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Jennifer Aaker on the Pursuit of Happiness

Enjoy this inspiring speech by Jennifer Aaker, a truly inspiring professor at Stanford University and co-author of The Dragon Effect. Here she teaches how to make a difference in the world and find true happiness:

5 Ways to Gain Instant Freedom

1. Chuck your cell phone in the river! Well...you can at least pretend you are throwing it in the river for an hour, 5 hours, a day or more. Have you ever felt an energy drain when going back and forth between looking at your smartphone and enjoying a dinner, a movie, exercise or other activity? Research has shown that by taking your focus away from one activity and throwing it into the other fragments the mind and causes unneeded stress/frustration.

2. Delegate responsibility & simplify. Your story may be..."I do everything around here and no one helps. No one understands or wants to make my life easier. Sob...gasp...sob...gasp." Take a moment to look in the mirror and be real with yourself. Some of us create our own stress. We make things much harder than they need to be. We do and do and do, wishing that somebody will see how hard we work and all that we accomplish. It is only when we stand up and say "I need help!!!", set new rules and recreate our systems that we can gain relief. You may want to journal about why you may be taking on so much and not asking for help more often....or demanding it for that matter. Is it possible that in some way you gain worth by piling so much on your shoulders?

3. Do something out of character. It is easy to get caught in daily patterns that make you feel as though you are living groundhog day. You get up, you eat, you work, you fix dinner, you watch a bit of TV or read and go to bed. And you do everything within a certain set of parameters. You wear the right things, you act the way everyone expects you to act, and that's that.

I dare you to do something to shock everyone. If you are afraid of heights, join a rock climbing club or go sky diving. If you are normally the silent wallflower, start a blog and share your deepest thoughts and opinions with the world or speak up! If you usually go to work wearing a drab suit, throw on something racy and see what happens. If you go through life each day without much energy and walk down the street looking at your feet, try your best to look up and try your best to create energy. See how differently people react to you!

The moral of the story is -- sometimes we get locked into a particular category and we begin to feel like we've lost our authenticity...or that we are required to play a particular role. When we mix it up a bit, we can't help but feel a bit free!

4. Do something you loved to do as a kid. Drop all responsibility for a few hours or a day and go do something that you loved to do in your younger days. We gain energy when we renew our wonder and connect with the child within. Don't be afraid to act silly. Ride your bike without holding onto the handle bars, do a cannon ball into the pool, take a trip to Disneyland and sing It's a Small World at the top of your lungs, climb a tree, finger paint, build a fort, go fishing...visit your childhood home and neighborhood.

5. Take a last minute trip. Traveling has the power to help us reset our lives and free our souls! You can jump into your car and drive a few towns away, find a last minute vacation deal online, throw a tent in your trunk and seek out a great campground, etc.

In the case that you have kids, how about secretly packing things up and then announcing out of the blue that you are all going on a weekend getaway. Drop everything you are doing and just go!  Or if you and your spouse need a getaway, make last minute plans with the grandparents or a babysitter you trust and set out for an adventure. You may fear leaving the kids behind, but they will be OK once they get settled.


These are only a handful of ideas...there are many more ways to gain freedom! Would love to hear your ideas...comment below to share!

Whatever we do in life -- we must constantly evaluate our actions and recognize that we are the creators of our realities and experiences!

- Jen Engevik

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