"My Happy", Children's Books, Happiness, Happiness Habits, Library, Mindfulness, Parenting, Positive Psychology, Teaching, Uncategorized

A Happy Discovery

Thanks for watching my video post about:

100 Things That Make Me HAPPY

Did you know libraries have many fun activities for children, whether it is a story time, a puppet show, or a visit from the “Whale Mobile”? Don’t be shy! Check out your town and surrounding town library websites to learn more. It is a great place to meet new friends and of course, find great books!

Have a happy day!

 

"My Happy", Happiness, Happiness Habits, Mindfulness, Parenting, Positive Psychology

Thankful

Thankful

This was my first Thanksgiving as a blogger. In fact, my blog is about happiness, positive thinking, social thinking, emotional intelligence and being grateful! It is the perfect opportunity to write about how much we need to have gratitude to be happy, how our children need to be taught how to be thankful and why, that studies are showing happy and resilient people are the most grateful people! Unfortunately, I was stumped. I let the holiday slip by without a terrific post about having an attitude of gratitude!

I researched and found many wonderful posts, articles, studies regarding this special holiday and it overwhelmed me. I felt an obligation to give my readers something they have not seen elsewhere, something special. Instead, I started to feel like I wasn’t doing enough anywhere in my life. I didn’t make super cute crafts with my kids, I didn’t have them write any thank yous, I only read one Thanksgiving story.  I was caring for my sick kids (colds being passed to each other), trying to figure out how to balance my family’s needs with my needs during these last few weeks, stay well myself, not to mention trying to be a supportive wife, friend, and sister.

So, I took a deep breath. I decided to take my own advice and be kind to myself. Instead of feeling badly about what I didn’t do, I thought back to the memories of Thanksgivings past with my family as a child. I tried to do some of the things we had done then that made the time together seem so special. Little things, like celery with cream cheese, using little leaf dishes, and turkey napkins. Once we were seated for dinner, I said a blessing and my husband asked each of us to name one thing we were grateful for. We, then, simply enjoyed each other for the rest of the day.

I do hope my readers who celebrate Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday. Whether it be this holiday or another that you might share some of my experience, I would love to hear about it.

Thankful for friends, family,  “My Happy” readers, and all who care for my family

Happy for each new day

Always hopeful
Never sad for too long
Kindness is appreciated
Say I love you, often
Give even a little
Invest in your loved ones
Visit every chance you get
I am wishing everyone peace and love
No worries
Get some rest

🙂 ~feeling thankful

 

"My Happy", Happiness, Happiness Habits, Inner beauty, Mindfulness, Parenting, Positive Psychology, Social Thinking, Uncategorized

Kindness For You, Not Excuses

Everywhere there are acts of kindness taking place. Our local channel for children has a kindest kid contest, teachers have kindness walls, counselors are telling of kindness as the key to successful relationships, I want to bring your attention to one of the most important ways to be kind that you might be missing.

I’m sure you are kind to your children or children you care for, I’m sure you are kind to your husband, wife, extended family, friends, colleagues, church groups, sales clerks, and I could go on. My question is, are you kind to yourself?

You are a very important person in your life, you are your first best friend, have you appreciated yourself lately? Are you chuckling to yourself right now reading this? I hope it is because you know I am right! It is called self-compassion. Be sure to take time to nurture yourself, create your happiness (of course, I had to say that), take a break, smell the roses, and appreciate yourself. We tend to be our own worse critics. We will judge ourselves where we wouldn’t judge or criticize another.  This is a current area of research because so many of us have difficulty with this. However you treat and see yourself, others will too.

This is especially important if you do have children. Your children will learn about self-compassion by the example that you set.  I discovered inspiring books for my children by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer which help them to understand self compassion, self-awareness and  improve their self-confidence. Dr. Dyer wrote “Incredible You” and “Unstoppable Me”, among others.  These, like many children’s books, are wonderful to read over and over throughout your children’s childhood. Because my children liked  these books, I looked for another. I then found, “No Excuses!”

no excuses

“No Excuses!” is a story of a young boy who loved sea turtles and dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. My oldest son and I refer to this book often as a reminder to stay focused on our goals.  The first time I read this with my son, I learned a lesson myself!

Dr. Dyer writes this story to increase children’s understanding of what excuses are, where they come from and not to let excuses stand in the way of their dreams.  I had never really thought about my own excuses in the way he described.  At the end of this book I noticed that Dr. Dyer had written a more in-depth book for adults titled “EXCUSES BEGONE!”  How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits. Got it, read it, and I would recommend it, if you find yourself holding back because of excuses. This was where I first realized how strong our mindsets are but, how possible it is to change them. When I asked my children to believe in themselves that they can do anything with effort, a good support team, and positive thinking….why was I not telling myself the same?

I hope YOU know that with effort, a good support team, and positive thinking  you can do anything! Are you telling yourself the same? Remember to be kind to yourself and don’t let your excuses stand in the way of reaching your goals, big or small. 🙂

"My Happy", Happiness, Happiness Habits, karate, Mindfulness, Parenting, Positive Psychology, Social Thinking

Let’s Talk about Karate

Let’s talk about karate.  Why do you ask? If you haven’t been following along from the beginning you may still be wondering what “My Happy” is all about. I decided to write this blog about happiness and how to work on it daily because whatever brings you happiness should be practiced daily. Which will lead to a healthier, more mindful, and more enjoyable life, especially when things get tough!

I’m writing about what I have found to be helpful towards this goal for myself or my family. I want to share what has worked and maybe inspire others to try something positive.  Karate has been that for my son. Karate welcomes all ages and abilities.

Exercise, building a village, and helping others, are all areas incorporated into karate.  (Please see: Happiness Page) I would like to talk about Kenpo Karate (only because this is the one I am familiar with). There are other forms such as Taekwondo, but I’m not sure how similar they are. At the age of four, my son needed physical therapy. He had been falling and having trouble running. He also needed to have some occupational therapy as well. Those areas are an entire post in itself, but not today.  His OT, Anna, a wonderful person, suggested we have our son take karate. She informed us it assists children with coordination, balance, focus and more. I knew my son’s preschool friend  was taking karate. I asked his mom where he was taking it. I enrolled him and luckily he was in his friend’s class. Even still, my son would be timid at times and not want to go, or once we got there would not want to take class. I remember strongly feeling the importance of karate, although I had little knowledge of it.  I would have him sit with me and watch his class. The teachers were always supportive and encouraged him to try “next time” which he did.

I’m writing about this as a very proud mother and a glad one. I am proud because even though my son struggled in the first few years, he got better and better with practice. Six years later he is about to earn his black belt! Karate gave him a second family, strength, courage, understanding, respect, friendship, flexibility, confidence, and so much more.  First you need to be able to do the basics, like sit ups and push ups. Then you learn blocks, holds, forms, combinations and the creed. The creed tells of respect and peace over power.

When my son was about to earn his last brown belt, we had one of our proudest moments as he didn’t pass the test.   As a karate student one needs to go through a few hours of testing to gain the next level belt.  This particular test day, he didn’t pass. His teacher gave him his belt, but explained he would have to test again to have actually earned it. I was so grateful that he was able to still have the belt, but what surprised me was when my son chose to wear his old belt to his class that week. I asked him if he realized the kids in his class would know he didn’t pass his test, and he said he did. He explained he wanted to be honest and that he would only wear his new  belt after he had past the next test. Which, of course, he did. I was also pleased with how the other karate students and teachers handled it as well when he chose to wear his lower level belt. They all supported my son and didn’t ask him any questions!

I have teared up watching other kids and adults achieve their black belts, not only do the students have to put in effort, they are asked for letters of recommendation, to acquire ten hours of community service, an essay on the requirements and responsibilities of a black belt, good grades and conduct at school, and to be able to run a nine minute mile.   In these last few months I’ve come to realize what a terrific achievement this is for my young son. Karate has strengthened him not only physically, but socially and emotionally as well.  All of the parents whose children participate in karate, whom I have spoken to, feel the same. I highly recommend karate for children, boys and girls and I also would like to encourage you, as well.  I, myself, have it as a future goal.  I think back to my younger years and wish someone had talked to me about  it. I hope to interest any age (with your doctor’s okay, 🙂 ) to try a class or two and go from there. Again, I am very glad that we gave our son this gift. He is so young, about to earn his black belt and now has the confidence that with hard work, a support team, and perseverance he can accomplish ANYTHING!

 

Happiness, Mindfulness, Parenting, Positive Psychology

Keep an Open Mind

928  After reading Principle #1, The Happiness Advantage, I realized that I needed to change my own thinking.  Most of us believe:  if you are successful, you will be happy.  My thinking needed to change to:  if you are happy, success will follow.  Decades of research has proven this, but we are still stuck in the other belief.

We all have experienced negative emotions causing physical changes in our bodies (upset stomach, back pain, increase of stress) well, positive emotions also affect our brain and body, but in a positive way.  Therefore, changing your thinking and realizing the importance to focus and practice happiness first, and probably foremost, changes how your brain works and body feels. Daily focus and practice towards a more positive attitude will cause you not only to feel better but to experience things like clearer thinking, more creativity, being more open to new ideas, and my favorite, happiness is catchy!  I posted that I am trying to “Lead by Example” because if I become happier and feel better, so will the people around me. Who doesn’t want that?

Even more interesting to me was the experiment I read about where scientists primed their subjects before hand. One group was primed to experience something happy and positive and the other was primed with something causing stress and anxiety. Not surprisingly, the happier group did better, but not only did they do better,  they were better able to problem solve, were more creative and more open-minded.

Positive emotions release chemicals in our brains that make us feel good.  Studies also show that these chemicals also increase our learning potential. The way we organize information, quicker and more creative thinking, the ability to see things in a new way, and longer lasting retrieval. Feeling happier also helps us to see more positives in our environment.

Some companies that Shawn mentioned who use this advantage are Yahoo! and Google. Obviously, very successful! They know that happier employees lead to a more successful company.

Shawn advises the following to use the Happiness Advantage in our lives:

Meditate
Looking forward to something (vacations are nice )
Acts of Kindness
Create positivity in your life
Exercise
Plan and use your money on activities that bring happiness
Exercise a signature strength

In my next post I will write more about these areas.

 

"My Happy", Happiness, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology, Uncategorized

Please Read “The Happiness Advantage” By Shawn Achor

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

One night I happen to catch Shawn Achor on PBS speaking about Happiness.  I learned that he wrote the book “The Happiness Advantage”.  My interest was sparked and I decided to read his book.  I mentioned catching Shawn’s talk on t.v.  to my husband who just smiled and nodded.   A few weeks later his company had Shawn as a speaker. He too, thought Shawn was a terrific speaker.  I was even more convinced that I should read this book.

Shawn speaks to companies worldwide about his 7 principles of positive psychology to fuel success and performance at work. Having a minor in business, myself, and a few years working in the business environment, I understood the relationship between having more positive leadership and employees creates a more successful business.  Having experience as a classroom teacher and parent, I also have an understanding that classrooms and households are much like running a business in that the teacher or caregiver is a manager/facilitator of the students/children and it is important for the children to have positive attitudes and be supportive of each other to have a successful environment (classroom or home).  Shawn states, “Waiting to be happy limits our brain’s potential for success, whereas cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative, and productive, which drives performance upward.”  Not only does this research help individuals and companies, but it can help parents, teachers, and students. After reading Shawn’s book and using some of his advice in my own life, I became very motivated to share this amazing research.  I do highly encourage you to read the book on your own, but I realize I needed to do more than just encourage friends and family to read the book.  I want to explain the principles and then give examples of how they can be used by your family and in classrooms.

The Happiness Advantage:  Positive brains have a biological advantage over brains that are neutral or negative.  When we train our brains (which is possible) to seek out positives in our world we create biological changes that improve our productivity and performance.

The Fulcrum and the Lever:  Shawn discusses our mindset here. We can adjust our mindset to give us more control over our world. (Be sure to look at Carol Dweck’s Fixed vs. Growth Mindset on my Happiness Page.)

The Tetris Effect:  When our brains get stuck in a pattern that focuses on stress, negativity, and failure, we set ourselves up to fail.  This is where Shawn discusses focusing on positives in our lives will help us to see more positives and have more successful outcomes.

Falling Up:  When we face difficult times our brains have different paths to help us cope.  This principle shows us that failure can lead to learning and we can be lifted up out of these challenges.

The Zorro Circle:  When we face an overwhelming challenge, task, or life situation our brains get hijacked by our emotions. Shawn explains that we can gain our focus by looking at the smallest circle first. Once we have managed to take on a small section of the challenge we will then be able to slowly take on bigger and bigger circles.

The 20-Second Rule:  Our willpower is limited. Shawn explains that if we make a small change to help us end a bad habit or begin a new habit we will be successful.

Social Investment:  Successful and Resilient people know the importance in investing and nurturing their support system of family, friends, and colleagues.

“Together, these Seven Principles helped Harvard students (and later, tens of thousands of people in the “real world”) overcome obstacles, reverse bad habits, become more efficient and productive, make the most of opportunities, conquer their most ambitious goals, and reach their fullest potential.” …Shawn Achor

I will be explaining all these principles further and sharing how I used them for myself and my children.  I will also be “connecting the dots” with the  terrific material from other positive psychologists and also giving information that I found very complimentary to what Shawn has discussed.

 

Happiness, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology, Uncategorized

“The Past Is History, The Future’s A Mystery, The Present Is A Gift”

 “The past is history, the future’s a mystery, the present is a gift” (origin unknown)

Mindfulness is a meditative practice which originates in Buddhism, but has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions. (definition from Wikipedia)

There are many thoughts on this subject and ideas of how to be mindful. They range from a complete mindfulness experience training for two weeks, workshops, and counseling sessions, graduate courses, and books.  I encourage you to try any of those offerings, but If you feel like this is not for you or your kids,  I will let you in on how I understand and try being mindful.  To be mindful is to be in the moment. It is simply paying attention and staying focused on the present moment. This also usually helps me to feel grateful for each experience I have, ordinary or extraordinary.  Your time to make a difference is NOW. Try not to think about things that happened in the past when you are enjoying your day. Try not to worry about things that are coming up in your future when you are enjoying your now.   I know this is easier said then done.  It takes practice.

Some things that have worked for me to be more in the moment:

Visualization has worked for me to keep my past in its place.

Creative visualization (sports visualization) refers to the practice of seeking to affect the outer world by changing one’s thoughts and expectations. Creative visualization is the basic technique underlying positive thinking and is frequently used by athletes to enhance their performance. (definition from Wikipedia)

Visualizing can be used to help start your day, do well on a test, or to help yourself manage your thoughts. Managing your thoughts can help you stay in the moment. An example of this is when I was experiencing some memories that were interfering with my daily life. I took a moment to visualize the memories being placed into a box. I then visualized storing the box in a way that was meaningful to me. If you try this “box” you can store it like you do your belongings….in an attic or closet. Some people may choose to use what they believe in spiritually to help them store their box. Visualizing is like dreaming which you do purposefully. After doing this, the memories stopped coming up in my daily life and I felt more at peace to be myself in the moment.

Affirmations is another way I have been able to be mindful.

Affirmations in New Thought and New Age terminology refers primarily to the practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment—fostering a belief that “a positive mental attitude supported by affirmations will achieve success in anything.” More specifically, an affirmation is a carefully formatted statement that should be repeated to one’s self and written down frequently. For an affirmation to be effective, it needs to be present tense, positive, personal and specific. (definition by Wikipedia)

I have tried using very simple affirmations that help me to focus on what I want. The first one that was successful for me and my family is simply “Happy, Healthy, Strong”.  I began this one with myself and would try to say it everyday. I then taught it to my children and we say it at specific moments daily. It has become part of our family cheer! My children now say it on their own and it has become a “Happy Habit”.  Writing it down and having it displayed somewhere you and your family will see it also reinforces its purpose.

Another affirmation I use helps me to push unwanted thoughts out. When I have a thought that is negative and I know it is probably not true,  I say a statement to myself to keep that thought at bay and focus on my positive thoughts instead. This kind of statement is really unique to you depending much on your beliefs. I use a simple “I intend to be ______________________.” You can fill in the blank for yourself. Some examples are good, calm, or more focused. I would be interested to receive feedback on a statement that has worked well for you or your children when and if you try using affirmations.

Happiness, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology, Uncategorized

Happiness Is a Choice

smiling-people-300x295[1]

Happiness is something we need to choose and work on.  Right now, smile.  There, you worked on it! I will be posting baby steps (simple strategies)  that you can do and share with others around you to try. So today, I want you to smile, even if you don’t feel like it. Smiling and laughing make us feel good.

Happiness is something to practice daily, so that when life is stressful or difficult you will be better able to cope.

Happiness is unique to you. If you take a peek at the happiness page, you will see that research gives us areas to work on, but each of us will have our own way of doing it.  You will have the opportunity to explore ideas that work for other people and then try the ones that resonate with you. Have fun and discover how positive and happy you can make your life!