Monday, April 05, 2010

Ten Ways to Be Happier

It was a beautiful day on the Prairie today. I hung clothes outside for the first time this year.

Watching these hand embroidered pillowcases flap in the breeze gave me a real feeling of happiness. So much was right with that... beautiful handwork on linens, a lovely day that I could enjoy because I was off work, the feeling of accomplishment of a task completed.

Recently my friend, Mark, mentioned he keeps a list nearby I published in the fall of 2004 about ways to be happier. One of my keys to happiness is definitely to find joy in the simple things - like pillowcases flapping in a spring breeze. I'm blessed my mother taught me to be happy.

I went and looked up that piece I'd written about happiness. It's all still true. These tips are based on various happiness research. Dr. Seligman is the most famous of the researchers if you want to read more on your own.

How to be Happier
We are all born with a "set point" of happiness, but we now know that it is also a learned behavior and just because someone isn't born that way, they can be that way if they chose to be. Genetics determines about 50%.

Important in learning to be happy:
1. Meditation
2. Journaling (esp. gratitude)
3. Fake it till you make it. Faking happiness causes the same chemical reactions as BEING happy and eventually will create the happiness. Actions matter - act happy.
4. Surrounding yourself with friends and family is a huge factor in increasing happiness.
5. Having your own sense of self and no interest in keeping up with the Joneses is helpful.
6. Doing activities that put you in the "flow" where you lose sense of time and enjoy it, increases overall happiness. The more of those you have, the better off you are. Doing what you're best at.
7. Must have a capacity to love and be loved.
8. Altruism
9. Spirituality
10. Creativity

Damaging to happiness:
1. not forgiving - huge - the biggest stumbling block - the single biggest determining factor in someone's happiness level
2. materialism

1. Major health problems, such as loss of mobility, have no long term effect on people's general happiness. After about 90-180 days they return to their pre-incident level of daily happiness.
2. People are very bad at predicting what will make them happy. Better to trust human resilence than human prediction.
3. More choices you have the more likely you are to be unhappy. People feel with so many choices, there's no excuse for failure. Choices also make people question every decision.
4. Happiness comes mostly in daily little bits. People get thrills out of finding a quarter or getting an unexpected gift. The emotion actually makes them more generous, friendlier, flexible, creative and better at solving problems. Small bursts of this feeling caused radiologists to make more accurate diagnoses in one study.

It was good for me to be reminded of that piece. And I'm flattered that Mark keeps it nearby and has shared it with friends.

Well, time for me to get some rest. I was up until nearly 6 a.m. this morning, working on things all night long. I slept about four hours and got up and started again. I wanted to make good use of the day off today. I finished reupholstering a stool, and got some other things organized for the art show next month. The one thing I'm not finding much time to do is create, although I did spend a little time in the studio this morning.

I realized today how much I'm going to miss being able to work from home this spring. It was awfully nice to be able to have the washer running during the day and pop out to hang up clothes.

Well, it's half past midnight now and time for me to get some rest before my shortened work week starts. If only I didn't need sleep I could get even more done. But, alas, my body demands some rest. And it's going to be a busy couple of weeks as we prepare for the Apollo 13 anniversary events at the Cosmosphere. Hard to believe that was 40 years ago. Time does go by quickly.

Friends, Bunnies and Art

This is one of my latest creations - a painting made into a necklace. I took the painting and secured it into the finding, then coated it with a concoction I made to glaze over it. I added some vintage ribbon made in England to finish it off. I wore it Saturday and got multiple compliments on it.

Saturday afternoon I had a long lunch with Kristine and we covered many topics. It was great to connect with her. It had been awhile since we'd had the opportunity to talk.

I must have been being good lately, because the Easter Bunny visited me. Actually, does the Easter Bunny leave treats based on your behavior or is that only Santa? I lose track. Lets just say I've been being good anyway, okay? Regardless, I was happy to find The Bunny's goodies and indulge in them.

I had lunch at Sharon's today. She is temporarily hosting this automated bunny Greg recently bought. For reasons I don't fully understand, I let myself be photographed without makeup yet again. I guess the bunny's presence, or the chocolate I had consumed, made me take leave of my senses. That's me next to the bunny, Greg and Sharon.

Sharon had me decorate her tree for Easter while she was fixing a scrumptious lunch. I've never done an Easter Egg Tree, but was able to apply my Christmas decorating skills to this holiday.

I have tomorrow off from the Cosmosphere and I'm so glad to have an extra day to work around the house. I'm spending most of my free time creating these days, preparing for the Hutchinson Art Show on May 8.

I went into the studio as soon as I got up this morning. I couldn't resist a photo of my hand at one point. I'm a bit messy, which is why I needed a studio space when I bought my house.

As you might guess from my hand, my studio gets messy when I work in there. I took this a few days ago. I have since tidied up just a little bit. But, it's a cycle and it's already getting messy again.

One of these days I'll get a real system for drying things, but for the moment these shelves have to suffice.

I'm still working on the same sort of pieces I've been doing for the last few months. I will try to get some more photos soon. I realize I have neglected to share very many photos of the finished products here, but I will try to rectify that.

Well, it's almost 4 a.m. and I should get some rest. I have a very full day tomorrow and will need to get a relatively early start to it. There just never seems to be enough time to sleep. Before I go back to work on Tuesday I want to have my taxes done and a magazine article I committed to finished. I'm also trying to figure out my display items for the art show and doing a little plotting for the novel while I'm working.

Some friends and I are going away for a retreat weekend in May and I think it's going to be a great time for me to refocus my energies. I seem to be scattered in many different directions all the time, but I like to have my fingers in lots of pies.

Oh... gosh... now I want to bake a pie...


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If you've landed here as a result of the Hutchinson Public Library's 2010 project, Welcome! So glad to have you along. You can read anything from the last few years by clicking the archive list of months to the left. Below is a list of a few of my popular posts. Welcome!

This I Believe

Person of rivers


Bits and Pieces of Life

Old Friends


I am No One's Daughter

Poking at old lives

The Last Time

Ramona Retreat

Letters from 1982

Easter Sunday Thoughts


Not Natural to Be Happy

Journal Writing

Dr. Robert Putnam