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!

How to Truly Live in the Moment

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With the millions of things we think about on a daily basis, it’s easy to get swept up in our thoughts about the future: what we’ll be doing, where we’ll be, who we’ll be with. Living in the moment is a state of active, open, and intentional attention to the present. Whenever I’m experiencing something enjoyable like a vacation or a relaxing lunch by the beach, I really take the time to realize what is happening. I notice my surroundings, smell the air, and truly recognize that I am present in this moment. But my goal is to “live in the moment” every single day, and not just when I’m experiencing something enjoyable. Being able to live in the moment is a skill that can help us achieve greater happiness and contentment with our life just as it is. Here are 5 ways to accomplish it:

1. Work towards not thinking about what others think of you. Maintaining an “unselfconscious” state of mind will take your focus off of others’ opinion of what you’re doing and direct it back to your task at hand. Thinking too hard about what you’re doing and who’s watching you do it could have the opposite effect that you desire.

2. Appreciate what is happening in the present. Instead of seeing a beautiful painting or eating a delicious cookie and thinking into the future of when you will see or eat something that delicious again, focus on how great it is in that exact moment. Savor the good moments as they come.

3. Do one thing at a time. In this century, if you’re not doing a hundred things at once you may seem off your game. But doing single tasks, rather than multi-tasking, and paying attention to each specific task will help your mind to focus on the present.

4. Take a yoga class. The practice of living in the moment, also called mindfulness, is a core value in yoga-based exercises. Many of the mantras and movements that you do during yoga class help promote mindfulness and can carry on into your life outside the yoga studio.

5. Breathe. Sometimes the simplest explanations are the easiest to overlook. We forget to breathe. Not literally, of course, but focusing on our breath makes us realize we are alive in this moment, right now.

6. Lastly, let go of the “what ifs.” More often than not, the things we worriedly think “what if” about never actually happen. So do not to allow those thoughts to take you out of the moment.

 

(http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200810/the-art-now-six-steps-living-in-the-moment)

(http://www.rd.com/slideshows/10-steps-to-mindfulness/#slideshow=slide1)

 

So just keep breathing. In out, in out. Now smile. :)

Stay positive!

Family Bonds and How They Impact Our Happiness

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Just last week I was lucky enough to take a trip with my family to the beautiful island of Maui in Hawaii. Hawaii is great and all, but the best part about the trip wasn’t the destination. It was getting to spend a week’s worth of uninterrupted time with my family. With my two siblings and I at completely different stages of life (middle school, college, and in the real-world, respectively) we are scattered across the US and don’t get as many opportunities to enjoy each other’s company anymore.

While many believe that success, wealth and material possessions are crucial keys to happiness, new research says that is not the case. Over 95% of parents believe that quality family time trumps even the most coveted material luxuries. Strengthening family bonds can lead to increased levels of happiness and overall satisfaction with your state of being. Keep in mind, your quality family time doesn’t have to be a week long vacation. Anything that connects you to your family, like a weekly meal together, a phone call, or even a Skype session, can help boost your happiness.

(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2328597/Spending-quality-time-family-beats-material-possessions-holidays-new-happiness-poll.html)

What’s more, you don’t have to be blood-related family to reap these happiness benefits. A bond between friends can be just as strong as a family bond. Personally, I have two friends in my life that I have known for years and feel so comfortable around that I consider them the sisters I never had. Don’t forget pets too! Many of us consider our pets to be members of our family and as our previous posts have pointed out, pets can dramatically increase our everyday happiness.

(http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-social-self/201107/friends-benefits-pets-make-us-happier-healthier)
(http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860)

Whatever your family situation: only child, one of 12 kids, single parent household, living with pets, or living with other relatives…appreciate it and take advantage of those human (or animal!) connections. Really take the time to realize just how lucky you are to have those bonds.

Journal Your Way to Happiness

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An easy way to lift your spirits that most people tend to overlook is through writing. You’ll often hear middle school and high school teachers encouraging their students to write daily but that advice is often ignored, especially as the students get older and busier. While that advice is good for getting creative juices flowing in English class, it can also lead to happier day-to-day life.

What many of us don’t realize is that writing is a great personal outlet. You can sort through a lot of what you’re going through simply by writing about it. Emotions in your head can get jumbled and confusing, so physically writing down your thoughts and feelings on paper can be cathartic. Write about your life, your hardships, your dreams, or write creative stories; it can help take some of the stress out of your life.

Here are some tips to help you with your journaling:

1.     Keep a journal on your bedside table. Every night before bed, set aside 10, maybe 15 minutes to write.

2.     Don’t focus on the grammar or spelling. Nobody else is going to be looking at your journal, so if you misspell a word or use an apostrophe incorrectly, it’ll be your little secret and help keep the words flowing.

3.     Make lists. Your journal entries don’t have to be deep and emotional. You can simply list songs that you liked on the radio that day or list some fun names you came up with for a pet.

4.     Couple your daily writing with something else you like. Always enjoy a mug of hot tea at night? Settle down with your tea and your journal and let it flow.

5.     If you don’t feel like writing, write about that! You may uncover that you’re feeling a lack of motivation in other areas in your life as well, which can lead to personal discovery.

Have you ever kept a daily journal? Tell us about that experience and if it helped boost your overall happiness.

 

Sing It Loud, Sing It Proud

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Doctors have explored the link between music and emotions for years. We are hardwired to interpret and react emotionally to music. Certain music, and it’s different for every person, can actually make you happy. More than just lift your mood, listening to music involves most parts of your brain, which produces an engaging experience. The temporal and frontal lobes work to decipher the sound with other brain cells processing pitch, melody and rhythm, and depending on what you’re listening to, can also create a joyful reaction.

(source: http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/music-and-happiness1.htm)

For me, a song that never fails to make me smile is “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” from the Broadway musical “Annie”. Something about the combination of its cheerful melody and hopeful lyrics just gets me. Hearing that song can instantly turn my day around. Not into musicals? Find a song that floats your boat. It could be a rock song or a country song or anything in between. As long as it makes you happy when you hear it, you know you’ve hit the jackpot. Personally, I can’t help but instantly get happier when I hear Pharrell William’s new song, “Happy.” Listen to it now and see how it makes you feel! YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM&feature=kp

Bonus points: actively seeking out happiness through music can improve your health and your relationships. It reduces stress and increases positive thinking. How cool is that!?

(source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2325004/Listening-happy-music-really-CAN-make-happier-researchers.html)

I urge readers to make a whole playlist of songs that make you smile and you can whip it out anytime you’re feeling less than stellar. It’ll perk your mood right up! Happy listening :)

More Useful Tips for Increasing Your Happiness

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Like most people, my life has had its fair share of highs and lows. And no matter how great those highs are, it is always difficult to overcome the lows. It’s easy to simply tell yourself to be more positive and tell yourself to think happy thoughts, but quite harder to actually put those thoughts to action. Here are some solid, doable steps that will increase your overall happiness.

1. Works Towards Not Comparing Yourself to Others —  Constantly comparing yourself to others will have an adverse effect on your overall happiness. You are unlike any other person on this planet; you are unique and individual, so why compare yourself to someone else? If you focus on solely on yourself and your own personal goals, it will make for a much less stressful day-to-day life.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jacob-sokol-/things-happy-people-do_b_3869793.html

 2. Say Cheese! –  Studies show that smiling triggers mood elevation. The more you smile, even if the smile may be forced at first, the happier you will be. Smiling causes happiness, and happiness causes smiling. They go hand in hand. It’s a cycle of happiness!

Source: www.wikihow.com/Be-Happy

3. Carve out some time for giving – Giving to a charity doesn’t have to be a financial engagement. Find a charity that really resonates with you. If you’re an animal lover, check out your local animal shelters and see what you can do to help. If you love kids, look into local less fortunate schools that have afterschool programs in need of volunteers. Seeing a smile on a kid’s face (or a wag of a dog’s tail) that you were responsible for will help put a smile back on YOUR face guaranteed.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/happiness-habits-of-exuberant-human-beings_n_3909772.html

 4. Let It Go – Allow yourself  to let go of grudges and forgive easily. A hardened heart makes it more difficult to be happy. It takes a lot more effort and negative energy to be angry with someone, and it will weigh you down. Holding grudges can actually increase depression, anxiety and stress. Forgiving someone for their wrongdoing can automatically lessen those negative feelings.

Source: http://successify.net/2012/10/31/22-things-happy-people-do-differently/

 5. Spend Some Quality Time With Friends – Yes, it’s difficult to make plans when we all have responsibilities, schedules, and to-do lists, but setting aside time to be around your friends will send your happiness levels sky high. The connections and friendships you make with others provides an extra boost of happiness because they are similar to feelings of love.

Source: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/10-Ways-to-Increase-Your-Happiness/2

 

Behold, the Beauty of the Great Outdoors

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I will be the first to admit that I am not much of an outdoorsy person. I enjoy looking at pictures of the ocean, mountains, forest, etc, but when it comes to actually venturing out into the wilderness I usually opt to stay indoors. However, even I, as a self-proclaimed “indoor girl”, will admit that even the occasional appreciation of nature is a huge factor in leading a happy lifestyle.

Got a local hiking trail? Grab a friend (or go on a solo adventure) and climb that trail. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Open them. And really look. Nature’s true glory can lift your spirits in an instant.

Live in an urban environment or concrete jungle? No problem. Find beauty in the architecture. There have definitely been a few times I was wandering the streets of NYC and actually had to stop to marvel at a building. The afternoon sun gleaming off the marble of Grand Central Station can be just as good as an ocean view. It’s all about perspective.

It’s easy to get caught up in the distractions that often go hand-in-hand with exploring nature. It’s too cold or too hot. You’re getting bug bites. That hike was HARD. I was recently convinced by a friend to hike the Griffith Trail in Los Angeles and I have to admit, I complained incessantly as I trudged up the trail to the look out point. But once we made it up there and looked at the view, I forgot about everything that had been irritating me. As I looked out over the city with the sun beginning to set, an argument I had earlier seemed silly and my stresses faded. It was truly breathtaking.

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I encourage our readers to take a moment each day to appreciate our surroundings. As they say, stop and smell the roses. It can alter your mood for days (or even weeks!) afterwards.

The Beauty of Watching Sunsets

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There is something truly magical about a sunset. Aside from the fact that sunsets symbolize the day coming to a close, they’re also undeniably beautiful. I recently was blessed with moving into a condo overlooking the ocean in Long Beach, CA. The ocean has such an incredible calming effect on me, but surprisingly the ocean view has not been my favorite part about my new home. The insanely gorgeous sunsets I witness almost every night since I’ve lived here have truly changed my life. I don’t think I ever appreciated a sunset the way I do now. I really take the time to notice them now. It’s a beautiful moment to reflect on my day and how I am feeling. It’s my own personal sunset time! I started to realize what a wonderful impact watching the sunset has made in my life, and I wanted to share it with our readers in hopes you too will take time out of your day to watch the sunset more often. It’s made me realize how fascinating this world truly is. Across the whole big wide whole, every one of us watches the same sun dip out of sight each night. That’s pretty cool!

Here’s a picture of the sunset I saw today. How amazing are those colors in the sky!?

Long Beach sunset

We’d love to see your sunset photos. Tag us on Twitter @TweetTHC or on Facebook @TheHappyChannel and we’ll share your sunset photos!

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