Saturday, May 28, 2016

Service from around the lake @ OKC

 May 20th: fourth graders from Casady School helped fight hunger by packing more than 1,500 pounds of frozen carrots. Thank you for helping us fight hunger!

PEACE ONE DAY displays Casady School banner full of inspiring messages about #PeaceDay @ their lounge area and Facebook.

Spanish I Class finishes first play list of two e-books, one about My Friends and I and the other about Country Projects to be shared with the Riverside Center @ the Latino Community Development Agency in the month of August
Todo acerca de mis amigos y yo

Projectos de paises
National Volunteer Week T-shirt Day Reflections Video finished.  Thank you to the contributors

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Last Day of School: YAC Ice Cream Social, STUCO's Pancakes, YAC Begins to Plan 2016-2017 School year

What did you do for a Klondike Bar?  You SERVED
Thank you to our Cyclone Volunteers
We had an awesome year.  We surpassed every goal we set!
Seniors certified the 2nd most hours since the awards inception with the Class of 2004
13,179.25 hours served and certified by the Class of 2016

YAC 2016-2017 Co-Presidents host  YAC senior send off, thank you volunteers ice cream social

YAC Social Chairs Sahanya B. and Hannah H in collaboration with Ellie G. and Ali B. created a banner, brought decorations  and Mrs. Clay purchased the Klondike Bars and Push Ups for the YAC Senior Send Off, Thumbs Up to Volunteers Ice Cream Social,  The event took place during the last double of 2016 at Records. Yearbooks were also distributed at that time. Grace P. provided a small token of YAC's appreciation to the senior YAC Chairs, and Co-Presidents: Aubrey H, Dylan D., Murmeen J., Agnish C., and Allison T.

Best Wishes to the Class of 2016
Thanks for the Memories

STUCO's Breakfast and Activities Treat

Congratulations to our senior athletes!

Delicious Pancakes 
were provided by STUCO to the Upper Division Student Body before chapel and during Activities
What a way to begin the last day of school!

Every one had a great time with pancakes, ice cream and yearbooks!

What did they do for a Klondike Bar?  


YAC Strategic Planning Minutes by Mrs. Clay
More details from Katherine, forthcoming
YAC Strategic Planning at Work
Results Below

Still need to define responsibilities and process to keep officers working efficiently and collaboratively, but here is the slate of offices and people who welcomed being part of YAC 2016-2017 as of 5/25/2016.

Management Team Co-Presidents:  Miranda and Isaiah,  Vice-Presidents: Safra and Mariam, Calendar Manager: Ellie G.

Communication Team Secretary: Katherine  Marketing and Social Media: Grace  

Ways and Means Team Treasurer and Grant facilitator and overseer  Johnny:  YAC money from Fall Fest, $100 for projects per month if Rainbolt endowment provides the funding.  Grant Facilitators:  Mrs. Clay and ?

Human Relations Team  Social and relationship building chairs: Hannah H. and Sahanya B.

Recruitment and Action Team (grade level chairs, project chairs)
Freshman Grade/Project Chair: Ahmed H., 
Sophomore Grade/Project Chairs: Sahanya, Ellie, Anna, Hannah. Mason T. (Peace Week)
Junior Grade/Project Chairs: Luke A. (Voters R.), Mallory W. Gabrielle M., 
Senior Grade/Project Chairs: Cathy Z, Erick R.(Mentoring and tutoring)

Planning Team during the summer:  Johnny, Ryan, Evelyn, and? Kick-off party in August at OK Kids Korrall.  Mentors will meet on May 25, 2016 at Casady School to see what Evelyn has proposed and to discuss connecting to the Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum as a possible sponsor of YLOKC in 2016-2017.

Casady YAC/OKC Peace Team
Members of YAC Planning team will meet during the summer to finalize what YAC's leadership will sponsor during Peace Week and decide connections with Casady Service-Learning Program plans for the week and links to the city wide celebration of the International Day of Peace with a Peace Walk to take place Saturday, September 24, 2016.  See details at Casady Peace Week Blog

Themes & WHY

YAC:  Theme:  Environment 
Why? Participating in the community to improve lives.  A tentative calendar is at Harper.  Picture and minutes forthcoming

YLOKC: Theme: Diverse Teen leadership empowerment 
Why? Identity and diversity education of teens by teens through projects that unify people of different backgrounds and improves lives
Roots and Wings trainer?  Picture of Evelyn's suggestions for YLOKC 2016-2017 forthcoming!

PEACE WEEK: Theme: Beyond Co-existence
Why!  Unifying different backgrounds into one community.  We need to see who is interested in working during the summer on this project

WHAT and HOW? 

Forthcoming after full planning teams meet to finalize calendars with activities that have measurable outcomes and are connected to the WHY

Preliminary Schedule for YAC 2016-2017 Provided by Ellie G. and Mrs. Clay

Service-Learning Youth Council
Youth Active in the Community
Helping Find Passions to Serve - Participating in the Community to Improve Lives
 Service Opportunities for youth, to youth, by youth
Established 2005 by Grayson Walker07, John Scott’07

2016-2017 Summer Planning Team:
Miranda T. Isaiah L., Safra & Mariam S., Ellison G., Katherine S., Grace P., Johnny L., Hannah H., Sahanya B., Anna B., Luke A., Mallory W., Gabrielle M., Cathy Z., Erick R., Ahmed H., Mason T.
Meets TBD by Summer Planning Team. in Harper Memorial Wing, building adjacent to Chapel. Contact Person: Carmen Clay’74 Cell: 405-520-1325, Office: 749-3103,
Direct/indirect advocacy and research volunteer opportunities and service learning experiences. These service opportunities  aim to  empower members to find their passion to serve and participate in the community to improve lives while developing 21st century skills and global citizenship..
2016-17 Theme: Environment

2016-2017 YAC Calendar  Work in Progress during the summer
Calendar Manager: Ellie G.

August: Clubs Fair; YAC Open Houses
September: Peace Week 11 Days of Global Unity (9/11-9/21 IDP)
October: Hunger Week: Casady Cans Do Food Drive; OKC Regional Food Bank service days- Fall Fest Clubs fundraiser
November;  Family Volunteering
December: Holiday Volunteering, Health Project:: Blood Drive: ICS  Hope for the Holidays Project

January:  Martin Luther King Jr. Day: A Day ON Service
February:: Random Acts of Kindness Week- Recycling
March: Perfect Pair Project, Homeless Alliance Drive
April: STUCO Walk-A-Thon, National Volunteer Week; Presidential Service Awards: Global Youth Service Days: Run to Remember; OKC Arts Festival, Fedex Time Strategic Planning 2017-2018
May:  Senior send off, and thank you volunteers social
June: FedEx Time Strategic Planning.2017-2018 via skype or google hangout facilitated by YAC Planning Team 2017-2018
July: Peace Week Planning via skype or google hangout.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Service-Learning recognizes senior servant leadership @ Awards Assembly - Peace Run meets YAC

The Service-Learning Program recognized and thanked 3 members of the Class of 2016 who have inspired by example and have organized, taken action, and supported the Casady service club, YAC (Youth Active in the community) for the duration of their high school careers:

a. Aubrey H. & Dylan D., YAC Co-Presidents 

c. Allison T., Chinese Club President and "Half the Sky, One Sky for all children" project chair, benefiting Chinese orphans.  Allison was away in Wisconsin competing at the national level with the Casady Science Olympiad Team.

Noble Hours Award  1,000+ hours of service in 4 years: Aubrey H. (Photo forthcoming)

“Research proves that by serving the needs of others, a person finds happiness.  Aubrey H. opened her eyes, mind, and heart to surrounding community needs and engaged in compassionate deeds; joyfully investing time to move them forward without expecting anything in return."   For her continuous acts of kindness, serving over 1,000 hours during her 4 years in high school, an equivalent of a minimum of 250 service hours per year, Aubrey is receiving the Casady Service-Learning Program, “Noble Hours Award”.  Aubrey is the second recipient of this award since the inception of the requirement starting with the Class of 2004.  

Aubrey received an engraved silver clock, which she will keep.  A solar powered spinning globe with Aubrey's name and the name of the previous award recipient, Taylor Burrow, resides at Casady School at the Headmaster's Office to inspire others to emulate her example of being an entrepreneur of hope for peace through acts of honor, kindness, compassion, and service, the Oklahoma Standard!”

World Harmony, Peace Run United States 2016 Team meets Cyclones @ Boys and Girls Club

Two Cyclones requested an investigation field trip to Boys and Girls Club at Memorial Park to see what service opportunities were available at the Club during the summer.  It was an unexpected surprise to meet members of the World Harmony, Peace Run USA 2016 at the club's parking lot.  The Peace Run Team was waiting for 4:00 pm to present their mission, vision, and purpose to the club members.  The Peace Run Team welcomed questions and allowed Cyclones Ellie G. Hannah J. and Carmen Clay'74, the honor to hold the Peace Run Torch which symbolically has been held by prominent peace leaders of the global community, one of them being Mother Teresa.  They also took pictures, sang their Peace Run song and provided business cards to follow-up YAC's plans to join an OKC Peace Walk being planned in collaboration with the United Nations of Association of Greater Oklahoma City and other Peace organizations in OKC for September 24, 2016 to celebrate the UN International Day of Peace 9/21, which this year falls on a Wednesday. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

May 2016 Service Learning

Forward a Smile Project:  An inspiring true story

PERFECT PAIR TEAM delivers donations to OKC Homeless Alliance

Thank you PD, LD and UD for 2,218 items donated!


Special GRACIAS to Mr. Evan Walter, Casady Development Director, Fedex Strategic Planning Facilitator

Still need to define responsibilities and process to keep officers working efficiently and collaboratively

Management Team/Committee? Co-Presidents:  Miranda and Isaiah,  Vice-Presidents: Safra and Mariam

Communication Team/ Committee: Secretary: Katherine  Marketing and Social Media: Grace  

Ways and Means Team/Committee: Treasurer and Grant facilitators and overseers  Johnny:  YAC money from Fall Fest, $100 for projects per month if Rainbolt endowment provides the funding.  Grant Facilitators:  Ellie and Anna?

Human Relations Team/Committee:  Social and relationship chair: Hannah H. and Sahanya?

Recruitment and Action Team/Committee:(grade level chairs, project chairs)
Sophomores: Sahanya, Ellie, Anna, Hannah
Juniors: Luke A. (Voters Registration)
Seniors: Cathy Z

TBD after kick-off party in August

Casady YAC/OKC Peace Team
TBD after first meeting in May

Themes & WHY

YAC:  Theme:  Environment 
Why? Participating in the community to improve lives.  A tentative calendar is at Harper.  Picture and minutes forthcoming

YLOKC: Theme: Diverse Teen leadersip empowerment 
Why? Identity and diversity education of teens by teens through projects that unify people of different backgrounds and improves lives
Roots and Wings trainer?  Picture of Evelyn's suggestions for YLOKC 2016-2017 forthcoming!

PEACE WEEK: Theme: Beyond Co-existence
Why!  Unifying different backgrounds into one community.  We need to see who is interested in working during the summer on this project

WHAT and HOW? 

Forthcoming after full planning teams meet to finalize calendars with activities that have measurable outcomes and are connected to the WHYF

YOUTH LEAD OKC and Casady Players for Change @ Piece Walk Autism Oklahoma

Youth Lead OKC was part of the resource fair.  The PieceWalk is THE LARGEST SINGLE AUTISM EVENT in the state of Oklahoma–attended by more than 7,000 people.    The Resource Fair aims to promote community interaction and information about autism resources available in our state!  Youth LEAD OKC provided a children's activity field with face painting, hair spraying-RED, and photo booth area.

The PieceWalk raised over $168,000

Who volunteered? Youth LEAD OKC,:  Schools: Casady, Mercy Institute, Northwest Classen.  Sponsors: Casady Service-Learning Program, YMCA Student Initiatives

First Shift: Face Painting, Hair Spray-RED, photo booth

Who played?  Casady Cyclones Players for Change:  Eastern Music

Volunteering through the arts

Who run the 5k sponsored by Casady Service Learning and Youth LEAD OKC?

3rd and 5th place!

Who Cheered?

 Who walked?

Jack R. inspired us to participate.  Evelyn D. organized and motivated us.  Shannon, Buthiana and Carmen supported us and the Autism Foundation gave us the opportunity to learn and advocate about Autism in Oklahoma.  Thank you Crystal
  What is Autism  

Autism is one of a group of neurodevelopmental disorders known as pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). These are characterized by problems with communication and social interaction. Patients often demonstrate restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behavior patterns or interests.

Signs and Symptoms

According to the Autism Society, autism symptoms typically become clearly evident during early childhood, between 24 months and 6 years of age. Symptoms include a marked delay in language and cognitive development. There may be signs of obsessive and/or antisocial behavior.
Asperger syndrome, another PDD, may be referred to as “high functioning autism.” Asperger syndrome usually lacks the primary communication and cognitive problems that characterize classic autism.
Autism symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some people may be considered autistic but manage to function in society without many setbacks. For others, the condition can have a substantial impact on their lives.

Causes of Autism

The exact cause of autism and other autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is unknown. The most current science demonstrates that there is no single cause of autism. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, it’s likely that both genetics and environment play a role.

Prevalence of Autism

Autism spectrum disorders are found in individuals around the world, regardless of race, cultural, or economic background. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism does occur more often in boys than in girls, with a five-to-one male-to-female ratio.
The CDC estimates that one in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder. There are indications that instances of ASDs are on the rise. Some fault environmental factors. However, experts debate whether there is an actual increase in cases or just more frequent diagnoses.

Types of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Classic autism usually entails substantial problems in all of the areas affected by ASDs. Someone with Asperger syndrome has issues with behavioral and social interaction. The symptoms experienced by people with Asperger syndrome are usually less severe than those experienced by patients with classic autism.
There is still some debate as to whether Asperger syndrome is a variation of classic autism. Some argue that it should be classified as a separate disorder.
Pervasive Development Disorder–Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is a classification for someone who exhibits signs of autism but does not fit into the categories of classic autism or Asperger. 

Treatments and Outlook

There is no cure for ASDs. The most effective treatments involve early and intensive behavioral interventions. It is generally agreed that the earlier a child is enrolled in these programs, the better their outlook will be.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Dr. Gregory's and 4th Grade Vegetable Garden Produce deliver to Sage Dinning on Monday

Grade four will bring over the following vegetables from their garden: lettuce, radishes, and spinach. The veggies will be delivered late Monday afternoon. Please use the items on the salad bar, or as you see
fit. The children will be thrilled to know you used their produce. The garden has been a wonderful experience for the grade four students and Dr. Gregory, Mrs. Cherylynn Gregory O'Melia.

Gan and Dana will use the produce in the salads for 4th grade, and they can enjoy the fruits of their labors!  Sage Dinning

Friday, May 6, 2016

Thank you for your donations to the Homeless Alliance, Perfect Pair Project surpassed its goal of 1,500 items on Thursday

Thank you for your generosity and compassion
2,155 items collected.  Packing to deliver donations @ Casady YAC Community Room

What is the Homeless Alliance?

What was the Homeless Alliance Perfect Pair Drive?
1,500 Homeless People in OKC....10% veterans..
Veterans are taken care...socks, toothbrushes, soap!

After Friday's donations are packed, the Perfect Pair Team will take them to the Homeless Alliance
1,730  items were collected and packed as of Thursday, May, 5, 2016

Casady’s Upper Division service learning youth council, YAC (Youth Active in the Community)

organized a drive benefiting Oklahoma City’s Homeless Alliance. The drive was called “Perfect

Pair”. This drive specifically requested men’s tube socks, bars of soap, and toothbrushes. Far from

insignificant, new socks, bars of soap, and toothbrushes make people feel human. This

small act of kindness could make a huge difference for hundreds of homeless in our community.

The Homeless Alliance is a non­profit organization that works to end homelessness in Oklahoma

City. A United Way partner, the Homeless Alliance provides assistance to many of Oklahoma

homeless including veterans, the mentally disabled, and those who struggle with substance

abuse. They work with several local organizations including NorthCare, The Veterans’

Administration, Healing Hands, Be the Change, and many local churches.

In addition to Casady students and their families donating items, YAC also asked the Casady

Community to reach out to local dentists and merchants who might be willing to support the

cause and donate toothbrushes, men's tube socks, or soap. YAC aimed to make a

difference for a vulnerable segment of our community with this drive that reinforced Casady’s

mission to service learning by allowing students to take action and see the tangible results of

their efforts.

Ellison G.
Freshman YAC Project Facilitator

YAC Perfect Pair Homeless Alliance Team
Mrs. Clay named them HANDS ON PEACE TEAM

To drop donations
Primary Division: By Perfect Pair Red Wagon by entrance foyer.  Perfect Pair collection bags and volunteers will be on site to help collect items from 7:30-8:15 am

Volunteers on duty
Monday, May 2:  Carmen C, Paxton B.
Tuesday, May 3: Ellison G, Evie W
Wednesday, May 4:  Sanjay R., Payton B.
Thursday, May 5: Ellison G., Sahanya B.
Friday, May 6: Kate W. Hannah J.

Lower Division: By Giving Tree by the Front Office. Perfect Pair collection bags and volunteers will be on site to help collect donations from 7:15 to 8: 15 am

Volunteers on duty
Monday, May 2: Aubrey H., Dylan D.
Tuesday, May 3: Carmen C. Dylan D.
Wednesday, May 4: Dylan D.
Thursday, May 5: Dylan D. Gabrielle M.
Friday, May 6: Dylan D.

Upper Division: At collection boxes at Student Center.  Perfect pair collection bags and colunteers will be on site to help collect donations from 7:15-8:15 am

Volunteers on duty
Monday, May 2: Mason T., Hannah J.
Tuesday, May 3: Mason T., Kate W.
Wednesday, May 4: Mason T., Hannah J.
Thursday, May 5: Mason T., Kate W.
Friday, May 6: Carmen C., Mason T.

Monday's Collection
Upper Division 409
Lower Division 143
Primary Division 51  
Tuesday's Collection
Upper Division 42
Lower Division 56
Primary Division 40
138  +603 = 741

Wednesday's Collection
Upper Division 131
Lower Division 112
Primary Division 8

Thursday's Collection
Upper Division  225
Lower Division 203
Primary Division 310
738+992= 1730

Friday's Collection
Upper Division 82
Lower Division 201
Primary Division 68
351+1730 +2081

Donations came after Friday afternoon for a grand total of 2,155
Thumbs Up for Volunteers




" Isn't that a field hockey player?  She is so kind"  LD student

ONE MORE DAY.....508 is our magic number...met at end of the Thursday packing of DONATIONS!

Five Science-Backed Strategies for More Happiness

--by Kira M. Newman, syndicated from Greater Good, Apr 29, 2016
Did you know that happiness has its own holiday?
Four years ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed March 20 to be the International Day of Happiness. It’s easy to understand why they see happiness as something to celebrate: Happy people are healthier; they get sick less often and live longer. Happy people are more likely to get married and have fulfilling marriages, and they have more friends. They make more money and are more productive at work. Based on decades of research, it has become clear that happiness is not just a personal issue; it’s a matter of public health, global economics, and national well-being.
But it doesn’t come easy, as most of us know. Disappointments and annoyances grab our attention like gnats, and even the good things in life seem to lose their luster over time. Add to that a crammed schedule and mounting obligations, and happiness might just seem out of reach—achievable for other people, perhaps, but not us.
Fortunately, research suggests that happiness is something we can cultivate with practice. The Greater Good Science Center has collected many happiness practices on our website Greater Good in Action, alongside other research-based exercises for fostering kindness, connection, and resilience. Below are 11 of those happiness practices, grouped into five broader strategies for a more fulfilling life.

1. Acknowledge the good

If we don’t feel happy, it’s tempting to look for things to fix: the job that isn’t prestigious enough, the apartment that’s too cramped, our partner’s annoying habit. But focusing on all the negatives isn’t the surest route to feeling better. Instead, a simple way to start cultivating happiness is by recognizing the good.
In the Three Good Things exercise, for example, you keep a journal devoted solely to the positives in your life. Each evening, you write down three things that went well and add some detail about each, including how they made you feel. For example, you might recall a heartfelt thank you from a coworker, a quiet moment drinking tea, or your daughter’s infectious laughter. Importantly, you also briefly explain why you think each good thing happened—which focuses your attention on the enduring sources of goodness that surround you.
2005 study invited participants to do this practice daily for a week, and afterward they reported feeling happier and less depressed than when they started. In fact, they maintained their happiness boost six months later, illustrating how impactful it can be to focus on the good things in life.
Many of those good things lie just outside our doorstep, and we can practice noticing them on aSavoringWalk. Here, you take a 20-minute walk and observe the sights, sounds, and smells you encounter—freshly cut grass, an epic skyscraper, a stranger’s smile. Each time you notice something positive, take the time to absorb it and think about why you enjoy it. On your subsequent Savoring Walks, strike out in different directions to seek new things to admire.
In a study by Fred Bryant of Loyola University Chicago, participants who took Savoring Walks daily for a week reported greater increases in happiness than participants who went for walks as usual. “Making a conscious effort to notice and explicitly acknowledge the various sources of joy around us can make us happier,” write Bryant and Joseph Veroff in the book Savoring.
If you have trouble seeing the good that’s already around you, another strategy is to create some. InCreating and Recalling Positive Events, you carve out time for yourself and fill your schedule with enjoyment.
When you have a day free, don’t rush around doing chores; instead, try three different happy activities:
Something you do alone, such as reading, listening to music, or meditating.
Something you do with others, such as going out for coffee, riding your bike, or watching a movie.
Something meaningful, such as volunteering, helping a neighbor in need, or calling a friend who’s struggling.
If your go-to happiness practice has been Netflix and a bowl of ice cream, this exercise can reconnect you with different sources of satisfaction. These three activities should offer you a sense of pleasure, engagement, and meaning, all viable paths to a satisfying life. A 2014 study found that even psychiatric patients with suicidal thoughts found value in doing this exercise, reporting more optimism and less hopelessness afterward.

2. Add happiness through subtraction

Even after we identify the positives in our life, we’re still prone to adapting to them over time. A good thing repeated brings us less satisfaction, until it no longer seems to contribute to our day-to-day mood at all; we take it for granted. That’s why, sometimes, it’s a good idea to introduce a little deprivation. 

In Mental Subtraction of Positive Events, you call to mind a certain positive event—the birth of a child, a career achievement, a special trip—and think of all the circumstances that made it possible. How could things have turned out differently? Just taking a moment to imagine this alternate reality creates a favorable comparison, where suddenly our life looks quite good.

In a 2008 study, participants who performed this exercise reported feeling more gratitude and other positive emotions than participants who simply thought about past positive events without imagining their absence. Mental Subtraction seems to jolt us into the insight that the good things in our lives aren’t inevitable; we are, in fact, very lucky.
If imagining absence isn’t quite enough for you, what about experiencing it for real? In the Give It Uppractice, you spend a week abstaining from a pleasure in order to appreciate it more fully. This pleasure should be something that’s relatively abundant in your life, such as eating chocolate or watching TV. At the end of the week, when you can finally indulge, pay special attention to how it feels.
In a 2013 study, people who gave up chocolate savored it more and experienced a more positive mood when they finally ate it at the end of the week, compared with people who ate chocolate as usual. This exercise may not only open your eyes to a single pleasure (like the miracle of cacao), but make you more conscious of life’s many other pleasures, too.

3. Find meaning and purpose

Creating and Recalling Positive Events reminds us that pleasure isn’t the only path to bliss; meaning can also bring us happiness, albeit a quieter and more reflective kind.
In the Meaningful Photos practice, you take pictures of things that are meaningful to you and reflect on them. Over the course of a week, look out for sources of meaning in your life—family members, favorite spots, childhood mementos—and capture about nine or ten different images of them. At the end of the week, spend an hour reflecting on them: What does each photo represent, and why is it meaningful to you? Jot down some of those thoughts if it’s helpful.
Amid the chores and routines, life can sometimes feel dull and mundane. Reigniting our sense of meaning can remind us what’s important, which boosts our energy and gives us strength to face life’s stresses. In a2013 study, college students who completed this exercise not only boosted their sense of meaning, but also reported greater positive emotions and life satisfaction as well.
We can also boost our energy and motivation by fostering a sense of purpose, and the Best Possible Selfexercise is one way to do that. Here, you journal for 15 minutes about an ideal future in which everything is going as well as possible, from your family and personal life to your career and health.
In a 2006 study, participants who wrote about their Best Possible Selves daily for two weeks reported greater positive emotions afterward, and their mood continued increasing up to a month later if they kept up the practice.
This exercise allows us to clarify our goals and priorities, painting a detailed picture of where we want to be. This picture should be ambitious but realistic so that it motivates us to make changes, rather than reminding us how imperfect and disappointing our lives are now. When we reflect on our future this way, we may feel more in control of our destiny.

4. Use your strengths

Just as we hunt for things to fix in life, we also tend to obsess over flaws in ourselves; our weaknesses loom large. But what if we put more time and attention into our strengths and positive attributes?
The Use Your Strengths exercise invites you to consider your strengths of character—from creativity and perseverance to kindness and humility—and put them into practice. Each day for a week, select a strength and make a plan to use it in a new and different way. You can repeat the same strength—directing your curiosity toward a work project one day and toward your partner’s interests the next—or work on different strengths each day. At the end of the week, synthesize the experience by writing about what you did, how it made you feel, and what you learned.
In a 2005 study, participants who engaged in this exercise for a week reported feeling happier and less depressed, and that happiness boost lasted up to six months. Use Your Strengths may help us transfer skills between home and work—applying our professional creativity to our children’s school assignments or our domestic kindness to our co-workers—and give us a confidence boost all around.

5. Connect with others

The practices above invite us to turn inward, tinkering with our attitudes and the way we view the world. But decades of science also suggest that turning outward and connecting to the people around us is one of the surest routes to happiness.
As a first step, you can try an adapted version of the Best Possible Self exercise for relationships to give you insights into what kinds of social connection you desire. In an ideal life, what would your relationships with your spouse, family, and friends look like?
One way to feel an immediate boost of connection is through Random Acts of Kindness. Random Acts of Kindness don’t have to be flashy or extravagant; they can be as simple as helping a friend with a chore or making breakfast for your partner. You can also extend your circle of kindness to strangers and community members, feeding a parking meter or offering a meal to someone in need.
In a 2005 study, participants who performed five acts of kindness on one day a week for six weeks reported increases in happiness. (This didn’t happen when they spread out their acts of kindness across the week, perhaps because a single kind act may not feel noteworthy on its own.) Researchers also suggest varying your acts of kindness over time to keep the practice fresh and dynamic.
Some of your acts of kindness may involve giving, and the Make Giving Feel Good practice helps ensure that giving does, indeed, bring happiness. Researchers Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, among others, have found evidence that being kind and generous does make us happier, but they’ve also found that acts of giving are most effective when they meet these three criteria:
It’s a choice: Give because you choose to, not because you feel pressured or obligated to.
You connect: Giving can be an opportunity to make connections with the people you’re helping, so choose activities where you get to spend time with recipients, like helping a friend move or volunteering at a soup kitchen.
You see the impact: If you’re donating money, for example, don’t just give and move on. Find out what your money will be used for—like new classroom supplies or a cooking stove.
In a 2011 study, participants were offered a $10 Starbucks gift card to use in different ways: They either gave it to someone, gave it to someone and joined them for a drink, or used it on themselves while drinking with a friend. The ones who gave the card away and spent time with the recipient—connecting with them and seeing the impact of giving—felt happiest afterward.
Of course, the pursuit of happiness isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and mugs of tea and smiling children. Sometimes we need to tackle our insecurities and weaknesses, and we can’t just ignore our draining jobs and nagging relatives. But the practices here represent the other side of the coin, the one we often neglect: seeing, appreciating, and mobilizing the good.

This article is printed here with permission. It originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC). Based at UC Berkeley, the GGSC studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society. Kira M. Newman is an editor and web producer at the Greater Good Science Center. She is also the creator of The Year of Happy, a year-long course in the science of happiness, and CaféHappy, a Toronto-based meetup.