How to Catch the Happiness Habit

Everyone gets the blues occasionally, but people who can extricate themselves from a bad mood may have discovered the secret to happiness.

”The secret to having a happy life isn't to be constantly laughing, but to be able to bounce back from a bout with unhappiness, to use little tricks –– some happy habits –– to jump–start your mind and revitalize your energy,” says Bix Bender, author of ”7 Habits of Highly Happy People.”

Mr. Bender gathered the following strategies on how to beat the blues from friends, neighbors and strangers. One or two of these happy habits may help lift your spirits the next time you're feeling down.

Get that 'good tired' feeling

”When you exercise, you're doing something for yourself –– your body, mind and spirit,” Mr. Bender says. ”After a day of strenuous activity, such as cleaning house or gardening, you're probably tired –– but it's a good tired. This feeling has to do with the fact you did something that needed doing, but it also means your mind and body worked together in a pleasing way.”

Try a little comfort food

Satisfying your cravings in a healthful way can comfort a wounded spirit. Try these recipes for happiness:

Make some homemade bread. Pound and knead the dough as though it were all your problems. Eat a couple of slices while the bread is still warm from the oven.

Prepare yourself for a tough day by getting up early enough to have a long, leisurely and filling breakfast. This small pleasure can help you keep your head up in the hours ahead.

Call some friends and invite them to dinner. You'll be too busy preparing the meal to stay depressed.

Do something you like

You may be able to jump–start happiness by doing something for yourself that makes you smile. To make your day happier:

Write down the words to an inspirational song or poem and tape the piece of paper where you'll see it every day. Use it to remind yourself of how you want to live your life.

Go to a sporting event–the cheering will boost your mood.

Turn up your car stereo and sing along at the top of your lungs.

Draw a beautiful, peaceful, happy scene.

Spend time in nature

”The great outdoors can soothe the spirit and inspire happiness,” Mr. Bender says.

To learn from nature:

Have a special wild spot –– a lake, park or forest where you can go for restoration.

Grow something. It doesn't matter if you tend to a whole garden, a tree or a bean in a paper cup.

Walk barefoot in the grass or on the beach

Spread happiness

Doing things for others helps you get your mind off your troubles. To spread the happiness habit around:

Do something to make someone smile.

Do a favor for someone without being asked.

Enjoy the little things

”A person doesn't become happy in big gushes and explosions,” Mr. Bender says. ”Someone who feels good about life builds happiness one little moment at a time, one decision at a time, one smile at a time.” To acknowledge life's small pleasures:

Think about those you love and those who love you.

Spend time with positive people.

Find happiness in little things –– smelling freshly cut grass, making it to the gas station before your car runs out of gas, saying hello to a stranger and having the person smile back.

Wellness Library Health Ink and Vitality Communications ©2011

Managing Your Biggest Time Wasters

Reducing outside interruptions is crucial to premium performance at work. But what can you do if phone calls, visits from co–workers and rambling meetings waste hours of your work time every day?

”You can defend yourself by learning simple techniques that will help you manage time–wasters,” says Stephanie Winston, president of The Organizing Principle, a management consulting firm in New York, and author of ”The Organized Executive.” ”And you can establish greater control without being rude or shutting yourself off from others' needs.”

The following suggestions will help you gain control of your worst time–wasters:

On the phone

Keep calls brief. Get to the point immediately when you're making or returning a business call. Develop strategies for dealing with long–winded people, such as beginning calls with, ”This is Mary. I have a meeting in 10 minutes. What can I do for you?”

Consolidate call–backs. Return all your calls at a given time each day. Begin with priority calls and work down the list.

Return calls when people are less likely to chat. For example, call right before lunch or near the end of the day.

Develop a message–tracking system. If you're disorganized, you may spend more time looking for your messages than returning them. Avoid putting message slips under a paperweight or in your in–box; they tend to get lost. Instead, use an old–fashioned desk needle or add important calls that must be returned to your master to–do list.

Drop–in visitors

Interoffice visits are a part of office life. The following strategies can help you regain control if you're constantly interrupted:

Send a clear message. Close your office door or post a note on the entrance to your cubicle saying you're busy until a certain time. You'll deter all but the most insistent visitors.

If your desk faces the door or a corridor, reposition it so a passerby can't easily catch your eye.

Consolidate visits. Limit appointments to a specific block of time each day or week.

Set time limits. Limiting spur–of–the–moment sessions without being rude requires tact, but it can be done. When someone asks if you have a minute, you can respond with, ”Could it wait until this afternoon? I'm really swamped right now.”

Confer in colleagues' offices. When co–workers want to discuss projects with you, offer to meet in their offices. ”It's much easier to excuse yourself than to ease someone out of your office,” Ms. Winston says.

Endless meetings

Eliminate unnecessary meetings. Before calling a meeting, ask yourself if the issue could be handled by a memo, telephone call or informal conference.

Distribute an agenda in advance. List the topics to be discussed and note any papers, figures and information people should bring.

Set time limits. Try to schedule meetings just before lunch or quitting time. Doing so will curb a tendency for attendees to ramble on.

Take control. If you're the moderator, limit the discussion to topics on the agenda. Unstructured meetings are usually unproductive.

”By learning to define your time as your own,” Ms. Winston says, ”you are then free to enthusiastically speak and meet with co–workers, clients and other contacts without compromising your own productivity.” Krames Staywell

March is Red Cross Month

The American Red Cross demonstrates the power of human compassion and embodies the capacity for kindness and generosity of this great nation.

This month, we honor the men and women of the American Red Cross. They exhibit the spirit and character of America by serving others.

Since its founding in 1881, the American Red Cross has helped millions of individuals overcome the effects of natural disasters and emergencies. It plays an important role in our communities by helping maintain the blood supply, offering programs for youth and the elderly, supporting members of the military and their families, and promoting health and emergency preparedness.

The humanitarian mission of this organization extends around the world. It is committed to helping improve the prevention and treatment of diseases. It is working to strengthen community health programs in developing areas of the world. These efforts help save lives and show the strength and generosity of America.
We are grateful for the work of the volunteers and staff of the American Red Cross. During this month, we pay tribute to all those who have answered the call to serve a cause greater than self and have offered support and healing in times of need.

Finding the Right Summer Camp for Your Child

Summer is a time for fun for kids. They need plenty of downtime to allow for creativity and natural learning. Something else that is great for kids is summer camp. There are summer camps for just about anything and can really benefit your child. There are plenty of day camps available but don't forget overnight camps as well. Kids can learn so much from summer camp, but how can you find the right one for your child?

There are several things to consider when looking for a summer camp. Think about what your child likes to do, what your child wants to learn to do, what areas your child needs extra help in, and what areas you want your child to learn more about. For instance, my son really wants to be on the middle school soccer team. He has played soccer off and on for years now, but could use some extra coaching and skills if he is to really excel and make the school team. We are looking for a soccer camp that would help him in this area.

Does your child want to try a totally new sport? Many sports camps cover the basics and help kids learn more than they ever could in a regular season. When it comes to sports children these days are starting them so much earlier than a few decades ago. If your child has never played a certain sport and wants to jump in when they are older a camp will help them learn the sport so they can make the most of the team later. A summer camp also allows them to try out a sport without a long term commitment. They can try it for one week as opposed to a two month season. If they like it great they will do that much better in the regular season, if they don't like it, they don't have to do it again.

Summer camps are about more than just sports. I remember taking a computer camp when I was little. In our recreation guide for my town there are foreign language camps, computer camps, space camps, science camps, music camps, wilderness survival camps, video game production camps, craft camps, drawing camps, chess camps, and more. There really does seem to be something for everyone.

Check with your local schools, library or recreation department to see what camps are going on in your area. Check with your church for available camps as well. Our church hosts Vacation Bible School and also sponsors kids to go to local church camps. These can be overnight or day camps. If there is something your child is already involved in and wants to learn more about then ask the leader of the group about local summer camps. There might not be one where you live, but there could be a great one nearby.
Everyone's definition of nearby is different. If you are thinking about overnight camps you will probably have to look farther than your own town. My daughter wanted to go to gymnastics camp this summer and we found a great one about 6 hours away. She could never get that experience nearer to us so it is worth it. When we lived in Colorado I had friends who sent all their kids across the country to Connecticut to a sea camp. If there isn't what you are looking for locally then branch out. You never know what you will find and it might end up being worth it to look in other cities or states.

Summer camp can really benefit your child. Finding the right one can be time consuming, but it is worth it. Talk to your child and get their input. They certainly need to be onboard with the idea of summer camp. Once you find the right one, then sit back and enjoy it. It will be a great experience for your child.

How to Use Your EAP

When help is needed call 1–800–433–2320. The intake staff will ask for your name, employer and a brief description of your presenting concern. If an emergency exists you will be given immediate assistance. If your situation is not an emergency, you will be offered telephone assistance and/or in–person sessions to complete an assessment and make a referral for treatment if needed.

Meetings with your counselor are completely confidential. Your employer will not know you have used the EAP. No one will be provided any information about you without your written consent. Exceptions would occur only in the event of you being considered dangerous to yourself or someone else.

At the first appointment you should be prepared to give the counselor some background information to assist in formulating an action plan. Many people find it helpful to prepare a list of things they wish to discuss at each session.