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.

Awesome Humans: Carey Andrew-Jaja, Singing Doctor

awesome-humans-carey-andrew-jaja-112614It looks to me like this story went viral sometime last year, but our fabulous community manager Kimberly—a new mom—just shared this with me this week. If you’ve seen it before, well, I’m late to the party and I hope you don’t mind seeing it again. If you haven’t seen it before, prepare for all the warm and fuzzy feelings, because this is precious.

Dr. Carey D. Andrew-Jaja of Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA doesn’t just like delivering babies, he likes welcoming them into the world with a song (or two). He says he learned this habit from his mentor and has continued on with it because he thinks it creates a special bond with every baby he delivers. Take a look:

(I suddenly feel like my own OB/GYN was subpar. Seriously, singing “Happy Birthday” in the delivery room? I love him.)

Thanks for being awesome, Dr. Andrew-Jaja! Those babies born on your watch are lucky little humans to be welcomed into the world with such enthusiastic serenading!

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.

Happier Science: Walk This Way

happier-science-112214There’s no shortage of research to support walking as the so-called perfect exercise; human beings are, after all, designed to walk! (We’ve discussed walking here before.) Walking is beneficial for our muscles, bones, circulation… even our mood and sleep patterns are improved by walking. (If only we could put a brisk 20-minute walk into a spray bottle to apply to all any life problem, much as the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding uses his Windex….)

So: walking = better health and greater happiness. This isn’t new news. What is new, though, is a new research on how purposefully walking in a “happy” or “depressed” manner may influence mood. Researchers designed a study utilizing already-proven biases about the connection between mood and memory. People in a happier state are more likely to remember positive information, while those in a more negative state are more likely to remember negative information. Lifehacker India describes the findings:

It was found that the respondents who had adopted the happy, confident gait and stance remembered more of the positive words from the list while those whose walking style had reflected depression and dejection, recalled more negative emotions from the selection of words that were read out.

Their findings, therefore, imply that one’s walking style has the potential to impact one’s mind – where one is more likely to process and retain information that matches how one is feeling.

“It is not surprising that our mood, the way we feel, affects how we walk, but we wanted to see whether the way we move also affects how we feel,” elaborates Nikolaus Troje, professor, Queen’s University, Canada as well as the co-author of the research paper.

Talk about a mind-body connection—the implications here for affecting mood via the body are huge. If just walking in a depressed way can make you feel worse, and walking “like a happy person” can pick you up… with the accompanying memory changes the difference in mood can bring… well, then, maybe that whole fake-it-’til-you-make-it idea applies to more than we thought. Sure, even faking a smile is good for you, but what about thinking about how you sit, stand, and—yes—walk?

Food for thought. Or maybe something to consider on your next walk.

What chance will you take today?

This morning I was lucky enough to give a talk as part of Creative Mornings, right here in Boston. Creative Mornings is a lecture series for the creative community and I had a chance to talk to a few hundred of them bright at the coolest venue I’ve ever spoken in — a climbing gym.

IMG_9334The topic of my talk was chance: the chances I’ve taken that got me where I am, the chances I missed, the chances I gave to others as part of my journey.

One of the things I talked about was this idea that with every chance you take you increase the surface area for luck to hit. I think of luck as timing — timing of meeting the right person, the right trend, the right dynamic, being in the right place, at the right time. The more chances you take the more opportunities you create for luck to intersect with you.

The more people you connect with, the more likely you are to meet someone who can lead you to your next opportunity or help you make another connection that you need. The more new things you try the more likely you are to find something that makes your life more awesome. There are no guarantees but I guarantee that nothing awesome will happen if you don’t take a chance.

So my Friday challenge to you is to take one chance today.

Do something you’ve been putting off. Do something you’re nervous to do. Do something you’ve not done before. It doesn’t have to be huge or epic, but you do have to do it. (I’d love to know what chance you are taking – please share in the comments!)

Oh, and if you need a little something extra, here’s some musical inspiration.