This Way Up, The Website!

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy

― Marcel Proust


I am so incredibly grateful to my son Lukas! He makes me very happy.

It’s an exciting time.  I saw/heard a message when I was meditating 2 days ago:

Envision what you want, do what needs to be done to set it up and step into the life you’ve created.

That’s exactly what it feels like I am doing at the moment. Now that my book is written, I am getting it out there. Lukas has built a beautiful website; I’ve had business cards made with the website and new email address; I’m setting up speaking and book events and I’m stepping into the life I’ve created.

Suffice it to say that at 58 (my birthday was yesterday!), building a brand new website, although not completely impossible for me, would be way way beyond my skill set.  As a matter of fact, most of the stuff going on in my life is way outside my comfort zone; I’m on a steep learning curve!

Please take some time and visit the new website; it’s crisp and clean and colorful and creative. It’s called:

This Way Up Book (www.thiswayupbook.com)

I’d love to hear what you think of it. You can comment on it here or on that website’s comment page.  I’ll be keeping workshops and events for the book updated there. So visit often!

I’ll close with a wonderful video about gratitude – because I’m sure feeling grateful today!

Discover the three keys of gratitude to unlock your happiest life!

Science Backed Happiness

“Contrary to what most of us believe, happiness does not simply happen to us. It’s something that we make happen, and it results from doing our best. Feeling fulfilled when we live up to our potentialities is what motivates differentiation and leads to evolution.”

– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 


Anyone who knows me well –  knows that I am passionate about happiness and it’s benefits. I talk so much about the benefits of happiness, that I’m sure I begin to sound like a broken record.  But as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow and co-founder of the Positive Psychology movement points out “happiness doesn’t just happen.”

Positive Psychology points out the many benefits to happiness.

    • Happiness brings large social rewards and interactions, superior work outcomes including higher income, more energy and activity, greater self-control and coping abilities, a bolstered immune system, and longevity.
    • Happy people demonstrate a self-serving bias, believing they are healthier, able to get along better with others, are more fun, have good ideas, are more intelligent, and are more ethical than others.
    • People who are positive about aging live 7.5 years longer than those with less positive perceptions. Interestingly, this benefit surpasses the results for smoking cessation, exercise, and obesity control.
    • People with increased SWB (subjective well-being) demonstrate high personal confidence, self-esteem, personal mastery, and control.
    • Happy people feel like they are in control and are empowered.
    • Characteristics related to positive affect include confidence, optimism, self-efficacy, likability, prosocial behavior, activity, energy, physical well-being, flexibility, creativity, and the ability to cope with stress.
    • People who experience positive emotions, namely joy and contentment, right after experiencing negative emotions recover faster cardiovascularly than ones who have no positive emotional experience.  This suggests that positive emotions may fuel psychological resilience.
    • In a longitudinal study of older Mexican Americans, individuals with higher reported positive affect versus lower positive affect were half as likely to have become disabled or dead during a two-year follow-up.

So I often say, Choose Happiness! As I pointed out in an earlier post, 40% of happiness  is up to you.

But what can you do to be happier?  In a recent article in Business Insider, writer Dina Spector listed 25 things that will make you happier.

Some of them made sense:

In a survey of 350 people, researchers found that those who felt more powerful were more satisfied with their lives, especially in their jobs.

But some of them were surprising:

Studies have shown that eating high-calorie comfort foods can make your happier. The downside is this will also make you fat.  As an alternative, a study published in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science in May 2013 found that simply drawing pictures of foods high in fat, like cupcakes or pizza, and foods that taste sweet, like strawberries, can also boost your mood.

The study showed that these 25 things will make you happier:

  • Draw pictures of healthy foods

  • Be both an optimist and a realist.

  • Get your hands dirty.

  • Become a florist or a gardener.

  • Have sex — with one partner.

  • Spend money on many small pleasures rather than a few big ones.

  • Eat lunch on the beach.

  • Make your bed.

  • Focus on what you’re doing right now.

  • Move to Australia . . . (not sure about that one! *a New Zealand joke!)

  • Eat seven servings of fruit and vegetables each day.

  • Maintain a position of power.

  • Master a skill.

  • Seal your worries in an envelope, literally

  • Surround yourself with happy people

  • Volunteer.

  • Play with puppies

  • Smile more (even if it’s fake)

  • Live in relatively cool temperatures.

  • List three good things that happened today.

  • Spend money to free up more time.

  • Stop comparing yourself to others

  • Shorten your commute to work

  • Exercise

  • Listen to upbeat music

It’s well worth looking at the article to understand the reasoning behind each of these suggestions.

I want to close with a great short video that describes positive psychology in less than five minutes.  A fun and succinct explanation.

 

 

Let me know if you read the article in Business Insider,  I’d love to hear what you think of it. And as always, thank you for stopping by.  I appreciate it.

 

 

What motivates us at work?

“It seems that most of us thrive by feeling a sense of purpose. ”

– Dan Ariely


What motivates us at work?  What is it that drives us? Many people believe it is how much money you make.  But that didn’t make sense to me, there are too many other factors involved. Then I saw this quote by Dan ArielyIt seems that most of us thrive by feeling a sense of purpose. And I thought – yes that’s it.

And an experience last week at my work – Figjam Workshops – illustrated that beautifully.  Last week, my business partner Deb and I finished facilitating a 5 week Creative Empowerment Workshop for a group.  And during the closing circle, one of the participants said that during the workshop he had an epiphany, and that the workshop had changed his life!  Needless to say, Deb and I were in tears, and we looked at each other and both felt it – This is why we do this work!

It’s not for the money! Working for a charitable trust will never make us rich, as a matter of fact, by the end of the year when funding has run out, we usually find ourselves working several weeks for no pay at all.  We do the work because we love it.  And we love it because we feel an incredible sense of purpose.

Dan Ariely, professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight, has this to say about motivation at work:

“So when we think about labor, we usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that we should probably add all kinds of things to it — meaning, creation, challenges, ownership, identity, pride, etc. And the good news is that if we added all of those components and thought about them, how do we create our own meaning, pride, motivation, and how do we do it in our workplace and for the employees, I think we could get people to both be more productive and happier.”

In this stimulating and entertaining talk, Dan Ariely explains What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work?

 

 

I’d love to hear about what makes you feel good about your work.  And as always, thank you for visiting, I appreciate it.

Why are happy people happy?

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
your thoughts become your words,
your words become your actions,
your actions become your habits,
your habits become your values,
your values become your destiny”

– Mahatma Gandhi


I’m a happy person.  In my deepest core of being, I believe people are good, that things will work out and that essentially life is good!  I’m an optimist, what can I say?  I often have people say to me, “How come you are so happy? Why are you such an optimist?” And to be honest, I don’t have a pat answer for that.  So this weekend, when I got asked that, I decided to do some research, and I found some pretty interesting stuff.

One article I particularly liked was on a very cool blog called Successify! The creator of Successify, Dr. Kris Heap, credits Chiara Fucarino for the article. So I say thank you to both of these women for an amazing list.  The list boils down to the fact that happy people have positive habits.  They claim that there  are 22 things that Happy People do that create positive habits.

1. Don’t hold grudges.

2. Treat everyone with kindness.

3. See problems as challenges.

4. Express gratitude for what they already have.

5. Dream big.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

7. Speak well of others.

8. Never make excuses.

9. Get absorbed into the present.

10. Wake up at the same time every morning.

11. Avoid social comparison.

12. Choose friends wisely.

13. Never seek approval from others.

14. Take the time to listen.

15. Nurture social relationships.

16. Meditate.

17. Eat well.

18. Exercise.

19. Live minimally.

20. Tell the truth.

21. Establish personal control.

22. Accept what cannot be changed.

For the full post and explainations of the 22 habits, do go visit Successify! It’s a great site.

But according to Gandhi, (and honestly, who’s gonna argue with him?) – Habits themselves come way down the list, following actions, words, thoughts and beliefs. So I decided to explore each of these in turn.  On my next blog post, I’ll explore beliefs, both positive and negative, and how they impact us.

But in the meantime, I’d like to leave you with a song. When I was thinking of a happy song, I was brought back to 1968, I was 10 years old, at Lincoln School, in the 5th grade. Our teacher, Miss Brown, let us listen to 45s in the class sometimes.  And I loved this song.  It made me happy – it’s just a happy song!

 

 

I’d love to hear about your habits – are they positive or negative?  Do they make you happier or bring you down?  And as always, thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

What would you regret?

“Remorse is the poison of life.”

– CHARLOTTE BRONTE


I was having a rich conversation the other night with a friend about regret.  She asked me, if you died right now, what would you regret most? And honestly, I don’t think I would have many regrets.  I did some stupid things in my life, but nothing horrific, and most of the stupid stuff actually made me who I am.  And now at 55 years old, I like my life and I feel like I’m pretty much living according to my values.  And that feels really good. The most important thing to me is my connection to people – to my sons, to my husband, to my sister and my niece, to my friends. And I feel like I work hard to keep those connections.  I feel like I’ve worked hard to connect with my authentic self, and to not give myself away anymore.

And in terms of regrets for what I haven’t done yet – well I have done most of the things that I have really wanted to do in this lifetime – I have a wonderful family and two amazing children, I have a home that I love, I have travelled a lot – I feel very blessed . . . although sigh, to be honest if I was dying before my book got published, that would be a regret.

We were having the conversation after she had sent me this article in The Guardian:

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The top regrets seem to reflect remorse over a life where people did not honor their authentic selves, where they let the pressure of others and of expectations rule how they lived. I think it is a good question to ask a friend, or oneself – If this were your last day of life, what would you regret? Am I living my life in line with my authentic self?  Do I have the courage to truly be myself and live my life according to my highest values?

The same day that I had that conversation with my friend, another friend sent me an email with this link for THE OVERVIEW EFFECT.  And although at first it seemed unrelated to the conversation about regrets, after watching it, I realized it is deeply connected.  It is about unity and compassion and caring.  And what greater regret could any of us have than to regret destroying our home, this beautiful planet.

What would you regret?  Are you living a life true to yourself?  Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

Clark’s Law

“Whatever Can Go Right, Will Go Right, and at the Perfect Time.”

– Clark’s Law  (The Clark Sisters – Karin and Patti)


Home again.  So happy to be home.  Feeling grateful for my home and my life.

So many wonderful stories about Borneo and Bali which will no doubt feature in my posts for months to come.  But today, I want to write my first post of 2013 about Clark’s Law:

Whatever Can Go Right, Will Go Right, and at the Perfect Time.

My sister Karin and I coined this Law (thus Clark’s Law!) on the way to the airport as she and my niece Chelsea were leaving Borneo.  We had just had an amazing 3 days, where everything that could go right, did.  We saw majestic orangutans (after being told we probably wouldn’t see them as it was durian season and they would be out in the jungle and not interested in coming to feed at The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.)  We hiked and saw beautiful caves and waterfalls, and had a fabulous day at Bako seeing troups of proboscus monkeys, even though it was rainy season and many people told us we would probably get rained out from most of these adventures.  But everything just kept going right!

This was after ten magically wonderful days in Bali!  Ten Days of feeling the spirit and peace that is Bali. Staying at lovely hotels, swimming in luxurious pools, eating delicious food and meeting wonderful people.  Having fun with my sister, and my niece and my son – laughing, exploring, playing cards, enjoying our time together. Not to mention our magnificent massage and facials at De Nyuh Spa.  Bliss!

On the way to the airport, Karin and I marvelled at our good fortune, feeling incredibly blessed and grateful.  And we both commented that 2013 felt like it was already tremendously positive and powerful.  We had set clear intentions of what we wanted from our trip together and everything aligned into place perfectly.

2013 feels like it is going to be an amazing year!

I am going to end this post with an interesting and insightful video by Mallika Chopra, Deepak Chopra’s daughter, on the subject of intention. She remembers growing up and saying this every night before going to bed:

“I am responsible for what I see, I choose the feelings I experience and set the goals that I will achieve; and everything that seems to happen to me, I ask for and receive as I have asked.”

 

Please let me know about your intentions for 2013.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

Giving Thanks

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

– Maya Angelou


I am so incredibly grateful and feel so blessed!  I had the most amazingly wonderful day yesterday!  First thing in the morning, I woke up to an email from my agent, Owen Burnham.  He wrote to tell me that he has two publishers interested in publishing my book, A Woman’s Guide to Transformation!  He and I will discuss the contracts and decide on the best publisher soon.  I will have a contract and a publisher before the end of the year.  What an awesome way to start the day! Especially wonderful because yesterday was the day that I hosted our annual Thanksgiving Celebration here in NZ.  I had 25 friends over for a sit down dinner, turkey and all the trimmings, sitting outside by the stream, under our spectacular Pohutukawa Tree.  A glorious setting to celebrate life and express our gratitude.  We did a Gratitude Circle first with everyone contributing (we even had Jeff in the circle via Skype!) and I was able to announce to my close friends that my agent has found me a publisher.  What a fantastic way to share my news.  It was a beautiful afternoon and evening.  I felt so loved and so grateful.  Truly a day to be thankful.

This video clip is especially fitting, titled simply: Gratitude.  Enjoy!

 

 

Please share what you are grateful for this year.  I would love to hear your stories.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

Keeping things in perspective . . .

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

– Maya Angelou


My son Devin shared this with me today.  Thank you Devin – it took my breath away!

There is nothing I can add to what Carl Sagan explains so eloquently and the video shows us so incredibly beautifully.  As Mr. Sagan puts it:

“To me it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

 

Please take the time to watch this, it is truly inspiring and spectacular.

 

 

Please let me know what you thought of Carl Sagan’s short clip.  And as always, thank you for visiting, I appreciate it.

Here’s to aging with adventure!

“It happens fast for some people and slow for some, accidents or gravity, but we all end up mutilated. Most women know this feeling of being more and more invisible everyday.”

– Chuck Palahniuk


I have to admit, it always surprises me a bit when people comment on my blog, or when people who know me and read my blog, stop me on the street to comment. I guess sitting here typing feels a bit like I’m in a vacuum, and then getting the affirmation that there are actually people out there reading this – well it’s a bit startling.

At any rate, my last post on aging seemed to have resonated with quite a few people, so I decided to continue my research.  And I was glad I did, because I came upon this wonderfully inspirational talk by Jane Fonda, entitled Life’s Third Act.  In this talk, Ms. Fonda uses the analogy of life as a staircase:

“I have come to find that a more appropriate metaphor for aging is a staircase – the upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity.  Age not at all as pathology; age as potential.”

I love that – Age not as pathology, but as potential.  
That was what I heard from the women and men who commented on my last post, either in person or on the site. That people, as they are aging, are tending toward emabracing life even more.

I also loved her reference to neuroplasticity:

“Perhaps the central purpose of the third actis to go back and to try, if appropriate,to change our relationship to the past. It turns out that cognitive research shows when we are able to do this, it manifests neurologically – neural pathways are created in the brain. You see, if you have, over time, reacted negatively to past events and people, neural pathways are laid down by chemical and electrical signals that are sent through the brain. And over time, these neural pathways become hardwired, they become the norm – even if it’s bad for us because it causes us stress and anxiety.

If however, we can go back and alter our relationship, re-vision our relationship to past people and events, neural pathways can change. And if we can maintain the more positive feelings about the past, that becomes the new norm. It’s like resetting a thermostat. It’s not having experiences that make us wise, it’s reflecting on the experiences that we’ve had that makes us wise – and that helps us become whole, brings wisdom and authenticity. It helps us become what we might have been.”

I circle back now to Chuck Palahniuk’s quote: Most women know this feeling of being more and more invisible everyday. This feeling is deeply explored in my book: A Woman’s Guite to Transformation- perhaps it’s central theme.  So that quote resonates deeply for me.  But if as we age, we can redefine ourselves and our relationships, imagine the liberation!

“Women start off whole, don’t we? We are the subjects of our own lives. But very often, many, if not most of us, when we hit puberty, we start worrying about fitting in and being popular. And we become the subjects and objects of other people’s lives. But now, in our third acts, it may be possible for us to circle back to where we started and know it for the first time. And if we can do that, it will not just be for ourselves. Older women are the largest demographic in the world. If we can go back and redefine ourselves and become whole, this will create a cultural shift in the world, and it will give an example to younger generations so that they can reconceive their own lifespan.”

So this reclaiming of self, this changing of our relationship to the past, can have a wider impact than simply rewiring our own brain, it can perhaps create a cultural shift in the world!  Wow.  How cool is that!

So to quote my old high school friend Doug Haussler: Here’s to aging with adventure!

 

 

I hope you enjoy Jane Fonda’s Ted Talk, especially for those women out there over 50. Such a hopefull message!

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

Unity!

“You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one.

I hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will live as one.”

– John Lennon


This video speaks for itself.  Please take the time to watch it.

Please share this video with others.  It shows unity in ways that words cannot express.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.