This year, I decided to embark on a year of HAPPINESS…a quest to choose happiness above everything else. It sounds like a good idea, right? Well… I am one month in and I discovered that ALWAYS choosing happiness may not be the best path.
If you dig deep enough, I bet you will discover that at the root of all of your desires is the motivation to feel happy. From the moment you wake-up in the morning you begin subconsciously asking,
“What will make me happy?”
It’s 5:30am. The alarm echoes throughout the bedroom shrieking, “Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.” You turn off the alarm and lay in the silence of your cozy bed. You have a choice: Stay in bed and catch an extra hour of shut-eye or wake up and go for a morning run. What do you choose? How do you decide?
Answer: You choose the option that will bring you the most happiness.
Some people sprint toward happiness (aka immediate gratification). Others marathon slow and steady (aka delayed gratification). Either way, you don’t willingly strap on your tennis shoes with the intention of feeling un-happy. You run to get a happiness-high.
You are addicted to happiness.
We are all addicted to happiness. Our society has conditioned us to believe that we SHOULD be happy. Always.
Heaven forbid you start to feel the inkling of an emotion like sadness (gasp) or anger (oh no, not that)! If that ever happens, you need to have a “plan” to get happy again. Then, voila. The un-happiness disappears…or does it? You see, the “get happy plan” doesn’t really make unhappiness disappear. It just covers it up.
Exercising, eating, shopping, taking medicine, and a glass of wine are all external means to a temporary mind numbing happiness high.
The runner’s-high fades.
The beer buzz ends.
The novelty and excitement of the new purchase dwindles.
Then, what are you left with? The discontent you thought “magically disappeared” is still there. Shopping, drinking, and eating don’t make feelings go away. They just cover them up. Stuff them away. Only to resurface after the temporary happiness fades.
Stuffing feelings beneath a facade of temporary happiness-highs is not the path to authentic, genuine happiness. Hiding feelings of discontent is like hiding a potato under your bed. After awhile, it rots and starts to stink. Then you really have a problem. Just think, all you had to do was deal with that potato–toss it in the garbage and let the garbage truck haul it away. But, nooooo…you thought it would be easier to stuff it under your bed rather than deal with it.
Everyday we experience a spectrum of emotions and that is TOTALLY NORMAL. But, somehow, society has made us believe that the ONLY choice is happiness. Feeling sad? Take a pill. Go on vacation. Eat this and you’ll feel happy again.Guess what? All that stuffing can literally make you sick.
A 2013 study conducted by psychologists from Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester found that suppressing emotions may increase the risk of dying from heart disease and certain forms of cancer. This confirms earlier studies that have linked negative emotions like anger, anxiety, and depression to the development of heart disease.
Next time you feel sad, you have a choice. Ante up for another game of hide your unhappiness and seek some external happiness. Or grab hold of that sadness…FEEL it, deal with it, let it go and move on. It’s like taking a dump. Everybody knows it feels better to pinch one off than hold it in. It is the same with feelings. But still, some people think it’s easier to hold emotions in.
I don’t want to deal with my anger or sadness or disappointment! I’ll just have a glass of wine and forget about it.
So, you hold on to it. Hide it away. And when the “emotional stink” starts to surface, you cover it up with a glass of wine or a trip to the mall. All better, right? Nope. It stinks worse tomorrow. Answer: more wine more shopping. A month later…totally rotten, but now you are stuffing it with a bottle of wine…and a mountain of credit card debt and…uh oh, you are on the slippery slope toward ADDICTION.
At what point does a behavior become an addiction? The answer is DEPENDENCE.
- If you NEED that wine or shopping or drug to feel good, you are on the pathway to addiction.
- If that hour of “retail therapy” is COMPULSIVE and UNCONTROLLABLE, you are on the path to addiction.
- If you CANNOT FEEL GOOD WITHOUT IT, it is an addiction.
It’s not hard to slide into a state of dependence upon external things to get a happiness-high. What can you do when you find yourself on the path to addiction?
What if…instead of covering your feelings with external sources happiness, you discovered happiness within yourself?
What if…you could be happy by actually letting go of the expectation that you should feel happy all the time? FEELING all of your emotions, releasing judgements about yourself or how you should be, and loving yourself exactly the way you are is the path toward authentic happiness.
What if…you could be happy by simply closing your eyes and finding that peaceful place within–where you know that your higher being is protected and loved beyond all measure.
The potential to discover authentic happiness is there. It is within you.
It may not be as easy as opening a bottle of wine, swallowing a pill, or swiping your credit card. But, this internal happiness is everlasting. It won’t fade.
This is how to do it: Steps to Authentic Happiness
So, what about my year of HAPPINESS? Oh, don’t you worry…I am still on a quest for happiness! It is just a quest for GENUINE, AUTHENTIC, INTERNAL happiness. 😊
Empowerful Parenting™ is giving children the power and opportunity to learn and grow by doing things for themselves.
In a society of “helicopter parents” who swoop in anytime their child is challenged or uncomfortable, Empowerful Parents understand that it is through life’s challenges that we grow.
Empowerful Parents give their children space and opportunity to learn through experience.
Empowerful Parents provide children with honest, loving guidance and positive support to develop independence and self-confidence.
Scenario: Your 6-year old wails from the couch, “Mom, I’m thirsty!”
The enabling parent:
Responds to needs by getting the child a drink.
The Empowerful Parent:
Says an empowering statement, “You are thirsty? What are you going to do?” (This statement says: I believe in your abilities. You are capable. I value your opinion.)
Then, gives space and time for child to think and respond.
If child needs help, parent offers guidance by saying, “You could get a cup from the panty for water or there are juice boxes in the refrigerator”
If child asks parent to do it for them, parent responds, “Let’s get your drink together. I can show you how, so you will know what to do next time you feel thirsty.”
Scenario: Your 10-year old has put off doing his book report–it is due tomorrow and he hasn’t even started yet.
The enabling parent:
Helps the child by basically doing the project for him so he won’t get a bad grade.
The Empowerful Parent:
Encourages the child with an empowering statement that helps the child recognize the strengths of the situation (i.e. “you still have plenty of time to finish the project” or “you are smart kid, I know you’ll figure it out”).
Then, The Empowerful Parent gives the child space and time for independent problem solving while remaining present for positive support.
Next, offers guidance when child requests assistance.
Finally, if needed parent works together with the child to help facilitate problem solving.
The Empowerful Parent sees challenges like this as an opportunity for the child to learn about time management.
Learn more: Empowerful Parenting™ Fox News interview
I can’t talk about Empowerful Parenting™ without giving a “shout out” to all of the people who have influenced my evolution as a parent. I am blessed to be surrounded by a community of Empowerful Parents. It is these amazing mamas and papas who have helped me to see the power of positive thinking, recognizing abilities and providing children with safe and appropriate opportunities for growth and independence. These relationships have helped me evolve from an enabling parent into an Empowerful Parent. Thanks to all of you…you know who you are 😉
Everyone wants to feel happy. Research indicates that solid relationships, engaging ways to spend your time and prosocial behavior all contribute to happiness.
But do you really NEED these things to feel happy? If your basic human needs are met is it possible to feel happy by simply being?
Spiritual teachings stress that happiness is real only when we let go of seeking material and transient things and discover the lasting joy that is within.
1. Lighten up. Quit taking yourself so seriously. So what if you farted in your office right before your boss walked in…$h!+ happens…to everyone. Including your boss.
2. Don’t label yourself or identify yourself with something external. You are not your body, your job, even your accomplishments. You are a spiritual being having a human experience.
3. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. If you can’t love yourself how can you accept love from anyone else?
4. Release the past and forgive yourself. What’s done is done. It cannot be changed. Move on.
5. Feelings are for feeling, not stuffing. Don’t constipate yourself with emotions you have stuffed away. Acknowledge and accept any and all feelings you experience. Cry. Laugh. Get angry. Scream. Tremble. Be afraid. Hiding your feelings only hurts you.
6. Meditate. Meditation gives you a sense of awareness beyond the sensory experiences of the material world. Meditation allows you to consciously move your awareness from the material to the immaterial.
Did YOU connect with your inner happiness? It might take some time, but keep at it. Happiness is there…I promise.
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?!?!
How to play:
- Smile at someone, anyone. It can be the cashier at the grocery store, your mom, a baby or the mail man.
- See if they smile back.
- If they do, hooray! You get one point.
- If they don’t, boo hoo. You lose one point.
- The goal is to get 10 points.
- 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!
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:
- Having FUN makes me happy…Spend more time playing, laughing and being silly.
- BALANCE in my life makes me happy…balance my time between work, play, relaxation, relationships, me-time, charity.
- SUCCESS and accomplishment makes me happy…Take daily action towards my life goals.
- 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.
- TRAVELING makes me happy…plan vacations, take road trips.
- Feeling HEALTHY makes me happy…walk the dog, walk with friends, do yoga, plan healthy meals, cook with my family, meditate.
- MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION makes me happy…spend time daily talking with my kids about topics beyond “how was your day”.
- INSPIRING others makes me happy…write inspiring blogs, public speaking, write inspirational book, practice affirmations.
- 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.
- Being CREATIVE makes me happy…write some more books (maybe with my kids), launch the Comfy Cup.
- 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?
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?