Tag Archives: Joy

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!

The Special Gift of Ispiration



What or who inspires you? To start, this is what I mean when I ask that question.
For now, let us work with the definition of inspiration as the a particularly wonderful flow of energy that comes about and moves through us when we are in tune with a level of our selves that is above and beyond our ‘normal’, ‘everyday’ selves. It is the energy that we ignite when we are tuned into our higher selves.

I hope that each and every one of us can relate to a time in our own lives when we experienced this ‘higher level’ of energy; a flow of a force or drive that, for a lack of other ways to describe it, put goose bumps on our insides and gives us a tingly type of feeling from the inside out.

When I am inspired, I function on a different plane or level that I am not always able to replicate or unfortunately hold onto for very extended periods of time. It is a wonderful feeling, exhilarating and exciting and sort of like a bubbling inside, that keeps me writing faster, moving faster, thinking faster and most significantly, bursting with creativity.

Some of the things that tend to inspire me most are:
• Music – I even have certain songs or tunes or artists that inspire me most at specific times
• Writing – There are times when I start out without feeling inspired, but as I continue writing, I begin to become inspired by the actual experience of creating
• Accomplishing Something Challenging – Whenever I try something I think might be difficult for me or new and achieve it successfully
• Personal Stories – Learning about obstacles and personal victories of others



I want to post some of the most inspiring stories that I find about people who are doing things in their lives that inspire other people – that accomplish things or face challenges that can help others want to do more and be more in their own lives too.

And, I can’t think of a better time to do it than toward the beginning of the time when many of us may have already stared the reality of our own humanity in the face because we’re almost two weeks into the 2014 and most likely, have already experienced some type of feelings of not being ‘good enough’ or having failed at our attempt to achieve a goal.

It seems to me that people who provide inspiration to others achieve something quite amazing because it is like providing a sense of immortality to their accomplishment. In essence, what they have done is breath new life and energy into another person so they now can do something else that inspires someone else. They have fulfilled an extremely wonderful calling, by sharing more than their accomplishments, they also share the energy and the ‘spiritual’ component that exists only through the inspiration they stirred.

Planting A Garden Photo by Samantha Appleton

Planting A Garden
Photo by Samantha Appleton

It is like planting a garden full of new potential and possibility for what might be. It is hopeful, joyful and a gift beyond words!

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!

Power of Animal Therapy


I believe in animal therapy.

I know how much a dog can brighten the worst day in my own life.

And this is an amazing story my friend told me about a man she knew who was a donkey owner:

This man took his pet miniature donkey to a nursing home regularly. He trusted the donkey because he knew it would never bite anyone with its calm temperament.

One day the donkey ran away from the man while he was at the nursing home. He was mortified; the donkey had never done anything like this before. He was frantically searching the building for the donkey.

And then he found the donkey down corridors and through a door into a room with an elderly man. The man was in tears, and the donkey owner thought the donkey had bitten him. But the donkey had its head resting on the elderly man’s lap and the man was just sobbing.

The man told the donkey owner that he’d been a donkey handler while overseas during a war. The man felt lonely and isolated in the nursing home ever since the war, but this donkey came to him and simply rested its head on the man’s lap and stayed there as if to comfort the man.

The man was given what he needed. He missed being with donkeys. He was comforted, and the donkey made him not feel alone anymore.

The donkey owner was gobsmacked. The donkey set off straight to this man’s room with such purpose and ran through corridors and different areas of the building to get to him.

I think it’s amazing. Animals amaze me. I know dogs can be very in tune with people’s feelings and know when people are sad.

I love animals so much, and this story just makes them love them more!