my story and used it as a part of her happiness project she had planned for her elementary students. Madame Corinne shares my belief of the importance of teaching children about their ability to create their happiness. Please read about her happiness project here Madame Corinne’s Happiness Project.  Madame Corinne and I have continued to e-mail and share our life experiences and I look forward to learning more from our friendship.

The experience of sharing the story and knowing it was included in a happiness project has been such a gift to me and my family. Love certainly comes back to you and this experience truly came back to me through an amazing surprise from a special teacher and class! Madame Corinne’s class collected their beautiful drawings of happy thoughts they devoted time to during the school year. They created a book “101 Things That Make Us Happy” and sent it to me! I cannot describe in words the happiness I felt when I received the book in the mail. I was close to tears when I realized the children had sent me their original drawings and I saw their happy, loving words.

 

Madame Corinne and her class also felt happy to give such a treasure to me. I would say we all shared much happiness and love. The students made a difference sharing their own happy thoughts. What an amazing lesson for the students to learn.

Thank you, Madame Corinne and all the children for the most precious happiness book ever! I look forward to sharing it. You have all inspired me to keep sharing “That Makes Me Happy!” and creating my happiness because we all deserve to be happy and loved.

“My Happy” readers, I hope this story inspires you to create your happiness and look for opportunities to share your love. I would be happy to hear and share your stories, too. You may comment below or you can e-mail me at thatmakesmehappy@yahoo.com 

 

Websites to be inspired by:

http://www.actionforhappiness.org/

http://www.lifevestinside.com/

 

 

Happy International Day of Happiness!

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Happy International Day of Happiness!

International Day of Happiness

Monday March 20, 2017

This year I am bringing you a video which explains the International Day of Happiness. Happiness is for each of us. Let’s take even the smallest action today, like a blog post, time for fun, extra hugs, or any act of kindness to encourage everyone with ways to be happy and positive. Being negative or neutral doesn’t take much effort, unfortunately. Being positive and happy takes effort and time. Remember to take time for yourself to focus on the things that help you to be happy, you deserve it!

Please take a minute to watch this video to be inspired by people around our beautiful world.

Take the pledge: I will think happy thoughts and I will do what I can do to make the world a happier place. 🙂

You can also visit http://www.dayofhappiness.net to learn more about 10 Keys to Happier Living

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The United Nations, UNICEF and The Smurfs have teamed up to teach that even the smallest smurf can make a difference! You can watch this video to learn more…

Visit http://www.globalgoals.org/worldslargestlesson To join UNICEF and Team Smurfs to make the world a happier place visit http://www.SmallSmurfsBigGoals.com and celebrate World Happiness Day with the United Nations and Team Smurfs on March 20th.

I hope this made your day happier! Thank you for reading “My Happy”!

#happyacts

 

 

 

What’s In Your Cornucopia?

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Thank you for reading My Happy! Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Here is the pdf to print and color your own. 🙂  scan_20161122-3 Send it to thatmakesmehappy@yahoo.com and I will share it on “My Happy”.

“That Makes Me Happy!” News

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“That Makes Me Happy!” has really done just that. It has made me happy.  Many of you have been asking how things are going with my children’s book. After the book launch, opportunities for volunteering to share my book and teach the lesson it holds fell into place. Volunteering and focusing on my family filled my time and this blog took a back seat.  Now it is time to catch up.

My enthusiasm for the science of happiness resulted in writing “That Makes Me Happy!” a story that teaches children they can cultivate their own happiness. At the end of the story children can make a “Happy Ring” to practice the strategies which are deep breaths, smiling, and thinking a happy thought.  By reading the story to children, adults can show children we value well-being as much as academics and achievements.

This past school year I volunteered to teach the lesson from my story at my oldest son’s school. As I had read the story in my youngest children’s class the previous school year.  His school had a set time every week to bring health and wellness education to their students. Awesome, right?  The science behind happiness lesson fit right in.  Not ever having taught more than a classroom size of 31 students it was a new experience for me. I was asked to teach the lesson to each grade. There were 100 students in each grade.  Keeping a group that size engaged and interested definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I wished that I could simply read my story and make “Happy Rings” but that wouldn’t fly with these older students (4th, 5th, and 6th graders).  20160802_122551

 

While creating the lesson, I thought back to what really amazed me in the research.  Richard Davidson’s research with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama was top on the list. thRichard Davidson’s research focuses on the brain-emotion connection. When the Dalai Lama heard of his research he urged Richard Davidson to study kindness and compassion. “He said: ‘You’ve been using the tools of modern neuroscience to study depression, and anxiety, and fear.  Why can’t you use those same tools to study kindness and compassion?’  Data from brain scans of Tibetan monks were studied. The monks observed had a regime of meditating 8 hours a day, some had done so for 20 years.  The findings led to the understanding that meditative practices and practicing kindness and compassion result in a brain that is more capable of change, in theory becoming more resilient.

“Rather than think of the brain as a static organ, or one that just degenerates with age, it’s better understood as an organ that is constantly reshaping itself, is being continuously influenced, wittingly or not, by the forces around us.”  Richard Davidson 

Brain plasticity, mirror neurons, and calming jars…oh my!   I brought the lesson to life by using student volunteers.  Teaching a group of 100 students was a challenge for me. Did I already say that? Teaching your own class is much different from teaching a large group of students you do not know. Using strategies like positive self-talk, visualizing the lesson going well, deep breaths, and having a growth mindset kept me on track.  I also had support from a few teachers with each grade.  Once I had taught the first group of 100 students, I felt proud of myself and realized it helped me to grow. It felt like such an accomplishment to have taught this lesson to my son and his peers.  Thank you to the staff and students of Proctor Elementary School.

My cousin, Helen, a third-grade teacher was very excited about my story. I offered to read it to her class. In April Saint Joseph’s school welcomed me to share my story with 4 classes, kindergarten, first, second, and third grade! Reading my story, sharing author secrets, and creating “Happy Rings” together created my happy! Seeing the smiles, the interest, receiving inquisitive questions, the excitement about using “Happy Rings” is truly priceless! Thank you to Mrs. Fitzgerald, all the staff and children at Saint Joseph’s school.

My more recent news for “That Makes Me Happy!” is it has traveled overseas! “That Makes Me Happy!” will be read in classrooms in France, India, and possibly Germany!20160802_131341 (1)

 

 

 

“That Makes Me Happy!” is doing just that, making me happy. I hope it is making many people happy. In fact if you have read the story and made “Happy Rings” please e-mail me how many children made the “Happy Rings” at: thatmakesmehappy@yahoo.com.  I will be keeping track of how many are made. So far, there have been a little over 100 Happy Rings made. I look forward to seeing that number grow. I am also happy to have taught over 400 children that they can cultivate their own happiness and a few strategies to begin with: deep breaths, smiling often, and thinking happy thoughts.

Did I imagine all this when I took my first “baby step” which was starting this blog? No, I did not. I knew I wanted to share this wonderful information with friends, family, and especially children. I am glad I found a way using many of the strategies I have been writing about!

Thank you all for reading My Happy, you are a big part of this!

A Bird’s Eye View

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A Bird’s Eye View

A unique opportunity presented itself to our family this past June.  Having a lovely Forsythia Wreath on our front door was not only appealing to our visitors, but to two very intelligent nest builders. My family discovered a bird’s nest carefully crafted on the wreath laying against our front glass storm door giving us a bird’s eye view of 4 baby birds! It was a perfect spot for the family of birds as it provided much shelter. The birds inspired learning, a song, kindness, and amazement.  My family and I learned baby birds grow and leave the nest within a matter of weeks. My daughter was inspired to sing an original song to the baby birds, our kind construction crew worked around the birds until they flew away, and lastly it was truly amazing to watch the baby birds’ journey from newborn without feathers to feathered fliers.  This was definitely an experience that created much happiness!

Watch their transformation paired with an original song by Juliet.

 

20160610_145257We discovered the new baby birds.

20160610_152751Our cats were also very interested.20160616_162123 20160620_113538 Each bird’s beautiful feathers came in.

20160621_134538 This was the last bird to leave the nest. 🙂

Please feel free to share your happy experiences, I would love to hear about them!

 

A Custom Bracelet For Me?

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A Custom Bracelet For Me?

Have you ever wanted a piece of jewelry that you could see in your imagination, but could not find in a store? I was feeling this way as it has become increasingly important to me to be mindful. I could imagine a bracelet to be worn as a reminder of what I hold important.

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”  Greater Good Science Center

This is not an easy task in our day to day lives. It is unfortunate, but sometimes my mind wanders, I worry needlessly, I react instead of responding, yes, it is true. As much as I am aware how much better life can be when we are mindful, it takes practice not to fall back on old habits.

I learned the Chinese symbol for mindfulness means “presence of heart”. This reminded me of all the hearts that have been given to me since I was a child.  When I was a tween my friend, Susan, gave me a small porcelain heart jewelry box with blue flowers on it. In fact, oIMG_20160512_173125041_HDRver the years, I received many heart boxes and I still have the small collection. I was also given heart necklaces in all shapes and colors. Another kind friend, Carolyn, gave me a her own heart precious stone because she knew I was going through a tough time.  IMG_20160512_173153239_HDRHearts have been present in my life and thoughtfully given to me with love, leading me to visualize a heart bracelet with the words “presence of heart” written on the inside.

I was looking for a piece as an expression, a way to remind myself to be mindful, to follow my heart, and a simple way to start a conversation. With that said, I asked Lisa, a jewelry designer I am fortunate to know, to design this bracelet idea for me. I was unsure of the cost or if she could visualize what I was trying to describe.  Lisa listened, sketched and we discussed what I wanted. We also discussed a “price point”.  A “price point” is the range you would like to spend. Depending on the metals used the price could be higher or lower. I also wanted a specific heart shape incorporated into the piece. A heart with a lattice type of design. This would have increased the cost if Lisa needed to design that heart shape. Luckily and surprisingly, Lisa had heart charms from Australia with the design I was thinking of. After discussing my book, my thinking behind it and all the work I have been doing with my blog and volunteering. I wanted a low cost version of my bracelet idea, as well.  A similar piece that would be a reminder to following one’s heart and dreams.

Lisa surprised me by having the bracelet ready quickly as she knew I would love to wear it at my book launch which was coming up at the time.

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When I got her call that it was ready, I was very excited to see it. Driving over to the jewelry store I felt so fortunate that “little ole’ me” would have a very own custom piece of jewelry designed by Lisa Scala!IMG_20160512_172904037

IMG_20160513_094432998It was BEAUTIFUL and even better than I had imagined. Lisa stayed true to what I had described, adding her flair to it.  I love wearing the bracelet, it really does remind me to stay mindful, follow my heart, and opens conversations with children and friends. Lisa also designed these necklaces and bracelets for me.  I hope my work encourages others to follow their heart and dreams.

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Lisa Scala

About the Artist

 

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“Lisa Scala is a gifted designer whose unique collection of handmade jewelry and accessories has delighted customers for over 25 years.

Her one-of-a-kind pieces reflect a life-long passion for art, natural beauty and vintage charm. As she puts it, “The refined simplicity of my designs is inspired by my observation and love of nature, combined with my upbringing in the antiques trade.”

A recognized jewelry artist—with a degree in Jewelry and Metalsmithing—Lisa has received awards from multiple arts organizations, and her works have been featured at high-end galleries across the US.” Lisascala.com

If you love these pieces, like I do, please visit Lisa’s gallery or visit her website at http://www.lisascala.com to see more of her unique designs or to create your own custom piece of jewelry.

Having a custom piece of jewelry possible for myself was a happy surprise!

Dear My Happy Readers, Thank You

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IMG_20151123_080218039This is an example of a “Gratitude Letter”, one of many happiness practices that I have been learning about in the  “The Science of Happiness” course, UC Berkeley.  (I included a typed version at the end of this post.)

We were asked to write a gratitude letter after viewing a video of people who were asked to do the same. We were also asked to read the letter to the person we were writing to. Both the act of writing and reading the letter have been shown to improve health and happiness in the writer of the letter and the recipient. The people in the video were only told to write the letter at first. After they wrote the letter they were given a phone to call the person they wrote the letter to. Most everyone reacted very surprised and a little embarrassed. Sometimes we are less reserved when we write to someone as opposed to speaking to them directly. It was a fun video to watch, also very touching.

Gratitude is something my parents felt very strongly about. Both their families had faced many struggles including the Great Depression. My mother and father instilled in each of us how lucky we all were and that we should always be thankful. Thankful we were together, thankful we had a warm home, thankful for our loving extended family, thankful for our clothes, and thankful for three meals a day.  As an adult, I see what a gift this was. Although we faced some very difficult times, we were happier than we would have been if we didn’t appreciate what we had. I think this is why I found this happiness practice to be enjoyable, natural feeling, and of great value.

I appreciated learning about this happiness practice and thought you might like to give it a try. The letter to all of you is not exactly what the instructors had in mind.  😉 I did write another to a long time friend.

The following were the guidelines given to us:

Choose a person who you feel grateful to. Someone who made an impact in your life, but you may never have expressed your gratitude.

Write them a letter explaining why you feel that way (putting pen to paper feels better, somehow, than typing it).  Include how they helped you and how it still means so much to you today.

Try to meet in person to read the letter to them. Notice their expression and their emotions as well as your own.

If you cannot do this in person, you can try skyping, facetime, or like the old days, a phone call. You can still hear their responses.

 

I also learned another way to strengthen gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal.  Researchers have found that keeping a gratitude journal increases happiness. After conducting additional research in this area researchers discovered that the people who wrote in their journals once a week as opposed to three times a week were happier. Sometimes more isn’t better. The best happiness practices are the kind we enjoy, we can do without stress, and you believe it can make a difference to your happiness.

Simply telling people in your life why you appreciate them is a wonderful way to increase your happiness as well as theirs. I know many of us are not only thankful on Thanksgiving, but all year long.

Let me know if you try the Gratitude Letter, I would be very grateful! 🙂

To learn more about how gratitude improves health and happiness or to learn more about “The Science of Happiness” course  visit:

http://www.greatergood.berkeley.edu

Look for “Core Themes” and go to “Gratitude”

“The Science of Happiness” will be re-launching on January 5th 2016 “A free online course exploring the roots of a happy, meaningful life, Co-taught by the GGSC’s Dacher Kether and Emiliana Simon-Thomas. Up to 16 CE Credit hours available.” Greater Good Science Center

 

Typed version of my letter to you:

Dear My Happy Readers,

Thank you! I am so grateful you take time from your busy lives to read my blog posts.  I am so fortunate to have learned through writing comes healing, gratitude, learning, growing, connecting, and so much more.  It is an amazing feeling when you read, comment, share or like something I wrote! Thank you again for reading and being positive.  May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving (if you are in the states) or a wonderful week if you are not.

With Gratitude,

Tiffany

 

 

Stop Learning, Start Thinking, and Create!

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“Stop Learning, Start Thinking, and Create!” Jacob Barnett

Below you will find a most inspiring Ted talk by a teen, Jacob Barnett! I am often searching through Ted talks in areas of my interests. I happen upon Jacob Barnett’s talk and was truly amazed. While most people will be amazed by this young person’s genius, I am amazed by his enthusiasm, humor, and happiness! Jacob lives his life focused on his passion, not his grades, IQ, or achievements. He is focused on what he loves, yet he’s not even sharing that subject (quantum physics), he is inspiring us to stop learning, think, and create. My writing would never do this talk justice, please watch it below.

If you haven’t heard of Ted talks…….

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After watching the video you have learned that Jacob has autism. He speaks of the difficulties his parents encountered because of his developmental delays which included an inability to communicate and interact like a typically developing child.  The Barnett family refused to accept that their son would never learn or speak. Kristine Barnett’s book “The Spark” shares her story of staying focused on her little boy’s “spark”.

Whatever drew Jacob’s interest would be what she would use to try to connect her son to her world.  With that focus, much love,  creating childhood memories (in the midst of therapies), and carving a new path to educate her son, Jacob grows into an amazing child and has gone on to create an original theory in  astrophysics.  Jacob’s talk and his mother’s book speaks volumes to parents who might be struggling with similar problems and to all parents, no matter the situation, who want to see their children happy. Jacob’s message to us all is to stop the learning, take time to think about your passion, and use your unique perspective to create!

After reading “The Spark” I wanted to share the story and Jacob’s message to take our passions seriously no matter what they are. To recognize the passion in your children and encourage, no more than encourage, to give them opportunities to do their passion. Kristine Barnett worked with many children in her daycare and always found success when she focused on the children’s “sparks”.  She did not trust that her son’s school would do the same.

I do not know what their school’s plan would have been for Jacob, but I do know what systems are in place today. I appreciate Kristine Barnett’s positive message to focus on our children’s “spark” and to trust our intuitions (especially about our children), however, I would also like to support all the incredibly dedicated people working with or  parenting children with autism by offering a sense of what help for children with autism is like today.

Today there are caring professionals and parents who use a variety of approaches to bring out the best in children with autism. Schools support these children by educating their social and emotional smarts, as well as supporting or challenging them academically.  Parents also use outside resources to add to those efforts, such as play therapy and social skills groups.  Children with autism are of course, all unique individuals and may require a  balance of doctors, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, teachers, besides their main support system of family and friends. The needs of each child is not the same as another, some need more support while others need less.

In fact, ALL children need to be educated, supported, or challenged in academics, social skills, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness to bring out their best!

If I might add to Jacob Barnett’s encouragement, I would also encourage families this summer to spend some much-needed mindful family time along with a focus on your passions.

Stop learning, start thinking, be mindful, create, and be happy!

Summer Reading

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Have you been checking out your children’s summer reading lists and preparing them with a variety of great books to read? Have you been sitting on a beach wishing you had something for yourself to read? Maybe, you have a lunch break to sit outside and eat with a good read? Well, please take a look at this!

Livehappy

This is livehappy! I received this as a birthday gift. Perfect for me, right? Sometimes I feel like my kids when they get obsessed with a toy or subject and that’s all they want for Christmas! I’ve been that way about this subject. I guess, I don’t have to tell you that. 🙂  Whether you love this subject like I do or you have a more typical interest, this magazine will keep you living happy!

I’m holding the June 2015 issue which has the Good Morning America Celebs on the cover. This issue shared GMA’s workplace well-being.  livehappy columns include Work, Home, Health, Mindset, and Self.  Many positive pictures, ideas, and quotes throughout inspire a positive mood. You will find in the June issue a Happiness Library (latest books on happiness), discussion of happiness in education (my all time favorite), pictures of Happiness Walls across North America (#happyacts), how happiness improves business, and heroes all around us.

This is one of my favorite articles that took place at Castle Hills Elementary School in Lewisville, Texas. If you look closely at the picture you will see “nearly 800 students and faculty braved the cold and rainy weather to spell out the word “Happy”. The school took time to learn about happiness and then took the #HappyActs challenge. Kindergartners all the way through fifth graders created a happiness wall featuring happy acts. The students participated in this to celebrate March 20th, the United Nations has chosen March 20th as International Day of Happiness!

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After you enjoy reading livehappy, pass it on! If you are interested to learn more about happy acts visit their website at http://www.happyacts.org.

Find livehappy online at http://www.livehappy.com.

 

Happy reading!

 

 

“My Happy” Behind the Scenes

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AnniversaryWow! I can’t believe I am approaching the 1st anniversary of “My HappyCreating Your Happy. I knew this blog would be important to me, I didn’t realize how much. Whenever I faced any difficult time this past year, I would think back to everything I wrote and encouraged my readers to be, try, or learn. Instead of letting my old (negative) ways take over, I would try to stick to positive strategies and use a Growth Mindset for myself.  I will admit, I still have a long way to go. Keep practicing, right?   I do know that this past year of learning and blogging has had a great impact in my life. It has kept me true to myself and my family. It has helped me to be a more mindful parent and friend. It has also kept me focused on my goals and I have been able to follow through with ideas.  I truly appreciate the support and feedback I have gotten from you all. It’s my hope that I have written at least one thing that has brought some positive information to you.

Although I have not been posting regularly, I have been working behind the scenes of “My Happy”. I have been finding terrific information that is connected to what I write about. Whenever I find something I think you might be interested in, I “tweet” it and it appears in my twitter feed. One of my favorite recent re-tweets was Kindergarteners Talk About Mindfulness in ‘Just Breathe’ Short Film | Mindful. You can also follow me on Twitter and then I may be able to follow you. 🙂

I am customizing my blog, with the blog stats in mind. There have been many views of my Happiness Page. Sometimes, more often than not, the only page viewed. I decided to add to this page. It now includes a video of Sonja Lyubomirsky: The Benefits of Happiness. I viewed this video as part of the “Science of Happiness” course offered by University of California, Berkeley. Check it out!  I am currently taking this course and I will be sharing information as I progress.

I have also had professional pictures taken to share on “My Happy”, a very special thank you to Danielle for taking time out of her busy schedule to finally steer me clear of my selfies.  😉 She was amazingly calm, focused, kind, and patient (my children were being very silly).  I look forward to seeing more of Danielle Vicotoria Photography! Works of art!

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I have also been working on a happy project which Page four - CopyI will be sharing in my younger children’s classroom soon! My aim is to share it on my Kids’ Page as well.  I’m keeping my Growth Mindset, learning, taking risks, staying positive, asking for help, and not giving up.

Looking forward to this next year ofMy Happy” Creating Your Happy with all of you! Thanks for reading!