7 Surefire Ways to Set Yourself Up for Happiness

Flora laughing at comment from Charlesetta from CSUF

Wow! You can see I had a lot of fun at the SCORE Women in Business Breakfast Series.

 

There’s NO secret on how to be happy. But there are ways to set yourself up for happiness everyday.

If you’re reading this, you are literate and likely have the freedom to choose what you read. Start there. Thank a teacher and environment that allowed this.

On EverydayPowerBlog, I share  a guest post with  seven small ways to create happiness in your life each day. After you read them, tell me in the comments which one(s) resonated with you. 

 

 

Lift Off to a Happy New Year

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After a particularly challenging year, we are all ready for a lighter, more hopeful new year. That’s what book reviewer Viga Boland had in mind when she chose to create an audio review of my book, Color Your Life Happy, 2nd ed., as her last podcast of 2016.  Click the link below to enjoy it.

http://vianvi.com/?powerpress_pinw=3796-podcast

or you can read the full written review below.

Enjoy!

COLOR YOUR LIFE HAPPY

by Flora Morris Brown

 Vianvi Podcast #17: A Book Review by Viga Boland

As we bid goodbye to 2016, I am bringing you my final book podcast book review for this year. Looking ahead to 2017, today’s book seems the most appropriate on which to end one year and usher in the new year. After all, who doesn’t hope that 2017 will find them happy? Perhaps Color Your Life Happy is just the book you need to read. Wishing all of you a wonderful and happy new year! Thanks for your patronage over 2016. I look forward to welcoming my listeners back sometime in mid-January 2017! Cheers!

Advance happy new year 2017_3

 

Are you searching for happiness? Who isn’t, right? Have you spent a small fortune attending seminars, hours watching videos and many dollars buying books in the hopes of finding the secret to being, and staying happy? Well you can stop all that searching right now! Just get yourself a copy of Color Your Life Happy by Flora Morris Brown, sign up on her website to receive her blog posts, and you’ll have everything you need to recognize happiness when you see it and Color Your Life Happy.

51baDtvpYELWhat a delightful, easy and important read Color Your Life Happy is. Flora’s style is conversational, personal and friendly. Reading her book is like sitting down and having a chat with your best friend, a friend who is close enough and knows you well enough to remind you of what you really do know but keep forgetting. Flora understands you: she’s been there. She’s bottomed out but recognized that inside each of us are the answers to getting back up. You just have to trust yourself. Flora Morris Brown urges you to stop listening to that inner critic who tells you you can’t, and trust that inner voice, your intuition, that says “go for it!” She’ll insist you start now to say “no” to everyone else and “yes” to yourself. Doing otherwise can stop you from being really happy.

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Author, Flora Morris Brown

In Color Your Life Happy, Flora Morris Brown presents all the positive reinforcements you find in the countless number of books available on how to be happy. Yes, she includes quotes but she expands on every idea by using anecdotes from her own life. These anecdotes are sometimes funny, sometimes touching but always relevant and so enjoyable to read.

As I read Color Your LIfe Happy, I found myself constantly reaching for a pen to jot down a great thought or sentence, like these:

“When we’re feeling stress, it’s because we’re not accepting that what is, is”

“Treat your body like a temple, not a dumpster!”

“Give up the ‘if only’s’ and ‘what if’s”

“Being happy and successful is not a matter of luck. It’s a matter of doing what is most important to you minute by minute, day by day.”

You have to read this book to see how she develops and expands on those thoughts. It’s all wonderful wisdom and so worth your time reading. Flora tells us we should take on challenges and be willing to fail…or quit when it just doesn’t feel good and isn’t working for you. Consider how much nicer it will be when you’re in your rocking chair and you can talk about what you did with your life instead of what you’d wish you’d done! She encourages readers to set realistic expectations and not to guilt trip over not being perfect or making a mistake. When you think about it, it’s all just good common sense. Color Your Life Happy is a book you need on your night table or somewhere ever handy when you need that important pick me up or reminder of the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer.

Another appealing part of Color Your Life Happy is its presentation: each chapter features a lovely illustration above the chapter heading. Along with that come highlighted sections, chapter summaries, and an extensive bibliography. Flora Morris Brown has really researched her subject. She includes book titles and quotes other authors as she writes, and suggests websites worth investigating. I certainly plan to check out many of them. There are also poems to make you smile and reflect and a delightful story about a Mexican fisherman and an American tourist in Chapter 6. If that story doesn’t convince you to slow down your crazy life, breathe, and take time out for those things that do make you happy, nothing will.

Marvellous book and highly recommended.

©Viga Boland, author and book reviewer

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Treat Your Body Like a Temple for Increased Happiness

happiness

Treat your body like a temple, not a dumpster, and you can increase your happiness.

Scientists have discovered that about half of our happiness is based on factors we can’t control, like genetics and our upbringing. About 8 percent is attributed to circumstances in our lives, our educational level, marital status, and income. The remaining 40 percent is a reflection of our attitude and choices we make, especially the choices we make regarding our bodies.

Under normal circumstances, our bodies house all we need to function as human beings. We were designed to experience happiness. From our brain to every organ and system, we were created to be optimum living machines. We even have the drugs we need already inside of us, and our brain is the chemist ready to fill prescriptions as needed.

Access the natural drugs in your body

So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.
—A. J. Reb Materi

Endorphins, which are three times more powerful at killing pain than morphine, are produced naturally by exercise, listening to soothing music, laughing, crying, and spending time in the sun.

Serotonin helps us have that happy feeling and controls our moods, aiding sleep and preventing depression. Bright light and exercise will increase our levels of serotonin.

Dopamine makes us energetic and alert and improves our decision-making and socializing skills. Eating bananas, foods with antioxidants, almonds, and sunflower seeds are all believed to produce dopamine naturally.

Would you fuel your car with soft drinks and expect it to run? I don’t think so. That’s because you know your car was designed to run on gasoline (for now). Putting anything else in your car will not propel it forward and will likely ruin it.

Even though we have lots of information available about what is good for our bodies, many of us continue to shovel junk in there. Especially when we’re young, we take our bodies for granted and tax them to their limits. Consuming unhealthy foods, neglecting exercise, shortchanging our sleep, and failing to drink enough water not only cause us to be overweight and lethargic, but also make us susceptible to illness and diminish our happiness.

Access nutrients from food

Because my sister Sonja died of multiple sclerosis in 2005, I always pause when I hear anything about this progressive and often fatal disease. One day I passed through the dining room as my youngest daughter was watching a video on her computer about multiple sclerosis. I stopped to listen to Dr. Wahls  as she described how she had transformed her health and body after suffering for four years with secondary, progressive multiple sclerosis. When she was confined to a tilt-recline wheelchair, it became very hard for her to make her hospital rounds. Conventional medicine wasn’t working. She was afraid she would be bedridden for the rest of her life. That’s when Dr. Wahls began to study the research in auto-immune disease and brain biology. From what she learned, she decided to get her nutrients and vitamins from food rather than pills and supplements.

Using her Mitochondria Diet, Dr. Wahls recovered her ability to walk easily without a cane and ride her bicycle. Now she is devoting her life to lecturing and research. When she shared her story at a November 2011 TEDx talk, it went viral. Although she is careful to point out that her work has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and she does not promise to treat, prevent, or cure disease, she now uses these diets and protocols in her primary care and traumatic brain injury clinics.

Adopt healthy habits to increase your happiness

You may not be ready to adopt Dr. Wahls’ Mitochondria Diet, or any other organized eating plan, but your body will function better and help you maintain happiness when you do the following:

• Cook and consume a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. Increasing concern for healthier eating and green living has resulted in better choices in major grocery stores and healthier choices in medium-sized stores.

• Gain access to better-quality food. At one time, it was difficult for low-income or more remote communities to have access to high-quality foods because of the absence or scarcity of grocery stores [and ample fast food drive-throughs.] But more and more communities of both high and low income levels are solving this problem by setting up community gardens, engaging in community-supported agriculture, and attracting farmer’s markets.

• Make water your beverage of choice and consume at least eight glasses each day. While there is disagreement over whether purified or filtered water is better than tap water, just choose your favorite and drink it regularly. It has become customary throughout the U.S.A. for commuters to carry a bottle of water with them.

• Exercise at least three times a week. Every day would be better. Walking is the easiest and least expensive exercise. Getting a walking buddy makes walking more fun.  and keeps me consistent.

• Breathe deeply and consciously, sending oxygen throughout your body. Deep breathing helps your body get rid of toxins and helps reduce stress.

• Avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Not only do these provide no nutrition, but all are addictive and can impair our motor and other skills. Because I’ve been a lifelong coffee drinker, I was surprised recently to discover that I’m not enjoying coffee as much as I once did. I think exercise and healthier eating are making coffee less welcome in my body and less satisfying to my taste buds. (I’m still working on this area however.)

• Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Not only is it the fuel that gets you going, but it also gives you energy, enables you to think better, and prevents you from binging, when you’ll eat anything to satisfy that late morning/early afternoon hunger.

• Avoid eating after 7 p.m. This one is a challenge for me because I admit I love to snack in the evening.

You certainly wouldn’t trash a place you hold dear or for which you have reverence. You have been entrusted with the precious gift of a body. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to taking care of it. Invest time to research what combination of food, living habits, and exercise works best for you.

We spend a lot of time talking about attitudes, but without taking care of our bodies, we’re missing a critical component. Take loving care of your body, and it will take care of you, resulting in the greatest benefit of all—happiness.

Like you, I’m still working on adopting healthy habits. Which habits are your greatest challenge? What can you add to the healthy habits list?

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This is an excerpt from Chapter 4, Making Happiness a Way of Life  in Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve, 2nd edition. Visit http://coloryourlifehappy.com to to learn more about the book before it is released on Amazon and other major booksellers.

 

Simplify Your Life, Increase Your Happiness [Excerpt from Color Your Life Happy, 2nd ed.]

Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.
—Henry David Thoreau

Nature is ready to delight you whenever you are ready

In the movies of my childhood about the westward migration of Americans in the 1800s, there was always a string of rickety wagons loaded with families’ worldly possessions slowly crossing the prairies. Bed frames and rocking chairs were tied on top with pots and pans clanging against the sides. Drawn to what they hoped would be a more prosperous life on cheap land they’d heard about in letters from relatives and friends who had gone before, the pioneer families pushed on in spite of dwindling supplies, wagon breakdowns, and occasional fights with cantankerous fellow pioneers along the way.

As the movie family grew weary of fighting off disease, battling with Native Americans who were desperately trying to protect their land and families, stopping only to bury those on whom the trip had taken its toll, plus trying to keep up their spirits, they eventually realized they could travel faster if they lightened their load. The western migratory trails became lined with discarded household furniture and other possessions.

You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you need.
—Vernon Howard

While the pioneers shed their possessions to expedite their westward journey, throughout history, people have chosen simple living for spiritual, secular, health, anti-consumerism, and other reasons.

He has the most who is most content with the least.
—Diogenes

The move to simpler living

Simple living has deep historical roots. Diogenes of Sinope (fourth century BCE), believed that happiness comes from meeting our basic needs. He is credited with many witticisms regarding simple living. Thoreau (2013), American author, poet, abolitionist, and naturalist (born in 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts), conducted a two-year experiment with simple living in a cabin he built beside Walden Pond. Mohandas K. Gandhi, born in India in 1869, is best known for non-violent civil disobedience and living a simple life of self-sufficiency.

Many ordinary people today are throwing up their hands in defeat, trying to keep up with the Joneses at the cost of amassing huge debts. They have engaged in a “simplicity movement” to reduce stress and become participants rather than bystanders in their lives. The possessions we craved in the past, such as luxury cars, expensive wardrobes and accessories, and a big house with a big backyard, have betrayed us. The satisfaction we expected from our expensive possessions is short-lived. Our sense of well-being also declines as we see the cost of keeping up our possession-rich lifestyle becoming too high.

Putnam (2000) found these efforts to keep up with the Joneses by commuting to higher paying jobs disturbing, not just for what it does to our personal lives, but for what it means to our community. Those of us who have been freeway fliers making long commutes to work didn’t need Putnam to tell us those commutes are killers. Putnam found that every ten minutes of commuting results in ten percent fewer social connections. Commuting adds to social isolation and is destined to contribute to unhappiness.

I’m a former road warrior. Trust me—you do not ever get used to the commute. It’s not the miles that get you down. It was the uncertainty brought on by changing weather, the rising cost of gas, and accidents and detours that persuaded me to move closer to my job. After driving thirty-five miles one way to work the first year of my last full-time job, it wasn’t long before I vowed to move closer. Yes, it meant selling my house and uprooting my kids, and getting settled into a new lifestyle. But my peace of mind depended on it. When I found a house eight and a half miles from my job, I was elated. For the first time in my married life, I could be home in minutes, easily attend my kids’ school events, and even walk to the store, the post office, and other places if I chose to do so.

Americans’ fascination with cars has diminished so much in our nation. In fact, the less time we have to spend in them, the happier we are. A major consideration for families considering a move is the “walk score” of the location, which you can find for your home and workplace at http://www.walkscore.com. The more errands, socializing, and civic engagement that can be accomplished on foot, the higher the walk score.

More than just a reaction to economic conditions, simpler living is enabling families to spend more time together. Parents can read to their kids at night. We worry less about bills and upkeep. On a practical level, moving to a smaller dwelling also means less to store and clean. People who can downsize without feeling deprived can better enjoy the possessions that have high value for them.

You may already have the life you want

Many of us find we are happier when we simplify our lives. But many of us are also like the American tourist in the following story, which is similar in spirit to the philosophy of the Chinese philosopher, Chuang Tzu.

An American tourist stood at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village and watched as a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his catch and asked how long it had taken to catch them.

“Only a little while.”

“Then why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the tourist asked.

“With this,” the fisherman said, “I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”

“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening. I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The tourist scoffed. “I can help you. You should spend more time fishing and use the proceeds to buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you could sell directly to the processor and open your own cannery. Then you would control product, processing, and distribution. You could leave this small village and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually to New York, where you could run your ever-expanding enterprise.”

“But, how long will this take?” the fisherman asked.

“Fifteen to twenty years.”

“But what then?” asked the fisherman.

The tourist laughed. “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions? Then what?”

“Then you would retire,” the American said. “Move to a small, coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings, where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Do you, like the American tourist in the story, long for a simpler life, but believe you can only have it in some distant future? The truth is, of course, that you can have it now. You can use one or more of the following ideas to simplify your life and enjoy it more every day.

Slow down

Since the beginning of the Industrial Era in our country, we seem to have become obsessed with doing things faster and faster. Have you almost been sideswiped by a grocery shopper rushing to beat you to the checkout line? Or was that you who whizzed by me?

Our lives are so rushed, it’s a wonder we even see the scenery as we go through life. Oh, that’s right—we don’t.
Honoré (2005) pointed out that slow is a state of mind. He said,

Fast isn’t turning us into Masters of the Universe. It’s turning us into Cheech and Chong…Slow is just a new word to understand old problems…It’s a re-freshening of ideas that have been there since time immemorial. But there’s a new appeal about the word slow. It’s pithy, it’s countercultural. (Cited in Green, 2008)

Americans are so unfamiliar with the concept of slowness that when his book was published in the U.S., its title was changed from In Praise of Slow to In Praise of Slowness (but with the same subtitle).

The Slow Movement

The slow movement began in Italy in the 1980s as the Slow Food Movement. Now “slow” is a term used to encourage us to do everything at the right speed, whether it’s education, exercise, sex, or work. The slow movement isn’t “anti-speed.” It favors connectedness. Rushing through everything prevents us from savoring food, enjoying life experiences, and associating with people. Honoré doesn’t suggest that we slow our lives to a snail’s pace. But he finds it troubling that we have one-minute children’s stories, speed dating, and the need to amass thousands of so-called friends on Facebook, each of which diminishes the opportunity for a meaningful encounter.

If you always feel tired and rushed, and can barely remember what you did, ate, or saw in a day, then you know you need to slow down. It’s no surprise that the Slow Food Movement began in Italy, the home of fabulous food. When Carlo Petrini learned that McDonald’s planned to build a franchise near the Piazza di Spagna in Rome, he organized a demonstration. As weapons of protest, he and his followers threw—what else?—penne pasta. Soon after, Petrini founded the International Slow Food Movement, which encourages us to take care with what and how we eat. The Slow Food Movement’s advocates want to save endangered foods such as the red abalone, Northern California heirloom turkeys, and Vella Cheese Company’s dry, aged Monterey Jack cheese, promote responsible agricultural systems, and help us return to the joy of food preparation and consumption.

If you’re ready to slow down, here are some ideas to get you started:

• Avoid cookie-cutter homes by visiting www.TheSlowHome.com.
• Enjoy your travel. Ease over to SlowPlanet.com and wrap yourself in sustainable clothes, jewelry and furniture at http://alabamachanin.com.
• Disenchanted with instant messaging? Try the slow electronic mail movement at www.slowlab.net.
• Learn more about the Slow Movement at www.CarlHonore.com.

Investigate these ideas on slowness. The slow life may be just your speed.

Have you cut back, slowed down or simplified your life in some way? Share in the comments how it affected your happiness.

 

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This is an excerpt from Chapter 6, Simplifying Your Life for Happiness in Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve, 2nd edition. Visit http://coloryourlifehappy.com  to get updates on when the book is available at Amazon and other major booksellers.

 

 

References

Green, Penelope. (2008, January 31). The slow life picks up speed. Retrieved from
        http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/garden/31slow.html

Honore, C. (2005). In praise of slowness: Challenging the cult of speed.
       
New York: Harper One.

Putnam, R. D. (2000) Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American
        community
. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.

Thoreau, H. D. (2013). Walden. New York: Empire Books.

 

What Happiness is Not [an excerpt from Color Your Life Happy, 2nd edition]

Happiness

Happiness is not the absence of sadness. Quite the contrary. Happy people acknowledge sadness and allow themselves to feel it. They choose to not be crushed by it, but instead learn from it and move beyond it.

Happiness is not the situational emotional high you feel when you win the lottery or get a new car. These are short term. You probably don’t get the same thrill from your new car a few months later as you did the day you drove it off the lot.

One of the customers at my manicurist shop had an appointment just before mine every month. She was always cheerful and full of lively conversation. When I’d mention my upcoming vacations, she’d always offer tips on places to visit in the locale because she had already been there. She enjoyed movies, visiting casinos, shopping, and spending time with her many friends and family. She was so much fun I always looked forward to seeing her. You can imagine my shock to learn that she had stage IV cancer and was almost always in physical discomfort and pain from chemotherapy and other invasive treatments. The only time I’d ever seen a hint of sadness in her was the day after her brother died. When I visited her in the hospital a few weeks before she died, she was hooked up to multiple tubes and still, when I walked in her room, she threw open her arms and welcomed me with a big smile.

I remember this beautiful soul whenever I begin to feel down or sorry for myself. Like the speed bumps on the road, these times cause me to slow down. I accept where I am at the moment,  acknowledge my feelings, and use those times to grow stronger, more creative, and more grateful.

How about you? Share in the comments how you handle the sad bumps along your happiness journey.

 

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This is an excerpt from Chapter 1, Opening Your Mind to Happiness in Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve, 2nd edition. Pre-order your copy(ies) at http://coloryourlifehappy.com before October 3rd and receive an autographed copy when the book is released on Amazon and other major booksellers.