Category Archives: Happiness

Right Now: My Favorite Podcasts

Do you know what a podcast is?

I don’t ask that rudely. A lot of people don’t and today I want to share my favorites because you might be missing out on some good stuff! Just as everyone was sure old media forms were dying (translate: radio, newspapers, TV) thanks to the internet, the internet brought me one of my new favorite things: podcasts!

You, yes you, could make a podcast for pretty much nothing (if not nothing) and share it with the whole for for pretty much nothing and that is cool because we now have access to stories, information, people we might’ve never known before. So many are free. Unlike radio, they’re stored and ready whenever you are. You can come back to them again and again. It’s now my preferred listening material when I exercise or drive.

And if you’ve never listened to any, here are some of my current favorites: Continue reading

Lonely? 5 Habits to Consider to Combat Loneliness.

3267049486_bce4b38cba_bOne major challenge within happiness is loneliness.  The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle to consider.

Of course, being alone and being lonely aren’t the same. Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.

According to Elizabeth Bernstein’s Wall Street Journal piece, Alone or Lonely, the rate of loneliness in the U.S. has doubled over the past thirty years. About 40% of Americans report being lonely; in the 1980s, it was 20%. (One reason: more people live alone: 27% in 2012; 17% in 1970).

Loneliness is a serious issue, Sometimes people ask me, “If you had to pick just one thing, what would be the one secret to a happy life?” If I had to pick one thing, I’d say: strong bonds with other people.  The wisdom of the ages and the current scientific studies agree on this point. When we don’t have that, we feel lonely.

I wrote a book about habits, Better Than Before, and I continue to be obsessed with the subject. Whenever I think about a happiness challenge, I ask myself, “How could habits help address this problem?”

Here are some habits to consider: Continue reading

Want to Make 2016 a Happier Year? Here’s How I Did It, Month by Month.

HappinessProjectonBookstoreShelfIf you’re looking for ways to make 2016 a happier, healthier, more productive year, may I self-promotingly suggest my book, The Happiness Project?

The first day of the new year always feels so fresh and full of promise to me — but at the same time, it’s very discouraging to look back over the year that’s just ended, and realize that I’d never accomplished an important, happiness-boosting change that I’d hoped to make.

This feeling is one of the major reasons that I undertook my happiness project.

I remember so clearly the moment when I had the idea to do it. I was on the 79th Street cross-town bus, and I looked out the window and thought, “What do I want from life anyway? I want to be happy.” I realized, though, that I didn’t spend any time thinking about whether I was happy, or how I could be happier. “I should have a happiness project!” I decided. Continue reading

3 Bad Habits That I Use With My Puppy.

BarnabyPantinginPark-300x225As I’ve mentioned, we got a new puppy — he’s an adorable five-month-old black cockapoo named Barnaby. 

He’s sleeping at my feet right now. He has a special dark corner under my desk where he likes to hang out.

It took me a lot of hard thinking to decide whether or not to get a dog — you can listen to me talk about it with my sister here — and I’m so happy we did get a dog.

Beforehand, though, I was adamant that we would spend a lot of time and effort to make sure that he had very, very good doggy manners. Better for him, better for us.

But I must confess, as much as I love habits, and as much as I’ve studied how to form habits — after all, I wrote a whole book, Better Than Before, about the twenty-one strategies we can use to master our habits — I’ve fallen into three bad puppy habits.  (I say “I” but these apply to my whole family, actually.) Continue reading

Forget New Year, New You! 2016 Intent: Take Small Steps to Make Lasting Change

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It’s January 8 and I am already way behind the New Year.

I have been eating a buttermilk biscuit for breakfast almost daily, and have worked out only once. (I did go for a 5 mile walk with friends.) I’m still tracking down addresses for our holiday (now New Year’s) card. I have an application sitting on my desk that I have had 6 months to complete, and that is due Jan 15th, and I will probably submit Jan 13th. (A day earlier than the deadline, because I have to teach and travel Jan 14th so that’s how long I can procrastinate). It took me a week to find Maria Kondo’s de-cluttering book in my stuffed drawers to lend to my sister-in-law.

I have so much to do for Intent, our company,  … like even posting my first intent for 2016 on our new Iphone app. Those who read my book, Living With Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy, may wonder, “oh dear, she still didn’t get her act together.” What a hypocritical writer!

But, I have to admit that this year, I am truly feeling a bit more grounded, more in control, more honest with my intents for 2016. While surfing the net, which I seem to have plenty of time to do, or opening up email newsletters from wellness blogs, headlines like New Year New You keep popping up.

Lose weight, stop eating sugar, find your dream job, feel your best, be the perfect mom.

Come on, who are we kidding!?

I’m not changing who I am this year. And, if I set resolutions (even 2 weeks late), I am only setting myself up for failure and disappointment. Lets admit it now, I will do my best to eat better, to cook more at home, to exercise regularly, to lose weight, to support my friends and family, to spend less money, to make more money, to grow my company, to promote my book, to meditate daily, to read more, etc! And I will make progress on some of these and totally fail at others.

My resolution is to give myself a break, to take one step at a time, to strive for change to lead a healthier, happier, more connected and more purposeful life. (My definition of Living with Intent.) And when I waver from the path – that messy journey – I will take a deep breath, indulge in my messiness for a while, and then reaffirm why I want to make changes.

My intents for 2016 are simple: Continue reading

Ten Things You Can Do To Create The Life You Want After Any Loss

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Loss of any type, rather it be a divorce, a job termination, the end of a friendship that you held dear, or the death of a love one can send you reeling into unchartered territory. For some it means the loss of an identity. You may have found pride in calling yourself a CEO, a partner, a wife and now that this title is removed you don’t know what to do. For others, loss leaves you emotionally gutted with no sense of direction.

I was 33 in 2007 my husband died from advanced adrenal cancer. I spent over three years interviewing widows about their circumstances for my book A Widow’s Guide to Healing, and often the conversation would shift to a widow telling me that she wants to start a new life for herself and her family but isn’t sure where to start.

This widow isn’t alone in not knowing how to begin a new life post-loss. A few months ago, I was at a dinner party and someone asked about my book, and as she began to tell me about her move, new job and starting over, I thought she was a widow. Actually, she had divorced her husband of 20-plus years and felt the loss was similar to a death.

Loss is very painful, and even thinking about it can cause a knot in your stomach, and you immediately feel a lump in your throat. And yet you do desire to shift your energy, mind and heart toward a different direction. In other words, what can you do to begin to create life that you want after your devastating loss?

Here are 10 things you can do, and these items are no particular order of importance. What is key is that you begin somewhere, and these items are here to help you create a new path for yourself. Some of these things may not work for you, while other items you may find to be a better fit. Continue reading

Boost Your Self-Confidence in 5 Easy Steps

confidence

We aren’t innately born with perfect self-confidence. In fact, I think I was born with the least amount of confidence in myself as was possible and it took me a long time to build it up. I spent years in high school feeling awkward, unbalanced, and just plain out of place despite the fact that nearly every other teenager around me felt the same. My low self-esteem swept me up into a flurry of years of college as a quiet, constantly-apologizing, ball of self-doubt.

Many of us spend our days criticizing or comparing ourselves to everyone, and because of this, you might realize you aren’t very content or comfortable in your own skin. You might become overly anxious because of this, stressed or even depressed. As I began investing more time into understanding how to love me for who I was and also figuring out just how to “gain self-esteem,” I began to realize how common my own journey was.

According to the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center at the University of Texas, low self-esteem can be a big cause of strained relationships, it can impair your performances at school and work, and can “create anxiety, stress, loneliness, and increased likelihood of depression.” On top of this, low self-esteem can even make you more vulnerable to drug and alcohol abuse. No one wants that.

Because of the change that this journey had on my life, I knew I couldn’t just walk merrily along my way and not share. So here are five ways to help you boost your self confidence. And know this: how you love and view yourself won’t change overnight. It will take time, and patience, but it will happen. And these five things aren’t the end-all, you will spend time each week practicing these things to keep your confidence and yourself in a good place. Continue reading

A Fun Way to Make a New Year’s Resolution: Choose a One-Word Theme for 2016.

word-of-the-yearI love New Year’s resolutions – and I’m not the only one. Some 44% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions.

I love resolutions,, and as I wrote about in my book Happier at Home, for the last several years, I’ve identified one idea, summarized in just one word, as an overarching theme for the entire year.

Continue reading

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