Feeling Unhappy or Unloved? Here’s How To Feel Love Every Day

You’re not alone. 110.6 million single adults (45%) may miss out on the Valentine’s holiday, but we can easily add more love to our days, whether in a romantic relationship or not.

Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson’s innovative definition of “making love” means choosing to create big and small pleasures through in-person connections every day. This means we “make love” when hugging our best friend, savoring a meal with friends, or smiling at someone’s baby. So, let’s make every day special by “making love” all day.

Want more happiness and to track your happiness trends?  Join HappySpree

About the author(s)

Kendeyl Johansen

Kendeyl Johansen is a tech geek creating inspirational multimedia content to increase happiness and health for individuals and organizations.

Find Your Passion — Wake up Inspired, Happy, Excited and … Singing

Use this blog post to wake up inspired, happy and excited every day. Skeptical? I was an uninspired morning-hater, but then I discovered a secret.

It took me fifty years to discover this, plus a painful soul-search and much inspirational book reading. You can skip the epic effort because I’ll tell you the secret …

Are you curious?

Drum roll ….

Here it is:  find your burning desire and spend time doing it.  Don’t roll your eyes at me, this is actually possible. Like me, you were probably thinking:

• I don’t need a burning desire, do I? I love watching the grass grow.

• How the (bleep) do I find my burning desire?

• I’ll fix my life later, after my Game of Thrones / Netflix binge-a-thon.

I thought similar things for 48 years (yeah, I can slack) but then I decided to actually do it … find my passion / burning desire, and total shocker – I found it!

Ta-da …

Helping people boost happiness and stress less makes me feel happy. I find this difficult but love doing it. Harvard Professor of Psychology, Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happinessstates the key to happiness is making wise choices of what to do, which maximizes our pleasure.

Bam! My passion makes me feel happy. Just today I said, “Good morning!” to my daughter.  It burst from my mouth and shocked us both.

As a former morning-hater, I thought good morning advocates were crazy.  But here I am … abra-cadabra … enjoying my mornings because I’m choosing to do what I love. Yesterday I woke up singing Oooohhhh What A Beautiful Morning. I apologize to my kids, who ran for cover. I might need a singing lesson, but me waking up singing feels miraculous.

I wish the same for you (sorry kids!) So how can you find your burning desire? Close your eyes and answer (at least) one of these questions:

•What activity makes you feel happy …. excited … thrilled?

What loses you in time, so you’re shocked when it’s suddenly past midnight?

•What did you love as a child but gave up?

•What makes your heart zing-zing with conviction?

Discovering your passion takes deep thought but it’s worth it … it unstuck me (hallelujah!) and transformed my life from from black and white to color. Below are some of the items that helped me find my passion. Use them to light your fire. I give them all 5-stars.

The Accidental Billionaires (book). Passionate entrepreneurs transform their dreams into billions.

A New Earth: Awakening to your Life’s Purpose (book) . Woke me up. Mission accomplished, Mr, Tolle!

The King’s Speech (movie). Against all odds, King George VI overcomes a debilitating speech impediment to claim his throne.

Think and Grow Rich (book). A gold mine of inspiration.

Never, Ever Give Up (TED Talk). Experts agreed 60-year-old Diana Nyad couldn’t be the first to swim 110 miles from Cuba to Florida. She proved them wrong.

So … if a sarcastic, stuck fifty-something like me can find my passion you can too.

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Find yours, I beg of you. You can thank me later.

What’s your passion or biggest source of inspiration? Please comment, like and share.

Want more happiness and to track your happiness trends?  Join HappySpree

About the author(s)

Kendeyl Johansen

Kendeyl Johansen is a tech geek creating inspirational multimedia content to increase happiness and health for individuals and organizations.

Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail … So Here’s How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions seem like a great idea on January 1st, but Business Insider reports 80% fail by February. Use this video to up your success …

Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail So Here’s How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

About the author(s)

Kendeyl Johansen

Kendeyl Johansen is a tech geek creating inspirational multimedia content to increase happiness and health for individuals and organizations.

Who Are We? How To Tell Powerful Stories

Margarita Tarragona – photo credit University of Pennsylvania

We are the stars of our lives with action always happening around us. With so many stories to choose from, selecting what to tell ourselves and others can seem difficult, but the stories we tell have a profound effect on our lives. So how can we create our best narratives?

Maragarita Terragona, PhD; positive psychology expert, helps us mine the gold in our lives. Her book Positive Identities: Narrative Practices and Positive Psychology includes six-weeks of thoughtful exercises to help us create engaging, positive stories. Terragona said, “The way we story our experiences can limit our options or expand our possibilities. As a therapist, I love to see positive stories working and how changing our stories is so powerful.”

Tarragona teaches us to live our “preferred identity” (living according to what we believe and value) to create a “dominant story” and this shapes our identity. For instance, if your dominant story is “outgoing adventurer” you might choose an airline job to create adventurous stories to tell.

Mining the Positives

Wondering how to create the identity you prefer? One gem Tarragona recommends is to think of 2-3 people you admire and then list positive qualities of that person. For instance, Mother Teresa is kind, loving and patient. Circle the qualities you feel are most important, and write them as if they are yours. Tarragona said, “Notice and appreciate qualities in other people and then see if these qualities fit with the way you see yourself.”

She also recommends using the “Best Possible Future Self” exercise, created by Professor Laura King from the University of Missori-Columbia. For this exercise imagine everything in your life is going as well as it possibly could and write about this for twenty minutes a day. Do this for three days in a row. Research has proven that writing about goals helps us achieve them and increases subjective well-being.

But what if you discover that your dominant story produces an effect you don’t like? For instance, if your dominant story is “shy”, and you want to change this; look for evidence of times you aren’t shy to create an “alternative story”. You can then focus on past and future outgoing behavior to create a new dominant story. “Ultimately we want to choose a story congruent with who we want to be,” said Tarragona. Our preferred self is fluid and can change over time, like choosing to exchange “shy” behavior for “outgoing.”

Tarragona added, “Our stories are very important to how we think and feel. When objective things happen in our lives there are a range of possibilities depending on how we interpret them.” One example is when we wave at a friend and she doesn’t wave back. We could think: “she doesn’t like me” or “maybe she was distracted and didn’t see me wave.” Think about the different feelings these stories might produce. Our thoughts affect our feelings, so choose your thoughts wisely.

In addition to using stories to create our positive identity, Tarragona recommends harnessing stories to help problem-solve. She says, “Your problems are not your identity. Think of problems as adjectives instead of nouns.” For instance, instead of telling yourself:  “I am disorganized” think “my house is disorganized.” She adds, “The first sounds like part of who you are and there’s not much you can do about it, but the second gives you the chance to tackle disorganization and embrace the good feelings organization gives.” You might then choose to tell a funny story of how you cleaned up your messy behavior.

Using Stories to Connect

Tarragona helps us learn to cultivate and reflect on positive emotions, such as gratitude, hope and love; to create positive stories and increase our well-being. Tarragona’s book provides several exercises to help readers increase positivity. One of these helps us track our positivity ratio, (researchers have found that people that flourish report three positive emotions for every negative).

Another way to strengthen our stories is to focus on engagement in life or “flow experiences”. Dr. Martin Csikszentmihalyi, at Claremont University discovered that these experiences involve total concentration, challenge and use and development of skills. Tarragona recommends thinking of an activity so absorbing that you lose track of time. This is a flow experience. Her workbook’s exercises help us discover and maximize flow experiences, which we can later story,

Tarragona also recommends using character strengths to create good relationships and then utilize stories to enrich the way we connect. (To discover your character strengths take the free VIA Character Strengths Survey.) For instance, we could use the character strength of “bravery” to reach out to new friends in a hiking group and later tell the story of how we met our best friend. “Using character strengths to tell stories allows our relationships to become stronger and helps us be more present in life,” says Tarragona. She hopes readers of Positive Identities will explore the emotion of our best self and have fun identifying and strengthening our stories.  “Have an inventory of joyful fulfilling stories and use them to get through the difficult parts of life and create your best possible future,” she says.

I found the ideas and exercises in Positive Identities a treasure trove, and learning about the positivity ratio changed my life for the better. I use this ratio and my character strengths every day to create positive stories. I give the book 5-stars.

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I’m excited to continue trying these ideas.

About the author(s)

Kendeyl Johansen

Kendeyl Johansen is a tech geek creating inspirational multimedia content to increase happiness and health for individuals and organizations.

Want A Realistic Happily Ever After? Create It Today …

Well-being experts Suzann Pileggi Pawelski (MAPP) and James Pawelski (PhD) didn’t expect their book Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts to cause a breakup with my fiance, and neither did I. When I bought their book I had hopes of strengthening my romantic relationship. I knew something felt wrong, but I didn’t know what.

Happy Together taught me that great romantic relationships use John Gottman’s “magicratio” of 5-1 positive to negative interactions. Relationship researcher, Gottman, discovered that for happy relationships every negative comment, or action, needs 5 (or more) positive comments or actions. That night I tested my relationship …

Ought-oh …

We had 12 negative interactions for every positive. After realizing this I tried to fix our ratio but couldn’t, so I ended that relationship and cried on the bathroom floor.

That got boring after a while. I decided to use my character strength of bravery to began my quest for a realistic happily ever after using the Pawelski’s relationship research. “We wrote our book to help couples create loving, long-term romantic relationships using the science of happiness,” says Suzanne (“Suzie”) Pawelski. After discovering how to create and sustain their happy marriage they wanted to inspire others to do the same.

The Pawelskis teach us to grow our relationship calmness, commitment and trust by cultivating “Aristotelian love” . To do this, couples identify their character strengths and then help each other grow their strengths. This sounded interesting to me ,and I’m excited to try it.

Don’t know your strengths? Take the free VIA Character Strength Survey to discover them. Here’s a wordcloud of my strengths.

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Helping your partner grow strengths creates deep and connected love. This also means together you create your best possible relationship future.

Additionally, the book reveals that positive relationships take work. “Pop culture does us a disservice, all of the attention is on getting together and planning a wedding, and no one teaches what to do the day after the wedding,” says Suzie. Remember all of the decisions needed for a wedding–the dress, flowers, venue, menu, etc,? Suzie recommends pouring similar effort into your relationship regularly, not just on one day. She states the most robust research shows a happiness habit doesn’t “just happen”. It takes regular work.

She invites us to join her and James in the “relationship gym”. Similar to how exercise gyms create healthy bodies, growing a relationship creates love and happiness.

The Pawelskis teach couples to evolve the fiery passion of new love into a calmer, healthy passion. This is because the initial passion of new romance cools, and to expect it to continue can create obsession. To keep things fresh, Suzie recommends practicing positive emotions as your relationship develops; for instance, choosing activities to enjoy together, such as hiking, to create gratitude and awe. Positive emotions create connection and happiness. “Relationships without a lot of positive emotions often fizzle out,” she says.

Suzie does caution about chasing too much happiness, though. Sometimes we need to feel appropriate negative emotions, such as when our dog does. So strive for realistic happiness and positive emotions when appropriate.

A fun way to cultivate positive emotion is a “strengths date”, an activity developed by positive psychology founder, Martin Seligman. To plan a strengths date, choose a character strength from each person and plan a fun event that uses the strengths. For instance, Suzie combined her creativity with James’ love of learning for a date to a Purivian and Cantonese restaurant. Before the date she researched the Latino and Asian culinary background, printed out the information, and brought it to dinner for them to discuss while savoring their food. They loved their evening and she encourages others to strengthen bonds with similar activities.

She recommends taking time for mindful savoring. “Couples rush through life and miss magical moments to connect while waiting for momentous events to happen,” she says. If your partner isn’t whisking you off to Paris, like on The Bachelor, it’s ok; research shows daily happy moments add up. “For more happy moments, seek out strengths in your partner and how to facilitate them,” she says.

Also, don’t be a killjoy. For instance, if you’re vacationing in California enjoy your moments together and don’t think, maybe we should have gone to Hawaii. “Celebrate your good times together and appreciate what’s in front of you,” says Suzie.

But what happens when bad times occur? Couples that work to build up happy times can more easily weather challenges. Also happy couples know they can rely on each other to problem-solve. One way to do this is to use character strengths.

Suzie says the most important takeaway from her book is to focus on what is going right in a relationship. She says, “When everyday annoyances happen remember what your partner’s strengths are and what attracted you to them in the first place.” So help your partner be their best to create Aristotelian love and a realistic happily ever after.

I found ideas in Happy Together immensely valuable, and give the book 5-stars.  I’m excited to try out these ideas in my next relationship.

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Shellee Godfrey

Shellee Godfrey creates happiness for her clients as a Systems Analyst and writes comedy screenplays based on her smart and sassy 80’s diva background.

“Make Love All Day,” advises Psychology Professor Barbara Fredrikson. Here’s how and why …

Positive Psychology superstar, Professor Barbara Fredrikson (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); has discovered how to make love all day long, without getting arrested or exhausted. Surprisingly, her innovative definition of “making love” means choosing to create big and small pleasures through human connections. This means we “make love” when we hug our best friend, or savor dinner out with our significant other, or smile at someone’s baby.

Although this means we need to take risks, such as possible rejection when reaching out, Fredrikson’s research proves the results are worth it.  In fact, creating pleasures, like smiling at a baby, stimulates our vagus nerve, which connects our mind with our heart. This results in positive health impacts, both for the person we interact with, and for us too. Also this type of lovemaking doesn’t require a significant other.

Indeed, Fredrikson states that 50% of adults haven’t found their romantic love or have lost this person.   


via Pixabay

“Valentines stinks,” said my son last week. He’s not currently in a relationship, so that means he misses out on this holiday and other romantic occasions, and so do the other half of all adults. But Fredrikson’s lovemaking definition provides everyone with opportunities for pleasure, whether single, married or in between.  I’m in love with her concept and I wanted to try it.

But could I do it … make love all day?

We shall see.

I started out the next morning making an omelette for my fiance. He almost fell out of chair in surprise, but a few minutes later he dug in with a smile. Instead of rushing our morning, as usual, we lit a candle and enjoyed our meal, making eye contact and planning for a fun Saturday ski date. I felt a rush of happiness. Just wow.

Later that day, I stood in line at a bakery. An elderly man in front of me looked stressed and couldn’t decide what to order for a his grandson’s team celebration. On another day, I might have felt impatient with this delay; but instead I said, “Have you tried the white chocolate mini-eclairs? They’re delicious!”

“Are they?” he asked.

“Yes let me treat you to one. The kids will love them.” He looked shocked. I smiled, ordering two mini-eclairs (a mini-expense that wouldn’t change my lifestyle), and we stepped out of line to sample them. It turned out he was bringing dessert to the lacrosse team dinner. “My son will be at that dinner!” I laughed, our big lonely world suddenly small and friendly, as we rehashed team victories.

So, here I was, making love with a stranger in public. Don’t worry, no police were needed. On my way out of the store, I smiled at a cute baby wearing a pink hat. The baby smiled back, love at first sight.

That night, my teenage daughter ran across our snowy yard to hug my neighbor, who was struggling through a divorce. Impulsively, I followed my daughter’s lead, and the three of us group hugged, laughing and swaying from side-to-side. When I stepped back, I noticed my neighbor’s tears.

“Thank you,” she said wiping her eyes and smiling. “That’s the first human touch I’ve felt in weeks.”

So this one-day experiment expanded to brighten my future. I’m now an impromptu hugger and a baby-smiler. Plus, I offer to take photos for strangers, so everyone can be in the picture. Surprisingly, I found my dog-sitter this way … I offered to take a photo of a young girl struggling to snap a selfie with her dog. We got talking, and now I don’t have to worry about who will care for my dog when I travel.

These tiny reach-outs have created new friendships and filled my heart with warmth and positivity. Thank you, Dr. Fredrikson, for rethinking love and giving us so many more opportunities than we had before. I love making love all day. I highly recommend it.

Do you agree with Dr. Fredrikson’s new definition of making love?  Please comment, like and share …

Shellee Godfrey

Shellee Godfrey creates happiness for her clients as a Systems Analyst and writes comedy screenplays based on her smart and sassy 80’s diva background.

How To Prevent the Next Dead Teenager? Let’s Spread Out Our Blankets

Dedicated to my daughter, Kira, my son, Max, and the friends that we lost. I don’t want to lose any more.

My 15-year-old daughter has 5 dead friends. Two summers ago, when she was 13, three of her classmates died. What happened isn’t clear, but for sure it ended in despair.

The morning of the funeral, I filled up my SUV with Kira’s friends, all of them wearing black dresses … oh, just the sight of that hurt my heart. The girls swiped at leaking, red-rimmed eyes.

I handed out tissues, as we headed to the outdoor funeral of their friend, in Park City, Utah. Two more teens would be buried later that week.  How had this happened?

How had this happened?

I squished five girls into my car, two double-buckled in one seatbelt. The girls all had parents that were working on this sad weekday. Yeah, we were breaking the law, but who could leave one of them behind to sob alone in her room?

When we arrived at Miner’s Park, I spread out a large blanket on the grass. The girls soon ran off to hug friends.

Teens run in packs, and I understood they might not return. Still, I was there for them, and they knew where to find me.

All around, people stood in groups clinging to each other. As I waited for the funeral to start, I looked up at the summer sky, blue as my heart.

The sky felt empty, like the potential of a dead teenager. 

Guitar music began, signaling the start of the service. Two of Kira’s friends returned to my blanket, then another did. Kira slumped in front of me, and then turned and buried her head in my shoulder, like when she was little. My big-girl sobbed silently, her shoulders shaking.

Hugging her tight, I felt the warm sun on her arms, and breathed in her flower shampoo. I thought of the parents of the boy in the casket. How could they cope with this?

I felt guilty as love for my daughter filled my aching heart. I stroked her hair, as more and more teens joined us, spilling off the edges of my blanket. It turns out they wanted my support.

I wish I’d brought more tissues.

After the funeral, I took the girls for bagels. I told them no problem is too large for a trusted adult to help you solve. I asked them to promise me they’d reach out for a metaphorical blanket.

I also told this to my older kids when I got home. I braced myself for duh, and teenage eye roll.

Instead, they met my eyes. They said thanks.

But is this enough? I’m guilty of trying to look good on social media, while crying inside. Will my kids bravely reach out if they need me? I can only hope.

So, thinking back to high school, I knew one teenager that died an early death in a car accident. Although 15, my daughter has grieved the loss of several friends. Also, my older son has lost one friend to terrible circumstances. So we sat, shocked, at another young person’s funeral. A brilliant, funny young man, gone.

Why are so many people giving up? 

General Social Survey (GSS) showed that the number of adult Americans reporting “no close friends” has almost tripled in recent decades. Worse, 25% of respondents reported zero confidants (close friends).

I fear the numbers are worse for teenagers, despite their hundreds (or thousands) of social media “friends”. Do these kids have one trusted confidant to turn to in a crisis?

Do you?

If not, you’re at risk. A 2015 analysis, compiling data on more than 3 million people from 70 studies, found the absence of social connection a greater early death risk factor than smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day. Additionally, loneliness led to greater risk for early mortality than obesity.

Sadly, Kira and her classmates lost another friend to suicide last week. This makes me feel so hopeless, so helpless, and I’m taking this personally.  Let’s try to stop this despair.

Let’s put down the social media sometimes to build personal connections, where we look into another person’s eyes. So when you, me, and every kid we know, gets asked the question: “Do you have a close friend that will help you in a crisis?” the only answer is “yes.”

So, let’s spread out our blankets.  Who else can’t take it anymore and wants to prevent deaths from suicide?  Please comment, like and share …

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

Shellee Godfrey

Shellee Godfrey creates happiness for her clients as a Systems Analyst and writes comedy screenplays based on her smart and sassy 80’s diva background.

HappyHack: Try a Taste of Meditation: 5-Minute Chocolate, Candy or Fruit Meditation — Fast, Fun and Easy

(Photo credit: jackmac34 on Pixabay)

Did you ever gulp down a meal and not notice how it tasted? We all get busy sometimes, and often I eat without enjoying my food, or even tasting it. If you want to try meditation and develop a new appreciate for food, take three minutes for this Taste Meditation.

I selected chocolate for my taste meditation and the chocolaty deliciousness amazed me. Next, I had to try it with a caramel, then pomegranate seeds and finally a barbecue potato chip (my favorite indulgence). I wanted to skip the meditation and gobble up the whole bag of chips, but I made myself behave.

Taste meditation made me realize how much I missed when gulping food.

You can record the meditation script (below) using your phone or computer and play it back so you can enjoy the experience by yourself. Alternately, have a friend or family member read the script while you do the meditation, then trade places.

Candy or Fruit Meditation Script

(Photo by Isabell Winter)

Select a piece of soft candy, like a chocolate, a caramel, a jellybean; or alternately, a piece of fruit. Bring your item to a comfortable sitting location. Choose a chair or cushion or somewhere comfortable to sit.

As you sit unwrap your item, if needed. Hold your candy or fruit loosely in your hand and allow your body to relax. Feel the support of the earth on your body.

Close your eyes. Bring your attention inward and focus on your breath. Breathe slowly in and out, in and out, in and out. Allow your body to relax more with each breath.

Now, bring your attention to your candy or fruit. Feel the weight in your hand. Is it smooth or textured? Soft or firm?

Open your eyes and notice your item’s shape and color. Are there any markings or textures?

You may feel tempted to devour your item but resist this urge. Slowly bring your item up to your nose. Is there a smell? If there is an aroma, sit for a few moments and appreciate it. This may increase your cravings but you’re strong.

Bring the candy or fruit to your mouth and take a small bite, but don’t swallow. What flavor do you taste? Explore the item with your tongue.

Let your item melt in your mouth or chew it. Does the taste change as your item moves around in your mouth? How do you feel? What other sensations are there?

Notice any memories this experience brings up in your mind. Take a moment to appreciate them.

Swallow the item and notice any new sensations. Next, place the remaining candy or fruit in your mouth. Appreciate the tastes and sensations as you explore it.

When you’re ready, swallow the food. Notice any lingering tastes and any feelings you might have.

Next, bring your attention back to your breath. Do you feel different than when you began the meditation?

Slowly bring your awareness back to the room. Notice any sounds you might hear. Feel your body sitting, and notice the support of the earth underneath you.

When you feel ready, open your eyes.

End of script.

Skeptical me had thought meditation a bit “out there”, but I wanted to try a variety of happiness practices. Taste meditation sounded interesting and easy, and had a short time commitment. Plus, how could I go wrong eating chocolate?

It surprised me how much I enjoyed my taste meditation experience. Slowing down the eating process skyrocketed my enjoyment, and I noticed more sensations than when I gobbled down food.

Also many food items seemed to taste better after this meditation, probably because I was taking time to enjoy them. Plus, I started closing my eyes to savor special tastes. I appreciate and savor food more now.

I loved my taste of meditation and wanted more. I tried other meditations, and I confess … I enjoyed them all — even my group meditation session. I had thought we would meditate for a few minutes and spend most of the hour talking about our experience.


When the moderator announced we would be meditating for 40 minutes I thought I might die.

How would fidgety me survive sitting still for so long? Surprise … I loved it.

So if a jaded, moldy-oldie like me loves meditation, you might too. I wrote this script for people wanting to try meditation or for those needing a relaxing break, or for anyone wanting to savor food, or boost happiness. If this applies to you, consider trying this tasty experiment.

What do you think about trying meditation?

Please comment, like and share because human connection means everything to me.

Shellee Godfrey

Shellee Godfrey creates happiness for her clients as a Systems Analyst and writes comedy screenplays based on her smart and sassy 80’s diva background.