International Day of Happiness!

Lucy Ethal in kitchen dancing

In 2012, the United Nations established March 20th as the International Day of Happiness as a catalyst for people to try to create a happier world for themselves and for others.  Bhutan has embraced the idea and developed a Gross National Happiness metric that’s looked at alongside GDP as a way to measure a country’s economic success.  We dig it, and are hoping that other countries will follow suit.  In the meantime, we’re spending today taking this concept seriously and thinking about a few of our joy-inducing tricks.  

Kitchen dancing:  We did a lot of hosting this weekend, and in the middle of the inevitable chaos of navigating a small kitchen together, Ben and I amped up the music to do a little kitchen dancing.  There’s something about dancing with abandon in the kitchen that brings full on happiness back into any room.  We tend to break it out if we’re starting to get irritated by the lack of counter space or simultaneous chopping, washing, and cooking that has to happen within a two foot radius.  This weekend our signal was me holding a knife in the air and shouting “You’re always in the EXACT wrong spot!!”  Time for a kitchen dance.  

Trampoline workouts:  Turns out jumping up and down on a trampoline like a little kid serves up a serious workout.  While you need a little real estate — which runs sparse in NYC — to have one of your own, as long as you’ve got high ceilings, you’re golden.  The other option is to check out one of the many trampoline-equipped gyms in the city.  Even if this wasn’t a great workout, wouldn’t it be worth doing anyway for the pure joy of getting bounced into the air?

Poking fun at work life: We all do semi-ridiculous things in the name of workplace culture.  If I ever need a quick mid-week laugh, I pull up Justin Timberlake’s and Jimmy Fallon’s #hashtag skit that reminds me how ridiculous our social media language and engagement can be.  Another one for work-related comedic relief?  This viral skit that emulates a conference call in real life.  We’ve ALL experienced conference calls like this, and probably will again this week.  

What do you do for a quick burst of happiness or laughter?  

&d

 

Sunday Detox: Suits and Slapstick

Beautiful Little Business Woman In Jacket And Tie

We all take ourselves a little too seriously, particularly during the week when our noses are to the grindstone in whatever professional endeavors on which we choose to embark.

Earlier this week, I was invited to a gathering of “intellectual leaders” and was placed into a setting that takes itself pretty seriously.  Prestigious. Important. Exclusive.  I signed up.  I arrived.  I deflated.  

I was sick of faking it, tired of speaking for speaking sake, and tired of conjuring intellectual passion for a topic on demand. So, I opted out.  I was there in body, but not spirit.  I sat in the back, I didn’t speak, and I intentionally passed the microphone — the one I would normally grip onto — to others in the room.  

My first instinct was to be disappointed in myself.  Why couldn’t I “show up” for this?  Later on that week, as I was speaking to friends and colleagues about the experience they all responded with different versions of the same question:  “What’s really important to you?” “What felt inauthentic about that forum?”, “Why didn’t you feel like yourself?”

It’s hard for me to feel like myself in settings where the pretense is high, and where I can’t inject humor and the child-like do-whatever-you-want-to-make-yourself-completely-JOYFUL feeling.  Most professional settings (that I’ve seen anyway…) come with some level of affectation that we all contribute to in order to ensure others that we are comptent, smart, on our game. But it can stifle people bringing their true self and their honest thoughts to the table, which is bad for ourselves, our colleagues and our work.    

I bumped into an article a few days later that spoke to this same challenge, and the ways that businesses are starting to think about bringing in humor and comedy as a tool to make people more effective and purposeful in their work.  The entire article is worth a read but in essence it says:

“By using humor, we allow great ideas to come from anywhere. Humor breaks down barriers, and people end up having really creative ideas.”

As I thought about this over the past week, it helped reground me in how important it is to me to create professional situations that make people feel as comfortable as possible — that channel the humor and the child-like curiosity that we all have.  The humor that allows us to poke fun at the stiff suits we’re all wearing for unknown reasons. The curiousity that allows us to ask questions, whether or not we think we should already know the answers. The excitement for the world that allows us to truly enjoy it instead of growing tired of it, and that enables us to actually get something done together.

 

On the Road Again…

 

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My gig usually has me on the road about 60-70% of the time.  By some strange twist of fate, I’ve been on home turf in Brooklyn for about three straight months — punctuated by only a few quick trips to Boston.  But I’m heading back to business as usual and packing my bags for a heavy stretch.

On the docket for the next few months for work and fun — Austin, D.C., Boston, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit — with a few more trips that will likely be slotted in between.

I do really love traveling, and have been at it enough that I’ve learned how to not have it disrupt work and life.  But what I still need to work hard at is not letting the extreme travel wreak havoc on my physical health.

Here are some of the go-tos I’ve developed over the past few years:

ClassPass:  I promise you that this blog is NOT a walking advertisement for Class Pass, and Taryn already shared its joys.  I’m with her.  And while it’s getting pricey in NYC (at $125 a month), I hang on to it because it’s fantastic when I’m traveling.  Each city I mentioned above has CP, and I can continue my mixed routine of yoga, barre, boxing, gym time, etc. while I’m on the road.

You gots to hydrate:  I’m not a big fan of bottled water, but when I’m traveling I grab one of the 1L smartwater bottles (and pay the ridiculous $5 price).  I don’t have a preference for the water itself (we all know it’s tap — sorry smartwater) but I LOVE the bottle.  It’s light and skinny, which makes it possible to carry around when I’m also lugging a suitcase and laptop bag.  I refill it and refill it and refill it, and it’s amazing what a difference it makes in keeping me going.  Better and healthier than all the caffeine in the world.

Buddies:  While it’s sad that not all of my closest friends live in NYC with me, one of the huge benefits of work travel has been being able to catch up when I’m in town.  I get home cooking and some quality down time with friends in other cities in between the crazy meeting packed days at work. And it’s usually during the week, so I get to be part of the evening family routine, which for many of them now includes running after little ones.  Nourishing for the soul.

SkyMall:  Whoever invented SkyMall is my personal hero.  The comic relief this catalog of ridiculousness (squirrel busts, tree faces, waterfalls for your cats) that you find in the backseat pocket of airplane seats has literally added years to my life.  No matter how stressful or busy a trip has been, flying back home with SkyMall and a glass of wine is an instant remedy.  P.S.  To everyone who I’ve sent too many pictures of my most desired items on SkyMall…it’s about to pick up again.

skymall-08

Eat yo vegetables:  It is really hard to find anything that’s not a processed carb when you’re grabbing food on the go, particularly in an airport or train station.  And I’ve struggled through one too many Amtrak salads (iceberg lettuce, one cherry tomato and carrot shreds) to count on what they do have. So, I’ve started scoping out the farmer’s markets and grocery stores close to where I’m staying and the stops I’m going to in between in order to stock up.  I’ve also tried packing fruits and veggies with me in my luggage, but I got a little gun-shy last year when TSA took away my box of Brussel sprouts.  I know this one sounds like a lot of effort (and maybe a little nutty…?) but it’s probably one of the things that keeps me feeling most balanced and healthy while I’m traveling.

Off I go!  Let me know what you do to keep your health on track while you’re traveling. I need to keep up my game.

And let me know if you’re going to be in one of those cities, so I can cook some veggies with you on a week night…

&d