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105 Ways to Get Happy

Want to put a smile on your face in 2005? You’ve come to the right place. No, we haven’t discovered the meaning of life (although we’re fairly certain it involves chocolate), but we asked East Bay experts to suggest simple, practical ways to make each day, well, happier.



Martinez author Richard Carlson became big stuff in the happiness game when his Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series of books hit the shelves. His new book, Easier Than You Think: Small Changes That Add Up to a World of Difference in Life, will be released in May 2005.

[1]Do one thing for yourself every day: It can be as simple as taking a 10-minute walk or soaking in a hot bath.

[2]Think of five things you like about yourself. Now think of five more.

[3]Do something nice for someone and never mention it.

[4]Upon waking up each morning, list three things you appreciate—whether they’re big values like family and friends or small gifts like a poem or a beautiful sunrise.

[5]Send someone a personal letter or e-mail them just to say "hello" or share "I love you."

[6]Serve compliments to people in your life who deserve to be recognized.

[7]Say "no" to others’ needs more often as a way of saying "yes" to yours.


With a job title like Authentic Happiness Coach, Dr. Tom Rohrer has to know something about achieving good vibrations. The Walnut Creek-based therapist offers happiness seminars throughout the East Bay.

[8]Live your life as if you have limited time left. Do what you’ve always wanted to do.

[9]Respond to others in a positive, constructive manner.

[10]Remember the three pillars of happiness are pleasure, connecting with others, and purpose.


If your job is leaving you less than fulfilled, turn to The Vocational Coach—Danville resident Craig Nathanson. The author of P Is for Perfect: Your Perfect Vocational Day, his new book, Midlife Passion: How to Finally Discover and Do What You Love, will be published in late 2005.

[11]Define a purpose in your life. Without your purpose, you can become easy prey for what others want.

[12]Focus on what is possible, not what you think is impossible.

[13]Determine your passion and the activities that give you meaning, energy, and fulfillment.

[14]Picture every detail of your perfect workday. If you visualize it, you can achieve it.

[15]Identify the work you’d love to do, and become an expert in that field.

[16]Don’t wait until you retire to start doing what you love.


As a registered nurse, childhood educator, and host of the 98.1 KISS FM Sunday morning radio show Childhood Matters, Berkeley resident Rona Renner knows how getting close to your kid can make you a happier parent.

[17]Look at family albums together, and tell your kids about your childhood.

[18]Ask your child to teach you something, like a game or song.

[19]Plan, shop for, and cook a dinner with your child.

[20]Have a picnic on a blanket in the middle of the living room.

[21]Have your child make you a tape that you can listen to on the way to work.

[22]Go out for breakfast together before school.

[23]Buy some seeds and ask your child to help plant them.


Walnut Creek’s M.J. Ryan has her finger on the pulse of positive thinking. The Danielle Steele of happiness, she helped create the Random Acts of Kindness series, and this spring her latest book, The Happiness Makeover, will be released.

[24]Conduct an "appreciation circle" with family or coworkers. Have the group sit in a circle around one person, then take turns complimenting them. When everyone’s said their piece, have another person take their place in the center and begin again.

[25]Put six stickers on different dates in your 2005 calendar, and treat yourself to something special on these days.

[26]Make or buy a bouquet. Flowers inspire a genuine smile.

[27]Make a list of the relationships, places, pets, and experiences that make your life more worthwhile.

[28]Ask yourself if you are having fun. Add play into your life such as tossing a ball around or making funny faces in the mirror.

[29]Take a joy break instead of a coffee break. For three minutes, sit and think of something that makes you really happy.

[30]Write yourself the love letter you would die to receive.


They’re hot, they’re sexy, and for the past 27 years, the Kensington Ladies’ Erotica Society has met (privately and publicly) to unabashedly share otherwise unspeakable fantasies in collections like their recent Sex, Death & Other Distractions. Member Elvira Pearson knows what it takes to get a rise out of life.

Soak in a tub of scented suds, close your eyes, and conjure your favorite romantic memories (or lovers) from the past.

[32]Google a lover from your past.

[33]Take a hot-air balloon ride with your significant other.

[34]Think of something you feel is too indulgent and then do it, whether it’s getting a spa treatment or eating a hot fudge sundae.

[35]Make up with someone with whom you’ve become estranged.

[36]Go to a wine cave and play kissy-face.


Feng shui, the ancient Chinese discipline of design and placement, seeks to create a sense of well-being by balancing the ch’i, or vital life energy, in your environment. The East Bay’s Deborah Gee is one of the world’s experts in the practice, having been featured on the public television network show Feng Shui: Creating Environments for Success and Well-Being. Her company, 9 Star Productions, helped the San Francisco Giants ensure that SBC Park’s ch’i was flowing smoothly.

[37]Create a clear path from your home entry to the first room you enter, removing the "ch’i of obstacles" from your life.

[38]Place your bed in the "command position," facing it toward the entry to promote peaceful sleep and good health.

[39]Standing at your bedroom door, looking in, locate the upper right corner, and decorate it with romantic pictures to promote strong energies affecting love and marriage.

[40]Put fragrant plants or flowers in high-traffic areas to uplift your ch’i and awaken your mind.

[41]Joyful sounds attract positive energy, so hang metal bells or wind chimes near the entrance to your home.

[42]Paint children’s bedrooms apple green or sky blue, colors symbolizing spring and hope.

[43]Hang mirrors in rooms where they reflect views of water or greenery to draw beneficial ch’i and beauty into your home.

[44]Place an inspirational and joyful picture or art object at the entrance of your home—positive symbols influence the energy of your mind andsurroundings.


Michael Palfreyman is the director of health at Oakwood Athletic Club in Lafayette and Cheryl Brewster is the fitness supervisor and one of the club’s personal trainers. Together, they’re a dynamic duo when it comes to getting in shape.

[45] Set small, realistic fitness goals, and treat yourself to something fun when you accomplish each goal, like a massage or
18 holes at the swanky local golf course.

[46] Ask a friend to be an exercise buddy, and help encourage and motivate each other.

[47] Intersperse two- or three-minute bursts of cardio exercise into your weight-training routine—it will increase your metabolism and keep things interesting.

[48]Shake up your routine: Try a new form of exercise once a month.

[49]Drink 10–12 glasses of water each day. When you drink less, your body retains whatever it can, causing bloating.

[50]Work with a personal trainer, even once, to learn proper exercise techniques and give you confidence.

[51]When exercise becomes too tough or you are tempted to skip a workout, visualize how you want your body to look on the beach this summer.


When Walnut Creek author Susan Isaacs Kohl talks, parents listen. She’s filled her five parenting books, including her most recent release, The Best Things Parents Do, with positive, can-do advice for moms and dads alike.

[52]Offer experiences as rewards. Instead of buying a new toy, take your child to the zoo.

[53]Snuggle or laugh with your child before bringing them to daycare or school.

[54]When children don’t listen, sing your request rather than repeating it loudly.

[55]Make surprise changes in routine: Serve cereal for dinner or spend the day in pajamas.

[56]When you leave notes around the house, inject a bit of humor to lighten the mood.


He has done the camel pose in more than 25 top-selling yoga videos and penned The Poetry of the Body. So Piedmont Yoga Studio cofounder Rodney Yee knows what does a body good.

[57]Set aside 15 minutes of each day to practice relaxation with restorative yoga poses or meditation.

[58]The next time you feel stressed, try doing a handstand. (Diablo asks you to please be careful!)

[59]Practice listening more deeply, and watch your relationships improve.


Internationally published parenting expert and Pleasanton resident Tom McMahon knows how to handle the young’uns. He’s the author of the syndicated column "Kid Tips," and is a psychology professor at Ohlone College.

[60]Get a dog, one that cuddles and protects.

[61]Set aside 20 minutes of each day to just listen to your children.

[62]Send your children cards in the mail to let them know how much you love and appreciate them.

[63]Use your creativity to turn dreaded household chores into games for your kids. While you’re at it, change the term "chores" to "community service."


If you’ve ever stared into the future and seen a big question mark, chances are you’ve heard of Alamo author Richard Bolles’s eight-million-copy-selling What Color Is Your Parachute? If you haven’t, here’s a primer.

[64]Make a list of dreams and your steps to make them a reality.

[65]Which friends make you laugh? Give them a call.

[66]Put on happy music and dance around the room by yourself.

[67]Wear your pajamas all day, at least once a week.

[68]Give yourself a "point" for every generous thing you do; try to accumulate 25 points per week.

[69]Practice smiling in front of a mirror.

[70]Take a fun, free quiz (www.truecolorscareer.com) to help determine your career path.

[71]Think of a friend you haven’t seen in forever, and take that person to dinner.


Danville’s Penny Warner, a child-development instructor at Diablo Valley College and the author of more than 40 books, knows what makes kids tick.

[72]Have a party for no reason.

[73]Make your child "Queen/King for a Day." Let him or her pick what to wear, do, and eat.

[74]Let your child create a brand-new snack by combining old ones. Let her eat spaghetti with applesauce if she feels like it.

[75]Play family board games once a week.

[76]Teach your child a new skill—knitting, sign language, or a magic trick.

[77]Have an Adventure Day and take your child someplace new.

[78]Write a funny song for your child and have her write one for you.

[79]Read together each night.

[80]Snuggle on the couch and watch home videos of your child’s babyhood.

[81]Have a Dress Up Day and put on exotic clothes from a thrift shop.

[82]Surprise your child by putting glow-in-the-dark stars on her bedroom ceiling.


Getting in touch with the inner you is the bailiwick of the East Bay’s Jueli Garfinkle. She teaches workshops and meditation classes throughout the Bay Area, most recently at UC Berkeley, and has co-authored Everyday Adventures for the Soul: 52 Simple and Surprising Ways to Wow Your Spirit.

[83]Spend 24 hours unplugged—no cell phones, televisions, or computers.

[84]Give meaning to rhetorical statements like "How are you?" or "Take care." Speak and listen with intention.

[85]Get drunk on kisses.

[86]Take an extra breath occasionally. Inhale then exhale. It will change your life.

[87]Appreciate stolen moments of pause and respite such as when you’re stuck in traffic, standing in line, or holding on the phone.

[88]See if you can give 100 blessings in a single day. Miracles are everywhere.

[89]Look people in the eyes and smile—especially people you don’t know.

[90]Develop a relationship with the nighttime moon. Is it full? Waning? Waxing?

[91]Remember the driver you are cutting off in traffic could be the Dalai Lama.


Moraga’s David Bach is the author of the best-selling Smart Women Finish Rich and Smart Couples Finish Rich. An internationally recognized financial advisor and educator, he has also hosted his own PBS special.

[92]Find ways to spend less so you can save more—like cutting out that morning latte or kicking your muffin habit.

[93]Set up a savings plan to automatically deposit money from your paycheck.

[94]Start a pre-tax retirement plan to pay yourself first.

[95]Make more money—check out eBay auctions, franchising, and direct selling to add to your income.

[96]Give more. Research shows that people who donate and volunteer often have a longer life span; and when you give your time and money to others, more comes back to you.

[97]Purchase your own home. Owning generally costs less than renting and is a huge step to financial freedom.

[98]Start your financial plan today. It’s never too late to finish rich.

[99]Your waistline is your lifeline. The greatest gift you can give yourself and your family is good health. 


Before Denise Austin or Billy Blanks, or, well, any exercise guru, there was Jack LaLanne. A Berkeley High grad, LaLanne hosted his ground-breaking fitness television show from 1951 to 1985. Still strapping at age 90, he works out for more than an hour each day at home in Morro Bay, living his "LaLanneisms" for staying happy and fit.

[100]Skip fad diets; there are no quick fixes. Instead, count calories, exercise regularly, and look at fitness and health as a way of life.[101] Get off the couch! Remember, your body doesn’t wear out with age—it rusts from inactivity.

[102]Health is wealth. Work at being a millionaire by getting regular physicals and practicing preventive care.

[103]Take a hard look at your vices. Would you get your dog up in the morning and give him a cup of coffee and a cigarette?

[104]Before you indulge, remember that 10 seconds on the lips equals a lifetime on the hips.

[105]You have to work at living. Dying, on the other hand, is easy. (Personally, I’ve decided that if I die, it will ruin my image.)

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