How to Play “The Smile Game”

Smiles are contagious. 

Every time you smile, you start a feel-good party in your brain.  Your brain starts throwing out neurotransmitters, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin like confetti. When other people sense your smile party, they want to join in too. Before you know it, your infectious smile has spread.  People all around you have contracted your contagious smile.  Scientist and spiritual teachers alike agree that smiling can transform you and the world around you. Current research (and common sense) shows us that a smile makes you appear more attractive to others. It lifts your mood as well as the moods of those around you, and it can even lengthen your life. So slap a smile on that face of yours.  Who knows who you will spread your case of the smiles to?!?!

THE SMILE GAME   The perfect great game for ANYONE, ANY AGE, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE!

How to play:

  1. Smile at someone, anyone.  It can be the cashier at the grocery store, your mom, a baby or the mail man.
  2. See if they smile back.
  3. If they do, hooray!  You get one point.
  4. If they don’t, boo hoo.  You lose one point.
  5. The goal is to get 10 points.
  6. This can be a contest between multiple people to see who gets to 10 points first or a race to see how quickly you can get to 10-points on your own.

My family has a blast playing this at the grocery store, at home with each other, at school…any where.  

Have fun and may the smiling odds ever be in your favor! 

 

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How to create your happiest year ever…

I love this time of year. The beginning of a new year. New goals. New aspirations. Excitement. Optimism. The start of something new brings the hope of something great!  We set goals to eat healthy, exercise more, lose weight, quit bad habits, be more productive…

Why do we set these goals?  

Is it because it’s the “right” thing to do, what we think we “should” do? Or, is it because doing these things will make us happy?

I challenge you, this year, to stop “shoulding” yourself and set your New Years resolutions based upon your soul’s deepest desire: HAPPINESS.  

Take a moment to reflect on your life. What moments do you remember with a smile? Is it busting your butt on the treadmill at 5am or is it that afternoon that you hiked through Tooth Fairy Forest with your family?

This year, instead of setting goals for things you SHOULD do, write a list of all the things that will make you HAPPY. Then, resolve to spend more time doing those things.  

Resolve to choose happiness above all “shoulds”.

I’m definitely not saying go hogwild on the fried chicken at Country Kitchen buffet or spend the year sitting on your couch laughing at reruns of Seinfeld. Those activities might make you happy in the moment, but when December 31, 2016 rolls around are those the moments that you will remember?

Resolve to create moments worth remembering.

I am certain this resolution will lead you to your HAPPIEST year yet!

What are your resolutions to create happiness? I’d love to read them!

A few of my resolutions to create happiness:

  1. Having FUN makes me happy…Spend more time playing, laughing and being silly.
  2. BALANCE in my life makes me happy…balance my time between work, play, relaxation, relationships, me-time, charity.
  3. SUCCESS and accomplishment makes me happy…Take daily action towards my life goals.
  4. Spending QUALITY TIME with my loved ones and friends makes me happy…have parties, celebrate everything, host more happy hours, lunch dates, put down my phone and Be present with people, snuggle my family and puppy.
  5. TRAVELING makes me happy…plan vacations, take road trips.
  6. Feeling HEALTHY makes me happy…walk the dog, walk with friends, do yoga, plan healthy meals, cook with my family, meditate.
  7. MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION makes me happy…spend time daily talking with my kids about topics beyond “how was your day”.  
  8. INSPIRING others makes me happy…write inspiring blogs, public speaking, write inspirational book, practice affirmations.
  9. Being KIND and HELPFUL makes me happy…continue working as a pediatric OT,  volunteer at kids’ school, volunteer on HOA board, do lots of random acts of kindness.
  10. Being CREATIVE makes me happy…write some more books (maybe with my kids), launch the Comfy Cup.
  11. Having FREEDOM and FREE TIME makes me happy…So I vow to practice saying “no thanks” to thongs and things that don’t make me happy! (haha, typo that I decided to leave in–because thongs don’t make me happy…I much prefer a cozy booty-covering underpant). No thanks to thongs that ride up my crack!  Also, no thanks to any THING doesn’t create FUN or FREE TIME or HAPPY AND MEMORABLE MOMENTS.

Each year, I choose a “word for the year”.  Several people have asked what my word is this year.

 This year, my word is HAPPINESS.

    What is yours? 

    5 Things To Do Before 2016

    Although the high temp in Lenexa is 56 degrees today.  (Woo Hoo!) It’s officially winter. Yes, winter is here and spring is just around the corner.  From now on, the days will gradually lengthen.  I love this time of year.  It’s a time for reflecting on everything you have.  All the things, people, and experiences you are grateful for. This is the time to look forward to a new beginning.  It’s the time for setting goals and intentions for the new year.

    Amidst the buzz of the holidays, take some time to quiet your mind and do these five things to prepare yourself for the new year:

    1. Make a list of all the things you love.

    2. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for.

    3. Answer these questions and set your intentions for 2015.

       -When are you the happiest?

       -What is something that you can share with others to improve their lives?

       -Where do you see yourself one year from now?

       -What is your personal mission statement?

       -What are your values?

    4. Make a vision board.

    5. Take time to play. Be silly and have fun.

    The greatest gift you have is the gift of creation.  You were born to create.  You are constantly creating and you probably don’t even realize it.  You create thoughts, love, kindness.

    You create your own future…what will you create in 2016?

    “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio should be a required read for everyone.

    “Wonder” is the story of a ten year-old boy with severe facial abnormalities and his transition from home-schooling to fifth grade at a Manhattan private school.  While the meat of the book addresses bullying and acceptance, it also has a deeper layer that speaks to the soul.  

    “Wonder” enlightens readers to become more conscious of their thoughts, words, and actions. It brings awareness to the power of kindness and compassion.  And, it teaches readers that judgement and blame are not the path to growth.  It is through awareness, acceptance, and forgiveness that we learn from our mistakes and grow to become better and brighter human beings.  
    Our children spend thousands of hours in classrooms learning the subjects of reading, writing, math and science.  Yet, how much time is devoted to the lessons that are truly important in life?  Lessons about kindness, compassion, love and acceptance.  Lessons in accepting yourself and others for the wonderfully unique beings we are.  Why do we spend so much time teaching kids math facts and spelling words when we should be teaching them to love themselves and love others?
    This book had me sobbing tears of joy and sadness.  It revealed wonderful life-lessons in language and topics that children and adults can both relate to.  Through laughter and tears, “Wonder” teaches:
    1.  Our perspective creates our journey.  
    2.  In all cases choose kindness.
    3.  Reflect on your mistakes and learn from them.  
    There are so many other beautiful life lessons expressed in this WONDERful story it is a definite MUST READ for any age, young or old.  

    Don’t hate.  Don’t judge.

    Any label someone gives you is a judgment. 

    You work too hard.
    You talk too much.
    You are too skinny.   
    You are a horrible mother. 
    You are a wonderful cook.

    Each of these statements is a judgment based upon the individual’s own perspective.
    We were not put on this earth to judge. We are here to discover who we are and what unique gifts we can share with others to make the world a better place.
    You are not what anyone else defines you to be.
    Only you know who you are. Because only you can hear the unique whisper of your soul.

    The next time someone judges or labels you, try this:
    Simply say, “hmmm…that’s an interesting point of view.”
    It is an easy, non-judgemental way of saying “I hear you, but I am choosing not to argue about this.”
    Take a minute now, and think about how many times a day you place judgment on others.

    Her shoes don’t match that dress.
    They should not let their child run around the restaurant.
    His house is a mess.

    Most of the time we only think these thoughts. But, thinking them can be just as nasty as saying them.
    Yikes!
    Instead of judging, try wondering.

    I wonder if she has another pair of shoes?
    I wonder why their child is running around the restaurant?
    I wonder how their house became such a mess?

    See how easy it is to transfer a statement of judgment to a question?
    When we question and wonder, we expand our mind to other possibilities.

    Happy Tootie Toot-Toot Day! (2-22-2015)

    We have so much to celebrate. Every day of the year should be a holiday. Which is why last year, I created a new holiday which is a day dedicated to the Gas we Pass: February 22nd (2/22), “Tootie Toot-Toot Day”.

    On my blog, spreadlovingkindness, I am embarking on a mission to spread love and kindness and encourage others to do the same. Passing gas can be a hilarious means of spreading kindness. What!?!? Did she just say, spread love through farts? Yep. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that farting is always a means of spreading kindness. Let’s be honest, sometimes a “Dutch oven”can be downright mean.
    But, really, who doesn’t chuckle when they hear a rip-roaring toot?
    We can all use a good laugh every now and then. So, why not break the ice by breaking a little wind? And see if you can get someone else to “crack” a smile while you are at it.
    Check out this video where a hilarious farting family spreads laughter with a little gas passing prank.

    Happy Tootie Toot-Toot Day!

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    How does it get any better than this?

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    It’s the first day of 2015. Two-thousand and FUN-teen is over. Now what? My intention to live 2014 having fun was a huge success…
    I made new friends.
    Connected with old friends.
    Played and laughed with my kids.
    Took vacations.
    Sprouted creative ideas.
    Materialized those ideas.
    Celebrated ordinary days.
    Wore funny costumes.
    Snuggled my giant puppy.
    Had slumber parties with my kids.
    Took time for date night with my hubby.
    Tried new things.
    Learned new things.
    Asked lots of questions.

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    It’s a question that I hold in my mind at the beginning of 2015…

    “How does it get any better than this?”

    One of the many things I learned this year is that when I ask questions, the Universe answers them.

    It is with excitement and giddy anticipation that I look forward to how the universe will answer my question for 2015…
    How DOES it get any better than this amazingly FUN 2014?

    I know it does. I know it will. With a new book, a sprouting business, a trip to Hawaii and 364 1/2 days ahead of me to fill with amazing awesomeness…I know it can and will get better.
    But the HOW (this is where the fun is hidden)…the HOW I am going to leave up to the Universe.

    My hubby says, “You can’t have a question for your intention for the new year.” So, to satisfy him, and anyone else (including my children) who think a question is an unacceptable intention, I ALSO choose 2015 to spread loving kindness. I have learned that what you GIVE you RECEIVE. So with the intention of spreading my love and kindness, I hope to receive loving kindness as well.

    Check out my website: spreadlovingkindness.org where I will be sharing how I #spreadlovingkindness in 2015.
    I invite you to #spreadlovingkindness this year as well and share your stories with me on Facebook.

    With LOVE and KINDNESS I wish you a Happy New Year!

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    I turned into a bear on the eve of Christmas Eve.

    I try very hard to maintain a positive attitude and remain optimistic. I make a conscious effort everyday to see the glass as half-full, to play, to be creative and have fun. I do a pretty good job (most days) rolling with life’s waves and finding humor in things.
    However, on the eve of Christmas Eve, I turned into a bear…a growling, snarling, grizzly bear.
    I felt the storm coming upon me earlier that day. As I was driving to work, the list of things I needed to get done that evening were already scrolling through my mind. Then, I started having anxious, stressful thoughts. You know, the “Christmas is in two days” thoughts:
    Have I wrapped everyone’s gift?
    Did I wash all the sheets for my houseguests?
    Are all the holiday meals planned?
    Did I put away the bras hanging in the hallway before my father-in-law arrives?

    “Take a deep breath,” I literally said out loud to myself. “It will be fine.”
    But I could feel myself sinking into the stress abyss.
    “I am equipped to overcome this,” I thought.
    I sent a few text messages to some of my favorite people telling them how much I love them.

    Love conquers all.

    This helped…my spirits were lifted. I forgot about the evening to do list and smiled about how much I adore my friends.

    I made it home from work with a smile on my face (a glass of wine with a friend after work also helped this).

    “I don’t feel good, Mom,” my son said.
    The Stress Storm hit me like a tsunami.
    WHAT?!?! A sick kid? This was not on my list of things to do tonight!
    My mind started racing.

    Deep Breath.

    Love conquers all.

    I was able to maintain my composure to comfort my son, do a fever check and make a bowl of chicken noodle soup.
    I held it together enough to prepare a meal for my family and my in-laws.
    I repeated my mantra:

    “Love conquers all.”

    I snuggled my son on the couch, then helped him get to bed.
    “Stay in here with me, Mom, he pleaded.”

    Love conquers all.

    I snuggled next to him on his bed, stroking his hair as he dozed off.
    Until…Little Sister entered.
    “Mom, tuck me in!”
    “No. Stay here with me.”
    “Mom, tuck ME in!”
    “No…don’t leave (sobbing)!”

    “Where is your dad?” I asked.

    “Busy. Just tuck me in, Mom.”

    “Okay,” I said. “I will tuck you in, Sis. Then I will be back to tickle your head, Buddy.”

    (Sobbing continues)

    After tucking in Sis, I ran downstairs to find my dear husband getting a haircut from his Pop in the basement…
    My mind raced…We have kids to tuck in, gifts to wrap, dishes to do, meals to prep, laundry to fold and YOU ARE GETTING A HAIRCUT!?!?
    (can you hear the record stop?)
    SCREEEECH

    “MOM, WHERE ARE YOU?” I heard my son call from upstairs.

    This is when I cracked.
    Like a grizzly bear hatching out of a dinosaur egg I roared.

    I said a few short words to my husband about needing help and the things HE needed to do on MY to do list. I threw around a few gift bags and rolls of wrapping paper, huffed at my dear mother-in-law and stomped into my son’s room still growling.
    That is where I fell asleep.

    When I woke up in the morning, I literally ached. What in the he!! happened last night?
    I imagine this is how Michael J. Fox felt in the movie Teen Wolf, after he turned from werewolf back into a normal teenager.
    Then, I remembered…the roaring, the growling.
    Yikes, I had some emotional cleaning up to do.

    I said my mantra: “Love conquers all.”
    I sent an apology email to my husband who had already left for work.
    I apologized to my mother-in-law for my outburst–and she said she understood and forgave me.
    I forgave myself and decided to move on. I felt worlds better. More like a human-less like a bear.

    We all turn into bears or wolves every now and then.

    When you feel an animalistic rage storm coming upon you,
    it helps to remember this mantra:

    “Love conquers all.”

    and follow these steps…

    1. Try to shelter yourself from those outRAGEous thoughts by filling your mind with LOVE.
    -text a love note to your spouse
    -email an old friend to say you kids them
    -hold the door for a stranger
    -smile at a baby
    -pet an animal

    2. If the storm hits, take charge on clean-up duty.
    -say “I am sorry”
    -ask for forgiveness
    -forgive yourself
    -move on…the past is done…focus on NOW.

    Did anyone else turn into a wild animal before the holidays? I’d love to hear your story.
    If you haven’t cleaned up your mess after the storm yet, today is a good day to do it!

    Love conquers all!

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    At the heart of it all- is love.

    When I said, “I do” to Mr. Russell Sprout, I acquired the most wonderful loving, supportive and compassionate husband. Plus, a patient, wise and fun father to our children AND (huge added bonus) a guy with a slew of kick-ass friends.
    I mean, I really struck gold with my hubby’s buddies. These guys are a delicious mixed salad of hilariously funny, smart, supportive (I could go on…) and they are there anytime you need them. I love these guys.
    I am feeling especially grateful for the witty, creative (although he denies this quality), compassionate, “Johnny V”.
    This awesome marketing mega mind and consultant-extraordinaire, spent his Sunday afternoon helping me devise a business and marketing strategy for my Brussell’s Sprouts business.

    As I was literally chopping Brussels Sprouts in my kitchen for dinner this afternoon, I was thinking about my business goals as Johnny V had guided me to do. I asked myself, “what is at the heart of my mission for this Brussell’s Sprouts business venture?”
    (Side note: For those who don’t know, when you’re struggling with a decision, the best thing to do is to ask a question. I swear, every time I do it the universe delivers an answer almost immediately.)
    I looked down into my pile of chopped Brussels Sprouts, and there it was:
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    Right there, two halves of Brussels Sprouts had perfectly aligned themselves to create a heart shape and I knew then…

    at the heart of my business plan is love…duh-at the heart of everything is love!

    Why would I run my business any differently?
    At that moment, I realized, that this business plan will probably not look like every other generic business plan that you can read about on the Internet. My unique idea of a business plan is one with a foundation of love. Love for yourself and love for others.

    The ideas and products grown through Brussell’s Sprouts will be rooted in love and cultivated with creativity, charity, compassion and kindness.

    Just like those kick-ass friendships my hubby has grown (in the most tough, manly, fist-bumping way possible).

    Wow, I am feeling so full of gratitude and love for the people I have in my life. And, judging from this huge pile of brussels sprouts, I’m going to be feeling very full of them later this evening too!


    Thanks, Randy, for having seriously awesome friends (and sharing them with me).

    Thanks, Johnny V, for the gift of your time and knowledge. I am so grateful for your expertise.

    Watch out Law and Dries…I am hitting you up next for some financial guidance.

    Spread loving kindness

    I just read chapter 4 of Pam Grout’s new book, E-Cubed.
    One of the tasks in experiment #4 is to “Be a love bomber”.
    In the experiment, you are supposed to leave “I love you” notes in random places, such as: inside a library book, on the sign in the subway, etc.

    Over the summer, we got a new car. I post affirmations all over my car, in my glove box, mirror, etc. This is the affirmation I posted on the rear hatch:
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    It says, “I see and experience love everywhere.” Guess what this lovely affirmation attracted in my life…

    One night, I was driving home from work and a car pulled out in front of me on K-10. Part of me wanted to give the driver the finger. However, written in shoe polish on the back window were the words, “I love you”. Some people would have assumed that a boyfriend wrote that on his girlfriend’s car or something, but not me. I totally interpreted that the message was written for me. I had to laugh and said out loud, “I love you too.”
    It made me think that we need more signs on the back of our cars saying, “I love you”, just like Pam suggests in her book.
    We need to spread loving kindness and what better place to do it than on our cars where we Americans spend a lot of time.
    So, I went home that night and made this bumper sticker:

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    This all happened around the same time that the ice bucket challenge was really going viral.
    I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if people were as excited about spreading love as they were about dumping ice on their heads?
    So, I went so far as to include a website on the bumper sticker (spreadlovingkindness.org).
    Anyway, I printed a bunch of cards with this “I love you” logo on them that I intended to pass out…but I haven’t yet done it yet. After I read chapter four, Pam put a fire under my pants to pass those babies out!
    So, be on the look-out, world!
    I am about to start spreading some loving kindness!

    Also, if you haven’t you seen the movie, The Love Bomb, check it out: Love Bomb: The Movie
    Dr. Rhea Zimmerman knows all about what it means to spread loving kindness.

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