Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series Starting

By Linda Brackin, MSS, LCSW, Sustainable Happiness Life Coach

PRE-REGISTRATION IS NECESSARY (Registration fee covers the first session)

STARTING: Mid January, 2016 ENDING: Early April or June, 2016 (see below)

WHERE: 701 Adams Dam Road Greenville, DE 19807

WHEN: After 12 years, this is the first time, I am offering two options for this series. If there is enough interest, I will offer both groups. If most of the interests leans towards one option or the other, I will offer one group.

  • Option One: Monthly on Saturday mornings 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM (January – June)
  • Options Two: Bi-Weekly on Thursday nights 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM (January – Apri)l

FEE: Option One: $65 per session

Option Two: $55 per session

EMAIL:

PHONE: 302 888 2345

Although each individual session in the workshop series builds upon another, each one stands alone as holding inherent value to you. It is my intention and desire that you will be able to attend the complete series. If your schedule doesn’t permit due to prior travel plans or something unexpected, you will have the opportunity to share the assignment you had to miss. Think of it as a course you are committed to attending. There is tuition. To make it more manageable, you can pay for each session as the course progresses.

The goal for this workshop series is simple and powerful: To help you lead lives that are happier, more engaged, and more deeply meaningful. I do this by drawing on the principles of Positive Psychology.

“Positive psychology is the scientific study of what enables individuals and communities to thrive and flourish. The field was founded in 1996 on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within them and to enhance their experience of love, work and play.” (www.ippanetwork.org)

Happiness and well-being are overarching terms to describe the goals of the entire positive psychology enterprise, embracing both positive emotions (such as joy and comfort) and positive activities (such as engagement and absorption).

Dr. Martin Seligman, one of the principal pioneers of the Science of Positive Psychology, teaches that life satisfaction has three dimensions: the pleasant life, the engaged life, the meaningful life.

1. The Pleasant Life: Focused on getting as much healthy pleasure as possible; a life that successfully pursues the positive emotions about the Past (contentment, serenity, satisfaction), the Present (savoring, gratitude) and the Future (optimism, hope, faith, confidence).

2. The Engaged Life: Identifying and using your signature strengths every day to obtain abundant gratification, absorption and flow in the main realms of your life (work, love, friendship and parenting).

3. The Meaningful Life: Adds one more component, which is using these same signature strengths in the service of something much greater to obtain meaning, to forward knowledge, beneficial power, or goodness.

By identifying the very best in ourselves, we can improve the world around us and achieve new and sustainable levels of authentic contentment, gratification and meaning. A foundational component of this workshop series will be to introduce you to your signature strengths through an assessment tool developed by the early pioneers of positive psychology.

The primary focus of the introductory workshop session is the results of your VIA Character Strengths Survey, which you will be asked to complete prior to the workshop. You will receive a 25 page interpretive report on your individual character strengths. This is a guide to embracing and more consciously focusing on your signature character strengths, which will become a foundational tool leading to sustainable happiness.

By participating you will have gained an introductory level of understanding of the link between daily utilization of your signature strengths and sustainable happiness. You will know a great deal about what’s right with you instead of what’s wrong! You will be more consciously aware of the benefits of your signature strengths to you, to others, and have a sense of how and where you could use them even more.

You will walk away with an understanding of the pursuit of pleasure in terms of positive emotions from the past, present, future.

You will learn actual steps you can take to savor, build gratitude, and build optimism.

I would be grateful if you would consider the kindness of assisting me by spreading the word via email, Facebook and twitter by sharing this link.

All good blessings,
Linda Brackin, MSS, LCSW

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Did you know it’s possible to intensify and prolong pleasure by choosing to savor?  Savoring can give us the motivation to choose to spend our time in ways that make us happy. Savoring can be a tool to overcome challenge and move through pain. By remembering the experiences that have brought us great joy or practicing present moment savoring, we can give ourselves a moment of relief in the pain of a stressful situation, which can truly be the recharge we need to keep moving forward. The practice of savoring is a learned skill that is a key pathway to Sustainable Happiness.

In the Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series that begins January 3, 2015 , I will be suggesting a specific savoring experience to help you attend to, appreciate and enhance a positive experience. It’s called:  Savoring a Beautiful Day.

I offer you this idea now, to give you a little nibble of the strategies you will learn on your pathway to Sustainable Happiness. In this experience, you set aside a block of time for your own pleasure (a minimum of one hour or a maximum of a full eight-hour day.) I suggest treating yourself to a half day and that will be a perfect beginning. Block the time out on your calendar and protect it from all the many things that often wiggle their way in and could potentially interfere. Decide upon a particular activity or series of activities that you know will bring you pleasure. While you are immersed in your day, bring your awareness to your intention to savor every detail of pleasure. Focus on the details that bring pleasure and block out those details that vi for your attention or constitute kill joy thinking. For instance, avoid reminding yourself of other things you should be doing; of what comes next in terms of your responsibilities later on; or of ways your experience could be improved. Take mental photographs that you can pull forward in your memory later or perhaps select a physical memento allowing you to reminisce about your experience with others when you share with them later. The single best way to savor pleasure is to share your experience with others.

To learn more savoring exercises please join me for a six-week program, The Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series, beginning January 3, 2015.  Pre-registration is required.  You can register here.

 

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A Personal Branding Exercise

In my history of facilitating workshops, at the first gathering, I design the process for “strangers to meet strangers” as an opportunity for true contact.  The goal is to come away from the exchange knowing something of core value about each individual. I often create a unique way for participants to introduce themselves with greater ease than the typical request from the facilitator to, “Go around the circle and tell us about yourself.” In my view, because of the slightly anxious moment generated by that request, a group of strangers responds by describing themselves in the general context of their family or job, both important, I agree, yet not really something about their uniqueness as an individual. This exercise can be helpful to individuals and groups of all kinds, so I thought I might share for those who will not have the opportunity to attend my workshop. I invite you to read on and find a new way for introducing yourself to a stranger or even a friend. Think of it as a personal branding exercise.  You can find a use for it in many domains of your life. First, let me share the details of the Positive Introduction Exercise.

In the first workshop of the Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series on January 3rd, 2015 we are going to meet one another in the context of our strengths. The participants will complete a Positive Introduction Exercise before coming to the workshop. Even if you aren’t present at the workshop, you too could consider completing this exercise for your personal benefit and even share the idea with your friends and do it together. I completed this same exercise during my training in Positive Psychology, so I know it asks something of you that you’ve likely never done before. We are not used to focusing on our strengths and certainly not in our conversations with friends, and especially not with strangers.

I ask you to offer your Positive Introduction in the form of a concrete story. It reflects one or more of your highest strengths. Write it down. This story is about a concrete moment in time in your life that describes you at your very best and it has a beginning, middle and then ends with a bang!  You don’t necessarily need to name the strengths because they will be evident in the story you write. Make your Positive Introduction story one page or longer. The total length is up to you.

Then each participant shares their story. The group members (or a group of friends outside this workshop experience) listen for and then name the strengths they hear in each story.  In the sharing of these stories, you make true contact with one another. You meet one another in the context of something positive and inspiring.

A client of mine shared an application in his life related to job interviewing. When it’s a good interviewer, half way into the interview, you often get a question that has nothing to do with your skill level or work experience qualifications; rather, you get a question that calls forth information about your character. My client was asked, “How do you know you have the courage to do this job?”  He proceeded to tell the story from his Positive Introduction Exercise, which revealed his courage and bravery.

In his story, he told us of how he was asked to reveal information that would compromise the project he was working on but provide him a leg up in the company if he divulged this sensitive information. He refused and was actually demoted. Although he felt the injustice of this outcome, he felt proud of himself for having the courage to do what he believed was ethical professionally and personally.

As you can see, there are many applications in real life where an exercise like this might be useful to you:

Suppose you are meeting a person you’re attracted to and would possibly like to date.  They want to know more about you and vice versa. You’ve exchanged the typical surface information about yourselves and you’d like to try to make true contact by sharing something of core value to who you are as a person. You could give a short intro into the idea of this exercise and then agree to tell each other a story which reflects you at your best. If you are willing to share your story first, your possible future date 🙂 will likely be at ease when it’s their turn to share.

If you are in an intimate social group that meets regularly like the Friday Night Group I’ve been a part of for about 25 years, there’s always more to learn about even your closest friends. This exercise is a great idea for a similar gathering. You will be amazed at your own response to the experience of sharing your story. It actually feels good to honor yourself at your best in the presence of your close friends. It affirms your unique worth in this world. The response of your friends will also be very meaningful to you, trust me. In turn, your response to their stories will be of great value to them.

I hope you will take this idea and run with it!  Give yourself permission. You’ll be glad you did. Come to the Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series if you are drawn. This Positive Introduction Exercise is an experience that is not only a great way to get to know one another, but also a highly effective launch pad for the deeper exploration of your character strengths that will become the corner stone of the Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series. I hope you will join us.

PRE-REGISTRATION IS NECESSARY

WHERE: Fairville Village, 518 Kennett Pike, Chadds Ford, PA 19317 (in the beauty and comfort of Erin Bobo’s Myofascial Release studio)

WHEN:  Six Month Workshop Series begins Saturday, Jan. 3rd, 2015 and continues on the first Saturday of the month (Feb. 7th, March 8th, April 4th, May 2nd & June 6th)

TIME:     1:00-4:00 pm

FEE:        $65

EMAIL: 

PHONE: 302 888 2345

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I know you’ll find lots of different tips for  getting  through the holidays.  Why just “get through?” Though the reality of stress is present during this time, these tips will take you beyond “getting through the holidays” to the experience of an authentic happiness and sense of meaning.  My hope is these ideas will challenge you to practice savoringgratitude and self-care through out your holiday. Sustainable happiness is about thriving not just surviving.

1.  Provide good fuel for your body and soul.  Make sufficient food, rest, and relaxation   your priorities so you don’t “run out of gas” when you need it most.

2.  Check and recheck your expectations of yourself.  Give yourself permission to lower your daily expectations for the sake of your well-being. Ease up on the “I’ve got to drive myself or I’ll never complete my list” mentality.  Remember, you can eliminate unnecessary stress when you also take special care to stop buying into someone else’s expectations of you.

3.  Have a sense of wonder and awe even if, initially, you need to borrow it from the face of a child or the full moon shining on new fallen snow.

4.  Don’t let the taint of commercialism rob you.  Instead, stay inspired by that which you find inspirational about the holidays.  It will be your favorite and most sustainable gift.

5.  When it comes to ideas for Christmas or Hanukkah gifts, consider giving “the gift of time” to your friends and family.  Choose something you know they would enjoy, plan it and share the time together. The gift of time can cost nothing or very little.  It can also lend itself to a wonderful splurge for a group of friends or family members. I’ve done this for years. Everyone loves the idea and it eliminates a lot of shopping time! I try to come up with ideas to stay out of the malls.  This one works 🙂

6.  As you move through your busy days, open up your eyes and take in anything that you see that is beautiful, and wonderful and sublime. Then savor it. It’s the pause that refreshes and restores…a pause for beauty, for delight! Those moments of savoring can then be extended to an awareness of having received a gift.

7.  Remain on gentle alert for opportunities that excite you and boost your energy.  Don’t give your precious emotional energy away to activities or people who drain you.  Step back from them any way you can.

8.  Take responsibility for finding your own meaning in the holidays so you will be insured of a meaningful experience.

9.  Wherever you can, when others don’t need to be considered, do things your own way.

10.  When something unexpected and important gets added to your already completely packed day of tasks and responsibilities, think of it as ” in place of” rather than “in addition to” your remaining tasks and responsibilities.

11.  Do something new this holiday season; something you’ve thought of doing but just haven’t made a priority yet.  Make it another gift to yourself!

12.  All good blessings as you  “move at the pace of guidance” through the holidays season.

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“People will forget what I say but they will never forget how I made them feel.” Guidance I want to follow in my life with friends & clients.

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In my last post, on gratitude, I wrote about a gratitude building exercise called The Three Blessings Exercise  where we learned to identify the part we play in our own blessings.  Today, I want to talk about a gratitude building exercise related to sharing your gratitude directly with a significant person who has made a positive impact on your life.

The second gratitude building exercise is a Gratitude Letter and Visit. One of the reasons why gratitude increases life satisfaction is because it amplifies good memories about the past.  The goal of the Gratitude Letter and Visit is for you to experience the power of expressing your gratitude for someone who has touched your life and to do this in a manner that has forethought and effort.  Perhaps there is someone in your life who has been especially kind to you over the years but you haven’t yet expressed your gratitude.  Or, there might be a teacher, a college professor, a coach or mentor who made a huge difference in you life.  It could be a parent, a friend, or a teammate. Sit down and compose a letter to your chosen recipient, describing in concrete terms why you are grateful.  Be specific.  Give lots of examples letting them know exactly how they affected your life.  Once your letter is complete, go to what ever effort is needed to make your gratitude visit. Find a way to arrange the visit which doesn’t alert your recipient to your purpose but keep in mind that, optimally, you will need some level of privacy. Read your letter in their presence even if you have to fly across the country to do it!

I’m going to share a portion of the letter I wrote when I was given this assignment in my authentic happiness life coaching training. To set this up for you, I had recently given a gratitude party for ten people in my personal life, during which I had expressed my specific gratitude to each person. So, I had to think long and hard about who my letter would go to.  Suddenly, my thoughts turned to Martin Seligman, the pioneer of Positive Psychology, the very person who was training me and giving me this assignment!  I remember thinking how much was changing my life and I wondered if I would ever be able to actually get a visit with such a busy man, especially without a reason for the visit that I could reveal. Here’s a portion of my letter.

Dear Marty,

I extend my gratitude to you, for you. You are like a breath of fresh air in my life.  I wasn’t aware that I even needed fresh air but now that I’m breathing it in, it is quite clear that I needed this particular quality of air.  It translates into greater quality of life.

The immense devotion you have demonstrated to the development of your own authentic happiness and the dissemination of authentic happiness is deserving of nothing less than a Pulitzer Prize.  Your contribution to our world and to mankind is that grand!  Everyone I meet in my work as a therapist and life coach, as well as the majority of those I know personally, state that they want to be happy or happier.  I am so grateful to you for the exhaustive effort you have put forth to create a pathway to happiness that can be articulated, understood and followed; that can be measured and quantified, and can therefore enable people to not only dwell in the possibility of happiness but actually achieve authentic happiness.

Because of you, I have recognized I’ve never had a sufficient toolbox to use toward this end with my clients and now, every week in our master class, you place a new tool in my hands! You do so with contagious enthusiasm, exquisite clarity, brilliant wisdom, elegant choices and genuine humility.  I come away flushed with a heightened positive energetic vibration. My heart is pounding with excitement and the smile I’m wearing is gorgeous.  The clients that walk in my door two minutes after I hang up from the master class, can’t wait to hear what spills out and over into their session.

There’s more, so much more.  Because of your rich history as a mental health professional, you are confirming so much about what I have always believed was missing in our profession’s approach to recovery, to health and well-being. I’ve always come from a strengths perspective and now I feel deeply supported in this belief by the science of positive psychology. It creates a new foundation in my work, which I experience as solid ground. Because of this, I feel even more privileged and equipped to do what is mine to do on this earth.

Finally, I am grateful for the manner in which you call for, acknowledge and distribute the ideas of others in the training course. You not only give but you also receive and I am richer for both.  Thank you for each and every moment you have reached inside yourself for more of yourself, to further build your signature strengths to their unending capacity, resulting in this unequaled opportunity in my life to be a part of the dissemination of positive psychology and authentic happiness. And now I close, hoping that I am standing in front of you, able to read this in your presence as a way of honoring you.

With deep gratitude,

Linda Brackin

It took me 8 months, but when the visit took place in Martin Seligman’s home, it was a peak experience in my life. As I read my letter, I felt so privileged to be having this opportunity. When I finished, Marty stood up, walked across the room and embraced me.  I’ll never forget his words: “No one’s ever done this for me. I am so grateful. I’m going to frame your letter and put it on my desk.” He took me for a tour of his famous rose garden and then we said goodbye, both full of gratitude.

Perhaps it would be good to just imagine being a recipient of such a gratitude letter and visit. Then…go ahead and select the recipient for your letter and as Martin Seligman said, “Make it sing!”

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If you are looking for  the single most reliable link to life satisfaction, look no further. Gratitude is the single most important character strength for life satisfaction. After 12 years of research, this is a solid empirical finding in Positive Psychology, the exciting new field of scientific study devoted to exploring human thriving and happiness. I’m guessing there aren’t many people out there who would intellectually doubt this finding but how many of you would like to do your own personal research just to be sure?

In my up coming Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series on January 8th, 2012, the participants will do two gratitude building assignments that have the potential to make a significant impression on them and their life satisfaction.  I know this can happen because I’ve done these assignments myself. The first is called the Three Blessings Exercise and it is done every day for one week.  Initially, it may sound familiar to you but stay tuned because it has a unique aspect to it.  At the end of each day, record three things that took place in the day you just lived that you consider a blessing or a good thing.  It can be major or minor and anywhere in between.  Then…here’s the unique twist…go back to number one, two and three and ask yourself, “What was my part in this blessing coming to me?” We tend to think that good things happen to us or blessings flow to us because of something external to us and we had no direct bearing on its arrival in our day, in our life.  Certainly, I agree there are other people and other forces at work. Nevertheless, I’m suggesting you step out of your typical thinking and ask, “What part did I play?” At first it may seem like a struggle and then, you’ll get very good at identifying your part in your own blessings. And guess what?  It’s quite the fabulous finding! Upon this realization, your awareness is suddenly raised. You discover that in some way, you are an important participant in most of your own blessings and therefore, in the frequency and sustainability of your gratitude.  Remember the research finding?  Gratitude leads to life satisfaction and happiness more than any other character strength.  Even, when at first, you can’t come up with the answer to your part in your blessing, keep asking and when it comes, write it down next to the blessing you’ve recorded. By way of illustrating, here are a few of the entries I made when I first started this practice in December of 2003.

Blessing #1: Phone message from my daughter telling me she loved me.

My Part? She has learned how much this means to me because I’ve told her so, each time she reaches out to me in her busy life to express love to me.

Blessing #2: People sharing my joy about the amazing article published today in The Hunt magazine about Erin’s Myofascial Release work with horses.

My Part? I made the choice to tell some friends and clients about my joy and how proud I was of my daughter. They responded by sharing in my joy because they were given the opportunity to do so.

Blessing#3: Paulette opened up to me about her grief and allowed me to comfort her.

My Part? She knows I understand grief at a deep level because of  profound losses I’ve shared with her and she feels safe with me when expressing her authentic emotions.

Blessing #4: I got to see the sunset in my favorite location today!

My Part?  My devotion to mindfulness and present moment living.  My love of Mother Earth and Father Sky.

Sometimes it’s not possible to find your part in your blessing.  For example:

Blessing #5: Bert was in a car accident today and she’s basically unharmed.

My Part? I have no part.  It was guardian angels, no doubt.

Doing this exercise for one week can certainly get your attention and be meaningful. It can help build your gratitude. My hope is that readers and workshop attendees will choose to go beyond one week and make it a gratitude building practice in their life.  This simple practice can transform your day and who knows, maybe even your level of life satisfaction.

I’ll be back with another gratitude building idea that will fill you and someone you know with immense gratitude.

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The practice of savoring is a learned skill that is a key pathway to Sustainable Happiness. It can give us the motivation to choose to spend our time in ways that make us happy. Savoring can be a tool to overcome challenge and move through pain. By remembering the experiences that have brought us great joy or practicing present moment savoring, we can give ourselves a moment of relief in the pain of a stressful situation, which can truly be the recharge we need to keep moving forward.

Did you know it’s possible to intensify and prolong pleasure by choosing to savor? Have you ever thought, “I wish this moment of pleasure could last longer?” Research findings in the Science of Positive Psychology indicate that deliberate strategies can make it possible to increase and extend pleasure. For example, have you ever noticed yourself gazing at someone you love, just taking in every detail of their face, without them having any awareness of your gaze. I’ve done this with my daughter from the time she was a newborn to her thirtyseventh year. (Now that’s a heap of pleasure spanning 37 years!)

This simple act of savoring is not only a path to prolonging pleasure but also a path to sustainable happiness. Savoring takes me well beyond the exquisite beauty of my beloved daughter’s face, into an awareness of my feelings of love and gratitude for her and then, into an awareness of the uniqueness of this wise woman who has found what is hers to do in this world and forward into an awareness of the blessing she is in my life and the lives of others…and the added awareness keeps on moving forward until I’m forced to stop my private, savoring gaze because she has turned her head in my direction. Nothing of my pleasure is lost however, because that extended moment of pleasure can be savored again tomorrow, next week, next month or when ever I choose to remember it. “Times remembered are not lost; joys remembered are joys again.” Victoria Hamilton wrote these favorite words of mine in 1974. I suspect she had discovered and deeply understood the power of savoring as one of the pathways to sustainable happiness.

In the Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series that begins on November 5th, I will be suggesting a specific savoring experience to help you attend to, appreciate and enhance a positive experience. It’s called:  Savoring a Beautiful Day.

I offer you this idea now, to give you a little nibble of the strategies you will learn on your pathway to Sustainable Happiness. In this experience, you set aside a block of time for your own pleasure (a minimum of one hour or a maximum of a full eight-hour day.) I suggest treating yourself to a half day and that will be a perfect beginning. Block the time out on your calendar and protect it from all the many things that often wiggle their way in and could potentially interfere. Decide upon a particular activity or series of activities that you know will bring you pleasure. While you are immersed in your day, bring your awareness to your intention to savor every detail of pleasure. Focus on the details that bring pleasure and block out those details that vi for your attention or constitute kill joy thinking. For instance, avoid reminding yourself of other things you should be doing; of what comes next in terms of your responsibilities later on; or of ways your experience could be improved. Take mental photographs that you can pull forward in your memory later or perhaps select a physical memento allowing you to reminisce about your experience with others when you share with them later. The single best way to savor pleasure is to share your experience with others.

I also find writing about it during the experience adds to the savoring as well as providing an opportunity for your post experience reading pleasure, which provides savoring once again. Let yourself become totally immersed, moving out of your head and into your senses. When I chose to Savor a Beautiful Day, I decided to write about what I was totally immersed in at the moment of my savoring. I found that, for me, because I’m able to go deeper inside myself when I write, this choice enhanced my experience greatly. For others, you might find other fullfilling ways of recording your experience, possibly through photographs, a video or maybe a piece of artwork.

I’d like to share some of my experience with you. On a bright, sunny yet chilly Fall day, I spent my day savoring the Brandywine River from the vantage point of a small solarium-like space inside the Brandywine River Museum.  It was and still is a beloved space, visited often over a span of 40 years.  Here is an excerpt which records my observations during my experience of savoring.

” Rivers always move me to a contemplative place.  They take me to my sacred interior.  I think about the journey of my life – the flow of my life – where it’s been and where it’s going.  There is no controlling the ‘river of life’.  It has its path and it’s on its way, no matter what the obstacles, no matter how fast or slow.  Every section of light on the river can quickly shift to a section of shadow.  It can’t be stopped or altered.

Today, the speed of the current is very rapid. When I stare at the point on the river right in front of me, neither up river nor down river, in my peripheral vision, I can see the new river water approaching from my right and leaving from my left. The spot right in front of me has no staying power, no permanence whatsoever. With each second that passes, the image in front of me changes dramatically.  I see water, bubbles, ripples, light and shadow repeated…but never once are these common ingredients creating sameness.  It’s rather like staring into a fire and watching the immense variety in one moment and then the next.  And that’s my Zen view of the spot on the river right in front of me. Next, when I widen my view without shifting my body even one degree, I see the equivalent of a grand vista, an expansive landscape stretching out across the river and the land.  That’s how much detail there is in one moment of savoring my beloved Brandywine River. I receive her beauty and the gift of wisdom about life that she offers me today.”

I then listed the emotions I noticed within me. They included: peace, serenity, gentle sadness, gratitude, inspiration, joy, regret, wonder, and awe. Then I recorded the rest of what was in my awareness. 1) Silence in the midst of voices all around me. 2) Warmth of the sun through the glass window. 3) My own reflection in the window, like a beautiful painting or a portrait superimposed upon the image of the river.  The lighting that captures this moment in time and makes it possible for me to bear witness to it is extraordinary. 4) Contentment. 5) Elongation of time. 6) The absence of an awareness of the passage of time. 7) The stillness of the land in contrast to the fast flowing river. 8) The steadiness of the trunks of the trees, yet the gentle movement of the branches of the same trees. 9) A moment of no one being here except me; all the voices have gone; the gift of true solitude is mine. 10) What the current of the river does to the surface of the water is so amazing.  In the sunlight, it looks like a thin layer of water blowing across a mirror, yet the textures are two numerous to count. 11) Suddenly I become present to the passage of time and notice an inner inquiry about whether or not I should continue to stay? A gentle reminder to “savor” is needed, even when a moment ago I was completely in the flow of savoring. I ask myself to choose focused attention again. 12) I know there are other matters of importance, yet just for now, it seems this is all there is. This is my world, my reality fully embraced, fully valued, fully loved, fully honored. 13) I’m aware of a sense of gratitude heaped upon gratitude! I’m sitting in a solarium with the Brandywine River as my familiar companion and spirit guide, so full of her wisdom and comfort. 14) This is living in the present. This is savoring. This is  my appreciation of beauty and excellence fully operational. Making this choice is a reminder to me of how easy this is to achieve.  It’s simply an intention acted out in a choice. 15) This is restorative. This is meaningful. This is the privilege of intimacy with me, surrounded by the power of nature to reveal, to distill, and to inspire. I am so happy.”

My day at the river is an example of savoring the present.  Reading about my experience weeks, months or in this case, even years later (2004), is an example of savoring the past.   Just now, as I’ve been sharing my experience with you, I’ve had yet another experience of savoring the past. Yes, it’s about the past but all the details come fully forward to provide the benefits of that day all over again.  Joys remember are indeed, joys again.

It’s also possible to savor the future in terms of anticipation. Here’s a wonderful example of savoring through anticipation. A number of years ago, I asked the members of my Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series to describe in writing an ideal day that would be deeply satisfying. I asked, “What might you wear? Do? See? Eat? What would feed your soul?”  I’d like to share some excerpts from the ideal day described by one of my clients who is an artist, and designer of beautiful spaces.

“I’d be expecting to get together with my best friend for a day of savoring and mutual appreciation.  I’d pick out a fun, artsy, comfortable skirt with a casual top and “play” with my jewelry until I found just the right touches.  Shoes…pretty but comfortable. Casual enough for the day of ‘whatever’, but kind of sexy, glitzy enough for whatever the evening brings.  We could be headed off to Grounds for Sculpture in NJ, where the hour drive would add the dimension of extra time to talk, or listen and sing along to great music in the car. We would enjoy what is newly on exhibit but would also allow for an outdoor experience of beauty and calm. We are not in a hurry and we are allowing the day to unfold. We also will make time to wander around in the well-appointed gift shop and each find at least one treasure to take away…or maybe some little things for our friends. We will stop for an elegant, healthy lunch of salmon, salad, veggies, good bread and a light cocktail, finished off with a delicious piece of dark chocolate before we move on. If we haven’t been to Longwood Gardens for a while, we might stop there once closer to home, where we will only explore and enjoy the outdoors.  As luck would have it, there will be a free concert of Latin American music on the large open steps  –  beautiful instruments as well as beautifully blended singing harmony, upbeat, exciting as well as lovely and soothing. We will easily sit or stand under a tree canopy and feel our own relaxation as well as the relaxation of others.  The music, combined with the cool breeze rustling the leaves, is transporting.  How lucky we are to be in such a serene setting! Dinner will wind up at Harry’s Seafood Grill on the Delaware River and we’ll sit outside. The sun will be warm on our skin – not too hot, with a lovely breeze. New foods to try. A great drink or two, and then top it off with a shared chocolate dessert. In the meantime, we are sharing the satisfaction of being with one another…talking about light things and laughing, and also some deeper things. Probably, each coming away with some much valued insight, and a sense of knowing each other even more fully than before.  After dinner, if there is a special concert in town, we will have tickets and be totally excited about it.  Diana Krall, Josh Groban, Stevie Wonder, Keb’Mo, Sweet Honey in the Rock, a dance ensemble, Aretha Franklin, a gospel concert…or someone new to us. We will have great seats and be totally energized by the music, the atmosphere and the intimacy achieved even though it is a large concert. We stay around a bit after the show, and wind up meeting some of the people in their entourage who invite us backstage for an informal after-party. We mingle easily, meeting new people. Enjoy the hor d’oeuvres, cocktails and the welcoming atmosphere, and even dance informally as many others are doing. It’s probably about midnight or 1am. We are both pleasantly tired and still excited enough to recap highlights from the day as they come back to us on the way home. As the long day comes to an end, I find myself at home in my cozy, wonderful bedroom, and as I always do, find time to do some reading, breathe deeply, express my gratitude, and turn off the light…knowing I have the next day off  to savor the wonderful time and replenish myself quietly for the week ahead.”

Go ahead. Do this yourself! Describe your ideal day and savor the future as you create all the special details unique to what brings you pleasure.  Notice if the anticipation feeds your soul and if you feel happy while you are imagining and describing your ideal day.  And of course, I hope after designing your day,  you will do every thing you can to live it in real-time!   I invite you to contact me if you can join us on November 5th.

PRE-REGISTRATION IS NECESSARY

WHERE: Fairville Village, 518 Kennett Pike, Chadds Ford, PA 19317 (in the beauty and comfort of Erin Bobo and Eric Webb’s MFR studio)

WHEN:  Introductory Workshop is Saturday, November 5th

TIME:     1:00-4:00 pm

FEE:        $65

EMAIL: 

PHONE: 302 888 2345

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Sustainable Happiness is stable across time and situations. Even when an unwelcome and difficult situation comes knocking, it isn’t your only reality. If on the days of gladness, we store it in our souls as a reserve, it will throb with a steady sure pulse during sadness, assuring us we always have gladness stored within to strengthen us. When sadness comes, you can know that you have stored memory and awareness of life’s goodness in the reservoir of your soul. You can make your struggle with a confidence that gladness will come again. And until that day comes, your reservoir of sustainable happiness can be more than sufficient, gifting you with the capacity to feel the gladness through the sadness. In sharing this, I wish to honor Netta Jane (Jeanne) Brackin, the wise woman and mother who taught me this wisdom, which I draw upon every day. It is my desire that it will also serve you well.

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A New Way to Introduce Yourself

September 19, 2011

A Personal Branding Exercise

In my history of facilitating workshops, at the first gathering, I design the process for “strangers to meet strangers” as an opportunity for true contact.  The goal is to come away from the exchange knowing something of core value about each individual. I often create a unique way for participants to introduce themselves with greater ease than the typical request from the facilitator to, “Go around the circle and tell us about yourself.” In my view, because of the slightly anxious moment generated by that request, a group of strangers responds by describing themselves in the general context of their family or job, both important, I agree, yet not really something about their uniqueness as an individual. This exercise can be helpful to individuals and groups of all kinds, so I thought I might share for those who will not have the opportunity to attend my workshop. I invite you to read on and find a new way for introducing yourself to a stranger or even a friend. Think of it as a personal branding exercise.  You can find a use for it in many domains of your life. First, let me share the details of the Positive Introduction Exercise.

In the first workshop of the Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series on November 5th, we are going to meet one another in the context of our strengths. The participants will complete a Positive Introduction Exercise before coming to the workshop. Even if you aren’t present at the workshop, you too could consider completing this exercise for your personal benefit and even share the idea with your friends and do it together. I completed this same exercise during my training in Positive Psychology, so I know it asks something of you that you’ve likely never done before. We are not used to focusing on our strengths and certainly not in our conversations with friends, and especially not with strangers.

I ask you to offer your Positive Introduction in the form of a concrete story. It reflects one or more of your highest strengths. Write it down. This story is about a concrete moment in time in your life that describes you at your very best and it has a beginning, middle and then ends with a bang!  You don’t necessarily need to name the strengths because they will be evident in the story you write. Make your Positive Introduction story one page or longer. The total length is up to you.

Then each participant shares their story. The group members (or a group of friends outside this workshop experience) listen for and then name the strengths they hear in each story.  In the sharing of these stories, you make true contact with one another. You meet one another in the context of something positive and inspiring.

A client of mine shared an application in his life related to job interviewing. When it’s a good interviewer, half way into the interview, you often get a question that has nothing to do with your skill level or work experience qualifications; rather, you get a question that calls forth information about your character. My client was asked, “How do you know you have the courage to do this job?”  He proceeded to tell the story from his Positive Introduction Exercise, which revealed his courage and bravery.

In his story, he told us of how he was asked to reveal information that would compromise the project he was working on but provide him a leg up in the company if he divulged this sensitive information. He refused and was actually demoted. Although he felt the injustice of this outcome, he felt proud of himself for having the courage to do what he believed was ethical professionally and personally.

As you can see, there are many applications in real life where an exercise like this might be useful to you:

Suppose you are meeting a person you’re attracted to and would possibly like to date.  They want to know more about you and vice versa. You’ve exchanged the typical surface information about yourselves and you’d like to try to make true contact by sharing something of core value to who you are as a person. You could give a short intro into the idea of this exercise and then agree to tell each other a story which reflects you at your best. If you are willing to share your story first, your possible future date 🙂 will likely be at ease when it’s their turn to share.

If you are in an intimate social group that meets regularly like the Friday Night Group I’ve been a part of for about 25 years, there’s always more to learn about even your closest friends. This exercise is a great idea for a similar gathering. You will be amazed at your own response to the experience of sharing your story. It actually feels good to honor yourself at your best in the presence of your close friends. It affirms your unique worth in this world. The response of your friends will also be very meaningful to you, trust me. In turn, your response to their stories will be of great value to them.

I hope you will take this idea and run with it!  Give yourself permission. You’ll be glad you did. Come to the Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series if you are drawn. This Positive Introduction Exercise is an experience that is not only a great way to get to know one another, but also a highly effective launch pad for the deeper exploration of your character strengths that will become the corner stone of the Sustainable Happiness Workshop Series. I hope you will join us.

PRE-REGISTRATION IS NECESSARY

WHERE: Fairville Village, 518 Kennett Pike, Chadds Ford, PA 19317 (in the beauty and comfort of Erin Bobo and Eric Webb’s MFR studio)

WHEN:  Introductory Workshop is Saturday, November 5th

TIME:     1:00-4:00 pm

FEE:        $65

EMAIL: 

PHONE: 302 888 2345

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