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Practicing Happiness

Practicing Happiness

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” - Mary Oliver

Amy Dell, our Program Officer, recently attended the Practicing Happiness event hosted by Philanthropy Ohio. The group talked about ways to achieve happiness, how much happiness affects every part of our lives, and most importantly, how we deserve it. Amy happily shared some of the key points she learned from the discussion led by Katrina Kittle.

There are plenty of depressing new stories and challenges coming at us all the time. Natural disasters abound. Bad things happen to good people. Do you have to ignore the outside world in order to be happy? According to author Katrina Kittle, one can be an awake and aware individual AND still pursue happiness. Based on her research for presentations and novels she’s written, there are three primary components:

1. Gratitude – deliberately acknowledging the things for which you are thankful, and seeking more of them. Keep a daily gratitude journal or jar or speak them out loud. The days when it is most difficult to think of gratitudes is exactly when you need it the most. Looking for even the smallest things trains you to look for them/find more. Gratitude research has shown it to be such an essential ingredient to happiness that Kittle refers to it as “the cousin of happiness”.

2. Self-Care – even a few minutes a day can make a big difference. Think of this component as the “put on your own oxygen mask first” announcement. An absence of self-care creates the breeding ground for resentment and other negative emotions. Self-care experiences do not have to be done alone, however there is additional benefit to claiming a little time for oneself. “Solitutde is the soul’s holiday, an opportunity to stop doing for others and to surprise and delight ourselves instead.” ~Katrina Kenison

3. Play - schedule time for FUN! Playdates for yourself, time during which you do not focus on practicality or productivity, are important to overall happiness. There are brain-related health benefits to exploring and trying new things. Before the days of 24/7 access to virtual entertainment and electronics, many of us thought of these activities as “hobbies”, things we liked to do for no other reason than they brought us enjoyment.

Challenge yourself to make some lists:

• 20 reasons to be happy
• 10 things for which you are thankful
• 5 self-nurturing acts
• 5 ideas for play dates – activities that transport you to lose track of time and other concerns

Recognize there will be resistance, even from yourself, as you start to do things to practice gratitude, self-care, and play.

Do it anyway. Practice makes perfect happy.

Katrina Kittle is an American novelist from Dayton, Ohio. She is an alumna of Ohio University, where she earned degrees in English and Education. Philanthropy Ohio hosted an event entitled Practicing Happiness with Ms. Kittle as the featured speaker. Check out her bio, books, and blog at http://katrinakittle.com/.

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