Monthly Archives: January 2016

Week #72 – Back to Basics: “Hey, how ya’ doing?”

"How ya' doing?" (photo credit: Grace Church)

“How ya’ doing?” (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #72 – Back to Basics: “Hey, how ya’ doing?”

Back at Week #13, I wrote about this phrase — written on a strip of paper on the “Words to Remember Me By…” board at Rob’s services.  It’s a question we hear in passing every single day (How are ya?  How ya’ doing?) — but how many people really intend to get an answer?

As many of you remember, when Rob asked you this question — he wanted to know the answer.  And he was prepared to take the time to get it.  He wasn’t afraid of an honest answer either.  In fact, he seemed to delight in it!  I’d venture a guess that much of the happyness in our individual relationships with him was built on this kind of ease and honesty.  It is one of the things I know many of us miss.

SpreadHappyness was born with the mission to look at the little ways our beloved friend/brother/mate/partner brought happiness to people’s lives — and challenge ourselves to carry this light forward to others each week.  This past month, we’ve revisited some of the basics…and reflected on some of the little things that really meant the most:

1. Smile
2. Wave Big
3. Say Hello Like You Mean It
4. “Hey, how ya’ doing?”

January has been a busy month for everyone — back on schedule, back to work, back to school.  As we move forward into 2016, please remember (and I need to, also!) that happiness is not an accident.  It’s a choice.  We CAN create Happyness…one week, and one interaction, at a time!

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: How are YOU doing?  Pick someone (or maybe try everyone) and ask sincerely: “Hey, how ya’ doing?”  Be prepared to spend a little time listening to an honest answer…and be ready to offer words of encouragement whether it’s good news or bad news.  This includes being excited/enthusiastic/encouraging to someone who is starting something new — or being patient/understanding/steadfast toward someone who is struggling.  One great answer to either scenario is simply: “I believe in you!” (and mean it!)

And so, let me ask you…How are you doing?  Is there anything I can do to help or encourage or celebrate with you?  Because…and this is true…I believe in you!

Spread Happyness this week…and tell us how you are doing in the comments!

1/29/16 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #71 – Back to Basics: Say Hello Like You Mean It!


Hello! (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #71 – Back to Basics: Say Hello Like You Mean It!

Back at Week #2, I wrote about Rob’s enthusiastic greeting:  “After his initial big wave, one of the things most people remember about Rob is his greeting: whether it was a flat and long “Heeeeeeey Grace!”, or a squeaky and high pitched “Neeeeeena!” when encountering our little guest dog, or a nonsensical “Jimmy-Jimmy-Two-by-Four” in a random five-second voicemail.  Rob had a unique and enthusiastic greeting for each and every person he met.”

Coming up on a year and half later…my brother’s voice still puts a smile on my face!  Pictures can be copied and shared, personal items can be cherished, and an old leather belt or keychain can hold a whiff of his cologne.  But his voice on the phone, saying hello, is even more unique than his fingerprint.

It is…eternal!

Dale Carnegie is credited with the following advice: “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

How do you say “Hello?”

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: Say HELLO like you mean it!  Consciously greet everyone with your own signature how-are-ya.  I know people with a distinct “Hey!”, or “Wassup?”, or even a “Yoooooo-Hooooo!”  Personally, I tend to make up nicknames for people as a sign of my affection.  If you can’t think of something — borrow one of Rob’s, try something on for size, or make up one of your own!  But whenever possible — use someone’s NAME!

Remember, YOUR voice carries the sweetest sound in the world!  Say HELLO like you mean it!

Spread Happyness…and say hello in the comments!

1/22/16 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #70 – Back to Basics: WAVE BIG!

Fun at the Clubhouse!  (photo credit: Grace Church)

Fun at the clubhouse! (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #70 – Back to Basics: WAVE BIG!

Greetings Tribe — and Happy Friday!

This month we are getting back to basics.  Last week, we remembered to SMILE (even when our hearts are breaking)!

This week, I want to go back to the very first thing I wrote about on Week #1:

There are still so many things I miss about Rob — but one of the things I continue to miss the most is his big wave hello.  Do you know the one I’m talking about?  You could see it from a mile away.  I could often spot him from my porch — or from the ocean, or from the pier — just by his silhouette.  And then, each and every time, that long right arm would swing out to the side and up overhead and he’d raise his big right paw in the air.  I have looked for that wave since he disappeared from the beach in 2014 — and I know it will be the first thing I see when I meet him again!

There is nothing like the recognition an enthusiastic wave conveys.  Most people give a small little raise of the hand that hardly gets noticed.  I’m talking about something someone can see from a distance!

“I see you!”
“I’m happy to be here!”
“I’m happy to see you!”

My mother (I can pick on her because she’s not on the internet!) enthusiastically greets everyone by waving both hands in the air like she about to leave port (my partner Jim calls this the “Titanic wave”).  My sister waves her hands wildly — as if her big mop of blonde hair wasn’t enough to get your attention! (Hi Vickey!)

What about you?  

Do you have a signature wave?  

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: WAVE BIG!!!  You’ll have so many opportunities to greet people this week.  When you do, wave like you mean it!  Popular statistics teach us that body language accounts for 55% of our communication with each other.  Even from a distance, the first opportunity to communicate is your wave!  Don’t just let someone know you see them…WAVE BIG, and let them know you are HAPPY to see them!

Spread Happyness — WAVE BIG and let someone know you are happy to see them!

1/14/16 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #69 – Back to Basics: SMILE!

"Smile!" (photo credit: Grace Church)

“Smile!” (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #69 – Back to Basics: SMILE!

Greetings, Happyness Tribe — I hope your new year is off to a great start!

After the busyness of the holiday season — shopping, visiting, celebrating, reflecting, and planning — the quiet and cold routine of January is always a favorite time of year for getting back to basics.

I know for myself that after weeks of pressing forward to December 31st — moving from one thing to another and despite my own better judgment — I looked up and realized:

I hadn’t been smiling! (What about you?)

People often comment on my ability to smile regardless of the circumstances.  And as I looked back through my Facebook “year in review”, indeed I saw my own face smiling back at me.  But in my eyes I saw the truth of year-one:

I was smiling, even though my heart was breaking.

It brought me back to my thoughts on Week #8: “Smiling is a habit…nearly a reflex.  It’s something you practice before it becomes automatic, kind of like a killer karate move.  You don’t wait to learn those moves in a crucial situation…you practice them over and over again beforehand.”

And still, the more I thought about it…the more I remembered that smiling is complicated business: If we smile regardless of the circumstances, then we’re not being true to our grumpiest selves.  But if we are true to our grumpiest selves, then we’re sure never to smile!

So which comes first…the smile or the happyness?

I pondered this as I ran from commitment to commitment, squeezing in errands, burning the midnight oil, and still dealing with the grief of year-two.  Here I was, sitting on 68 weeks of blogposts about Happyness — and I was finding it harder and harder to muster a smile.

As I struggled through New Year’s Eve, I heard the song “Smile”, which brought me back again to Week #8 — and the permission to “Smile, though your heart is aching.”

The scene from the movie Chaplin replayed in my mind.  Charlie’s just been given heartbreaking news about a long lost love.  He buckles under the sadness.  Meanwhile, his fans eagerly wait to greet him.  Seeing the crowd and Charlie’s state, his friend asks him, “What are we gonna do, Charlie?”  Chaplin pulls himself together and bravely responds: “Smile.”  With that, they head out into a sea of admirers.  Charlie’s fans expect him to make them smile…and that, in return, is what makes Charlie smile.

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: Get back to basics — and SMILE!  In the flurry of getting your year off on the right foot — back to work, back to fitness, back to diets, goals, vacations, resolutions, savings — whatever you are planning, remember to take a look in the mirror once and while and SMILE!  Better yet — challenge yourself to a week, a month, or a year worth of smiles!  Not for others — but for yourself!

Make smiling a choice whether you are happy or not  — and you may just find that whether you are happy or not, you are smiling anyway!  😉

Spread Happyness — SMILE!  And share your experience (or face) in the comments!

1/8/16 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #68 – One Surefire Way to “Love Your Life” in 2016!

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

NYE’05 (photo credit: Gina Buongiorno)

[Editor’s Note: this is a partial re-post from Week #16 — because celebrating is never a bad idea!]

Week #68 – One Surefire Way to “Love Your Life” in 2016!

New Year’s is a natural time to look back over the past year and reflect on the highs, the lows, what happened, what went wrong, and how we can fix it in the new year ahead.

But 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.  At the end of 2014 — while looking back on all that transpired — I forgot about starting this website and blogging for the first time (something I had been wanting to do for years!).  Those two wins got eclipsed (momentarily) by one very significant loss.  It’s easy to get stuck on the losses…but we have to balance them with what we’ve gained.  We have to, as our friend Rob Nicholson said in a Facebook post last year:

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

So I challenged you last year to look ahead…WAY ahead.  To December 31st of 2015.  And I asked you — What will it take to say on that day, “I love my life?”

Do you remember?  If not, don’t feel bad.  I said at that time that I knew one thing for sure:

It will take REMINDERS!

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: Were you one of the ones that kept track of your achievements, high points, and happy moments?  If not — don’t worry.  Go back through your calendar, your emails, your phone — whatever it takes to come up with enough reminders of all you accomplished and did right this year!  And either way — CELEBRATE the completion of another year, another trip around the sun!  SHARE your successes with others — and ENCOURAGE others to live a life they LOVE in 2016!

Bonus Challenge: Don’t count on yourself to remember everything about the year ahead come December 31st next year.  Make a plan to curate the wins just as much as the losses.  Come up with a system for recording your achievements, successes, highlights, and otherwise happy times THROUGHOUT the year ahead!  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:

  • I’ve seen a 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!).
  • I heard of photo-journaling — use cell-phone photos in a specific file or on Instagram to keep track of accomplishments.
  • But my favorite has been the Joy Jar or Happiness Jar!  The idea is simple: you start on January 1st (okay, 2nd) 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 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 — share your thoughts or suggestions for tracking your accomplishments in the comments!

1/1/16 by Grace Church
© Grace Church