12 Things Happy People Do Differently

I don't know where this year went, but with only a few hours left in 2011, I've started thinking about some resolutions for 2012.  Yes, there will be the usual - exercise more, find time to read, write more often, but I came across this list the other day, and I thought it was a great way to kick off the New Year on the right foot, or on a happy note, or the other millions of positive expressions you know I'm never able to remember correctly.  Here's to a New Year!

(original list published here).

  1. Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
  2. Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it.  She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
  3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense ofsuperiority.  Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out!  If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made.  What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place.  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
  4. Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.  What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness.  How extraordinary is that?  Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.  A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.
  5. Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  WHOA!  There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with.  We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
  6. Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable.  Forrest Gump knows the deal.  It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
  7. Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.  You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
  8. Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
  9. Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
  10. Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
  11. Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists.  Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
  12. Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.  Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft?  Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.


'Tis the Season to Indulge in Movies

Since I've been living inside a singular building the last two and a half years, I can probably count on one hand the movies I've seen. Which is crazy considering what a film fanatic I used to be. But what's better than curling up to a movie during the holidays? Somehow my family's pseudo-tradition of seeing a movie  on Christmas turned into watching Independence Day on HBO Christmas Eve (I swear there was a huge lack of Christmas movies on TV this year - we couldn't even find the dreaded 'A Christmas Story'). But my mom and I also indulged in 'Love Actually' the next day (we hadn't seen it in years, but such a great holiday feel-good chic flic). And to keep the movies going, yesterday we joined a good sampling of Casciari's and went out to see 'My Week with Marilyn.' The movie was good. Michelle Williams was amazing. And it made us sad to get this glimpse of such a troubled life. Anyways, worth seeing for sure. Now I wonder what movie's next on my list?


In the Spirit

Alright, I am beginning to come out of the cocoon of thesis.  (and will eventually try to post some images of my project as well).  I was welcomed home yesterday by 68 degree weather in Long Beach, and I am looking forward to the next three weeks of being home, seeing friends, spending time with my family, and trying to figure out what my new plan for life is (we'll see how far I get on that front).  In the meantime, I'm going to be the family elf, running errands, shopping, wrapping...

I came across this image this morning, and thought what a great use of lights! (Also may have given me the traveling itch!).
Photo from Taylor Dundee's Flickr page


Fallingwater (for my mom)

I should be dashing off to school as stop/go for thesis is in 3 days (Agh!@##$%*&^), but yesterday I talked to my mom and she said she keeps looking here to make sure I'm still alive, and I haven't posted anything in a long time.  So, a little overdue, but here are a couple photos from my trip up to Fallingwater with my friend Ryan from a few weeks ago.  We picked the perfect Sunday morning to get up really early (like in the 5am hour), and drive up to Pennsylvania.  It was a gorgeous drive with all of the leaves changing, and it really made me think in another lifetime I'll be some great outdoorsy woodslady, or something like that...  We had one of the first tours of the day, then walked around for a while with my Hasselblad and eventually to some rapids nearby.  Unfortunately I got rear-ended in the parking lot, but even that couldn't ruin a perfect fall day to see some really inspiring architecture.  

Alright, now back to thesis...  I'll return in a few days, hopefully with the knowledge that I'm graduating in a month!

Fall Leaves
From the Entry Bridge
The Classic Shot - bummed mine is a little overexposed
Structual guidance from FLW for my thesis
Ryan's portrait of me - turned out much better than mine of him.


Warming up to Red

Anyone who has spent any time at all with me knows I hate the color red.  And by any time, I mean within the first minutes of meeting me.  I know, a little weird, and I couldn't tell you exactly why, but I've just really never liked the color.  Maybe with the exception of a Christmas-themed ensemble, red has never even entered my wardrobe.  So I'm going to go out on a limb here by saying there are two red things I want for fall: lipstick and shoes.  Okay, not too daring, but hey, after 30 years of despising a color, the fact that I might actually decorate some part of my body with it is a pretty big deal.  My inspirations:

Both images found on Pinterest


Light Love

Hello, I'm back. Sorry to have disappeared for a bit, but jet-setting from coast to coast, trying to spend as much time with long-lost friends and family, and oh yeah, trying to do some thesis preparation this summer left me a little m.i.a. But as today was my (last!) first day of school, I am ready to get back in the swing of things and show up here on my blog as well. So without further ado...

I have to post about the amazing lighting design studio I discovered over the weekend: Lindsey Adelman Studio. Maybe I'm like a gazillion years late on this discovery (as well as Missoni for Target - counting down for that one, too), but going through the studio's website over the weekend, and realizing I was saving almost every image into my inspiration folder made me realize it was not just like, it was love. This was proven further when I realized she has a DIY version with directions to download on the website as well. The Brick House made one, and I am definitely bookmarking the project for my next apartment. The interiors styling doesn't hurt either...

All images from Lindsey Adelman Studio


Happy Anniversary

I just wanted to take the time to wish my parents a Happy Anniversary today. They're celebrating 38 years together (crazy kids met freshman year of college and were married upon graduation). My brother Eric and I are lucky to have them both in our lives - they are incredibly loving, caring, and supportive. Hope you have a great anniversary Mom and Dad!


Surfer Chic Beach House

I have said on several occasions that I want my next apartment to be painted all white. For those friends who have heard this, they look at me like I'm crazy as I obviously love color. So I was delighted to turn to this spread in September's House Beautiful magazine. Designed by Mona Ross Berman, this sixties-inspired beach house shows just how much you can do with color in an all-white space. The only thing I didn't like about the beach house was its location on the wrong coast (New Jersey). I'll take one of these in California, please!

The house's color palette came from the dining room tabletop: orange, yellow, turquoise, and white.

Eames chairs, the AMAZING table, and a Jere sculpture set the scene.

You've got to love the yellow Moroccan poufs!

The white wall-exception: powder room with wallpaper by Studio Printworks. Love!

Last but not least (and possibly my favorite), the master bedroom in shades of orange and pink. Loving the Missoni-inspired floor and the headboard upholstered in a Raoul Textiles fabric.
All images from House Beautiful


First Time Lapse Test

I am so excited to post my first time lapse test my brother and dad helped me with over the weekend. We set up Eric's camera on the D Street steps in Encinitas, and with the help of the intervalometer I bought, it actually wasn't too difficult a process. So now I just have to pick out what shots of my site I want to take (which should be fun as I still am on the fence a bit about that) and get ready to sit on the beach for several hours. I can't wait to capture sunrise and sunset, too - well besides the getting up when it's still dark outside part. And when I'm done shooting the stills, I'm hoping to insert some surf video into the project as well - I have an ambitious week ahead of me, that's for sure!

Well, can't figure out how to upload to Blogger with higher resolution, so view it small and not full screen, but it gets the point across...


Here's to My Last Lazy Weekend

Pehmeä pesä, paras ja kaunein. Paikka johon unohtua.
A soft nest, is pretty and the best. A place you want to be.

Translation: Viena Pentikäinen
Found at RTIF

Source Unknown
Looks like a nice place to laze the day away...


My Marimekko Faves

So you may realize I'm a little obsessed with Finland. What can I say, those Finns know good design. I am so excited that Crate and Barrel has broadened their range of Marimekko products as well - finally we're getting a good taste of the company in the U.S. I had been dreaming of these guys last summer, but knew I wouldn't be able to bring home a whole new collection of kitchenware. But now, I may just have to purchase some of these for my soon-to-be-post-grad-place (wherever that may be)...

All images from Crate and Barrel


Time Lapse Inspiration

Eddie gave me a tutorial tonight on iMovie so I can start attempting to put together my time lapse idea for thesis. Of course this led to online searching for examples of what I'm hoping to create, and I came across this video. Definitely way out of my league, but super cool!


Rewind to 504

I was browsing A+R this morning and had to post this gift. It makes me want to retake 504 (summer bootcamp that kicked off architecture school). We had to make a cube with various stipulations, and for most of us it turned into this weekend-long assignment as our first rounds weren't perfect enough. Would have loved to take the weekend off and shown up with this Monday morning instead...


Where East Meets West [Elm]

I think so much of my design aesthetic has been influenced by my various travel opportunities. While Italy and now Finland hold a special place in my heart, I have to admit that the bright colors, patterns, and textiles of the East really bring a smile to my face. So I was really excited to see the new West Elm catalogue - you know the "global trend" has really trickled down to the masses when a company like West Elm is carrying this stuff. And since another trip is not in the cards for me right now, I guess I'll just have to keep perusing the catalogue to feel inspired.

I put these two collages together for fun - the first are all photographs I've taken traveling in Morocco and Nepal. Below is my compilation of all my favorites from the new catalogue.


Organizing Life

I'm going to admit I just started my first self-help book. Gulp. Well, not sure if it exactly qualifies, but I'm reading Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. I think I am okay with it as A. it is/was a #1 New York Times Best Seller and B. my mom had bought it, so it was just lying around the house, waiting to be read. Regardless, I just started - 12 month-long projects the author devotes to different categories trying to boost her happiness.

January was all about having more energy, and one of the items that resonated with me was the idea to unclutter your life - both visual clutter and mental clutter. While I'll spare the details of the latter (and maintain some privacy), I really liked the idea of being more organized. Not leaving things around with the idea "I'll do it later." Not that I could qualify for Hoarders or anything, but I do admit to having a lot of stuff. I'm my mother's daughter, what can I say? And even though my flip-flopping coasts has made me pair down in many ways, I'm still thinking I could go through my stuff - both in California and DC - and figure out what I really need to hold on to.

With that said, I found this art project which I found inspiring for my goal to pair down, declutter, and organize my life. What would I keep if this camper was all the space I had for my worldly possessions? Not that I'll be that successful (or extreme), but it gets me thinking about what is essential and what is superfluous. Or if I did buy something new, I'd have to give up something old. Off to my closet...

Camper Bike art project found here


My Thoughts Exactly

I came across this photograph today on an Apartment Therapy house tour (which also happened to take place in my first neighborhood in L.A: Miracle Mile - which I still love). The Post-It sentiment rings so true, and gets me thinking I might just have a little too much texting going on in my life...


New Show Review & Pool Time

Home by Novogratz is a new show on HGTV that I taped over the weekend. When it was first being advertised, I wondered, who are these people? Should I know who Cortney and Robert Novogratz are? (Am I that in the dark in the design world...)

But I have to say, I enjoyed the premiere. I was impressed first and foremost that they are married with seven (!) kids, and run their business from home. Their first project was for two sisters who bought a beach house and basically wanted something "girly surfer bohemian." I'm not sure how bohemian I felt it was, but I think they had a lot of good ideas, and what I liked most about it was Cortney's hosting - she made the design really feel accessible, and it wasn't over the top expensive (which I assumed it might be as they live in New York - and most of the other HGTV shows out of New York have designers that come across very snooty and high brow - at least to me). I just grabbed these images off HGTV's website, and am bummed they didn't have a better kitchen shot - they put in really cute, vintage-inspired appliances (blue fridge, pink stove).

I loved the striped stairs (although it looked very tedious to do), and the wallpaper: although girly from afar, was rather risque patterned and quirky (busty amazon-type woman in various scenes, not your average toile).

Anyways, not surprising I liked a lot of the girliness of this house - the inspiration was Betsey Johnson, and I have always loved her home style:

I am curious to see how the show unfolds, but for now, it's definitely on my short list of new shows on HGTV with potential. But I've gotta run, Sara came down to Orange County, and we have a big day of lounging by the pool together ahead of us. Maybe with a cocktail and some guacamole...


My Little Papel Picado Project

I've been busy these last few days with a little graphic design project I've been working on for Robin's wedding. Oh yeah, I used to dabble in this stuff before grad school when I had free time (when I say dabble, I actually mean sometimes being paid for it - oh I miss those days). Anyways, Robin wanted something fun for the written portion of her wedding - the menus, programs, etc, and she and Dave introduced me to the Mexican art of Papel Picado. I didn't do too much research into how it came about, but think of paper snowflakes - except much more elaborate and turned into banners, flags, you name it, for celebratory events.

It is an amazingly delicate craft, and I found a lot of inspiration online - from using the traditional banners at weddings, to using the motif for invitations. I'm not quite done yet, but the last image is kind of a logo I'm working on - it's been fun. Now off to find a printer...

Image found here

This one here

And... my work in progress. The papel picado is actually shades of the bridesmaids' dress color, too - so pretty.



Ever since my trip to Nepal, I've been craving random baked goods (thanks to my friend Kevin whom every day pretty much would come up with a new dessert he "needed" once he returned home - fruit pies, lemon bars, brownies - you name it, he craved it). Well my one contribution was wanting Smores - maybe because we were building a fire pit as part of our project? Regardless, the thought of Smores transported me back to childhood - not that I was a big camper, but I do remember making them during my brief stint in Brownies (and apparently the Girl Scouts actually invented Smores - common knowledge? I didn't know that...)

Anyways, we finally made some last week down at my brother's - kind of the lazy way as we didn't even start a fire in the backyard fire pit but instead used the stove top. I was thinking my craving was sated, until I ran across this recipe for "Grown-up" Smores. Both cracker and marshmallow home-made? Yes please. Guess I'll have to try these out too. :-)

Both images from Fresh New England


Site Searching

Yesterday my brother Eric and his girlfriend guided me down the San Diego coast looking for potential thesis sites. We started in Encinitas, and headed south through Del Mar, Torrey Pines and La Jolla. We stopped at some of the big surf areas, and I was able to convince them we should stop at the Salk Institute (neither had ever been). We had lunch in La Jolla, Eric pointed out where our parents lived in college (both went to UCSD), and he took me by my grandparents' old house - which to our surprise is still boarded up and deserted. It was a beautiful day in San Diego, and I have to admit, it just didn't feel like that much "work" to scout the coast for a site.


I ♥ Finnish Design

I think it is safe to say that everyone who spent last summer in Finland in our program is nostalgic about it this summer - all of us keep posting about memories or reunion ideas, places we want to go back to - and now I'm realizing there is so much more to see. I discovered the firm of Lassila Hirvilammi this morning, and after my obsession with the churches we saw while abroad, I'm definitely wanting to return to Jyväskylä to see this one:

Kuokkala Church, completed 2010

I just think no one quite does it for me like the Finns...


Home + Architecture

After spending an amazing few weeks in Nepal, I returned to the hot/humid weather that defines summer in DC and thought to myself, "you're crazy, go home!" - which is exactly what I decided to do for the month of July. A last minute flight and a few days later, I'm settling in to the California lifestyle, which so far has consisted of moving in with my brother in Encinitas, reading a book for pleasure (crazy I know!), going to the beach, and a daily run or bike ride. Not too rough...

I am also really glad I took a definitive break from school, because now that I'm back in California and feeling refreshed, thesis is actually starting to become something I'm excited about. I haven't officially begun looking for a site yet, but over the weekend I walked along the coast for a while, and the ideas definitely started forming.

In addition to the bumming around SoCal for the month, I'm also excited to find out there are some cool exhibits, etc. happening this summer while I'm home. Somehow I usually miss things I'm interested in being on the wrong coast at the time (like Dwell on Design that was the weekend before I decided to come home). However, just got an email from LA Forum, and I'm really looking forward to the

Lewis.Tsuramaki.Lewis exhibit at the end of the month - 4 Projects: 4 Scales. The firm is out of New York, and our CBDS undergrad group permanently carried around their book last semester which I came to know and love. Excited to see some of their work first-hand.


A Handcrafted Wedding

As I'm getting to "that age" and it seems like everyone around me is getting married, I can't help but think about what I envision for myself. Robin will attest to my desire for this whole DIY forest idea I have, which is pretty comical considering I am not exactly camping in my free time... Anyways, I ran across this wedding at Style Me Pretty, and absolutely adored all of the decorations (and handmade bouquets and details). I'm sure it adds a layer of stress to planning, but I love the layering of such personal touches (and the bright happy colors).

The bride's a fashion designer and blogger too, at A Beautiful Mess, and I couldn't resist the video Goodwin Films made for her special day as well:


For my Dad

Found this cartoon and couldn't resist...

Image via Core77



So I disappeared for a while. Not surprising as the end of the semester kicked my butt just a little bit, but my extended absence was also due to my being in Nepal for the last few weeks. I am slowly getting acclimated back in DC - although probably just for long enough to plan my summer in California. I may need to rethink my blog's title at some point...

Anyways, I am not going into the details of Nepal today. I am awaiting picking up my film this afternoon - almost 20 rolls shot on my Hasselblad - which I am so excited to pick up. Hopefully I was able to capture some of the extraordinary experience I had there. Very early on (when my roommate Carrie and I found out we had to share basically a twin bed for a week), we joked Nepal was going to be a "character-building" experience. Little did I know how that joke would translate into the summary of my trip. A small glimpse into a world so different than my own, shared with such generous people who lived so simply and yet so happily. It definitely left me reflecting on the way I live and what's important in my own life.

For now, here's a few images of the trip - Kathmandu, Namje-Thumki, and the site...