~ Music is Happiness Food for the Soul

Everyday Comforts: Music is one of life's little pleasures, simple joys and treasures!

Music is truly a simple joy and a source of everyday happiness.

I must admit, I’ve always loved music. Music=Happiness to me. From the time I sang as a young child with my Dad, to my stint as a college DJ: music has provided me with a huge amount of pleasure. I hope to discuss many different senses in this blog, but for the moment I hope to explore my love of music: and how the digital age provides an abundance of discovery and access to pleasure.

I believe music to be the poetry of our modern times, that helps to connect us and share emotional experiences. And it’s also a potent antidote to daily stress.  I have diverse musical tastes and find music exploration to be mentally and creatively expansive.  As such, I have become a bit of an aficionado of social music discovery sites, like Pandora, Last.fm, iLike (and others, like Slacker and MOG)!  I’ve discovered alot of artists I might not have otherwise heard of, through others that have similar eclectic-but-specific tastes.  And I’ve been able to help people discover a few favorite musicians of my own liking! This sharing/social aspect is wonderful.

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~ Daily Doses of Happiness and the Happiness Project

Everyday Comforts: Life's Little Pleasures and Treasures

Happiness and Everyday Comforts can sometimes be found in a book. Especially when you're reading it at the beach!

 I’ve recently been reading a great book , called “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin.  The book and the happiness project blog have alot of great ideas for how to achieve happiness in modern times.  What’s interesting to me, is the book hits upon many of the themes I’ve been writing about here in my Everyday Comforts blog, and it’s especially relevant with the current economic downturn.  Within its very appeal, it underscores current cultural shifts and how people are thinking about what they need.

I didn’t know about the Happiness Project book or blog , when I started writing my own blog in January, 2009. Is this a case of cultural synchronicity at hand once again? Or is it  just a coincidence that this book was recently on the New York times best seller list?  Hmm, maybe I do have my finger on the pulse of cultural trends, after all! Or maybe I’m just like a lot of other people, seeking joie de vivre in everything I can!

The Happiness Project is recommended by Everyday Comforts

the Happiness Project is an Everyday Comfort that inspires

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~Ten Things for Daily Happiness

Picture of my dog max in a summer garden.

Picture of my dog max in a summer garden.

In my last post, I talked about how we need to simplify our lives, integrate a habit of simple joys and surround ourselves with things that bring us comfort. Here’s what I count on daily, to add quality to my life: what about you? Please feel free to share your own suggestions.

1. Walk by the beach, and listen to the sound of the ocean

2. Use soaps and products with lavender, or that smell like fresh laundry and flowers

3. Listen to some amazing music and sing along very LOUDLY while no one is around; alternatively, remember to laugh at myself  occasionally

4. Eat well: enjoy fresh food, and make really enjoyable delicious things at least once a day

5.  Spend a few moments admiring a garden or a beautiful park (ideally while enjoying a picnic lunch)

6.  Take a long walk with my dog and spend at least 30 minutes playing with him, talking to him, and petting him generously

7.  Giving a quick call to family and friends: there’s no time to connect with people you love like today

8.  Admire things that inspire me and give me solace in my home (like art, home furnishings, perfumes, movies, music, etc.); and think of how to make my environment more enjoyable by appealing to the senses

9.  Read positive quotes and take a brief moment for meditation over my morning coffee, and then do ONE random act of kindness for a stranger during my day

10.  Take ten minutes to focus on the things and people that I love, and say thanks for “3 things that I’m grateful for” before I go to sleep

~Are Simple Pleasures A Necessary Thing?

Focusing on things that bring us pleasure is much needed in these times

Focusing on things that bring us pleasure is much needed in these times

I was viewing a philosophical video essay recently with a very interesting premise.  It was that “The Pursuit of Happiness is a Moral Obligation” versus a selfish desire.  The idea is that how we act and what we do impact not only our own feelings, but that of others. So why impose anything other than happiness, laughter and joy on others? It is a conscious choice that we can make.  Even a leading psychologist and scholar, Martin Seligman, has suggested that happiness is a like a muscle: that we can consciously strengthen with daily exercise.  So it’s best for ourselves and it’s best for others,  but how do we achieve this in these complicated times?

In reflection on my own life, I realize that I’ve often been too focused on the end result versus my journey there.  Perhaps I’ve been a lesser person than I could be, in terms of my not only my own happiness but also my impact on others. There have been so many times that I have denied myself pleasure for the sake of discipline and staying focused on career, personal goals and finances, for example.  And if I grew frustrated or tired, it showed. Gratification and balance were always delayed. Somehow, I thought that was what an admirable, hard-working professional should be: persistant and stoic no matter how tough things got. Who has time for pleasure when there’s so much to DO?

I think the best analogy I’ve seen or read has to do with allowing some “white space” in your life.  In the same way that graphic designers know that art needs to be balanced with an adequate amount of white space to be effective and uncluttered; I think we as individuals need white space in our lives for solace and pleasure to rejuvenate ourselves.

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~Eco-Friendly Products and Good Karma

Gardens bring us pleasure and remind us to care for our planet.

Gardens bring us pleasure and remind us to care for our planet.

Many years ago, I worked on a pro-bono ad campaign for a recycling/reuse program in Los Angeles, before being green was trendy. It became a model for similar programs in other cities, so it was an exciting non-profit for me to work with.  More importantly, it had the effect of awakening a personal realization : that we had alot of waste and toxic stuff in our world.  How can we sustain our growth, and the evolution of humankind if we are destroying our planet?  I realized the necessity for recycling and for buying biodegradable, ecologically-friendly products. If we want to create good karma, sustain a beautiful environment, and have a wonderful planet for the next generation: we need to care for it.

My interest in gardening has also made me realize that as humans, we do have an impact on nature.  Not only do I hear about global warming and toxins on the news more frequently; but on a personal basis, I have a great appreciation for our fragile eco-system.  My little microcosm gives me insight into the bigger picture. So, although I would never think of pouring poisonous chemicals onto my plants, or into my drinking water; and I certainly wouldn’t want this stuff near my dog, or the fish in the oceans….why do we still deny what we’re doing individually?  If each of us can do a small thing everyday to make our planet more sustainable, we absolutely must.

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~Daily Inspirations and the Search for Solace

Lighthouse Window in Monterey, CA

Lighthouse window in Monterey, CA

It started back in the eighties. I found myself wishing for a simpler time, with a slower pace. I loved wood moldings and retro/reproduction furniture from Pottery Barn, and old crystal doorknobs that looked like they were from the twenties, from Restoration Hardware. I started listening to standards and lounge music.  I discovered the joys of fragrant French soap. My roommate at the time taught me about how 300-count thread sheets, egyptian cotton towels, and how these things combined with fresh-smelling fabric softener, could all bring a little more joy to your daily life. I found myself drinking lemonade and gardening more. I learned to enjoy hearty weekend breakfasts, followed by hikes (and a nap) in the afternoons.

Of course, this was all in between my mad, hectic, compressed, insane race to an advertising career and cosmopolitan youthful lifestyle. But I thought perhaps there was a cultural shift going on: something bubbling beneath the cut-cut-cut of the instant music video world we lived in, and something beyond the L.A. traffic jams and instant Danish boxy furniture we’d all become accustomed to. I saw a ripple in the ether.

A cultural shift was indeed happening, and it was evident that it wasn’t just me with these yearnings. I felt like there was a move towards simplicity, slowing down, and sentimentality. Then in the nineties, it moved forward rapidly. Continue reading