Tag Archives: joy

Start feeling this good. Create your own happy now.

Nine Practices to create Happiness

Wouldn’t it be great if you could create happiness – if happiness was a simple goal you could achieve? As it turns out, it is exactly that.  It is a process of doing – it isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something you chose to be, and part of that choice is acting in a way that leads towards happiness. Here are nine practices, developed by Don Richard Riso, to help you on your journey:

Treat Others With Kindness and Integrity

One of the simplest ways to help others be kind and helpful to you and to treat you like an independent worthwhile human is to do the same for them. And god knows kindness goes a long way towards happiness.

Love Yourself and Others Equally

Love your neighbor as yourself – but also remember to love yourself as your neighbor.  Many of you (women especially) tend to care for others, for the needs of the kids, the spouse, the parents and forget about your own needs. Don’t forget to add yourself to the list of cherished loved ones and to make your needs count for as much as those of everyone else.  There is no way to create happiness if you don’t factor yourself into your own life.




Be Authentic And Truthful in All Matters

Research has verified that lying, no matter how much you have convinced yourself it doesn’t matter to you, actually raises the levels of your stress hormones and contributes to anxiety, stress and the aging process.  The same might be true for the soft lies – the moments where you go along with what is going on just so you don’t make waves, even if it isn’t something you want in your life. To create happiness be true to you – your body always knows the difference.

Joy! Create happiness in your life today.

Joy! Create happiness in your life today.

Discover Beauty and Pleasure Everywhere

It’s out there. Beauty is out there all over the place and it is so easy to walk by and not notice because you’re caught up in the latest drama at work or your to-do list or that tiff you had with your partner.  Don’t miss it – if you don’t see the beauty and enjoy the little moments now, then when will you? The only time you can change is right now so if you want to be joyful then live into what is happening RIGHT NOW.

Learn from Everyone and Everything

It is so hard to remember to truly appreciate every situation and so easy to pop up the defenses. Of course you can approach every situation like the expert – you already know it, you’ve done it before, you know how this goes. The basic problem with that is that you only leave room then for one possible outcome, and that is that you come away from that situation with nothing new. In short, you don’t grow or change, you just stay stagnant. Try for one day approaching every situation as though you are new to it and as though you can learn something and I promise, you will learn something. You will grow and evolve – how wonderful is that?

Trust Your Ability to Face Challenges and Contribute Willingly

It’s so easy to worry and it feeds into so many basic states of pathology. Worry is a way of creating drama and tension, of pretending you might have control over the uncontrollable and also it’s one of the biggest ways of doubting yourself or your loved ones that you can engage in. By worrying constantly you are sending the signal that you don’t trust your (or your loved ones, if you worry only for other people) ability to cope with life, to deal with the challenges that arise. But here is the thing – if you or the people you worry about are still alive then you are entirely capable of facing everything that life has thrown at you so far. That is kind of a powerful thought – you have effectively dealt with every challenge that has come at you. That is one hell of an awesome track record. Boosting your trust in yourself and the universe is a great way to boost happiness.

Start feeling this good. Create your own happy now.

Pure Freaking Joy. Create your own happy now.

Be Attached to Nothing and Experience Real Freedom

This doesn’t mean don’t attach to anything therefore don’t love anything. Love with your whole heart, but let that love grow, evolve and change.  Let everything grow, evolve and change.  It’s so easy to get into a place where you try to keep things the same, keep them stable and predictable and uniform but life isn’t like that.  Everything grows and develops and ultimately might even fade, but none of that is bad.  By allowing your relationships, your life, your patterns to evolve you also allow yourself to find deeper joy, greater authenticity and more freedom.  In other words don’t try to control or be attached to life being a certain way, because then you don’t allow it to ever get any better.

Let Go of Willfulness and Empower Others

This one can be a challenge to see because society trains you to learn to get your own way. It’s actually one of the biggest skills you learn as an infant or toddler because at that stage of development it is important to be able to get what you need from the people around you.  As an adult, however, it can be helpful to notice the behaviors that you have adopted that might push people to behave a certain way around you or give in to you.  Guilt, shame, blame and judgement can be subtle (or not so subtle) ways of bullying people and using those tools can be entirely unconscious.  To create happiness isn’t it time to examine the ways you might manipulate those around you?

 Value Yourself and Engage with the Tumult of the World

This is the hardest one for me – both to understand and to follow.  You might, like me, notice the internal tendency to being the peacekeeper, to trying to keep things smooth and even and to keep everyone around you happy. Peacekeeping is a strong gift and can be of great value in your life, but it can also slip over into a form of self-denial.  The small ways you don’t speak your truth because you want to keep the peace.  Again, there are degrees of health here.  Sometimes engaging with the turmoil and allowing there to be bumps in the road can be the most authentic path forward and can allow you to experience real happiness and to be absolutely true to yourself.  This doesn’t mean that you should cause problems just to stir the pot, but you should be able to give true expression to problems that are already there and not try to dismiss them.

Dog smile - thanks for the picture to Pixel blue eyes (smiling) and her person Jenny.

Dog smile – thanks for the picture to Pixel blue eyes (smiling) and her person Jenny.

Create Happiness Now

Waiting for someone, something, some circumstance to make you happy is common, but it’s also a dead end. If you’re waiting to be happy and don’t do something to change your mind, you will always be waiting to be happy. Start today – take a simple step to create happiness. There is no reason to wait.  It might not happen overnight, it might not happen in a month, but it will happen and you have the power to control it.



Life is Short – Live NOW.

Life is short, and sometimes you come to a crossroads where you have to choose what really matters moving forward and what really doesn’t. I am at just such a crossroads now in my life and when that happens I usually wander back through my journals, blogs, etc… to see if I can get any clarity about the arc of my life. In doing so, I found this post from my previous blog and it struck a cord in me about what actually matters in life, and when it comes to the most important questions, what I might truly value.  This post was written in 2011 and I’ve left it in it’s original form. I hope it inspires you to think, just a little, about what really matters to you today.

I wish I could say that the inspiration for this post is a happy one, but it’s anything but.  I found out today that three colleagues, two of whom were dear friends from graduate school, have passed away recently.  Eli was a completely hilarious, quick witted, sarcastic man who kept everyone around him laughing and would go out of his way to make people happy.  Susan was a beautiful, vibrant woman who was somewhat quiet and always smiley but when she did speak up it was always with something unexpectedly funny that would take everyone by surprise.  She was one of the kindest, warmest people I’ve met. Stacey was in school after I was, but we worked together and I was impressed by her positivity and drive.

These three were all young (30s and 40s), vibrant, and did everything for their health. They had great relationships, children, careers and busy lives. I don’t think any of them would have anticipated leaving the world so early. I can’t begin to fathom that they are gone.

Life is short - Live NOW. Photo by Ian Britton, www.freefoto.com

Life is short – Live NOW. Photo by Ian Britton, www.freefoto.com

As I sit in my house, surrounded by my stuff and reminders of the things that normally weigh heavily on my mind I am struck by the sheer madness of my entire existence.  That I am here and whole and healthy is such a miracle – such a gift.  I feel so ashamed at the amount of time I waste worrying about things that don’t matter. When I look around today, after learning of these three deaths, my worries are so trivial and tiny and neurotic.  I have everything I need, I have wonderful friends, amazing family, a house I love and good food on the table. What does the rest of it matter? Where is there any kind of problem?




I’m also ashamed of the time I waste doing things that don’t truly make a difference in the end.  Sure it’s a good idea to make sure my business keeps running and my house is in good repair. But what about the time I fritter away on the internet or with some kind of escapism like TV or movies or books?  Doesn’t that just amount to watching other people live instead of living myself? Am I willing to spend some of these precious moments that way when I know that life is short? There is nothing like the stark reality of death to make a whole bunch of silliness just fall away.

This also throws light on the social and emotional stuff that can become issues in my head but are utterly meaningless.  Remember, life is short. How many times have I not called a dear friend because I was too busy or had to get one more thing done at work? How many people have I failed to keep in touch with, or not shown my feelings for  – for some ridiculous reason like laziness or shyness or inconvenience.  How many activities and events have I missed because there was something that really needed doing, or work, or I was so tired from work that I couldn’t muster up the energy, or some other equally small excuse.

At moments like this it is so hard not to look at my life and feel like maybe I’ve missed something somewhere. If Susan or Eli or Stacey had just a few more days – would they spend them working? Taking care of responsibilities? Or would they smile with their loved ones, maybe go to a park, pick flowers for their bedside table, eat chocolate or watch the sunset. Or maybe something totally different and fun and wonderful – who knows? The point is – they’d probably make joy and love and laughter a pretty high priority. And shouldn’t we all? I’m not saying we should ignore real life and let everything go – but what if work and money and stuff mattered just a little less and life and people and friends and joy mattered just a little bit more? Your life is short too – what do you choose to do with it today?

life is shortlife is shortBoth of these gorgeous images are from http://www.symphonyoflove.net/ – Thanks!



Pure Freaking Dance Joy

This week has been an uphill week so this video was like a little gift dropped in my lap – it is pure dance joy and just makes me smile every time I watch it. Part of being healthy is admitting when things have been tough and allowing yourself to have some reward time. It doesn’t help to just crack the whip and push yourself to be productive or to do more or to finish one more little task. Do the things that make you smile even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.  Take little breaks for absolutely no reason other than for the joy of it.

This? This is *totally* for the joy of it. The song is by Parov Stelar – All Night.  The dancer is the amazing and awesome Jamie Berry from Just Some Motion.  This just makes me want to close my office door and crank it up and see how much of this dance I can do right here. Pure dance joy.

Sometimes joy lands in your lap and thank God for it, but sometimes you have to remind yourself that joy is out there waiting for you. You can find it. This little bit of dance joy is really all you need to boost your mood. Actually – this and the Wonder Woman Pose and you are good to go.




Be someone who loves the gift - belly laugh and dance joy - here's to making life sizzle and pop. Be someone who loves the gift – belly laughs and dance joy – here’s to making your life sizzle and pop.

If you’re feeling a little low right now, or overwhelmed or freaked out or your soul is a little under-nourished then it’s time for joy-seeking behavior. I highly suggest making a list right now of the things that ALWAYS bring you joy. Put your Joy list on your phone, on your computer, on post-it notes and on your mirrors at home so that you can remind yourself about those little things. Here’s my joy list:

Yup. It's my joy list - things that are simple and easy to do that make me happy. Like dance joy videos from youtube. It's on my phone to remind me when I'm down.

Yup. It’s my joy list – things that are simple and easy to do that make me happy. Like dance joy videos from youtube. It’s on my phone to remind me when I’m down.

Some days (or weeks) it really helps to remind yourself that there are things out there that make you smile, that make things seem easier, that make you happy and that are within your reach.  There are no Lamborghinis on my joy list – it’s little things like dove dark chocolate squares and fresh flowers. Like listening to a great song with my headphones or taking three minutes for myself to meditate.  This is about little things you can work into your day to help lift your spirits when you’re down or overwhelmed. It’s your own mental health minute. It’s like the dance joy video for no reason other than to make yourself smile. Happiness has to be a priority, always. If you don’t make your own joy a priority then nobody will.



Gratitude Is The Key To Happiness. And no this isn’t all woo-woo.

Gratitude is the key to happiness is NOT a new idea. In fact, if you frequent the same places I do you’ve probably had the idea stuffed down your throat so many times that you’re getting a little nauseated with all that gratitude. I know, I get it.  I don’t want to add to the overly-syrupy new-age-y message. And yet, as I watched this TED talk, I really just wanted this kindly older gentleman in a tunic and socks with sandals to come to my house and tell me more about the opportunity.  The opportunity for gratefulness, for which he uses stickers on his light switches to remind himself to continue being grateful.  Actually, I kind of want him to come to my house and put stickers on my light switches. He’s a little slow to start, but it warms up – keep watching.

I joke a lot, but he’s actually dead-on accurate.  We all have so much to be grateful for – even when there is a death, or a tragedy, or abuse or serious illness there is still so much wonder in every life and every day that there is always a moment to be grateful for. Just in case you don’t want to watch through, here are some of my favorite quotes:

We can not only have grateful experiences we can be people who live gratefully.

I didn’t say we can be grateful for everything but we can be grateful in every moment.

Most of the time what is given to us is the opportunity for joy but we miss it because we are rushing through life.

Those who avail themselves of opportunity are the ones we admire, they’re the ones who get somewhere in life.  The ones who fail, get another opportunity.

If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful. If you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re not fearful you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity.

A grateful world is a world of joyful people.




The method for  gratitude, the key to happiness is as simple as this:

  1. Stop. Get quiet for one second.
  2. Look. Appreciate the things around you to be grateful for – open your senses to the wonderful richness around you.
  3. Go. Move ahead and really do whatever that opportunity offered to you – the opportunity to enjoy, to learn, to grow.  You won’t see the opportunity if you don’t stop.

Gratitude: The Key to Happiness There can never be too much happy, or too much grateful.

The idea is that we don’t ever stop – we rush from one thing to another like hamsters on a wheel without actually noticing what we’re doing or taking the time to appreciate anything at all. I know I can be guilty of this when I get going on a project or when things are hectic at work, but it is such a good reminder to stop, to look, and to allow what I’ve been able to see to help me move forward in a new way.  Remember – the sun shines on you whether you’ve done anything to deserve it or not.

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that a Benedictine monk sounds pretty darn wise and hits home hard with a message that is deeply spiritual. As it turns out gratitude is the key to happiness. It’s as simple as that.