Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oriental Grass and Optimism? Why, Yes!

Hello Optimists,

You will not believe where my newest sign of optimism popped up this time...

During the past few months I have been working up to a permanent position for the company I was interning at. Last week, I was taken on full-time, so I am *officially* employed as of date. Today, I was sifting through my desk drawers, emptying out any old papers that may have been left behind by someone else and just cleaning things up in the space that will be my own for a while. 

I started by sliding open the top set of drawers on my right side, expecting to see a dark, empty space inside, but instead I pulled open the first drawer and saw a bunch of papers, a pair of scissors, a magazine called "Think Geek", (which is definitely not my style...maybe this was once the IT department?) and a what appeared to be really peculiar mini notepad. It was triangular in shape, and had "The Ornamental Grass Kit" printed on the cover. 

At first, I had to laugh, because I thought, who would bring an ornamental grass kit to the office? Weird. So I picked it up, turned to a random page inside and read this:

"Growth is a metaphor for your own personal journey, and watching the grass you planted with your own hands mature right before your eyes is a wonderful way to reflect on your own path and life. Use the quotes included in this booklet as a way to focus on your own growth process , and enjoy the light and life this kit brings you. Your journey starts here."

My eyes widened in disbelief and I got instant goosebumps all over my arms and legs. I shook my head, chuckled to myself, and continued to page through this little book. Wouldn't you know that each of its pages featured a different quote about things like serenity, peace and nature? 

So there I sat, paging through this tiny book that was left there for me to find, and found a quote that I wanted to share with you today.

"Serenity is not peace from the storm, but peace within the storm." -Anonymous

I also found it quite ironic that I would stumble across this quote in particular, because this week is Serenity Week at Bliss Habits and I had just submitted a guest post a few days ago to my blogger friend Kathy who runs the site, on what else, but "Finding Serenity". My post will be up at the end of the week, but do check out her site whenever you can because it's great! 

Anyway, I loved this quote because it is absolutely true. We often have a hard time finding serenity because we don't look for it in our daily lives. We look at it as an escape from our daily routines, but I think if we put the effort into finding little pieces of serenity throughout our lives we can find that peace we're always looking for. Remember to find peace within the storm whenever things seem to be getting a bit too hectic. 

Keep Smiling,

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's Happiness Happens Day!

Hello Optimists,

Today I was browsing online on one of my favorite websites and found out it is "Happiness Happens Day"! What a lovely surprise.

According to the article, the "Secret Society of Happy People" who founded this day in 1999, originally called it  "Admit You're Happy Day" with the goal of "spreading the joy of being happy, and to persuade people to look on the brighter side of life".

The Secret Society of Happy People?! First, I thought, why haven't I heard of this society before? Then I thought, why I am a not a part of it? And finally, why is it a "secret" society? My curiosity got the best of me, and I just had to find out more. So, I turned to my friend, Google, and headed over to their website.

But before handing in my membership form, I thought about it for a minute, and I realized that I have my own society of happy people right here on OO! Of course, it's no secret, and in fact, I encourage everyone to share it with their friends, but I think we have our own little group thing goin' on here, right?

After reading through the information on the website for a bit, I remembered a great, yet simplistic quote about happiness that I thought would be perfect for this post:
The purpose of our lives is to be happy. -Dalai Lama
I love this one. It gets straight to the point and leaves out all of that other "stuff" that we tend to pack into our brains about finding our purpose in life. Sure, it may go a bit beyond this, but ultimately, being happy is one of the greatest reasons we have to live.

So, the article I came across highlighted 5 "instant mood boosters", or things to make us happy, and I wanted to share them with you.
  1. Tune out. Think of something that soothes you.
  2. Sing! Singing out loud (not just in your head) can counter some of the ill effects of stress.
  3. Get outside. Studies show that spending time in the great outdoors can boost mood and enhance feelings of pleasure.
  4. Take a bath. Being immersed in warm water not only soothes sore muscles, it also has mood-boosting side effects. 
  5. Laugh out loud. Research shows that laughter releases natural feel-good chemicals from the brain.
I like these...and I am happy to report that I did most of them today and they did make me quite happy! I think I would add a few things to that list, like 
     6. Look through pictures of happy times.
     7. Call a friend.
     8. Sit down, and take three deep breaths. 
     9. Do whatever makes you smile, no matter what other people may think.
    10. Put a "happy plan" into action and map out your strategy for fun!

I could probably go on and on about things to add to the list, but I think I'll stop there and let you fill in the rest. What else would you add to the list of "instant mood boosters"?

Keep Smiling,

Monday, August 1, 2011

2 Signs of Positivity

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

I've had a lot on my mind lately. And not that I've been un-optimistic (certainly not!) but I've just been a bit...uncertain about things.

I should know by now that it is not worth it to worry, because being an Optimal Optimist means that good things will happen if you believe that to be true. Nonetheless, I know that it takes a lot of hard work to keep in the positive mindset all of the time, so to get my mind off of things for a while, I decided to take a trip to visit my sister. I figured I would spend some time with her and her husband, have some fun and get my mind to stop thinking...for just a second at least.

I had just entered the city limits and was still on the highway when the first *positive* sign appeared. I was driving along the highway and noticed a rather cluttered mess of billboards on my right side. I remember thinking that it would probably not be the best spot for an ad, because who has time to look at all of those at once, especially while driving? But, as luck would have it, my eyes focused in on one in particular. It was for a local radio station, and displayed on the top of the billboard was "Positive Hits" followed by "Shine 95.1 FM" on bottom. Hmm, I thought. That's funny.

With that good start for the trip, I knew I was going to have a good time. And we did have a lot of fun - swimming, cooking dinner, talking, watching movies - but I still had a lot weighing on my mind. On Sunday morning, we took her dog for a little stroll around the neighborhood and it was early enough that a lot of the neighbors had yet to bring in their newspaper from the sidewalk. After stepping over a few, I came upon one, folded neatly in half and protected with a clear bag near the tree lawn of a lovely little brick house. I glanced down at it and caught just a few words of a headline that was showing. "Better Days Ahead" was all I could see, but I didn't need to unfold the paper to read the rest. That was good enough for me. I knew exactly what it was about. As we continued on the walk and I came across more papers along the sidewalk, they were all laying on the same side, displaying the same words of optimism that I had encountered a few houses back. What a happy surprise.

We can never really forget about being optimistic or keeping positive thoughts, even when things seem to be everything but positive. I found a great quote that I that would be great to feature for today and I wanted to share it with you....
Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it.  ~Jacques PrĂ©vert
 Good advice, right? I certainly learned this lesson with all of the positive signs that find their way into my life. It's important to never forget about living a happy life even when things seem a bit too chaotic or confusing. Even if you think that happiness has been taken out of your life, don't forget about it. It's still around, and you need to believe that in order for it to be a constant part of each day.

These two signs of positivity certainly helped me out this weekend, and I hope that many more pop up and keep pointing me in the right direction.

What has your latest sign of positivity been? I'd love to hear about them!

Keep Smiling,