Searching for Happiness in all the Wrong Places

Have you ever gone shopping, done a little retail therapy  to give yourself a ” happiness boost’?  When was the last time you ate a box of cookies or a pint of rocky road, or skipped a work project to watch Frankie and Grace marathon on television or look at Facebook in order to lift your spirits? Did that happiness last very long?

Chances are, you got a bit of instant gratification, which then gave way to malaise, and then possibly led to feelings of guilt and shame. “I can’t believe I did that, what is the matter with me?”

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A 2016 Harris poll on happiness says less than 31% of Americans consider themselves truly happy, and most people look, every day, for instant gratification to fill the void.

Think of all the things you do during any given day to scratch that itch. You spend time looking at Instagram for a little dose of socially-driven dopamine, the happiness hormone. You play games on your phone, eat a sweet treat, or indulge in playing lotto online, but nothing seems to make a lasting difference…

 

You are searching for Happiness in all the wrong places.

 

Try to think about a time in your life that you felt really good. Accomplished. Empowered.

Perhaps it was you scored the winning touchdown. Maybe you published your first book. Had your art work accepted into a gallery or you won an award. Maybe it was a promotion at work, or a good grade on a difficult assignment, you made that sale that you have been after for weeks. It could be you volunteered at the local soup kitchen or  read to children at the library. This accomplishment gave you something to brag about. It brought you fond memories for weeks or years to come. It not only lifted your spirits…it elevated your entire life.

The momentary pleasures of ice cream and Facebook are fleeting, but that sense of accomplishment lasts forever.

Social psychologist Sonja Lyubormirsky, PhD, the author of The How of Happiness A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want defines happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” And their findings are having a dramatic impact not just on the field of psychology, but also on the way many of us are cultivating happiness in our own lives.

At first glance, the notion of investigating happiness may not seem particularly revolutionary. But, in fact, the new interest in happiness represents a relatively contemporary shift in psychological focus. Historically, it seems that psychology has been more interested in fixing mental-health problems and illnesses than boosting actual happiness.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., a prominent figure in the study of happiness, and the author of numerous books, including  Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience said “Most people, when they ruminate about the cause of their wretchedness, become more wretched,” he says. “For most people, that’s just compounding their misery.”

The Positive Psychology movement focuses their attention to advancing the knowledge of what makes us feel satisfied, energized, hopeful — and happy.

What they’ve discovered is that some people are just born happier and are wired to stay that way, but happiness is also something we can practice and cultivate. Happiness hinges on our choices, attitudes and thoughts — and when we know more about how these choices, attitudes and thoughts affect the quality of our lives, we have a recipe for a more joyful, meaningful life.

5 keys to a happier life:

Notice what you are noticing

Andrew Shatté, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and coauthor of The Resilience Factor gave students 12 seconds to solve some puzzles what he did not tell them was there was no solution. He asked them after a few seconds how are you feeling…frustrated, angry, and stupid? “The point is, every one of these thoughts was wildly inaccurate, given the truth that the puzzles were unsolvable. We make mistakes in our thinking and we pay a price for them.” Pay attention to your instinctive emotional responses and begin consciously challenging the negative thoughts and limiting belief systems that underlie them. So many of our responses or reactions are based on faulty thinking.

Make a difference in someone’s life

Tim Kasser, a psychologist at Knox College , and the author of  The High Price of Materialism  considers well-being to depend on the fulfillment of four psychological needs: safety and security, competence, connection to other people, and autonomy or freedom. “Our research shows that when people have strong materialistic values, they tend to feel low satisfaction of those needs,” he says. “Fundamentally, they’ve hinged their sense of worth on what others think of them, so their [happiness] is always fragile and contingent.”

Therefore refocus your energy and actions on the people and experiences that matter most. Ask yourself how can I make a meaningful difference? Practice random acts of kindness.  Be considerate, loving and generous. Express gratitude for kindnesses you receive. Get involved with a cause that inspires you to share not just your money, but your time and expertise.

Focus on relationships and community

Ed Diener, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has conducted countless studies on the variables that contribute to happiness. His lab has explored many different cultures, including Amish, African tribes, Calcutta slum-dwellers, as well as American college students. According to his research the happiest people are in positive social relationships. Happy people cultivate friendships, marriage and companionship. Make time every day to connect with the important people in your life. Establish at least a weekly routine to interact with others in meaningful ways. Find what makes you come alive through meet ups, painting classes, book clubs, exercise or sports, learning opportunities, mentoring or volunteering, dancing, chorale groups.

  1. Creative Expression makes your happier and healthier.

According to research on art in chronic illnesses, making art can help people with illnesses to express themselves and their feelings about their illness. Art helps you process your emotions, increase self-awareness and change the way we think about an experience or challenge we are facing.

In addition art makes us feel good.  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has suggested that we can experience a state called flow when we’re working on an activity. We will lose our our sense of time, we may forget to even eat or that we are tired. Kurt Vonnegut once said that practicing any art ― no matter how badly ― makes the soul grow. “Make time for creative expression. It can be, journaling, coloring in a coloring book, scribbles and doodles, crafting or playing an instrument. But if you don’t consider yourself an “artist,” don’t worry, experimenting with a new dinner recipe to creating a new Pinterest board can give you that creative boost.

5. Gratitude

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Through appreciation, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. Gratitude helps people connect to something greater than themselves, to other people, nature, or Infinite Intelligence. It has been known to actually improve your health, deal with adversity and build stronger relationships. Begin and end your day with I am so grateful for…

I am going deeper into some of these topics on my upcoming free webinar The Art of Health and Happiness. Register here. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-art-of-health-and-happiness-tickets-36608493991 

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Forgiveness Challenge

 Forgiveness Challenge

 

Do you wait for other people to apologize?

Have you turned unforgivness into a habit?

Are you able to forgive yourself?

According to Fred Luskin, Ph.D. a psychologist and researcher at Stanford University and the co-founder of the Forgiveness Project. “Unresolved hurt and anger prevents you from being flexible and adaptive and ultimately less capable of generating and optimal response.”

Sometimes the stuff we carry around for years affects how we conduct ourselves from day to day. “Every time you’re reminded of someone or something that caused you emotional distress, it’s another reminder of your helplessness, says Luskin who also teaches forgiveness classes.

Researchers in the field of positive psychology have given considerable attention to the matter of forgiveness. Their findings show that forgiveness does not entail forgetting, nor does it entail pardoning or condoning. The goal of forgiveness is not reconciliation. The goal of is to replace the wounds, restore and increase personal wellbeing for the one who forgives.

You can choose to stay stuck, bitter and a victim, or you can do yourself a favor by willingly forgiving what happened in the past; letting it go; and then moving on to create a joyful, meaningful and fulfilling life. You have the freedom to make your life anything you want it to be because you have freedom of choice.

Let’s explore, experiment and play in the realm of forgiveness for the next week.

  1. Writing a letter of forgiveness is a powerful tool of transformation. In the letter, describe an incident where someone wronged you. Be sure to include the emotions that you were feeling at the time of the incident. Do not feel compelled to actually share the contents of the letter with the actual person you are imagining. You can keep it, burn it or release it to the water. If you decide to send it be prepared for feedback and consequences. You might get a call, text or email or absolutely nothing.

 

  1. Answer the following prompts: When I forgive others I change in the following positive ways…When I forgive myself I will….

 

  1. Create an affirmation of forgiveness, keep it in your purse, put it on your tablet, put it in your car or mirror. Repeat it several times during the day. Some examples: Forgiving other allows me to accept people for who they are rather than what I want them to be. I forgive myself for not being perfect. I release myself from my anger and let the past go. I forgive everyone from my life and love myself. I move beyond forgiveness to understanding and I have compassion and kindness for all. I am forgiving, loving, gentle and kind and am safe in the knowledge that life loves me. Forgiveness is a gift I give to myself over and over again. When I make a mistake, I realize that it is only part of the learning process.

 

  1. Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho Tutu have developed a four step process to teach you how to forgive. Desmond Tutu knows a few things about forgiveness. As one of the spearheading members of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commissionthat provided a platform for victims and perpetrators of apartheid, Tutu believes that forgiveness is “the way we stop our human community from unraveling.” Listen to this video now. http://www.humanjourney.com/forgiveness/

It is time to dive into forgiveness because you will:                                                                

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Be more empathetic
  • Increase your capacity for joy
  • Bring peace to the world

I am Rae Luskin, the author of ART from my HEART, and the award winning book, The Creative Activist: Make the World Better, One Person, One Action at a Time. My vision is create world where women and children are safe. They are free to step into their brilliance, power and purpose. They have access to quality education and healthcare. They have the freedom to be, do, have, and create anything they want. Forgiveness is a cornerstone of personal responsibility and global healing and change.

I would love to hear about your forgiveness experiences and tools below.

 

If you are interested in receiving the forgiveness mandala practice that I use sign up here.   https://forms.aweber.com/form/92/1820515992.htm

You Make A Difference

 

in big world you make a differnce

You Make A Difference

The Problem:

1 out of 3 Americans have low self esteem

1 out of 3 teens are bullied each year

30% of kids in America drop out of high school

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year old.

Teen suicide has risen 400% in the last 30 years.

How can we make a difference?

Mary Robinson Reynolds. M.S. is the author numerous books and the producer of the internet videos MakeADifferenceMovie.com and the Acknowledgement Movie.com which have been viewed over ten million time. Mary is a creative activist and she makes a difference. 

What is the creative activist?                                mary robinson reynolds
The creative activist opens doors, raises public awareness as a call to action for social change. They use creativity as a tool to teach, bridge gaps, to foster understanding and social justice.  They support the development of capacities, skills and talents that activate both individuals and groups. They encourage inventiveness, originality and creativity to raise self-esteem and solve community problems.

 

 

 

Mary spent her early professional years as a k-8 teacher and then as a k-12 counselor. She had tremendous and measurable academic success with kids that had been written off by the system. She developed “attitudinal” energy techniques to empower students and their parents to effectively bridge communications and leadership within the educational system.

Over the years she parlayed her phenomenal success with at risk kids into Continuing Education Courses for Portland State University on how to be energetically effective educators. She was also an active network marketing business builder in The People’s Network (TPN) – a Positive Television company. Known as “The Success Channel,” it was one of the most revolutionary concepts ever introduced to the television industry. “In 2006 I discovered online movies as a medium for inspirational storytelling that touches the heart and inspires the spirit,” she says.  “Today is the perfect time for telling everyone you know about the power of meaningful gestures.” In 2007, Mary Robinson Reynolds, Make A Difference flash movie maker, was introduced to Helice “Sparky”  Bridges by one of her own subscribers, and the two women joined their intentions to make the world a better place. Mary and Heart Productions & Publishing then created the acknowledgementmovie.com. version of this powerful and heart grabbing story, which makes me cry every time I watch it. the acknowledgment

Mary says it is critical to the world, our communities and families that we acknowledge three people everyday. She has put forth a challenge that for 30 days you touch someone; it can be a pat on the back, a verbal acknowledgement or a virtual hug.  When she was in grad school she was going through a very rough time, looking for love in all the wrong places, struggling with school and her counselor gave her this assignment. She said it was challenging and painful in the beginning  but then  it changed her life.  She says when we do this, it  transforms your own life and  your circle of influence. When we grow and celebrate each others dreams, goals and accomplishments  people will step into their greatness and their authentic self.  It ignites new conversations. It changes work cultures.

Who you are does make a difference.What you do can change the world. Personally I have created blessing or appreciation cards. I once went to a conference and we all rushed to the food court for lunch. People were hungry and testy. The poor cashier was overwhelmed.  I gave her a card that said you are magnificent. She smiled, held it up for everyone and said I am magnificent at the top of her lungs. She changed and she changed the people in the room. Everyone just relaxed and smiled. Who are you going to acknowledge today? act as if

If you go to website http://thewinningadventure.com/freeresources.php you will also find appreciation cards you can create yourself.

 

 

My Favorite 20 Acts of Random Kindness

random-acts-of-kindness

My favorite 20 Acts of Random Kindness.

I first heard the saying practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty many years ago. Since then I have been the recipient and the giver. I found myself in San Francisco attending a conference. It came down to the last day and I did not have enough cash to take the bus to the airport. I asked the clerk at the hotel could they add money on my bill to cover it and he said no. I was freaking out so he gave me $20 out of his pocket to cover the expenses. I said please give me your address and I will mail it back. He said no PAY IT FORWARD. I did. Here are 20 of my favorite acts of random kindness.

1. Smile at someone. You never know what they are going through and it can make all the difference.

2. Really listen to someones response when you ask how are you?

3. Let someone merge in front of you in traffic.

4. Put your iPhone away and give your child your undivided attention.

5.Speak to the homeless person on the street. Ask them what they need and get it for them.

6. Pay for the person behind you at the cash register.

7. Buy some balloons and pass them out.

8.Give a cold bottle of water to the workmen in your neighborhood.

9. Click for a cause so the organization  can get funds.

10. For one day ride your bike or walk to work to lower your carbon footprint.

11. Read to a child.

12. When you walk your dog pick up some other dog’s poop.

13. Return a stray shopping cart.

14. Write a sticky note thank you and leave it on your plate.kindness2-300x213

15. Start a family  kindness journal.

16.Assist a senior in their garden.

17. Make a build a bear for a local charity.

18. Collect art supplies and books to take to the children’s hospital.

19. Bake some cookies for your neighbor or co-worker.

20. Make some appreciation cards and pay them forward.

What is your favorite act of random kindness?

Creative Leaders Spark Change Around The World

Creative Leaders spark change around the world.

In my last blog I introduced the concept of the creative edge. It is the way you live your life. It is the way you parent, solve problems, and make a difference in the world. It is being resilient, inventive and original. It is supporting your unique visions and going to the creative edge. The  qualities of a  creative leader are:  Courageous, Resourceful, Enthusiastic, Authentic, Tenacious, Inspired, Vibrant, Empowered.

Meet Jonny Imerman

 

  imerman

Jonny Imerman was a typical college graduate, working in real estate during the day and attending classes at night for his MBA. Jonny played basketball, worked out at the gym and hung out with friends. Then at 26 his life changed.

 Jonny was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After doctors surgically removed one of his testicles, he underwent five months of chemotherapy and was declared clear. But almost a year later, four tumors popped up again near his spine which required another surgery, an 11-inch incision and three months of recovery.

Jonny has been cancer-free since 2003. He left the business world behind and began Imerman Angels a not-for-profit organization that connects a person fighting with cancer with someone who has survived and beaten the same type of cancer. The mission is to provide a big brother or sister to help inspire, provide tips and knowledge. They have created a global healing community of over 4000 survivors and 1500 caregivers . The service is available to anyone touched by any type of cancer living in 60 countries around the world for free.

Rae: What inspired you to create Imerman Angels?

Jonny: “I had made a vow to myself during the time that I was battling cancer. I had looked at others in the oncology clinic and realized that I was different. Each day, my mom was there.She was there every step of the way.  My room was filled with family and friends. As I walked down the hall with my chemotherapy IV-pole on the way to the bathroom, I saw other people fighting cancer alone. They were lying in bed, motionless, watching television or staring in space.  I knew this was not right. It really upset me. So I started chatting with other cancer patients.I’ d say hi my name is Jonny. We could talk about our emotions, our experiences, things our family couldn’t get like sucking on lemonheads to get the metallic taste out of our mouth.

“I wondered: “What if every cancer fighter could talk to a cancer survivor who was uniquely familiar with their experience; who not only had beaten the same type and stage of cancer, but who also was the same age and gender as the fighter?” The cancer survivor would be an angel- walking, living proof that the fighter could win, too. What an amazing connection. “

“Let’s say a 19 year old girl at University of Richmond get’s sick, she is alone and afraid. She can go on facebook and talk to an angel  to find out know what is going to happen to her,” how sick will I get, will I be able to have kids?   Also cancer caregivers, family members and friends also benefit from one-on-one connections with other caregivers and survivors.

 Rae: How would you define courage?

 Jonny:  Courage, when you reach a certain point where you absolutely have no fear of failure.You don’t listen to other people saying others have had that idea. Ultimately courage is listening to your own voice and believing that you can do it.

Rae:     What are the qualities of a great leader?catalyst of change

Johnny:   I think a great leader, number one is focused on a mission. A great leader believes in the service for the product that they’re delivering.  They believe in their soul, every part of their body, everything about them screams that they get it. They’re so fired up to build it and that’s what creates a movement. They have unwavering passion.

Rae: What is your definition of success?

 Jonny:” For me it’s really simply we’re changing lives, we’re improving lives in cancer, we’re making a difference.  I think the most successful people in the world are the people in social enterprise that are building a for-profit company that has a social component that makes the world a better place or nonprofits that simply make the world a better place. 

Rae: What continues to drive you?

Jonny: I love people. Everyone’s got a story. Everyone has been through challenges. I always say that if you talk to somebody for five minutes there’s always something that you don’t know that they do. You can learn from their experiences.

Rae:  What would you say to somebody who said they don’t know how make a difference but would like to?

 Johnny:    I think what you need to do is to dig deep and you think about what your family  has been touched by. It could be diabetes or cancer. Get in touch with one of the groups  that serve people in those arenas and start volunteering.  Be part of the solution.


If you want to be part of the solution visit www.ImermanAngels.org for information on how to support or join the network of cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers.

Cancer used to be said in a whisper. Now we have football players marching down the field in pink. How did that happen? We have people sharing their story or their families challenges. We have  creative leaders like Jonny Imerman  who brought to light the problems young adults face with cancer and did something about it .

If you know a Creative Leader who I should feature…please write me.