What’s the secret to happiness? According to my 5-year-old the answer is pretty simple.

The other day the temperature got up to 50 degrees! It felt amazing since we’ve had more than 50 days of below zero this winter. Guess what I did that day? I ran a TON of errands. Do you know why? Because everywhere I went, people were happy and smiling. It was glorious.

After school that day, my kids got out their bikes and we ventured through the neighborhood. Snow still covered the lawns but the streets were clear enough for a nice ride…the ice and puddles created some fun obstacles for the kids. We ran into a neighbor we haven’t seen in a while. We talked about how great it was to finally see people outside. I said, “Yes, I ran all over town today just to take in the smiles and the positive energy. Everyone was happy today!” My daughter, Teya, was riding in circles around us waiting patiently for me to ride with her. When we finished our conversation and said goodbye, my daughter said to me, “Mom, why does it have to be warm outside for people to be happy? I am happy all the time!” She then cheerfully rode off aimlessly through the puddles and I stood there in awe of my 5-year old’s insight.

You can pretty much count on smiles from my daughter. Very few things make her unhappy. The things that do include:

  • Not enough sleep
  • When her brother teases her
  • When kids at school aren’t nice

So what’s her secret to happiness? Here are Teya’s tips:

Wake Up Smiling and Announce What Your are Excited About

Very rarely does Teya wake up without a smile on her face. If she doesn’t get a enough sleep, it may take her a bit to “wake up” but she always embraces each new day. Every morning, she announces what she is excited about. Some days she is excited to see her friend, to have hot lunch, to have crazy hair day, to have dad volunteer, or to have her brother be her reading buddy. This weekend she has a birthday party and gets to see her baby cousins. These things get her excited. Focus on the good in your life. Make plans, make goals…even if they are little ones.

Wear What Makes Your Feel Good

Teya picks out clothes that makes her feel good and make her happy. Her clothes are fun. They are bright, have fun pictures, and happy messages. Teya doesn’t like being told what to wear, no one does. So when it comes to getting dressed for the day, wear what makes YOU feel good.

Listen to Music and Dance Often

Teya always starts her day with happy music. Make playlists that are positive, inspiring, and get you moving and grooving! Starting your day with some good jams is essential! Also, dancing is a must. If there is music on in the store, dance. Put music on at home and dance. “I can’t dance” is an excuse because you are worried about what other people think. Everyone can dance, all you do is just move your body. Our bodies are meant to move and dancing is fun – period.

Hug and Snuggle

If you ask Teya what some of her favorite things are she will tell you, “hugging and snuggling”. If you ask her why, she will say “I don’t know, they just make me feel good.” There is a reason she feels good…hugging and snuggling releases oxytocin…which is the feel-good hormone that helps lower our heart rates and cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure and heart disease. Next time you hug someone try doing it for 10-20 seconds…and then see how good you feel. 🙂

Add Some Play in Your Day

Even when she is doing something she doesn’t want to be doing, Teya always tries to make things fun. For example, Teya made our long trip at the grocery store more exciting by making a rule that we could only walk on the green tiles on the floor. The white tiles were hot lava. When she cleans her room, she tries to do it in a certain amount of time. There are things in life that we may not want to do but we have to. You can always find ways to make them fun.

You Never Know Unless You Try

There are many things Teya doesn’t want to do…but she always tries them at least once. Sometimes it takes a little coercing, mostly because Teya likes to do things on her own terms. Whether it is trying a new piece of food, going downhill skiing, or going on a roller coaster – she will give everything a shot. Life is meant to be experienced. Trying new things and being adventurous helps fuels passion, interests, and keeps life exciting.

If Someone Doesn’t Like You, Play With Someone Else

This is one of the most surprising things about Teya. If someone doesn’t want to play with her, she just finds someone else to play with. She never lets one person get her down. The other day she said a girl at school said she didn’t want to play with her. I asked, “What did you do?” She replied, “I just said OK and played with someone else.” I said, “Did that upset you?” She said, “No, sometimes kids don’t want to play with some kids.” If only adults could take this advice. So often, we let one person get us down. We focus on that one person that doesn’t like us instead of all the people that love us. Not everyone is going to like you, focus on the ones that do.

If Someone isn’t Happy, Show Them Love

If you are sad, you can bet on getting a rainbow from Teya. Anytime she sees someone who needs cheering up, she colors them a rainbow. She likes to make people happy…and lets face it, who doesn’t? Doing things for others makes us feel good. Teya also has a great outlook when it comes to people not liking her. The other day she wanted to invite a friend over to her house that doesn’t talk to her at school. I said, “Teya, why do you want to invite her over if she isn’t nice to you?” She answered, “Mom, maybe she just needs a friend and that’s why she isn’t nice to me.” When people in your life are mean, show them love…they probably need it.

Surround Yourself with Things That Make You Happy

Take some time and really look at your surroundings throughout your day. If you sit in a  dark, grey cubicle…give it a makeover! If your house is stale and feels lonely…brighten it up with some color and photos of your loved ones! Teya always surrounds herself with happy thoughts and happy pictures. In her room you will find rainbows and happy faces and in her backpack she keeps meaningful keepsakes. Put photos of your loved ones on your screensaver, keychain, and cell phone.

Be Creative and Colorful

Draw, color, build, and create! Doodle at your desk, paint a picture, build something, cook something,….I don’t care what it is just be creative! Remember how fun art was when we were kids? Guess what? It is still fun and feels good! Teya brings markers and paper wherever she goes….Mr. Sketch are her favorite!

Quiet Your Mind

Awhile back, I introduced my kids to guided imagery at bedtime.  They listen to “Meditation for Kids” by Sada. The kids loved it so much that they now listen to it on their own whenever they “need a break”. We all need breaks. We all need time to relax, breathe, and get away from the outside world. Teya is extremely social and loves being with people. However, she is also very good at taking care of herself. When she needs some time to quiet her mind and get away, she usually goes to her room to read, color, or listen to music and meditation. She always returns refreshed and even happier! Try taking some time throughout your day to recharge.

Pray and Dream Happy Things

Yep, that’s right….happiness shouldn’t stop when you rest your head. The other day I was telling Teya I needed a nap and she said, “Mom, make sure you ask Bompa to come in your dreams!” (Bompa is my dad who died almost two years ago) I said, “What do you mean?” Teya replied, “If you want happy dreams, dream about Bompa. That’s what I do.” Teya tells us about her dreams all the time and they usually involve rainbows and her playing with Bompa on the beach or in the pool. Every night after her prayers, Teya closes her eyes and thinks about what she wants to dream about and asks Bompa to join her. We can get a lot of answers from our dreams. If you are looking for guidance in your life, ask for it before you go to bed. Keep a journal by your bed so you can write your dreams down. The subconscious mind is very powerful and can provide a lot of guidance if we are open to receiving it. I have done a lot of dreamwork since my dad’s passing and have received a lot of direction and clarity that have brought me to where I am today.