Julie Gorges

August 27, 2015

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.” ~ John Gunther

“Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast table.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Don’t you just love those quotes? And I swear there’s truth in those statements.

Enjoying a leisurely breakfast while camping with the family.

Enjoying a leisurely breakfast while camping with the family.

Last weekend, my family camped in our son’s RV. On Sunday morning, my husband fixed all of us scrambled eggs with yummy cheese on top along with some sizzling, crispy bacon that felt absolutely luxurious.

Now, I must confess, during the week I’m the first person to grab a quick bowl of cereal. Granted, I usually take the time to throw some blueberries, bananas, or strawberries on top. But, as I’ve shared before, I am NOT a morning person. The idea of cooking when I get up is just not appealing. Appalling is more like it.

So, if you’re like me and typically grab a quick bite on your way out, why not make it a goal to take the time on a cozy, relaxing weekend morning for a bit of breakfast bliss? After all, what could be better than brunch in bed with champagne while you happily munch away on delectable goodies in your jammies?

BreakfastNot convinced? Let me tempt you. Close your eyes and visualize the smell of fresh brewed coffee, the sound of sizzling bacon, the fluffiness of pancakes, the sound of a whisk, and the taste of juicy, sumptuous berries in your mouth.

Or picture a steaming bowl of old-fashioned porridge with golden raisins, brown sugar, raspberries, apple butter, sliced almonds, with a dash of cinnamon. Add some pumpkin pie spice or canned pumpkin for a fall flare. Yum! Breakfast heaven!

Life is short and meant to be enjoyed. If you need a few more ideas for your next perfect Sunday breakfast, check out a few of these creative recipes on the Internet:

Okay, I just like the sound of that last one. It sounds like a fun breakfast! If you have a favorite weekend breakfast recipe or idea, please share in the comments below.

Whatever you do, never skip this important meal because breakfast can boost your mood and start your day right. For example, research has shown that fortified cereals with vitamin B and some milk packed with vitamin D can help fight anxiety and depression. A banana, almond, flax smoothie is a great source of the mood-enhancer tryptophan and omega-3s which all can help reduce stress and depression. Protein from a creamy cupful of Greek yogurt with berries, a touch of granola and a spoonful of honey is a positivity parfait that can increase levels of pleasure-boosting neurotransmitters. Those yummy berries you toss on top may be blue, but they can help you from feeling that way. Check out my blog, Five Foods to Make You Happy, for more advice on choosing good mood food.

So, have that leisurely breakfast and feel the joy. If you need other ways to start your day on a positive note, check out some of my ideas in my article, Ten Ways to Start Your Morning Right.

In the meantime…Bon Appetit!

Image courtesy of paul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why the 70s Make Me Happy: Open Book Blog Hop

Every once in a while I like to jump on a blog hop if the subject matter interests me. This one asks, which decade is your favorite?

70s girlThe name of my blog is Baby Boomer Bliss, so you probably already know that I’m going to choose either the 60s or 70s, right?

Here’s the skinney. People make fun of the 70s, but I have great memories of that decade. During those years, I was between the ages of 10 and 20. In the mid-70s, I was a teen and some of those years make me downright nostalgic.

Maybe because the last couple of years have been tough ones for me, I reminisce about those carefree days when my biggest concern was which bell bottoms and platform shoes to wear, which Simon and Garfunkel album to buy, and which color my mood ring would turn on any given day.

Although the sexual revolution and pot smoking was in its heyday, I was young and led a pretty sheltered life. The decade was still plenty cheesy and still innocent by today’s standards. Just watch reruns of popular shows like the Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, Happy Days, The Waltons, and Little House on the Prairie. I mean, we were so innocent we pretended rocks were pets. Have a nice day and happy faces were splattered everywhere. We’d spend hours simply making macrame chokers, bracelets, and plant hangers.

While my Mom was on a health food kick and trying to sneak wheat germ into our food and convince me carob was as good as chocolate, I was downing Ding Dongs, Hostess chocolate cupcakes with the white swirled icing on top, and fruit pies with chocolate fillings. My mouth is watering now. Miraculously, I still stayed skinny as a rail. Those were the days!

70s WallpaperEven home décor became more down to earth. Out went the space age look of the 60s and in came more conservative styles with oranges, gold, browns, and rust styled with splashes of bright colors and geometrical designs.

Okay, the 70s had some really weird fashion. I can’t defend it. The decade was especially hard on the guys with polyester leisure suits, short shorts, plaid and vertically striped pants, embroidered collars, and high heeled shoes (although this was a break for short guys). Girls didn’t fare much better with giant sunglasses perched on our noses, horrifying jumpsuits, huge collars, sky high platform shoes, bell bottomed jeans decorated with embroidery or studs, and chunky belted brown cardigans. I won’t even talk about all the splash of rude colors and patterns we wore. The perms and Farrah hair weren’t any better.

Still, sometimes I pine for the days when me and my friends would practice the hustle in the school bathroom, when guys called me foxy, and everything was far out.

And you have to admit, some of our music was pretty fab and funky. What’s cooler than some of the 70 classics like the Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, Hotel California by the Eagles, Joy to the World by Three Dog Night, I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, and You’re So Vain by Carly Simon. Can you dig it? Right on!

As the KC and the Sunshine Band sang back in the day, “That’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it. Uh huh, uh huh.”

What’s your favorite decade? I’d love to know! Please share in the comments below.

Here are a few links to other bloggers explaining what their favorite decade is and the reasons why.

If you’re a blogger and want to join, please click on the button with the frog on the right to link in. Here are the rules:

Rules:

  1. Link your blog to this hop.
  2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
  3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
  4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
  5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

So bloggers, join in the fun. And the rest of you, keep on truckin and I’ll catch you on the flip side!

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat and Chris Sharp at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Lose the LOL on Facebook – Ha, Ha Now All the Rage

If you read my blog, you already know I often preach the value of laughter and humor. Many of my articles are dedicated to the value of having a sense of humor such as Humor an Important Key to Happiness and How to Bring More Humor and Joy to Your Life.

EmoticonThat’s why I try and include at least one silly cartoons or saying a week on my author’s Facebook page. Often, I caption them with a LOL.

So imagine my dismay when I discovered that I am once again pathetically behind the times and out of touch. As a Baby Boomer Grandma, I thought I was being hip, young, and cool, but, oh no. Once again, I am apparently tardy on trends.

RIP LOL, Facebook says.

The old-fashioned “ha, ha” is now the preferred e-laughter. Really? Ha, ha seems a little lame, lame to me. Evidently I’ve had my head in the sand and others don’t share my view. A recent survey by Facebook showed that the vast majority of people are “haha-ers” (51.4 percent), then emoji lovers (33.7 percent), then “hehe-ers” (12.7 percent) and finally, the “lol-ers” (1.9 percent).

I’m in the 1.9% bracket! I’m horrified!

“Young people and women prefer emoji whereas men prefer longer ‘hehes’,” the team said. Both men and women like “hahas” and emoji followed by “hehes” and “lols”. The team found that across all age groups (13 to 70), the most common laughs are still “haha”, “hahaha”, “hahahaha”, and only then followed by “hehe”.

So there’s the lowdown.

What do I take away from this survey?

The survey showed that we all could stand to laugh more on our Facebook pages. “Nearly 46 percent of the people posted only a single laugh during the week while 85 percent posted fewer than five laughs,” the team wrote on Facebook’s official research blog.

With that in mind, I plan to include more humor on my Facebook page. Will I caption my silly cartoons and photos with an out-of-date LOL or the now fashionable ha, ha or he, he? Or perhaps an acceptable emoji? You’ll just have to wait and see!

And let’s all keep in mind that while the initials LOL may be out of style, we should all laugh out loud more in real life with a hearty hahaha!

Image courtesy of farconville at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

Five Ways Imitating Jesus Can Make Us Happy

This last weekend I attended a three-day convention, Imitate Jesus! What did I learn? When we imitate Jesus we can conquer the world, and yes, we can be happy.

How? Here are just a few ways:

  1. BirdsStop being anxious. In one of the discourses, the speaker reviewed the scripture at Matthew 6:25-30. It says: “Observe intently the birds of heaven; they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” The birds are not working overtime, slaving to save for the future, worrying about what they will eat. Yet, God takes care of them. Instead of being anxious over material things, focus on spiritual matters. Have faith. Then Jesus says, “Take a lesson from the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not toil, nor do they spin; but I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.” Lilies do not live long, yet God gave them such beauty. Is that not a lesson for us? God does not want us to simply exist but wants us to find joy and beauty in our lives. Jesus asks, “Who of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his life span?” In fact, science has actually proven that stress and anxiety can affect our health adversely and actually shorten our lives.
  2. PrayUse the power of prayer. The devout have known about the benefits of prayer, but now science backs up this thought. “Studies have shown prayer can prevent people from getting sick — and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster,” said Duke University’s Harold G. Koenig, M.D. An analysis of more than 1,500 reputable medical studies “indicates people who are more religious and pray more have better mental and physical health,” he adds. Jesus prayed constantly while here on earth. Prayers should include supplications (intense entreaties), petitions (specific requests such as asking for wisdom and thinking ability when making a major life decision), thanksgiving, and praise. Linger in prayer. Scriptures show Jesus praying all night. Imitate him by telling God each thought and concern we have in private, in-depth prayers. If we do so, God promises at 1 Peter 5:10,  ”he will make you firm, he will make you strong, he will firmly ground you.”
  3. Do not retaliate. The famous scripture at Matthew 5:38-39 when Jesus tells his followers to turn the other cheek is often misinterpreted. This doesn’t mean if someone punches you, you should stand up and allow him to smack the other side of your face. In Bible times, a slap often was associated with an insult. Jesus was telling us not to exact vengeance which can lead to more violence and hatred. If someone offends us, we should take the initiative to make peace with him. Peter denied Jesus three times on the most difficult day of his life. Yet, after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter and allowed him to express his sorrow. Jesus wanted to help Peter heal from the guilt and anguish he was suffering. Jesus did not take the attitude, “I’ll never trust Peter again!”  In fact, he entrusted Peter with even more responsibilities. Each of his apostles and closest friends left Jesus and abandoned him at the time of his arrest, in his time of need. Still, he forgave them. Copy Jesus. Do not keep account of injuries and let go of resentment.
  4. GiveBe generous. Mark chapter 5 tells us that when Jesus healed a woman, who for 12 years had been suffering from an embarrassing and debilitating flow of blood, immediately Jesus realized that power had gone out of him. Evidently, healing took a toll on Jesus, yet he performed miracles without expecting anything in return. A number of studies show that giving unselfishly gives us a sense of well-being, lowers stress levels, improves our health, gives us a sense of purpose, and increases happiness. People who give often report feelings of euphoria, which psychologists refer to as “helper’s high.” This does not always mean giving in a material sense. We can also give by being compassionate, encouraging, and consoling others in their time of need. Jesus had a knack for perceiving what a person’s real needs were which made his words and gifts more meaningful. How often do we say, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do?” While these words are often said with the best intentions, why not take it a step further and put ourselves in their shoes and ask, “What would I need if I was in these circumstances?”
  5. Stop judging. At Matthew 7:1, Jesus did not say: “Do not judge”; he said: “Stop judging.” Why? He knew that many of his listeners were already in the habit of being critical of others. That’s because it is our imperfect human inclination to be judgmental, However, this bad habit can cause us anxiety and agitation in the long run. So try to catch yourself before you speak harmful words or send that sarcastic or vicious email or text. Before becoming overly critical or questioning someone’s motives, stop and take a deep breath. We must acknowledge our own imperfections. We must lovingly and patiently try and understand where the person may be coming from. By the way, stop judging also means to stop judging ourselves harshly too.

1 Peter 4:1 tells us to “arm yourselves with the same mental disposition” as Christ. How? Our feelings can be controlled by changing our thinking. Then we can act on those feelings to make positive changes in our lives.

Those are just a few points I learned from this inspiring convention that I felt compelled to share. To be honest, the events this past year left me shaken, but I felt like these three days lifted my spirits and gave me strength to move forward and make positive changes in my life. I am so grateful.

If you would like to attend this free public event, click here for a complete program schedule and a location nearest to you.

Image courtesy of anankkml, David Castillo Dominici, and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

What Not to Say to a Menopausal Woman

I wrote a humorous article for Hot Flash Daily that was inspired by a funny cartoon I saw. By the way, this great site has recently undergone some great updates, so if you haven’t visited for awhile, check it out.

Menopausal WomanAnyhow, in the cartoon, a husband is reading the paper and telling his wife: “If you feel like shouting, just close your eyes and count to ten.” The enraged (and rightly so!) woman is holding a frying pan directly over his head. The caption reads: Mood Swings Caused by Menopause Aren’t Helped by Suggestions.

Just goes to show that a mad menopausal woman deserves a gold star for each day she goes without physically injuring someone. Because it seems like someone is always giving us lame advice to help with our symptoms, right? So that got me to thinking.

What are five of the worst things you can tell a woman enduring menopausal madness?

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. You should think before you speak.” You should run for your life. NOW. Hello, lack of control over what I say comes with the territory and, in fact, is in my menopausal bill of rights. Why is it that the people who are always telling you to calm down, hold your tongue, and be rational are the ones that make you mad in the first place?
  2. If you just go to the bed at the same time each night you can beat insomnia.” Careful, because that little piece of advice makes me want to beat you like pancake batter. Don’t you think I’ve tried that a million times already? Ditto drinking warm milk, eating a banana, avoiding alcohol and large meals, and watching TV before bedtime. My insane insomnia is not caused by bad sleeping habits. I’m in hormonal hell, thank-you very much!
  3. Just concentrate.” That’s not my fault either. This continuous mental fog is caused by…well, I forget what causes it. Something to do with hormones. Anyways, IT’S NOT MY FAULT. That’s all I know.
  4. Wine triggers hot flashes, you know.” Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a d*** if wine causes hot flashes. When perimenopause hit, I found that I couldn’t function without my glasses – especially when they’re empty.  If there was ever an excuse to drink, menopause is it.
  5. You’re putting on a little weight; you may want to cut down on chocolate.” You mess with my chocolate and you better have a good look at your insurance policy. Didn’t I mention that I’m a certified menopausal chocolate crackhead? Look out! You’ve been warned.
  6. If you keep scratching, you’ll only itch more.” Really? You know that itchy rhymes with bitchy, right? You’re about to get a dose of the latter symptom if you don’t leave me alone.
  7. A good diet and a little exercise will make you feel better.” As Fred Allen said, “I like long walks, especially when they’re taken by people who annoy me.” Besides, I’m already in shape. Round is a shape. And haven’t you noticed that diet is ‘die’ with a ‘t’ at the end?

All right, I forgot that I promised to list five things and came up with seven. Didn’t you read Number 3? Shut up!

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Hiking and Happiness

I didn’t think that I would get any sort of a vacation this year, but it turns out that we are going to squeeze in a quick last minute trip to Yosemite and Kings Canyon. I plan to do some hiking while I’m there and, evidently, I’m going to feel happier for it.

HikingNo big surprise, a new study shows that walking or hiking in nature can bring us inner peace, joy, and happiness.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with depression.

“These results suggest that accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world,” said co-author Gretchen Daily, the Bing Professor in Environmental Science and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

More than half of the world’s population lives in urban settings and that is forecast to jump to a whopping 70 percent within a few decades. It’s no coincidence that just as urbanization and disconnection from nature have grown dramatically, so have mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. In fact, those who live in the city have a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40 percent higher risk of mood disorders as compared to people in rural areas. People born and raised in cities are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia.

Me in the middle with my son (left) and daughter-in-law (right) hiking in Ladder Canyon.

Me in the middle with my son (left) and daughter-in-law (right) hiking in Ladder Canyon.

Yikes! However, if you happen to live in a city, don’t feel discouraged. A simple stroll in Central Park or any nearby hiking area will help.  As I wrote previously in my blog, Finding Serenity in Nature, studies show that even a limited dose of nature like a short walk or even looking outside through a window is good for us. Although I live in the desert – nowhere near a forest – my husband and I have had fun exploring some of the local nature trails. This last winter we hiked the Ladder Canyon Trail/Painted Canyon in Mecca.

It’s worth the effort. Nature can improve your mental state, lower blood pressure, reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone), and increase your energy. The great outdoors can even provide a surge of creative energy. That’s why you’ll often see people in scenic spots with their easels or writing poems.

People have long known that natural environments are good for us. Clear back in 1857, S.H. Hammond wrote in the book, Wild Northern Scenes; Sporting Adventures with the Rifle and the Rod:

“Hurrah! hurrah! We are in the country, the glorious country! Outside of the thronged streets…away from the heated atmosphere of the city, loaded with the smoke and dust, and gasses of furnaces, and the ten thousand manufacturies of villainous smells. We are beyond even the meadows and green fields. We are here alone with nature, surrounded by old primeval things. Tall forest trees, mountain and valley are on the right hand and on the left. Before us, stretching away for miles, is a beautiful lake, its waters calm and placid, giving back the bright heavens, the old woods, the fleecy clouds that drift across the sky, from away down in its quiet depths.”

Centuries later, don’t you feel some of those same emotions when you’re hiking in the forest or camping under the stars? You can feel all that negativity, anxiety, and stress just drain away.

I realize that not everyone can take a week-long vacation to camp in the woods and explore nature trails. Maybe it’s not financially possible or you have physical limitations that prevent you from hiking. However, everyone can insert a little nature into their lives.

If you need a few ideas, here are a few simple and easy ways to incorporate nature into your life as shared in the blog I mentioned above:

BirdFeederStargaze and watch the heavens light up.

Spread a blanket over the grass and take normal activities such as reading, eating a meal, or simply discussing how your day went with hubby outdoors.

Build or buy a bird feeder or a fountain and watch the birds splash, play, and frolic.

Visit a Farmer’s Market.

Watch a sunrise or sunset.

Or if you are healthy and able, take it from nature writers and explorers like John Muir who have known this secret for centuries.

Go take a hike! Of course, I mean that in the nicest way possible!

Images courtesy of marcolm and Paul Brentnall at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Residents of Australia’s Small Towns Happiest According to New Survey

I recently posted a photo of a sign on my Facebook author’s page: “You can’t say good eye might without sounding Australian.”

AustraliaHa, ha. Very true. I just love an Australian accent.

I’ve visited Australia in the past and absolutely loved the place. I even do some writing for Property Women, a group of powerhouse Aussie women who invest in property, and it’s an absolute pleasure to work with them.

I must say, people in general seem incredibly relaxed and happy in the land down under. However, it seems that some people there are happier than others. They just happen to live in the tiniest towns, according to a comprehensive survey by the University of Melbourne.

They interviewed 17,000 people and found that Australians who lived in towns with fewer than 1,000 people are significantly happier and enjoy higher levels of life satisfaction than those who lived in big cities.

Why is that?

Here is what a few people from those small towns had to say in an article written by Jennifer King for Australia Broadcasting Corporation:

  • Mission Beach Tourism chairman Chris Jahnke lives in the small tropical town, Mission Beach Village, Queensland, which boasts a population of 765. He has been a local since 2003, after moving there from Melbourne. It is the sense of community which makes him happy to live there. “Just driving down the road and waving to people, you know,” he says.
  • A sleepy hamlet in the Southern Highlands, Burrawang has a whopping population of 238. Quaint country lanes meander through peaceful, flower-filled gardens with cows grazing nearby. Artist Susan Buret moved from Brisbane to the village in 2009, and loves the solitude and quiet. “There are no street lights so you can see the night sky, the air is fresh and there’s a sense of safety because we all know one another,” she says. “There are no parking hassles, kids can walk to school, there’s more space for your buck so you can have a great studio or a big veggie garden and chooks (that’s Aussie for chickens by the way).”
  • Mataranka has a population of 244 people. Irish nurse Leona Hannigan, moved from London to the center of Australia and feels that it has been one of the best things she has ever done. ‘From my experience in Australia, I notice people in Mataranka are happier,” she says. “They are very welcoming and, because it’s such a small community, you get to know people in the area.”

Australia 2It’s easy to see the attraction. A tranquil and slower way of life, a true sense of community, and lots of nature and fresh air. What’s not to love? I feel calmer just visualizing these places.

The other thing I noticed from the interviews was an appreciation for the most basic, simple, and joyful things in life that we often take for granted. For example, they mentioned a beautiful night sky, a veggie garden, or the pleasure of just waving to other friendly people.

No matter where we live, we can try to slow down and incorporate some of that gratefulness into our lives. Check out my blog, Savor the Day, if you could use some tips on how to do so. 

Eddie Cantor, a vaudeville, film, and radio star famous for his song Makin’ Whoopee, said it well. “Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

Images courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn and Jennifer Ellison at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Moving Forward After Adversity

Have you ever faced the kind of gut-wrenching adversity that crushed your spirit and sank you into despair?

Facing adversity can feel overwhelming like a tug-of-war.

Facing adversity can feel overwhelming like a tug-of-war.

As I’ve written about before, I’ve been a full-time caretaker for my mother who suffered from Lewy Body dementia. On top of that, my son is going through a nasty divorce, my mother-in-law is fighting ovarian cancer, and we recently moved into our new house and had no gas for two weeks.

Even with all that – cold showers and no stove taboot – I was surviving. I tried to follow my own advice in my blogs about allowing adversity to teach me important life lessons and mold me into a better and stronger person. Then life served up another whopper a month ago when my Mom died. Now that stopped me in my tracks.

During her lifetime, my Mom was my best friend, advisor, and soul mate. She made me feel safe and secure and was the root and foundation of my being. True, because of the dementia I have been losing my mother slowly for years. Yet, I still felt a deep sorrow and loss when she passed away. As the reality sunk in, I couldn’t believe she was gone. I felt lost.

Maybe you’re facing some kind of loss or trying to overcome adversity. Maybe like me, you’ve recently lost a loved one. Or perhaps you’re facing a serious illness or going through a nasty divorce.

So, how do you move forward after a life-changing loss? How do you pick up the scattered pieces of your soul and begin living again? Here are five ways to find the strength to go on and make the most out of your life:

Take the Journey

As I’m discovering, there are no short cuts to the grieving process. Don’t fight the emotions. Whether you like it or not, you will be forced to go along for this painful and bumpy ride. I surrendered myself to all the feelings of loss, guilt, sadness, and depression. Accept all the ups and downs. Honor the journey.

Lean on Loved Ones

Although it’s tempting, now is not the time to isolate yourself. Ask and accept help from your loved ones. For example, losing my Mom has made me draw closer to my siblings who are traveling this painful journey by my side. This was my mother’s ultimate wish and she would be pleased that we have come to appreciate each other on a whole new level. If you’re a spiritual person, this is the time to strengthen your relationship with God so he can give you the power to carry on and find inner peace again.

Express Your Feelings

Don’t bottle up your feelings and try to appear strong for everyone. I am an introvert and a fairly private person, but I realize that now is the time to openly discuss my feelings with others. Pouring your heart out in a journal can also be beneficial. Sharing your thoughts with others can help you decide what to do next and figure out how to move forward with your life.

StuckLet It Go

Once you’ve gone through the first three steps, be careful not to get stuck in all the “I should have…” or “I wish…” that often comes with the territory but can interfere with your recovery. Grieving is inevitable, but don’t allow sorrow to become a way of life. The goal is not to wallow forever in negative feelings but to move on, be there for the people who need you, and enjoy life once again.

Take Positive Action

When something bad happens to you, it can actually be a potent and powerful influence in your life. It can clarify your priorities and define your path. Adversity can be a catalyst for making changes. As yourself what kind of action will make you feel happy and fulfilled. Then take one small step each day to move toward that goal. Focusing on the needs of others is also an effective and positive way to move forward.

Moving ForwardEveryone experiences hard knocks in life. No one is immune. But you do have a choice. You can give up. Or you can regain your footing, take a deep breath, and move forward.

You can make a conscious decision to make the most of your life no matter what obstacles or painful experiences come your way. If you make that second choice, you will develop strength and endurance. You will become wiser and teach others by example how they can overcome adversity. You will grow as a person in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

If I can leave you with one positive thought it is that you can survive anything. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I know it deep in my soul.

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Can Vacations Make You Happy?

We’re right smack dab in the middle of summer and chances are that many of you are probably looking forward to a vacation at the beach, in the mountains, or overseas.

Vacation 1But do holidays actually make you happier?

Not to burst your bubble, but not so much, according to one study published in the journal, Applied Research in Quality of Life.

Researchers from the Netherlands questioned about 1500 Dutch adults, 974 of which took a vacation during the 32-week study period. They discovered the biggest shot of happiness actually happens before people left on a trip.

In fact, planning and anticipating the vacation boosted happiness for eight weeks. However, after people get back from their trip, unfortunately, happiness levels dropped back down to original levels. In other words, you’re right back where you started.

No doubt, part of the reason for that is due to the stress of going back to work. That big pile of work waiting for you can be a Debbie Downer for sure. And let’s face it, some trips can be stressful in themselves.

But does that mean you should cancel your plane tickets?

Hang on just a second before you get all depressed. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can maximize the amount of happiness you get from your vacation.

Vacation 2Start Planning Early

This is a no brainer. If your happiness levels are highest before you leave, extend the amount of time you experience that vacation high by planning months in advance.

Do lots of research. Schedule activities and plan which sites you’ll visit. Or try watching a movie or reading a novel set in your planned destination to set the mood. Talk about the trip with family and friends. Listen to music that reminds you of your vacation spot.

Make plans well in advance of your trip and put a bright spot on your horizon.

Take the Stress Out of Your Trip

I always laugh at that scene in City Slickers where Billy Crystal is being dragged by a bull and screams, “I’m on vacation!” Or when he tells Curly, “…if you’re gonna kill me, get on with it; if not, shut the hell up – I’m on vacation.” Sometimes we try too hard. Don’t over-schedule yourself. You’re going on vacation to relax, remember?

And please, leave your lap top at home and tell your business associates you won’t be taking phone calls. And finally, travel with people that will make your vacation a positive experience. That means no inviting that friend who often makes snarky remarks or your Uncle Bob who tells nonstop jokes.

Savor the Memories

In one of my blogs, Spend Money on Experiences not Stuff, I point out that while the initial high of buying things like a new pair of shoes quickly wears off, memories of experiences continue to provide feelings of joy and happiness long after the event is over.

“When one buys an experience, they seem to be buying themselves a story as well,” said Dr. Amit Kumar, a social psychologist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “So one way vacations continue to provide hedonic benefits even after they’ve long since passed is because they live on in the stories we tell.”

The positive memories you’ll have after a vacation are priceless. Extend your pleasure when you get home by looking at photos, sharing them on Facebook and Instagram, and talking to loved ones about your trip. Use souvenirs and photos as home decor. For some great ideas check out this fun blog. I love their idea of creating a memory jar.

So, if you want my advice, ignore the study about vacations. On average, Americans only use up half of their vacation days. How awful! We need to take some lessons from Europe where every country has at least four work weeks of paid vacation. We all need a break from real life.

Trips can strengthen family bonds, improve our long-term health, and bring romance to a marriage. Sixty-two percent of adults say their earliest memories are of family vacations. My Mom recently died and I can tell you, some of my most cherished memories are all the family trips we took together.

So go and create some great memories! If you can’t afford a big vacation, at least schedule some long weekends and apply all of the rules above. A big trip is not in the cards right now for my husband and I, but we’re planning a get-away to Malibu for some kayaking, hiking, and lounging on the beach later this month. I don’t care what the studies say. I can’t wait!

Images courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot and Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Five Happy Snoopy Quotes

As a young teen in the 70s, I fell in love with all things Snoopy. He was just so cool and there was something a bit cute and quirky about the beloved dog. I loved to doodle Snoopy cartoons and, of course, I had my favorite Snoopy stuffie.

Can cartoons give us wisdom? I say yes, especially when it comes to Snoopy!

Can cartoons give us wisdom? I say yes, especially when it comes to Snoopy!

Who am I fooling?

I still love Snoopy. In fact, now that I write a happiness blog, I’m impressed with how much wisdom Charles M. Schultz cartoons contain.

So with that in mind, below I’m sharing some of my favorite Snoopy quotes that support the science of happiness.

Put them into action today!

 

 

  1. “The less you want, the more you love.” The Snoopy quote posted on a cartoon with Snoopy on the roof and Charlie Brown leaning against his dog house is all about gratefulness and being thankful for what you have. Want to become a master of gratitude? Check out some tips in my blog, Start Each Day with a Grateful Heart.
  2. Does chocolate really make you happy? You bet! Charles M. Schultz agreed. One of his         quotes: “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
  3. Change is good. We’re never too old to change. We just need to embrace it. If you don’t       believe me,  check out my blog, Why We Should Embrace Change. That’s why Charles M.       Schultz said, ”What’s the good of living if you don’t try a few things?”
  4. Love the cartoon of Snoopy hugging Charlie Brown with the quote: “I don’t have time to       worry about who doesn’t like me…I’m too busy loving the people who love me.” After all, happiness is all about relationships.
  5. “Happiness is a warm puppy.” You got that right, Mr. Charles. A simple but true statement. No doubt about it, pets can make us happier. Want to learn why?  Check out my blog, Friends with Benefits: How Pets Make Us Happy.

Okay, there you go. Five Snoopy quotes to keep you smiling!  Gotta love Snoopy, right?

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.