Peacocks and happiness

Good Monday Morning!

Did you know that studies show that watching a nature video or film can increase your happiness, and expand positive emotions such as awe and amusement?

To get your morning off to a great start, I am sharing this beautiful 25 second video of my high school and FB friend’s majestic peacocks. Take a moment to watch and I guarantee you will feel a difference. (You can add a few deep breaths to enrich the impact.)

Being in nature is an even better easy, care-free way to elevate your mood and create joyful feelings. As the earth begins to thaw in the northern climates and the heat rises in southern ones, it is a great time to venture outdoors to see what Mother Nature is up to.

Don’t miss the chance this spring and summer to experience this free pick-me-up. And, do share photos of your natural memorable moments – we will all benefit from your discoveries just by viewing them.

Are you ready to create the life your really want? Start today! 

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The perfect Valentine’s Day gift

Would you like to make someone you care about happy this Valentine’s Day?

Would you like to become happier in the process?

If so, write a gratitude letter to someone special in your life.

Your letter can leave you and the recipient feeling happier for months. 

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Gratitude Letters

A few years ago I wrote and shared my first gratitude letter; I wrote my first to my Dad. I was a bit shy about doing it, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience for both of us, and since my Dad passed away a few years after I wrote his letter, the experience holds a special place in my heart.

I’ve been writing thank you notes for decades. I sent cards not just for gifts, but for experiences, past and present. I’ve written dozens of notes and cards to my aunts and to friends of my parents for their special acts of kindness to me as a child. One of my younger brother’s godmothers always had extra treats for us when she brought him a gift. Another of my aunts hosted weekly gatherings at her and my uncle’s farm each Sunday in the summer allowing my eight siblings and me to swim, dive, jump, ride, row, fish, and enjoy all sorts of other summer fun because they were willing to put-up with an ongoing stream of guests – our family and many others. Those Sundays were magic to me as a kid, and I wanted them to know.

Those letters and the memories they evoked are wonderful, but a gratitude letter is an even richer, more touching way to say thank you. Here’s why:

  • It’s longer – approximately 300 words.
  • It’s read in-person to its intended recipient, making it more of a gratitude visit with the letter as a hostess gift of sorts. The true magic of the visit comes from sharing your letter out loud and face-to-face with its recipient. (If you can’t meet in person, Skype or a phone call will work, but if at all possible go the in-person route.)
  • Dr. Martin P. Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology and one of the first and strongest proponents of gratitude visits notes the ritual is powerful, ”Everyone cries when you do a gratitude visit,” he says. ”It’s very moving for both people.”

Tips for making it work:

  • Write to someone, who holds a special place in your heart or who did something nice or kind for you, but you’ve never thanked, or thanked as much as you would have liked to.
  • Be detailed. Write the particulars of what you are thankful for. Let them know how their actions affected you. Include the whats, the whens, the hows, and the whys.
  • Let your recipient know you are up to something good! A funny thing happened when I read my letter to my Dad. When I finished, he made a joke about how I must have the wrong “Dad”, and then he told me he thought I was going to share something about what he’d done wrong – not right. (I was nervous about sharing my letter, and he interpreted that as seriousness or sadness. When I began reading from a sheet of paper he was sure there was bad news ahead.) We laughed about that, but to prevent any confusion, letting your host or hostess know the visit is well-intentioned is probably a good idea.
  • Leave a copy of your letter with your recipient. Don’t worry about making it too fancy, but using special paper can’t hurt. Laminating or a frame might be appreciated, or to others, seem a bit too much – go with your guts. Just don’t make the visit too much about what happens next with the letter; leave that up to your receiver.

The Ripple Effect

Another interesting facet of this simple and effective gesture is that it tends to grow and reproduce on its own. Recipients often end-up writing and sharing letters with folks they want to thank, and writers tend to write more letters to share with others.

Positive psychology studies show the good feelings can last for weeks, even months. I know firsthand that years later I’m still happy I shared a gratitude letter with my father. It is a sweet and happy memory, and one I can relive any time I want. Gratitude letters pack a huge dose of positive power!

Increased happiness for someone you care about is just a few pen strokes. Don’t let this free,  foolproof opportunity for joy pass you by – send a gratitude letter to someone special this Valentines Day!

PS This is my annual Valentine’s Day post . . . hope it inspires you to start writing to a special person in your life.

Service to others

Re-sharing a post I wrote in 2010 on this special day.

Today is Veteran’s Day, which originally began as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1918.

Did you know that on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day in 1918 a temporary armistice was signed bringing an end to the hostilities of World War I?

President Woodrow Wilson designated Nov. 11 as “Armistice Day”, which led Congress in 1938 to pass legislation to declare it a national holiday, and in 1954 for President Eisenhower to change the name to Veteran’s Day.

Oddly enough, my first reflections on the sacrifice and service of veteran’s developed when I was 12 or 13 years old and read the book “All Quiet on the Western Front”, which was written by a German soldier about his experiences in WWI.

I had tears running down my cheeks as I read Erich Maria Remarque’s words, and it hit home that if a German soldier could feel this way, most likely any soldier could.  It was  the first time I really understood that war was not just about conflicts and countries, but about people and courage. Remarque became an American naturalized citizen in 1947.

I remember wanting to ask my Dad, my uncles and every other man their age, who served in WWII, what it was like.  But, that was something people didn’t seem to talk about then, so I didn’t either.

When I turned 16 in 1969, and was confronted daily with news of Vietnam. I forgot about the perspective of Veteran’s and focused more on how I felt about war.

It took me years to sort-out my feelings about service in the military.

No matter where you stand on our involvement in conflicts and wars then and now, today is a good day to pause and reflect on how others feel.  In particular, those who – for whatever reason – find themselves in situations that test every facet of their being in the service to others.

I truly think service to others is worth honoring, and I am glad that we have set aside a day to do just that.

There were almost 200,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in May of this year.  There are more than two million men and women enlisted in the armed forces and reserves. Most of us know someone or the family members of someone, who is currently serving or served in the past.

Find a way to let them know you are thinking of them today.

Same old stories hurt our hearts

Don’t let your stories or your past hold you back or control your future. There are happier, more fulfilling ways to live, I promise. Connect with the feelings they may have brought – fear, sadness, anger, but don’t let the stories define you.

Change your future by letting go of the way you tell the story of your past. Rewrite your history by finding and focusing on the good. It’s scary I know, your stories are a part of who you are, but try it and see what happens. It may be the key to a happier you. It was for me.

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“The mirror image of suffering is the truth. Try it. Change the story. Change the course of your entire history. Right now.”


“You want me to lie about my past?” Diana wipes tears from her face with the back of her hand.”


“No, to tell the story a truer way,” says Herself. “Any story can be told infinite ways, dear, but listen to me. Listen well. If a story liberates your soul, believe it. But if a story imprisons you, believe its mirror image.”

~ Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening by Martha Beck

Questions? Thoughts? Ideas?

Caring along with you,

Patrice

Neurons that fire together, wire together!

glasses-983947_960_720I am spending the next 6 days learning more about Positive Neuroplasticity at the Positive Brain Change: Tools for Lasting Happiness, Love, and Peace workshop by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., which makes me positively happy!

Never stop learning about things you love.

I have been experiencing, teaching and sharing the benefits of savoring the good moments of our life for years, but I enjoy the topic so much and I talk with so many folks about it that I am always seeking new ways to learn more about our wonderful brains!

Did you know that you can change your brain? It’s true – neurons that fire together, wire together. The more time you spend reinforcing the positive moments in your life and savoring them, the more likely you will be to focus on, enjoy and benefit from them, because your brain is geared to do just that! New neural pathways form, making it easier for the good times to flow, in and out of you. And, over time, these new pathways can help you deal with negative moments and events more quickly and with less harmful effects on you and your sweet soul. Life will be happier, gentler and more fulfilling.

You see, if you take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves. (Tibetan saying.)

I hope the next 6 days are wonderful for you. And, that you treat the positive moments that arise with the tender loving care they deserve, because if you do, they will repay you tenfold, by helping you create the happiness and the life you deserve.

 

 

Explore what you love

lotus-1205631__180Some of us recently finished a new 21-Day meditation series offered by Oprah and Deepak Chopra. It was free, and through a Wishful Thinking Works Facebook group we met and touched based during our 21 days of meditating.

On the 22nd day, Oprah and Deepak shared a extra post and in it Oprah noted, “Spend time doing what lifts you up and brings you love.”

Oprah’s words are more important than they may appear at first. You see, to follow these words we must first know what lifts us up, which is something we talk about all the time at Wishful Thinking Works and our Wishful Thinking Women gatherings. We have to take time to truly understand what makes our hearts sing, then and only then can we spend more time doing it.

Ocoffee-782171__180.jpgften, you will find what lifts you up is in the simplest moments – stretching in bed in the morning, planning something special for someone you love, watching the sun set or rise, drinking a rich delicious cup of cappuccino or accomplishing a difficult task at work or home.

In the last few weeks of April, practice noticing what brings you true pleasure. Then spend a bit of time digging deeper to unearth the essence of those moments, the reason they bring you happiness.

Stretching connects us to our bodies. It is one of the few moments of the day that we really experience a mind-body connection. (Most of the time we only notice our bodies when they hurt or cause us discomfort.) If you like stretching, maybe you need to do it more often, to add yoga or exercise to your life as a way of connecting your mind and body.

If planning something for someone you love makes you feel wonderful, explore the topic of relationships in your life and doing things for others. How can you deepen your connection to those you love and to your community and the world?

If cappuccino is your thing, perhaps you need to provide yourself with more peaceful and delicious moments. Long lazy baths or simply a new body cream might make you feel relaxed and luxurious or maybe cooking a new dish or finding a new favorite restaurant. Maybe you need to add more time for reflection to your life.

There are so many reasons sunrises and sunsets could delight us – being outdoors, taking time to enjoy the moment, the majesty of the color  – explore what makes them special to you personally and find ways to expand on the essence of what they bring to your life.

Accomplishments come with widely varying benefits that may change throughout our lives. Personality, age, culture, environment may all play a role. Explore why your degree matters to you, why a promotion makes you happy, why making the sale motivates you, why refinishing a chair brings you joy – then keep going until you get to the core of why those “whys” matter and you will create a journey, which may help you plan or enrich your emotional and economic lifestyle.

There is a lifetime of wisdom and happiness in what you enjoy! Let all of your discoveries – big or small – pave the way for new paths in your life. Let them lead you and provide a solid foundation for bringing more peace and joy into your life.

Namaste.

PS And if you worry for even a moment that you don’t deserve more wonder and joy, you are not alone. We often create roadblocks for ourselves on new journeys, especially when we are focusing on giving ourselves more of what we love.

Know in advance this might happen, and if it does, be prepared to find ways to gently and calmly quiet those voices in your head. You can invite them in – don’t resist them, simply say something to yourself like “I knew you would be coming, please come in, take a seat.” Then take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and then smile to yourself for being so smart! You are not only are brave and courageous you are insightful and prepared –  you can handle whatever comes your way.  Great things are waiting for you, go ahead and explore.

14 Valentine’s tips for a happier day

Patrice Koerper Wishful Thinking Works Life Coaching Speaking

Would you like your sweetest Valentine’s Day ever? 

Here are 14 Wishful Thinking Works tips to make this year’s Valentine’s Day your best yet!.

Mix and match them to your heart’s desire. ♥

♥ Using even one can raise your happiness levels. 

 

  1. Plan ahead – having something to look forward will raise your spirits.
  2. Broaden your scope – you can celebrate being in love with anyone on Valentine’s Day – friends, family, your kids, your life, your job – whatever makes you smile!
  3. Expand your options  – restaurants can be overbooked and way too busy, flowers and candy can be pricey, so . . .
  4. Be creative – good times don’t require big budgets.
  5. Relax – even the most romantic evening can be ruined by letting our expectations outweigh our circumstances.
  6. Put the focus on others – this is a great time of year for Gratitude Letters, cards or notes to special aunts and uncles, neighbors, or co-workers anyone who has done something special for you – ever!
  7. Memories make great gifts – find ways to bring great moments alive again through Facebook posts, photos, calls or visits.
  8. Volunteer studies show this can brighten everyone’s day, and may even lengthen our lives.
  9. Babysit – If you don’t have big plans – help make someone else’s night great! 
  10. Share sweet surprises – Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to live the Lollipop Effect.
  11. Give an unexpected hug; it is good for everyone’s health!
  12. Ask for a do over – to undo something you said or did that you wish you hadn’t.
  13. Forgiveyourself or someone else!
  14. Give instead of receiving – A $25 donation to KIVA will create a loan that will empower a life. They have a 98.40% repayment rate, which means your one time donation can help again and again around the world. A $58 donation to the International Rescue Committee can send a girl to school for a year in Afghanistan or Africa.

Make the simple, special this Valentine’s Day and you will be making yourself and others happier.

Wishful Thinking Works Life Coaching

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