A few words about me
Sandra Bienkowski is a nationally published writer and a fun enthusiast, believing every minute of every day is an opportunity to live your best life.
Posted on March 19, 2017 in Personal Growth by Sandra Bienkowski
When Joy Coach Catherine Walters called me to participate in her Joyful You Summit, my initial thought was, “I’m too busy.” Is life busy? Yes. Is life ever not busy for any of us? No. I realized that my initial reaction was just an excuse.
The theme of her second summit intrigued me–creativity and how to bring out your playful self. I love thinking of ideas and sharing them. I am just most comfortable doing so as a writer. Safely behind my computer monitor thank you very much. Her summit involves speaking … on video. While my husband will tell you I have zero trouble talking, I get uncomfortable in situations where the spotlight is on me. Thoughts that run through my head include: What if I say something stupid and it’s forever recorded? I ramble. You’re going to sound brilliant Sandra when your thoughts fall off a cliff and there’s dead silence. Then I remembered something else: When I avoid doing something because I fear it a little, I end up feeling worse.
Last year, I participated in Catherine’s Joyful You Summit for the first time. While it may not be a big deal to chat on video for some people, it was a fear conquering moment for me. And every time we say “yes” to something we fear, it may not banish the fear completely, but it does dissipate that fear. Being fearful and going for it anyway is the gateway to all sorts of glorious emotions–like euphoria (“Yes! I did it!), enthusiasm and self-confidence. In Shonda Rhimes book Year of Yes, she wrote, “Losing yourself does not happen all at once. Losing yourself happens one ‘No’ at a time.” I knew I needed to say “Yes” to Catherine’s second Joyful You Summit and not hide out in my comfort zone.
The Joyful You Summit launches tomorrow, March 20, just in time for The International Day of Happiness. The theme is How to Bring Out Your Playful, Creative & FUN Self and Connect with Your Authentic Joy. It’s a free series of video interviews with 22 experts talking about aspects of joy, creativity, laughter, fun and play.
You won’t want to miss it! I believe my interview will be in early April. Tune in here to: The Joyful You Summit!
Posted on October 26, 2016 in Self Improvement by Sandra Bienkowski
fitness, Live Happy
Keep your body fast, fit and flexible to stay happy and healthy as you age.
Exercise just may be the magical key that unlocks happiness. Science tells us that exercise improves mood, fights depression, enhances quality of sleep, reduces stress and prevents disease. And according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise,regular exercise can actually slow the aging process. If you are north of 40, keep your body strong and your energy up with our best exercise advice.
1. Choose something you love
If you see exercise as a chore, you are less likely to experience its benefits because you probably won’t stick with it in the long-term. Find an exercise you love and you don’t have to go in search of your motivation. No one has to drag you out of bed to do something you love. Experiment until you find a type of exercise that makes you happy.
The feel-good emotions can also help you stick with exercise long-term. In his book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. John Ratey, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, writes, “When we begin exercising, we almost immediately begin releasing dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Those are all neurotransmitters that deal with feelings of reward, alertness, contentment and feelings of wellbeing.”
What to do: What exercise did you love as a child? Use your answer as inspiration to find an exercise you love as an adult. Ride a bike. Go for a hike. Swim laps or try water aerobics. Take up Pilates or the newest class at your gym.
READ THE REST OF MY ARTICLE on LIVE HAPPY!
Posted on September 21, 2016 in Fun by Sandra Bienkowski
brain health books
In the past few decades there has been an explosion of interest in physical fitness. We know that cardio workouts lift our moods and weight-training fends off bone loss. We’ve tried yoga and dedicated ourselves to the elliptical machine.
But what about mental fitness? Now that Americans are living longer than ever, researchers, psychiatrists and other doctors are turning their attention to how we can maintain sharp and lucid minds, and also optimize happiness and creativity. Not surprisingly, many of the same practices used for physical fitness are also good for your brain.
Each book below provides a slew of science-based tips to keep your brain sharp and your body healthier as you grow older.
Posted on July 20, 2016 in Fun by Sandra Bienkowski
life fulfillment, Summer
When summer arrives, the mercury rises and it’s time to slow down the hectic pace of life. But before sinking permanently into your hammock, we have a project for you: Tick off some boxes on your bucket list! What, you say—productivity during the summer? But a bucket list is different from a to-do list. It’s a bucket full of all the fun things you’ve always wanted to do. So while you are whiling away your time this summer—or trying to keep the kids entertained during those dog days—try some suggestions from our list below.
Take windsurfing lessons.
With a few quick lessons, you will be up and surfing on your bare feet in no time.
Go for a hot air balloon ride.
Do something fun and exhilarating that doesn’t require a lot of physical exertion. You’ll feel like you’re floating on air (because you are), with gorgeous vistas all around.
Try out a Zen retreat.
Imagine several days of meditation, with no phones, no computers…and no talking!
These soul-stirring works will fill you with wisdom, healing, mindfulness and meaning.
Your spiritual life is personal, yet most spiritual books share a common theme—we are all connected. Immerse yourself in these books to live with a greater sense of community, to uplift your spirit, and to get a sense of mind-body integration. These nine favorite spiritual works are like a retreat for your mind and soul.Get your summer spiritual reading list here: The 9 Best Books to Spark Your Spiritual Enlightenment on Live Happy
Posted on June 21, 2016 in Fulfillment by Sandra Bienkowski
When you are plowing through your to-do list, orchestrating the various demands of life, it’s likely that you will overlook what could be a major source of daily happiness: Your wins, your accomplishments, the things on your list (or off) that you have actually managed to get done. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, there is power in small wins, and it’s the fulfillment that comes from making progress on meaningful goals.
Each day you experience wins, both major and minor, but you could be moving too fast (or you are too hard on yourself) to notice. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk acknowledges he has a hard time celebrating wins because he “loves the climb.” But he says there is danger in ignoring both incremental wins and wins of any size. To always be focused on “what’s next?” can deplete you. Once you make an effort to start noting and celebrating your wins, it can increase your sense of self-worth and your happiness. Plus, some people are motivated by celebrating stepping stones of progress.
Ask yourself if you gloss over any of these achievements without stopping to take notice:
Read the rest of my article 10 Reasons To Celebrate Your Wins on Live Happy.
aging, growing older, stereotypes about age
American society values beauty and youth. It’s a fact of life. Look at any movie—Hollywood or independent, it doesn’t matter—magazine (aside from AARP), or television show (Golden Girls went off the air a long time ago, people) and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a gray hair or wrinkled brow among them. And the portrayals you do see of older people are often hackneyed stereotypes of asexual, grouchy killjoys or someone having a midlife crisis.
Change the script about getting older
“Let’s change the conversation about what getting older means,” says women’s health expert Dr. Christiane Northrup in her book Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being. “Our culture tries to tell us how to move through time and tell us we only have so much time left,” she writes. She suggests rewriting the script by realizing chronological age just measures time, and by calling it getting older, not aging.“Getting older is inevitable, but aging is optional,” she writes.
Let’s look at how we can challenge what we are told about age in our culture to have a more positive mindset about getting older.
1. Stop calling it a midlife crisis
We should probably save the word “crisis” for the real deal and not for another pass around the sun. Plus, the bulk of research shows that there may be a shifting of gears in the 40s or 50s, but it’s often one of renewal and exhilaration, not crisis, writes Barbara Bradley Hagerty in her book Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife.
Read the rest of my article: 8 Ways to Thrive in Midlife and Beyond on Live Happy.
love, relationship books
Keep your romance on track with the time-tested advice in these tomes.
You’ve heard the cynical takes on romance: Seven-year itch. Marriage is hard. Men are from Mars. Relationships take work. Lots of marriages end in divorce. But don’t throw in the towel on love. Strong, committed relationships make people happier and can even help you live longer. These seven books—your love homework—will help you tune up, spark or overhaul your relationship.
books, career reboot, happiness at work
We spend so much of our lives at work. When you dread your job and you find yourself clock-watching, that unhappiness can easily spill over to life outside of work. Whether you are in need of a career shift or a complete makeover, here are seven amazing books to change your work life. Turn your passion into your profession. These top titles will make you rethink your work goals and start on a clear new path.
By Charles Duhigg
Journalist Charles Duhigg explores how you can get more done without having to sacrifice what you care about most. Strengthen your internal locus of control (self-accountability). Researchers have found that this sense of personal responsibility is correlated with academic success, higher self-motivation, lower incidences of stress and depression and a longer life span. Practice this learned skill by taking actions that put you in control and express your values.