Tag Archives: Happy

From Intent.com: Get Happy!

I love that the sun is starting to stay a little longer every day.
Is there still a polar vortex? Is that still happening?
I think it’s safe to say everyone is over the polar vortex.
We’re ready for the sun.

It’s such a joy hanging out with the folks on Intent.com because no matter the weather- rain, clouds, Los Angeles- they are always so focused and driven to live whole-hearted, healthy lives.

Right now, in the wake of Spring and the Olympics, we’re hearing a lot of buzz about happiness. Some of my favorite words about happiness?

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
-Marthe Troly-Curtin

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien

“I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”
-Paul Simon

What makes you happy?
What places in your life could use a little happiness?
Here are a couple of things you could do to help you find it:

1. Keep a gratitude journal. Some people keep track of happy moments or things via journal or awesome jar or some other method for recording and saving.

2. Meditation. Take a few moments in your morning to focus on what you’re looking for. “Today I intend to find happiness in even the smallest moments.” Keeping that at the forefront of your mind all day has this way of making those bight spots of happy all the brighter when they happen because you’re not bussing right by. You’re training your eyes to see them.

3. Set an intent. I’d be remiss if I did not encourage you to create your own Intent.com profile. You can share your intentions (the one about happiness seems like a good place to start!), get feedback and encouragement, keep track of how you’re doing, whatever you need it to be. You have the opportunity to combine the perks of a journal with real humans who are walking alongside with you. So why not? Check out these intentions:

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So, as the Patridge family so famously sang, “come on, get happy!”
We’re with you!

“One Man’s Trash”: Why We Should Uplift and Not Condemn One Another

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Never condemn anything. The energy of condemning implies separateness. –Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, The Power of Intention

The other night, I was watching a nature show. Sometimes when I’m hanging out with the family, we get tired of all of the animated cartoons, so we turn on the nature channel. It entertains the baby and gives husband and I a reprieve from “Curious George.”

The program featured the environment around Great Salt Lake. Apparently, it’s packed with brine flies. They were showing swarms so thick it that the sky turned black when they took flight. My skin crawled at the sight. I could imagine the scene and I shuddered. My first thought was, “Gross!” And then I even felt a gag crawling up my throat.

Immediately, the announcer said, “But to one creature, this is heaven on earth.” And then they featured a scene of a sea gull running along the shore of the lake with his beak stretched wide open. He was gobbling down an “All-you-can-eat-buffet of flies,” as described via the emcee. I started laughing as the bird looked totally thrilled with the situation.

The lyrics of one of my son’s favorite songs from this past year, “Thrift Shop”, popped into my head. “One man’s trash that’s another man’s come up.” A “come up”, according to UrbanDictionary.com, is “a bargain or a find that is of value to the finder.”

And then so did the quote above from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer about never condemning anything.

This is a truth that is ever present in my life: the wisdom of never judging. No sooner do I place judgment on something than the Universe will instantly give me evidence as to why I shouldn’t partake in such folly.

The truth is we can’t possibly understand another person or creature’s life. We’ll never know what it’s like to walk in someone else’s footsteps. Sure, we might relate to others. We might even have a lot in common with some. But at the end of the day, we are all living our own lives. We are each making choices based on our feelings in the moment and the faculties available to us. And while we are all connected, we are also all unique.

You’d think being in an industry like yoga that this would be a no-brainer. The word yoga, after all, means union. But you might be surprised how often different yoga “brands” take sides against one another. It’s inherent in the capitalistic business environment to be competitive — unfortunate, but true.

It’s incumbent upon us to rise above this temptation to condemn. I vote for uplifting one another, no matter what. Who can you uplift today?

How Will You Make This Summer Your Own?

booksinsuitcase Friday was the last day of school for my two daughters. They wore special outfits, I took pictures, lots of excitement.

The last day of school is always bittersweet to me; it’s fun to head into the summer, but it’s always a little sad that another year is over. I’m always reminded that “The days are long, but the years are short.”  (The one-minute video I made about this feeling is probably the thing, of everything I’ve ever written, that resonates most with people.)

The end of the school year is also significant to me because I still measure my own life by the school calendar. September is the other January–which is why, for my second happiness project in Happier at Home, I did a project from September through May. September is a new beginning, and the June/July/August season feels separate from the rest of the year.

So now that school is over, my summer has started–but fact is, my summer is a lot like the rest of my year. We go on some family trips, and my daughters’ schedules are different, but my work and routine, and my husband’s work and routine, don’t change much.

But I want the feeling of summer in my life, and so I’ve made a resolution: every weekend, I’m going to read a book for pleasure. Pure pleasure! I read a lot, all the time, but often I read books for research, or because they’re interesting to me in some way, even if they aren’t exactly “pleasurable.” But on summer weekends, I’m going to read only what I LOVE. Books that I can’t put down, books that I’ll race through in a few days. And if I don’t love a book, I’m going to stop reading it (another new resolution for me).

In The Enthusiasms of Robertson Davies, Davies wrote, “Every man makes his own summer. The season has no character of its own, unless one is a farmer with a professional concern for the weather. Circumstances have not allowed me to make a good summer for myself this year…My summer has been overcast by my own heaviness of spirit. I have not had any adventures, and adventures are what make a summer.”

Reading is my adventure, it’s my cubicle and my playground–and this summer, I’m going to make sure to spend a lot of time on the playground side.

How about you? How do you plan to “make your own summer”?

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A thoughtful reader pointed me to this delightful article about the tiny secret doors in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I love miniatures (see Happier at Home, chapter nine!), and I loved seeing the photos of these tiny doors scattered around town.

Are you reading Happier at Home or The Happiness Project in a book group? Email me if you’d like the one-page discussion guide. Or if you’re reading it in a spirituality book club, a Bible study group, or the like, email me for the spirituality one-page discussion guide.

5 Best Sources of Home Improvement Inspiration

Home improvement is an important topic for many homeowners. If you’re a current homeowner, you may just want to give your house a little pick-me-up by refreshing walls, installing kitchen upgrades, or simply buying new curtains to complete a look.

On the other hand, it’s a buyer’s market, and if you’ve recently purchased a home, you’re probably looking for inspiration to make it your own. If you’re a visual person or just looking for ideas to jump-start your creativity, here are some of the best sources of home improvement inspiration:

5. Pinterest: Where Your Inspiration Board Becomes Digital

Image via Google Images

Pinterest is the very popular online inspiration board website that just keeps gaining users left and right. Create specific boards for yourself based on what items you want to save from the internet and then “pin” images from your favorite sites.

With more than 40 million users, Pinterest is sure to offer inspiration for anything imaginable. Want to explore DIY improvements? Interested in viewing specific color schemes? Need to find a picture of a bathroom with bamboo? Pinterest has a whole page of search results for that.

4. Home Depot & Lowes: Specialty Stores You Can Connect With

Image via Flickr

Speciality stores Home Depot and Lowe’s have created inspiration magazines that are available for free download via iTunes. The Home Depot’s Style Guide and Lowe’s Creative Ideas Magazine both provide gardening and other visual inspirations to design ideas and trends, making both digital publications invaluable for home improvement inspiration.

3. Zillow Digs: Combining House-Hunting & Improvement Guides

Image via Flickr

If you’ve been in the market for a home, chances are you’ve heard of Zillow. This popular website is a great tool for buyers to view valuations and other data. With the new iPad app and Web service called Zillow Digs, Zillow is now competing against Pinterest for those users looking for home improvement inspiration.

Just like Pinterest, users can “pin” their favorite images, but unique to Zillow Digs  is the ability for users to view the estimated cost of the featured rooms and easily connect with local professionals in the industry. And if you’re looking for a way to protect your investment on a a particularly costly project, see this page for some good home security options.

2. Houzz.com & Merrypad.com: Inspiring Trends for Do-It-Yourselfers

Image via Flickr

Aside from online boards like Pinterest and Zillow Digs, there is an unbelievable number of websites dedicated to home decor, improvements, and DIY projects. Houzz.com features house tours, advice, how-to help, and more. Merrypad.com is a website dedicated to DIY projects and those homeowners who want to embrace the do-it-yourself lifestyle.

1. BrightNest: Your Guide to Innovating & Renovating

Image via BrightNest.com

Possibly one of the most artsy and most places on the web for home renovators and innovators is Brightnest. The site is a great resource for almost any aspect of home improvement. The site also recently launched an excellent iOS app that not only offers advice and inspiration, but it also helps you to organize your tasks.

Due to the advancements of technology, it’s become easier for homeowners to find improvement inspirations to make renovations fun and easy. By taking advantage of all the tools in front of you, you’re most likely to generate the most diverse and creative ideas.

What sources do you use for home improvement inspiration?

Self-Control: How Do You Regulate Your Eating Habits?

In and OutI’ve been continuing to ponder the abstainers vs. moderators distinction.

In case you haven’t been breathlessly following this line of argument: in a nutshell, when facing a temptation, abstainers do better if they abstain altogether, while moderators do better if they indulge a little bit, or from time to time.

The other day, a friend who is a true moderator told me, “I got a sundae from my favorite ice cream store, and it was so, so good. But after the tenth bite or so, I could hardly taste it anymore. I had a few more bites, then it turned into a puddle, and a friend of mine finished it for me.”

To me, this is a very foreign way of acting. The difference between my friend and me made me wonder if this is a distinction between abstainers and moderators, and I’d love for you abstainers and moderators out there to weigh in on this question.

Moderators, does your desire often diminish as you eat? Does it drop off in intensity?

Abstainers, do you experience this? Or do you find that your desire for the last bite is just as strong as for the first bite? Or does desire actually gain momentum from the first bite, so you want the next bite even more?

Perhaps this is another pattern that distinguishes abstainers and moderators. Or perhaps not.

If you want to read more about abstainers and moderators, I write about it in Happier at Home, chapter 5. You might also be interested in the post–I must say, one of my favorite posts of all time–about my sister’s experience when she decided to be “free from French fries.”

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Deepak Chopra: Were We Born to Love and Be Loved?

Do you feel completely loved and completely lovable?

In this episode of “The Rabbit Hole” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra discusses why we need to look past the limited views of ourselves to feel completely loved. When we look in the mirror, many of us see flaws and limitations that keep us from viewing ourselves as completely lovable. But the truth that endures despite all of life’s traumas and hurts is that we were born to love and be loved.

Underneath it all, there is a measure of innocence that is still in tact. The key is to understand yourself as more than the sum of your experiences. In spirit, you are unbounded by time and space and untouched by experience. In spirit, you are pure love.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out Deepak Chopra’s book The Ultimate Happiness Prescription!

8 Ways to Beat June Gloom

Singin' in the rainOkay, so judging by this map “June gloom” is obviously only a reality for several parts of the country this weekend. But for those of you in Southern California, New England, and the Great Lakes regions, it may be hard to feel excited about summer when the sky is still so grey and some of those clouds are still a-storming. But guess what? It’s time to kick June gloom in the behind and forge ahead with full summery glory! ‘Cause we didn’t make it this far into the year for nothing, right?

Here are 8 fun, alternative summertime activities to indulge in this weekend – clouds, sunshine, rain, fog, or whatever the weather brings:

  1. Have a summer fruits and veggies feast! Regardless of the temperature outside, this season always packs a cornucopia of delicious, sweet, tangy delights, from berries to plums to avocados to corn on the cob. Summer can basically be summed up in the taste of biting into a big, juicy peach and letting your fingers get all sticky. After you finish devouring that peach, use the rest of your bounty for this decadent ginger peach pandowdy, courtesy of Witchin’ in the Kitchen.
  2. Drop in on your local weekend farmer’s market. Nearly every city has got one these days, and the farmer’s are always there – rain or shine! The overflowing tables of fruits, vegetables, juices, cheeses, and more will be like a colorful shot of energy to your senses. Here’s a guide on summer farmer’s market shopping to help you make the most of your visit.
  3. Eat something spicy to warm yourself inside out. This works on both sides of the spectrum, whether you’re in balmy south or the cool Northwest. Hot, spicy food can actually work to cool the body through perspiration and increased circulation – so add some chipotle to your pasta salad if you’re trying to counter hot weather. If your among the June gloom sufferers, though, then try a spicy chili or something equally warm and invigorating!
  4. Get some active outdoors time. No need to worry about the summer chill when you’re running around and having a good time! Get your friends together for a game of ultimate Frisbee, flag football, or even hide and seek – whatever will get you moving, laughing, and letting loose in true summer fashion.
  5. Plan a trip. Nothing says summer like a good adventure. Set some time aside – even just a long weekend – for a trip, near or far, to get out of your daily routine and explore. Take a road trip, visit relatives in a different state, go camping, go fishing, go abroad if you can! Indulge that summer wanderlust while the season’s still here.
  6. Go to the beach, have a picnic, turn on the barbeque. Do you think the Beach Boys never surfed when there a bit of mist in the air? Sometimes the best outdoor excursions are the ones that find you huddled in blankets, munching on sandy snacks, and cuddling with your loved ones. A bit of fog makes the scene all the more romantic.
  7. Blast summer music through your windows! This one might seem a bit cruel to the neighbors, but if you’re down from June gloom then they undoubtedly are, too. We already mentioned the Beach Boys, but whatever bands signify summer to you are the best ones to crank on days when you need a mood pick-me-up. What are your favorite summer songs?
  8. Do something creative. Similar to how spicy foods can warm you from the inside out, engaging in a creative project will get the good vibes flowing through your imagination-circulation. So while you’re blasting those summer tunes, spread out your art supplies and draw a picture, make a collage, or paint a picture of sunshine to hang over your bed.

Basically, whatever your child self would have gotten giddy over in anticipation of summer vacation, now is the time to indulge in those delights. Gloominess is a state of mind that you can overcome by doing the things you love and being your own source of warmth and sunshine, regardless of how the sky looks outside. Have a wonderful weekend, and don’t let the grey get you down!

What are your favorite summertime activities?

What is Your “Unlived Life?” It’s Time to Start Living Whole-Heartedly

like a record...The happiest people I know have something in common: they are whole-hearted in how they engage in their lives…whole-hearted in relating with others, in work, in meditation, and in play. They have a capacity to give themselves thoroughly to the present moment.

Yet for many, it’s challenging to engage with this quality of presence. Take this personal ad for example. It says:

Free to a good home, beautiful 6-month old male kitten, orange and caramel tabby, playful, friendly, very affectionate, ideal for family with kids. OR handsome 32-year old husband, personable, funny, good job, but doesn’t like cats. He or the cat goes. Call Jennifer and decide which one you’d like.

How often do we find that in our relationships, rather than loving presence, we have an agenda for someone to change, to be different? How often do we find that our insecurities prevent us from being spontaneous, or whole-heartedly engaged with friends? You might think of one important relationship and ask yourself: “What is between me and feeling fully present when I’m with this person?” Notice the fears creeping in about falling short, the urge to get your needs met, the sense of “not enough time,” the wanting for your experience together to unfold a certain way! This same conditioning plays out in all aspects of living, and it is well grounded in our evolutionary wiring. We need to manage things, to feel in control. We try to avoid disappointments, to prevent things from going wrong.

While we have this strong conditioning, if it runs our life, we miss out. Carl Jung said, “Nothing has a stronger influence, psychologically, on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived life of the parents.” Unlived life happens in the moments when we’re not whole-hearted, the moments when we’re busy scrambling to get somewhere else, or holding back to avoid what might be painful. Unlived life is the relationships where we really don’t allow ourselves to be intimate with each other, the emotion that we don’t let ourselves acknowledge. Unlived life is that passion we didn’t follow, the adventures we didn’t let ourselves go on. Unlived life, while it happens in an attempt to avoid suffering, actually leads to suffering.

What I’ve noticed in myself, and when I talk with others, is that in order to be completely whole-hearted, there is a need for giving up of control. By letting go of our usual ways of holding back and protecting ourselves, we free ourselves to express our full aliveness, creativity, and love.

If we experiment with this letting go of control—if we engage wholeheartedly with each other and in our activities—our sense of being enlarges. More and more we discover the innate curiosity and care that leads to giving ourselves fully to this moment, and then this one, and again…this one. Rather than racing to the finish line, we choose, with all our heart, to be here for our life.

Adapted from my book Radical Acceptance (2003)

Enjoy this talk on The Compass of our Hearts-Part1

For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com

Do You Embrace Contradictions? Why Paradox is Necessary for Happiness

contradictionnopetsI love Secrets of Adulthood, fables, teaching stories, koans, and paradoxes–or anything that smacks of paradox. For instance, I get a big kick out of the page of my bank statement that reads, “This page intentionally left blank.” No, it’s not blank. It has that notice printed on it!

As I’ve worked on my happiness project, I’ve been struck by the contradictions I kept confronting. The opposite of a profound truth is also true, and I often find myself trying to embrace both sides of an idea:

1. Accept myself, and expect more of myself.

2. Use my time efficiently, yet make time to play, to wander, to read at whim, to fail.

3. Take myself less seriously—and take myself more seriously.

4.  Someplace, keep an empty shelf, and someplace, keep a junk drawer. If you want to see my empty shelf with your own eyes, watch here at minute 6:41–some people are dubious about whether I actually have one.

5. Think about myself so I can forget myself.

6. Paying close attention to something sometimes helps me to ignore it. (Like cravings.)

7. Often it takes discipline to take pleasure.

8. If I want to keep going, I must allow myself to stop.

9. The days are long, but the years are short. Of everything I’ve ever written, I think this one-minute video resonates most with people.

Often, the search for happiness means embracing both sides of the contradiction.

Take, for example, Item #1 above–certainly one of the central challenges of life. W. H. Auden articulates beautifully this tension:

Between the ages of twenty and forty we are engaged in the process of discovering who we are, which involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which it is our duty to outgrow and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass with impunity.

Which ones particularly resonate with you? What am I leaving out?

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The Most Inspiring Thing David Foster Wallace Ever Said

You have a choice.

It’s as simple as that. Do you want to be irritated or uplifted, cynical or curious? Do you want to experience the world as inherently aggressive or inherently cooperative? Every day we encounter situations that stretch and test us, but every moment we have the power to choose how we react.

In this poignant excerpt from a commencement speech David Foster Wallace delivered to Kenyon College’s class of 2005, Wallace argues that the banalities of working adult existence provide constant opportunities for imaginative thinking. Set against a powerful video produced by LA-based film company The Glossary, Wallace’s argument hits home and is far too familiar to brush aside.

Does this inspire you or do you think David Foster Wallace has it all wrong? And what about those in our society who don’t fit the middle to upper middle class, white-collar existence? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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