Thursday, November 11, 2010

Not-So Daily Happiness Tip #13: Hero Inspiration

Take time out today to honor someone selfless, great, or both by reading about them and taking a piece of them with you wherever you go.  You and others will be better--and happier--for it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Not-So Daily Happiness Tip #12: A Positive Spin

Take a time-out and be positive on something you rather not be today.  Seeing the bad side, being negative may be easier, but you attract what you seek and put out.  So the question is, what would you rather attract?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not-So Daily Happiness Tip #11: Freethought Day

Use this day to resurrect an old idea that was just too out there.  You liked it to begin with, then you talked yourself out of it.  What can you do with this thought today?  How can you free this thought?  (Want more information on this unofficial holiday?  Check out this page.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Not-So Daily Happiness Tip #10: World Mental Health Day

Use this day to work on your health--your mental health, that is.  Check out mental health sections at sites like Science Daily or Yahoo News for the latest on mental health and for inspiration on ways to improve yours.  But don't just get inspired and informed, do!  Pick something from your favorite mental health news site and try it out today.  (For more information on this unofficial holiday, check out this link.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Daily Happiness Tip #9: The Simple Life

So often in our lives, we are overworked and overscheduled.  Instead of multitasking, why not simplify some activities and do the activity for the activity's sake.  This way you unwind after the day's mental and emotional workout.  You can read an article to just read, not to learn.  You can play a game to just play the game, not to win or lose or advance in technique.  You can walk to just walk, not to lose calories.  Simplify your activities from time to time to regain some simple pleasures in your life.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Daily Happiness Tip #8: Stop and Sniff

Scents are linked to emotion and memory.  They can soothe or excite.  This dogs know well, often stopping in the middle of a walk to investigate a tantalizing smell.  So next time, follow your doggy's lead and stop and sniff--your candles, your spike rack, or whatever scent hits the spot.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Daily Happiness Tip #7: Thank You Cards

Did someone go out of their way to do something special for you recently?  Don't just say "Thank you"; show it through a card.  Not only will you feel better in doing so, you'll make them feel special--just the way they made you feel in the first place.  (Hint:  E-cards--i.e. online cards--are great for this.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Daily Happiness Tip #6: Calendar Accomplishments

Calendars are great for schedule-keeping, but that is not generally a happiness-inducing activity.  Accomplishment is.  On your calendar write not just want you plan to do, but something you accomplished that day.  This way your past accomplishments inspire you toward greater ones in the future.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Daily Happiness Tip #5: Hand-Fed Happiness

A pet brings joy and stress-relief into its owner's life.  Why not reciprocate through a simple pampering activity that will make both of you happy:  hand-feed your pet.  This can be pieces of hard food from your pet's regular diet or treats; doesn't matter what precisely, but your pet will love the attention and shower its own attention on you in return.  A win-win situation.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Daily Happiness Tip #4: Be Spontaneous

Life seems to be ruled by schedules -- work tasks, household chores, family demands, and so on.  Today, break out of your schedule, even for five minutes, and do something you want to do but didn't plan on.  For a bonus?  Include the nearest family member or friend in your spontaneity.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Daily Happiness Tip #3: Renew a Friendship

In Tip #2, I suggested chatting up someone new.  Here is a twist.  Renew an old relationship.  Take the time and call someone who has fallen off the radar.  Call the friend you barely see or the relative you only speak to at family events and emergencies.  The groundwork has all ready been laid.  It just needs a little work to spark up the relationship anew.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Daily Happiness Tip #2: Chat Up Someone New

Talking helps.  But talking with new people gives you new perspectives, new ideas, and new conversation.  Try chatting up someone new--a stranger in line with you, a classmate, someone sitting next to you at the hairdresser's--to inject some fresh conversation and insights into your life.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Daily Happiness Tip #1: Ditch the Negatives

A recent study shows that hearing words that describe pain activated the areas of the brain that process pain.  So, using negative words make you feel more negative, and in process, you end up hurting yourself more.  Spare yourself the pain:  ditch the negatives and pick the positive instead.

SourceWebMD Health News - Words Really Do Hurt - by Jennifer Warner 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Declare War on Your Unhappiness - Part Two - The Reward Strategy

Introduction:  Sometimes it helps to put a face on our happiness and unhappiness, to see them as states diametrically opposed to each other.  Looking at it that way, unhappiness makes war on us, our happiness; so, it is time to take the war to our unhappiness.  How do you do that?  By following the advice of the war expert, Sun Tzu.  That is, "to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards."  Let's break this advice down into two parts.  The first part is covered on my Hub Page article.  This blog post covers the second part, that of "rewards".

The Reward Strategy:  The Art of War commenter, Tu Mu, added something important to Sun Tzu's advice quoted above.  That is, "Rewards are necessary in order to make the soldiers see the advantage of beating the enemy; thus, when you capture spoils from the enemy, they must be used as rewards, so that all your men may have a keen desire to fight, each on his own account."

Considering that advice, your incentives are the spoils of your success.  To put it another way, your incentives lie in the answer the following question:   

"What will I get from being happy?" 

The answer should include both tangible and intangible rewards.  For example, "By being happy, I will find more things in life that excite me.  By being happy, I will be able to do more of these things with the people I care about.  I can find hobbies and activities that are fun and excite me.  I can spend more time with my loved ones having good, quality fun.  By being happy, I find time to schedule family walk time, including our dogs.  By being happy, I find time to take pictures with my camera, train my daughter on the camera, and create a scrap book we will treasure for generations to come."

For you see, being unhappy prevents you from activities, opportunities, and the things that make you happy.  The spoils go to your unhappiness.  But by working on your happiness, you claim these rewards for yourself.  

Conclusion:   Using our emotions--rousing ourselves--so we want to defeat unhappiness boosts your energy to fight.  But for long-term endurance in a prolonged battle against your unhappiness, you must follow the above strategy.  This way, you strip unhappiness of its power and empower your way to happiness.  Best of all, your rewards are guaranteed with each success.  So declare war on your unhappiness today, and let me know how it goes for you. 

For more advice:   Read Part One of Declare War on Your Unhappiness (The Rousing Strategy) on my Hub page.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some Changes

This blog is undergoing some changes.  Noticeably, the Pursuit of Happiness results have been removed.  This is to sharpen focus on you guys out there, instead of on me.  I'll keep you apprised of any other changes as they occur.

Sun Tzu and the Art of Happiness: How to Declare War on your Unhappiness Today

Photo by vlasta2, found on Wikipedia,

Never thought Sun Tzu, the ancient war expert, had advice to share on happiness, huh?  Truth be told, he didn't directly.  But indirectly, his concepts on war can be launched against the enemies of happiness.  Specifically, this week, I am looking at the following idea:

. . . though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

How do we apply this advice to a war against unhappiness?  By deciding upon one simple thing--you have to find your happiness before the enemy and war's fatigue takes it away.  How do you do that?  Well, I wrote an article about motive statements for writers that can be adapted to life in general through answering two questions:

  • What do you want to do?
  • Whom do you want to do it for?

The second question is easily answered--you do this for yourself.  The first question, however, is tougher and involves examining closely your drives and desires.  But once you find the answer, you can attach your happiness to your motives, and it will be like the horses pulling Sun Tzu's chariots--not only has your happiness come along for the ride, it is being carried into the war against its enemies.

So take some time this week to uncover your motives.  I will post articles and exercises periodically this week to help you do just.  That way we both can harness Sun Tzu's advice and take the war to unhappiness and conquer it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Invite a Sense of Mystery into Your Life

A little mystery is a good thing.  It ties into acceptance, into letting go, into believing in something beyond your own normal perspective and beyond rationality.  Into opening your mind to possibilities.  All survival skills for everyday life.

So, how do I do cultivate a little mystery in my life?  I like to read about weird things.  I read about the Loch Ness Monster or miracles.  I read about ghosts or angels.  Prophecies or tall-tales.  Whatever the subject you read about, don't try to rationalize or discount it.  Just pretend for one moment it is possible; just end the piece with two simple but powerful words:  "Maybe so."

Adopting that stance toward life can lead to happier mental climates.  Doesn't matter if the mystery is true or logical or not; that is not the point of "maybe so".  "Maybe so" isn't about truth; rather, it is a key to opening up a world of possibilities you never bothered to see before.  Such a mindset sees possibilities instead of impossibilities.  Such a mindset allows happiness in.

Try on a little mystery today, and let me know how it goes for you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Challenge Your Fears - Campaign for E-Literacy - A is For . . .

Introduction:  In a previous post, I wrote about challenging your fears to get what you want in life.  I want to let go of my fears along side you as you let go of yours.  So, I'll let you in on my program.

What I am challenging:  Incompetence.  One of my fears is incompetence.  I've had it all my life, and it will take more than one program and one challenge to exorcise it from my life.  But it is standing in the way of my want.

What I want:  My dream job.  To have that, I need strong self-esteem to weather any storms.  I need to live up to the abilities and gifts God gave me.  I need confidence.   

What my program is:  My first program is Campaign for E-Literacy.  What is Campaign for E-Literacy?  In a nutshell it is:  Studying twenty-six non-fiction ebooks from Project Gutenberg.  I will select the books by using a title from each letter of the alphabet.  I also must read all ebooks on my nook e-reader.  I am doing this all in the name of increasing my knowledge and competency in life.  And I am starting today.

My reasoning:  I will enjoy this challenge immensely--reading, learning.  I love both.  If one could make a living by reading, I would be a millionaire already. 

If that were not enough, here is a quote by John Kieran, an American journalist.  He once said, "I am a part of all that I have read."  I believe that.  So, if I read about knowledgeable, competent people writing about their area of competence, then I become competent, bit by bit, piece by piece, book by book.

A win-win.

Book choice:  What is first up in the Campaign for E-Literacy?  The letter A.  In this case A is for . . . Art of War by Sun Tzu.

Book reasoning:  It is a classic that survived millennia, and by that reason alone is worth listening too.

Format of the program:  I will post updates on my progress, interesting outside material I have read or learned about the subject/author/work, related books I want to read eventually, and the knowledge acquired thus far.  These will mostly be weekly and at milestones as I read through the book--i.e., the beginning of it, the quarter mark, the half-way point, the three-quarters mark, and the ending.  All of this will be posted on its own blog.

Conclusion:  That's it.  Consider joining me in reading the Art of War, in starting your own literacy program, or in challenging your fears.  I would love to know what fear you challenge today.

Let Go of Your Fears by Challenging Yourself

About Fear

Eleanor Roosevelt believed "that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experiences behind him."

Who wouldn't want to conquer a fear?  Fears hold onto you; they hold you fast.  They keep you from what you want.  The problem is, you are holding onto this fear as much as it is holding onto you.  The only way to get what you want in life is to let go of the fear.

But how do you do it?  Well, you are off to a good start by just wanting to do something about your fears.  But a specific method to let go of a fear is an exciting one:

Challenge yourself--challenge yourself to challenge your fears.

Why Challenge Yourself?

Fear is a great motivator for bringing out the worst in you.  Challenges can be great motivators for bringing out the best in you.  Challenges excite you, and excitement is an important incentive to keep any commitment.  By embarking on a challenge, you do as Eleanor Roosevelt said--you keep doing the thing you fear until you have a track record of success.  This way the rewards are two-fold:  the sense of accomplishment and the release of a hindrance.

What Fear Are You Challenging?  

Pick a want first.  Something big.  Something you have wanted all your life.

Now, pick a fear.  Large or small, but it must be something that keeps you from your desire.

This is the fear you will challenge; the finish line is your want.  However, this is more of a marathon than a dash; more of a relay race than a solo.  Once you solve one fear, there are more in the way of your want.  And it can take many sessions to exorcise one fear from your life.  But think of it another way, think of it like Michelangelo saw his David--he chipped away at stone everything that wasn't David.  You have to chip away at everything that isn't your want; what you chip away is your fear.  If you do not take the chisel in hand, you will only have a hard block around your desire.  Challenge your fears, and you'll have your desire.

How Will You Challenge Your Fear?  

For your challenge to succeed, you must develop a winning program and winning mindset.  To do that, you must have interest in the challenge itself; it must excite you.  Take a while and think about what will keep your interest and what rewards you would like to give yourself.  Once you have that write it down.  Revise it.  Once it excites you on the page, once it makes you want to start right away, then visualize yourself working through it, visualize yourself overcoming struggles and the ennui, visualize yourself letting go of your fear, and visualize you receiving your interim reward, and finally, visualize yourself one step closer to your David and hand the chisel onto the new you as you move on to tackle your next fear-challenge.


If you want more in life, make it a point to challenge yourself--challenge your fears--more often.  But make sure to have fun doing it, so that the challenge is a reward in and of itself.

So tell me, what fear are you challenging today?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Restore Your Creativity Through Photo Journaling

Benefits of Creativity

I believe in the benefits of a creative life, and I am not the only one.  According to a study in an Psychology Today article, students "who were engaged in everyday creativity had a greater sense of well-being and personal growth than non-creative classmates."  Also, an Everyday Health article mentions that creativity can reduce stress and keep you healthy, all of which is important in maintaining a happy, healthy life.  

As a result, I've made it my goal to be creative every week.

This Week's Creative Goal

This week's creative goal is journaling--but with a twist.  We will do it with photos.

What is Photo Journaling?

Photo journaling is using a picture to represent a mood, a moment, an event, or even your impression of the day all summed up.

Why Journal?

For me, journaling allows me to let loose where no one can pass judgement.  Journaling sweeps away the debris cluttering up my mind--i.e., all the negativity and worries.  And it provides a clearer focus.  But there are more benefits than those.  Just do an online search for benefits of journaling and you'll turn up days' worth of reading material.

Why Photos?

I like the idea of journaling, but I often neglect it focus on my work--freelance writing.  But there are many reasons why people don't like to journal.  Writing may not be your thing.  You may think it is childish.  Or you may not know where to start.

That is where photos come in.  Pictures are around you every day, in magazines, on TV, and in your own photo album.  They stimulate you positively or negatively.  They can capture the essence of something in a way words cannot replicate.  And besides, photos are just fun.

How To Do It?

So, now that you know what photo journaling is and the reasons behind it, how do you do it?  How do you get your photos?

Take photos.   If you like to take photos or even just have the capability, do that.  You can take pictures of anything and everything.  In fact, create a bank of photos to choose from at a later date to save time. 

Find photos.  The other way is to find photos online, such as through flickr or Google.  Again, create a bank of images for later.  If you are going to put this online, be sure to abide by copyright rules.  However, quite a few places allow you to use their photos for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photo to the artist.

Where to record it.  Now that you have your photos, what do you do with them?  You can start a blog, paste photos into a Microsoft Word file, print them out and paste into a notebook, or use a photo album.

Captions and writing.  Add a couple words or a sentence to your photo.  Such as, My Bad Day.  Or, Excitement.  You can even use photos with your regular journal to combine the benefits of both techniques.
Which method works best?  That is up to you.  The key is finding something you want to keep up and that stirs you creatively.


The point of photo journaling is to capture and destress your day in a new way.   And you do that by stretching your imagination.  So, try it, have fun with it, and let me know how it goes for you.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

The US Declaration of Independence has an interesting line in it, concerning our right to the "pursuit of happiness."  Not our right to happiness, but our right to the pursuit of it.  I am in need of more happiness in my life--who isn't--but it is up to me to make it happen.  How?

Well, a few days back I published an article about just that called Stop and Smell the Roses.  One technique involved choosing an activity that gives you happiness and doing it that day, no excuses.  Well, I am adding a twist.  I am going to give myself several options to choose from to suit my mood and time constraints, and then I am going to do one.

These are my options for today:

  • Taking pictures
  • Sending link of my butterfly Flickr page to my friend
  • Watch a Tudor (Season 2) episode
  • Hand feed chickens
  • Repot a plant
  • Walk the dogs
  • Explore the small life at the pond
  • Download a song
  • Learn a new chord on the guitar
  • Go to a movie
  • Find freebies

All right.  So, we have the option list--what next?  The next is holding myself accountable through writing about it--in my case, blogging.  Every day, I'll post my option list, my selection, and any musings that relate to it.  That's it.  Simple, huh?

As you can see, it is not hard to pursue happiness instead of just waiting for it to come find you.  All you have to do is come up with things that make you happy, do one of them, and then either write about it in a personal journal or post it on your blog.  If you post it on your blog, consider sharing your entries with your friends.  Your friends may want to support your endeavors or even try it for themselves.  So let me know, did you pursue your happiness today?
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