What chance will you take today?

This morning I was lucky enough to give a talk as part of Creative Mornings, right here in Boston. Creative Mornings is a lecture series for the creative community and I had a chance to talk to a few hundred of them bright at the coolest venue I’ve ever spoken in — a climbing gym.

IMG_9334The topic of my talk was chance: the chances I’ve taken that got me where I am, the chances I missed, the chances I gave to others as part of my journey.

One of the things I talked about was this idea that with every chance you take you increase the surface area for luck to hit. I think of luck as timing — timing of meeting the right person, the right trend, the right dynamic, being in the right place, at the right time. The more chances you take the more opportunities you create for luck to intersect with you.

The more people you connect with, the more likely you are to meet someone who can lead you to your next opportunity or help you make another connection that you need. The more new things you try the more likely you are to find something that makes your life more awesome. There are no guarantees but I guarantee that nothing awesome will happen if you don’t take a chance.

So my Friday challenge to you is to take one chance today.

Do something you’ve been putting off. Do something you’re nervous to do. Do something you’ve not done before. It doesn’t have to be huge or epic, but you do have to do it. (I’d love to know what chance you are taking – please share in the comments!)

Oh, and if you need a little something extra, here’s some musical inspiration.

Happier Science: Gratitude is as powerful in children as adults

As a mom of a 10 year-old, this is awesome to read. Actually, it’s just awesome:

According to new research, kids and teens experience the same benefits of expressing gratitude as studies have shown in adults.

Kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches and feel more satisfied with their friends, families and schools than those who don’t.

In one study mentioned in the article, sixth- and seventh-graders were divided into three groups. One group recorded five things each week they appreciated, second group recorded five things that annoyed them, and the third wrote down five events that occurred. Kids in the gratitude group reported higher satisfaction with school and more optimism.

Awesome!

 

Happier Challenge: Blast Holiday Stress With Gratitude!

I’ll start with a confession:

When I think about the upcoming holiday season, the first thing I feel is my entire body tightening up and all the stress hormones starting to act up. Traffic! Decisions about where to go and what family to try not to offend! Family reactions to us making the wrong choice! Traffic! Eating too much food and then regretting it! Traffic! Gifts, gifts, must find the right gifts, no time for shopping, this shouldn’t be so important, stuff doesn’t make you happy but still need gifts! Traffic!

You get the point. My bet is that most of us feel some – a lot? – degree of stress about the holidays. There is also this nagging pressure to be REALLY HAPPY ALL THE TIME BECAUSE, HOLIDAYS! And if you don’t, then you feel guilty for not feeling happy, which makes you less happy, and more guilty. Believe me, speaking from serious experience here.

There’s no way to completely eliminate holiday stress but there are things you can do to not let it fully eat you up. To help you, we’ve come up with our Blast Your Holiday Stress With Gratitude Challenge:

For the next 10 days until Thanksgiving, find something to be grateful for every single day. Share your moments of gratitude in the Happier app and add them to our “gratitude challenge” collection. At the end of the challenge we will put them all together and show the world what gratitude looks like. In your words, in your photos, in your small moments of gratitude.

It’s easy to find thingnatalymoments to be grateful for when you feel good and everything is going well. It’s a lot harder to do when you’re down or stressed or your life is throwing you for a loop. But that’s also when you need to do it the most because gratitude is incredibly powerful. It doesn’t solve all of your problems and it’s not a miracle cure. But making gratitude a regular part of your life helps you build resilience and you need resilience when times are tough. Evolution has trained our brains to look for the negative to protect ourselves; practicing gratitude helps you train your brain to look for the positive. The more experience and people and moments you appreciate, the more you start to look for things to appreciate — and that’s a pretty awesome virtuous cycle. Always, but particularly during the stressful holiday time.

So are you in? We’d love for you to join us for the Blast Holiday Stress With Gratitude Challenge!

 

 

 

5 Inspiring Quotations To Get You Through A Rough Day

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These few weeks are kicking my butt, if you’ll excuse my French. All the shoes seem to be falling at once, it’s raining cats, dogs, and elephants, and I seem to be running marathons to stand in place. I’m tired, cranky a lot, and yes, pretty stressed out. (Yes, if you’re wondering, even as the CEO of a company that helps people celebrate small daily joys I don’t always have the easiest time finding my own.)

So I wanted to share five of my favorite quotes for getting through a rough day. Of course just reading a quote won’t change anything, but I find that if I really let the meaning of the words sink in, I do shift my perspective just a bit — and that’s worthwhile.

This is probably my favorite one and it’s by one of my absolute favorite authors of all time:

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Image source: oprah.com

All great changes are preceded by chaos. - Deepak Chopra

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what matters is what you choose to do from here. – Anonymous

The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up. – Mark Twain

Accept, then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. – Anonymous

If you have a favorite quote to get through a rough day, please share!

How Deepak Chopra Taught Me To Be Happier In 30 Seconds

I am completely late with this blog post and I have no excuse, other than to say that this week has been a special flavor of hectic and busy. I spent three days of it in NYC, running around to meetings and then filming our next series of courses with the amazing Deepak Chopra. (Yes, I did just write that and yes, we are so excited to be working on these courses for our community!)

IMG_9048During one of our conversations, Deepak said something that really stayed with me. It’s not that I had never heard it before — I had. It’s not that there aren’t a hundred different studies showing that this works — there are. But the way he said resonated strongly:

“If you want to feel happier, right this very minute, make a friend smile. The best way to do this is to think of something good they’ve done or something great about them, acknowledge it and share it with them. It can be a simple text message, but if you make it authentic, it will make them happier and you will feel amazing.”

This sounds so simple, and yet, when I thought about it, I honestly could not remember the last time I did this. So as soon as we were done, I opened my calendar and added a reminder, twice a week, to text a friend and tell them something I appreciate about them. You’d think the CEO of a company called Happier would not need a reminder to do this, but I do — no excuses, just that life is crazy busy and days can feel like sprints often. (I am sure you can relate.)

In fact, I think we all need more calendar reminders like this, on par with all of our meetings and must-dos. So how about this week following my lead and adding one to your calendar to text a friend and let them know you appreciate something about them. This simple gesture will brighten their day and make you feel happier and more joyful than many other much more complicated things.

Thank you, Deepak, for reminding me; and I hope you’ll all join me in making this a priority!

 

Three Counter-Intuitive Ways To Be Happier As A Family

I may run a company that helps people be happier but believe me, it’s not like I have some super wisdom about happiness. Especially when it comes to family. Our family is small — it’s just my husband, myself and our 10 year-old kiddo — but with three people, three different personalities, crazy schedules, demanding jobs, and endless juggles, it’s not always easy to find our awesome place.

But we manage, and when I was thinking about writing this post I realized there are a few things we do that, if you had asked me a few years ago, I would have thought odd when it comes to helping us be happier. Those are usually the best little habits, the ones that surprise us, so I wanted to share them:

Skip meals

OK, of course I don’t mean that you should go hungry. But when life gets crazy, one thing we often do is skip having a sit-down meal. Instead, we grab some random food from the fridge and if it’s warm enough, we go outside and eat it on the deck; or when it’s too cold, we have a mini-picnic in the living room. This totally removes the pressure of cooking something, and chills all of us out a lot.

Ignore bedtime

When my daughter was younger I was obsessed with sticking to a routine. Everyone was happier when she went to bed on time and woke up refreshed and well, happy. There were many times whenicecream we were at family events or with friends and I would be militant about getting home for bedtime. Nothing wrong with that — and when your kids are really little that’s probably the best thing to do — but sometimes having extra hanging time together as a family turns out to be more important. So from time to time, especially when we’ve all been running around a lot and not had a lot of hang time together, we’ll stay up way past kiddo’s bedtime, either watching a movie together or just hanging out.

And sometimes we’ll go out and get ice cream when we have no business eating ice cream that late. Life is short!

Make a big mess

Hi, my name is Nataly and I am a total neat freak. I have a really hard time dealing with messes and yet what I’ve learned is that sometimes a happier family means a messier one. (Seriously people, this is a really big deal for me to say, so it really must work.) The other day we came back from a short trip and instead of unpacking — first instinct! — I suggested we go for a walk instead. We ended up not unpacking for two days and you know what? We had extra chill time together and the clothes went back where they were supposed to be eventually.

Then last week in the morning I realized we had a bunch of bananas that were going to rot if we didn’t do something — so with 20 minutes before we had to leave for school kiddo and I whipped together some banana bread dough. We made a serious mess in the kitchen doing this, and we had to leave it there until end of day, but we had so much fun with our last-minute baking project.

I’d love to know if there are any other surprising or counter-intuitive things you do that help you be happier as a family — share, please!

Hacking Productivity: Do This To Your To-Do List And You Will Be Happier

I’m big on to-do lists. And while my entire life revolves around technology, I like to write my to-do list by hand, usually in my orange (of course!) Moleskine.

I used to write my list in the morning, to start the day. Then at some point in the evening I would go through and cross off what I had accomplished. I don’t think I’ve ever crossed off more than 50% of my to-dos and… well, that didn’t make me feel very productive.

Recently I realized what happens: as the day goes on, new stuff comes up that I need to take care of, which wasn’t on my list to begin with. I AM getting things done but when I look at my to-do list, it doesn’t feel that way.

IMG_8909So I’ve turned my to-do list into a Did It / To Do list instead. I still write down what I need to do every morning (well, most mornings), and then try to have the list handy throughout the day as a reminder. But at night, I sit down and as I cross off things, I also add ones that I accomplished but that weren’t on the list to begin with. I used to feel like this was cheating, but it’s actually kind of awesome. I get to see all the stuff I got done in a day and for a moment feel a bit like a superhero.

When I feel productive, I am calmer and happier. So any little hack helps, especially when most of my days feel like I’m juggling while riding a skateboard on uneven ground. (And I say this having actually juggled never, and been on a skateboard once.)

If you have a fave productivity hack, I’d love to hear it!