Tag Archives: Mindset

“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!

DSC_2288                          About Page

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!

Have Fun, Learn, and Grow

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I recently watched a speaker explain that sometimes we don’t follow through with ideas because they seem too “easy”.  That is how I feel about my blog. I am simply a messenger posting what is all around us.  It is my way of doing the work for my readers by organizing important information which can improve lives. This is my fun, learning and growth. I have been posting about ways to feel happier (according to the latest research) and retweeting real life examples of the information I share. I would like my readers to find the information easy to understand and use in their lives, because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

The following video explains the difference between having a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.  Carol Dweck (Stanford University psychologist), Christine Carter (sociologist, happiness expert, author) and Kelly Corrigan (author, speaker) discuss mindset and motivation.

To learn more please visit their websites at:

http://www.mindsetonline.com

http://www.christinecarter.com

http://www.kellycorrigan.com

 

 

 

 

 

What Are You Focusing On In 2015?

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IMG_20150105_144042894 Journal given to me from my positive friend, Danielle

 

 

 

Focus, or “directed attention” has been life changing for me. When I first read about an exercise to understand the power of our mind’s focus, I did not realize what an impact this would have for me.  I was reading about focusing thoughts. The writer asked the reader to think of the color red and notice how suddenly you would see red everywhere.  It was a cold winter day and I was reading in the pick up line at my son’s school.  I thought to myself, how funny, this won’t work with everything so white with snow. Driving home I noticed a red car, red door, another red car, red lights, and so on. Some of you may laugh and think, well that’s really not that unpredictable. Next, the writer suggests thinking about something bigger. I chose something that I wanted to have to help me exercise, but I didn’t want to spend the money for it. This took longer. I thought about it daily for weeks. One day I happen to find what I wanted and it was free for the taking (used, of course). This got my attention and I decided to keep an open mind as I read more about the importance of our focus.

It’s rather simple if you think about it. Focus on positives and you will not only feel better, but you will open your eyes to let in more positives than you saw before.  I always thought of myself as making efforts to see the “glass half full” but, what I realized is that it is more than that. It is taking the time to really notice all the wonderful happenings or things around you that fill your world with positivity.  If you focus on negatives, you may only see the negative and miss other positives that are happening all around you.

Researcher, Richard Wiseman, conducted studies to understand why some people seemed luckier than others. He asked volunteers to read through a newspaper and count how many photos were in it. There were two groups of people: people who claimed to be lucky and people who felt they were unlucky. The lucky people were quicker to know the number of pictures than the unlucky people in this task. On the second page of the paper there was a large message reading “Stop counting, there are 43 photos in this newspaper.” It seems the people who felt unlucky missed the message. The people who felt lucky saw it.  This study and others like it show that people who focus on the positives are more optimistic. Optimism leads to being more observant of positive opportunities. People who don’t feel lucky (or who do not seek out positives) may miss out on positive things all around them.

“My Happy” is one way for me to stay focused on the positives. What better way to organize information for myself and others to benefit from? I didn’t realize all the other wonderful things that would come from this happiness blog.

I have friends and family who supported me by reading or following this blog. Besides that apparent support, I had many opportunities for wonderful conversations about things I was writing about. I realized my friends and family shared my interests. Some examples of focusing on the positives leading to increased positivity for me were:  receiving a daily positive quote book, learning about twitter, receiving current information to add to my blog, sharing of a book  “14,000 Things to be Happy About”,  receiving a journal to help me organize all my ideas. One of my favorite results was when my older son told me he thinks my blog is “cool”!( If you are a parent, you know how amazing THAT is) Staying focused on the positives and opening up about it has led to these experiences and more for me. These may sound like small things, but aren’t the small daily connections we make so important?

My positive friend Lois, who encouraged my idea to blog and guided me to WordPress, led me to a community of bloggers which I have received support and encouragement from. It has also given me the opportunity to learn from their blogs and gain new perspectives from all over the world!

I hope you are excited about practicing this simple strategy of directing your attention to the positivity around you, if you don’t already, in 2015! May your focus on positivity lead to more positivity!

Below is the 2nd “Happy Discovery” (previous post) for grown ups.  My positive friend, Margit, shared this book with me. I loved reading about this writer, Barbara Ann Kipfer. She started her happiness journal in 6th grade! Reading through this book really puts a smile on your face. 🙂

Tiffany Phone Jan 2015 001Tiffany Phone Jan 2015 002

Barbara Ann Kipfer also has a website http://www.thingstobehappyabout.com

A very special thank you to Patricia and Dan for staying so positive when my family can be a handful, awesome, but a handful.

To my friend Kim for staying positive through a tough situation, you inspire me!

 

Here’s To A Happy New Year! (Are you with me?)

Kindness For You, Not Excuses

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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!”

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“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. 🙂

Let’s Get Positive….Positive…

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Let's Get Positive...Positive.docx

Take time to add positivity to your life daily! I always knew that it was important to view experiences in our lives as “the glass half full” as opposed to  “the glass half empty”, what I didn’t realize is that we can actively infuse our lives daily with positivity! Here is the recipe:

A dash of Meditation (please read “Meditation is Concentrated Happiness Training”)

A sprinkle of Looking Forward (big or small, put it on the calendar)

5 Cups of Kindness (even small purposeful acts of kindness decrease stress)

Mix it up Outside (20 minutes daily)

Evaporate Negative television or any Negative media

Add Exercise (produces endorphins and helps keep stress at bay)

Whisk together money for Experiences (shift focus away from material things)

Grow your Signature Strengths

Bake until done and share with friends and family!

She Had Me at “Style Speak”

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My hope is to pleasantly surprise, not confuse. Creating happiness is unique to you, but there are some things we all need to focus on. Even if you might not think this is important to you, I hope to change your mind by the end of the post.

As I was saying in my “Back to School For You” post, I found myself reflecting on my life and trying to get back to things I used to enjoy.  One of those things for me was beauty, style, and fashion.  I wondered why my style and fashion sense seemed to have escaped me. Rarely did I get a chance to watch t.v., however this one particular  morning I grabbed a laundry folding chance to watch a morning show.  I happen to catch Bobbie Thomas being interviewed about her new book (at that time) “The Power of Style”. I decided to buy it that morning. What I got was so much more than makeup and fashion tips.

The Power of Stylee

“Style is the way we speak to the world without words.” Bobbie further explains how important it is that we really understand ourselves inside and out.  Her first career began as she pursued graduate studies in marriage, family, and child counseling.  She begins the book by explaining the significance of our feelings and view of ourselves.  She writes how women (in particular) tend to look in mirrors and focus on the flaws instead of appreciating the beauty. Focusing on flaws leads to feeling sorry for yourself which usually leads us to lifting our spirits with sweets and treats (not a healthy coping skill). On the other hand when people feel great they are motivated to take care of themselves which leads to confidence and self awareness which strengthens us to make the changes in our lives that we need to make.

This is so similar to the point Shawn Achor makes in “The Happiness Advantage” regarding the importance for us to try to focus on the positives. In both instances we need to focus on both the positives occurring in our lives and about ourselves.  I would like to address the negatives here. There are experiences in our lives that are negative which do need our attention and respect. In that you don’t want to deny some of the happenings in your life because they are sad or frustrating. There are moments you need to feel the sadness or the anger, but don’t allow it to be the only thing you can think about. Also, help yourself move through it without it always casting a shadow on your present.

Back to “The Power of Style”. Bobbie includes simple strategies, like leaving yourself a sticky note with inspiration where you will see it daily.  I liked this idea of writing song lyrics, quotes, or a simple reminder to smile. Remember the simple act of smiling sends chemicals to our brain which help us to feel good? She included a quote by George Bernard Shaw, “Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself”.  This quote is one of my favorites and it turned up in my life again, very randomly, on a magnet which is now on my fridge.  I try to live that one.

She also very genuinely and honestly reveals that the reflections in our lives don’t just come from mirrors, but from the people around us. The people in our lives reflect back what they see in us, sometimes accurately and sometimes inaccurately.  Just like those fun house mirrors, people in your life who might be concave or convex themselves, may reflect back their own imperfect idea of you. It is important to take in what the people in your lives reflect back to you. Once I began to do this and really listen, I usually found something about myself I could work on and improve. This, I think, helped my relationships. Of course, there have been times when I knew the reflection was not accurate, then I took time to figure out whether to work on that relationship or let it go. Surround yourself with positive people who see you and reflect back your true self.

To be continued…..

“Back to School” for You

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“Back to School” for You

Whether you have children, you help to encourage someone else’s, or you are in school use your positivity and growth mindset (see Happiness Page)! Instead of focusing on their/your intelligence, try to focus on efforts, tenacity, resilience, taking risks, creativity, and share in their joy from learning new things or appreciate your own joy from learning!

Jump on board and learn something new as well. Yes, I am sure you all learn new things at your work, school, or with your families, however, when is the last time you chose to learn something new or spark an old interest simply because you would like to? Maybe a new language, an instrument, singing, dancing, a sport, or blogging? If your first response to this is an excuse…… I know what you are thinking. I am too old, it will cost too much, my family wouldn’t want me to.  Well, these are just excuses that hold you back.  If you are thinking one of these excuses, ask yourself if it is really true. Most likely they aren’t or it is something you can change or find a way around. I discovered I used excuses this way by reading a children’s book to my son by Dr. Wayne Dyer, “No Excuses”.

I will have more on this soon!no excuses

I myself realized cooking helps me to cope with stress and sadness. I had many other reasons behind taking a Culinary Arts 101 class for myself last fall.  A few being I really enjoy cooking,  it helps me to unwind, be creative, be kind, and strengthen relationships.  What I grew to realize, after taking the class was that it was a great way to meet new people with similar interests, it inspired my children to cook and try new things, helped me to gain more confidence to cook and share my cooking, accomplished a goal which boosted my self-esteem to tackle even more new goals! How I appreciate the teacher, Chef Pat, a long time chef and restaurant owner, the other aspiring cooks who were so kind and supportive, the babysitters who cared for my children, my husband and children for encouraging and supporting me, and my one daring friend, Danielle, who came to the class with me! Wow! All from a 10 week cooking class!

Start small and don’t  stop. I became focused on this for myself when I decided to reflect on the things I enjoyed before becoming a mom.  I LOVE being a mom, however, I wanted to keep some balance in my life and to lead by example.  I then went to one of my favorite spots on the internet and searched YouTube for interests I previously had more time for. One  video at a time I began to learn new things, have a little me time and fun. That led to the cooking class, followed by developing a new exercise routine, followed by learning how to blog and I am still learning how to blog! Thanks for your patience!

I hope that this post has inspired you to revisit an old interest or to tackle a new one! Think you can and you will! Remember, start small. This is a strategy known as “baby steps”.  If you are successful with small goals, you will gain confidence to tackle bigger ones.  I feel strongly that having a growth mindset (see Happiness Page) and focusing on the positives for ourselves and others, especially our children will lead to much happiness.  Again, I hope that I have inspired you to learn new interests or revisit past interests so that you may have balance in your life, lead by example, and of course, be happy!

 

Keep an Open Mind

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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.

 

Please Read “The Happiness Advantage” By Shawn Achor

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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.