Those of you who know me know that I'm a pretty practical gal. I first heard about The Secret and law of attraction stuff almost 6 years ago, and I have to admit I thought it was all a bunch of hooey. But in the mysterious ways of the universe, the information kept presenting itself to me, especially as I did my research on the science of becoming a more happy person. Eventually I decided that suspending my disbelief wouldn't hurt anything or anyone, and if I had nothing to lose, why not pay some attention to it? Long story short, I buy it. I don't talk about it much because I know how nutty it sounds. And I'm a firm believer of people finding their own way in the world.
If you are intrigued and are thinking, "Hey, I should check out this Law of Attraction thing for myself," be forewarned: There are a TON of people out there who have information and products to sell you about how to get the Law of Attraction to work in your life. I've spent lots of time -- probably too much -- reading emails and clicking links to web pages to learn more about "The Secret." Its one of those things that you can spend too much time reading about and not get around to actually doing what you need to do to make the changes necessary to creating the life and experience you want. Don't do that!
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Take 12 minutes to watch this TedX presentation, The Happy Secret to Better Work, by Shawn Achor. Way better than a latte: It's free, I learned something, and It made me laugh out loud. Achor (in an very entertaining way) explains how most things in life are tailored to the average and not the extraordinary. Our gifts are ignored and become invisible as outliers. Instead of gearing everything to the average, we should learn what those who are gifted and extraordinary know and do and move the graph line representing average up rather than trying to pull them down to the average..
In his book The Happiness Advantage, he gives tips on improving your level of happiness. None of these things takes very long, but can make a world of difference in your outlook. Do one of these exercises a day for 21 days (the length of time it takes to build a habit):
1) Write down three new things you are grateful for each day
2) Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours
3) Exercise for 10 minutes a day
4) Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath
5) Write one quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising someone in your social support network (family member, friend, old teacher)
These activities exercise your brain and rewire it to look for the positive. Each one only takes a couple of minutes. Nothing to lose, right?
Recently I met Richard Goldberg of Helen's Pure Foods and Dale Reese of Martindale's Natural Foods at a meeting of Slow Food Philadelphia that I attended for my Day Job. Martindale's is apparently the oldest health food store founded in 1869. That's a full 20 years before white people decided to populate Oklahoma. Kind of mind-boggling! I love Martindales for a number of reasons, but the best one is that they clearly mark their shelf tags with a red dot for every GF item in the store. And that's a lot of red dots! One time when I found a clearly marked GF item without a red dot, I brought it to an employees attention and she fixed it right away. Helen's Hummuses and spreads are made fresh locally and only shipped within something like a 100 mile radius. Every container of Helen's Spreads I have read shows no gluten content. They apparently had a gf labeling issue and had to mark out "gluten free" on a bunch of their Michele's Hummus and Spreads line because of soy sauce, but Richard tells me they are changing the recipe to make it GF this year. I advise a roadtrip to Springfield to visit Martindale's, and pick up some Helen's Pure Foods hummus while you are there!
I went to another Philadelphia gluten free potluck this afternoon. As usual, it was a lot of fun -- casual, low-key and there was lots of great gluten free fare. I took oven roasted veggies, and they turned out really well, so I'm sharing the recipe. You can see that I'm not a precision cook. If that makes you nervous and you want more specifics, let me know and I'm sure I can come up with something.
If you think you don't like Brussels sprouts, you really owe it to yourself to try them like this. Get some fresh ones, cut the bottoms off of them, cut them in bite-sized chunks and include them. Really. You won't believe how good they
are. I'm not kidding.
Nutritional yeast may also be unfamiliar. It is savory -- it is a umami seasoning (the 5th taste, along with sweet, sour, salty and bitter.) It's loaded with vitamin B6 and is a complete protein. But never mind that, it makes a great seasoning and can easily be used in place of parmasan cheese. Enjoy!
Oven Roasted veggies
Preheat the oven to 375. Our oven is hinky, so precision isn't necessary. I'd say today's batch hovered somewhere between 350 and 400 degrees.
Cut up the vegetables. Many kinds will work. I have used beets, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and others in addition to today's combination listed here.
Ingredients: Random quantities of the following fresh veggies based on taste and availability, cut in smallish bite-sized chunks:
Brussels sprouts (little leaves of the Brussels sprouts will fall off when you cut them up. Include them in the roasting. They crisp up and are very tasty!)
Potato (I wash them well and leave the skins on)
Red Bell Pepper
Put the chucks in a big bowl, drizzle them with enough olive oil to lightly coat them and stir it all up. Spread it on a baking sheet one layer deep. Put it in the hot oven for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Check toward the end of the time to make sure they aren't getting overdone or burning to the pan. It's okay if the little leaves of loose Brussels sprouts get a little burned, and some of the chunks of vegetables will likely get a browned on one side, and sometimes the little bits on the end of broccoli get toasty. This is all perfectly fine and adds to the taste.
Remove the veggies from the oven. While they are still hot, put them in a bowl, season with freshly ground smoked sea salt (or regular salt is fine, or if you can't do salt, then they are still good anyway -- experiment with seasonings you like) and black pepper to taste. Then sprinkle with a spoonful or two of nutritional yeast. The yeast flakes sort of melt down and stick to the hot veggies. Start with a little if you've never had it before. Taste it and add more seasonings or yeast as you are so moved. Eat hot or at room temperature and then marvel at how good the Brussels sprouts are. Tell everyone.
The picture of these vegetables was before they were roasted, but I thought it would be helpful to show the size of the pieces. The yeast flakes come in a big canister, and the Trader Joes smoked sea salt comes in a regular sized grinder. Illustrations not drawn to scale. :-)
"Less than a Latte" is an idea I've been kicking around for a recurring blog theme. Research shows that happiness depends on ones ability to lead a pleasant, committed and engaged life. And though we are all born with a happiness "set point," there are things we can do to increase our level of happiness overall. One of the ways I get my happy on is to keep an eye out for really cool and fun things that boost my mood for less than I would spend at a Starbucks or any higher end coffee shop. Doing these things helps elevate the "pleasant" part of the equation, and frankly helps me turn a blah, yucky day into one in which I can find fun and promise.
One of my favorite ways to "manufacture" a happy mood in myself is to buy a single rose at the florist shop that I pass on my way to work. It costs me $3.25. I pick out the most perfect one there, the color chosen on a whim. They wrap it for me and I take it to work and put it in a vase on the table in my office. On especially trying days, I've been known to take my rose with me to the multitude of internal meetings I attend every day. My colleagues have come to know about my rose days. I freely share with them the research about how giving and receiving flowers can make you feel good for days. Regardless, they get to see a pretty flower on the meeting table for an hour or two during their workday.
At the end of the day, I carefully re-wrap the rose in the paper and ribbon I'd carefully saved in the morning. I take it home to share with my partner, so I get the triple boost of having the flower to enjoy throughout the day, sharing it with co-workers, then sharing it again with my partner and family for as long as it lasts. All for $3.25.