How to Make Happy Choices

image_thumb[5]Although everyone would like to see a piece of the future in order to give them strength in the present, the difference between people is how much energy they spend in order to be able to predict the future. Most people would like to be able to tell the future, at least a bit, but some people are tortured by the desire to control the future by analyzing the past in order to improve the prediction of the future. I call them “the fortunetellers”.

In coaching, I meet some fortunetellers. I meet amazing people who are tortured by anxiety and are very unhappy. These people struggle with their decision making and find it hard to make decisions. If the average person takes an hour to make a decision, they need 5-10 hours to make the same decision. So they are pretty much time wasters and, being very smart people, they know time is precious, but they constantly feel they do not have enough time. In worse cases, when making a decision, they repeatedly second-guess themselves with “Was this the right/best choice? What if I checked another school/product? Did I check the back label?” Or they keep searching for the product they already bought, just to make sure they have made a good choice.

In psychology, these people are called Maximizers. The other group is called Satisficers. Research on the difference between Maximizers and Satisficers started in 1957, so it is not new science at all. A new research done in Florida in 2011 discovered that Maximizers tend to second-guess their choices and that leads to unhappiness. So if you are a Maximizer, or what I call a “fortuneteller”, you have the formula for being unhappy. If happiness is a choice, as I believe, this insight into the decision making mechanism may very well help you make happy choices.

Read more about how to make up your mind quickly

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How to Change Habits: Flexibility of the Mind

People jumpgin and cheeringThis is your self-help guide to changing habits. Now that you know about types of habits and how they are formed and you know how habits affect your life, it is time to take control of your life by breaking limiting habits and creating new, empowering ones, instead.

  1. Write down 10 recurring situations or outcomes in your life that you are not happy with
  2. Decide which category they are in
  3. Ask yourself what is you think, feel, say or do that brings you into each situation or gets you each outcome
  4. Check if the items on your list have anything in common
  5. Take yourself into one of those events in your mind and experience it again. Look around and try to discover the exact circumstances in that situation. Are you tired? Worried? Has something else happened that day? The day before? Are you hungry? Write as many details as you can. If you do it for the 10 items, you will find a pattern
  6. Take yourself to the one of those events again. This time, pay attention to the way you feel. What scares you about what happened? Stay in that situation until you find out what you are afraid of. When this fear first formed, it made you develop the habit to overcome it or manage it. We all develop habits to help us cope better. Sometimes the habits are not updated. They were appropriate 30, 20, 10 years ago, but may not be appropriate under different circumstance. We are just not the same people

Read more about how to break bad habits easily

Mother: The Best Job in the World

Ronit Baras and the Be Happy in LIFE familyMother’s Day is just around the corner and many things happened to me in the last month that made me wonder about the hardest thing I have ever done, the most important thing and the best thing of all.

I have done a lot in my life. Luckily, although some things were incredibly challenging, my life has been very rewarding overall. I am the kind of person who goes to work and it does not feel like a work, more like serving a purpose. I am an educator in every cell of my body. I teach parents how to be the best they can be and how to raise happy kids by being happy themselves and I have changed the lives of thousands of children. Still, the best of all my talent, I have given to my own children: Eden, Tsoof and Noff. Being their mother always seems to bring out the best in me.

All this wondering started when one of my clients had a daughter. She had given up her career and the search for a partner and with her mother’s help, she had gone through the journey of having a child on her own. I saw a photo of them and it reminded me of the first day I met my daughter Eden, my happy thought. Her birth was the birth of many new feelings and since then, I have been a different person. A better one, I think.

Then, Gal was talking on Skype with a man who wanted to do business with him. I was working next to him when they had a very serious discussion about web developers. The other man talked about “them” as being a bunch of stupid people who could not see that working with him would make them part of a network similar to Facebook or the companies owned by Richard Branson. After a while, Gal felt uncomfortable with all the judgment and asked him, “Do you have kids?” The man hesitated and said, “No”. Gal tried to say to him politely that when people have children, they think twice before giving their time to someone they do not know in exchange for promises. This made me think about the feeling I had when Eden was born – pure joy and happiness, hope and excitement, mixed with a heavy burden of responsibility. Kids cannot be sent back to the manufacturer for a warranty replacement! You can only truly understand this when you have your first child.

Read the rest of my Mother’s Day post…

Let’s Work Together

Puzzle pieces fit togetherWorking in a group is an important skill for everyone and it is not something you are born with but need to develop. Teamwork is not always easy, because not every member of the group is the same, particularly when some people seem to do nothing at all.

I am sure it happened to you that you had to submit something in a group and the level of frustration rose very high. I can sure tell you it happened to me during my studies. If you are a good student, it is probably even more frustrating that you have to form a group and do something together and some only appear on the last day to add their name to your work. My frustrations were not very long, though, because I remembered how hard it was to be on the side that cannot contribute, so when I was leading a project, I was much more tolerant and accepting.

During my studies, I had the honor of working in a very special project called “Creative Thinking” that was led by Professor Gideon Carmi and taught physics to students in Grade 1 and Grade 2. Professor Carmi’s philosophy involved co-teaching, so we taught in teams of two, one educator and one who was not. That was the first time I discovered the real advantage of working and learning in a group.

These 4 years of amazing experience thought me that just everyone not being the same could be a huge advantage. When working by myself, I was limited to my own abilities and talents, my own point of views and my own thinking paths. When I worked with another person, we had a wider range of skills and talents at our disposal, different ways of thinking and better solutions to problems. In fact, the bigger the group was, the more successful we were.

Read more about teamwork skills

New Year Recipe

Happy new year greeting

2012 is approaching and we would like to wish you a happy new year. There are so many cooking shows on TV and we have decided to write out wishes for you as a recipe for a great and happy new year.

May your next year be very tasty!

  1. Take the twelve months of the year and clean them well from feelings of jealousy, hatred, frustration, stinginess, greed, stubbornness, selfishness, anger and sadness.
  2. Slice each month into three equal parts and make sure you dedicate a third of each day to working, a third to sleeping and resting and the rest to spending time with people you love, having fun, doing good deeds and having joyous memories, happy dreams and wishes.
  3. Add three teaspoons of optimism, a cup of faith, a tablespoon of patience, some tolerance and a pinch of respect for yourself and others.
  4. Soak with lots of love, decorate with good intentions and heaps of attention and serve every day with a good word, a smile and a warm heart.

Bon appetite!

Happy New Year,
Ronit, Gal and Eden
Family Matters

Mom, I’m Sick

Sick-looking kidWhen we moved to Australia, I was shocked to discover that many people were sick. At school, it was hard to find a day when all kids were there. At Gal’s work, out of 7 people working in the office, 2 or 3 were missing every day, because they were sick.

At first, I thought Australians were just sick more often than others in the world, but after a short time, I came to the conclusion they were taking a day off when they were tired, sneezed too much, had some errands to run or just needed a day off.

As a parent, that freaked me out. I could take myself one or two years into the future and imagine my own children substitute “Mom, I want some time off” with “Mom, I’m sick”. I believe that if you say you are sick enough times, you will convince your body that you are and then you will actually feel sick. Gal and I put a lot of effort and thinking into raising healthy kids and the thought of them being “sick” every time they needed to rest made me feel sick ;P

I fully understand that people need some a break from time to time and the regular days off on weekends and public holidays are good, but they do not always come at the right time or provide enough relief. It makes sense to me that kids do not plan to need time off exactly on those days, so it is just natural that they want time off on a school day.

The problem with “being sick” is that you cannot really enjoy the day and rejuvenate, which defeats the purpose of taking a day off. Taking these needs into consideration, I came up with a solution that has been working for me for over 12 years.

Read more about how to keep your kids healthy

Don’t eat and run

Messy baby eating with spoonGal and I used to eat whatever our parents ate. We went to the supermarket and picked from the shelves the exact same things we had seen our parents choose or whatever was on sale. It took us 5 years of managing our own economy and a sick girl to discover that what we eat and how we eat has a strong impact on our life. Some things you just cannot learn at school.

It happened more than 20 years ago and since then, we have learned more and more about what to eat to be healthy in body and mind. I know that not everyone is convinced that healthy eating is the right solution and I understand. After all, the concept of “health” is very wide. When I sit with my clients at a cafe and order iced coffee with ice cream and whipped cream, I am 100% convinced it is healthy for my soul. So we may not agree about what food is healthy, but I think we can all agree on how to eat.

We live a very fast lifestyle. All the people around you will tell you they have no time – no time for the kids, no time for fun, no time for hobbies, no time for friends and no time for eating. Many shops and massive businesses have come to life to cater for this “fast food” lifestyle. We grab a shake, eat a meal on the way, in the car, during a meeting, while watching TV, during phone conversations and when reading a book. We think we are saving time, but we are making it harder for our digestive system to make the best of our food and this creates a never-ending cycle. What we eat is not digested properly, we lack essential nutrients, we feel tired, we become ineffective and what usually takes us 2 hours, suddenly takes us 4 and we have just lost 2 hours of our precious time, so we need to catch up and save time by grabbing some fast food or eating our healthy food on the run.

Read more about healthy eating habits

Handy Family Tips: Laundry day

Washing piled highUnless you are raising celebrities that wear underwear once and make money from selling them to the highest bidder and unless you have a maid that allows your kids to put their clothes in the laundry basket and find it all ironed in the closet, you are a normal parent who must do the dirty job of washing the laundry. Luckily for us, we do not have to do it by hand and we have washers, dryers and chemicals that make life easier, although I may not appreciate the luxury of it because I hate washing or, I should say, I hate the thought of washing.

I do not know why, but for years, I hated doing the laundry. When Eden was born, I was amazed how many clothes a tiny baby could change. When the kids started going to school, with the need to have their uniform clean for school, I hated it even more. I think I always had this feeling that I was constantly washing clothes. No, I did not have to do it by hand or spin the washing machine by hand, but it sure felt like it. If you hate laundry too, this tip is for you.

Read more about how to make washing easy

Parenting and the Loss of Privacy

Parents making loveParenting is the most wonderful adventure most of the time, but with the gaining of pride and joy, we lose one important thing – our privacy. Sometimes, this happens so slowly, we do not notice we got from giving up just some privacy to where we have very little of it left.

When I had my first child, I gave privacy up easily. Gal and I both wanted to spend all our time with Eden, but when she was 11 months old, we realized we did not really have a life and we could not blame anyone but ourselves. Every spare minute we had, we wanted to be with Eden, so she went to sleep at the same time we went to sleep. All our conversations were about her. At night, when we looked for a moment we could enjoy some privacy, I remember giggling and shushing each other, waiting for her to fall asleep, but by the time she was sound asleep, so were we…

When you have kids, privacy is not what it used to be anymore. Suddenly, intimate time is so rare and precious there is not a lot of opportunities to be spontaneous. Suddenly, you have to plan your private time together as a couple and the more time goes by, the more kids you have and the older they get, the harder it gets to find a private time to enjoy and love each other.

Luckily for us, we woke up when Eden was just 11 months old. We realized we needed to plan our time together if we wanted to enjoy each other’s company. We sat and thought of some things that would help us “keep the fire burning” between us and how to manage the loss of privacy that comes together with the joy of having kids. I recommend that every couple do these things, regardless of the age of their children. One important thing kids need is parents who stay together, so invest in your togetherness for the sake of your children too.

Read more about how to keep a romantic marriage

Handy Family Tips: Make a Note

Sticky notesWhen I took a course in journalism, one of the tips in the course was to have a writing pad everywhere. Since I am a very good student, I did whatever they said. I had a writing pad in the car, in all my bags and even next to my bed. It is funny that only after you use a handy tip for a while, you realize how much you need it. Originally, this tip was meant to help me with my work, and it did, but I never thought it would be so beneficial for us as a family until I realized that the note pads I had put in so many places around the house were being used by all the members of my family.

With the very hectic and full lifestyle that we have today, remembering everything that needs to be done occupies a very important and limited space in our memory. If you ask parents to sit down and write the entire to-do list for the week, most of them could do it for 3 hours straight.

Of course, the more kids you have at home, the more memory space you need for your timetable and tasks. You need to remember the dates of rehearsals, what to bring to school, when to pay for the dance class, to call your sister, say happy birthday to your friend, coordinate an outing with your partner, get a babysitter, have enough money in your wallet/purse when you go to the market, to buy a gift for the party your daughter is invited to on the weekend, go over the spelling with your child before the exam, send the right uniform on the excursion day, change the pickup time, dentist appointment, add turmeric to the shopping list for the Moroccan dish planned for Friday and … the list is endless.

We have a good friend that says, “The opposite of forgetting is writing down”, but what happens when you need to remember something while you are driving or when you are in bed, ready to go to sleep?

Read more about how to be more organized