Tag Archive

Tag Archives for " happiness "

Optimists Walk Faster: Pessimists Die Younger

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


Shirley Temple was onto something in the movie, Little Miss Broadway when she sang: “Be Optimistic, Don’t you Be a Mourner, Brighten Up That Corner and Smile; Smile and Be Happy!”  Ok, the part about just smiling is a little trite and too simplistic. However, studies do support the notion that optimism confers better levels of health and happiness.

Be Optimistic, Little Miss Broadway

If you want to live longer, happier, healthier, and maybe even wealthier, then take a look at the following Fun Fit Facts drawn from our reading of studies and surveys.  Pin them while you’re at it. Age actively knowing the benefits optimism brings.

If you want to know HOW to be more of an optimist, then click this link to see 8 ways to increase your happiness and optimistic outlook. Eeyores can become more like Tiggers with practice. (And with movement, imagine that!?)

optimists exercise

Optimists are also less likely to smoke, more likely to live with a spouse, and more likely to follow medical advice than pessimists.  (Question to self: what if my hubster is smokin’ cute and takes my advice? Will he live forever or will I? Things to ponder).

Feeling unhappy? You might be too young. Wait a few years, because people in their 60s report higher levels of happiness than those in their 30s and 40s. Surprised? I was.

happy with age



Optimistic walkers

Turns out that pessimists are correct: life is harder for them. Those with a low sense of well-being (associated with pessimism) are more than three times as likely to experience problems in performing daily activities. Pessimists over 50 also tend to die younger than others their same age who enjoy life more.

Up the scale

If you tend more to the pessimistic side of life, don’t get down on yourself. Blame your parents! Have them blame their parents. Yes, genes predispose some people to optimism. Some of us are simply born sunnier side up.  Even if you were born with hard boiled tendencies, you can move to the optimistic camp. If you need a boost of optimism and happiness, maybe buy a plane ticket. (And read our post on ways to shift to the O perspective).  Apparently travel holds the top spot for enhancing happiness among women up to age 59 and second place for those in their 60s. Guess what women over 60 rated as the number one method for feeling happier? Spending time with friends.

That sounds good to me! In fact, traveling with friends sounds really enticing. I am off to sing the rest of the Shirley Temple song:  Be Optimistic: Don’t You Be a Grumpy; When the Road Gets Bumpy, Just Smile, Smile and Be Happy!”

We are optimistic that you will find value and nirvana when you:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Photos Credits: taken by me, Kymberly.




What Can You Do to Be Happy This Year? Besides Eating Tuna

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Resolve to Be Actively Happy

Enjoying quote of the day at Rancho la Puerta

Happy Is as Happy Thinks, Drinks, and Does

Did you set New Year’s Resolutions? Some years I do; some I don’t. Which got me to pondering why we consider changes and fresh starts each new year. “To become a better person” seems the obvious answer. But to what end?

What lies behind the desire to “improve,” “remake,” or “change” ourselves? Ultimately isn’t it a pursuit of happiness? “If only this or that changed, then I would be happy,” is the implication. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. At least for 2014.

2014 issue of Outside Magazine

Get Out?! Be Happy!

Meantime, both neuroscience and Outside magazine had the good timing to release a list of strategies that enhance happiness. Wouldn’t you know it, but the keys to being happy involve exercise, healthy eating habits, and playing (mostly outdoors).

If you are looking to add more happiness to 2014 then try adopting some of the the following habits. I listed the happy habits that I either liked the best, saw as easiest to implement, or validated my current values. To see the complete, original article read the January 2014 issue of Outside magazine.

Wake Early

Alarms set on iPhone

1) Cranky hour 2) Sleepy hour 3) Just right for “early.”

I was a little surprised that early risers are happier people until I thought of the days that my get up and go got up but good! I always feel better when I get a jump on the day. Sure, we need to get in our 7-8 hours of snoozing per night. But we also need our Vitamin D. So the more time awake during sunlight hours, the better our immune system. It’s hard to be happy when ill; it’s easier to greet the day with a high five when we’ve gotten a good night’s sleep followed by an early rise. This habit is one I am working towards. Pretty sure this is really a sneaky way for me to have to set another resolution — get to bed earlier than midnight so I can wake refreshed at 6:30 or 7:00am, not the 7:30 that feels so luxurious.

Drink Water

If you read my post, A Tale of Caffeine and Dehydration, then you already know being dehydrated makes us — ok, ME — irritable. One supposition is that our neurons detect dehydration and warn the parts of the brain that affect our mood. Not enough water? The neurons hit the “bad mood” button. You’ll know if you’ve drunk enough water to improve your mood if your pee is clear or pale yellow. Wheeeeee Peeeeeee!

Exercise With a Group

Bouldering at Lizard's Mouth

I’ll be happy when I get down safely and into my step class!

Imagine how happy I felt reading this as a group fitness instructor for the past 33 years. Want to work harder while feeling happier? Being part of a team or group increases your intensity and endorphin levels more than when you train alone. Could this be the year you try group exercise classes or continue through the year? I have space in my classes for you! Perhaps a master’s level team sport is in your near future.

Exercise Consistently

Cardio workouts are brain boosters; exercise in general reduces stress; even a few months of activity can reverse age-related memory impairment. Now that you are so smart, remember that regular, ongoing exercise rewires your brain for the better. Low stress, younger brain, and a good memory? That spells “H-A-P-P-Y better than a crossword puzzle clue if you ask me.

Eat Chocolate

Eat chocolate

Science from CocoaVia tells me cocoa flavanols help me live well!

Who cares the reasons?!*  The fact that cocoa flavanols are good for us (in moderate doses) is just plain old good news. Enough said.

* For those of you who want the reasons, hold on a minute while I lick the dark chocolate from my typing fingers. Basically, chocolate (specifically the flavanols) releases endorphins and calms us. Yes, it’s all in the mind. And mouth.

 Eat Mood Enhancing Foods

Dark green veggies, turkey, salmon, tuna, sunflower seeds, walnuts, black beans, — these and other foods high in tryptophan or glutamine positively affect your neurotransmitters. Get naturally high without medication! How many of you noticed that eating happy foods causes the opposite of being dehydrated?

Listen to Music

Photo bombing or singing at Glen Ivy Spa
Singing in My Pain, Just Singing in My Pain. Alexandra is Happy
Doing a Selfie Again

Who wants to hear me sing? Debatable whether this will enhance your mood. Hmmm. Or you can hear Alexandra tra la la in many of our past radio episodes. Also debatable about the effect. We can say that if you listen to music you like, you will pump out dopamine (happy hormones) faster than Ahhhnold Schwarzenegger pumped it up back in the day. Tunes you enjoy give you an emotional rush. I now await a music company sponsor for this tip.

Choose the Right Biological Parents

Yes, it’s true and I’d be amiss not to confirm that genetics plays a role in your disposition. If born rich, I’d be happy! Oh, wait. That’s not really what we’re talking about here. Inherited tendencies determine about one third of our happiness level. So quit griping if your mom and dad were negative Norman and Nellie. You have two thirds of the story to write yourself. Especially if you follow the tips above!

I know I’ll sure be happier if you:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.



Women: Health and Humor

By Alexandra Williams, MA

It’s National Women’s Health Week, so this post is all about women and how humor can affect their health. Since I’m a woman (so is Kymberly, but she’s out of town, although I don’t believe leaving town changes her gender), I’m going to talk about myself since it’s my second-favorite topic (My #1 topic is somewhere near the end of this post. Guess ya gotta keep reading).

We were once asked (really? just once?) if we were aware our jokes are corny. And prior to an interview the other day we were sent this potential interview question: “Your writing style is quite casual and humorous. Do you feel this unique approach resonates with your readers? Are you ever concerned it could affect your credibility?”

My answers are “sort of”, “maybe” and “it depends”. Growing up as a red-headed, freckled, smart, four-eyes (this term I’ve never quite understood – how can my glasses have eyes?), nail-biting, socially unconfident, flat-chested twin (am I missing anything here?), it didn’t take me past the first nap of kindergarten to realize that humor was the only thing that could save me (and getting cleavage and contact lenses as a teen). Since research has shown that humor can help with:

  • Bonding with friends and family
  • Reinforcement of group identity and cohesiveness
  • Increased friendliness and altruism
  • Increased attractiveness to others
  • Happier marriages and close relationships

I figure I’m okay with corny, since it makes us all cohesive, and that’s the sticky tape that holds us all together.

As to the casual, credibility question, I guess I think you don’t have to be serious to be taken seriously. After more than 25 years as fitness writers, speakers, presenters, teachers, mentors and even award-winners, we hope people will see value in what we write. Even if that doesn’t happen, we still made you healthier if you laughed at stuff like this:

Getting on My Chobani Face

Don’t YOU miss the 90s?

Thong-tards & Reeboks

Yeah, I’m a Healthy Hottie! I’m going to live a long time. I’ve already achieved my dream – embarrassing the heck out of my teens just by existing (and talking about my 80s and 90s workout wear). And while I’m living longer, it will be with less stress, more relaxation, zapped up dopamine and endorphins, and less pain.





Okay, did any of you ever see the movie “The In-Laws” with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk? The year that movie came out I had 4 wisdom teeth pulled. When I was coming out of the anesthesia, I got off my recovery bed, wandered into the operating room, asked where the party was, then went outside and tried to re-enact the “serpentine” maneuver. It’s here for your reference:


I believe I was captured and returned to the recovery room by my mom, who laughed her ass off. Was it a humorous outlook that made my brain override the pain of the surgery? What else could it have been, hmm?

For the record, I was wearing regular clothes, not an open gown. That was probably best, since my re-enactment was in a public parking lot. Also for the record, my #1 favorite topic is Clive Owen. Or Colin Firth. Or my kids. Depends on a variety of hormonal factors; theirs and mine!

Humor also has cognitive and emotional benefits, which I interpret to mean that if I have writer’s block on a post such as this, I can just grin away and inspiration and creativity will come to me. Or I’ll just bite my nails for a while. Oh, even if you’re not feeling overly joyful, pasting a fake smile on actually tricks your brain, so you get some health benefits anyway. I’ll wait while you try it.
Did it work?

This post is part of a bloggers’ challenge. If you want to participate, just write a post between May 13-19 about a women’s health issue that is meaningful to you, then click on the picture below to link it up. Please feel free to leave your link in our comment section below too!

And smile! Or frown and stand on your head. Either way you’ll get healthier! And you do know that exercise makes you happier, right?

What makes you laugh out loud? Smile quietly to yourself?
The link via “glasses” is to our affiliate Warby Parker. If you buy something (please do), we make enough money for some lens cleaner. 


Being Fit Makes Me Happy

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Tonight, as I stared (for hours) at the computer, trying to think of the “best” possible post for you all to read, my mind wandered a lot. In my head were lots of topic ideas, yet nothing fun or funny was coming to me.

My mind wanders when I stare at the computer

Stare Stare Stare. Think Think Think.

My head was full of thoughts, yet none of them interesting or suitable for a site about health and exercise. Too distracted, I guess. By the fact that my sister’s beloved father-in-law is living his last few days; that my elder son is leaving town for two weeks and my younger son for 4 or 5 days; that my mom needs a realistic plan for her future as she ages; by the distance or circumstances that can separate us from those we love; that I won’t see my beloved niece for a long time; and by the chores and bills that always seem to be just a bit more than I can keep up with.

Then it came to me that I am good at coping and being responsible. Cranky sometimes and impatient, yet good overall. Just like you! And being healthy and fit helps me stay optimistic and energetic. So here’s my list of things I can do because I have good health and am fit:

* stay up past 1:00 a.m. then wake up at 6:30 to make waffles for my kids

Yummy waffles

My waffles always look & taste perfect ("always" means "If I'm lucky")

* have push-up contests with my teen boys and impress them (I even win sometimes)
* wear the same clothes I’ve owned for years as my size is consistent
* feel attractive and sexy (okay, not every day) even though I’m a mom of teens, not a 30-year-old hottie

The Best Me I Can Be

Sigh. That's All I Got, Folks!

* teach strength training and cardio to university students, then smile to myself when they realize I have way more energy and stamina than they do
* go for long walks with my sister and not worry about making it back to the car
* eat Rocky Road ice cream on occasion and not stress out about it

Rocky Road Ice Cream is My Kind of Treat

Rocky Road? Yes Please!

* volunteer at my place of worship
* clean the kitchen every dang day, even though I’m not always the one who messed it
* meet up with friends I haven’t seen in years and not worry that they’ll be thinking “What happened to her?”
* stick up for myself, because no-one messes with me

Female Martial Artist

Don't Even Think of It

* plan for a really long future (you know – travel, visit my kids and overstay my welcome, watch the grandkids and give them back when they need changing or get fussy, get a call from the President on my 100th birthday – that kind of future)
* be independent (or at least have the illusion, considering I have two barnacles kids)
* feel successful
* run like heck or fight back if someone tries to grab my purse
* wake up every single day ready to do it all over again

What things can you do, thanks to your good health? What can Brown Fitness do for you?

Photo credits: Creative Commons (cultivatechi.com)