Tag Archives: happiness

Gratitude 2.0

I’ve known the power of gratitude for a long time. I often ask myself the question: What am I grateful for, or note down the things that go well. From Positive Psychology Research there is proven science that writing down 3 things a day that you are grateful for or that went well, for 30 days in a row, will enhance your overall levels of happiness after six months, even after quitting doing the exercise after the initial 30 days. (Seligman)

In my trainings, I sometimes have participants ask eachother “what are you grateful for” and repeat this question for at least one minute, so you get past the obvious big ones (good health, nice house, family, children) and get into the small, but also significant ones (sunshine, good coffee, smell of a flower, etc)

Last week I had an insight that being grateful for the things that go well, is easy, but focussing one way only. What would happen if I also could be able to be grateful for the things in my life that are uncomfortable or painful? Because looking back on your life’s experiences, it’s often our hardships that come with our biggest lessons that enable us to move forward in ways that feel so much better and more aligned with who we are.

I tried it, doing the same exercise with someone else asking me “what are you grateful for?” over and over again. I started out with some positive ones and then ¬†shifted to negative experiences. The result was eye-opening. All that ever happened and happens in my life is part of my whole life-experience and I can be grateful for that. It brought me a sense of acceptance and feeling peace with everything that IS.

What are you grateful for?

Lots of Love,

Annemarie Steen

 

 

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Selfmarriage – Big fat wedding or private ceremony?

A self-marriage is a very private inward process, so having a private ceremony makes sense. At the same time it feels like something I would like to share and celebrate with my family, friends and others as my witness. Sometimes I introduce myself as an introvert with exhibitionist tendencies ūüėČ so, I decided to do both, something private and something public.

On sunday March 12th, I woke up early and it was one of those early sunny springdays in the Netherlands, that make your heart jump with joy. It felt like the right day for my private ceremony. Also it was a full moon day that added that little extra special to it.

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I took a long shower and put on a little white dress that I had bought last minute on Ibiza the day before. I wore something old (my underware ;-)), something new (my dress and necklace), something borrowed (my earrings and the white flower in my hear – thank you Luna) and something blue (I polished 1 nail blue). I played music and danced, feeling very happy. Then around 11 o’clock I went outside to find a nice spot in the sun, under an old plumtree with my ring in my hand. I got married to myself at 11.11h saying YES to Life, Love and Myself, while putting on my ring. Then I opened up the champagne and celebrated dancing just by myself. It was beautiful.

Three months ago, when this idea came up, I saw an invitation from Parktheatre Eindhoven for speakers during the Dutch Happiness Week (13-17 March 2017). I applied in december with my selfmarriage idea, saying that I wasn’t sure how this experiment was going to end, but that I would like to share my journey and insights. They agreed and said I was welcome. So I invited my family and friends to come to this event, that was also open for others to attend. The local newspaper got hold of my story and published an article about it.

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Thursday March 16th Parktheatre. Because of the Dutch Happiness Week my selfmarriage event was open to the public, so besides my invited family and friends there were about 30% guests that I didn’t know, around 50 people in total.

I shared my three month journey towards my self-marriage and my insights along the way. My weddingvows are a summary of my insights that I fitted into the acronym LIEFDE (which is the dutch word for LOVE). My promise is;

Listen to my body, because my body knows

Invest quality time in myself and my relationships

Emotions (all of them!) are welcome

Focus on the positive (unless something negative calls for serious attention) and Focus on the Now

Dare to be different, to be myself and to show myself

Energy is everything! (I take responsability for my own energy and uplift energy of others where I can)

My (almost 8 year old) daughter Luna wanted to ask me some questions in front of the audience, that she prepared herself without me knowing what they were. She asked me How I felt after I married myself, Why I married myself and How I did it. Great questions!

Finally I asked the audience to think of one thing that if they were to marry themselves, what promise they would want to make to themselves and to write this down on a card to take home.

Then we popped some bottles of champagne and toasted on life, love and ourselves. It felt really heartwarming to receive so many smiles, congratulations and feedback that my story had touched their hearts and made them think about their own lives.


In the evening I took my family and boyfriend out for dinner. My parents gave me a special weddingpresent, a golden necklace from my mother. What a wonderful gesture of love ‚̧.

I couldn’t think of a better, more perfect way to finish this three month sabbatical playful learning journey. Monday back to work, feeling whole and happy.

Lots of Love

Annemarie

Selfmarriage – Walking in love

img_3721I like going for a morningwalk on a regular basis¬†(usually around 45min), so it seemed like a nice idea to walk from the house I currently live in, in Veldhoven, to the house that I was born in (where my parents still live) in Soest, Netherlands. So I put on my walking shoes, packed a little bagpack and just started walking on a Mondaymorning. I thought it would be possible to walk the distance of 125km in 5 days. This meant that I was walking 5/6 hours a day. The temperature was around zero. I navigated with google maps and sometimes a compass when I wanted to take a nice route through fields or a forest without roads. It’s funny how food becomes important when you are walking. So I navigated myself to stops for a coffee- or hot chocolate break in the morning, a nice lunch in the afternoon, a late afternoon tea or beer and a place to eat and sleep for the night. I used friends, Airbnb, booking.com and bedandbreakfast.eu for my sleeps.

img_3788I expected the trip to be about going back to my roots. It turned out differently in  a very nice way. I totally loved the experience of walking by myself for such a long time. It was about being present in the moment with all my senses being tickled; seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, touching. I totally fell in love with LIFE!

It also felt great that I could shamelessly burb, fart, talk to myself, sing and sometimes make funny dancemoves to motivate myself when I got tired or bored. A good friend recently told me that if his daughter (who’s now 6 years old) ever wants his parental advice on her boyfriend, he has two questions for her. 1. Does he make you feel good about yourself? And 2. Does he make you laugh? I learned during this trip that I can make myself feel good about myself and that I can actually make img_3785myself laugh. I’m surprisingly funny when I get bored ūüėČ And because I was feeling good, I met nice people, had nice conversations and ended up in very nice places. (you receive what you radiate).

On Day 3 I started having pain in my left knee. My knee was obviously less happy than I was. At the end of day 4, it really hurt badly. I ended up in a nice cosy gardenhouse, with an old dutch ‘bedstee’ and a fireplace. I asked myself the question: “What would a person who really loves herself do?” (a question I often asked myself during this selfmarriage journey, inspired by spiritual teacher Teal Swan) and I answered myself that it was totally ok to quit the next morning if my knee wasn’t feeling better. This trip wasn’t about reaching the endgoal, it was about falling in love with LIFE. And I already did accomplish that. I called my mother who planned to walk the last day with me. We decided that my parents would come the next morning and that I would decide then to walk or to ride home with them.

img_3806The next morning, after a cosy nights rest in the ‘bedstee’ with a warm water bottle (‘kruik’) my knee felt much better. My mother had brought an elastic kneeband and a walking stick. My father took my backpack home. We decided to call him if it didn’t work out and off we went. My mother is 70 years old, but very active and sporty (rows 3 times a week). She has a new hip that works perfectly. And ofcourse we started catching up while we were walking. It was funny to notice the big difference in experience of walking by myself or with someone else. After 1,5 hours I suggested to stop talking and enjoy and appreciate the nature around us.

img_3815After 5 hours of walking (with a big lunchbreak) we arrived at my parental house in Soest, where I was born 45 years ago. I made it! Feeling happy and proud.

My main insights of this trip;

Love LIFE, talk less, stretch yourself but not too much (also take care), the Netherlands are beautiful, connect to nature, spend time alone, allow yourself to get bored, do things that make you feel good, happy people connect easily to others, appreciate little things.

Lots of Love,

Annemarie

 

TEDxTallaght I What happens when you press PLAY I Annemarie Steen

From Playing the Game of Seriousness, it’s now time for playing a different game: The Game of SeriousLESS…and to allow and welcome our authentic and playful selves to come back to the surface. Not only at home, but especially at work. Besides the fact that this will increase our mental health and sense of well-being, it will also bring us vital lifeskills to deal with today’s fast changing and complex world.

You’re welcome to join¬†my¬†playful community¬†to get updates, inspiration and resources on Playfulness & Playful Learning.

Playfully yours,

Annemarie Steen

The Hero’s Journey – Making money doing what you love

Proud to be one of the Hero’s in this months issue of “The Hero’s Journey” by Peter de Kuster.

With enthusiasm,¬†Annemarie Steen ūüėČ

For updates and resources on Playfulness & Playful Learning, you’re welcome to follow (like) my Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/licensetoplay

Explosion of Happy video’s on youtube…and I couldn’t resist making one too.

Happy in Eindhoven1682 video’s from 142 countries! (at this moment) Have a look at this impressive list of cities that have done a Happy video clip on the hit song “Happy” from Pharrell Williams.

When I looked at this list two months ago, I say that Eindhoven, my city was not in the list. And I decided to be the one to change that fact. Why? Because I love to see people playful, spontaneous, a little crazy and daring to step out of their comfort zone. And this seemed to be the perfect chance to invite them to do just that. So, I started a facebookgroup and invited people of my hometown to join the project. I asked them on what special location in Eindhoven they wanted to have their 30sec ‘of fame’ to do a little dance. A week before the shoot I made a planning of all locations and posted this on the group.

The day itself (April 19th) everything went awesome. We were lucky to have perfect weather, everybody was at their locations in time, all very happy, some even rehearsing with a large group of friends they brought along. The youngest was 5 years old, the oldest 88! We (Me, Mike with his videocamera and Aikje with her photo camera) were shooting from 10am until 9pm, visiting 15 different locations. I was also very lucky to find a sponsor for the editing, because I have no expertise in that area. Ad Mulders did a gr8 job.

And here’s the end result! Enjoy!

When your city is not in the list (yet), I can highly recommend to make one yourself. You get a lot of happy vibes from doing it. Good luck!

Playful Greetings,

Annemarie Steen

For more updates on Playfulness & Playful Learning, follow my Facebookpage

 

Hospitality Industry struggles with Experience Economy

When we travel, we all have hotelexperienceto sleep. Why are we prepared to pay ‚ā¨ 25 for¬†a night sleep in a hostel, ‚ā¨ 50 for a bed & breakfast, ‚ā¨ 100 for a three star hotel and ‚ā¨ 500 for an exclusive hotel? Where we choose to sleep differs and varies with our travelpurpose (business, holiday, romantic weekend), our budget and our previous experience or¬†reviews from friends or total strangers on a website.¬†This is in a nutshell what the Experience Economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1999) is. We are prepared to pay a higher price when the added value and experience is perceived to be higher.¬†“We are on the threshold, say authors Pine and Gilmore, of the Experience Economy, a new economic era in which all businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers.”

wow experienceBut when do we become¬†loyal clients that come back? And when do we become ambassadors for¬†a hotel or restaurant and tell our friends about our experience? Only when the reality is perceived better than what we expected to get. Only¬†when we got¬†the WOW-Experience. And this is where the struggle for high end luxury hotels and restaurants begins. The expectations are allready very high when the guest comes in. Ofcourse¬†a hotelguest of¬†a luxury hotel¬†will expect to get a spacious room that’s superclean, with a nice view, well designed interiors, good and various choices of food, a beautiful spa and swimmingpool and friendly and professional staff. So, what will give him this extra memorable experience? Is it a well orchestrated show with lights and music, an unexpected flashmob of dancing staff, a singing waiter on rollerblades? I don’t think so.

I believe the Hospitality Industry focusses too much on design and concepts. Ofcourse I was stunned with the view on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, the first time I saw the 150m wide infinity pool, but will this experience bring me back the next time? No, I don’t believe so.¬†So what will?

real-fake smileIt’s connecting with the people and the atmosphere that they bring into the hotel that makes the difference. And with connecting I don’t mean the professional and helpful smile I get when I ask a question. It’s connecting from heart-to-heart. From one human being to another. Sharing a joke or a laugh, a concerned look when you share that your child is sick at home. The singing waiter can be a memorable experience to come back for, if the singing waiter is genuinely enjoying what he’s doing, radiating with fun¬†and connecting to others, in stead of doing a daily routine like the pianoplayer in the lobby.¬†I believe orchestrating experiences to deliver something new, only lasts for a short time and doesn’t create the loyal guest that returns and returns. We all know and feel that a theatre play is not real, however nicely performed. Or are you the kind of person that likes to see the same show over and over again? It’s fake or real that makes a the difference. Can you tell the difference between a real and fake smile in the picture? (Pine & Gilmore also realized this when they wrote their other¬†book “Authenticity”, 2007)

Still, stafftraining for Hospitality Industry is often focussing on doing things right and in the same (our) way. A very logical left brain way of doing things. This results in professionalism with a bit of a distance, easy to measure and control,but leaving very little room for acting out of the box.

So how to get this genuine personal touch into the picture?

Work on well-being, happiness and playfulness with your staff. Playful Training will allow them to open up, connect with others from their own selves and dare to come up with creative ideas to engage with the guests in new and memorable ways that come from their hearts.

Let me hear what you think.

Playfully yours,

Annemarie Steen (Playful Facilitator & Speaker of 21st century Leadership Skills)

Look what happened after a two day Joy-Care Leadership workshop that I delivered with www.ha-p.com for the management¬†of Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore. A few participants dared to take the initiative of organizing this ‘Coffee Break Dance’ where colleagues share the fun of leaving their comfortzone. Do you think the laughter is fake (orchestrated) or genuine (from the heart)?