How Resilience and Happiness Are Similar

October 30, 2020

 “As a word and a strategy, resilience honors the unromantic reality of who we are and how we are, and so becomes a refreshingly practical compass for the systems and societies we can craft. It’s a shift from wish-based optimism to reality-based hope. It is akin to meaningful, sustained happiness—not dependent on a state of perfection or permanent satisfaction, not an emotional response to circumstances of the moment, but a way of being that can meet the range of emotions and experiences, light and dark, that add up to a life. Resilience is at once proactive, pragmatic, and humble. It knows it needs others. It doesn’t overcome failure so much as transmute it, integrating it into the reality that evolves.

Link love

Mood-Boosting Link Love

October 23, 2020

In the spirit of last week’s post, I thought I’d focus today’s Link Love on mood-boosting topics. Here are a few links I’ve found encouraging, funny, or helpful recently. 

I’ve read some of Ingrid Fetell Lee’s “8 Quick Things You Can Do Right Now to Boost Your Mood” before (“Get outside”), but others were new to me (“Look up”). As she writes, “They’re not going to change the course of your life, but they might change the course of your day.”

The Happiness Break at Borgo Egnazia sounds so amazing. I’m afraid I don’t have that kind of money lying around, but maybe I could cobble together a sort of do-it-myself happiness break?  

Apparently even God can’t please everyone: “One-Star YelpReviews of Heaven.” This made me laugh because haven’t we all met people like this

“What to Do When You Feel Hopeless”—sadly, I think we can all use the tips here, because, you know, 2020. 

I follow Tank’s Good News on Instagram, but there’s also a website. Visit whenever you need to be reminded that there are wonderful people in the world. 

Even in tough times, there is always something to savor. This is important, because savoring the good things that happen is one of THE most important keys to being happy, according to Time’s “The Simple Thing That Makes the Happiest People in the World So Happy.” Too often we’re too busy and distracted to notice.

Supposedly, this video has the ability to reduce anxiety by 65 percent. I don’t know about that, but it is kind of mesmerizing.

Have you come across any mood-boosting links lately? Do share in the comments below!



Audio books

Friday Favorites

October 16, 2020

My favorite dog

If you subscribe to the Happy Little Thoughts newsletter (and if you don’t, why not?! It’s free, contains material not found elsewhere on Catching Happiness, and I promise I don’t share your email with anyone else! Click here if you want to subscribe.), you’re already hearing about some of my favorites, otherwise known as Happy Little Things.

But you know, once a month isn’t enough for sharing good things. If there was such a thing as a happy IV, we need it now. So from time to time, I’m going to start posting “Friday Favorites”—specific simple pleasures and happy little things that are helping me to survive what passes for life in The Year That Must Not Be Named (2020).

So here goes. Here’s the first edition of Friday Favorites—a few of the happy little things that are boosting my mood right now. Get your thinking caps on, because there will be a homework assignment at the end of this post!

The Goes Wrong Show. My husband and I laughed so hard we cried. My favorite episode was “The Lodge.” Stream on Amazon Prime (no affiliation). 

As You Wish—Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, Cary Elwes, on audio book (borrowed from my library). Though I don’t often listen to audio books, I heard this one was a fun listen and The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies. Elwes reads it himself, and a few of the other cast members (as well as director Rob Reiner) join in. 

Planting herb seeds. I prefer gardening in Florida in the fall/winter—it’s cooler and less buggy. I started by planting parsley, basil, thyme, cilantro, and lavender—herbs that technically should grow for me this time of year. If my seeds don’t sprout and thrive (which past experience has shown me is likely—but I keep trying), I’ll go to a local nursery for plants. I WILL have an herb garden, one way or another. (Do you hear me, seeds?)

Playoff baseball. First, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup. Now the Tampa Bay Rays are one game away from going to the World Series.

A real, not in-memory-only, Field Trip Friday. Masked up, I’m going on an outing with a friend to a craft store. I don’t need anything—except inspiration.

Now it’s your turn. What book knocked your socks off, what podcast inspires or entertains you, what movie or TV show helps you escape from your worries? Are you baking something delicious? Painting or quilting or drinking pumpkin spice lattes?  Please (I beg you!) share a simple pleasure, everyday adventure, or happy little thing with us in the comments. If you’re reading this post in your email, hit reply to share a favorite or two. If I get enough responses, I’ll do a round up post of everybody’s favorites. We need all the happy we can get.


Encouraging Words for Unhappy Times

October 12, 2020

I’ve been in a very dark place recently. Even though I avoid click bait and the most outrageous headlines, it’s impossible not to see how much suffering and hardship people are experiencing right now. I’ve been going about my day-to-day life feeling like an elephant is sitting on my head.

In times like these, when I finally pull myself off the floor and hunt for ways to feel better, I often turn to the written word. I have books with tape flags, a stack of 3 x 5 cards inscribed with favorite quotes, and if that’s not enough, I also have the search engines of Internet at my fingertips. Last week, I turned to them all.

Here are a few encouraging words/thoughts/mantras that have been helping me hold on, followed by a few of my own thoughts. I hope you find them encouraging, too. Please feel free to forward and share these with others if you feel they could help.

“If there is a solution to the problem, there is no need to worry. If there is no solution, there is no sense worrying, either.” The Dalai Lama

I’m prone to worry even in the best of times. These words remind me that worrying is a useless exercise. It doesn’t—cannot—solve any problem and only serves to exhaust me mentally and emotionally.

“Remember that things can change for the better.” Action for Happiness Optimistic October 2020 calendar

Huh. Sometimes change is for the better. Sometimes I forget that.


“The world is broken. It was broken long before I arrived and will continue to be so long after I’m gone. The only thing I can do is control how bright my own light shines.” A friend

One bad day, I was sharing how emotionally overwhelmed and sad I was feeling with a close friend. These words of her response stood out for me and comforted me. I’m not in charge of the world (thank goodness) but I am in charge of myself.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

Marcus Aurelius

So true. It’s not the thing happening causing me pain, it’s my response. Too often my response is worry/anxiety/negativity.

“We tend to look for the whys when bad things happen—why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? But if we can reframe it, we can take back the power—How can I make this better? How is this making me stronger? The answers don’t come immediately, but they will come when you’re ready to hear them.” Susannah Conway

OK, maybe I’m ready to hear them?

Two quotes from Pema Chodron:

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.  We think the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved.  They come together and they fall apart.  Then they come together again and fall apart again.  It’s just like that.  The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen:  room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

Things are certainly falling apart right now. I will try to allow all this to happen, and to remember to leave room for joy also.

“Times are difficult globally; awakening is no longer a luxury or an ideal.  It’s becoming critical.  We don’t need to add more depression, more discouragement, or more anger to what’s already here.  It’s becoming essential that we learn how to relate sanely with difficult times.  The earth seems to be beseeching us to connect with joy and discover our innermost essence. This is the best way that we can benefit others.” 

My new goal: “relate sanely with difficult times.”

And lastly, a wish I saw recently on a bumper sticker:

“I hope something good happens to you today.”

I really DO hope something good happens for you today.

What are some encouraging words that are helping you?



Alys Fowler

Autumn: My True Love

October 09, 2020

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

“I am made for autumn. Summer and I have a fickle relationship, but everything about autumn is perfect to me. Wooly jumpers, Wellington boots, scarves, thin first, then thick, socks. The low slanting light, the crisp mornings, the chill in my fingers, those last warm sunny days before the rain and the wind. Her moody hues and subdued palette punctuated every now and again by a brilliant orange, scarlet or copper goodbye. She is my true love.”

—Alys Fowler

Link love

It’s a New Month—How About Some Positive Links to Love?

October 02, 2020

Photo by Alex Geerts on Unsplash

Well, we made it through September. Fall is sort of here. This weekend I expect to be sweeping off our lanai and helping my husband in the yard. I’m doing my best to feel optimistic (see below) in October, and as I mentioned in September’s Happy Little Thoughts newsletter, I’ll also be looking for the small positive actions that can boost my mood and energy. (Didn’t get the newsletter? Click here to subscribe.)

If you have some extra time and feel like reading something inspiring, here are a few links I’ve found interesting and encouraging recently:

Access the (free and printable) Action for Happiness “Optimistic October” calendar here. Today’s action is: “Look for reasons to be hopeful even in difficult times.”

The Positive Lexicography Project combines two things I love: happiness and words. Read more about it in “The Glossary of Happiness.”

I miss traveling a lot—I haven’t felt it was safe or appropriate even to visit my mom(s) in California, or take a road trip with my friend Kerri. In “How to Take a Vacation Without Leaving Home,” Ingrid Fetell Lee offers a few suggestions for adding a little adventure to your staycation.

After 10 years of writing a health and well-being column for The Guardian, Oliver Burkeman has learned a few things about happiness. In “Oliver Burkeman’s last column: the eight secrets to a (fairly) fulfilledlife,” he shares some of them. For example: “There will always be too much to do—and this realisation is liberating. Today more than ever, there’s just no reason to assume any fit between the demands on your time—a l the things you would like to do, or feel you ought to do—and the amount of time available. Thanks to capitalism, technology and human ambition, these demands keep increasing, while your capacities remain largely fixed. It follows that the attempt to “get on top of everything” is doomed. (Indeed, it’s worse than that – the more tasks you get done, the more you’ll generate.)”

There’s nothing notably new in the advice found in “10 Waysto Find Stillness in Turbulent Times,”—just good, solid advice for quieting an anxious mind.

And speaking of an anxious mind, according to researchers, elevated stress and worry can actually change brain chemistry. “Coronavirus:the pandemic is changing our brains—here are the remedies” offers some suggestions for coping.

That’s all for now. I’m off to take the dog for a walk before it gets too hot (it’s cooler, but not cool). Have a great weekend!