Mindful Spotlight

March - Happiness

Happiness has been linked to increased activity in the brain's left prefrontal lobe, as well as a decreased amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream. Cortisol is an important part of the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response, however in our current high–stress environment our body’s stress response is activated so often that our bodies don’t always have time to return to normal. Once we experience happiness, we feel its physical effects. Laughing produces endorphins, leading to more positive feelings. And when we're happy, we're probably less stressed, so we're not affected by all of the damage stress and cortisol can do to our bodies and minds. So take an opportunity to ‘look for things in your life to generate happiness’ it makes a difference!

  • "Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open."

    ~ John Barrymore

  • "Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions."

    ~ Dalai Lama

  • “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

    ~ Abraham Lincoln

  • "Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”

    ~ Helen Keller

  • "Happiness doesn't depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude."

    ~ Dale Carnegie

  • "Happiness is an inside job."

    ~ William Arthur Ward

  • "Happiness is itself a kind of gratitude."

    ~ Joseph Wood Krutch

  • "Happiness comes only when we push our brains and hearts to the farthest reaches of which we are capable."

    ~ Leo Rosten

  • "Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end."

    ~ Scott Adams

  • "Happiness is mostly a by-product of doing what makes us feel fulfilled."

    ~ Benjamin Spock




Books

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The Science of Happiness: How Our Brains Make Us Happy-and What We Can Do to Get Happier by Stefan Klein

Clinical psychologists have been dealing with miserable feelings since their discipline was established. In the last 30 years, neuroscientists have made major headway in the understanding of the sources of anger, depression, and fear. Today, whole industries profit from this knowledge—producing pills for every sort of pathological mood disturbance. But until recently, few neuroscientists focused on the subject of happiness. Now, in The Science of Happiness, leading German science journalist Stefan Klein ranges widely across the latest frontiers of neuroscience and neuropsychology to explain how happiness is fostered in our brains and what biological purpose it serves (and, importantly, how we can control our negative feelings and emotions).

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

In his widely praised book, award-winning psychologist Jonathan Haidt examines the world's philosophical wisdom through the lens of psychological science, showing how a deeper understanding of enduring maxims-like Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, or What doesn't kill you makes you stronger-can enrich and even transform our lives.

The Happiness Habit: Choose the Path to a Better Life by Brian Colbert

A key element to finding happiness is understanding what your (often unconscious) basic drives are and ensuring that these are being satisfied. Brian Colbert addresses the core questions that will help you discover who you really are. In this book he will teach you how to get past what's stopping you from reaching your true potential and how to bring about lasting happiness into your life. Many of us think that in order to change, we need therapy. This is not always the case - you may just need this book. Using a series of powerful mind exercises, The Happiness Habit shows you: how to improve your relationship with yourself (and others), how to build your confidence and stay positive, how to face adversity and overcome challenges, how to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink? Why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight? Why do dining companions insist on ordering different meals instead of getting what they really want? Why do pigeons seem to have such excellent aim; why can’t we remember one song while listening to another; and why does the line at the grocery store always slow down the moment we join it?In this brilliant, witty, and accessible book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions.

The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living by Dalai Lama

Nearly every time you see him, he's laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He's the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and a hugely sought-after speaker and statesman. Why is he so popular? Even after spending only a few minutes in his presence you can't help feeling happier.

Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill by Matthieu Ricard

A Buddhist monk and former cell biologist, Ricard offers his own musings about the nature of happiness and tips on how to attain it in his sometimes tedious, sometimes dynamic guide. Happiness, for Ricard, cannot be found in fleeting experiences of pleasure—the joy of a sunny day, the refreshing taste of an ice cream cone, the ecstasy of sex—but only in the depths of an individual's being. Happiness is not self-interested, but rather compassionate, seeking the well-being of others. If we are truly happy, writes Ricard, we can change the world because of our compassion for others and our desire to end hatred and bring happiness even to those we don't like.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project. In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin

In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. How can she control the cubicle in her pocket? How might she spotlight her family’s treasured possessions? And it really was time to replace that dud toaster. Rubin dedicated a school year—September through May—to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort, and love.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough," and to go to bed at night thinking, "Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging."

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin E. P. Seligman

According to esteemed psychologist and bestselling author Martin Seligman, happiness is not the result of good genes or luck. Real, lasting happiness comes from focusing on one’s personal strengths rather than weaknesses—and working with them to improve all aspects of one’s life. Using practical exercises, brief tests, and a dynamic website program, Seligman shows readers how to identify their highest virtues and use them in ways they haven’t yet considered. Accessible and proven, Authentic Happiness is the most powerful work of popular psychology in years.

Happiness Books for Children

Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children by by Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin

This award-winning prequel to Have You Filled a Bucket Today? is the perfect gift for anyone with little ones they love. When children have their buckets filled and learn how they can fill other people's buckets too, they understand how special, valuable, and capable they are.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud

Through simple prose and vivid illustrations, this heartwarming book encourages positive behavior as children see how rewarding it is to express daily kindness, appreciation, and love. Bucket filling and dipping are effective metaphors for understanding the effects of our actions and words on the well being of others and ourselves.

The Gift of Happiness (A Children's Picture Book) by Michael Yu

Felix’ grandfather explains why the happy people make Felix feel good, while the others leave him feeling bad — and how Felix himself is affecting others, whether he means to or not. This beautifully illustrated adaptation takes the original book’s powerful message — that the way we relate to others has a profound effect on every aspect of our lives — and tailors it to a child’s unique needs and level of understanding.

Kindness to Share from a to Z Happiness is a Watermelon on Your Head by by Daniel Hahn

Beautiful and insane in equal measure, this wacky book follows three local busybodies on their journey to discover the secret of true happiness.

Videos/Research


The Happpiness Advantage

Hard Wiring Happiness

Dan Gilbert - The Surprising Science of Happiness

the Neuroscience of Happiness

Brainwaves and Positive Affirmations

The Economics of Happiness

Fred Luskin - The Science of Happiness

Nancy Etcoff - The Pursuit of Happiness

Christine Carter - Greater Good Science Center