The Art Of Being Happy

I’m so glad I attended the 1st Festival of Positive Education this past week.  I had to evaluate whether this would be a good idea or not, given I just had surgery and still have a drain hanging from my head.  Dr. Lettieri thought it was ok when I told him I was going. Boy am I glad I went, nothing quite compares to being in a room with others who share my same interest in making the world a better place, by teaching our children to love one another and themselves.

China

 

Mexico

I was shocked at how many people came from other countries to be involved with this positive movement towards happiness.  Dubai, Africa, Australia, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Napal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippeans, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, U.K., USA, Singapore and Switzerland. That is a lot of countries included in the Global representation.  Well at least I was impressed!

Our country, the world as a whole is in turmoil right now.  This is a Presidential election year in the United States and while I can’t speak for everyone, a majority of people are perplexed and undecisive about who they should vote for.  I usually agree and vote republican, but over the the last few years I’ve tried to listen with a silent voice trying to discern right from wrong, now I realize we are choosing good from evil.   Maybe our politicians should be attending the IPENfest.

One thing I learned is to practice like an expert, be deliberate in all you do.  Focusing 100% in the moment of what you are doing at the time is essential to accomplishing pure joy and happiness.  Talent matters, but those are not necessarily the people who show up, it doesn’t matter what your talents are if you can’t show up and be present in the moment.  When we allow our lights to shine on other people we are creating a ripple towards positive mindsets.

Sir Anthony Seldon

 

Martin Seligman–

 

Shawn Achor

When my children were very young I took them to a park most Sunday’s after church, I learned an incredible lesson one day as I walked hand in hand with my son; he was only five or six years old at the time.  We went home after church and changed our clothes, my children were ready to feed the ducks. I was ready for a nap; needless to say they won me over and we went to the park.  My mind was not at the park, I was thinking about everything I needed to do when we got home.  We brought a blanket and a loaf of bread to sit and feed the ducks.  Blake wanted to take a walk, and so we did. Hand in hand we all walked.  Like most young children Blake was curious about the outside world. Imagine my perspective when he started saying things like this

Oh look at that rock

Wow that duck is hungry

Why are the trees so green?

Mommy, did you hear that bird?

The wind feels soft on my cheeks

That is a cool garbage can (it was pink)

The lesson I learned on that very simple light hearted walk was amazing and something I have taken with me throughout the rest of my life.  Children don’t care about how many calories we are burning while we are walking, or that his hair was messed up and clothes unmatched.  He didn’t care because he chose them, it’s what he wanted to wear and he did.  I wrote in my journal that night, today I was not prepared to be Amazed by a child; yet I was.

What makes us change our perspectives? Look for the positive? I’ve tried and failed so many times at being ‘in the moment’ then I’m reminded of this walk and remember ‘I can change at that moment; I have choices.’ There was so much clarity on that day as we strolled along the lake at Freestone Park.

As times moves forward each new chapter or journey in our life is a chance to be renewed, take on a positive perspective and make adjustments where needed. We sometimes need to take a brain break; train ourselves with mindful awareness through our senses; touch, sound, sight and yes taste.  Treat yourself once in awhile to a simple piece of chocolate, just don’t indulge in the entire bar. Savor those moments in time we seem to want to move so quickly through.

One of the powerful lessons I learned at the IPENfest came from Martin Seligman. He said “Pessimism is a risk factor for depression, as smoking is to lung cancer.”  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could diminish depression while our children are in elementary school by teaching positive education? Children need to learn the art of being happy before they hit puberty.  In fact I would say they need to learn it before they turn the age of five, those first five years of life are detrimental for learning and soaking up like a sponge what happiness is.  This starts in our homes, then should filter into our schools. Boy had I learned this as a child I would be far better off.

I loved each and every class that was available for me to learn from but I think the person I took the most from was Sir Anthony Seldon.  He talked about depression, the demons he battled in the 1970’s trying to get himself out of the space of depression and anxiety.  I could relate to everything he talked about, I too have suffered from depression and learned a new way of dealing with anxieties. He talked about his wife who has incurable cancer living with this type of disease is extremely stressful on the entire family….yes, I know.  I wanted to talk to him one on one, so during his book signing I waited until the line was gone and he was sitting by himself.  I asked him how or if  mindful happiness has helped his wife deal with her diagnosis. He spoke very softly, which was very much different than his presentation -where he seemed to have a ‘bigger than life’ personality, but now we were talking perspectives on the same level.  He had a sacredness about him while talking to me. He didn’t actually answer my question directly, but said they pray a lot.  He could see the drain I was trying to disguise in my shirt…(it actually looks like a ‘third boob’ as Dr. Lettieri described it) and asked

“And what is your diagnosis dear?” I loved his english accent.

“I started with breast cancer in 2009…..” and with a brief few sentences I gave him the gist of what was happening in my world.

We shared the same emotions in that moment of tears; an understanding that both cancer patient and care givers are brave and live in a world no one else can comprehend unless they’ve ‘been there.’ Yes, happiness is a choice and I believe we can control our thoughts and feelings by being in the moment however he and I both agreed on another theory.  Trying to be happy every second of every day is difficult, it takes training and complete awareness.  Life and tragedy happens if not to you yet, it will be knocking on your door eventually; how will you deal with it?  Our theory is that even when life ‘happens’ it’s ok to be sad, mad, anxious and scared those are natural God given tendencies, it’s how we deal with the problem that really matters more than the actual diagnosis.

My awareness was heightened to a new level as I learned from the best positive psychologist and scientist in the world.  I am so glad I took the time, got out of my own world and went to this festival of happiness.


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