Happy Pies

Happy Pies

In August, my Be Positive evening retreat, based on Gratitude and Positivity, focused on how 40% of our happiness comes from intentional activity and the group ideas generated from the retreat exercise made us feel 100%. I explained how author Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research shows 10% of our happiness comes from life circumstances, 50% is from genetics, and 40% from intentional activities. This breakdown is turned into the Happy Pie – the representation of what we can do for ourselves to be happy!

Over 30 women put energy into what they can intentionally do to create their happy pie! After giving each group an opportunity to describe ingredients to create a whole pie, they came up with Fulfilled Pie, Soul Pie, Whoopi Pie, Peppy Pie, and Positivity Peachy Pie! They were ready to embrace what they had control of, such as:

  • Being in Nature
  • Making their Bed
  • Self -Compassion and Gratitude
  • Pet Love
  • Connection, Dance, and Laughter

What are your intentional activities to feel whole and happy?

The practice of gratitude, or being in the present moment here and now, is many things to many people.  During Be Positive, we discussed how expanding our horizons to express gratitude gave us more energy and positive emotions, and as a bonus, it has many health benefits as well. The happiness tool I often use to measure positive change is If I were 3% more grateful in my day, I would ______________.

I was over three percent more grateful to partner with Cathy Hansen, a certified Laughing Yoga instructor, to help us put some of these intentional activities into practice. We focused on many ideas, but here are five we explored:

  1. Journaling – A healthy way to reflect on the day in a written way. Take time to reconnect with yourself and your thoughts on paper.
  1. Smile – Everyone knows that when you’re happy, you smile, but it’s also true that when you smile, you are happy.
  1. Compliments – Brightening someone else’s day also brightens your own. Sincerity is a key component as well.
  1. Volunteer – Helping others, like victims of Hurricane Harvey or more recent Hurricane Irma, is a great way to boost how you feel about yourself.
  1. Meditation – Take 2 minutes to be calm and silent. Clear your mind and be present.

What are habits you create to find the positive side of your situations?

Whatever your habits are, if being more positive is on your mind – move forward with some of these or try something else without overthinking. Shake it off. It’s time to cut loose and have some fun. We think so much all day, every day, so start to set aside some thoughts for you. Don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy your fresh Happy Pie!

Today’s author: Kelye Rouse-Brown, CHA, CHT is a business owner, joint venture partner, HR expert, certified coach, and training professional. Her 3 components: Educate, Motivate, and Cultivate help her clients develop, spark action, and grow a successful career/business and life from the core. Kelye can be reached at 301-371-9300 or by visiting her website: krbtrainingsolutions.com

Cultivate Happiness

Cultivate Happiness

Lean towards joy and listening and away from giving advice.

Kelye Rouse-Brown with friend on beach

This was a great headliner to learning about positivity and happiness in An Introduction to Positive Psychology with Dr. Maria Sirois in beautiful Berkshires, MA. My oldest and dearest friend joined me and now we make an effort to fill our happy bucket year after year, like earlier in May when we celebrated our milestone birthdays together in Rhode Island. We savored the crashing water against the rocks along the cliff walk and enjoyed the historical mansions.

Another magical time in the month of May was my first hot air balloon ride that took my breath away with more special gems in my life. We just floated in the air and didn’t even feel the take-off, much different than my usual airplane rides. The pilot was so cool, it was like being carried away with the great Oz from the Wizard of Oz. I fell in love with Santé Fe, NM on a higher level. It seems when you take the time to plan for happy events, they will happen… the sky’s the limit, and life can be more joyful.  

What happy events do you have planned?

Positive psychology was referred to as the scientific study of optimal human functioning and officially launched as a field in 1998. Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar was highly talked about at the retreat and he first taught a seminar at Harvard on this fairly new topic in 2002 with eight students enrolled and two dropped out. The objective of the class was what psychology can teach us about leading happier, more fulfilling lives. The following year the class went public and 380 students signed up. The evaluations showed the class improved the quality of one’s life. Well, the next time the class was offered it grew to 855 students enrolled, which made it the largest class at Harvard University.

What education class are you most looking forward to learn, grow, and feel happier?

There are many definitions for both positive psychology and the science of happiness, but the simple answer is that positive psychology is a subset within the broader field we call the science of happiness. Positive Psychology focuses largely on the study of positive emotions and the science of happiness focuses on areas such as exercise and psychological well-being.

Kelye and Valorie BurtonThe topic is very popular and soon after our retreat in the Berkshires, my next education event followed up with more Positive Psychology and I was introduced to Valorie Burton, Founder of the Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute. I loved her spirit and presentation. One of my favorite parts of her presentation was her happiness boosters. You might consider taking her online happy woman test by going to happywomantest.com and find out your top triggers to boost your happiness. It only takes about 10 minutes and you will learn your happiness quotient that you can focus on for improvement over time. For example, anticipation is great when you have something to look forward to, like a trip to Rhode Island with an old girlfriend or a flight like no other. Here are Valorie Burton’s 13 happiness boosters:

  • Play
  • Purpose
  • Gratitude
  • Savoring
  • Relaxation
  • Flow
  • Service
  • Smile
  • Connection
  • Movement
  • Winning Words
  • Financial Savvy
  • Anticipation

What happiness boosters are you most satisfied with?  What would you like more of?

After taking the happiness test, some of my top boosters were gratitude, smile, and service. These and more will be discussed further at my upcoming Be You series session, Be Positive, on August 30th at Brewer’s Alley. Come join us and be reminded to pause and savor life’s joys. I look forward to sharing a happy retreat with you!


Today’s author: Kelye Rouse-Brown, CHA, CHT is a business owner, joint venture partner, HR expert, certified coach, and training professional. Her 3 components: Educate, Motivate, and Cultivate help her clients develop, spark action, and grow a successful career/business and life from the core. Kelye can be reached at 301-371-9300 or by visiting her website: krbtrainingsolutions.com


Missy & Flo: Reading

While we do address tough and emotional issues during coaching, Wholistic Woman also has a fun side! If you haven’t seen our Missy & Flo video series, you should watch it now! A series of 8 videos, our coaches share self-care tips in a fun and engaging way. Here’s the second video in the series:

My Gift to You

My Gift to You

On May 3, 2017, I turned 50! When I was a little girl, this number seemed big and very far away.  Now that I’m here, this number feels normal.  It’s where I am supposed to be.  It is part of the truth of who I am and is a testament to how far I’ve come.  I’ve learned a lot in my first 50 years!  I am happy with myself and the growth I’ve experienced.

As I reflected back on how far I have come and what I have learned along the way, I thought it might be fun to come up with 50 things I’ve learned over 50 years.  What you will find below is the list. 🙂

My 50 things are listed in no particular order.  They represent many teachers from which I have learned from through the years.  Some of my teachers have been authors, some have been spiritual leaders, some have been friends.  I have also learned from the “mistakes” I’ve made…I put mistakes in quotations because I believe if I learn something then it is not really a mistake but rather a lesson.

My initial thought was to just share this list with my two girls who are also living through significant milestones.  My daughter Kayla has just graduated from nursing school and is entering the world of “adulting” for the first time.  She is both excited and scared.  My daughter Helena has just completed her Associates degree and will be heading away to college in the fall.  She too is both excited and scared. This list was first conceived as a gift to them.  It was meant to be a place they could go to when they were feeling lost or scared.  You see, I remember what it was like to be at the places they are now and yes, at times it felt scary!  My hope is this list will be something they use to remind them of where and who they come from.  My hope is that they will take this list and make it their own.  That they will question me about what I mean for the entries they don’t understand…that they will reject the ones that don’t work for them…that they will add to the list with things they have learned…that they will share with me their thoughts about the list.  My hope is that they will see this list as a gift.

The more I thought about it though, the more I wanted to share this with you, too.  You being the supporters of the Wholistic Woman Community.  You have been such a gift to me.  You have helped shape me into the woman I am today.  So, this list is also my gift to you.  I hope you enjoy it.  I also invite you to do all the things I have invited my girls to do.  Please share with me which parts of the list you relate to, as well as which parts you don’t.  And, if you are really up to a challenge, write your own list!  I’d love to see it!

50 Things I’ve Learned Over 50 Years

  1. It’s OK to not know…Be brave enough to ask.
  2. Kindness rules! Practice it with yourself and others.
  3. You are a leader.
  4. The book The Four Agreements is a must read.
  5. Take regular trips outside your comfort zone.
  6. Your first thoughts will always come automatically but your next thought is one you have control over. Choosing the best second thought changes EVERYTHING!
  7. Make generous assumptions.
  8. Emotions are your teacher.
  9. Emotions are meant to be felt, not buried.
  10. Find a spiritual practice and practice it.
  11. Arguing with reality won’t change things but will be extremely frustrating.
  12. Don’t put anything in writing that you wouldn’t feel comfortable having publicly announced.
  13. Know when a conversation would be better than a text – tone and the energy behind your words can often be misinterpreted in the written word.
  14. Seek first to understand.
  15. Practice choosing courage over comfort.
  16. Pain is inevitable but suffering is not.
  17. Trust your gut.
  18. Don’t forget how to play and have fun!
  19. Not everybody sees the world the same way you do.
  20. When somebody shows you who they are, believe them.
  21. Worrying is a waste of time and creative energy.
  22. What is meant for you will always find away.
  23. Make sleep and rest a priority.
  24. Nurture the relationships that are important to you.
  25. Fear is normal and learning how to move forward in the face of it is imperative.
  26. There are only three kinds of business: your business, their business, and God’s business.  Anytime you are not in your business you are in the wrong place.
  27. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
  28. Too much is too much.
  29. The most important time ever is now.
  30. You’ll never hit a target you don’t aim for.
  31. Soul food is real….Watch what you feed your spirit.
  32. Nurture your creativity.
  33. Practice letting go of things you have no control over.
  34. Journal!  Getting your thoughts and feeling out and on paper is very good for you.
  35. Dogs and three-year-olds are great teachers.
  36. No one is a mind reader.
  37. You were born worthy and enough.
  38. We are all perfectly imperfect.
  39. FORGIVE.
  40. Happiness is an inside job.
  41. Be the change you want to see in the world.
  42. The Little Soul and the Sun is an amazing book, please read it at least once a year.
  43. We are meant to change and grow.
  44. You can’t out train a poor diet.
  45. There is never only one right way.
  46. Byron Katie and Brené Brown are wise women – reading their books has changed the way I see the world.
  47. You eat an elephant one bite at a time.
  48. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the next best time is now.
  49. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
  50. Never let your age stop you.

Today’s author: Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in. As a mother of 2 girls, Laura has a special interest in coaching parents, so if you still have children living at home, ask Laura about her Wholehearted Parenting programs. Laura can be reached via email at laurahallcoach@me.com or feel free to visit her website HallCoaching.com

The Happiness Experiment

The Happiness Experiment

This blog was originally published in 2001 but its words are timeless and timely with our ‘Be Happier’ event scheduled for Wednesday, April 27th.  Enjoy and we hope to see you on Wednesday 🙂

“Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.”

A couple years ago, I bought a plaque with these words imprinted on it to remind myself and my family that happiness is a choice.  When I read this quote it reminds me to look for happiness in the present, in where I am and what I’m doing right now.  It reminds me to be cautious about thinking thoughts like, “When I lose 15 pounds, then I’ll be happy”, or “If only I could make more money, then I’ll be happier”.  You see, I believe that happiness comes from the inside out, not the other way around.  That it is a way of being.  It is not dependent on how I look, or what I have.  I believe happiness comes from knowing (and reminding myself when I forget) of my inherent self worth and practicing gratitude on a regular basis.

I have to admit that happiness comes relatively easy to me.  I’ve always been the type of person to see the glass as half full, not half empty.  One of my favorite books in elementary school was “Pollyanna”.  My parents helped by raising me to believe that life is happening for me, NOT to me, and this core thought has allowed me to always look for the life lessons – even in the face of struggle or adversity, and then to practice gratitude for the lessons learned.

I know that not everyone is like me and that some of us struggle with finding happiness.  What I’d like to suggest is that you stop looking for happiness and start creating it.  What I am proposing is a Happiness Experiment.  This experiment is being designed for everyone.  There is no specific age, gender, socioeconomic status, or minimum current level of happiness necessary to be able to participate.  My hypothesis is that by practicing 5 simple steps on a daily basis for one week, your happiness will increase by 20%.

Now I just need some volunteers…This is where you come in! 🙂  The first thing I need you to do is to rate your happiness on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 representing no happiness and 10 representing complete happiness.  Before you read any more, I need you to come up with your happiness rating, and if you are really gutsy, why don’t you post your starting point in the comments for this blog. 😉

OK, now that you have your number, here are the 5 steps, and what you’ll be committing to should you be willing to participate in my happiness experiment with me:

  1. Define what happiness means to you – On day one of The Happiness Experiment you will be taking the time to write down your own personal definition of happiness. You will be completing the statement, “Happiness is…”      When you think of happiness, what words come to mind?  Think of the last time you remember being happy, what did that feel like?  Are there certain people, or certain types of people who trigger your happiness?  What about certain places?  What physical sensations do you experience when you are happy?  Who are you being when you are happy?  Maybe even look at it from the other side, when you are unhappy, what is missing from your experience that is fueling your unhappiness?  Once you’ve written your definition, you will need to write it down and put it someplace where you can read at it at least once a day for the remainder of the week.
  2. Sing out loud – Pick a song, any song, channel your inner diva and use your big girl voice to belt it out!  I know for some of you this is going to feel very uncomfortable at first, and that’s OK, but as Nike says, “Just Do It”!  The details are not important.  You can sing in the shower, in the car to your favorite song, with people watching, or in total privacy.  Just sing!
  3. Dance – This is about moving your body in a fun, life affirming way.  I suggest turning the music up, closing your eyes and letting the energy move you.  Spinning also seems to work for me, but again, there is no “right” way to do this, so whatever feels right to you is right.  Go with it!
    (Note #2 and #3 can be combined) As an aside, if you are ever in Mt. Airy, MD and you see a 40 year old woman in a blue Hyundai Sonata belting out Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” while waving her arms in what may look like some sort of seizure, don’t worry!  That’s me combining #2 and #3.
  4. Intentionally smile at someone – Making a point to smile is such a simple thing to do, yet so many of us don’t take the time to do this on a regular basis.  Who can you share a smile with?  Maybe it’s a stranger you pass while walking down the street.  Maybe it’s a coworker you see in the elevator each morning.  Maybe it’s your child who is not used to seeing your face light up when they enter the room.  Maybe it’s your spouse or significant other as they walk through the door after a long day at work.  Maybe it’s you as you see yourself in the mirror brushing your teeth at the end  of the day.  There really is no excuse for not getting this one done.
  5. Practice gratitude – When you wake up each morning, I want you to ask yourself, “What am I most grateful for?” and write it down.  As the day goes on, continue to look for things to be grateful for.  As these new gratitudes arise ask yourself if this new gratitude surpasses the one you started your day off with.  If it does, cross out your 1st one and replace it with your new one.  Stick with this all day, so that by the time you go to bed, you will have the thing you were most grateful for today at the bottom of your list.  Write this one down on a piece of paper by your bed, so that by the end of the week you’ll have a gratitude listed for each day of the experiment.

Are you in?  Will you be part of my Happiness Experiment? What have you got to lose? The idea is to complete all 5 steps for 7 days in a row.  Give yourself permission to be silly.  This is meant to be fun!

At the end of your week with the Happiness Experiment, re-assess what number you give yourself on the happiness scale and let me know how it went.  Did your number increase?  If so, by how much?  What step was the easiest for you?  What step did you struggle with?  Please share your comments, so I know whether my hypothesis proved to be true or false.  I look forward to hearing from you!  Laura

Want to join us Wednesday?  Click here for details and registration information.

Today’s author:  Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in. As a mother of 2 girls, Laura has a special interest in coaching parents, so if you still have children living at home, ask Laura about her Wholehearted Parenting programs. Laura can be reached via email at laurahallcoach@me.com or feel free to visit her website HallCoaching.com


Laughter Yoga

Laughter Yoga

Today’s guest blogger is Wholistic Woman Retreats’ member, Cathy Hansen.  Cathy showcased her Laughter Yoga at our 2016 Strong You Retreat.  Today she writes to introduce you to Laughter Yoga.  We know you are going to enjoy this one!

It was my first trip outside of the U. S….I was alone in a cab with a non-English speaking driver as we exited the airport in the pouring rain. I was confident that I was on the right track because my trip coordinator had warned me to only hire a cab authorized by the Mexico City airport. When the cabbie turned down an isolated side street, pulled over and parked, I wasn’t so sure I that I had made a smart choice after all. My heart was in my throat until he pulled out a map; I knew then that he simply didn’t know how to reach my destination.

When I finally reached the retreat location an hour later, it was nearly dark and still pouring. It didn’t take long after we piled onto a crowded bus, for me to discover that only eleven of us spoke English. There were multiple languages being spoken as the participants got to know one another. That led to interesting teamwork four hours later when our driver decided to take a shortcut to the ashram through a rain soaked pasture. When the bus sunk axle-deep into the mud three miles from the ashram at 2 a.m., it was clear that the bus wasn’t going to go any further.

This was my introduction to the power of Laughter Yoga (LY)!

You might think that everyone on board would have been tired, irritable, and justifiably impatient from this series of mishaps, but not this group! After all, we were laughter yoga leaders. We kept our energy up with a hearty chant. HO HO, HA HA HA! And laughter followed.

That was in 2009 and I was already a Yoga leader. Its joyful and wholistic approach to promoting wellness had me completely hooked. I had come to this ashram in Mexico to earn my teaching certification under the watchful eye of LY’s founder, Dr. Maddan Kataria, of Mumbai, India.

What is Laughter Yoga?

Laughter Yoga is a refreshing and innovative practice that provides a new approach to stress management as well as physical and mental well-being through laughter. The secret of Laughter Yoga is that our bodies are hardwired to release powerful, natural benefits from extended, hearty laughter. LY uses a series of visualizations and pantomimes that are designed to generate laughter. The “yoga” portion comes from the yogic breathing interjected between the exercises to reduce heart rate and stress levels. Laughter itself, whether authentic or simulated, boosts the power of an aerobic workout in an easy and entertaining way.

Benefits of Laughter Yoga:

• Ten minutes of hearty laughter equals 30 minutes on a rowing machine
• Fifteen minutes of laughter every day can help you lose up to 4 lbs in a year
• A boost in confidence and increased overall sense of well-being
• Improves trust through increased communication
• Simultaneous reduction in physical, mental, and emotional stress
• A huge lift to your energy
• Lowered blood pressure

What can you expect from a Laughter Yoga session?

During a LY session, participants gather in a circle and follow the instructor’s lead as she prompts them to envision positive reactions to a series of negative situations. These scenarios are familiar to most people, such as running late in an airport, or opening a jaw-dropping credit card bill. The core message of LY is to foster joy and reinforce the fact that laughter is a natural, healing, technique.

The LY instructor gives participants techniques to incorporate laughter into their daily routines in simple ways, such as:

• Designating a specific door knob or handle to be a laughter trigger each time you touch it.
• Choosing three stop signs or traffic lights which you pass regularly as laughter reminders. Fortunately, with today’s wireless technology, other drivers will just think you’re listening to a really great story!

Prior to embarking on my journey in 2009, and creating my company, Laugh ‘N Live Well, I was on medication for hypertension and suffered from high anxiety. My personal testimony is that I’m no longer on medication and my anxiety has been lowered significantly. Perhaps most importantly, applying the LY attitude of positivity and gratitude has vastly reduced my stress levels.

I recall the day when a diabetic student nurse approached me after completing a LY session with me. She explained that before the session had begun she had tested her glucose and it was quite high. She considered doing an injection of insulin, but decided that she would wait until after the session and re-check. Upon doing so, she was excited to report that her glucose level had dropped by 200 points within the 50 minute session! Her story is a great example of the tremendous positive effect laughter has on our health and well-being.

In addition to reducing stress, LY is a great cardio workout. It is an easy, fun and joyful way to increase your energy and boost your immune system without the physical challenges of traditional yoga. Better yet, you do it in a welcoming environment surrounded by like-minded, happiness-seeking people.

My wish for you is that LY becomes part of your wellness journey.


Today’s author: Cathy Hansen is a certified Laughter Yoga instructor and owner of Laugh ‘N Live Well. She provides Laughter Yoga facilitation services for corporate training programs, conferences, networking events, yoga studios, and women’s business and social groups. Cathy is passionate about introducing the Laughter Yoga experience to those with a desire to have fun and increase their well-being. In addition, Cathy is currently attending the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). If you would like to learn more or arrange for Cathy to offer LY to your group you can contact her at 717-414-8849 or visit her website- www.laughnlivewell.net.