Well, I knew it was bound to happen. The combined stress caused by the perfect storm of Halloween and COVID -19 together has brought a lot of requests for my services as a Life/Retirement/Transition Coach. This time, I immediately thought the answer was group coaching.
Normally, I don’t share information about clients, but in order to help you understand that we need to reach out and help each other, I have obtained releases from anyone involved in this note.
Last week I held a group session with five attendees. Each had their own issues, and each was truly concerned. I’m sure you will recognize them:
Wanda, the Witch
Cornelia, the Candy Corn
Casper, the Friendly Ghost
Terry, the Tarantula
Peter, the Pumpkin
I asked each in turn “What is going on?” and here are their answers:
SLAM! There I was, face flat into the tree
I gave her a questioning look.
“I was on my broom and one of my earbuds fell out. I had to look down to retrieve it - and SLAM! There I was, face flat into the tree. I heard people laughing! Why didn’t my radar warn me about the tree? Am I getting too old? Should I retire?”
Cornelia: She spoke softly and made eye contact with each member of the group.
“Look, as early as the 1880s I became popular. My three colorful layers are attractive, and I’m small and easy to eat.”
She teared up.
Ok, Ok, I guess I should just retire - right?
“At least I WAS easy to eat. I’m the most fun to eat by the handful! And, I mean, really, with COVID-19 people don’t want to eat anything by the handful!”
She started to sob.
“I’m fat free and keep in the refrigerator for up to 9 months, but nobody really wants me now... Ok, Ok, I guess I should just retire – right?”
Casper was next.
Casper: "Yeah, it’s not rocket science. You all know me – you know me by my full name, ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost.'"
He started to smile a little, and then the smile faded.
“That’s right; I’m a non-conformist. I’d rather make friends than scare people. I know I’m different from the rest of the haunt team, but it is who I am. I like people; I’ve made friends before. I don’t like scaring them.”
Wanda started to snicker.
“Whoever heard of a friendly ghost?” she muttered. I had to shhh! her.
“And now there is COVID-19,” Casper continued. “People can’t even be with their regular friends, so you can bet no one wants to talk to a friendly ghost! What should I do? I have a lot of years ahead of me!”
Then it was Terry’s turn.
Terry: “Ha – you think you guys have issues? You think you don’t know what to do ‘next’? When I was a little tiny tarantula, my Mama told me I was cute. Then I left the nest, and it all ended.”
He looked around, daring people to challenge him.
He looked around, daring people to challenge him.
“I remember the first time I became aware of Halloween! Look around, guys! Do you notice how many phony spiders people put out – on the lawn/on the bushes/crawling up the front of the house! THEY ARE ALL TARANTULAS! What do you think this does to my self-image?”
Everyone got quiet.
“I know, I crawl; I have long hairy legs, and I have eight eyes. But I’m harmless to people! If I bite, it’s no worse than a bee sting – okay? Look it up! So, what’s a young guy like me to do with a reputation like that?”
Wanda started muttering again. “Maybe you remind people of the COVID virus,” she whispered.
I talked over her. “Ok, Peter, it’s your turn.”
"Let's face it, the pumpkin is the
There is real science behind the emotions of happiness and love. Dr. Barbara Frederickson, Psychologist and Neuroscience Professor at UNC, Chapel Hill said, “The ways that we feel happiness and well-being are actually showing up in the cells of our immune system and supporting our health.” What a great testimonial! Why wouldn’t we want to Make Happy a Habit?
You don’t have to wear a smiley-face hat or tell funny jokes. Simply doing the following five activities daily can rewire your brain towards happiness. (I include my order to just give you some idea of fitting it into your day. You can organize it however it is convenient for you).
I like to do this – out loud – in the morning when I get up. I encourage those around me to join in. It’s a good family tradition.
2. WRITE ABOUT A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE FROM THE PAST 24 HOURS
I do this in the evening. I keep a notebook on my nightstand. This simple activity has the amazing power of changing your entire mindset. You will comb through the day, tossing aside the negative and focusing on the positive. Guaranteed to make you smile.
3. EXERCISE (AT LEAST 20 MIN)
I am a morning person, so I make time before breakfast to get in my exercise. Whether it is a brisk walk, time at the gym or climbing stairs, give yourself 20 minutes and increase your activity. I’m including four short videos of easy five-minute exercises on my website. Do all four in a day and you’ll have your 20 minutes!
4. MEDITATE (5-7 MIN)
I find that meditating mid-afternoon works for me. No need to think mantras or posing cross-legged on the carpet. The simplest meditation can be sitting quietly listening to soothing music (no words) – and focusing on either the music, your breathing or a body scan from head-to-toe. If you want some guidance, I like the free app HEADSPACE, which you can use with your earphones while sitting at your desk. Meditation calms and centers, helping you focus and better handle whatever comes your way.
5. PERFORM ONE RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS
All day every day is a good time for a random act of kindness. Performing a selfless act that helps, compliments or encourages someone has an amazing effect on all involved. You’ll enjoy every minute. To help get you started, I’ll post a list of suggestions on my website.
Encourage everyone around you to get involved
Post some pictures of what you are grateful for and what makes you happy. I want to know how your random acts of kindness and writing about your positive experiences made you feel. Tell me about your time in meditation. And be sure to tell me when you start feeling like HAPPY is becoming a habit.
Good luck! And get your camera ready – you’ll be finding yourself smiling a lot more.
SHARE YOUR PROGRESS BY:
- Instagram – FOLLOW @MAKEHAPPYAHABIT for inspiration and share your own pictures of what makes you happy
- Facebook – LIKE /MAKEHAPPYAHABIT and post an update about how the challenge is changing your outlook
- Twitter – FOLLOW @ACCOMPLISHCOACH and tweet your own progress
- Pinterest – FOLLOW /ACCOMPLISHCOACH and start a Happiness board
Don’t forget to include #makehappyahabit in your posts
If you’ve been hesitating to start your 30 days, let me remind you that as a parent, you are a role model. Whenever you are with your kids, they are watching and often copying everything you do.
So… set an example, and start practicing every day to Make Happy A Habit. You’ll really enjoy it when you find yourself surrounded by people who are more positive, more optimistic and a lot more resilient.
Do this in the morning when everyone wakes up, over breakfast, or when you take the kids to school. It puts all involved in a good mindset to face the day.
WRITE DOWN ONE GOOD THING THAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE LAST 24 HOURS
This is especially good to do before going to sleep. It helps to have them think positive thoughts as they say good night.
It is important to WRITE down the thoughts. Have the younger kids tell you about it so you can help them write simple words and even draw a picture. For the older ones, they can write just one sentence or and entire paragraph.
You can best plan how this fits into your family’s day. Many kids will have a time on the playground or during PE at school. If at home, whoever is in charge should make exercise happen. If it’s raining, dance or do cheers in the family room.
For you parents who are ‘too busy’ at work, you can divide it up into two 10-minute sessions. Walk up and down the stairs or jog around the parking lot at lunchtime. Be sure to tell the kids when you get home.
MEDITATE AT LEAST 5 MINUTES A DAY
Here is your ticket to relaxation and focus. Turn off your electronics, and turn on some wordless music. Focus on your breathing or the music. Or simply do a body scan.
For very young kids you can merely sit in silence. Many experts recommend one minute of silence per year of age (up to 8) for kids. Just make time for quiet time.
PERFORM A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS
Simply be kind. Encourage the kids to help a neighbor, hold a door for someone, or even share their cookies. This kindness is especially satisfying because being considerate towards others inspires them to be kind to someone else.
See – not too hard! Get your family involved, be a role model, and Make Happy a Habit!
Loretta Saff, M.A., CPC, CPRC
As an active writer, both nationally and internationally, Loretta Saff's humor columns, blog, and lifestyle articles reflect an insight in dealing with situations that helps people get to their core issues and encourage confidence, trust and support.