My bad day gone happier story: First day of school

Hi, my name is Nataly and I am now a mom of a fourth grader. (AHHHHH!!!!!! Hold both hands to head, makes crazy eyes of disbelief, and wonders where the time flew!)

Here’s my “bad day gone happier story” about kiddo’s first day of school:

I was having a really bad day because I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before.

We went away for the long weekend, I didn’t do a lot of work for the first time in forever, and when we got back Monday afternoon, there was a bunch of cooking, cleaning, organizing to be done. By the time I opened my laptop it was 9pm and I had a lot of work to catch up on. I went to bed super late and woke up super grumpy and tired. (Sleep really does make you happier. Don’t follow my example.)

Being grumpy and tired on the morning of my kiddo’s first day of school sucked. I dragged my feet, got snappy about her not getting her stuff organized the night before, answered an email in a way I should not have, and I am sure was just a pain to be around.

But I managed to find some happy moments anyway when I decided that whip cream on pancakes was a really great idea to turn the morning happier.

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Kiddo was totally surprised. She loved it. And while it didn’t make me less tired, it certainly made me less grumpy :)

What’s your “bad day gone happier” story? Share it here and we may publish it on happier.com and in our app in the coming weeks!

What makes you happier, Michael?

Our community is full of amazing Happiers, and when Michael posted this epic photo on Facebook and we just had to get to know him better. So we did! Meet Michael.

Michael's Facebook post

What makes you happier, Michael?
Nature!! Human nature, Mother Nature… I’m truly fascinated by the world that we live in.

Describe your perfect happy day.
Bear with me now because I’m going to try and squeeze a lot into this day!

The day would begin with a sunrise walk with my wife, Kaitlin. I should note that I have a child-like obsession with trains, so our morning stroll would likely take place along the railroad tracks… preferably where they run through a natural landscape and definitely with our cameras in hand!

Michael's photos

Now this may sound a bit crazy, but the next part of my perfect happy day would take place at work. Aside from photography, I am an Irish step-dance teacher (yes, like Riverdance), and if I’m being honest, I really can’t imagine a perfect day that doesn’t include teaching my youngsters.

Later in the afternoon Kaitlin and I would head down to the beach. We’re both very close to our families, so our parents, Kaitlin’s siblings, and maybe a few friends would join us for some surfing, relaxing, and a barbecue in the sand. To cap off the night, Kaitlin and I would put on a movie (or watch Big Bang Theory) and have a nice, relaxing evening at home.

What’s your go-to when you need a boost of happiness?
I discovered a wonderful song by Paul Evans about 15 years ago called “Happy-Go-Lucky Me.”  I dare you to listen to this song without smiling!  If there were a movie about my life, this song would definitely be the hit song on the soundtrack.

What’s the last thing you smiled about?
I just came from my parent’s house and they have the NICEST mailman! He’s very jovial, very chatty, and always has a smile on his face.

As a professional photographer, what are your favorite parts of your job?
Smiles!! When I began my career as a lifestyle photographer, my approach was as an artist… composing creative photos that my clients would want to show off to their family and friends. As time went on I realized that my joy wasn’t in looking at the photos after a session, it was in the interactions i had with my clients during the session. By shifting my focus from the resulting photographs to the client’s experience, I found myself taking a genuine interest in getting to know each individual’s personality, making photo shoots more enjoyable for both the clients and myself.  Now I find that my clients often love their photos before they’ve seen a single image, all because it was a fun, positive experience!

What do you dig about Happier?
I love the positivity that fuels our Happier community! While other social networks have become venues for complaining and corporate advertising, Happier is built on optimism and the understanding that no joy is too small to appreciate. There’s something to be said about giving an otherwise fleeting moment of happiness, a tangible, physical presence in our lives by way of text or photo, and Happier really makes it an easy process.

The accessibility of the Happier team is wonderful, and being able to send a smile to another person’s moment has got to be the greatest idea on the Internet! I really just love everything about the Happier community; the staff, the app, the website… you’ll be hard pressed to find a bigger fan than me (though I’m happy to share my title of Number #1 Fan with each of you!

What makes you happier, Lexi?

Talking with Lexi was like getting a ray of sunshine right through the phone! I’m pretty sure I had a ridiculous grin on my face the entire time we were talking because she is just that awesome! But don’t take my word for it. Check out what makes Lexi happier and I dare you not to be happier yourself after reading it :)

So, what makes you happier, Lexi?
Everything has the power to make me happier! I’m not saying I’m easily amused, which I am, but I find happiness in everything! Setting my alarm to a great song can make me happy all day. Life is too awesome to sweat what is not in our control. Nataly [the co-founder of Happier] had a vision to make everyone see the little things & I, like her, have been doing that since I was little. I have a colorful mind & vision to share with the world & that in itself makes me grateful & happier.

What makes you happier, Lexi?

Lexi’s adorable family and too cute kiddo.

Describe your perfect day.
My perfect day cannot be described. As long as it has some yoga in it or a chance for meditation I am game for anything!  I love the mystery & spontaneity this life unfolds for us.

What have you learned about happiness that you wish you knew when you were younger?
I found out young how to achieve happiness. I, like every young girl, still struggled with wanting the cool clothes & popular crowd to like me, but I realized I was original and that I had something no one else had & that was my own self.  I do wish more people saw that happiness is always around if we take the time to see what we hold within. Our society is so goal-oriented. We all seem to be on this fast track of success & I, fortunately, blessed or destined, escaped that way of living. My friends & family always ask how I can be happy making so little money & working so hard, and I tell them that doing what I do brings those around me happiness as well as myself. The richest I’ve ever been was my very first massage client or my very first yoga class. Whether people do what I do or whether they go to work for the law, or in the medical industry, or as a barista at Starbucks, they know what a simple smile does & they know what it feels like to make a difference in someone’s life. It’s just up to them to recognize it.

The little things

If you could have anyone — past or present — in your yoga class, who would it be?
Past: I would love to have my grandparents see me teach. They see me now I’m sure, but to have them witness what they knew I possessed would be something unforgettable! Present: I would love my parents to come & watch me. To know that yoga works. Whether it’s mentally, emotionally or physically. They could use some time out of their heads, for sure! I thought of picking great leaders or someone famous, but they are just as normal as me, they’ve just been called to those roles & to do something great. My family are the ones that need that grain of knowledge, & everyday I give them a chance to see my path. That goes for everyone I encounter, really.

What’s your go-to when you need a dose of happy?
My daughter. I will go sit in her room when she is at school & just listen to the light. From the pink paint on her walls, to the energy she puts in her toys, I feel at ease & I am instantly grateful & reminded of the innocence we’ve all had & can still have. The mind of a child puts things back in perspective & I live life with that in mind & heart. An old soul with the ability to break out the slip’n slide on a whim!

What do you dig about Happier?
I dig seeing that the littlest things make people smile. Things that I haven’t yet noticed are being noticed! The yoga community, like any, still has drama! We aren’t all enlightened as some think! Haha. So, to see someone in Egypt or in Iowa enjoying & sharing a sunset fuels my day. I’m grateful to share little bits of my life with strangers & I hope to make a difference in any way I can for them! Happiness works!

What makes you happier, Rachel?

Our first introduction to Rachel and her extraordinary levels of awesome, was when we saw the epic photo that she created to celebrate her 100th happy moment. We absolutely had to get to know her. So we did what any super fan would do. We used our Happier super powers to find her contact info and we emailed her. And we loved her so much that then we called her. We think you’ll love her too.

What makes you happier, Rachel?
Traveling makes me super happy because I love exploring new places and capturing moments amid different landscapes. Blogging and writing love letters are other happy pastimes helping me record memories that my children will hopefully read and appreciate one day.  Watching my children play/draw/dance/laugh is always a daily dose of happiness. Memories of Caesar (my late golden retriever) flood me with happiness, and I hope to create new ones with another tiny pup by the end of the year. My home, nestled in a quiet part of a Midwest metropolis, creates happiness because it’s my sanctuary. It’s also a great gathering place for a bonfire or summer party…complete with me dancing to 80s music, if so desired!

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Describe your perfect happy day.
My perfect happy day would include my family and I waking up in a European destination with sunlight spilling through the window. After breakfast, we’d take a walk through the city center and local shops.  We’d collect groceries along the way to have a picnic in a cemetery. (Yes, some cemeteries I’ve visited are truly beautiful and {gasp} romantic.) For the afternoon, we’d go for a hike and take pictures of us doing cartwheels midway through the trek. We’d dine al fresco for dinner and top it off with beer for the mister, wine for me and ice cream for the kids. Our evening would be topped off by lazing on a balcony under a blanket and watching the sunset welcome a starry sky. (A girl can dream, right?)

What’s your go-to when you need a boost of happiness?
Music is my go-to without a doubt! Not a day goes by when I don’t listen to music. My phone is full of playlists like: Bop (for those extra long runs that need extra peppy tunes); Chill (for times when I like a soothing background ambiance); Newbies (for discovering new music that won’t get lost in my thousands of songs); and Zen (for centering myself with prayer time, which often happens in my car.)
To me, music is like this quote:
“Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling.  A song makes you feel a thought.” – E.Y. Harburg

RachelS_HappierWhat’s the last thing you smiled about?
I smiled while looking at old photos. I found myself lingering on pictures of my family’s Hawaiian adventure this past February. With each picture I clicked, I smiled remembering the story behind every snapshot. Photography is a happy outlet for me, whether it is my own or a friend’s or a total stranger. Besides the wonderful moments written on Happier, I’m delighted that ‘Happiers’ can share pictures with one another, too.

If you could high five anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?
My high-five (or perhaps, more appropriately, my curtsey) would go to the late Princess Diana. I’ve even blogged about her!  Her humanitarianism and charitable persona were quite inspirational to my young, impressionable self.  I would’ve been tickled to chat with Lady Di about her daily life, what she wanted most for her two young boys, and what inspired her. Oh, and I would’ve inquired whether she ever had braces because her smile was impeccable! :)

What do you dig about Happier?
Happier is, well…how do I put it? Okay, it’s AWESOME! I’m so glad I found this application because it is an uplifting, mood enhancing, little slice of heaven. It would be hard to not smile after viewing the countless joyful moments that people share. This community is lovely, and I’d go so far as to say that other social media sites better watch out ‘cause happiness is contagious! Keep up the great work, Happier team!

What makes you happier, Claire?

Meet Claire. She’s a former NCAA rowing champion (Go Badgers!) who’s worked in some of the country’s top kitchens, got a dual MBA/Masters in Sports Management, and all the while being a completely amazing person. We think you’ll like her.

Featured Happier: Meet Claire.So, what makes you happier, Claire?
Fantastic meals with wonderful people. Friendly dogs with personalities. The stillness of early mornings. Running with friends. Really good dark chocolate bars. The conversations I have with my sister.

Describe your perfect day.
Morning run with my girlfriends in some scenic place, followed by a trip to the farmers’ market with an iced coffee in hand. Next would be a walk down to the dog park, where I could get my fill of canine glee. Then perhaps a quick nap before I start preparing an al fresco dinner for friends using my farmers’ market bounty. And of course, delicious wine to be enjoyed by all.

What’s your go-to when you need a boost of happiness?
Typing “Welsh Corgis” into Google Images.

What’s the last thing that made you smile?
An email from my awesome boyfriend. And this.

Having just graduated with your MBA (congrats!) what advice would you give to students about being happy?
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in projects, papers, job searching and grades. Don’t lose sight of what makes you happy and keeps you grounded. At the end of the day, the piece of paper is useless if you’re unhappy. These two quotes helped guide me through grad school:

“Make space for the things you love.”

“Remember that some things count more than other things.”

What do you dig about Happier?
It rarely allows me to have an overwhelmingly bad day anymore. It also helps me stay connected with my beloved Boston friends all the way from Atlanta! Plus the design is clean, friendly and engaging.

What makes you happier, Jayne?

Meet Jayne. She’s one of our awesome Happier users who runs marathons, loves dogs, and has a master’s degree in New Media. We got her to stop running and throwing a tennis ball long enough to sit down and talk to us about what makes her happier.

So, what makes you happier, Jayne?
I have two dogs, Connor and Gracie, and I love recognizing the things that make them happy. My husband, Jason, and I joke about their list of favorite things all the time: sausage, running in the woods, the beach, finding something to roll in at the beach, and their golden retriever-friend Barney. It’s funny that what makes me happier (black raspberry ice cream, running, and great friends and family) isn’t that much more complex than what makes dogs happier.

What makes Jayne happier?What’s your go-to when you need a boost of happiness?
Definitely a run with one of my dogs. Bonus if ice cream is also involved.

Describe your perfect happy day.
Sunny and 80 degrees, and I would go for an effortless yet super-fast run along the beach. In Hawaii. And then I’d hike a volcano with Jason, the dogs, and all of my friends. We’d stumble upon a bowl of ice cream (noticing a theme here?) and a cure for cancer… possibly a baby polar bear.

Have you realized something about being happier that you didn’t know when you were younger?
Mainly that I’m in control of it. It’s a decision that I have the power to make on a moment-by-moment basis.

We noticed a lot of incredibly delicious-looking photos in your ‘eating awesome food’ collection. What’s your favorite happy food of all time?
I’m afraid this sounds lame, but I make an awesome breakfast smoothie with fresh cherries, raspberries, avocado, and milk that’s perfect after a hot run.

As an avid social media consumer, what makes Happier different?
The design is smooth, light, clean, and clear. You open the app and immediately know what to do. I downloaded it thinking I might use it once a week or so, but I turn to it multiple times every day! It reminds me of a fresh, bright, and well-composed bowl of fruit salad (that’s a good thing). Happier Design Team: really nice work!

Yes, money can make you happier, says Mike Norton

MikeNortonLike me, you’ve probably read about research showing that money doesn’t make us happy (above a certain baseline). In fact, household income in the US has gone up for the last 30 years while life satisfaction has decreased.

But Mike Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School, has done a lot of research to show that in fact, money CAN make you happier if you spend it the right way. I was so inspired by reading about it that I went to meet him when I was thinking about starting Happier. I can report that in addition to being really smart he is also just awesome.

Happy MoneyI recently interviewed Mike about what makes him happier and how we can spend money in ways that makes us more satisfied. He also has a new book called Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, which he co-authored with Elizabeth Dunn. It’s decidedly unboring and has inspired me to think about and change some of the ways I prioritize spending money.

So, Mike, what makes you happier?
Ideas! Nothing is more fun than meeting new people and coming up with new ideas about how “the humans” (as we social scientists call them) work. And the very best ideas are those that have the potential to give people guidance on how to inject more happiness into their lives – a topic my co-author Liz Dunn and I have been studying for a decade now.

You’ve studied money and happiness for a long time now. What’s the biggest myth people believe about how money can make them happy?
The biggest myth is also the most pervasive and hardest to shake: more is better. Research shows that after people hit a certain amount of income (some estimates say around $75,000 a year), the next few thousand bucks really doesn’t affect their day to day happiness all that much. What we suggest people should think is not “Do I have enough money to be happy?” but rather “Am I using the money I have now in the best way to wring the most happiness from every dollar?”

If I have $20 to spend, what would you suggest I do spend it on to feel happier?
This one is easy. Buy an experience for someone you care about, and, geez, since that person is going, why not tag along with them? Not only does spending our money on others make us happier than spending on ourselves, but buying experiences makes us much happier than buying stuff. And spending time with loved ones is a huge happiness booster.

What’s the last thing you purchased that made you happier?
The last thing I purchased that made me happier was actually something I didn’t purchase. I got all wrapped up in wanting to buy a new fancy flat screen TV, spent hours comparing models, and then remembered my own advice – quit buying stuff. In fact one of the best ways to use your money to get happy is simply to stop using it to buy stuff that doesn’t pay off in happiness. I can’t say I always catch myself before I click ‘Buy,” though.

 

What makes you happier, Brian Kalma?

We’re pretty psyched to talk to Brian Kalma this week and find out what makes him happier. Not only do we think he’s a pretty awesome part of the start-up scene in Boston (currently cranking over at Ministry of Supply), but he is a kickass UX designer who got his stripes at a little-know company called Zappos. Follow Brian on Twitter @krianbalma.

briankalma2So Brian, what makes you happier?
I have found that what tends to boost my happiness levels are moments when I see progress towards goals. I used to think the pathway towards being happier was purely about following passions, while I still believe it is a pathway I am starting to learn that there are many happy moments that live outside the boundaries of passion.

Have you realized something about being happier that maybe you didn’t when, well, you were younger?
Yes, basically I learned how much my attitude in general aids my ability to be happier. When I was younger I waited for things to come to me, and when they did not I was sad or upset. As an adult (by age only) I realize that I control my ability to be happier way more than I ever could have imagined in my younger years.

You spent a good part of your career at Zappos, a company whose tagline is “Delivering happiness.” What did you learn there about being happier?

Simply put I learned how the happiness of others can assist my ability to be happier. Thus nudging me even more in the direction of positive thinking and action.

As a user experience designer, what are your favorite parts of your job?
Seeing people smile using products I design. Also, I get kicks out of solving defined problems, makes me smile!

Favorite happy food of all time?
Chicken cutlets!!!!

What makes you happier, Lisa Stone?

series_whatmakesyouhappierThis week we are thrilled to talk with the awesome Lisa Stone, co-founder and CEO of BlogHer, award-winning journalist, and just a really insanely great person. You can follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaStone.

What makes you happier, Lisa?
Laughing at The Onion with my amazing teenage boys. Walking our Australian Cattle Dog with @ccarfi late at night. Riding my bike – anywhere! Baking…ANYTHING!

lisastoneHave you realized something about being happier that maybe you didn’t know when you were younger?
Love is how you spend your time — work and at home. The children won’t remember the clean house and they don’t understand the job for most of their young lives. They will remember that you cracked a joke and told them they are your own personal rock stars every time you sent them out on their day.

Don’t be afraid to squash anything toxic around you — friends, habits or plastics.

Forgiveness starts with forgiving your own self. LET IT GO.

Generosity is contagious.

Write short.

You’ve built BlogHer into a really successful company. What have been some of the happiest moments along the way?
Paying 5,000 women — and men! — $25 million from 2009-2012. These checks pay for groceries, rent, mortgages, nice things and small business growth!

Creating 64 jobs in media.

Laughing with my co-founders, Elisa and Jory, whose partnership is even stronger after eight years together.

Watching President Barack Obama talk about the quality of conversation on BlogHer.com as he introduced/opened BlogHer ’12 in NYC via live video.

If you’re having a rough day, what are your standbys for a positivity boost?
Coffee. My baby sisters and brother — texts, emails, calls. Prayer.  Working out.

What advice would you give your kids about being happy?
Thank you for all you have given me.

You can call me any time about any thing in the world.

Happiness is a gift economy — the more you give to other people — love, charity, faith, hope — the happier you will feel.

Keep working out.

Cut out the toxins — people, habits, substances. But not cinnamon rolls or pie.

Find something that makes you laugh and go read it.

Call your mama, she will lift you up :)

What makes you happier, Peggy Fitzpatrick?

series_whatmakesyouhappierThis week we chat with the super energized Peggy Fitzpatrick. Always rockin’ a positive attitude she is a writer who is passionate and active in social media. You can follow her on Twitter @PegFitzpatrick.

peggy

What makes you happier, Peggy?
My family makes me happier. They make me smile and share my life with me. Smiling makes me happier and shares “the happy” with other people.

What advice would you give your younger self about being happier?
I would tell younger me not to worry about what other people think. What really matters is that you try to be the best person that you can be and make the right choices for YOU. Also, when nosy or rude people ask questions, you don’t have to answer them unless it’s something that you feel comfortable talking about.

You’re having a bad day. What’s your go-to for a quick boost of happy?
Music! I love to start the day off with music to work by, music to get my toes tapping and sometimes to reframe the mood. If the weather is gloomy, I’ll wear bright colors and listen to some fun show tunes or Disney music. It’s impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to music from Enchanted.

Favorite quote that inspires you?
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
— Mother Teresa

Download Happier for your iPhone and start collecting the happy moments in your life!