Thursday, May 28, 2015

Happiness, Life and Bellydance: Part II

Wow.  In one of our first blogs I talked about my post-event blues after ATS (R) Homecoming and things that I did to improve my mood based on happiness research.  Since then we have written more than one blog on happiness.  Not a big surprise- the purpose of the Third Eye Tribal blog is to promote positivity in our community.  Now I want to share "Part II" of the blog I wrote in January.

Dawn, Ming and Natalie when we scored a free hotel upgrade- very happy indeed!

One of the main differences between happy people and unhappy people can be found in the ratio of their positive experiences to their negative ones.  Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s book, Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive, identifies the ratio as 3 to 1.  She discovered that for every one negative experience you have, you should actively seek out three positive experiences.

In addition to identifying and sharing gratitude, there are many other things we can do to have these positive experiences and increase the happiness in our lives.  Here are some other strategies suggested by happiness research that I try to practice. 

1-    Setting meaningful goals:  A sense of purpose highly correlates with happiness.   I periodically spend time reflecting on what is important to me (for example, time with my daughter, being kind and generous) and then thinking about how my values compare with how I spend my time.  A year ago I left a great job as the Associate Executive Director of the local domestic violence agency to be an "individual contributor" in a large company.  I did this because I realized that my 60 hour a week job was not consistent with my most important value- time with my daughter.  She is in her first year of high school and for the first time in her life my 40 hr/week job allows me to go in at 7:30 after I drop her at school and to pick her up from school every day at 3:30.

Me, Teresa, and Nicole in a dramatic hotel improv

2- Find humor in everyday life:  This is easy to do on the 3-4 days a week that I dance.  The women I dance with are fun and funny.  We even fill our 2 hour Friday night practices with laughter.  One of my favorite silly things we do happens when we rehearse in duets.  Whoever is dancing together gets a "ship" name.  For those of you who don't have a teenager, a "ship" name (short for relationship) is when you combine two names together to form one name, usually done when you think the two would make a good couple.  So,when Patti and Natalie dance together we call them Pattilie.  When Ming and I dance together we are Ling.  You get the idea.  Sometimes during my week I have to search out something funny.  Last month I put up some poster paper at my workplace for us all to share jokes, funny movies and funny TV shows. 

Ming, Teresa, Natalie and Sharon being silly at ATS(R) Homecoming 2015

3- Take care of your body:  Eat well, sleep enough, exercise.  We all know it but we have to actually do it.

4- Random acts of kindness:  It may seem cliché, but when I am in a bad mood, I will drive through a fast food place, order a drink, and pay for the car behind me.  Acts of kindness don't need to be random or for strangers to increase your happiness.  Recently, a friend was stressed because she had to spend time out of town with her difficult family.  Three times a day while she was gone I sent her "gifs," those mini-videos you can find on-line.   I got the idea from my daughter and she helped me find and load a bunch of them onto my phone so I would have a steady stream to send my friend.  I felt good, my friend felt good and my daughter felt good!

I am not advocating for "rose colored glasses" or denying the difficult realities of financial stress, health issues, caregiving responsibilities or other very real and challenging things many of us deal with every day.  I am suggesting that despite all of these things, if you commit to searching out positive experiences and increasing your ratio of positive experiences to negative you will be a happier person.  Good luck and let me know how it goes!