About Karen

Karen Karsten, CPCC, CAC, has had several business careers, in government, finance, retail and publishing. Each career was a building block that helped her create the life she has now as a coach, writer and executive director of Rich Chicks and Creative Principle of Think You Can LLC.

Her companies, Think You Can (www.thinkyoucan.net) and Rich Chicks (www.richchicks.org) both explore the magic of prosperity and creating clarity about life values. Karen has total faith in the magic of belief. Notice how that works either way: belief of magic, magic of belief. Magic is there—in you, too. Take a moment right now and honor the magic in you.

Are You Living Your Values?

In Rich Chicks’ Monetary Identity class (coming up on October 11), we spend a lot of time on values. Not just picking values from a list and tossing them into a values basket and pushing the basket to the values checkout lane, though. It is deep work that also involves looking at your beliefs around prosperity and other life areas. Truly knowing your values and how they affect your life and decisions is amazing. Putting those values into your life is important and Mickey Mikeworth and I help you do that over the six-week course of the program.

I am conscious of my values. One of them is creativity. I love to learn, love creating things, love other people’s creativity and love helping people expand their creative thinking. Finding ways to express my artistic creativity is fun—I am not particularly gifted in drawing, but I remind myself that it’s not about the product. It’s about the process—the artistic process of creating something that didn’t exist before you took it out of your own head and put it on paper (or canvas or a photoshop screen).

Finding time for just creativity, for play with messy things or writing, sort of slips off the calendar pushed out by “gotta do” things. So I made creative play a “gotta do.” I take classes—sometimes in person, sometimes online—and SHOW UP. Just like I do for a client or a meeting I have scheduled.

Right now I am taking a nine week class called Weekly Wonderland, which meets for two hours once a week. It was dreamed up by my heroine and mentor, the wildly creative Marney Makridakis of Artella Land.  It was when I was in her coaching program ARTbundance that I learned about process not product and began to consciously play. I took ARTbundance after I was already a certified coach, because I felt there was something missing from the traditional coach approach. And I was right—art and play was missing from the coaching model I had learned.

Wonder Word Collage

Our first Wonderland class was about wonder. Here is how it went: we first did a word collage around the word wonder. This is not a thinking thing—it’s fast, so not much time. Here is mine.

I invite you to try a word collage when you are stuck about something. It’s a great way to quickly get something down to work with.

Invitation to the Party in My Head

Based on our collage—or not—we had several minutes to create some kind of invitation or anything that came to mind about wonder. Here is my Invitation to the Party in My Head.

The class uses Zoom, a video conferencing program so you can see everyone else, if you want. Then everyone shares their work—it’s fun! What are you doing to feed your creativity? It’s a big part of your total prosperity!

Interested in Monetary Identity? Check it out!

Make a Plan to Keep This Happiness Going

It is hard to believe it has been 30 days since we started this Happiness Challenge together. We covered a lot of ground and if you followed along with the tips I shared and made an effort to improve your mood, your gratitude, and your joy, I’m sure you’re seeing a lot of progress and growth. Don’t let what you have learned evaporate!

Let’s take a minute and look back at everything we’ve covered so far this month:

  1. Welcome and Why Happiness Is A Choice You Make Every Day
  2. Make A Commitment to Cultivating Happiness
  3. What Makes You Happy?
  4. Start Your Day with Gratefulness
  5. Happiness and Doing Stuff
  6. Stress Kills Happiness – Easy Ways to Destress
  7. Happiness and Exercise
  8. We Crave Human Connections
  9. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Savor It
  10. Finding Happiness in a Sea of Sadness or Overwhelm
  11. Fighting Against Our Brain’s Bias To Negativity
  12. Your Happy Squad—a Support System of Positive People
  13. Happiness and Getting Your ZZZZZs
  14. Boost Your Confidence and Become Happier
  15. Make It a Point To Make Someone’s Day
  16. When All Else Fails, Fake It
  17. Talk to Yourself–Keep A Journal
  18. Learn to Deal with Negative Thoughts and Emotions
  19. Live in the Moment
  20. Positive Communication
  21. Giving Back Makes Us Happier
  22. Meditating Your Way to A Happier You
  23. Trade Things for Experiences
  24. Happiness in Simplicity – Declutter Your Life and Your Mind
  25. Stop Complaining. Take Action.
  26. Good Nutrition–Good Mood
  27. Calling Me for a Date with Me.
  28. Happiness Is Contagious
  29. Are You Noticing a Difference?

I hope you’ve been following along and enjoyed this happiness challenge. It’s amazing what will happen when you start to pay attention to how you feel and do what you can to increase your happiness and that of those around you. I hope you have found some tools, techniques, tips, and ideas that have helped you increase the joy in your life.

Where do you go from here? You keep implementing and continue to practice being happy regularly. Remember the Happiness Journal I talked about back on day 17? It’s an excellent tool you can use to keep yourself on track. I will be sending you a link tomorrow for some tools that might help you keep on the happy path.

Keep coming back to these posts as needed. It may not be a bad idea to bookmark this post as a quick reference tool. Above all, keep learning, keep smiling, and keep growing your joy and happiness.

Day 29 – Are You Noticing a Difference?

Over the past 28 days we’ve been talking a lot about happiness and what we can do to increase how we feel. We’ve talked about a wide variety of different things from how sleep, exercise and nutrition can affect our mood, to simple strategies like decluttering and practicing gratefulness.

Tomorrow I’ll give you a quick little review and we’ll make some plans to go from there. Today though, as this 30 Day Happiness Challenge is coming to a close, I thought it would be a good idea to take stock and see if intentionally focusing on being happier is making a difference. I know it has for me, but how about you? I hope you’ve been following along and giving the various ideas a try. One thing we talked about in the past is keeping a journal. At the time, the idea was to practice gratitude and pay attention to the good things by writing them down. That same journal is also a great tool to judge how you’ve been doing throughout this challenge. Compare the earlier entries to the last few, or even how you’re feeling now. Hopefully you’re seeing some great improvements.

It’s important to remember that we go through seasons in our lives. There are times that we are overall happier, and times that are more challenging and sad. It’s ok to go through those sadder phases. We need to sad to make the happy stand out more, to appreciate the good times. If you’re stuck in a tough time, that’s ok. Do what you can to make yourself and your loved ones get through it and then work on bringing the joy and happiness back into your lives.

More than anything else I hope this short little challenge is making you more aware of the beauty and joy around you. It’s so easy to get sucked into our everyday lives and troubles to a point where we miss the people and things that will make us happy. This challenge was designed to make you more aware of them and create new, positive habits that you will continue to carry forward from here on out. We’ll talk a little more about where to go from here in tomorrow’s wrap up post. For now, I hope this has made a difference to you and I’d love to hear how you’ve enjoyed it and what you’ve found particularly helpful. Leave me a comment, connect on social media, or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Day 27 – Happiness Is Contagious

Did you know that happiness is contagious? A fun fact that you may not have realized is true, but I’m sure you have experienced it. Think about a time when you were with a person who was experiencing pure joy. Kids are wonderful not only being completely happy, but also sharing and expressing that exuberant joy. If you’re around a small child that’s laughing, giggling, and having a grand time, you can’t help but smile along. Their joy makes us happier because it is contagious – sort of like a yawn.

Since happiness can spread from person to person, consider it a tool we can use to share our joy and excitement. Use it to make a difference in how happy you feel on any given day and don’t be afraid to spread it around.

Soak Up the Happy

When you’re having a rough day, cheering yourself up may be as simple as finding a happy person. Surround yourself with positive people who are good at sharing the joy. Find your own personal cheerleaders that you can call on when you need a little boost. While watching a comedy or happy movie may help, experiencing happiness in person seems to have a much bigger impact on how you feel. Go out there and soak up the happy.

Spread Happiness Around

Not only can you feed of the happiness of others, you can also start to spread it around. We talked in a previous post about how giving makes us happier than receiving. Along those same lines, sharing your happiness will benefit both you and those around you. If you are out there intentionally sharing your joy and excitement with those around you, you’ll create a positive energy that is infectious. You’ll start to notice your family and friends smile more, laugh with you, and have a good time.

Then something interesting happens. You start to feed off their positive vibes and happiness, increasing your own joy. Keep it going and you’ll create a spiral of happiness that keeps spreading everywhere. A simple smile or a shared laugh can change the mood of an entire group of people. That’s pretty powerful stuff.

Start to pay attention to the mood and be aware that feelings of both happiness and sadness can be contagious. Use what we’ve talked about in this post to your advantage and where appropriate, change the mood in the room by sharing happiness. You don’t have to be exploding with joy to make a difference. Instead, take a moment to focus on a happy memory, or think about what you’re grateful for. Then show and share the happiness you’ve created and watch it travel around the room. Smile, have an encouraging conversation and work towards making the world a happier place.

Calling Me for a Date with Me.

Me time—time spent purposely alone is different than loneliness. Sometimes you need to treat yourself and carve out some “me time.” It is a pretty awesome idea! Don’t feel guilty about it. In the end, it will make you a better spouse, a better parent, a better colleague, and a better friend. We all need to recharge and we need to do something just for ourselves on a regular basis.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just plan to do something that you enjoy and that relaxes you. If you are already doing this, congratulations! If not, you have the delightful task of figuring out what you may want to do. Maybe it’s reading a good book or watching your favorite TV show. Maybe it’s getting back into a hobby you used to enjoy. Maybe it’s taking a nap. Maybe it’s a simple as having 10 minutes to sit by yourself and think, or thumb through a magazine.

Like I said, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time and it doesn’t have to involve anything complicated. Sure, a trip to the beach by yourself for a week would be great, but curling up on the couch with a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine and a good book will do. Maybe there is a movie you want to see or a new coffee shop you would love to try.

Treating yourself to a new haircut, a pretty dress, a new gadget, or something that will help you enjoy your hobby more is another great option. Or keep it super simple, and pick up a favorite treat that you don’t have to share while you’re out doing the grocery shopping.

The point I’m trying to make is that it’s ok to treat yourself and do something for the sole purpose of making yourself happy. While a piece of fancy chocolate may not seem like that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, treating yourself well and caring for yourself can have a huge impact on the quality of your life. Give it a try—schedule a date with yourself right now! Then do something nice for yourself—be happy.

Day 25 – Good Nutrition–Good Mood

The simplest solution to increasing happiness may be to change what we eat. It is interesting to learn how much the food we eat can affect our mood. I think it’s no accident that since the arrival of lots of easily obtainable processed food with added sugar in the Western diet, depression and other mood disorders have dramatically risen. A quick look at a couple of key ingredients and nutrients that have been shown to directly affect our mood.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 is a fatty acid that’s found in fatty fish and certain seeds and nuts. There’s another fatty acid called Omega 6 which is found in the corn oil and vegetable oils used in so much American food.  There’s an important balance between omega 3 and omega 6 that needs to happen. If you end up with way more omega 6 than omega 3 (which is often the case in a diet that consists of lots of processed foods), one of the side effects is depression. Here’s an article about the importance of Omega balance.

Vitamin D

We tend to get the blues more in winter when we can’t get outside and get some sun. A big reason for this drop in mood is a lack of vitamin D. With the advent of strong sunscreen and a global health policy that warns us of sun exposure and cautions us to cover up or wear sunscreen, it’s no wonder that vitamin d deficiency has become major problem that also happens to negatively affect our mood.

B Vitamins

Being happy takes energy and a key ingredient in making sure we get the energy we need from our foods are B vitamins. This whole group of micronutrients is crucial in how energized we feel. Make sure you get plenty to feel your best.

Magnesium

Magnesium is starting to become increasingly an issue as our soils are magnesium depleted and less of this mineral makes it into our food. Lack of magnesium can cause insomnia and you already know how important a good night sleep is to your overall well-being.

While you may want to consider supplementing with some of these nutrients to quickly fill the gap your diet is leaving, a much better long-term strategy is to work on cleaning up your diet. The more processed foods you can cut out and replace with fresh fruits and vegetables, quality meats (or other non-meat protein), and healthy fats the better. In other words, eat real foods!

Day 25 – Stop Complaining. Act.

Since starting this 30 Day Happiness Challenge here on the blog and via email, I’ve been a lot more aware of the happiness of the people around me. I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thing. It is causing me to look at people more closely and pay attention to their actions, their feelings, and how that seems to connect. It’s has given me some fresh perspectives on this whole happiness thing.

Something that’s stood out in the past few weeks is that the people that seem the most unsatisfied with their life and the least happy are the ones who spend a lot of their time and energy complaining. Do you have a few of those people in your life? They are too busy talking about how horrible their life is that they don’t have any time left to do something about it. Or maybe they’d rather complain than change things. Either way, the solution seems to be simple. Stop complaining and start doing something about it!

We all have times when we complain about one thing or another. Sometimes we do it in our heads, sometimes we vent with a close friend or family member. We grumble, get it off our chest. That’s fine, provided complaining isn’t all we do. Sure, there are times when we complain, feel a little better, and the situation resolves itself. But there are other times when things won’t get better and we won’t feel happier unless we do something.

So what do you need to do? If you’re not happy in your job, start looking for a different position or even change companies. If you’re not happy with your salary, work towards that promotion, take some classes, and do whatever it takes to start earning more. If you are stuck in a relationship that makes you unhappy, work on it, or take the action to move on. If you’re not happy with how your kids are acting, work on your parenting skills, and work with your kids to make things better. If you’re not happy with the way you look and feel, start eating healthier and get outside for some fresh air and exercise.

It’s truly amazing how much you can shape your life for the better once you stop complaining and start taking action. What are you going to do today to make your life better and increase your long-term happiness?

Day 24 – Happiness in Simplicity – Declutter Your Life and Your Mind

One of the reasons vacations are so relaxing is because we are away from most of our stuff and the responsibilities that come with it. You don’t have to worry about all sorts of projects and chores around the house and can just relax and enjoy the space you are in. You’re away from appointments, work, and being reachable. This allows you to focus on the people with you.

In my last post I talked about how much focusing on experiences instead of things can help reduce stress and increase happiness. Today, I want to take that one step further and focus a little more on getting rid of things – both physical and mental. The idea is to find happiness in simplicity.

While we can’t replicate this feeling of vacation, what we can do is reduce the clutter in our lives and simplify things. This lets us to focus on what’s important and what makes us happy. Here are some simple little ideas to help you start decluttering.

Decluttering Your Home

Let’s start with the simple stuff. There are tons of books, blog posts, articles and even TV shows about decluttering. While it isn’t easy, it is simple. It boils down to going through your home, one room or one area at a time, finding the things you no longer need or want. These can then be thrown out or given away. The idea is that in the end you are left with things you appreciate and a clearer space that’s more relaxing to live in and easier to keep clean and organized.

Decluttering Your Calendar

Next look at your calendar–the activities and obligations in your life. Being busy makes us feel productive, but often the best use of our time is to cut out all the extra stuff that really isn’t necessary and doesn’t bring us joy. Don’t be afraid to be ruthless and even a little impolite at times. Feeling obligated shouldn’t be a good enough reason that you’re doing something. Get rid of it and then use the gained time to do things that help you relax, get ahead, and most importantly make you happy.

Decluttering Your Mind

Finally, it’s time to declutter your brain. It’s amazing how much “junk” we let build up in there. We all have this running list of things we should do, ideas for future projects, what to cook, what to shop for etc. What we don’t realize is how much brain power that kind of thinking takes up. The best way to deal with it is to do a “brain dump”. Get out a piece of paper and start writing it all down. Everything you have in your head that you think you need to remember from the book you want to read next and what to cook for dinner tomorrow, to the meeting you need to schedule at work. Write it all down. Don’t judge, don’t edit, and don’t try to organize it. All of that can come later. For now, write it down to get it out of your head.

When you’re done, notice how much lighter and happier you feel with each area of your life decluttered. While it isn’t the easiest thing to do, it is well worth it and something you should try to do regularly.

Day 23 Trade Things for Experiences

We live in a materialistic society where our main goal seems to be to acquire more stuff. We buy bigger cars, bigger houses, and of course, lots and lots of stuff to fill these houses. The idea is that we can buy happiness by buying more “stuff”. We’ve been living this way in the western world for quite some time. But are we happier with all those material possessions?

Increasingly, people are starting to feel that all this extra stuff weighs us down and adds to the stress we’re feeling. All these things must be taken care of and with bigger houses and cars come bigger maintenance issues and repair costs.

In the search for happiness there is a new trend of owning less, and living simpler, more minimalistic lives. We see it in the trend towards minimalism, tiny houses, and in the success of books like “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. There must be something to this idea of owning less and focusing less on buying and owning things.

Does this mean that to be happy we need to give away all our stuff and move into a tiny house or apartment? Of course not. But what it may suggest is that spending a little time decluttering and getting rid of some things can give us a feeling of breathing room and freedom.

It also means that instead of accumulating more stuff, we should try focusing on experiences. Instead of buying a fancy car, new furniture, or a new set of golf clubs, take that money and spend it on a fun family trip. Use it to spend quality time with your loved ones and make beautiful memories. Not only will you be happier during the time you’re on vacation, you’ll also feel joy as you remember this trip and the time spent with your spouse and kids.

You don’t even have to go that far. Vacations are great, but we can’t take them all the time and they aren’t always practical. Think of your time as a gift, instead of buying gifts. Don’t buy another blouse or book for your mom or best friend, take her out on her birthday for lunch and some girl time. Instead of picking up another electronic gadget or tool, go hang out with the guys at the ballpark and cheer on your favorite team. Think experiences and making memories instead of buying more stuff. Experiences are more fulfilling and don’t have to be dusted!

Meditate Your Way to A Happier You

Stress is such a buzz kill. Nothing brings you down faster than feeling stressed out. It keeps you from sleeping well, staying productive, and being in a good mood. It only makes sense than that reducing stress increases happiness. One of the best ways to bring your stress levels down and increase your joy is to mediate.

In addition to reducing stress and increasing happiness, meditation is good for your health, helps you practice self-awareness, and increases your concentration. New to meditating? Here’s a quick primer on this ancient technique of clearing the mind.

Meditation is a state of thoughtless awareness. It’s reached by practicing clearing your mind of thought, until we can reach that state of mind easily and effortlessly. Along the way meditation will help us concentrate, contemplate, and gives us more control over our mind and our thoughts.

There are all sorts of different ways to practice mediation. Some will have you focus on your breathing, some will have you focus on your body. You can practice in complete silence, while listening to white noise or soft music, or you can work through guided meditations.

If you’re new to meditating, a simple guided meditation may be your best bet. There are plenty of recordings online, on YouTube, and even on apps. Some of them will be free, while others are paid guided meditations. Listen to a few of them until you find a mediation you’re comfortable with.

If you want to just try this without downloading or buying any guided meditations, give this basic meditation exercise a try. Start by laying down comfortably on your back. Have your hands to your side and relax. Close your eyes, and breathe naturally. Notice how the breath moves your body and try to focus on each exhalation and inhalation. If your mind starts to wander, bring it back to your breath. Aim for a few minutes of meditation to begin with. If you find yourself nodding off, that’s common at first. Meditation can be very relaxing and is a great way to help you get to sleep.

With practice, you will be able to mediate for longer periods of time. Experiment with techniques and lengths of mediation time until you find your own routine, something you can stick with for the long run.