Tag Archives: children

Mother’s Day and Brain Science?

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I recently read an interesting article on the Greater Good Science Center website: Why “Mom Brain” Is Good for Mothers and Babies by Elise Proulx. The article explains that a woman’s brain actually changes after having a baby. The change is a decrease in gray matter! Hold on, don’t laugh dads! I know what you are thinking.

Mom’s tend to share with each other their “fuzzy brain” feeling while pregnant or becoming more forgetful than usual after having children. However, what research is showing is that the decrease in gray matter actually creates a mother who will connect with their child and will be more aware of their children’s needs and feelings.

“The researchers found that the change in gray matter “significantly” predicted the quality of mother-to-infant attachment, as assessed through a survey. The more gray matter lost, the more positive the mothers felt about interactions with their baby.”  Elise Proulx

However you became a mother, father or caregiver, I believe our children shrink our gray matter. 🙂 What I mean to say is, our children are deeply connected to us and we completely grow into warm, nurturing people because of them. Our children shape who we are far greater than I ever imagined.  I am beyond grateful for my three beautiful children who are making me the mom I am.

Happy Mother’s Day to My Happy readers! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Happy Mother’s Day!

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_mom_brain_is_good_for_mothers_and_babies?

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”.

Madame Corinne’s Happiness Project

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Madame Corinne’s Happiness Project

A Happiness Project taught in a classroom in France brings happiness to a classroom in Spain and to me! Two students taking “The Science of Happiness” course given by the University of California Berkeley were unaware that their paths would happily cross and be mutually beneficial.

My new friend, Madame Corinne, a caring teacher in France to six and seven year old creative students and I connected when Madame Corinne did a Google search and found “My Happy”.  Madame Corinne was kind enough to leave a comment sharing that she was a teacher in France. After reading her comment I was eager to ask Madame Corinne if she would like a copy of That Makes Me Happy! I noticed that her e-mail address came up with her comment on the “My Happy” comment page. I thought about sending her an e-mail, then decided not to. Yes, self-doubt held me back. In the past I would have simply given in to my self-doubt. Instead, I reminded myself how far I had come since my first blog post. I felt good about the writing, the volunteering,  and the learning. One question I now ask myself when I am presented with an opportunity is: “Why not?” I again found myself looking at Madame Corinne’s e-mail address. This time I e-mailed her. I asked if she would like a copy of my story to read to her class. Madame Corinne was so kind to say yes! She was already planning a wonderful Happiness Project for her new class and the story fit right in.

Madame Corinne began her new school year by focusing her students on happiness. I was very honored that she read “That Makes Me Happy” and had her students make Happy Rings as part of her project. Madame Corinne asked her students to think of “3 small happinesses” each morning. Students created pictures and  posted their drawings to a bulletin board.  Below are the pictures Madame Corinne shared with me. Her students were very creative with the Happy Rings. I especially liked how they personalized them, even the smiley faces! Happy Ring total has now reached 127! I also enjoyed looking at all the pictures on the bulletin board.

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Madame Corinne shared her project with a teacher in Spain. Senorita Berta will be teaching her students this happiness project and all the students from each classroom will share their ideas this year! How wonderful!

I was excited I had written that e-mail and in a small way I was apart of these terrific projects. I am still amazed at how simply reaching out has connected me to fellow happiness creators so far from my home. Creating happiness is making a difference to Madame Corinne, Senorita Berta, and their students this year. Madame Corinne’s Happiness Project not only teaches students they can create their happiness, it also teaches students even though we may be living in different countries, we CAN connect, and we CAN make a  POSITIVE difference. Everyone’s ideas are important and we can be happier by sharing them!

Thank you Madame Corinne and Senorita Berta for teaching your students about creating happiness! Thank you for sharing my story. Please thank your students for making Happy Rings!

That Makes Me Happy!

More Pictures 12/5/16

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“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!

Happy Book Launch

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Ringing the singing bowl to focus our hearing

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my favorite part, reading the story and seeing smiles

my favorite part, reading the story and seeing smiles

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My friend, Margit has supported every step of my happiness journey and made these cookies for the book launch. She hand did each face!

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I think these cookies stole the show! 😉

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Happy drawings!!!

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Getting to write special messages was so fun!

 

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Margit’s cookies made everyone smile

untitledThis photo was taken at the next reading I did for story time at our library during vacation week. We used masks to act out the story. So cute!

 

 

We had a very happy book launch at my town’s library, thank you to all the librarians and a special thank you to Lindsey and Becky! Celebrating with my family and friends always makes me happy.  I always know I can depend on them to be as happy as I am to come together and celebrate, especially for something they know means so much to me.  A number one priority to creating your happiness is to strengthen your social connections. I hope they know how much I appreciate their support, especially at my happy book launch. Sharing “That Makes Me Happy!” and making Happy Rings with my family and friends was truly one of the happiest days I have ever had.

Twenty-five families attended and listened to the reading of “That Makes Me Happy!”.  All the children were terrific listeners and participants. The event was also attended by  Alison, a reporter from our local newspaper.  I look forward to reading the article and seeing the pictures. There was so much going on and I wished I could have chatted more and been able to talk to each child about their drawings. During the book launch children made their happy thought circles and then added it to a Happy Ring to take home. My friend Kim shared with me that her son’s happy thought was me! I was very surprised and almost cried! How sweet was that!James and Tiffany

It was also very heartwarming when one friend shared her enthusiasm for the “Happy Rings” and how her sons have been able to have fun using them for calming strategies. She was very kind to post this comment on “My Happy”:

“That Makes Me Happy! was read in my son’s preschool class and he loved it! He was excited to share with the family the Happy Ring he had created. To this day, I use the techniques described in the book and the Happy Ring as calming strategies for both of my boys. They always end up smiling and laughing with each other. Tiffany, I am so happy to share in your special day tomorrow as you launch the book. Congratulations on your amazing accomplishment!” Amy

It was also important to me to explain some of the great research that led to my motivation to write “That Makes Me Happy!”. First, I explained the work of Richard Davidson. Richard Davidson is a neuroscientist and emotional specialist. At a recent conference hosted by The Mind and Life Institute, Davidson talked about his center’s work in the field of contemplative neuroscience.  He says one of the most important insights this work is leading us to is: we can train for well-being. “It is the neuroscientific evidence particularly which shows us that the circuits in the brain that are important to underlying well-being exhibit plasticity–it changes as a consequence of experience and as a consequence of training.  We know that the brain is constantly being changed, wittingly or unwittingly.”  “We can all take responsibility for our own brains and we can shape our own brains in ways that are more positive and can lead to the cultivation of well-being.”

Read more about Richard Davidson’s work at: http://www.centerhealthyminds.org

Next, I shared the information about the course given by UC Berkeley, “The Science of Happiness”. Not only does this course cover all the latest research in positive psychology, it also teaches students happiness practices to cultivate well-being.  Although it is a 10 week course, if you are not taking it to earn credit, you have the materials for six months and may take it at your own pace.  Between the discussion groups and Facebook page there is opportunity to connect with people from all over the world. Simply hearing the stories of others looking to learn more about positive well-being is very uplifting.

Read more at http://www.greatergoodsciencecenter.org

Local organizations that support SEL in other ways are

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http://www.friendshipconnectiononline.com/

http://www.artfullifecenter.org/

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http://www.mindfulschools.org

 

Lastly, I organized a “Happiness Bundle” for my town library. I have pictured the books I included below. I tried to think of everyone, whether you are an avid reader, a magazine flipper, a movie watcher or a parent looking for children’s books about happiness. I feel like this is the best grouping of books that I have read in the sea of new happiness books. If you live in my area, I hope you get  chance to borrow some of these finds. 🙂 If you are not, your own library may have some of these titles. If not, you can ask them if they could get them in.

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As you can see I have a lot to share! The title “That Makes Me Happy!” truly describes what all this is about, Creating My Happy! I hope that it also Creates YOUR Happy!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this day so HAPPY! 🙂 A special thank you to Olivia for taking pictures at the book launch and Lois for taking pictures at the story time. Thank you to Margit for the delicious custom cookies and to Alex, my excellent assistant at the launch.

 

That Makes Me Happy!

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As soon as I began learning about the latest research in positive psychology, I wanted to share that knowledge with children. “That Makes Me Happy!” is aimed to reach 4 to 9 year olds with a story of animal characters and an ending with a “Happy Ring”. I wanted to give children an easy, fun way to practice being more positive! Just like learning any new skill, we can practice to be a more positive person. I have recorded a video to explain my thinking behind this story. “That Makes Me Happy!” is available at http://www.amazon.com

Please share your experiences if you purchase the book and read it with your children or students. I would greatly appreciate feedback!

You can e-mail me at thatmakesmehappy@yahoo.com

I Did It!

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Happy Rings

“Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own actions.”  Dalai Lama 

I did it, with help, support, and encouragement but I did it! I had an idea for a story to teach children (preschool through 2nd grade) how to help themselves to be happy. The story also concludes with making a personal ring of pictures. Using the ring will help children practice 3 happy habits deep breaths, smiling, and thinking a happy thought.

Each small step I took towards a happier me made a difference. No matter how big or small the differences were, it is still a positive difference. I want to be a person who creates change for the better. If you want greater good, you have to be the good. The following paragraph includes the strategies I have been writing about that helped me this past year, and more specifically with writing the children’s story.

Not letting excuses get in my way, leaning on friends and family, listening (with my ears and heart), using a Growth Mindset for myself and others, taking risks, not allowing negativity in other areas of my life get me down, keeping my working materials ready and available, visualizing, deep breaths, meditating, using everyday bravery, focusing on the positives, taking time to be creative, being mindful, being thankful, not giving up, and of course, blogging.

I am grateful that I had this opportunity to focus on this project. I am thankful to the teachers and children who welcomed me into their classroom, listened to my story and created their “Happy Rings”. The pure joy I feel teaching in itself is rewarding. Seeing those sweet faces and bright smiles! Admiring the teachers who work diligently to create a loving, supportive, and comfortable environment for each of their amazing students to then be open to new learning.  Wow! The only thing that made this experience truly amazing for me was sharing my ideas and teaching about my FAVORITE subject, HAPPINESS! Wow! Wow!

These have been some of my actions. I would LOVE to hear about yours, big or small! You can comment below or e-mail me to share your information privately.

This has been the perfect way to conclude my first year of blogging.  Today is the one year date of my very first post “Lead By Example”. Thank all of you for reading “My Happy,  Creating Your Happy” and giving me positive feedback. Thank you to WordPress for designing a user-friendly site and for sending me this congratulations for “My Happy’s” 1st anniversary! I look forward to expanding my blog with a page for kids!

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1 Year Anniversary Achievement
Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com one year ago!
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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!

Kindergarteners Talk About Mindfulness in ‘Just Breathe’ Short Film | Mindful

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Kindergarteners Talk About Mindfulness in ‘Just Breathe’ Short Film | Mindful.

Please take a moment to be inspired! Click on the above link to watch a video at http://www.mindful.org

Here’s My Mix!

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calendar - Copy - Copy“My Happy” began as a place for me to organize helpful information that has become an important part of my life. My experiences have led me to appreciate all that brings positivity my way. I strive to share the things that have made a significant difference to me and my family. This post will explain my (always evolving) positive strategies I use with my family. You may see other strategies I have posted previously on the Parent/Caregivers Page.

Strategies may change as my children get older, I learn new information, or if the strategies stop working. There are various ways to help support children. I began as a teacher, searching for the best behavior management practices for my class. As a parent, I continued to learn as many different approaches that I could. The important realizations for me were:  being mindful, keeping a balance, practicing, and being  flexible.  Not one approach works best, it is using a mix of them that really makes the difference. Also, knowing when to be flexible by changing or dropping something that isn’t working.  Here is what is in my “mix”!

Mindful to create a positive, caring, loving and supportive environment:

Lots of hugs, kisses, and a growth mindset….. goes without saying 😉

Family Mission Statement was my latest way to give our family an idea of what is expected and appreciated in our family.  I decided to do this after learning more about Emotional Intelligence.  It is similar to the “family rules” I have previously posted; however it is more about what we want to focus on daily.  Together, we discussed what mission statements are and then decided what we wanted it to look like. Our family decided on the following:

 

Family Mission Statement

  •  Look for “happy” (positives)
  • Kind and caring
  • Be a helper
  • Have “everyday bravery”
  • Be thankful
  • Be a problem solver
  • Try your best

“Happy, Healthy, Strong”

 

We read it out loud once a day and display it where everyone can see it. I used a bullet format to make it easier for my children to understand. Older children could decide whether they want it to read like an actual statement. We also ended it with what has turned into our family “cheer”, happy, healthy, strong. This began as an affirmation I wanted to share with my children and they like saying it so much, we use it all the time.

“Everyday Bravery” was taken from the work of Rachel Simmons.  Rachel Simmons explains that it is not just heroes in movies who are brave, we are brave every day. Children may see being brave as: going to school and rising to challenges there, beginning a new anything, maybe even trying a new food. knowing they can tackle these smaller challenges will help them to become braver and braver, more able to tackle whatever new challenges come their way.

http://www.rachelsimmons.com

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Positive Rewards

I have used reward charts, stickers, homework passes, lunch with teacher, and more. I find this works well to recognize good behavior or to motivate learning something new, such as potty training. Rewarding in this way is effective for a specific period of time. Another example would be earning stickers for 7 days in a row to receive the privilege of picking the movie for movie night.  These rewards also worked well with students because it was only be for one school year. When you are a parent or caregiver, these positive reinforcements do not always stay effective. Reward charts are available free online. Instead of stickers, kids can color the squares in.

Earning privileges

Instead of punishing by taking away a toy or activity, we remind the kids that they earn their privileges by being a cooperative part of the family. Paying attention to the family mission statement (or rules), doing chores, homework, and being responsible. We usually say that they are earning their privileges for the next day.

Choices

I give my children choices when I can. They have learned that they can’t always have a choice. It helps them to be more flexible.

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Calendar

We keep a monthly calendar to help the kids see the “big picture”. This helps our family stay on track as far as our weekly activities and it is a great way to help each member of the family see that everyone is getting choice time.  My older son was constantly saying  our weekend activities revolved around what his younger siblings wanted to do, not what he wanted to do. Having a calendar with weekend plans helped him to see the “big picture” and that he was getting his choice, too. We also color code the kids’ choices to make it easy for them to see their “picks”.

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Chore Chart

This has helped my older son keep track of all his responsibilities. I found a white board at Target that has the chart on it. My son filled in the chores, which he liked. He also likes checking things off when he’s done with each chore. He feels proud to see all those  checks at the end of the week. (This is also how he earns his allowance.)

Affirmations

“Happy, Healthy, Strong”    I sometimes request this at some point during the day. We have been saying it for so long my children usually bring it up before me, now.

“Safe, Cooperative, Kind, and Friendly”    I began this when my  younger children were 2 and 1/2 years old. I would ask them to say it before we got out of the car. It helped them to stay safe when we were out and about. Now, it reminds them that these expectations are always important wherever we are going.

Deep Breaths

We practice this daily to calm or focus. After practicing this daily, it has become more natural for them to do.  I knew this was working when my children began reminding me to take a deep breath when they saw I needed to. 🙂 Which usually makes me laugh, leading me to my next strategy.

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Humor

Whenever possible! Silly dances, mistakes on purpose, jokes….

(This is not to say my family and I are doing all of the above perfectly, but we are making good efforts! )

What’s in your “mix”?

I would love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment or e-mail me.