Archive | March 2013

How to sincerely show your gratitude

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Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. William Arthur Ward

Some people get awkward when it comes to saying thank you. It may be that you don’t know how to approach the person, you may feel your gratitude will come across as insincere, or maybe you’re just one of those people who is too busy to acknowledge others. There’s no time like the present to turn over a new leaf! This week, Happiness Weekly looks at how you can say thank you and sincerely show your gratitude to someone.

How to say thank you

Choosing the words can be as challenging as finding the best method to say thank you. Let’s keep it simple – don’t think too deeply on it. The key to thanking someone is to say it at the time of the event or as close to it as possible.

Say what they have done: “Thank you for…”

Then tell them why: “You helped me to…” this will show them you have put thought into it, you have seen the results of what they have done and this will also make the person feel rewarded for helping you – and encourage them to help you again!

Now you can work out the most appropriate way to say it to the person:

Say it
A lot of people don’t say thank you out loud. Maybe it’s because they forgot to say thank you, maybe because they don’t think of it or maybe because they don’t realise the impact the person has had. Don’t be one of these people! Stop for a moment and show the person some gratitude by thanking them for what they have done.

Send an email or text
Often we think about our friends and something they have done for us, but when living in such a fast-paced world, we struggle to get around to acknowledging out loud what they have done for us. It only takes a moment while you are at your desk at work or playing with your telephone to send that person an email or text to thank them for what they have done for you.

Write a letter
It’s not often that we receive hand-written letters these days. Take some time to get some nice notepaper and write a beautiful thank you letter. Then take the time to buy a stamp, find out the person’s address and post it to them in the mail. This shows that time and care has been taken to show your gratitude. By going the extra mile, you are showing the person their importance to you.

Write a card
Whether you make it (by hand or on the computer) or buy it, giving a card to say thank you to someone is recommended when someone has gone the extra mile. They can then keep this card and refer back to it. Last year I sent a card to all my close friends, just simply thanking them for being a friend – it brought me a lot closer to many of them.

Draw it
Get creative! You don’t have to say it or write it, you could simply draw them a picture illustrating your gratitude. It could just be a stick figure picture of you giving them a flower … or a bunch of flowers. Sometimes, it’s the thought that counts and something as simple as this could go a long way!

Give it
If the person has really gone above and beyond, you could show your gratitude by buying them a present. It could be something as simple as a coffee, to flowers or chocolates, to a lunch or something bigger like a gift certificate or present. The beauty of giving is that it shows that thought and time has gone into it.

Send an E-Card
There are hundreds of e-cards on the internet that you can choose from. Have a look through them – some come with animation and sound – select one that’s appropriate for your friend and simply email it over. It’s a little more effort than just a standard written email.

Write on their wall
If you both have Facebook, why not say it loudly? Write a message on their wall. Or if you’re truly grateful and want the world to know, why not say it in a status update, tag them in it and say what they have helped you achieve. This will then be visible to all their friends and all your friends!

Return the favour
Do something for them. You may even make them a cake. Keep an eye out for any way that you can help them in the immediate future and return the favour as best you can. Sometimes we can only help in little ways, but what appears small to us may be big for other people.

How have you showed someone your gratitude lately?

For more tips on how to show your gratitude, check out the following blogs:

50 ways to show gratitude for the people in your life by Tiny Buddha

20 simple ways to show appreciation by Zen Family Habits

Thank You Thursday – enjoy the challenge

Today is Thank You Thursday.

We’re near the end of the week – enjoy the gratitude challenge and tell us how you said thank you

130328_TYT

How to stay calm when someone is being aggressive

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A  man who is not afraid is not aggressive, a man who has no sense of fear of any  kind is really a free, a peaceful man. Jiddu Krishnamurti

It doesn’t matter who it is, if someone puts me on the spot, I find it really hard to know exactly how to respond – particularly if they’re being unnecessarily aggressive about something. We’ve all heard these phrases at some point: “Why don’t you know that?”, “What are you going to do about it?”, “It’s your fault this happened!” … This week, Happiness Weekly looks at some tips for how you can best handle the situation.

1. You can’t control their behaviour
First, it is important thing to remember that the other person’s behaviour is their responsibility – you can’t control them, their words or their actions. Whatever they are upset about and trying to make your problem, it is still their problem – you can’t control how they’re responding to whatever has upset them.  They have come to you because you either have the power to change the situation or may be able to improve it – the lesson here that acting aggressively isn’t the best way to approach someone for help it simply puts pressure on the person you are trying to receive help from.

2. Buy some time to prepare your response
When someone puts you on the spot and they’re being quite aggressive, you need to buy yourself some time so you can plan what you are going to say to them, consider possible solutions to the problem and enable them to calm down. Ask the person if you can come back to them by the end of the day. If they approach you again, excuse yourself and explain you have a meeting or are going somewhere. Use this time to consider solutions to the problem, don’t just avoid the person to be difficult. Remember our mantra – if you can’t help people, at least don’t hurt them. If you can’t help the person, please be honest and upfront with them.

3. Know your key messages
Know what you are going to say to the person, and be confident in the messages you are about to give. The person may still be abrupt and aggressive as you try to help them, remain calm. Repeat your messages where possible. If you aren’t getting anywhere with the person escalate the issue to a manager, teacher, tutor or someone more senior you can involve. If there is no one that can help you with the situation, focus on empowering yourself.

4. Look for ways to compromise with the person
If the person is being aggressive because of something you have done or something you can control, but you don’t entirely agree with them – be honest that you don’t agree, explain clearly why and look for ways you can compromise. Where ever possible, try to introduce positive aspects if the person appears to only be seeing negativity. Encourage the person to have input into helping you to find a solution as much as possible – this takes some of the heat off you. Prepare yourself, some people are just jerks and will refuse to compromise – again, this is not your problem.

5. Consider what you can control and empower yourself
When someone is being aggressive and creating problems for you unnecessarily, it is advisable that you look at what you can control. I always find it helpful to brainstorm my options on paper – particularly if it’s a life-changing decision. It’s really important to remember that we always have choices and sometimes it’s aggressive people that teach us the best lessons in life. It also makes you realise what an ugly trait it is to be that way! Once you make a decision that empowers you, be polite and take it back to the person and let them know what you have decided to do. Generally we can make decisions where the other person has no choice but to cooperate with us. This may be leaving a job, asking a housemate to leave, breaking up with someone etc.

6. Brush off the situation
It might just be me, but when someone is nasty and particularly aggressive towards me, I can’t help but focus on that and replay the situation over and over in my mind. I always ask myself if there was a better way I could have handled the situation. This can go on for days – even weeks! It’s really important to learn to brush off a situation. Sometimes the thoughts in our mind is like rubbing two sticks together, we’re giving energy to it – good and bad. It’s worth considering if this aggressive person and that horrible situation we found ourselves in is worth our energy before giving it a second thought.

Has someone been unnecessarily aggressive towards you lately? How did you handle the situation? Would you have done anything differently? If so, what would you change next time around?

Thank You Thursday – enjoy the challenge

Today is Thank You Thursday.

We’re near the end of the week – enjoy the gratitude challenge and tell us how you said thank you.

130321_TYT

Happy International Happiness Day!

happiness%20(2)Today – Wednesday, 20 March 2013 – is the first celebration of International Happiness Day, a very special day that recognises happiness as a global priority.

“A profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognising that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy at all costs. All 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority and March 20 has been declared as the International Day of Happiness – a day to inspire action for a happier world,” the official website says.

For more information about the day and how to celebrate, please visit the day’s official website: http://dayofhappiness.net

Here at Happiness Weekly, we are celebrating along with our fellow happiness organisations Cheers and Action for Happiness. If you haven’t seen the action for Happiness blog/website before – we highly recommend it! You can find it here: http://www.actionforhappiness.org

How sleep impacts your health and wellbeing

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Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn. Mahatma Gandhi

Did you know we spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping?

This week is National Sleep Awareness Week and Friday, 15 March 2013 was World Sleep Day so, to celebrate, today’s blog is about the importance of sleep and how it can improve your health and wellbeing.

Did you know that lack of sleep and sleep disorders actually affects 60% of the population?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing. Some of the first signs exhibited by someone lacking sleep include irritability, moodiness, lack of judgement, poor reaction time and coordination. If it continues, they start to experience apathy, slowed speech, flattened emotional responses, impaired memory and inability to multitask.

Most healthy adults are built for 16 hours of wakefulness and need an average of eight hours sleep a night. However some function better with more, and some function better with less.

Not surprisingly, the number one cause for short-term sleeping difficulties is stress – we’ve all experienced that. Generally the sleep problems will dissolve as the stressful situation passes. However, if insomnia isn’t managed correctly, the affects can linger for a longer period.

When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. The increase in stress hormones raises the level of inflammation in your body, also creating more risk for heart-related conditions as well as cancer and diabetes. Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening blood pressure and cholesterol, all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Your heart will be healthier if you get between 7 and 9 hours sleep each night. People who sleep less than seven hours each night are more likely to be overweight or obese.

Waking up around the same time each day is one of the most powerful ways to set the part of your brain that governs when you feel sleepy and when you feel awake – also known as your biological clock. This is what makes some of us morning people and some of us evening people.

Exposing yourself to bright light – ideally daylight – soon after waking, is important if you are trying to reset your biological clock. This is why many light therapy panels use dawn simulators.  People working shift work have a higher risk for breast and colon cancer. Light exposure reduces the level of melatonin, a hormone that both makes us sleepy and is thought to protect against cancer. Be sure that your bedroom is dark to help your body produce the melatonin it needs.

Why can’t I sleep? And how can I fix it?
- Thinking of all the problems you have (start thinking about solutions – keep a worry pad next to your bed and write them all down so they’re ready to put into action when you get up)
– Remembering something bad that happened to you or how someone hurt or insulted you – now is the perfect time to consider why you should forgive them and how you’re going to do it. Resolve the problem within yourself so it stops hurting you.
– Thinking negatively: “This is going to be one of those nights where I toss and turn”. Excessive worry about not sleeping is likely to make sleeplessness worse. Attitude still plays a part in whether you sleep well or not.
– Going to bed stressed after a hard day – it’s time to get up, have a shower, a cup of warm milk and perhaps practise some meditation techniques before you attempt to sleep.

Researchers do not fully understand why we sleep and dream, but a process called memory consolidation occurs during sleep. Your dreams and deep sleep are an important time for your brain to make memories and links. Getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.

Poor sleep is a major cause of lost productivity as well as accidents in the workplace, on the road and at home. A recent report estimated that sleep disorders cost the Australian community at least $5 billion per year.

Up to a third of the population suffers from insomnia (lack of sleep). This can affect mood, energy and concentration levels, relationships and our ability to stay awake and function during the day.

Don’t toss and turn – here are some tips to help you sleep:

Top tips to help you sleep
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
Restrict your bedroom activities to sleep and making love.
Don’t spend extensive periods in bed trying to catch up on missed sleep.
If you aren’t sleepy after 20-30 minutes, get up and do something relaxing (such as reading) until you are sleepy, and then return to bed. If you’re not asleep in another 20-30 minutes, repeat.
Avoid exercising before bed. Exercise has a stimulating effect.
Visualise something pleasant and somewhat repetitive to help you fall asleep quickly – such as waves gently lapping against the side of a boat.
– Similar to the suggestion above, count sheep or anything continuous and monotonous.
Restrict napping to 20 minutes or less during the day.
Avoid caffeine (soft drink, tea and coffee), nicotine and amphetamines. Alcohol fragments sleep, making you wake more often.
Consuming foods high in tryptophan (an amino acid found in milk, yoghurt, cheese and poultry) a few hours before bedtime can help you sleep because your brain uses it to create serotonin which helps regulate your sleep cycle.
A slight drop in body temperature can help promote sleep.
Don’t eat before bed.
Sleeping poorly increases the risk of having poor mental health.
Exercise regularly (but finish at least three hours before bed).
Establish a consistent wind-down routine before bed.
– Try falling asleep. Don’t put a time limit on it, but sometimes when you make up your mind to do something, it will just happen.
– Avoid any distractions such as watching television, using the computer or listening to music.
– Read a peaceful or boring book. I always found my university study notes got me off pretty quickly! The moment you feel tired, put the book down and relax – go with it.
– Skip dessert – limit your sugar intake at night. You don’t need the extra energy.
– Turn the lights off. Make your room as dark as possible.
– Pamper yourself with a nice relaxing bath. Put some aromatherapy oils into it to make it an even more relaxing.
– Cuddle a pet and have a race to see who can fall asleep the fastest. I used to do this one with my puppy – it actually works!
– Eliminate noise – get rid of noisy ticking clocks, wear earplugs if your housemate is a problem … find solutions rather than dwelling on the noise.
– Try only breathing through your nose and breathe very slowly. There are breathing techniques you can follow online if you wish.
– Sleep on your side, don’t try to fall asleep on your back. You can prop yourself up with a pillow if it helps you to be more comfortable.
– Don’t watch the time. Forget what time it is, it is irrelevant. The most important thing is that it’s night time and you’re meant to be sleeping. Concentrate on that.
– Practise yoga during the week. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle discovered that women who did stretches (upper and lower body) up to four times a week for about 15-30 minutes, reduced their problems falling asleep by up to 30 percent. It’s worth a shot!

These are just a few suggestions for how to fall asleep quickly and easily – what ideas do you have?

Thank You Thursday – enjoy the challenge

Today is Thank You Thursday.

We’re near the end of the week – enjoy the gratitude challenge and tell us how you said thank you.

130314_TYT

Thank You Thursday – enjoy the challenge

Today is Thank You Thursday.

We’re near the end of the week – enjoy the gratitude challenge and tell us how you said thank you.

130307_TT

Get the rental you want

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The home should be the treasure chest of living. Le Corbusier

The place where you live isn’t just the place where you sleep and occasionally eat, it needs to be a place where you feel safe, comfortable and at peace. When you have a rough day in the office (and they happen to everyone), the last thing you want to do is dread going home because your housemate is unclean or creating problems for you.

House hunting in Sydney at the moment is a nightmare. Pick a weekend and hope to God it rains so it washes out about a quarter of the competition! But this particular weekend I went house hunting with a mission. I chose one property to inspect. It was the only property that ticked all the boxes for a reasonable price. I walked in with about fifty people. I didn’t have a rental history to refer the agent to. Here’s how I got it:

Step 1 – Look at properties
Know what’s in the market for your budget. Look online at as many properties as you can and compare them to each other. Be ruthless. What do you need to survive in your everyday life? One of the things I noticed is none of the properties had a laundry. There were shared laundries or mentions of nearby laundry mats, but that’s just one of those luxuries I don’t want to do without.

Step 2 – Choose the property
For those who don’t know, property inspecting and house hunting is EXHAUSTING! Aim to go for one weekend and make it the only weekend you go. Spend this weekend wisely. Choose the property you want and make that your preference. You may want to inspect one or two other properties that day. Make sure you make a note of which order you want them in. You will also need to remind yourself of: Property address, rent cost, best features, and draw backs, real estate agent and real estate agent’s name.

Step 3 – Dress the part
Today is the one day where I highly recommend marketing yourself. Think of it like a job interview. At the risk of sounding like a snob, I was shocked at the amount of people queuing up to see the property that looked as though they’d just come from collecting their welfare payment. You’re trying to convince the agent that you have the money to afford the property you’re inspecting … why not dress to reflect that. Wear a business suit or at least smart casual. Don’t wear ugg boots, thongs or nightclub attire. Consider who the owners may want in their property and dress to reflect that.

Step 4 – Introduce yourself
Before you go, you need to spend a little time preparing. Print the application form from the real estate agent’s website. Organise a photocopy of 100 points of ID (a payslip, your driver’s license and your passport). With this, insert a copy of a little introduction of who you are. Not everyone is a professional writer, so some things you may want to include in this will be: Start by thanking the agent for the opportunity to inspect the property. About me – this includes where you work, what you’re like as a person (e.g. honest, reliable etc) and how previous arrangements have found you to be (e.g. pay rent on time).  How I live – what are you like at home? Are you neat and tidy?  What do you do on weekends? What are your hobbies? What do you do after work? Past house history – this is particularly important if you don’t have a rental history, and part of the reason you’re putting this introduction together. Explain why you’re looking for something new, how it will compare to your current arrangement.  What I can offer – offer to pay rent in advance if you can, offer to pay a slightly higher rent if you think it’s very sought after. Put your contact details and sign off. I use sub-headings to make it easier to follow, and I also put a picture of myself in the top left corner so the real estate agent will remember me. Make it a good picture, this document is like your resume for a job! Again, finish by thanking the agent for the opportunity to inspect the property and say you look forward to hearing from them soon. Use the most positive and upbeat tone that you can.

Step 4 – Make the decision
When you get there, make your decision quickly. Once you decide the property is yours, you will put the right vibes out to those around you. Use visualisation – see yourself living there. See yourself using the entries and exits as you go through. Look for anything that may annoy you. Remind yourself of all the reasons that you think this property is perfect for you.

Step 5 – Be early to the inspection
Be early to the inspection and try to be the first person to have a look around and leave. Get the main check boxes in your head ticked before leaving. You don’t need to spend a lot of time, remember it’s a rental property – you’re not buying it. As long as it ticks the main boxes it should serve you well for the next 6 to 12 months.

Step 6 – Don’t look at the competition
Singles will always be up against couples. Remember, there is always someone out there that’s pretty, smarter, thinner, happier than you. That’s life. Don’t psych yourself out! I was standing on my own, looking at the property with a job I’d had for only a month, I didn’t have a rental history … there were many factors that I thought may work against me. Particularly when I saw how many people were going through the property. Instead of looking at everything I didn’t have, I thought about everything I did have. I was responsible, I’m reliable, I’m honest … it’s in the best interest of the owners to take me in. These thoughts gave me confidence to move forward.

Step 7 – Meet the Real Estate Agent
Introduce yourself to the real estate agent. Say how excited you are about the property and that it has everything you’re looking for. Hand over the information you have prepared and say you’re happy to go back to the office and pay the deposit that day (if you are!). Try to get on well with the agent – this is your best chance at being put forward and accepted. Smile lots, make conversation, be confident and find a hook to stand out. (My hook to stand out was that the agent said I had a nice self-portrait, which I giggled off at the time, but I made mention of it again in my follow up email to help him remember me.) Towards the end of this conversation, which is a bit of a meet and greet and they’ll probably ask all the questions you’ve answered on your introduction page, he or she should give you their card.

Step 8 – Follow up
As soon as you get home send an email to the agent for your most preferred property. Thank them for their time and the opportunity to view the place. Say how enthusiastic you are and that you would love to organise a move for the date they need someone to move in (don’t panic, you can make it all happen later). They will probably say thank you and tell you they will follow up in a couple of days some agents are so speedy they’ll get back to you that same day (even if it’s a Saturday).

The trick is to be friendly and enthusiastic! You can’t lose.

Got some tips to add? Make sure you leave your suggestions for house hunting advice below.

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