Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wonder and Happiness

A friend recently asked her FB friends to share their secrets of ‘being’ happy. This is an incredibly gifted artist wondering about the essence of happiness. She received 31 replies. I was not one of them, but I’ve been thinking…….

My six and a half year old (who recently, upon seeing a picture of me receiving my Brock Alumni of Distinction Award, remarked, “Mommy, you looked absolutely beautiful. That must have been hard work.” So I’m on fence about his kindness) asks me at least 500 50 times a day, “Don’t you wonder about…..” It could be anything: how he managed to get both legs in one leg of his shorts, how his ALL his lego ended up under the table, how he stayed in the lines while colouring, how all the webkins managed to meet at the bottom of the stairs for their staff meeting. Needless to say, wonder isn’t always the word I’m thinking. But what is amazing is that he always asks about my wonder when he is happy.

Etymologically wonder originates from the 13th century word, wundor, and came to mean the emotion associated with some marvelous, astonishing thing. The dictionary describes the verb as meaning, to be curious about. So Garrett is constantly asking me if I am astonished, curious, even marveling, about his accomplishments – about what makes him happy. And when I take a deep breath after the fiftieth time to remember this perspective, I realize that wonder and happiness are connected.

In a recent article on the Greater Good website, Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor and author of the 2007 book, The How of Happiness, reveals some of her research about happiness. Interestingly, she has found that individuals who express gratitude are likelier to be happy, and she describes gratitude as wonder, among other things. But more perhaps even more importantly, she tested whether or not kindness increased happiness.

Guess what? It does. In fact, individuals who performed different acts of kindness throughout a week experienced a greater increase in happiness than those performing the same act over and over again. I wonder how she might feel about the dakband project :) 

Here is an incredible video that expresses wonder.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sunflower kindness

The other morning I was sitting on the patio, reviewing photos from my trip to Scotland when I noticed some commotion amongst the sunflowers in my garden. I picked up my camera and took a few shots without really knowing what exactly I was capturing. Suddenly I saw this:

 No wonder I couldn't see him, he (or she!) was camoflaged. See if you can find him in the next pictures:

It's like Find Waldo!
When I tried to get closer he and his mate flew off contentedly full I'm sure. But then I noticed another sunflower gift:

I'd sure like to try this honey!

Find your blessing and there you will also find kindness.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Nice Hat!

As I was walking my pooché, Mojo, this morning, an elderly gentleman cycled past and shouted out, "Nice hat!" I shouted back, "Thank-you!"

  It changed the course of my day. I felt prettier, more confident, happier, and even considered chasing after him to give him a dakband; although admittedly my hat would have looked a lot less attractive squashed against my head with one hand, while the other dragged my small, white dog down the street simultaneously trying to wave the cyclist down. As I considered my options, I became aware of how difficult it was for me to simply accept the compliment without offering something in return, or even worse, deflecting it in some manner. I love to compliment people, in fact I make a point of complimenting a complete stranger every day. Yet, I struggle to accept the same gestures offered me.

Giving a compliment is certainly a deliberate act of kindness. Graciously receiving a compliment is also a deliberate act of kindness, both to yourself and the person offering the compliment. On an intellectual level I understand this, on an emotional level, well, let's just say I need practice. So I Googled, 'how to take a compliment' and this is what I found - it is great advice. Take four minutes to watch this video!

Practice today. Give someone a compliment, a complete stranger. Tell them you love their perfume, or their shoes, or whatever. Be aware of how they receive the compliment. Be aware of how their face and body language change, lights up. Be aware of how you feel. Now when someone compliments you, consider all these things and let your light shine. Just say, "Thank-you."

Here is a pic of my nice hat, and our beautiful Jaime.