Q&A with Dr. Happy

Today I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Timothy Sharp, better known as Dr. Happy!

Q&A with Dr. Happy

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview him on his thoughts regarding happiness and positive psychology. Below are his answers. Enjoy!

First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

My background is in clinical psychology and specifically, in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. I completed an undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Psychology, then a Clinical Masters Degree and then finally, a PhD. So I started off specialising in stress, depression and misery before I’d even heard about happiness!

I worked in and thoroughly enjoyed my career as a therapist for many years but then when I discovered positive psychology (some time around 1999 or 2000), it was like a life changing epiphany; it was literally as though a light went on and I had to follow the light!

So for the last 15 years I’ve dedicated my life and my work to promoting the principles of positive psychology.

Can you describe positive psychology in a nutshell?

The simple answer is that Positive Psychology is “the science of happiness”. But more accurately, it’s the science of thriving and flourishing because living our best lives involves more than just experiencing positive emotions such as happiness. Positive emotions are very important and valuable but to thrive and flourish, to be our very best, the positive psychology research also points to the importance of engaging fully with our strengths and with the world, building and fostering positive relationships, creating meaning and purpose in all we do, and setting and working towards meaningful goals for us and those around us. In addition, it’s important to take care of our physical health by eating well, exercising and ensuring adequate sleep and rest.

What originally got you interested in happiness as a subject?

Like most people it was always something I was interested in but as a clinical psychologist it just wasn’t, unfortunately, something we focused much on. Thankfully, positive psychology came along and set out to redress the imbalance. In some ways what Positive Psychology was saying is that for too long we’ve focused on what’s wrong with people and with life but what if we were to focus on what’s right? Accordingly, I began to focus much more on strengths and successes and happiness and gratitude rather than just faults and weaknesses and distress and problems.

Are there certain habits that you think are essential for maintaining happiness?

For sure. At The Happiness Institute we advocate that happiness is something you choose; check out our core model here.

Consistent with this there’s much research to support the following happiness boosting behaviours. You can find those here.

Can you tell us about The Happiness Institute that you founded and what goes on there?

The Happiness Institute is a positive psychology practice; that is, we deliver a range of services and produce a range of products all designed to enhance happiness and wellbeing in individuals, couples, families, organisations/businesses/teams and even schools. We do this via, for example, coaching, small group programs, workshops and seminars (as well as by giving away and selling self-help products based on empirically proven methods).

If you had to give one piece of advice for living a happy life, what would it be?

 I’m always reluctant to say that there’s “one” answer; because there’s not. And even if there were one answer for me it would be different for you and every other person out there. Instead, I recommend people CHOOSE to be happy and then develop their own unique “recipe” that works for them. That being said, I very much encourage people to remember that happiness isn’t just feeling good, it’s also doing good so don’t ever forget that other people matter!

Be the reason someone smiles today

What is your favorite quote about happiness?

 Achieving happiness requires nothing more than practising a few simple disciplines each and every day.

Happy Quote

A huge thank you to Dr. Happy for the interview! You can find out more on Dr. Happy here and learn more about the Happiness Institute here.

Question of the day: Have you ever heard of positive psychology? What do you think about it?

5 Outdoor Games You’ll Want to Add to Your Backyard This Summer

Recently I was able to go on a fun vacation that I like to call “adult summer camp” and tried all kinds of fun new classes and activities. While I was there, I discovered how much I love archery! Who knew? I came home and the first thing I wanted to do was add an archery range to my backyard. Then I thought about some other fun outdoor games to add to the backyard for summer (and the 4th of July!). Here’s my backyard games bucket list:

1) Backyard Archery (Just make sure you know what you’re doing…Safety first!) -

Backyard ArcheryThat’s me :)

Backyard ArcheryGet the DIY tutorial here.

2) Life-size Connect 4 -

DIY Connect 4Get the DIY tutorial here.

3) Giant Outdoor Twister -

Outdoor TwisterGet the DIY tutorial here.

4) Outdoor Scrabble -

Outdoor ScrabbleGet the DIY tutorial here.

5) Backyard Bowling -

Outdoor BowlingI’m not exactly sure how to build this, but you can read more here.

Would you add any of these to your backyard? What is your favorite outdoor game?

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5 Ways to Get Yourself Out of a Funk

It’s normal to be in a bad mood every now and then. You may even feel like you want to hide like this kitten at times:

5 Ways to Get Yourself Out of A Funk

But if you notice that you aren’t snapping out of your funk for a few days, try these 5 tips to shake your bad mood:

1) Journal

5 Ways to Get Yourself Out of a Funk

Writing down your thoughts is a great way to let go of something you’ve been holding onto. Another one of my favorite things to do is to write down 3 things I’m grateful for. If you don’t want to write them down, just think about them. It’s surprising how effective it can be!

2) Watch something that will make you laugh

Laughter reduces stress and releases endorphins into our body.

3) Hang out with a friend

5 Ways to Get Yourself Out of a Funk

Spend some quality time with a friend. Bonus: Give them a bear hug! Hugging someone releases oxytocin (also known as “the cuddle hormone”), making us feel better.

4) Go for a walk

5 Ways to Get Yourself Out of a Funk

Researchers at Cal State Long Beach found that there was a clear and strong relationship between the number of steps people took and their overall mood and energy level. 

5) Lend a helping hand

5 Ways to Get Yourself Out of a FunkPhotography by Jack Bates

Help someone out or pay them a compliment. It’s helpful to take the focus off of yourself so you can get some perspective.

What do you normally do to get yourself out of a funk? Let me know in the comments!

5 (More) Happiness Movements You Need to Know About

Last year I posted about a few Happiness Movements I was loving at the time, so I thought it would be fun to make an updated list because there are so many amazing ones out there! Here we go:

1) The Chalk Project

5 Happiness Movements You Should Know about - Chalk ProjectSource


I stumbled upon Chalk Project on Instagram and have been a fan ever since. Their purpose is to spread messages of kindness and inspiration. They “create uplifting messages with chalk on neighborhood sidewalks, with hopes that this anonymous message will collide with the person that needs it most.”

Learn more about Chalk Project here: http://www.chalkproject.com/ Continue reading

5 of the Sweetest Mom Quotes in Honor of Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms – You rock! And a very special Happy Mother’s Day shout out to my mom (I know you’re reading this)!

Here are a few other my favorite quotes about moms in honor of Mother’s Day:

#1: “Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.” - Harriet Beecher Stowe

Most Mother's are Instinctive Philosophers - Mother's Day Quotes

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10 Quotes That Will Help You Stop Worrying

Worrying. We all do it to some extent. While I think some of us are wired to worry more than others, all of us need a reminder every now and then to stop our monkey mind and not be so concerned about a potential outcome.

Worrying actually has negative physical effects on the body. If we excessively worry, our bodies release stress hormones which can cause us to have headaches, muscle tension, shortness of breath, and nausea. (source) Those reactions are definitely not helping us solve our problems!

Here are 10 quotes that will help you stop worrying:

1. Think Less. Live More.

Think Less. Live More.

Worry Quote #1: Think Less. Live More.

 

2. Things have a way of working out.

Things have a way of working out

Worry Quote #2: Things have a way of working out

 

3. Don’t fill your head with worries. There won’t be any room for anything else!

Don't fill your head with worries

Worry Quote #3: Don’t fill your head with worries. There won’t be any room for anything else!

 

4. It’s gonna be OK.

It's gonna be OK.

Worry Quote #4: It’s gonna be OK.

 

5. Worrying is stupid. It’s like walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain.

Worrying is stupid.

Worry Quote #5: Worrying is stupid. It’s like walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain.

 

6.  The biggest mistake you could ever make is being too afraid to make one.

The biggest mistake you could ever make is being too afraid to make one

Worry Quote #6: The biggest mistake you could ever make is being too afraid to make one

 

7. Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good.

Worrying won't stop the bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good

Worry Quote #7: Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good.

 

8. Worry is a misuse of your imagination.

Worry is a misuse of your imagination

Worry Quote #8: Worry is a misuse of your imagination

 

9.  Stop being afraid of what could do wrong and think of what could go right.

Stop being afraid of what could do wrong and think of what could go right.

Worry Quote #9: Stop being afraid of what could do wrong and think of what could go right.

 

10. Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength.

Worry Quote #10: Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength

Worry Quote #10: Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength

 

What do you catch yourself worrying about? Which quote do you relate to the most? What do you do to calm your mind? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Happy Weekend Pics

Hope you had a beautiful weekend! Here are a few snapshots from mine.

SurfingEnough work. Time to play.

 

Succulent Pallet GardenPallet succulent garden we made from an old pallet.

 

Beach TimeBeach fun.

 

Beach LifeBilly checking the waves – “Look at those lefts!”

 

San Diego The beach down the street from us.

 

Street FairHuge pieces of art at the Little Italy Art Fair.

 

Home Sweet HomeBought a cute “home sweet home” sign with a heart over San Diego. Now I just need to decide where to hang it!

 

Living WallCouldn’t pass up the living wall photo op.

What did you do this weekend? Did you have time to hang out with friends and family?

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Tips for a Great Morning, Every Morning

What are some of the first things you do each morning when you wake up? Recently, I’ve been really conscious of what I choose to do when I open my eyes in the morning.

I go through phases of reaching for my phone on my bedside table to see the time and then getting sucked into reading work email and checking social media while still in bed. Since I’m a social media manager, I look at the Twitter and Facebook accounts that I manage at work and then check my own personal ones. Sometimes I would center myself with some morning mantras or meditate, but it wasn’t a daily routine.

Three weeks ago I made a rule for myself that I would leave my phone in the other room and commit to some new morning rituals. Note: I am a fairly early-riser so I have about an hour of extra time before I need to get ready for work in the morning.

Tips for a great morning, every morning

Here are the rituals I try to do each morning. I get to about 5 of the 6 each day.

1. Think of 3 things I’m grateful for.

 

2. Meditate

Morning Ritual - MeditateSource

3. Read a few pages of a book. Right now I’m reading The Power of Self-Healing by Dr. Fabrizio Mancini.

Morning Rituals

4. Do some stretching exercises/yoga.

Morning RitualPhoto of me and Billy at the Wanderlust Festival

5. Go for a morning walk around my neighborhood (and sometimes down to the beach!).

Morning Rituals

 6. Eat breakfast

Morning Rituals

What does your morning routine consist of? Let me know in the comments!

Your Happiness News for the Week

Happy Saturday, friends! I thought it would be fun to do a round-up of all the best articles about happiness that were published in the last week. Enjoy!

1) 12 Ways To Be Happier At Work In Less Than 10 Minutes

In this article, Sharon Salzberg breaks down the key to workplace happiness. One of my favorite suggestions is to find ways to “break down the momentum” of the day. Read more here.

2) 43 Of The Happiest Little Kids In The Whole Wide World

Happiest KidsSource

The cutest and happiest kids you’ll ever see. You are guaranteed to smile while browsing through these photos. See them here.

3) 9 Ridiculously Simple Ways To Feel Happier Today


9 Simple Ways to Feel Happier Today

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California Riverside, suggests simple things to do to increase your happiness. A few recommendations including smiling, expressing gratitude, and walking outside. Read more here.

4) Spend Your Money on THIS to Be Happier

Spend money on THIS to be HappierSource

A new study found that while Americans tend to believe that material goods provide better value, buying “life experiences” actually makes Americans happier than buying material possessions. Read more here.

5) Discover a kingdom where happiness rules

Bhutan- Happiest Place on EarthSource

A look inside Bhutan, where “Gross National Happiness is more important than “Gross National Product”. I especially enjoyed this excerpt from the article: “The concept is evident in the day-to-day life of the people, from the regular meditation and reflective gardening that’s built into the school curriculum, to the charming road signs that line the main roads. These run the gamut from encouraging (“Life is a journey! Complete it!”) to paternal (“This is a highway, not a runway!”). Even the graffiti is upbeat: In Thimpu, I read a white scrawl that read, ‘Life is not a race.’” Read more here.

Have some happy news to share? Leave a comment below!

P.S. Get daily inspiration at http://www.instagram.com/happsters.

15 Random Acts of Kindness That Take Less Than 5 Minutes

I hope everyone is having a wonderful 2014 so far! I wanted to share with you some simple random acts of kindness that everyone has time for. All of the suggestions below take less than 5 minutes! I hope to knock these all out in less than a week. Are you with me?

15 Random acts of kindness

Are you going to do any of these random acts of kindness? Do you have another random act of kindness that isn’t on the list? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Receive an email each Friday featuring something to make you smile as you go into the weekend here: http://tinyurl.com/heyheyfriday