Friday, March 28, 2014
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Don't Worry, Be Happy with Endorphins
by Kimberly HarrisDigital content marketer, fitness blogger, wellness coach
Maybe you've heard of endorphins, but aren't quite sure what they are. Well, endorphins
Experience the Happiness
Exercising isn't just good for keeping weight off. According to the Mayo Clinic, a good exercise-induced endorphin rush can also help get you back on the road toward a more cheerful you. So how much exercise is necessary to create an endorphin rush? Around 30 to 40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise will likely get your body to release endorphins.
What Exercise Should You Do?
When choosing an exercise program, professionals recommend selecting an activity that suits your personality so you will have a better chance of staying with it. For example, if you are uncoordinated, you might find a hip-hop fitness class too challenging.
It's also important to find an exercise program that fits your schedule and lifestyle. Too often people looking for exercise options will join a gym, only to find they don't have the motivation to leave their house after a long day at work. For these people their money would be better spent on an at-home exercies program In most cases, these programs are also less expensive than a gym membership.
Four to Try
The following are four wildly popular workouts you can try to find the right one for your lifestyle.
- Pure Barre: This is a low-impact yet high-intensity exercise program that incorporates a series of small isometric movements. Much of the program is centered around the use of a ballet bar, but keep in mind, this is not a dance class. According to the Huffington Post, this class will push your body to its max so it's best for someone looking for an intensive workout.
- Vinyasa Yoga: This practice consists of a series of poses that you move through in a continuous flow, which is why vinyasa is sometimes also called flow yoga. According to Forbes, vinyasa burns more caloriesthan any other form of yoga. Vinyasa is excellent if you are looking for a program that will help you mentally as well as physically, as most classes also include meditation.
- Spin: This indoor cycling class will challenge you to keep up with your classmates as you charge through an intensive workout. An instructor will give you directions as to what speed to pedal and what setting to place your bike at. If you need others to motivate you to work at your hardest, then a spin exercise program would be an excellent choice for you.
- Zumba: This is a fun class that turns dancing into exercise. While it can be daunting for some newbies to learn the steps and hip movements, most participants are just in it for the fun and aren't going to care if you're out of sync with the rest of the class. Zumba is a great match if you enjoy adding some spice into your workout.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
John C. Havens, Founder and Executive Director for The H(app)athon Project has written a Hacking H(app)iness - Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it Can Change the World. Focusing on issues including BeyondGDP, emerging technology, and positive psychology, the book includes a great deal of research about GNH issues and features interviews with Laura Musikanski of The Happiness Initiative, Jon Hall of UNDP, and John Heliwell, co-editor of The World Happiness Report among others.
Here's a description of the book:
Sensors in your smartphone can measure your location, physical activity, stress levels, and dozens of other attributes that serve as a proxy for emotions. While marketers are using this data to analyze consumer behavior, other organizations track people’s lives to understand what brings them intrinsic happiness and optimized wellbeing.
Focusing on themes of personal data and identity, Hacking H(app)iness explores the intersection of emerging media, positive psychology and economic "happiness indicators” as a call for people to take the measure of their lives based on worth versus wealth - if you want your life to count, you have to take a count of your life.
John is currently working on a second book in the series (both from Tarcher/Penguin), called Happinomics, and will be leading a workshop and a session on data at the GNH conference in a few months.
About the H(app)athon Project Description
The H(app)athon Project helps people identify and track their values as a way to measure what makes their life count. Based on data collected from mobile surveys and passive data, users are provided with a volunteer recommendation based on their results. The science of positive psychology shows that living to your values and being altruistic increases intrinsic wellbeing, which is why the H(app)athon Project is 'connecting happiness to action' and has partnered with the city of Reading, PA to pilot their workshop/survey platform in early 2014.
John C. Havens is a contributing writer for Mashable, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, www.johnchavens.com). He is also the Founder and Executive Director of The H(app)athon Project and is working on his second book for Penguin, Happinomics, to be released in 2015.
A former EVP for a top-ten global PR firm and ongoing marketing/PR consultant, he has counseled clients like Gillette, HP, and P&G on emerging and social media issues, and has been quoted on issues relating to technology, business, and well-being by USA Today, Fast Company, BBC News, Mashable, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Forbes, INC, PR Week, and Advertising Age. Havens was also a professional actor in New York City for over 15 years, appearing in principal roles on Broadway, television, and film.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Happiness Initiative Board Member Jeff Vander Clute is helping coordinate this! Join if you can!
March 20 - 22, 2014
Health: "When people are healthy, communities thrive."
Thursday 6 pm—Saturday 4 pm
The Whidbey Institute, Thomas Berry Hall
In these times of global challenge, how do we meet the needs of individuals, families, and local communities, in nurturing a sense of belonging, a capacity for resilience, and the ability to thrive?
We live in challenging times. Our personal and community health is at stake, faced with environmental, social, and economic pressures from all sides. What is the role of health and caring in modern life? How are personal wellness and community wellness intertwined? What comes into view when we look at community through the lens of health?
The people we will meet and the stunning stories we will share at our Third Annual Whidbey Institute Thriving Communities Conference will build a larger awareness of the challenges we face today as well as replicable, proven answers to those challenges.
Join a growing group of leaders and activists representing diverse ages, backgrounds, and communities from our bioregion and beyond. Place yourself in the dynamic center of engagement and exchange. Take an intimate look, over three days, at media storytelling and powerful dialogue which reveals the inspiring work of others. The examples shared during this conference can serve as a catalyst to improve and energize the work you do in your own community.
Learn the new and innovative ways that people, organizations, and businesses are working together to address health issues across populations, to strengthen communal ties, to create a sense of belonging, and to sustain the wellbeing of people and the places where they live.
A few scholarships are available. Registration Information.
A few scholarships are available. Registration Information.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
March 6, 2014
By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert
Granite countertops, a stereo in your shower, a bigger house, a bigger TV, more closets . . . more, more, bigger, bigger. And when you have it all . . . you miss having more. That was the makeover mantra of the era of excess and housing bubbles.
There's a poignant quote that is wrongfully attributed to George Carlin (he never said it, but I love it anyway): "Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body."
When it comes to renovations this sentiment begs the question "does remodeling our home make us happier?" There is quite a bit of peer-reviewed research that indicates that we do indeed get a drug-like rush from rearranging the furniture, repainting walls or remodeling the entire house. However, that rush is very short lived. When the excitement fades, we need another fix. We become home makeover junkies, but we aren't happier.
The Happiness Initiative (check out their website http://www.happycounts.org/ ) has a new handbook with simple things you can do to increase your happiness and the happiness of others. The handbook is modeled on the Gross National Happiness Index and covers the 10 areas that research shows actually make us happy.
Home is a great place to start working on your happiness. Here's a few things you can do to help create an environment at home that promotes happiness for you, your family, and your neighbors.
- Sleep: Pick colors for your bedroom that are conducive to sleep. In one study, people who slept in rooms colored blue slept longer. Get rid of televisions in all bedrooms. Put flowers on your nightstand rather than your phone. Do not bring computers, tablets, or phones in bed! The glow (high color temperature) from the screens can inhibit the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and keep you awake.
- Meditate and get creative: Create a quiet space in your house to reflect, paint, write, or listen to music. It's important that we take breaks and restore our minds and bodies. The breaks can be brief. Take at least one day off from all work and house chores. All religions and cultures have taken a sabbath day throughout human history. We've lost that in the smart-phone age. It's important to occasionally sit and do nothing.
- Give: Giving to others makes us happy. Create a Little Free Library: http://littlefreelibrary.org/ on your lawn. "In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share." Create a tool-share program with neighbors. http://sharestarter.org/tools/
- De-clutter - practice altruism: Organize your closets and assess what stuff you really need. Give away the things you think would be more helpful to others. Then, pick one of your favorite things in your home and give it away, no matter how valuable to you. You'll be surprised how good it will make you feel.
- Work less: We work more and take less vacation than any culture in the history of civilization. If you have a home office, separate it from your other living space. Set strict hours and do not mix it with your home life. If you don't have an extra room, use a corner separated with a curtain. Some resourceful home-workers have turned camper-trailers into backyard home offices. Check out this one in Oregon.
- Make new friends: Create a sitting space in front yard where you can see, meet, and spend time with neighbors. Build a front porch or patio if possible. Social isolation feeds into our fear of strangers and is a leading indicator of sadness.
- Say no to multi-tasking: Multi-tasking actually makes us less productive, not more. Remember, the ultimate goal here is sustained happiness. It was easier when we left the phone and the file cabinet at the office. Electronics make it harder for us to disconnect from our lives away from home and deeply connect with our lives with our family and friends. Create a space inside a cabinet or closet to store your cell phone and computer while charging. Doing so will reduce clutter and reduce temptation for multi-tasking.
- Grow food in your garden: This is a no-brainer. For centuries gardens have been known to be a place of cognitive restoration and relaxation. As a bonus, it will help you make more friends, work less, and practice altruism when you share your harvest and cook a delicious meal to bring to neighbors.
- Take a TV fast: You'll be amazed at what fun things you can accomplish when you have hours upon hours of free time when you take a break from TV. Hide your television. Build a TV cabinet. Don't make the TV the center of your living space. It's ugly and promotes isolation. Chairs should not be turned toward the TV like a bunch of seagulls facing the wind on the beach.
- Plant a rain garden: Like food gardens, rain gardens restore both your soul and the land around you. Rain gardens help reduce rainfall that ends up in storm water drains. Deep roots of native rain garden plants help reduce or eliminate the need for watering and help loosen the soil to aid water flow back into the ground. Don't use pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Check out http://creatingsustainablelandscapes.com/
To learn more about your own happiness - Take the Happiness Survey.