I’ve been saying this for a couple of years now, and it’s nice to see other people approach the topic of happiness this way, too. This all started for me when the concept of “toxic positivity” started making its way around the web. You know how it works. A good idea gets started, sometimes it gets enough traction to really get going, and then somebody bastardizes it for fame, fortune or fun, and then those who are impacted have to go into damage control mode.

This is what happened with positive psychology. As a body of knowledge, school of thought…

Caveat: Mindfulness should NEVER be proposed as a band-aid for getting people to suck it up when dealing with toxic situations, even though it can help us as individuals deal with those situations in the short term. If you notice somebody doing this, call them on that shit. It’s unethical and speaks volumes about their character (and none of it good).

You may have heard of mindfulness and thought it was only about being calm or helping us deal with stress. Did you know that mindfulness can help us lift our mood and become a happier person more of the…

“Dang, Mom… you have a ‘work voice’!”

I like to think of myself as pretty authentic at work. I don’t hide my tattoos, I don’t hide my ~thoughts~ (this isn’t always a bonus, by the way…) and I think I usually bring my “full self” into my professional pursuits.

So I was caught off-guard when my 21 yr old made this observation, quickly endorsed by her 19 yr old sibling.

I have teased my kids for a while now about “The Retail Laugh.” If you’ve ever worked retail, you _know_ what I’m talking about. That annoying customer says something absurd…

My spouse, like many during these weird, wonky, woe-filled times, has struggled to find equilibrium. Watching friends get sick, lose jobs, worrying about our own financial stability during tumultuous times, along with some hefty personal triggers around uncertainty-filled pandemics that were laid deep in his psyche during the AIDS crisis while watching friends and loved ones dying — all this and more has made for a complicated and not-always-happy space. And he’s a Laughter Yoga leader — so he KNOWS the power of happiness — he just could not seem to tap into it for anything.

“Physician, heal thyself” —…

(originally published on LinkedIn)

His skin was SO black, and SO shiny, I was convinced he was a robot, and I was scared.

I was about eight years old, and my dad was a non-traditional student at the university in the nearest big city (Green Bay), and being a consummate People Person, he was always inviting people to our farm, sometimes in small groups, sometimes in large. My dad’s also been a strident advocate for the underdog my whole life, and when he found out that the Muslim students at the university couldn’t find halal meat (not a common grocery…

How have your connections nourished you?

I’ve been extra mindful recently of all the amazing stuff I learned as a result of relationships with other people.

Maybe it’s my love affair with baking bread that was nourished by helping my grandmother bake when I was a wee sprout… or, speaking of sprouts, I have been enjoying home-grown sprouts on *everything* lately, and I learned how to do that from my friend Anita who passed not that long ago.

The list goes on, and on, and on… and that’s probably true for many of us. I mean, we can learn lots…

When one of my daughters was 15, life was complicated. She was angry, not uncommon at that age. I was pretty angry at 15, too, and many of my friends have bemoaned the emotional roller-coaster that is life with a teenager. She was also acting out, again not abnormal for the age. And this particular progeny has always been vocal about the things in her life, good and bad, so life had sort of a running soundtrack of her carrying on conversations (and not infrequently arguments and screaming fits) Life was anything BUT quiet.

Through a series of unfortunate events…

We desperately need a revolution, and one of our best weapons in that revolution will be happiness. (I know, I know. Sounds incongruous. Hear me out.)

For at least as long as I’ve been alive (and that’s more than a couple of decades) people and companies have crowed about “VALUES”. Trust, integrity, accountability, honesty, respect, dignity, blah blah, the list of words goes on and on, but the list of ACTIONS suggests that there are very different values actually being upheld:

Profit Margins and Power.

“Mom, I go to school with her.”

My family has known its own share of difficult times. I grew up in poverty, and over the years with my own family, we’ve faced situations where we were well below the poverty line as well. I appreciate and understand hardship at both an intellectual and visceral level.

At this particular time in our lives, my kids were receiving free breakfast/lunch at school, so we were definitely not in the upper echelon of society. We were also members of a faith community that volunteered one weekend a month at a local shelter, serving…

This morning I broke my fast with some incredibly delicious sourdough toast, lusciously topped with butter and honey. As I savoured each bite, I thought about how, months ago, I crafted the sourdough starter, diligently caring for it almost as it if were a member of the family. Feeding it, ensuring it was comfortable, safe, warm, fermenting… (ok, I don’t ferment my family, despite what the huge row of jars on the counter might suggest, but you get the idea). And if you’ve ever made sourdough, you know it’s a bit of a process. Basically, it’s the exact opposite of…

Sarah Ratekin

She/Her | Chief Happiness Officer | Keynote Speaker | Engagement & Organizational Excellence

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