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Chasing Happiness

May 3, 2018

Chasing Happiness

By Angie Sutton, www.mothersapronstrings.com

     Just about everything we do in life is intended to achieve or maintain “happiness” at some level. What exactly is happiness? It’s an elusive state where we feel contentment, satisfaction and perhaps even bliss. That definition may be too simplified but it lands on the target near the bullseye.

     On the other hand, unhappiness seems pretty easy to identify. Stop for a moment and consider what you think about when you’re driving home from work or the field. Chances are you’re not thinking, “Wow, I’ve had a great day and I really enjoyed all the tasks I got to do!”

     Psychologists from the University of California studied happiness and found that life circumstances and genetics account for about 50 percent of a person’s happiness. What about the other 50 percent? You guessed it. We determine that for ourselves.

 

7 Ways to Get Your Happy On:

1. Hang out with happy people - Studies show that one person’s happiness triggers a chain reaction that benefits not only their friends, but their friends’ friends. Surround yourself with people who are inherently happy. And then spread the joy even further!

 

2. Monitor technology use - Okay so every now and then I might watch an entire season of a new show on Netflix. You might find yourself lost in a book on your Kindle. But the question is, and answer this honestly, “How much time do you spend plugged in?” Add up the video games, television, apps on your tablet or phone, working on your computer, etc. I enjoy catching up with friends on social media or browsing ideas on a craft project. Before you know it, your happiness has turned to numb scrolling. Be cognizant of when it goes from making you feel good to being a distraction.

 

3. Like the stuff you have - Hundreds of studies prove that material things don’t make you truly happy. If you have a habit of chasing things, you are likely to experience a level of unhappiness at some point because your list continues on. Take a few moments to jot down five things you already have that encourage your happiness. My coffee maker is something that I enjoy not only because I like coffee, but I enjoy the conversation with family members over a cup of hot java. But remember, money can’t buy happiness, you alone have the power to choose to be happy.

 

4. Be happy now - Often when we’re not chasing things we’re waiting for something better to happen to us. Perhaps you’re in search of a better job, more pay, more land, or a new relationship. How you answer the question, “I’ll be happy when….” allows a circumstance to control your happiness. Don’t wait for the future, focus on being happy right now.

 

5. Embrace change - Certainly change is an inevitable part of life. I’ll be the first to admit that I like to remain in control. Learning to be comfortable with change allows us to remove the barrier between ourselves and the circumstance which needs disconnected or improved.

 

6. Foster positive emotions - Thwart negative emotions by conquering pessimism, resentment and anger. Replace them with empathy, serenity and gratitude. Start a journal and jot down a few things each night you’ve been grateful for that day. You’ll be more honest with yourself in a journal than you will be on Facebook.

 

7. Engage in meaningful activities – I recently read Finding Flow, by Mihaly Csikszenihalyi. He contends “flow” is a state in which your mind becomes thoroughly absorbed in a meaningful task that challenges your abilities. No, not the insurance lady. To get more out of life, you must put more into it. It’s possible to improve the quality of your life by making sure that the conditions of flow are a constant part of everyday life.

 

     Just like with exercise, being intentional about your level of happiness is more successful once it becomes a habit. Grab a journal and map your habit formation. You’re allowed to have days when happy just isn’t going to happen. But let the happy days outweigh them.

 

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Bullet Journal – Why you need one

     What is a bullet journal and why are they a hot trend?

     Simply put, it’s a blank notebook that is a collection of whatever you put in it.

     My bullet journal is my happy place devoid of negativity. It’s a place where I jot down quotes I love, something funny one of the kids said, my bucket list of places I want to go and things I’d like to do and goals for self-improvement. While I use different colors of gel pens and utilize fun shapes, I am definitely not an artist.

     A friend at work uses her bullet journal as a full-fledged organizer of projects, to-do lists, notes and appointments. She sketches and doodles fun designs. You should see how pretty her grocery list is!

     Sure, you could use an app on your phone or tablet. But honestly I look at a computer screen way too much and my bullet journal is a creative outlet for the long lost art of writing with a pen. I keep mine in my purse and commit to adding a few things each day. It’s a great stress reliever!

     What do you need to get started? Avoid analysis paralysis. You don’t need anything fancy just a blank notebook and something to write with. Check out ideas online if you are stuck getting started. Here are a few inspirations to get you journaling today!

 

10 ideas to inspire your bullet journal:

1. A gratitude list. Reserve five pages and add to the list daily to compile your top 100.

2. Bucket lists. Note Books you want to read or movies you’d like to see. List places you’d like to visit and things you’d like to do.

3. Gift ideas. Jot down something you saw that would make a great gift for a birthday, anniversary or a random act of kindness.

4. Quotes you love.

5. Tips. How to do something better or try a new approach.

6. Things that make you laugh. Jot down funny things your kids or spouse have said or done.

7. Goals you have for yourself. Plot exercise goals, new skills to learn and ideas on how to get more sleep.

8. Habit tracker. Log your daily intake of water or minutes you’ve walked.

9. Recipes. Record names of recipes you want to look up or write out the entire recipe!

10. Ten-minute tasks. Outline little things you could do that only take 10 minutes. Send a card to a friend for example.

 

A few shapes to work with:

Box - a box works well for checklists such as tasks to be done or things to do.

Triangle - a triangle can signify appointments or places to go. Color code them for different people in your home and fill them in once complete.

Dot - the dot is for things to be remembered. The book a friend recommended you read or the name of a new coffee you want to try.

Star - use the star next to any of the above shapes to call out urgency.

Clock - Reminds me of an event as either a reminder or a memory.

Heart - just a fun little shape to signify something you love like a quote or a memory.

 

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Simply the Best Chicken Pot Pie

This is a meal all in one package! Meat and vegetables nestled in creamy goodness wrapped with a nice flaky crust (so good!). For my family I make two at a time and we cut each into four servings.

Ingredients:

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 c. sliced carrots

1 c. frozen peas

1/2 c. sliced celery

1/3 c. butter

1/3 c. chopped onion

1/3 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. celery seed

1 3/4 c. chicken broth

2/3 c. milk

2 (9-inch) unbaked pie crusts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas and celery. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.

3. In the same saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and cook onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, pepper and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Place one of the pie crusts into the pie pan and press down firmly. Add the chicken mixture evenly on bottom and then pour the hot liquid over the top. Cover with the top crust, seal edges and flute. Make 3 slits in the top crust with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape.

5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

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