Posted in JoyInciters

Reblog: JoyInciter #3 — The Happiness Box

In preparation for tomorrow’s keynote address at the Student Success in Writing Conference here in Savannah, I am reblogging these three pertinent posts. EnJoy!


So far I have introduced two wonderfully effective strategies for increasing the frequency and intensity of happiness in our lives: JoyInciter #1–the Thanksgiving Book and JoyInciter #2–the Walking Into strategy. Are you practicing with either of them? The third JoyInciter–the Happiness Box– is both fun and transformationally creative. Let’s talk about it.

Recently I (along with Mr. Happy) presented a workshop for the Georgia Southern Writing Project and The Thinking and Learning Institute at City Campus in downtown Statesboro. (Gosh, that’s a mouthful.) (By the way, City Campus is a very cool entrepreneurial outreach of Georgia Southern.) This workshop, titled “Happiness in a Box,” is based on today’s third JoyInciter.

(Am I too old to wear that shirt? That VITAL question just occurred to me.)

(June Joyner, the Director of the GSU Writing Project, Mr. Happy and Yours Truly)

Before we discuss the “how” of the Happiness Box, let’s briefly examine two “why’s.” First, theoretically speaking, that which we consistently place our “gaze” upon, we will SEE in our world, in our reality. (And all our realities are in constant morph mode, depending on where and how long we place our “mindsight.”) My school, Georgia Southern, for example, is a party school for those who choose to see it in that light. However, GSU is a rigorous academic institution for eyes which view it from that perspective. I suggest to you (and what I’m about to say is the HEART of this blog) that we need to take great care about where we place our consistent, ongoing attention.

The second Happiness Box “why” is childlike and fundamental: making and maintaining this box is FUN and makes one happier, more excited, hopeful, and expectant of good.

To start, find a shoebox-sized box. You can choose to decorate it if you like, but at least write a Statement of Intention on the box somewhere. Here’s one of my Happiness Boxes:

And my Statement of Intention (written on the underside of the box cover) is simple: “The contents of this box make me happy.”

Next, go through magazines, brochures, newspapers, etc. and find pictures of that which gives you joy. Anything. I suggest that you DO NOT worry about trying to organize or structure this process–have fun with it. Look for pictures, colors, words, abstractions that “light you up” in some way. Cut them out and put them in your box. Also look for photos, little items, paint samples, memorabilia which cause your heart to sing. You have thus started the Happiness Box strategy.

Keep adding to your box, and from time to time, empty it onto your dining room table or your bed or floor. Look at all that you have accumulated. If you are like most of my students (and me), you will see categories of happiness begin to emerge: family, material desires, spirituality, food, goals, accomplishments, hobbies, memories, sports, pets, etc.

The more you add to your happiness box, the greater the sense of joy and expectation. A wonderful added benefit is that by creating the box, you begin to get CLEARER about that which you really want. It’s so much fun to look through your accumulated desires.

Here are some workshop participants working on their boxes.

And here are some Happiness Boxes from students in my English Composition II classes this semester:

(Amanda Hedrick and Mr. Happy at the workshop.)

So there it is, JoyInciter #3, The Happiness Box. I urge you to make one for yourself, and begin to get clearer about what makes you joyful and exuberant.

(P.S. In my classoes at school, there are various writing prompts and assignments connected to this project.)

Posted in College Teaching, JoyInciters

Reblog: Introducing the JoyInciters

In preparation for tomorrow’s keynote address at the Student Success in Writing Conference here in Savannah, I am reblogging these three pertinent posts. EnJoy!

JoyInciter = a strategy or practice which can bring greater happiness in life

I would like to introduce you to what I call the JoyInciters, a collection of simple practices which I use regularly to increase the level of happiness and joy in my life.  And even though some folks make a distinction between joy and happiness, I use the terms interchangeably.  I have collected these strategies from my study of happiness over the years, as well as my own life experiences, and have found them to be instrumental in moving me from not feeling good to feeling better, or from feeling okay to feeling happier.

I have come to have great respect for my feelings–they help me to know “where I am” at any given moment.  I see them (all of them) as significant helpers in life.  But I certainly don’t like them all.  I’ve heard it said that we “live at the address of our thoughts,” and I would add that our feelings (sad, depressed, excited, happy, etc.) are most often set in place by our thoughts.  Especially thoughts that we allow to become dominant in our minds.

My JoyInciters, if practiced authentically and regularly, WILL increase your joy.  I like the term JoyInciter, and when I created it, I played with other similar “words,” such as JoyEnticer, JoyInsider, and JoyInsight, but I love the idea that some very simple things we can do will incite (def = spur on, push toward action) us to get to where we want to go.  And I submit to you the belief that we all want to be happier.

I will be introducing one JoyInciter every week or so.

JoyInciter #1  is the most fundamental of all the strategies (and a practice which I imagine we all do to some extent): expressing gratitude.  This is what I am suggesting–make being thankful a regular, conscious practice.  And to help that endeavor, I keep an ongoing listing of what I’m thankful for, a gratitude journal or what I call my THANKSGIVING BOOK.

Everyday (or whenever I think of it), I write something down I’m thankful for.  I have come to realize that what I write down is NOT the most important factor of this practice.  But the LOOKING for thanksgiving is paramount in causing a shift in SEEING.  And it’s SO easy.  Right now as I type, I am grateful to be able to type, to have a computer and a smart phone, to have this popcorn I am eating, to have a bed to sleep in, etc.  Two of my courses this semester are keeping gratitude journals, and we begin class each day by sharing what we’re thankful for.

I challenge you to consciously begin to look for that which you are thankful for (whether you use a Thanksgiving Book or not).  To get started, tell me a few things you are grateful for right now.  This practice is a definite JoyInciter.

Posted in JoyInciters

JoyInciter # 4 — The Three Candles

Today I am sharing with you JoyInciter #4.  (Actually I briefly mentioned this strategy when I guest blogged on David’s terrific London-based 5thingstodotoday site recently.)

In my first post about JoyInciters, I defined them as a collection of simple practices or strategies which I use regularly to increase the level of happiness and joy in my life.  The first JoyInciter–the Thanksgiving Book (or Gratitude Journal), the second one–the Walking Into strategy, and the third–the Happiness Box,  are all techniques to make us more joyful in our day-to-day lives.

I love JoyInciter #4 — The Three Candles, because of its sensory simplicity yet powerful lesson.  Find three candles (any size or type will do).  Choose a quiet place where you can be comfortable and preferably alone.  Light your three candles.  Stare at them for a few seconds.  See the first candle as representing your past, the second your present, and the third your future.

Now move your awareness to the first candle.  The past.  Admit that you cannot really live in the past, it’s over, and regret is both painful and a useless waste of mental energy.  Living in the past keeps us out of healthy BALANCE mentally and even physically.  Bless the past with love as best you can … and let it go, as you blow the first candle out.  Release.

Now look at that third candle.  The future.  Realize you cannot reside in the future; it’s not here yet.  Worry about the future (like past-oriented regret) costs us our joyful mental health because we are trying to BE in a place where we never CAN be–the future.  Try saying this, “All will be well.  I will be well” and blow out candle #3.

Look at the second candle glowing in its oneness, its all-there-isness, its currentness, its presentness.  It’s your Now.  Think about this truth for a moment: the ONLY time any one of us ever really has is RIGHT NOW.  Everything is NOW.  When all is said and done, NOW is all there  is.  Keep this candle glowing for a few moments as you contemplate on a handful of positive aspects of your Now.

EnJoy JoyInciter #4 — The Three Candles.