Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Monday, August 5, 2013

Eating Tacos And Other Moments To Make You Happier!

I had the great fortune of hearing Nataly Kogan, founder and CEO of Happier,  speak at BlogHer 2013 a week and a half ago, where she talked about people and their capacity for happiness.  She believes there is no such thing as a state of happiness, but rather a set of individual moments strung together that defines happiness.  As I strive to live the good life, finding joy in each moment while trying to live and appreciate as many of those moments as possible, Nataly's philosophy really resonated with me.

I was excited to learn she created an app to help people string their moments together.  As Nataly shared, research shows that people who write down a few things each day they are grateful for report being more optimistic and less stressed (click here for said research!)  This colorful, fun app allows you to type in these moments (with prompts like "Nice day out?" and "Did your kids make you smile?") and add pictures if you want.  You can then categorize them into "happy" buckets and share them with others or keep private for yourself.  It is like an online, photo gratitude journal.  I love it and am having so much fun with it.  I even find myself logging in to review old happy posts I have added, or read what other people are doing that makes them happier.

As I got started with this app, I realized that I have a lot of happy moments.  It got me thinking about how I fit in all this "happy" stuff with such a busy, overwhelmed, full to brim life.  I have discovered that it's pretty easy and probably comes naturally to most of us without even realizing it.  As far as I can analyze, here's my formula for happier moments.

  • Plan happy moments - Subconsciously, I am always planning the next happy moment.  I am a gal who likes to look to the future - always have been, and I guess I always will be.  I like to have things to look forward to.  I plan things into every week (daily if I can) that I am excited about doing.  These can be simple like blocking off time to scrapbook, or having tacos with my family... to something more elaborate like tickets to see my favorite artist, or a special trip.

  • Schedule in happiness - That's right - put it in your calendar.  Don't talk about "I'll be happier when..."  Put that "when" into your calendar now!  I know that journaling and meditating first thing in the morning make me happier during the rest of my day.  Guess what I do?  I block that time off in my planner and keep it sacred for that purpose.  

  • Eat your way to happiness - For me, food and wine are always on my happy list.  I plan a special lunch and/or dinner (or at least, good food that I look forward to eating) weekly.  I savor the meal and really enjoy it.  It really does make me happier.

  • Share happiness - I crave human contact.  As a writer, I can get quite isolated and stuck in my "zone" away from others.  I need to make sure I make time to be around people in meaningful ways throughout my week to balance that out.  To help me achieve that, I am in a book club and other groups that meet periodically.  I also try to schedule a lunch or coffee date with a friend or colleague once a week to get me out of my "shell."

  • Make happiness a routine - This sounds simple, but you'd be surprised.  If you really go inward and identify what makes you happy, you'll notice some patterns that come up.  For example, I mentioned the journaling and meditation above.  Exercise is another one for me.  These are all things that are part of my daily routine.  Try to put your patterns into regularity in your life and you'll feel the happy boost too.

  • Start and end the day with happiness - You are guaranteed a great day and great sleep when you do this.  It can be something as simple as cup of green tea in a special cup or a favorite song or prayer you recite...maybe a glance out the window at the stars...or a deep breath of fresh air outside on your balcony.  Pick something and be happier!

Try out this new app - available for free in iTunes - and let me know what you think!