I’m writing my next book, Better Than Before, about how we make and break habits – an issue very relevant to happiness.
Each week, I post a before-and-after story submitted by a reader, about how he or she successfully changed a habit. This way we can all learn from each other.
by Brandi-Ann Uyemura, M.A.
You might have felt it-a slight stir in the weather, the change in decor at stores, the waft of pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg at the coffee shop. We’re on the verge of a season change. But before you get swallowed up by all of the holidays that come with it, I hope you’ll take time to pause, reflect and nourish yourself.
If you’re on the verge of changing with the seasons, whether it be a new exercise, challenging task, or a different outlook on life, breathe in these wise words from Oprah Winfrey.
“The best way I know for sure to stay in steady makeover mode is to take care of yourself. To feed yourself with love and loving thoughts. To eat food that’s delicious to you and to your body. To engage in loving practices, like giving yourself the gift of stillness at least five minutes a day. To surround yourself with people who bring you light, and to banish all forms of negative energy.
Moving forward, you will see that the value you give yourself is the value the world reflects back to you. When you care about yourself enough to embrace change, you’re on the path that will lead you home to happiness.”
by Will Donnelly
It’s pretty easy to feel grateful when good things happen. Win the lottery or fall in love? Easy. But what if you lose your spouse, or child, or even your job, how do we find gratitude then?
Scientifically, we know gratitude is strongly linked to well being. People just feel better when gratitude is part of the mix. It’s the feel-good fuel that urges us on to higher and higher ground when life is going well. But does it have even more benefit when used when healing from grief, or anytime life knocks you on your bum and you are having trouble getting back up?
by Lauren Suval
There’s a whimsical, charming scene in Begin Again, starring Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine, that showcases two of the characters strolling through the streets of New York City, bonding through music. The gold and silver lights of Times Square shimmer in the dark, and earbuds are plugged in as they absorb favorite songs and guilty pleasures off their playlists.
These snapshots were not only a beautiful love letter and ode to the city, but they paid homage to the power of music as well. Music was a vibrant color to a blank canvas; music lit up the night and made it sparkle; music smacked them awake.
Music has the capacity to heighten our daily experiences — to alter our emotional states, to enhance, transcend and inspire the present moment.
by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
“Creativity is a gift, given in some measure to all of us,” said Tom Sturges, an accomplished music executive, author, teacher and speaker. For over 15 years, Sturges has mentored and taught thousands of students to explore their creativity, “to let their creative instinct ‘emerge’ rather than to force it out into the open.”
(There’s even a documentary, “Witness to a Dream,” about his work with inner-city kids in Los Angeles.)
Creativity, he noted, isn’t drawing, painting or writing a song. “These are just some uses of the creative instinct. But there are so many ways that children can be creative.”
by Ronald Pies, M.D.
I was never a huge fan of Joan Rivers’ comedy routines — a little too coarse for my taste — but I always had a warm spot in my heart for the woman born Joan Alexandra Molinsky. She had the same glass-etching, Brooklyn accent as most of my mother’s family, with whom I shared summers in the Catskills. And, like Joan Rivers, my New York family’s idea of empathy was usually a heavenward eye-roll, followed by the expression, “Oh, please!”
Most fans of this indomitable woman know that she lost her husband, Edgar Rosenberg, to suicide in 1987 and that it took many years for her to work through her grief. The grief that follows bereavement — the death of a loved one — is among the deepest and most painful of human experiences.
by Marina Pearson
There’s a reason you aren’t getting along.
Are you finding it difficult to communicate with an ex or with your partner? If so, then this article will shed some light on why you keep having challenging and aggressive conversations.
Below are five critical mistakes I see my clients (and myself!) making to create arguments, spur hatred and disable relationships.
by Sarah Fruchtnicht, MA
I’m a recovered fearful flyer who experienced a setback this year, and I have to brush up on my anxiety prevention skills. Of course I knew this could happen. Apparently membership in the Fearful Flyers Club is for life.
I try not to despair. But when it comes down to it I wonder: how much work do I have to do to make something expensive and relatively uncomfortable into something that doesn’t turn my body into a dumping ground of stress hormones?
by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
Every day around the world, families and friends grieve the loss of a loved one due to suicide. Not once. Not twice.
But over 2,000 times per day someone takes their own life.
Can you imagine? If Ebola took 2,000 people’s lives per day, we’d hear a world outcry and an immediate call to action.
But since it’s just suicide, we turn a blind eye. We go on with our merry lives, and pretend it couldn’t happen to us. It couldn’t possibly happen to someone we know.
That’s how we lose so many people a day. Denial. Ignorance. Stigma. Discrimination.
by Eve Hogan
I am impressed with the viral nature of the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” but I’m wondering if people really understand its purpose above and beyond the fun of calling out their friends (and enemies).
This challenge is intended to raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — but to me ALS means “my mom’s disease.” So, let me take you on a journey through ALS so you really know what it feels like in the hopes that you donate rather than, or in addition to, take the “icy way” out of the challenge. I challenge you to read this without crying — and then I call you out to raise awareness on what this craze is really all about.
by John Amodeo, PhD
We long for intimate connections, which are essential for our emotional and physical health. But oftentimes we don’t know how to create the connections we desire. Summoning the courage to reveal what we’re experiencing inside allows people to see us and know us. Showing our authentic heart rather than blaming, attacking, or shaming people allows them to feel safer coming toward us.
Yet, we often have blocks to moving toward the authenticity that would create a fertile climate for warm connections with people. Here are some obstacles I’ve observed in my work as a marriage and family therapist for over 30 years: