Your Guide to Summer Fun

Summertime and the livin’ is easy — or is it? Although summer is promoted as being a time of fun in the sun, in today’s 24/7 world, summer fun can sometimes get derailed by a to-do list.  That’s why, as summer officially begins, Live Happy is offering its Summer of Fun with Mike Rucker, PhD. Based on Mike’s book, The Fun Habit: How the Pursuit of Joy and Wonder Can Change Your Life, this eight-week email course is designed to help you make the most of your time by building fun into your weekly schedule.  “Fun is really rooted in mindfully being attentive to the pleasurable things you do,” Mike says. “But it’s also understanding that you have the agency and autonomy to bias your life toward those things.”  Becoming more aware of what’s fun for you and intentionally focusing on it creates a greater sense of happiness: “Once you wake up to it and do what I call ‘filling my fun cup,’ you realize the rest of your life is better.” Research shows that people who aren’t living a balanced life or seeking joy are prone to burnout, but adding fun to your schedule can reverse that.  Are We Having Fun Yet?  One of the biggest obstacles to people pursuing fun is their misperception of what it means. Mike says social media can paint a picture of what fun should look like — but that image doesn’t resonate with everyone. That means you don’t need to be partying at a rock concert or taking a big summer adventure to have fun. “It might be a low-arousal activity,” he says. “Maybe the most amazing summer for you is some alone time at the pool, engrossed in a good book. Figuring out what things give you pleasure and being deliberate about scheduling them in — you’re halfway there already.”      Summer is the ideal time to build a habit of fun in your life because it provides more options than the other seasons. “The extended daylight that summer provides, more autonomy, and access to more activities give you more things to explore.” Sign up for Fun   To help put those ideas into action, Live Happy’s Summer of Fun with Mike Rucker, PhD email course walks through the steps to build a fun habit. It starts with creating a “fun file” — or identifying what you’d like to fill your fun cup with — and then teaches you how to schedule fun by providing weekly “assignments.” Mike offers a step-by-step guide to implementing the assignment in each email and explains what those activities do for your brain.  By creating a habit of fun for eight consecutive weeks, Mike says he is hopeful that people will turn this into an ongoing practice.  “We call it a fun habit for a reason,” he says. “This is the long game, not just something you do and then move on from. We’re not meant to have fun just in the summer.” 
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gen z stressed

Generation Anxiety: Why the World Looks Different for Gen Z

When you go into the grocery store do you look around to see who is nearby — just in case anyone looks suspicious? Do you extra cautiously note your neighbors before diving into your bucket of popcorn at the movie theater, noting where the exits are “just in case”? Or maybe you just don’t even go to the movie theater anymore — because, why take the risk? For Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers, these are relatively new behaviors we’ve seen develop over the course of their lifetimes as more and more tragedies have unfolded in our world. But for Gen Z, it’s always been that way.   How Gen Z Sees the World Whereas every other generation, according to the Generational Power Index, has cited 9/11 as the most significant historical event during their lifetime (even the Silent Generation placed 9/11 above World War II), that’s not the case in the short lives of Gen Z and those even younger, Gen Alpha. For them, it’s been one thing after another: The tumultuous 2016 Trump election. George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter movement. School shootings. More frequent and devastating hurricanes. Pulse Nightclub shootings. The Me Too movement. The tech revolution. COVID-19... The list goes on. And it’s provoking anxiety. How do we expect Gen Zers, who have been homegrown in this environment, to hope for the best when they see mass shootings day after day, watch our planet ripped apart by climate events, and see widening political discord — especially with the 2024 election ahead? As a psychologist who specializes in treating anxiety in the Gen Z population, I know that this fear is real. It’s not something to gaslight or minimize. The reaction of anger, of fear, of hopelessness is warranted. It’s appropriate. Seeking Positive Change However, just because these have been our circumstances, I’m also still clinging to a sense of hope that it can get better. And if anyone is going to make that positive change, it’s going to be (and already is) Gen Z. While Millennials were taught to people-please our anxiety away, Gen Z is not afraid to speak up for what they believe is right. They are the first to put together a rally, show up at a city hall meeting, or post about an injustice they see.  So let’s step up to the plate to help Gen Z. No matter how old we are, let’s take inspiration from their activism and get a little uncomfy by speaking up for what we believe is right. After all, we often aren’t willing to endure the unease of change until we’re uncomfortable enough in our present situation. I call this empowered acceptance. We start by accepting what is. We don’t deny or minimize what’s going on; we look at it head on.  We also don’t inundate ourselves in it either, though. We set boundaries on our screen time and step up our in-person socialization time. Steps To Empowerment Then, we lean into our empowerment and take action, both personally and collectively. This includes things like registering to vote, educating ourselves on issues — perhaps by watching a documentary or reading from a reliable source — and having respectful dialogues to try to better understand one another.  Taking action is the balm that we need for our anxiety. Rather than standing on the sidelines and sitting on our hands, we can start using those hands for good. We count ourselves in and acknowledge how each of us can play a part in making a change for good.  It has become difficult to live like this day in and day out. Let’s not be the frog in the pot of boiling water before it’s too late; let’s jump out and set things straight. Our future generations deserve it. What will you do this week to move the needle in the right direction?  Dr. Lauren Cook is a therapist, consultant, speaker, and author who specializes in anxiety — particularly among millennials and Gen Z. Her latest book is Generation Anxiety: A Millennial and Gen Z Guide for Staying Afloat in Uncertain Times.
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Modern Victory Garden

The Modern Victory Garden

More than a century ago, people in numerous countries around the world — including the United States, Canada, and Britain — were strongly encouraged to grow fruits and vegetables in their backyards. Governments urged citizens to grow their own food to help offset rationing and food shortages during World War I. The rallying cry around encouraging citizens to grow their own food was, “Food Will Win the War” and the gardens were dubbed victory gardens. The trend continued with World War II, when America boasted 20 million victory gardens. But after World War II ended, many people abandoned their gardens just as industrial/factory farming was ramping up.  The modern victory garden  We are in a different kind of war today that has more casualties and deaths than any military war. We are in a nutrition/health war today, where the enemy includes all the big food producers and their lobbyists that influence government policies on food ingredients, food labeling, and food regulations. When more than two-thirds of the foods in a typical supermarket are basically junk foods that are manipulated to be addictive (using combinations of sugars, fat, and salt) and offer little nutritional value — including cookies, pies, snacks, crackers, chips, sauces, pastas, breads, juices, sodas, frozen pizzas, pre-made meals — we have a serious food crisis. (Add the even worse conditions of food deserts in inner cities and Native American reservations, and the situation is even more critical.) Additionally, most restaurants, from fast food to fancy, source their raw materials from low-quality, factory-produced meats, fruits, and vegetables — adding to the food crisis. Sadly, we are losing this war. Food manufacturers and restaurants go unchecked and we have seen a frightening increase in chronic illnesses and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes). We need a new rallying cry; perhaps one of these will stick: “Growing Your Own Food Will Save Your Life.” “Save Your Life: Grow Your Own Farm-acy.” “Grow a Garden. Save Your Life.” Victory Gardens Everywhere The theory is that just about anyone who has housing can have a victory garden, though it is much easier for people with a patch of land. But some ideas of locations for victory gardens include: Window boxes Front porch pots Rooftops Raised beds (on driveways, patios, etc.) Yards (side benefit: getting rid of useless grass areas) Community gardens Church/Synagogue/Mosque grounds Once you decide on the foods you want to grow, you can make realistic plans based on amount of space for your garden. Growing at least some of your own food guarantees the quality and freshness of your fruits and vegetables and reduces the amount of money spent at the supermarket. If you simply can't grow your own food, the next best alternative is supporting others who do — whether personal friends or local farmers —and only eating the foods when in season. Find farmers and farmers markets in your area. It’s about more than food Besides enjoying some of the healthiest and freshest foods, gardening has other benefits, including: Reconnecting with nature. Many of us live sedentary, indoor lives; a garden reconnects us with our food and with nature. Exercise. The amount of exercise relates to the size of the garden, but tending to it, pruning, weeding, etc. all count as movement — and moving is good for us. Vitamin D. Gardening outside (with proper precautions for too much sun) provides us with a natural supply of this important vitamin that helps improve our immune system, bone density, and much more. Improving mood and memory. Gardening offers many people a boost in mood and a lessening of anxiety, depression. Planning and working the garden has also been shown to improve cognitive functions as well. Empowerment. Growing at least some of your own food is empowering — you are taking control of your health and wellness and what you eat. Fosters community. Even if you only grow your own food, you might take a master gardening class offered in your community to get growing/canning tips, or, if you’re like me, share the bounty of the garden with neighbors and/or the local food bank. Of course, if you join a community garden, you immediately have a new community of like-minded people. With so many benefits, what are you waiting for? Why not start planning your victory garden today? Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought leader dedicated to helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of, a network of empowering and transformative websites, including, where this article originally appeared.
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United States Map

Do you Live in the Happiest City or State?

If happiness is a state of mind, then where you live may make your trip to bliss a little bit easier. Since the place you call home is where you most likely spend a great deal of your time, it would be nice if that city or state also contributed to your well-being. Research suggests that living in certain locations and environments can make you happier for a variety of reasons, including greater access to green and blue spaces, strong social support systems, more opportunities for physical activity, higher levels of education and economic stability. As a whole, the United States regularly ranks around the 15th happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. But there are cities and states within the country that rank higher than others in happiness, giving residents living in those areas the opportunity to greater life satisfaction. The Happiest Cities and States in America  WalletHub, an online personal finance company, regularly ranks both the happiest cities and states in America. Their methodology for these lists includes three key categories to determine the results, including emotional and physical well-being, income and employment, and community and environment. According to Wallethub, their analysis is based on a mix of existing research from some of the leading studies in positive psychology as well as data compiled from a variety of sources, such as the 2024 U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Free to Be Happy in Fremont WalletHub’s Happiest Cities in America list shows which of the largest cities in the U.S. had happier people. Fremont, California was named the happiest city in the country for the fifth consecutive year. Located in the Bay Area, residents of Fremont enjoy more than 1200 acres of green spaces, parkland and other outdoor amenities which provide plenty of opportunities for exercise and relaxation.  Other factors include a friendly place to raise a family, low divorce rates, and low unemployment. A few other Bay Area cities that made the list include San Jose (3) and San Francisco (7). Here are the top ten happiest cities in the U.S. according to WalletHub: Fremont, CA Overland Park, KS San Jose, CA Madison, WI Irvine, CA Honolulu, HI San Francisco, CA Pearl City, HI Columbia, MD Scottsdale, AZ You’ll Find More Joy in Utah While multiple cities in California made the ‘Happiest Cities’ list, it isn’t the happiest state, at least according to WalletHub. In the Happiest States in America list, released by WalletHub in September of 2023, Utah ranks No. 1. Using the same factors as the ‘Cities’ list, Utah is also the top state in the country for providing a great work environment, having the lowest divorces rates and high volunteer rate, which all contribute to greater well-being. Utah Hawaii Maryland Minnesota New Jersey Connecticut California Florida Idaho Nebraska
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Unhappy woman covering her face.

Positive People Aren’t Always Happy People

The terms “positivity" and "happiness" are often used interchangeably, leading to misconceptions about their true meanings and implications. As a happiness expert, I emphasize the need to distinguish between a positive outlook and a deeply satisfying, meaningful existence. Positivity revolves around adopting a favorable perspective on life's events. It's the choice to focus on the bright side, to maintain an optimistic outlook even in challenging circumstances, and to embrace the sunny side of situations more often than not. Cultivating positivity is cultivating a mindset, fostering resilience, and a constructive approach to life's challenges. On the other hand, happiness transcends the immediate positivity of a given moment. It is a state of contentment and satisfaction with life as a whole. Unlike positivity, happiness doesn't center around cheerfulness. Instead, it encompasses a broader range of emotions, allowing room for both joy and pain. A happy life involves experiencing more pleasant, feel-good emotions than painful ones, but it doesn't mandate perpetual positivity. True happiness extends beyond fleeting moments and is rooted in a sense of meaning and purpose. It's about finding fulfillment in one's journey and feeling deep connections in the world. Happiness is a multi-faceted concept, encompassing various elements that contribute to a sense of well-being. One crucial aspect is the belief that life holds meaning and purpose. This depth distinguishes happiness from mere positivity, as it requires introspection and a holistic evaluation of one's existence. Understanding the distinction between positivity and happiness is vital for individuals on their journey to a more fulfilling life. Embracing positivity can serve as a tool for navigating daily challenges and fostering a healthier mindset. Simultaneously, recognizing the depth and complexity of happiness allows individuals to seek a more profound sense of fulfillment beyond fleeting moments of positivity. Experts like me acknowledge that maintaining a positive outlook at all times is neither realistic nor necessary for a happy life. Acknowledging positive and challenging emotions is an integral part of embracing the complexity of human experience. So, as you embark on your journey toward well-being, remember that positivity is a valuable companion, but it's not the destination. Happiness, with its depth and complexity, awaits those who embrace both the ups and downs, finding meaning in every twist and turn of life's remarkable journey. Tia Graham is a Chief Happiness Officer, founder of the workplace wellbeing company Arrive At Happy, and author of the best-selling book, Be a Happy Leader. To learn more about Tia, watch her Ted talk, visit her website, or check out her Arrive at Happy podcast. You can also follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
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Sad woman in a Santa hat sitting alone by the window.

No Home for the Holidays

For better or worse, the holidays are family-centric, and many traditions center around being at home with your family. However, many people don’t have a family to go home to during the holidays or cannot logistically get home due to work obligations or financial constraints. Either way, if you’re in one of these positions, the holiday season might leave you feeling isolated and longing for connection. There’s a vast cultural emphasis on family gatherings during the holidays, which can intensify feelings of loneliness. It’s like the whole world is wrapped up in festive family cheer, and you’re on the outside looking in. The pressure to take part in the family joy can make it challenging for those who don’t have a picture-perfect family to go home to. Here are five pieces of advice for people who won’t be with family during the holidays: 1. Acknowledge and validate your feelings. While you may feel pressure to be merry during the holiday season, forcing yourself to feel a certain way isn’t healthy. Everyone experiences the holidays differently, and it’s important to note how you feel. “Acknowledge how you feel – the good, the bad, and the indifferent,” says Nakeya Gore, a licensed clinical social worker with Grow Therapy. “There’s something powerful about telling yourself the truth. Your truth may sound like, ‘The holidays are hard for me’ or ‘I feel lonely this time of year.’” Let yourself feel these emotions and remind yourself that whatever you feel is valid. You may find it helpful to journal and write your thoughts or vent to a trusted loved one. 2. Create new solo traditions. Who said you need other people to create traditions? Solo traditions are just as valid and can be something you look forward to every year, no matter where you are or who you’re with. This may look like taking yourself out for your favorite meal and using the time to set goals related to personal growth, says Stacy Thiry, a licensed mental health counselor with Grow Therapy. Or, it can even be as simple as watching a favorite holiday movie, having a spa day, going for a hike, you name it. The best part of a solo tradition is that it can be anything you want– no compromise with other people is necessary. 3. Go on an adventure. If you’ve got the travel bug, why not go on a solo trip? “Consider using the time off to explore a new city or environment,” Thiry says. “Travel can be an excellent way to stimulate the senses and distract from what could be loneliness during the holiday season.” Solo traveling is a great way to learn about yourself, experience new cultures, do whatever you want, and meet new people. You’ll likely meet other solo travelers doing their own thing this holiday season, which can offer you camaraderie. 4. Volunteer your time. If you have extra free time that you’re looking to fill, consider volunteering, Thiry suggests. She recommends checking out opportunities offered by shelters, food banks, schools, churches, or other local organizations. Finding a cause you’re passionate about and giving back is a great way to spend the holidays. Whether you want to help walk dogs at a local animal shelter or give out food to underserved populations, you’re bound to find something that you enjoy that helps give you a sense of purpose. And helping people releases feel-good hormones in your brain, like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, all of which can boost your mood. Volunteering also enables you to meet new people who are passionate about the same things as you, allowing you to create new social connections and find a sense of community. 5. Reach out to your social network. Chances are, you are not the only one in your social or professional network who doesn’t have a family to go home to or can’t make it home for whatever reason. Thiry says this is an excellent chance to spend time with colleagues or friends who will also be staying in town. You may consider sending out a group text or email asking who will be sticking around for the holidays and then suggest having your own gathering. Alternatively, you can set up virtual meetups with friends or family members out of town. Whether that means having a lengthy one-on-one FaceTime catch-up with a friend who lives out of state or hosting a small Zoom holiday party, you can have fun and feel that social connection even when you’re home alone.
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Woman wearing yellow holding snake plant.

Can Your Garden Boost Your Mental Health?

Kayla Butts already had her master’s degree in nutrition when she got her true education in food. When she met her future husband, a small-scale farmer who used heritage methods to grow food without any chemicals, she discovered food does so much more for us than the textbooks were teaching: “He really shook the foundation of my beliefs in our food system and nutrition,” she says. “And I’ve since then become so excited and made it my mission to help people understand that you can grow your own food and it has endless possibilities and benefits for your health and well-being.” She shares that mission in her new book, Garden to Table Cookbook: A Guide to Growing, Preserving, and Cooking What You Eat. More than just a cookbook, it’s also a primer on how food affects us, the benefits of gardening, and how to start — regardless of how big or small your space is. In addition to outlining the benefits of growing your own food and giving more than 100 recipes on how to prepare it, she provides easy-to-follow information on how to freeze, dry, and can your own food. And it’s all presented in a beautifully illustrated coffee table-worthy book. More Than Just a Meal Although she explains the way food affects our physical health, Kayla is passionate about letting people know the benefits of growing your own food go far beyond that. “Something we don’t really talk about a lot is that gardening itself is a huge mood booster,” she says. “And science backs this up.” For starters, she explains, spending time outside is helpful in offsetting anxiety and depression: “We think that’s because we’re more focused externally than we are internally. We’re not ruminating on those little negative thoughts that can just take over; that’s hard to do that when you are appreciating nature.” Research has shown that gardening lowers stress and worry by keeping us in the present moment. Gardening can provide us with a sense of worth and purpose, which plays a key role in our self-esteem, and can help us connect with our “quiet mind.” Being outside also delivers a hit of vitamin D — which is proven to boost moods and immune systems — and digging in the dirt provides a beneficial physical connection with the earth. “You’re actually getting electrons from the soil. You absorb these electrons into your body, and then they act as antioxidants and neutralize disease-promoting compounds that are circulating in your body, like free radicals,” Kayla says. Creating connections The practice of earthing or grounding — which is simply connecting with the earth by standing, sitting, or putting your hands on it — has been found to improve not only your mental clarity, but also can help with sleep problems. It can ease pain and nurture relaxation. In addition to the connection with the earth, Kayla has found that it has created human connections, too: “Once I started gardening, I realized I was connected to a much larger community,” she says. “If you ever want a ton of unsolicited advice, join a gardening club because everybody loves to share their experiences, but it’s so wonderful.” Through gardening, she says she has connected with people from around the world as well as being able to share food with neighbors. “If there’s somebody that you’ve wanted to connect with but didn't know how, it’s a great conversation starter. Just to be able to share that with someone else is so meaningful.” Where to start The good news is, you don’t need a lot of space to start enjoying the benefits of growing your own food. For those who are tight on space, Kayla suggests starting with some potted plants in your kitchen window. Herbs are great for this, or you can plant edible flowers that will also add vibrant color to your kitchen. If you’re ready to go bigger, she says to find a small sunny spot in your yard and start planting. “Seeds are so inexpensive, you don’t have to invest a ton of money into plants if you don’t want to,” she says. And she also encourages people to find a local farm that grows plants and animals without chemicals to broaden the scope of fresh, chemical-free food you have access to. “Create these relationships with community farmers. You’ll be supporting them, and they’ll be supporting your family and your health,” she says. “It’s a great relationship to develop between two like-minded individuals for sure. And it’s nice to just get to know people, too.”
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Cartoon Doggyland Characters

Social and Emotional Learning Meets Hip-Hop in Doggyland

Emmy-nominated producer Claude Brooks is no stranger to making music that appeals to kids; as creator of the children’s series Hip Hop Harry, he saw that franchise grow to include a live touring show and popular merchandise. His latest venture builds on that success but is designed to help kids develop new social and emotional learning skills as they sing along. Doggyland — Kids Songs & Nursery Rhymes launched in August on all streaming platforms and introduced a colorful cast of characters led by an adult mentor named Bow Wizzle. In his non-animated form, Bow Wizzle is better known as rapper and entrepreneur Snoop Dogg, who approached Claude with the idea to do something for children. [caption id="attachment_18985" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Snoop Dog[/caption] “We go back almost 20 years,” Claude says of this relationship with Snoop. Claude’s expertise in creating kid-centric entertainment made him the perfect collaborator and the result is a positive show that encourages kids and parents to come together to learn new skills while spreading love and joy. “As a father, grandfather, and longtime youth football coach, it’s always been important to me to build positive and educational environments for all children,” Snoop said. “I’ve always wanted to create a kid-friendly series that lets kids be kids and is truly representative of the culture.” The duo brought in October London, a talented singer and writer, to round out the team. Through music, rap and fun dance movements they teach lessons about things like accepting those who are different, not being a bully, and practicing good manners. There’s even a song called “Affirmations” that is catchy enough for parents to sing in the shower for a positive, uplifting start to the day. “It’s for toddlers all the way up,” Claude says. “I don’t want to put a ceiling on it.” Celebrating a diverse world Doggyland is a world where all the puppies are different types, body shapes and colors. That was intentional, Claude notes: “In doing that, what we’re trying to subliminally put out there is diversity. They sound different, they have different attributes, and they all kind of work together.” They’re presently developing a new character with a disability to start changing the way kids view disabilities. Snoop has a special needs football league and felt strongly about making sure they felt represented in Doggyland. “We have a song about how you can do or be anything you want to be,” Claude says. “We’re putting one of the characters in a wheelchair but they’re playing basketball with everybody else.” He says he hopes that opens up the conversation among children and adults about disabilities and changes the way children view those who are differently abled. “We’re not telling you how to talk about it, but we’re opening up various things in a way where a little conversation could potentially come out of it,” Claude explains. Feel-good learning In addition to social and emotional learning songs, Doggyland also features educational songs, like updated takes on classic learning songs about things like the ABCs, colors and counting. And while the music is primarily hip-hop based, it covers a wide range of sounds. “Within hip-hop, there’s all these different genres,” Claude says. “We’re pop, we even jump into a little bit of reggaeton, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It covers all types of music.” [caption id="attachment_18986" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Claude Brooks[/caption] The series is accompanied by an album of the same name, which is available on all streaming platforms. Going forward, that sound may expand even more, as several notable names in the music industry have reached out and requested to collaborate on songs. “They’re from all genres of music and it’s some names that will really surprise you,” he says. That makes him feel good about what they’ve created so far and lets him know they’re on the right track: “What that says to me is that if you’re doing music from a good place — and it’s good music — it crosses all kinds of boundaries. If it’s good, it pulls people together. “And if you can jam to something that your child also wants to jam to, what’s better than that?”
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Kids dressed up in costumes

5 Halloween Trick or Treat Etiquette Tips

Halloween is the one night a year when adults and children come together to share their mutual love of scary stories, dressing up in costumes, and, of course, candy! One of the great delights for children is engaging in the traditional night of trick or treating. Americans alone spend billions on candy at this time of year. Whether you're the parent of a very young child or you're ready to venture off alone with your friends, there are a few things you should pay attention to when you're about to start trick or treating. Remembering basic etiquette is a must when you're about to trick or treat. This is because you may interact with strangers, some of whom may not be in the holiday spirit. It's always important to remain respectful when you're ready to trick or treat and consider how you approach your neighbors and friends. Trick or treating is a super fun and exciting opportunity to make friends, get to know your neighbors, and to enjoy plenty of sweet treats, but you'll need to abide by these five etiquette tips to ensure everyone has an enjoyable night! To find out five trick-or-treat etiquette tips for a safe and happy Halloween, keep reading. 1. Politeness and manners are free and always necessary Remembering basic manners is one of the most important things to think about if you're a child (or adult, we don't judge) who's about to trick-or-treat. Sometimes, it's easy to forget the value of please and thank you. Still, basic politeness and manners go a long way, especially if you're engaging with new neighbors or people you've never interacted with. Remember, when you're trick or treating, you're entering someone's grounds or property, even if you're simply standing on their porch. Think about how you would want to be treated if someone came to you wanting candy on Halloween. Saying please and thank you before and after you take your candy will go a long way, plus it’s a chance to sharpen your gratitude skills. If you knock on a neighbor's door and see that they've dressed up for the occasion, why not pay them a compliment? They'll likely comment on your costume, so return the kind favor. Plus, compliments can increase your happiness as well as the person on the receiving end. One last politeness tip to remember is never to pester your neighbor. If they don't want to answer their door, don't shout or ring their doorbell over and over again. You never know why people might not want to celebrate Halloween, so it's always best practice to be respectful and quiet during trick or treating. 2. Don't be too greedy! Although you might be tempted to grab handful after handful of your favorite sweet treats, try to resist the urge! Remember, other trick-or-treating parties will follow who will want to indulge in the same candy as you, so try to be mindful of other people around you. This is also important as you won't want to come across as greedy to the kind neighbors and homeowners who are kind enough to hand out candy to you. Don't snatch or grab large handfuls to get ahead of your friends. Additionally, if you notice your favorite candy type, don't just take handfuls of this. Make sure you leave enough for your friends and other trick-or-treating parties. 3. Make it clear you're ready to hand out candy and think about allergies! This is one for those preparing to hand out candy this Halloween. When preparing for Halloween, make it clear that you're willing to hand out candy. You can do this by leaving a jack-o-lantern outside your home or leaving a sign for trick-or-treaters. These visual cues take away a lot of uncertainty associated with treat-or-treating and mean that parties know which houses to go to and which to avoid. Another important thing to remember when you’re handing out candy is to ensure you consider allergens or candy preferences to cater to people’s needs. Try to avoid candy with nuts, milk, egg or other prominent allergens that could stop trick-or-treaters from enjoying Halloween. Try to keep treats meant for trick-or-treaters with allergies separate from your other candy to reduce cross-contamination. When you hear a knock at your door, communicate with trick-or-treaters that you have options for anyone with allergies in a separate bowl! 4. Pay attention to a house's visual cues Now back to you trick-or-treaters. While hunting for candy, it can be easy to assume that everyone is ready with a bowl of treats by their door. However, this isn't the case. Over 172 million people in the United States celebrate Halloween. Although that is a huge number, not everyone will be available or willing to carve a pumpkin and invest in some sweet treats. To avoid confusion and awkward waiting on people's porches, try to pay attention to visual cues outside people's properties. Often, people will put decorations like pumpkins, spider webs, or the occasional spooky skeleton on their lawn or porch to signal that they're in the festive mood. Try to stick to these homes and avoid properties with no lights on, no decorations, and the curtains shut. They may be out or signaling that they're not in the spooky spirit. It's important to respect this at all times to avoid pestering anyone who's not celebrating Halloween. 5. Always stay on the sidewalk and be respectful of other people's properties While you're lost in the sugar-induced haze and mesmerized by the array of costumes surrounding you, it can be easy to forget your environment. However, you'll need to maintain situational awareness at all times. That means you should always stick to the sidewalks and ensure you don't run across the roads to get to the house with the best Halloween decorations. Not everyone celebrates Halloween, so there may well be residents commuting from work, running errands, or simply driving around during the evening. Remember to be respectful and avoid getting in their way while crossing roads. Another important thing to remember is to be respectful of people's property. That means you shouldn't walk on their lawns if you can avoid it and not touch their decorations. Not only is this disrespectful, but it might also harm your chances of being invited back to trick-or-treat or discourage your neighbors from handing out candy next year! Trespassing is also an important thing to consider when you’re on the hunt for candy. You should never trespass on gated communities and other HOA communities that use access control door locks. These mechanisms restrict access to private areas within a community. These areas aren’t accessible to the public, only to residents, so you should always steer clear of these areas; otherwise, you’re breaking the law! Don’t forget to have fun and have a Happy Halloween! Looking to put your unique stamp on Halloween this year, or trying to find ways to connect with your community and make memories at this festive time? Look no further than LiveHappy. At Live Happy, we're committed to helping you find ways to live a more enjoyable life by sharing stories and providing you with some great tips for living your life. We've compiled some great tips to spread Halloween cheer this year, such as by putting your unique twist on Halloween this year.
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Young woman smiling with her luggage

7 Tips to Travel On a Budget and Still Make Happy Memories

Studies show that spending money of experiences rather than material objects will make you happier. You’ll not only be able to create positive memories that will last you a lifetime, but it’s also an opportunity to strengthen your relationships with friends and family too. But if you are currently living on a tight budget, you may feel like you don’t have the means to take those trips that bring so much joy to your life. You will be pleased to know that visiting unique places around the world and having a fun holiday does not always have to be costly. You can still enjoy a meaningful vacation if you budget and plan well. Here are seven useful tips that you can use to take the trips that make you happy without breaking the bank. 1.   Plan Your Trip Random and spontaneous trips may sound exciting but if you are traveling on a tight budget, planning is the way to go. You will need an itinerary that clearly defines where you wish to go and for how long, so research on the countries and cities you want to visit and the amount of time you are going to spend in each place is key. Pro tip: Travel During Off-Season. Not only do trips during peak seasons cost more, but you will also be in the midst of heavy crowds and loads of tourists. Summer holidays are something you will want to avoid. You can get quite a bargain on plane tickets and hotel stays during low-season period. 2.   Choose Your Accommodations Wisely Opt out of expensive hotel stays and look for dorms, hostels, and guesthouses instead. If you are traveling with your family or friends, sharing rooms can also lower costs. If you are up for it and feel safe, sharing a room with other tourists can also be a good idea. You can make use of popular booking platforms (like Airbnb) to book apartment/home rooms ahead of time at nearly half the cost. Take advantage of any friends, family members, and colleagues who live in the area you are visiting to see if they would let you stay at their house during the trip. Plus, your trip may be less stressful on you if you are around good company. 3.   Book Flights Ahead of Time Booking flights ahead and getting a good bargain on return flights will save you added hassle, time and money. Getting tickets nearly a year or even a few months ahead is a good idea if you do not want to worry about running short of money during your trip. When booking your flight, you can always: Pick a flight during the middle of the week such as Tuesday or Wednesday to get premium lower prices. Traveling midweek also makes checking in at the airport easier due to shorter queues. Book economy class instead of business to save up on those bucks. Pick a lower-budget airline with cheap deals and shorter flying times. Pack light luggage as hold luggage costs extra money. If possible, opt for a bus or train instead of an air flight to reduce costs even further. 4.   Watch What You Eat If you choose to eat every meal from a fancy restaurant, you’ll burn a hole in your pocketbook quickly. Make sure to explore the area to see what you wish to eat and what it should cost on average. You can buy cheaper food and dishes from grocery stores or local markets. Cut down on unnecessary drinks and sweets and stay hydrated with water instead. If the place where you are staying has a kitchen, you might want to save money by meal planning beforehand and cooking something on your own. 5.   Earn During Vacation Working while on a vacation or getaway is a brilliant way to recover money spent during the trip. Doing so can allow you to travel for months on end and explore to your heart’s content. A few ideas to earn extra money include: Turning into a travel vlogger to earn money through social media. You can resize video for Facebook or use other software to make your content more interesting. Offer to host other tourists. Teaching travelers skills like skiing during the winters. Teaching a language. Freelancing 6.   Get Travel Insurance Travel insurance can be expensive but is worth it. You can get coverage for financial losses and minimize your financial risks during your traveling period. A good travel insurance plan will cover: Lost baggage. Stolen items. Emergency medical expenses due to an illness. Trip delays and cancelation. Missed flights or vehicle trips. Legal costs incurred due to accidentally damaging property or causing injury. 7.   Seek Out Fun for Free Looking for free things that you can do while you are traveling to can help reduce your expenses significantly. For example, many museums or walking tours may be little to no cost as all. You can also reduce costs by carpooling with your friends or other tourists. This way the fare will be reduced by half or even three to four times the cost. Traveling for leisure should be full of fun and doesn’t need to be burdened by the constant worry of running out of funds. If you follow the tips above carefully, you can travel to nearly any part of the world without it costing you an arm and a leg.
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