Happier Hearts: Happy Family, Happy Life

This week we’re all about connecting with your family in wonderful ways, so what better time to share some of the make-your-family-more-awesome-er resources we love? Exactly!

Do It By The Book
If you’re the sort who likes to grab a book and read up on new things, we have two to recommend; both Bruce Feiler’s The Secrets of Happy Families and Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families are worth the read if you can spare the time and are looking for some great ideas on how to make your family even more fabulous.
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Unplug, Reconnect, Love No Matter What
Prefer to watch a couple of videos? Over at HuffPo this short video about unplugging to reconnect with your family, and if you have more time, Andrew Solomon’s TED Talk about loving children who are different is difficult but moving.

Still Working On Family Dinners?
Hopefully you’re making great progress on this week’s challenge to eat together, but if you’re still struggling, I have a few more great online resources for you that made us happier.

Do you have a favorite resource that’s helped your family be happier? Please tell us about it!

New In The Happier App This Week!

There’s a newer version of the Happier App coming your way. Hooray! We’ve made just a couple of small changes, and we hope it’ll be easier for you to find the next best course for you (which, in turn, leads to you being happier)!

happier-update-course-categories-102214When you login to Happier on iOS, we’ll help guide you to a course that’s right for you. Simply choose an area that you’d like to focus on (your screen will look like the image here), and from there, we’ll recommend a course that meets your needs. If you’re already taking a course, you won’t see any major changes.

We’ve made a couple of other small tweaks you might notice, too:

  • When there’s a new feature, we’ll tell you a bit more about it right in the app. (We think that cuts down on those unpleasant, “Whoa! Where did that come from??” moments!)
  • The Daily Challenge is back! It will now always be visible in your Friends feed in Community.

Please let us know what you think! We’re always working to make Happier a better experience, and we hope you find these changes helpful. Email us at team@happier.com with your feedback. We’ll continue to update the blog with new changes that are coming your way — so check back!

Awesome Humans: The Families That Halloween Together

happier-hearts-smores-102214Today we doff our hat to all of those families who make Halloween a family affair (in the spirit of our theme this week). Whether you recognize Halloween as an event/holiday/annoyance or barely register it on your radar, who can resist a family dressed up together? Not us, that’s for sure.

One of my absolute favorites—both for ease of DIY and utter adorableness—is this family of s’mores.

Cardboard graham crackers and chocolate bar, plus a couple of pillows for the little marshmallow (who is so cute I want to eat him right up). Such a fabulous idea.

Get a walkthrough from mom Mackenzie on her blog, Cheerios and Lattes.

happier-hearts-snacks-102214Although their costumes weren’t handmade, this family’s trio of tasty concession snacks makes me smile every time I look at this picture.

happier-hearts-spiderandweb-102214           happier-hearts-rootbeer-102214Martha Stewart, of all people, offers this clever mom-and-baby spider web and spider costume for your make-it-yourself pleasure.

If you need more ideas, both Huffington Post and BuzzFeed have you covered. (The family pictured above with their baby root beer float is on HuffPo and I love them.)

All of these costumed families have one thing in common: They look like they’re having a heck of a good time together!

Fave Family Moments

This week we’re talking a lot about family and how strong familial connections make us, well, happier! If you missed it, definitely check out our family dinner challenge. Tiny little everyday moments with your family can be great ones when you take a moment to pause and notice them.

Here are a just a few of our favorite family moments this week.

Happy moments with family

Where there are moms, can food be far behind? We think not and that’s one of the (many) reasons why we love them! :)

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The best interior design tips come from those that know us best.

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Double duty: family dinner time plus a heart-pumping walk. This has happiness boost written all over it.

IMG_4804Helping others is proven to make us happier, too, and this is just beyond. [Insert tears here.]

Got some family moments to share? Post them in the Happier app! (Did you know we’re on iOS, Android and the web?) That’s right — no excuses, we want to see ‘em.

Here’s to lots of happy family moments ahead!

Mindful Break: What The Heck Is Sacred?!

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 1.47.38 PMCan you be bought for a price?

Seriously.

If someone offered you $10,000,000 to expose all your life’s secrets on reality TV… would you do it?

Carolyn Myss calls it The Prostitute Archetype, meaning one who is willing to compromise their integrity for financial stability.

Whether it’s a value that defines you, or an object that represents your Truth…

… in order to be spiritually whole, we need to have something that is totally off-limits, something that is super sacred.

In today’s world, there is very little that cannot be bought.

For instance, take the sad story of the Hopi Indians.

A contested auction of sacred Hopi Indian masks went forward last year in Paris and generated more than $1 million.

One featured item, a headdress known as the Crow Mother, drew intense interest.

Bidding soared to $210,000, drawing applause from the crowd.

Except for one protestor who stood up and shouted: “Don’t purchase that. It is a sacred being.”

Reading that BROKE MY HEART.

The Hopi Indians believe these masks are divine beings which were stolen from tribal lands in Arizona.

The Hopi Indians had made quite a stir leading up to this auction…

… but the auctioneer in Paris rejected their protest saying that the “objects were no longer sacred and had become important works of art.”

Can you imagine?

That’s like someone saying, “She’s no longer your wife, she’s too pretty and everyone deserves a chance at her!”

The devastated Hopi Indians said of their lost masks, “They are truly sacred to us. We feed and care for them. And to see people walking out with them in bags, like some object, I feel really helpless and hurt.”

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C’mon! If we don’t stand up for that which is sacred, our souls will literally die and we will become soulless Freakazoids!

Think of what in your life is SACRED, untouchable, off limits!

For me, it is my career. There are many times where it would seem easier to do something with more stability, with benefits, more security.

But some part of me has to keep going, through thick and thick, on this journey for a more meaningful life.

There are days when we all want to give in, sell out, take the easy road.

And those are the days when we need rituals, sacred texts, Hopi masks to “anchor us in our Truth!”

Happier Challenge: Break Bread Together

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGoooood Monday morning! We’re kicking off our first-ever theme week here at Happier, and we’re starting with a focus on family connection.

It’s no secret that the history of human beings is full of rituals around food. “Breaking bread together” is considered a sacred activity in nearly every religion, and eating together is a universal symbol of connection. Is this some sort of mysticism at work? Nope—science repeatedly shows that family dinners strengthen relationships, make kids more resilient, and are generally one of the easiest ways to lower teens’ risk of everything from eating disorders to substance abuse. Even if you don’t have kids and are a full-grown adult, eating with people you love confers plenty of benefits, from increased emotional well-being to actually increasing your odds of eating more nutritious foods. So that brings us to this week’s challenge, all about your family and food:

If you don’t normally have a sit-down, home-cooked family meal, have at least one, this week. If this is already part of your routine, invite a guest to join you!

Here’s some inspiration to get you jazzed to embrace family meals:

Will you take our challenge and share a moment about it in the Happier community? It would make us happier!

Happier Jump-Starts: Super-Charge Your Snacks

happier-jump-starts-snacks-101914It’s not socially acceptable to list “snacking” as one of your favorite hobbies, but I totally would if I thought I could get away with it. The truth is that I love food. I am not a health food fanatic by any means (all things in moderation, and that includes indulgent items!), but I do try to keep meals balanced and nutritious. Lately—inspired by our recent release of Kristin McGee’s Eat, Move, Feel Strong course—I’ve been trying to be more conscious of those between-meal morsels that make their way into my mouth, too.

The goal is to make sure snacks fill me up with the good stuff (protein, healthy fats, fiber) without leaving me feeling deprived. Here’s a few (hopefully new) ideas for you to try, based on my own snacking habits:

Do a protein with that fruit. Fruit is delicious and good for you, but whenever I feel virtuous snacking on an apple, I’m hungry again half an hour later. Have an apple with some almonds, or a pear with a slice of cheese, or smear some peanut butter on your banana. Find a pairing you love, or experiment until you do.

If you must dip, dip it good. I know tons of kids and even some adults who won’t eat raw veggies without some sort of dip. Hey, that’s fine; just make sure your dip has some nutrition! Go for a ranch or onion dip made with Greek yogurt (I like Gimme Some Oven’s recipe), whip up some guacamole (healthy fat!), or learn to love hummus. Speaking of hummus…

… roasted chickpeas are a great alternative to chips and crackers. Even if you’re not normally a fan of chickpeas, they’re super-easy to roast with the spices of your choice and make a fiber-filled, crunchy snack free of guilt. Yum.

Learn to love chia. The debate continues on whether chia seeds are a superfood (or if there’s any such thing as a superfood…), but chia is definitely packed with fiber, calcium, essential minerals, and even protein. Try some new recipes with it or just toss some on your salad, in a smoothie, etc. They’re a great source of nutrition and they help you feel full.

Don’t give up your favorites… just make them a little healthier. Remember what I said about all things in moderation? I am never going to be the kind of person who scolds you to give up cookies or anything, nor do I believe in “healthifying” recipes to the point where they no longer taste good. So, chocolate chip cookies made entirely with whole wheat flour and raisins instead of chips? Blech. (I’d rather skip the cookies.) But chocolate chip cookies made with a little bit of whole wheat or almond flour subbed in, or with the addition of some rolled oats? Sure! There’s way to make the less-healthy stuff a little bit better for you, and that—along with moderation!—means you can still feel okay about the occasional indulgence.

Have any great snacking tips to share? Lay ‘em on me.