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Spring Cleaning Strategies

 

Spring is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. At this time of year, we begin to feel more open to inviting changes – both big and small – into our lives.

One type of change that can bring about a sense of optimism and enthusiasm is to undertake a spring cleaning for your home. Psychologists suggest that spring cleaning has a very valuable function: as we remove our home’s clutter of all the things we needed for comfort during the winter months, we make room for spring items that symbolize new beginnings.

Before you start, choose a reward for yourself for when you are finished – maybe a mani/pedi, a splurge on a restaurant that you have been wanting to try, or going to a movie the IMAX theatre. Then make a to-do list of what you want to clean. Once you are finished, you can check off the items on your list that you accomplished, and say, “I got a lot done today and now I am going to treat myself for a job well done!”

Spring Cleaning Strategies:

1-Get Rid Of The Clutter

Professional organizers suggest the “4 step method.” This means sorting your stuff into four categories: (1) trash, (2) giveaway, (3) store neatly, or (4) keep out on display.  Arm yourself with large trash bags before you begin. The items you put in the trash category may cause you to feel a pang of loss so experts suggest that you take a photo of the item so you can keep the good memories that are attached to the item. The items that you give away can be donated to Goodwill. Put away neatly the items you plan to store and wipe down or clean the items you plan to display.

Cleaning will be so much easier when the clutter is gone. And you will feel energized once all of the clutter that is weighing you down – literally and figuratively – is gone!

2-No need to buy lots of cleaning products

There are an overwhelming number of cleaning supplies. The problem of buying lots of different products is that you now have all the cleaning supply bottles cluttering up your cabinets! You really just need a vacuum, dishwashing soap, a good all-purpose cleaner and paper towels or microfiber cloths.

3-Time to Clean!

Gather cleaning products, a sponge, a bucket with sudsy water, and a few towels.

You’re going to start with the “top zone” of the top floor of your home. The top zone is any area above your head. Start here:

  • Dust above cabinets
  • Clean air vents
  • Dust or clean ceiling fans
  • Dust or wash light fixtures
  • Clean high windows
  • Change light bulbs and replace air filters

Next, move to the “mid-to-low-zone,” otherwise known as waist-level. These are the surfaces you probably clean weekly, but for today, give them a little more attention and an extra deep cleaning:

  • Dust surfaces
  • Polish wood furniture
  • Clean leather furniture
  • Vacuum and spot clean upholstered furniture
  • Wash sheets and change bed linens
  • Clean and wipe down bathroom sinks and counters
  • Scrub showers and bathtubs
  • Clean toilets

Finally, move to the “bottom zone” or floor-level surfaces. It’s time to pick up ALL that dirt and dust that’s shifted down toward the floor. Now it’s time to:

  • Sweep hard floors
  • Spot clean and mop tile or linoleum floors
  • Vacuum rugs and carpets
  • Wash small area rugs
  • Dust baseboards
  • Sweep front and back steps and/or porch

4-Create New Cleaning Habits

Now that your home is clean, you will want to keep it that way! A simple, daily clean up in the bathroom (wipe down shower, wipe off counters), a nightly clean-up of the kitchen (wash and put away dishes, clean stove top, sweep floor, throw out old food), and a weekly bedroom tidying (put clothes away, wash bed linens, straighten up) will keep your home neat and clean all year.

Congratulations – your home is now clean, organized and ready for spring! Now give yourself that reward because you deserve it!

If the thought of spring cleaning overwhelms you, Advance LA Life Skills Coaches can help! Our coaches help their clients to use executive functioning skills to create their to-do cleaning lists, their shopping list for cleaning supplies, and then they assist, support and encourage their clients as they clean. It’s more fun, and less daunting, to clean with a supportive coach!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services? She can be reached at jrochman@thehelpgroup.org.

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March Madness, Inspiration to Exercise!

 

Its March Madness month! For college basketball fans, this is the highpoint of the year. But for all of us, March is a great month to focus on exercise, health and wellness. Let’s call it March Motivation!

First, we need to put away the excuses. You don’t have the time? You don’t have the money to join a gym? You say you are too busy to exercise? Well, the good news is there are plenty of easy, no-cost ways to exercise and you don’t have to do it all at once. In fact, the research says that it is beneficial to spread your physical activity throughout the week which means that you should do a small amount of exercise every day.

So, let’s do this! Here are some suggestions:

1)Walk and talk: grab a friend, a co-worker or your life-skills coach, and go outside for a walk. It makes the time go by faster when you are talking to someone. And if an exercise pal isn’t available, try listening to an interesting podcast or music while you walk.

2) Walk your dog: Your dog is always delighted to take a walk with you. 

3) Go to a new neighborhood and explore it by foot; browse the shops, have a bite to eat, get a cup of coffee – you never know what you might find!

4) Take a walk at the mall: If it is too hot or too cold outside, take a fast walk around the mall. You can window shop and people watch while getting in a good workout.

5) Shop for produce at your local farmers market: It’s a great way to get outside and walk around and the gorgeous produce may even inspire you to try a new healthy recipe!

6) Park farther away from your destination than you normally would: park in a safe spot and then walk to your destination. You might find you enjoy not having the stress of finding a place to park close to where you are going.

7) Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator: Even if it’s just for a floor or two or take the stairs two at a time.

If you make exercise a priority, you will find lots of opportunities to be more active every day. A great tip is to not think of exercise as something you have to get dressed in exercise gear in order to do or something that you have to pay for. Try to incorporate a little exercise into every day. Remember, every step counts!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services? She can be reached at jrochman@thehelpgroup.org.

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Dating for Young Adults with Diverse Challenges

 

Oh, February – the month where the focus is on romance and dating. For all of us, dating can be nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing. For neurodiverse young adults, dating can be particularly challenging due to a lack of self-confidence and insecurities.

A lot of people get nervous about dating and end up staying home and thinking, “I really want to date.” So it is important to get yourself to informal social situations that will allow you to meet other young people. You can try going to a club l.a event, or joining a bowling league, going to a church or temple event, or trying a new hobby like an art or cooking class.

So what to do if you are at a social event and you find yourself wanting to meet another person? Here are some tips to help you get into the swing of dating:

1.) Some people need to know someone as a friend for a while before they are comfortable enough to go on a date. So how do you get more comfortable with each other? You have to talk to the other person. This is the beginning stage of dating when two people see if they have common interests; what are their favorite activities, what are their favorite foods, and what do they want in the future. If you find out you both love pizza, then going out for pizza is a great date!

2.) It can be tricky finding out if the person that you like feels the way about you. One sign is the person wants to talk to you and wants to find out more about you as a person. Remember, a lot of people get nervous talking to someone they like so the conversation may be a bit awkward at first. But if they ask you for your number or ask if you want to go to a movie or out to lunch, that can be a sign that they are interested in you. Or you can invite them to do something with you and if they say “yes,” then that may be the sign you are looking for!

3.) Try to be open to trying something new. Often times a person will want to share their favorite activity with someone they want to get to know better. For example, a person who loves their bowling league may invite the person they like to go bowling. You might be surprised how much you like doing something just because you like the person you are doing it with!

4.) It might take the pressure off if you don’t think about your activity as a “date” and instead just think about it as two people sharing an activity. And it’s ok if you find out that you like each other but don’t always like the same activities. For example, some people like to cook and some people don’t like to cook but they love to try new foods. This could still work out really well!

5.) If you meet someone online, get to know the person really well before you first meet in person. If you decide to meet them, then meet in a public place where there are lots of people around. Let a family member, good friend or coach know that you’re going to be on a date so that they’re aware of it, and even check in with that person during the date to make sure everything is going okay. Don’t get into your date’s car or go to their home or apartment the first time you meet. It’s a good idea to have your date meet your family member, good friend or coach so that the people you know can get to know your date as well.

6.) Preparing for your date might reduce your nervousness. Make arrangements for how you will get to the date and bring money to pay for the activity. Think about what you might talk about. You might try role-playing with a friend, coach or parent to practice having a conversation. Make sure to share the conversation so you both get to talk.

7.) Be honest with the person you like. And be sure you are both comfortable and happy doing the things you decide to do together.

And after being with the person you liked for a while, you might find that you have changed your mind and you no longer like them romantically. That is fine! It might be best if you both just stay friends.

And keep in mind that you do not have to go out with a person just because that person wants to go out with you.

And what happens if the person you like decides that they prefer to just be friends with you? That is okay too. Your feelings may be hurt for a bit which is absolutely normal. It happens to everyone. It just means that the person you are meant to be with is still out there waiting for you to find them!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services? She can be reached at jrochman@thehelpgroup.org.

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How to Set Realistic Goals for the New Year

 

The beginning of a New Year is an opportune time for setting a goal and looking forward to the wonderful feeling of achieving it.

As an Advance LA Life Skills Coach, I teach my clients the important skill of goal setting. I explain that goal setting means choosing something that you want to accomplish and then taking the steps to make it happen. A phrase to keep in mind is, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!”  I explain that a coach can offer support to help a client achieve their goal but, ultimately, it’s the person who is in charge of achieving his or her goal.

 

Fun Facts:

  • 90% of successful people set goals.
  • By setting goals, a person chooses where they will go in life.
  • By setting a goal, a person can achieve more, improve performance, increase self-esteem, and increase self-confidence.
  • By setting a goal, a person can feel less stress, concentrate better and feel happier!

 

A good strategy for setting goals is to use the “S.M.A.R.T.” strategy. This means you make your goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Specific:  Define what is important to you: what do you want to accomplish? Decide exactly what you want your goal to be. For example, instead of “get better grades” the goal should be stated as, “I will earn a B or better in my math class.”  Instead of “make more friends” the goal should be stated as “I will take a risk and join a school club or attend a club l.a. event this month.”

Measurable: Include precise amounts or dates so you know when you have met your goal. For example, “I will complete my math homework every day” or “I will invite a classmate to get coffee after class once a month.”

Attainable: Give your goal some real thought. Is it YOUR goal or really your parents? Is it actually possible or too far out of reach? For example, “I will go for a brisk walk four times a week” may be more attainable than  “I will run a 5K race.”

Relevant: Your goal must further you in the direction you want to go in. Review your goal once a month and determine if it is still important to you. Talk about your goal with a parent, coach, or teacher. If the goal is no longer of interest, feel free to change it!

Timely: A deadline is essential so you know when to celebrate your success. It feels great to achieve a goal so choose an end time that is realistic. For example, “I will make my bed in the morning every day for four weeks.”

And of course the best part of goal setting: choosing a reward for when the goal is met. Enjoy the feeling of satisfaction of a job well done! If you did not achieve the goal, take the time to reflect on what happened. Was the goal unrealistic? Did you try your best? And remember, a goal can always be adjusted and a person can always try again!

Goal setting is empowering because it provides a focus and a true sense of accomplishment when the goal is met. Setting a realistic goal is a skill of knowing how to make your dreams a reality.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services? She can be reached at jrochman@thehelpgroup.org.

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Returning To College With A New Outlook

Parents of college freshmen look forward to their child coming home for the Winter break. But parental excitement can turn to worry when their child announces that they do not want to return to college after the holiday. This is not an unusual situation as thirty percent of college freshman will not return for their sophomore year with a large percentage not returning after the Thanksgiving or holiday break.

In a recent New York Times article, “When a College Student Comes Home To Stay,” authors William Stixrud and Ned Johnson discussed this trend. The authors noted that college freshmen are often devastated about not feeling emotionally able to return to school. In addition, they experience intense worry that they have disappointed their parents.

It is easy to understand how freshman year can be overwhelming as college life is a highly dysregulated environment. There is little structure, inconsistent sleep and eating patterns, and often a great deal of alcohol and drug usage. To add to this mix, students often feel intense pressure to succeed socially as well as get good grades. According to the American College Health Association, 62 percent of undergrads reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety.”

If your child says that he does not want to return to college after the Thanksgiving break or after winter break, there are steps a parent can take to offer support and guidance.

The following are suggestions for parents to assist their child with a plan for returning to college:

1.) Encourage your child to find a job: Working helps young adults learn to manage their time and budget their finances. Discuss with your child that a first job may not be the beginning of their career but it can be a wonderful opportunity to gain job skills. Grocery store jobs or retail jobs teach young adults responsibility, the importance of punctuality, and how to get along with co-workers and supervisors.

2.) Encourage your child to take a class at your local community college: Discuss with your child that he or she can take a class for the sole purpose of exploring a interesting subject without the pressure of needing to get a good grade. Often times college freshman become overwhelmed, and discouraged, by required courses that are of little interest. Discovering a true passion may motivate a young adult to return to college more focused and invigorated.

3.) Address any mental health issues: Parents often want to believe that enrolling in college will eliminate any mental health issues that were present in high school. However, college life tends to exacerbate issues due to the lack of support from family and close friends. Taking time off from college may allow a young person to gain a better understanding of their strengths and challenges. When returning to college,  parents can require that their child be able to demonstrate knowledge about campus support services in case the need arises.

4.) Life Skills Coaching: A life skills coach can provide the support a returning college freshman needs to regain their confidence. Learning time management and executive functioning skills can help a young adult learn to budget their time and stay on top of their school work. Coaches can assist young adults with how to get involved in campus activities. Further, a coach can help a young adult increase their self-reliance and independence allowing for a successful re-entry to college.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services? She can be reached at jrochman@thehelpgroup.org.

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Helping Young Adults After A Wildfire

Experiencing a wildfire can be frightening and traumatic. Seeing the devastation to homes and communities can be overwhelming and can undermine an individual’s sense of security. The wildfires in Calabasas, Agoura, Westlake, and Thousand Oaks have presented intense coping challenges including the need to relocate, especially when a home or community is destroyed.

Wildfires come with unique challenges in that the amount of warning can vary from one neighborhood to the next. While some people may have had hours or days to evacuate, others may have had only a few minutes to gather their belongings and leave their home. Even if an evacuation wasn’t necessary, preparing for the possibility can be frightening along with watching the images of nearby homes burning on the news and social media.

A young adult’s possible reactions may include sleeping and eating disturbances, agitation, increase in conflicts, physical complaints, and poor concentration.

Parents and caregivers can offer the following strategies to help young adults cope:

  1. Remain calm and reassuring: Acknowledge the loss or destruction, but empathize the community’s efforts to clean up and rebuild. Offer reassurance that, in time, life will return to normal.
  2. Acknowledge and normalize feelings: Create time and space for the discussion of feelings and concerns. Listen and empathize. Offer reassurance that intense reactions are normal and expected.
  3. Promote positive coping and problem-solving skills: Encourage young adults to develop realistic and positive methods of coping that allow for the management of anxiety and that match the situation.   
  4. Emphasize resiliency: Help young adults identify what they have done in the past that helped them cope when they were frightened or upset. Bring their attention to other communities that have experienced wildfires and recovered.
  5. If necessary, seek mental health support. Individual counseling can help a young adult develop effective means of coping, and learn to understand and adjust following a wildfire.

Parents and caregivers can help young adults with special needs in the aftermath of a wildfire by remaining calm and reassuring. Response efforts should emphasize teaching effective coping strategies and offering support to help young adults understand that their reactions are normal and expected.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services? She can be reached at jrochman@thehelpgroup.org.

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10 Tips to Keep Holiday Stress at Bay for Young Adults

Holidays bring fun and joy – and also a fair amount of stress! Decorating, holiday visits, and shopping for gifts can be overwhelming for all family members. You may notice that your adult child with special needs is feeling overwhelmed and stressed out but they are having trouble articulating how they are feeling. It can be helpful to have a conversation about how feeling anxious during the holiday season is a very common experience.

WHAT IS STRESS?

Something you can’t see or touch but can definitely feel.

The name for Tension in your mind and body.

A Reaction to things that are new, different or overwhelming.

It’s Especially common during the holiday season.

A Source of headaches and stomachaches.

Something you can learn to handle!

A little stress isn’t bad. Sometimes stress is good because it can energize you to get up in the morning and get to work or school on time. But too much stress can make you feel sick, tired, sad and worried.

The following are strategies when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out:

STRESS MESS: Everything annoys you and you want to scream

STRATEGY: Take some time alone, put on headphones, close your eyes and imagine you are in your favorite place in the world.

STRESS MESS: Your feel restless, frantic and jumpy.

STRATEGY: Do something positive with your energy; go for a run or a long walk. If you are at work or in school, take a bathroom break or get a drink of water.

STRESS MESS: You can’t stop worrying, even about unrealistic things.

STRATEGY: Do something creative like draw or paint, bake cookies, listen to music, go for a walk.

                        10 DAILY WAYS TO KEEP STRESS AT BAY:

  1. Be active – exercise lifts your spirits and helps you feel relaxed.
  2. Eat healthy foods – a healthy body fights stress better.
  3. Avoid caffeine – it makes a person feel more edgy.
  4. Get enough sleep each night – you will feel more relaxed when you wake up.
  5. Laugh!
  6. Be neat – being organized helps you feel in control.
  7. Express your feelings – unlock your voice and unlock your stress.
  8. Be a planner – it will help you feel in control of your day.
  9. Talk to someone about your problems – you will feel better.
  10. Take a moment each day to feel gratitude.
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5 Reasons to Join ALA’s Parent2Parent Support Group

Joining a support group is a wonderful way to practice self-care. A support group can be a source of information as well as a safe place to share your experience with other people who are in similar circumstances.

 

Here are 5 reasons to join Advance LA’s Parent2Parent (P2P) Support Group:

 

  1. It’s Nice To Have Your Very Own Focus Group

The other parents in P2P can be a sounding board for you to talk through a decision that may be worrying you. Other parents can provide input and help you problem solve.

 

  1. Being With People Who Understand Without Having To Explain

Connecting with other parents of adult children can be a source of support. It feels good to talk and share with people who “get it” without you having to explain everything.

 

  1. Do You Know Anything About…..?

We are all always looking for good doctors, therapists, recreational ideas, and volunteer opportunities. A support group is a great place to ask about other people’s experiences with various professionals, organizations, and activities.

 

  1. You Have Valuable Insight For Others

You have valuable experiences that are helpful to someone else. When you share your story, you give support, encouragement, and helpful tips to others.

 

  1. You Like To Play Mahjong Too?!!

When you get to know the members of your group, you may find out that you have common interests outside of your parenting experience. Come join P2P and make a new friend!

 

Please join us for our Parent 2 Parent Support Group on October 26 at 5pm. Our on-going P2P (Parent to Parent)  group is a free, monthly meet-up for parents and caregivers facing the challenges of helping their young adult transition to greater independence. 

And have your young adult attend club l.a.’s Halloween Party while you are attending the P2P support group. It’s a win-win!

To inquire about future P2P meetings, email xbooker@thehelpgroup.org.

 

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS
Life Skills Coach & Director of Community Outreach
Advance LA

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Strategies for Avoiding the Homework Battles

Homework. Just the sight of that word is enough to make some parents weep with frustration.

One of the most frequent issues that arise in parenting counseling is the afternoon battle over homework. There is usually a vicious cycle at play: your child procrastinates about getting started, you start nagging, and your child becomes overwhelmed and shuts down.

It might help to remind yourself that there is actually a reason for doing homework. Homework gives your child a chance to practice what she has learned in school. Further, homework helps children develop age-appropriate discipline and independence with respect to schoolwork.

But what often happens is that the kids who need the most practice have the hardest time completing homework. Parents should never assume that a child who resists homework is just “lazy.” Children inherently want to do well in school and they generally want to please their parents. If you know that your child has the intellectual potential to work independently yet says that he “hates school” or “hates reading” you might want to explore having your child evaluated for the presence of an attention or learning issue.

For children with learning challenges, doing homework is like going on a hike with 20 pound weights around your ankles and big blisters on your heels. It is possible, but painful and difficult. So of course your child will look for ways to postpone such a painful and discouraging task.

So, what to do? Appreciate that homework is frustrating for your child and put into place a plan that will help your child learn to work through frustration and develop self-discipline.

A Homework Plan:

  1. Set aside a time for homework that works for your family. For most kids, they do not want to do homework after doing school work for eight hours. Afterschool is a time for hobbies and exploring possible new interests in sports, dance, art, robotics, cooking – whatever your child enjoys. Try having homework time after dinner or while dinner is cooking to see if that works better for your child.

 

  1. Choose a spot for homework that works for your child and family. Some kids like to be at the kitchen table while others prefer a desk in their room. Parents should be available to help, offer encouragement, and answer questions.

 

  1. Talk with your child’s teacher about the expected length of homework time. If your child is unable to finish in the expected time frame, have him write a note to the teacher that states he worked for the amount of time and note the assignments he was able to complete. This information is helpful for your child’s teacher to see how long it takes your child to do homework and determine if modifications need to be made.

 

  1. Begin with a reasonable amount of work time. If your child can only focus for 10 minutes and then needs a break, then that is the starting time. Try 15 minutes the next week and support your child as they gradually become able to focus for longer amounts of time. If your child needs frequent breaks, try to work up to 20 minutes of work followed by a five minute break.

 

  1. Choose your words carefully. Instead of “if you don’t do your homework you won’t be able to…” try a language of opportunities like, “as soon as you finish your homework we will have a chance to play a quick game of Jenga!”

 

Some more tips: acknowledge all efforts, no matter how small. Provide positive and frequent encouragement. Praise effort not innate ability. Do not compare to siblings who may have an easier time doing homework.

It isn’t always easy to stay calm when your child is melting down about homework. If you would like to talk further about ways to avoid the homework battles, please feel free to reach out to me at jrochman@thehelpgroup.org. I am here to help!

 

Jeri Rochman, JD, MS
Life Skills Coach & Director of Community Outreach
Advance LA

 

Article originally posted at http://www.jerirochman.com/blog/.

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Interview with our Keynote, Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD

Keynote, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky

Keynote, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky

Advance LA is thrilled to welcome our Keynote Speaker, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D. to our 2015 Conference, The Science of Happiness: Purpose. Connection. Optimism. Grit.

Why is the scientific study of happiness important?
Most people believe that happiness is meaningful, desirable, and an important, worthy goal. Happiness is one of the most salient and significant dimensions of human experience and emotional life.  Not only does happiness yield numerous rewards for the individual, it makes for a better, healthier, stronger society.

Why Are Some People Happier Than Others?

I have always been struck by the capacity of some individuals to be remarkably happy, even in the face of stress, trauma, or adversity. My students and I have found that truly happy individuals construe life events and daily situations in ways that seem to maintain their happiness, while unhappy individuals construe experiences in ways that seem to reinforce unhappiness. In essence, happy individuals experience and react to events and circumstances in relatively more positive and more adaptive ways.

What Are the Benefits of Happiness?
Relative to their less happy peers, happy people in Western societies have more rewarding and longer-lasting marriages, more friends, higher incomes, superior work performance, higher community involvement, better mental and physical health, and possibly even longer life.

How does this apply to young adults with autism, learning differences, and ADHD?
Young adults with challenges who learn practices that increase their happiness will not only FEEL better (more tranquil, more joyful, more curious, more affectionate, more proud, etc.), but they are also expected to experience the same benefits of happiness as their typical peers.  For example, people who are happier smile more and are more likable and approachable to others – thus, generating more social support and making friends.  People who are happier are more productive and creative – thus being able to accomplish better whatever their goals are.  People who are happier have stronger immune function, thus getting sick less often.