How to be Happy

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Excellent new article about the keys to happiness! A lot of these things take concerted effort and discipline, but they are so worth it. I think a lot of what we do each day is based on habits, and habits can be changed.

By Tara Parker-Pope

“Everyone has the power to make small changes in our behavior, our surroundings and our relationships that can help set us on course for a happier life.

  1. Mind
    Happiness often comes from within. Learn how to tame negative thoughts and approach every day with optimism.

Conquer Negative Thinking
All humans have a tendency to ruminate more on bad experiences than positive ones. It’s an evolutionary adaptation — over-learning from the dangerous or hurtful situations we encounter through life (bullying, trauma, betrayal) helps us avoid them in the future and react quickly in a crisis.
But that means you have to work a little harder to train your brain to conquer negative thoughts. Here’s how:
Don’t try to stop negative thoughts. Telling yourself “I have to stop thinking about this,” only makes you think about it more. Instead, own your worries. When you are in a negative cycle, acknowledge it. “I’m worrying about money.” “I’m obsessing about problems at work.”
Treat yourself like a friend. When you are feeling negative about yourself, ask yourself what advice would you give a friend who was down on herself. Now try to apply that advice to you.
Challenge your negative thoughts. Socratic questioning is the process of challenging and changing irrational thoughts. Studies show that this method can reduce depression symptoms. The goal is to get you from a negative mindset (“I’m a failure.”) to a more positive one (“I’ve had a lot of success in my career. This is just one setback that doesn’t reflect on me. I can learn from it and be better.”) Here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself to challenge negative thinking.
First, write down your negative thought, such as “I’m having problems at work and am questioning my abilities.”
Then ask yourself: “What is the evidence for this thought?”
“Am I basing this on facts? Or feelings?”
“Could I be misinterpreting the situation?”
“How might other people view the situation differently?
“How might I view this situation if it happened to someone else?”
The bottom line: Negative thinking happens to all of us, but if we recognize it and challenge that thinking, we are taking a big step toward a happier life.

Controlled Breathing
Science is just beginning to provide evidence that the benefits of this ancient practice are real. Studies have found, for example, that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder. For centuries yogis have used breath control, or pranayama, to promote concentration and improve vitality. Buddha advocated breath-meditation as a way to reach enlightenment.
Try it.

Rewrite Your Story
Writing about oneself and personal experiences — and then rewriting your story — can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness. (We already know that expressive writing can improve mood disorders and help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, among other health benefits.)
Some research suggests that writing in a personal journal for 15 minutes a day can lead to a boost in overall happiness and well-being, in part because it allows us to express our emotions, be mindful of our circumstances and resolve inner conflicts. Or you can take the next step and focus on one particular challenge you face, and write and rewrite that story.
We all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it right. By writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of our personal well-being. The process is similar to Socratic questioning (referenced above). Here’s a writing exercise:
Write a brief story about your struggle. I’m having money problems. I am having a hard time making friends in a new city. I’m never going to find love. I’m fighting with my spouse.
Now write a new story from the viewpoint of a neutral observer, or with the kind of encouragement you’d give a friend.
Money is a challenge but you can take steps to get yourself into financial shape.
Everyone struggles in their first year in a new city. Give it some time. Join some groups.
Don’t focus on finding love. Focus on meeting new people and having fun. The rest will follow.
Couples argue. Here’s what your situation looks like to a neutral observer.

Numerous studies show that writing and rewriting your story can move you out of your negative mindset and into a more positive view of life. “The idea here is getting people to come to terms with who they are, where they want to go,” said James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas who has pioneered much of the research on expressive writing. “I think of expressive writing as a life course correction.”
Get Moving
When people get up and move, even a little, they tend to be happier than when they are still. A study that tracked the movement and moods of cellphone users found that people reported the most happiness if they had been moving in the past 15 minutes than when they had been sitting or lying down. Most of the time it wasn’t rigorous activity but just gentle walking that left them in a good mood. Of course, we don’t know if moving makes you happy or if happy people just move more, but we do know that more activity goes hand-in-hand with better health and greater happiness.
Practice Optimism
Optimism is part genetic, part learned. Even if you were born into a family of gloomy Guses, you can still find your inner ray of sunshine. Optimism doesn’t mean ignoring the reality of a dire situation. After a job loss, for instance, many people may feel defeated and think, “I’ll never recover from this.” An optimist would acknowledge the challenge in a more hopeful way, saying, “This is going to be difficult, but it’s a chance to rethink my life goals and find work that truly makes me happy.”
And thinking positive thoughts and surrounding yourself with positive people really does help. Optimism, like pessimism, can be infectious. So make a point to hang out with optimistic people.
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2. Home
Where you live — the country, the town, your neighborhood and your home — all have an effect on your overall happiness.

Finding Your Happy Place
Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?
This so-called happiness ladder is famously used as a way to measure and compare happiness across the globe. The “World Happiness Report” ranks countries based on the subjective well-being and happiness of people who live there and their responses to the ladder test. Here are the 10 happiest countries on Earth:

 

Aries New Moon Horoscopes

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New Moon in Aries TODAY at 1:50am. Aries is the first sign and rules the head. We are starting a brand new astrological year today; courage, creative inspiration, leadership and persistence are all highlighted in April. Let the spark of your soul expand and express itself.

Several planets are in a great position until April 19th! All of us can make real progress on important projects and plans. Take steady action on your dreams. Things will be getting tense at the end of April with Jupiter and Saturn going retrograde until August, so use today to spur you to action. Also, in June there will be a BIG, tense standoff between Mars in Cancer opposing Saturn and Pluto. NOW is the time.

The horoscopes below are written from the perspective of rising signs, but there are threads of meaning if you read for your Sun sign too. If you don’t know your rising sign, or ascendant, you can plug in your birth information here to find it.

Aries rising – New Moon in Aries today! Your ruler, Mars, is traveling through Gemini right now, making you strategic in your ambitions. Your dreams are achieved through communication with your social circle, so get out and network in your community. With Mars in Gemini, your brain is super-charged with passion and drive, so express it for all to see.

Taurus rising – You have an EXCELLENT Spring ahead of you! Your ruling planet, Venus, has moved into Pisces, which is her natural home. Venus expresses herself easily though Pisces (exalted), and this makes Taurus’s life flow smoothly. In fact, every sign is feeling this enhancement in matters of relationships, art, beauty, love and socializing.
Projects or jobs started now will make  good money down the road. Most important is for Taurus to live in reality and the truth.

Gemini rising – In a word, ACTION. With Mars in your sign it’s time for you to be self-propelled and decisive – which is challenging for a Gemini. It’s no longer enough to spin around in your head about things you want to do, you need to make a plan and stick to it. If you can do this, and stay in your truth, your life will positively expand. The universe is helping you do that for the next couple of months.

Cancer Rising – You are benefitted by the North Node (good luck and destiny) in Cancer for the next year or so. Fertility, creativity and vulnerability are all qualities that each sign can aspire to this year. The New Moon in Aries today is giving you a kick start towards fully expressing yourself without limits or judgement.

Leo Rising – The New Moon in Aries, Jupiter in Sagittarius, and your ruler the Sun (exalted in Aries) are all sending you some lovely, fresh energy to get your passions rolling out to the public. You are probably feeling some sparkly energy and excitement this month. Aries is asking you to get started on the dreams you’ve been sitting on all winter.

Virgo rising – Ugh. OK well things aren’t too bad, but you’re feeling a little untethered to the Earth. Your ruler, Mercury is still slogging through Pisces (detriment). Mercury doesn’t really dig being there, it’s too dreamy and unfocused. I advise to work on embracing your visions for the future, and network your future potential with other people. Mercury will be in Aries soon (in two weeks), and you will be ready to start taking real action.

Libra rising – The New Moon in Aries is supercharging your partnership sector – which includes lovers AND biz associates. It’s a difficult time to pin them down on anything because there’s so much energy in the air, but Mars in Gemini is a good mediator. Progress can be made by having a plan and talking it out.

Scorpio rising – Your svengali-type characteristics are currently super-charged with your ruler, Mars, abiding in Gemini. You are the great mastermind behind everything in your arena. That New Moon in Aries is motivating you to take action on things near and dear to your soul. It’s all about focusing that razor-sharp mind of yours towards daily goals.

Sagittarius rising – You value truth, honor and integrity, and Jupiter in it’s natural home in Sagittarius (exalted) is inspiring you with new philosophies about your identity. You’re feeling at home and centered with the new expansion of your world that started last December. The only issue right now is that things might come TOO easily. Remember to challenge yourself with things that you want but are not firmly in your grasp. Also, try not to gain too much weight. Jupiter in Sag increases everything, even your waistline.

Capricorn rising — You are currently expunging and purifying your past with Saturn, Pluto, and the North Node traveling together in Capricorn. At least Saturn (your ruler) is giving you tremendous stability and support! Saturn in Capricorn is in it’s rulership, and it’s energies of discipline, concentration, responsibility, ambition and focus are easily accessed. There might be some big challenges you’re facing; the only way forward is to evolve. The universe is asking you to release any unhealthy motivations around power and control, and to move towards vulnerability.

Are you standing up for yourself? Who has power over you? Who do you let have power over you? Saturn and Pluto this year are also revealing what we’re still holding onto that we can’t hold onto anymore.

Aquarius rising – Mars in Gemini is sending you some wonderful, fresh energy in your Creativity sector. Aim high and take action on bringing your Aquarius visions down to the earth plane. Your Spring is about socializing and networking your creativity ideas to your peers. If you’re able to do this you will experience positive movement.

Pisces Rising – Neptune (your ruler) in Pisces has you floating like a cloud while using your intuition to gain movement. Meanwhile, Jupiter squaring Pisces is keeping you grounded by offering up new philosophies about your identity. The Aries New Moon is keeping you focused on your spiritual beliefs – this is the way to illuminate the steps you must take to stay on your path.

 

Week of March 20th: SPRING

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Hail unto the coming of the mighty Spring.

Sun into Aries 2:58pm Pacific.
Full Moon in Libra 6:43pm.
Mercury in Pisces RETROGRADE (weakened, in it’s Fall)
Mars in Taurus (neutral influence)
Venus in Aquarius (weakened)
Pluto (transformation) on the South Node (the Past)

The Sun: The Sun’s entrance into Aries Wednesday, March 20th, heralds the Spring Equinox, and the beginning of the astrological year. It is FINALLY a great time for Sun magick! Still avoid Mercury or Venus magick for the rest of March. Focus on Jupiter (in Sagittarius) and Saturn (in Capricorn) which are very strong.

Mercury: Mercury sloshing around in Pisces, AND retrograde. Use your intuition and gut instincts; that’s all we have now.
Retrograde times are about reassessing our foundations so we can refocus ourselves. It’s not a bad or unlucky time; just be observant and notice how these retrograde periods effect you personally. The specific planet that’s retrograding is going over a specific part of your chart three different times, and that’s where things get interesting. Feel free to book me for a 15 minute phone reading if you’re curious how it’s showing up in your chart.

Venus: We have a “mutual reception” going on with Uranus in Taurus and Venus in Aquarius – each planet in a sign ruled by the other planet. There’s a wild electrical charge in relationships right now. A desire for radical love and freedom in self expression. Women cannot be limited in any way right now.

Uranus: Uranus into Taurus: March 6th to 2025 – massive change and upheaval regarding borders and land (possible wars over land values). We radically shift the foundations of our lives. Also, liberation and new ways of dealing with animals and plants. Freedom and genius with regards to relationships and possessions (Scorpios in particular). What was happening in your life seven years ago?

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Wednesday, March 20th: SPRING EQUINOX and Full Moon in Libra. We are at a turning point; a crossroads. The goal is to maintain balance within ourselves, bring balance into our lives, and then into our relationships. The Universe supports you making huge changes right now, but do you have the courage to really do it? Have you reached the point of no return?

Thursday, March 21st: Full Moon in Libra still in effect. Issues from the past two weeks are coming to fruition now. Pay attention to what is happening in your life.

Friday, March 22nd: Moon VOC in Libra, then into Scorpio in the evening. Try to be los key today, and be sensitive to other people’s feelings. No serious conversations unless they lead to deeper intimacy. Avoid social complications.

Saturday, March 23rd: Moon in Scorpio. Any activities regarding healing, transformations or purification are great. Pursue spirituality or occult studies. Expect deep connections with others, and the inspiration for transform your life.

Sunday, March 24th: The mood lightens today as the Moon moves towards Sagittarius, but there’s still a serious, Scorpionic tone. Be lighthearted today, and go on an adventure.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

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Bring back the snakes (i.e. the ancient Celtic religions) to Ireland. Let today be a celebration of the snakes returning 🙂

From Niall O’Riordan:
“I believe St Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland is an allegory. In many cultures the snake is a symbol of wisdom. Therefore, this could be interpreted as him driving out the ancient wisdom of the Celts. And you know where that got us…
Ireland is a holy land, it has a rich heritage, wisdom and magic waiting to be reclaimed. My beautiful country is slowly recovering from the abuse, oppression and superstition the Roman Catholic church has inflicted for hundreds of years.
So, today I will be celebrating all that is good about Ireland and dedicating my magical work towards Ireland rediscovering those snakes!
May she awaken!
Have a great Paddy’s Day!”

Tarot artist, Pamela Coleman Smith

 

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“The Blue Cat” by Pamela Colman Smith, 1907, courtesy of Mary Greer

The Ryder-Waite-Smith deck was the deck I used to learn how to read tarot cards, and I think it remains as one of the clearest oracles available. The woman who initially painted the beautiful images on these cards, was Pamela Coleman Smith. She was a true free spirit, and highly talented artist. Here’s a fantastic new article about her life:

Pamela Colman “Pixie” Smith circa 1912
Iconic image from the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot that dates to 1909I never knew much about Pixie except that she was British and had died in obscurity; she never realized any financial security or status from illustrating one of the most popular items of printed ephemera in the world. This is largely due to the fact that the RWS Tarot was not widely distributed until circa 1970 when it was acquired by Stuart Kaplan of U.S. Games Systems, twenty years after Pixie’s death in 1951. In my news-feed last fall, I saw Tarot maven Mary Greer mention that she had collaborated on an in-depth biography of Pixie with Kaplan and some other writers. “Why not?” I thought. “Why not learn about one of the most influential artists in the Tarot tradition?”

Love it or hate it, the RWS Tarot defines what most people think of whenever the subject of Tarot cards comes up. Non-specialists may not be aware that the RWS had many historical predecessors and some noble competitors in its day. For the reason of its mass popularity alone, the RWS Tarot merits our interest and respect. When I was picking out an artist for The American Renaissance Tarot, I had Pixie’s straightforward illustrations strongly in mind. The modern trend in Tarot seems to be heavily embroidered fantasy-scapes, and yet Pixie’s bold outlines of figures in theatrical poses, set against two-dimensional backdrops, conveys the Tarot’s archetypes in a decidedly pure and direct manner. ”

Full article here

Friends and depression

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I love this passage, and really want to share it with you today. I’ve suffered from depression myself, and I know many other people with some form of mental illness. This piece shows how important friends are, and no matter what is going on with us, we all deserve to have good friends 🙂 One of the most common pieces of advice I give to my callers is to reach and create new friendships. It’s SO important to a rich life.
“It occurred to Pooh 🐻 and Piglet 🐷 that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats 🎩 and coats 🧥 and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood🌲 to Eeyore’s stick house. Inside the house was Eeyore.
“Hello Eeyore,” said Pooh.
“Hello Pooh. 🐻 Hello Piglet 🐷” said Eeyore, in a Glum Sounding Voice
“We just thought we’d check in on you,” said Piglet, “because we hadn’t heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay.”
Eeyore was silent for a moment. “Am I okay?” he asked, eventually. “Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself. All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All.
Which is why I haven’t bothered you. Because you wouldn’t want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now.”
Pooh looked and Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.
Eeyore looked at them in surprise. “What are you doing?”
“We’re sitting here with you,” said Pooh, “because we are your friends. And true friends don’t care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are.” 💜💚
“Oh,” said Eeyore. “Oh.” And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better.
Because Pooh and Piglet were There.
No more; no less.”

A.A.Milne
E.H.Shepard

Full Moon in Virgo

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Romaine Brooks (American painter) 1874 – 1970 Femme avec des Fleurs (The Woman with Flowers, aka Spring), 1912 oil on canvas collection Lucile +Audouy, Paris, France

Sun in Pisces (Feb. 18th at 3:04pm Pacific)
Full Moon in Virgo today at 7:54am Pacific
Mercury in Pisces (weakened, in it’s Fall)
Mars in Taurus (neutral influence)
Venus in Capricorn (weakened)

Don’t do any Mercury or Venus magick for the next several weeks. Focus on Jupiter (in Sagittarius) and Saturn (in Capricorn) which are very strong.

Monday, February 18th: Sun into Pisces and Saturn conjunct Venus (yikes). The focus for the next month will be on spirituality, music, dreams, escapism, movies and art. The lines are blurred and it’s a confusing time, because Pisces believes “all is one”. However, there are two roads – one is connection with divinity and the other is substance abuse. Don’t fool yourself into thinking they are the same road. Focus on the middle path.
Venus conjunct Saturn today is hella rough on relationships. Not the day to process or work through issues. Try to keep responsibilities and discipline active.

Tuesday, February 19th: Full Moon at 0 Virgo. Any aspects to your chart at 0 Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius or Pisces will be magnified! Great day to organize your house, or anything really! However, Virgo’s ruler, Mercury, is currently in it’s Fall (icky place) in Pisces, so communications are unclear and goals are fuzzy. This will be continuing for several weeks because Mercury will be retrograding in Pisces early next month. Being of service and focusing on healing is the best way to navigate this hazy time.

Mercury entering Pisces until April 16th. Mercury in its Fall means the sharpness of our minds is diminished, and we turn towards our imaginations. The next month is a time for visioning, self expression and creative writing. Careful not to go too far out into fantasy and delusion! Keep the ground under your feet.

Wednesday, Feb. 20th: Full Moon in Virgo still active. Attend to healing, responsibilities and service. The abstract quality of Pisces/Neptune/water must come into balance with the actuality and detail of Virgo.

Thursday, Feb. 21st: Moon in Libra. Negotiations highlighted. Opportunities for love, romance and art.

Friday, Feb. 22nd: Moon in Libra. The energy of romance and understanding is still with us today. Good evening for socializing. Venus conjunct Pluto in the evening brings depth and intensity, and a chance for rebirth, healing and catharsis.

Saturday, Feb. 23rd: Moon in Scorpio. Lots of intensity today, with Mars opposing the Moon. Avoid confrontation but embrace rebirth.