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?

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.

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So many possibilities with a new year…

This post is a day late, but yesterday I was busy planning out exactly what I wanted from 2014. The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on the previous year: what you regret, what you are proud of, what you failed at, what you succeeded in, etc. I think it’s important to reflect on the previous year because you can learn not only from what you did right, but what you did wrong as well. My family and I have this ritual where we get together and write down our regrets on a piece of paper and then burn it. We are acknowledging that we weren’t perfect the last year and letting it go to move on to better things (and hopefully learning from those mistakes!). After we write down our regrets and burn them, we write down our goals for this next year. We separate our goals into 7 sections: financial, social, family, scholastic, career, health, and spiritual. After we have them all written down, we put them in an envelope and seal it off to open next new years.

Writing down your new years resolutions (or goals) helps you solidify in your mind that you are going to complete them. If you just tell yourself your resolution, it’s easy to conveniently “forget” that you resolved to lose 10 pounds when facing a mound of cookies. Writing them down makes it a little more official so that you are more likely to follow through!

Just because it’s January 2nd, it doesn’t mean that it’s too late to promise yourself some changes in your life. Write down some goals and get started on completing them! It’s a brand new year with so much potential. You deserve great changes in your life!

Some of my resolutions:

1. daily meditations, positive affirmations and journaling

2. reconnect with family members that I haven’t seen in a while

3. maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle (no matter how busy I am. No excuses!)

4. be more consistent in spreading the word (via my blog) about how to be healthy, happy and fit!

Those are some of my many resolutions for 2014! As part of my 4th resolution, this year I will be posting fitness, healthy cooking, positive affirmation/meditation and overall lifestyle videos along with my usual healthy healthy recipe posts. My goal is to spread all the information and knowledge that I have acquired to as many people as possible. If you like the videos or the recipes, let me know! If you have questions or want information on a specific topic/workout/recipe, comment on my blog and I will be more than happy to post a blog or vlog about it!

We all have the ability to be the happiest and healthiest us!

Happy 2014, friends!

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(I started my new year on a hike with my parents in the Santa Monica mountains!)

First hand studying the Mediterranean Diet this summer

I’ve read about the Mediterranean Diet (along with dozens of other diets/lifestyles) and I’ve even tried living it. Nothing can really match experiencing the Mediterranean Diet IN the Mediterranean. So, this summer from May 23-June 20 I will be in Verona, Italy living and learning about the the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. I will be taught each day by my professor the science behind the diet. After the lesson, we will be brought to a locals kitchen where they actually TEACH us how to make the food that we learned is so healthy for us! Then, in proper Mediterranean Diet fashion, we will all sit around a large table for lunch and dinner and eat what we have created as a group enjoying each other’s company.

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We will also visit olive oil production plants, cheese production plants and vineyards to discover where the food really comes from and how it is made. I will also be exploring the city of Verona and trying local restaurants and discovering what life is really like in the area.

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Each day, I will post the food I eat, the things I experience and the science to back it all up!

After my time in Verona, I will travel a little through out Europe on my own and discover other ways of eating and living. I believe in creating an arsenal of information by experiencing things first hand. It’s one thing to read and write about a diet and lifestyle and another to live it.

So if you are interested in my European adventure in food, make sure to follow my blog (especially this summer) to see what Europe has to offer!