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Chocolate Making You Cheery

In moderation, food can make us extremely happy. Give me a bite of Adam’s Peanut Butter cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory and I’ve gone to heaven. So when this new study came out about the benefits of chocolate, saying that a little dose per day can reduce heart disease risk by over 35%, I was naturally overjoyed. Chocolate is one of my favorite delights and I’d venture to say that I eat it every day. Chocolate chip cookies, chocolate covered almonds, Twix…the list goes on and unfortunately so would my waistline if I kept going!

I got up close and personal with this story—or at least, my mouth did. I was on Nightly News with Brian Williams yesterday eating a piece of chocolate. Viewers saw only a second of me chomping away but I had to eat nugget after nugget of chocolate. I think I went past happy and into chocolate hangover at that point. A little goes a long way, that’s for sure.

Here’s the story for you to see. My mouth is at the very end of the piece.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I hope you’ll take the time to enjoy the foods that you’re eating. Don’t just sit in front of the tele or the computer screen, not savoring your classic turkey sandwich. Make meals special when you can. Surround yourself with people and get happy together with a meal. Just make sure it ends with chocolate.

What foods make you happy?

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Snail Mail My Email Sunny Star: Ivan Cash

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about “Snail Mail My Email,” a homage to the handwritten letter (read here). Ivan Cash started the idea, hoping that a few hundred people would participate. Instead, thousands of people sent in emails. These emails became letters as volunteers wrote, drew, and even sealed the letters with kisses to people all over the world. I was lucky enough to have Ivan share his story personally. Not only did Ivan have the courage to take a brilliant idea and make it happen, he spread happiness to thousands of people around the world by showing how a signed, sealed, and delivered letter can make you smile.

Enjoy—and write your own letter today!

1.      What inspired you to start Snail Mail My Email?

I started Snail Mail My Email because I was fed up with how much time I was spending emailing, Facebook messaging, and texting. Handwritten letters is a communicative medium I really value, for its physical tangibility and for the patience and thoughtfulness it requires—and I sought a way to turn myself back on the snail mail as well as to show the accessibility of it to others.

2. How do you think a handwritten letter brings more happiness than an email or Facebook message?

A handwritten letter brings more happiness than email or Facebook messages because it takes time. We live in a culture where people are forgetting the value of slow, of patience, of mindfulness. Everything is speed based. But if you move too fast, it can quickly get overwhelming. Handwritten letters slows people down, and you can appreciate receiving snail mail because you know someone took the time to write it. It’s a very intimate act and shows someone you care about them.

3. What has been one of your favorite letters?

My favorite letters have been the ones people I know have received through the project. Content aside, it’s been very satisfying to see direct results of snail mail more fully integrating into the lives of my friends, family, and peers.

That being said, I also really enjoy reading letters that are unexpected, insightful, and creative like a letter of acceptance from Hogwarts or letters to infants meant to serve as a handwritten letter artifact (anticipating the extinction of snail mail).

4.      How do you think this project has brought people together from around the world?

I don’t know if this project has brought people together per say, aside from the bonding of the SMME team. Using a third person to handwrite a letter from you to someone you presumably know is admittedly kind of weird. My hope however is that this project will inspire people to come together from around the world, by encouraging them to send more snail mail.

5. What’s been your happiest memory during your project?

On the project’s fourth day, over 1,000 letter requests came in and I had to take down the site. I considered ending it prematurely, and had no idea how it would move forward in a similar capacity. It just seemed impossible. But then Lucy Tan from Shangai contacted me and offered to volunteer, and an hour later we were talking on a Skype call and brainstorming possible ways to make the project viable. She decided to come on board as project manager for a month-long commitment. We then reached out to Terry Farris from Oklahoma City and he joined as administrator. By the project’s end, we had 234 volunteers from around the world. That was so cool. My happiest memory during this project is the dedication and generosity of so many volunteers coming together to help promote a cause (in this case, the lost art of letter writing). SO inspiring. It’s been humbling.

6. Did you write a letter yourself?

I wrote one letter (from an alias email) to my father for his 70th birthday. It arrived and was perfect.

7. Where do you go from here?

Specifically in regards to this project, a book (a la Post Secret) is in the works. Fingers crossed that a publisher picks it up!!

And then, going forward, in addition to the freelance work I do that helps pay the bills, my goal is to continue to work on activist based art projects that are both fulfilling for me and contribute positively to the world. I love working on things that challenge pre-conceived notions and encourage critical thinking. Culture jamming stuff. I love projects that have tension and are edgy. Anything inspiring though, really. I love banksy and improv everywhere and how prolific they’ve become in spreading unexpected joy. I’d like to collaborate with people that inspire me and just keep doing stuff and see where it goes.

I’ve been really into Buddhism lately, and so am wondering what I might be able to do with that issue in terms of spreading its messages across. If anyone reading is interested in future collaboration, feel free to email me. Film editors, web devs, and other professional creatives are a plus.

8. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

-People who are interested can join Snail Mail My Email’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/snailmailmyemail

-For people who have a bit too much time on their hands, you can follow my creative inspiration blog: http://shwizle.tumblr.com/

Thank you so much Ivan for such an outstanding interview. You are inspiration for us all so that we can take tradition and make it a part of TODAY.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

An Enchanting Life Where Sparks Fly

There are some people in this world who radiate happiness. I think everyone has this inner light in them, but some people really let it shine. One of those people is Taylor Swift. As one of the most successful young adults in the world, I think Taylor is “winning” not only because of her voice, but because of her charm, enthusiasm, and happiness. Being genuinely friendly is the key to not only success, but to living a good life. Taylor is a Sunny Star wherever she goes.

I’m writing about Taylor today because I have just recently learned that I’ve been invited to see her perform at the Staples Center tonight. I can’t wait! I love her music and she can sure put on a show. I saw her two years ago at the Staples Center and I know this tour will be just as great, if not better than the last performance.

How can you live a life like Taylor’s? Here are some Sunny Suggestions to put in practice:

1. Take it all in: You can often tell how grateful Taylor is when she performs. She often just looks at the crowd and smiles. Try to look at your life in the same way. Have the same awe that Taylor has for the wonders of this world.

2. Write: One of Taylor’s major talents is her song-writing skills. Not many artists can boast that today. Taylor knows how healing writing can be and she takes it to another level by putting it in song. Write out your life story—you’ll experience so much more meaning in the process.

3. Love—a lot: Taylor is always open to love, but she’s not afraid to leave it behind either. She’s a confident girl when it comes to the dating scene. Take that for your own life—learn from each love and let go when you need to do so.

4. Smile: Studies show that you’ll feel naturally happier when you smile. Taylor does this all of the time. Smile away, baby! Just be sure you mean it.

5. Meet anyone and everyone: Taylor has never been a diva. She loves her fans and she has never turned one down. She’s never been above them, she’s always been right alongside. The same goes for everyone, no matter who you are. Never look down on someone, they could be the ones to bring you up.

I’ll let you know how the show goes—I’m so happy about it!

Here’s to living an enchanted life where sparks fly.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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