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The Secret to Happiness

It's in the Declaration of Independence: the right to the pursuit of happiness. We feel we deserve to be happy, and we strive for it in our lives. But what does being happy really mean, and how can we do it?

Happiness "is the overall sense of being satisfied with your life as a whole," says psychologist Ken M. Sheldon, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Dr. Sheldon and Tim Kasser, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., say three top needs seem to drive happiness:

  • Autonomy (a sense that you've chosen to do what you do)
  • Competence (you're good at what you do)
  • Relatedness (you feel close to others)

In general, if you're happy, you feel confident and in control. You're more optimistic, energetic, decisive and creative. You view the world as a safer place than those who aren't happy. You have high self-esteem and a sense of meaning to your life, and you're more capable of intimacy with others.

"You're happy if you're doing the things that you want (and you're doing them well), and doing what brings you closer to other people," says Dr. Kasser.

When you're happy, work and leisure activities use your strongest skills, you form close and supportive relationships, and you're more willing to help others in need. You're also healthier.

"Our body's immune system fights disease more effectively when we are happy rather than depressed," says social psychologist David G. Myers, Ph.D., professor at Michigan's Hope College and author of several books, including The Pursuit of Happiness .

"Our happiness fluctuates around our 'happiness set point,' which disposes some people to be ever upbeat, and others down," says Dr. Myers.

Your happiness potential is a bit like your cholesterol level. Both they are influenced by your thoughts, emotions, and relationships with others also affect happiness.

But being healthy doesn't mean you're happy, and vice versa. "There are plenty of people in poor health who are happy," says Dr. Sheldon. We humans tend to adapt to change, both positive and negative.

Steps to a happier life

  • Decide to be happy. Think and act happy, so you can create the state of mind for yourself and inspire it in others.
  • Take control. If possible, take charge of your time to make effective change in your life.
  • Set goals. Choose ones that urge you forward yet also let you realistically reach them.
  • Engage your skills. Seek work and leisure activities that challenge your talents and abilities without overwhelming you.
  • Be healthy. Eat well, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.
  • Seek out others. Surround yourself with happy people and nurture these relationships.
  • Reach out. Be compassionate and focus beyond yourself, to help those in greater need.
  • Remain curious. Stay open to new people and experiences so you continue to grow.
  • Keep perspective. Take a moment each day to reflect on the positive things in your life that can make you feel grateful.

Adapted from: The Secret to Happiness by Krames Staywell

Learn the HeartMath Techniques to stop the accumulation of repetitive stressful thought patterns with Dr. Cathy Chargualaf.  Schedule a FREE consultation session to discuss your needs.

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Secrets to Finding Happiness

"Studies also have shown that one of the best predictors of happiness is whether a person considers his or her life to have a purpose," says David Niven, Ph.D., author of The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People. "Without a clearly defined purpose that people come up with themselves, they're likely to feel unsatisfied with their lives." After analyzing thousands of studies, Dr. Niven offers the following research-based secrets of happy people.

Steps to take

  • Cultivate friendships. Rekindle past relationships and take advantage of opportunities at work or among your neighbors to expand your friendship base. "People need to feel they're part of something bigger, that they care about others and are cared about by others in return," says Dr. Niven.
  • Accentuate the positive. Happy people and unhappy people explain the world differently. When an unhappy person must interpret the world, eight of ten times he or she will see the negative in an event. When a happy person does so, eight of ten times he or she will see the positive.
  • Don't confuse stuff with success. You're neither a better nor a worse person because of the kind of car you drive, the size of your home or the job you have. In one study, the availability of material resources was nine times less important to happiness than the availability of "personal" resources, such as friends and family.
  • Volunteer. Volumes of research show a strong consensus that volunteering contributes to happiness by creating an increased sense of purpose in people's lives. Volunteers, on average, are twice as likely to feel happy with their lives as people who don't volunteer.
  • Share of yourself. Don't hold your feelings, thoughts and hopes inside. Share them with your friends and family. People who hold things inside tend to feel isolated and think no one understands them. "Those who share feel supported and more content, even if events don't go exactly as they wish," Dr. Niven says.
  • Enjoy what you have. Satisfied people appreciate what they have in life and don't compare themselves to others. Valuing what you have over what you don't or can't have leads to greater happiness.
  • Cherish animals. Interaction with animals provides both immediate joy and long-term positive feelings and contributes strongly to our happiness. "Animals have so much to teach us about love," says Dr. Niven. "The closer we get to animals, the more joy they give us."
  • Don't face your problems alone. "Problems can appear to be unsolvable," he says. "But we're social creatures who need to discuss our problems with others, whether it be those who care about us most or those who have faced the same ones we have. When we're alone, problems fester. By asking for help, we can gain perspective and find solutions."

Adapted from: Secrets to Finding Happiness by Krames Staywell

Learn the HeartMath Techniques to stop the accumulation of repetitive stressful thought patterns with Dr. Cathy Chargualaf.  Schedule a FREE consultation session to discuss your needs. 

(626) 893-0340


Heart-Based Living

What does HeartMath mean by the term, Heart-Based Living?

Heart-Based Living is only a convenient reference term which implies the practice of qualifying our thoughts, feelings and actions through our heart for more effective choices and guidance. Some people prefer the terms, Heart-Focused Living, or Heart-Centered Living. All of these terms suit the purpose – it’s just a matter of individual choice.

The important point is that many people are sharing that they are being encouraged more to "follow their heart" as a result of practicing Heart-Based living.

Without management, our mind tends to dictate our understanding, actions, reactions and decisions, based largely on old learned, handed down response patterns. In today’s fast pace collective awareness, it seems quite normal for our mind to override our heart’s advice. It is normal – but it is the old normal, which is why our personal and global stress deficit stays rapidly on the increase.

For example, stress causes many people to habitually respond to pressured situations with intense anger, resentment and emotionally harmful remarks, while knowing in their hearts that this behavior is destructive to themselves and their loved ones. This is just one example of the endless ways we over-stress and age ourselves from not using our heart’s free wisdom for navigating our lives.

A Closer Look at Following Your Heart

Increasingly, people are taking a closer look at what the age-old term "following your heart "means, and more are practicing heart-based living. The term heart-based living is a simple phrase which suggest that we are including our hearts’ intuitive feeling, along with our minds, when making choices and decisions that shape our life’s direction and happiness. Following your heart is learning to discern the wisdom of your heart feelings and then stepping into it. HeartMath’s research and tools were created to make this process easier.

Heart-based living includes practicing the qualities of the heart, such as love, compassion, kindness, patience, forgiveness, cooperation and more of these similar qualities. Being heart-based does not require being religious or belonging to any particular spiritual path. It is an intelligent way of living that would reduce most of the stress, separation and greed which drives the major problems that keep us from getting along with each other.

HeartMath founder Doc Childre explains:

  • "Heart-based living refers to all intentions and actions that express qualities of the heart in daily life. These heart qualities can include acts of appreciating or caring for others, expressing kindness and compassion or giving back by volunteering with others to relieve suffering in humans or animals and to help the planet. These behavioral practices unfold the higher potentials of our true self.
  • "Becoming our true self involves the fading of self-centeredness, judgment and separation, and through the practice of compassion, kindness and cooperation, while learning to increase the coherence between our heart, mind and emotions in our day-to-day energy expenditures. This brings about the elusive ‘peace’ humanity has searched for forever.
  • "Heart-based living empowers co-creation with others for the benefit of all. In these robust shifting times, I feel that increased stress will finally nudge more people to live from the heart, not because of religion or philosophy, but because it will prove out to be highly practical, common sense – the new ‘spiritual’, possibly."

Source: HeartMath posted this originally in September 2012 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

You can learn more about the power and intelligence of the intuitive heart and the Science of the Heart with Dr. Cathy Chargualaf.  Schedule a FREE consultation session to discuss your needs. 

(626) 893-0340


Women and Stress

It has often been shown that women are the worriers and often do not make time to manage their health and take care of themselves. Below shows what effects stress can have on women and offers effective strategies that can help them reduce the negative effects of everyday stressors.

Stress is on the rise for women as they struggle to find a balance between their homes and careers. Read below to recognize the signs of stress, and what you can do to combat it.


  • The work load is rising for women. Due to the current recession, this has caused a greater need for women to work outside the home to support their families. Women who work to contribute to their family's income has increased by 9% (38% in 1988 and 47% in 2009).
  • Women are more stressed than men. Women report feeling higher levels of stress. Average stress levels rates on a 10-point scale showed that men scored an average score of 4.6, and women scored an average score of 5.3 (7% more than men).


Stress can lead to these health effects:

  • Increased Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke. Women who experience high levels of stress were 40% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
  • Hair loss. Significant emotional or psychological stress can cause a physiological imbalance, leading to hair loss.
  • Poor Digestion. Prolonged stress can increase stomach acid, causing indigestion and discomfort and in some cases IBS and ulcers.
  • Depression. Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression. Extreme stress can be a trigger for depression.
  • Irregular Periods. Stress can alter the body’s hormone balance, which can lead to missed, late, or irregular periods.
  • Reduced Sex Drive. Major life changes that cause stress, or prolonged stress, can lower libido. Elevated levels of cortisol suppress the body’s natural sex hormones.
  • Acne Breakouts. Raised cortisol can cause excess oil production, leading to more breakouts.
  • Weight Gain. High levels of cortisol are linked to more weight around the belly area, and a decreased metabolism.
  • Insomnia. Stress is a common cause of insomnia. Tossing and turning at night can lead to many sleepless nights.


How to manage your stress:

  • Practice Relaxation. Relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or listening to soothing music can help reduce stress levels.
  • Eat Healthy. Eat heart healthy food ands well-balanced meals. Avoid overeating processed, salty, or sugary foods.
  • Calm Your Mind. Excessive worrying neve helps a stressful situation. Accept the thigs you cannot change and focus on what you want instead of dwell on the past.
  • Enjoy Nature. Try to make time for the outdoors. A walk in the fresh air surrounded by beautiful nature can do wonders for your stress.
  • Quality Time. Spend time with the ones you love. Feelings of guilt can be overwhelming when you know you are not getting enough time with your children or significant other. Make it a priority.
  • Get Enough Sleep. It can be tough to get enough sleep with a busy schedule. Strive for at least 6-8 hours each night to keep your stress levels at bay.


Practice steps one and two together for a minute or so and see how you feel. This technique is especially useful when you start to feel stress. Practice using it as soon as you start to feel stressful emotions to keep them from escalating into something worse.

Step 1: Heart-Focused Breathing

  • Image you are breathing through your heart or chest area. Putting your attention here helps you center yourself and get coherent. Take slow, deep breaths.
  • Suggestions: Inhale for 3 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds – or whatever is comfortable for you.

Step 2: Activate a Positive Feeling

  • Recall how it felt when you were appreciated or when you felt appreciation for something or someone. Or you can focus on a calm, neutral feeling.
Learn the HeartMath Quick Coherence and more techniques with Dr. Cathy Chargualaf. 

Schedule a FREE consultation session to discuss your needs. (626) 893-0340

 Source: HeartMath


How Hypnotherapy Can Benefit You

Many people appear to be skeptical when it comes to hypnotherapy and how it can have a positive impact on the way you think. There are many common myths about hypnotherapy which lead people to question its effectiveness. It has been used for over half a century to treat many dozens of issues.

From being used to control pain through hypnobirthing, to helping aid weight loss, treat addiction and also improve symptoms of anxiety and depression; hypnotherapy has been proven to be an extremely effective method of solution-focused therapy.

Hypnotherapy works by getting your body and mind into a deep form of relaxation which allows you to access your subconscious and work through issues more effectively. Regular hypnotherapy sessions can help you change the thoughts and beliefs that cause behavioral patterns in your life.

80% of UK workers claim that they feel stressed and reducing stress through hypnotherapy is proven to be a much healthier alternative to using medicinal treatments. There is also a huge 90.6% success rate for hypnosis that has been used to quit smoking. Hypnotherapy can also be used to help with the following issues:

  • Weight loss and overeating
  • Smoking
  • Anger management
  • Sports performance
  • Performance anxiety and public speaking
  • Fears and phobias
  • Anxiety, panic and depression
  • PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
  • Writer’s block
  • Confidence and self-esteem

Hypnotherapy features a number of the benefits and how it can be used to positively change negative behaviors, habits and ways of thinking.

Dr. Cathy Chargualaf specializes in providing solution-focused hypnotherapy to help overcome issues with stress, fears and phobias, performance anxiety, weight control, building resilience and more. Dr. Chargualaf uses her professionalism and experience to help, guide and support clients to help them achieve their individual goals and solve problems they are currently facing.

Learn how Hypnotherapy with Dr. Cathy Chargualaf can help you. 

Schedule a FREE consultation session to discuss your needs. 

(626) 893-0340


Solution for Overcoming Anxiety

Recognizing Anxiety

Anxiety can be described as any or a combination of feelings that all have their roots in some type of fear, including unease, worry, apprehension, dread, powerlessness or a sense of impending danger – real or imagined. Symptoms can be wide-ranging: the mind goes blank or other cognitive functions are lost, obsessive thoughts, phobias, chronic worry, ongoing unease, sweaty palms, tension headaches, trembling, difficulty breathing, dizziness, panic attacks, increased heart rate and palpitations. Anxiety disorders such as panic attacks may result from certain physiological conditions, most notably heart arrhythmias, and anyone who experiences this should seek immediate advice to make sure the cause of the attacks is not physical.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 40 million American adults – that’s 18% of the population – have anxiety disorders, which often begin in childhood. Social phobia alone, when people become overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations, affects 15 million adults, and specific phobias, an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger, affects 19.2 million adults in the U.S.

“Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained. - Arthur Somers Roche, American journalist, writer, 1883-1935.

Anxiety is a feeling, a type of emotion. Some anxiety such as fight or flight is encoded in our genetic makeup and is a normal human response to many of life’s uncertainties. Among them nervousness over an impending test or a sought-after job, uneasiness in a relationship or concern over the health of a loved one, speaking or performing in public, or worry in the workplace for a variety of reasons (the most common being the employee performance review). It is when anxiety becomes exaggerated that this otherwise natural human emotion can threaten our well-being.

“As the turbulence of anxiety churns in the subconscious and plays out in your thoughts and actions … it can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, hormone imbalances, health problems and premature aging.” “Transforming Anxiety”, Childre, Rozman 2004.

Years of research by the HeartMath Institute has shown you can achieve a healthy balance in your emotions. Learn to stop feeding anxious feelings, create new emotional patterns and behaviors and replace the negative ones that have been draining your energy and spirit. HeartMath scientific research and controlled studies have shown your own “heart intelligence” holds the key to this transformation. By achieving coherence in your heart, mind and spirit you can maintain a calm, balanced, yet alert state at home, school, work and play.

A HeartMath TIP:

You’ll be amazed at how much calmer and relaxed you feel after trying these three quick steps adapted from the HeartMath Notice and Ease® tool, which has helped so many reduce their anxiety.

  • Notice and admit what you are feeling.
  • Try to name the feeling.
  • Tell yourself to e-a-s-e—as you gently focus in your heart, breathe a little slower and deeper than usual, and e-a-s-e the stress out.

Benefits of Reducing Anxiety

  • Stress hormones decrease, energy level increases, and you feel better
  • Stronger, more satisfying relationships
  • Quality of life and feeling of empowerment increases
  • Reduce “overwhelm” – time pressure, information and stimulation overload, mentally scattered feelings and impatience.
  • Decrease projections of worst-case scenarios, negative thinking
  • Improved memory, cognitive functions

Adapted from: HeartMath, Originally published in 2010

Learn the HeartMath Techniques to stop the accumulation of repetitive stressful thought patterns with Dr. Cathy Chargualaf.  Schedule a FREE consultation session to discuss your needs. 

(626) 893-0340

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