The Canine Cycle of Happiness

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When I decided to get a dog, my decision process for the breed was based more on practicality than appearance. I needed a smaller dog to fit comfortably and happily in my apartment, but I also lived in Colorado at the time so I needed a dog who could keep up on hikes. I found both of those qualities in a breed called Alaskan Klee Kais. They are basically small (15-20-pound) dogs that look exactly like huskies and lead an extremely active life. In other words, it was the perfect dog for me. Two months later I had an adorable bundle of gray and white fur in my arms named Percy, and everyday since has been a blessing.

IMG_4172I’ve been around dogs most of my life, so I knew that they make people happy. However, I never saw the full extent of it until I actually had my own dog. According to Therapy Dog International, studies have shown that a person holding, petting and even seeing a dog will cause a lowering of blood pressure, the release of strain and tension, and can draw out a person from loneliness and depression.1 Airlines now even allow dogs (with proper paperwork) to accompany their human on the plane if the person has anxiety or panics while flying.2 This kind of dog is considered an “emotional support” dog.

New research from Animal Smart found that simply seeing or being around a dog can decrease stress and increase happiness in humans.3 Think about it: how many times have you smiled when passing a dog on the street? Probably a lot! There is something about a dog that makes people light up.

And seeing first-hand how Percy can make other people happy lights up my life in ways I never knew was possible. Children’s shrieks of joy as they rub his soft fur, strangers’ in-depth questioning about his breed, the smiles and stares he draws while on our walks…it’s all extremely uplifting! When I see how happy he makes other people, it makes me happy in return. Life is a beautiful cycle of happiness…and the best part is, you can find it anywhere! You just have to be open to receiving it :)

 

Article Sources

1 http://www.tdi-dog.org/About.aspx?Page=Mission+Statement+and+History

2 http://www.nsarco.com/airlines.html

3 http://animalsmart.org/species/dogs/dogs-help-reduce-stress

Positivity Found In Fashion & Art

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Fashion has been part of my life every since I can remember. When I was a toddler, my mom would smock little dresses for me and I would proudly prance around town in them with a giant smile on my face. When I was in second grade, my usual outfit of choice was a brightly colored t-shirt tucked into biker shorts (a bit of a fashion misstep looking back but, hey, I was experimenting). In middle school I discovered the beautiful world of glossy fashion magazines and my fascination has only grown from there.

The great thing about clothes and fashion is that it can transform you, and your happiness levels. What you wear on a daily basis can have a magnificent impact on your life. If it’s something you love or feel comfortable in, it can affect your day in a positive way. For example, dressing in your favorite color (or even just surrounding yourself with it) can be a major happiness-booster! My absolute favorite color is blue. Royal blue, to be exact. So when I feel like I need a little extra oomph to brighten my day, I rock these jeans:

THCBlogFashion

Something as bold as royal blue jeans isn’t always necessary. A little accessory like a scarf or handbag can have the same effect! I love fashion because it is always evolving. Trends are always changing and building on one another. It’s an entirely new way to look at how teamwork (between designers) can move mountains and it’s truly art. Did you know that viewing art causes an increase of dopamine in the brain, signaling pleasure and happiness? Though it’s been a constant idea in the realm of psychology, Psychology Today revisits the topic of how art & creativity, like fashion, can have a profound effect on the human mind and its happy state.1 Any type of creative outlet can increase joy, whether it’s art, film or fashion.

What creative trick do you try to boost your happiness? Going to the movies? Wearing a colorful top? Let us know in the comments!

 

Article Sources

1 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-healing-arts/201109/art-and-happiness

“Endorphins Make You Happy!”

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It’s no secret that there is a definite correlation between exercise and overall happiness. It’s been proven time and again, with many studies worldwide about its effects. When I was younger, I hadn’t gotten into exercise enough to really feel those positive effects. Finding an exercise that I truly enjoyed was not the easiest task for me. But recently, I joined a spin gym and it’s had a profound effect on the way I view exercise and physical activity!

Not only do I enjoy the classes, I can practically FEEL the endorphins coursing through my body after an intense workout at Flywheel (my spin gym). I love spinning and cycling classes because they really try to make it fun. Each different instructor has a playlist full of fun, upbeat songs that will keep you motivated throughout the class. My favorite classes tend to be the ones with playlists you really want to sing along to. It’s indoors, so there’s no risk of getting too hot or too cold, and you will feel yourself getting stronger each class. Whenever I leave spin class, I’m always grinning from ear to ear. But if you don’t necessarily get that happy rush from your current exercise routine, there’s hope!

Flywheel After realizing how much I loved spinning and cycling classes, but was lukewarm on the idea of running, I got to thinking…what if different types of exercising have different effects on your mental state and happiness? So I did some digging…

According to The New York Times, a high-intensity, fast-paced workout (like spin class) can improve memory and even increase cognitive abilities. A more calming physical activity like yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety, and leads to mental relaxation and bliss. Something that is more in tune with nature, like a leisurely hike, has added benefits as well. You can clear your head and still get the endorphin release you’re seeking.

There’s so many choices to boost your happiness when you workout! What’s your exercise of choice?

 

Article sources: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/how-exercise-may-boost-the-brain/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

http://www.americanyogaassociation.org/03anxiety.html

http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/natural-ways-increase-serotonin-endorphins-8991.html

Photo source: http://www.naturalintuition.com/2013/02/06/get-whipped-into-shape-with-flywheel-charlotte-giveaway/071612-flywheel-sports-interiors-2/

 

 

Happiness Blooms From Nature

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As my first spring living in Los Angeles, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Some typical April showers and maybe some May flowers, but nothing could have prepared me for the beautiful burst of nature that has happened the past couple of weeks.

It seems like almost overnight, these gorgeous and vibrant purple flowers have exploded out of the trees lining the streets of West Hollywood near my apartment. According to my neighbor, these trees are called “Jacarandas” and their blooming signals springtime in places all around the world. Australia, South Africa, Mexico, Portugal and Zimbabwe all get the welcome view of the Jacarandas in the spring.

Jacarandas

My all-time favorite color is purple so I felt like it was Mother Nature’s way of telling me: “Welcome to springtime in LA, darlin’! You’re gonna love it.” And love it, I do! The tree leaves have gotten greener, the temperature hovers at around 75 degrees most days and the skies are blue, blue, blue without a cloud in sight. With all these beautiful changes, my happiness has sky-rocketed! That comes as no surprise to me, considering a recent study by the American Chemical Society has proven that exposure to nature can directly improve your mental health & happiness.

While I think the blue cloudless skies and moderate temperatures are pretty great, it’s all about perspective. Everyone’s home base has something beautiful to offer in nature. I remember loving the melodic sound of the chirping cicadas outside during summer nights back in Texas and the fresh smell of pine trees that overtook Colorado as the last bits of snow melted away. You can find joyful nature quirks anywhere, you just have to open your eyes a bit!

Every season and every place has got something great to offer in nature. What’s your favorite nature perk of your hometown?

 

Read more about the correlation between happiness & nature here: http://www.naturalnews.com/043518_happiness_nature_mental_health.html

Seek Happiness Outside Your Comfort Zone

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As the phrase “comfort zone” suggests, this is a place where you feel most at ease. You might be surprised to find out that some of the most incredible and joyful things happen just outside of that zone! Just a little push can lead to a whole new world of happy experiences.

The thrill and slight rush of adrenaline you get when doing something you might not normally do will make you feel truly alive. I have three incredible experiences of doing things outside of my comfort zone that stand out in my mind. Maybe one of these will inspire you to seek out the adventure waiting just outside your own comfort zone!

1. Public speaking: I was never an amazing public speaker. I would get nervous and sweaty and my knees would start to shake. But I wanted to get better. So my senior year of college, I enrolled myself into a public speaking course. I learned more in that one class than I did in all of my other classes combined that semester. I learned how to effectively speak in public, and more importantly, I learned a lot about myself. Pushing myself to get better at public speaking did wonders for my confidence and happiness!

2. Skydiving: Somehow this was less terrifying than public speaking, but still way outside of my natural comfort zone for sure! For my 21st birthday and my brother’s 18th birthday, we made a last-minute decision to jump out of a plane together. So we drove 2 hours to the nearest skydiving school and gave it a whirl! Words honestly cannot describe how absolutely crazy, exciting, terrifying and beautiful free-falling from 13,000 feet is; it’s almost peaceful. I highly recommend giving it a shot! It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience.

3. Travel somewhere alone: At the tail end of my semester abroad, I realized I hadn’t been to Edinburgh, Scotland, which had been on my list for years. My friends in London couldn’t go…so I booked a train ticket and went by myself. It was probably one of the top 5 travel experiences I’ve ever had. So freeing and empowering. But you don’t have to be in Europe to take part in this type of adventure! Go to a museum, restaurant or a park alone. You might surprise yourself with how much you enjoy the independence and freedom.

Arthur's SeatPictured above: A photo I took after hiking up Arthur’s Seat on my solo journey to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Would you go skydiving or travel alone? Tell us about your happiest experience outside of your comfort zone in the comments!

Become a Happiness Collector

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I am proud to say that I am a happiness collector. My apartment is covered with little souvenirs, trinkets, and a happiness board full of old concert tickets and pictures from trips or special occasions. These items brighten my day every time I look at them. I like to think of it as hoarding happy experiences and putting them on display!

Most of us have a few framed pictures around our homes, but if you take it to the next level and create your own a happiness board, it can really boost your day-to-day happiness! Happiness boards make for amazing home décor because every time you look at them, you are immediately taken back to the pleasant moment or experience each part of your board represents. Plus, a happiness board makes a great conversation piece in your home where you can share your memories with friends. On my happiness board, I have a tattered plane ticket from my very first trip to London, which is my favorite city in the world, framed on my bedside table. Every night I get to re-live that incredible trip and its memories all over again.

board

But the happiness board doesn’t have to be a “board,” per say. You can collect mementos that remind you of happy experiences and display them around your home! For example, when I go to out to a nice restaurant, I always make sure to grab a matchbook (most restaurants keep them at the hostess stand). I leave them next to my candles so whenever I light a candle, I am taken back to that particular restaurant experience, which is usually of great food and great friends.

The personalized touch of meaningful decorations in your living space is a major mood booster. Keeping reminders of happy moments in your life out and in plain view will make any day a little brighter!

Find Your European Soul City

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I absolutely love to travel and there are so many places in the world I hope to see one day. I’ve already crossed a few of those locations off my bucket list! A few years ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel throughout Europe. I noticed that each and every city I visited had its own distinct personality and offered something entirely unique to its guests. If you’ve ever considered taking a European trip, check out my take on the 5 European cities I visited and the happy moments you can experience there!

 

Location: London, England

Positive personality: London is great for someone who enjoys mixing the old and the new. The city is full of colorful and exciting history, but you can find modern, world-renowned restaurants, hotels and shops as well.

Happy Moment: Strolling through Hyde Park in Central London will definitely put you in a jolly mood. The gravel paths, the beautiful greenery, the vintage striped lawn chairs, the thatch-roofed restaurant overlooking the lake: it’s all so quintessentially British. It’s an oasis in the middle of a city and it’s bound to lift your spirits.

London

Location: Florence, Italy

Positive personality: You take great joy in the classics, whether it’s movies, art or fashion. Florence is an impeccable match for a person who is immersed in the arts. With so many museums and marketplaces, everyone can find something that pleases them.

Happy Moment: Watching the sunset over the Arno River from the beautiful and historic Ponte Vecchio Bridge is a sight you won’t soon forget. The Ponte Vecchio is one of the only bridges to stand strong throughout all periods of history and when you experience this amazing moment, you’ll understand why.

Florence

Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Positive personality: Prague would be most enjoyed by someone who is naturally inquisitive and thoroughly enjoys architecture and the way things are made. Prague is home to some of the most unique architectural sights, like the Charles Bridge and the world’s oldest Astronomical Clock.

Happy Moment: The Disney Castle at Disneyland is based off of the architecture of a building in Prague’s Old Town Square. A little dose of the “happiest place on Earth” halfway across the world is sure to put a smile on your face!

Prague

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Positive personality: Barcelona is a city where truly anything goes, so be yourself! If you’re a person who enjoys the more whimsical things in life and like to dance to the beat of your own drum, Barcelona is the place to be.

Happy moment: Taking time to explore and appreciate the pure genius that is the Sagrada Familia by famed architect Gaudi will leave you in awe. A church so intricate and beautiful, it’s still in progress even after more than a hundred years. The vivid stained glass and sincerely one-of-a-kind structure will leave you with an elated state of mind.

Barcelona
Location: Paris, France

Positive personality: If people tend to describe you as laid-back, relaxed and always smiling, Paris might be your place. You tend to go with the flow. Stop for a bite to eat here, pop into a café there, maybe take a stroll down a boulevard. You do things at your own pace, and that peace of mind leads to ultimate relaxation.

Happy moment: While it’s been done before, nothing can beat the view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower. Not a fan of heights? No problem. The lawn that sprawls in front of the magnificent Eiffel Tower is the perfect place for a picnic of cheese and a fresh baguette from a local French market. Either way, your memories will be unforgettably joyful.

Paris

Is your happy place on this list? Which city do you think you most belong in? Let us know in the comments!

Wake Up Happy!

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The beginning of your day is possibly the most important because it sets the tone for the whole day… And if you’re a student or adult, your days probably start on the earlier side. Forbes says that people who wake up early and happy experience awesome benefits like having higher grades, being more proactive, and having time to exercise (which means you’ll get all those great endorphins!)

In addition to looking for the positive in every morning, whether it’s watching a spectacular sunrise or enjoying a breakfast with friends, there are a few immediate changes you can make to your morning routine to ensure a smiling face as you rise for each new day!

Wake up happy with these suggestions:

  1. Surround yourself with bright colors! Seeing vibrant hues first thing in the morning gets your adrenaline going and lends you an extra burst of energy. Choose colors like red, orange and fuchsia!
  1. Throw open your windows! Letting the natural sunlight stream in will signal your body’s biological clock that it’s time to get up and about. Sunshine also causes your body to produce melatonin and serotonin, which encourages wakefulness and boosts your mood.
  1. Turn on some happy tunes! If you listen to uplifting music every morning, your mind will associate those positive vibes with waking up.
  1. Visualize the day ahead. What do you have to look forward to today? What is the best thing that could happen? Visualize all of the things on your to-do list and how you will get them done. It makes it easier to face them with a smile on your face when you have a game plan.
  1. Read! Instead of turning on the TV and computer, read a newspaper or a chapter of a book to get your gears going. It will stimulate your mind and ready you for the tasks of the day. Just make sure it’s happy news or a book you are enjoying :)

With these tips, you can wake up every morning on cloud nine!

 

Article sources:

http://www.prevention.com/health/sleep-energy/smart-ways-wake-happy/

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-wake-up-every-morning-on-top-of-the-world/

Celebrate Earth Day!

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Just as you can boost your own happiness by helping other people, you can also boost your happiness by helping your surroundings! By improving the environment you live in, and the earth around you, your day-to-day life will reap the benefits. Here are 5 simple ways you can celebrate Earth Day this year and feel good doing it:

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle! The age-old mantra of Earth Day can actually come in handy. By buying as little as possible and items that come in minimal packaging, this will cut down on the materials you will be throwing away and increase the amount you will be able to recycle.
  • Visit your farmer’s market! It’s such a happy place to walk around and chat with people, where you can be educated on where exactly the food you are buying comes from. Learning and knowing you’re making a difference will help you feel great!
  • Buy or make earth-friendly cleaning products! Using products that cause no harm to your surroundings, or yourself, will improve your mood because you don’t have to worry about any superfluous chemicals around your house.
  • Walk, hike or ride a bike to work or school! You’ll not only cut down on the amount of pollution being released into the atmosphere, the exercise you’ll get will boost your endorphins and your mood!
  • Go around your house and check all of the faucets in your sinks and bathtubs. With this simple trick you can save thousands of gallons of water per year. You’ll breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you did something that can actively save the ocean and it’s many inhabitants!

 

So this year, “go green”, even if it’s just for a little while. Even such small changes can make you feel like a superhero! Learning and knowing you’re making a difference in the world you live in can help you live a happier life!

 

Article sources:

http://www.wikihow.com/Celebrate-Earth-Day

http://www.rustletheleaf.com/10things.html

Scents & Your Happiness

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Scent is the sense most strongly linked with happiness and other positive emotions. Certain smells are able to evoke feelings of joy and serenity, and even evoke happy memories from your past. When I was young, my mom wore a designer perfume that was both floral and musky. It was a very strong, very particular scent. She stopped wearing it years ago, but now whenever I smell that certain perfume I am transported back to the happy, care-free days of my childhood and I am always left smiling.

According to the Huffington Post, smelling a specific scent can influence your emotions and actions in a powerful and positive way. For example, flowery scents can cause you to be more chatty, smiley and sociable while scents like fresh-baked bread can increase your kindness to strangers.

source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/19/smell-and-emotions-sense-of-smell-scent_n_3110087.html

Keep a perfume or a candle with a scent that reminds you of a happier time in your house. Whenever you spray the perfume or light the candle, the smell will take you back to that time and instantly lift your mood. Don’t know what scents to aim for when buying something fragrant to boost your mood? Care2.com has 5 scents that positively affect your body & mind to help get you started:

1.     Peppermint: boosts both your mood and motivation

2.     Spice Apple: reduces blood pressure

3.     Lavender: reduces stress and relieves pain

4.     Cinnamon: makes you have kinder reactions

5.     Coffee: reduces stress

source: http://www.care2.com/causes/5-smells-that-make-you-kinder-happier-nicer.html

 

Sniff your way to a happy day!

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