Most of the country is snowed in or slowed down again this weekend by one of the coldest, whitest winters in years. Snow is piled high and deep or melting into a mushy mess, and taking everyone’s good mood with it. It’s natural to feel a bit down; Christmas is long gone, the sweet fun of Valentine’s may still be on our lips, but the fear it (and the 5 pounds we gained over the holidays) will stay forever on our hips may be making us feel even more sluggish and surly.
Sounds dreadful, but it truly doesn’t have to be. Don’t let cabin fever make you feel trapped. Here are 6 quick tips for out-foxing the effects of cabin fever, and for using cabin fever to light your fire and put you in a much better mood.
Whatever you do in the weeks ahead, dive into it and be creative. Even if you decide to do nothing more than perfect your favorite couch potato position, give yourself permission to do it and go forth with gusto! By merely making it your plan, you increase the likelihood that you will enjoy it and reduce the chance of lingering regrets or recriminations.
PS Here’s a bonus tip for an instant change of attitude. Click here to get happy with Pharrell Williams’ Happy (Official Music Video). The video was shared by a fun friend on FB, and it has me dancing inside and out!
It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving and for those of us celebrating, we’ve either had a fabulous, fun-filled weekend; quiet cozy moments with family and friends; tough times littered with hurts and regrets or we’ve experienced the more common Thanksgiving weekend combo of all of these emotions and activities.
No matter how your weekend went I have the perfect back-to-work or return-to-normal strategy, which I call “Reach-out Monday”. In fact, I have declared the Monday after Thanksgiving to be now and forever more – Reach-Out Monday. Spread the word!
Here’s how to be part of this very special day:
Be a bit more patient today.
Use your patience to reach out to someone you might not normally reach out to, or not often enough, or not as willingly, or with such kindness.
Sit with them or stay longer by their side.
Hold their hand, or look into their eyes.
Look into their eyes, or show more interest
Show more interest, or respond more calmly.
Respond more calmly, or share your stuff.
Share your stuff, or offer a helping hand.
Offer a helping hand, and you’ll both feel better.
After all, that’s what Reach-Out Monday is all about.
This post was inspired by another of my posts in 2011, which was inspired by the non-seasonal photo above of my sweet grandson reaching out to his little brother. Please post how you participated in Reach-Out Monday.
International lecturer, author of the “Happiness Advantage”, and former Harvard instructor Shawn Achor recently shared the following research at the Commonwealth Bank’s two-day “Wired for Wonder” conference in Sydney, Australia. The figures are staggering, the research is interesting, and the impact amazing.
“Ninety percent of our long-term level of happiness is . . . not based on the external world, but how your brain processes the external world,” Achor said. “If we could change that lens some incredible things could happen.”
“If you take four-year-old children, prime them to become more positive and have them put blocks of shapes together, it turns out the children in the positive category will put blocks together significantly faster than children in a negative/neutral category.”
IQ doesn’t matter as much as we think it does.
“If I know everyone’s IQ here in the room and I’m trying to predict your job successes, cross-industry, over the next five-year period, it turns out that IQ and technical skills are only responsible [for] and only predict 25 % of your job successes,” Achor told the conference.
The pattern has been observed again and again: “Happiness and optimism can be much better predictors of productivity than IQ and technical skills,” Achor said. According to research undertaken in the late 1990s, doctors who had been primed to be more positive were 19% faster and more accurate with coming up with a correct diagnosis and were more “intellectually flexible” when presented with a misdiagnosis.
Success and Happiness
“… if you raise your levels of happiness, it turns out every single business and educational outcome improves. Our success rates rise dramatically. Raising success does not raise levels of happiness but raising levels of happiness dramatically increases your success rates.”
Achor’s second book, “Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success” is due out in September, I’ll be sharing more info from it with you as soon as it’s available.
Have a great weekend, and make it even better by asking yourself each morning, what one thing can I do today to bring more joy into my life. . . and then do it!
Positive Psychology studies show happy, positive people are healthier and enjoy more creativity, success and have better relationships. Are you interested in adding more happiness to your life? Would you like to gain a “Happiness Advantage”? If so, keep reading to learn about Shawn Achor’s 5 Steps for creating your Happiness Advantage and to get a free copy of my Wishful Thinking Works tracking sheet to make the process just that much easier!
Shawn Achor “graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and earned a Masters degree from Harvard Divinity School in Christian and Buddhist ethics. For seven years, Shawn also served as an Officer of Harvard, living in Harvard Yard and counseling students through the stresses of their first year. Though he now travels extensively for his work, Shawn continues to conduct original psychology research on happiness and organizational achievement in collaboration with Yale University and the Institute for Applied Positive Research. . . . By researching top performers at Harvard, the world’s largest banks, and Fortune 500 companies, Shawn discovered patterns, which create a happiness advantage for positive outliers—the highest performers at the company. Based on his book, The Happiness Advantage (2010 Random House), Shawn explains what positive psychology is, how much we can change, and practical applications for reaping the Happiness Advantage in the midst of change and challenge.”
Shawn understands “The Happiness Advantage” and has created “The 21 Day Challenge” to help each of us get started on a positive future. The 5 steps of the Challenge are free and easy to do. (Please note: Shawn’s notes are in bold and are from a Huffington Post article he wrote in 2011. My notes are in italics.)
1) Bring gratitude to mind
You’ve probably heard it from Oprah and by now from dozens of other sources, but do you do it? If not don’t worry, you can start today. For more info on gratitudes and savoring them, click here, here, and here.
2) Focus on the Positive
Exercise for 15 minutes a day. This trains your brain to believe your behavior matters, which causes a cascade of success throughout the rest of the day.
Meditate for two minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out. This will help you undo the negative effects of multitasking. Research shows you get multiple tasks done faster if you do them one at a time. It also decreases stress and raises happiness.
Two minutes makes a difference! If you are meditating longer, keep it up. If you aren’t meditating at all or never have, get started by thinking about one of your positives/gratitudes and why it mattered to you and then simply close your eyes, breathe in through your nose, out through your nose, in long, slow, deep, belly filling breathes . . . and release . . . and inhale . . . and exhale . . .
5) Send A Positive Email
If you aren’t working, or run out of folks to email, no problem, share the love by including friends, family members or people from your past you think of, but have fallen out of touch with. The key is to reach out to those you care about in a detailed, positive way. And, if you are working, remember your “team” can include colleagues in your department or beyond, vendors, customers, etc.
Here’s the really great news about Achor’s 21 Day Challenge you can add all 5 Steps to your life for 21 days, or you can start by simply adding 1 Step to your life for 21 days, and then try another each new 21 day period! The choice is yours. And remember, any step in the direction of happiness will give you an advantage!
To make the process even easier I’ve created “Your 21 Day Happiness Advantage” tracking sheet. To receive your free copy, simply fill out the form below and I’ll email a copy to you. (Don’t forget to share this post with your family and friends so they can gain the Advantage, too.)
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Today, March 20, is not only the spring equinox, it is also the first International Day of Happiness! The origins of this new, worldwide celebration can be traced back to the actions of Bhutan, a teeny, tiny country perched high in the Himalaya Mountains between China and India.
I first wrote about Bhutan and their approach to happiness in June of 2010. In 2008 Bhutan took a totally different approach to determining the well-being levels of the people of their nation when they developed and adopted the Gross National Happiness Index (GNH).
Because of their groundbreaking acceptance of the GNH instead of the worldwide standard of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which focuses on economic standards, Bhutan began tracking indicators such as:
|Time Use||Community Vitality||Good Governance|
I revisited the topic in my “Happy is as Happy Does” posts in 2011 and 2012. I was, and still am, fascinated and encouraged by Bhutan’s peaceful version of the “David and Goliath” story – a very small nation is changing the way the world looks at success. To learn more about how the first International Day of Happiness came to be, please read author’s Frances Moore Lappé’s Huffington Post’s article, which I have copied below in it’s entirety . . .
Don’t laugh. It’s true, and it’s serious business. Today is the world’s first International Happiness Day, declared by the UN to signal the importance of going beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of progress. We need, says the UN, better measures of society’s real wellbeing — including happiness.
GDP was never meant for the job. In 1934, Harvard economist and Nobel Laureate Simon Kuznets devised the measure to help the U.S. climb out of the Great Depression, but he was clear about GDP’s limits, warning congress that “the welfare of a nation can…scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income…”
How right he was. Since the 1960s, U.S. GDP per capita has doubled, but average happiness? It hasn’t budged.
Finally, people are starting to pay attention. Noting what a poor guide GDP has been, an international movement is underway to create metrics of progress that incorporate multi-faceted wellbeing. And, it could be game changer, if you consider this finding of the Gallup Millennium World Survey: Polling almost 60,000 people in 60 countries, Gallup ranked ten things that matter most to people. At the top were health, a happy family life, and a job, while “Standard of Living” — what the GDP supposedly captures — was one of the least important.
Leading the movement to remake what we measure has been the tiny, mountainous Asian nation of Bhutan, population of 740,000. Its goal is “Gross National Happiness.” Six weeks ago, as a member of a UN-promoted International Expert Group for a New Development Paradigm, I traveled to Bhutan where, with a couple dozen others invited from around the world, I deliberated on how to measure wellbeing.
In 2005, after the Fourth King relinquished the throne to his son and instituted a British-style parliamentary democracy, Bhutan began in earnest to build the world’s first Gross National Happiness Index — a comprehensive approach to measuring well-being that includes not only psychological well-being (life satisfaction, emotions, and spirituality) but also subjective assessments in eight other “domains” that include health, education, good governance, and ecological diversity and resilience. Five years later a Bhutan survey found 41 percent of its people happy, meaning they’d attained “sufficiency” in two-thirds of (weighted) indicators, such as work, literacy and housing. Only 10 percent were “unhappy.”
Then, in 2011, Bhutan took leadership on the world stage. In July it sponsored, with 68 co-sponsors, UN resolution 65/309, “Happiness: Towards a Holistic Approach to Development,” which flatly stated that GDP doesn’t reflect the goal of “happiness” and declares that a “more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach is needed…”
UN General Assembly adopted the resolution by consensus and invited member states to take action. So in New York City last spring Bhutan hosted a meeting on new wellbeing indicators, attracting 800 enthusiastic attendees and exceeding all expectations.
Already, a number of countries, including Canada, France and Britain “have added measures of citizen happiness to their official national statistics.” Just one year ago, Japan launched its first Quality of Life Survey that leads off with “a sense of happiness.” Italy is also a leader, in part using online consultations with citizens to develop twelve domains for measuring well-being, including health and the environment, along with specific indicators like “quality of urban air.”
Here in the U.S., two state governments, Maryland and Minnesota, have gotten serious about happiness — generating more realistic, comprehensive measures of progress. Maryland’s Genuine Progress Indicator both subtracts and adds about two dozen things that GDP doesn’t capture: from, on the negative side, the costs of lost leisure time (as much as $12.5 billion a year), pollution clean-up and crime to, on the positive side, the value of volunteer work.
And in 2011 the city of Somerville in Greater Boston became the first U.S. metropolitan to survey its residents on their happiness and wellbeing — finding, among many discoveries, that the city’s “beauty and physical setting” are “relatively important” in how residents value Somerville.
On the first International Day of Happiness, just knowing these initiatives are getting underway and taken seriously by the United Nations, makes me happy.
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Upcoming Wishful Thinking Works events you wont want to miss:
Patrice Koerper will be presenting two special Wishful Thinking Works workshops in Cleveland, Ohio: on Saturday, April 20 “Reenergize and Redirect Your Life” and April 27, “Flourishing Together” for mother and daughters ages 9-12. On May 17-19, she will host a Wishful Thinking Works weekend retreat at the world renowned Safety Harbor Spa in Tampa, Florida. Plan to join us, if you want to discover new ways to create beginnings and balance in your life.
For ways to develop more happiness in your life, follow Wishful Thinking Works or visit Wishful Thinking Works on Facebook. Later this week I’ll be sharing ways to create your personal happiness index!
For free Wishful Thinking Works Life Coaching information, click here.
Have a great day!
Valentine’s Day is over, but don’t give up on love!
Check out positive psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.’s new book, “LOVE 2.0” it’s about the moments – and the science behind them – that connect us to each other.
Significants↔Strangers. Family↔Friends. Companions↔Colleagues.
According to Fredrickson, love is the most rewarding form of positivity and doesn’t require a soul mate to experience! Romance is just one form of love, the others can be just as rich and rewarding and are replenishable.
Love has no expiration date!
To read more about Fredrickson’s latest book and her thoughts about how love makes the world go round, click here.
To listen to Fredrickson talk about her new book, click here.
To listen to her 28 minute presentation about love, youth, and warm hearts, click here. Really great information!
To meditate on the topic of love, click here. (These are Fredrickson’s personal recommendations.)
Wishful Thinking Works life coaching can help you build your happiness muscles.
Having a coach in your corner, is a great way to quickly move forward with the changes you want to make in your life.
For more information, click here.
You can Visit and “Like” Wishful Thinking Works on Facebook!
I’m finishing-up my third Peace Corps assignment, and will be heading back to the States on Valentine’s Day – a sweet treat for sure. I served with the Peace Corps from 2006-2009 in the Republic of Macedonia, 3.5 months in the Republic of Georgia, 2011-2012, and I’m now finishing a 3.5 month assignment in Macedonia.
A big part of the joy I have experienced in my work here and in Georgia has to do with being open to exploring and understanding different cultures. So, earlier this week, when I opened my email and read an e-newsletter about “Cultural Intelligence”, I started thinking about what I’ve learned by living and traveling abroad and how those lessons have shaped my life.
My favorite line in the article is . . . “The last part of cultural intelligence relates to how you behave, and, in particular, how well you adapt when things don’t go according to plan.”
While living abroad I quickly learned that some of my richest and most rewarding moments were dependent on how well I adapted when things turned out differently than I expected, which led to an even more valuable lesson – to be truly happy abroad – it’s best to check your expectations with your luggage!
And, guess what? The amazing part of that lesson is it works just as well at home as it does abroad! Letting go of your expectations, is one of the keys to being truly happy – anywhere, anytime. When we let go of what we expect to happen and how we expect others to act and react, the happier and more fulfilling our lives become.
Expectations take-up a great deal of room in our hearts and in our heads and require loads of effort to maintain, which leaves very little space and energy for understanding, communication, growth, and happiness.
Think about it.
Why not give yourself a special gift this Valentine’s Day and lessen your expectations for yourself and others (past, present and future) and increase the likelihood that happiness will find a special place in your heart and grow to become the sweetest part of your life?
“Sreken pat” or happy journey, as they say to travelers in Macedonia, and may your happiest journey be your life.
Research has confirmed that individuals are perceived as “positive energizers” or “negative energizers”.
“Positive energisers create and support vitality in others. They uplift and boost people. Interacting with positive energisers leaves others feeling lively and motivated. They build energy in people.”
And their approach, makes a huge difference in their performance, relationships, well-being and lives, and the work and lives others. Energizers are great leaders.
“They encourage ideas and creation of answers so that they’re not getting stuck into ruts with problems and issues. They make things happen because of the richness of the relationships they have that increase the discretionary effort those around them put in. They know enough about what’s going on around them that if they don’t know the answer, they can direct people to the right place. They help calm situations where tensions may be fraying and possible friction exists.” Sukh Pabial
Who does that for you? Is their someone at work? In your family? Your friends?
Where do you fall on the positive energizing spectrum; how often do you share positive energy?
Where do you want to be on the spectrum?
The good news is anyone can learn to be a positive energizer. It’s not a personality trait. It doesn’t matter if you are extroverted or introverted. It’s not about being outgoing. It’s about how you act and interact with people.
Quick tips for positively energizing your life. They’re free and easy:
Don’t limit yourself, your team, your family, or your life. Energize them!