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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Put Your Dreamer in Charge and Feel Really Good

beauty of your dreams

 

Put Your Dreamer In Charge and Feel Really Good

 

When you were a kid, you didn’t have any “real-world” duties, so it allowed you to spend your time inventing games, talking to imaginary friends, making tents out of blankets, being a superhero, a ballerina or an astronaut.  Basically doing whatever you wanted to do for most of the day. You lived in the realm of your imagination…you dreamed…A LOT.

Somewhere along the way your teachers said stop day dreaming, get serious, stop playing…and you did.  Now,  you have obligations and responsibilities that help make sure that everything runs smoothly. You map out logistics and build routines that create a sense of comfort, security and stability for you and your family. You have serious goals but are you really happy?

While those elements are essential to being a grown-up, we still need to dream and play and creatively express ourselves in order to maintain our sanity and build a life worth living. Scientific studies have proven that play does a body good. When we play, we send a beautiful chemical called endorphins cascading through our bodies, which makes us feel really good. Getting into a state of dreaming  and wonder opens us up to new possibilities. Creative expression allows us to generate new ideas and inspire new conversations and instills in us a general sense of well being.

Here are a few simple steps to help you put your dreamer back in the driver’s seat.

  1. Play Like A Child. Maybe doing cartwheels is no longer in your wheelhouse, but you can still run across an open field with your arms out like an airplane. You can sit on  swing and reach for the stars. You can lay on the grass and imagine the passing clouds as mermaids or castles in the sky.
  1. Love Your Friends. Before we learned to guard ourselves against rejection and heartache, we laughed openly with our friends, told them how awesome they were, and gave them lots of hugs. Guess what…you can still do all that. We need physical contact to feel connected to something other than ourselves and to feel a little less alone, especially in times of need. Hugs reduce the levels of cortisol in the body and lowers our stress level and therefore improves our mood. AND IT IS FREE.
  2. Creatively express yourself. We were all born creative  that is until someone told us “cows weren’t purple. If you want to be taken seriously you need that power suit.”  Creativity is your authentic soul yearning to be free. Take some time and scribble and doodle with crayons and see what emerges. Indulge your senses with a new cologne, find an accessory that says clearly who you are. You can put on your favorite dance music and rock out. Try out a new recipe for a spinach souffle or a decadent chocolate cake. Creative expression is your birthright.creativity1
  3. Be Curious. All too often we let our brain go on autopilot through rigid thinking.Don’t rush through your day, rather indulge in wonder. Ask open ended questions. What would I love? What feels better? What can I do with what I have to to experience more joy and happiness?
  4. Dream BIGGER.  Sure, it makes sense to put “realistic” goals on your list, but what about your “impossible” dreams? Let your imagination run wild and your curiosity guide you…What if you could end world hunger? What if you could have numerous homes all over the world? What is you could make the world safer for women and girls? What if you could  make a fabulous living only working four hours a day? Or lead the cause that ended global warming?   Let your mind become limitless again…and just see what happens.

One of the biggest keys to happiness is to do the things that you enjoy. Chances are, they are the simple things you’ve done ever since you were a kid.

 

How will you put YOUR dreamer in charge TODAY?

Join the creative activist community and collaborate with other big picture thinkers. Share your big dreams on https://www.facebook.com/groups/CreativeActivists/

Discover The Creative Edge: Curiosity

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“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” -Leo Burnett

Creativity is a part of your very soul and a key element in every area of your life. Creativity is the ability to see the possibilities and potential in your life. Creativity is being able to see solutions while others see problems. Despite what you may think—“I don’t have a creative bone in my body”—creativity is not the exclusive domain of artists, musicians, and professional designers.

You are creative when you:

  • Make a gourmet meal out of five ingredients from your panty.
  • Chaperone twenty 10 year olds to a museum.
  • Stay on budget and on time for that new project at work.
  • Figure out how to drop one child at dance rehearsal and the other at volleyball.
  • See a potential problem with your client’s strategy, and diplomatically propose an alternate solution.
  • Organize a food pantry in your community.
  • When you ask what if.

Everyone has the ability to think creatively, problem solve, and generate more ideas. It requires practice, the same way you need to train your body for the marathon. All too often, we let our brain go on auto pilot and fail to nourish our creativity. One of the keys to being more creative is to be curious.

Walt Disney said “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” As Walt told it, his inspiration for Disneyland came from having a “Daddy’s Day” with his girls. They would go to carnivals and the girls would play the games or ride the carousel while Walt would sit and watch. As he looked about at other parents, watching their kids, he thought what if there was a place where parents and children could play together as a family.

Brian Grazer, producer of Apollo 13 (1995) and A Beautiful Mind (2001), has let his inquisitiveness run wild by pursuing what he refers to as a “curiosity conversation” with hundreds of movers and shakers. He says the secret is to allow the conversation to flow freely. In his new book, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, Grazer chronicles a lifetime of talking to strangers in an attempt to expand his own capabilities.

We were born curious. We used to ask endless questions, much to our parents’ dismay. We used to taste everything, sand, bugs and snowflakes. We made up stories and wondered why. We freely expressed ourselves in fun and exceptional ways. As children, we were told: the cow is not purple, stop fidgeting in your seat, stop daydreaming, and there is only one right answer.  It is time once again to discover the creative edge and play in the realm of your imagination and intuition, ask endless questions, ponder what if.

What are you curious about?  Pick a subject and research on line or go the library. Take a class. Try a new recipe. Ask someone about their life experience. What if you could change the world, what would it look like? Be curious. Interested in finding out moreGet an advance copy of The Creative Activist: Make the World Better, One Person , One Action at a Time. bit.ly/CreativeActivistsPubslush

Celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week

 

creativity-and-innovation-source

Celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week 

World Creativity and Innovation Week was the brainchild of Marci Segal. During World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 people are acknowledged, informed, inspired and encouraged to use their creativity – to be open to and generate new ideas, to be open to and make new decisions and to be open to and take new actions – that make the world a better place and to make their place in the world better too.

It’s something you create it for your home, your school, your community, your business, with your customers.

Here are twenty things you can do starting today.

  1. Listen to my conversation with founder  and creative activist Marci Segal http://ow.ly/L9BhN
  2. Eat an ice cream sundae for breakfast
  3. Take a different route to work
  4. Make a meal you never did before
  5. Have your family make a centerpiece out of found objects
  6. Have a come as you wish you were party
  7. Talk to a stranger and ask them what they need…and get it for them                                                                             marci_segal_photo_
  8. Sing in the shower
  9. Learn something new
  10. Dream a better world and take one action step to make it a reality
  11. Imagine yourself as a superhero
  12. Ask what if questions
  13. Organize recess at your office
  14. Write a  big thank you to everyone you know and post it on Facebook
  15. Create a vision board on Pinterest
  16. Take a selfie
  17. Scribble and doodle
  18. Take an architectural tour of your hometown
  19. Plant a garden
  20. Visit a new art gallery or museum

The possibilities are endless, nothing is too small. This is your time to create new ideas, make new decision and take new actions.  Join me and other Creative Activists as we come together to support and share our creativity to make the world a better place. » bit.ly/CreativeActivists

 

 

How Do You Create A Bold Vision For Success in 2015?

oprah vision

 

How do you create a bold vision for success?

 

There are three steps to creating a bold vision for success.

1. Clarify your intentions

Ask yourself a series of questions.  Write the answers in your journal.

What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2015?
What would you like to evolve most about yourself in 2015?
How would you like to make a difference in the world?
What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2015?
What would you be most happy completing in 2015?
What advice would you give yourself?
What is the most loving service you can imagine in 2015?
What compliment would you like to receive?
What is the grandest adventure you can imagine?
What would you like to experience more of in 2015?
What would you like to explore or create in 2015?
What makes your heart sing?

2.Imagine  yourself one year from today.

What does your life like look? What does it feel like? Who are you if you have been successful? Imagine you are having coffee with an old friend and you are telling her about your year. Write your vision including as many details, feeling, and experiences as if they all came true.  Oh Mary let me share what an exiting year I had.  I published The Creative Activist in June. What a thrill it was to see the numbers from Amazon each week as they climbed to the top of the charts. I had a number one best seller in Personal Growth and Leadership category.  The launch party was so much fun. The DJ I hired played all my favorite songs, Celebrate, Let it Go, Climb. I got to dance with my granddaughters and Ali brought the baby. We got some great family photos to send to mom.

3. Create a vision board.

What is a Vision Board?

A vision board (also called a Treasure Map or Dream Board) is typically a poster board on which you paste or collage images and words from magazines, cards or Pinterest that inspire you. The theory is that you surround yourself with images of what you want to have in your life or images of who you want to become. They are really simple to do and very powerful.

There are two types of vision boards. The first is for opening and allowing and the other is when you know what you want to manifest. I have been doing both types for many years.

When I went through a deep depression in my mid-thirties I could not see any way out. I did not know what joy and happiness could look like so I collected images of pictures that made me smile. I put them in a book and I spent time every day looking at them and it freed my mind to consider something new and different. I eventually came to the other side. Before I ever thought of interviewing over 120 leaders around the country and becoming a speaker and a radio show host I created a vision board of Oprah and other influential leaders I admired like Eve Ensler who wrote the Vagina Monologue and started a movement. I put this in my office and looked at it all the time.                         vision board

In 2013, I decided it was time to release 50 pounds and get active and I made a specific board that had images of me at a thinner weight that I put on the fridge and one with images and words such as “it is safe to lose weight” in the bathroom where I could see it all the time. Since then I have lost 60 pounds.

Last year I created a vision to write The Creative Activist: One Person Can Make A Difference. I will have the first draft finished by Dec. 31st, 2014. Having a powerful vision, written and visual, keeps me motivated and inspired when I hit “road blocks”. We all have days like that but looking at my vision board on Pinterest just makes me smile. It reminds me who I am serving, my work matters and I can contribute to making the world a better place.

Supplies for Creating a Vision Board:

Poster board

Manila envelopes to collect materials

Scissors

Glue sticks, rubber cement or fabric glue Markers, gel pens, glitter pens

Photographs of you

A big stack of different magazines as well as different kinds of paper: post cards, gift wrap, stamps, maps, calendars

The Seven Steps of Creating a Vision Board:

Step 1: Go through your magazines and pull out pictures, words or headlines that strike your fancy. Have fun with it. Don’t censure yourself. If an image or word appeals just tear it out. I know many people like to use a scissors, but ripping is important to the experience. It increases your creativity, imagination and intuition. You can trim them later.

Step 2: Go through the images and see if any themes emerge. I was working with a client and she was amazed that what began as a general” I don’t know what I want to do with my career”… blossomed into something very specific based on the images she choose. It actually brought her clarity.

Step 3: Eliminate any images that no longer feel right.

Step 4: Glue everything onto the board. You can add writing, stickers, glitter or other materials.

Step 5. Title it

Step 6: Hang your vision board in a place where you will see it often.

Step 7. Spend time looking at it and journal about your experience. What feelings and thoughts have come to the surface? What action steps or strategies have emerged from the images?

If a traditional vision board does not resonate try these options.

Mandala

Mandala is the Sanskrit word for magic circle. Throughout history it has been part of spiritual and religious practices from Buddhist monks to Native American medicine men. Draw a circle within a circle. In the smaller inner circle put a picture of you as your most happy and radiant self and fill in the images in the larger circle what you want. Sometimes I place a spiritual icon or a peaceful image such as a lotus flower in the center.

Pinterest

Over the last few years I dove deep into Pinterest. I have boards about confidence, success, gratitude and forgiveness.I just finished creating a three year Vision Board. They never fail to inspire me and put a smile on my face. http://www.pinterest.com/dazzlingdivarae/

 

What is your bold vision of success in 2015?actions

 

Tags: vision boards, personal growth, creativity, success