May: Random Acts of Kindness

Dear life lovers, positivity ambassadors, and beautiful souls,

the fifth month of our happiness journey has just started and I’m curious about what experiences you’ve made in the last four months. Did you realize any changes? Did you learn anything that you want to hold on to?

Last Saturday it was so sunny that I decided to study outside. So I went to Camden, found a really cute cafe with a terrace and listened to a lecture on Second Wave Positive Psychology. If you haven’t heard about Second Wave PP before, it doesn’t really matter, but I want to share one essential learning with you.

Happiness doesn’t emerge when we are obsessed looking for it. Seeking for happiness doesn’t mean that we should look for short-term rewards, but rather that we should behave in a way that, in turn, enhances wellbeing in us. So, we shouldn’t seek for happiness directly, but rather in implicit ways. But – how can we indirectly facilitate happiness?

One powerful way to make not only ourselves, but also the people around us, happy is serving others. Serving others not in a way that does harm to us (does it really ever?), but rather in a way that in term enhances our wellbeing levels to a max. Therefore, I’ve chosen to share the intervention ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ with you.

Random Acts of Kindness (Otake, Shimai, Tanaka-Matsumi, Otsui, & Frederickson (2006))

In a study, Lyubomirsky and colleagues found that by performing behaviours in order to benefit others or make them happy, typically at some cost to themselves (!), people’s own happiness levels enhanced. Foundational to this, shaping the awareness for one’s kind behaviour towards others has been shown to increase an individual’s wellbeing.

So, what do we mean by kind behaviours? It really doesn’t have to be a big deal. No, you don’t need to spend looots of money on it. Instead, you can just smile at the girl that is passing by, pay someone a genuine compliment, buy your partner roses, or write your friend a letter. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as it makes another person happy or benefits him or her (e.g. by cooking your girlfriend dinner after she had a long day).

You will see – as soon as you realize how easy it is to make someone happy, you will never stop integrating these little random acts of kindness into your daily life.

Throw kindness around like konfetti!  ♥

All the best,

Kira

April: Counting one’s blessings

It’s April – finally: it’s spring time! I love this time of the year, when everything starts to blossom. When everything starts to flourish again. And so shall you. As you sow, so shall you reap.

Gratitude is one of my favourite topics in Positive Psychology. There is not much that has such a strong link to wellbeing as gratitude does. And the best thing about it: you don’t need anyone or anything to practice it.

The law of attraction says ‘what you send energy to, will come back to you’. Thus, when you start to sow positive thoughts, you will enhance positive energy, and eventually, this positive energy will return to you.

When I first started practicing gratitude, I used to practice the well-known ‘Three Good Things‘ and wrote down three things or moments that I’ve been grateful for every evening (if you want to make use of the digital version, you can download this app). It worked out well, however, later during my Positive Psychology journey, I came across the following exercise which I was even more attracted to.

Counting One’s Blessing (Emmons & McCullough, 2003)

In several studies, researchers ask their participants to ‘count their blessings’ by writing down five things that they are grateful for. This could be general things like ‘my partner’s kindness’ as well as very specific experiences like ‘the baby that smiled to me in the train’. It doesn’t really matter which things we list as long as we are really grateful for them.
We benefit from regularly listing several things or experiences that we feel gratitude for by becoming more mindful for those ‘happy moments’ and also because we increase our appreciation for those moments. Research has shown that counting one’s blessings lead to more positive moods, better physical health and a greater sense of social connectedness.
Moreover, studies demonstrated the highest effect of those gratitude interventions when we practice them once a week for at least 6 weeks.
So, if you intrinsically desire to become happier, this activity can be a real push for you!

However, I want to mention, that forcing yourself to be grateful for something that you’re not really grateful for can also be counterproductive, when people are depressed or in a constant negative mood since it might initiate more feelings of not being where/how you want to be. So, if you don’t feel mentally healthy, please be careful with this intervention!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me!! 🙂
Have a great 1st of April and a month full of gratitude.

Sending love and sun ♥,
Kira

March: Savouring

Before I came to the UK, I had never heard of the word ‘savouring’. So, I sat there in one of my Positive Psychology lectures, and when someone mentioned this word for the first time, I was wondering what it might be. It didn’t took me long to realize that it must be something similar to enjoying, that it must be something positive.

But what does ‘savouring’ exactly mean? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, savouring is defined as “to enjoy food or an experience slowly, in order to enjoy it as much as possible”. Apparently my intuition wasn’t that bad! Moreover, Bryant & Veroff (2007) proposed savouring as positive counterpart to coping, involving noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of life.

And… what makes savouring something that we can benefit from?
It is the combination of pleasure, mindfulness and gratitude. We experience something pleasurable, we immediately realize it and we are thankful for it. But savouring does not necessarily happen in this very moment. We can anticipate a positive event in the future, we can experience present pleasure as well as reminisce about positive experiences in the past. What matters, however, is that we are mindful in these moments.

So – how do we actually savour? Rashid (2008) created a worksheet with instructions:

In oder to savor an event or activity, it can be helpful to

  • share the experience with others (for example by telling them about the pleasurable experience or engage in it with others)
  • build memories (i.e. take photos or buy souvenirs that will remember you of the event)
  • congratulate yourself for what has happened
  • sharpen your perceptions and be mindful of the event by blocking out distractions
  • get absorbed in the event in order to experience it fully.

Moreover, it is recommended to engage in the savouring activity for at least half a day, but in my opinion it can be also really effective to just savour one short activity, like eating that breakfast, doing this swim or going out for that beautiful walk. However, what is important, is that you start to integrate these pleasurable activities into your weekly schedule and resist the urge to put them off because you want to get other things done. Make your happiness a priority 🙂

Hope you have a great March!
Sending you lots of love from London ♥,

Kira

 

February: Sow Love

31 wonderful days of 2018 are already behind us. How have they been? What were your experiences with the Best Possible Self? Are you having a clear vision of your dream life now?

It’s February now, and in the next 28 days we want to focus on social connections.

“Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness” (Oliver Wendall Holmes)

To be fully happy in life, we definitely need a deeply rooted social life. Having people around us that understand us, that empathise with us, that support us is what everyone longs for, no matter how old we are.

For the following intervention it does not play a role where or how you live in this very moment. It is not necessary, that you have people around you that you’ve known for a long time. It is all about creating meaningful connecting moments with people you love, as well as with strangers in your daily life.

Three Loving Connections (Fredrickson, 2013)

Instructions: Each day look for three opportunities to connect with others (it could be a relative, friend, colleague, or complete stranger. Each interaction can be with the same person or with three different people). Approach this potential interaction with warmth, respect and good will. Make an effort to stay present and listen with an open heart. Offer your eye contact and (when appropriate) your touch. Share your own light-hearted thoughts and feelings. Each night call to mind your three interactions. Write them down. Rate each of the following statements on a scale of 1 (not true at all) to 7 (very true):

  • During these interactions, I felt “in tune” with the person/s around me.
  • During these interactions, I felt close to the person/s around me.

Fredrickson found that those “micro-moments of love” boost positive emotions, make people tend to live longer and also live healthier lives.
So why not benefitting from this simple way of creating love and happiness?

We are excited for your feedback!
Sending love ♥,

Kira

 

January: The Vision

Today is the first day of 2018, the start of an amazing year. As promised, I want to inspire you to become the happiest version of yourself and be your helping hand in achieving your goals.

In order to become the happiest version of yourself, you must be clear about how the happiest you looks like. How do you want all the relevant areas of your life to be? How do you want your career, your relationship, your hobbies, your friendships to be?

Scientists found, that, in order to live our dreams, it is quite helpful to write them down. Becoming aware of what we really want, is the key to our happiness.
So, I decided to start with a practice, that asks you to do exactly what you need to do.

Best Possible Self (King, 2001)

Take a few minutes to select a future time period (e.g. one year, five years, twenty years) – the more specific, the better. Imagine yourself and your life at this point in close details.

Instructions: Think about your life in the future. Imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your life goals. Consider all of the relevant areas of your life, such as your career, academic work, relationships, hobbies, and/or health. Think of this as a realization of all of your life dreams. For the next 15 minutes, write continuously about what you imagined. 

Writing your best possible self down helps to create a logical structure for the future and can help you move from the realm of foggy ideas and fragmented thoughts to concrete possibilities. How does it feel if you will actually create your dream life? How does every detail of any area add to a fulfilled life in general? Visualize as much as possible!

For the next four weeks, do this practice at least once a week. See, how things change. See, how your ideas change. Be attentive: which ideas repeat again and again?

 

I’m so excited to hear from your experiences! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

Sending love ♥ & the best possible start into the new year,

Kira

Make 2018 great.

DEAR YOU,

happiness is not created without, but within you – you are the one who is capable of any life you want to live. There are so many reasons, why we should not try to change anything about the circumstances in our lives, but rather how we deal with them.

Positive emotions are the source of a good life, and there is a lot you can do to increase your levels of positivity. Optimism, hope, gratitude – they all have something in common: they are the engine of positive emotions.

So – why aren’t we implementing easy practices in our daily life in order to enhance positive emotions? Right – there is no reason. It takes – if at all – only a few minutes each day, but gives you so much back. More energy, more love, more zest for life.

On THE HAPPIEST YOU we are going to introduce one activity every month, that will help you create a new you. We want to share everything, that we’ve learned in our course in Positive Psychology so far, with you. We want to share how our lives got better. We want to share how we still get better every single day.

Because life is a gift – and there is no reason why we should not treat it like that.

Join the family, join the journey, and create the life you’ve always wanted. ♥

 
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