Habits of Happy People

I recently listened to Martin Seligman's TedTalk, The New Era of Positive Psychology, because so many people ask me how to increase happiness and/or satisfaction in their life.  Research now shows ways we can increase our satisfaction or happiness, by looking at habits of positive people.

Here is a list of the most common habits:

  • Building relationships:  connecting and sharing with people.
  • Kindness:  doing or caring for others
  • Exercise:  regular exercise releases chemicals (Endorpins) which trigger positive feelings.
  • Flow/Strengths:  reaching goals and challenging ourselves around our skills and strengths.
  • Spirituality/Meaning:  this can be religion or finding a greater meaning in our lives.
  • Positive Mindset:  gratitude, find ways to appreciate all that you have (small or large)

I challenge each of you this week to incorporate one (or more) of these habits into your daily routine.  





What Is The Better Question To Ask?

The question is not "What is the meaning of life?" The question to ask is "What makes me happy?"

I read this fantastic article by Douglas Preston about the Dalai Lama's trip to New Mexico in the mid 80's and it made me pause and think about the question, "What makes me happy?" I think too often we get caught chasing the illusion of happiness without stopping to ask ourselves if that is what truly makes us happy.

Have you asked yourself lately, "What makes me happy?"

Excerpt from the article The Dalai Lama's Ski Trip:

A waitress asked the Dalai Lama, "What is the meaning of life?"

The Dalai Lama answered immediately. “The meaning of life is happiness.” He raised his finger, leaning forward, focusing on her as if she were the only person in the world. “Hard question is not, ‘What is meaning of life?’ That is easy question to answer! No, hard question is what make happiness. Money? Big house? Accomplishment? Friends? Or …” He paused. “Compassion and good heart? This is question all human beings must try to answer: What make true happiness?” He gave this last question a peculiar emphasis and then fell silent, gazing at her with a smile.


Don't Forget to Have At Least One Marshmallow

Take time to appreciate what you have accomplished!  I recently learned about the Walter Mischel “Marshmallow” experiment.  The experiment was a study on delayed gratification in children.  Children were given one treat (such as a marshmallow), then given the choice to eat it or wait to get a second one, when the instructor returned (approximately 15 minutes later).  These same children were then revisited as adults.  Those who waited for the second marshmallow had better life outcomes. 

Recently, I was speaking with a friend about this experiment and she brought up a good point – what about those who don’t eat any marshmallows.  What do I mean by that?  How many of us know of someone who goes from one goal to another, one accomplishment to another and hardly stops to CELEBRATE the accomplishment?  I bet we all know one! 

So why stop and take the time?  Celebrating and being grateful for accomplishing our goal can serve an advantageous purpose. 

One:  Celebrating our accomplishment, gives us time to reflect on the journey.  This gives us a moment to really be proud of what we did.   Reflecting on our journey can also remind us of what worked well and what didn’t work so well.  This information can be very helpful when working on future goals.  It give us an opportunity to learn from our experiences.  If we don’t stop to reflect we might miss the lesson.

Second:  Did you know that being grateful can benefit your health?  It has been known to help with depression and sleeping habits, among other things.  So why not take a moment and be grateful for your goal?  You did it!  I am sure there were times you felt it was too much or things didn’t go exactly as you planned, but you pulled through.  That is amazing!  Want to do it again?  Gratitude has been known to help!  “…feelings of gratitude directly activated brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine feels good to get, which is why it’s generally considered the “reward” neurotransmitter. But dopamine is also almost important in initiating action. That means increases in dopamine make you more likely to do the thing you just did. It’s the brain saying, ‘Oh, do that again’.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201211/the-grateful-brain

Here are a few things you can do:

1.        Track your goals.  You want to identify what you are working towards and establish measures which let you know you have accomplished it.  Once you have accomplished your goal, take a few moments and reflect.  As I mentioned earlier, take a moment to think about what worked well and what didn’t. 

2.       Keep a gratitude journal.  Either in the am or pm, take about 5 minutes to think about all that you have to be grateful for (e.g., accomplishing a goal, life, job, spouse, home, etc.).

3.       Celebrate your accomplishment.  Celebration can take many forms, how do you like to celebrate?  Go to dinner, take a spa day or relax in your much loved chair reading or watching your favorite show. 

4.       Share your accomplishment with someone close to you.

Remember you are worth it!

"Self-Help", Help Yourself Get Started

I have been thinking a lot about these two words lately, “Self Help”.  Believe me, I have read several self-help books and have looked into seminars, groups, therapy, etc., to find the magic solution.  Here is what I have discovered, just get started!!  The likelihood of the above mentioned resources being successful are slim to none if you are not willing to jump in and get started.  That is usually the hardest part.  So then what?  Is all hope lost?  Is there no chance for pushing forward or making a better version of you?  Here it is, and this is strictly my opinion on the matter, you have to want it.  It isn’t easy, but that is the point.  If you are waiting for the right moment to jump in, it may never seem like the right moment.  The secret is you have to jump in sometimes when you don’t want to.  You have to push yourself to want it and begin the process.  Here are a few, very simple, tips from my own life experiences, research and advice from some amazing people regarding the topic that can get you started.

·         No matter how you feel, tell yourself you are enough.  No one is perfect, we all have our own limiting & distorted thoughts at times, as well as insecurities and doubts.  When you find your inner critic reminding you about all your imperfections, STOP and repeat these important words, “With all that, I am still enough”.  This may seem awkward in the beginning, but after you do this a few times, believe me you will start believing it. 

·         Make time for yourself.  Sometimes it seems hard to find time to do something for you, but it is important.  Life’s obligations are a big culprit: work, family, friends, avoidance and/or guilt, just to name a few.  Here is the thing, if you don’t take care of yourself, who will?  You deserve a minute of meditation in the morning, a nice run in the afternoon, a day at the spa.  How about this, a day disconnected from everything.  Yes I said it!  Turn off that phone and put your computer, IPad, tablet away. 

·         Start your morning by remembering and being grateful for the good things in your life.  Being grateful actually helps you be happy and healthy.  Doctors Blaire and Rita Justice reported for the University of Texas Health Science Center, “a growing body of research shows that gratitude is truly amazing in its physical and psychosocial benefits." (Robins, 2011)

·         When it comes to prioritizing your obligation to yourself vs. others, it is always situational.  By no means am I suggesting you don’t take your spouse to the doctor’s office when he/she might be seriously hurt.  What I am suggesting is when people make a request for your time, add yourself to the equation of “should I or shouldn’t I?”  If people need your time and energy, you MUST always start by gauging how much you have to give, because it is precious. 

So there are days you are not feeling like heading to the cycling class or taking a moment for yourself because it seems impossible, start small.  Even if you incorporate one of the above suggestions in your life’s hectic schedule, it will make a difference!

Taking care of our mind is just as important as taking care of our body...

I came across Guy Winch's TedTalk Why we all need to practice emotional first aid.  It discusses the importance of taking care of our mind/emotional state.  Why is it when it comes to our emotional state, we tend to put it on the back burner, yet when we feel a slight physical pain we schedule a doctor's visit quickly?  If we put the same sense of urgency in taking care of our mind as we do to our physical well being, we can work toward a more centered and healthy you! 

Have you recently:

  • Taken the time to meditate?
  • Go for a walk?
  • Go for a spa day?
  • Read a great book?
  • Go golfing?

Even twenty minutes can be effective, start by watching this amazing TedTalk by Guy Winch.  

Being GRATEFUL is healthy for you...

7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round:
1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
2. Gratitude improves physical health.
3. Gratitude improves psychological health. 
4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
5. Grateful people sleep better.
6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.
7. Gratitude increases mental strength.



Mindfulness Meditation

Want to reduce your stress?  Want to live a healthier lifestyle?  Learn more about Mindfulness Meditation.  

I offer a 2 session package that walks you through the practice of meditation as well as identifying your stress triggers.  Call me to set up an appointment 209-495-1121.

Here is an article discussing Mindfulness in the workplace.  Google created an entire course on the subject, for its employees.  



What does your body language tell the world about you?

How can your body language affect your level of confidence? Your body language sends a message out to the world. Want to learn how to send confident messages via your body language? Check out this Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy. Want to learn more? Check out this excellent read, The Definitive Book Of Body Language by Allan Pease and Barbara Pease