Volunteer with Issa Trust Foundation takes a girl's blood pressure.

Voluntarily Happy

Diane Pollard’s job in financial services paid well, but sitting behind a desk to improve the company’s bottom line left her marginally fulfilled. “I was scared that I had only so many years left of living,” Diane says. “I thought, Wouldn’t it be sad to always take but never really give something back?”A seasoned volunteer, Diane had long recognized the satisfaction she received from helping others and desired to find similar work full-time. A family trip to Jamaica provided the impetus. When a major accident forced Diane’s bus to detour into the hillside, Diane was unknowingly en route toher destiny.“The bus stopped in a town, and a young boy emerged from a two-room humble abode wearing just underwear,” Diane recalls. She waved as the youngster approached the bus and raised his tiny arm to press his hand against the glass opposite hers. “I’ll never forget how his eyes locked on mine,” Diane recalls. “He really wanted to see us and to be seen.”Cold Calls; Warm HeartHaunted by memories of the little boy and consumed by a desire to alleviate the poverty she’d seen, Diane contacted numerous Jamaican agencies seeking a humanitarian partner. Finally her cold calls led to a warm heart: Alex Ghisays, a public relations director at Couples Resort. Diane and Alex worked together via emails, with Alex relaying needs and Diane mailing much-needed medical and educational supplies. As others began to hear about Diane’s efforts and wanted to help, Couples Resort founded the nonprofit Issa Trust Foundation, dedicated to improving health and education for needy Jamaican families. Today as Issa’s president, Diane works full-time with numerous volunteers. Programs vary from week-long medical initiatives focused on pediatric medical and vision care to educational measures, such as a recent donation of 10,000 books, 1,000 of which went to a school serving underprivileged kids with just a 61 percent literacy rate.“I feel so fortunate that my volunteer work led to living my dream,” Diane says. “It’s an experience that really gives that inner happiness. It’s fulfilling and humbling and contagious.”Give—and ReceiveVolunteering takes time and energy—both precious commodities. But there are also huge dividends. Those who give back have a chance to connect positively with people, gain new skills, find meaning in their life, even improve their mental and physical wellbeing. (Studies show that those who willingly give reduce their stress or depression, while also lowering their risk for Alzheimer’s and heart disease.) In fact, volunteers are among the happiest people in theworld.That doesn’t surprise fourth-year pharmacy student Kelsey Bayliss, who recently experienced the benefits of volunteering with Issa. She had heard positive things about the organization from her preceptor, so when her school offered rotation experiences in other countries, she simply thought: Why not give it a try? The experience proved life-changing. As Kelsey’s medical team saw nearly 900 children in five days, she witnessed firsthand how badly the kids needed medical resources and how grateful the parents were. “I have never feltas empowered and fulfilled as during my time volunteering in Jamaica,” she says. “I don’t think it’s even possible to put into words how much that experience changed my way of thinking, way of living and future career asa pharmacist.”The mere realization that her skills and knowledge could make a dramatic difference was huge for Kelsey. “It’s something I didn’t think about or feel before, but now I’m excited knowing that I will continue work like this the rest of my life,” she says. “If I can’t donate time, I’ll donate knowledge and resources.”There were character-building lessons, too, such as learning to be more grateful and to rethink things that were previously deemed important. Kelsey also learned the virtue of patience. “Seeing hundreds of people wait for hours without anyone complaining was humbling,” she recalls. “Here at home, we’re antsy if we have to wait 10 minutes for a meal in a restaurant or we’re stuck in traffic. Now I wait and think, This isn’t so bad.”Already looking forward to returning again, Kelsey is simultaneously amazed and enthused by the experience. “Volunteering gives a pure inner feeling of happiness and joy knowing that you can make a difference,” she says. “I don’t think it has anything to do with recognition or how much that you’ve helped, but just knowing that someone’s life is better because of you.”Staying GroundedBlaine and Jenny Moats were no strangers to volunteering when they traveled to Jamaica with Issa. Jenny, a social worker-turned-real estate agent, looked forward to engaging in humanitarian work again. Blaine, a photographer who was invited along by fellow shooter Brent Isenberger (both men’s pictures accompany this story), simply wanted to share his talents. “I had been asked to do something similar in Haiti for a different nonprofit years earlier,” Blaine says, adding that he almost didn’t go that time because Jenny had just lost her job due to funding cuts. “But I went. And when I came back I said, Oh yeah, we’re going to be OK. When I see how much we have compared to what they have, it’s pretty hard to worry.”For the Moats, volunteering with their two young daughters keeps the family grounded. “The way I look at things, I don’t want to get too stuck inside myself,” says Jenny, who has introduced her daughters to giving back in ways as experiential as sleeping outside on a chilly Midwestern night to raise money and awareness for the homeless. “I want the kids to see that their life isn’t what it’s all about. There are other people who have different problems and issues.”Though the girls did not accompany Blaine and Jenny on this trip, they pored over Blaine’s pictures, watched the videos and listened to the stories. “I think the volunteer work is reflected on them, and they have very caring hearts,” Blaine says. “When you give back to others, that’s where the happiness comes from. That’s important for us to teach our kids.”While Blaine downplays the importance of his role compared to that of the doctors in Jamaica, he found satisfaction in using his talents and seeing the results of the team’s work. “Some of the kids came in looking pretty limp in their mom’s arms, and then they walked out with a big smilea few hours later,” he says. “That’s pretty cool.”For her part, Jenny painted fluoride treatments on children’s teeth. One interaction with teenage girls who were helping her treat their younger sibling’s teeth left a particularly strong impression. “They were pretty cute, and I asked what they wanted to do when they were older,” Jenny says. “One didn’t know, so I said Well, maybe you could be a dentist since she was painting the teeth. You never know how what you say might change someone’s course of life, but it’s good to always keep thatin mind.”Talent to GoWord of mouth convinced nurses Kerri Cook and Sue McConville that joining Issa’s medical team would be the perfect volunteer opportunity to utilize their skills and passions. “If you’re able to do something you love where help is needed, that makes it fun because it interests you,” Sue says. “But it’s also very, very rewarding.”Finding a satisfying volunteer fit also ensures that you’ll want to continue. Case in point: Kerri recently returned from a third trip; Sue just finished her inaugural trip and is eager to go again. “It is awe-inspiring,” Kerri says. “Being able to help people who really need the help gives me that ‘ahhh’ feeling. It makes me feel so good to help others who need it so much.”Among the lessons learned, Kerri and Sue say they’re more grateful than ever before. “We have no idea how blessed we are,” Kerri says. “I saw people come to the clinics at six in the morning and wait patiently for hours with never a complaint.” Attending to the children, the nurses were also reminded that basic health care is not a given. “I spent three and a half hours helping clean and bandage the open wounds of a girl with severe eczema,” Kerri says. “That struck me because it’s such a simple treatment in the U.S., but they didn’t have the resources to treat her, and she could have died.”The experience has impacted the women’s professional life, as well. “It makes me a kinder person and more compassionate in my nursing job,” Kerri says, noting that she now summons the same feeling of satisfaction that she had in Jamaica by reminding herselfthat being a nurse makes a difference here, too.Sue agrees. “I’m so grateful to have a job, car and house,” she says. “I don’t stress about the little things anymore after what I saw. I don’t think they’re very important.”Instead, she focuses on positive little things she can do daily to help others—things like donating books to a literacy program, bringing an elderly neighbor a meal or chaperoning a school field trip. “The last day in Jamaica I was kind of sad because I was thinking “OK, where can we go tomorrow to help?” Sue says. “Then I realized, I can tap into those positive feelings by giving back wherever I am.”LuAnn Brandsen is a home and garden writerand former editor of Country Gardens and Country Home. Her work can be found in Elegant Homes, Décor, Country French, Cottage Style and Tuscan Style.
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Bryce, Tiny Sparrow Photography

A Picture of Hope

Cancer is a scary word, but that diagnosis can also be a catalyst to discovering courage with a purpose. In 2007, Lidia Grigorean learned she had stage 4 breast cancer. During gruesome months of chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy, she developed a greater appreciation for life along with a new perspective. She had always loved photography but had never attempted to pursue it professionally. That is, until death was knocking at her door. “When you have cancer, there is an unexplainable courage that comes to the surface,” Lidia says. “I did not care about anything else but to follow my dream.” She made a vow to help people if and when she got out of the hospital. Once her cancer was in remission her lifelong passion turned into a pursuit of giving back. She volunteered to photograph Kate McCrae, a 5-year-old girl battling brain cancer. It was Kate’s photo session that inspired Lidia to create the nonprofit Tiny Sparrow Foundation. Her logo design is a tribute to Kate, and the organization’s mission is to provide photography free of charge to families with children facing a terminal illness. The foundation creates a custom-printed memory album for the family as well as donates a CD of images with full copyright permission. Thanks to a network of more than 400 professional photographers nationwide who donate their time and talent, Tiny Sparrow continues to grow and inspire year after year. “You are not promised tomorrows with the people you love,” says Lisa Routh, a Picture of Hope recipient. “Now, no matter how rocky this road gets, we always have these amazing photos as memories to hold onto. Mary Beth Thomsen is a marketing professional,freelance writer and blogger from Richmond,Virginia. She has managed campaigns fornational brands such as the American DiabetesAssociation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
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Gingerbread cookie man in a hot cup of cappuccino

The Happiness Holidays

In every issue ofLive Happy, you’ll find fun and topical answers to our survey question. This month, we asked, “How will you make others happy during the holidays?” The top three answers are:Be present.Make, bring or share food!Do something unexpected.Be Present:“Being present instead of giving presents.” –Doris A.“It’s about taking time to be with family and friends. My Dad always said ‘Be kind.’ I try to remember that even more at this time of year.” –Shelby K.“By making others’ wishes come true.” –IvetteO.“By simply being present. I lost my father this year. But my family and I were with him at his bedside, so I know the power and importance of being there.” –Matt S.“Tell them you love them!” –Laurie K.Make, bring or share food:“Have everyone bring comfort food to a gathering. Something that has been made since before we were born. How else do you explain the gelatin stuff?” –Jeanette M.“Feed them!” –KristyeH.“Friends, books and food.” –Chantal G.“Cookies, brownies and anything sweet!” –Richard S.Do something unexpected:“Haul the kids to the grandparents, then leave them there." –Robert C.“I let my grandkids decorate my Christmas tree with whatever they want. Two years ago it was full of hair ribbons, last year it was sports items. They’re talking aboutLegosthis year.” –Jean E.“My kids, nieces and nephews dress up in vintage Christmas attire and go caroling. Where they sing and to whom they sing to is random. Everyone loves it.” –Irene S.“Greeting—or at least smiling at—people I pass on the street.” –Cathy B.“Random acts of Santa each day will keep me focused on others.” –Ellen H.Here are some of your answers that didn’t make it into our Premiere Issue.Making yourself happy is a good start. –Kyle K. Exude positivity and enthusiasm! Having the right people at your holiday party or dinner can make or break the mood of the entire event! – Sandra B. Cook a big meal - actually a couple! Make new traditions with your own family. Invest in good decorations and add to them every year. – Heather C.Sing Christmas songs! It makes me happy--the kids may not agree with me... –Heather H.S.Booze and presents. – Stephanie V.Holidays end up being about the only time our whole extended family gets together. I am lucky to have a family that will laugh until they snort out their nose, hug you until you pass out. We all listen, we all care, we all make happiness together. –Jeanette M.
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Gift tags with cirlces and names

Tag Time

Edible ForestUse school glue to outline and fill in a tree shape on a 2½-by-5 inch tag. Sprinkle dried rosemary over the glue, adjusting sprigs as needed. When completely dry (the glue will be clear), shake off excess. Use tiny dots of glue to secure star-shape pasta to the top of the tree and around it, as desired. Tie onto a gift with rustic twine.(bottom tag in image)Name DroppingUsing a 1½ inch scalloped paper punch, make enough circles from colorful cardstock to spell out each recipient’s name. Use small letter stamps and an inkpad to spell out the name. Let dry. Use a small hole punch to make two small circles on either side of each scallop, about ¼ inch in from the edge. Weave through coordinating baker’s twine and tie onto each gift to finish. (Main article image above.)Seasonal String ArtCut two identical rectangles from plain cardstock, approximately 1½-by-4 inches. Thread an embroidery needle (half the strands in a regular 6-strand piece of floss) or thick thread. Sew the shape of a tree, starting at one end, using the same top hole, and working your way across the rectangle. Evenly space your bottom stitches as best as you can. Secure a sequin on top and knot on the back of the paper to finish the tree. Secure both rectangles together using a simple or decorative embroidery stitch, as you like.Woven WonderlandCut the decorative part of an old holiday card into thin strips, approximately ¼ inch wide. Weave together until you have a size you like for a tag and trim as needed. Secure the back with bias tape and write your recipient’s name on it. (Or use double-sided tape to secure a small piece of paper on the back to write your message on.)Brilliant BlackboardPick up a package of chalkboard stickers in the scrapbooking aisle of your craft store and decorative paper labels just slightly larger than the stickers. Center the sticker inside the label and add festive twine to finish. Write on the tag with a white charcoal pencil for best results.Festoon with FeltCut little critters and seasonal shapes from felt as shown. Secure together with hot glue or a needle and thread. Hot glue the back of each felt shape onto a large paper clip and, when dry, add a paper tag (cut from a brown paper bag) onto the paper clip. Write out your to/from message as desired.Tree-mendousUsing a pencil eraser and a green inkpad, stamp the shape of a tree onto a 2½-by-5 inch tag. Glue on a sunflower seed, star anise or even sequins to finish the tree.You may be interested in moreHandmade Touches.Amy Palanjian is a freelance writer from Des Moines, Iowa. Her work has been featured in Parents, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens and Bon Appetit.
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Father and son with a box of items to donate

Teaching Kids to Give Back

Almost nine of 10 households donate to charity, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, and that’s especially apparent as the holidays approach. With giving this widespread, it makes sense to wonder whether sharing time, talent and treasure comes naturally.Since most of us don’t wake up one day and say, “Now I’ll be philanthropic,” how does generosity develop? We’re learning that the rewards of sharing begin long before someone writes a check.Empathy for a cause—you might call it our “generosity gene”—typically kicks in when a family is just starting out under one roof and may not have a significant sum to give. In fact, early charitable acts may not even involve money.Many can recall baking cookies for a fundraiser, volunteering or donating clothing, and sharing time is also sharing wealth. According to Independent Sector, a nonprofit advocacy group, 64.3 million Americans gave 15.2 billion hours of volunteer time in 2011, worth nearly $300 billion.Children can donate their time, too. Even preschoolers can empathize with the needs of others, but they may need help to realize they can make a difference. Nurture generosity with ordinary opportunities to share time and money as a family:Participate in a charity walk/runCoach youth teamsCook meals for othersBuy magazines or cookies from neighbor kidsContribute to your church, synagogue or other place of worshipGive away clothing or booksTake gifts to new parentsHost parties and events in your homeShovel snow for shut-insServe on committeesPhilanthropy evolves as families become aware of community issues, take an interest, show preferences and seek action.HERE’S HOW TO BEGIN GET TOGETHER.Hold periodic family meetings to discuss and come up with a plan of action. Whether a family consists of young children, teens or married couples, find ways to work toward common goals.Be "Hand's" On.Visit or work at shelters, events or community projects. Learn how giving affects the giver and the receiver.Make a Plan.Discuss what to save, spend and give. Knowing why to give and when is as important as knowing how much.Set Priorities.Learn to maximize the impact of your gifts. A good resource is charitynavigator.org, which rates charities based on financial health, accountability and transparency.Encourage and Model Good Spending, Saving and Investing Habits.Families need assets in order to give. In short, model a spirit of giving. It’s never too late to leave children a legacy of generosity.
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Handmade Gift Tag

Handmade Touches

Add a little bit of yourself to your holiday packages. Handmade gift tag instructions:1. No-Sew SweetnessGather two coordinating cotton fabrics, a sheet of fusible adhesive and pinking shears. Choose a base fabric and use the pinking shears to cut two identical rectangles 1½-by-2 inches. Cut a piece of fusible adhesive to the same size and sandwich it between the two fabric rectangles according to the package directions. Cut one slightly smaller rectangle from the accent fabric and the fusible adhesive using pinking shears. Center and adhere to the base fabric according to package directions. Write the recipient’s name on a small piece of cotton tape using a fine-point Sharpie, and position on the bottom center of the accent fabric. Punch two holes in the top of the tag and tie a yarn bow.2. Sparkling CirclesUse a regular-mouth canning jar lid to trace three circles on glitter paper and two on coordinating cardstock. Cut out using pinking shears. Write a note on the cardstock pages, and then layer as follows: glitter paper, cardstock, glitter paper, cardstock, glitter paper. Punch a hole in the top center of all circles and secure together with a small brad. Finish by placing letter stickers for the initials of the recipient on the front.3. Merry MacraméCut a rectangle of cardboard to the size that will work with your gift. (Ours is approximately 2½-by-4 inches.) Use a small hole-punch to make 4 holes, spaced evenly along both short sides. Cut 8 pieces of kitchen twine to the approximate length of your arms when held straight out to the sides. Fold each piece of twine in half and secure each to a punched hole with a knot. Working on one side at a time, knot one piece of twine from one hole to one piece of twine from the hole next to it, approximately ½ inch from the first row of knots, to make three knots across the second row. To make the third row of two knots, gather the four pieces of twine from the left side and knot ½ inch from the previous row. Repeat with the four right pieces. Finish by knotting all pieces together ½ inch from the previous row. Repeat on the other side.4. Scrap HappyUsing a purchased manila tag as your guide, trace the shape on a pretty page from a magazine. Cut a triangle out of the bottom and secure to the tag with twine. Write your note under the pretty paper.5. Pretty Little PouchCut a 6-by-10-inch rectangle of fabric and fold in half lengthwise. Secure both long ends together using permanent hemming tape. Insert a 4-by-4 family photo printed from Printstagramor a gift card of your choosing. Trim taped sides and the top with pinking shears, then fold over the top fabric and secure with a small clothespin. Write the recipient’s name onto a piece of cotton or Washi tape and secure to the pouch under the clothespin.Amy Palanjian is a freelance writer from Des Moines, Iowa. Her work has been featured in Parents, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens and Bon Appetit.
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Mother and Daughters Picking up Trash

Volunteer Match

It’s been proven that helping others makes you a happier person. And positive psychologists, behavioral economists and the Dalai Lama all agree that selfless acts can improve your well-being. More studies are beginning to show that kindness and generosity may even have an impact on human progress. A quote John F. Kennedy used often was “a rising tide lifts all boats.” It was generally associated with the economy, but along the same vein, when society as a whole becomes more benevolent—whether from giving or receiving—we can all benefit and grow. Volunteering is a great way to improve the quality of life in our society. Since there will always be people in need, the opportunities to help seem boundless. Whether it’s building a house for the less fortunate or being an uplifting influence in a young person’s life, volunteering can give you that positive feeling you may be searching for, and in turn, spreading that positivity to someone else. Volunteer matching websites are taking the legwork out of searching for the right cause and making it easier for people to find a volunteer opportunity more aligned with their interests. Here are a few websites where you can go to make a difference in the world: Volunteermatch is one of the best ways to connect to a cause, with millions of visitors and more than 95,000 participating organizations. Currently there are more than 80,000 opportunities to find the right match for you. The process is easy: Just enter your location and the cause you care about (or you can browse until you find something that is right for you). The HandsOn Network has one of the largest networks of local volunteer centers worldwide. They seem to attract a more skills-based volunteer with a focus on using their time and talent to create change in their communities. They even have a Volunteer Time Calculator so you can calculate how valuable your time contribution is in dollars and cents. Idealist.org is a website run by Action Without Borders, and is used as a virtual bulletin board for nonprofits and volunteers to post and seek out opportunities. Their Volunteer Resource Center has everything you need to know about being a volunteer. UniversalGiving is a nonprofit web-based marketplace that gives people an opportunity to donate money or volunteer to organizations all over the world. The website allows you to look for causes that need volunteers, or if you just want to help monetarily, you can fund an existing cause. You can even create your own personal fundraising page. UniversalGiving says all projects are vetted and 100% goes to the cause.
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Warrick Dunn talking in front of flags

A Perfect Day

My hero, John Wooden, once famously remarked: “You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”Recently, I got to witness a perfect day.I was in Topeka, Kansas, visiting the insurance-marketing company Advisors Excel. It was my third time speaking for the company at its headquarters, and I always enjoy my visits to the city. This time, however, they had a surprise in store for me.After the speech, company executives informed me that they had been inspired by the story I had shared previously of retired NFL running back Warrick Dunn and his incredible journey of healing and generosity.You see, Warrick Dunn grew up as the oldest of six children under the care of their mother, Betty Smothers—a dedicated single mother and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police officer. Money was always tight, so the family often moved from house to house, trying to save on rent while dreaming of one day buying a home of their own that they would never have to leave. But Betty never lived to see that dream realized. On January 7, 1993, Corporal Smothers was shot and killed in a botched robbery attempt at a bank, and 18-year-old Warrick’s world collapsed.Despite his incredible performance on the field in college, his heart was breaking as he worked to keep his grades high and to step up as the man of the house as he raised his siblings from afar, with the help of his grandmother. The men accused of murdering his mother were convicted and sent to death row, but Warrick still struggled with how to move past the tragedy. Through it all, Betty Smother’s words kept ringing in her oldest son’s ears: “In life, you’re going to face difficulties, but you have a choice. You can either use them to make you bitter, or to make you better. Choose to be better.”In his very first year in the NFL, Warrick decided to he wanted to invest his salary in making the dream of home ownership come true for hard-working single parents—men and women just like his mother. In this way, the Homes for the Holidays program began. Through his foundation, Warrick Dunn surprises a family by providing the down payment, all the furnishings, and a fully stocked pantry, cabinets and lawn-care shed for single parents who have taken financial management classes and invested sweat equity with organizations like Habitat for Humanity. He does it in honor of his mother’s memory.As I stood on that stage in Topeka, I could see how the legacy of Betty Smothers’ words to her children had not only prompted them to choose being better over being bitter, but now she was inspiring others, too. After hearing me talk about Warrick’s incredible story, the employees at Advisors Excel had decided to invest in their own community by helping to build and outfit a home for a single mother of four who works as a home healthcare aid. And they had arranged it so that I would be there when she was handed the keys to her family’s new home—that very morning.As we drove to the site, I was so overcome with emotion that I couldn’t even text Warrick to tell him about the incredible act that his efforts inspired. It turned out, I didn’t need to: When we arrived at the house, Warrick Dunn was waiting there for me with a huge grin on his face! As his foundation looked to expand into more cities, Topeka was on the list, and together, they partnered with the folks at Advisors Excel to make the first house happen.But as incredible as the surprise was for me, it was nothing compared to the surprise of the family when they arrived. They had no idea that their house was being furnished and stocked, and the down payment covered, by a local company and a national sports hero.I was overwhelmed as we presented the mother with her key, and she was overwhelmed as the reality of homeownership became real. “Is this my new address?” she asked with a smile and tears in her eyes. But I think the most telling moment of the whole day was when one of her sons, upon opening the pantry and cheering at the supply of macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables, pasta, and other non-perishables inside, remarked: “You know, they’re doing a food drive at the shelter. Now we have stuff we can take!”This morning, 348 children woke up in their own home—with a sense of permanence, security and pride—because of this foundation. In fact, the University of South Florida partnered with the Warrick Dunn Foundation to examine just what kind of far-reaching impact his work might have on the children, and the results were incredible. Two-thirds of the parents were able to pay for more extracurricular activities for their children, more than half reported an increase in respect from their children, 70% reported an increase in their children’s educational performance, and 76% reported a sense of hope for better futures for their children—all after the family took possession of their new home.As I had the privilege to witness in Topeka, the spirit of giving that Warrick Dunn has embraced through his grief has not only changed the lives of the families he has helped, but it has also inspired countless other men and women—and children, too—to pay it forward and to use what they have to bring hope to someone else.Yes, I witnessed a perfect day, indeed.
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Young people celebrating together at Christmas

25 Gifts of Happiness

As holiday gift-giving approaches, we hope you’ll join us in giving the gift of happiness. A gift of one’s own time, talent or regard, a gift from the heart (instead of the pocketbook), or a gift that gives back creates lasting happiness for both you and your loved ones. To get started, the Live Happy team shares this—our list of 25 gifts of happiness:1. Give your family the gift of a best friend–with four paws. (Happiness truly can be a warm puppy orkitten.)2. Give the gift of charity to your children. Ask them to choose toys and clothing that they’ve outgrown and give them to a children’s charity, explaining that they have so much and others don’t have enough.3. Invite a friend, neighbor or coworker who would be spending a holiday alone to your holidaydinner.4. Gift from your garden or the local fresh market. Making jam from the season’s produce is its own reward; giving it to others doubles the bounty.5. Pay someone a compliment.6. Use your talents to do or make something special: Teach a friend yoga, a grandma how to tweet. Make a one-of-a-kind book of photos for your son, a collage of a friend’s selfies.7. Give a coupon book of favors that you’ll deliver during the year. For a husband, a car wash, his favorite pie and an evening with his buddies. For a friend, time with you, running Saturday errands and a latte at the office.8. Just be there. Make the effort to visit relatives, especially your grandparents. All they need is you!9. Give together-gifts. Meals you’ll cook together, sunrises you’ll get up to see together, books you’ll read before bedtime together.10. Give the gift of talent. If you can sew—offer to sew on buttons, make new pillow covers. If you can paint—offer to paint a room for a friend. If you know IT, clean up your friend’s computer.11. Be an angel investor. Help fund a small loan for someone who is building or growing a business—it will improve lives. Kivais a micro-finance website where your contribution gives again and again. Once a loan is repaid, your dollars can be lent again.12. Give an experience off someone’s bucket list. You’ve always wanted to skydive, right?13. Give an experience for the future. Planning a trip together, whether it’s to the café round the corner or a more ambitious weekend in the mountains, means you’re giving your time and attention.14. Plan an unplugged weekend. No cells, no TV, no computer. Just each other.15. Give an experience in the moment. Call faraway friends with a surprise serenade of holiday carols.16. Connect the dots. For example, give a friend a lasting memory of her beloved mother or father. If the mother loved flowers, give a gift of flowers to your friend.17. Write an accomplishment list for your spouse (or child!). Read it to him or her. There’s nothing like knowing your special someone knows just how special you are!18. For yourself: Pay attention to the moments that bring you the most joy for a week. As they happen, write them down. Commit to having more of those kinds of times in days ahead.19. Be a workout buddy. Sign up for an exercise class together and hold each other accountable to attend. Support someone who has a hard time getting active. Be ready with a quick SOS pep talk.20. Adopt a relative at a VA hospital or retirement home for theholidays.21. Leave hugs. Before you say goodbye to family and friends, give big hugs. Everyone needs to stock up on hugs!22. Start the day with a positive thought—pass it along.23. Bring the show. Homegrown entertainment is appreciated by all. Encourage your kids to sing, play instruments, or put on a play at family and friends’ gatherings. No doubt others will join in.24. See someone who needs help? Be the one to offer it.25. Look within yourself for happiness. It’s there waiting to be discovered!
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Book Image of Flow

Happiness Library: Flow

2008 Harper Perennial Modern Classics This classic text by one of the pioneers of positive psychology defines the term “flow” and explores whether we can slip into this blissful state of consciousness at will, or at least more often. By its very nature, flow is difficult to adequately describe, yet many of us have experienced it. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., tells us that flow is an ecstatic state of mind, achieved when one is joyfully absorbed in a task. Often artists and other creative workers are able to enter flow, but almost any task, hobby or other pastime can inspire it. By understanding flow better, we can learn to beckon it more often. Prospective readers should know that Flowis not a casual read. Its 240 pages require concentration, but if you are able to enter the flow state more often, the commitment is worth it.—
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