Happier Jump-Starts: Tips for Awesome Family Meals

happier-jump-starts-083114Let’s be realistic; in today’s go-go-go society, there isn’t always time to sit down for a nice dinner together. Furthermore, many of us are forging our “families” out of friends rather than biological relatives. So the standard “gather your family around the table for dinner every single night” can feel like an impossible goal for many of us. That’s okay! There’s a reason that “breaking bread together” has been a ritual of connection for as long as mankind’s been around—sitting down and eating in a group brings us closer to one another. Dare I say that a little magic happens when people partake of a meal together? I think it does. So no matter your circumstances, you can do it, and it will make you happier.

It doesn’t have to be every day. Or even dinner. Few of us with busy lives can have a relaxed sit-down family meal every single night. Don’t let the world (or the Internet!) tell you that’s the only way it counts. Do it once a week (I love this story of a weekly community meal), if that’s all you can manage. Do a Saturday brunch if dinners are impossible. There are no rules; do what works for you!

Develop your own rituals. In my family, we do the “how was your day” game when we sit down for a meal—we go around the table and each person shares one challenging thing that happened, one great thing that happened, and one funny thing that happened that day. It’s always wonderful, because I am constantly surprised and touched by the things my kids share (even when they’re grumpy). Try it yourself (in our family of four, it only takes about five minutes or less), or come up with your own routine.

Cook together, if you can. Again, not everyone has time for this, but the only thing I like better than eating together is cooking together. I have been known to call out “Think fast!” while tossing a bell pepper to one of my offspring. While they look at me in bewilderment, I add, “Cut that up for the salad, willya?”

Make your table one that makes you happy. Everyone has different things that appeal to them, of course, so this is highly personal, but I’m a firm believer in having something on your tabletop where you’re dining that just makes you happy to look at. Whether it be fun napkins (Mildred recommends this darling giraffe set!) or plates you love or a serving bowl passed down for generations—it doesn’t matter what it is, just that you associate it with eating together and feeling happy.

Vow to enjoy whatever works. Are you eating leftovers in your van between school and soccer practice? Ordering takeout (again) because you’re just too overwhelmed to cook? That’s fine. It happens. Whatever and wherever you’re eating, make a point of engaging with whomever’s with you, and being grateful both for the food to eat and the company you share. Family dinner is wherever you make it.

Bon appétit!

Happier Spotlight: We Love User Feedback

joshd-happier-momentWe love to get email here at Happier. (Well, email from our users. Not so much the email from the stranded Nigerian princes who would like us to wire them some money.) We love it when you just write in to tell us how much you love Happier, of course, but we also love to hear your questions and ideas and even complaints—it’s all part of how we figure out the best ways to keep making Happier awesome.

Meet Josh Dotter—he took the time to write us a really thoughtful email about his Happier experience. Here’s an excerpt from Josh’s mail:

First, I want to tell you I absolutely love the community that has been built through your app. It is by far the most uplifting social media I’ve used. I’ve never used Facebook, and I loved Twitter. However I hardly ever touch it anymore b/c Happier draws me in so deeply. I found the app through Twitter, I follow Life is Good and I believe they promoted your story.

I would love to share some thoughts about my experience. In the beginning I loved the app but thought there wasn’t near enough users. Man was I wrong. It just took a diligent effort to friend as many people as I could in the beginning. Now I find myself following each request and still reaching out to new faces I see. In the name of spreading joy more than anything, and making myself open to their joy as well.

Josh went on to suggest a number of possible functionality enhancements, all of which were great ideas. But when I contacted him to ask if it’d be okay to feature his email on the blog, he rushed to tell me that he hoped his suggestions came across as just that, suggestions, and not complaints. [At this point let's just pause and agree that Happier users are pretty much the nicest people in the world. It's a fact.] I reassured him that we love suggestions and not to worry at all. His entire email—the praise and the suggestions—was awesome. We appreciate you, Josh! Thanks so much for reaching out!

Do you have feedback, ideas, or anything else you want to share with us? You can always reach us at team@happier.com, and we are always happier when we hear from you!

Big News!

So… we have some really big news! We’ve been dying to spill the beans, and now we can—we’ve just announced new courses with two fantastic experts. We are so excited to welcome them into our Happier community.

photoFirst up: Carson Kressley (of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and How to Look Good Naked fame), who is known for his compassionate, hilarious, and shame-free brand of personal-style-therapy. What could be happier??

Carson’s first course, Happier Makeover (starting September 15 — sign up here to be notified when it’s available) will help you feel great about yourself from the inside out, and his second course, Confident Style (starting October 14) will give you great ideas and simple tips for how to build an everyday wardrobe of basics and accessories that will make you feel happier each and every day.

Deepak_Chopra_Happier_PRWe’ve also got courses coming up from world-renowned wellness leader, Deepak Chopra (maybe you’ve heard of him…?)! He’ll kick it off in November with Seven Spiritual Laws of Happier Success (sign up here to be notified when it’s live), with more courses to follow in early 2015.

We couldn’t be happier to have both of these talented, inspirational mentors joining us. If you haven’t yet checked out Happier’s courses, please do!

For more about Carson Kressley and Deepak Chopra and our new courses, you can check out the official press release (if you’re into that sort of thing).

Why you should put sprinkles in your omelet

As a CEO of a start-up my days are like roller-coaster rides. And sometimes when I get home from work I am a total stress mess. My brain is buzzing, I’m in a bad mood, and no amount of self-pep-talking is working. I really hate when I feel this way but it happens.

I also feel guilty when my stress spills over to my 10 year-old daughter — which it invariably does. So a few months ago when I came home at the end of one of these super-stressful days I told her that we’re going to start a new tradition:

When I feel insanely stressed we’re going to go and do something really fun and maybe a little crazy.

At first my daughter looked at me a bit suspiciously but then realized this could actually work in her favor. That night the fun and somewhat crazy thing was to go out to eat on a school night, which we never do. It was the two of us (my husband was working late), we sat at the bar at our local fave, and it felt like being out with a friend. Total success.

The other day it took me over an hour to drive 7 miles home from work, it was pouring rain, I was late, and this all after a pretty rough day at work. By the time kiddo saw my face after I came into the house she knew it was time for our “do something fun and crazy when stressed” tradition.

Since we needed to figure out something for dinner we decided to make crazy omelets. Really really crazy omelets: One side with veggies and cheese and the other side with sprinkles and chocolate chips. Yes, chocolate chips.

omelet

I’m not sure if it was more fun to make this, eat it, or share it on Happier (where some of our users seriously questioned my taste:), but we had a blast. And when I was putting her to bed that night, my daughter paid me one of my favorite compliments:

“You know mama, you’re kind of really cool. Because I don’t think many moms do crazy fun things when they are stressed. So yeah, you’re cool.”

I’ll take that 100 times over, with chocolate sprinkles on top.

(Last week I wrote about some of my favorite ways to deal with a really bad day. Check it out for more inspiration.)

Happier Hearts: Jewelry to Remind You

I’m all about wearing an accessory or two that makes you feel beautiful and/or confident, but I’m definitely not one of those “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” sorts. It’s not about what it costs, it’s about what it means to you. This week I want to share a few jewelry picks—two very affordable, one more of a luxury—but I think all are meaningful. Maybe one will speak to you.

A secret reminder
I bought this ring from BerkeyDesigns on Etsy for my teen daughter pretty much the minute I first saw it a few years back. What a wonderful message, and the fact that only part of it is visible to everyone else is part of what makes it so awesome.

happier-hearts-berkey-designs

Sleek and stylish for a cause
Have you heard of Bravelets? Sleek and modern jewelry (mostly bracelets; the original leather/stainless ones pictured below are my favorite) with the reminder to “be brave” keep you feeling strong and stylish while also donating $10 per item towards a given charity (browse to see the ones supported on the site, or create your own fundraiser for your own cause)!

happier-hearts-bravelets

You’re unique!
Ann Corpron of Brevity Jewelry makes an assortment of beautiful things, but by far the most interesting (to me) offering on her site is the signature necklace. You’re an original; why not have a name necklace that reflects that? Corpron’s craftsmanship is incredible, and this is a neat way to have something totally you to wear every day.

signature_comp-450x337

Happy accessorizing!

Awesome Humans: Mo’ne Davis of the Taney Dragons

awesome-humans-mone-davisDid you follow the Little League World Series last week? Honestly, baseball isn’t my favorite sport (by a long shot…), so it’s not something I pay a lot of attention to under ordinary circumstances. But then I kept seeing news items about Mo’ne Davis of Pennsylvania’s Taney Dragons all over the place, and then Sports Illustrated put her on the cover of their August 25th issue.

To be fair, not a lot of 13-year-old girls can pitch at 70 miles an hour, and she’s only the 18th girl ever (and only the 4th American one) to play in the Little League World Series.

Here’s why we think she’s awesome, though: It’s not her athletic ability (which is extensive) or even her beyond-her-years poise in a high-pressure situation (also amazing), it’s the fact that—at least by the news accounts and footage available—she knows what she likes, she’s humble about her talent, and aside from being a phenom who’s being stalked by the media, she seems like a happy, regular kid.

Congratulations to Mo’ne and the rest of the Taney Dragons on a great showing in the Series. Mo’ne, you’re awesome! And we can’t wait to see what you do next.

Mindful Break: How To Make The Awesome Choice

worst-enemy-quoteYesterday I received a stinging email.

Hi Dave,

Do you ever find yourself feeling like you are completely full of it? The whole “intelligent universe, people are living out where they are suppose to be” is really crappy for many.

And the whole “we signed up for this life so be happy” bullsh*t… is bullsh*t. There is a large population that can no longer relate to bullsh*t because life is just that real.

I don’t know the person who wrote it, but I must say, he has a good point. THANK YOU.

And trust me, I’m not sitting home sucking on seeds in a loin cloth watching Wayne Dyer PBS re-runs.

I have plenty of personal issues, angry thoughts, and total freakouts.

Life comes down to choices.

–Freak out. Don’t freak out.

–Exercise. Don’t exercise.

–Be positive.  Be negative.

It’s when we stop making conscious choices, that life begins to suck.

The beer starts drinking you.

The envy reaches critical mass.

The anxiety approaches terminal velocity.

At that point, you feel like you are facing a much stronger enemy, who could knock you out any second by a poor month of business, or bad news from your doctor, or some tragic event.

Here’s a thought. Next time you feel like reality sucks, like you are getting hammered by life, like the “enemy” is about to win again…try this:

Rear back, and with all your might…

MAKE AN AWESOME CHOICE

Choose health: The buzz of being super healthy feels way better than the buzz of being super drunk.

Choose love: The depth of a loyal relationship is far more powerful than the thrill of a fleeting affair

Choose now: The allure of tomorrow is nothing compared to what’s happening right this second.

To the critic, the enemy, whoever and whatever you call that person in your life…

…they are always in your head, which can only be solved by your heart.