Disclaimer: you will laugh after trying this.

There was this really stupid/awesome thing I used to do as a joke with my friends when I was a junior in high school. We would Try and laugh with out smiling. I mean genuinely laugh without smiling.

$1 says you’re trying it right now as you read this.

It’s harder than it sounds!

Here’s the beginning of this whole “laugh without smiling” thing:

The year was 2008. I died my hair brown. I thought I was super trendy. I wore weird hats and scarves. I also tried to laugh without smiling with my friends. The result was awesome.

Just notice how in this video, us trying to laugh without smiling ultimately leads to a genuine laugh. It’s almost impossible not to burst out laughing when you try this technique.

Laughing makes you happy. It lowers stress. It’s therapeutic.

You might feel like an idiot while doing this, but you won’t if you make your friends do it with you as well. Up to this day, almost every person I’ve ever met, no matter how shy or reserved or serious they may be, crack a genuine smile when I challenge them to this.

I always used this as an ice breaker or something funny to do when out with my friends, but it hit me the other day that this is actually an amazingly therapeutic exercise for stress release!

Try it with your friends! Challenge someone to laugh without smiling! Best case scenario, you feel great and relieved of some stress. Worse case scenario, you end up laughing. It’s a win-win in my opinion.

So… can you laugh without smiling? Can you?

My bitches (dogs..and cats) make me happy

People who own animals (particularly dogs) tend to be happier and healthier people. Because of the necessity of walking dogs, they make the owners more active and spend more time outside (which in turn gives you more vitamin D, which studies have found decreases risk of depression). They also make people happy simply by having the company of unconditional love that animals provide.

Fun fact: when a dog sees their owner, their brain releases the same hormones that are involved in our brains when we are in love. You are your dogs life. They love you. What else could anyone ask for?

I’ve had pets my entire life. We call our house “the Bates Zoo” because we’ve literally housed it all: 2 turtles, 2 doves, 5 dogs, countless finches, 3 fish and at least 10 cats. Right now we only have two dogs and two cats (which is a considerably smaller number considering our past amount of animals).

I can’t imagine living a life without animals. Actually I can. When I was in college, the majority of the time I didn’t have any pets. For a year and a half I had my cat, Sherlock, living with me but other than that, only humans inhabiting my apartments.

It wasn’t that it was awful not having animals, but it was lonely. I would wake up without a kitty sleeping next to my face and come home without dogs barking and jumping on top of me.

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This may sound strange, but my animals have provided me of so much through out the years. Coda (the dog I’m snuggling with above) is my dog that I’ve had since I was 9 years old. She’s my protector. We got her from a kill shelter when she was 8 months old. She had previously been abused and was a little skittish around people and other animals. After a while, she grew to love me and my family and become protective of us. Whenever I’m with Coda, I honestly feel safe.

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CODA THE ENFORCER!!! Kind of kidding. But I actually do feel safe when I’m home alone at night and she’s standing guard by my side.

And then there’s Rusty Roo.

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Rusty’s my love bug. She is the definition of pure and innocent happiness. As soon as I see Rusty’s little face stretched with a human like smile and her enormous booty partaking in a full body wiggle of happiness, any day is made 100000 times better. Everyone loves Rusty.

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She’s also a little sausage and about 15 pounds overweight, but that just means that there’s more of her to love.

Rusty is a semi-feral pup. Well, her mom was. My uncle found her mom on the 4th of July hiding in a dumpster. He took her in and realized a few weeks later (as she was giving birth to 10 puppies) that she was pregnant. 14 year old Autumn successfully convinced her mom to take one of the 8 week old pups in and no one has ever regretted that decision.

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Rusty Roo the Love Bug Guru.

Sherlie (Sherlock) was a feral kitten that I adopted from the pound when I was in school in Tucson.

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He was covered in fleas, ringworm and mites when I first got him. He had a rough little childhood going through multiple therapies to rid him of all his disease. Then when he was a year old he had a bad case of kidney stones and we thought he wasn’t going to survive. But we did everything we could to remedy him of the stones and now he’s disease free! He’s a feisty little snuggle puss full of personality. He’s lovey at night and in the morning when he sleeps right next to (and often on top of) my head. And during the day he chases the unrequited love of our other cat, Callie.

Sherlock made coming home after school to an often times empty apartment a lot more enjoyable.

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He’s also extremely photogenic and kind of a ham.

My animals make me happy. They give me a purpose on days when I have nothing else to do and provide me of ample love and laughter when I need it most.

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They need me. I need them.

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And even though my mom doesn’t like to admit it, she needs them too.

My animals make me happy which ultimately makes me healthier.

A win, win if you ask me.

The simple act of being kind

I feel extraordinarily at peace with where I am in life right now. I have an incredible family, I live in a beautiful city, I’m able to pursue my passion for nutrition and fitness while living rent free with my parents and I have great friends who can make me laugh and remind me once again how lucky I am. My life is full of ups and downs, as most people’s are. There’s no such thing as someone having a problem-free existence. The happy moments wouldn’t be so happy if it weren’t for the unfortunate moments as well. And that’s the thing I think most people forget: everyone has problems. Our own problems always seem exponentially larger than anyone elses because they are our own problems. So we lash out, we blame, we convince ourselves that the person who was rude to us has no right to be so mean.

Trust me, I’ve worked in the service industry since I was 13 so I know how awful people can get. Never worked as a waitress before? Well, you can really tell what a person is like by the way they treat people who “serve” them. So I came across my fair share of jerks and a**h****.

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This is me at my first real job. I was a waitress for 2.5 years at a local breakfast spot in my hometown. My friend (on the right) and I used to watch a lot of “SpongeBob Squarepants” on rainy days when it was slow…

But letting those people who are having a bad day ruin your day as well will do nothing but continue the vicious cycle of people being dicks to each other. From my years of experience of working with and around jerks, I’ve learned that the only way to deal with these people while still coming out as a positive and happy person, is to spread some random acts of kindness to others.

Think of a time when someone was rude to you and you lashed out back at them. Did you feel better? Did the “lashing out” cause you to be happy? Did it solve any problems? Most likely, the answer is no. It can be hard to be kind to those who are so mean to you, but ultimately, you will be happier and in a better place because of it.

If being kind to jerks is too difficult, try first being kind to those you don’t know.

When I was in school, I was living off of a very tight food budget. There was one particularly stressful day where I was freaking out about my future because graduation was approaching, I was scared to leave my friends and I felt lost in a sea of confusion and anxiety. I took a break from studying and walked to the store to buy some lunch. Outside of the store, there was this homeless lady who drew pictures to sell for food. She was probably in her late 60’s. She never begged or asked for money. She just went along drawing pictures in exchange for food to keep her alive.

Seeing her made me forget my problems and think about her. I felt the need to bring some positivity to her life in any little way that I could. Instead of spending my money on lunch for myself, I bought a sandwich and a hard boiled egg with a water bottle to bring out to her.

She thanked me and I talked to her for a little about her drawings. She mostly drew pictures of the people that walked past. She told me she liked to draw people and imagine what their lives were like.

After I left to return to my studying, my anxiety was gone and I felt happy. Reaching out to someone else and displaying a little act of a humanity reminded me that happiness is all that matters in life. Instead of lash out from my anxiety and fear at the first person I could, I did the exact opposite. It made me feel happy. It spread happiness to another human being. My negative emotions were replaced with positive ones.

You don’t have to be charitable in order to be kind. Just remember that none of us on this planet want to be sad or lonely. We all want to belong. We all want to be happy. Just the simple act of being kind is enough to spread happiness to all of those around you.

Laugh when you feel sad.

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Smile when you’ve been wronged.

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Hug those that have forgotten how to be happy.

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Spend time with family.

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Make time for friends.

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Do what you love.

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Simply be kind. And you will be happier for it.

1.

Staying humble and hopeful

Sometimes you’re on top. Stay humble. Sometimes you’ve hit a low. Stay hopeful.

A very simple concept that would make everyone’s lives 100% better if they actually put it into use.

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This is the motto for Lokai bracelets. Lokai braceletes were made to remind people of the highs and lows of life and everything else in between. You are going to have a day every now and then when you feel on top of the world or invincible. Extreme contrast, it’s also inevitable that you’ll have days when all of the hope and happiness in life seems like it doesn’t apply to you. And then there’s everything in between. The average days that don’t seem like much, but hold the highs and lows together. The bracelet is a reminder of this by having one bead filled with mud from the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth and another bead filled with water from Mount Everest, the highest point on earth. The clear beads represent every other day where the highs and lows aren’t present. Together, they form a circle. According to the founder of Lokai bracelets, he says “I brought these two key elements together because life is full of cycles. The rest of the beads are clear because we all have our own story of balance to tell”.

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Finding balance, even during the highs, lows and middles of life is what keeps us sane and ultimately happy. The dramatic roller coaster may be exciting to ride when the lows aren’t too low and the highs aren’t too high, but it can also destroy us without finding that balance. Allow yourself to get lost in those moments and you forget what really matters: family, friends, loved ones.

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Me wearing my Lokai bracelet while on a run.

Finding the balance is really difficult for me. The lows make my physically ill. Most of life’s problems, I can deal with and I’m fine. But when something really knocks me down, I can’t eat or sleep and my brain goes into hyperactive mode while my body refuses to react to anything. The high points are also difficult for me to process. There’s no way to say it… but I get cocky. And arrogant. And I can be a bit of an asshole when I’ve succeeded at something.

Wearing this bracelet helps me find that balance. When I’m feeling cocky and arrogant at my success, I look down at the little white bead and remember that this is just a moment of life. I can be happy for myself, of course. But I can’t let myself think that I am better than anyone. Because we all of our highs. We all have our lows. And this reminds me that today is just my day but tomorrow might be someone else’s day. And that’s okay. If I let my head swell with pride, then when my day turns into someone else’s day, I will deflate and develop jealousy, anger, etc.

Same goes for my lows. Bad days don’t constitute a life. During those times, the little black bead reminds be that this is just one of those days. Flip that bracelet around and the little white bead is there, promising me of great times ahead as long as I stay hopeful and happy.

I highly suggest ordering a bracelet for yourself. It honestly has really helped me with my occasional emotional roller coasters and having a constant reminder worn around your wrist of staying hopeful and humble helps make the ride a little more smooth.

Self Talk

“Like food is to the body, self-talk is to the mind. Don’t let any junk thoughts repeat in your head.” -Maddy Malhotra

I talk a lot about food and fitness but a huge factor of health is also how you talk to yourself. Self talk can either help or hinder you, depending on what’s going through your mind. Plenty of people don’t believe that positive self-talk actually does anything, but there is actually scientific research backing it up now. The mind can’t differentiate between reality and the stories that you keep telling yourself (as long as you believe those stories to be true). If you keep telling yourself that you’re fat, ugly, stupid, or any anything else, your mind is going to believe it’s true. However, if you look yourself in the mirror and repeat that you are beautiful, smart, worthy and fit, your brain will start to believe it. Funny thing about the brain, it really does create your reality. Once you believe that you are smart, healthy, fit, worthy, and beautiful, your brain will start making it happen. 

I challenge everyone to write on your mirror a positive affirmation to repeat every day, out loud, at least 12 times. Look yourself right in the eye and say those words. Do this for a month and see if your mood starts to lift, if you lose that extra weight or if you simply just feel happier. 

I write my own affirmations on my mirror at home to repeat to myself every day. I switch it up depending on what I am currently having issues with. If I’m feeling insecure I’ll write “I am confident and strong”. If I’m feeling lazy, I’ll write “I am determined and disciplined”. It feels awkward at first saying these statements out loud to yourself, but it’s what you have to do. Say it without hesitation or else it won’t work. 

I also just found a product that I am in love with. The company is called Conscious Ink and they make temporary “affirmation” tattoos. They actually look like real tattoos as well so they can be trendy while also serving a purpose! Plus, they last a few days and then you can change your affirmation to something else!

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In these photos, I’m wearing “You are beautiful”. It’s a great constant reminder to practice positive self talk. Plus, they’re super cute which is a nice bonus!

Try out some positive affirmations and notice your life start to feel lighter and more manageable! If you’re a skeptic, do some research. So many lives have been changed from positive self talk so it’s at least worth a try!