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Happiness Experiment - Day 1 (of 21)

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

On Friday, I posted a link to Shawn Achor's TEDx Talk called "The Happy Secret to Better Work".

The key idea from his talk was this:

"If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. What we’ve done is we’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society. That’s because we think we have to be successful, THEN we’ll be happier. But the REAL problem is, our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences something that we now call a ‘happiness advantage’, which is: your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed.” ~Shawn Achor

While Achor's talk was tailored towards success in business (which I obviously desire), I believe his activities for increasing happiness (below) will have a positive effect on EVERY area of my life. So, I'm taking his challenge to train my brain to be more positive.

1. Three new gratitudes each day will teach your brain to retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first.

2. Journaling about one positive experience you've had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to re-live it.

3. Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters.

4. Meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we've been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once.

5. Random or conscious acts of kindness - send a positive e-mail to thank or praise someone in your social support network.

So, let's do this thing! emoticon


1. I'm thankful for life. Yeah, I know this sounds superficial and trite, but I assure you it's not. Why? Because today's headline news is sad: Trayvon Martin and Cory Monteith. If you live under a rock and don't know what happened, here are the back stories.

Trayvon Martin: www.lmgtfy.com/?q=Trayvo

Cory Monteith: www.lmgtfy.com/?q=Cory+M

One of the greatest happinesses that we take advantage of every single day is that we actually woke up and took another breath. Turning on my computer reminded me of that this morning.

2. I'm thankful for time alone. Don't get me wrong - I love and treasure my children. I cherish every day I get to be with them. But, with the divorce, we have a new reality of one week with me and one week with their Dad. I won't be a fool enough to say that it's an ideal situation - of course not. Any kid should be able to see their Mom AND Dad any time they want 24/7.

Nevertheless, this is our story now and there is no turning back. I have recently had to come to terms with the fact that I am, indeed, thankful for my time to myself without the kids. Does that make me a monster or a horrible Mom? I don't think so. It just makes me honest.

I know single moms and dads who NEVER get a break and I can't imagine their stress levels and, in turn, their strength. They are HEROES, I tell you. Sometimes I feel a little guilty that I get time off and they don't. But, we each walk our own road and this journey is about finding what is authentic to Leah. Instead of feeling guilty that they have it so hard, I ought to re-direct that energy to thinking of ways to HELP my friends in that situation.

3. I am thankful for my body. With all its aches and pains and battle wounds, it has managed to survive and stay relatively healthy through the years. I have known the temporary loss of function in my arms and legs and it is life-changing. The fact that this amazing body has healed and strengthened and still manages to function well and carry me through each day is nothing short of a miracle. It's another easy thing to overlook and complain about. But today I'm thankful.


The past 24 hours were spectacular. I met two beautiful boys yesterday, the sons of a man who has loved me so well, I sometimes feel like I'm dreaming or in an alternate reality. I was worried they'd despise me, but they were open and kind and sweet, as little boys are. We sampled fresh food at the Farmer's Market, hiked and explored a cave, waterfall and wetlands and spent time playing at the Splash Pad and playground. Then, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch together. All the while, seeing this amazing man in a new light (as "Daddy" - and such a WONDERFUL one at that!) just made me fall even deeper in love with him. It was a GREAT day!


I started my day with a 30-minute walk (1.72 miles). I haven't been out there or worked out in SO long. It was rough to get motivated but I just made myself do it and, as usual, am so happy I did. I wondered whether walking would do anything for me, but it certainly did. It woke up my body and made me feel ALIVE again. Definitely seeing the connection to happiness here. I mean, I always knew it was there. Just lost it for awhile.


Funny that meditation is supposed to train our brains not to multi-task and I actually multi-tasked exercise and meditation. Haha. But, what better time to meditate than on a walk when my body and mind are coming alive with nature all around? In my mind, exercising is the perfect time to meditate and look inward. I think I'll combine them every day. No earbuds or music for me.


Well, it seems it'd be bragging if I wrote this one out in detail, so I'd prefer to keep this to myself. I'll just put a check mark on this every day, to indicate that I've done it. How's that sound?

Anyone else want to take this 21-Day Happiness Challenge with me? Why WOULDN'T you want to be happier? And, as a byproduct, more successful?

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