Happiness expert Lisa Cypers Kamen knows how to put a smile on your face. "My tagline is that happiness is an inside job," she says.
Just talking to Lisa put me in a happy mood because she answered that age old question of beauty from the inside out. Often we see a beautiful model looking so glum that she doesn't seem as gorgeous anymore. But you take someone who might not get a Vogue cover like your neighbor Melissa and she radiates happiness and thus is stunning.
Becoming a truly happy person isn't so tough.
Of course, the daily stress makes it tough to stay happy. That's why I reached out to the amazing Lisa Cypers Kamen, an internationally recognized positive psychology life coach known for her expertise in building the foundation of happiness.
You might have heard Lisa talking to audiences on her live weekly radio podcast called "Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio." You should read her book, "Are We Happy Yet? Strategies for Post-Deployment" or her free eBook, "Got Happiness Now?"
Her non-profit organization, Harvesting Happiness Heroes, serves returning veterans.
I asked her for her best happiness tips:
Q: Many women and men in midlife report period of less happiness or even depression. Is this age a happiness turning point?
A: "I think that some of us who are smack dab in the middle of middle age might be at a turning point. I've had many conversations where both men and women ask, 'Is that all there is?' Or I hear, 'I can't get to my happy place.' Many people wake up one day feeling strong and then think, 'Oh my God, I'm 48 or 58.' I think that with the passing of time it's more important than ever to focus on happiness. The positive coach in me says that living in an okay way..is just ok. I'd like to ask, 'Do you want to thrive or flourish?'"
Q: Okay, help us Lisa! Let's say that midlifers need a happiness infusion. What is one of the first steps?
A: "Breathe! Let's think about life's little annoyances. Yes, what happens in a day can get in the way of the pleasure we all seek. When you have those annoying or stressful moments, stop for a minute and take a deep breath, which induces relaxation and relieves stress. That deep breath actually releases hormones in the body that allow us to calm ourselves down."
Q: Let's say that you really need a dose of happiness on a tough day? What should you do?
A: "Go outside and take a walk. Our grandmothers often told us to do that as kids. It's old, folklore wisdom, but it's true."
Q: Is there anything we can eat or drink that infuses happiness?
A: ""I like to drink Florida orange juice. There is something about drinking orange juice with vitamin c that makes you feel happy. It's just a happy food or liquid joy. Science has substantiated this and there have been studies done indicating that people associate orange juice with feeling carefree. It also makes them feel rejuvenated."
Q: OK, I'm breathing. I'm walking. I'm going to go buy Florida Orange Juice. What else?
A: "You must live a life of gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. I say to live one's life in a perpetual state of gratitude. It's a fantastic way to celebrate happiness. That's just one tip. Another tip is if your day is not going the way you want it to go then written down in a journal three to five things that make you grateful. Writing these things down causes us to focus and reshift the negative to the positive."
Q: Let's say you're focusing on happiness and gratitude and then that trucker in the semi cuts you off. It's scary, you're mad and suddenly your day seems to have lost its luster. What should you do?
A: "Ask yourself, 'Is my day or my life defined by this one moment in traffic.' Life is not defined by these stressful moments. Yes, we all get caught up in these little annoyances that get in the way of our happy place. But ask yourself: Will I allow myself to ruin my day? The answer should be no."
Q: Do we need excitement in our lives to be happy?
A: "Actually, we need routine, routine, routine. It serves our mind, our bodies and our emotions. Routine is a really good way of maintaining happiness. That's why I mentioned the Florida orange juice. It's an upbeat ritual that helps you to maintain happiness."
Q: I've always heard that music is another large component of happiness. Is that true? Should midlifers be rocking out to Bruce or listening to the beautiful sounds of Jim Brickman?
A: "Absolutely! Listening to uplifting music is something I love and I practice to maintain happiness. Music takes us to a special place and it's an incredible tool when you're in a sour mood. I like to put on salsa music because it's happy music. Salsa is quite chipper. Music means something different to different people. It's a great source of happiness and healing. Neuroscience studies show us that there is even a healing property to music. I'd like to add that you should sing along. Even if you don't think you can sing, the process of using our voices releases happiness chemicals."
TOMORROW: Lisa talks about what midlifers do specifically to wreck their happiness…and how you can turn it around. Also: special happiness tips for caretakers.