Stefan Sagmeister is bringing his happy to Toronto. I had the opportunity to attend the opening night gala of his exhibition "The Happy Show" in early January. Here, a brief look into how I interpreted the exhibit, and the top six things I learned about all things cheerful, sunny, and full of delight.
I have been in a perpetual state of anxiety about the future. When I get those jeans, nab that boyfriend, lose those 10 pounds, learn that dance move, I will be happy. I have always had this sinking feeling that I was waiting for something to make my life perfect. But my life IS perfect. I have a life after all, and every single second is beautiful and precious and needs to be acknowledged and given great attention.
So, I'm facing down my 40th birthday. It's two weeks away and, surprisingly, my mid-life crisis is holding off. For now. I am not enjoying the lines appearing around my eyes or the various sagging and loosening bits and pieces that will remain nameless. Clearly, I have to get OK with aging. Here are my top tips for aging well.
I completed my master's degree in applied positive psychology, which is the scientific study of psychological well-being, happiness and human flourishing. While things like practicing gratitude and performing random acts of kindness were more obvious paths to happiness, there were some very surprising things I learned that transformed the way I thought and lived my life.
I started practicing gratitude and, though it makes the cynic cringe to say it, doing so has genuinely had a positive effect on my attitude. I'm not saying it's a cure all, but taking a moment to smile about the good instead of brooding over the bad can't really hurt in the grand scheme of things, can it? To that end, here's what's been doing the trick for me this month.
What are the things that I want to achieve in my life? What do I want to do? How do I structurally lay it out? Are there places that I can visit that are relevant to what I want to do, to whatever will make me happy. I try to be clear on those things that are important in my life as opposed to those things that are not important. And I try to eliminate all those things that have nothing to do with me focusing on things that are relevant to my passion, my purpose, my skills, my development.
Make no mistake; divorce is upper case Emotional. Even though almost 40 per cent of marriages end in divorce, I felt little comfort from a statistic. As I reflect back, there were a number of positive things I did that helped me work through this transformation; strategies that helped me to get where I am today -- these are the five things that helped me find the smarter, happier, healthier me.
Did you know you can actually train yourself to be happy? Happy and fully engaged leaders are important in the workplace, but it's just as vital for them to help their team learn how to get engaged with their own work. In this competitive, ever-changing and highly demanding business environment, more personal happiness might just be the big competitive advantage you've been looking for.
Looking back at this old life of mine, I realize how many of these fears, both big and small, were unfounded. But life as it is now, is seen through a cancer survivor's lens. Although I will be first to admit that there is the odd time when I have to stare fear in the eye, and fight to back it down, I fear much less today. Cancer has taught me a few things, and I don't scare easy.
Why are some people happy while others seem miserable? This isn't an easy answer since there are many factors that determine our happiness, but the good news is that anyone can train themselves for happiness by consciously choosing it. And when you're happier, it has a positive effect on your health and well-being. Here are six habits to foster everyday happiness:
Rather than make a resolution that you'll end up forgetting or failing at, make one that sounds exciting and dramatic, something that is achievable, fun, but also something that will push you out of your comfort zone, allowing you to become (even slightly) a better person. It is this change that is your reward.
Mediterranean food includes an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and legumes. By contrast, the western diet is typically heavy on animal foods, processed carbohydrates and sugar, but devoid of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Speed and efficiency are not at the core of Mediterranean cooking. But here in North America, it is.
I'm sometimes known as the Queen of Quinoa for my healthy eating habits. So you can imagine the shock on a patient's face when I bumped into them at Costco's snack bar where I was face deep in the most delicious beef hot dog, bun oozing with Heinz ketchup, French's mustard and Bick's green relish. Oh, and I was also inhaling a side of fries.