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!”

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!

Awesome Humans: Malala Yousafzai

inspiring-humans-malala-101514It’s old news by now (at least by Internet standards, where news travels faster than a texting teen), but last week Malala Yousafzai was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (along with Kailash Satyarthi). At just 17 years old, she is the youngest recipient in history. At an age when most teenagers are concerned about little beyond friends and homework, she has already been a tireless education advocate for years.

This (brief) piece on 8 Ways Malala Has Made the World Better for Women is the perfect summation of why she is such an extraordinary young adult.

Congratulations, Malala! You are a credit to Pakistan, ambitious teens, and the whole human race. Knowing you’re in the world makes us happier.

Mindful Break: THIS Makes a Person Great

7edf8a61-6656-4fb8-9f89-bdeadba2d100-1She travels alone to Honduras, Egypt, and Europe.

She kicks back at night with a glass of wine.

She lives on a tropical island and is always planning her next adventure.

Get ready for this…

She is 93-years-old and a self-proclaimed “recycled teenager.”

She is my stepfather’s mom. On Friday when I saw her in Los Angeles, I asked about a big bruise on her arm.

She got the bruise pulling and tugging and yanking her giant piece of luggage from baggage claim.

“What? Nobody offered to help you?” I asked

“No. So I did it myself.”

She wasn’t complaining. It’s not her style. How could nobody offer to help a 93-year-old lady get her heavy bag from baggage claim?!

On a similar note, my wife was riding the subway to work this week. She’s 33 weeks pregnant. Yet most of the time, nobody stands up to giver her their seat. They bury their heads into their mobile devices, hoping not to make eye contact with her and continue playing Candy Crush.

This made me think back several months ago. I was walking down the jetway to board a plane.

I accidentally kicked a woman trying to help her toddler out of the stroller. She said to me, “Aren’t you gonna say sorry?”

Before I could apologize, the torrent of passengers pushed me past her and onto the plane.

I was THAT guy, just like the people in the subway, stuffing their face into their mobile devices and in the process, disconnecting from the human experience.

I ask you as I ask myself: Do the little things matter anymore? Would I have stood up on the subway for a pregnant woman or helped a 93-year-old lady pulling her bag from baggage claim?

Here’s my answer: I would have helped if I saw them, but I probably would NOT have seen them because I would be reading something on my iPhone.

When you stand up for someone on the subway, you stand up for yourself, for your own dignity.

When you help an old lady get her luggage, you relieve another’s burden, and release your own.

The Course in Miracles says, “What you give to others you give to yourself.”

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Poet Mark Nepo tells a story of a little girl he once saw in Honduras. She was slowly but surely pulling the wings off a butterfly and saying, “Pobrecita, pobrecita.” (“Poor little thing.”)

It turns out the little girl had endured great hardship, having lost both her parents and brother.

Nepo explained the sad symbolism of her action, “What we don’t face as our own, we perpetrate on others.” Whether that is active (pulling the wings off a butterfly) or passive (ignoring a 93-year-old), it is real for everyone.

I ask you as I ask myself, what are you pretending not to see because you are are so damn busy?

The question is never… does someone nearby need your help? The question is… are you seeing them?

What you see (or don’t see) around you is merely a refection of what you see (or don’t see) within you.

Nepo speaks of the worst people in history, the Hitlers and Milosevics, who didn’t just wake up one morning and become terrible. They made choices, one at a time, because they did not have the courage to give up illusions and look within.

Let’s flip it. The great ones among us don’t suddenly wake up and become great. They make choices, one a time, because they do have the courage to look within and work through (rather than run from) their issues.

Putting it in everyday terms: courage is the daily decision to move through your own stuff.

Today, look around. Actively seek out someone you can help, whether an old woman… or yourself. It is all one in the same.

The Awesome Power Of Tiny Family Traditions

Most of the time it feels like our little family of three — my kiddo, my husband and myself — are literally running through our days during the week. It’s like a whirlwind of work, school, activities, dinners, breakfasts, events… and often it feels like a race that leaves us exhausted.

I’d love for us to have more time to just chill out and catch our breath, but that’s not happening in the short-term. Instead, what I try to do is come up with tiny traditions we can make part of our crazy busy days. It’s nothing fancy, but turning a regular moment into a small tradition makes it more special, more fun, and makes it feel like our daily race has some pauses in it.

Here are a few of my favorites:

“Civilized mornings”vivaldi

When my husband travels kiddo and I have “civilized mornings.” We put on classical music, make a nice breakfast, I drink tea, and we even speak with a British accent sometimes. It’s our little girls’ tradition and it makes a hectic morning a bit more, well, civilized.

Gratitude lunchbox notes

Every morning I write a little note and put it in kiddo’s lunchbox. I take a few seconds to think of something to thank her for or to tell her something I am looking forward to us doing. It’s my little gratitude ritual every morning and I know it’s something she looks forward to at school.

Friday family movie night

By the time we all get home on Friday we’re exhausted, so cooking is out of the question. We get takeout and have a picnic with it while we watch a movie in the living room. It’s like a big collective family exhale.

Random dinner Sundays

On Sunday nights I cook up a storm for the coming week — I make and prep dinner for four days ahead. So for dinner that night we have our very official “random dinner.” Sometimes it’s leftovers. Sometimes it’s breakfast for dinner. Sometimes it’s really just a collection of random stuff we find in our fridge. It’s chill and relaxed and lets us finish out the weekend on a great note.

Do you have a tiny family tradition to share? Share it in the comments for inspiration — I’d love some new ideas!