Happiness: some good insight and a worthwhile challenge

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Hiking with my oldest daughter in a very happy place, El Moro.

A few months ago I met a new friend on the internet. Sarah wrote a blog post about her yoga journey that I found via Ekam Yoga’s blog. And, I have been following Sarah via her blog (Whoorl) and Instagram ever since. I enjoy her candor, humor, style and willingness to be transparent about life’s struggles, joys, and lessons. Plus, we live in the same hood which means we occasionally chat in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.

Anyhow, this morning Sarah wrote on Happiness Hygiene and her thoughts (and challenge) are too good to keep to myself. She shares her honest insight about cultivating her own positivity and happiness, despite less-than-happy circumstances. Sarah references Shawn Achor and his fascinating work and writing on happiness and success. Shawn writes about becoming positive in the present and “train(ing) our brain to work more optimistically and successfully.” It’s all very interesting and The Happiness Advantage just moved to the top of my reading list. (For a brief overview, check out this Huffington Post article and TEDx talk.) Shawn poses a 21 day challenge to help us move towards a more positive mental space.

Let me stop for a moment and say this, I am not unhappy. I am not lacking positivity. I am not stuck in a depressed state (been there, done that, and know how darn shitty it is). Instead, I’m happy, optimistic and joyful. All of which take intentionality, work and practice. And like anything, happiness can improve with practice.

Sarah is committing to Shawn’s 21 challenge and so am I. I’m excited to introduce daily action to improving my own positive outlook. The 21 day challenge looks like this… On a daily basis, do these 5 things:

  1. Write down 3 things (new each day) that you are thankful for.
  2. Reflect on a positive/worthwhile experience from the past 24 hours.
  3. Exercise (amen, brother Shawn).
  4. Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath only. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale…
  5. Tell one person why you are thankful for them.

As you can see, the daily activities are totally reasonable and can even benefit the people around you. Since I am on day 1, I thought I would share my responses to 1, 2 and 5 with you guys:

  1. I am thankful for: the warranty on my busted water heater, a surprise lunchtime visit from my grandma, and an outside shower at our community pool (since we are without hot water in the house).
  2. Positive experience from the previous 24 hours: My little family spent the afternoon at the beach yesterday. The water was super warm and the waves were pretty mellow, so I decided to try and catch a few waves once my husband wrapped up his surf session. My daughters and Isaac watched me from the shore as I surfed (got tossed around, wiped out, and eventually rode a few little ones). Each time I managed to stand up, the Bodenettes would clap and cheer. It was the best. Once I came in, Vera (my youngest) told me that she watched me fall and fall and fall. And then she told me I was funny. And then she sang a little song from a PBS show that goes, “keep trying, you’ll get better!” And then my heart melted.
  3. I walked 2 miles and have yoga plans for after the kids go to bed.
  4. Like I said, yoga after 8pm. (It’s never too late to meditate and breathe, right?)
  5. I am thankful for my friend Clare who sent me a card (in the actual mail!!!) today. Her words were so encouraging and very special. I’m so thankful for your friendship, Clare. Even if we’re in different states and haven’t hugged in years.

There you go! I am excited to consciously work on my positivity and happiness. What do I have to lose? Nada. (What do you have to lose? Nada.) If nothing else, we will all spend the next three weeks telling someone new each day why we are thankful for them. So, whose with me?

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