Enjoy Parenting More!

We all should just enjoy parenting more… Now, I know that this is easier said than done, especially since we parents are under constant stress, deadlines, and potential consequences if we fail. The pressure many of us parents are under would break most ordinary people. However, we are not ordinary people. We are parents! We may bend, but we don’t break, right? Not only don’t we break, but beginning right now we are going to start to enjoy parenting more, no matter what other people have to say.

We have all heard how stress kills, right? I think that we can all agree that it’s unhealthy always to be stressed. It might even be harmful to our kids. Believe it, or not our kids can read our body language. Hence, subconsciously, our children’s mirror neuron system constantly activates, and they unknowingly mirror or reflect back our emotional state in their emotional state. So, if we’re stressed, they are probably going to be stressed, too. When we are relaxed, so are they…

A strategy to a life of less stress is to choose to live in the precious present consciously. Choose to be present in each moment. Choose to enjoy each moment for what it is because we’ll never get that exact moment back again. Life is made up of a bunch of tiny precious moments that flow in and out of our lives. We have the capacity to focus on each moment and find something to enjoy about it. These precious moments will eventually all add up to form a pretty good life as a parent if we let it. But, first, we need to turn down the volume on stress and worry and turn up the volume on gratefulness and appreciation within each moment of our lives.

Now, as my Granddaddy always said, “Go learn, lead, and lay the way to a better world for all of us.” We can, and should, enjoy parenting more. So, just decide to do it! And once again, thanks in advance parents for all that you do, and all that you will do…

The Family Orange

I love looking at the fresh produce at the grocery store. Often I have been enticed by large, beautiful oranges and then am disappointed to find that what I have purchased is mostly peel! You can’t eat the peel but it does serve to protect the fruit that lives inside of it. Sometimes it is juicy and nutritious. Sometimes it is small or rotten.

Families can be like oranges. Each of us was raised in an environment surrounded by boundaries or peels that separate us from the world. Often, the thicker the peel, the more dysfunction in the family unit. I don’t really like the word dysfunction but, if broken down, it means “dys” or disease of the way that the family operates or “functions”.

When there are problems within the family unit such as addictions or incest, thick boundaries prevent the outside world from interfering. Those who are inside the orange are sometimes taught not to feel or talk about problems and that everything outside the peel is the enemy. In some cultures or families, those who leave the inside are shunned.

When two people start a new relationship, they bring what they know from their family orange with them. It is their “normal” and often they don’t talk about things that they have accepted from infancy and don’t understand what went on in the other person’s orange. If their experiences were healthy and happy, they might want to drag the other person into their family orange. If they were unhealthy and unhappy, they might view the new relationship as an escape.

Special events such as Christmas can cause friction in families, especially when those in the original oranges think that new partners need to become part of their orange. I have seen clients dread the holidays as they feel they are expected (or demanded) to attend several meals, honour traditions that are unfamiliar and satisfy others without question. Adults can be expected to sleep on the floor with their children rather than book a hotel room just because “someone” thinks they need to all wake up in the same location on December 25th. Some people are harassed if they are unable to unwilling to drive hours and hours for a planned celebration.

One of the most difficult but important things for a new relationship is for them to create their own orange which honours their shared values. This requires good communications and healthy boundaries. The peel needs to be thick enough to protect their relationship (and children if there are any) while being thin enough to allow interaction with the rest of the world. New traditions can be made and rather than have extended family members dictate what will happen, the couple will make joint decisions that they can both stand for.

Now that we are on the threshold of the Christmas season, it is time to consider all of those involved. Just because you have always done things a certain way doesn’t mean that this will or should continue. Would you rather have it “your way” and cause strife or will you consider that time changes things and others have needs to be considered?

Take out a pen and paper right now. Draw circles to represent the “oranges” of different family members who you care about. Make sure that you draw a separate circle for each single adult and each partnership rather than trying to drag them into your circle. Achieving peace on earth this Christmas begins with your efforts to honour the needs of those on the page.

When Should You Start a Family?

Many women wonder when it will be the best time to start a family. The truth is, you really cannot just pick an age and determine that it is the best age. This is just simply not the case. There are many different factors that go into deciding when it will be the best time to get started having children. This is something that will vary from one woman to another. Sure, there are ideal ages, but none of them are going to be accurate for everyone out there. This is because so many people have different ideas of what will make them ready to be a parent. These are all important and valid things to consider.

There are many different arguments that say that people should start having children in their early adulthoodlet’s say around the twenties. Well, the people that say this do have valid points, but it is simply not going to give you a textbook answer to the question. Most people that say that starting a family at this age is a great idea will give reasons such as the fact that they will be younger and be able to keep up with the children. They also feel that they will have a lot more energy and will be able to handle dealing with a newborn baby. Then you also consider that by the time they are in their late teens and early twenties, you will still have some youth left and be able to live a little. These are all things that people consider when having children in their twenties.

Then you have the people that think that the thirties are the best years to start a family. For these people, they also have a valid argument on their hands. They say that by the time they are in their thirties they will be more secured in their careers and be better able to support the family financially. They also feel that they will have more worldly knowledge and be able to better raise the children. Following the knowledge is patience, which is gained in time. These are all great reasons that they choose to wait until they are in their thirties.

Well, then you have to look at it from an overall perspective as well as a scientific perspective. For men, it does not really matter scientifically. They continue to be able to reproduce far into their older life. This is just a fact of life and nature, and how the human body works. For women, it is a different story. Women do have a biological clock that is ticking. This is because they only have a particular number of eggs in their ovaries. When these are gone, then her chances of being able to get pregnant and have a baby will be over. This is not something that you should really worry about that much though. Worrying over something that does not usually happen until mid forties to early fifties is just not practical. By this time, most women would not dream of starting a family. They are at this point looking to settle down and enjoy life – whether they are alone or with a partner.

When you look at the overall points of view, you will need to just consider your individual situation. Do you see yourself ready and able to have a baby? Are you ready to be up at night with a newborn? Are you responsible? Do you have a partner that will help you with the baby? Do you feel that you will need one if you do not? All of these are answers that people may only be able to answer for themselves. It is for this reason that no one can give you a definitive answer on when the best time to start a family is.

As you can see – determining when to start a family is entirely up to you and your spouse, or partner. Letting someone else decide for you, or getting an invalid textbook answer is simply not practical. Take the time to make sure that you are ready before you get started in the baby making process.

6 Great Ways to Celebrate the Family Day

If you want to make your family day a great day this year, make sure you plan some activities that can help you achieve this goal. Given below are 6 ideas that can help you get the most out of this day.

Enjoy a breakfast

In the morning, if you have some spare time, you can cut a toast or some fruits, such as watermelon or apple into pieces for breakfast. For this purpose, you can make use of a cookie cutter. Alternatively, you can bake some muffins as well. It’s a good idea to make muffins in the shape of a heart.

If you have some extra time, you can also make a delicious spread based on your kids’ taste.

Get out

Playing in the snow is a great way of having fun with your kids. In fact, your kids would love to get out and spend time playing with snow. You can enjoy the natural landscape by making a small snowman or snow fort. Of course, your kids can help you with this. If it’s summer, you can play hopscotch, go for a hike or engage in other indoor activities.

Here the idea is to change your routine for a day and spend some time with your family somewhere outside.

Make a collaborative craft

If you make a masterpiece that can be displayed in your house, it will work as a great reminder. What you need to do is print out family photos and put them in an album.

If you have a creative mind, you can do a family project, such as a windowsill garden or a scrapbook. If you are short of ideas, you can sit with your family and come up with some ideas that you can work on. It’s also a good idea to get in touch with your friends a few days ahead of the family day to get some great ideas.

Read a book with your kids

You can choose your favorite book and read it sitting on your couch. It’s better to enjoy a book with pictures. Actually, reading a book with pictures will be an interactive experience. This way you can also teach your kids as to how exciting it can be to read a book.

If your children are learning to read, you can opt for a book that is easy to read. In other words, the book should have easy vocabulary and short stories.

Write letters

You can sit with your children and draw or write postcards to other family members, such as Grandpa, Grandma, uncles and aunts. This is a great way of expressing your love for those family members. You can also use stamps and stickers on the postcards.

Start a fresh tradition

Family Day is a new day on the list of holidays. Therefore, you can get creative and make a new tradition. You can watch a family photo album or videos over dinner to relieve family memories, for instance.

Why Did I Ever Grow Up?

At times, I have to do some errands for the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. It’s not that I like to do these errands, but I have learned this is one secret to getting along with her.

The errand she had for me was to go to the Mall and pick up something she had ordered. In my own way I tried to finagle out of that errand, but the more I finagled the more insistent she was. So, I decided to finagle no more.

As the pop song says, “I have a million reasons not to go, give me one reason to go.” I tried to play this on her and her response was, “Because I asked you to.”

You just cannot get any better than that. I know, because I have tried.

Since I do not go to the mall that often, I thought I would stop in at a coffee shop and have myself a cup of coffee and just chill out a little. Taking my coffee out in the main area of the mall, I sat in one of the lounge chairs and watched the people go by.

As a young person, my favorite author was Ernest Hemingway. In one of his books he says that the important thing for a writer is to, “listen, listen, listen.” I tried to practice that throughout my life so I thought here at the mall would be a good opportunity to do just that.

It was rather noisy, but I tried my best to listen. Some of the things I heard I wished I would not have heard, but that is the price you pay for listening.

In my situation, I could not hear much of a conversation, but the little that I did hear I tried to figure out what they were trying to say. I know I got some things wrong, but I laughed very discreetly at some things I heard.

Halfway through my coffee something struck me that I never thought of before.

So many young people and children were racing through the mall. I did not know there were that many children on planet Earth. They were running and laughing and whatever else they could think of.

I just sat back and watched. I tried to listen, but there was so much noise I really could not listen so I watched. Here these young people were having the time of their life. They were laughing and joking among themselves and just having a good time.

Occasionally I caught the joke and laughed to myself, but most of the jokes I did not understand. I guess that has to do with an age difference.

It was right after Halloween and so a lot of the gibberish in the mall had to do with the Halloween spirit. I thought several were dressed for Halloween, but realized that that is exactly what they wear every day.

I saw one young girl wearing blue jeans with so many holes that they really lack purpose. I was later to find out that you buy these blue jeans with all the holes in them. Moreover, the more holes they have, the more expensive they are.

When I was young I had blue jeans with lots of holes, but I earned every one of those holes.

My spirits were beginning to rise and I was enjoying my visit in the mall. Do not let that get out, I do not want anybody to know I was having a good time, particularly, you know who.

It seemed the more I watched, the more young people and children flooded the mall. And, the laughter rang from one end of the mall to the other with me in between.

As I was enjoying this little episode, a thought snuck into my mind. I must confess that it is a rare occasion when a thought actually comes to my mind. This time a thought did come to my mind.

What I wanted to know was, why were all of these kids happy? Why were they having so much fun?

Don’t they know how miserable the world is today? Don’t they know how sad and horrific things are on the outside? The hatred, the anger, the putrefaction of the world as we know it.

Quickly my smile turned upside down and I frowned.

It then came to me. These kids in the mall having a wonderful time were not all caught up with what is going on out in the world. Their world is a world of fun and excitement. It is only the “old geezers” that know about all of the terrible things going on in the world. The young only see the good.

In pondering this, I asked myself a very serious question. Why in the world did I grow up?

Why couldn’t I have stayed young and na├»ve and only focused on having a good time? If I had stayed young, I probably would not be so depressed by everything that is going on “out in the world.”

Catering The Baby Shower

Baby showers have long been a staple in many families. The women gather to bestow gifts on the expectant mother and ooh and ah over little bibs and stuffed animals. Today, the gender reveal party is gaining traction where the family (boys and girls together for this one) gathers and the gender of the impending arrival is shown to all. Will the balloons, confetti, smoke, streamers, etc. be blue or pink? What will baby be?

Of course if you have a party you have to have some sort of food for the guests. Yes, you can make it a potluck where everyone in attendance brings a dish or two, or you as host can do it all alone, making little blue cupcakes or icing little pink cookies. Or, you can save all the fuss for someone else and have your next baby shower or gender reveal party catered by professionals.

Catering for any party means that you can relax and have fun rather than spend weeks preparing and the whole party worrying that the food is okay. You won’t have to go grocery shopping and spend tons of money on the food, as you can pick and choose from preexisting menus for each budget and party theme.

Most catering companies know exactly what to offer for each party type and many have tried and true foods that everyone will love. Best of all, they come to you, whether the party is at your house, at the expectant parent’s house or at a venue. Food can be delivered cold and then you heat it up or it can be delivered ready to eat, the choice is yours.

Want a sit down dinner? A buffet? A dessert party? A chocolate party? Don’t worry, a caterer will have you covered and you will likely be shocked at how it compares in price to going it alone. Best of all, with the food out of the way, you are free to actually enjoy the party and will be stress free, unless of course you are stressed about the gender of the new arrival! All kidding aside, a baby shower or gender reveal party is all about being happy for the soon to be parents and coming together to shower the new arrival with baby items and advice. It’s a great opportunity to get together with friends and relatives and really, who needs the extra work and stress of doing the food? Not you!

Baby Boomers Need to Stop Making Happiness the Goal

Studies show that younger baby boomers consistently report the lowest levels of happiness with startlingly high rates of depression.

I write a blog based on the premise that these studies describing baby boomers as the generation dwelling in doom and gloom don’t have to be self-fulfilling prophecies. Instead of allowing these happiness studies to make us hopeless during our 50’s and 60’s, I focus on ways we can find happiness during these sometimes difficult years. These may sound like odd questions coming from a blogger who writes about finding your bliss.

However, one recent study showed those that made happiness a goal, reported 50 percent less frequent positive emotions, 35 percent less satisfaction about life, and 75 percent more depressive symptoms.

Maybe that’s why I’ve noticed lately happiness isn’t quite as trendy as it used to be. A few years ago, the science of happiness made the covers of Time and Oprah magazines. Happiness articles and quotes saturated the Internet. Striving for happiness resulted in a whole industry of life coaches, motivational speakers, psychotherapists – and yes, happiness blogs like mine.

But are you getting tired of pretending to be happy all the time? Are you sick of the media telling us to have a positive attitude no matter what’s happening in your life?

Jimmie Holland, M.D., a psychiatrist with Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York, coined the term, “the tyranny of positive thinking.”

Sometimes it might feel like baby boomers are being bullied into thinking that if we don’t wake up every morning with an instant perpetual smile on our face – something is wrong with us.

Social media hasn’t helped. When I described some of the trials I’ve faced these past few years, a friend told me, “I would have never guessed. You look so happy in your Facebook pictures.” Yes, I suppose that I’ve fallen into that trap posting only photos that look like I’m having the time of my life – all the time. Of course, I’m not, but this is the fictionalized world we all live in with social media.

Commercials also make us feel like happiness is an entitlement. An instant feeling on tap that can be purchased with that new sports car or a new pair of shoes.

The truth is everyone has problems. No one is happy all the time. It’s like that quote from Regina Brett: “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”

The fact is, most people have it worse than you despite the happy picture they are painting on Facebook. So maybe it’s time we baby boomers quit comparing our ‘happiness’ with others. Quit making “living happily ever after” some kind of prize we all want to achieve.

NEGATIVE EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AT TIMES

I was reading an interesting article, The Fallacy of Happiness, on Spike. The article pointed to a study by health insurers Aviva, that showed a quarter of adults in the UK suffer from stress, anxiety or depression and are not seeking help for it because they feel embarrassed by their “mental health conditions.”

“How strange it is that such normal, eternal human emotions as stress, anxiety and depression are now placed under the category of mental-health problems,” columnist Patrick West writes. “Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, the clinical depression which leaves people unable to get out of bed for days: these are conditions that properly fall under the category of mental illness.”

He has a point. West contends that it’s natural to worry or feel low from time to time. These are normal human emotions that have somehow become pathologized.

All of a sudden, negative feelings are considered some kind of disease or aberration – something that must be cured right away. That’s become obvious with all the assortment of “happy pills” the pharmaceutical industry hands out like PEZ Candy. I mean, how did our parents and grandparents ever survive without prescriptions like Xanax, Zoloft, Prozac, Valium, and Ambien?

YOU ARE FINE JUST AS YOU ARE

Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, published a study on 700,000 women in midlife showing that there might not be a link between happiness and health as other studies in the past have claimed.

Even more interesting than the results were the reactions of people, Grumpy people were jumping for joy since they no longer had to endure assertions that their bad attitude was endangering their health. Others were irritated to discover all their efforts to be happier might not result in good health and longer lives like they thought.

But here’s the thing. The giddy kind of happiness we have all come to expect is not the norm. Life can be a struggle at times, filled with disappointments, failures, and challenges.

Many people who make happiness their objective are trying to avoid uncomfortable negative feelings that come with the normal ups and downs in life. We can’t be happy all the time. We baby boomers are old and wise enough to know that happiness can be fleeting and fickle.

Everyone has those heart wrenching moments when it’s impossible to be a Pollyanna. For example, a couple of years ago I wasn’t jumping for joy while watching my Mom die after suffering from a horrible disease. When I first started writing, I wasn’t exactly exultant when stacks of rejection letters filled my mailbox. Or ecstatic when people I loved betrayed me. You get my drift.

Should we still try to aim for a positive attitude? Definitely. Will we always achieve it? No.

Groundbreaking work by Iris Mauss supported the idea that striving for happiness may actually cause more harm than good. “When people want to be happy, they set higher standards by which they’re more likely to fall short,” she said. “This, in turn, may lead to greater discontent, in turn, lowering levels of happiness and well-being.”

Mauss explained, she’s not saying, ‘Don’t try to be happy,’ If you give people the right tools, they can increase their happiness and well-being, she notes. It is an exaggerated focus on happiness that can have downsides.

No matter where you fall on the happiness spectrum – which in part is due to your genes – self-acceptance is key.

Let’s face it, I’m never going to be giddy and giggly, but that’s okay. If you’re like me, a bit on the serious side, you can take comfort from studies that show too much cheerfulness can make you gullible, selfish, and less successful. A wee bit of unhappiness, in fact, can inspire us to make necessary changes in life.

HAPPINESS SHOULD NOT BE A GOAL

“Happiness is not a goal… it’s a by-product of a life well lived,” Eleanor Roosevelt famously said.

So, let’s all ditch happiness as a goal. Aim for fulfillment instead. Strive for contentment. Set your sights on inspiration and adventure. Search for purpose and meaning in life.

If you baby boomers make those your goals, you’re more likely to feel the joy and happiness you’ve been searching for all along without even trying.

10 Ways Baby Boomers Can Be Happier in 2018

How can you live your best life and be happier in 2018? Here are 10 surefire ways to help you hit the restart button for a better life.

Change Careers

Studies show that up to 80 percent of baby boomers plan to do some sort of paid work until age 70 to stay mentally sharp, keep engaged socially, and achieve financial security in retirement. That leaves a couple of decades after 50 to work.

Perhaps that’s why more and more boomers are contemplating an “encore career” to pursue their passions and create a fulfilling life they can enjoy.

The American Institute for Economic Research looked at people who changed or tried to change jobs after age 45 and found that 82% of people aged 47 and older who took up new careers in the last two years were successful, and 50% saw a salary increase.

“Don’t view your age or your experience as a liability. It’s a benefit to companies to have a multi-generational workforce,” says Oriana Vogel, vice president of global talent acquisition at American Express. “One of our goals… is to hire employees that can provide a variety of different perspectives and experiences.” Age doesn’t come into consideration when it comes down to hiring the best people, she says.

Enjoy Life’s Simple Pleasures

In 2017, International Happiness Day and the first day of spring coincided. How often does that happen? But do we really need a special day to find some bliss? I say that any ordinary day will do.

In 2018, let’s pause and enjoy all of life’s simple treasures and treats we look forward to throughout the day. Yes, we all have them! You know, the moment you open up your drapes and sunlight fills your home. The aroma of coffee in the morning. Those delightful blueberries on your cereal. The hot shower in the morning that awakens and refreshes you.

If you’re a baby boomer still working, instead of grumbling about it, enjoy your favorite song on the radio as you drive to your job. Don’t just sit there, sing along! If you’re lucky enough to be retired, enjoy some creative leisure time.

Experience happiness from the simple act of giving. Take a moment and write, text, or call a friend. Give someone a big smile to brighten their day and perk up yours as well. Make it a point to do something nice for a stranger or give someone a sincere compliment today. When you get home, give a loved one a big hug. Make your dog’s day with a walk around the neighborhood, a treat, and an extra pat on its head. Relish each bite of dinner. Watch the sunset. Enjoy your favorite comedy and laugh loudly. At the end of the day, remember each blessing and give thanks.

If a gloomy thought dares to enter your head this day, usher it right out and replace it with a happy, positive thought. No groans or gripes allowed. Mentally shout “next” in your head and move right along. Relish every day of simply being alive.

Break Through Barriers

Oh, the wonderful things that can happen when we break through our self-imposed barriers!

When I wanted to become a writer, I put a lot of barriers on myself. I was afraid that people would laugh at me because I didn’t have a college degree. That my submissions would sit in a huge pile and be ignored by literary agents and editors since I didn’t know anyone in the publishing business. That friends and family would roll their eyeballs if I dared to express my dreams of becoming a writer out loud. That I would become so discouraged by the countless rejections sure to come my way, I would give up and watch my precious dreams slowly fade away. Doesn’t everyone want to be a writer, but how many actually make it?

Instead of taking action, I was comfortable just dreaming about becoming an author one day. It was fun envisioning my novel on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and my first book signing. Until a woman at a writer’s conference asked me a simple but profound question. What are you waiting for?

With the woman’s words echoing in my head, I took the first step and began submitting my short story to magazines. Of course, I received the standard rejection letter which stung, but I continued on my journey, taking writing classes and submitting my work. The road wasn’t easy. Many of my fears came true during that time. I gathered enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room. Many times, I became discouraged and swore off writing. But I tenaciously pressed forward. Six long years passed before my first short story was published. Am I happy that I persevered and finally faced down all those nagging self-doubts and fears?

You bet! I’ve been writing professionally for over 25 years now. Over the years, I’ve been published in national magazines, authored three books (one of which was published by big time publisher McGraw Hill), landed an agent, won three journalism awards, and even had my dream come true with a book signing at Barnes and Noble.

This is the year to reflect on who you are and what matters most to you in life. Time to overcome your fears, persevere, and find the power to become the driver of your own life and personal journey!

Become Happy-Go-Lucky

The Urban Dictionary defines happy-go-lucky as a person who is cheerful about most things, has a positive view on life, and annoys the you-know-what out of their friends. Haha! Seriously, think of all the benefits of lightening up. You’ll be less stressed, have more fun, take more risks, step out of your comfort zone and because of your positive attitude have more friends and better relationships.

So adapt a devil-may-care attitude, be a little silly, laugh more, mellow out, and be playful! If you can become more of a happy-go-lucky person, I’d lay bets that you’ll find life more enjoyable and even more fulfilling.

Take a Trip

It’s no secret that I love to travel, so a new survey last year that listed baby boomers choices for top bucket list travel destinations caught my eye.

Of the 12,000 boomer participants, a whopping 99 percent said they planned to take one leisure trip last year. About half planned to travel domestically on multi-generational trips, weekend getaways, and holiday travel. Bucket lists inspired 43 percent of boomers to say they hoped to travel internationally as well.

Which places topped boomers’ bucket lists for travel? Hawaii topped the list for a dream domestic destination followed by Alaska, California, Arizona, and Nevada. The top international destinations were Australia, followed by Italy, the United Kingdom/Ireland, France, and the Caribbean. Are any of these places on your bucket list? No time like the present!

Interestingly, boomers enjoy dreaming about their trip almost as much as experiencing the trip itself. Part of the fun is planning!

Stay Positive Despite Adversities

is it possible to be happy when persistent, scary, and frustrating problems keep rising to the surface and smacking us in the face?

Adversity can make us feel stressed, upset, disappointed, powerless, angry, and depressed. Even when some or even most other aspects of our lives are going well, we tend to focus on things that are going wrong.

Instead of allowing damaging thoughts to build and grow in strength, find a quiet, peaceful place. Think of your problems and then forcefully push them aside. As Mark Twain wisely said, “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”

Research has shown there is a strong link between creativity and better mental health. Instead of stewing about your problems, do something creative and you’ll be forced to look inward and listen to yourself. It will help you shut out the world and its problems for a while.

Purposely direct your mind to focus on things that make you feel happy. You might recall something funny your grandchild did or said, reminisce about one of your favorite memories, or plan a trip for the future. Or write down five reasons you can feel grateful and force yourself to focus on those things. Put inspirational, happy quotes on post it notes and spread them around the house. Again, with a little practice you can train your mind to naturally gravitate toward more pleasant thoughts.

Of course, these tips won’t make your problems magically disappear, but they can help you better able to cope with challenges.

Get Rid of Clutter

Whether we’ve become empty nesters or are following the latest trend of decluttering, many of us baby boomers are downsizing.

Two years ago, we moved. As I was filling up trash bags and putting aside things to donate and sell, I felt incredibly FREE. Why hadn’t I done this sooner?

Conquering clutter can clear the way for a more productive life. Without physical obstructions like piles of unopened mail, old clothes, and Tupperware without lids in the way, you’ll be amazed how much you can accomplish in your life.

Aim for Long-Term Happiness instead of Instant Gratification

Instant self-gratification rules the world today. Think about ATM machines that provide instant cash, fast food supplying instant meals, the Internet with its access to instant information and entertainment – all of which has turned us into impatient beings that can’t tolerate waiting for anything.

According to a CNN article, there are two types of well-being. One relies on self-involved instant pleasure and requires continuous action to constantly feed positive emotions. This type of satisfaction typically leaves as fast as it comes. For example, buying an expensive pair of shoes creates a temporary high but to keep that euphoric feeling we must keep shopping for the next quick fix. If something threatens our ability to seek out this kind of personal happiness – for example, all our credit cards are maxed out – our entire source of well-being is threatened.

The second type of well-being is a kind of happiness that comes, not from consuming products, but from working toward something larger than ourselves that gives true meaning to life.This type of well-being can bring long-term happiness.

That’s not to say that we should never reward ourselves with a bowl of ice cream or a great pair of shoes as a special treat every once in a while. We don’t have to wait to enjoy the present or our lives.

However, we’ll all be happier if we develop some self-control and avoid the habit of wanting everything right this second. Constantly giving into momentary desires can actually make us feel depressed in the long run. Advertisers have become experts at convincing us that instant gratification is the key to happiness. Don’t buy it. Shoot for long-term satisfaction and fulfillment instead.

Embrace Hygge like the Norwegians

Despite frigid arctic temperatures and months of darkness, the happiest people on the planet apparently live in Nordic countries, according to the 2017 World Happiness Report.

Norway jumped up three spots to claim the title of “world’s happiest country” for the first time. Denmark, the previous winner for three years in a row dropped to second. These countries were followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. In case you’re wondering, the U.S. came in 14th place, dropping down one spot from last year.

Could the reason Norwegians are so darn happy have to do with the Danish term hygge? Hygge is also difficult to define, but is translated loosely into the English word coziness and is associated with relaxation, indulgence, and gratitude. However, Norwegians would probably argue there’s much more to the word.

Hygge requires being present in a moment – whether it be simple, soothing, or special – that brings you comfort, contentment, or pleasure. The word refers to the ability to enjoy the good things in life with people you love. Hygge can describe soft candlelight, comfort foods like a pork roast or home-made cinnamon pastries, sitting by the fire on a cold night with fuzzy socks, or simply being kinder to yourself and others. It’s about transforming an afternoon cup of tea into an event with friends. Some people translate the word as coziness of the soul.

So, go ahead. Eat that pastry guilt-free, invite friends over for a glass of wine by the fire, or luxuriate in a candlelit bath. Savor the moment and let the warm, fuzzy feelings flow.

Retire in a Happy State

My childhood friend was visiting me last year when she asked, “Where do you want to retire?”

I’m from the Palm Springs, California area, which has long been one of the most famous retirement communities. Snowbirds love this place with over 300 days of sunshine a year. Golfing, casinos, hiking, and cycling are popular activities. Places to shop and dine abound. In addition, a fairly strong economy and low unemployment rate make the Palm Springs area a popular destination for baby boomers and retirees.

But do I want to retire here? Not especially. Some people love the heat, but I’m not a fan of the long, hot summers with temperatures that exceed 115 degrees. However, I have time to consider my options. Like many boomers, retirement is nowhere in sight for me at the time being. But of course, a girl can dream, right?

So, what are the best and worst states to retire? The results from a Bankrate.com’s survey last year were interesting. Traditional retirement spots like Florida and California didn’t make the top 10 while other states, not usually considered as premier places to retire, like Wyoming and Colorado, made the top five. Honolulu is the 2nd most expensive place to live and Hawaii residents pay an individual income tax rate of 11% – the 2nd highest in the U.S. But if you can afford it, this state ranks high for happiness and personal well-being. New York and West Virginia rated the worst.