Tag Archives: happiness

True Freedom

7 4 15 FireworksHappy 4th of July to my fellow Americans! As we celebrate the birth of our nation and our nation’s freedoms, after the burgers are eaten and the fireworks have lit up the sky – let’s think about our inner freedom.

How free do you feel? You might not be in a cell behind bars, but what prison bars have you created for your spirit?

Self-doubt
Low self-esteem
Fear
Bad habits
Unforgiveness
Hatred

It’s time to release those things that are not serving us. To choose to love, starting with ourselves.

The Bible says to love our neighbor as ourselves, but if we don’t love ourself how can we then love our neighbor?

It’s that airline “put the oxygen mask on yourself first” principle. I had a hard time understanding that principle at first because I am such a giver! But I understand now.

Do you ever talk to yourself? What do you say?

Do you say, “Oh, I’m stupid! Why did I do that?” If you wouldn’t say something to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself!

What are your inner voices telling you? There is a good movie in theaters now for you to see, and take your children to! “Inside Out” is a story of the voices inside a young girl’s head: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. Great lessons to learn here!

Make sure you listen to your positive voices!

Be good to yourself. Start by scheduling 5-10 minutes in the day to pause, reflect, meditate, be thankful. Acknowledge a skill that you have and be thankful for it.

Look in the mirror and say, “I love you.” More than once. And mean it. It might be harder than you think!

Self-care is not selfish, it is vital to our physical health and wellbeing. When we love ourselves, work on our personal growth, and free ourselves from the fears and doubts that hold us back, then we will have even more love to give.

So this weekend, make a choice. Start setting yourself free from those things that hold you back. Love yourself enough to move forward.

Louise Hay’s favorite quote is, “Life loves you.”

Feel the love today and every day, and be free.

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The Seeds of Happy

IDOH March 20March has arrived like a lion, fast and furious, and all the people at Live Happy are hard at work promoting the United Nations International Day of Happiness on March 20. I took the Happy Acts challenge (go to Happy Acts.org) which is to perform at least one “Happy Act” per day and either post it, Tweet it or Pin it #HappyActs.

Wow, do we actually have to take an online challenge to ensure that we do something nice for someone every day? I would like to hope not. 

I am making the discovery that when I plant a “happy seed,” I get my own flowers blooming almost instantly. Or so it seems. I am a friendly and giving person anyway but I had started consciously looking for good deeds to do last week. It felt like a fun game.

Friday on my way to Whole Foods, I let a car into traffic on a busy road. Five minutes later after I had parked, I felt led to check my email before I went into the store. There was an email telling me I had a discount on something I needed at a certain store, but only available that weekend. My first thought was, “Oh darn, that store is in the opposite direction across town;” my second thought was, “Oh wait, there is a branch across the street from where I am now!” Convenient! I’m all for the two birds with one stone principle. I was happy!

This weekend a friend had invited me to join them on a little day trip excursion; they could have gone by themselves, but you know fun is always better when shared. I thought long and hard about this for several reasons, including the time that I needed to spend on other things, but opted to go on the fun excursion. Besides it was going to give us a chance to catch up on productive conversation.

Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day, the breeze was exhilarating and there were new, fun activities we found to do at this local attraction. We also discovered the fun things we could do with the panorama feature on our camera phones! We went a little panorama crazy! I know this sounds a little silly but, isn’t life about the simple pleasures? We got some really spectacular photos!

Last night I was tired, but very happy that I had taken the time to enjoy fun and sunshine with my friend. The irony was that on this morning’s session of Wake Up Happy the featured speaker talked about the emotional benefits of getting out into nature and stimulating environments and especially sharing them with other people. That was certainly a confirmation of a well-made decision on my part!

So far I have found that the “game” of Happy Acts is a win-win game. When you plant the seed of making someone else happy, it will make you happy and you will reap unexpected blessings in return. You reap what you sow. Like a stone thrown into a pond, the ripples extend out further than we know.

Take the Happy Acts challenge and see what happens in your life. Then on March 20, don’t let the game end there. Let it continue the rest of the year and see what you reap. You can follow my Happy Acts this month at @gloriagrehl on Twitter. What will you do?

Be Your Whole Self

12 8 14 Cranky cat“Because I’m Happpppy!” Well, what if you feel crankyyyyy? Do you ever feel guilty because you are constantly told that you should be “happy” but you are not always?

Some experts think the most toxic idea in the happiness movement is that you should always feel good and run from feeling bad. So maybe it’s okay to feel cranky once in a while?

Dr. Todd B. Kashdan, scientist, author and professor of psychology at George Mason University, was a featured speaker last week on the December Wake Up Happy series.

Todd’s recently released book  The Upside to Your Dark Side discusses our ability to access our full range of emotions and behavior—not just the “good” ones—in order to respond most effectively to whatever situation we might meet. Appreciating our entire psychology makes us whole.

What does wholeness mean? Although we know that we have a multi-faceted personality, we tend to focus only on the positive aspects, and shy away from the difficult sides of our personalities. When we prematurely discard other sides of our personality, we’re not whole.

How can we harness the dark sides of ourselves instead of trying to hide them or ignore them?

While it might be useful to avoid uncomfortable feelings, what are the consequences of this? Anger and anxiety are not necessarily debilitating. By always striving to be happy, we get anxious about “being anxious!” We create negative feelings “about having these feelings.” The only thing to fear… is fear itself!

All emotions and thoughts are tools.

Which tool is right for the situation I’m in? Kashdan says we need to get rid of the notion that being happy is good and being unhappy is bad. In this way, we are applying a “moral judgment” to happiness that perhaps does not belong there. Sometimes people who are a little “too” happy have less perseverance. Kashdan’s point of view is very interesting because it seems to contradict some of what we’ve heard elsewhere.

Sometimes we will be happy and sometimes we won’t. If we are so afraid of painful emotions, we will not take risks. Don’t make a bad mood even worse by judging yourself and criticizing yourself for “being” in a bad mood. Create a climate where all emotions have value.

Have we as a society tried too hard to banish negative emotions, when in fact they could bring us closer to other people?

Do not try to force yourself to be happy when evolutionarily, we are meant to feel emotions such as sadness. If we acknowledge that sadness, we can ask for help and connect with other people. Let your emotions be present in the moment. Acknowledge. Move on. Don’t wallow.

There are many effective ways to boost ourselves out of a bad mood. Talking to a friend about your emotions, even if they are negative, will be helpful. Even being on the receiving end of anger, 76% of people say that because of that anger they understand themselves better. Check out Dr. Kashdan’s website at http://toddkashdan.com to learn more about his controversial work.

Where is the line between acknowledging and expressing negativity and wallowing in despair? It’s all about energy. Mix in three bits of action for every negative thought. Action will counteract your “wallowing.” Those actions will help you get out of your head and into your life. 

Here is an example and a confession. The other day I was cranky and I got an idea. I was driving in my car and put in my CD with Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and tried to rewrite the lyrics as “because I’m cranky.” It was impossible not to smile with glee as I tried to sing words counterintuitive to the music! Result: I was no longer cranky!

Accept the dark side, as well as the light. Acknowledge. Move on. Only then can we be fully whole. 

Now go. The next time you get in a bad mood, I double-dog-dare you to sing: “I’m cranky.” 🙂

Let It Go

11 10 14 forgivenessThis week the content of a Wake Up Happy webinar had so much great content, I felt it deserved its own blog. The guest speaker was Dr. Fred Luskin, Director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project. You can read more about his work at Learning to Forgive.

Forgiveness is a big topic in its own right. I’m sure everyone reading this has been hurt in some way and may hold bitterness in their heart. These feelings have more consequences that we realize.

When you hold onto “junk” from your past, it makes it very difficult to be happy.

By “junk” I mean things like anger and grudges that could be resolved by forgiving and letting go. If we don’t learn to let go of these negative emotions, the stress of them has health consequences, such as high blood pressure, muscle tension, anxiety and more. Forgive what happened and move on, before we create serious physical damage to ourselves.

The ability to forgive is inside of everyone. We are hard-wired with the capacity to be positive; we just have to learn how to access it.

This takes us back to the idea of choosing happiness and focusing on the positives instead of the pain. By saying “I’ll never get over it” you create strong mental pathways that make getting over it difficult, says Dr. Luskin. We need to cut through the layers of damage and reach a sense of forgiveness. Start saying to ourselves that we can get over it.

Are you creating an “emotional prison” for yourself by holding onto grudges instead of forgiving?

Have you made the decision that you are going to forgive? We need to make a decision about what kind of life it is that we want.

Have you said to yourself, “I’ve suffered enough. There’s nothing I can do with this. I am stewing in my anger, so I need to change. It is up to me to make that change. Do I want to keep suffering, or embrace happiness for myself?” The decision is up to you.

Forgiveness is a subsection of the happiness decision.

When you blame anyone from your past for why you’re not happy today, that’s a real problem. It’s tempting to blame outside sources for all of our suffering, but that is not the path to creating a better life. Sometimes it’s easier to blame others, and parents oftentimes get the bad rap. Maybe they didn’t do a great job, but now in the present, it’s up to us to make ourselves happier and more forgiving.

The decision to be happy and forgive means you have to work at it. We can only control our own lives; looking back with anger and blame will only cause us more hurt. One exercise you can do is to write a letter to your parent explaining why something she/he did may have hurt you. Don’t mail it! Just put it in a drawer. This act in itself can be very cathartic.

It takes a lot of effort to let go of anger and grudges, but there is a major pay-off: better health and wellbeing!

It takes a lot of work to be happy, but it also takes a lot of work to be unhappy! Put your effort towards the happy!

Try an exercise this week: choose one person who might have been unkind to you, and do something kind for that person. You will feel all the better when you do this, not only emotionally but physically.

Put forgiveness into action. “Let it go.”

Live Happy – Part Deux

ae420ec5ac8e16745144860a5729b85dThe “Live Happy” people were at it again last week. They are going to do this every month, so get ready for your monthly dose of “happy.”

Unfortunately I missed the one speaker that I was most interested in hearing because I needed to be on the road at the time!

These are a series of 30-minute web conversations with New York Times best-selling authors and experts in the fields of happiness, business and positive psychology. Hosted by Live Happy CEO Kym Yancey, the guest speakers share tips on how to tap into the power of happiness. Listeners interact and post questions.

Research proves that happiness is a major force behind your success in business, relationships and much more. Make a decision to “live happy” and check out the resources provided by the Live Happy organization. Become a Happiness Ambassador!

Here are some nuggets from the past week just for you!

October 13, 2014
Dr. Drew Ramsey – Happier with Every Bite
Author of The Happiness Diet discusses how poor diet and nutrition can cause anxiety and depression. His new book 50 Shades of Kale provides 50 exciting recipes for this superfood.

Brain health begins at the end of your fork.

Change the architecture of your brain by picking healthy food.

Some foods actually contribute to depression, such as soda and the trans fats in processed food.

Dark chocolate gives a mental boost!

“I witness people transform themselves every day-from tears to smiles, chaos to calm. We all have the power to build happy, vibrant lives. Since every molecule in your brain begins at the end of your fork, that’s where I like to start.” – Dr. Drew Ramsey

October 14, 2014
James Pawelski – The Positive Portfolio
Dr. James O. Pawelski, Director of Education and Senior Scholar in the Positive Psychology Center and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania is widely published on the topics of positive psychology and philosophy.

Don’t wait around for happy to happen.

Happiness = human flourishing = a deep sense of well-being.

What’s in your Positive Portfolio? The Positive Portfolio is a collection of items that give you love, happiness and confidence. Think about a strength or positive emotion that you want to cultivate. Gather pictures, emails, music, etc. that help cultivate that strength or positive emotion. Focus 15 minutes a day on your “Positive Portfolio.” Add frequently to your Portfolio.

Bring mindfulness to your life; bring in the good happening around you.

Sometimes you wake up happy, and sometimes you have to wake up your happy!

October 15, 2014
Judson Laipply – Discover Your Happy Senses
Judson is a motivational speaker and dancer, best known for his performance in the Evolution of Dance viral video clip. In 2006, it was the #1 Most Viewed All Time Video and #1 Top Rated Video on YouTube.
The Evolution of Dance

Happiness is a decision, an attitude, a way of life.

Don’t hope for things, decide for things.

Make people happy and flood people’s brains with dopamine so that they remember what you say.

You cannot light another’s path, without lighting your own.

The more we share happiness, the happier we are.

The flame we have together is bigger than two individual flames.

Our words are powerful, It’s ok to day, “Yes, I am going to have a good day!”

Vocabulary lesson for the day: Perspicacity-Understanding how our perception affects our reality.

If you perceive the world through the lens of “I’m going to be happy” you can find things to make you happy.

Purpose and passion are hard to have without the other. “Pur-passion!” They feed on each other.

We have 5 “happy senses” – “pur-passion” (purpose and passion), play, harmony, perception and gratitude!

Giving isn’t giving until you give to someone who could never pay you back.

October 16, 2014
Michelle McQuaid – Wellbeing in the Workplace
Michelle is a best-selling author, workplace well-being teacher and playful change activator. She is passionate about translating cutting-edge research from positive psychology and neuroscience into practical strategies for health, happiness and business success.

Prime your brain before you go to sleep to cue up your morning habits.

During the day, make sure you get up frequently and move around, get up and drink water, create an inflection point to refresh yourself.

Inject a moment of positivity to short circuit that downward spiral that can happen at work. A jolt of joy = anything that puts a smile on your face.

You have a choice in how you feel and how you show up.

October 17, 2014
Mary Jane Ryan – The Happiness Makeover
MJ Ryan, a personal change expert and executive coach, is the author of How to Survive Change…You Didn’t Ask For: Bounce Back, Find Calm in Chaos, and Reinvent Yourself.

Accidental acts of happiness help us to become happier.

Accidental acts of kindness help us to become happier.

Gratitude is an “and” experience. No matter what is going on in your life, you can always appreciate and enjoy.

What can you still appreciate despite the difficulty and negative circumstances?

It’s not permanent; it’s not personal; it’s not pervasive.

We catch our feelings from our friends.

Give a smile to someone else today.

“We can be happier because we can grow and change until we take our very last breath.” – MJ Ryan

Create a Positive Habit

10 13 14 21dhl-2

Last month during the “Wake Up Happy” webinars (see the September 29, 2014 blog) Michelle Gielan shared these tips:

“Perform three actions for 21 days and create a habit.

  1. Send a positive email to someone you love about what they mean to you.
  2. Post a Tweet or Facebook about something positive.
  3. When someone asks how are you, respond briefly with a positive answer.”

These are great habits to cultivate, especially sending an email of appreciation to someone. A new friend of mine started an “appreciation game” asking others in our group to send a note of appreciation via postal mail to their loved ones and then share the results. I received a very hilarious card from Cristi, which was very interesting because while we are new acquaintances, she was exactly on target about what my humor would respond to! It gave me a big laugh! How did she know?

This exercise led me to Google the words “appreciation project.” Wouldn’t you know, you can find just about anything on the internet. Yes, there is such a movement; check it out at Global Appreciation Project. I will put this on my Bucket List to take part in!

There is also an official “smile project.” You can check it out at The Smile Project.

I notice a definite difference in my interactions when I go out in public with a smile and radiate positive vibes. I failed a little on that yesterday when out on a shopping errand. Even though karma had been in my favor allowing me to find a sizeable coupon before it expired that day, I still let some things get me cranky. Yes, I’m human and I have no problem admitting that. Something had set me askew. The important fact is that I noticed something was off, and my inner compass wanted to get back on track. That realization was a bit of a revelation. Once you start developing your positive self, when you do go off track, that nature notices and starts nudging you saying, “Hey, you’re going off track.” Many people go through their day not even aware they are grumpy. When you start exercising your “positive muscles,” that “muscle memory” is going to show up and help you. That’s a good feeling.

What “positive One-a-Day” habits are you practicing to develop your “positive muscle memory?” Positive input habits create positive output habits.

Next week the Live Happy people are doing another “Wake Up Happy” week. Start your day with 30 minutes of inspiration. Since we know there are people on the other side of the world who will be participating, in their case it will be “going to sleep happy!” Sign up at Wake Up Happy.

There are two other daily bits of positive nourishment that come my way. One is a very short email note, only a paragraph and easy to consume every morning. These are quirky, personalized messages of inspiration and wisdom. Mike Dooley’s Notes from The Universe.

Second is the Positively Positive newsletter, a daily digest of some of the most amazing blogs on positive living that I’ve ever read. Sadly, I don’t read all of their blogs every morning because my inner “to do” engine wants me to get up and start “doing” right away. But I am starting to think I need to create a new morning habit and spend an extra five or ten minutes reading each one, that’s how good they are! Here’s another Bucket List wish – that I become a blog contributor on Positively Positive!

Decide this week what positive habits you want to start practicing. Sign up for Wake Up Happy this week, and even if you miss the week’s program you can always join their movement anytime.

Sign up for Notes from The Universe.

Sign up for Positively Positive.

Create your own ritual or habit. Remember, positive input habits create positive output habits.

Get a pack of Post-it notes and leave happy notes in public places for people to find. Perform random acts of kindness. Show someone appreciation. When you leave the house, remember to compliment the first person you see and make them smile.

Do this for 21 days and create a habit.

How to Live Happy

9 29 14 HappinessLast week I woke up happy every day at 9:30 AM Eastern time!

Actually at that time I participated in a series of 30-minute web conversations with New York Times best-selling authors and experts in the fields of happiness, business and positive psychology. Hosted by Live Happy CEO Kym Yancey, the guest speakers shared tips on how to tap into the power of happiness. Participants were able to interact and post questions.

Research proves that happiness is a major force behind your success in business, relationships and much more.

Make a decision to “live happy” and check out the resources provided by the Live Happy organization.

Here are some nuggets from the past week just for you! Make it a Happy Week!

September 22, 2014:
Sean Achor – New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness

“In the Greek, happiness is defined as: the joy you feel growing towards your potential.”

“90% of your happiness perception is internal, or how your brain is looking at things. 10% is the reality. Change the way you look at the problem.”

“Happiness is a choice.”

September 23, 2014:
Hyram W. Smith – Creator of the Franklin Day Planner

“Pain is inevitable. Misery is optional.”

“What drives you? Why do you do things?
There are three motivators:

  1. Fear – I have to.
  2. Duty – I ought to.
  3. Love – I want to.”

“Do one thing: find out what matters most to you, write it down, make it a personal Constitution.”

“When there is a gap between ‘value’ and ‘doing’ there is pain.”

“Forgiveness requires remembering, and in remembering, deciding it doesn’t matter anymore.”

September 24, 2014:
Gretchen Rubin – Creator of popular blog and best-selling book The Happiness Project

“To be happy we need strong intimate bonds with people. Foster quality relationships and create your own group of people with whom to interact if your present circle is too small.”

“You can’t change someone else. You can only change yourself.”

“Happiness is contagious.”

September 25, 2014:
Michelle Gielan – Former CBS Morning News anchor and founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research

“When we broadcast a happier and positive mindset to others, it unlocks the brain for higher potential.”

“Cultivating an optimistic mindset fuels our happiness and success, but too often we stop there. Expressing that positive outlook with others multiplies the benefits for all.”

“Connecting through positivity with our colleagues, friends, spouses and children strengthens the breadth and depth of our relationships – the greatest predictor of happiness we have – and it unlocks everyone’s potential for success by creating an environment where there is a belief that positive change is possible.”

“Perform three actions for 21 days and create a habit.

  1. Send a positive email to someone you love about what they mean to you.
  2. Post a Tweet or Facebook about something positive.
  3. When someone asks how are you, respond briefly with a positive answer.”

September 26, 2014:
Jeff Olson – Founder of Live Happy and author of the best-selling book The Slight Edge

“Focus on your personal philosophy and attitude and surround yourself with like-minded people. If things aren’t working, take a step back and look at your philosophy. You can’t be positive when you hang out with non-positive people.

  1. It’s all about the moment! We all have big dreams, but the only thing you have is the moment. Live in the moment, but don’t judge in the moment. Are you making the most out of this moment?
  1. Do the little things consistently and persistently, the little things that matter in the moment everyday.
  1. Stop worrying, just do it. Most people spend their time worrying about something instead of doing something. Do something about it, close the gap!
  1. Happiness is the precursor to being successful.
  1. When you truly become happy, you help other people become happier, and the happiness compounds itself. When you start giving and sharing, you become a better version of yourself!”

“The truth is, what you do matters. What you do today matters. What you do everyday matters. Successful people just do the things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them and they do them over and over until the compound effect kicks in.”