Benefits of a Happy Jar

Confession time: I am a Pinterest addict. I blame my good friend, Susie, who discovered the site first and gushed about it. When I first took a peek, I didn’t get the attraction. Then she told me Pinterest could help me promote my blog.

Well, that got me going. However, once I started pinning, it didn’t stop with Baby Boomer Bliss pins. Oh no, soon I was pinning healthy recipes, classy clothes, travel ideas, decorating hints, words of wisdom – well, shamefully the list goes on and on.

happiness jar 2But you do find some interesting things there. One day a pin caught my eye: a photo of a happiness jar.

When I googled “happiness jar,” I discovered that Elizabeth Gilbert, an author best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, started the idea. A couple of years ago, when she launched her Facebook page, Elizabeth posted a photo of her happiness jar.

People loved the idea and it soon took off. Now, you can find all kinds of crafty variations of the happiness jar online. Everything from decorated old Mason jars to beautiful antique bowls can be used for this purpose.

As Elizabeth explains, however, the concept of a happiness jar is an “almost absurdly simple idea.” Use an old pickle jar or Kleenex box. It doesn’t matter. All you have to do at the end of each day is grab a scrap of paper and write down the happiest moment you enjoyed in the last 24 hours and drop it into the jar.

That’s it, pure and simple. But I love this idea.

Another confession: this is not the best time in my life. My Mom, who has good days and bad days with Lewy Body dementia, asked me the other day if I liked sailing and who my mother was – obviously not recognizing me. I could focus on that. Or I could allow the pain and worry I am currently experiencing watching my oldest son and three grandchildren go through a rough and painful divorce overwhelm me.

Or I could take a certain Jedi’s advice who said: “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”

Don’t get me wrong. I am totally guilty of allowing negative things overpower me at times. But then, I remember all the things I’ve written about and all the information I’ve read and researched for my blog. I know deep in my heart that we, as humans, are capable of finding happiness even in our worse moments.

That’s why this notion appeals to me. In less than one minute, you can document that one moment of joy you had – even on a bad day – that you probably would have forgotten all about if you hadn’t taken the time to write it down.

And no, your note doesn’t have to include a life-changing moment like getting married, getting a book published, traveling to Fiji, or having your first grandchild. You’ll discover that most often the happiest moment of your day is the simplest one – like enjoying the warmth of the sun on your face, sipping your first cup of coffee in the quiet of the morning, a loving smile from your spouse, a glance of a hummingbird joyfully taking a bath in a fountain, or indulging in a bite of your favorite candy bar.

No matter what’s happening in our lives, we all have those small moments we can cherish. Instead of unconsciously reliving the moment when a driver ungraciously cut you off in traffic or that rude thing your workmate said, you can relish the simple moment that brought you peace and joy that day.

Not only will this practice help you learn to be grateful for the small, everyday, sweet moments in your life and to be present in the moment, but it can provide comfort and inspiration on those awful days.

All you have to do is sit down and pull out one of your notes. Wrap those small but shining jewels of happiness around your soul and let it provide you with the knowledge that you will have those special moments in the future as well.

As Elizabeth points out, there are no hard and fast rules. Maybe you’ll have a jar you share with your spouse where you deposit notes of ways you make each other happy to strengthen your marriage. Maybe your jar will be a “Blessings of Getting Older” or “Get Me Through Divorce” or “Finding Happiness with Cancer” jar. You might include mementos like theater ticket stubs in your jar. Use whatever works for you during the different stages of your life.

When the jar is full, maybe you’ll sit down at the end of the year and celebrate your happy moments. Or you could make a collage or scrapbook with your notes and include photos. Like I said, whatever works for you.

So, grab that jar or bowl and place it somewhere in sight to remind you to write a quick note listing the little things that make you happy. By recording the best parts of your life, you can change the way you remember each unique day.

Now, that’s empowering!

Five House Paint Colors That Make You Feel Happy

I recently wrote a blog for a client on the top house paint color trends for 2015 which got me thinking. Since it’s been scientifically proven that colors can affect your mood, why not try out some happy mood-brightening colors in your house if you need a quick pick-me-up?

Happy Paint ColorsNeed some ideas for inspiration? Here are a few colors you may want to consider:

Mediterranean Blue

This is one of the new hot colors for 2015 that I mentioned in my article and one of my personal favorites. Tones of blue have been shown to slow down heart rate and lower blood pressure. Pair the color with bright white for some extra impact or combine it with the colors of sand to remind you of a beautiful, calm day at the beach.

Apricot

I love orange as a fun, energizing and cheerful color, but if you’re looking for something a little more subtle, apricot just might be your ticket. I like Glidden’s Apricot Nectar, a joyful shade of orange that is sure to lift your mood every time you walk in the room.

Celery Green

Want to be reminded of soothing gardens and bright green spring leaves? Mimic Mother Nature and evoke the same relaxation and refreshment as going for a stroll in the park. According to a study from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, adults feel happier around the colors green and yellow. “Bring in the colors of sunshine and spring fields,” an article on Health.com suggests. Which brings us to the next mood-boosting color…

Sunny Yellow

See all the bright happy faces on the heading of my blog? There’s a reason these smiley faces are typically a bright yellow. After all, who can resist smiling at a cheerful yellow sunflower? I actually had wallpaper in bright yellow with a touch of turquoise in my bedroom as a teen and loved it. If an intense, in-your-face yellow is not be to your liking, a light or soft yellow smacks of optimism and cheerfulness and will remind you of a bright, sunny day.

Velvety Violet

Visualize lush and lovely lavender fields in France and you’ll instantly feel a sense of calm and contentment. In the middle of a cold, dreary winter, a violet paint color will reflect light well and have a soothing effect. A deeper purple feels rich and regal. Or if you want a truly soothing color, check out Benjamin Moore’s lovely Lavender Mist.

If none of these colors suit you, the options are endless. Remember your home is a living space, so make it lively! Color is a powerful tool that can make your home feel more joyful, vibrant, and blissful.

Are you still reading? Stop. Go get rid of that drab and boring beige, grab a brush and some paint, and splash some of your favorite soulful colors on your walls!

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Free Apps to Help You Get Happy

As the Partidge Family sang, “Come On, Get Happy.” Sometimes, that’s seems easier said than done, right?

Free Happy AppsWith that in mind, several happiness apps are now available to help everyone do the happy dance with Pharrell Williams. Do the apps actually work? Curious, I decided to try one out.

Happify

An app called “Happify” called out to me. For one thing, the name is catchy. Plus, although I want to be happy, I’m also cheap at heart, and the basic version is absolutely free.

Supposedly all it takes is a few minutes a day and you’ll be on the road to breaking free of negative thinking. You’ll learn to cope with stress and develop positive life-changing habits with some fun exercises and games.

According to the app you can strengthen basic happiness skills like: savoring the moment, thanking those who matter, aspiring to meaningful goals, eliminating dead end thinking, empathizing with others, reducing stress and negative thoughts, and improving your relationships.

The app claims 86% of regular users saw happiness improvements in just two months. Continue your journey until it becomes habit. Life will feel better and more fulfilling, they say.

Okay, I’m up for it. Yeah, let’s make 2015 the best year yet. Whatever helps, right?

So I joined. The app starts with a questionnaire with some pretty simple questions about how social you are, do you dwell on the past or worry about the future instead of focusing on the present, how creative you are, etc.

Next, you choose a “track” to get started. As a caregiver, I thought I’d start on the one for reducing stress and anxiety. My first assignment: list three things I’m grateful for – and the kicker that really helped me – explain why.

There were also games. The first one I tried had balloons with words that appeared on screen. You are supposed to click on the positive words to help lift your mood. The test was designed “to help you look for the positive amid the negative thoughts and events in the world around you.” By the way the word “bliss” (as in the name of my blog “Baby Boomer Bliss”) popped up. When I clicked on it, I scored 50 points! Awesome!

Another game was a form of Angry Birds where you knocked out words like stress and anxiety. That game didn’t do much for me.

After you complete the activities, Happify gives you a score. You can compete with yourself or others. What the heck. I’m giving this a shot.

Other free happy apps you might want to try:

 TrackYourHappiness.org

This app is used with your smartphone. You spend about 10 minutes answering questions, then you’re contacted by e-mail or text (you choose how often you want the app to prompt you) and are asked to report what you’re doing and how you’re feeling.

A customized happiness report tracks your moods so you can learn what makes you happy, who makes you happy, and where you feel the happiest.

Happy Habits: Choose Happiness

You’ll start with a test to assess you happiness level, then use a happiness journal to record positive events and create a happy to-do list. The app tracks your progress and an audio feature helps you manage your emotions, learn to de-stress, and develop a more positive outlook on life. In addition, articles are available to help you learn more about happiness.

I’ll let you make up your own minds. There’s many more apps available than the three I listed. Who knows? A happiness app just might prove to be useful to you and provide feedback to brighten your day.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sleep: The Secret Key to Happiness

This time of year everyone is busy trying to keep their New Year’s resolutions to lose those extra 10 pounds and go to the gym, thinking that the perfect body will make them happy.

Guess what? Even if you succeed, it probably won’t make you happy. Previously, I wrote a blog on this subject. As I pointed out in the article, one study found that those who slimmed down were actually 80 percent more likely to be depressed.

Woman SleepingOf course, weight isn’t, nor should be, the source of happiness. Your spirituality, finding purpose in life, your relationships, and your health are much more important than achieving the perfect body. And guess what else can make you happy?

More sleep.

Confession time. Those close to me know that I have some issues with insomnia. But although I’m still not immune to 3:00 a.m. Facebook or Candy Crush sessions, I’m doing better.

Following all the experts’ advice, I’m exercising more, avoiding large meals and alcohol before bedtime, turning off electronic devises at least 30 minutes before going to sleep, avoiding long naps, and sticking to a regular sleep schedule.

Whatever it takes, I’m trying it, because I know the importance of a good night’s sleep.

Psychologists and psychiatrists have been telling us for years that one of the significant and overlooked health problems in the U.S. is that so many Americans are chronically sleep deprived. Very few of us get the recommended eight hours a night that we so desperately need.

A lack of sleep has a profound effect on our health. Sleep deprivation raises the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, increases stress hormones, impairs memory and concentration, and is a large contributor to car accidents. Plus, according to recent studies, a lack of sleep can make you fat.

On top of all that, sleep affects our happiness.

Most of us are aware of these facts and crave a good night’s sleep. So why aren’t we getting enough shut eye?

You name it. Menopause, medications, and old age can all contribute to insomnia. Stress and worry can keep us tossing and turning.

Maybe we’re that workaholic who can’t resist getting off just one more email. Or our favorite TV program is on or we want to read just one more chapter of that book we can’t put down. Electronic devices in the bedroom late at night disrupt our sleep. Or perhaps we drink too much caffeine or alcohol before going to bed.

Time to make some changes, people. If you’re having problems getting to sleep, I just read an article this morning about a breathing technique that might help. Check it out at “How I Learned to Fall Asleep in One Minute.” I’m going to give it a try tonight and see what happens.

So let’s try and do better.  One study from the University of Michigan showed that getting one extra hour of sleep each night would do more for our daily happiness than getting a $60,000 raise annually. Getting an extra 60-90 minutes of sleep each night can not only make us happier but will also strengthen our immune system and improve our memory.

This works the other way around too, by the way. According to a study from Cornell University, having a positive outlook on life is associated with improved sleep quality. In other words, if we get happy, it will help us achieve that quality good night’s sleep we need.

So, you get the gist. Sleep more and be happy. Be happy and sleep more.

Sounds good to me.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


 

Five Worthwhile New Year’s Resolutions

Okay, I understand the compulsion to make New Year’s resolutions. After all, a new year is often seen as a chance for a fresh start. But I’m not a big fan of the typical broad goals people tend to make this time of year.

New Years ResolutionsResolutions like I’m going to lose weight, get organized, learn French, get out of debt, or go to the gym three times a week.

Not that these aren’t all good objectives, but I’m older and wiser and know that two weeks into the new year most of you will go back to your old habits. The time spent contemplating a long list of resolutions is wasted. Worse yet, when all the promises you make to yourself fall by the wayside, it makes you feel bad.

Why put yourself through that? How about making a resolution not to make resolutions anymore?

If that doesn’t work and you still feel compelled to make a list (I don’t have this urge anymore in my 50’s, but I know a lot of you still hang on to this tradition), how about making goals that are worthwhile?

With that in mind, here are five resolutions I think everyone should strive to keep for 2015:

  1. Make someone smile every day. Let someone cut in front of you in the grocery line. Compliment someone. Offer to help an elderly person. Tell people you love how much you appreciate them. Do volunteer work that will make a difference in someone’s life. Send a card or bouquet of flowers to someone who is depressed. Make someone’s wish come true.
  2. Resolve to start each day in a positive way. Make time to pray, meditate on spiritual matters, or for some thoughtful introspection. Even if you are rushed, spare a minute to take several slow, deep breaths to stay in the present moment and begin your day with calmness. See my previous blog on this subject for more ideas on how to start your day right.
  3. Do something on your bucket list this year. Conquer a fear. No excuses. Just do it. I’ve crossed a wide range of things off my list over the years like swimming with dolphins, reading the entire Bible, becoming a full-time minister, learning sign language, volunteering with the deaf, zip lining, writing a book, traveling, learning to scuba dive, and starting a blog. Envision your ideal life and take one step this year to making it a reality.
  4. Learn something new every day. Maybe it’s simply learning a new word to increase your vocabulary. Or maybe you’ll take a class, try a new sport or hobby, or learn to play an instrument. It doesn’t matter what it is, just get out of your rut and try something different that excites you.
  5. Get rid of negative people in your life. You know those frenemies you have that suck all the joy out of your life. Say good-bye. Don’t surround yourself with people you secretly despise. I recently read a great blog on this subject. Check it out. While you’re at it, quit being a people-pleaser and learn to say no.

That should be plenty to keep you busy, but if you need more or different goals, here are a few more ideas: clear the clutter from your life, get outside and enjoy nature more, keep a gratitude journal, think more positively, keep life simple, get more sleep, and live in a spiritual, healthy, and productive way.

In other words, do everything in your power to make this year the best one yet!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jokes That Make You Laugh

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you read my blog, you know that I’m a firm believer that laughter increases happiness and joy and has positive effects on our health and well-being.

You also probably know that I’m a professional writer. One of my latest projects was editing a humorous book for Col. Charles H. Booth, Jr., known to his friends and family as “Chuck.”

Chuck is 95-years-old, although you’d never guess it. Sharp as a tack and full of energy. He survived as a combat pilot during World War II and has seven children, 19 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, four stepchildren, and seven step-grandchildren.

This businessman and philanthropist  has many friends that send him emails full of jokes and decided he would take the best of them and publish his very first book.

Here is one of the many jokes from his book, The World’s Funniest Internet Jokes, especially timely with New Year’s Eve just around the corner:

Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom  at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

ALCOHOL WARNINGS:

Due to the increasing products liability litigation, American liquor manufacturers have accepted the FDA’s suggestion that the following warning labels be placed immediately on all varieties of alcohol containers:

WARNING:  Consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like an idiot.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may make you think you’re whispering when you are not.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to wake up with breath that could knock a buzzard off a dead animal one hundred yards away.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause an influx in the time-space continuum, whereby small (and sometimes large) gaps of time may seem to disappear.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to thay shings like thish.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell the same boring story over and over again until your friends want to assault you.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to think you can hold a logical conversation with members of the opposite sex without spitting.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to roll over in the morning and see something really scary.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, handsomer, and smarter than some really, really big guy named Psycho Bob.

Did Chuck make you chuckle? If you want to read more jokes from his fabulous book, you can check it out on Amazon.

So not it’s your turn. What’s your favorite joke? Please share in the comments below!

 

Why Dancing Makes You Happy

I love to dance. When I was younger and my husband and I were dating, we took ballroom dance lessons and had an absolute blast.

Dancing HappyAlthough we’ve forgotten how to do some of the dances like the rumba and cha cha, we still remember the steps to the swing. At weddings, we’re the couple who rush out every time they play Rock This Town by Stray Cats or Glenn Miller Orchestra’s  In The Mood. And at parties we still get out there and boogie down.

You too should shake your booty as often as possible. Why?

Whether you choose to do ballet, salsa, ballroom, Zumba, tap, or simply rock it out to some fun music, dancing is one of the often overlooked tickets to happiness and good for your health to boot.

Studies show that dancing can help you:

  • Lose weight
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve flexibility
  • Make friends and increase social skills
  • Improve heart and lung health
  • Reduce depression
  • Increase muscle tone and strength
  • Improve balance and posture
  • Increase energy levels
  • Lift your spirits

Need more motivation? For baby boomers like me reading this, according to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, dancing may boost your memory and prevent you from developing dementia as you get older.

Hooray for dancing!

Of course, you should see your doctor for a check-up if you’re older, overweight, or have a medical condition before proceeding.

Once that’s done, what are you waiting for? Even though it’s winter right now, that’s no excuse since dancing is usually performed indoors. So join a dance school or check out what your community offers. Most fitness clubs offer dance classes. Go line dancing. Check out an instructional or fitness dancing DVD at your library or simply dance around the house. Get your heart pumping and keep your body moving. Your butt will thank you later!

If you need a few songs to inspire you, here are five dance songs I can’t resist:

“Shout” by The Isley Brothers

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

“Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift

“1999” by Prince

MC Hammer, “U Can’t Touch This”

Okay, it’s your turn. What kind of dancing do you enjoy and what have you found to be the benefits? What dance songs make you get up out of your chair and start moving? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Quit Feeling Overwhelmed

I’m feeling the big “O.” No, not that Big O. Get your mind out of the gutter. The other one. I’m talking about OVERWHELMED. Without going into detail, my life has pretty much been turned upside down these past few months.

OverwhelmedAre you in the same boat?

Do you feel like you’re being pulled in too many directions at once? Does it seem like there is never enough time to get things done? Do you have people that suck the energy right out of you?  Do you feel like you are drowning?

If the answer to any of those question is yes, you are no doubt feeling overwhelmed just like me.

Synonyms for the word “overwhelm” include crushed, defeated, buried, overcome, and flooded. No one wants those negative feelings, but what can you do if you’re feeling this way?

Doing a bit of research on this subject, many of the articles I came across gave advice I’ve previously dispensed in this blog to overcome stress including:

  • Do things that physically calm you like taking a walk, writing in a journal, listening to calm music, or practicing relaxation exercises and deep breathing.
  • Replace negative thoughts with thoughts that are more productive.
  • Learn to accept your feelings without being controlled by them.
  • If you’re stressed about getting something done, often the simple step of taking action can help alleviate some of the anxiety.
  • Delegate responsibilities whenever possible.

All good ideas. What else can you do?

Something in an article, Five Ways to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed, written by Marcus Buckingham, author of Find Your Strongest Life, and published on the Best Health Magazine site, struck a chord with me.

“Your feelings of being overwhelmed don’t spring from having too much on your plate, but from having too little of what strengthens you,” he wrote.

Yes!

That statement led me to examine what strengthens me. Prayer, meditating on the Bible, and attending religious services. My marriage. My children and grandchildren. Making a positive difference in other people’s lives. Exercising and being physically fit. Writing.

The article suggests listing the activities you love and look forward to the most and make sure they are at the top of your list of things to do. Then celebrate the activities afterwards.

This made sense to me. Although we don’t have the freedom to travel now, my husband and I were fortunate to have traveled extensively in the past. These trips gave us something to look forward to for weeks or months. Then, after we got home and sorted through all the photos, we relived all the great moments. In fact, the vacation provided wonderful memories for years to come.

Why not apply that to smaller activities that give you joy and strength? Look forward to, celebrate, and cherish the memories of special moments such as a night out with a loved one, making someone smile, a day at the park with the grandchildren, a hug from a friend, or a beautiful sunset.

As the article so aptly put: “Cradling these activities will give you strength and resilience to get through everything else.”

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Top 10 Movies to Make You Feel Happy

Sometimes when you’re feeling down, there’s no better cure than a favorite, classic, make-you-smile movie.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My taste in movies has changed over the years. As a teen, I grew up on movies like Jaws, Poseidon Adventure, and Alien and couldn’t get enough of those adrenaline pumping thrillers – that are actually tame by today’s standards.

Although I still enjoy an adventurous sci-fi movie, I shy away from all those violent movies that mimic today’s harsh realities. Give me an old-fashioned, nostalgic, feel-good movie or a comedy that makes me laugh out loud instead.

In an earlier blog, I listed my favorite 15 songs that make me feel happy along with the benefits of music if you want to check it out. Today, I’ll share my list of top 10 movies that never fail to chase the blues away and lighten the day:

1.       Captain Ron

Captain RonMaybe it’s because my husband and I love to sail, but this movie never fails to crack us up.  The funny Martin Short plays the main character who inherits a sailboat formerly owned by Clark Gable. The family can make money on the boat if they sail it from a Caribbean island and deliver the relic in good condition to a yacht broker in Miami. His wife is against the idea until their 16-year-old airhead daughter announces her engagement. So off they go with crazy, one-eyed Captain Ron, played by Kurt Russell, guiding their trip. Of course, hilarity and family bonding ensues.

2.       The Shawshank Redemption

shawshank redemptionBased on a Stephen King novella, this movie features the wonderfully talented Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The touching and inspiring tale is based on an innocent man, Andy, sentenced for life for the murder of his wife and her lover. Although he is introduced to the harsh realities of prison early on, Andy never gives up. He is able to bring dignity and self-worth to some of the other inmates and manages to find small moments of serenity and gratitude even in dire circumstances. Most inspiring of all, this resilient man never, never gives up hope.

3.       The Blind Side

blindsideWho doesn’t love this heartwarming true story of a young homeless football player who is able to miraculously turn his life around with the help of Leigh Anne Tuohy. Brilliantly played by Oscar winner Sandra Bullock, Leigh Anne finds Big Mike wandering aimlessly without a coat on a cold night and becomes his strongest supporter. The film shows what is possible when you open up your heart to generously help someone in need and what can be accomplished when someone wholeheartedly believes in you.

4.       Up

upIn ode to my grandchildren, I’m including an animated film that is funny and wonderfully heart touching. This cartoon features a grumpy old widower who rediscovers his joy in life with the help of an earnest kid that won’t give up on him and a lovable talking dog. This beautifully written story proves that you’re never too old to take a risk and it’s never too late to have an exciting adventure. In fact, a kid’s movie is the perfect way to get in touch with your inner child and forget life’s troubles. Some of my other favorites include Despicable Me, Toy Story, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Shrek, and Mary Poppins.

 5.       Overboard

overboardA beautiful, snobby, and cruel heiress named Joanna (Goldie Hawn), screws over a widowed carpenter with four kids named Dean (Kurt Russell). When Joanna falls overboard and suffers from amnesia, her husband takes advantage of the situation to rid himself of his demanding wife while Dean plots revenge and claims her as his wife. Watching the spoiled Joanna deal with four rowdy boys living in a shack convinced by Dean that previously she was a fat slut who ”jumped his bones” the first night they met in the parking lot of a Seven-Eleven tickles my funny bone every time. “I don’t belong here, I feel it, don’t you think I feel it?” she asks at one point. “I can’t do any of these vile things and I wouldn’t WANT to. Oh, my life is like death. My children are the spawn of hell, and you’re the devil.” Of course, it all has a happy ending. Fun stuff.

6.       The Sound of Music

sound of musicNow it’s time to share my all-time favorite movie as a child. I must have driven my Mom crazy singing Edelweiss and My Favorite Things from this enchanting classic. Julie Andrews was my idol. The romance between the stern Captain and the free-spirited Maria, their daring escape from the Nazis, along with all those adorable children mesmerized me. To this day, whenever I see this playing on TV, I can’t resist watching.

7.       The Family Man

family manCritics called this movie predictable, but I loved the message. The film reminded me of Parenthood which also helps us appreciate the importance of family.  Nicolas Cage plays a materialistic, self-involved investment broker who wakes up to find himself in an alternative reality married to his college sweetheart along with a couple of kids. At first he is horrified that his sports car has been exchanged for a mini-van. Then the whole family thing begins to grow on him. This movie asks the question – are you living a life consistent with your values?

8.       Blazing Saddles

blazing saddlesMel Brook’s silly spoof of Westerns about a black sheriff (Cleavon Little) and his sidekick (Gene Wilder) coming to an all-white town is a classic comedy from the 70s. Add several eccentric characters including Madeline Kahn mimicking Marlene Deitrich, a bigoted preacher, a lecherous governor played by Brooks himself, and an Indian chief who speaks Yiddish to the mix. Yes, this movies is in bad taste, vulgar, crude, and absolutely scandalous with its racial humor, but it’s also funny! If you want to watch another hilarious slapstick spoof that changed movies forever, try Airplane!

9.       You’ve Got Mail

you've got mailIf you’re in the mood for a romantic feel-good comedy, you can’t go wrong with this update of The Shop Around the Corner (1940). This film has a couple of my favorite actors in their heyday – Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan – and is directed by the talented Nora Ephron. Maybe it’s because I love bookstores or maybe it’s the innocent romance, but I find this movie delightful. By the way, I’m also a sucker for Sleepless in Seattle.

10.   Arsenic and Old Lace

arsenicMy Mom introduced me to old 1940s movies as a kid and this one is hysterical. Okay, the premise doesn’t sound funny since it’s about two old aunts who have a nasty little habit of killing single old men. But with Raymond Massy playing the escaped murderer and his cousin who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and best of all, Cary Grant trying to clean up the sordid affair as he learns his family is insane on his wedding day – and you have some funny stuff.  Another movie that never fails to make me laugh is Auntie Mame (1958). Love it!

So there you go. I’ve shared some of my favorites, but I’d love to hear what movies make you instantly feel better. What movies did I forget to include in my list? Please share your choices in the comments below!

Five Reasons You May Be Unhappy

Just as important as finding out what makes you happy is knowing what makes you unhappy.

Reasons you are unhappyAlthough circumstances can zap your joy, in the end, it is your attitude, thinking, and behavior that dictates whether you are happy or unhappy.

Like Marcus Aurelius wisely said, “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

With that in mind, the following are five destructive habits and negative attitudes that can get in the way of your happiness. I’ve also included a few thoughts on how to overcome these behaviors and thinking patterns so you can retain your joy even during difficult times.

So here we go:

You Hate Change

I’ve lived half a century now. When you’re my age, it’s easy to find your comfort zone and stay there. Keep in mind though that boredom can lead to unhappiness. Click here to read my article on why it’s so important to embrace change.

I’m not saying you have to go sky diving or swim with the sharks. However, don’t be afraid to try new things. Take a weekend trip to somewhere you’ve never visited before, try a new food, listen to different music, or learn a new language.

Don’t settle either. Happy people get themselves out of ruts and those same-o boring routines and make the necessary changes to meet their ever-changing needs, wants, and goals. In other words, they start heading in the direction they want go.

You Worry Too Much

Okay, confession time. I am so guilty of this one.

Even though I know worrying doesn’t solve problems or stop something bad from happening. Even though I know my energy would be much better spent changing what I can control and letting everything else go. Still, I have a tendency to overthink situations and feel anxious over things I can’t control.

So what do I do when I catch myself stressing out? Meditate on spiritual matters, try to get enough rest and sleep, write in my journal, do some Pilates, or read a book. I ask myself, what’s the worst thing that can happen? If the answer isn’t death, I force myself to move on.

For some more tips, check out my past blogs, Five Ways to Manage Stress, Five Ways to Quit Overthinking,  Five Easy Relaxation Exercises, and Five Ways to Stop Worrying.

You Hold Grudges

There’s a great quote by Mark Twain: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Anger, bitterness, and resentment are toxic. Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. For all you know, the person you’re so angry with could be having the time of their life without giving you a second thought while you waste all your time stewing in negative energy.

As I wrote in my article, The Value of Forgiveness, it is only through forgiveness that you will find peace, freedom, empowerment, and happiness.

You Are a Perfectionist

When I was younger, this was a real problem. Although I’m much better at being happy with “good enough,” every once in a while I catch myself wanting life to be perfect. Which, of course, it isn’t! Social media can make this problem worse if you constantly compare yourself to everyone else who is bragging about their jobs, weight losses, or families.

Not only does perfectionism lead to frustration because it is unattainable but it is also a bad habit that contributes to low self-esteem.

So let go of perfectionism. Learn to focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Quit worrying about what other people think. Don’t take life and yourself so seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself and the absurdity of life. In other words, lighten up!

You Hang Around Negative People

Do you have people in your life that literally drag you down with their negativity? Maybe they are selfish, vicious gossipers, complainers, manipulative, overly dependent, or just plain miserable people.

What can you do?

Walk away. Yes, I mean it! Detox your life of negative people. True, they may become angry or act like a victim at first, but you must stick to your guns for your own emotional well-being. Don’t beat around the bush or defend yourself; be consistent and firm. It’s okay to fire your friends if the relationship is not working anymore.

Perhaps you can’t completely eliminate some of the negative people in your life. In that case, establish boundaries for your own sanity. Don’t be afraid to let them know when they cross them. Limit your time with them as much as possible.

So there you go. Do any of these five habits ring a bell? If so, make the necessary changes and find the joy and balance in life that you deserve.

 Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.