Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Ain't Nuthin But an *H* Thang!" : Adventures at a Happiness Workshop

This Saturday, I had the opportunity to participate in my very first...Happiness Workshop! Evan invited me to join per our happy conversation on Friday night. I didn't know what to expect, thought it may be a bit kumbaya, or some interesting hippies, but I figured if I'm getting down to happy business these days--time to get wide open and give it a shot. Turned out--AWESOME!

A group called [thrive cleveland] put on the event in Tremont. [thrive] is a brand-new Cleveland-based social venture helping people live happier, healthier lives through awe-inspiring, connecting, surprising, and boundary-expanding experiences, classes, and events. Check out more info on [thrive] here. The volunteers were super cool and made you feel quite happy at home in your own skin.

They started off the event by having you write down your name and a random act of kindness you did in the past in which no one else in the room knew about it. They put on some jams (Ain't Nuthin But a G Thang) and everyone shuffled around until the music stopped. When the music stopped the person standing in front of you had to explain their random act of kindness and introduced themself. Now that's an icebreaker! So many good things good people do everyday that no one ever hears about--but no good deed goes unnoticed!

Jack Ricchiuto was the speaker for the event and he was incredible! He has been researching the psychology of happiness since the 1970s. He kept it real but broke down the "idea" or "steps to happiness" into managable bites. (Turns out too, that he knows my Dad!!! Say whaaaat? Yes, after the event I was able to chat with Jack and after we pieced together a few things, we realized that he and my Dad worked together in their early psych days in the 1970s..
Evan, me, Jack.

Seriously, what a crazy 3 degrees of separation Cleveland always has!!! And how successful both he and my Dad became by using their psychology degrees in different ways to help the people of CLE overcome their challenges and achieve greatness! Feeling lucky to now know both!!) Anywho, Jack broke down the idea of happiness into 5 components. Wanna know what they are? I bet you do!
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1) Appreciation--often times we get sucked into the daily monotony and take SO MUCH for granted. Jack suggested the idea of SAVORING! Slow down a sec and take a moment to savor even the simplest  of things--savor a great meal you're enjoying, savor watching the entire sunset, savor your favorite cup of coffee. Sounds simple--it IS simple! Stop multi-tasking and FOCUS! Just appreciate the little joys in life that we often overlook!

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2) Generosity--this was my personal favorite. We were all given a random quote when we walked in the door and here is what mine said, "Having more means having more to share. Generosity loves what it has because it has more to give. We share our stories and questions, our ideas and knowledge, our talents, our connections and things." LOVE IT! By being generous in our thoughts and actions--we too feel happy through giving. Positive + Positive = +++

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3) Interest--discovering new things in life and keeping things interesting leads to more happiness. Think about it, when you learned how to take up a new hobby, or start a blog, or whatever blows your hair back--your world opened up to new adventures and zesty life.

Whatever blows your hair back!
Wind Blown Photography--instant pick me up! And discover something new!

4)  Lightness--keep a light heart, sense of humor, and add some spontaneity! That monotony weighs us down, so keep it light, keep it airy, and lift your spirits!

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5) Easy--yes, believe it or not, I struggled with this one. I think we all do to a certain extent. Jack had us do a great exercise to illustrate the mental barriers we put up and make things more complicated when it could be easy, if you boil it down to the basics. He had us each write down 3 items on our "life bucket list" of things we always wanted to do. I wrote down: Travel Abroad. (Yes, I've never been out of the country.) My train of thought often goes like this: well, I don't have a passport so I can't. Well, once I have a place I REALLY want to go to, I'll go get a passport. Man, it's going to be expensive. I'll have to take so much time off work... blah, blah, blah. We had to get into small groups and read aloud our bucket list items. Then the other members of the group had to boil it down, and give you 3 steps (that's all you get!) on how to achieve it.

Here's how my list turned out...easy!

Step 1. Get a passport.
Step 2. Buy a ticket to a foreign country.
Step 3. GO!

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Wow! Easy! I encourage you to try the list with a group of friends, and you'd be surprised at all the resistence your ego and excuses give you. When you tell someone else and are open to making it easy--it really opens your eyes to the fact that you can TOTALLY do what you want, but you have
been preventing YOURSELF from doing it!
Ain't Nothing But an *H*Thang mini happiness journals.
Write down 3 things everyday that make you happy. Use these questions as a guide.

The workshop ended with a guided meditation in which we had to close our eyes and focus on our original quote & characteristic (mine was generosity). I was totally digging the meditation and when it ended, and we opened up our eyes--there was a giant pile of tulips in the middle of the room. Total surprise! Our assignment was to go out in the community and leave our "happy intention" by passing it along--to a stranger, on a doorstep, a car window, anywhere that felt compelling to you. It was SO COOL! And I had never done anything like it before. Here's the person I surprised with a flower during his smoke break:

Totally made his day!

Here are a few other places people left their flowers:
On the window of a car that still uses a "club" on their steering wheel.
Clearly they probably needed some happiness!
At the bar at Prosperity Club

It was seriously such a terrific experience participating in the workshop. I met some great people, had a fun time. and learned a few things about myself too! Life is all about choices--you can choose to help make yourself happier or you can choose to make yourself more miserable! I choose...HAPPINESS! To check out more [thrive] events follow them on Facebook or click here. Or
read Jack's blog here. Keep on JAMmin CLE!


  1. never knew something like this existed here. great event!

  2. omg -my Dad uses a club! ha ha! I thought he was the only one in the world to do that. Workshop sounds great!

    Crystal @EatDrinkClev


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