Week #179 – Back to Basics: Smile, Wave, Say Hello, and ask “How are you doing?”

(Photo credit: Courtesy of Gina Buongiorno)

Week #179 – Back to Basics: Smile, Wave, Say Hello, and Ask “How are you doing?”

Greetings Tribe…

It’s been another tough week in the news.  Another week that breaks our hearts.  Another week of controversy.  Another week that could pull us together…

…or divide us…

…or maybe both.

It reminded me of a post from Week #124 — just about a year ago.  I was back at the Jersey Shore after six months — almost one year from the time we moved — and, in the middle of it all, a highly controversial news cycle.

And as I re-entered the atmosphere at the Jersey Shore — to the place where Spread Happyness was born and the smiling guy who inspired it all — I was reminded of four basic and simple ways to Spread Happyness:

  1. Wave Big
  2. Smile
  3. Say Hello Like You Mean It
  4. Ask: How are you doing?

These are the things many of us miss most about people.

When the world seems broken beyond fixing…it is easy to arm ourselves in our opinions, and judgments, and decisiveness about what is best.  Do something to connect instead.

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: GET BACK TO BASICS!  It’s very easy in these volatile news cycles to skip the basics and get right into the issues that are top of mind.  And while those issues are valid and important and worthy of discussion — they aren’t always the things that connect us.  (And in some cases, they might actually divide us.)  So as you encounter each other this week, remember to count to four first: smile, wave, say hello, and ask each other “How are you doing?”

Spread Happyness — Get Back to Basics and Connect!

2/16/18 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #178 – “Have a Rob Church Kinda Day!”

“Happy February!” (photo credit: Granny Church)

[Editor’s note: Sunday is Rob’s birthday so this week’s post is a repeat from Week #21 — because it will always be worth repeating: Have a Rob Church Kinda Day!  Miss you daily, bud.]

Week #178 – “Have a Rob Church Kinda Day!”

Sunday, February 11th is Rob’s birthday.  He would have been 44 this year.  And do you remember from Week #21 what I said he would’ve done?

(All together now…)

Whatever he damn well pleased!

Thaaaaat’s right!  I celebrated a lot of birthdays alongside my brother…and there are two things I still know for sure:

  1. He always took the day off from work.
  2. And he always did exactly what he wanted to do!

That didn’t always include seeing family, either.  Some birthdays he spent with other people.  Some he spent by himself.  But on that day above all others…he did whatever made him happy.  And that made those of us who knew and loved him happy, too!

For a lot of people, birthdays are a harsh reminder of getting older, losing steam, or giving up on dreams.  Not Rob…on his 40th birthday in 2014 he was running windsprints at the track and told me he felt in the best shape of his life.  Over and over again, he said he was looking forward to his 40’s.

What a kick in the teeth.

Are you still alive?  Still breathing?  Well this week’s assignment isn’t just for you…it’s for me, too.

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: HAVE A ROB CHURCH KINDA DAY!  If you could do whatever you damn well pleased…what would it be?  Make a list, start a vision board, or fill a jar with ideas to draw at random.  Then, on Sunday, February 11th (or any time this week)…have a “Rob Church Kinda Day!”  You may not be able to take the entire day off…but set aside time to practice identifying (and doing) something ONLY for you!  Something that makes YOU happy.  Something that lets you hear Rob’s voice — or someone else who you know and love — saying “Good for you!”

With family, work, kids, parents, pets, jobs, PTA, churches, charities, and bills to pay…it’s easy to get lost in doing for others.  If you are waiting for the world to give you permission to take time for yourself…get comfortable!  Take permission instead…and practice doing ONE THING that pleases YOU this week!

Spread Happyness…and Have a “Rob Church Kinda Day!”

2/9/18 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #177 – Valentine’s Day is February 14th!  (Read this before buying that expensive gift!)

This year it’s Wednesday, February 14th!!!

Week #177 – Valentine’s Day is February 14th!  (Read this before buying that expensive gift!)

February is here — and I wanted to take a moment for a little public service announcement to remind those of you who will celebrate Valentine’s Day this year:


But before you pull out the credit card to buy that expensive gift — or pick up the phone to make a dinner reservation for 7:30p — take a moment to think about what the Valentine in your life REALLY wants.

I took an informal poll last year — and asked people:
“What is it that you REALLY want for Valentine’s Day — but are afraid to ask for?”

Here are the answers!  (And one thing is for sure: most of them are not purchased at a mall or served in an overbooked restaurant.)

Take heart — and listen to what REAL PEOPLE told me they REALLY wanted for Valentine’s Day:

For Starters
– Words of Affirmation: 
the reality is, most people I asked did NOT respond with a request for a gift or money spent.  They wanted to hear good words from their partners.  You can start the day with a note, a card, or even a text (but PLEASE…don’t follow it up with a request!).
– Affection: from young to old, many people (women particularly), want some physical reassurance that you are their one-and-only.  Hold a hand, give a hug, plant a kiss (but again, don’t follow it up with a request or expectation for more!).
– Surprise at Work: one woman I spoke with initially told me she wanted dinner and dancing — but the confided that she and her husband always do that.  What she really wanted was for him to send flowers to her workplace.  In her words, “we know we exist when someone else thinks of us.”

The Main Course
– Dinner/Movie:
Dinner is a go-to part of Valentine’s Day — but most everyone I talked to didn’t want the hassle of going out.  Much of this depends on where you are in your relationship — but preparing a special meal at home (one young millennial mentioned grilling steaks for his girl) and settling on the couch to watch a movie (he lets her pick) was his plan for February 14th.
– Dinner/Dancing: Still, there are those who look forward to getting gussied up and going out on the town!  As mentioned, if this is you — make your plans early, leave plenty of time, and go all-out!  (And pay cash…you’ll both feel better about it the next day!)
– Gifts: Surprisingly, more men mentioned to me the desire for a gift!  A nice watch, electronics, or sports gear seemed to top the list.  However, more than one woman mentioned cash or a gift certificate to her favorite store or service.  (As far as gifts go, permission to splurge on oneself should not be overlooked!)
– Nature: Whether it’s a long walk, a beach day, a ski-day, or a lazy drive — the quiet of nature is a great place to get out and get connected to one another.
– Get-a-way: If it’s in the budget and wouldn’t cause additional stress — make plans to slip away for a weekend or even just an overnight for a little one-on-one time.  A snowy lodge, a flashy casino, or a quaint B&B might be just what you need to remember what brought you together in the first place!

The Sweet Stuff
– Conversation: 
Both men and women reported wanting to “really talk” with their significant others.  And as one young man said to me: “if I could have anything, I’d just want him listen to me.”
– Cuddling: Sorry guys…but top ‘o the ladies’ lists is a good cuddle!  I know you may not be able to understand it…but the ability of a man to selflessly provide affection can be very erotic!
– Sex: Sorry ladies…but the one thing your guy is really hoping for is that you still dig him.  If you really want to surprise your guy, let him know it!

– Couple’s Challenge: 
One young man I asked told me that he would love for his partner to commit to a challenge with him!  Whether it’s to get in shape, quit a bad habit, build a new one, redecorate that spare office or basement, or plan for a vacation — some couples thrive on encouragement and teamwork!  Working together to achieve a goal can be a great way demonstrate your love and commitment throughout the year!

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: Valentine’s Day is February 14th!  Do you know what the love in your life REALLY wants?  Use this list to jump start the conversation!  Present him/her with a menu of options and have them circle their favorites.  You might even be able to team up to make sure you BOTH get a little of everything you want throughout the day.  The most important thing is to PLAN AHEAD!  Whatever your love wants — don’t leave it until the last minute.  And if it is reservations — please make them now, preferably for BEFORE or AFTER the 7:30p rush!  (And be sure to take care of your servers and bartenders, chances are it’s their Valentine’s Day too.)

Above all: Remember that Valentine’s Day is available every day — not just once a year!

[A big THANK YOU to all the brave souls who let me put them on the spot — and whose honest sharing made this post possible!]

Spread Happyness — PLAN AHEAD!  And share your Valentine’s Day ideas in the comments!

PS: I realize that for some, Valentine’s Day may not be the happiest of holidays this year.  Death, divorce, disagreements, or decline can bring about mixed emotions — or maybe you are just flying solo this year and aren’t happy about it.  If this is you, you are not alone.  Many people report similar feelings.  Their advice?  Seek refuge in the comfort of safe friends, the company of like-minded people, or in the things that you really want for yourself!  Or…throw a Quirky Alone Day party for you and anyone else who wants to celebrate “romance, friendship, and the independent spirit” by putting a heart on all kinds of love: romantic, platonic, familial, and the best love of all…loving yourself!

2/2/18 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #176 – Happyness Re-Visited: 2,000 Smiles and Counting! (with Renee Eisman)

On the way to 3,000! (Used with permission – R. Eisman.)

Week #176 – Happyness in Action Re-Visited: 2,000 Smiles and Counting! (with Renee Eisman)

Greetings Happyness Tribe!

Always thrilled to re-visit a Happyness in Action story — especially when it includes a fresh call to action!

During 2016’s Ten Weeks to Happyness, I shined a spotlight on Hopatcong native Renee Eisman — who is the Mail Program Manager for Bring Smiles to Seniors.  “Bring Smiles” is a non-profit in Odessa, Florida that works with schools and organizations to decorate cards for seniors that are in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and homebound.

Their motto is “One card, one smile at a time.”

Last year (2017) they sent over 18,810 cards.  Renee was responsible for over 2,435 of those!!!  That’s almost 40 cards a week!

(You can see all their 2017 stats on their Facebook page here.)

But last week, the program’s founder Ron Tyson sounded the alarm.  With a new goal of sending 20,000 cards in 2018 — they were running dangerously low on supplies.  Within just a few days, cards started pouring in from all over the country: handmade, store bought, donated, signed and not signed.

So I followed up with Renee to get an update on her story…and find out her personal goal for 2018.  Here’s what I learned…and what you can do to help!

[Visit my original post here to learn more about how Renee got started…or keep reading!]

Renee’s story began about three years ago now — when she first moved to Florida.  “I fell and hit my head two months after relocating.”  Renee suffered a subdural hematoma (bleeding of the brain).  Surgery and recovery followed.  “I never really had the chance to look for work.”

So Renee started mailing cards and letters to friends and family — to pass the time.

“I always sent a lot of mail to friends and family when I moved to Florida.”  And as things go — once you start doing something, you start seeing it in other places.  She saw individual Facebook posts from friends, acquaintances, and other programs requesting cards for seniors, shut-ins, and children with special needs.  So she added them to her list!

“I enjoyed writing and decorating cards…I call it my arts and craft time.”

And then, in the spring of 2016, “I saw a post in my newsfeed from the local TV station in Florida about (Bring Smiles) and ways to help.  I immediately put a package together to send to them.”

Renee started donating supplies (cards and stickers) to Bring Smiles for a few months — and after a while, started chatting with the program’s founder Ron Tyson (a former Jefferson, NJ local).  “I was hoping to go visit nursing homes with them but the timing never seemed to work.”

Renee continued to donate cards and supplies to the program though — all while continuing to grow her own private mailing list.  And then, in June on ’16 — Ron decided to begin a home mailing program.  Renee immediately volunteered to be in charge.

Renee worked up to sending 150/200 cards per month!  Topping 2,000 cards in 2017 alone!

“I was used to working 40-50 hours a week.  It’s good for my mental health to keep busy and have a purpose.”

Bring Smiles operates 100% on donations for all expenses and supplies…and happily, one of Renee’s biggest challenges is keeping her supplies organized!  “It’s a lot to take out all the cards, stickers, stampers, postage, etc.”  But it’s worth it.

And the joy just doesn’t come from SENDING cards.

“The surprises have been receiving cards in return from a few people I send to.”  Of course, there are those moments when cards are returned, or she finds out through posts that one of the seniors — or children — have passed.

That’s how I got involved.  I’d seen Renee’s Facebook posts with photos of all the mail she sends — but a post in late 2016 caught my eye.  It was an email and photo from an 81-year-old man in East Brunswick, NJ — writing to thank HER for the cards!  He wrote:

“As you know, I am 81-years-old and don’t have much to look forward to until these letters started to come in.  Who are these people that would send a card to someone they don’t know? Just to cheer them up.”

Well, Renee was (and still is) one of those people!

What about you?  Are you interested in donating cards, postage, or supplies — or decorating and sending cards by yourself or with your group/organization?  Because BSTS needs your help!

“We are now sending packages of cards and supplies to groups and organizations all over the country to fill out and decorate for us. People can help by sending us blank cards and or supplies, stickers, postage, etc. We love getting cards filled out with Happy messages to distribute to our seniors.”

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: BRING SMILES TO SENIORS!  Visit “Bring Smiles to Seniors” on the Web or on Facebook to find out how you can send supplies or support their mission to send “Happy Mail” to seniors, shut-ins, or children in need.  Look for the pinned post entitled “HOW TO PARTICIPATE” — or reach out to Renee at the contact info below.

Renee told me this year, “Happyness to me is the heartwarming feeling I have from knowing I’m bringing smiles to so many.”

And her goal for this year?  2,700 cards!  How’s she going to do see it through?

“I know that I’m sending a smile and making the difference in someone’s day…that’s what keeps me going.”

Spread Happyness — send a smile!  Send Happy Mail!  And BRING SMILES TO SENIORS!

(And if you or someone you know is hosting their own local charity event or fundraiser that Spreads Happyness directly to those who need it — please let me know!  I’d love to feature them on the blog!)

1/26/18 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

(PS: Special thanks once again to Renee Eisman for taking the time to share her story for my original post and update me this week!  To learn more about Bring Smiles to Seniors, visit them on the web at www.bringsmilestoseniors.com — or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bringsmilestoseniors — or contact Renee directly at bringsmiles@outlook.com.)

Week #175 – Spread Happyness: SEND MAIL!

“Send Mail!” (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #175 – Spread Happyness: SEND MAIL!

Greetings Happyness Tribe!

I’ve spent a good part of last year trying to declutter — and you know what I’ve found?

Notecards.  Lots of notecards.

I’ve always wanted to be that person who sends timely birthday cards, thank you notes, and letters of encouragement.  I just never get around to it…never have a stamp…the right pen…never know which card would be the best card to send…

You know which card is the best card?  The one that’s on your desk right now!

It reminded me of a post I wrote back in October 2016.  I had a half-dozen notes I wanted to send.  One was to someone in late-stage cancer.

Guess what?  It’s still sitting on my desk.  Unfortunately, she is gone.

This week, I want to propose (once again) something that I have been very bad at — but have resolved to do better this year:

Send mail!

I know, I know…there are SO MANY faster ways to connect with someone.  And forget about phone calls and emails…that is so 90’s!  Now we can text, chat, message, comment, reply, tweet, or post!

And that’s only if you still want to use words!

Otherwise you can like, love, gram, snap, pin, or simply emoji your feelings to someone!  You don’t even need the alphabet anymore!

But there is nothing, NOTHING, like walking to the mailbox, opening it, and expecting the usual pile of bills and circulars…only to find a brightly colored envelope with your name in someone else’s familiar handwriting!

It means: someone really thought of you.

He or she spent time formulating a thought, writing something down, looking up your address, finding a stamp, and dropping that envelope in the mail to reach you at an undetermined date — when they won’t have the satisfaction of an immediate response or emotional feedback.

It is a precious, sneaky, fun surprise.  And like I said, I’ve been really bad at it!  So…

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: SEND MAIL!  Chances are your holiday card list is still within easy reach.  Grab it now and update it with important birthdates/anniversaries/events/etc. — and if you’re a nerd like me and have yours in a spreadsheet, just add a birthdate column and sort by date!  The six to eight weeks after the holidays are a blue-sy and isolated time for a lot of people.  Spread Happyness — send a smile to someone’s mailbox today!

Who do you owe a note or card to?  Don’t tell me…tell them!  😉

Spread Happyness — SEND MAIL!  And share your thoughts in the comments (but only AFTER you put a stamp on it)!

1/19/18 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #174 – Spread Happyness: PLAN AHEAD! (And USE those calendars!)

“2018…at a glance!”

Week #174 – Spread Happyness: PLAN AHEAD! (And USE those calendars!)

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Today is Friday, January 12th — have you unwrapped any one of those cutesy calendars you received over the holidays?

Well here is your annual reminder…because we are almost HALF WAY through the first month of the new year!  

I hope by now you’ve had the chance to process and celebrate the year we just completed — and set some new goals or visions for the new year ahead.  (If not, click back to Week #172 and Week #173 for some ideas about how to do that.)

What next?

What do we do with all those goals, dreams, visions, aspirations, and insight?

Plan them!

There’s a lot of discussion about the virtues of paper calendars versus digital calendars.  Digital calendars have great portability and a low profile — but rarely are they in your face.  A password, and then one, two, maybe three clicks — not to mention competition with all those other apps once you’re unlocked.  They just don’t give you much information at a glance — or much time to really plan ahead.

A paper calendar, hanging on the wall by your bathroom sink or on your refrigerator in the kitchen, may not be all that high tech — but it is certainly high-profile.  It also gives you (and whomever you are sharing it with) time to ponder, compare, contribute, discuss, and yes — even plan ahead!

And many people are boosting their outlook by using FULL-YEAR wall calendars to track all the major events, holidays, appointments, and deadlines that are already set by the time we turn the calendar to January 1st — not to mention their personal goals and commitments.

And that makes sense, because it is well-documented that planning ahead is directly related to happiness.  And not only that — scheduling your goals and commitments increases the chances that you will actually follow through with them.

Why not try it?

There is an old proverb: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life.”  (Proverbs 13:13)  Don’t allow your daily or weekly schedule to rob you of the joy of planning ahead!  Start plotting your year today!

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: PLAN AHEAD!  Perhaps someone gave you a cutesy calendar during the holidays — or you grabbed a freebie at your bank or pizza place without really thinking about where or how you’d use it.  I challenge you this week to HANG IT UP!  If you don’t like the pictures, tear out the calendar pages and arrange them in months, quarters — or the entire year at a glance.  Then open your personal daily planners, pull together all those school and activity calendars, queue up Google to search holiday dates — and start plotting your year!

  • Start with the big holidays and three-day weekends, birthdays, and major events (like weddings, graduations, important anniversaries).
  • I also like to mark the solstices/equinoxes, full moons, and time changes.
  • Then move on to some of your goals.  Are you running a marathon?  Writing a book?  Growing a business?  Saving for a house?  Planning a vacation or next year’s holiday travel?  Start plotting your desires on the calendar by asking: where and when will this take place?

Spread Happyness — PLAN AHEAD!  Share your favorite calendar tips — but most important, share your calendars with the ones you love!

1/12/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #173 – Welcome to 2018!!!  (What tracks do you want to make this year?)

“Fresh Snow in OG” (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #173 – Welcome to 2018!!!  (What tracks do you want to make this year?)

Happy New Year, Tribe — and Happy First Friday of 2018!!!

As I mentioned last week, I hope you made some time over the holidays to look back at 2017 and CELEBRATE the things that went right.

And, I hope you have a plan in place to keep track of the good stuff that will come your way in the year ahead.  Because we are on our way!

But if not, don’t despair!  I just returned to LA after a ten-day trip back home to New Jersey — and to a calendar that seems stuck on December 24th!

My apartment is still decorated, there are unsent Christmas cards, and a list of yearly review/planning questions still not answered!

But January is a blank slate…like that fresh blanket of snow on the beach in my photo.  And I intend to take time this week to catch up on my end-of-the-year wrap-up and 2018 prep.

If you’re a little behind — or the holidays left you in the dust (or slush as it is for so many of you right now) — join me this week as I lay the first tracks into 2018!

Here’s a recap of some of my favorite tools:

  • YOUR “ONE WORD” — Three or four years ago I ran across a little red book called The ONE WORD That Will Change Your Life.  The gist is this: while contemplating the year ahead — and working through a few questions (in the PDF on the website: www.getoneword.com) — you come up with ONE WORD that encapsulates what you want the year to mean to you.  Then, you make a plan to keep it front and center to live out daily.  What ONE WORD would you like to make your focus for 2018?
  • David Allen (author of Getting Things Done) offers a series of “Year-End Review” questions on his website that prompt you to “complete and remember” the year behind — and “create” the year ahead.  (The link is from a previous year so just modify the years to 2017/2018.)  You can move through this list quickly with first thoughts — or spend lots of time really unpacking things.  What would you like to create for yourself in 2018?
  • Another favorite is the “Clean Sweep Assessment” — a more mathematical measurement of personal satisfaction in four key areas of our lives: physical environment, personal well-being, money, and relationships.  How do you tally up?
  • And, of course, there is always traditional goal-setting — take a dream and use the “SMART” acronym to break it down into: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound action steps.  Just remember to put a little WHY behind your WHAT — and consider an even SMART-ER approach by adding EMOTION and RESULT to the mix by asking WHY?  (“So that I can FEEL…” and “So that I can achieve/accomplish/acquire/arrive at/accept…etc.”)     
  • And for all you compulsive types trying to build a daily habit — check out Jerry Seinfeld’s excuse-busting “Don’t Break the Chain” method!  It’s not just for writers!

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: What tracks to do you want to make in 2018?  If you haven’t done so already, take some time this week to reflect on the year past — and to think about the year ahead.  What are your goals, dreams, aspirations, and visions?  Where do you want to be next year this time?  What is your WHY?

If you have a favorite reflection or goal-setting tool that you use, please share it with me in the comments or via email.  And if there is some way that I can help you set a goal that will Spread Happyness to you or someone you love in 2018, please let me know that too!

“The future lies before you, like a field of fallen snow: be careful how you tread it, for every step will show.”  (Author Unknown)

Spread Happyness — share your dreams, goals, aspirations, or favorite tools in the comments!

1/5/18 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #172 – Did you “Love Your Life” in 2017? (How’s the view?)

New Year's Eve 2005 (photo credit: Gina Buongiorno)

NYE’05 (photo credit: Gina Buongiorno)

[Editor’s Note: Re-post Alert — because celebrating is never a bad idea!]

Week #172 – Did you “Love Your Life” in 2017? (How’s the view?)

If you answered “no” or “not great”…I want to assure you, once again, that you aren’t alone.

For many people…2017 was another challenging year.  Health issues, death, divorce, job changes, financial problems, stressful news cycles…the list goes on and on.

Believe me…I know how it feels to want to kick an entire year to the curb.

The end of the calendar year seems to be a natural time to look back and reflect on the highs, the lows, what happened, what went wrong, and how we can fix it in the new year ahead.

This is exactly why on January 1st of this past year, I challenged everyone to look forward into 2017 — and start keeping track of the good stuff.

Because it’s hard to love your life when it’s so easy to look back and come up with all the bad things that happened.  We have to, as Rob’s friend Rob Nicholson said in a Facebook post at the end of 2014:

“Keep moving forward and celebrate and revel in what we have!”

So I challenged you at the beginning of this year to, once again, look ahead…WAY ahead.

To December 31st of 2017.

By the way…that’s this weekend!

And I asked — Where do you want to be next year at this time?

Do you remember your answer?  If not, don’t feel bad.  Because I said at that time that I knew one thing for sure — It would take REMINDERS.

If you were one of the ones that kept track of your achievements, high points, and happy moments — please remember to SHARE and CELEBRATE them with the ones you love!

If you didn’t keep track, don’t worry.  Take some time this week to go back through your calendar, your emails, your phone — whatever it takes to come up with enough reminders of all that you accomplished and did right this year!

Because I promise you…you did!  And there is probably a lot to CELEBRATE!

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: CELEBRATE the completion of another year — and another trip around the sun!  SHARE your successes with others — and ENCOURAGE others to do the same!  There will be plenty of time to look ahead and set new goals, focus on new targets, and dream new dreams for the year ahead.  For this weekend — look back, and find things to LOVE about 2017! 

Bonus Challenge: Don’t count on yourself to remember everything about the new year going forward!  Make a plan to curate the wins just as much as the losses so that you have a complete inventory come December 31st of 2018.  Come up with a system for recording your achievements, successes, highlights, and otherwise happy times THROUGHOUT the year!  The most obvious way is to keep a dated list — in a journal, on your computer, via email, or on your phone — where you take time each day to review your activities and take note of anything special or significant.  I keep a running list by date and habitually recount the day’s activities.  To be honest, most days it’s pretty mundane — but the habit assures that when something notable happens I’m going to capture and remember it.  Here are some other ideas from last year’s post:

  • Gratitude Tree — write what you’re grateful for on little shapes and fill an inside tree or wall mural up throughout the year (works in classrooms, too!).
  • Photo-journal — use cell-phone photos in a specific file or on Instagram to keep track of accomplishments.  Or print them out to create a physical album you can flip through.
  • The Joy Jar or Happyness Jar!  The idea is simple: you start on January 1st with an empty jar in a prominent location in your home — and you start dropping notes in it throughout the year about things that went well, things that make you happy, things you’re grateful for, achieved, or accomplished.  At the end of the year you have a personal collection of happy memories to review — or immediate access throughout the year when you need a lift to face a challenge!  One woman even collaged them on a monthly basis as a type of word-cloud to record as a journal.

The possibilities are endless — but the idea is always the same: make it a point to collect the good stuff!  Because we need more of that.  More focus on the wins.  More focus on what’s right.  More focus on loving our lives — so that we can live our lives more fully.

Spread Happyness — love your life, THIS year AND next!  (CELEBRATE and ENCOURAGE others to do the same!)

12/29/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #171 – Two Weeks to Happyness: “Love those to the left and right of you.” (Happyness Re-Revisited – with Sarah Harmeyer and Neighbor’s Table)

Week #171 – Two Weeks to Happyness: “Love those to the left and right of you.”
(Happyness Re-Revisited – with Sarah Harmeyer and Neighbor’s Table)

Greetings Happyness Tribe — and Happy Holidays to all!

We are closing in on the last two Fridays of 2017…and this week, I am reminded once again of the loneliness of the holiday season.

While Jim and I are looking forward to going “home” next week to visit friends and family on the East Coast — at every turn I’m reminded of people who aren’t, who can’t, who just won’t, or who will never be able to do so again.  Whether it’s through death, divorce, dysfunction, deployment, work demands, or just economic or logistical difficulties with traveling — there are millions of people who don’t get to “go home” for the holidays.

Which reminded me of my post last year and the year before about Sarah Harmeyer of Dallas, Texas — for her creation of Neighbor’s Table .  I thought I’d repost it this week, with a simple challenge in Sarah’s own words:

“Make time for someone in your community. Look for ways to love those to the left and right of you.” (Sarah Harmeyer)

If you’ve been following for a while, you may remember that Sarah is the “Chief People Gatherer” at Neighbor’s Table — a movement that encourages people to step outside their homes and get to know their neighbors, one table at a time!  Sarah took a simple concept and a sweet memory — and turned it into “A Love Mission” that has kept her (and her family) busy for over five years now (including landing her table on HGTV’s “Nashville Flipped!”).

And it all started in her own backyard!

In my interview for Week #66, Sarah shared her story with me.  In 2012, she asked her father to build her a table big enough to seat 20 people.  The concept was simple: she wanted to get to know her neighbors.  That year, she set a goal to serve 500 people in a series of dinner parties.  When I interviewed her last year, that original table had been host to almost 2,000 people!

[Read the full story here: Week #66 – Two Weeks to Happyness: SPREAD THE LOVE! (Happyness in Action – with Sarah Harmeyer).]

Sarah and her father went on to build tables for other people so they could start their own “love mission” in their communities.   At the time of my post in 2015, there were Neighbor’s Tables in 10 states with a goal of having a table in every state by 2020!  By the looks of her Facebook page, they have been busy building and delivering ever since!

I asked Sarah what Happyness meant to her.  She said, “Happiness is gathering friends and strangers alike around the table and figuring out ways the entire time on how to love them.  Happiness is cheering others to love.  Happiness is doing the thing that God has made you to do.”

What about you, Happyness Tribe?  Are you ready to Spread the Love again this year?

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: SPREAD THE LOVE!  Do you have an extra seat or two at your table this holiday season?  If so, “love someone to the left or right of you!”  Bring a NEIGHBOR into the mix (or student, or senior, or new kid on the block)!  Ask if they have plans.  It could be just for dessert or a drink or a quick cookie exchange.  But it might be especially meaningful during the holidays — when one or more of your neighbors are alone or distanced from family (or perhaps it’s you that feels alone this holiday season).  Open your doors!  Spread the Love!

“Make time for someone in your community. Look for ways to love those to the left and right of you.” (Sarah Harmeyer)

Spread Happyness — Spread the Love!  Get to know your neighbors this week — and tell me about it in the comments!

12/22/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

(Thanks once again to Sarah Harmeyer for welcoming me to her virtual table and sharing her story with me in 2015!  To learn more about Sarah and Neighbor’s Table, read inspiring stories, or find out how to get a custom handcrafted table for your own backyard — follow Neighbor’s Table on Instagram and Facebook, or sign up for emails or purchase at http://neighborstable.com.)

Week #170 – Three Weeks to Happyness: Thank You, First Responders!

Spread Happyness…Share Freely!

Week #170 – Three Weeks to Happyness: Thank You, First Responders!

Greetings Happyness Tribe!

You know who will be working on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and all throughout the holiday season?

First responders.

Your police department, firehouse, or ambulance squad doesn’t close because it’s a holiday.  They don’t get to lock the door and call it quits for the day.

They are ready and waiting — away from their families and friends — to serve you in case of an emergency.

The wildfires in California have all of us thanking our first responders.  Just this Sunday, my church used the hour in between morning services to write thank you notes to firehouses all across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

I thought that was a great idea!


Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: Thank your first responders!  Last week, we were challenged to thank our mail carriers, delivery drivers, and package handlers.  As you are running your holiday errands this week — be sure to stop by your local firehouse, police station, or ambulance squad and Spread Happyness their way with a goodie bag, some cookies, or a thank you note letting them know you appreciate their being at the ready while you celebrate with your family.  Also, feel free to share the photo above with anyone that you want to say thank you to this week!

(And if you are a first responder — I would love to hear your perspective!)

Spread Happyness — thank your first responders this week!

(And if you or someone you know has a fun way to Spread Happyness this holiday season — please let me know!  I’d love to feature their story of Happyness in Action on the blog!)

12/15/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church