Holiday Happiness: Giving

Holiday Happiness: Giving

giving kindnessIt is in giving that we receive. ~ Francis of Assisi

 

The holidays are a very stressful time for everyone and an exceptionally hard time for some.  So, until the New Year I’ll be posting a Holiday Happiness post each day to try help folks out who are struggling.  As always you can reach out to me at Happinesskane@aol.com for a kind word or someone to listen. ~ Rev Kane

Tonight I want to talk about giving.  One of my favorite things this time of year is giving gifts.  In giving, without the expectation of receiving, we truly show our ability to be kind and care for others.  I especially like, trying to find a gift that really shows the person I know who they are by finding something that connects with them.

kindness happinessThis time of year we also generally try and reach out and give to others as well, whether it is volunteering for a charity, giving money, or even dropping some change in the Salvation Army kettle.  This time of year we are good about thinking about others, about being charitable, the challenge is to find that spirit in us the rest of the year as well.  Have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Holiday Happiness: Tips for Happiness

Holiday Happiness: Tips for Happiness

Hello my friends, as we push through the holiday season and in our continuing attempts to make this a happy time for all of us today we continue to provide you pieces to keep you positive this time of year. Rev Kane

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Whatever makes you happy,as long as it doesn’t hurt you or someone else,do it. Schedule pleasurable activities into your life with the same dedication, precision and priority you give less-than-pleasurable ones ~ Peter McWilliams

Tonight a really nicely written blog piece – Ten Rules for my Life

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What will be your next moment of joy?

What will be your next moment of  joy?

joy quote

I’ve been thinking a lot about joy lately.  Not happiness, but joy, that childlike feeling where you’re so happy in the moment you’re actually giddy and giggling.  Over the last couple of years I’ve experienced a lot of happiness.  Some amazing travel experiences in Scotland, Morocco and Oaxaca.  I landed a good job, have come to a place of acceptance on some personal issues.  Most recently I had the opportunity to trick or treat with my little nephews and meet their four month old little sister.  Holding her for the first time and having her laugh and smile at me in my arms was amazingly special.  But as incredibly special that was, it was not that feeling of joy.  There’s a component of excitement when a situation comes to joy that just isn’t present in the quiet special moments.

I can remember vividly my last moment of pure joy.  It was two years ago in December while traveling in Jordan.  It was my first time ever swimming in the Dead Sea.  I had wanted to do that since I was a young child, and even as a trained scientist and completely understanding the science behind it all, I was amazed.  When I jumped into deeper water and started bobbing around like a cork, I was giddy.  A fifty year-old man giggling like a toddler.  The experience was incredible I was so amazingly happy.  I had expected it to be fun but not like it was, pure joy.

That’s the thing about joy, it can’t wholly be planned for, but what you can do, is put yourself into situations where you might experience it.  As for every post on the Ministry of Happiness, I scanned the web for articles on creating joy.  Unlike most topics however, I was pretty disappointed on how little there is out there that provided good advice about creating joy in your life, so this set me to thinking on how you might do it.

While I don’t think there is anyway to guarantee you will create a moment of joy for yourself, I think there are certainly some factors that can help to lead to moments of joy:

Something new – a new situation, a new place, a new activity the ability to go from not knowing but thinking you like something to having the experience can often be a nice platform to create some joy.  Joy often comes off a moment of surprise.

Something simple – moments of joy often happen in really simple situations, tasting a new food or drink, experiencing a new place, even just jumping  into the Dead Sea.

Having children involve –  children, with their lack of experience in life, experience joy at a much higher level than adults.  So having children around and seeing things through their eyes or even just experiencing their joy with them can often get you there as well.

Low stress environment – you’re highly unlikely to experience joy if you are stressed, traveling under a deadline or are having to be highly structured.

So what will be your next moment of joy my friends?  Or how will you create one for someone else?  I’m in search of my own and trying to build one before the holidays are over.  I’ll keep you posted, drop a comment and let everyone know about yours and as always, have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

 

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Happiness, Exercise and Holiday Depression

Happiness, Exercise and Holiday Depression

01Jumping for joy is good exercise.  ~Author Unknown

We are now well within the so-called “holiday season” and it, at least according to every Norman Rockwell painting I’ve ever seen, is supposed to be a perfect time of family, friends and cocoa around the fireplace.  Unfortunately for some of us this is not always the case, in particular, although I love Thanksgiving, as evidenced by a previous post:

https://ministryofhappiness.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/why-thanksgiving-is-my-favorite-holiday/

I have no special affinity for Christmas.  The holiday season definitely brings its share of friends and family, parties and gatherings.  This can be wonderful, but it can also bring with it a level of stress as well.  Playing the host or hostess at parties, trying to figure out the perfect gift for a loved one or friend, renewing the old stresses of childhood at family gatherings, all of these things can be hard.

So, during the holiday season we have a tendency to do some things we don’t normally do.  We eat too much, and definitely too many sweets, we drink more than we normally do.  Additionally we are often traveling and all of this added together gets us out of our routines, particularly our exercise routine if we have one.

The holidays also bring something else to a lot of people, depression.  People can feel really alone during the holidays, particular people who have gone through a major life change in the last year.  That can often include the elderly, singles and people who do not have strong connections to family or friends.  It has even gotten its own term, holiday depression.  The link below can give you more information on the topic:

http://www.depression-guide.com/depression-holidays.htm

This brings us back around to exercise and happiness and the connection between the two in our lives.  At any time exercise has a long list of positive effects on our mood.  The list below comes from http://www.depression-guide.com/depression-and-exercise.htm  and shows all of the ways in which exercise can improve our mood and increase our happiness:

  • People have reported that, when they exercise, can think more clearly, feel happy, feel better about themselves, lose weight, develop strength, and enjoy a sense of well-being.
  • Exercise increased positive mood
  • they sleep better
  • have less nervousness and anxiety,
  • Exercise decreased negative mood
  • Exercise improved vigor
  • Exercise is effective in reducing stress, anger, fatigue
  • Many evidence proved that exercise plays a vital role in uplifting depression
  • Exercise improved the motivation and self-esteem in the person
  • Many people even report that they look and feel younger when they exercise regularly.
  • Exercise may help in increasing the feelings of coherence
  • Exercise increased the feelings of social integration
  • An exercise and depression study in which participants walked daily for even weeks found that the decrease in depressive mood and the improvement in vigor continued after five months.
  • Another exercise and depression study which compared exercise alone, medication alone, and exercise plus medication found lasting improvements after six months in participants who had exercised without medication.
  • When the participants continued to exercise the ongoing improvement was even greater. This study concluded that medication may produce quicker relief but exercise yields more long-term benefit.

For this reason having an exercise routine is always a benefit to our lives and can help us be happier individuals.  Given the stresses of the holidays it is even more important this time of year to continue or start an exercise program.  I can attest to the fact that the gym is pretty empty this time of year.  Besides if you are exercising you feel a lot less guilty about those cookies that you just ate, or that glass of egg nog you’re going to have tonight.  So, get out there, walk, jog, go to the gym, whatever it takes to burn a few calories, raise your heart-rate, burn off some cortisol and release some endorphins.  In the end you will feel better and probably live a longer, happier life.

I’m including a couple of resource articles on the various aspects of exercise and happiness for those who want to read a little more.  Happy Holidays!

Article on exercise and happiness from the psychological perspective:

http://www.exploringwomanhood.com/mindbodysoul/happiness-exercise.htm

It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.  ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

How Travel Makes You Happier

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Our Best Happiness Posts of 2015

My favorite Appalachian Trail Photos of 2015

Why I’m Happy Right Now!

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Holiday Happiness: Accept, Appreciate, Believe and Love Yourself

Holiday Happiness: Accept, Appreciate, Believe in and Love Yourself

love yourself, happinessDon’t forget to say positive things to yourself daily! You must love yourself internally to glow externally. ~ Hannah Bronfman

The holidays are a very stressful time for everyone and an exceptionally hard time for some.  So, until the New Year I’ll be posting a Holiday Happiness post each day to try help folks out who are struggling.  As always you can reach out to me at Happinesskane@aol.com for a kind word or someone to listen. ~ Rev Kane

During this time of year, those who get down on themselves often start to feel bad because of a sense of loneliness and disconnection.  For me, the place that I grew up is the toughest place to be this time of year.  In addition to plenty of painful memories, there is the cold, the dark and a feeling of isolation that winter at that point in the year creates in me.  I seem to feel the blackness that comes in the night, the cold penetrates a little too deep.

No matter what seed starts the feeling, being depressed this time of year can lead you into the well, that place where you feel down and don’t seem to be able to get out of.  Of course what spirals you down into the depths is that once you feel bad, you start piling on to yourself.  You tell yourself that you’re not worth the connections, community and happiness other people have this time of year.  You focus on your faults and inflate their relevance, you stop reminding yourself of all of the good qualities you possess.  You start to assume that people don’t want you around, you decline invitations because you convince yourself that people are just being nice, or that it really won’t be fun.

As I’ve written about it before, this time of year it is particularly important to focus on the positive, even something as small as remembering to smile.  You have to believe in yourself, you have to accept that you’re not perfect and be ok with that, you have to love yourself.  Stay as positive as possible and the holidays will be past soon enough and by staying positive you CAN have happy days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Holiday Happiness: Funny Holiday Stories

Holiday Happiness: Funny Holiday Stories

elf on the shelf, christmas, elfA day without laughter is a day wasted. ~ Charlie Chaplin

The holidays are a very stressful time for everyone and an exceptionally hard time for some.  So, until the New Year I’ll be posting a Holiday Happiness post each day to try help folks out who are struggling.  As always you can reach out to me at Happinesskane@aol.com for a kind word or someone to listen. ~ Rev Kane

 

Tonight a few funny holiday stories to brighten your day, the first, is by far the best. ~ Rev Kane

Funny Christmas travel stories, jokes and news items 

Holiday pet stories

 

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

The Art of Smiling and Being Positive

Happiness is Staying Positive

Twelve Days of Christmas – For People Who Don’t Like Christmas

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

 

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10 things you can do to be happier today!

10 things you can do to be happier today!

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present ~ Jim Rohn

happiness

So I’ve been gleaming through books and online resources and thought for tonight I’d do a quick post on 10 things you can do today to be happier.  None of these are life changing events by themselves and by doing one or the other you’re not going to instantly find yourself dancing circles on the lawn, but achieving happiness is absolutely a marathon not a sprint.  However, try a couple and have a happier day my friends.

1.  Declutter your life  – This is one of those ideas that I really like because it is really scalable.  You see this as easy as organizing your kitchen drawers or straightening out those boxes in the spare room and giving or throwing away things you don’t need.  On a much larger scale this includes looking at the relationships in your lives and removing those relationships/people who bring negative energy into your life.

2.  Breathe, and slow down – Another scalable possibility, for all of us we need to take some time to wind down, we live fast-moving and stressful lives.  We are all way too scheduled for our own good and so we need to breathe and slow down.   In the moment, when things get stressful, it is really important to literally take a deep breath, beyond giving us a moment to relax and calm our thoughts deep breathing has lots of positive impacts on our body.

3.  Be more mindful – Being more mindful is a great way to focus on the immediate and be really present in your life.  Particularly in dealing with other people it benefits your interactions and makes you realize what you truly have in your life.

4.  Express some gratitude – Expressing gratitude is one of those things that on the surface doesn’t make sense, how does giving thanks to others make you happier.  However, by being thankful what you are in fact doing is giving yourself constant reminders of the good things in your life.

5.  Laugh – At some level this really needs no description, we all need to laugh, find a way to do this every day, whether it’s a morning comic, a person who makes you laugh at work or your kids or a clip of the Three Stooges, but laugh everyday my friends.

6.  Reconnect – Reconnect to what’s most important in your life, if that’s family spend more time with them, repair any damage that has been done to relationships, call your mom.  If what is important is giving, then volunteer more, if it’s being out in nature take the day and go.  The most important thing is to do something to reconnect with what’s important in your life.

7.  Exercise – Another really obvious one, exercise is just plain good for you.  Here is a link to a piece I did some time ago that lays out the benefits of exercise.

8.  Get enough sleep, eat better, but reward yourself – Sleep is so important, it impacts your mood, your health and hell if you aren’t fully awake you’re even at greater risk of getting in a car accident!  So get enough sleep, most Americans aren’t.  And eat well my friends, less sugar, less processed food, less sodium the more whole food and the more local food you eat the healthier you will be and health and happiness are absolutely linked.

9.  Limit your news consumption – I’ve recently started doing this and I have to say after a couple of months I think it really has made a difference.  Not only in my levels of happiness but also my blood pressure.  News focuses on tragedy, political divisiveness, and celebrity nonsense all of which will spike your blood pressure and make you question whether humans should exist as a species.  You can still keep up with current events by using the net, although it is getting harder and harder to find pure news sources, I recommend you take a look at the Christian Science Monitor, probably the best newspaper in America.

10.  Create some time – Time is our most valuable commodity and we bleed a lot of it away.  One of the things technology can do is allow us to do things more efficiently.  Of course that is when we are not wasting our time updating our Facebook status or tweeting what we had for dinner.  One thing I absolutely love is my DVR, it allows me to space through commercials and watch shows when I want to.  There’s a great book the Four-hour work week, which gives you tons of tips on how to streamline and in some cases outsource your life.

Then of course take the time you’ve found and use if for one of the ideas above and have a happy day my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

OTHER ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE…

Happiness and Simplicity

Happiness and the words of Thich Nhat Hanh

Happiness, the minimalist mind, and hiking the Appalachian Trail

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Holiday Happiness: Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Holiday Happiness: Elf on the Shelf Ideas

06The holidays are a very stressful time for everyone and an exceptionally hard time for some.  So, until the New Year I’ll be posting a Holiday Happiness post each day to try help folks out who are struggling.  As always you can reach out to me at Happinesskane@aol.com for a kind word or someone to listen. ~ Rev Kane

04One of the things I do actually enjoy about Christmas is watching children experience the wonder and amazement of it all, their expressions while opening presents.  If we could bottle that kind of joy we’d really have something.  One of the things I’ve really thought was cool has been the Elf on the Shelf bit that has popped up over the last few years.  So tonight, if you’re doing the Elf on the Shelf, I thought I’d consolidate a whole bunch of ideas for you in one spot.  Enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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This first set is incredibly awesome, 31 great ideas

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50 Elf on the Shelf Ideas

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66 placements for your Elf on the Shelf

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A site dedicated to just this, Elfontheshelfideas.com

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7 Non-Messy Elf on the Shelf Ideas

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Ideas from Pinterest

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A lot of ideas on this one but you have to link out to the pics

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

The Art of Smiling and Being Positive

Happiness is Staying Positive

Twelve Days of Christmas – For People Who Don’t Like Christmas

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

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Holiday Happiness: Being Mindful During the Holidays

Holiday Happiness: Being Mindful During the Holidays

https://ministryofhappiness.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/126.jpg

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.  ~Robert Brault

 

The holidays are a very stressful time for everyone and an exceptionally hard time for some.  So, until the New Year I’ll be posting a Holiday Happiness post each day to try help folks out who are struggling.  As always you can reach out to me at Happinesskane@aol.com for a kind word or someone to listen. ~ Rev Kane

 

Tonight a couple of pieces both focusing on staying happy in the moment:

Living in the moment really does make you happier

Thich Nhat Hanh on Mindfulness

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Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

lonely christmas tree

A big part of depression is feeling lonely, even if you are in a room full of a million people. ~ Lily Singh

Good evening my  friends, this weekend starts my least favorite time of the year.  The “Holiday Season” is without a doubt the time of year I feel the most alone and isolated from the world.  It is the time of the year I have to work the hardest to fight off my natural inclination to depressing thoughts.  I know where this all comes from, I did that work years ago.  Growing up we are all bombarded with the images of the perfect Christmas, the wonderful New Years party.  We see images of children opening perfectly wrapped presents that are always exactly what they wanted.

happy christmas

Unfortunately, that was not my experience as a child.  The holidays were always super high tension.  Drunk relatives getting in arguments, worries about money, not getting the gift you really wanted.  Grouchy babysitters who could care less if you were there.  It always was the most tense and lonely time of the year.  My escape was always to go outside, to walk, hike or even just sit on the porch.  But during the holidays it was almost always alternately rainy and cold or just bitter cold.  The one shining star in the middle of it were my granny’s peanut butter chocolate drop cookies.

Being someone who is most often alone, through most of the year it’s fine.  But because those societal expectations have been driven in so deep, this time of the year it’s just a little harder to stay positive.  It’s a little too cold, a little dark, a little too lonely.  But life is good for me these days, I have the resources to change my  location, to travel to see those I wish too, if I choose to.  So these days I mostly focus on spoiling my nieces and nephews and reaching out through this blog to others, who like me, find this time of year kind of tough.

christmas tree

So tonight my holiday kickoff is to start that outreach by reminding all of the rest of you, that while this time of year might be festive and wonderful for you, others around you are smiling and suffering.  By no means diminish your own joy, but reach out a little more perhaps than normal, be a little more inclusive in your festivities, extend some extra kindness, give an unexpected gift.  Not only will it help them, but it will help you have happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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