Archive for December, 2010

smiley flowerLearn to be happier, or to have more happy moments every day – that’s a popular New Year resolution worldwide.

Happiness is both a definable and an abstract concept. What constitutes happiness may differ from one individual to another. There are some components of happiness that are valued by almost everyone such as enjoying positive time with loved ones and friends. At the same time, each of us has to manage our own mood and frame of mind. Here are some interesting, simple tips and strategies that I have come across:

  • Remember as kids, for weeks, we would excitedly look forward to a coming event or outing? Turns out planning or looking forward to something is a big mood booster. Researchers found that planning a vacation makes you happier and for longer than actually being on vacation. Similarly, planning to meet a friend, to read a certain book or to check out a TV program has that same effect.

It’s beneficial to let that inner kid out again: always try to have something to look forward to.

  • If you have some extra money, would you be happier using it to buy that shoes/shirt that you’ve been wanting or would you happier when you use it to buy a concert ticket or for a short trip?

    happiness tips

    The art of daily happiness.

A San Francisco State University study found that people who spend their money on life experiences were more satisfied and happy in the long run. The reason is that the initial happiness we get when purchasing an object can fade over time. On the other hand, the experience continues to provide lasting happiness through memories. And often, when we reminisce, we might land on some new insight.

  • Displaying souvenirs and photos around the house accomplishes more than just decorating our spaces.

People who use mementos or photos to remind themselves of good times better appreciate their lives and are happier, says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside. These objects remind us of happy times and hold a promise that we can reach them again.

  • “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Mahatma Gandhi.

Best Wishes for the New Year.

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strange addiction

A hair dryer lulls this woman to sleep. (Pic: msnbc)

Strange, really strange behavior. That went through my mind when I saw a clip of a new TV series “My Strange Addiction” recently.

This series will feature people with unusual addictions, and what got my interest going was a woman named Lori, who could not sleep unless her hair dryer is lying next to her.

It began at the age of eight when Lori started sleeping with a hair dryer running. Since then she likes the comfort that the hair dryer gives her, even though it has caused some burns on her arms and some romantic relationships.

Well, I know that there are many people who like to have something fuzzy or furry like a teddy bear to take to sleep. In Asian countries like Singapore and Malaysia, many children and some adults are addicted to sleeping hugging a bolster. In fact, the Malay name for a bolster is bantal peluk, which literally means hugging pillow.

But a hair dryer: now that is new.

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long season flowering plant

The blanket flower is an easy-care plant.

It’s almost winter, and the blanket flowers in my front yard are still flowering.

I must confess that I did not know about this plant until spring this year when I first saw the flowers at a nursery. Their lively colors drew me each time I saw them, till I decided to get two plants for my garden.

The blanket flower, also known by its scientific name Gaillardia, is native to North America. It is said that the plant got its common name because some of the people who first encountered the flowers thought that the colors were similar to that of Native American blankets.

Somehow when I think about the blanket flower’s staying power, my thoughts also land on Facebook.  On Facebook, where  individuals can become friends instantly, I have also heard of stories where people you’ve met in real life can “unfriend” you or remove you as a friend, just like that, without giving any explanation. Hmm….that seems  rather cold.

In contrast, given some sun and some water, the blanket flower doesn’t let up and continues to bloom, surprising and delighting the gardener. Now, that’s what I call a star performer.

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old-fashioned Christmas

The carolers added colorful notes to the event.

Christmas berries and foliage

I enjoyed creating this centerpiece.

Away from the shopping crowds, and it was just as enjoyable.

I spent a day at a Heritage Holiday Christmas event held at the History Park in San Jose. The Park features original and reproduction homes and buildings, giving a glimpse of Santa Clara Valley’s past.

There were lots to see, and at times, it was possible to feel that you were traipsing back into time. I particularly enjoyed visiting the homes that were furnished to reflect the era of the homeowner. The Hill House, for instance, was the home of Andrew P. Hill, a renowned local photographer, artist and protector of the Big Basin redwood trees. He lived there from 1898 and in the parlor there is his beautiful painting of the redwoods that he loved.

There were also interactive events for adults and children, and a popular one was the Christmas Centerpiece workshop organized by the Santa Clara County Master Gardeners. Anyone could just walk in and learn to make a centerpiece using a variety of foliage, pine and berries. A very helpful master gardener, Sylvia, invited me to try my hand, and guided me in putting one together.

My centerpiece might be a little lop-sided, but hey, I still like it.

Ford Model T

A Ford Model T decked out for the holidays. Behind it is the 19th century print shop.

Santa and fire engine

Santa arriving in a gleaming vintage fire engine.

Christmas centerpiece

Visitors could learn to make a Christmas centerpiece. Here, master gardener Dennis showed a few samples.

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