Sunday, January 31, 2010


For those of you looking for a puppy, my parent's American Bulldogs had a litter in December. They will be ready to go to homes in February. If you want to see how cute they are you can go to their blog.

Or you can click on the link to the right that says American Bulldogs.

They have sent past puppies all over the country. So cute.

Week 5

*For explanation of  The Happiness Experiment" go HERE .*

Last week's secrets:
Turn off the TV.
Accept yourself-unconditionally.

Secret #9
Remember where you came from.

"Think about and celebrate your ethnicity. Often we feel lost in a vast and complex world. There is tremendous comfort in knowing your ethnic heritage. It gives you a history, a sense of place,  uniqueness that remains no matter what else is going on around you."

Family history. Where did I come from? Who are my ancestors? This is something I've been wanting to work on for a while now. I especially want to work on Evan's. His grandpa gave him a big packet full of names and information on the Zinser side of his family. I love reading the names and hearing the stories of the family that came before us. I am really excited for this goal. I am going to try and fill out pedigree charts for both Evan and me. Or maybe I'll start with Iris and Donevan so that they have it to look back on and know where they came from. Both of their names are family names; Iris was named after my Grannie, Iris Neilson Dahl, and Donevan came from combining Don (Evan's dad) with Evan, and Craig (his middle name) is a family name on both sides. So I love family names. I also love finding out where all these family members came from. England, Denmark, Germany. So interesting.

"In studies of students, greater ethnic identity is associated with 10 percent greater life satisfaction."

Secret #10
Limit yourself to thinking about one subject as you lie down to sleep.

"Those who have a lot of anxiety let their thoughts shoot around from one subject to another as they try to go to sleep until, in a matter of minutes, they have created a virtual catalogue of problems. With all these problems, you'll ask yourself, how can I possibly sleep?
Tonight as you are brushing your teeth, come up with something you'd like to think about when you slip under the covers. If other thoughts start to intrude, guide yourself back to that one subject."

I don't usually have too much of a problem going to sleep. Chasing after two kids does that. But I admit there are many nights where my thoughts really keep me up. I go through my list of things to do and I think about how many of them didn't get done that day. But if I focus on one subject, maybe all the cute things my kids did that day, then it will help me get to sleep. And who doesn't want more sleep and better sleep? Getting more sleep alone makes me a happier person. I'm really looking forward to trying this secret.

"In studies of college students, shifting between pre-sleep thoughts was found to be related to difficulty in sleeping and lower sleep quality, which, in turn, were related to unhappiness. Better sleepers are 6 percent more satisfied with their lives than average sleepers, and 25 percent more satisfied than poor sleepers."

Remember where you came from.
Limit yourself to thinking about one subject as you lie down to sleep.

I am curious to know how many of you are actually following these posts. If you take the time to read these each week, please leave me a comment and tell me what you think. And thank you for taking that time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Good to Know...

Iris: "You're not a big girl."
Me: "Oh really? What am I"
Iris: "You're a big mom. And Dad's not a big girl."
Me: "What is he?"
Iris: "He's a big Dad."

Just in case any of you were wondering.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week 4

*For explanation of  The Happiness Experiment" go HERE .*

This is the week for secrets 7 and 8 from "The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People."

Last weeks secrets:
Choose your comparisons wisely.
Cultivate friendships.

Secret #7
Turn off the TV.

"Television is a creamy filling that distracts us from the substance of our lives."

The book says, "Psychologists have found some people who watch so much TV that it actually inhibits their ability to carry on a conversation. In the words of one psychologist, "TV robs our time and never gives it back."

This is going to be a really good one for me this week. We are serious movie junkies in our house. We are always up for watching a good movie. And there are a lot of times we turn on the TV just because it's there. There isn't really anything that great on. The book says, "Ask yourself when you are watching TV, "Is this something I want to see? Would I ask that this program be made if it didn't already exist?"
Those are great questions to ask. Most of the time it isn't really anything I want to see. There are so many other things I could be doing with my time. I am actually excited for this.

"Watching too much TV can triple our hunger for more possessions, while reducing our personal contentment by about 5 percent for every hour a day we watch."

Secret #8
Accept yourself-unconditionally.

"You are not just the size of your bank account, the neighborhood you live in, or the type of work you do. You are, just like everyone else, an almost inconceivably complicated mix of abilities and limitations."

This one will be more of a challenge. I'm beginning to notice similarities in some of these secrets. To me, this one goes back to comparisons. If I wasn't always comparing myself, I would be able to accept myself more easily. Instead of focusing on all the things I need to change and correct about myself, I just need to accept that who I am is who I am. I realize that there are always things we need to change and we always have faults that need correcting, but learning to realize my own self-worth and accepting the fact that I have value will make me so much happier.

"In a study of adult self-esteem, researchers found that people who are happy with themselves take defeat and explain it away, treating it as an isolated incident that indicates nothing about their ability. People who are unhappy take defeat and enlarge it, making it stand for who they are and using it to predict the outcome of future life events."

Turn off the TV.
Accept yourself-unconditionally.

This has been such a great experiment for me so far. I am really learning a lot about myself and it is forcing me to look at my life and myself in different ways. I hope that it is also helping some of you to be happier, but even if it's only me that benefits, at least the world will be one person happier.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cute Pics and the Playful Potter

Just look at these cool kids. Oh so adorable. I especially love the really cheesy grin Iris is rockin'.

They are so cute together. They are really starting to play well together. Apparently they like to drink a little milk together too.

And take a little snooze together.

For our Family Day a couple weeks ago we went to The Playful Potter . (Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Zinser for the Gift Certificate.) It was so much fun. We picked out plates for the kids and then they got to pick out colors. I actually picked Donevan's colors but Iris picked her colors. And then they got to paint their own designs on the plates. They were loving it.

Such concentration!

The messier the better for Donevan.

Iris thought it was so cool that she got to do it all herself

 Donevan kept wanting to kiss the plate for some reason.

Here is the final product. They fire them at the store and you pick them up a couple days later. It was so much fun and I love having these great mementos. Iris likes to eat off hers. Makes her feel so special to have her very own plate that she made herself.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week 3

*For explanation of  The Happiness Experiment" go HERE .*

This week I am going to be working on secrets #'s 5 & 6 from "The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People ".

Last week's secret's:
You don't have to win every time.
Your goals should be aligned with one another.

Secret #5
Choose your comparisons wisely.

"Many of our feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction have their roots in how we compare ourselves to others. When we compare ourselves to those who have more, we feel bad. When we compare ourselves to those who have less, we feel grateful. Even though the truth is we have exactly the same life either way, our feelings about our life can vary tremendously based on who we compare ourselves with. Compare yourself with those examples that are meaningful but that make you feel comfortable with who you are and what you have."

This secret goes very well with secret #3. At least how I talked about it last week. The example in the book talks about a man who grew up with 5 brothers. There was a nearly twenty-year difference in age between the oldest and the youngest. When the oldest compared himself to the youngest brothers he felt disappointment and jealousy at not having the same opportunities, but when he compared himself to other friends and people his age- people with similar opportunities-he sees that he actually has more in terms of satisfaction.

In all reality, comparing yourself doesn't do anything. It can either make you feel really good about yourself and your situation, or it can constantly bring you down. I think the best person to compare yourself to is you. If you use your past situations and opportunities as comparisons, it helps to make you better. At the same time though, always looking to the past can be bad too. The thought currently on my fridge says "Those who stare at the past, have their backs to the future." So to sum it up: learn from the past, then move on. And don't get caught up in comparisons.

"A large group of students was given a word puzzle to solve. Researchers compared the satisfaction of students who finished the puzzle quickly or more slowly. Students who finished the puzzle quickly and compared themselves with the very fastest students came away feeling dissatisfied with themselves. Students who finished the puzzle more slowly but compared themselves with the slowest students came away feeling quite satisfied with themselves and tended to ignore the presence of the quick-finishing students."

Secret #6
Cultivate friendships.

"Rekindle past relationships, and take advantage of opportunities at work or among your neighbors to expand your friendship base. People need to feel that they are a part of something bigger, that they care about others and are cared about by others in return."

Relationships are so important. Everyone needs friends. I am guilty of being a home-body. I am not incredibly social. I am trying to be better about scheduling lunches and "dates" with friends so that I have more relationships than with just my husband and kids. It is hard for me to be the one to initiate, but that is something that I have made a goal in my Social area of goals this year. I am going to be better about calling friends and family. With email and texting it is getting easier and easier to avoid conversation. I also want to write more letters. Actually hand-writing a letter and putting it in the mail actually takes thought and effort. I want to take that thought and effort and let my friends and family know that they are worth it. I am thankful for Facebook though. Because without it, I would have lost contact with so many people. But I can use it to get their address and send them a real letter.

I also need to extend beyond just the people I already know. Out of all my neighbors, I know three of the couples by name. I am not proud of that. Maybe this week I can make an effort to go over and introduce myself. Get to know them. We may have a lot more in common than I know.

"Close relationships, more than personal satisfaction or one's view of the world as a whole, are the most  meaningful factors in happiness. If you feel close to other people, your are four times as likely to feel good about yourself than if you do not feel close to anyone."

Choose your comparisons wisely.
Cultivate friendships.

Good ones for me to work on this week. Let me know how the experiment is going for you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I love family pictures. I love looking back and remembering what was going on in my life when we took the photo. These pictures are from Thanksgiving. My family was all together for the first time in 2 years. It's always fun to get together with siblings and tell the "re-ride" stories. It usually involves a lot of laughing and there is always good food in the mix.

These are all the beautiful women in my family. My grandma, my mom, and my sisters and me.

Generation photos are the best.

I love my siblings. It makes me sad that I don't get to see them that often. Sometimes growing up is a real bummer.

I loved this picture of my brother Chanse with Iris. She loves her Uncle. He was pushing her in the swing and stopped to go play soccer with the other kids for a minute, so I went to keep pushing her and she wouldn't let me. She only wanted Uncle Chanse.

And this is the whole crew. We are growing so quickly. Allison is due in February with a little girl. She will be the 11th grandchild. Only the 4th girl though. Yeah for girls!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Week 2

This week we will be going over Secrets #3 & 4 out of the book "The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People ". Here is a quick review of last week's secrets:

Your life has purpose and meaning.
Use a strategy for happiness.

Secret #3
You don't have to win every time.

"Ultra-competitive people, who always need to win, end up enjoying things less. If they lose they are very disappointed, and if they win it's what they expected would happen anyway."

Life is not a competition. We are not in a race to see who can get finished with life first or with the most things. In some ways I think I am guilty of competing in life. Especially with 3 sisters so close in age; there was a LOT of competing. And more than just competing, there was comparing, which to me is still competing. One sister did something, so I felt like I had to do it too. Constantly comparing myself. I don't know if they all felt the same way, but having two older than me and one younger I was always thinking about all their accomplishments and feeling like I needed to measure up or do better. Of course in my mind I never did better, but looking back none of it mattered at all. Everyone is so different that constantly comparing and competing is useless. Competition isn't a bad thing, but when it consumes you and makes you miserable if you don't win, that's when it becomes bad. Let the other person win once in a while. And be genuinely happy for them. In the end it will make everyone happy.

"Competitiveness can preclude life satisfaction because no accomplishment can prove sufficient, and failures are particularly devastating. Ultra-competitive people rate their successes with lower marks than some people rate their failures."

Secret #4
Your goals should be aligned with one another.

" The four tires of your car have to be properly aligned; otherwise the left tires will be pointed in a different direction from the right tires and the car won't work. Goals are just like that. They all must be pointed in the same direction. If your goals conflict with one another, your life may not work."

This is appropriate considering most of us just made a list of goals for the new year. Look over those goals and make sure they are all aiming for the same thing. For instance, if your goals are to get promoted at work and spend more time with family, are those goals going to cancel each other out. If you get promoted, are you going to be working more, thus spending less time with your family? Or if you spend more time with family are you going to be able to put in the hours at work to get that promotion? Really study your goals and make sure they are all in sync with each other. When they are they can all point to one singular goal: Happiness.

"In a long-term study of subjects over the course of more than a decade, life satisfaction was associated with the consistency of life goals. Goals regarding career, education, family, and geography were each important, and together add up to about 80 percent of satisfaction. These goals need to be consistent with one another to produce positive conclusions regarding goal achievement."

You don't have to win every time.
Your goals should be aligned with one another.

These are the concepts I am going to work on this week. Keeping in mind the secrets from last week as well.

To see all the secrets so far go to the list on the right labeled Happiness Experiment.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Little Loves

Just wanted to share these cute pics of the kids. They make my heart smile.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Week 1

And so begins Week 1 of my Happiness Experiment. (Go HERE for explanation of what this is.)

Secret #1
Your life has purpose and meaning.

"You are not here just to fill space or to be a background character in someone else's movie.

Consider this: nothing would be the same if you did not exist. Every place you have ever been and everyone you hae ever spoken to would be different without you.

We are all connected, and we are all affected by the decisions and even the existence of those around us."

I fully believe this already. Everything happens for a reason. There is a bigger plan. Much much bigger than us. Even though we may be a tiny dot in that enormous plan, without every tiny dot the plan would not go on. We are all important. Every one of us has a purpose for being a part of this plan. The people we talk to; we talk to them for a reason. The things that happen to us; they happen for a reason.

"Studies of older Americans find that one of the best predictors of happiness is whether a person considers his or her life to have a purpose. Without a clearly defined purpose, seven in ten individuals feel unsettled about their lives; with a purpose, almost seven in ten feel satisfied."

So Secret #1 I already have down pretty well.

Secret #2
Use a strategy for happiness.

"We assume that happy and unhappy people are born that way. But both kinds of people do things that create and reinforce their moods. Happy people let themselves be happy. Unhappy people continue doing things that upset them."

I know it's hard to accept sometimes that we are in the state we are in because of us. The things that happen to us are our own doing. I don't know how many of you have heard of "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne, but she really goes into depth about that. I am a believer of "The Secret" and feel that positive thinking and feeling the feelings of good things happening will really cause those things to happen. And the reverse is true also. Always focusing and worrying about bad things causes them to happen too. The power of positive thinking is indeed very powerful. So focusing on only positive things is incredibly important.

That is my strategy for happiness.

"Happy people do not experience one success after another and unhappy people, one failure after another. Instead, surveys show that happy and unhappy people tend to have had very similar life experiences. The difference is that the average unhappy person spends more than twice as much time thinking about unpleasant events in their lives, while happy people tend to seek and rely upon information that brightens their personal outlook."

Your life has purpose and meaning.
Use a strategy for happiness.

I am going to focus on these two concepts this week. I am feeling happier already. (Don't you love my positivity?)

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Like most people, the beginning of a new year means setting new goals and writing down things that I would like to accomplish this year. Before I was married, one of the lessons I had in church at the beginning of a new year involved setting some goals. The teacher gave us categories in which to set goals. You can set one in each category or as many as you want. But I have always kept that list and I like to set my goals following the list. It covers all the different areas in my life and it helps me be really specific when setting my goals. If I'm not specific, I don't usually accomplish it. Like "Exercise more" doesn't cut it. I need to specifically say, "Go for a walk three times a week" or even more specifically "Go walking every Monday, Wednesday, Friday". It really helps me.

Another thing I am doing this year is trying to look over all my goals and scrunch it all up into one word that will help me focus on all I need to do. This year that one word is:


I really need to organize my life. In all areas. As I was looking over the goals I've written down, that is what seems to be the theme. So this is the year of organization.

And now I am going to give you that list of categories if you would like to use them to set your own goals.


Let me know if you need any examples of what a goal in a particular area might be.

Happy Goal Setting. May we all accomplish them all.