Philippians

Philippians 4:5-9

New International Version (NIV)

5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

12 Things Happy People Do Differently — And Why I Started Doing Them

Author: iam@jacobsokol.com (Jacob Sokol)
Subject: 12 Things Happy People Do Differently — And Why I Started Doing Them

Author: iam@jacobsokol.com (Jacob Sokol)
Subject: 12 Things Happy People Do Differently — And Why I Started Doing Them

 

A lot of people have midlife crises. Me, I had a quarter-life crisis a few years ago, when I turned 24. There was no impulse purchase involving a red Mustang or electric guitar, but as my iPhone alarm woke me up bright and early for work one morning in my two-bedroom NYC apartment, I pondered, “Do I have everything — or nothing at all?”

My gut said that there had to be more to life than the rat race of what I was doing (IT consulting). But I just wasn’t sure what it was or who I could turn to for wisdom outside of “the Matrix.”

I decided to embark on a journey to find out. I quit my job, minimized my expenses, went to Hawaii and got very serious (in a wild sort of way) about discovering what made me tick. I found out there are a lot of people like me — young, energetic, intense, purpose-driven, but frustrated with the status quo and a little freaked out about our prospects for the future. I decided to dedicate my life to seeking out the wisdom we need to create extraordinary lives with a deep sense of purpose in a world of immense uncertainty.

Early on, I stumbled across this quote from Dan Millman [1]:

I’d always believed that a life of quality, enjoyment, and wisdom were my human birthright and would be automatically bestowed upon me as time passed. I never suspected that I would have to learn how to live — that there were specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world I had to master before I could awaken to a simple, happy, uncomplicated life.

That about summed up where I was and what I was discovering. I couldn’t just wait for happiness and satisfaction to find me; I was going to have to make my own. So I’ve been doing that and coaching others on how to do the same ever since.

One of the coolest things I found early on is that studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness. Here are a dozen things that any of us — at any age or stage of life — can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives [2].

  1. Express gratitude.When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.

 

  1. Cultivate optimism. — Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times [3].

 

  1. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. — Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. If we’re somehow “better” than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates — KABOOM — our inner Kanye West comes out! If we’re “worse” than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made. What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.

 

  1. Practice acts of kindness.Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.) Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside. What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness. How extraordinary is that? A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin. Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.

 

  1. Nurture social relationships. — The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely? WHOA! There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with. We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.

 

  1. Develop strategies for coping. — How you respond to the “craptastic” moments is what shapes your character. Sometimes crap happens — it’s inevitable. Forrest Gump knows the deal. It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan. It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.

 

  1. Learn to forgive.Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being. You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion. When you “hate” someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are toxic for your well-being. You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.

 

  1. Increase flow experiences. — Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still. It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task. Action and awareness are merged. You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional. You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing. Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.

 

  1. Savor life’s joys. — Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences. When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic. It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.

 

  1. Commit to your goals. — Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force. Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere. When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing. Counter-intuitively, having no option — where you can’t change your mind — subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.

 

  1. Practice spirituality. — When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever. It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists. Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”

 

  1. Take care of your body. — Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be. If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected [4]. Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft? Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.

So there you have it. No new flashy car or leather jacket needed — just simple, scientifically-grounded wisdom for long-term happiness. These are all things you can start implementing today — with or without a career change — so I hope you pick one thing and commit to rocking it.

In my upcoming blogs, I’ll share more wisdom on all these topics and more. In the meantime, you can come see how my own wisdom-seeking efforts (and those of some other really cool purpose-driven peeps) are proceeding at Sensophy.com.

Footnotes:

  1. Millman, D. Way of the Peaceful Warrier. H.J.KRAMER, 1984. Print.

 

  1. Lyubomirsky, Sonja. The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin Press, 2008. Print.

 

  1. Tiger, Lionel. Optimism: The Biology of Hope. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979. Print.

 

  1. Loehr, James E, and Tony Schwartz. The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. New York: Free Press, 2003. Print.

 

18 Things Little Kids Know About Happiness

Author: Melissa Sher
Subject: Melissa Sher: 18 Things Little Kids Know About Happiness

Little kids. They’re sticky. They drip a lot. And they mess up our stuff. But we wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. We can’t. We’re actually not allowed. Most countries have very strict laws against it.

So, since they’re still ours for the next 18 or so years, let’s learn from them. Here’s what children can teach us about happiness. (And, it’s technically more things little children can teach us. If you want even more, here’s the first list.)

1. They go with their gut. Small children don’t spend a lot of time fretting over whether they made the right decision. They’d much prefer to spend time fretting over whether you gave them the right color of cup at lunch.

2. They live in the moment. They don’t dwell in the past. They don’t worry about the future — unless they are being told that it’s almost bedtime.

3. They believe. Little children believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the power of Band-Aids. If nothing else, trying to peel the backing off the adhesive distracts kids from what ails them. When all else fails, put a Band-Aid on it.

4. They make stuff. They draw. They sculpt. They glue. They paint. They cut anything they can get their hands on. Seriously, keep your scissors hidden and don’t say you weren’t warned.

5. They dance. Do you know the expression, "Dance like nobody’s watching"? They do that. Except for the all the times when they want to make damn sure that someone is watching.

6. They sing. They break into song at the drop of a hat. Anytime. Anywhere. Even in the bathroom. Who are we kidding? Especially in the bathroom.

7. They hum. Little children hum to themselves quite a bit. Why do they hum? Because they can’t whistle.

8. They say what they mean. They speak their mind. They don’t need to get anything off their chests because they’ve already said everything they needed to in the first place. If adults did that, there would be a lot less drinking at Thanksgiving.

9. They get excited. They get so excited! (But have a hard time understanding the "future," so be careful when you tell your son his birthday is coming up… in a couple months.)

10. They don’t care if it’s new. A child’s favorite movies are the ones she’s seen again and again. Her favorite books are the ones she’s been read over and over. And if she has a favorite dress, she’ll want to wear it every day. But adults? We’re obsessed with new. We want to be the first to eat in a new restaurant, see a new movie or wear a designer’s new "It" bag. Adults are really annoying like that.

11. They stop and smell the roses. They’re big on smelling things. Of course, the irony is that so many small children aren’t potty trained and don’t seem to give a sh*t about their own you-know-what.

12. They don’t discriminate. Until taught otherwise, they’re accepting of everyone. Well, everyone except babies. The number one insult from a small child is being called a "baby."

13. They admit when they’re scared. This lets us help them alleviate their fears. Sometimes, the solution is as easy as turning on a night-light. If only all of our fears could be solved by turning on a night-light.

14. They accept compliments. When you give a child a compliment, she’ll probably answer with either "thank you," or "I know."

15. They nap. They may go into it kicking and screaming, but most little children nap and wake up new-and-improved. We’d all be a little better off if we napped. (And richer, too, since we’d spend a whole lot less money at Starbucks.)

16. They go to bed early. But it’s not by choice and it takes a lot of effort on our part because they actually believe the expression "you snooze, you lose."

17. They engage. Psychologist Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi calls immersing oneself fully into an activity the secret to happiness. He calls it "flow." Children often become so deeply engrossed in what they’re doing that they don’t hear you when you call them. Tip: If they don’t answer to their name, try whispering the words "chocolate chip cookie."

18. They march to the beat of their own drum. Literally. Little kids can often be found marching around their houses banging on things.

6 Childhood Habits That Never Get Old

Author: Kate Bratskeir
Subject: 6 Childhood Habits That Never Get Old

They say with age comes wisdom.

In some regards, we are wiser now: Instead of refusing to eat our vegetables, we write love letters to and rap parodies about them.

But, there are a handful of habits we practice as children that we shouldn’t be so quick to discard. Of course, no one wants to retain the tantrums of their toddler years or the creative self-inflicted hair cuts of middle school, but even some of the most successful people know that certain, kid-centric behaviors are worthy of conventionalizing into adulthood. John F. Kennedy, for one, had the childish habit of taking a daily nap. There’s a lot we can learn from our children’s rituals: Many, of which, can promote productivity, happiness and less stress in our own lives.

So, remember that you’re never too old to…

Take a nap.
For some reason, a designated nap time was retired shortly after we aged out of kindergarten. This was a big mistake. Naps have this almighty power to reboot and recharge: Just 20 minutes of shut-eye can combat fatigue and stress. In fact, snoozing on the job (well, purposefully, that is) will have you more alert, creative and productive when you come to. We won’t tell if your favorite blanky comes along.

Get down with arts & crafts.
For those who aren’t artists, doing something tactile like kneading clay (or even gluing dried macaroni to paper, if that’s your scene) could be the catalyst your brain has been waiting for to foster that next brilliant idea. These kinds of projects stimulate your sense of touch, which may be, well, out of touch, if you’re like a lot of Americans who stare at a computer screen all day. Using your hands for a change can boost your mood, increase your productivity and, really, transfer into smarter, more on-point ideas when you’re on the job.

Play.
We encourage our children to go outside and play, possibly because they’re being nuisances, but also because we know they’ll benefit from the fresh air. We should prescribe ourselves the same, simple remedy. Even if you’re in no mood to splash around in muddy puddles, just hanging outside can make you feel happier (thanks, in part, to that vitamin D your body will produce when exposed to sunlight) and improve your ability to focus. Better yet, spending time off-screen provides your brain with the opportunity to renew, repair and recover from all the time you do spend plugged in.

Take a time out.
Temper tantrums — they’re not just for kids! As you can probably attest, even the most centered adult has suffered a "moment." Taking a time out, or "stepping back," as Jon Wortmann puts it, can help you collect your thoughts before the pot boils over and you say or do something you might regret. "The key is to step back from whatever drama, pressure or anxiety you’re feeling and to remind yourself that you are in control of what you do with your life, what you feel and how you experience this moment," Wortmann explains. Whether it’s taking a quick walk around the block or practicing a few deep breaths, your time-out is anything but a punishment: You’ll return to the aggravating issue with a much more even temperament after taking a break.

Say you’re sorry.
"Almost like magic, apology has the power to repair harm, mend relationships, soothe wounds and heal broken hearts," writes psychotherapist Beverly Engel, LMFT. It’s true: a sincere apology, as WebMD reports, can decrease anxiety and heart rate levels — and even help you sleep better at night — when you’re feeling guilty about something.

Children don’t necessarily apologize with the greatest ease, but they have an adult on hand to remind them it’s the right thing to do. The trick here is to be that adult for yourself: Often, it is pride that gets in the way of righting a wrong. If you’re struggling to resurface your inner, apologetic child, see Engel’s simple steps for offering a meaningful apology.

Let go of grudges.
On the flip side of offering an apology is accepting one. As we age, we learn to protect and guard ourselves from toxic people to keep from getting burned over and over again. And yet, there are times, when forgiveness takes less work than expending the energy to feel angry. Practicing reflexive compassion