Mindful Happiness

Mindful Happiness

The pursuit of happiness has long been the goal of humankind. But, what is happiness?  For us, it could be a feeling of calm and security. For others, it may be a feeling of success on a professional and/or personal front. Happiness is truly subjective! One of the keys to unlocking the path to being happy is to practice mindful happiness.

Mindfulness is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” So how does mindfulness increase our feelings of happiness?

By utilizing the power of awareness of the present moment, we allow ourselves the opportunity to connect with our heart, mind, body, and spirit with crystal clear transparency. When we allow our thoughts to be focused on the “now,” we invite our clarity to serve as a compass, guiding us toward the happiness that may have eluded us in the past.

When practicing mindfulness, we pay close attention to the signals that our bodies are sending us, those pangs of guilt, shame, regret, and learning to bless and release them through allowing those signals to remind us that we are a work in progress. Through the mindfulness practice of breathwork, we empower our bodies to cleanse some of the adverse biological reactions that our bodies and minds have created in reaction to our perception of the lack of happiness. 

Mindfulness is a skill that takes practice! Our bodies and minds have a natural tendency to fight stillness. If you have tried meditation and find your mind racing with that list of “to-dos” or constant distraction, it’s not your fault! Our brains are designed to be the operating system that we rely on both consciously and subconsciously. Taking some small steps in quieting your mind will lead to training your brain to power down temporarily. Here are some steps to try when working on quieting the mind:

  1. Find a space that will allow you solitude and quiet
  2. Start with an intention of a short time period, perhaps 5 minutes. You can always increase this as you increase your skill level!
  3. Pay attention to your breath. Using this awareness as a focus increases the release of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, and increases the “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine: both of which are “happiness hormones.”
  4. Notice your body: find a seated position that is comfortable to you and that will allow you to relax.
  5. Allow your mind to wander. Remember, when your mind is sending you messages, it’s doing its job! Work on recognizing the thought without judgment.

Mindful happiness occurs when we align our mind, body, and spirit with our unique strengths. Happiness is not a destination, but a journey of the authenticity of our truth, a lifelong practice of pursuing a wholeness that is genuine and unique to each of us. Each moment in our life gives us the opportunity to be keenly aware of the path to follow, even if it’s one that you need to create. By following your individual journey through mindfulness, you will own the key to creating a life of fulfillment, which in my view is “happiness.”

Packing List for Life’s Journey

Packing List for Life’s Journey

Packing List for Life’s Journey

I’ve always resonated with the idea of life being a journey.  A journey is defined as an act of traveling from one place to another.  I see life as a journey across time.  Over time, I’ve been able to experience different aspects of myself and the world in which I live.  It’s been quite a journey and the exciting part is that there is so much to discover and uncover about myself still ahead of me.

Every seasoned traveler knows that packing appropriately can make a big difference to your experience.  If you forget to pack your gloves on your ski trip, you are either going to need to buy some or you are going to be pretty miserable.

This got me thinking about a packing list for life’s journey.  This packing list is modeled after the 10 guideposts to wholehearted living found in the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brené Brown.  I hope you find it as helpful as I have 🙂

  1. Bring authenticity – Be truly yourself, practice being vulnerable. Let yourself really be seen. Leave behind the masks and armor you have accumulated over the years. They will just weigh your life down.
  2. Bring compassion, both for yourself and those you encounter on your journey, leave behind perfectionism…there is no such thing as a perfect life, only perfectly imperfect ones.
  3. Bring a resilient spirit…when you find yourself in an unexpected rain storm, believe that you have what it takes to make it through. Seek the shelter of help if needed. Leave behind numbing and powerlessness as those behaviors and thoughts can leave you feeling lost and hopeless.
  4. Bring gratitude and joy…look for the good in life. Speak words of appreciation to yourself and others on a daily basis.  Leave behind scarcity and fear of the dark…you are worthy of love and belonging.  You are enough.  Remember that!
  5. Bring intuition and faith, leave behind the need for certainty…You are never going to be able to predict all the unexpected surprises that you will undoubtedly encounter along the way. Trust that divine intervention is with you always, guiding you even when you don’t realize it.
  6. Bring creativity – the life you design together will be uniquely yours. Leave behind comparison…Instead of comparing your life to others’, ask the question, “Is this working for me?”  If the answer is yes…great.  If the answer is no…be creative and try something different.
  7. Bring along play and rest while leaving behind exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth …Do things that rejuvenate you and refills your tank. When you are tired, rest.  Remember, it doesn’t matter how fast you go.  Enjoy the moments and go at your own pace.
  8. Bring calm and stillness, leave behind anxiety as a lifestyle…some of the most memorable experiences will be those born out of not having an agenda. They will come in the quiet stillness of just looking up at the stars.  Anxiety will undoubtedly show up at different times during your journey, learn from it and move on, but please don’t pack it.
  9. Bring meaningful work…something that leaves you feeling accomplished and feeling like your life has purpose. This may or may not be what we do for employment.  Do not pack self-doubt and “supposed to’s”…practice trusting yourself and learning to say no to things that are not moving you toward your best self and your best life.
  10. Bring laughter, song and dance, and leave behind being cool and always in control. Please pack your sense of humor and a willingness to be silly and not take yourself too seriously while leaving behind a need to always be right.

This packing list is something I need to revisit on a regular basis.  I hope you find it as useful as I have as you navigate your way through life. Is there anything else that you think is important to pack or to leave home?  I’d love to read what you have to say!


Today’s author: Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in. As a mother of 2 girls, Laura has a special interest in coaching parents, so if you still have children living at home, ask Laura about her Wholehearted Parenting programs. Laura can be reached via email at laurahallcoach@me.com or feel free to visit her website HallCoaching.com

Being Raised by “Mr. Fun”

Being Raised by “Mr. Fun”

Being Raised by “Mr. Fun”

“If you make something fun, it’s easier to learn.” ~ Larry Seaman
(Coach Laura’s Dad)

Have you ever done a values assessment? A values assessment is a process that helps you get clear on your core values. A value is defined as a principle, standard, or quality considered inherently worthwhile or desirable. In the book What Color is Your Parachute, Richard Bolles says, “Values are a matter of what guides you through every day, every task, every encounter with another human being.”

I’ve done several values assessments over the years and one of my values which shows up consistently, time and time again, is fun.  I try to find a way to have as many moments of fun in my day as possible. I think the reason this value has been so consistent in my life is because I was raised by “Mr. Fun”.  My dad, Larry, is one of the most fun-loving people you will ever meet.  With Father’s Day coming up, I thought it would be appropriate to share a little with you about my dad and what it was like being raised in an environment of fun.

One of the things I’ve always admired about my dad was what an excellent father he was despite the fact that his own father died when he was just eight years old and his memories of his dad are very limited. He parented from a place of intuition more than from following the model his father gave him because he just didn’t remember enough about his dad from before he died.

My dad was 23 years old when I was born in May of 1967, and as I’ve been told, he loved me wholeheartedly from the moment he met me. I was definitely Daddy’s Little Girl! My mom says that it wasn’t unusual for him to come home from work with a new dress for me, which he’d promptly put me in and then take me out to show me off to all of his friends.

So many of my earliest memories from my preschool days are full of fun. My dad played on a bowling league and I can remember begging him to let me go with him. I would run around the back of the bowling alley with other kids just waiting for the chance to bowl a couple balls at the end of the night. We’d then go home and my dad would help put me to bed with a bedtime story… he very rarely read to me, but instead made up stories out of his head… and an evening ritual that I named “do face” where I would close my eyes and my dad would lightly trace his fingers around my eyes, nose, and face… I can still remember how relaxing this was for me!

As I approached elementary school age, our fun became more educational. I perfected my spelling with The Spelling Game… which was just my dad giving me a word, spelling bee style, and asking me to spell it.  We would play this everywhere, but mostly in the car during long rides. Another one of our favorite car games was Name That Tune… my dad was a harmonica player, so he would play a song, and my brother and I would try to guess what he was playing.  At home, we worked on my math skills by playing store. My dad would sit down with me and give me a pile of money. He then would bring me an item he wanted to buy and it was my job to make the correct change from the money he gave me to pay for his “purchase”.

Spending time with family, my grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins, was also part of the environment of fun I was raised in. We would get together for crab feasts, card games, holidays, and birthdays. We’d go out in the evening for ice cream followed by a game of hide and seek, and as dusk set in, we’d grab a jar and collect fireflies.  We went camping and would sing camp songs, make a fire, and stargaze.

In a nutshell, my childhood was full of love, learning and fun!

So, as we approach Father’s Day this year, I want to say, thank you Dad for raising me in such a way that I recognize the value of FUN!!!  Now that I am an adult, I recognize that not everyone is able to give themselves permission to play and have fun the way that I can, and I believe it is because of you that fun always shows up as one of my core values. You are an amazing man and I am lucky to be your daughter!

What fun memories do you have of your dad?  Please share them with me!  I’d really love to hear some of your stories too!


Today’s author: Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in. As a mother of 2 girls, Laura has a special interest in coaching parents, so if you still have children living at home, ask Laura about her Wholehearted Parenting programs. Laura can be reached via email at laurahallcoach@me.com or feel free to visit her website HallCoaching.com

Self-Compassion – Being Your Own Best Friend

Self-Compassion – Being Your Own Best Friend

When you hear the word “friend”, what comes to mind for you?

What qualities does a good friend embody? Before you read any more, take a minute to pause and really think about what it means to be a good friend.

For me, the qualities I look for in a friend include (but are not limited to) the following…

  • I can trust them
  • they are honest with me and allow me to be honest with them
  • they know how to listen well
  • they have a good sense of humor
  • they challenge me to be better
  • they are there to lean on and are supportive in challenging times
  • they give me the benefit of the doubt
  • they are encouraging and want the best for me

Now, I want you to think about what kind of friend you are to yourself…

For most of us, we tend to be better friends to others than we are to ourselves. We expect things of ourselves that we would never expect of others, we make promises to ourselves and then don’t keep them (New Year resolutions are the perfect example of this), and we speak to ourselves in ways we would never speak to a friend.

I recently participated in an online workshop on self-compassion and the thing that stood out to me the most was how common it is for us to beat ourselves up with negative self-talk.  For most of us, the voice in our head, at times, speaks to us in ways that we would never stand for if it were someone outside ourselves speaking to us that way. We can be really hard on ourselves.

As a recovering perfectionist and someone who is prone to anxiety, I am always on the lookout for ways to manage stress, so when I learned that the research shows that practicing self-compassion not only motivates people to overcome failure and to do better, but also helps reduce stress and anxiety, I knew that becoming a better friend to myself was something I needed to lean into.  I’ve been practicing self-compassion for about 4 years now and here is what I am learning…

The first step is to set a self-compassion intention.  My intention was to practice talking to myself like I would talk to someone I genuinely loved, admired, and believed was doing the best they could do in any given moment.

The second step is awareness. Pay attention to your self-talk, especially when you feel you’ve messed up in some way. Are you a critic or a cheerleader? Work on being mindful of the language that you default to during the stressful times in your life.

The third step is to practice compassion. Think of someone outside yourself that you love dearly…practice talking to yourself the way you would talk to them.

I am passionate about the topic of compassion because I think our modern lives would be exponentially better if we all practiced being more compassionate both to ourselves and others.  Life is hard at times!  believe in being the change I want to see in the world.  I would love to see more compassion, so it is my goal to be more compassionate.  We are all human, and part of the human experience is the fact that we are all imperfect.  Let’s practice being kind to ourselves and kind to others. Just imagine the impact a more compassionate world would have… it’s mind blowing!!!

Who wants to join me?

If you know me, then you know that my life coaching workshops are all about teaching what I am practicing, so I have two events I’d like to invite you to…

The first one is Wholistic Woman’s full day retreat on March 3rd, outside Baltimore, Maryland, titled ’Be Creative’, where I will be leading a breakout session in which we will be making a self-compassion vision page. You can find details and registration information here…https://home/wholisu6/dev.wholisticwomanretreats.com.wholisticwomanretreats.com/events/be-creative-retreat/

Join us for the day or for the weekend. Either way I know you will walk away feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, and inspired.

The 2nd event, ‘’Be Compassionate’, is on April 25th in Frederick, Maryland. During this interactive workshop, you will have the opportunity to experience a guided meditation on self-compassion, participate in a coach-led discussion on compassion, and you will walk away with strategies to put compassion to work in your life. For details on this event visit https://home/wholisu6/dev.wholisticwomanretreats.com.wholisticwomanretreats.com/events/compassionate-evening-retreat/

I hope to see you at one of these events!

Today’s author: Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in. As a mother of 2 girls, Laura has a special interest in coaching parents, so if you still have children living at home, ask Laura about her Wholehearted Parenting programs. Laura can be reached via email at laurahallcoach@me.com or feel free to visit her website HallCoaching.com

Happy Pies

Happy Pies

In August, my Be Positive evening retreat, based on Gratitude and Positivity, focused on how 40% of our happiness comes from intentional activity and the group ideas generated from the retreat exercise made us feel 100%. I explained how author Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research shows 10% of our happiness comes from life circumstances, 50% is from genetics, and 40% from intentional activities. This breakdown is turned into the Happy Pie – the representation of what we can do for ourselves to be happy!

Over 30 women put energy into what they can intentionally do to create their happy pie! After giving each group an opportunity to describe ingredients to create a whole pie, they came up with Fulfilled Pie, Soul Pie, Whoopi Pie, Peppy Pie, and Positivity Peachy Pie! They were ready to embrace what they had control of, such as:

  • Being in Nature
  • Making their Bed
  • Self -Compassion and Gratitude
  • Pet Love
  • Connection, Dance, and Laughter

What are your intentional activities to feel whole and happy?

The practice of gratitude, or being in the present moment here and now, is many things to many people.  During Be Positive, we discussed how expanding our horizons to express gratitude gave us more energy and positive emotions, and as a bonus, it has many health benefits as well. The happiness tool I often use to measure positive change is If I were 3% more grateful in my day, I would ______________.

I was over three percent more grateful to partner with Cathy Hansen, a certified Laughing Yoga instructor, to help us put some of these intentional activities into practice. We focused on many ideas, but here are five we explored:

  1. Journaling – A healthy way to reflect on the day in a written way. Take time to reconnect with yourself and your thoughts on paper.
  1. Smile – Everyone knows that when you’re happy, you smile, but it’s also true that when you smile, you are happy.
  1. Compliments – Brightening someone else’s day also brightens your own. Sincerity is a key component as well.
  1. Volunteer – Helping others, like victims of Hurricane Harvey or more recent Hurricane Irma, is a great way to boost how you feel about yourself.
  1. Meditation – Take 2 minutes to be calm and silent. Clear your mind and be present.

What are habits you create to find the positive side of your situations?

Whatever your habits are, if being more positive is on your mind – move forward with some of these or try something else without overthinking. Shake it off. It’s time to cut loose and have some fun. We think so much all day, every day, so start to set aside some thoughts for you. Don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy your fresh Happy Pie!

Today’s author: Kelye Rouse-Brown, CHA, CHT is a business owner, joint venture partner, HR expert, certified coach, and training professional. Her 3 components: Educate, Motivate, and Cultivate help her clients develop, spark action, and grow a successful career/business and life from the core. Kelye can be reached at 301-371-9300 or by visiting her website: krbtrainingsolutions.com

Cultivate Happiness

Cultivate Happiness

Lean towards joy and listening and away from giving advice.

Kelye Rouse-Brown with friend on beach

This was a great headliner to learning about positivity and happiness in An Introduction to Positive Psychology with Dr. Maria Sirois in beautiful Berkshires, MA. My oldest and dearest friend joined me and now we make an effort to fill our happy bucket year after year, like earlier in May when we celebrated our milestone birthdays together in Rhode Island. We savored the crashing water against the rocks along the cliff walk and enjoyed the historical mansions.

Another magical time in the month of May was my first hot air balloon ride that took my breath away with more special gems in my life. We just floated in the air and didn’t even feel the take-off, much different than my usual airplane rides. The pilot was so cool, it was like being carried away with the great Oz from the Wizard of Oz. I fell in love with Santé Fe, NM on a higher level. It seems when you take the time to plan for happy events, they will happen… the sky’s the limit, and life can be more joyful.  

What happy events do you have planned?

Positive psychology was referred to as the scientific study of optimal human functioning and officially launched as a field in 1998. Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar was highly talked about at the retreat and he first taught a seminar at Harvard on this fairly new topic in 2002 with eight students enrolled and two dropped out. The objective of the class was what psychology can teach us about leading happier, more fulfilling lives. The following year the class went public and 380 students signed up. The evaluations showed the class improved the quality of one’s life. Well, the next time the class was offered it grew to 855 students enrolled, which made it the largest class at Harvard University.

What education class are you most looking forward to learn, grow, and feel happier?

There are many definitions for both positive psychology and the science of happiness, but the simple answer is that positive psychology is a subset within the broader field we call the science of happiness. Positive Psychology focuses largely on the study of positive emotions and the science of happiness focuses on areas such as exercise and psychological well-being.

Kelye and Valorie BurtonThe topic is very popular and soon after our retreat in the Berkshires, my next education event followed up with more Positive Psychology and I was introduced to Valorie Burton, Founder of the Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute. I loved her spirit and presentation. One of my favorite parts of her presentation was her happiness boosters. You might consider taking her online happy woman test by going to happywomantest.com and find out your top triggers to boost your happiness. It only takes about 10 minutes and you will learn your happiness quotient that you can focus on for improvement over time. For example, anticipation is great when you have something to look forward to, like a trip to Rhode Island with an old girlfriend or a flight like no other. Here are Valorie Burton’s 13 happiness boosters:

  • Play
  • Purpose
  • Gratitude
  • Savoring
  • Relaxation
  • Flow
  • Service
  • Smile
  • Connection
  • Movement
  • Winning Words
  • Financial Savvy
  • Anticipation

What happiness boosters are you most satisfied with?  What would you like more of?

After taking the happiness test, some of my top boosters were gratitude, smile, and service. These and more will be discussed further at my upcoming Be You series session, Be Positive, on August 30th at Brewer’s Alley. Come join us and be reminded to pause and savor life’s joys. I look forward to sharing a happy retreat with you!


Today’s author: Kelye Rouse-Brown, CHA, CHT is a business owner, joint venture partner, HR expert, certified coach, and training professional. Her 3 components: Educate, Motivate, and Cultivate help her clients develop, spark action, and grow a successful career/business and life from the core. Kelye can be reached at 301-371-9300 or by visiting her website: krbtrainingsolutions.com