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Spring semester is coming to an end and so is my blog (at least for “nouw”). I am taking a little break. Which sounds somewhat convenient because we are heading towards summer break. I have truly enjoyed posting my blogs here and especially enjoyed reading all of your AWEsome comments. I would like to thank each one of you, who have visited my blog, and made my experience here so exceptional.

Here is a little recap of what I have talked about during these past three months.

  • By now, we know that a lot of our happiness is within our control (namely 40 %)! Wohoo!! Your intentional activities (decisions and actions) are what matters the most, not money and materialistic things.

  • Be self-compassionate towards yourself. Treat yourself with kindness, be mindful, and remember that failure is a part of common humanity

  • Express gratitude!! We have some many things to be grateful for. Remember the effects of writing it down.

  • There are more words for negative emotions than positive. It may be a result from evolution, but hey, we can fix that ;) Google some positive emotions and start using them!

  • The art of fighting right – is the fight really worth it? Focus on the argument at the moment and try not to bring up things from the past. One of my strategies are to avoid saying “you always” and “you never.”

  • Warm acts of kindness can make you as happy as the person you are being kind towards. Positive emotions create an upward spiral!

  • Remember to savor your daylight moments! It is important to really find pleasure and enjoy what we are doing (I am working on eating slower).

  • Take care of your body and make time for exercise! One of the elements I am particularly striving to improve upon.

  • It is so important to get an adequate amount of sleep! Try to withstand temptations and make time for sleep. It will make you so much more energetic and happy!

  • Go with the flow – Try to get into as many flow states as you can!

Now, I think that I am ready to let you go off to the world and make this happen! That is what I am going to do. I am going to decrease my hours on social media and take pleasure in moments outside the social media world.

I hope that you have enjoyed this as much as I have.

I wish you all the best! Lots of love, yours truly awezelda

I found this great picture on pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/396879785882630645/

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Finally, it’s Sunday and you are here, reading my blog. It is with a smile I am welcoming you back!

Today’s topic is going to be centered around stepping into a state of FLOW. But, don’t worry, I am not gonna throw you right into it. I am going to give you some background information first.

The positive psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, wanted to know where in everyday life we feel really happy. Thus, he began his research by looking at creative people, such as artists and scientists. He was interested to know what made them keep on doing what they were doing (even though they weren’t expecting to become famous) and what made them feel like what they were doing was something meaningful. This led him to explore the feeling of being in flow.

Flow is an effortless and spontaneous process that can happen to anyone who is well trained and who has developed technique (Csikszentmihaly, 2004). He refers being well trained as to having experience with something for more than 10 years. For example, I have played soccer since I was 8 years old and I have developed technique in doing so (I’m now 23 years old). This means that when I play soccer, I have the ability to reach a state of flow. However, it has more to it.

When you are in flow, you are doing something you really like to do. And you are able to reach a state of flow if your challenges and your skills are higher than average.

And how does it feel to be in flow?

  • Focused and concentrated
  • Sense of ecstasy (being outside everyday reality – almost like in an alternative world)
  • Great inner clarity (knowing what needs to be done and how)
  • Knowing the activity is possible (the task matches our skills)
  • Sense of serenity (no worries about oneself)
  • Timelessness (time flies)
  • Intrinsic motivation

Now that you know how it can feel being in a state of flow, I urge you to go out and try to get as many flow experiences as you can!! Feel the flow & go with the flow!! J

If you found this topic interesting, click this link to here Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talk about “Flow, the secret to happiness”:

https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow


TODAY'S FLOW SONG: "Lose Yourself" with Eminem

AND LASTLY.... HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE! 

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Dear readers,

I know that life can be very stressful and often times we do not get enough sleep. There can be a lot of distractions in our lives that makes us go to sleep later than what we probably should. For example, homework, an awesome movie or TV-show, conversations with friends or family members, sports, video games, or errands we procrastinated. But, we must keep in mind that resting is an important part in our lives and it can make us both happier and healthier.

A sleep researcher argued that one hour more of sleep each night would make our society much happier as well as healthier (Dement & Vaughan, 2000) as cited by (Lyubomirsky, 2007). As you can see, the amount of hours we get of sleep is crucial to our wellness. Our moods, energy, alertness, and health can be greatly influenced if we do not get enough amount of sleep (Lyubomirsky, 2007).

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults sleep between 7 and 9 hours every night. Unfortunately, many of us do not live up to this recommendation. I average about 7 hours of sleep every night. Although it is within the recommendation, I feel like my body needs more rest than it gets. Thus, this week, no matter how much I have to do, I am not going to set my alarm during the weekend (Saturday and Sunday). I am going to give myself some extra sleep that I feel like my body needs. I believe this can help me become a happier and healthier being! J

So I advise you to take a close look at your sleeping habits and make adjustments if necessary! I wish you a well rest in your comfy nest!


ps. I found so many cute "sleeping cat" pictures on google that I had to share with you!! (Yes, I love cats!!)

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Another week has past and we are now in April. Time really flies!

Time flies so fast, that I sometimes forget to make time for physical activity. I am so caught up in school that I tell myself that I don’t have enough time for a 30-minute walk, bike-ride or trip to the gym (which is a less than 5-minute walk). This is not one of my greatest strengths and it can become very problematic to my health because the body plays a critical role in our happiness.

Physical activity is one of the most effective instant happiness boosters (Lyubomirsky, 2007). I think many of us also know that physical activity reduces anxiety and stress, protects against cognitive impairments, and controls weight (Lyubomirsky, 2007). But sometimes we just need a little reminder. :)

Exercise can lead to a much happier and healthier life and thus, I need to change my habits of not working out. Many might be shocked to hear that I don’t work out because I have been a very active person my whole life, playing soccer, riding horses, and biking everywhere. However, after my third knee surgery last fall, I have lost some motivation and I am still not capable of running (but I speed walk really good!!).

BUT, since our health is heavily associated with physical activity we should strive to do more of it in our lives. The World Health Organization recommends us to engage in 30 minutes of exercise each day. A recommendation, I have been having a hard time living up to.

So, my new goal is to try to get 30 minutes of exercise in each day. And I believe that I can do it!! You wanna know why/how??

If you are like me, and you feel like some days you really can’t fit 30 minutes of exercise into your schedule – I have a solution for you. Let’s split the 30 minutes into something smaller. It doesn’t matter if we do all the 30 minutes at once, as long as we get a total 30 minutes in each day. So, we could do 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. Or, 10 minutes in the morning, 10 min at lunch, and 10 min at night. However, it works best in our schedule.

Here are some tips to get more exercise in:

  • Park further away – Give yourself a longer walk to the door
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Use some of your breaks to take a walk around campus or your work
  • Find a work out body
  • Walk down the stairs or up the stairs to talk to someone in the house, instead of using your phone

Now, I want you all to go out and be super active! And wish me good luck on my new active habits! :)


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Hola amigos and welcome back!

It has been a fast-paced week, as always! Just the way I like it! The more things I have on the agenda, the better I feel (most of the time)!! ;) So, I think a pretty relevant topic for this week (for me at least) is SAVORING. To stop and enjoy moments.

For people who don’t know what ‘savor’ means or for those who need a reminder… To savor a moment is to have “any thoughts or behaviors capable of generating, intensifying, and prolonging enjoyment” (Lyubomirsky, 2008, p. 191).

Savoring life’s joy has a lot of benefits and it’s an element of optimistic thinking.

Optimistic thinking “promotes positive moods, vitality, and high morale” (Lyubomirsky, 2008, p. 107) So whenever you have a “Negative Nancy” moment, think about the fact that optimists are more likely to persist even though they are facing adversity. They are more likely to set a larger number of goals, engage in active and effective coping, and they do not give up easily. So, my advice for the day is: Stay optimistic! :)

Ohh woops, I got a little off topic there… But it’s okay, I think (and hope) you learned something new and exciting. So, back to my talk about savoring and how it can improve our happiness.

I have named my daylight savoring: “Shine Light on My Food”

When I say I am a fast eater, I mean FAST. I just devour it like there is no tomorrow. Therefore, I have introduced “mindful meals” into my life. Being mindful while eating has proven to increase satisfaction (Lyubomirsky, 2008).

Thus, a quick moment before I eat, reflecting on how thankful I am, will allow me to fully experience pleasures of the mind. Expressing gratitude for the quality of my food, being able to feed myself, affording the food, and give a thought to the people who prepared the food if I eat out somewhere.

Also, as a little plus, sharing a moment with someone has shown to increase the pleasure of an experience. So share your meals with people around you and try to avoid distractions (like your cellphones) and eat in a comfortable setting!!!

Okay, now you know one thing I am trying to do to be mindful and savor moments in life. What are you going to do? Are you fully taking pleasure in your daily moments?

I wish you all an upcoming week filled with a lot a savoring moments!

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Yesterday, I went to a nursing home here in Miami Gardens called Cross Gardens Care Center. This was one of many times I’ve visited these lovely people at their nursing home. Every time I leave them, I leave in a better mood. This got me thinking about what Sonja Lyubomirsky wrote about acts of kindness… she said that, a way to increase an individual’s happiness is to increase actions of kind behaviors (Lyubomirsky, 2008). So, I told myself, this is a great topic for today’s week – Warm Acts of Kindness!

Lyubomirsky has also mentioned a study revealing that, the largest increase in happiness was seen in the individuals who practiced acts of kindness one day a week. Isn’t this AWEsome???!! We can become happier by simply being kind to others!

Now, you might be asking yourself, “Do I need to volunteer at a nursing home every week to become happier?” The answer is no. It can be challenging and overwhelming to fit “larger” acts of kindness (the ones that are more time consuming, just like the nursing home visit or the report card review at Carol City Middle School) into our busy schedules. So, I would recommend to try to do these larger warm acts once a month. J

But, as you now know, it said that practicing warm acts of kindness once a week is good for us. Therefore, let’s focus on fitting in “smaller” acts of kindness. For example:

  • Provide someone with the gift of time (ex. letting cars pass you in traffic).
  • Surprise someone (ex. with a cup of coffee)
  • A behavior that does not come natural (ex. pay for someone’s dinner or when it is raining taking people to class with your umbrella even if you don’t have class).
  • Develop compassion (ex. help someone who is struggling with their homework)
  • Tell-no-one act (ex. putting a dollar in the vending machine without buying anything).

Research encourages people to spice up their kindness activity to prevent from bouncing back to their original happiness level, also known as the set point (Lyubomirsky, 2008). So, be creative!! Have a big variety of kindness acts, so you don’t fall into a routine where the acts only become tasks to do on your daily agenda.

And remember to write your acts of kindness down (as my psychology professor, Dr. Grace, always says – goals that are not written down, are simply wishes). Research has found that people can feel brighter by choosing a specific act to perform, before even committing the act. So remember to write it down! Your planner or calendar is a perfect place for this. So now I urge you to go out an experience your first warm act of kindness! Happy and warm SUNday to you all!

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Dear readers,

March is a month where a lot of things are going on. This past Wednesday, we celebrated the International Women’s Day and as many of you already know, the month of march is Women’s History Month. This past Thursday, I went to the Psychology Club’s meeting where they gave us a presentation about women’s “herstory” and some of its unsung “sheroes” (I thought it was such a creative way of saying history and heroes!!). In their presentation the Psychology Club also mentioned statistics of relationship violence and showed faces of individuals who have been killed by their current or ex-partner. The victims were both men and women. Therefore, today I am going to talk about Gretchen Rubin’s strategy “Fight Right”, that she mentioned in her book The Happiness Project (Rubin, 2009, p. 46).

Rubin stressed the importance of couples’ fighting styles and how that impacts the health of their relationship. It never occurred to me that it is a matter of how couples fight, not specifically how much they fight. I have always assumed that if a couple fights a lot, they are in trouble. But, how a couple fights, has rarely crossed my mind.

Rubin also says that “couples who fight right tackle only one difficult topic at a time, instead of indulging in arguments that cover every grievance since the first date” (Rubin, 2009, p. 47).

When I read this I decided to make some guidelines for myself. Here they are:

  • Evaluate the situation: Many times, I quickly react to a situation, word, or statement instead of waiting a couple of seconds and really thinking through the actual occurrence. Therefore, I have attempted to ask myself before exploding into an argument: Is this really worth fighting for? Does it really matter? For example, was it THAT important that he/she didn’t like/comment on your Instagram photo or happened to picked you up 15 minutes late?

  • Ask: I am often very quick to jump to conclusions, and thus I want to ask (in a friendly way) regarding the purpose or meaning the other person had with his/her words or actions.

  • Try to avoid saying “You never…” and “You always…”: I hear myself say these words during arguments sometimes, without realizing how strong “never & always” statements are. Therefore, I am going to try to avoid and catch myself when saying these words during arguments.

  • Look at myself: In arguments I am quick to point out what the other person has done wrong. However, in my next argument I am going to try to look at what I did wrong and how I can improve myself, instead of focusing on the other person. It is easy to say what the other person did wrong because we are directly looking at them.

Now, I know that everyone does not have a significant other, however, I am going to try to apply this in all aspects of my social domain, with friends, family, and strangers as well.

What do you think about my tactics? Do you have any other strategies to add? :)

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Hi reader,

Today’s topic is going to be a little bit different from any of my previous posts. This Sunday, I am going to talk about positive and negative emotions. There are some really cool facts about this that I desperately would like to share with you.

First off, I would like you to think about some different scenarios and how you would feel if…

  • You lost an important game?
  • Your pet died?
  • A salesperson tricked you?
  • Your friend won a ticket to a concert of your favorite singer (and your friend does not even like the singer)?
  • You drank too much yesterday and therefore missed your little sibling’s important musical performance in school that you had promised to go to?

I bet you can name several of negative emotions that pertain to each one of these scenarios. Such as anger, disappointment, sadness, grief, fury, irritation, jealously, unfairness, guilt, shame, regret, and more.

Now I want you to think about these scenarios instead…

  • You won an important game
  • You just got a new puppy
  • You found something on sale that you really wanted
  • You won a ticket to a concert of your favorite singer
  • You saw your little sibling sing in school

How did you feel about these scenarios? Happy? Lucky? Proud?

It might be easier to pinpoint how you feel when you experience something negative, like losing a game or when someone treats you bad. However, when you experience something positive, it might not always be so easy to express exactly how we feel. Often times, we might generalize it as just feeling “happy” or “really happy”.

If we look back in time, this actually do not come as a surprise. There are more words for negative emotions than there are for positive emotions. For every 3 or 4 negative emotions, there is only 1 positive emotion (Fredrickson, 1998). Also, psychology has been centered around how to solve problems, and positive emotions do not really contribute to problems.

Thus, throughout history our instincts have circulated around survival. Therefore, it could be argued that there are more negative emotions because they have made us aware of potential life-threatening events. For example, when you are afraid of something behind you, your first reaction might be to run away. Also, if you are sad, your first reaction might be to cry. However, dissimilar from negative emotions that often provoke actions, positive emotions are more likely to promote thought-actions (Fredrickson, 1998). For example, if you are grateful for your bed, that feeling might not necessary trigger an instant action. Rather, you might just think about it, or you maybe write it down somewhere.

So next time, you are experiencing happiness, try to narrow down which positive emotion you are actually feeling and see if you can define more specifically which type of “happiness” you are expressing.

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Dear readers,

Everything this week has really been non-stop and I have had little time for what I need the most, sleep. And for those who know me, also know that I need sleep to function as the normal, regular, Zelda. Therefore, today’s theme is going to be centered around gratitude. Because being thankful for elements in my life was something that passed over my head. Throughout the week, I was so occupied trying to accomplish all the things I wanted to get done, and therefore overlooked all the great things in my life.

Sometimes, it is easy to think about everything that you need to do, how challenging it is, and we forgot to notice all the great things we have around us. Therefore, this morning, before writing this post, I felt in need of a mood boost. So, I opened my journal and wrote down three things that I am grateful for. And yes, you are right, one of them was my bed ;).

Expressing gratitude by writing it down has actually been proven to be healthy for your well-being and improves your mood. A gratitude intervention by Sonja Lyubomirsky (2008) showed that people who practice gratitude once a week, found it fresh and meaningful over time. Therefore, I am now suggesting that you take out a pen and a piece of paper (or if you have a journal, even better), and pen down three things that you are grateful for and why.

If one of those three things you are grateful for is a particular individual, you can decide to write a letter instead, expressing your appreciation. By simply writing the letter your mood will elevate, and if you decide to send it (or give it) to the person, you will feel even happier!! Instead of just writing it!!

When I remember, I try to write in my gratitude journal on SUNdays. Because it is the day when I am free from school and work, and also because it has the word “SUN” in it, and I love the sun. The sun reminds me of happiness and sunny days put a smile on my face. So feel free to join me on my gratitude writing Sundays! We have so much to be grateful for!


I found the sunflower picture on Pinterest and it lead me to this website:

http://allnaturalme.com/the-thought-for-today-is-gratitude/

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In one of my classes this week I was assigned to watch five videos of Kristin Neff. Therefore, this week’s topic will be centered around her amazing research on “self-compassion”. In order to understand what self-compassion is, I first want you to think about compassion. For example, you are noticing that your friend is feeling sad and you ask what’s wrong. Your friend tells you that she made a terrible mistake at work. As her friend, you are kind, supportive, and tell her “it is only human, it happens to all of us”. That is being compassionate to your friend. Now, it might be easier for you to understand what self-compassion is. It is the exact same thing, but towards yourself.

The reason why I wanted to talk about self-compassion today is because Neff said something that made me stop and think. She said that “In our culture we need to feel special and above average to feel okay with ourselves” and thus, we often put other people down in order to feel good about ourselves. It should not be like that! And that is where self-compassion plays a big part and is able to help us feel more connected with others and diminishing the feeling of superiority.

Self-compassion has three components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

Self-kindness means that you are not critical or judgmental about yourself. Many of us, are more critical towards ourselves than we are of others. For many of us, being self-critical is a habit we don’t even notice. Self-critical things we often say to ourselves can be sentences such as “I am so lazy” or “I am so fat”. So, if you are self-kind you actively try to stop those thoughts and use much kinder, understanding, and supportive language when you are in pain.

However, a problem here is that most people think that they must be self-critical in order to motivate themselves. Don’t worry, that is not accurate. Because when you criticize yourself, you actually weaken your confidence and make yourself feel anxious.

When we notice something we don’t like about ourselves or something goes wrong in our lives, we often immediately feel like we are the only ones who are having this problem. I bet you could recognize yourself in this situation, I know I do. That is why I love the second component of self-compassion “common humanity”. It is saying that “this happens to everyone” and “it is only human”. By thinking like this we realize that we are all in the same boat, and everyone is experiencing struggles. Instead of isolating ourselves, beating ourselves up, thinking why ME? We have to be mindful about the fact that we all are imperfect.

This bring me to the last component: mindfulness. Let me give you an example. I texted my boyfriend a cute text early this morning. The whole day has gone by and I have not heard anything from him. Here, I can get carried away with my thoughts and emotions and maybe assume that he is ignoring me, spending time with another woman, or doesn’t like me. Therefore, I react and send him an angry text. However, if I would be mindful in this situation, I would give myself more space and distance so that I can ask myself “Well is this really true? He is probably just having a busy day.” And then, instead of the angry text, I am able to respond and send him a friendly text. Being mindful can help prevent unnecessary pain.

So, a friendly reminder… try to make efforts to practice some self-compassion the next time something doesn’t go your way and you find yourself in a lighter mood.

Also, if you found this topic interesting and you want to learn more, you can go to Kristin Neff’s webpage http://self-compassion.org. There you can also watch her videos!!

The picture of the heart in the sky was taken from this video: TEDx Talks. (2013, February 6). The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion: Kristin Neff at TEDxCentennialParkWomen [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvtZBUSplr4

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