Tag Archives: happiness

First podcast on kindness to a stranger


I am still learning new things about the internet and its possibilities.. I`m talking english, so forgive me if the grammar could be better, and the nervousness, but I think the point is made, and that you`ll get an idea of what the podcast is about. I`ve finally sat down to look at podcasts, and have hopefully learnt enough to upload and publish my first one

Follow this link for the podcast

If you`d like to be interviewed about kindness, contact me at forfreepsychology@gmail.com with a request. After a while, I will try to pay the people I interview, but for now, the rewards will be psychological in nature. If you like the idea, remember you can donate to the cause (the money will never be used by me personally).

The Food-Mood Link


Citation: Newswise Life Wire

Peter Pan

Peter Pan

Remember Peter Pan? He sprinkled some of Tinkerbell’s Fairy Dust on Wendy, John and Michael Darling and as soon as they managed to think happy thoughts, poof, they became light as a feather and were able to take flight!

Well, I can’t promise that you’ll grow wings and take to the skies, but according to a new report published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology called “Better Moods for Better Eating: How Mood Influences Food Choice,” you can start yourself on the path to becoming as light as a feather. https://cornell.box.com/MoodsAndFoods

Our moods absolutely impact the way we eat. The study indicates that not only do our moods have something to say about the type of foods we choose to eat, but also how much we consume.

Professor Brian Wansink, from Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and co-author of the paper claims the study proves that people turn to food to feel good. This means we eat to keep ourselves happy and also to make ourselves feel happy. So, here’s the logic. If we are already feeling happy, we are more likely to eat make more healthful choices when it comes to food.


Just a quick plug for my previous blogs about mindfulness and eating: For those of us who deal with weight loss issues and struggle to maintain a healthy weight, we now know exactly what it is that works against us if we don’t practice becoming more mindful about what we eat. We want to feel happy and we believe that in some way, eating will help us attain that goal. We can intercept the cycle of reaching for foods that may not be the ‘smarter’ choice, through mindfulness.

Associate Professor Meryl P. Gardner, Wansink’s partner and co-author from the University of Delaware’s Lerner College department of Marketing, believes “when we think about the future, it’s almost as if we are physically taking a step back, enabling us to see our more fundamental values – like health and nutrition. We can use that to make wiser choices rather than letting our moods dictate our behavior.”

Yep! That sounds like mindfulness to me.

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

So, here’s what we now have more reason to know…Being mindful about how we are feeling, checking in under our own hood, and thinking ahead a bit can really help us eat healthier and manage our weight better. The happier we can feel before its time to eat, the more likely we are to choose well and reap the benefits of feeling and looking better.

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Kindness to a stranger


How do you approach a conflict? We all know how hard it can be to keep our heads cold in a situation where the best approach would be to not retaliate when slighted. Our emotions often run wild, and in these situations we often attack rather than draw back. We see this tendency everywhere, even in politics

This doesn`t mean that we always act in destructive ways: Sometimes kindness replaces hate and fear.
I am a clinical psychologist with an idea I will work the rest of my life for
I have , through a life with both good and bad, learnt to dream, and have started my own utopia: Kindness to a stranger. The idea is simple: I`ll ask if people will be willing to do just one kind act towards a stranger every week, and interview all kinds of people.

My hero Ellert Nijenhuis has already agreed to the interview next week.


Want to help yourself? Feel free to share this post, and if you really want to do something that might help, feel free to do a one-minute interview on your computer where you say what you think about kindness. You can include stories of kind acts, or even talk about the drawbacks with an idea like this. There will be a competition too, with 500 euros in the pot for those joining the kindness group and following the event
Why be kind

Let`s change the world: Background

My plan is to interview people about kindness. I have already contacted people willing to be interviewed, and some have already been interviewed. For people who`d like to say something about kindness, they are welcome to send their contributions to forfreepsychology@gmail.com. 

Random Acts of Kindness

Vicky L.

Random Acts of Kindness / by Vicky L.
68 Pins


The plan is to contact media and to write a book about it all, the following months. 


The book will include kindness stories, and focus on psychological knowledge related to why kindness works. I have already contacted some famous people enthusiastic about the idea, and will continue to do so whenever I get the change. According to Steven Pinker, this is the time to act. We need to change our habits, and we can all do it by finding a slot in our calendar (five minutes is enough) that we dedicate to kindness.Maybe your kind act will inspire others?

Happy 2014



I love the Beatles as much as the next guy; maybe even more. But current research clearly demonstrates that there is quite a bit more to Happiness than a ‘warm gun.

(For those of you who may not be up on your Beatle lyrics, I’m referring to a son, written by John Lennon, off their eponymous double-disc album “The Beatles,” also known as “The White Album.”)

I think attitude and perspective are major players in people’s lives, but many times it is way too easy to ignore our hard-wiring, our genetic make-up. It seems the happiness-DNA connection hasn’t gotten much of a voice, but in their article “Genetic Influences on Psychological Well-Being: A Nationally Representative Twin Study.” that appeared in April 2013’s Journal of Personality, researchers Thomas M. Olino,
C. Emily Durbin, Daniel N. Klein, Elizabeth P. Hayden and Margaret W. Dyson found that up to 50 percent of our happiness could be linked to the way we are ‘hard-wired.’

What makes happiness really difficult to pin down and research is how subjective it is, but researchers are far from throwing in the towel.

I’ve found some new and ‘quirky’ leads on happiness and for some reason they haven’t been given top billing. Being that I live in a part of the world where we still have two full months of winter ahead of us and last night’s temps reached below zero again, I for one, can use as much help and direction for pick-me-ups as I can find.

Here are five pieces of information about happiness I was not aware of, that I hope warm a cockle or two of your heart as well:

• A Degree of Happiness – 57.02 degrees Fahrenheit
According to a study out of Osaka University in Japan, the correlation between a person’s environmental temperature and happiness was researched. The winner, not the mild temps of tropical islands as once thought, but a milder, balmy 57.02 degrees was found to produce the highest number of happy people. I’m still have quite a way to go, but once we get through this artic freeze, its not as far away from 57.02 as say 70 or 75.
• Happy Music for our Happy Feet
Not only does listening to ‘happy’ music help elevate the mood, it also stimulates what scientists refer to as the “reward” part of the brain. I know we are being a bit subjective here when we say ‘happy’ music, but that goes with the turf. Lyrics and combinations of sounds are so varied this is likely to remain quite subjective. What is no longer subjective is the scientific backing.

Possum Sniffing Flowers

Possum Sniffing Flowers

• The Nose Knows
Dr. Jeannette Haviland-Jones, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey determined that there is a connection between happiness and floral scented odors. With the advances in fragrances available, we can sniff a little happiness into our day.
• Yes … Master
Remember that saying about being a ‘Jack of all trades but master of none?’ Well, according to a 2009 study, Jack would not have been a very happy boy. Although there is a certain amount of stress associated with pushing oneself to
master an activity, the long term benefit of knowing we really “got this”
(whatever the activity,) leads to feelings of happiness.
* Giving vs. Receiving
Its true…its true! A 2012 study confirms that both mean and women feel happier after purchasing something for someone else than when they buy something for themselves. Although there isn’t much more research other than confirming that
more people are happier giving gifts than receiving them, it will be interesting tosee what scientists find when they dig deeper into the whys and wherefores about this.

There are other new findings about happiness popping up through studies all the time. And without a doubt, the correlations between happiness (and other internal moods and emotions) and environmental stimuli (external factors) will grow as far as researcher’s imaginations can take them.

Humans may be simple on some level, but extremely unique and individualized on others. We are a combination of our hard-wiring (genetics or nature) and our environment (nurture). The discussion will continue through the ages.

Whatever the outcome of the study being conducted, we are human…we are made up of both, internal and external factors in various combinations. And there are many things we can do to improve our lives, make ourselves more of the people we want to become, reach our goals and fuller potentials.

Serenity Prayer

Serenity Prayer

The key to it all, for me, is found when we live what is known by millions as the Serenity Prayer. We ask for courage to change what we can (external, nurture) acceptance for who we are and for what is (internal, nature) and finally, the ability and wisdom to be able to know the difference so we can avoid the frustration and failures that come from trying to change things that are hard-wired and pretty much just the way they are.

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Taking Laughter Seriously



One of the things I find myself doing less of than I used to is laughing. When this happens it is a sign to me that I’m taking life too seriously. I don’t know why I tend to do this, but I do – take life and myself too seriously at times.

Reversing the perspective on this, my ability to maintain a sense of humor and laugh more often is a very positive feature. It helps me to keep things in their proper perspective whenever I look for the upside or the humorous side of things.

Readers Digest Covers

Readers Digest Covers

And, it is FUN! Years ago I researched about some of the benefits of laughter – sort of like a take-off of the old Readers Digest title of one of their humor / joke sections called “Laughter the best Medicine.”

There seems to be a lack of definitive research done regarding the potential health benefits of laughter, at least that is what many experts say. In his book “Laughter: A Scientific Investigation,” Professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Robert R. Provine acknowledges how difficult it is to isolate laughter from qualities such as a good sense of humor or a positive attitude that also make people feel better. It also makes definitive research difficult because when people routines demonstrate a positive attitude and a good sense of humor, they tend to earn a lot of support from friends and family and these factors too, are hard to separate when attempting definitive research.

Horse and Cart

Horse and Cart

Maybe we need to work this one backwards by putting the cart before the horse. Let me explain. There are most certainly definitive things that happen to our body physiologically speaking, when we laugh.

• We breathe faster – which sends more oxygen to the tissues in our body.
• Our pulse and blood pressure go up
• The muscles throughout our body (primarily in our face) stretch
• We burn calories – According to Maciej Buchowski, a researcher from Vanderbilt University, roughly 50 calories burned for a 10-15 minute laughing session. And if you find a way to combine body movement, such as waving your arms with the laughter, your heart rate is treated for a real boost.

While we can definitively study the body’s reaction and response to laughter, it is the cause and effect component that makes laughter research so hard to take seriously. People with a more scientific nature and orientation ask whether other activities might not yield the exact or very similar results. What if we replaced time laughing with time screaming loudly, or what if instead of laughing, we watched an intense drama?

This is the conclusion I draw. I like to laugh. I miss it when I find too much time has gone by without my laughing enough. I like how I feel when I laugh and I like making other people laugh. So when all is said and done, it doesn’t matter to me if it can be measured and reproduced in specific results in a laboratory. I am going to laugh more and find more joy because I choose to, even without a prescription!

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Benefits to the Sound of Music



There most definitely might be something to the idea of whistling a happy tune. According to a preliminary study in England, it has been found that people who are active members in a choir are happier and find life more meaningful than other people who are not actively singing.

The findings speak to the experience of singing which has been found to be a very healthy release for emotions with many people. Singing is a very pleasurable activity. But this study specifically looked at the positive effects of singing and also of belonging to a group with people who sing together.

Years ago, I sang in my chorus in high school which had its wonderful moments and also its typical high school type of issues, but after that I joined a barbershop chorus with women who sang four-part, barbershop style music and although we dealt with many different personalities and a large group of women who all had their opinions about costuming and choreography moves, there was a sense of camaraderie that I have never found anywhere else.

Woman's Chorus

Woman’s Chorus

I still can pick up the phone or send an e-mail out to any number of women with whom I sang more than ten years ago, and not even question that we could pick up right where we left off with each others lives the last time we spoke.

There definitely was something magical that happened between us when we shared the experience of singing and performing together and blending our voices together. We jointly created something very personal and very unique.

Sheet Music

So yes, if you can carry a tune and are able to find a chorus whether it is at your local house of worship or one that is entirely community based, why not give yourself the gift of music and special relationships that come from the wonderful experience studies are just starting to document as beneficial.

Shhhhh, some of us already knew this to be true even without the study. 

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

The Best Kept Secret to Highly Successful Couples



An excerpt: 

“According to Adam Grant, Wharton’s most popular and youngest tenured faculty member, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, people fall into one of 3 distinct categories: Givers, Matchers and Takers. While Grant’s book is written for a business audience, its theories provide extraordinary insight into romantic relationships. The category you fall into may well determine the success and happiness of your relationship!”


Childhood Dreams

Movie Reel and Popcorn

Movie Reel and Popcorn

I’m not a huge movie buff, but there are certain films that make a pretty significant impression on me – often because of the theme or depth of the story line; but more often because of one or two things a character says at a pivoting point in the movie.

One such example comes to me from the movie City Slickers. For those of you who don’t know the film well, it is about three good ‘city’ friends, fairly young men who always dreamed of becoming cowboys and living the dream of the Wild Wild West when they were young boys.

I think it is in celebration of one of the friends’ 30th birthday, that they arrange a vacation out west to a real live dude ranch. The rest of the movie is the experience these friends have out on the ranch and the life lessons they return back to their everyday lives with.

Jack Palance-City Slickers

Jack Palance-City Slickers

In the film, one of the most memorable characters they meet is played by Oscar winner, Jack Palance, a man named Blackie in the film. He is the poster boy of the rough and tough cowboy they all wanted to be and feared at the same time.

Blackie also ends up being the ‘mentor’ and ‘teacher’ in the movie. At one point, he teaches Life 101 to the boys by telling them (don’t quote me) that he knows the key to happiness which is to find the one thing in life you want to be – AND DO THAT.

Anyway, this is the line in the movie that sticks out as being super significant to me. I have thought about it quite often considering it was only a flash in time in the middle of one movie that I’ve seen. But that concept keeps coming back to me.

I wonder first, how many of us believe this to be a key to success in life and happiness. The more I think about it, the more true it seems. I’m not saying it is the ONLY thing that can make a person happy, but since we spend so much time doing ‘work’ in our lives, if we can find the one thing that makes us happy, the one thing we truly want to do, and work out being able to do it, then, yes; I believe we have found a pretty good formula for happiness.

But, as with almost everything in life, there are conditions. The first “if” comes when we talk about finding the thing that we want to do in life. I don’t know about you, but it has taken me quite a long time to come direct – I mean face to face, direct, with the thing I want to do in my life where I have managed to work out doing it!

I don’t think I’m a rarity in this regard either. I think it take us a long time to become comfortable enough and accepting enough of ourselves to understand and know what it is we want to do with our lives.

Without going through a long sermon on this particular topic, basically it comes down to this. We may have a tremendous instinct as children as what we want to be in life, but as life happens all around us, we end up being extremely sidetracked from that dream most of the time.



Very few of us come from the type of environment where that childhood dream is nurtured and supported until it is ultimately fulfilled and becomes reality.

Sadly, too many of us come from an environment where we don’t dare even consider having a childhood or a dream at all. I have lived long enough to give testimony to that.

But even those of us who do recall their childhood dreams…well, perhaps John Lennon said it best when he sang to his son in “Beautiful Boy” and said ‘life’s what happens when we’re busy making other plans.’ So even when you may be fortunate enough to think you might know what you would like, you didn’t live life in a way that was devoted to making that dream happen.

I also am not so sure I believe that we have the same dream all our lives long. There are times we may experience new things in our lives that we like more or enjoy more than the one thing we used to think we would want to do. And what if we are already doing that one thing we thought we were meant to do and then discover that there is something we love more than that?

You get where I’m going with this, right? I loved Blackie and I think overall, his key to happiness was pretty much on the money. I just don’t know how realistic it is.



Having said all that, let me also say, that for those of us who fall into the category of the ‘many’ who do not get to dream or have normal childhoods or who find themselves doing things in their lives that have absolutely NOTHING to do with what they really love to do…Things change! And many time – for the better.

It may not happen early on in life – and we may get sidetracked and waylaid, but when you do find something that matters a lot to you – you CAN make it happen!

Don’t lose sight of what matters to you – EVER – and NEVER stop looking for ways to make the things that really matter work, because I promise you; it may not be exactly the way you imagined, but eventually, your dreams DO come true!

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Presenting: Our new guest blogger, Juni D.



Thank you, June:D

Thank you, June:D

It is now two months since I started this blog, and since then, the blog has published information about diverse topics related to psychology. I have connected with really wonderful people, and some of them have wanted to contribute with their views on psychology. I am very happy to introduce our newest guest blogger: Juni D. I was so happy when I found her blog, since it was full of well-written post (on a beautiful page) about herself and how she used the metacognitive perspective to live a happy life. Metacognition is basically how we think about our thinking, and a really helpful perspective when talking about mental health. Juni is so alive, which is obvious in her writing. I am really happy to have her with us, and am sure you will, too.


My name is Juni Desireé Hoel.

I’m 27 and live in Melbourne, Australia.

I am a writer, an artist, a scientist, a philosopher, a ballerina and a dog lover.

JuniI am an observant deep thinker preferring to listen, and usually keep my thoughts to myself. People tend to wait with anticipation when they know I’m about to speak because they know they’re going to get something deep, wise, thoughtful or insightful. I may not be witty, opinionated or eloquent, but people make a point of listening to me because they know my words have meaning.

As much as I rarely speak my thoughts, I write them. I fill page after page with my over-active thought life. Like many introverts, I do better with writing than I do with speaking, but my writing stays as hidden as my thoughts.

My main goal with this blog is to diligently follow thoughts wherever they lead, while summoning the courage to share them, and encouraging others to do the same.

I’m always hoping to meet people who can have a deep conversation and can make me see a new perspective. I enjoy connecting with people who are equally challenged by me as I am by them, people who equally learn from me as I learn from them, and people who are equally interested in what I have to say as I am in what they have to say.

Let our minds be open and let our words have substance.

Still curious? Check out these posts:

The story behind my name
8 questions I get about being adopted