Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Posts tagged ‘Gratitude’

How to Achieve Happiness…10 Proven Happiness Hacks

Leesa - Author Photo for Live Well 5-2014
I’d be willing to bet you recognize at least 3 of these names if not all.Friedriech Nietzhche. Plato. Seneca. Socrates. Daniel Gilbert. Marcus Aurelius. Other philosophers. Recent scientists. Neuroscientists, even. They’ve covered the gamut of the meaning of life, happiness and what makes human beings tick. It’s kind of a big deal. And for good reason. Humans are the only species we know with such self awareness. More than ever, people are asking the deeper questions in life and are interested in creating more well-being and happiness in their life. And they want it yesterday.Still, we’re not going to get into a philosophical ramble here. That’s been overdone and isn’t really my forte. We’ll dig deep into the how you can hack your happiness. We’ll also look at why these tactics work so you can apply them in your own life.Treat these ideas and tactics like a buffet. The kind you can’t really get enough of. Bookmark this page to revisit when you’re feeling less than happy so you’ve got a list of actions at your disposal.  Reading this post without action is a kind of mental masturbation. Of course, you’re not someone who indulges in that, are you?  Good. As you read these ideas – pick one thing you can implement in the next 25 minutes. It could be scheduling dinner, calling up a friend to set up accountability or scheduling a visit to the gym. It doesn’t matter. The foundation of all success is based on action. The action items are italicized to save you time.

Let’s get started, shall we?

  1. Practice of Gratitude

    If there’s one piece of tested advice that scientists and all religions agree on, it’s this. And the emphasis is on the first word. Practice. Practice leads to habit. And contrary to popular belief, practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes permanent.

    Gratitude is the experience of counting one’s blessings. And how you practice it makes a real difference. Some people express it to other people. Some people do it in their mind. Some people write it down. And it’s proven that if gratitude is written down and shared with others, it makes a stronger impact.

    So how to practice gratitude? There are many ways. I’ll give you a simple example. Write down three things you are grateful for as soon as you wake up. 

    Also known as keeping a gratitude journal, this small but simple habit can make a massive difference in your day. Test it out. You can use a ready-to-use format as we provide at The Five Minute Journal ( or you can write it down in a blank notebook.

  2. Pay Attention to What You Eat

    When traveling in Thailand, I met somebody who made a big difference on the way I think about food and happiness. We were talking about the different ways people eat, their approach to dieting whether it be vegan or paleo. And then he said something that I’ll remember.

    “One thing I’ve always noticed. The more discernment people pay to what and how they eat, the happier they are.”   

    Not from a gluttonous perspective. From a is-this-going-to-make-my-life-better perspective.

    That’s true for many reasons. We are what we eat. Put a different way, the food you eat affects your biochemistry. And your neurochemistry. Happiness, as it turns out is a neurochemical phenomenon.

    There’s good evidence that identifying what foods make you feel good in the long term can affect your well-being and happiness significantly.    There are a few ways of doing this – the best way to start is food experiments. Quit sugar for a month and see how it makes you feel (after a month, not the next afternoon!).

  3. Cultivate Great Friendships

    The single greatest impact on your happiness is the quality and number of your close ties. In other words – your spouse/partner and your friends. The research makes it clear. If you want to be happier, make more money and live longer – have wonderfully close ties.

    Evaluate the quality and quantity of your friendships
    . Your relationships. You’ve probably heard this enough times, but it bears repeating. You are the average of your five closest friends. Choose wisely. And cultivate great friendships.

    Cultivating a friendship is very similar to cultivating a garden. It requires care, honesty and the willingness to move through the discomfort (of a difficult conversation, for example). I believe the ability to have difficult conversations and be able to handle confrontations peacefully is one of the best skills to acquire for this.

  4. Get Moving!

    When was the last time you weren’t feeling so good? Do you remember? You can probably relate to the words sluggish, disheartened and dissatisfied. How long did you stay in that emotional state?

    Want to know Richard Branson’s secret for being productive? Work out.

    Here’s a tip to get your feeling better almost immediately. Get moving. Walk. Run. Job. Lift weights. Cycle. Have (safe and consensual) sex. You get the point.

    You can never think your way out of an emotional problem. You’ve gotta change the way you feel. And moving your body is great way of doing that.

    What’s a physical activity that you enjoy? Schedule it now. And make sure you do it early and often.

  5. Do Great Work

    This one sounds like a motivational poster but let me explain. Have you heard people remark often that ‘life is short’? They’re wrong.

    Life’s short when you’re having fun and long when you’re not. And you’re going to have a long life if you don’t find out what you’re good at and find a viable way to incorporate that in your life. How to find out what you’re good at is the subject of another course and I trust we’ll get to it soon enough.

    But finding out what you’re good at and making sure you’re improving on that everyday is a surefire way to enjoy most of your life. This has nothing to do with fame, fortune or external rewards. It’s got to do with developing and your reputation with yourself. And the best way to develop that is to develop a great work ethic built on a powerful vision for the future.

  6. Meditate

    What was once a hippie trend has some serious science backing it in the last 10 years. This one is my personal favourite. It’s a great way to get clarity, increase awareness and (staying on point) improving happiness.

    It’s because what meditation does on a neurological basis is improve whole-brain thinking. Long-term meditation is like drugs. You have no idea how good you’re going to feel unless you do it. Thankfully, meditation is much safer and healthier for you.

    The best way to get started is to join a meditation club or course. There’s almost nobody I know who hasn’t gotten started on a serious meditation practice without a course or the support of peers. So stop telling yourself “I need to meditate” and sign up for a course 🙂

  7. Be Authentic

    Brad Blanton wrote a book about Radical Honesty about a decade or so ago about being incredibly transparent with everybody you know – your partner, friends, family even strangers. Needless to say, it’s hilarious and a novel idea. But he makes a point that a lot of people miss.

    Shame is the opposite of being authentic. The less authentic you are, the less happy you will be. And the vulnerable and open you allow yourself to be in the company of others. The more free you feel to ‘be yourself’ and act from your core the happier you will be. The less self-conscious you will be. The closer you will feel with friends and family. And on and on.

    Is there something personal you feel uncomfortable sharing with close friends/family? Consider sharing it. 

    Consider picking up Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.

  8. Schedule a Weekly Dinner with Close Friends

    You’ll be surprised how much this simple tip can change your life. The logistics are simple – contact between 3-8 close friends and schedule a weekly dinner at a place where you won’t have to worry about overstaying. 

    Let the food and drink flow freely. Ban cellphones. And most of all, laugh often.

    Laughing with close friends is one of the greatest experiences in life. It’s right up there with great sex and probably right below nirvana.

  9. Develop the Habit of Introspection

    What do you think separates the human animal from other animals? Self awareness. The ability to be aware and contemplate our existence. Wax philosophy. Think strategy. Etcetera.

    This self awareness is a gift. It allows us to think about “How can I be happier?”   

    Introspection is using your thinking to understand yourself better. And it usually leads to better behaviour and a better life. It’s as simple as asking yourself at the end of the day – “What would I have done differently today if I could do it all over again?

    Most high-level athletes keep Journals of their training, how they feel, what they ate, etc. in order for better self knowledge. The more you know yourself, the happier you will be.

  10. Make Your Choices Count

    The quality of your life is the result of the quality of your choices. Everyday, you take several choices that can move you toward or away from the future you want. The trick is to be aware of them.    A while ago, I read an article by the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow who is best known for his work on the hierarchy of human needs. He wrote this article at the end of his career when he’d assimilated a lifetime of data comparing those who were self-actualized (experiencing the pinnacle of happiness and actualization of their potential). After reading through thousands of papers, going through an entire lifetime of studying and assimilating what made these people different from the rest of us he came to a remarkably simple conclusion.    Everyday we make several choices. Every choice we make have the potential to either be better or harmful for us in the long term. The choices that are better for us in the long term can be called ‘conscious decisions to grow’ Self actualized people make significantly more conscious decisions to grow than the rest of us.    Making conscious decisions can help you expand your comfort zone or doing something that scares you everyday. Most importantly, conscious choices will help you to take the responsibility for your happiness solely in your hands and actions. 

By UJ Ramdas


Would feeling fantastic every day make a difference in your life?  Healthy Highway is a Healthy Lifestyle Company offering Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!   We help people who are…

  • Wanting Work Life Balance.
  • Needing Stress Relief.
  • Concerned about their health and the environment.
  • Frustrated battling allergies to gluten, foods, dust, chemicals, pollen.
  • Overwhelmed with choosing the best products for their body, home, and office.
  • Unsatisfied with their relationships with the men and women in their life and are ready to transform them into satisfying, happy partnerships.
  • Standing at a Career Crossroad.
  • Preparing to start a family and want a healthy baby.
  • Seeking solutions for aging, more energy, and a good night’s sleep!

Are any of these an issue or problem for you?  Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your needs and how HealthyHighway can meet them? As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach with an emphasis on allergies and wellness, Leesa teaches her clients to make informed choices and enables them to make needed changes for a Happy Healthy Lifestyle. What you eat, what products you use ~ on your body and in your home and office, how you talk to yourself ~ it all matters!

Contact me today and Start today to live a healthier, happier life!  Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem.  We do virtual coaching worldwide!

I look forward to helping YOU Live a Happy Healthy Life!  Remember, Excellent Health is found along your way, not just at your destination. 

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author of two books…

Member International Health Coach Association

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How to be happy: Tips for cultivating contentment!

Are you tired of waiting around for happiness to find you? Stop waiting and start getting happy with these tips.

Do you know how to be happy? Or are you waiting for happiness to find you?

Despite what the fairy tales depict, happiness doesn’t appear by magic. It’s not even something that happens to you. It’s something you can cultivate.

So, what are you waiting for? Start discovering how to be happy.

How to be happy: What science tells us

Only 10 percent or so of the variation in people’s reports of happiness can be explained by differences in their circumstances. It appears that the bulk of what determines happiness is due to personality and — more importantly — thoughts and behaviors that can be changed.

So, yes, you can learn how to be happy — or at least happier.

Although you may have thought, as many people do, that happiness comes from being born rich or beautiful or living a stress-free life, the reality is that people who have wealth, beauty or less stress are not happier on average than those of who don’t enjoy those blessings.

People who are happy seem to intuitively know that their happiness is the sum of their life choices, and their lives are built on the following pillars:

  • Devoting time to family and friends
  • Appreciating what they have
  • Maintaining an optimistic outlook
  • Feeling a sense of purpose
  • Living in the moment

How to be happy: Practice, practice, practice

If you have been looking for happiness, the good news is that your choices, thoughts and actions can influence your level of happiness. It’s not as easy as flipping a switch, but you can turn up your happiness level. Here’s how to get started on the path to creating a happier you.

Invest in relationships

Surround yourself with happy people. Being around people who are content buoys your own mood. And by being happy yourself, you give something back to those around you.

Friends and family help you celebrate life’s successes and support you in difficult times. Although it’s easy to take friends and family for granted, these relationships need nurturing.

Build up your emotional account with kind words and actions. Be careful and gracious with critique. Let people know that you appreciate what they do for you or even just that you’re glad they’re part of your life.

Express gratitude

Gratitude is more than saying thank you. It’s a sense of wonder, appreciation and, yes, thankfulness for life. It’s easy to go through life without recognizing your good fortune. Often, it takes a serious illness or other tragic event to jolt people into appreciating the good things in their lives. Don’t wait for something like that to happen to you.

Make a commitment to practice gratitude. Each day identify at least one thing that enriches your life. When you find yourself thinking an ungrateful thought, try substituting a grateful one. For example, replace “my sister forgot my birthday” with “my sister has always been there for me in tough times.”

Let gratitude be the last thought before you go to sleep. Let gratitude also be your first thought when you wake up in the morning.

Cultivate optimism

Develop the habit of seeing the positive side of things. You needn’t become a Pollyanna — after all, bad things do happen. It would be silly to pretend otherwise. But you don’t have to let the negatives color your whole outlook on life. Remember that what is right about you almost always trumps what is wrong.

If you’re not an optimistic person by nature, it may take time for you to change your pessimistic thinking. Start by recognizing negative thoughts as you have them. Then take a step back and ask yourself these key questions:

  • Is the situation really as bad as I think?
  • Is there another way to look at the situation?
  • What can I learn from this experience that I can use in the future?

Find your purpose

People who strive to meet a goal or fulfill a mission — whether it’s growing a garden, caring for children or finding one’s spirituality — are happier than those who don’t have such aspirations.

Having a goal provides a sense of purpose, bolsters self-esteem and brings people together. What your goal is doesn’t matter as much as whether the process of working toward it is meaningful to you.

Try to align your daily activities with the long-term meaning and purpose of your life. Research studies suggest that relationships provide the strongest meaning and purpose to your life. So cultivate meaningful relationships.

Are you engaged in something you love? If not, ask yourself these questions to discover how you can find your purpose:

  • What excites and energizes me?
  • What are my proudest achievements?
  • How do I want others to remember me?

Live in the moment

Don’t postpone joy waiting for a day when your life is less busy or less stressful. That day may never come.

Instead, look for opportunities to savor the small pleasures of everyday life. Focus on the positives in the present moment, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

By Mayo Clinic staff


Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today!   I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author


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Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness.  These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives.  (Check out her book The How of Happiness.)
1.        Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
2.        Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it.  She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
3.       Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority.  Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out!  If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made.  What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place.  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
4.       Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.  What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness.  How extraordinary is that?  Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.  A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.
5.       Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  WHOA!  There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with.  We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
6.       Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable.  Forrest Gump knows the deal.  It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
7.       Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.  You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
8.       Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
9.       Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
10.    Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
11.     Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists.  Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
12.    Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.  Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft?  Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.
Have a happy day!
 by Jacob Sokol of Sensophy.
Photo by Francois Halard.

Gratitude: It Starts With a List

Gratitude: It Starts With a List

Gratitude: It Starts With a List

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus

The most common and ancient advice you hear about developing a practice of gratitude is the idea of counting your blessings.  Every positivity book I have ever laid my hands on has a section that encourages making regular, even daily lists of the blessings in your life. Taken to the next step, this daily listing lives in a gratitude journal.

I have had an approach/avoidance relationship to my own little pink gratitude journal that is decorated with a paisley yellow bird. I chose it in one of my inspired moments with gratitude, determined to fill it up with what I promised myself would be my new consciousness of the blessings that fill my life. It is a small, pocket sized book that I began writing in February.

I feel a little embarrassed that there are still so many pages to fill in such a small book.  My original plan was to carry it with me in my purse, thinking I would stop throughout my day to jot down moments of gratitude.   Lately it sits on my night stand where I recollect feelings of gratitude before I sleep. The book is filling up more regularly now but as I move into this gratitude challenge, I know there is a real and important difference between listing the things I am grateful for and actually feeling them.

Learning how to recollect and experience the felt sense of moments of gratitude takes my full attention in a way that listing my blessings doesn’t. Tapping the soft space inside, where my heart holds the memory of being loved, of loving, of feeling well in myself is akin to feeling deeply blessed, which I think is where gratitude and love are one in the same.

Still, on the many moments when I have no idea how to get to that tender hearted place where I feel in every cell the blessings of my life- making a list is a noble start. It is the mental practice,  the promise kept of leaning towards the goodness that we all have in our lives.  Aldous Huxley  accurately noted that, “most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

Making a commitment to a gratitude journal or even just scratching notes on the evening paper about our own good is how we begin to overcome this most common human deficiency that keeps us ever looking out there for what must be found inside.   If you have never done it before, try today to list five, or heck, even ten things that bless you. It can be as small as finding a parking place or as big as the beauty of an evening sunset. It can be a cold drink on a hot, sticky day or a moment of tenderness with someone you are trying to love. Do this one thing: write it down and acknowledge it.

(Leesa recommends a gratitude journal too!  It keeps her focused on all the good in her life…She’s written in one every day since 1994!

By Wendy Strgar 

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called “the essential guide for relationships.”  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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