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Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D.
Now that all the mega-lottery winners have stepped forward, the overwhelming odds are you didn’t win. Americans spent $1.5 billion in their quest to win the jackpot, fantasizing about how they would happily spend the $656 million to be paid out to the winner. As it happened, there were three winning tickets so the final after-tax take home for each will be about $100 million. Still, nothing to sneeze at.
Are you wondering how winners have fared in the past? In many cases, not so well. Over 1/3 were in serious financial trouble within five years, some facing bankruptcy. Others saw their health deteriorate or addictions spiral out of control. Relationships often turned sour, with friends or family taking advantage of them. And after an initial spurt in elation, most were not any happier than they were before winning.
So now that you don’t have to spend time counting your fortune or interviewing and hiring a wealth adviser, here are six approaches to think about as you seek the happiness you thought a winning number would bring:
Focus on gratitude. Several times a week, count your blessings and write about three specific experiences for which you were thankful that day. Linger over these memories and choose not to take them for granted. Express your gratitude to those who have made a positive difference in your life - you'll feel happier and so will they.
Savor pleasurable events and emotions. First immerse yourself in these activities, being mindful so that your experience is rich and deep. Then set aside time later to re-live the event and enjoy Your feelings all over again. You'll find that your body becomes more relaxed, your thoughts more focused and your mood more upbeat.
Engage in the world around you. When you're absorbed in a challenging activity that you love and are skillful at, you'll feel more alive and authentic. Your energized focus and immersion in the task at hand create flow. This peak experience is accompanied by deep feelings of fulfillment and happiness.
Build and nurture personal relationships. Studies continue to show that positive relationships provide a buffer for stress and are correlated with greater happiness, well-being, optimism, improved health, even a longer lifespan. And they work to create an upward spiral - the happier we are, the more we attract additional positive relationships.
Create a meaningful life by helping others. Receiving a windfall of money - like that coming from a lottery win - doesn't actually lead to a long-term rise in happiness when you use it only for yourself, once your basic needs are met. However, when you spend a portion of that money on others - either as a gift or as a charitable donation – your joy and contentment increase.
Set goals for yourself and work to achieve them. Striving for and accomplishing a goal increases self-esteem and a sense mastery and efficacy. When you overcome challenges along the way, it creates even deeper wellbeing and feelings of control. And the optimism that you have about future meaningful successes can generate authentic happiness.
Is happiness really as simple as a warm puppy? Or as materialistic as a winning lottery ticket? There have been scores of philosophers and theologians over the years attempting to define it and to identify its components. As President Abraham Lincoln put it: Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
How happy will you decide to be?
© 2012, Her Mentor Center
Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. are family relationship experts with solutions if you‘re coping with marital stress, acting out teens, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult daughters-in-law. Visit [Link Removed] to sign up for a complimentary eZine and eBook, Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals.
We all know about the importance of play for the emotional growth and development of children. It can enhance their imagination, increase social skills and boost self-confidence. So why don’t we place more value on play for ourselves? According to a recent study by the Families and Work Institute, ½ of American women don't have enough time to spend on themselves and the activities they enjoy.
Early on, girls tend to be collaborative, communicative and caring – you can see it when they play house and mother their dolls. And these traits become even more entrenched as the years go by. We often put the needs of family before our own and are kept busy nurturing our aging parents and growing kids. Of course, you can't abandon the never ending to-do lists around family and domestic duties. But don't you think you also deserve to identify your other, more personal priorities?
We could take a lesson from the opposite sex, many of whom find time to let off steam with a pick-up basketball game or a weekly poker night. And there’s plenty of expert advice to back up the importance of that. According to the founder of the National Institute for Play, Dr. Stuart Brown, recreational activities are much more than just fun. Fundamental to a healthy adulthood, play increases our capacity for creativity, problem solving, adapting to new situations, learning and even happiness.
The time frazzled woman has become a common archetype today. With the added stress that accompanies these uncertain economic times, you may think that taking precious time away from work and family is unrealistic. But, as members of the sandwich generation, it’s vital to nourish ourselves so we can be emotionally strong enough to help those who depend so much on us.
The first step toward better self-care is to recognize that some of the barriers are in your own head. And then it's critical to shift your standards. Let go of the idea that you can do it all. Take a lesson from the community of women who call themselves Mice at Play. Their goal is to bring fun into their lives through constructive and positive play-dates, lectures and workshops – in fact, they call it ‘fun with a purpose.’
And then start your own personal play revolution. Think about your fondest memories of playing as a child. What are a few similar activities you could integrate into your life right now? How can you reconnect to your creative and playful side? And how far are you willing to go outside your comfort zone? Just imagine the potential benefits to your physical health, level of happiness and feelings of wellbeing. And who couldn’t use a few extra laughs anyway?!
© Her Mentor Center, 2012
Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. and Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. are family relationship experts with solutions for coping with marital stress, acting out teens, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult daughters-in-law. Visit [Link Removed] & sign up for a free eZine,’ Stepping Stones,’ and eBook, “Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals.”
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