Happiness for the Holidays—and Every Day

Happy Holidays!

The end of the year is upon us. Ready to wrap up our 2016 positivity adventure? I hope you’ve learned a bunch and had fun playing with the different ideas we’ve talked about.

One of my own key takeaways from our shared odyssey has been how much well-being is really just a skill set. Some smarty-pants researcher even said it: “Well-being is fundamentally no different than learning to play the cello. If one practices the skills of well-being, one will get better at it.

That’s because well-being skills are related to that neuroplasticity thing—our brain’s capacity to reorganize itself (physically and functionally) throughout our lives in response to our environment, behavior, thinking and emotions.

We now know a range of factors influence just how significant the change can be. The more alert we are, the more we’re motivated, the harder we try, and the better (or worse) the potential outcome … the bigger the brain change.

I like the sound of that. And the scientific finding that up to 40% of our happiness is within our control.

Sugar + Butter = Love

Even though our year’s positivity adventure may be ending, there are still plenty of places in my life where I want to master that 40%.


Every holiday season, I indulge in what some may call a weird hobby – I bake and give away LOTS of Christmas cookies. The seeds of this tradition likely came from my Aunt Milly’s holiday baking extravaganzas that captured my stomach and imagination as a kid.

My compulsion includes a full spreadsheet organizing the intense month-long process. Weird? Maybe. And the satisfaction of creating and gifting beautiful bundles of sugar and butter lights me up. It’s all a labour of love.

But—true confession—I often get so caught up in the “doing” that I can become oblivious to the needs of others around me.

Hmmm. Not so aligned with the general spirit of the exercise.

Quick-fix tips for the hyper-focused

Am I the only compulsive one out there? Or have you ever caught yourself  hyper-focused on “doing” to the exclusion of relationships? If so, check out these three science-backed tips I’m playing with to master more of that 40% in the new year.


I realized a couple years ago that fear of rejection sometimes stops me from moving forward with what’s important to me. So I’m hoping this funny/touching/inspiring Ted talk spurs me to experiment in 2017 with 100 days of rejection.

Beautiful Break

And here’s a 2-minute video so lovely and resonant that I woke up today humming the accompanying melody, with a heartfelt smile to match. I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.

In the meantime, continue to lead your life with a focus on G.R.A.C.E. [Grow Relationships & Choreograph Efforts]…enjoy yourself and the moment…and lead with confidence!

MEMay the (positivity) force be with you.

Sending you thoughts and wishes for a holiday season that’s fulfilling, positivity-inducing, and overflowing with love, laughter and light.

In-joy ..

.. Mary Ellen (ME)

Mary Ellen Sanajko
Leadership Coach & Trainer