The importance of JOY

George E. Vaillant, a psychoanalyst and research psychiatrist at Harvard, directed a 30-year study on adult development. According to Vaillant, joy, love, compassion, happiness, and delight “help us to broaden and build. They widen our tolerance, expand our moral compass and enhance our creativity,” as well as help bind us to others. Vaillant’s experiments document that while negative emotions like shame, guilt, anger, and hate narrow our attention, positive emotions, especially joy, make thought patterns far more flexible, creative, integrative, and effective.

On the flip side, when you dwell on negative feelings, you damage your physical and spiritual well-being. Negative emotions cause stress on your body – and you’re less pleasant to be around so they can have a huge effect on relationships. Continue reading

Did you have fun last weekend?

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

What’d you do last weekend? Anything fun? Anything “story-worthy?”

A common regret at the end of life is that you lived a life others expected of you and weren’t always true to yourself. That you had ideas but didn’t listen to your gut. Some of this comes from being raised to “get along.” And some comes from the ease of doing things that are expected rather than really thinking about what you like to do. And then having the courage to do it! Continue reading

The importance of gathering

“Some trees spread root systems underground that interconnect individual trunks and weave individual trees into a more stable whole that can’t so easily be blown down in the wind. Stories and conversations are like those roots.”

~ Rebecca Solnit, from The Mother of All Questions

So here’s the thing. If you’re facing a fear or a dilemma, and you think your options are “fight or flight,” consider a third option: “Gather.” Gather for solidarity. Gather for advice. Gather for support. Continue reading

Nat Geo on happiness

I read a great article in National Geographic about places where people are happier than most. The article looks specifically at the effect of “place” and how your environment shapes you. But it’s never really the place, is it? It’s a package. And what Nat Geo was looking at was long-term happiness – not a simple “good time” vacation get-away.

In Costa Rica, happiness comes from strong family bonds, universal healthcare, strong faith, lasting peace, equality, time spent outdoors, and generosity. In the 1940s, Costa Rica elected a teacher as president. This resulted in a decision to provide free education for all, to eliminate the army, and to set up a universal healthcare system with a goal of keeping people healthy rather than trying to cure them after they’re sick. Continue reading

Five tips to get something GREAT done

The start of a new year is a great time to think about stuff you’d like to get done. If there’s something you’ve been putting off or something you’ve started by can’t seem to finish, why not make 2018 your year to say, “You’ll never believe what I did this year!”?

Doing interesting work that lifts your energy is a guaranteed happy-maker. And you’ll have a good story to tell this time next year!

Here are five tips to get something GREAT done in 2018.

Know why this is on your list
I’m a big believer in following an energy path and if you’ve been stalling on something for a long time, maybe you don’t really want to do it. Is this something you think you ought to do? Or something someone else wants you to do? Why is getting this done important to you? Continue reading

The peace of the pause

I wrapped up a big theater project last weekend and Monday morning felt like I’d hit a wall – face first! Every step, every thought took effort. What was going on? I was exhausted after 3 months of intense work, 6-7 days a week. And I was sad. Ending a show feels like the end of summer camp. You’ve had a great time with a new group of friends you know you’ll never be with again in that same setting. And while everyone is still around, you grieve the moment that’s lost.

AND to make you crazy, the songs from a musical run in a continuous loop in your mind for another week or so! Torture.

So this week I’ve spent time meditating on the challenges we met, the fun we had, and the show we produced. I’ve sent out thank you notes to add closure. And I’ve tried my best to be quiet to give myself time to pause for a couple of days between projects. Continue reading

The Feng Shui of Organizational Zen

Feng Shui is an ancient art of figuring out how to create and sustain energy within your environment. Like most practices, I don’t love the “naming” of parts – I just like the action. Here’s some Feng Shui action that ties in with my thoughts on creating and sustaining Organizational Zen in your life.

If your stuff is bugging you, fix it or pitch it!
If something’s bugging you, get it out of your head, into your planner, and take action. In Feng Shui, this might mean getting rid of a chipped bowl in the cupboard that you notice first thing every time you open the cabinet door. Or getting rid of stained coffee mugs. Or choosing to have all matching dishes – or not have all matching dishes!

There’s no “right” within this. It’s a matter of paying attention to yourself and figuring out what kind of stuff makes you feel happy. Continue reading