How To: Make Yourself Happier The Easy Way

how to make yourself happier the easy way

Start a gratitude practice.

I know, I know. It sounds lame, but the science supports it. UC Berkeley studies gratitude. UC Davis studies gratitude. More brain study research here.

And the science shows, if you want to feel more joy, optimism, and happiness, have a stronger immune system, lower your blood pressure, experience more generosity and compassion and feel less lonely and isolated – you have to practice gratitude.

For years, I resisted keeping a gratitude journal because I thought it was eye- rollingly New-Agey and so simple I thought it wouldn’t do anything. I pretty much mocked the very idea of practicing gratitude. But after reading the Happiness Project, I decided to give it a try because I really wanted to prove it wouldn’t work.

When I started, I kept it really informal. I just kept a running list of little things I was thankful for on my mobile device as I noticed them throughout the day: a cup full of sharpened pencils, a stack of graded papers, a really good hair day, a compliment from a student’s parent, a tasty lunch. Mostly pedestrian stuff.

Random at first and then I got more formal in that I asked myself to track five things every day that filled me with a sense of joy or thanks. Little things. Big things. But especially the little things.

And you know what happened?

I started feeling happier.

gratitude changes everything

Dammit.

Another thing I thought was lame and wouldn’t work, totally proved me wrong. AGAIN.

Today my gratitude journal lives as a document on my Google drive. Each morning after I finish my meditation I write five things I am thankful for and then I close the file.

When my day sucks, as it does occasionally, I open the file and remind myself of all the things that make my life not suck.

And you guessed it, I feel happier.

Interested in starting your own gratitude journal?

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My Attitude of Gratitude 2011 Edition including a link to our shout out on the Oprah Life Blog.

My November Yoga Pinterest board is full of all things gratitude including fancy art journaling ideas and inspirational quotes.

Do you have a gratitude practice? Will you try it for the month of November and see if it works for you?

Noticing the Good Stuff: A Life’s Practice

good stuff

I’ve recently gone through my archives for a project I’ve been working on and noticed that, by and large, my posts are positive snapshots of my life and about people and things that inspire me.

For some of you, the people who have known me for a long time, may be wondering who I have become – if I’ve swallowed some sort of yoga kool aid. For those of you that are new to me or only know me through this blog,  I want to be clear this is, in no way, to be taken as an accurate picture of my day-to-day life.

Lest you get the wrong impression about me and my life – everything isn’t always swell and great and easy. It is not. In fact, August was one of my most emotionally draining months ever.

But….

I’m just not interested in airing my dirty laundry on the internet or putting my still-in-progress troubles out there for the world to see. It’s not how I roll. I’m more of a work things out by myself/with a close friends/counselor kind of person.

In this space, I choose to highlight the awesome things I do every month because if I didn’t, these amazing things would go unnoticed and unappreciated. Mostly by me.

My natural tendency is to see what is wrong in a situation – to find the pieces that don’t fit and to make commentary on those (sometimes in a really funny way, if I do say so myself)- leaving my brain filled with the impression nothing in life is quite right.

Don’t get me wrong, I like this part of myself. Both for the observational humor as well as the I like to fix things part. But here’s the thing, my brain sometimes gets stuck in seeing what is wrong in life and I’m raising a kid now and I don’t want to nit pick life in front of her. Or nit pick her.

So pointing out what is going well – however small it may be – helps me notice the awesome things in my life.

Much to my surprise, I’ve also figured out that I like seeing the beauty in the smallest things. It really does fill me with a sense of wonder and gratitude (I know, I may also have thrown up in my mouth a little bit too).

Noticing the good stuff, my friends, is a practice for me. Much like yoga and meditation are things I have to practice – do a little each day in the best possible world – in hopes that some day it becomes an actual habit or something that comes more naturally.

Do you take time to notice the good stuff in life? Do you share your life online? How do you deal with this issue?

In Case You Missed It Edition, Volume 16

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Each week I’ll give you links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.

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My Best Of…

Teaching Simplicity got it right with Nurturing the Nurturer – teachers take note. Take the time to take care of yourself. Of course, we need to take care of ourselves when we’re sick but wouldn’t it be nice to nurture and nourish ourselves so we don’t get sick?

Another reason to get more zzzzzzzs…. to look prettier! It’s scientific.

Having a hard time thinking of things to add to a gratitude list? This blogger writes a thank you note a day and some of what she is thankful for is not the usual. Love, love, love it.

Are you a sunflower too? I find I perk up like a blossom with the lengthening days. Here’s a sunlight calendar to help keep track of your daylight minutes.

In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore {one of my favorite reads of the last few years} – he talks about it here. Slow down and stay awhile…

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Cleanse update:  a cold takes away a lot of desire to cook nourishing food. I really wanted someone to cook for me.

So I ate out.

Twice.

I didn’t follow all the rules, however I didn’t give in to all my comfort food throw backs either. I wanted a cheeseburger (I know, huh?). Instead I had a burger sans cheese. I ate some of the bread and threw the rest away.

The next day I went to a pot luck and skipped the dessert and soda table – my usual favorites.

The bowl of M&M’s sitting right in front of me didn’t go untouched, however after I realized I was eating sweets (the cold medicine made me really, r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w), I hid them behind the centerpiece on the table and promptly forgot about them.

Baby steps.

Things I have noticed: comfort food isn’t just about the food when I am sick, it’s also about someone else cooking. Processed foods are convenient, but don’t taste nearly as good as not processed foods. My cold isn’t nearly as devastating as ones I’ve suffered from in recent years. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

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That is the In Case You Missed It Edition for this week, folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives -click it to see them all.

Trying Technology

December 18 – Try

What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

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2011

I want to try to use technology better next year. I’ve already committed to learning to use Skype over my winter break and have already lined up some people to help me figure it out.

What is your favorite can’t-live-without-it technology? What makes your life easier/more fun/productive?

Please note: NOTHING is too obvious. I practically have a stone tablet on my lap for getting these posts out. {Just sayin’ – I may be one of the models in the photo}.

Please share what you love and why you love it. Maybe you’ll convince me to try your favorite.

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2010

This year I wanted to try teaching yoga.

What happened?

At first, I totally freaked out.

Then I got a grip and I loved it.

I am so grateful for Michelle’s February Recess and her faith in my teaching.

I’m also glad I didn’t quit because I was afraid.

Teaching yoga has taught me things I wouldn’t have ever known otherwise.

So grateful.

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What did you try this year? How did it turn out?


(Author: Kaileen Elise)

Saturday Senses

Saturday Senses is a way to capture the spirit of each week.



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tasting :: stuffing with gravy – the best part of thanksgiving.

hearing :: my favorite holiday song – over and over and over again.

smelling :: my traditional chinese medicine tea boiling on the stove.

seeing :: our niece who is now in kindergarten reading her decode-able book full of sight words.

feeling :: almost healthy again and full of gratitude for all your support and kindness.

wishing/hoping :: for some fun over the next couple of weeks.

What about you?

What are your senses this Saturday?

Looking back, how was your week?

This weekly tradition inspired by Pink of Perfection’s Five Sense Friday.

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Have you entered the Gratitude Giveaway yet?

Saturday Senses

Saturday Senses is a way to capture the spirit of each week. 

tasting ::  oregon chai

hearing :: you are second in line in our adoption wait {still processing this bit of news}

smelling ::   vata calming essential oil in the hot bath

seeing :: lots of lovely comments for alicia {you can still leave one and be entered to win}

feeling :: grateful for the good sense to listen more during parent teacher conferences.

wishing/hoping :: my cold goes away soon.

What about you?

What are your senses this Saturday? 

Looking back, how was your week?    

This weekly tradition inspired by Pink of Perfection’s Five Sense Friday

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Saturday Senses

Saturday Senses is a way to capture the spirit of each week. 

tasting ::  toasted naan smeared with guacamole

hearing :: the envelope peasant

smelling ::   rain

seeing :: unfinished report cards

feeling :: unheard. frustrated. 

heard. understood. connected.

grateful for my readers, commenters, friends and fellow yogis

hence the roller coaster

wishing/hoping :: for ease in communication with families over the next week or so – it is almost parent conference time.

What about you?

What are your senses this Saturday? 

Looking back, how was your week?    

This weekly tradition inspired by Pink of Perfection’s Five Sense Friday

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