5-Minute Chocolate, Candy, or Fruit Meditation – Feed Your Soul, Yum!

Meditation improves mental and physical health, and it also boosts happiness.  If you’ve never tried meditation this Candy or Fruit Meditation provides an easy introduction and it only takes 5 minutes.  Or, if you’re a meditation pro, you already know taking time for meditation makes you feel great.

So, give your soul a treat.  Grab a piece of candy or fruit and try our yummy 5-Minute Candy or Fruit Meditation.  Click on the video below or scroll down to read how this meditation works.

5 Minute Chocolate Candy or Fruit Meditation

💕Treat yourself to a Valentine's present.Grab some candy, or fruit, and dedicate 5 minutes to lower stress, increase happiness and rewire your brain with this fun and easy mindfulness treat …

Posted by HappySpree Breakup Recovery Challenge on Friday, February 14, 2020

Chocolate, Soft Candy or Fruit Meditation Experience

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.

Easy Meditation Script

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)

Meditation Gets a New Fan

Skeptical me had thought meditation too “woo-woo”, but I wanted to experience a variety of happiness practices. Taste meditation sounded interesting and easy with only a 5-minute time commitment so I didn’t have much to lose. Plus, how could I go wrong with eating chocolate?

It surprised me how much I enjoyed my taste meditation experience. Slowing down the eating process intensified my enjoyment of chocolate and I noticed more sensations than when I gobbled down food.  When my teenage daughter tried his meditation with a piece of fruit she said, “Mom, that was the yummiest grape I ever had!”

Many food items seemed to taste better after this meditation because I was slowing down to savor foods. I started closing my eyes to savor special tastes and intensified the taste. I appreciate and enjoy my food more.

I loved my taste of meditation and this made me curious. 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 that long? Surprise … I loved it.

So if a jaded, moldy-oldie like me loves meditation, you might too. I wrote this script in hopes of tempting people interested in trying meditation or skeptical but open about trying meditation, or for anyone needing a relaxing break, wanting to savor life more, or people interested in increasing happiness. If any or all apply to you try this tasty experiment.

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.

HappyHack: Gratitude Journal – Increase Happiness at Home, Work and Play with 3-Minute Tool

(Photo credit kaboompics)

Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.
–Dalai Lama XIV

Our world needs more happiness, especially during this coronavirus pandemic.  Gratitude journals are scientifically proven to increase happiness  (Lyubomirsky, Dickerhoof, Boehm, and Sheldon 2011; Seligman and Anselmo-Matthews, 2012).  Writing down three positive things per day can help depressed people feel better for up to three months and help happy feel happier and stay happy for three to six months.  (SeligmanEmmons & McCoullough Ben-Shahar ).  Increased happiness positively impacts your mental and physical health, family, friendships, community, and our world.  Also, gratitude journals have helped diverse populations feel happier (Chan, 2010; Cunha, Reppold, and Pellanda, 2019; Lyubomirsky et al., 2011).

One study asked participants to write down “three good things” that went well, and why they went well.  Participants did this for seven days.  The best time to write was before bedtime each night.  Researchers found “three good things” increased well-being and lowered depression.

This gratitude intervention works by changing thinking patterns from “what went wrong” to “what went right”.  So this can change, I had a bad day to, I enjoyed walking my dog, my Carrot Cake recipe tasted delicious, and  I had a fun phone chat with a friend,   Click on the video, below, to learn more about how writing down gratitude works from the founder of positive psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman.

Three Good Things

Also, Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar, teaches the most popular class at this university, Positive Psychology.   He has kept a gratitude journal every day since 1985.  He states the benefits of gratitude include: greater happiness, optimistic thinking, greater relationship success, increased health and more.  Click this video to hear his thoughts on increasing happiness without needing to pay Harvard tuition.

Five Ways To Become Happier Today

Still need convincing?

Happy people live longer, like the nuns in this study.   The study found “positive emotional content in early-life autobiographies was strongly associated with longevity 6 decades later.”   

Since happiness has many benefits, why not take a few minutes to write down three positives?   You can grab a stick and write them in the sand, or use a piece of paper and a pen, or use the HappySpree Gratitude Journal.  It’s  free, easy and only takes 3 minutes per day.

Create your journal

Need more scientific proof on gratitude journals and increased happiness?   View the research studies below.

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

About the author

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






Scientific Proof for inquiring Minds (References)

Baumgarten-Tramer, F. (1938). “Gratefulness” in Children and Young People. The Pedagogical Seminary and Journal of Genetic Psychology, 53(1), 53-66.

Boehm, J., Lyubomirsky S. & Sheldon K. M. (2011) A longitudinal experimental study comparing the effectiveness of happiness-enhancing strategies in Anglo Americans and Asian Americans, Cognition and Emotion, 25:7, 1263-

1272, DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2010.541227

Carpenter, J., Crutchley, P., Zilca, R., Schwartz, H., Smith, L., Cobb, A., & Parks, A. (2016). Seeing the “Big” Picture: Big Data Methods for Exploring Relationships Between Usage, Language, and Outcome in Internet Intervention Data. Journal Of Medical Internet         Research, 18(8), 373-390.

Chan, D. (2010). Gratitude, gratitude intervention and subjective well-being among Chinese school teachers in Hong Kong. Educational Psychology, 30(2), 139-153.

Cunha, L. F., Reppold, C. T., & Pellanda, L. C. (2019). Positive psychology and gratitude interventions: A randomized clinical trial. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 584.

Davis, D., Choe, E., Meyers, J., Wade, N., Varjas, K., Gifford, A., . . . Worthington, E. (2016). Thankful for the Little Things: A Meta-Analysis of Gratitude Interventions. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 63(1), 20-31.

Dickens, L. (2017). Using Gratitude to Promote Positive Change: A Series of Meta-Analyses Investigating the Effectiveness of Gratitude Interventions. Basic and Applied Social

Psychology, 39(4), 193-208.

Howells, A., Ivtzan, I., & Eiroa-Orosa, F. (2016). Putting the ‘app’ in Happiness: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Smartphone-Based Mindfulness Intervention to Enhance Wellbeing. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(1), 163-185.

Lyubomirsky, S., Dickerhoof, R., Boehm, J., & Sheldon, K. (2011). Becoming Happier Takes Both a Will and a Proper Way: An Experimental Longitudinal Intervention To Boost Well-Being. Emotion, 11(2), 391-402.

Mongrain, M., & Anselmo-Matthews, T. (2012). Do Positive Psychology Exercises Work? A Replication of Seligman et al. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68(4), N/a.

Seligman, M.P., & Anselmo-Matthews, T. (2012). Do positive psychology exercises work? A replication of Seligman et al. (2005). J. Clin. Psychol. 68, 382–389. doi:


Seligman, M. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist,55(1), 5–14. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.5

Seligman et al. (2005). J. Clin. Psychol. 68, 382–389. doi: 10.1002/jclp.21839 Seligman, M.P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress — Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60 (5) (2005), pp. 410-421

Watkins, P. C., Van Gelder, M., and Frias, A. (2009). “Furthering the science of gratitude,” in Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, eds S. J. Lopez and C. R. Snyder (New

York, NY: Oxford University Press), 437–445.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019). An Online Trial of 5 Well-Being Programs. [Website]. Retrieved from https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03233022

Wood, Froh, & Geraghty. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890-905.

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.

Feel Happier Now After A Breakup–How the 3 P’s of Learned Optimism Can Increase Happiness So You Feel Better Fast

We are what we think.  Psychologist and well-being expert Martin Seligman found that positive thinking patterns can increase healing and recovery from adversity, and they also increase well-being and happiness.  Seligman recommends using the Three P’s of Learned Optimism:  (1) Personalization, (2) Pervasiveness, and (3) Permanence to enhance recovery after a breakup or loss, and also when you’re feeling bad for other reasons.

To feel better after a breakup, start by examining personalization. Realizing that breakups aren’t 100% your fault, think of other contributing factors that may have caused the split.  Maybe your ex’s mother didn’t like your cat, maybe job challenges stressed your relationship, or maybe single friends tempted your ex to play too often.  So, maybe you could change “this is entirely my fault” to “job stress made my ex grouchy and that didn’t help our relationship”.  Understanding personalization leads to optimistic thinking and this reduces blame and self-criticism.

Next, consider pervasiveness, which means understanding that not all areas of your life are affected by your breakup.  Breakups are difficult but focusing on non-romantic activities or relationships can make you feel better.  For instance, choose a flow activity, like learning how to play a musical instrument, writing or painting; or volunteer, or grow friend or family relationships, these activities are proven to increase happiness according to Seligman’s research.  Also, your dog or a friend’s dog will always love you no matter what.  

Finally, permanence means realizing that intense breakup pain is temporary.  Breakups can follow the grief stages discovered by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  You may move up and down through the grief stages, or not experience all of them.  You will feel better with time as you process your emotions and move towards acceptance.  For now, remember that intense pain isn’t permanent.  So if you tell yourself “My life is awful, will always be awful and I’m going to die alone and my cat will eat me” or “I’m going crazy” you’ll feel worse.  Instead, thinking “I’ll feel better with time” or “feeling sad after a breakup is normal” can help you feel better. 

Recovery Is Possible After Intense Grief

In her book Option B:  Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy, Cheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, applied the three P’s to her life after her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack.  Upon reflection, Sandberg realized that her husband’s death was not her fault, some areas of her life weren’t terrible (for instance, birthday parties with her kids), and her crushing grief wouldn’t last forever.

Sandberg’s painfully honest self-reflection inspired me to use the three P’s to recover after my divorce.  I needed help stopping PTSD-like symptoms caused by ruminating about what I did wrong during my marriage and also whenever I saw my ex-husband, which was necessary during my kids’ soccer and lacrosse games.  I knew my rapid heartbeat, sweating, and difficulty breathing were harmful to me but I couldn’t stop negative thoughts. 

When thinking through the three P lens, I realized my divorce wasn’t wholly my fault.  For instance, my ex-husband’s challenges were not in my control, I hadn’t caused them, and couldn’t fix them. Further, I realized that distress from my divorce no longer impacts most of my life, and the pain from my marriage is decreasing every day.

As my guilt and self-blame lessened I felt better about my self and my future. Also, I noticed the Three P’s had calmed my stress response. For the first time when thinking about my breakup, my breathing and heartbeat felt normal, and I wasn’t sweating.  A deep sense of relief and gratitude towards Dr. Seligman and his research swelled in my heart.

Optimistic thinking also helps adolescents.  In one study, participants ages 10-15, with low to moderate hopelessness, utilized cognitive behavioral therapy, including the three P’s, to improve depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and coping (Gillham et al., 2012).  I could identify with the study participants, as I had experienced hopelessness while married.  Indeed, the three P’s can help us gain insight leading to success both at school and at home.

Also, this knowledge helps defeat passivity, which is the default response to shock caused by adversity, and we must work to overcome this to increase wellbeing.  Learning how to control thoughts and behaviors can overcome passivity.

The three P’s are a powerful thought tool we can apply to all areas in our lives.  So, like Sandberg’s recovery after her husband’s death, the students overcoming hopelessness, and me changing negative thinking to positive, the three P’s increased my happiness and well-being. I hope you’ll use them to do the same for you.

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.


HappySpree Breakup Recovery Playlist and How To Process Negative Emotions To Heal Hurts and Feel Better

(Photo credit Kristopher Roller)

Some days feel difficult and that’s ok.  It’s not healthy to strive for happiness all of the time.  Trying to force happiness at inappropriate times can signal mental health issues, such as mania.  If your dog dies or a relationship ends negative emotions are appropriate.  We need to process our emotions and feel them so we can move forward.

Emotional processing occurs when a person experiences a negative event and can cope with the event as time passes.  We all face challenges that cause fear, sadness, and anxiety but these feelings are temporary for the majority of people.

There are many ways to process, or reduce, emotions.  You don’t want to get stuck feeling sad or angry long-term, right?   Masking emotions with unhealthy behaviors or blocking them doesn’t help us feel better.

Use music as a healthy way to process emotions.  Sad music lets us grieve and gets tears out so that we can feel our emotions and heal.  Also, angry music lets us feel anger and safely release it.  So, use our Breakup Recovery playlist as a catalyst for emotional health.

Best Breakup Recovery Songs Playlist

1. Thank U, Next – Ariana Grande

2. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor

3. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift

4. A Little Bit Stronger – Sara Evans

5. Best Thing I Never Had – Beyonce

6.  You Don’t Own Me – Lesley Gore

7. How To Be A Heartbreaker – Marina and the Diamonds

8. Be Alright – Dean Lewis

9. We Don’t Talk Anymore – Charlie Puth Ft. Selena Gomez

10. Someone Like You – Adele

11. Stitches – Shawn Mendes

After processing emotions, consider using the Three P’s of optimism, Personalization, Pervasiveness, and Permanence to change thinking patterns from negative to positive.  Also, think about lessons learned from your experience.  You can benefit from post-traumatic growth by finding benefits in negative events.  For instance,  you might decide to listen more, talk through challenges, or take time to go back to school or learn guitar.  Emotional processing can also help us avoid past mistakes and this can be combined with post-traumatic growth to create your Best Possible Future.

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.

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: Best Possible Future – How to Make Your Dreams Come True For Work and Play

Why are you smiling so wide in the future? It’s 5-10 years from now, and your happy grin comes from achieving your dreams. You accomplished this by creating achievable goals and then marking them off one after the other.

Research shows that writing about, or visualizing, positive thoughts and dreams can bring about your Best Possible Future.  This optimistic thinking can provide insights, which spark positive choices, goal achievement, well-being, and emotional adjustment.

“This isn’t just about imagining a model future. It’s also about building a best possible self today that can make that future come true,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want.  In one study, students wrote about their “best possible future” for 20 minutes for four consecutive days.

They responded to this prompt created by psychologist Laura King:

“Imagine yourself in the future, after everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your life goals. Think of this as the realization of your life dreams, and of your own best potentials. In all of these cases, you are identifying the best possible way that things might turn out in your life, in order to help guide your decisions now.”

Study participants showed an immediate boost in well-being after completing this exercise, and they remained happier three weeks later. Also, students suffered from fewer illnesses for five months after this activity. Another study instructed participants to imagine their “best possible self” with a focus on work, relationships, and personal hopes. They were asked to imagine this for five minutes per day for three weeks. Study participants reported increases in optimism which built over the two weeks.

This exercise will clarify your goals so you can make decisions to create your best possible future. So, take a few minutes to start transforming your dreams into reality. When you need a refresher or are ready for new goals, review your responses and change them as needed.

.HappyHack: Best Possible Future

Time needed: 20 minutes

Supplies: paper and pen or word processing device

Instructions: Envision your future where you have worked hard to accomplish your goals and you are now celebrating your success. You have achieved all of your dreams and everything has worked out as well as possible. Think back to the specifics of how you have made your best possible future happen by setting achievable goals and accomplishing them. Now write about your future focusing on the specifics you will need for success. Questions you may want to consider:

• What is your dream job?

*Which certifications, training or education do you need for this job?

• Which financial goals have you accomplished?

• Which favorite activities do you enjoy?

* Which training, equipment or supplies do you need for these activities?

• Which people are the most important for your social life?

* What is your relationship status?

* Which relationships are the most important for you?

• What is your lifestyle like?

* Which healthy choices do you practice?

* Which fitness activities do you choose?

* Where do you live?

• Which other choices and goals will help you achieve your best future?

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.

HappySpree’s 11 Funniest of Funny Comedy Movies List

Photo credit JESHOOTS.com

Why watch a funny movie?  Funny movies can boost our happiness and health.  In one study, laughter increased positive emotions for people watching a funny clip.  In another study, laughter improved mood and lessened pain for hospital patients as they selected items from a “laugh-mobile”.

Need more evidence of laughter as medicine?  A cancer patient study showed laughter decreased stress and improved immune system function.  Who wouldn’t want that?  Also, psychologist Barbara Fredrikson found that positive emotions broaden-and-build, and this creates more positive emotions, and also increases health and happiness.

Emotions from happy movies can also improve mood due to emotional contagion. In fact, when we feel happy, friends and acquaintances can feel happier.  A study with more than 600.000 Facebook participants found that user emotions were influenced negatively or positively by a newsfeed displaying similar emotions.  For instance, when Cher in Clueless finds true love we smile, and we share Ferris Bueller’s ditch-day fun.  So, let’s smile and laugh more.

Let’s Laugh

In search of the funniest movies ever, we reviewed Top “Funny Movie” lists from Buzzfeed, Rotten Tomatoes, OprahMag, and more.   Numbers indicate the “funniest” appearances for each movie.

  1. Clueless – 8x
  2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – 7x
  3. Legally Blonde – 6x
  4. Princess Bride – 5x
  5. Bird Cage – 5x
  6. Mamma Mia – 5x
  7. School of Rock – 5x
  8. The Devil Wears Prada – 5x
  9. Forest Gump – 5x
  10. Pitch Perfect – 4x
  11. Elf – 4x

Your library may have free copies of these movies or find them online.  Then pop some popcorn, choose a comfy couch, and dose yourself with laughter by binge-watching movies from our list.  Also, to increase laughter’s benefits, invite a friend or family member to watch along with you.  You’ll broaden-and-build their positive emotions along with yours, and boost immunity for all.

Try not to laugh at my favorite comedy, Ferris Bueller,  or at Shellee’s favorite funny movie, Night at the Roxbury.  What’s your favorite comedy, or which essential funny movie are we missing?

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

About the author(s)

Kendeyl Johansen

Tech-geek Kendeyl creates inspirational multimedia content to increase happiness and health for individuals and organizations.

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.

HappySpree Best of the Best Happy and Feel-Good Movies

Photo credit JESHOOTS.com

Watching happy movies can build positive emotions and lift your mood.  In one study, people watching a happy movie recovered from negative emotions, including rumination and worry. So, watch a happy movie to feel good.

Also, emotions from happy movies can improve mood due to emotional contagion.  A study with more than 600.000 Facebook participants found that user emotions were influenced negatively or positively by a newsfeed displaying similar emotions.  This is why we smile with Cher in Clueless when she finds true love, and laugh at Ferris Bueller’s ditch-day fun.

To increase positive emotions from a happy movie more, invite a friend over to share the experience.  A study showed positive social connections result in an “upward spiral” of positive emotions and also increase health.

To find the best happy movies, we reviewed Top 10 lists from Buzzfeed, Rotton Tomatoes, OprahMag, and more.  The movies are listed in order of occurrences found on “best” lists.

  1. Clueless (8 times on best lists)
  2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (7 times)
  3. Legally Blonde (6 times)
  4. Princess Bride (5 times)
  5. Brid Cage (5 tines)
  6. Mamma Mia (5 times)
  7. School of Rock (5 times)
  8. The Devil Wears Prada (5 times)
  9. Forest Gump (5 times)
  10. Pitch Perfect (4 times)
  11. (Bonus!) Amelie (4 times)

So pop some popcorn, choose a happy movie, and let the smiles begin.  What’s your favorite happy movie or what favorite movie are we missing?

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.

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.

HappySpree’s Boost Your Happiness, Smile More, and Dance Around Playlist

Photo credit Andre Furtado

Want to feel happier?  Scientists have proven that music can impact mood and change how we view the world.   Our brain builds up expectations based on experience and mood, so listening to sad music can make us feel sad, and playing happy music increases happiness.

As we experience happy emotions, they broaden and build, leading to more happy emotions.  Also, emotions are contagious, so your happiness can lift the moods of others.  In a social network study, when exposure to positive content was reduced, friends’ posts showed more negative content and with the reduction of negative content, friend’s posts showed more positive content.  So, when wanting to feel happier, use our Happy Songs to find your smile, build positive emotions, inspire new dance moves for you and others, and sing through workouts …

Happy Songs

Photo credit Juan Mendez

😃 Happy (Clap Along) – Pharrel Williams

😃 Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson, ft. Bruno Mars

😃 Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake

😃 24K Magic – Bruno Mars

😃 Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

😃 Better When I’m Dancing – Meghan Trainer

😃 Best Day of My Life – American Authors

😃 Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

😃 Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles

😃 All-Star – Smashmouth

😃 Walking On Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

My Co-creator, Shellee, tested these songs this morning, before coffee.  She reported the playlist made her feel happy and put her in a good mood to start her day.  Also, listening to Happy, by Pharrel Williams, inspired her to dance her way to the coffee maker.

Which song makes you feel happiest, or which favorite happy song are we missing?

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.

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 Forgiveness Makes the Impossible Possible, Plus A Surprise Gift

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.

–Lewis B. Smedes

I grew up in the snowy mountains of Park City, Utah a perfect metaphor for my unforgiving heart. My easy childhood had minor forgiveness incidents, but I had little guidance from my parents and none from religion, and this left me unprepared for the pain of a long-term unhappy marriage. Indeed, as my then-husband struggled with a painful issue (I have promised my kids to keep this issue private), I had little sympathy and blamed him for the negative impacts on our family.

Did I want to forgive my ex, as part of a forgiveness assignment for my grad school psychology class?

Absolutely not!

I can easily find empathy for people other people trying to cope with serious issues, and their friends and families, but could I use my under-expressed character strengths of forgiveness and prospective to forgive my ex? Forgiveness is an important part of good relationships, so focusing on strengths can improve well-being and future relationships.

I have forgiven others for hurts, but not him. I felt his wrongs were too grievous for forgiveness, as these hurts have caused my kids and me deep pain. When I think about this, I feel sad and mad, but worse, I experience PTSD symptoms.

Specifically, intrusive memories well up, anxiety rises, I have trouble breathing, and I feel like I’m suffocating. These symptoms have led to intimacy and commitment issues in new romantic relationships, and I find myself mistrustful as well.  Although I can’t find research studies on unhealthy relationships and PTSD, I suspect these relationships are, indeed, a cause of PTSD. While in graduate school I am discovering areas for future focus, and this may be something I would like to pursue.

I realize what happened to me is not ok, but I am divorced now, and working to create a happy life for my kids and me. In fact, my struggle has inspired me to learn how to best help others that are struggling, and that’s why I’m in graduate school, at the moldy-oldy age of 53.

Upon reflection, I can find empathy for my ex, struggling to do his best amidst adversity, just like me. His negative childhood impacted his future. In fact, my ex told me that as a child, he would hide every single day from his hostile father. I can feel empathy for this little boy without help or options. He grew up thinking this behavior was normal, and later, he wasn’t acting to hurt me, but to escape past memories, and numb the pain of our eroding marriage.

Also, my forgiveness challenge paled in comparison to a video, in which a mother forgave her son’s killer. I decided to direct loving kindness meditation towards my ex as a step towards forgiveness.

This letting go of anger could lessen my stress when thinking of my ex, or encountering him, and also manage my “hot button” triggers. Indeed, being merciful to someone that has wronged us increases life meaning and happiness by doing good (Dunn, 2017). Additionally, loving kindness meditation strengthens acceptance, forgiveness, generosity, kindness, and trust according to Mindfulness Expert, John Kabat-Zinn. Also, forgiveness does not excuse bad behavior or make it ok.

Forgiveness is not about the other person, but about releasing ourselves from hurt, bitterness, and anger.

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Ruminating about my past hurts me again every time I think about these painful memories. The brain registers the same pain whether it’s an injury or a memory. So, to end this, I decided to try forgiveness. I used Zinn’s mantra:

  • May I be safe.
  • May I be happy.
  • May I be healthy.
  • May my life unfold with ease.

I next directed these words towards one of the kindest people I know, Kathy Anderson. Then I directed them towards a stranger, then I took a deep breath, and directed them to my ex.

As I thought of my ex, a rush of empathy filled me, and I began crying. I pictured him as a child, hiding from his hostile father, and as a man, having to face the break-up of his family, and live with his kids part-time.

This empathy caused the impossible to happen: I forgave my ex. Doing this triggered a rush of happiness and well-being, and for the first time, I wished him happiness and well-being in the future.

Surprisingly, this wasn’t the end of my experiment. I began thinking about the role I had played in our negative relationship, offering coldness and less and less love, when my then-husband needed empathy and compassion. Also, my decision to end my marriage flooded my ex and my kids with pain. As a result of this, guilt and rumination weighed me down many days.

This exercise had made me realize I hadn’t wanted to end my marriage, but I couldn’t live with the stress anymore. I had done my best under the circumstances, and I suddenly felt an urge to forgive myself, but could I do it?

Maybe I could. I directed the loving kindness meditation to myself once more, focusing on forgiveness. Through tears, I felt a now-familiar surge of happiness and well-being, and my heart felt like it expanded, just like the Grinch’s. Forgiving my ex had provided the perspective and self-compassion to realize I was my prisoner. I could then end my rumination, forgive myself, and free myself from mental jail.

Who else could use forgiveness?

Find happiness now by forgiving someone.  If needed forgive yourself too.

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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.