Cultivating true happiness? Here's how!

Many people find themselves struggling against external ideas about what should make them happy. What’s the one thing you’re pining for in your life that would make you happier, if only it would happen? A new job? Romance? More Instagram followers? There’s always something, that’s for sure.

There are so many conceptions out there that you have to have something by a certain age, you have to have everything in place. Research shows external factors have the power to make us happier in the moment, but cultivating a deep sense of happiness is a much different project that spans far beyond any promotion or number of likes.

Here are a few things, proven through research, to help you cultivate true happiness.

  1. Get more sleep Getting enough sleep is so important for our overall well-being, on so many levels! The vast majority of us need somewhere between seven and eight hours of sleep a night. 

    In addition, more than a decade ago, Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported chronic lack of sleep can weaken the immune system, make maintaining a healthy weight more difficult, contribute to high blood pressure, and interfere with learning and memory. It’s hard to believe something free has so many amazing benefits—or that we’re not all getting enough of it every night.

  2. Exercise Exercise, like sleep, is a quick ticket to happiness, with even more immediate effects on mood. A recent study by the Black Dog Institute in Australia found even just one to two hours a week of exercise, defined as an activity that raises the heart rate and gets you warm and slightly out of breath, has a whole host of physical and mental benefits.

  3. Spend time outdoors This may make you tweak your exercise routine to do double duty. While that candlelit spin experience is sure to boost your endorphins, a lower intensity jog or even a brisk walk outside gets you closer to something researchers are finding makes humans very happy: nature.

  4. Find meaning Here’s where things get a little trickier. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and spending time outdoors are all pretty much guaranteed to quickly improve your mood. They’re also simple to plan and execute. But what about your internal monologue and your overall satisfaction with your life and what it all means?

    A growing body of research is differentiating between two different types of happiness: hedonic and eudaimonic. Hedonic well-being is instant-gratification stuff like getting a present, collecting a record number of likes on your latest Instagram masterpiece, or going out on Friday night. Eudaimonic well-being stems from an overall sense of building a meaningful life. The two can dovetail—maybe you’re headed out on Friday night with an old and dear friend, for instance. The relationship is eudaimonic, while the activity itself may be hedonic.

    We all find meaning in different places: work, relationships, family, and volunteering. This kind of happiness can also be described as a sense of purpose—and cultivating these elements in your life can take years and a good amount of self-knowledge.

  5. Maintain relationships The Harvard Study of Adult Development is the longest running longitudinal study on happiness, and its main takeaways all have to do with relationships. The qualities that showed up time and time again in the happiest lives? Spending time with others regularly; long-term relationships; investing in the future by having children or establishing strong mentor-like bonds with younger people; and having social support systems. (There’s that eudaimonic well-being again!) Maybe call a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with and look into some volunteer opportunities, like spending time at a nursing home.

  6. Listen to yourself This one may require some self-examination and soul searching to figure out. I regularly work with clients to help them find clarity in terms of what they actually want to do with their lives versus external pressures telling them what they “should” be doing. I also advocate for self-compassion. Many patients who come to see me are very hard on themselves.

    recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that when we repress emotions we don’t perceive as correct—say, ambivalence over motherhood, or being angry when we think we should be happy—we end up less happy than if we would simply express our inconvenient emotions. Cultivating respect for your inner voice—whether it’s a fleeting weird emotion that you need to just sit with, or a change in career paths to something more meaningful to you—is a lot harder than going to bed earlier. But it may be the ultimate key to deep happiness.

  7. Spend money on experiences not things Whenever you go shopping, whether it’s in person or simply hitting the “place your order” button on Amazon, it’s not uncommon to feel an instant thrill and get excited about your new purchase. It happens to all of us. Unfortunately, that happiness doesn’t last. Past research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found the only way spending money is going to make you happy is if it’s on life-benefiting experiences—not more material objects that are only going to add clutter to your life.

    When you save up for a trip rather than spending your entire paycheck on new workout clothes, you’ll be able to go on an adventure that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Ones that are so meaningful and profound you won’t even feel the need to share all of them on your Instagram Stories. 

  8. Unplug often Technology undoubtedly makes your life easier. You can buy your latte with a flash of your phone and tell Alexa to order your groceries. But with as many perks as it adds to your life, happiness isn’t always one of them. According to the World Happiness Report, activities related to smartphones and digital media, including the endless scrolling on your social media platforms, have been linked time and time again to decreased happiness. In fact, those who unplug often are typically happier overall. So, post your cute dog pics to Instagram, then take a break from the screen for the rest of the night and play with your pup without social media.

  9. Grab a good book Speaking of unplugging, one of the best ways to do so is to grab a good book. In an online survey of 4,164 adults, researchers found regular readers not only had less feelings of stress and depression, but also felt happier about themselves and their lives overall. The best part is you only need 30 minutes a week to see improvements in your happiness levels, and there are so many options to choose from, whether you want to pick up one of the buzziest wellness reads of the year, hit up your local library, or download some free classics online.

Find the full article at Well+Good.



If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Check out my services to see which one might fit your needs. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment here!

Relationship Pitfalls to be Aware Of

I think it’s safe to say, everyone loves love, whether you’re all about commitment or prefer to fly solo. The initial stages of a relationship can have you feeling like you’re on cloud 9 - the excitement, the butterflies, the attention, you know the feeling! However, once the “honeymoon" phase” has worn off and some time has passed, reality kicks in and certain relationship pitfalls can land you in hot water if you don’t know how to navigate them.

Making a relationship last for the long haul can be incredibly difficult! People naturally evolve and change and, unfortunately, sometimes, they aren’t able to do it together. That said, relationships are a choice and, while severing ties can be healthy in many instances, if you’re both in it to win it, playing for keeps can still be done.

Here are some relationship landmines to steer clear of on the path to forever.

Living in Absolute Certainty

Certainty is the end of a good relationship in most cases. Certainty leads to taking people for granted and that leads to increased friction and, ultimately, a break may occur.

Acknowledging and accepting change is important (even if it leads to the end of a relationship). It will help you appreciate your significant other more and see them as someone to continue to fight for.

Pointing Fingers

The secret to a healthy and long-lasting love is actually somewhat simple, but it requires each party to being fully accountable for their role. When it comes to conflict, couples often focus on how their significant other has wronged or hurt them. The sooner people learn that the only thing they can change is themselves, the better off they’ll be.

Without work from both sides it is almost impossible to fix a relationship. Getting couples to see the problem as something they both created, and not just making it about the other person, is one of the first aspects of relationship I attempt to change.

Ignoring Love Languages

Knowing the little things that your partner responds to - touch, words of affirmation, quality time, thoughtful acts, etc. — is pretty crucial in keeping things healthy and happy over time.

 The language you most respond to is also the vehicle in which you express your love. If you don’t know what the other person responds to, you give what you want. In doing so, however, you slowly lose understanding of your partner, which can lead to a disconnect.

Attacking Each Other Instead of the Problem

If you continuously attack each other, you’re slowly stripping your partner of their dignity. Put your issues on the table and keep your focus on that. If you just throw a bandage on top of a dirty wound, it’s not going to heal correctly or fully. It’s when you pour the antiseptic solution on the wound that it’s purified and can heal well.

For instance, lack of communication is a popular pitfall in long-term relationships. It’s not about ‘We don’t know how to communicate’; What they should be asking is, ‘What did we lose in the communication process?’ and ‘When did I stop feeling safe?’ It gets deeper and what is actually lost is safety.

At the end of the day, relationships — no matter how healthy or peaceful — are work. You have to be game to put your all in if you’re running toward the finish line.

Relationships are not 50/50, they should be 100 percent. Always bring 100 percent of yourself.

If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!

Why You Need To Know Your Partner's Love Language

Knowing a partner’s love language just might save a relationship. The idea behind this psychology is that every individual has a different way that they give and receive love. Dr. Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, argues that these ways can be divided up into 5 simple categories:

  1. Acts of Service

    If your #1 Love Language is “Acts of Service,” you feel most loved and appreciated when your partner thinks about what they can do to ease the responsibilities that are weighing on you. Hearing “let me help you with that” or “I already took care of it” is most exciting to you. Laziness, failure to perform their share of chores, or being unthoughtful with how they can help you are all easy ways for you to feel unappreciated and unloved.

  2. Word of Affirmation

    If your #1 Love Language is “Words of Affirmation,” actions do not speak louder than words. Unsolicited compliments make you feel secure and happy in your relationship. Hearing “I love you” on a regular basis is important to you, and helps you to believe you are loved. Hearing the reasons behind why they love you is icing on the happy-relationship cake. Insults are not easily forgotten and not hearing enough words of affirmation will make you feel unloved.

  3. Quality Time

    Having your partner’s undivided attention is the time when you feel most appreciated. Distractions during quality time or postponing dates can make you feel like you aren’t important to your partner. Scheduling the time to be together is crucial to the success of your relationship.

  4. Receiving Gifts

    If this is your #1 language, don’t question your character. It actually has more to do with the thought behind the gift than the gift itself. You appreciate the thoughtfulness behind gift giving (whether it’s a grand birthday present or bringing home your favorite magazine from a trip to the drugstore). All gifts, whether small and daily or big and grand, remind you how much you matter to your partner and how much thoughtfulness and effort they think you’re worth. Missed birthdays or thoughtless gifts are your relationship nightmare because it makes you feel like your partner doesn’t care about you.

  5. Physical Touch

    This isn’t just about intimacy — holding hands, hugging, or pats on the back make you feel loved and cared for. Physical closeness is directly related to emotional closeness for you, and neglect can be destructive to the relationship. A hug can lift your mood or take away your insecurities.

So why is knowing your partner’s love language so crucial to the success of your relationship?

It will help you and your partner feel more appreciated.

If you’re an “Acts of Service” person dating a “Words of Affirmation” person, your partner might shower you with compliments and “I love you”s every day, but you would spend the relationship not feeling truly appreciated because they never offer to run errands or do the dishes. Understanding your partner’s love language will help you discern how they show their love, so that you do feel loved and appreciated, knowing the way in which they give their love is different than yours.

It will allow you to communicate your needs more.

Understanding that they do other things out of love, and that they just have a different love language, will help you to communicate, “it makes me feel appreciated when you clean the kitchen,” or “I feel loved when you hold my hand.”

It will show you and your partner what you both should do without being asked.

Knowing your partner is a “Physical Touch” person will make you more thoughtful about holding their hand in public or hugging them when they’re down, and you will be able to understand the meaning and importance behind these little acts that, for you, would otherwise be insignificant. Your partner will be more conscious about what they can do to show you how much they appreciate and love you. When you and your partner both know how the other gives appreciation and wants to receive appreciation, it makes for more thoughtful decisions and efforts that make you and your partner both feel loved and valued.

If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!

Finding A Therapist Shouldn't Be Hard - Start Here:

  1. How to find a therapist: check out a few different websites designed to showcase the therapists in your area:

  2. What to look for in a therapist

    • State license and a minimum of a Master’s Degree

    • Specialization or training in your specific concern

    • Personality that makes you feel comfortable

  3. Contacting a therapist  

    • Send an email or call

    • Here are some great questions to ask during your first contact: 

      Have you worked with someone like me before?

      How would you start helping me with this issue?

      Do you take insurance or what are your fees?

      How often do you expect clients to see you and for how long?

      Is there anything I should know about your style of therapy?

      What times is your office open?

  4. Preparing for the first appointment

    • Ask the clinician if there is any paperwork to complete before the first session and how to find the office.

    • Confirm what payment is accepted or confirm your mental health benefits with your insurance company.

    • Arrive on time. No need to bring anything or make any plans for the session.

  5. Scheduling a second appointment

    • If you feel comfortable, go ahead and schedule that next appointment! How you feel with the therapist is the most important component of therapy.

Getting help doesn’t have to be scary. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!

Easy Ways to Save Money this Holiday Season

The days are getting darker, the leaves are falling off the trees, and all of a sudden it feels like the holidays are just around the corner. If the holidays sneak up you on every year and you end up spending January and February paying off your lingering credit card balance, it’s time to do a little prep work.

Don’t worry, it’s not too late to actually save for your holiday presents and plans. Here are some ways to help you save, starting today:

  1. Keep It Separate - As you’re saving up for the holidays, open a separate savings account specifically for your holiday spending.

  2. Give Something Up - Try giving up one thing that you regularly spend money on. You could give up eating out, you could bring your lunch to work every day, or you could cut out buying coffee. Give it up for a month (or more!) before the holidays and you might be surprised just how much extra you can save.

  3. Make a Little Extra Cash - If you’re starting to save for the holidays a little later than you had hoped, you may need to give your savings a boost by bringing in some extra cash. Pick one thing that you can do without a lot of heavy lifting. Try offering dog sitting services to a family who is going out of town over the holidays. Or earn a few dollars a day by filling out surveys from Survey Junkie while you’re waiting in line. You can even offer to babysit for other busy parents who are searching for childcare to help with their holiday plans.

  4. Sell Things - This pre-holiday period is the perfect time to clean out some unwanted items from your home and collect a little cash in the process. Pick a few hours to tackle an area of your home that has a lot of unwanted items (think: clothes, books, and kids toys). As you’re putting things in the “to sell” pile, snap some quick photos. Then list them for sale anywhere!

  5. Collect Spare Change - Technology! There are some really great apps today that allow you to save the extra change. Qapital lets you move money automatically from your checking account into a savings account; it will round-up to the nearest whole dollar and deposit that money into a savings account. The app is free to use and will make saving automatic and painless.

  6. Reset in January - Get your savings started now! Start your planning early. It’s easy to put off saving — the holidays won’t roll around for another 12 months, after all. With just a little effort you could have your holiday savings for 2019 done by the time spring rolls around.

If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!