Happy-U Bloggity Blog

Holistic Approach to Positive Psychology & Yoga

Why Some People Are Consistently Lucky

From The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor:

Researcher Richard Wiseman set out to discover why some of us seem to be consistently lucky, while others can’t buy a break. As you may have guessed, it turns out there’s no such thing—in a scientific sense, at least – as luck. The only difference (and it’s a big one) is whether or not people THINK they are lucky—in essence, whether they expect good or bad things to happen.

Wiseman asked volunteers to read through a newspaper and count how many photos were in it. The people who claimed to be lucky took mere seconds to accomplish this task, while the unlucky ones took an average of two minutes. Why? Well, on the second page of the newspaper, a very large message read: “Stop counting, there are 43 photos in this newspaper.” The answer, in short, was plain as day, but the unlucky people were far more likely to miss it, while the luck people tended to see it. As an added bonus, halfway through the newspaper was another message that read, “Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.”

The people who had claimed to be unlucky in life looked right past this opportunity. They were incapable of seeing what was so clear to others, and their performance (and wallets) suffered because of it. The extraordinary thing about Wiseman’s study is that the SAME possibility for huge reward was latent in everyone’s environment—it was just a matter of whether or not they picked it up.

Think of the consequences this has on your career success, which is almost entirely predicated on your ability to spot and then capitalize on opportunities. The difference between people who capitalize on these chances and those who watch them pass by (or miss them entirely) is all a matter of focus. When someone is stuck in a spiral of negativity, his brain is literally incapable of seeing these opportunities. But armed with positivity, the brain stays open to possibility. 

So… Food for thought: if you were a participant in that experiment, would you have seen the $250 ad? How open are YOU to opportunities and possibilities? Today, keep your eyes OPEN and see what you see… The possibilities might astound you.

This post is contains an excerpt from The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor—an excellent book based on Harvard’s famed Happiness Course on Positive Psychology. Check it out up top if you’re interested in more 🙂 

 

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I did it!!! My first 5K :)

About 6 weeks ago, I set a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) for myself on this Bloggity Blog… to run my first ever 5K race. (See that post HERE) In that post, you can see what I set myself up to do, and guess what? (In case the name of this post and the photos didn’t already give it away) I DID IT!

Now I KNOW for many of you out there a 5K is nothin’. No biggie. Just 3.2 miles of running. Whatevs.

Please understand, I am not like you. This 5K was a B F’n D for me. For real. Before June 1st of this year, I could have counted on one hand all the times I’d attempted running in my life, and I hated it every single time. I sucked at it, actually. And I, like most people, only really like doing things I’m good at 😉

So this was a stretch… physically, mentally, energetically, all of it.

But another thing I like doing (other than being awesome at things) is surprising myself. So I decided to learn a new skill (called Chi Running), join a Run Club (at The Little Yoga Studio, where I learned about Chi Running), share the experience with some peeps, create a training schedule, and then just do it.

And I did. The 5K was yesterday. And I finished. AND I ran the whole time. Without walking once. Which was really the hairiest part of the goal for myself. And I am really flippin’ proud 🙂

So I thought I’d share the play-by-play via the sweet, motivational playlist I created for the event.

K’s 5K KickAss Playlist/ Inner Monologue Moments

1. Baba O’Reilly, by the Who — The race starts, I press play, and hear those amazing opening synth sounds of Baba O’Reilly. I mean, think about how that song starts… All the potential, all the build-up, it’s all there. I’m on fire in these first few minutes before I silently sing Teenage Wasteland, & probably make some kind of weird rocker face as a run.

2. Marchin’ On, by One Republic f. Timbaland — Still marchin’ on, feeling enthused, trying not to think about the fact that I’ve only been running for about 6 minutes. Gulp.

3. Not for Long, by honeyhoney — Okay, we’re making our first loopty loop. It looks like we could just cut through the cones and go straight rather than circle around just to add length to the path. WTF. That’s cruel. But NO, Karson, you will not cheat, you will run the path. My first mental weakness is creeping on me… But then a little girl zips by me, so I’m re-motivated to pick it up and shake it off. If an 8 year old can do it, I can do it. I leap over the first mile marker.

4. Cobrastyle, by Teddybears — Okay, thank God, this song picks things up for me. I zone into the beat, and may or may not do a few fist pumps for emphasis. I go back and forth between feeling like a am a total rockstar and hating everything & wanting to throw up. I am amazed at how quickly I can go between these two feelings.

5. Keep the Car Running, by Arcade Fire — I see a homeless man, and dig deep for new motivation. I am running because I can. I am running, and that guy cannot, so I’m running for the homeless. I’m running because I have two legs. I’m running because I’m in good shape. I’m running because I want to make myself proud. This list of “I’m running because…” goes on through this whole song, because my mind wants me to walk a bit. But I run instead, because I can.

6. Cheap Kicks, by The Noisettes — This song is cool & sexy, so I do a huge grand jete leap over the mile 2 marker. Then I start thinking about writing that in this blog, and how many people would know what a grand jete is.

7. Hurricane Drunk, by Florence & the Machine — I blacked out. I remember nothing of this song. Not sure if that was good or bad sign. But I’m alive, so I’m guessing it was good.

8. Beautiful, by G.Love & Tristan PrettymanI think I might need to walk for a minute. No one has to know. I’m not running with anyone who knows me, and it’ll just be for a minute while I catch my breath. No one will ever know. But I’ll know. Dammit. And then I see the 3 mile marker up ahead and realize I’m so close that there’s no effin’ way I’m walking now. I prepare for my third leap across the 3 mile marker.

9. End of the Line, by the Traveling WillburysNo really, I might seriously need to walk now. Why the hell did I do this? People who do marathons are freaks of nature. Thank God this isn’t a marathon. It’s only a 5K, and NOW I CAN SEE THE YELLOW FINISH LINE!! Oh my God, I’m almost there. Sing to me, Travelling Willburys, it’s the End of the Line, and it’s Allllll-riiiiight….. and someone on a microphone goes “Bring it home, 727!” and I do that old school raise the roof thing with my hands, and I hurdle over the finish line. And I’m done. My face is hot, I’m dripping with sweat, and I can feel my pulse in my entire body. Holy crykie. This is crazy. I just ran a 5K. And it took 33:00 on the dot. Yep, I fuckin’ rock.

And I walk around through the crowds, accept a bottled water, a banana, and a victory T-shirt, and smile to myself. Because I accomplished something that was HARD for me. And I’m glad. If it was easy, it wouldn’t have felt so dang good to have succeeded. It was totally challenging, and I surprised myself, and discovered I’m stronger than I thought. And I am grateful.

Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement, especially my family, my husband, & my run coach, Deborah, who knew how big of a personal triumph this was for me. So before I ask myself, NOW WHAT?, I’m just gonna revel in this for a day or two. While I sit in an epsom salt bath and soak.

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What Good Days Have In Common

As a positive psychology junkie, I’m always fascinated by what makes life worth living. By how people can and do live their very best lives and what we can all do to be more FULFILLED on a daily basis.

Today, I’m going to share with you what scientific studies have discovered about the daily good life. That is, they have found that GOOD DAYS HAVE COMMON FEATURES.

Good days have the following things in common:

1. We feel autonomous– That is, the best days occur when we are doing what we want to do, love to do, and are getting to choose how we spend our time. (So it’s no wonder Saturdays and Sundays are usually our favorite days of the week!)

2. We feel competent– Days feel really good when we get to do what we’re good at, and furthermore, when we feel like we’ve accomplished something successfully.

3. We feel connected to others– It can’t be understated that RELATIONSHIPS are one of the top factors of life satisfaction and overall feelings of “happiness”. This goes beyond just romantic relationships, it’s about connecting with other human beings through laughter, talk, shared experience, or other forms of communication.

So now, we work backwards, to see how to inject just a little more “goodness” into our day, starting right now!

You might be saying, Well Karson, I’m at work, and can’t exactly choose my schedule, because if I could, I’d be at the beach instead of in this cubicle. 

To that I would say, Well, my friend, you CAN choose how you spend your lunch hour, right? You CAN choose to send a quick email to a friend to say you’re thinking of them. You CAN choose to walk around the block on a short break and feel the sun on your face, right? You can CHOOSE lots of things. So stop sassing me and CHOOSE something that makes you happy! 🙂 Okay, so that’s #1.

Next, there are lots of things we’re all good at. If you’re working today, maybe you appreciate what nice handwriting you have, or how good of a communicator you are. Maybe you notice that you can type really fast or you have the ability to make people feel at ease. Give yourself credit for the myriad things your good at, and appreciate them. That’s #2.

And finally, mindfully interact with someone today. Unless you’re a hermit, you’re going to be engaged with someone today, so see if you can look them in the eyes. Make a connection. Share a laugh. Give a compliment. Accept a compliment. Express your gratitude. Super simple:) Now, you’ve got #3.

So it would appear, wouldn’t it, that if you take to heart these three commonalities of GOOD DAYS, every day has a good day hidden in it somewhere. It’s just your job to acknowledge it! BAM!

So have fun making this day an awesome one, full of appreciation, wonder, and smiles. You can’t always control your circumstances, but you CAN always control how you respond.

Have fun on the journey today, y’all, and have a GREAT DAY 🙂

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Willpower: Eat that Frog!

Ever wonder why your willpower sucks late at night? Why you can stick to your diet all day, but then give in to temptation once the sun goes down? How about that intention to go to the gym or an evening yoga class at night after work, only to have that time come around and it’s the last thing you feel like doing. Research shows that the majority of impulse crimes happen after 11:00pm, and gambling, alcohol abuse, and drug use also tend to come about later in the day.

The reason for this goes beyond just being tired at the end of the day. It turns out, we only have a certain amount of willpower stored up each day, and like a muscle, it can become fatigued with overuse. This is fascinating to me! It means that if you spend all day resisting temptations, forcing yourself to check things off your list, battling with yourself to get things done, by the end of the day, you’ve used your allotted willpower and have none left!

So, what can we do with this information? We can get the important stuff done in the MORNING! According to one of the dozen books I’m devouring at the moment, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, by Laura Vanderkam, “tasks that require self-discipline are simply easier to do while the day in young.”

According to the studies, people who are serious about exercise do it in the mornings. People who write daily blogs (like me) get it done first thing, so the day doesn’t get in the way and cause it to fall to the bottom of the list. Brian Tracy wrote a great & fun little book about time management called, Eat that Frog, in which he says you always want to eat the biggest frog first to get it out of the way. I love this advice and use it all the time when I have a plateful of ugly frogs (to-do lists, e-mails to write, calls to make, etc.). I have truly found that tackling the biggest, most important ones first (even though I often don’t want to) has had an immense effect on the productivity of my entire day.

In Vanderkam’s book, she says,

“In the morning, after a decent night’s sleep, the supply of willpower is fresh. We’re more inclined to be optimistic; one analysis of of Twitter feeds from around the world found that people are more likely to use words like “awesome” and “super” between 6:00 and 9:00am than at other times of the day. In these early hours, we have enough willpower and energy to tackle things that require internal motivation, things the outside world does not immediately demand or reward.”

This is the argument for scheduling important priorities first. For being mindful with your time management. For meditating BEFORE you get caught up in your morning emails. And so on…

Let me just finish by saying that creating & sticking to my morning routine has been perhaps the single most beneficial choice I’ve made for myself with regard to my daily happiness. 

So think about it… and know you’re not weak or lame if your willpower is stinky at the end of the day, you’re human! So use what you know and make better choices. Easy peasy, right? You can do it 🙂 And if you need a coach, let me know… I’m always in your corner 🙂

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Clipping it Back

When my mom was here last week, she gave me a lesson on gardening. Mom has always had a beautifully green thumb for as long as I remember, and me? Well, let’s just say I’m still learning…

So she showed me how when branches or blooms die, the energy from the roots keeps going to the dead parts. In turn, the entire plant suffers. However, if you clip back the ailing parts, the entire plant can come back to life & prosper because its energy can go to the entire entity, not just the sick part. And voila! You’ve saved your bougainvillea! (or such as it were in my case)

I haven’t stopped thinking about that lesson ever since…

How often do we focus all our attention on the one part of our life (or body or relationship or job) that’s ailing or dead or painful or withered, just to have it suck up all our energy and cause us to suffer?

We need to clip it back.

Energy flows where attention goes. If you focus all your energy on what’s WRONG, the parts that are right fade into the background. If you focus on what’s BLOOMING, you’ll bloom even bigger and brighter than before.

So don’t be afraid. Just shed your dead leaves and focus on the new growth. It’s about moving forward, and really living.

And you were meant to bloom 🙂

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I’m going to skip!

One of my foundation books– or happiness manuals, as I sometimes call them– is Ask & It Is Given by Abraham-Hicks. They are groundbreakers in the realm of manifestation and the Law of Attraction, and their books & workshops have been monumental in my discovery of the power of vibration & the laws of the universe. I subscribe to their daily e-mail, which is always a quote from one of their workshops from the past 10 years, and it almost always strikes something deep inside me. I love their work because it is so clear and functional. It’s not just theoretical, it’s practical. And when I line myself up with their guidance, I truly feel like I’m connected to my highest self.

This was today’s quote, and I just loved it, so I had to pass it on…

I’m going to be happy. I’m going to skip. I’m going to be glad. I’m going to smile a lot. I’m going to be easy. I’m going to count my blessings. I’m going to look for reasons to feel good. I’m going to dig up positive things from the past. I’m going to look for positive things where I stand. I’m going to look for positive things in the future. It is my natural state to be a happy person. It’s natural for me to love and to laugh. This is what is most natural for me. I am a happy person! — Abraham

If you’re interested in learning more about Abraham-Hicks, check out our Happy-U Library 🙂

Have a great day!! XO

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Today I get to…

When you wake up in the morning, you probably start thinking of all things you have to do– your obligations, your to-do lists, your work, your household responsibilities.

What if you started your day saying to yourself “Today, I get to _______” instead of “Today, I have to _____”? One little word change can make all the difference…

For example, when my husband asks me what I’m going to be doing that day, I often find myself saying things like, “Well, I have to walk Sophie, then I have to get to La Jolla to teach a class. I have two coaching calls and I HAVE to get a blog post in there somewhere.” Now please understand, I’m not saying this in any sort of whiney voice or with any perceived negative connotation at all. I’m just noticing the words I use. It’s a habit.

What a change in vibration it would be if instead I said, “Well, I get to walk to the Furry Happiness Guru (subtext: in this beautiful beach town in which I live), then I get to teach a yoga class (subtext: and make a group of people feel better than they did before they saw me). After that, I get to work with two different clients, and help them work toward some amazing goals (subtext: and be a part of someone moving toward a happier, more fulfilling life), and of course, I get to start my day by writing whatever I want in my Bloggity Blog (subtext: because I have created this outlet for myself so I can be creative and silly and thoughtful every day!).

Get the drift?

You can do this no matter WHAT you GET to do today. It just might take a little practice.

The grocery store bagger GETS to brighten a person’s day with a smile. The hotel desk agent GETS to help people create memories on their honeymoons and vacations. The stay-at-home mom GETS to take care of the house for her family. The student writing a paper GETS to expand his mind and focus on moving toward his degree.

Can you try it? What do YOU get to do today?

I bet it’s a lot awesomer than what you HAVE to do today 🙂

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Picture it…

Picture it… San Diego, 2012.

I have just spent 45 minutes completing a near-perfect blog post. A post fuller than usual, making up for the several days off I’ve taken this week. The photos are in place, the BOLD and ITALIC buttons have been put to use in the all the right spots. The jokes are peppered throughout for flavor, and the message is from the heart. All that’s left to do is hit PUBLISH.

Publish. Publish, I said. Ahem, excuse me, MacBook Pro, I said, Publish please.

And then…
Crash. My web-building program disappears and leaves in its place some ugly, colorless box full of codes, telling me it has “unexpectedly quit.” Well at least there’s that… At least it hadn’t pre-meditated this disappearing act. Yet, somehow I am not comforted.

It’s gotta be there… It autosaves, right?? This can’t be, the universe would have put this sweet-ass post in my brain, have me write it, and then rip it from my fingers, would it?

I reboot. I reopen.

The “most recent post” clear as day, is the Curvy Path to Success.

Bastard! That’s the one I wrote on Thursday! About there being highs and lows and not to give up when the lows happen.

Hmm… whoa, is that for me?, I wonder, as I contemplate what would happen if I actually “unexpectedly quit”  holding this laptop and smashed it on the floor.

But within about 5 seconds– I shit you not, only 5 seconds– I was overcome with this sense that THAT had not meant to be my post for the day. There was something else. Something else needed to be heard, and this was how the Universe was gonna let me know. And so I let it go. I let it go faster than I’ve ever done in these kinds of situations before. I didn’t even let that heat creep up in my chest. I contemplated my options (which def included me doing a Lucille-Ball-style grape stomping dance on my computer), but I didn’t get emotionally caught up in them. WHOA! That may be a first… This meditating thing is really working!

So here you have it, the post that was meant to be sent. For whatever the reason. I may still rewrite the original one at some point, but only when it feels right. Because that’s the way this crazy Universe works. And I trust the process 🙂

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The Curvy Path to Success

We think the path to success looks like this:

When in fact, it looks like this:

The bottom of the curves might be things like ice cream overdose, stepping in doodie, or getting laid off. The top parts might be a promotion, a romantic rendezvous, or running your first 5K (ahem).

Whatever the highs and lows are, you’re ALWAYS moving up, so DON’T QUIT!

The lows give birth to the highs, and the highs are only high as compared to the lows.

So enjoy your journey, our sweet friends… It’s one helluva ride 🙂

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Noticing vs. Participating

First of all, if you haven’t read the post my mom wrote on Monday for my birthday, READ IT NOW. There are so many things I love about it (and not just because it’s about me :)), so go on, read it, and then come back…

—-

Wasn’t that awesome?!? Okay, now that I’ve bossed you around this morning (I AM another year older now, you know), I thought I’d share a simple observation I had yesterday morning during my walk with the Furry Happiness Guru.

I’ve gotten really good at noticing things. This is not a skill I take for granted. It’s something I’ve been practicing, and I think it’s a crucial element for finding happiness. Noticing things like the beauty of the flowers as I walk by them, the shapes of the clouds, the way FHG cocks her head to the side when she wants me to throw her the ball. I also notice deeper things too… The way my husband shows me he loves me beyond just telling me in words. The way some of my business relationships are out of balance. The way I feel when I take a nap versus when I don’t.

But it occurred to me yesterday, that it’s not enough to just notice. I walk by the flowers and I think to myself, “Oh how pretty they are today”, but I don’t stop and breathe them in. So yesterday, I backpeddled. I went back, I looked at the flowers up close, closed my eyes, and inhaled their scent. Suddenly, it was a moment of presence. A moment of full engagement in the moment, rather than just a noticing of something pretty that was independent of me and my experience. I got to participate. And it took 30 whole seconds. Wow.

So today, I invite you to contemplate how much you NOTICE, but beyond that, how much you PARTICIPATE. If you notice your partner does something loving for you, can you really look him or her in the eye and participate in that moment, rather than just notice it mentally and keep score? If you sense a snarky attitude coming from your boss when he tells you what to do, can you participate MORE fully in that moment to decide how you REALLY want to be treated, rather than just being pissed at him? Can you fully engage in the myriad moments all around you, rather than feel like a prisoner of your circumstances?

Well, I know you CAN, but will you? Will I? I hope so… That’s my goal for today 🙂

See you on the other side… Mwah!

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