Yes, taking five minutes each day to write 3-5 things that made us happy can make a difference in our attitude. And in our life!
I wrote a blog recently about mantras to help you out when you're experiencing a difficult moment. I added some thoughts on happiness journals as well, and I realized I could probably do an entire blog about happiness journals, so here we go!
I had decided earlier in my blog-writing history to write about happiness journals, but thought that probably wasn't necessary.......most of my readers are grandparents and people of a "certain age." We're in our golden years and conventional wisdom tells us, that means our "happy" years. But that's not always the case. Even those of us who consider ourselves happy and content, have times of distress, worry and depression. We miss our children, our grandchildren, old friends. We have health issues that bring about distress and anxiety. Those bad knees or arthritic hips make us downhearted. The list goes on and on. Even when you're going through a difficult situation, you can find small moments of happiness and gratitude. My friend always reminds me that the Apostle Paul when he was emprisoned looked for things that brought him happiness. And we've all read about Nelson Mandela who was in prison for 27 years in South Africa found joy in his jail cell.
The old adage says, "Bloom where you are planted!" So let's do this.
I told you in a recent blog that a friend had told me about happiness journals. Then I saw Shawn Achor on a talk show telling about the same thing, and I was sold on the concept. Shawn is a teaching assistant at Harvard University and taught a course on happiness. He's also written numerous books on the subject including, The Happiness Advantage and The Happiness Project. I'll link some websites at the end of my blog. Shawn says keeping such a journal on happiness or gratitude for a month actually rewires the brain. It resets it to look for small moments that bring you joy. And as we've heard over and over, gratitude in small things is the key to happiness.
So it's pretty straightforward. Just find a little journal or notebook and start recording those things. And really, they are tiny little things........not necessarily big moments like a birthday party, but small things, like the smell of popcorn popping in the microwave.
Don't want to go to all the trouble of having a journal set aside for "moments of gratitude"? Then just add some pages to your date book.
Yes, I still keep a paper calendar or date book. I like the idea of writing things down in a date book and checking it each day. I realize there are phone apps, but I still like the act of writing things down on paper. So since I still have an appointment with my calendar first thing in the morning and the last thing in the evening, I used some of the extra pages for writing things that made me happy. Here, I'll let you take a look:
I took photos of things that make me happy, so that you can see they are very simple things. Just some small moments that can really lift your mood on a down day.
But wait! There's more!!
You can even get online, and Google "gratitude journals," and find writing prompts that can help you along in your happiness quest. Here are some sample questions:
I love gratitude journals. They just help you to refocus on the things that are really important. Writing your small blessings can reduce stress and help you to live in the moment. It can lift your mood on a down day, or even when you're going through really difficult times. Even during those times you can find something to be grateful for.
Want to read more about them? Try this article from the Huffington Post:
I'll end today's blog with one of my favorite things I'm grateful for: SUNSETS! Being a west Texas gal, from the home of the world's most glorious sunsets, I love them. I always try to make each list of my five happy things unique and try not to repeat, but sunsets make my list more times than I can count. Here's one from my sweet niece, Lisa~
Yes, as parents and grandparents, we can help our kids deal with bullies. And it's that important.
When I left the teaching profession back in 2006, conventional wisdom contained a shift in thinking about this difficult subject. The move was from counseling kids to not bully to HOW NOT TO BE A VICTIM. Psychologists and others were telling us that in actuality, it wasn't bullies who were the instigators of mass shootings, but VICTIMS--people who were marginalized by society. And we see that over and over again in today's news.
So this is just another way parents and grandparents can help--and help we must!
I culled articles, books, and blogs on the internet to find suggestions. I've listed some here:
How NOT to Be a Victim of Bullying!
My added thoughts~
I write this blog primarily for grandparents, but I'm hopeful that my friends who are young parents will also take to heart the information in this blog. In the list above, probably the #1 that grandparents are good at is helping your grandchild have good self esteem. We grandparents are good at telling our grands how special they are, how smart they are, how beautiful they are......and the list goes on and on. The only thing I would add is to be specific with your praise. For example, if they always help you when they come over, tell them how much you appreciate that. Say something like, "I am really grateful to have such a fabulous grandson who is always willing to help me when I ask." That way it's not hollow praise. They are learning the traits they have that are special and valuable. You might tell them they are great problem-solvers or have wonderful manners and are respectful which you appreciate. All of these specific compliments help them to realize they ARE special and valued. When they have good self-esteem, they usually think enough of themselves so as not to give in to peer-pressure or bullying. And although I addressed this comment to grandparents, of course parents, aunts, uncles and older siblings can heed this advice too, and build each other up! Let's help our kids out.
Also remember that bullying is not always someone that wants to harm them physically. Most times it's just those "mean girls," or someone who is making fun of them. Those are the sorts of things that really hurt. Help them to deal with that. All the suggestions on this list apply to bullies who use hurtful words.
I don't know about you grandparents or parents, but oftentimes it's helpful to me to have a checklist of things I can do to help my sweet grandchildren navigate this big world. I sure hope this list has helped you, and please let me know of other techniques you have tried.
We're just walking each other home. . .
Information on the "Buddy Bench Project"~
An easy checklist for kids:
Closing thought from Henry James~
"Three things in human life that are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is be kind."
Quick strategies for dealing with modern-day stress and anxiety:
We all suffer from this from time to time--even us grand folks and retirees. Yes, even those of us who have a record of life experience, and know that these moments of anxiousness or difficult days will pass. Today I'm writing for us and our younger friends who are going through times of stress.
I'm seeing more and more articles in the news and online about how to deal with this 21st century world. In my blog from May of this year, I wrote this and shared a quote:
"I saw this on a Facebook page I follow called, The Daily Positive: 'The world we live in IS changing faster than our minds have evolved to handle. And we are all getting to learn how to be more conscious and careful than ever before as to how we learn to manage our emotions and train our minds to handle all this energy it's taking on.' Tara Wagner" (See link at the end of this blog.)
Schools and even entire communities are meditating and doing yoga together to address this need!
There was an article in the Houston Chronicle recently sharing quick techniques to increase one's positivity now. I'll link the article below. In the meantime, I'll share two key points--using a mantra to get through the difficult time/moment, and writing a happiness journal.
Having a mantra is easy and most of you have been doing this for years. You either repeat a Bible verse, song lyric or just a phrase you heard from your mother or grandmother. I have a friend who came up with her own, "Right now, it's like this." She said by adding the "right now," it reminds her that nothing is permanent--even a difficult situation will pass.
So here we go. Here are some mantras I've gathered from friends, family and online. Maybe you can adopt one of these or come up with your own.
Kids use mantras too!
I've had my five-year-old grandson with me this summer, and of course that means watching some of the great children's programing on PBS. More than one show gives kids tips on dealing with various difficulties and gave examples of mantras that they could repeat when they are having a difficult time. I talked with my grandson about this and we tried to come up with mantras. For some reason, most of ours involved nursery rhymes, but hey! Whatever works!
This is a blog for grandparents, so my fellow grandparents, we can help our grands out with this.
My friend Kathy, told me about this one several years ago. I consider myself a fairly happy and positive person, but even this small strategy helped me out. We've heard it time and time again, that in reality, the key to happiness is gratitude, Consequently, these are also called gratitude journals. Another oh-so-simple technique that can make such a big difference in your life.
Live and learn and pass it on!
I do this blog simply to share ideas. I never have come up with these things on my own. They are usually ideas that friends and family have shared with me, or something I've read about that I think others might like as well. Check out these articles and websites:
The article from the Houston Chronicle~
"Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom." James Allen
Sending a friend or family member a care package!
I recently had a friend make a hospital visit with the usual recovery time of six weeks after she gets out. I knew she needed a care package. Someone sent me a "Box of Sunshine" years ago after a hospital stay, so since then, I've tried to pass this sweet custom on. I remember how fun it was to open the package of small little trinkets and favors--really made my day.
So here we go--it's really easy to do. I'm partial to finding items with a "sunshine" color, but you certainly don't have to do that. I just happen to find it fun to find items that fit in with my "sunshine" theme.
You can find lists online or on Pinterest. You can brainstorm your own ideas for items and then go shopping. Or simply walk through a pharmacy or craft store and grab those items you think would be appropriate.
And that's it!
They even have websites where you can order a box of sunshine already prepared, but I like creating my own. That's half the fun! And you can personalize it with items you know your recipient would like.
My friend lives out of town, so I used a box and mailed it. But if your friend is in town, you can use something else--maybe a sweet basket that they can use later. Or even a pretty gift bag. Let your imagination run wild.
With the recent events in our country, it's nice to walk away from the horrible news of the day, all the sad thoughts swirling in your head, and do something for someone else. You might even have a friend who's simply down in the dumps. Take her a box of sunshine! This whole world needs a box of SUNSHINE. Good for the recipient as well as the giver!
Looking for a new hobby? I really recommend writing a blog. I find it very fun. Just pick out one or more of your current interests and do a blog about it. Gardening? Quilting? Needlepoint? Cooking? The list is endless.
And what does writing a blog entail? Well, the writing of course, but that can be minimal, especially if you're sharing recipes or sewing tips. Then there's the research which is also fun and can reenergize your brain. Finally taking photos. I get a kick out of that, especially if I can involve my grandkids. And that's what this week's blog is about--writing a blog and involving your grandchildren. It's important to share your hobbies with your grandchildren, no matter what that hobby is--it doesn't have to be blogging.
Get ideas from your grands.
Since my blog is about grandparenting, I often get ideas from my grandkids. Either something they are currently involved with or something that interests them. For example, that's how my blogs about a costume box came about, and the one about sewing--they wanted to learn how to sew.
They can help with the photos for your blog.
This is mainly how they help me. Oftentimes I will decide to do a blog about some activity we've already done together, But then I discover I have no pictures. We will get together and re-stage it. Sometimes we do an activity together specifically for my blog, and we'll take the pictures as we go. And lastly, I might do a blog on a particular subject, and text them that I need pictures. They are always so sweet to oblige. For instance, I did a blog on yoga, and simply called them requesting pictures. Another time I needed pictures for my "kindness rocks" blog, and once again, they obliged with the photos.
Getting together to work on a blog.
Our "kindness rocks" project involved a lot of togetherness. We got together to paint, and of course, that was fun. I fixed lunch for us that day. Another time, we passed out the rocks down by the waterway, and that enabled us to go on a little excursion. We had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants down there, and then hid our rocks along the boardwalk. Involving your grands in your hobby is ever so much fun!
Getting together is the best, and your grandchildren can learn to be supportive of YOUR hobby all the while everyone is having fun!
Bottom line: whether it's a family activity wherein you take photos as you go, or re-staging a previous event, or specifically taking pictures as needed for your blog, it's all good and it's all FUN!
I started doing a blog just for ME. Who knew it would eventually involve my entire family.
And yes, I often involve my grandsons too. They help as well.
My blog this week has a two-fold purpose:
I asked my granddaughter to share her thoughts on helping me with my blog:
"I love helping my Gigi with her blog. Sometimes she will call and ask me to take some pictures that she needs to complete her blog. And being the lovely granddaughter that I am, I graciously agree ;)
For instance, she once asked me for pictures of my sister and me writing in our journals. On another occasion for Gigi's mindfulness blog, I took pictures of my sister doing yoga. Another topic she blogged about was the grounding technique to handle anxiety. I took a picture of our playroom to demonstrate that you look around your surroundings, and find something you see, feel, hear, and smell.
On another time for a blog about kindness rocks, she had me take pictures of us placing rocks around our neighborhood.
I think it's a great opportunity for me to pinch in and help her with her blog, and give you readers some examples."
If I have convinced you of the fun of blogging, your next question might be, how do I begin? Simply google "creating a blog," and you'll get lots of online help with various sites for making your blog. If I can do it, you can do it. You'll notice at the end of my blog the site that I use. It's very user friendly.
And as always, if you already blog, share the name of your website. I'll share the address on here. And if you do a hobby with your grands, share that as well. We're always looking for new ideas!
As my oldest son's first grade teacher said about him, "He's a spoon. He's always stirring the pot." So I say to you, let's be spoons and stir the pot! It makes for an interesting life!
Until next week!
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!