Setting goals next to a window with a cup of tea.

How to Create a Master Goal for Your Life

It’s the end of January, which means that 80% of all those New Year’s resolutions that were set just a few weeks ago have already failed. What is it about those “new chapter” objectives that make them so hard to keep up with? Is the New Year’s goal just some hoax dreamed up by the personal fitness industry to drive new gym membership sales? Actually, the psychology of goal-setting says that there is probably no better time than the new year to set these types of goals. The Association for Psychological Science says that setting goals at a calendar transition point—such as the start of a new week, a new month, a new financial quarter, and especially a new year—takes advantage of a “fresh start effect” that makes people “more empowered and motivated to pursue their goals when they feel like their past failures are behind them and their future success is ahead of them.” The fact is that modern humans have become bad at goal-setting in general, no matter what time of year it is. New Year’s resolutions are just more visible, which makes their failures more obvious. The real culprit behind consistent goal failure, as well as the key to success, can be found in the motivational reward system that goals are designed to trigger. Why goals motivate us As complex as our feelings can be, they are based on only a handful of chemicals that blend together like a color wheel to produce our vast range of emotion. Four of these chemicals are the primary influencers of happiness: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins (collectively the “DOSE” hormones). Of these chemicals, the one primarily associated with the positive feelings of motivation and energy is dopamine. Dopamine is released to motivate us when we think about a goal we would like to pursue, and to reward us as we make progress towards achieving that goal. When we set a new goal at the beginning of the year, we get a positive feeling associated with that new pursuit, and this feeling comes from dopamine. The problem occurs when we lose focus of our goal or even after we successfully accomplish it. With no future goal to focus on, the brain’s dopamine reward system shuts down and reverts to the fight-or-flight chemical cortisol to fill the void. This leads to anxious thoughts and negative health effects. How to make goal motivation sustainable The key to this problem—not just for New Year’s resolutions, but for any of our pursuits—is to connect our short-term objectives with a long-term “master goal” for our life. Dr. Angela Duckworth, a prominent psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, calls this goal a “top-level concern.” In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, she explains that all humans organize their life through a hierarchy of goals within their subconscious. Some of these goals are more obvious than others, but they exist regardless of how aware we are of them and the more we can align with them, the happier we will be. When we identify a top-level goal, or what I call an ideal goal for our life, and then find a way to connect our short-term goals with that ideal, we can activate a more sustainable dopamine reward system that provides consistent focus over a longer period of time. It makes it easier for us to complete our goals, and then helps to avoid the post-achievement dopamine crash by providing a path from that goal to another one also connected to the same long-term Ideal. The historic Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps provides a great example of this. For most of his life, he thought that his top-level goal was winning a gold medal. But when he accomplished this feat (and then some), he was left feeling depressed and even suicidal. As he explained in his HBO documentary The Weight of Gold, he was able to make it through this period by realizing that a better top-level goal would be to help others deal with their mental health issues through sharing his personal story. He used this new ideal goal to return to the pool and have another successful Olympic Games, but then was able to continue a joyful pursuit of goals by launching a campaign to support mental health awareness. Find your own personal ideal This year, rather than start by thinking about a new short-term goal you want to achieve, you may be better served by spending time thinking about the long-term vision of the type of person you wish to become. Then, you can use that vision to fuel the motivation needed to sustain your efforts. Mark R. Congdon is the author of The Ideal Life: 7 Steps To Harness Your Stress, Discover Your Purpose, And Achieve Your Goals. Mark has a master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the Harvard Extension School and is the founder and CEO of Into the Ideal, an organization helping individuals find their purpose, joy, and the career they deserve. For more about Mark, check out
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bath tub with candles and book.

6 Must-Read Mental Health Books

Mental health books offer indispensable insights into the complexities of the human mind. Kristian Wilson, a licensed mental health counselor with Grow Therapy, says mental health books complement traditional therapy or counseling by offering additional perspectives and tools for self-improvement. “They can act as a supportive resource, reinforcing therapeutic concepts and encouraging ongoing personal development outside of therapy sessions,” she says. While not a replacement for therapy, mental health literature can help teach readers to cultivate resilience, cope with challenges, and foster greater compassion and empathy. The power of bibliotherapy Bibliotherapy is a therapeutic practice and form of self-care that uses literature to promote emotional well-being and personal growth. Rooted in the belief that reading can be transformative, bibliotherapy involves strategically selecting books, poems, or written materials that resonate with an individual’s emotional struggles, life experiences, or psychological challenges. Bibliotherapy encourages self-reflection, empathy, and a deeper understanding of oneself and others. It can complement traditional therapeutic methods, offering a unique and engaging way to explore complex emotions, cope with difficulties, and foster a sense of empowerment. “Reading mental health books can enhance self-awareness by prompting readers to reflect on their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors,” Kristian says. “This process contributes to emotional intelligence by deepening one’s understanding of themselves and others.” Integrating mental health literature insights into daily practices supports enduring mental resilience and individual development. Books that discuss mental health serve as invaluable guides on your journey toward emotional well-being. From traditional “self-help” to fictional stories that tackle difficult mental health topics, the books on the following list illuminate the pathways to self-discovery, healing, and personal growth. 1. Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel Topic: Healing from childhood trauma Parent-child relationships can be complicated. How a child grows and chooses to reclaim that power over those situations as an adult can impact mental health for years to come. The first mental health book on our list examines how one woman reclaims her power from her mother after suffering years of abuse at her hands. In this best-selling thriller, the author looks at the dynamic between Rose Gold and her mentally ill mother, taking a bold look at how child abuse and mental illness can destroy the most sacred relationships. This novel tackles how circumstances surrounding childhood trauma can impact victims long after the abuse ends, but also looks at how survivors can reclaim their power from their abusers and move forward. 2. The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib Topic: Battling eating disorders Eating disorders can manifest as coping mechanisms for underlying psychological distress; anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and trauma can fuel their development. Some researchers say eating disorders signify that the person dealing with these issues doesn’t feel a sense of control in their life. This desire to maintain control over food when control of everything else seems to be slipping away is precisely what Yara Zgheib examines in her debut novel, The Girls at 17 Swann Street. The book follows a young dancer named Anna Roux who, consumed by perfectionism, finds herself trapped with her biggest fears: feelings of failure, loneliness, and imperfections. She begins spiraling out of control and develops a serious eating disorder. Her condition becomes so severe that she’s admitted to a care facility at 17 Swann Street. There, Anna meets other girls struggling just like her. Together, they learn to conquer their illness and eat six meals daily. “The Girls at 17 Swann Street” delicately addresses the complicated relationship between mental well-being, self-acceptance, and the transformative power of resilience. 3. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid Topic: Coming-of-age This award-winning novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid may seem an unlikely addition here, but the themes in this coming-of-age story provide insights into the emotional challenges of growing up. Reid follows the fictional life of up-and-coming rock star Daisy Jones. Set in the late ’60s, this exciting oral history weaves the story of her and her band, The Six, and their rise to fame. With its vivid portrayal of characters navigating the complexities of their formative years, including the challenges of fame, relationships, social anxiety, and self-discovery, this fun-filled novel excels as a coming-of-age story. It sensitively addresses mental health, showcasing how characters grapple with their emotional struggles, ultimately emphasizing the importance of support, self-acceptance, and personal growth. 4. The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help You Deserve by Rheeda Walker Topic: Mental health and the Black diaspora Mental health in the Black community is often overlooked. This is why it’s crucial that books dealing with mental health and mental health care in Black communities, written by Black authors, are available. In her book The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health, Dr. Rheeda Walker examines crucial mental health issues in the Black community. She draws from personal experience to look at the Black community’s crisis regarding mental health conditions, including fighting the stigma surrounding them. This is an exceptional mental health book that provides a much-needed perspective on the intersection of mental well-being and racial experiences. By addressing the unique challenges faced by the Black community, this book offers critical insights, tools for emotional resilience, and a supportive framework for fostering mental wellness within a racially unequal system. 5. This Too Shall Pass: Stories of Change, Crisis and Hopeful Beginnings by Julia Samuel Topic: Dealing with change and crisis Sometimes, the best method for addressing a season of poor mental health is talking with someone who shared a similar experience. Psychotherapist and bestselling author Julia Samuel shares stories from actual sessions with patients, allowing readers to make connections to their unique mental health journey. This book fearlessly confronts the crucibles of family, love, profession, health, burnout, overthinking, and self-discovery. 6. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig Topic: Conquering depression Depression is a common challenge for many and can sometimes lead to thoughts of self-harm. While it may be hard to see in the moment, things do get better, and this is something the author reminds readers of in Reasons to Stay Alive. In this compelling memoir, Matt Haig details when, at the age of 24, he was consumed with an overwhelming desire to end his life. As he shares, he eventually discovered how to heal. Cleverly written, Matt uniquely approaches such heavy subject matter, interlacing it with moments of joy and humor. Write Your Own Chapter of Healing and Growth The story of your mental well-being is still being written, and these books are but the beginning chapters of an epic tale. Keep reading, growing, and celebrating the power of controlling your mental health. Isbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC, is a licensed mental health clinician in based in Florida. To learn more about how therapy could benefit you, visit Grow Therapy
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Dawn McMullan and Gorethy Nabushosi with some of the students in the Congo Restoration sewing school.

Restoring Women’s Lives in the Congo

When Dawn McMullan visited Africa in 2007, she never dreamed it would change her life in so many ways — or change the lives of others. “I went to Rwanda on a trip with my church and saw things I didn’t know existed,” says Dawn, a freelance writer and editor in Dallas, Texas. The country had been ravaged by civil war in the mid-90s; more than 1 million people died in Rwanda and 6 million were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I’d seen deep poverty [on other mission trips], but I hadn’t seen a lack of infrastructure where basic human needs were just unreachable.” That experience was still fresh in her mind when she met Gorethy Nabushosi less than a year later. Gorethy, a refugee who had fled the Congo in 1997 and raised her six children in Dallas, had visited her home country to see how she could help. A decade after the genocide, she saw a system that was completely broken. [caption id="attachment_19859" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Gorethy Nabushosi with twin fifth grade students from the Congo Restoration sewing school.[/caption] “She went to a village and basically found a lot of orphans and took in all 30 kids,” Dawn says. “Then she called her husband and said, ‘I need $1,000 to figure out what to do with these kids. I can’t leave them.’ And that’s how it began.” Unsure of where to turn, Gorethy returned to Dallas and reached out to a Methodist church for help. The church connected her with Dawn, who immediately jumped on board. “When Gorethy came into my life, I was already somewhat familiar with the situation and had this great, inexplicable passion for it,” Dawn says. “From there, we started what became Congo Restoration.” Changing Africa One Woman at a Time The first order of business was to secure a home with caretakers for the 30 orphans Gorethy had taken in. Then, they focused on empowering women through education. In 2010, they started a sewing school that provided girls with a skill and a six-month education. In the Congo, girls and women are usually sent to work in the fields; Gorethy knew that offering them an education would be life changing. “Not only does that give them a way to make money that they didn’t have before, but it also raises them up in society,” Dawn explains. “They’re no longer the lowest ranks of society; they are respected women, because they have a business. They can send their kids to school. They’re in charge of their financial destiny. And that is not a thing in the Democratic Republic of Congo that a woman would usually be in charge of.” Initially, it was a hard sell to convince parents to take their daughters away from working in the fields to teach them a skill because it meant the girl wouldn’t be bringing home money during that time. Sometimes, Dawn says, they had to offer the family things of value like soap or salt to seal the deal. But the sewing school has now graduated more than 800 women, supplying each one with a sewing machine and a sewing kit with everything they need to start their own business. Creating a Brighter Future “Now when we're about to graduate a class, hundreds of women line up wanting to be in that next class,” Dawn says. “Their families cry when they get their diploma. It’s a shift in how the community sees these women.” She also sees dramatic changes in the women who attend the school: “We teach them a lot of things in those six months. Sewing is one of them, but there are other things we teach them about how valuable they are. And by the time they graduate, you can see that in their eyes.” Congo Restoration continues changing the lives of families in the Congo, but Dawn says she is the one who has gained so much from the work. “When I go to Congo, when I’m doing things for the schools, I get so much thanks from the people there,” she says. “But they have no idea how much they’re changing me, how much they’re teaching me. I wish everyone could find the one thing they can do like that that lights them up. “If everybody did something with a passion to do good in the world, there’s just no way the world’s not benefiting from all that good energy.” [caption id="attachment_19865" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Gorethy Nabushosi with recent graduates of Congo Restoration's sewing school.[/caption]
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Women relaxing on couch.

4 Ways to Be Happier in the New Year

A new year is here and it’s always a great time to reassess our lives and figure out strategies that can improve our life satisfaction and well-being. According to Gallup,  the state of global unhappiness is on the rise and feelings of anger, sadness and stress are all contributors. While some of the major factors that are bringing down our collective happiness may not be as easy to get a handle on (global pandemic, economic uncertainty, polarization, etc.), we can take individual steps to help improve our lives and boost our well-being so we can have a buffer for when those negative stressors start to strike. Goal-setting, optimism, relationships and self-care are just four things you can work on this year to boost your well-being, and now is as good a time as any to start moving that happiness compass in the right direction. Set Realistic Goals Goal-setting season is upon us and a fresh new year seems like a natural time to start something new to work toward. While many set goals at the beginning of every new year only to see their effort run out of steam in just a few weeks, there are some steps you can take to make sure new habits have staying power. If our goals are to set too high and require too much bandwidth to complete, we will never reach them. Instead, map out your goal and see where you can it up into “bite-sized” bars. This accomplishes two things: you can celebrate the smalls wins to keep you motivated for the bigger picture, and you won’t be overwhelmed with an insurmountable task that intimidates you from even starting. Look on the Brighter Side We’ve all heard or read the affirmations of positive thinking ad nauseum, but there are sound reasons behind the sage advice of making lemonade out of lemons. Having higher levels of optimism may help you handle the day-to-day stressors that life throws at you and could be associated with  living longer, according to the latest research published in The Journals of Gerontology. Optimism, an attitude or belief that outcomes to your actions will generally be positive, will also help you in relation to other tools of well-being, including goal-setting. When you are met with setback that may otherwise impede your progress, your optimism may give you the mental edge to persevere toward your targeted goals. While some people just naturally have a sunnier disposition than others, one method to improving your optimism is to adjust your perception to negative situations, such as failure, as opportunities to grow. Strengthen Your Relationships One of the strongest indicators to living a happy life is measured by the quality and depth of relationships, according to the Harvard Study of Adult Development. As people, we are naturally drawn to connect with one another, and feelings of isolation and loneliness only brings down our life satisfaction and can have dramatic negative consequences to our health and well-being. A recent poll from CivicScience shows that our positive relationships with others is a major factor when we define our own happiness. Whether it is family, friendships or relationships, people like to be around other people to make them feel better. A few things you can do to strengthen your relationships is to continue to make time with the people close to you and savor those moments. Expressing your gratitude and appreciation toward others will also help you reaffirm the good in people and lets them know how much their presence in your life means to you. Strive for More Self-Care While the term self-care may seem like a popular buzz word to describe superficial acts of self-indulgence, there is emerging science to back up the practice of personal check-ins and check-ups to ensure you live a healthier and happier life. While it is good to attend to the needs of others, it’s equally as good to not forget about the attention you need so you don’t fall into negative cycles of self-loathing, low self-esteem and guilt. When these feeling become too frequent and pervasive, it may be a symptom of a larger problem, such as anxiety or depression. One way to reduce those negative feelings, is to fit more mindfulness into your daily routine. Studies show that practicing mindfulness can even reduce your anxiety levels as much as some antidepressants. Whatever method or exercise you use, 10 to 15 minutes of mindfulness a day to unplug from the outside world in tune in to the present self can bring your life back into a healthy balance.
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Woman giving present wrapped in white paper with red heart

Live Happy’s Holiday Campaign Celebrates the True Gift of Giving

Now that the holidays are here, it’s important to remember what the giving season is all about.  Prosocial acts, which are intentional behaviors that benefits others, truly is a gift that is given and received. While the person on the receiving end may be impacted in a positive way, the giver also receives those emotional rewards that make us feel good. These acts of kindness, no matter how big our small, create positive connections between people for a better society because the good cheer will carry on months, to even years later. According to science, there are plenty of other positive reasons why giving is good for you, including benefits to your physical and mental health. Research shows that giving—whether it is time, money, or gifts—contributes to our happiness and well-being, by: Lowering blood pressure Boosting self-esteem Reducing effects of depression and anxiety Decreasing levels of stress Increasing overall life satisfaction 12 Days of Giving During the month of December, we are embarking on a new kindness campaign in the holiday spirit of giving and it’s our Live Happy followers who will receive. Our 12 Days of Giveaways kicks off 12/02/2022 and each day is a new opportunity to receive a gift donated from one of our participating sponsors. We have partnered with brands who think and act like us with the greater good in mind. These brands not only offer great products but also have missions with a higher purpose of making the world a happier place. Here’s How to Win To enter Live Happy’s 12 Days of Giveaways, just follow us on Instagram @mylivehappy. Each day will be a new chance to win simply by liking that day’s post. All you have to do is follow Live Happy and the sponsor featured in the Instagram post. Then, just tag someone you know in the comments and that’s it. Live Happy staff will randomly select a winner and contact you to let you know you’ve won. Here is a list of our wonderful partners during the 12 Days of Giveaways: Neora, Bold Made, Emotion Wonderland, Type K Studio, Just Made, Big Shifts 31-Day Kindness , Yipes!, Taco vs. Burrito, Wholly Guacamole and (of course) Live Happy. So, be sure keep an eye out on December 02 on Live Happy’s Instagram so you don’t miss a chance to win one these great gifts. Happy Holidays!
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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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Kids doing arts and crafts

The Art of Parenting

As the mother of three children under the age of 10, Kate Vastano is used to finding unexpected surprises around the house. But when she discovered that her 5-year-old daughter, Jules, had painted the wall with nail polish, it stopped her in her tracks. She learned that Jules had been trying to paint their dog’s toenails, but when he refused to cooperate, Jules decided to hone her painting skills on the only other available canvas: a hallway wall. Kate’s immediate thought was to paint over it, but there was one little problem. “I had no clue which shade of paint we used on that wall,” says Kate, who lives in Brentwood, Tennessee. “I thought we were really screwed this time.” But she quickly channeled her frustration into creativity. She put a frame around it, complete with a museum-worthy description, and declared it “art.” “It’s on a wall between my home office and upstairs bathroom, so I get to experience it multiple times a day,” she says with a laugh. Not taking situations like this too seriously — and instead finding humorous ways to deal with them — has been essential to her as a parent, she explains. “My husband, Bryan, and I realized shortly into our parenting journey that it’s not worth stressing out over everything. If we can laugh when things get nuts and find the humor, we can make it fun for everyone.”
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Hand holding brain

Achieving a Mindset of Permanent Reinvention

“Changing our internal model of reality requires time to develop, and we require time to grow into it,” says Dee Hock, founder and CEO of VISA, in his foreword to Aidan McCullen’s new book, Undisruptable: A Mindset of Permanent Reinvention for Individuals, Organizations, and Life Based on his newest book, Undisruptable, ex-pro rugby player, Innovation Consultant and adjunct professor on transformation at Trinity College Business School, Dublin and now bestselling author, Aidan McCullen and I recently discussed creating a mindset for permanent reinvention. Undisruptable illuminates a path toward what he calls permanent reinvention, for both individuals and organizations. His discussion on how to achieve this evolves around developing a seamlessly flowing mindset. If you’d like an image to go with that, Aidan offers the constant motion conveyed by the infinity icon. Well … there is an old Zen saying comes to mind: Keep one eye on the destination and the other eye on the way. And I get this same vibe in every section of Aidan’s carefully organized (and entertainingly argued!) model for transformation. Change constantly flows from destination to way. Importantly, Aidan presents the pivot point for permanent change as being able to change before change is necessary. To do this, individuals must tune in to the need for coming change as it exhibits. Undisruptable is a smart, informative book that smacks with crisp, entertaining analogies that make its points sparkle. It is divided into sixteen chapters each introduced by humorous sketches. One of my favorites pictures a tired mayfly before an enormous sequoia, commenting that the tree has been there his whole life and it has not grown even an inch. In the first sentence of this section, Aidan writes, “a mayfly lives for only two days, while a sequoia tree lives for over one thousand years. Well … the discussion turns into a learning model on perspective. Each chapter concludes with a section on “Individual Considerations” and notes he calls, “Take Aways.” I recently had a conversation with Aidan about Undisruptable. Aidan: “I have had the wonderful privilege to get to the top of my game in Rugby. I choose those words carefully, Joe, because there are 3 kinds of players in sport. There are the talented, the disciplined and then the talented who are disciplined. I was more disciplined than talented. The raw materials at my disposal were limited. I was that kid in high school who was last picked, so my starting point was low. It was discipline, coupled with vision that helped me represent my country and play for the two best clubs in Europe, Toulouse in France, and Leinster in Ireland. My rugby career thought me a formula that I have used ever since: you start with a vision (it evolves), you persist with execution, it has a limited life cycle, you reinvent. Beginnings and endings are woven into the fabric of human existence, so embracing this fact is liberating. Aside from being a bestselling author, Aidan is the host and founder of the Innovation Show, broadcast globally and on national radio stations in Ireland and Finland. He is a change consultant, board director and executive coach. He works with organizational teams to improve how they engage and innovate. He is a champion for change who reinvented in his own career after rugby. Aidan has worked in transformation for digital, innovation and now culture and leadership. Aidan: “I have lived everything I share in the book, the highs and lows of reinvention, the pain of letting go, the joy of embracing of vision, the transience of things.”    Aidan’s life is a profile of changing with change. Aidan: “With the Innovation Show, I have the distinct opportunity to interview global authors each week. I often interview authors about innovation, neuroscience, and transformation. It all led me to a conclusion that you cannot change business models until you change mental models, you cannot change what people do until you change how they think. I wanted to share this in a story-rich, metaphor-laden format that is digestible to anyone.” My second favorite section of Undisruptable deals with the speed of change, especially with regard to Artificial Intelligence. We pursued that. Aidan: “Many organizations get caught out by disruption that they were aware of but did not address. Many disruptions are driven by technology, and at the heart of technological change is exponential speed of change. Exponential is unlike linear change; exponential change is doublings. Think how far you would get if you walked 30 incremental steps, each out about a meter wide? 30 meters, right? How about 30 exponential steps? 30 exponential steps would bring you all the way to the moon and the last step would bring you from the moon right back to earth again. That is the power of exponential change, and it catches us off guard, because we don’t think exponentially.” And there’s much more on that and I encourage you to go to Undisruptable and discover it. Aiden’s tips for a more “undistruptable” life Write down what you can do, unbundle the tasks that make up your job. Write down what you like to do, what parts of your job light you up. Now see if you can add some new skill that will make your skills viable in a different field. Learn that missing skill now while in a job, make time for it. When the rug is pulled from under your feet, you will now have another rug to stand on. You will be undisruptable. Rinse, repeat. Aiden holds that the more of us that are happy, the less discontent we are, the more harmony and the better treatment of each other we will engender. Joseph Cardillo, Ph.D., is an American writer, philosopher, and bestselling author of The 12 Rules of Attention: How to Avoid Screw-ups, Free Up Headspace, Do More and Be More at Work. Visit: for more.
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Live Happy's Tips to Say Goodbye to Clutter

Say Goodbye to Clutter and Enjoy the Freedom of Letting Things Go

Clutter not only junks up your space, it also seriously messes with your health, happiness and productivity. According to studies from Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute and UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families, our overstuffed homes rob us of focus, drain our energy, spike stress levels, invite depression and leave us perpetually searching for our keys. But take heart. You can outwit clutter in less time than you’d think. Start with small steps to embrace the things that uplift you and dispense with those that get in the way. End the Paper Chase Find a basket, bowl or tray large enough to corral all incoming paper—mail, catalogs, school forms, coupons, receipts, invitations and warranties. Then marvel as your counters and tabletops magically resurface, and you can instantly find any paper you need. Go through the contents once a week with shredder, recycling bin and folders close at hand. Scan any info you don’t need in hard copy form, sign up for paperless billing and automatic payments and ditch manuals that can be found online. Edit mail preferences at (free) and ($2 fee). Think Small Choose a space you can clear in one short burst—a single shelf, a drawer, a section of a counter, a dresser top, even a laundry-burdened chair. Once done, declare that area strictly off limits to future clutter. Continue with a new spot each day. (Note: Moving the clutter to another space is cheating.) Lose the Baggage Give yourself permission to let go of incomplete art or craft projects lying around in varied states of disarray. Ditto for workout equipment, supplies from past careers or musical instruments you don’t use. You won’t miss their constant nagging. Trust us. Find a Good Home Shoes will pile by the front door until the end of time if you don’t add a rack, basket or other storage solution. Likewise, perpetually lost items— keys, eyeglasses, phones and wallets—also need a place to go. The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals reports the average American loses a year of his or her life searching for things. We know you have better things to do. Think Digital You can’t work efficiently if folders, files and icons look like a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle dumped onto your computer screen. Neither can your computer. Dedicate 15 minutes a day for a week to reorganize, delete old downloads, archive folders, clean out your inbox and uninstall and delete apps you don’t use. Trim the Excess Most cooks utilize the same pots, pans and bakeware repeatedly, so edit to your chosen few. Place utensils and small gadgets in a container. If you pull an item out for use, wash it and return it to its original kitchen spot. With the exception of annual helpers like a candy thermometer or turkey baster, anything unused after a month can go. Box It Up Indecision is clutter’s best friend. Whenever you catch yourself saying, “I’ll deal with it later,” place the item in question in a maybe box that you seal and tuck out of sight for six months. (Put a note on your calendar when to check back in.) If you didn’t need or miss anything in the box in that time frame, take it unopened to charity that day. And on that note, if you stumble across a box of things you forgot you had, consider that donation decision already made. Write Away Gather all your pens, pencils and markers alongside a paper pad to test with scribbles. Select 20 winners, then donate the rest. Buy from Home “Shop” your own wardrobe as though you’re in a boutique seeing each item for the first time. Select only those items that you’d buy today. When finished, hang your “purchases” back in the closet; bag unselected items for consignment or charity. Don’t panic if your closet looks spare. You’ve just done yourself the favor of identifying your core style—a feat comparable to upgrading from a department store’s jam-packed clearance rack to the must-have apparel on the mannequins at your favorite boutique. Live with your capsule wardrobe before filling in the gaps. And look for a common thread among your rejects to avoid future error. Clear the Calendar Unnecessary appointments or meetings count as clutter, too. Only spend time on things that matter to you. Celebrate Simplicity After each holiday, cull decor that didn’t make it to this year’s party, whether ornaments, an inflatable yard witch or that whimsical set of Easter Bunny plates. What you do with the surprise discovery of any chocolate treats is up to you. Supply Only the Demand Save time and money by gathering duplicates, such as batteries, sticky notes, lightbulbs and rolls of tape. Keep what you’ll realistically need in the next year and donate the rest. Got 5 Minutes? Nab empty cardboard boxes and grocery bags for recycling. Unsubscribe from three email newsletters (of course you’ll want to keep Live Happy’s). Toss expired products and empty containers from the medicine cabinet. Recycle mismatched plastic containers and lids. Clean the car using one bag for trash and another for items to relocate. Outwit Common Clutter Cons I might need that. If you haven’t used it in a year, it’s not serving your needs. Hypothetical uses infringe on how you really live. It’s an heirloom. You can love Grandma without loving her crystal. Realize the tug is about the memory, not the thing. Take a photo or keep just one goblet, then pass the rest along. I paid a lot for that! Maybe so, but now it’s costing your peace of mind, too. I don’t want to waste. Donating extras is sharing the wealth. I could give that to so and so. With few exceptions, don’t get bogged down in a Plan B. This article originally appeared in the October 2018 edition of Live Happy magazine.
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Distressed woman with her face in her hands

Overcoming Anxiety in an Anxious World

I used to suffer from chronic overthinking. A couple years ago I went through a mini phase of extreme paranoia. I found myself rabbit-holing down a deep, dark path of doomsday predictions. Everything from potential volcano eruptions or major 9.0 earthquakes, tsunamis, meteor strikes, killer bugs, more pandemics, losing everything I had worked for, to nefarious leaders with dark agendas, and robot takeovers—every day was filled with, “What is going to rear its ugly head today and try to harm us?” When the alien invasion started to be a very real possibility in my mind, I realized all logical reasoning had gone out the door. I was deep in it, manipulated by conniving fear, all under the guise of, “I am being prepared and educating myself.” I told myself I was getting ready for the next big thing that could happen, not realizing that this was full-blown fear that had manifested itself into a preparation project. I’ve seen in my own private coaching practice and in doing research for my book Return to You: 11 Spiritual Lessons for Unshakable Inner Peace, that so many of us do this, chronic overthinking, especially when things are uncertain. Since we don’t have control over anything outside of us, we tend to worry our days away trying to maintain control of our inner world. This causing more anxiety and prevents us from feeling safe. Overthinking means that you dwell on an event, a person, a feeling or an idea so much, that it completely consumes your thoughts and can ever ruin your relationships and personal wellbeing. To stop the chronic worry, I started to turn to my spirituality and daily routine. Practicing mindfulness and compassion was key to transforming the fear into faith with love. It is all about intention. We can fill our days with worry and fear-based thoughts, or we could choose hope, happiness, and love; we can unplug from the “system,” that promotes separation and worry and stop consuming so much fear-filled media, and instead drop into my heart. We may feel hopeless and powerless against the negative forces in the world, but we have more power than we’ve been taught to believe. Wayne Dyer said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” So maybe instead of worrying the easiest path forward is to shift our perspective from worry to wonder. These steps can help. Step 1: Drop from your head into your heart. Our thoughts are powerful directives. They will either help us or hurt us, depending on where we give our attention. The mind will analyze, judge, blame, and try to make sense of the world, but your heart trusts, allows, and loves. There is no point in trying to change the world, but there is a point in changing your thoughts about the world, and this happens when we drop from our head into our heart. It’s often been said that our thoughts create our outcome, so if this is the case, we must ask ourselves what we are thinking and projecting about the current situation. If something is causing you dis-ease, go inward to your heart and see what your thoughts are about that situation. Feel your feelings and recognize where you’ve been trapped in fear or blame. We can escape our pain by giving up all thoughts that are derived from attack, blame, or shame. We are never trapped in the world we live in, because as soon as we shift our thoughts, we can change our experience. Step 2: Turn your resistance into assistance. Instead of resisting things in your life you don’t like, channel all the energy into assisting. Where can you help others and turn your pain into purpose? Go inward and ask yourself, “What is coming up for me and how can I channel this energy into support for others?” You can stabilize your focus by assisting others and helping those in need. Sometimes we don’t have control of what is happening, but we can take a step to help the world. Instead of festering in your discomfit, shift into action and be of assistance to others. Being of service is the highest form of happiness and will help you stay focused on the big picture—that we are all in this together and we need each other. Step 3: Judge nothing that occurs. Deepak Chopra said, “If you and I are having a single thought of violence or hatred against anyone in the world at this moment, we are contributing to the wounding of the world.” When the world seems to be turned upside down and nothing makes sense, it can be so easy to fall into judgment and blame. With so much angst, there can be a lot of separation. Adopt a mentality of compassion and kindness by practicing nonjudgment and compassion for all. Today, practice nonjudgment with everything you see. As you live in a more neutral state, watch how aspects of yourself and life start to feel better. Step 4: Hold up the energetic mirror. Look at what is triggering you and causing you distress. Hold up the energetic mirror and ask yourself, “How is this showing me what I need to heal within myself?” Your external world is a reflection of your internal state, mirroring the deepest truths of your soul. Use this time to recognize all areas and relationships and situations that feel strained. Heal your past by connecting to it in the present. You have a divine assignment not to take things personally. Look at who and what is triggering you and what it is bringing up for you. When you feel your feelings, you release them, and as you do, you connect to the deeper message they can bring. Using the energetic mirror will help you reconnect with your true self, the pure light and love within. We can choose peace, but it must start on the inside. You can access freedom from fear right here and now. No matter what is happening outside of you in the world, you can be calm in the chaos as your inner world is the only world you truly have control over. Excerpted from Return To You: 11 Spiritual Lessons for Unshakable Inner Peace. Sounds True, April 2022. Reprinted with permission. Shannon Kaiser is a world-renowned spiritual and self-love teacher, speaker and empowerment coach. A bestselling author of five books on the psychology of happiness and fulfillment, she guides people to awaken and align to their true selves so they can live to their highest potential. Shannon's newest book, Return To You: 11 Spiritual Lessons for Unshakable Inner Peace, is a complete guide to Shannon's most effective strategies for tapping your innate wisdom and stepping into your true power. Named among the "Top 100 Women to Watch in Wellness" by mindbodygreen and "your go-to happiness booster" by Health magazine, Shannon lives in Portland, Oregon, with her rescue dog, Chance.
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