Group gathers to spread happiness, positivity in university area
Amid all the terrible news of crime and chaos in the city and the rest of the world recently, Albuquerque drivers got a dose of happiness from a couple dozen positive picketers who waved supportive and encouraging signs near the University of New Mexico early Saturday afternoon.
Heather Hutzell, holder of the “You Are Enough” sign, is a UNM student who organized the “Happiness Sprinkling Project” event Saturday near the university. The event drew at least 25 people, she said. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)
University of New Mexico student Heather Hutzell, a strategic communications major, organized the “Happiness Sprinkling Project” event as a project for her social marketing class.
She used social media and other tools to gather people to Central Avenue and handed them signs that said, for example, “Be You,” “You are Loved” and “It’s going to be okay.”
The signs have been passed along to organizers for similar events all over the country.
Hutzell said the event was aimed at counteracting negativity that is broadcast by news media and deeply felt by people in Albuquerque and elsewhere.
Instead, Hutzell, who is set to graduate in December, said people need to embrace positivity.
“This is the kind of stuff that our city needs right now,” Hutzell said.
The turbulent life story of Bhutan's happiness guru
By Candida BeveridgeBBC World Service, Bhutan
In the 1970s, the king of Bhutan announced that the happiness of the population was more important than Gross Domestic Product. Saamdu Chetri has been charged with overseeing Bhutan's happiness - but his own life has had its share of suffering.
On the banks of a river in the remote Bumthang valley in the foothills of the Himalayas, Bhutan's first happiness centre is under construction. Among the workers breaking stones is Saamdu Chetri, dressed in monks' robes, wielding a pickaxe.
At first the workers were puzzled at his hands-on involvement, he says. "Then they realised it's not just for them, I'm helping myself by being physically fit."
Chetri chose this remote location because of its spiritual history and its beauty. "It's one of the most beautiful valleys in the country," he says. "This is a place of happiness for me where I find so much relation with nature - the place itself is so serene."
For a man charged with bringing happiness to a nation, Chetri has suffered much in his life and comes from the most humble beginnings.
"I was born in a cowshed," he says. "I was so attached to animals, plants - anything to do with nature.
"My parents never thought about schooling. We had seven brothers and four sisters, they were all working and I thought I would also be one of the working persons."
To his surprise, when he was nine years old his brother took him to school - something that worried his father a great deal.
"I was the most loved child and they didn't want me to leave the house," Chetri says.
"My father was very worried that I would become weak, so he sent a cow with me to school." He laughs at the memory.
"Of course the cow couldn't stay long because it had to be fed and looked after, so he took back the cow and he started visiting me with a lot of butter, cheese and milk."
He left school at the age of 14 because his brothers and sisters had left home and he felt a duty to help his parents. His day on the farm began at 04:00 when he would walk a kilometre to fetch water, after which he would feed the ox and begin to plough.
He decided to carry on his education, but his life changed dramatically when his parents took him on a pilgrimage to Nepal. There, they befriended another family who had their eyes on Chetri as a potential son-in-law.
He was only 15 at the time and knew nothing about it. Their intentions only became clear when one of the men from the Nepalese family invited them all to a family wedding.
"The man took me to town, then they started measuring my finger - I said, 'What are you doing with my finger?'" The man explained that he was only trying the ring on because he was the same size as a boy who was going to get married the next day - the same happened with the wedding outfit.
The following day the wedding ceremony began. Two ceremonial places were built, and Chetri and another boy were placed next to two empty chairs. "Then suddenly there are two men carrying two girls on their backs, coming towards us. One girl sat beside that boy, the other girl sat beside me. I tried getting up and they pushed me down on the chair," says Chetri.
"Then my mum came and said, 'Sorry son, you have been duped.'
"I felt I was dead - I wanted to die that moment. I was not only angry, I was so hurt. I couldn't do anything."
Once the ceremony began, it was too late to escape. The couple were given a small hut to retire to, but Chetri was too upset to sleep.
"I wanted to jump into the well and die, because this was something that I never expected my parents to do," he says.
Chetri was climbing up to the well to carry out his plan when his wife's father caught him from behind, and broke into bitter tears. "Please don't blame your parents, it's me who has cheated everybody, because I found you would be a great husband for my daughter," the father said.
He begged Chetri to think of his young bride. "If you die now, the repercussion that will happen on this little girl is that she will be widowed and nobody will marry her after that."
Chetri and his wife had children, and she lived at home with her parents while he continued his education at college in India. However, traumatised by events in her own life, one day she disappeared, leaving Chetri with two young children. A female friend from college offered to help. Over time, their relationship grew, and they married.
After a while his first wife came home. Chetri was faced with a dilemma. His first wife offered to go and live with his parents, but soon disappeared again. It was 19 years before Chetri discovered where she was. Now she is back in her home country, Nepal, and lives with a mental illness. It's something Chetri struggles with.
"I still think about her, in fact last night I was praying for her."
Despite his own share of personal grief, nowadays Chetri always has a smile on his face. He says he's a naturally happy person, but he never dreamt he would end up as the man responsible for Bhutan's happiness.
His rise up through the ranks started when, freshly out of college, he was called on by government to bring about the the king's wish to develop Bhutan's newly emerging private sector. Working for the royal family wasn't an easy task.
"For us, a king's wish is a command," he says. "You have to work very hard to meet their expectations." He would often work until 03:00, catch a few hours' sleep at home and be back at work promptly at 08:00.
If he made a mistake, he would be punished - on one occasion the king's aunt called him and said, "Saamdu, I'm coming with a stick. Stand on the roadside."
"If I got a scolding I would cry," says Chetri. "I always tried to be very straightforward, working as sincerely and loyally as I could, and if some blame came to me I felt always hurt - so I cried often."
After many years of working in the capital, he retired to his village in the south of Bhutan - he wanted to go back to living among nature, which he had loved as a boy. But it was not to be.
When Bhutan elected its first democratic government, he was summoned back to the capital, Thimphu, and asked to work for the cabinet office of Bhutan's first, freshly elected democratic government.
Five years later he was the man chosen to head up Bhutan's first Gross National Happiness Centre based in Thimpu.
Despite the focus on national wellbeing, Bhutan faces huge challenges. It remains one of the poorest nations on the planet.
A quarter of its 800,000 people survive on less than $1.25 a day, and 30% live without electricity. It is struggling with a rise in mental illness and divorce.
Chetri explained how Bhutan's nationwide happiness surveys are used to improve people's lives.
"The research could come out and say: women between the ages of 30 and 55 are unhappy. The reasons could be because they have very little education, because they lose a lot of time collecting water from distant places, they have to collect firewood, and they have no education, no time for themselves."
The solutions might be to bring on formal education, pipe the water closer to their villages, and provide efficient cooking stoves.
Five years after it was first announced, Chetri is about to realise his dream of creating a centre in a beautiful natural setting where people from Bhutan and the rest of the world can come to learn how to lead happier lives.
Visitors to the GNH centre, finished this month but officially opening its doors to the public on 18 October, will learn three basic principles - to be part of nature, to serve others with kindness and compassion, and to discover their innate value.
Chetri starts every day meditating and it's compulsory for everyone in his office to start the day this way too. "I wish I did not need to do anything but just to sit here and meditate," he says.
"I would love that, but it's difficult to be looking after a centre where you have to do a lot of planning, a lot of administrative work. It irritates me a lot."
Saamdu Chetri appeared on Outlook on the BBC World Service. Listen again to the interview on iPlayer or get the Outlook podcast.
There’s a biology to lasting happiness, and there may be way to train yourself for it
Katherine Ellen Foley
July 26, 2
That uplifting feeling you get when something good happens to you? Researchers now think they know the part of the brain responsible for it—and they suggest we may be able to train ourselves to make those positive emotions last longer.
Their conclusions are based on a study (paywall) conducted by scientists at the University of Wisconsin, where psychologist Aaron Heller and his team conducted an experiment with more than 100 college students. For a period of 10 days, participants were sent text messages about 25 times a day asking them to rank their positive and negative emotions on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being a low level of feeling and 9 being the most intense. Once a day, the subjects were invited to play a game of chance: They were asked to guess if a computer-generated number would be above or below 5, and if they were right, they won $15. After the game, participants checked in with their positive and negative emotions every 10 to 15 minutes for the next hour and a half, so that their moods could be monitored.
The researchers also analyzed brain scans, taken by an MRI scanner, of 40 participants in the study. Here they found that those who were happier for longer periods of time after winning the game had the longest activation in a part of the brain called the ventral striatum(pdf), which helps regulate our reward system.
“People who sustain positive emotion the longest in the course of minutes and hours were those people who showed the most persistent brain activity in an area that’s thought to be responsible for reward and reward learning,” says Heller, who is now on the faculty at the University of Miami. He tells Quartz that there are “dynamics over the course of seconds in the brain that seem to be related to dynamics of emotional experience over the course of minutes in the real world.”
Heller thinks that this research can help scientists understand how we may be able to train ourselves to be happier. This might involve prolonged activation of the ventral striatum, or we might just consciously choose to savor moments of happiness—when we take in a beautiful sunset, for example—in order to make the emotional satisfaction last
2 Guaranteed Ways to Be The Happiest Version Of You EVER
By Charles J. Orlando, Cara Cordoni, Leah Benson, John Gray, Atul Kumar Meh
All humans have one common goal in life: To achieve complete happiness.
Many ancient Greek philosophers famously contemplated the key to happiness. Socrates, for example, said, "The secret to happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less."
This adage has definitely stood the test of time — even in our modern, capitalist world. Many believe that happiness comes from rewards earned from our successes. We fill our lives with an abundance of monetary wealth and expensive objects (cars, houses, jewelry, etc.).
But honestly, as cliché as it sounds, money can't buy you happiness. According to a collaborative global study released in 2011, researchers found that 30 percent of the population in some of the wealthiest nations — with the U.S. near the top of that list — suffer from depression.
What's the REAL key to happiness, you ask? Author and host Charles J. Orlando, author Dr. John Gray, life coach and speaker Cara Cordoni, licensed psychotherapist and bioenergetic analystLeah Benson and counselor and therapist Atul Kumar Mehra discuss what the true ways to gain happiness.
Here are two keys to achieve the happiness you crave:
1. Find Meaning In Your Life
The first step to happiness is finding meaning in every aspect of your life. Everything from closerelationships to your career has meaning. Seek out people worth relating to and loving. Set a career path that makes a profound impact on your life as well as the lives of others. Creating and maintaining aspects of substantial value in your life WILL make you happy in a meaningful life worth living.
2. Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin
Don't be so judgmental and nitpicky about your natural emotions and your body. Love who you are, and know that any struggles you face will end. Know that you have the intelligence and confidence to overcome those struggles. Know that sadness, frustration and stress are not permanent.
Leah Benson further explains that happiness involves "being able to have a range of feelings — happiness, joy, anger, confusion, sadness, fear, rage. [The foundations to being able to be happy are] that whatever the feeling is that you're having ... you are OK with that, and [you] won't judge yourself for it. [All] the passing feelings sum up to you feeling good in your body, yourself ...."
Want to know the other definite keys to happiness? Watch the video above to hear what the YourTango Experts panel says will inevitably end your search for happiness.
Follow Your Bliss: Happiness and the Art of Doing What You Love
By Michael Wayne
An important ingredient to being happy is doing work that you find meaningful and is an expression of who you are.
This is called Doing What You Love. It is also the ability to, as Joseph Campbell put it,“Follow Your Bliss.”
Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience. His philosophy is often summarized by his phrase: “Follow your bliss.”
This is what Joseph Campbell had to say:
“What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you.
This is what I call, ‘Following Your Bliss.’
If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you. And the life that you ought to be living, is the one you ARE living. Wherever you are, if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that lives within you, all the time.
When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open doors for you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
And so the question to you is: Are you following your bliss? Are you doing what you love?
And if not, what is holding you back?
The truth be told, it is fear that holds us back from doing what we love.
But it can be overcome. The first step is to ask yourself: if I could do anything, what would that be?
You may not have an answer right away, and that’s alright, because we are not programmed to think that way.
We are programmed to think that we need to make a living, and that we should make the most pragmatic choice in that regard.
But instead, what if we follow our bliss? As Joseph Campbell says, doors will open for you where you didn’t know they would be.
Which is a tremendous thing, because when you do what you love and follow your bliss, you will be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.
And there is nothing more important in life than to live in a happier, healthier and more fulfilled way.
The Haunted White House
John William Tuohy
The night bodyguard to President Benjamin Harrison reported hearing near constant footsteps in the hall where he was posted and assumed it was spirit of Abe Lincoln pacing the floor, back and forth. He was said to have grown so weary of the sound that he attended a séance to ask President Lincoln to stop. The noises were heard by many others over the year but they are said to have stopped after the extensive repairs were done to the second floor of the White House in 1952.
William Henry Harrison
President Benjamin Harrison grandfather, William Henry Harrison, is said to haunt the White House attic. Harrison was the last president born before the United States Declaration of Independence was signed and served the shortest term, 30 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes.
Harrison died only three weeks after his inauguration when he caught a common cold which developed into Pneumonia and then pleurisy. His last words, spoken to his Vice President, John Tyler were, “Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.”
Harrison’s death started the legend of the “curse of the Shawnee Prophet”. The curse (Which is also called The Curse of Tippecanoe) derives from the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 while Harrison was governor of the Indiana Territory.
Apparently, during the negotiation of the 1809 Treaty of Fort Wayne with Native Americans, Harrison used some underhanded tactics to cede enormous tracks of land from the Indian nations to the U.S. government.
The terms brought about the battle of Tippecanoe in which the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother rose up against the westward expansion of the United States. It was Harrison’s leadership of the US troops during the battle that brought him national fame as a war hero. However, Tecumseh's brother Tenskwatawa, known as the Prophet, set a curse against Harrison and all others who were elected president during years with the same end number as Harrison. (He was elected in 1840)
Tecumseh and Tenskwataw
For the next 120 years, presidents elected during years ending in a zero (occurring every 20 years) died while serving in office, from Harrison to John F. Kennedy and including Ronald Reagan, (elected in 1980) who was shot but survived and George W. Bush (2000) who survived an attempt on his life unharmed. However, the only president who died in office without being elected in a "cursed" year was Zachary Taylor, who was elected in 1848 and died in 1850.
Harrison is said to haunt the White House attic where his ghost has been seen tossing about papers and boxes as if he was looking for something very specific.
Harrison’s guard brush with the afterworld was not the only a séance was related to the White House. President Lincoln, no doubt in a move to appease his somewhat erratic wife, attended several séance in the White House and in his book The Choice, Bob Woodward describes a 1995, a séance was held by psychic Jean Houston in the White House solarium for the benefit of Hillary Clinton.
According to the book, Hillary, while in a deep trance, channeled the spirits of Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi. Before that, First Lady Nancy Reagan asked her astrologer, Joan Quigley, to arrange an attempt to communicate with the otherworld through the so-called White House portal.
Nancy Reagan called Quigley in 1981 after John Hinckley's attempted assassination of the president and asked Quigley if she could have foreseen the assassination attempt. Quigley said she could have and Nancy then had her stay on as the White House astrologer in secret until that secret was released in 1988 by former chief of staff Donald Regan.
Explaining why she kept Quigley on, the First Lady wrote "Very few people can understand what it's like to have your husband shot at and almost die, and then have him exposed all the time to enormous crowds, tens of thousands of people, any one of whom might be a lunatic with a gun... I was doing everything I could think of to protect my husband and keep him alive."
Quigley later wrote, "Not since the days of the Roman emperors—and never in the history of the United States Presidency—has an astrologer played such a significant role in the nation's affairs of State."
Lillian Rogers Parks, a one-time society hairdresser who had used her client connections to get the White House job as a seamstress and Executive maid from the beginning of the Hoover Administration in 1929 to the end of the Eisenhower years in 1961, she had been a familiar figure at the White House since she was a little girl. Her mother, Maggie Rogers, was part of the White House staff at the start of the Taft Administration and often took her daughter to work with her.
Parks (left) with Eleanor Roosevelt
Parks. Who lived to age 100, wrote ''My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House.'' which became the basis of a nine-part NBC miniseries in 1979, created an immediate sensation when it was published in 1961 and was on The New York Times best-seller list for 26 weeks. But its success so alarmed the incoming First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, that she ordered all White House domestic employees to sign a pledge not to write about their White House experiences. (Mrs. Kennedy's secretary, Mary Gallagher, was assigned to the task of collecting the signatures but neglected to sign one, herself, and eventually wrote her own tell-all with Miss Leighton, ''My Boss,'' in 1969.)
In her book, Park told of working in the Rose Bedroom (the modern Queen's Suite) to prepare it for a visit from Queen Elizabeth, when she gradually became aware of a cold presence standing behind her. Frightened, she rushed out of the room not looking once behind her. It was three years before she could bring herself to enter the room again.
The Queens Suite
In that same room, President Andrew Jackson is said to be seen lying on the Queens' Bedroom and his would rough laugh has been heard in the White House since the beginning of the 1860s.
First Lady press secretary Liz Carpenter heard the laugh and swore it was Jackson's, and Mary Todd Lincoln (Who had some mental health issues) claimed to have heard the stomping and swearing of an invisible presence which she claimed was the uncouth Jackson.
Mary Todd Lincoln was certain that President Jackson was caring for her young son Willie in the afterlife. In the 1940s, Katurah Brooks, a maid, said that she often heard laughter coming from the Queen's Suite.
Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary also once remarked that she heard President Thomas Jefferson playing his violin in the Yellow Oval Room and remarked “My, my, how that Mr. Jefferson does play that violin.” However, she was the only person who heard the sounds.