Happy Birthday!


Mine is tomorrow. I love birthdays. To celebrate I’m combining two of my favorite things. I’ll be exploring Wishful Thinking ways with a group of interesting women and enjoying fantastic cappuccino at a new French/Italian Bistro. Life is good.

Here are my birthday wishes for you:

Passion and fulfillment in your life.

Friends and family that encourage and support you.

Hours that simply flow by when you are doing what you love. 

Physical movement that brings a smile to your face. (You know, like skipping, hopping, jumping . . .)

And, at the end of the day a sense of gratitude and accomplishment for a life worth living.

Who could ask for anything more? Well, maybe just one more small cupcake, please . . . 

Have a great weekend.

The 3 F’s of Happiness


Would you like a formula for happiness? Here is my favorite, and it’s scientifically accepted.

   Fun  + Flow + Fulfillment =  Happiness

These are 3 “F” words worth repeating. They were gathered together by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., the father of positive psychology. Seligman is a world-renown psychologist, professor and author at the University of Pennsylvania. As president of the American Psychological Association in 1998, he encouraged researchers to focus their work on the field of positive psychology, which motivated thousands of scientists to research the following key questions:

  • What works?
  • How and why does it work?
  • How can we create more of it in our lives and organizations?

Of particular interest to positive psychologists is the topic of happiness, which brings us back to Seligman and the 3 F’s. Seligman’s work revealed that happiness is a result of the 3 F’s.

Fun, Flow and Fulfillment

1. Fun

This one is easy to describe. Fun is:

  • The stuff that makes us laugh and smile or jump for joy
  • The stuff we spent lots of time doing as kids, and considered to be a normal part of our day
  • The stuff we now watch our kids, and sometimes other folks enjoying

I think that physical fun, is an important part of the mix. Dancing like Elaine on “Seinfeld“, running like Phoebe on “Friends“, playing games or rough-housing with the kids or grand kids, hitting a ball over the net, across the field, or in the hole without caring too much about how it gets there are great ways to relax and to have fun. Sports are a great stress reliever, and can be fun, but if we approach them too seriously, they may end-up being not be as much fun. Make sure what you are calling fun, really is!

2. Flow

For this concept I need to give a shout out to Dr. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, (MEE-hy CHEEK-sent-mə-HY-ee). Mihály is a Hungarian psychology professor, researcher and author and is a leader in the field of completely focused motivation, i.e. flow. Flow is that suspension-of-time feeling we have when we are deeply, maybe even blissfully, engrossed in what we are doing. For flow to occur the following must be in place:

  1. A clear set of goals
  2. A good balance between the challenge and skill. We have to believe we can do it.
  3. Immediate feedback. Feedback can be external or internal (Ex: That voice in our head saying “Okay maybe if I move it a little more to the right, no, back to the left, okay that’s good.” ) 

My favorite flow experiences are writing, public speaking, reading non-fiction, cleaning closets, and cooking. Flow can be felt when you are completely focused on a major grant, working on a case, making a diagnosis, cleaning a drain, scrubbing the tub, washing the car, playing cards or golfing. It’s the stuff that makes us forget all the other stuff.

When I decide to cook or make something to eat, I have a clear goal – I ‘m going to cook or make something to eat! I know I can do it, since I’ve had lots of successful experience, and I enjoy the challenge of rooting through the refrigerator and cupboards to see what’s available and then figuring out how to transform it into something delicious. During the process, I give myself lots of feedback, “Oh, we don’t have this, but we do have that”, “I wonder if that will mix well with this or should I try something else?”  My favorite internal and external feedback when cooking is always, “Mmm, that tastes good.”

Although flow activities are personal; flow experiences are universal. People of all cultures experience flow and describe it in a similar way including: losing track of time, feeling in the zone, and thinking only about task at hand.

3. Fulfillment

This is the warm and fuzzy or deep, rich, job-well-done feeling we get when we’ve accomplished something we are proud of or that matters to us. The “something” varies from person to person, month to month and task to task, and may include getting a college degree or cleaning that tub – the 3 F’s are  in the heart and mind of the beholder.

So now that we understand what we need, all we have to do is find ways to bring all three – fun, flow and fulfillment – into our lives. Remember, having one or two of the 3 F’s can enrich our lives, but being happy is dependent on having all three. (Did you notice that none of the 3 F’s mentioned money, health, prestige? More on the myths of happiness in  future posts.)

In April we will explore happiness in depth. Until then, you can get started by looking at your life to see if the 3 F’s are present, and if so, jot down when, where and how they occur. Paying attention to your experiences will help you create a foundation for the future, and help you recognize what actually makes you happy. Many adults don’t know what makes their hearts sing or their brains light up.

Writing this blog is a flow experience for me. I also find it fulfilling and to top off those 2 F’s with some fun, I’m going to head out the door for a walk with a few hops, skips and jumps thrown in. 

What one thing are you willing to do today to bring more happiness into your life? Start with something fun – just for fun, and we’ll work on the rest later.

WTW Dandelion

Weekends and new reality shows

I had such a great weekend. It was filled with lots of family, friends and fun.

I must admit I am a tad tired though, and, my brain is a bit mushy. I have decided to follow my own wonderful Monday morning advice :-), and instead of getting stressed because I can’t decide what I want to write about, I reviewed and savored the family and friends I saw, and the fun I had this weekend:

  • Nate, Tim, Luann, Jonas, Dylan, Dao, Malinda, Pat and Tasha,
  • dinners out, lakeside picnics,
  • Kumquat Festival (tangy tart little citrus fruits in Dade City), country drives
  • roving pirates – Gasparilla in Tampa, cappuccino in Ybor,
  • Peace Corps recruitment event (50th anniversary this year!),
  • shopping at a Cuban bakery and a huge Asian grocery (Peking duck for dinner tonight),    
  • driving home hours in the dark, walking in just as the last episode of PBS’s Downton Abbey began, 
  • reading a fantastic book, and getting another (more on both in future posts),
  • locking us out of a friend’s house for about three hours – we took a walk and then sat and talked, anything can be fun with a friend!
  • And, last but never least, sunny skies and cool breezes, everywhere  – this is after all, Florida in January.

Then I savored each one, just for 30 seconds, or so. Ahh, heaven, again! Okay, now it is your turn, review the good stuff, savor it a bit. Mmmm, feel your shoulders relaxing, a smile forming?

Well, I feel great and in keeping with my Monday morning no stress theme, I am using a “postaweek2011” topic today, which I think is a fun, creative way to get started on the last Monday of the first month of the 2nd decade of the 3rd millennium:  

If you had your own reality show, what would it be?

What would it be called?

What would it be about?

We can’t wait to hear all about it! I am sure it is creative and fun – I know you are good at this. Go ahead share it.

Oh, and special congrats to my friend Mary! Congratulations, Mary. You can read about her happy news in her comment on “A little help from our friends”. And, if you didn’t get to it this weekend, follow Mary’s lead and start your Monday morning off right, by letting someone you care know you care or by thanking them for something wonderful – large or small – they have done for you.

Have a great Monday!

First Friday, 2011

Today is the first Friday of the New Year, which is kind-of exciting since Fridays are usually pretty good days, and lead to weekends, which are really great. I think we should celebrate!

Normally, “First Fridays” catch me off-guard. I’m not quite caught-up from the month before, so the first Friday slips up on me, making those weekends a bit more low-key, which I love. Nothing better than a low-key, lazy weekend, but that means I often miss all those great “First Friday” art walks and such. I wish First Friday activities came later in the month 🙂 .

I love all the attention Fridays get throughout the year: Good Friday (April 22); Friday the 13th (May 13); Black Friday (Nov. 25); casual Fridays and TGIF. Friday’s children are said to be loving and giving. I like that, too.

When I was working a more 8-5 schedule, I used to head to Rotary at 7 a.m. on Friday mornings, which was way more fun than it sounds. Everyone was glad to see one another, and greeted each other with sincere smiles, warm handshakes and even some hugs. The laughing commenced immediately. For years, I rose early and moved fast to spend Friday mornings with a large group of people I respected and whose company I enjoyed. 

Friday afternoons I would leave the office by 4 p.m. (I worked like a crazy woman the rest of the week, but that’s another story.) By 4:30 p.m. I would be in the center row of my favorite movie theater, seated next to a good friend or understanding date. Dinner and movie talk at a great restaurant usually followed. I truly enjoyed my Friday routine, and it was the perfect segue to many a great weekend.

If you don’t already have a special Friday routine, think about developing one this year. It can be as simple as stopping on the way to work to get a special treat for yourself or a co-worker; leaving the office five or ten minutes early or planning game night with the kids. Whatever you decide, make it simple and fun. (I am plotting and planning a new one for myself. I can’t wait to find out what it will be.)

I have compiled (well, copied) a list of Fridays so we can plan to get the most out of them in 2011. Use them wisely, there are only 52 of them . . .

January- 7,14,21,28

Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend. 
PS If you already have a special Friday routine, we would love to hear about it.  

“The Happiness Project”: Be You

It’s Monday. It’s May, so we are talking about Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project”.

As part of the project Gretchen created her “Twelve Commandments.”  The first, and my favorite, is: “Be Gretchen,” which for Gretchen means accepting her personal likes and dislikes, and then acting on them.


Gretchen noted that she loves reading children’s books, which led her to start a book club with other folks she knows, who also love reading children’s books. (There were people who did than she ever expected.) Reading children’s books as an adult might not seem like a big deal, but it probably would have surprised her law school classmates and readers of her books on Churchill and Kennedy.

I must admit that even though I love children’s books, prior to reading “The Happiness Project,” I might not have mentioned, when asked if I was reading any good books lately, that I just finished re-reading “Charlotte’s Web” of “Pollyanna”, now, I will! Thank you, Gretchen.

Are you willing to open your life to your likes?

Perhaps you would rather eat burgers, than pretend to enjoy foie gras?  Drink more beer than champagne. Or you might, prefer spending the night alone reading, rather than going out.

Please note: Each and every one of these examples could be reversed – you might prefer going out than reading anything, anytime – there are no “right answers,” only you and what you like.

Here’s Gretchen’s point – if you like eating ice cream right out of a container rather than baking (or buying) fancy pastries, why not serve containers of ice cream with spoons for dessert at your next dinner party. (Not that you have or need to have dinner parties, but you do you could.)

Make what you love doing a part of your life in fun ways. Have a beer tasting. Or a potato chip tasting, or ask your freinds to make and bring thier favorite comfort food to your next gathering. The list is endless and does not have to revolve around food – like mine!  Just do what you like and have fun!


Hmm, well we sort-of covered that in the “reversing” section above, but to review:

Don’t do things you dislike.

Do not spend time obsessing about not doing the things you do not like.  (Three negatives can make a positive.)

Gretchen learned to accept her dislikes, which for her meant that she was never going to “visit a jazz club at midnight, or hang out in artists’ studios, or jet off to Paris for the weekend, or pack up to go fly-fishing on a spring dawn.”

Now remember – there’s nothing wrong with doing those things, but if you don’t want to, let yourself off the proverbial hook, and set yourself free to focus on what you do want to do – and then do it!

Being you has many silver linings, here are three I came up with:

1. Learning “to be you” will help you create more happiness in your life.

2. The happier you become, the happier the people you love and meet may become. (Research shows happiness is contagious.)

3. Learning “to be you” will help you understand that your spouse/significant, kids, parents, friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. need to be themselves, too.  If you get really good at all of this – you will let them be them, and that will make them happier, and in turn, you happier because . . . happiness is contagious.

Well, there you have it: “Be you.” Get happier. Pretty profound stuff for a Monday morning.

So what are your “Likes”? Any you have been denying or hiding that you care to share? (Try it, it feels good!)

Word flow

Whew, I just made it.

I feel like I’ve been running for miles.

All month I was trying to work in a post about poetry.

April is National Poetry Month, and here it is the last day. I almost missed it.

Why all the fuss?

Well, even though I am not a die-hard poetry fan, I truly love some poems.

This is one of my favorites; I see the room, smell the cooking, and feel their emotions.

When I am listening to or reading a poem, I have that wonderful sense of flow.  You know, when everything else fades away.  And, for me, that is fun.

Fun and flow are 2/3 of the happiness formula: fun, flow and fulfillment, which I call the 3 F’s, but more about that another time.

For now, just pick a poem or a site and listen.

Listening, enjoying and savoring poetry is absolutely free.

Ahhhh, so glad we are talking poetry in April.  Hope you are too, because you are a Phenomenal Woman.  And, this is just the kind of thing phenomenal women do!

Perhaps today, tonight or this weekend you can take the road less traveled and be gloriously lazy for a bit.

Sip a cup of soothing tea, taste the richness of a delicious, dark cup of coffee, or relax with a nice round glass of red wine while listening to, reading or even writing a poem.

Are you feeling the flow?

Have a great weekend.

%d bloggers like this: