Thursday, May 31, 2012

my personal commandments

my personal commandments are similar to Gretchen's (author of The Happiness Project). I particularly loved her commandment "be Gretchen". Although I don't want to be Gretchen - I want to be me;)
  • Be me
    I feel like I have lost my sense of self a little bit over the last few years. I tend to avoid conflicts and do my best to please everyone around me. But I have learned that it is more important to be true to myself, my heart and my personality.
  • Be a role model
    Children tend to imitate their parents. My kids are my biggest reason for wanting to become a better person. If I am happy, positive, enthusiastic, loving, etc - it is more likely that they will become happy, positive, enthusiastic and loving when they grow up.
  • Step out of your comfort zone
  • Love
    Remember that we are capable of infinite love, and that true love is unconditional.
  • Find the silver lining
    Be more of a Pollyanna:) Remember "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."
  • Have fun
    Don't take life too seriously. Don't take yourself too seriously.
  • Don't postpone or hesitate
    Unpleasant, tedious or scary tasks are not going to be any easier to tackle tomorrow or any other day.
  • Think in solutions
  • Enjoy your failures - learn from your mistakes

And here are two great posts on being happy and positive!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

measuring my happiness

according to the experts goals should be measurable. So although measuring happiness sounds iffy, I decided to use various quizzes to get a sense of my "happiness score". Before doing the quizzes I thought about how I would rate my happiness on the scale 1-10, and decided on 7. Not bad, not excellent, perhaps slightly above average. I was surprised to find that according to most of the quizzes I am relatively unhappy, i.e. my scores are usually somewhat below the averages. It will be interesting to see whether my scores will go up in the next few months!

My scores:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Impeccable Year: June 2012 - May 2013

I've been thinking about how to best organize my impeccable year and have come up with the following plan:

June: Impeccable Mind - focus on gratitude and positivity
July: Impeccable Home - make space for happiness at home
August: Impeccable Family - enjoy motherhood
September: Impeccable Work and Office - less stress, more zen
October: Impeccable Love and Marriage - be kind, have fun, love infinitely and unconditionally
November: Impeccable Fun and Friendship - be there, reach out, lighten up and have fun
December: Impeccable Health and Beauty - find ways to treat myself and my body better and with more respect
January: Impeccable Time and Money - improve my relationship with time and money
February: Impeccable Me - work on self-confidence, independence and "being me"
March: Impeccable Passion and Meaning - work on my goals, find my passions, think about my values
April: Environment and Nature - find ways to enjoy nature and be kinder to the environment
May: Bootcamp Impeccable

June: Impeccable Mind
During the first month of my project I want to focus on cultivating happiness and positivity, as I think it is a necessary start if I want to make any significant changes to my life and my habits. I chose resolutions that seem manageable, but have been found to have a significant effect on people's happiness and well-being. The resolutions I want to start with are the following:
  • be grateful: keep a gratitude journal, write down 3-5 things I am grateful for every day
  • meditate: 10 minutes per day
  • exersise: 3x a week, for at least 20-30 minutes
  • walk in the sun (or rain): take a short walk outside every day
  • blog: 3x a week, to gather my thoughts, share my experience, and connect with like-minded people
  • focus: start my work day by focusing on an important task without any distractions. During the first week my "focus time" will be 45 minutes, and then I'll add 15 minutes every week

Moreover I want to use this month to smile more, laugh more, read happy books, watch happy movies, talk to happy people, read happy blogs, etc.

defining happiness

1. happiness - state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy, 2. happiness - emotions experienced when in a state of well-being

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.

Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.
-Denis Waitley

To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.
-Gretchen Rubin

There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.
-George Sand

Happiness is the overall experience of pleasure and meaning.
-Tal Ben-Shahar

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
-Federick Keonig

It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come.
-Dalai Lama

Monday, May 21, 2012

happy movies

As my month of positivity and happiness is approaching, I thought it would be good to keep some of my favorite feel-good movies on hand:) Here are my top 10 sweet, happy, feel-good films:

1. Amélie

2. Dirty Dancing

3. Love Actually

4. Four Weddings and a Funeral

5. Little Miss Sunshine

6. When Harry Met Sally

7. Big

8. Working Girl

9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Movie

10. Before Sunrise and Before Sunset (2 movies, but they go together:))

I would also love to watch some feel good films that I haven't seen before, any ideas???

Friday, May 11, 2012

my impeccable project

For a while I've wanted to do something about kicking my bad habits and replacing them with better ones. I have tried a few times, mostly unsuccessfully. I think one of my problems is that I am too impatient - and I want to change everything at the same time. But habits are habits for a reason, and usually they are not easily changed.

Many people argue that the best strategy is to tackle one habit at a time and really focus on it. But I find that difficult as well. I become stressed, restless and overwhelmed thinking about all those other issues that I want to address.

Inspired by the theme months in my son's daycare; each month has a theme such as farm, forest, fairy tales where the kids have songs and activities for the whole month connected to that particular theme; I thought I could apply it to my self-improvement challenge. The themes could be something like health, food, work, family...and I would find a few habits and tasks related to that theme to work on for the month.

As I thought about why I hadn't been so successful in the past, I realized that negative self talk and lack of energy and enthusiasm probably played a big part in my failures. So I decided that the first month should be a Happiness and Positivity Month as hopefully it would help to build some habits that helped with my other "topics". I downloaded Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project"on my Kindle, finished reading it within a couple of days, and realized that this was how I should do it.

Gretchen spends a year on her happiness project, each month tackling different aspect of her happiness. Although I had thought that dealing with happiness would be a separate topic from the others, I realized as I read that happiness is both means to an end and an end in and of itself. I.e. I need to be happier and more positive to be successful, but of course the ultimate target is to become happier, and more at peace, and the purpose of all of my other goals is to have more fun and fulfillment in my life.

I like that she sets her project in the time frame of 1 year. I know myself well enough to realize that after the initial excitement of the project wears of, I will most likely hit a point where it seems that the project is more work than reward. But it is easier to keep going if I have made a resolution to stick with it for one year! "I am not going to quit now, I can quit after I am done with these 12 months".

What Gretchen emphasizes, and what I believe makes all the difference are her resolution charts (pdf).

I have used her toolbox to make one for myself. As I will be traveling a lot in the next 2 weeks, I decided to formally start my project 1st of June, with "The Month of an Impeccable Mind", in which I will focus on positivity and happiness in general. And although I haven't formally started my Happiness Year, I've started keeping a gratitude journal, plus I've gone out for short runs a few times, and I already find that my spirits have lifted a bit. Can't wait for June to come:)

Thursday, May 10, 2012


My #3 resolution which should help me become a more positive, happy person is to blog 3-4 times per week! I am sure there is no research showing that blogging has a positive effect on people's happiness:) but I thought blogging might be helpful for 2 reasons:

A. It helps me organize my thoughts and keep track of my progress

B. Hopefully it connects me with like minded people

I've been trying to track down happiness blogs, and this is my tentative list:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

the sun

Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.
-Hans Christian Anderson

Keep your face always towards the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.
-Walt Whitman

(poster url:

It is no coincidence that we tend to associate the sun with joy and happiness. The sun helps the body producing both endorphins ("happy hormones") which are known to relieve pain, give you energy and a general feeling of pleasure, happiness and well-being; as well as Vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D (quite common in the Northern parts of the World, and increasingly common nowadays as people work longer hours inside, and wear sunscreen whenever they go outside) has been linked to depression and other mental health problems.

When I think of ways to easily lift my spirits, taking a walk outside immediately comes to mind. When I sit too long, or if I stay inside the whole day I become irritated and lethargic.

Resolution #2: Take a 10-15 minute walk outside after lunch every day. Walk briskly, breathe in some fresh air and look at the sun (or if not, then enjoy the rain, embrace the wind, feel the snow).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

count your blessings

Let us rise up and be thankful; for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.

Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many, and not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
-Charles Dickens

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more.
-Brother David Steindl-Rast

As a kid I occasionally went to a Sunday school. One day the priest talked to us about how we prayed and talked to God. He told us how we should remember not only to turn to God to ask for things, but also to give thanks for what has already been given. I was probably about 7 years old, and for some reason this talk got to me. I probably realized even then, that I should remember to be more thankful for what I had...and stop whining about the petty things that I didn't have.

There seems to be consensus that being grateful increases one's level of happiness. Being thankful sounds easy enough, especially as I know I have plenty to be thankful for. But it is definitely something I tend to forget in my everyday life. Inspired by this talk I want to make gratitude an everyday habit.

Resolution #1 (To become happier and more positive):
I already bought a little pink notebook to keep next to my bed. For the next couple of months (at least), I will write down 3-5 things I am grateful for. It can be big or it can be small, but everyday it should be something new, i.e. I cannot list the same things everyday:) Should be an interesting and fun exercise.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

happiness and success

It is one thing to set a goal - and another thing to reach it.
On the 1st of January every year I will sit down, ponder on my life and my ambitions, and write down several ambitious goals. Sadly by the end of the year, little or nothing has been done to reach these goals. why? and why is it that some people are more successful in achieving their goals than others?

There is plenty of helpful advise on how to reach one's goals - but before these tricks become helpful, I believe it is essential to deal with the fundamentals. i.e. shifting the state of mind - become more positive, passionate and enthusiastic about my goals and about life in general.

Here is a talk by a psychologist named Shawn Achor, on the causal relationship positivity/happiness->success (NOT the other way around). According to him your brain is 31 % more productive when it is positive than when it is negative!:

The practical advise from his talk on how we can raises our level of positivity and happiness to a higher level:
  • be grateful: write down 3 things everyday that you are grateful for
  • journal: write about 1 positive experience that you had during the day, every day
  • exercise
  • meditate
  • be kind: show random acts of kindness

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


what I want to do:

be a better person. more positive. more organized. be less stressed. be healthier. exercise. practice yoga. run a marathon. be more patient. be a better parent. eat 90 % vegetarian. declutter my space, my schedule, my head. get out of debt. become financially independent. renovate my apartment. grow vegetables and flowers on my balcony. find time to draw and paint. knit. read more. be more successful and efficient at work. listen to more music. learn a language. live greener. help others. do volunteer work. have a more peaceful life. have more quality time with my family. meditate every day...

and this is just what's off the top of my head. so what to do and where to start?