The Secret Handbook 4 Teens

A New Tool 2 Help U B Grateful

If you read this blog at all you know that I’m passionate about practicing gratefulness as a way to be happy. I’ve always liked the website but they launched a new site and I highly recommend that you check it out. There are lots of tools, links, resources and even a place to start a private online journal where you can record your gratefulness journey. As I’ve discussed before in this space, I have a gratitude journal that I write in every night. I list three things I’m grateful for that day and I’ve been doing it for about two years. I have to say, now that I look back on it, I really do think that it’s helped me to be a more positive person and to appreciate my life more. It’s hard to be cranky when you force yourself to sit down and take stock of three good things in your life or in life in general. Heck, sometimes I’m just grateful that I got through another day but that counts too! Check out the new site today and start to live happy!

3 Things 2 Do Today That R Guaranteed 2 Make U Happy

Being happy isn’t actually all that hard but there are some things you can do every day to guarantee it. Try these three simple things today and watch how much better you feel!

1. Choose to be Happy. Believe it or not, you can actually choose happiness but it does require some actions and reprogramming on your part. So what one thing can you do to be happier? What is your strategy for happiness? Just pick one thing. Maybe it’s choosing to be around upbeat people. Maybe it’s choosing to pay more attention to the little voice in your head that brings you down. Maybe it’s doing one thing you love every day that’s just for you. You don’t have to try to 1000 of these things but figure out what you’re doing that makes you unhappy and choose to do something different. Happiness can just happen and it’s great when it does but you can have more of it in your life when you choose to make it happen.

2. Be Thankful. You’ve heard me say it before and hopefully you’ve heard others say the same but being thankful is a surefire way to be happy. It’s really easy to do too! Just think of three things that you’re grateful for. They can be big things or little things. Your friends. Your parents. Your life. A good grade. A better grade than you thought. The way the sun feels on your face. A little kid laughing. Your friends laughing. Life is filled with tons of things to be thankful for and spending a few minutes to focus on them is an instant mood boost.

3. Forgive. Holding a grudge takes energy and creates a lot of negative energy and creates stress so you need to just let it go. The person you’re not forgiving doesn’t know or care that you’re harboring negative feelings towards them and it doesn’t actually impact them, it impacts you. How do you forgive?

Clinical psychologist Everett Worthington Jr. in his book, Five Steps to Forgiveness, created a 5-step process he calls REACH.

R: Recall the hurt. Figure out what you are or were really upset about. Figure out all the reasons but then move on to the next step.

E: Empathize and try to understand the act from the perpetrator’s point of view. I use this technique all the time and it’s helpful not only for learning to forgive, but can also keep people from getting to you. Maybe someone is having a bad day. Maybe they have an unhappy life. Maybe something really bad has happened to them. It doesn’t excuse their behavior but realizing that it’s not you helps you to let go of things.

A: Be Altruistic by recalling a time in your life when you were forgiven.

C: Commit to putting your forgiveness into words. Write an email, put it in your journal. Write it down on a piece of paper. Just get it out of your head and make it real.

H: Try to Hold on to the forgiveness. Don’t dwell on your anger, hurt, and desire for vengeance.

So there you have it. Three simple things to do every day to be happier. At least, these are the things I do. What do you do to be happy? Share it with other teens!

The Gratitude Journal: One Simple Tool, Life Changing Results


“If you focus on what you don’t have you will never ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey

Oprah thinks that keeping a gratitude journal is one of the most important things she’s ever done and if it’s good enough for Oprah shouldn’t it be good enough for you? But seriously, I too keep a gratitude journal and while I’ve mentioned this in another post, it bears repeating because it really does change your perspective on life and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and who doesn’t want that?

It’s really really easy. Here, let me break it down for you.

What is a gratitude journal?

A gratitude journal is simply a place where you write down things you’re grateful for every day. There are two really important things in what I just said. The first is that you actually really do need to write them down. It’s not enough to just think them because our thoughts are fleeting and words have power. The second important piece to this is that you do it every day. Don’t beat yourself up about it if you don’t get to it every day (that sorta defeats the purpose) but getting into the habit of being grateful sticks and you almost become addicted to the good feelings it gives you. I write in my gratitude journal every night but you could jot things down throughout the day. It’s completely up to you.

What do I need to be grateful for?

This is the best part of a gratitude journal – you get to be grateful for anything at all! You can be grateful for really big things or really small things. I’m sometimes just grateful for having a job (on days when I really don’t feel like going to my job) but on other days, I find myself being grateful scientists who invented life-changing things like antibiotics (especially when I’m sick). Small fuzzy animals make frequent appearances on the pages of my journal. Big or small. Funny or serious. Fuzzy or scaly. The choice is completely up to you.

How many things do I need to be grateful for every day?

Yup, you guessed it. That’s also completely up to you! I write down three things. Oprah suggests five. Some days I struggle to think of even one. Don’t stress about it. Heck, don’t even put a number on. Just write what you’re grateful for at that moment or things you noticed throughout the day. It’s supposed to be fun so keep it lighthearted.

So, why are you still sitting here? This post is done.

Go start being grateful. Go on. Get out of here.


Why being grateful is like taking a happy pill.

happy pill

would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton

Doesn’t it seem like some days there is just nothing to be grateful for? You had a fight with your friend. Your parents don’t understand you. In fact, no one understands you. You had a bad hair day. You’re bored. Niall isn’t following you on Twitter.

It’s easy to find all the reasons why we shouldn’t be happy but taking the time to think about a few things you’re grateful for, no matter how small, is like taking a happy pill. It’s an instant mood booster but don’t take my word for it.

Let me explain how being grateful makes you happy.

1. Being grateful makes you recognize all the things you take for granted. I try to be thankful for having a job, a roof over my head, running water, food in my fridge and those kind of things. So so many people in the world don’t have those things and we often don’t recognize how lucky we are to have them. Being grateful for them instantly makes you realize that life could be worse and that you actually have it pretty good.

2. Being grateful for negatives can turn them into positives. Maybe you’re unhappy that you don’t have the newest smart phone and you really want it. Be grateful you have a phone at all. Maybe you’re upset that you’re fighting with a friend. Be thankful that you have a friend. Try flipping your viewpoint of a negative by being grateful for it. All of a sudden, you feel better and realize that perhaps things are not as bad as they seem.

3. Being grateful puts life into perspective. We get so wrapped up in our own lives that we often lose perspective about what matters in life and how good we probably have it. Think about the citizens in Gaza and Israel and how they spend every waking moment worried that a bomb could drop. Think about people in Africa who are dying from Ebola. Think about people who are homeless, hungry, thirsty. Now take a look at your own life. Are your problems that bad? Be grateful that your problems are likely small compared to the things others are going through. This is not to poo poo the challenges you are facing but let’s be honest, things could probably be worse.

So stop for a minute today and be thankful for three things.

– Be thankful for one everyday thing you take for granted.

– Be thankful for a challenge or negative in your life.

– Be thankful that your problems are small ones.

Be grateful. Be happy.


Ew! Is that a giant weed growing out of your ear? 3 Easy Steps 2 Cleaning Up the Garden of Your Mind


A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind. – James Allen

While the quote above might sound kind of old fashioned I actually like that about it because it just goes to show that this concept is not new.

I was thinking about forgiveness this morning and how, by not forgiving, we create this block in our head and hearts that keeps us from being happy. Non-forgiveness looking like a nasty weed is a pretty obvious jump from there so let’s go with it in the spirit of summer, flowers and fresh veggies.

Basically, your mind is a garden that is going to grow whatever you plant in it. It’s either going to grow lovely things like flowers and veggies or it’s going to grow nasty weeds. What you can be assured of is that it’s definitely going to grow something.

So, what are you growing in the garden of your mind? What does it look like in there and how can you grow useful things and get rid of the weeds?

Here are three simple steps to cleaning up the garden of your mind:

1. Become aware of what’s growing. 

Most of us don’t think too much about our thoughts because we’re too busy thinking them (and let’s not forget about that little voice sowing seeds of doubt, guilt and insecurity all the time). The first step to cleaning out your garden brain is to step back and take a look at it. Look long and hard. Look closely. Do an inventory. What’s growing there? What are you planting? Do you fill your brain with nasty weedy thoughts or do you fill it with positive flowers? You are the farmer of your brain. Start paying attention to what you’re planting or what you planted.

2. Pluck out the weeds.

Now, if you’ve had any experience with gardening at all you know that you can tear up a weed and it’s probably just going to come back. So, you need to make sure you really remove this weed. How do you do that? Focus on it. Figure out where it’s coming from. Write it down on a piece of paper. Crumple it up. Flush it down the toilet. Burn it (safely of course). Thank it for it’s weediness and wish it well.  You need to make sure that it’s really gone and then you need to be vigilant about making sure it doesn’t come back. If your thoughts start going back to that weed become aware that you’re doing it and stop yourself. Remember, you are the farmer and you control the garden.

3. Plant new things. 

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the weeds it’s time to fill your garden with stuff you like. These are the positive thoughts, the dreams, the goals, the things that make you smile and the things you’re grateful for (now is a good time to practice gratitude and forgiveness.) You’ll need to keep an eye out for weeds and you’ll need to fertilize the stuff you planted so it’s going to take some work but again, you’re in control of what you plant and what you grow.

Don’t get me wrong, I get that this garden example may seem a little silly and hokey but people use it as an example for a reason. The visual of giant nasty poisonous weeds versus pretty flowers helps to bring awareness to what’s going on in your brain. It reminds you that you’re in control of what gets planted and what grows there.

Maybe it’s time to work on that green thumb?




The 8th Secret: Practice Gratitude

be grateful

“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get.” – Oprah

Gratitude, grateful, gratefulness, thankfulness, thankful, thanks…it doesn’t really matter how you say it, grateful people are happy people. That’s why the 8th Secret to a Happy Life is to Practice Gratitude.

From scientists to Oprah to religious leaders, everyone has recognized that the more you are thankful for all the good things in your life AND the more you share and express this thankfulness with others, the happier you will be. In fact, a recent study even showed that people who actually needed therapy but couldn’t get it improved just by keeping a gratitude journal. Perhaps even more importantly to you, there was even research conducted that showed that grateful teens are happier teens! Yes, that’s right! You can be a happier teen just by being grateful. (Oh and p.s., grateful teens also seem to get better grades if that interests you at all!)

At this point you’re hopefully saying “Yes! I’d like to be happier by being grateful!” but you don’t know where to begin.

Here are three simple steps to practicing gratitude or thankfulness in your every day life.

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