On Happiness: Wacky Fun

ladylaughterI spent too much of my life being serious, planning everything carefully, dotting my “i’s”  and crossing my “t’s.”

In recent years I’ve decided to have more fun, to laugh more and encourage you to do the same.

One thing guaranteed to make you happier is laughter. Scientists have verified that laughter boosts immunity, lowers stress hormones, and relaxes our muscles, all of which have mental health and social benefits.

Beyond books, movies and comedians, there are many ways to bring laughter into your life, such as laughter clubs and laughter yoga.

Easier than all of those, however, is just finding things that make you laugh, wacky though it may be to others.

I found such as thing when I was reading a serious article by Editor of Publishing Executive, Noelle Skodzinski , about publishing and print. In it she mentions that she’ll read any format, print or digital, even  Word of the Day toilet paper, as long as it’s compelling.

What? Is there really such a toilet paper?

It was just enough of a challenge to send me off searching for this product that would be sure to be a conversation starter (or stopper) and certainly a unique item to add to my bathroom.

Since I love redecorating my main bathroom every quarter, this was a perfect quest for me.  Without a moment’s hesitation, I abandoned my serious to-do list,  mounted my steady steed, Google, and went off on a search.

WARNING: Before you wade into these toilet paper sites, please note that some of their themes may offend you although many will amuse you.

The first site I discovered, http://www.justtoiletpaper.com, has a wonderful selection of themed toilet paper, but I didn’t see Word of the Day. They did have Word Play (not to be confused with Words with Friends,) Sudoku, and a respectable monogrammed style that you can special order.

In my continued search for the Word of the Day roll, I found more websites with printed, customized and themed toilet paper.

I had a lot of  fun, but alas, I haven’t found the Word of the Day roll yet.

I’m counting on you to let me know when you find it, won’t you?

Thanks.

If You’re Not You, Who are You Then?

womanwithquestionmarkOur efforts to be happy and successful often cause us to imitate other people.

We certainly can and must learn from others, but there is a problem if we do that at the expense of never finding out who we are. It’s especially problematic when we disguise and numb our feelings.

We can’t help but feel vulnerable when we step into being our authentic, imperfect and yet worthy-of-love selves, but it’s the only path to joy and happiness.

Shame is the root of our lack of authenticity. It’s universal. We all experience that “not good enough” feeling.

In her research on the power of vulnerability, Brene Brown, researcher, author and storyteller, discovered that people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging.

She took note of the qualities that these people share. Listen to what she shares in the video below and find out what you can do about it and the tremendous benefits of doing so. Then share what you think in the comments.

4 More Tips to Gain Confidence

From http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2010/04/dancing-with-the-stars-results-the-next-elimination.html

From http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2010/04/dancing-with-the-stars-results-the-next-elimination.html

Monday’s post gave you 3 tips to gain confidence. Here are 4 more.

4. Decide where you want to go in your life.

What are your goals, dreams, visions?

Research the skills and actions that are required to get you there.

Even after you’ve accomplished one goal, set another one. Having no goals or aims is fertile ground for negative thoughts.

As I was completing my doctoral studies, one graduate student cautioned us in a seminar to set a new goal once our degrees were awarded. He shared stories of some Ph.D.s who fell into depression when they completed their work because they didn’t set new goals.

5. Commit to building the skills that will help you accomplish your goals.

Even small steps toward your goals boost your self-esteem and thereby your confidence.

If your goal is to declutter, even just sorting your sock drawer is a good start and gives you a feeling of movement toward your goal.

6. Widen your comfort zone.

When you set out toward a new goal you will immediately encounter new and unfamiliar territory. You will be required to take a risk and step into some way of doing things you haven’t done before.

This is your proof that you are making progress. As you master that first scary skill or navigate that first scary step, you will feel a little better. But soon, if you keep moving forward, you will encounter new skills.

Instead of looking at them with fear, look at them with anticipation as they are the stones along your path to success.

Even if you are very skillful in one area, you will experience some fear of the new when you go after a goal in another area.

Think about the TV show, Dancing with the Stars, where celebrities who are experts in some area other than dance step outside of their comfort zone to risk embarrassment and failure in front of the world.

In one episode, Buzz Aldrin, 80-year-old former astronaut took to the dance floor with a sprightly partner. He held his own, including enduring the scathing criticism of the judges, one of whom said he looked like he forgot to take off his moon boots.

Which gets me to the last tip toward building self-confidence.

7. Avoid being dependent on what others say about you–good or bad.

When you are honest with yourself about your strengths, it’s important to also acknowledge your weaknesses.

Learn to evaluate your own performance so that you don’t rely on compliments or dismiss them, or are undone by criticism.

After his performance on Dancing with the Stars, Buzz Aldrin was well aware that he didn’t give a stellar dance performance and that older competitors typically don’t last long.

Earning near the lowest score of the evening, Aldrin’s goal didn’t appear to be winning the competition. He was willing to make himself vulnerable so that others around his age would be encouraged to take risks, step outside of their comfort zones and live their lives to the fullest. If this indeed was his goal, he was a huge success.

Self-confidence is not the absence of butterflies when you are about to take on a task. They indicate that you care deeply about what you are about to do. If you follow these seven steps for achieving and maintaining confidence you will be able to greet those butterflies and command them to fly in formation while you carry out your task passionately and successfully.

Celebrate Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th

momMany of us begin the year making resolutions, but within a few weeks our promises to ourselves have been forgotten.

A Wall Street Journal article shared plans some people made to help them stick to their resolutions. Some kept their goals small and achievable. Others asked friends to help them stay on track by holding them accountable. Others found success when they changed their environment to support their new behavior.

Here we are at the start of the second half of the year. How did you do with your resolutions this year?

Regardless of how you fared in this annual practice, here’s an opportunity to start anew.

On August 9th join me in celebrating the first “Color Your Life Happy Day”, a day to participate in something you enjoy, some activity that will make you happy and others too. Then make a decision to make it a habit to continue finding joy, pleasure, a way to help others for the rest of the year.

Happiness is not a destination, but the things we do along the way as we live our lives. At the end of their lives, many wish they had slowed down, worked less and spent more time enjoying family, friends and fun activities. Don’t let this be you. Regrets are a waste. Do the things that bring you joy and happiness everyday.

This special celebration was inspired by the memory of my mother, Mildred S. Morris, who would have turned 100 years old on August 9, 2010 (she passed at age 92 in 2002.) She spent her life making people happy with her music. She played piano and organ from childhood through her mid 80’s for many churches, organizations and events. Everyone who ever heard her play was touched by her lively and fervent style.

I invite you to join me in celebrating Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th. Then between August 10th-15th send me a photo or video of how you celebrated to my email at flora@florabrown.com

You may choose to enjoy a simple pleasure such as taking time off to read a neglected book. You may join the courageous who use this day to get control of the clutter that has been making them very unhappy.

I’m thinking of creating a new vegetable garden or maybe I’ll do some long-neglected scrapbooking.

So get busy thinking of how you will celebrate “Color Your Life Happy Day.” Then on August 9th take a picture showing how you celebrated. Email it to me at flora@florabrown.com with your name, activity, and city/state/country. I will post all entries on my blog and Facebook.

I’m looking forward to the wonderful array of celebrations.

Want to be Happier? Stop Struggling

queenbutterfly

This story of unknown origin has been made its rounds many times because it bears a powerful message.

A man found a cocoon for a butterfly.

One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through the little hole.

Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and could go no farther.

Then the man decided to help the butterfly.

He took a pair of scissors and snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily.

Something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened.

In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and deformed wings. It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand, was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the small opening of the cocoon are God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives.

If God allowed us to go through all our life without any obstacles, that would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.

Not only that, we could never fly.

What is helpful to me from this story is the importance of accepting what we call struggle, and viewing it instead as part of the activity that leads to growth.

When we view our challenges as struggle, we tighten physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and restrict the fluids of growth.

Or, as parents when we step in to rescue our children from experiencing pain and conflict, we deny them the growth that solving their own challenges brings about.

In a recent interview with Ali Bierman, psychotherapist and author, she said that our struggling and suffering result when we are separated from the Divine. She believes that to live in happiness you must discover and love your True Self – who you were at birth before caretakers and society implanted programs into your subconscious mind creating the false self of the ego world. Enjoy this interview and share what resonates from it for you.