I remember when Dali first joined our family, we lived in a downtown area. She was about six months old, maybe close to a year and filled with energy. She loved saying hello to people, all people. She would go up to everyone and greet them. And most people responded in kind, although there were always some who were busy or didn’t want to be bothered, which was no problem for Dali. She would just move on to the next person. Though she is nearing 14 years old, she still goes out of her way to greet people and it is clear how happy this interaction makes her.
Social interaction makes a big difference in our health. It is as important as eating healthy and exercising.
In this seven-minute segment, Shankar Vedantam focuses on the health impacts of social isolation for men, but it has good information for everyone.
Researchers Examine What Social Isolation Can Do To Men’s Health
Take time to connect with other people. Say hello to others on the bus or subway. Or when you’re on line. Strike up a conversation with a bank teller or cashier. I know from my experience, though brief, these interactions can boost my mood.
(Professional Website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com)
Short and insightful video on how to catch the winds of good luck.
- Take some risks and get out of your comfort zone.
- Show appreciation.
- Change your relationship with ideas.
In 11 minutes and 40 seconds Tina Seeling, who teaches innovation and entrepreneurship at Stanford, presents three ideas with vignettes that will inspire you to take steps increase your luck.
(Professional Website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com)
Oskar has a sense of humor.
He will stand at the top of the stairs and push a tennis ball to me at the bottom. When I get it, I throw it back – down the hall – so he has to run and get it. He’ll go back to the top of the stairs and wait for me to sit down on the couch and then he will push the ball down the stairs again, so I hear a thump, thump, thump as the ball bounces down the stairs.
As he grew up in our family, and I would give a chew treat to both him and Dali. He would hide his treat when I wasn’t looking and then give me this look like something happened to his chewy and he didn’t know what it was. I was thinking maybe Dali was taking it so I’d give him another. Until one day, I don’t remember why, I thought to look around the house and saw that he was hiding them. When he realized I was on to him, he stopped his prank.
There are other things he does in the moment and I find myself cracking up. I look at him and he has a big smile on his face. We connect over the moment of playfulness and I feel lighter and joyful.
Laughing boosts the immune system and relieves stress, depression, anxiety, pain and social conflict. Be sure to watch a funny video, movie, spend time with friends who make you laugh, or find other things that make you LOL on a regular basis.
Professional Website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com
I can get very stressed and have strong emotional responses to situations. Over the years, many people have suggested that I meditate or do yoga – neither of which appeals to me. So, I was pleased to come across the work of Ellen Langer, a social psychologist and professor at Harvard University. Her research shows how to be mindful without meditating.
Here are four take-aways from watching her video (below):
- Notice new things. When you do, whether it be about a person, a place you’ve walked before, or whatever you put your attention to, is mindfulness. Intentionally noticing new things is being in the present.
- Make what you are doing new in some way. Bring your style, perspective, interpretation to it. Even subtly. When musicians in an orchestra were asked to play their part, something they do over-and-over again, in a subtly new way, both the musician and the listener enjoyed the piece much more.
- Words and perspective matter. For example, instead of thinking of vacuuming as a chore, think of it as a chance to get exercise. Or, instead of thinking of your friend as “gullible,” think of him as “trusting.” When you change words, you change perspective and you get a change in mindset.
- The mind and body are one. Placebos work because of the mind-body connection. Her video has a lot of cool examples of how our mindset effects our health.
I’ve started noticing new things walks with my dogs. One of the things I’ve noticed is how different each tree is from another. They’ve got their own fingerprint. I enjoy the exercise of noticing new things and it certainly get me to be in the moment. And more relaxed.
If you decide to try some of these lessons, feel free to let me know how it goes.
(Profession Website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com)
Walks with my dogs help me not only to get outside and get exercise, but also savor the pleasant and interesting things around me. Just this morning, I saw a baby fox looking at us from a safe distance. Often, I take a photo of what I am enjoying (unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the fox) which helps me amass a riches of positive feelings. Taking time to stop and smell the roses boosts my positive emotions.
In our daily lives, we are often distracted by our thoughts or tasks at hand, so it is good to purposefully take some time to notice and savor positive things around us. This is one thing we can do to increase our happiness. A trip to the Bahamas or Belize, though awesome, is not needed for us to savor the everyday beauty around us.
If you like, try taking a short walk of about 15 – 20 minutes each day, or however often works for you. Use your different senses to notice some charm in the moment. Feel the cool breeze on your skin. Notice the dramatic cloud formation. Smell the roses. Keeping a written journal or a photographic journal is an additional way to accumulate a treasure chest filled with simple pleasures.
The photos on this blog are some of the visual treats I’ve enjoyed. Most are from walks with my dogs, but some are from walks I’ve taken without Dali and Oskar. Yes, that does happen from time to time. I hope you enjoy.
And if you decide to give this “helpful hint” a try, feel free to let me know how it goes by writing below.
(professional website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com)
I went for a hike on both Saturday and Sunday this past weekend.
Being in nature. Hearing the birds. Getting my body moving.
I returned, energized to work on projects I’d been avoiding.
Want to create change? Pump up your energy.
Connecting with your body in a slow, gentle way is important, but so is experiencing the joy and excitement of movement.
I remember taking a dance class many years ago. We’d learn steps and then dance to pounding music. I left feeling like I could take on the world.
So walk, dance, move and experience the energy within you.
Good for your heart and good for your soul.
(professional website: www.BethLevineCounseling.com)
Stop trying to be happy.
Yep. That’s the key to happiness.
Of course, it’s not as simple as that, but according to Susan David, author of Emotional Agility, people who focus on being happy are less happy over time. Dr. David believes that getting to know ourselves, understanding what is really happening for us, slowing down so we can figure out how we would like to respond to our emotions are skills that help us be happier.
Here are some highlights from an interview Maria Shriver had with Susan David:
“One of the first things is showing up. Instead of trying to push our emotions aside or trying to put on a happy face—what I call bottling and brooding—instead, literally drop any struggle that you have within yourself by ending the battle. Not saying to yourself, “I’m unhappy, but I shouldn’t be unhappy.” Or, “I’m miserable in my job, but at least I’ve got a job.”
Really just open up to the fact that we have a full range of emotions. These emotions have helped us and evolved to enable us to position ourselves effectively in the world.”
Emotions offer us important information regarding what is important to us. In the interview, Dr. David goes on to say:
“It’s important to recognize that our emotions contain data. I’ve never met a mother who’s feeling guilty about her parenting who, at some level, isn’t wanting to be present and connected with her children. Our difficult emotions [point] to the things that we value.
Instead of struggling with whether we should or shouldn’t feel something, it’s important for us to say, “What is the function of this emotion? What is the value? What is this emotion trying to tell me?”
Here’s a link to the interview if you’re interested in reading further:
I know that I am not always happy and positive so reading that my happiness does not depend on me being happy and positive all the time made me happy! I hope it helps you, too.
(professional website: http://www.bethlevinecounseling.com)