How I’ll Find Happiness in 2011: Practicing Acts of Kindness

In my fourth month of exploring The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky as a part of my journey on finding happiness in 2011, the month of April was dedicated to the act of spreading acts of kindness: doing good things for others, whether friends or strangers, either directly or anonymously, either spontaneously or planned.

This and the next strategy focus on investing in social connections, and it’s no surprise that “true happiness consists in making others happy”. Thanks Dalai Lama. The book notes “the deed need not be grand or complicated” and that “timing is everything: which acts, how often and how much”.

Apparently this concept has been on others minds as well as Caitlin from Healthy Tipping Point just shared her Thoughts on Being Proactively Kind this week:

I’m trying to focus on being proactively kind whenever I walk into a store or open a book.  I make an effort to search for the positive in a way that I might have searched for a negative before.  And when I do have a compliant, I’m trying to first list all of the positive qualities that I noticed.

This made me think of my dining out with a gluten intolerantance. I know I’m a pain in the behind for restaurants. There are extra steps to take with my order – note the intolerance, change the gloves, confirm that AP flour isn’t used as a thickener, double the veggies, and so on. That alone is enough of a pain to the restaurant staff, so I do my best to minimize my requests from there. I try to order something that is already gluten-free or is easily made gluten-free. I am grateful for the extra service. After each dining experience, I thank my server and/or the chef profusely for their assistance in making my experience enjoyable and pain-free.

Another example of others spreading kindness was found in my email when I received this from my favorite yoga studio:

Dear Alicia,

It’s your anniversary with Nishkama Yoga! As our client you are very important to us and we greatly value your business. We truly hope that you have enjoyed your experiences at Nishkama Yoga and will continue to in the future.

As always, if you have any suggestions, comments, or requests about future services, then please let us know. Hope to see you soon!

The Nishkama Yoga Team

In this “thank you” economy, it’s nice to be recognized for my loyalty in a simple way. Nishkama Yoga – thanks for spreading kindness my way this month!

But what did I do to spread kindness during the month of April?

I held two giveways on the blog: there’s still time to enter to win the second one by clicking over to this post! You know you want to Taste Seven Hills with me!

I was more courteous of a driver on I-480: I REALLY dislike the commute, mostly due to some aggressive driving by all parties – including myself. I decided to slow down – even when I’m being pushed to go FAR too fast – and do my part to make everyone’s commute a bit safer.

I organized a chance for bloggers to connect: This is totally self-indulgent, but I get such joy in bringing people together for the Ohio Blogging Association meet ups. This month’s get together at Touch really was a joy to lead, so I thank you all again whom were able to attend.  I hope the connections you made were helpful to your own personal blogging passions.

I recruited volunteers for upcoming non-profit events: with the Cleveland Arthritis Walk tomorrow and more events coming up next month, my favorite involuntary volunteers (AKA my family members) will be joining me to support a great local cause.

I signed up to volunteer myself: As an official Cleveland Marathon blogger, I submitted my volunteer form online and have already received my volunteer instructions for May 15th!

I made dinner for Hans on work nights. Since I eat at a time known for early bird specials, the hubby and I don’t usually eat the same meal for dinner, let alone at the same time. To show him some kindness, I got back into the swing of making him dinner. Nothing elaborate by any means, but giving him the chance to unwind while I did something that normally brings me a sense of calm ended up being a win-win for both of us.

I focused on sharing kindness with myself: Remember how I asked myself how can my self-love spread positively into other areas of my life? I realized I needed to focus some positive energy towards the things that make me happy:

…less moping and couch potato-ing, more yoga and pup walks.
…less avoiding social interaction, more contacting friends/family to meet to catch up.
…less automatic “yes”s, more saying “we’ll see” or “sorry I can’t”.
…less anxiety and overthinking, more uni-tasking and focus.

Showing myself some love and compassion was possibly the greatest act of kindness I could do after coming to my realization of last month. Subbing the self-hatred for self-appreciation has only spread kindness to all that I encounter. Plus, you don’t want to hang out with a crabby Alicia! Trust me!

What’s in store for next month? Nurturing Social Relationships. If that means throwing some parties, networking with healthy living bloggers and hanging out with my friends and family – I’ve got this one in the bag!

GIVEAWAY: Taste of Seven Hills

HEY CLEVELANDERS! I told you it was event season! I’m always excited to see communities reach out to their residents with fun, new events. Just East of my town of Parma, the sleepy suburb of Seven Hills is doing just that with its upcoming food and wine event: The 1st Inaugural Taste of Seven Hills:

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The City of Seven Hills will host the “Taste of Seven Hills” on Friday, May, 6th from 6pm to 9pm at the Seven Hills Recreation Center.  Here’s the list of participating restaurants for the 2011 event:

For $25, each guest gets food tastings from each of the above as well as beer, wine and hot and cold beverages.

You can purchase tickets by calling Lisa at 216‐525‐6227… or you can win two tickets by entering my giveaway! I asked the organizers to help me spread acts of kindness during the month of April and they agreed to give one lucky PIP reader two tickets so they could join me at their May 6th event!

SO… HOW DO YOU WIN TWO TICKETS TO THE TASTE OF SEVEN HILLS?

1) Mandatory first entry: Leave a comment on this post telling me which restaurant would you like to try at the Taste of Seven Hills. It’s that easy!

2) Follow @poiseinparma on Twitter. Please let me know if you do by commenting on this post!

3) Twitter users can get an extra entry each day for tweeting: “I want to “Taste of Seven Hills” with @poiseinparma! http://wp.me/p1303r-X4 #CLEfood”. Make sure to leave a comment on this post letting me know each time you did this!

4) Facebook users can “like” Poise in Parma for an extra entry by checking out the Facebook page here. Please let me know if you “like” me by commenting on this post!

5) Facebook users can share the Taste of Seven Hills event page with their friends (visit the Facebook event page and click on “share” – a bonus entry for tagging Poise in Parma with your update!) Please let me know if you shared this by commenting on this post!

6) Add my blog to your Google Reader. Please let me know by commenting on this post.

You have until Monday, May 2nd at 11:59PM to enter. Make sure to leave a separate entry for each one of these that you accomplish! Here’s your chance for a fun Friday evening out on my side of town! Enter today!

EDITED ON TUESDAY 5/3: CONGRATS to Tésa from 2 Wired 2 Tired!!!

Disclosure: In agreeing to blog about this upcoming event, I was offered media passes and two additional tickets to give away to a lucky reader (to be selected randomly on Tuesday, May 3rd). As always, my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

ten things this tuesday: Market Under Glass 2011 Preview

It’s time to announce our Cleveland Marathon race entry winner! From the 27 comments, I go to random.org to pick our winner:

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CONGRATS Jen from Live. Write. Repeat. :: that marathon all yours, girl!! Please email me at poiseinparma (at) gmail (dot) com to redeem your prize!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

HEY CLEVELANDERS! Spring benefit season is upon us. Are you ready?! Why not kick it off with one big event this Thursday night? On April 28th, head down to The Galleria at Erieview for the 16th Annual Market Under Glass supporting the Cleveland Foodbank’s Harvest for Hunger Campaign

(picture c/o event website)

From the MUG webpage: Don’t miss an evening of unlimited food and assorted drink from over 50 of the best restaurants and beverage purveyors in Northeast Ohio! Plus local celebrities, live entertainment, Continental Airlines Auction and much more!

Many consider this annual event to be one of the best annual foodie events in Northeast Ohio – myself included! Want to see the full list of participating restaurants and beverage distributors? Check out this amazing  listThere really is something for everyone!

My mom and I had such a great time trying dishes from several “new to us” restaurants last year. I was looking forward to doing the same in 2011, but alas, life might be getting in the way of my foodie lifestyle. I still don’t know if I am going to be able to make it to this year’s event! I originally thought it was out of the question, but my schedule might be changing AGAIN… I’m going to be a game time decision!

…but if I was DEFINITELY going, I’d make a game plan. With a restaurant list like the one the planning committee has pulled together, my belly just wouldn’t be able to hold THAT much food! You have to prioritize, people! So please indulge me as I peruse the restaurant list to share with you, in my usual Tuesday fashion:

TEN THINGS THIS TUESDAY: MY TEN “MUST TRY” RESTAURANTS AT MARKET UNDER GLASS

1. Chinato/L’Albatros/Parallax/Table 45: This is no secret, but I love me some Zack Bruell cuisine. I’ve eaten at three of his four restaurants and have never had a bad experience. I would gladly visit this table over and over again!

2. Coquette Patisserie: I first discovered this Cleveland Heights bakery at last year’s event and was quite impressed not only by their visual presentation, but by their pastries as well. Save room for dessert kids.

3. Duet, Fine Catered & Prepared Foods: I’ve been hearing some great things about this company – here’s the perfect chance to learn more!

4. Naya Bistro & Lounge: Everything about this restaurant just seems fun: their vibe, their décor, their menu. I’d drive out to Highland Heights for a good time!

5. Palate Restaurant & Lounge: After our visit last Saturday, I’m interested to see what else Chef Jarrett has up his chef’s coat sleeve.

6. Shinto Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar: We’ve enjoyed hibachi at this Strongsville restaurant, but I’d love to try their sushi to see if it stands up to Pacific East – my personal CLE favorite.

7. The Good Fork: Chef Mary Wills is doing some great work with simple yet sustainable food in our area. I recently had the chance to meet this lovely chef and look forward to getting to try some of her food in the near future!

8. Umami Asian Kitchen: In the black hole that is Chagrin Falls lives this eternal foodie favorite. At the 2010 event, they served some fabulous noodle salad. I definitely remember going back for seconds.

9. Wood and Wine: For some reason, this new restaurant just popped up on my radar screen. Probably because I don’t spend too much time in Avon, but their regional wine event series got my attention…

10. Washington Place Bistro & Inn: I haven’t been back since the media preview back in November, but do foresee another visit in the near future. Something to look forward to!

There’s still time to get your tickets for the 2011 event! General admission tickets are $85 in advance, $100 at the door. VIP tickets are $150. To purchase tickets, click here or call 216.738.2046. All proceeds benefit Harvest for Hunger – a great cause, indeed!

Are you going to Market Under Glass? Which restaurant’s table would you sample more than once?

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