Get Serious About Happiness

Applying the ‘Science of Happiness’ in the New Year

Many people dismiss happiness as a flaky, illusive concept. But not Dacher Keltner, Phd, a University of California Berkeley professor who has spent a career researching happiness. For the past decade he’s even taught an undergraduate course titled “the science of happiness.” His message: everyone can cultivate more happiness in their lives and whatever effort it takes is absolutely worth it.
 
“When you take happiness seriously and do the deep inquiry, think hard about what gives you meaning and cultivate that in your life and relationships, it’s beneficial in every way imaginable,” he explains. For example, research suggests that happier people are healthier, more content, more effective parents and better at their jobs. Simply put, there’s no downside to cultivating a happier life.
 
Alas, though, a happy life means many different things to different people, depending on culture, class, religion and even genetic makeup. “Most people find that maybe four or five different strategies really work to cultivate more happiness in their lives,” says Dr. Keltner. “It’s a very individual process.” For Dr. Keltner, spending time outdoors, hugging and touching his family and pets and playing with his kids give him more happiness. Despite a hectic schedule, he makes time for those activities each day. “For others, it might be singing music, going to church, meditating or whatever.”
 
Ready to find out what makes you happy and put more of that in your life? Here are a few places to start your journey:
 
*Explore cutting edge happiness research and practical tips on how to lead a happier life at The Greater Good Science Center’s website.
 
*Check out these Ted Talks about happiness and fulfilment.
 
*Get reading. Great books about happiness, forgiveness and fulfilment include: The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman, The Sweet Spot by Christine Carter, and Rising Strong by Brene Brown.
 
*Sign up here for the free online version of the Science of Happiness course offered to the public by Dr. Keltner and colleague Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Phd. This is a self-paced course exploring the roots of a happy and meaningful life. Open to anyone around the world!
 

Make 2016 the Year of YOU!

Realistic Resolutions for Busy Moms

The New Year is upon us and that means resolutions and the pledge to make changes in our lives. For busy working moms, the top of the list usually includes organizing the household or other family-focused goals and taking care of mom falls to the bottom. Here are 5 resolutions for working moms to make themselves a priority this year:
 
Make one makeup change
Whether you try a new type of foundation, start finally using a primer or just try a new lipstick color, this is the year to make at least one change to your makeup routine.  If you usually wear lipstick, try switching to a lip gloss and vice versa or if your eye shadow is always in the neutral family, try wearing blue, green or purple. The look will be fresh and fun for the New Year!
 
Update your skincare
The New Year is the right time to seriously look at your skin care routine. During the year ignoring skin care concerns is easy to do, so now is the time to really pay attention.  Take an in-depth look at your skin care needs; do you see new wrinkles that need to be treated? Is your skin looking dull and dry? As women age and have more life demands (work stress, caring for elderly parents, taking care of their families), the stressors can take a toll on the skin. If your skin is dull, add in exfoliating products.  If you notice new wrinkles, look for products that have peptides to help reduce their appearance. Whatever your concern might be, vow to use at least one new product to help your skin.
 
Try a new fragrance
It is a known fact that fragrance is closely tied to memories. Make this the best year yet by finding a new fragrance that you love. A new scent can change your mood and outlook on life and there is no easier way to make an impact on your well-being! You might even find a scent that motivates you at work, another that calms you down at home, or the best yet, one that makes you feel sexy for date night!
 
Pamper yourself daily
Going to the spa might be something that you fantasize about, but why not indulge a little every single day? Try adding an aromatic body scrub to your daily shower routine followed by a luxurious body oil for silky, soft skin. These options take virtually no extra time but will leave you feeling relaxed and beautiful.
 
Explore your dreams
Having both a family and career can be incredibly demanding and rewarding, especially if you love what you do. Obviously, you will love your family, but do you love your job? Does your job allow you to grow, meet new colleagues or reward your hard work? Do you love your industry?  If the answer is no, this might be the year to explore opportunities to help fulfill your dreams. 
 

Work-Life Balance... Myth or Reality?

Many women say the phrase “work-life balance” is more like a sweet elusive fantasy akin to the tooth fairy rather than a real, achievable goal. But Marla Beck, a Northern California life and career coach who mainly works with creative types, doesn’t agree.  

“The very first key is to cultivate a curious mind about this. You have to try different ideas out and observe how they work for you. For most women striking a work-life balance is a process and you have to be gentle on yourself and not judge when your life feels really out of whack.”  Crazy today, crazy this week, or even this crazy quarter—Beck’s favorite way to parse time-- doesn’t mean imbalanced forever.  

“I teach my clients to think in quarters because it offers a lot of flexibility. Set small, attainable quarterly goals with the intention that your priorities and goals will likely change quarter to quarter.” Perhaps you want to push yourself by working more hours, aiming for a lofty sales goal or doing more client outreach this quarter, but next quarter your daughter is graduating and you’ll scale back because you know she’ll need you more. “For many women, goal setting based on quarters keeps them on track with their career, but also builds in the flexibility they need for their home and family.”  

Interestingly, Beck says women shouldn’t be afraid of time limitations or talk themselves out of taking on a project because they’re only able to work a certain number of hours a day. “It’s kind of counterintuitive, but time limitations can actually be your best friend. When someone knows that she only has until 2pm and then after that she’s mom again, it’s amazing what gets accomplished. I see it happen all the time.” 

But if you truly want balance, Beck contends there’s one non-negotiable: you have to treat yourself well. “You’re your most precious resource. You have to invest in yourself like you’re the talent.” Talent wouldn’t habitually skip sleep, not eat properly and not take care of her health. “We’re all more beautiful, more successful and more balanced when we’re rested and happy.” 

 

Brave New You

How to make things happen for yourself

From New Year’s resolutions to going after that long-awaited promotion, we all set goals for ourselves. It’s easy to want more for yourself, but it can be far more difficult to make your dream a reality. Here’s some of our best advice for reaching your goals, no matter what they are.

Prep for Success
Goals and dreams don’t just happen, we create them, so write out exactly what it is that you want to achieve. Then, make a list of exactly what you’re asking yourself to do to make it a reality. Breakdown your goal into realistic, doable steps and create a reasonable timeline in which to get them done.
 
If you’re having trouble getting started, research how others have achieved the same goal. Be honest with yourself about any fears you might have about failure and success and take into consideration that there will be missteps and setbacks along the way. They are a part of the process of getting what you want. You can even sign a contract with yourself to make your commitment to your goal official. Put it somewhere you will see it as a reminder.
 
Ask for Help
When you let people in on your goal, it generally gives your project legs. Others may, “know someone, who knows someone” who may be able to offer advice or opportunities. Plus, trusted friends and relatives can be cheerleaders and good listeners to help keep you on track when you need a boost. And it should go without saying, but there will always be naysayers. By all means avoid them and keep things moving in a positive direction. Leave the haters behind.  

Stay Focused
Stay focused to your goal by patting yourself on the back as you complete the smaller steps you created for yourself. Celebrate your follow through of the mini-goals that are a part of your overall success. If you hit an unexpected snag, don’t panic. Solving small problems along the way can become points of encouragement and a reminder to never give up on your goal.

Last, but certainly not least, stay positive! Journaling can be a powerful tool for focus and commitment. It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come and looking back on your progress in your own words can serve as a great motivator. When it comes to getting what you want in life, only you can make it happen!
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