Tea makes me happier. It brings me back to “happy moments” in childhood when I would prepare a cup of tea for my mother. Somehow this simple act made her smile, and she would brighten up no matter what was happening (health challenges, job loss, financial difficulty). Sharing a pot of tea also gave us a few moments of real connection that I think we each long for in our daily loves – validation perhaps, encouragement, love and maybe just a warm of sip of tea.
But going a little deeper, I really believe that taking time for tea:
* Soothes my Soul. It helps me slow down (after all you can’t drink hot tea really fast) and take a “sacred” pause in life. Since I have the capacity to do “lots” in a short period of time it’s helpful for me to just enjoy being still and savoring a moment of fresh air (windows open, birds chirping) and a nice cup of tea before I am called forward to “solve” some problem or meet some looming deadline.
* Lifts my Heart. So many times in my life, I have served someone tea whether it was my mother or Buddhist Lama because I knew a “cup of tea” is never really just a cup of tea. It was always given in gratitude for what was being learned and how both of these people gave so selflessly to me.
* Lightens my Load. Tea helps us see God in each other. I am not talking about reading the tea leaves but stopping, communing with each other and sharing a moment in time that can never be gotten again. For example, I was in New Delhi wanting to buy a souvenir for my grandmother — perhaps a handmade bedspread with bright colors and I couldn’t because first it was customary to have a cup of tea. Like the bestselling book, 3 Cups of Tea, your first cup of tea is where you are a stranger, the 2nd cup indicates you become a friend and by the third cup, you are family.
Slowing down to have your proverbial “cup of tea” adds happiness, calmness and peace to our lives when we need it the most. I prefer a really wonderful Darjeeling or peppermint but your “cup of tea” may not even be tea. You may reboot with a few deep breaths, closed eyes, songs of loss or love streaming through Adele or yoga moves that open your heart to our most precious resource – this very moment – where we can always begin again.
By Maureen Healy
Maureen Healy is a happiness expert with more than 20 years of global experience. Her new book, Growing Happy Kids: How to Foster Inner Confidence, Success and Happiness (HCI Books) comes out April 3, 2012. This book was written over many cups of tea and from a place where she wants everyone who reads it to become just a wee bit happier. More info: www.growinghappykids.com and @mdhealy
Happiness is a popular topic these days. I have even written an upcoming book about it (Growing Happy Kids), and just watched a new movie: The Happy Movie. Although, I didn’t find this film to cover the deepest reasons for becoming happier no matter what I found it a strong documentary about how we can do things every day that make us happier. In my first blog here, I am going to share some of the Top 5 Things we can do daily to become happier.
1. Exercise. Seems pretty simple but the truth is that more we exercise from taking daily walks to sweating at the gym – this movement actually releases feel-good endorphins from our brain making us happier. Even a short 5 minute break walking away from your desk, getting some fresh air and strolling around the block can boost your mood. So think about how you can add just a little more movement into your daily (or weekly) life especially if it includes something like a few morning yoga poses or evening walk.
2. Get Immersed. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the well-regarded psychologist and rock climber, found that the more you immersed into something you love (he termed it flow) the happier you are. This thing you love also requires skill and it is here where you meet that challenge. So do you give yourself permission to get immersed into something you love each day? It may be reading, playing the guitar, creating a website, writing a blog, or cooking a fabulous dinner. Whatever it is for you (it’s writing for me) my suggestion is to do more of it.
3. Laugh. One thing I do for sure every day is laugh. Just today, my eight year-old client said, “My mom is a big fat weenie” and this was her unique way of expressing herself and I laughed. Because we’ve all had that feeling that someone just doesn’t get us and we can cry or laugh. Laughter changes the energy of a situation immediately and lets us become lighter. So when I need a laugh I go to youtube.com and put in my favorite comedian and give myself permission to laugh-out-loud for just a few minutes before my next client arrives.
4. Meditate. Richard Davidson, Director of the Lab for Affective Neuroscience, has studied how meditation affects the working of the brain, and how those changes impact emotional health (happiness). He states, “Emotions – and happiness in particular – should be thought of in the same way as a motor skill. They can be trained.” Dr. Davidson underscores how even a few minutes a day of meditation can begin to have a positive impact on your brain and sense of well-being. Oprah says she meditates twice a day. I aim for once a day where I can sit quietly, and relax into the knowing that all is really well (despite how it sometimes looks, feels, appears like …).
5. Become part of a community. Research shows that by getting involved as part of a community you become happier. You gain a sense of emotional support, and connection with others that fosters a greater sense of well-being. In The Happy Movie, the community in Japan of Okinawa was shown with the 3rd greatest concentration of centenarians (people over 100) because beyond diet, and other health practices everyone was part of this close knit (and happy) community.
Maureen Healy is an emotional health expert with more than 20 years of global experience. She is the founder of Growing Happy Kids, and author of the book by the same name (it comes out April 3, 2012). More info: www.growinghappykids.com and @mdhealy