Happier Jump-Starts: Learn, baby, learn!

happier-jump-start-7-21-14Did you have a great weekend? I know we’re all supposed to grumble about Mondays, but… once I’ve gotten up and had my coffee, I kind of dig ‘em. If I had a great break from work, I’m ready to get back to it. If I had a stressful weekend, I’m ready to start a new week. I feel you, Monday.

Monday is also cool with me because it’s time for this week’s Happier Challenge. Ready?

This week, think about something new that you learned recently.

This one is super easy because unless you’ve been hibernating, chances are excellent that you’re learning new stuff all the time. It turns out that learning new things is proven to make us happier, so if you can’t think of anything, consider exploring something about which you’ve always wanted to know more!

Here, I’ve even help you cheat—surely some of the following reading/viewing will be new to you. You might learn something, and it’s a great way to make your week even more awesome. Check these out:

Have a happier week, and don’t forget to report back on the Happier Challenge!

Happier Starts: Tips for a Happier Read

happier-reading-tipsOne of my favorite parts of summer is when my family goes camping… and a lot of people think that’s because I like camping. (It’d be a logical conclusion, but that’s not why.) I like camping because I love sitting outside with a good book, and even though I could do that at home, it feels more permissible in the middle of nowhere.

Whether you and yours are dedicated bookworms already or you’re looking to amp up your reading habits, making reading happier is easier than you might think.

1) Do theme days. Looking to mix it up? Before you walk into the library the next time, announce that everyone will be picking a biography… or a comic… or a book of poetry… or something else you don’t usually select. How wacky can you go? We’ve had “find the coolest cover” contests and “get a stranger to recommend it” days and more. Picking books doesn’t always have to be serious, and you may discover something new.

2) Read together. Everyone knows you’re supposed to read to children, but how many of us keep it up once they’re old enough to read for themselves? Being read to is a luxury for anyone, and reading a great book together is a great bonding experience for all ages. Take turns reading chapters aloud with your kids, significant other, or friends. It’s a very different experience than reading alone.

3) If you loved it, read it again. In today’s go-go-go society, many of us have trouble making time for reading, and rereading a book may sound silly. It’s not, though—returning to the books you already love (especially ones read during your formative years) are a little nostalgic vacation for your brain.

4) Start or join a book club. This doesn’t mean you have to have officers and finger sandwiches and a meeting hall; it can be as informal as you and a few friends and some cheese curls (no judgment). The next best thing to reading together is having fellow readers to discuss a juicy book with after you’re done.

5) Follow what you love. If you’re having trouble finding a book that hooks you, start with one that did. Who wrote it? Have you read the author’s other books? If not, try some of those. If yes, have you gone to your local library or bookstore and asked for recommendations based upon that book/author? (Even online there’s lots of “if you love this book you may also like…” sorts of things, but real live book-dealing people would love to help you find a good book, I promise.) If you love one author, do some research to find out who they read, too.

I hope you’re finding lots of happy reading for yourself this summer, and always!

Living Happier with Nataly: An anti-stress treat

Happier Friday!

Wait, is it Friday? Because, for me, this feels like one of those Mondays-on-a-Friday. Have you had one of those days?

Last week I did something I haven’t done in a really long time: I went on vacation and did not look at my email. Zero. Nada. (If this doesn’t sound like a big deal, believe me, it was for me. Running a start-up usually means I’m on 24/7.)

It was AWESOME. But when I came back earlier this week I felt like an avalanche hit me — catching up on email, work stuff, team stuff, home stuff has been pretty overwhelming. Which is why this Friday feels more like a Monday.

gooseberries-cherriesI have this rule where when I feel UGH in the morning — stressed, tired, grumpy, overwhelmed (you know, UGH) — I try to find a quick pick-me-up. I love fruit, and I especially love summer fruit, so I packed myself a container full of cherries and gooseberries, and devoured it first thing after I got into the office.

It was a small treat and a super-tasty one. I’m smiling now as I write about it! And while it didn’t remove all of my stress or deal with all of the endless emails screaming for my attention, it was a tiny happy moment that made this Monday-on-a-Friday a little more awesomer. (Awesomer totally is a word; just ask my 10-year-old daughter.)

I hope you make time for a quick treat for yourself this weekend!

Cheers,
Nataly, Happier co-founder & CEO

Happier Hearts: Lifefactory glass water bottle

Nataly's water bottle momentBeing happier has nothing to do with having more stuff, but I’ve learned that having a few things that make you smile is awesome. Once a week I’m sharing a find – or a few! – that’s making me smile. Here’s what I’m loving this week:

This is my favorite water bottle. I don’t really like water, so I got a fun bottle that looks awesome to inspire me (and trick me!) into drinking more every day. It’s glass, BPA-free, and orange (my favorite), so every time I see it and fill it up, I’m reminded that healthy habits don’t have to feel like hard work.

Takeaway tip: If there’s a healthy habit you’re having a hard time sticking to, find a way to make it fun. Finding a happier water bottle inspired me to drink more water more often!

Happier Jump-Starts: You look fabulous, dahling!

happier-jump-start-7-14-14

It’s Monday, and you know what that means! It means that… it’s the day after Sunday. Obviously. (Haaaa! Humor makes you happier, you know.)

Okay, no, that’s not what I meant. Monday means it’s time for this week’s Happier Challenge! Ready? (Today’s post title was a clue.) Here you go:

This week, pay someone a sincere compliment.

Easy, right? It’ll make the target of your words happier, of course, but science also shows that it will make you happier, too! (We think you can handle this challenge without any problems, but if you need a little inspiration, check out Five Compliments Guaranteed to Make Someone’s Day for ideas.)

Need a little reading/viewing material to make your week even more awesome? Check these out:

Have a happier week, and don’t forget to report back on the Happier Challenge!

Happier Starts: Tips for a Happier Garden

happier-garden-tips
There’s no shortage of resources out there on how to create a wonderful garden. If you can access your local garden center (or Google), you can figure out what grows well in your area, how to design a growing space, and so on.

This isn’t about that. This is about having a garden that makes you happy. This is about having a garden that makes you happy even if you’re not much of a gardener. I used to kill every single houseplant I ever owned, and I am here to tell you that what I look forward to most every summer is gardening, because it just makes me happy. It turns out that gardening makes lots of other people happy, too, so I’m in good company.

Regardless of what brings you to it, your garden should make you happy! So here’s a few handy tips to make it so:

1) Plant what you like. Self-evident, right? Short of trying to grow cacti in Alaska or drought-intolerant flowers in the desert, pick the plants that will bring you joy. I grow fruits and vegetables, because I enjoy cooking (and eating). The actual landscaping in the front of my house is pitiful, because I don’t care as much about that. Veggies make me happy; that’s where I put my effort.

2) Front-load your success. Growing veggies? Plant zucchini. I don’t even care if you like zucchini; zucchini is easy to grow and hard to kill and even if everything else gets screwed up, congratulations, you’ll have zucchini. (Zucchini bread and even zucchini brownies are delicious, if you don’t appreciate the squash in its natural form.) Growing flowers? Don’t be ashamed to go to the garden store and ask “What do you have that’s really hard to kill?”

3) Spend at least a few minutes out there every day. There is zen to be found in the soil, for sure, but even just the observation of daily growth is something that’s likely to brighten your mood. You had some dirt and some water and a seed and now you’ve got a giant plant (and maybe even food). That’s a miracle right in your yard!

4) Make peace with the circle of life. I use things like diluted soapy water spray and diatomaceous earth for pest control in my garden because I’m kind of a hippie-wannabe, but I won’t judge you if you use chemicals. No matter what you use, though, the fact remains that critters will find their way to your plant babies and eat some (or all) of your hard work. Know this and try to view it as part of the fun. (I always grow more than I need, in the hopes that the bugs will leave us enough!)

5) Make it a group activity. Get your family involved to spread the fun around. (Most kids love picking their own food!) Talk with friends and plan on collaboration or sharing; one of my dearest local buddies and I swap our garden overage, so we each get to enjoy more variety.

I’ll stop there — I’ve got gardening to go do!

We moved! Welcome to Happier HQ v2.0

As the Happier community has grown by leaps and bounds, so has the Happier team. And our really stunning and spectacular office space just could not contain our awesomeness any more. Never being the kind of crew to shy away from an adventure, we embarked on a quest to find the perfect place to call home, Happier HQ v2.0 if you will. And last week we packed up our stuff (including 14 different giraffes and too many memories to count), put it all in a moving truck (ok, not the memories – those travel in our hearts) and moved about 0.5 miles across Boston to our new, happier home.

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 2.57.57 PMIt was no Oregon Trail, but our trek was no less harrowing and included two full truck loads of Happier stuff, one broken elevator due to overheating, and one team lunch (consumed on the floor with no chairs, plates or utensils). 

We are stoked to set up our new office, but more than that, we are most excited that this will be our first opportunity to truly create a space, that’s uniquely ours, together as a team. We’ll be retaining some of the elements that made the original Happier HQ “home”, but we’ll be creating new traditions, memories and of course happy moments along the way.

photo (37)Most of our bubble wrap was used to ensure that Petunia enjoyed a smooth, cross town ride to her new digs.

We’re not ready for the big reveal just yet, but we cannot wait to show you the new Happier HQ. We’ll be taking you on a grand tour when we’ve got it all set up in a way that makes us happierest. And for the foreseeable future you can find us at:

Happier HQ v2.0
123 South Street
5th Floor
Boston, MA 02111

Sent us a letter, we’d love to hear from you! But if efficiency is your game you can always reach us at team@happier.com.