How To Slow Down Time

Do you ever feel like every year time seems to fly faster and faster? Like this summer went by faster than the one before it? Like your kids are growing faster than before?

I do, all the time. And it turns out there are neurological reasons for this.

The older we get, the less new things we experience and learn. Our brains are built to preserve energy so when there is a lot of routine in our lives, we tune those experiences out. In a way, our brains go on auto-pilot and time seems to just float by. The less attention we pay to the moment we’re in, the faster it seems to move.

So what are we to do? The awesome news is that there ARE ways to slow down time — by introducing mobreathmomentre new experiences into our lives and by pausing to appreciate more moments in our every day.The more present we are, the more beauty we notice around us, the more we pause to actually be in the moment we are in, the slower time will run away from us.

If you feel me smiling as I write this, I am. We created Happier with the goal of helping millions of people find and collect more small happy moments in their lives. It turns out one of the cool things we can also help you do is slow down time just a bit. Yes, that makes me happier.

The weekend is almost here and I’d like to ask you to do something:

Notice and pause to appreciate at least 3 beautiful things around you this weekend. They can be anything – a beautiful sky, a beautiful taste, a beautiful person, a feeling. But really pause and inhale the beauty, be there with it. And notice if the time is flying by just a little bit slower.

Awesome Humans: Jacob Cramer and Love For The Elderly

happier-jacob-cramer-091014While most early high schoolers are adjusting to a new school, figuring out how to open their lockers, and maybe hanging out and eating pizza with friends in their spare time, 14-year-old Jacob Cramer is busy coordinating Love For The Elderly, his project to collect and distribute letters of kindness to senior citizens throughout America.

The letters and cards are flooding in from all over the world, each one brightening the day of its recipient. Cramer says he wanted to do “something productive” with his free time. Spreading happiness, especially to those who might otherwise feel isolated? We’d say that’s out favorite kind of being productive.

We think Love For The Elderly is awesome, and you can get involved by writing a letter if you want to be part of it. Rock on, Jacob Cramer! You’re spreading happiness, and you make us happier!

Mindful Break: The Next Big Thing In Wellness Is…

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She approached me after class and asked the question I never, ever thought I’d hear:

“Dave, how did you get such ripped abs? Is it the yoga?”

I couldn’t tell if she was being serious.

She had fancy workout gear, was in great shape, had a fantastic yoga practice.

And then she said, “Just kidding!”

As she walked into the Power Hour class, I looked down at my core, leaner than it used to be, but still showing evidence of late night adventures to South Brooklyn Pizza.

So be it… I have learned to be proud of what I got!

*****

Over the past few year, we have seen a proliferation of elite wellness on social media.

Maybe you’ve seen the pictures and words:

“Here I am in a one-handed handstand. Practice makes Perfect. #handstand #werkIt!”

“Crow Pose while surfing this sick wave on the Big Island.” #108inthe808 #GratitudePrincess #workNEVER”

“Green Juice Throwdown! #30LBSin30Days”

This is a form of wellness for people with a certain type of a body, a certain type of income, a certain amount of free time.

Should something as important as wellness be so exclusive?

Maybe it’s just me all the exclusive wellness stuff makes me feel hairy in the all the wrong places. (I know I know I know what the self-helpers are saying right now: “Dave, you are projecting.”)

I’ll tell you what I’m projecting: A NEW TYPE OF WELLNESS that is inclusive of the other 95% of the population.

-Here’s a shout out to anyone who, like me, feels like a Ford F-150 on the yoga mat and doesn’t care about doing fancy poses.

-Here’s a call to action for anyone who wants to embrace wellness but just can’t stomach green juice.

-Here’s a rally cry for those of you who can’t make the trip to Hawaii (work, kids, $$$$) but are all for a trip to your Inner Hawaii.

If you, like me, are part of The Other 95%… let’s be honest with ourselves. Wellness does not come when we can balance on our hands or bare our belly on the beach…

… but when we can find someone to hug (or high five)…

… when we can perceive beauty as a feeling (not a look)…

… when we can smile because we have surrendered (not dominated).

Try this on for size: HAPPY is the new Healthy!

Why Fun Might Be The Answer

Today I want to share with you something that was part of the inspiration behind Happier.

Of course there were the many years I spent reading through research about the power of feeling more positive and the awesome health benefits that brings. And there was my personal journey from chasing the absolute wrong kind of happiness (that made me miserable) to realizing that the right kind, the in-the-moment kind, was right there all along (which made me happier).

But there was something else:

The power of FUN.

Yes, fun. Let me explain by asking you to watch this video:

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The Fun Theory: Piano Staircase

The Fun Theory is one of my favorite projects. It’s sponsored by Volkswagen and every year they ask people to submit a video about how they used fun to solve a problem. The Piano Staircase is my favorite. I also love this one about getting (lazy) people to throw garbage into garbage cans at a park.

The idea behind this is extremely simple: If you make a boring or annoying task just a little bit more fun, more people will want to do it. They may not take the stairs because it’s good for them or throw away garbage to be good citizens. But they will if doing those things is fun.

I think this is extremely powerful and here’s how it inspired Happier (and a lot of what I try to do in my own life):

Our days are filled with routines. And stress. And stuff we have to do but don’t want to do. Creating or finding a few moments of fun in every day won’t solve major problems, won’t always change a bad mood to good, won’t cure sickness or give you more money when you need it.

But adding a bit of fun to your days can and will help you deal with everything else you have to face and give you a bit of extra fuel. It will make you smile. It will help you chill out for a bit. And I think all of that is incredibly important and a big reason for why we started Happier: To inspire you to find and create more of those small happy/positive/content/FUN moments in your everyday life.

Last week I wrote about making omelets with chocolate chips and sprinkles with my daughter on a day when stress got to me. That’s one way I try to make fun part of my life — I use it as a way to get through really stressful times. I am not always successful but I love trying.

Have an awesome weekend and I hope you’ll find a few moments for fun!

Awesome Humans: Chris Conley Is No “Average” Athlete

awesome-humans-chris-conleyToday I’m thrilled to bring you someone awesome who’s been something of a local celeb for a while, but is now garnering national attention (as well he should). Chris Conley is a Georgia Bulldog (that means he plays football for UGA, for those of you not ensconced in dawg-land) with an impressive athletic record—he’s just starting his senior year and is expected to be drafted by the NFL in the spring. Yet… that picture above isn’t what you typically see for a renowned college football player.

That’s because Conley is also a screenwriter, film director, actor, and that’s him as a galactic villain in his Star Wars fan film, Retribution. All of that is on top of being an honor journalism student, musician, and—by all accounts—just an all-around nice guy. Want to learn more? ESPN ran a great piece on him last week.

Listen, football is a huge deal around here, and most of the time, I can take it or leave it. Sometimes our student athletes aren’t the model citizens we make them out to be. This young man appears to be the real deal, an inspiration and way more than what we see on the football field. Well done, Mr. Conley! You make me proud to be a Dawg!

Mindful Break: Wakeup Call

mindful-break-friday-wakeup-callHappiness is best experienced when we are willing to feel all the emotions deeply and richly. As Helen Keller said, “The hilltop hour would not be half as wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.”

So I would like to share the following with you in the hope that it will make you feel something, that it will awaken you, that today will be a bit more meaningful, if not happier.

Last week I did something everyone MUST do: visit the newly opened 9/11 Memorial in New York City.

If you speak in the language of history, this was a turning point. As one person described, 9/11 happened in OUR life and therefore it’s OUR catastrophe.

In the future, it will be A catastrophe. But it is still OURS.

If you speak in the language of energy, the 3,000 souls lost on 9/11/01 are stirring amidst this stone and steel cathedral. Being there, you are both haunted and transfixed. An energy moves you to stand tall, to be quiet, to pay attention.

I will skip 99% of what lies in the Memorial. You need to see it for yourself.

But there is one part I need to share. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it will wake you up today. And if it can awaken just one of you, it’s worth sharing.

In a small alcove of the Memorial, there is a section about those people who, overwhelmed with heat and smoke, jumped or fell from the Twin Towers.

James Gilroy, a distraught bystander on that fateful morning, described one woman in the moments before she jumped:

“She had a business suit on, her hair all askew. This woman stood there for what seemed like minutes and then she held down her skirt and jumped off the ledge. I thought, how human, how modest, to hold down her skirt before she jumped. I couldn’t look anymore.”

This woman came to her final moment, horror racing through, ramshackling her memories of her family and friends, shattering the windows of her reality… and even then, EVEN THEN… she did it with dignity.

EVEN THEN, she found the grace and repose to stand tall… to hold down her skirt as she jumped.

If she can find such dignity  while staring over the edge of life, 1300 feet above the ground…

…how can we not do it too?!

We have our lives and for that we are blessed.

Today, to anyone out there who is crumpled up in a ball of stress or anxiety or fear…

… let’s honor that lady who found the dignity and strength to hold down her skirt before she jumped from the edge of the World Trade Center.

Today… stand taller, be kinder, live deeper.

Just like that lady, you, too, are strong.

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.

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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.)