What do you buy the person who has everything?
Have you heard people ask this question? Sometimes it seems overwhelming to try to think of a gift for a friend, coworker or loved one when they seem to have everything they could ever want already. It's probably because you're thinking of giving them a thing, an object, something they could easily buy. I'm going to tell you a secret about gift giving that will change how you think about birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas celebrations. Ready? Here it is: the best gifts aren't items. They're experiences.
Opportunities to Buy Experiences Are All Around Us
Look around your community for local events and experiences. Take a music-loving friend to hear a community orchestra or a jazz ensemble. Find a new park or trail to hike together and pack some fun snacks to share along the journey. Is there a show or an exhibit coming to a museum or gallery near you that your spouse or coworker might enjoy?
You can also help your friends and family members by suggesting these kinds of experiences as gifts. Doing something together to celebrate your birthday creates a memory that lasts. It gives you new stories to share and gets you out of your routine to add a little freshness to your life.
Celebrate with Experiences Any Day
Giving experiences doesn't have to be expensive. You can bring them muffins, take a picnic lunch somewhere fun. Pick up smoothies and walk at a local park. Invite someone for coffee or for a meal. Spending time together and getting away from daily distractions allows you a chance to connect to the people who matter most to you. You don't even have to wait for a special day to celebrate. You can give this happiness-boosting gift any day!
So this year, as the people around you celebrate milestones, keep experiences close in mind. Look for opportunities to share them with the people you appreciate to show how much you care by giving them a lasting gift of happiness.
Get More Tips and Information on Improving Your Happiness
Learn more about how experiences impact happiness in Day 16: Money: Buy Experiences, Not Things, in my book, 21 Days to Happiness.
Are you happy and inspired at work?
If you spend eight hours a day, five days a week at work, you will spend more than 2,000 hours on the job in a year. That's a lot of time! If you enjoy your job, then 2,000 hours probably flies by. But if you struggle to find happiness in your work life, it can seem like an eternity.
So how do you find ways to make work a source of happiness? It's not an impossible question! There are lots of ways to bring happiness into your workday. Here are five questions to ask yourself about your job which will help you uncover sources of happiness beyond that paycheck hitting your bank account.
1. What parts of your company or job inspire you?
Inspiration comes in lots of forms. Maybe something inspired you to apply for this particular job, like being able to help others. Maybe it appealed to your sense of creativity. Maybe you felt a connection with the business mission statement or your employer or coworkers. Take a moment to think about what drew you to this particular job or workplace.
2. Are there problems at work you can participate in solving?
There's no perfect company or perfect set of coworkers or customers out there. Every job will have its challenges. What things bother you? What can you do about them to work toward a positive solution that helps everyone around you? It could be something small, like adding a potted plant to your work area to brighten things up. Or something larger, like meeting with your manager or team to discuss changing a policy which is making your job difficult. Be sure to offer solutions rather than just airing complaints.
3. Can you bring creativity into your job in some way?
Maybe you can bring in a few pictures (or update those you have) to remind you of the people you care about. Take a step back from the way you normally do things at work. Is there a new approach you can take which might freshen up the way you complete your job? It doesn't have to be huge. Don't be afraid to think outside the box or bounce ideas off a coworker.
4. Where do you want this job to take you?
Think about your goals for the next year or five years. Can you see this job as one piece in a larger puzzle of your life? Sometimes taking that step back to consider the bigger picture helps put things in perspective for us. Not only is work just one part of our lives, a job is also one part of our work career. You may picture yourself staying at the same job for the rest of your work life. Many people will change jobs several times through the course of their careers. Thinking of this job as a part of your larger goals can help give you renewed energy and a feeling of freedom at work.
5. Is this the right job for me?
If you've answered all the questions above, and you're really not able to find peace or happiness in your current work life, it may be time to consider a change. Maybe this means moving to a different project or department within the company you work for. It could mean taking some online classes or getting a new certification to add to your arsenal of skills on the job. Maybe it means taking an online career planning test to find out what you should look for. Then, polishing up your resumé and looking for your next workplace adventure.
Whatever the case, with a little effort and some self-examination, finding happiness at work is entirely possible. Making those 40 hours each week contribute to your happiness rather than draining it will significantly change your overall energy level and your ability to enjoy other parts of your life.
Still have questions about how to improve your workplace happiness?
If you have more questions about workplace happiness, I can help you answer them. Take an online career planning test or order a copy of my book, 21 Days to Happiness today. Day 20 focuses on how to find happiness at work. You'll find tips and other resources to help you on your journey toward greater happiness.
Increase your effectiveness with this simple technique
We all seem to be so busy these days! Being busy can add extra pressure to our schedules and mean that we need to be extra productive. With so many things on our minds, it can be tricky to focus on one task at a time, and we can end up hopping from one task to another to another without actually completing much. Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you're not alone, and I'm here to help.
Making a few simple changes to how you approach your work periods can really impact your productivity. One of the most effective changes is to work in short, focused bursts. Take quick breaks in between work sessions to let your mind relax. A great model for this type of work-break time management is the Pomodoro Method.
Here's how it works:
Work for 25 minutes. Take a short break of 5 minutes. Repeat this for three rounds. On the fourth round, work for 25 minutes and then take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
You can use a timer to set intervals yourself. You can also do a quick search on YouTube or wherever you download apps to find either a video with Pomodoro intervals marked or an app to manage the intervals for you.
The goal is to have short but uninterrupted time spent on specific tasks. Try making a list of your goals before you begin to help narrow your focus. You may find you get more done in a 25 minute Pomodoro session than you did in an hour working another way. Give it a try! See how it works for you.
More on the Link Between Time and Happiness
You can learn more about time management and the connection between time and happiness in my book, 21 Days to Happiness.
We have so much to be grateful for.
It's that time of year...the holidays, the parties, the excitement! You probably have a lot to be grateful for and may take some things for granted. You don't need much in order to be happy. Many people without a lot still find real happiness in their daily lives.
Have an Attitude of Gratitude
What you do need in order to be happy is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Take a moment to reflect on the past year and make a list of 10 things you have to be grateful for. Note the things you tend to overlook. Think of what you do have instead of what you don't: health, family, work, home, friends...
Focusing on these blessings will foster an attitude of gratitude in your life. And that attitude is like fertile soil where happiness will grow and flourish. Develop a habit of noticing good things and expressing your gratitude for them. Try it for 21 days. You will see a difference in your overall happiness and contentment.
Ready to start your happiness journey?
"Day one" of my book, 21 Days to Happiness focuses on gratitude, and offers additional tips and strategies for greater happiness through gratitude. Each day of the 21 day journey takes you through another area of life where you can make simple, practical changes for greater happiness. I'd love to see you start your journey today!
Variety is the Spice of Happiness
Have you ever felt trapped by your day to day schedule? Maybe you feel like you're busy all the time or you simply don't have anything coming up soon that you're really looking forward to. Being busy or simply maintaining our day-to-day responsibilities can make life feel monotonous. We feel like we're missing something.
Trying something new-- big or small-- can give us a boost of happiness in a lot of ways. Not only does planning the new thing give us something to look forward to and anticipate, actually doing it can be a fun adventure. Then we have a story to tell and a memory to look back on, which is like a happiness bonus!
5 Cheap, Easy Ways to Boost Your Happiness with Something New
Here are some quick and easy ideas for new adventures you can try on any budget and with limited free time.
1. Try a new food. You can browse an aisle at the grocery store you rarely visit and try something new, like a soup or unusual fruit. Or you can invite friends to a restaurant you've never visited before. If you opt to go out with friends, consider ordering different dishes to share, so you each get to try several different items. Feeling even more adventurous? Invite a friend over to try a new recipe or style of cooking together!
2. Visit a place you've never been. Look online to find your city's website or community calendar. Is there a museum you've never been to? A park? Maybe there's a jazz night or community orchestra concert you can attend. Check nearby theaters for live community theater performances.
3. Try reading a book outside your usual genre. Look for a book you might not ordinarily pick up, but something that strikes your interest. Maybe the memoir of a famous person or historical figure you've always been interested in. If you're worried about finding time to sit and read, try an audiobook to listen to on the go!
4. Change up your routine. Take a different route to work or the grocery store or gym. Take a walk outside instead of on the treadmill or at the gym. Get up ten minutes earlier and sit outside with your morning coffee.
5. Rearrange your furniture in your bedroom, living room or office. Moving things around will make the room feel fresh and new. You can spice things up even more by adding a new houseplant or a vase with fresh cut flowers.
Doing something new might take a little bit of planning, but the burst of energy and happiness it brings you makes trying a new thing worthwhile. Sharing these experiences with a friend or loved one will deepen those relationships. You'll also find you feel a glow of happiness long afterward when you look back on the experience and remember it.
You can learn more about how experiences bring happiness in my book, 21 Days to Happiness. Click the button below to learn more.
Connections Are Key
Do you want to know one of the best secrets to true happiness? It's probably not what you think. One of the greatest ways to have a happy life is to create connections with others.
Does this sound too easy? Too hard? The truth is, relationships can be challenging. But they also bring the greatest rewards we can imagine.
Connections with People
Think about the people in your life with whom you have connections. You look forward to seeing them. They give your life some unpredictability. Something to look forward to. You never know exactly what they'll say or do.
A chat with a friend or peer can provide an opportunity to celebrate your successes or share a disappointment and gain some perspective or get some advice.
"A joy that's shared is a joy made double"
Connections with Nature
In addition to connecting with people, forging a connection with the world gives us the opportunity to step away from the chaos and appreciate the greatness around us. Spend time outside, listening to the sounds of nature. You'll find just doing this alleviates some feelings of anxiety and stress.
Take a walk and enjoy the trees, flowers, and birds around you. Allow yourself a few moments to marvel at how intricate and beautiful nature really is. Focus on that feeling of gratitude.
Feel happier? Great!
Take Happiness with You
Take that positive experience with you to your next appointment or meeting. Smile when you greet other people. Ask other people how they're doing, and mean it. Giving your attention forges connections with people and spreads happiness. They'll feel happier, and so will you.
This kind of connected life will take the focus away from your complaints. Instead of noticing all the things that don't go the way you want, you'll begin to notice the things that you're grateful for. People want to spend more time with someone who makes them feel good. When you are a person full of gratitude and positive energy, that makes people want to spend more time with you.
Create Authentic Connections
This doesn't mean you can't vent to or confide in others. You don't have to pretend to be happy when you aren't. People feel close to someone who shares an authentic self. If you're unhappy, and need to talk about something, seek out a trusted friend and open up to them.
It may prove to be an opportunity for you both to bond and explore solutions and paves the way for new, happier experiences to come.
In my book, 21 Days to Happiness, I talk about how important connections to others are for happiness and how to nurture those relationships. Find out more in my book in Day 19, Relationships: Better than Money in the Bank.
Spread Happiness with a Smile
Do you want to put a smile on someone's face today? Maybe make their day a little better? It won't cost a single penny or much time to do just that. And because smiling is contagious, you'll find that making one person smile causes happiness to spread like a sweet smell on a warm breeze.
20 Ways to Make Someone Smile
Challenge yourself. See how many of these smile-spreading techniques you can complete this week!
1. Smile at someone.
2. Compliment a friend or work colleague.
3. Donate something to charity.
4. Take a friend out to lunch.
5. Let someone know you miss them.
6. Make a surprise call to your partner or a friend at work, just to say hi.
7. Hold a door open for someone walking behind you.
8. Hug your partner for no reason.
9. Share a joke with someone.
10. Send a card or note to a friend or coworker letting them know you appreciate something they've done.
11. Give up your seat on the train or bus to someone.
12. Share your umbrella on a rainy day.
13. Ask a friend if they need anything while you're out shopping.
14. Plan a picnic! Raining outside? How about an indoor picnic!
15. Leave a love letter somewhere where your partner will find it.
16. Send someone an unexpected gift like a tasty snack or a book they'll enjoy.
17. Tell your child you're proud of them or tell a coworker they're doing a great job.
18. Tell someone you thought about them.
19. Cook a surprise meal for your partner or friends one night, especially if they normally do the cooking.
20. Send some flowers to your partner or a friend at work.
Did you know it takes only 17 muscles to smile, but 43 to frown. Why waste all that energy frowning when you could just smile.
Here are 5 more facts about smiling.
1. Women smile more than men.
2. Smiling releases endorphins that make us feel better.
3. We are all born with the ability to smile, it's not something we learn from others.
4. A smile is a universal expression of happiness.
5. A smiling person is thought to be a more pleasant, attractive, sociable, sincere and competent than a non-smiling person.
Just remember, smiling is the easiest and cheapest way of improving your looks.
For more tips and ideas on spreading happiness through acts of kindness, check out Day 9 Kindness: Pay It Forward in my book, 21 Days to Happiness.
Is Happiness Like a Butterfly?
Sometimes we treat happiness like it's an elusive butterfly in the garden of life. Imagine a young child in the garden on a summer day. He sees a beautiful butterfly flitting from flower to flower. He wants to see it close up, touch it, and hold it in his hands. But as he moves towards the flower that the butterfly is resting on, just as he gets within reach, the butterfly moves to another flower. And so the child follows the butterfly to the next flower, and then the next. But the butterfly always stays just out of reach.
Even to adults, happiness can seem just like that butterfly: always just out of reach. It can become almost an obsession and the words “if only…” become an increasingly large part of our thoughts and vocabulary. "If only I had more money I would be happy, if only I was in a great relationship I would be happy, if only I could have a different job..." and the list goes on. This kind of thought life doesn't lead to greater happiness.
If we achieve one of our “if only “desires, the happiness we seek somehow manages to stay just out of our reach. Do you remember the expression about the grass being greener on the other side? It's the same idea.
Where does happiness come from?
The truth is, we won't be completely satisfied by external events or circumstances. To find happiness in life we must first be at peace internally. External events and circumstances can bring us happiness in the moment, but they do not have a lasting effect on our inner self. Life brings a mixture of good and bad circumstances to everyone. To rely on life’s experiences for our source of happiness would mean living life in a constant emotional roller coaster ride. Wouldn't it be better to learn to have a steady feeling of contentment rather than be at the mercy of circumstances and be tossed from the high and low feelings like a ship in a storm?
Happiness comes from within. The inner contentment that survives the roller coaster ride of life has its roots deep within our being. The source of happiness comes from finding and embracing who we are as a person, and living a life of purpose. We need to find peace in every aspect of our life- the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Acceptance, purpose and peace in all of these areas will give a sense of completion in life.
Is happiness an elusive butterfly for you? Spend some time in quiet reflection. Are you neglecting one of the four important parts of who you are and experiencing a sense of emptiness within? The more you discover, embrace and accept your uniqueness and purpose, the more you will be able to stop chasing the elusive butterfly of happiness and instead experience the butterfly of happiness coming to you and alighting on your shoulder.
You can read more about finding a sense of happiness within yourself in the first chapter of my book, 21 Days to Happiness, Day 1 on gratitude.
It’s that exciting time of the year again!
How I love the holidays: it's a time to share meals and snuggles with our loved ones. It’s also often an opportunity to take a few days off and take care of ourselves, catching up on our reading, seeing friends and family, participating in some outdoor activities…
One day I hope to find my book 21 Days to Happiness on "Oprah’s list". What an awesome accomplishment that would be!
In the mean time I was thinking, while I wait for the good news from Oprah's people, why don’t I share my own happy gift list with you? Here are 10 things you can buy as a way to say, "thank you," or, "I love you," to someone you appreciate or...why not, from you to you!
These 10 gifts, if combined, would make a perfect "happy day" during the holidays. Picture this…
#1: A pair of comfy pants for her or for him like these are the first thing you want when you wake up.
#3 and 4: Next, use a few drops of high-quality essential oils and this fabulous diffuser. These are 6 basic essential oils and this is the diffuser I use myself-- it's so practical and creates just the right mood!
#5: Before you do anything else, how about a hot treat to warm you up? Use a cool mug for him or for her for your morning coffee, tea, or warm lemon water. Ahhh! So good.
Acts of kindness are one of the best ways to increase your happiness and the happiness of those around you. Why not pick a few things from my list and share them with those you love-- or spoil yourself this holiday! Nothing wrong with a little self-care sprinkled in with your holiday giving. Remember, happiness is contagious. So when you feel great, you spread even more happiness!
Visit my books and more page for even more holiday ideas.
Success and happiness tend to go hand and hand, but you have to define what would make you feel successful and happy. Sometimes success and happiness will lead you in two different directions.
For example, you may find that your current situation makes you happy, but if you ever want a promotion, you will probably have to give up some things in order to step up to your new challenges. You should always consider what is more important to you at that time.
While financial success can be appealing, the happiness which comes from personal success often lasts longer and feels better.
Set Your Happiness Goals
Life can be frustrating or seem meaningless at times: get up, to work, run a bunch of errands, repeat! You should set some key goals in order to find happiness and success. Take time to consider what kind of life you want to have. We are all different, so ask yourself: what would make me truly happy?
Be intentional about setting goals for yourself. Break your goals into smaller, bite-sized pieces and aim for those steps which lead you toward the bigger goal.
Be flexible. You may change your mind about reaching certain goals as you learn more about yourself and the goals you've set. Your priorities may change because you've taken a new job or started a new relationship. That's okay. Changing your mind isn't giving up or failing, it's about being agile and adaptable. Adjust your goals to reflect your updated ideals.
Just Do Happy
Happiness and success do take some practice. What daily behaviors will make you feel great?
Right now, close your eyes and think of three things which you want to accomplish on your journey toward being happy and successful.
Jot them down. Begin by thinking of small steps and actions that will help you achieve the things you really want.
Place your list somewhere you can see it on a daily basis. Hang it next to the bathroom mirror or on your refrigerator or next to your computer monitor. Do something everyday that will help you achieve your goals.
Being happy and successful are possible for everyone, but the definitions of happiness and success also differ from person to person. Don't get distracted by trying to achieve goals that other people value. Life is too short. Do you! Make sure you identify and revisit what's important to you and spend your time and energy pursuing the individual path which will take you toward your own happier future.
My book, 21 Days to Happiness, talks more about being intentional with our goals as part of the 21 day journey toward a happier life. Each chapter contains more resources and tips to help you craft your own happiness. I'd love for you to spend three weeks with me! Click the button below to learn more.
We've all met people who seem to be happy most of the time. You may have assumed these people are just naturally happy, or that they are the lucky people who have an easy life, or they had really loving parents. Often, this is just not the case.
In my book, 21 Days to Happiness, I explain how happy people make specific choices regarding their thinking and behavior. Happy people tend to consciously or unconsciously think and behave in ways that result in happiness. Unhappy people unconsciously think and behave in ways that create unhappiness. What choices and thoughts are you making about your happiness?
Wherever you are on the happiness continuum, you have the ability to make changes that improve how happy you are. Here are 5 key areas to help you get started.
Happy people are consistently grateful for what they have, rather than complaining about what they don’t have. They notice the many gifts and blessings that come their way and they frequently express gratitude for the everyday things in their lives – the beauty of nature, the food they eat, the smile on a friend’s face, their ability to see, hear, walk, talk. Even many disabled people who may not have the blessings of eyesight, hearing, speech or legs are often happy people because they focus on what they do have and what they can do, rather than focusing on what they are missing out on.
Happy people see the glass as half full, while unhappy people tend to be pessimistic – to see the glass as half empty. Optimistic thinking does not just happen - it is a choice regarding how you see life. Optimistic people are optimistic because they unconsciously or consciously CHOOSE to be optimistic. Instead of noticing everything that is a problem, happy people to look for opportunities. Happy people realize that their thinking is the beginning of a creative process that leads to success. By thinking in positive ways, they move themselves to act in ways that move them closer to their dreams.
Happy people choose to be kind and compassionate toward themselves and others. Happy people have learned that how they treat themselves and others determines much of how they feel. Happy people do not wait to be happy before being kind to themselves and others. They realize that their happiness is the RESULT of their caring behavior, not the CAUSE of it. They are kind, caring and compassionate whether or not they feel like it. They have chosen this way of being, and their happiness is the result.
Happy people do not harbor resentment toward others, even others who have been mean and hurtful toward them. They realize that resentment makes them unhappy, so they choose to allow people their humanness and forgive them their hurtful behavior. Because happy people tend not to take personally others’ uncaring behavior, they don’t get their feelings hurt in the same way that people do who take others’ behavior personally. Happy people recognize that another’s behavior is really about that other person, so they move into compassion toward themselves and others rather than into judgment.
Happy people realize what they can control and what they can’t. They live by the Serenity Prayer, accepting the things they cannot change and changing the things they can. Unhappy people are constantly trying to change people and circumstances and do not accept their lack of control. As a result, they are constantly frustrated. Happy people realize they cannot control others and outcomes, so they focus on what they can control – their own thinking and behavior. Acceptance of what they can and cannot control leads to happiness and inner peace.
If you want to be happy, then you need to recognize that happiness is the result of your thinking and behavior, not the cause of it. Choose to focus on becoming conscious of what thoughts and behavior make you feel happy and you can become a happy person – regardless of your present circumstances. Happiness does not just happen – it takes practice!
The first three areas - gratitude, optimism and kindness - are all featured in my book, 21 Days to Happiness as part of a 21 day journey toward a happier life. You'll find more resources for how to make easy changes to your life in these and other areas in each chapter. I'd love for you to take that journey with me! Click the button below to learn more.
Ms. Ingrid Kelada is an experienced psychologist and happiness expert in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is a speaker and has facilitated over 1000 workshops all over the world.
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