Earlier this month I was shown a wonderful book that a community group had created as a reminder of a session I’d run for them. I don’t think the word book does it justice though; it’s more a work of art. Each participant was invited to write down the things they remembered from our time together and each page has been hand illustrated with some stunning drawings. I’m hoping I can get a copy!
Just as each of us sees our world in our own way I’m aware that every participant in my workshops takes away different memories from our time together. Most people remember that we had fun, many take away one or more pieces of information that has struck a cord with them, everyone remembers the laughter. At a workshop last Sunday I met a wonderful man named Dan who was at one of my workshops 2 years ago. He told me how he and his friends and colleagues still practice some of the exercises as a way to make each other laugh, the laughter triggers have stayed with them.
My workshops are designed to be high energy and fun and wrapped up in all the joy and play are 8 basic ideas that have been proven to increase happiness and well-being. Inspired by the wonderful work of art the community group created I thought I’d share those 8 ideas as this month’s happiness ideas. I’d also like to congratulate the group for remembering all 8 ideas.
Breathe: Several times a day take time to slow down and take a few slow deep breathes.
Connect: Connect with those in your life, family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, even strangers if you are willing. I often chat to other passengers if I’m on public transport. Some connections will be deep and long lasting, others will be fleeting.
Be active: Walk, run, dance, cycle, garden… The list could go on and on… Find something you enjoy. Movement and exercise not only feel good, they’re good for you.
Take notice: Be aware of the world around you. Notice your environment, remark on the unusual, notice the sounds and smells of you day. Be in the moment. Savour the experiences of being. This is my favourite form of mindfulness.
Keep learning: Learn something new, take a course, pick up a musical instrument, if you read or see something that’s new to you or you don’t fully understand learn something about it. Become a master of academia, a master of trivia or a master of that one thing you love doing. Learning new things not only makes you happy it helps you feel more confident.
Give: Help someone out, share a smile, join a community group, volunteer your time. Give a little of yourself and your time to others.
Celebrate: It needn’t be something big or impressive. Celebrate breathing, moving, connecting, learning or laughing, good cups of tea, comfy socks, sunshine or rain… Again, this could be very long list. Stop for a moment, smile and think (or say) YES! That (whatever that is and it could be you) is good!
And of course – Laugh: every day make sure you have a little (or a lot of) laughter. Read or watch something that makes you laugh, find the funny in your every day, join a laughter club, find your laughter trigger and practice your laughter.
The 8 ideas are just that, ideas. How you interpret them is up to you. The main idea is to practice them, remembering that whatever we practice we get better at.
At a workshop last week a lovely man who told me his name was Colin commented “How am I going to learn to do all that?” It reminded me of a comment from my university lecturer when someone asked the same question after flicking through the statistics text book. The lecturer smiled and said “I don’t expect you to know what you don’t know, the idea is to start at the start, not worry about the end, and learn bit by bit as you turn each page.” I silently admitted that the text book intimidated me as well but today I turned that last page and the lecturer was right, bit by bit I think I’ve conquered the subject and my fear of statistics!
The rest of my month promises a whirlwind of events. During the week of the 30th I’m sitting my university exams – I will complete that degree in psychology even if the statistics are doing my head in! Between now and then I have a number of workshops both in Melbourne and interstate. Between May 20 and 22nd I’ll be at the Toastmasters convention in Adelaide where I’m competing in the District 73 International Speakers competition, the winner is invited to compete in the Toastmasters World Championship of public speaking being held in Washington in August, and in my spare time I’m putting the final touches on a new stress reduction / mindfulness program that I’m hoping to begin sharing in July. If you'd like to know more about the yet to be named Stress reduction / minfulness program please contact me.
I hope you’re looking forward to a brilliant rest of May.