Mindful Break: Meet My Son (15 days old)

21ff76a3-6a13-4709-8450-9697c271c34bOn November 23 at 1:47am, my son Remo Romanelli was born.

As many of you have witnessed before, to see that little human being suddenly appear in the delivery room, all I could think was:

“I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!”

Over the past 12 days, I have spent hours staring at his little toes and fingers and ears and lips that formed on their own in the womb and I thought,

“I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!”

Last night, he lay on my lap and we watched SportCenter together and he lifted his tiny head to stare at me, I thought,

“I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!”

And then, after the 12th consecutive sleepless night, as my wife and I lay awake shaking our heads at the ungodly hour of 3am, I thought to myself,

“I CAN BELIEVE IT!”

After doing my best to be supportive of my wife’s 24 hours of labor, I took a taxi home at 5am Sunday morning. It was both the most exhilarated and exhausted I’d ever been… all at once!

I told the taxi driver all about the night and how proud I was of my 6 lb 12 oz bundle of love… AND my wife for laboring for 24 hours!

And the taxi driver, parent of 3, said, “Get ready to be exhausted. You are not going to have anytime to yourself. Kids get sick. They are going to whine. They are going to take everything you have and ask for more.”

And I was thinking to myself, “Geeeez, I’m riding home with the Grinch.”

But then, the taxi driver said, “But you are going to have so much love in your life and it’s all worth it!”

Whether or not you have kids, you know that life is most raw, most awesome, and most wonderful when you are teetering at the edge of ENERGY AND EXHAUSTION, SUCCESS AND FAILURE, HOPE AND DESPAIR.

But you can’t stop digging in and stirring. Because as the taxi driver said, love is what comes from all those emotions.

You need every single one of your losses and failures, wins and triumphs, bad days and bad moods, great days and great moods… to create the alchemy of love.

Happier Jump-Starts: Tips For Holiday Decorating

happier-jumpstarts-120714It’s that blessed time of year… the days are shorter, the demands are greater, and P.S., you’re supposed to be super-happy right now, haven’t you heard? If you’re feeling stressed-out by the season, clearly you’re a Scrooge. (Or, you know, human.)

Many people love dressing up their homes for this month of festive holiday cheer, and some do not love it and do it anyway. Here’s our take on sure-fire holiday decor that’s sure to make you happier.

If you love to decorate, do! Does it make you happier? Do you see it as a joyful experience rather than a chore? Then have a blast! And don’t worry about whether it’s all perfect or meets with the neighbors’ approval. Provided that you’re not setting up a neon glo-dome projecting disco lights directly into someone else’s bedroom window, what you do on your property is your business.

If you don’t love to decorate, don’t! There is no law stating that you must decorate for the holidays. Not even if you’re super-religious. Not even if your mother says you should. Not even if Martha Stewart herself appeared to you in a vision to demand that create a table centerpiece out of pinecones, tinsel, and solid-gold acorns. It’s okay. Not everyone likes to deck the halls. Be honest with yourself.

Find fabulous compromises. If you have children, chances are you have an entire box (or two or three, depending on how many kids and how old they are) of kid-created decorations designed to make you ooh and aah. It can become… a lot. If you’re not a decorator or you don’t particularly love everything in the box, designate a corner or a wall where the kid(s) can showcase their goodies. If you are a decorator—one who loves for everything to look fancy, and feels that pipe-cleaner reindeer damage your aesthetic—do the same. Find small touches that are easy if you’re not big on a whole holiday makeover or tone it done from your dreams of a complete Winter Wonderland if the rest of your family isn’t into it. There’s always a way to make it work.

Figure out what matters to you and do that. If you love a cheesy decoration of questionable taste because it reminds you of important things, use it. If your family gathers ’round for the lighting of the candles or the trimming of the tree and you love it, do that. If you don’t celebrate anything at all but find yourself oddly drawn to a “Season’s Greetings” sign, give in. Or if you simply want to leave your home exactly as it is no matter your holiday plans, because that leaves you more time to enjoy family and friends, more power to you. Seriously.

Remember your holiday mantra. I don’t know what your holiday mantra is, but mine is, “This is not important in the grand scheme of things.” It helps me remember that the flurry of holiday activity that sometimes makes me believe every cookie swap or door wreath is theverymostimportant can pull me away from what really matters. So if I find myself muttering at tangled lights or otherwise bemoaning my lack of decorating skills, I stop, take a breath, and focus on what really matters. (It’s the food.) (Kidding! Just kidding!)

The best decoration for any home is inhabitants who are enjoying life. Everything else is just window dressing.

Mindful Break: The Secret To Power

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 12.26.21 PMWhether you are a world leader, high schooler, entrepreneur, or superstar mom, everyone wants to feel powerful.

Sometimes we feel like we have it. Other times we don’t.

The balance of power is always changing, whether at home, work, or amongst the 8 personalities that play a role in your inner life.

And of course, we all have those times when we feel powerless. Like somebody or something totally owns us.

We can change that and shift the balance of power RIGHT NOW. This is how:

In American culture, one of the ways we define “power” is the guy in the above picture with ginormous muscles and awesome physical strength. But really? Maybe that guy can lift you and your whole family in the air, but unless he can lift your heart and mind, it’s not power!

In his seminal book Power vs. Force, author David Hawkins defines power as a state of awareness, not a sensory experience, look, feel, or balance sheet.

In Hawkins’ research, these are the rarest states of awareness, based on one’s vibration. If you have questions, check out the book. It’s one of my favorites.

LOVE (500): .4% of the global population reaches this level of consciousness. According to Hawkins, love is not based on a relationship. It is permanent, unchanging, unconditional. How many people do you know who feel unconditional love all the time? Pretty rare, right?

JOY (540): This is even rarer than love, experienced by saints, advanced spiritual students, and healers.  It’s based on enormous patience and persistence of positive attitude. How many people do you know who are always patient and positive? We are getting into very rarified territory here.

PEACE (600): Peace is attained by only 1 in 10 million people. Individuals at this level remove themselves from the world. All is alive and radiant. Total bliss. Either these people are hiding in nature, or they are very famous (e.g., The Dalai Lama or The Hugging Saint).

The higher one goes in Hawkins scale, the more powerful they become.

In other words, if you wish to become truly powerful, be more loving, more joyful, more peaceful… not more business savvy, political, or physically fit.

The greatest lesson here is resistance.

The reason Peace is so rare is because peace is a blend of all the emotions. Happy AND sad. Love AND anger. Calmness AND Anxiety.

Nobody in their right mind wants to feel sad or angry or anxious. So we go to great lengths to resist that which is uncomfortable. And then we spend a significant chunk of our time and energy resisting, griping, gossiping, living AGAINST rather than living FOR.

We think things like:

“That person at work has it out for me. I’m going to dominate them and show who’s better!”

“My ex is such an a-hole. I hope I never see them ever again.”

“The holidays are so depressing. I need a drink… make it three!”

All are forms of resistence.

When we allow ourselves to feel whatever comes up without resistance, conditions are conducive to peace.

Loosen, relax, open, breathe.

Power is and forever was yours. Whether or not you accept that is another conversation.

Here’s a confession: I used to think gratitude was really cheesy

This might sound really strange coming from someone who founded a company to help people make gratitude part of their daily life, but I used to think it was a really cheesy concept. It ended up changing my life in ways I’d never expected and in this season of giving thanks, I shared my story over at Time.com.

If you have a few minutes, I hope you head over and read it. And whether you’re a gratitude skeptic — like I used to be — or someone who is more intentional about it, I hope it inspires you to express it in new ways.

noteBecause the most awesome thing about gratitude is just how contagious it is. Every morning since she started kindergarten I’ve been putting a little note in my daughter’s lunchbox. I decorate it with a sticker and tell her something I am proud of her for or just say thank you for something she has done. The past few weeks I’ve been finding a similar note from her taped to my laptop, like this one this morning. I don’t know what makes me happier — writing her the notes or getting hers — but it’s a great reminder that gratitude is easy to pass on.

Feeling Grateful, Thanksgiving And Beyond

Over the last couple of weeks, we challenged Happier users to join us in collecting moments in the “gratitude challenge” collection, which is a little silly because Happier is all about finding that kind of gratitude all the time. But we thought a targeted challenge in honor of Thanksgiving would make sense.

In surprising news to absolutely no one, the number one contributor to this collection was… our fearless leader, Nataly. (Pretend you’re shocked.)

gratitude-challenge-natalyk(For whatever it’s worth, that’s our community manager, Kimberly, standing there, and then Laura, our PR lead, and Barbara, our program manager, sitting on the couches. Walking into an office they’re in is pretty much the definition of awesome.)

We were thrilled to see other users picking up the gauntlet, too.

gratitude-challenge-fionahFiona took a moment to to really savor her friendship with BFF Michelle. Did Michelle see this message? It doesn’t matter. This was about Fiona’s gratitude.

gratitude-challenge-janamJana could’ve easily been annoyed at the interruption caused by a power outage, but instead, she took a minute to appreciate her generator! That’s what we’re talking about, right there.

I think this moment from BookPRGirl is my favorite one so far, though:
gratitude-challenge-bookprgirllThis is why we do what we do. Knowing that we’ve helped people cultivate this sort of “attitude of gratitude” is why we’re here; we love seeing people marvel at how such a small shift in focus can make such a huge difference.

Happy Thanksgiving, Happier family. We are grateful for you, today and every day.

Happier Jump-Starts: Perfect Thanksgiving Recipes

happier-jumpstarts-112314If you’re in the US, chances are you’re getting ready for Thanksgiving this week—whether that means hosting, traveling, or just hiding out and eating ice cream straight from the carton (don’t worry, we don’t judge). I’m not sure how any of us ever cooked before the Internet, but nowadays, any sort of event means turning to various resources online to figure out your food.

Or, um, maybe that’s just me. Let’s pretend it’s you, too. Go with me, here. If you find yourself looking at recipes online, keep these helpful tips in mind before the big day:

Read the comments. Reading the comments on recipes can often clue you in to reviews, helpful substitutions, cooking time adjustments, and other tweaks you might find useful. On the other hand, reading the comments may incite rage. (See also: All the Comments on Every Recipe Blog.) Gauge your mood and resilience before proceeding into any comment section.

Go with old favorites. If ever there was a holiday suited to Grandma’s time-worn recipe cards, Thanksgiving is it. There’s some allure to a new recipe, of course, but one day a year, go ahead and use the butter and whatever else you “shouldn’t” be eating. There’s a reason those recipes have stood the test of time (they’re delicious). If you have a tried-and-true recipe everyone loves, go for it.

Stop worrying about perfection. There’s no such thing as a perfect meal, and fretting over making it so is a losing game. Remember—memorable meals require happiness, not perfection, and you can serve that alongside any dish.

Be realistic and call in reinforcements. If you’re not a cook, buy pre-prepared food, or ask others to help. I love to cook, but I also know lots of folks who don’t who insist on putting themselves through the paces for a big meal while hating every minute. Life is really too short for that; there’s no such thing as a perfect recipe if cooking it makes you miserable.

When all else fails, improvise. Smooth over any food issues seamlessly with a beautifully-set table. And by “beautifully-set table,” I of course mean “booze.” (Kidding! I kid! Mostly!) Any food tastes better when served on a pretty platter or at a gorgeous table or even accompanied by a good story. In other words: The food isn’t just food, and you and your style and personality are what make it great. You don’t need a recipe for that.

Ready for the big meal, or dreading it? You can cook up amazing memories either way.