Proof that LEGO is always happier

Sure, the Oscar nominations came out, and fans of The LEGO Movie were horrified to see it didn’t garner a nod from the committee. Everyone involved with the film could’ve sunk into despair over the slight, but—demonstrating once and for all that LEGO can make everything better—one of the movie’s directors remained undaunted.

This tweet from Philip Lord is the very embodiment of everything LEGO is about (and how one can always be happier if they’re willing to reframe):


(I’m calling it: The Oscar for best attitude goes to Philip Lord.)

Awesome Humans: Everyone Involved in Chase The Chill

awesome-humans-scarves[Image credit: Chase the Chill Winnipeg]

It’s happening again this year.

As the weather gets colder, particularly in snowy Canada, groups organize clothing and coat drives for the homeless. Not everyone in need is able to take advantage of these efforts, of course. So small, local knitting groups go rogue—and start leaving scarves around the city with “I AM NOT LOST!” tags on them. The idea is that anyone in need can grab a warm scarf and maybe find some comfort in both the item and the thoughtful intention to help out a stranger, no strings attached.

You can read a great round-up of the various Chase The Chill efforts over on Yahoo! News Canada, but it looks like the movement began in Pennsylvania in 2010, and new groups continue to spring up all over the U.S. and Canada. Wherever there is winter, and kind-hearted knitters, you just might find this “yarn-bombing with a cause.”

And that’s awesome.

And The Golden Globe Award for Gratitude Goes To: Michael Keaton.


We watched (most of) The Golden Globes so you wouldn’t have to (you’re welcome), and while we were watching we had an epiphany: There isn’t a Golden Globe award for gratitude, but after tonight there really should be. Actor Michael Keaton accepted his Best Actor award for “Birdman” with unusual grace and a surprising message: gratitude. The youngest of seven who grew up in a rundown farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania, Keaton said the themes in his family were simple: “Work hard. Don’t quit. Be appreciative. Be thankful. Be grateful. Be respectful. Never whine ever. And always keep a sense of humor.”

His speech was worth all the bad jokes and awkward intros. Skip ahead to the 2:14 mark if you want a really good cry.

10 Really Simple Ways to Make 2015 Amazing Without Making a Single Resolution

I’ve always really loved New Year’s.

In Russia it’s a big family holiday that we used to celebrate with a huge, long, multi-course, late-into-the-night family meal, a New Year’s tree, presents, and even a visit from Ded Moroz. It wasn’t a religious holiday but the New Year’s tree was very similar to a Christmas tree and Ded Moroz was very similar to Santa Claus, although to get your presents you had to sing or dance or recite a poem. (My dad often made some extra money by working as Ded Moroz for a few families:). We still celebrate this way in America and I love it.

The other thing I love about New Year’s is a chance to think about the year ahead and some things I’d like to experience. Kiddo and I got into the habit of making an annual vision board about some of the things we want to do in the new year and it’s one of our favorite things to do.

What I have stopped doing a long time ago is making New Year’s resolutions. We all work really really hard, we run around our lives at increasingly fast pace, and our to-do lists seem to only be growing — at least that’s what I am finding. It’s awesome to aspire to certain goals but making resolutions seems like yet another way to add to that daunting to-do list and put more pressure on ourselves.

Science teaches us that it’s the small things and everyday habits that have the greatest impact on how we feel, not the big accomplishments on which most of our New Year’s resolutions tend to focus. With that in mind, here are 10 Really Simple Ways to Make 2015 Amazing Without Making a Single Resolution:


  1. Savor something small every day.  Enjoy your morning coffee without multitasking by checking your email or cleaning up the kitchen. Take a minute vacation during the day to eat a piece of chocolate and actually taste it. Savoring small everyday experiences makes us a lot happier than enjoying big life stuff, like promotions or vacations.
  2. Make tiny bits of progress. Forget big goals for a moment. Instead, if there is something you want to achieve, commit to making a tiny bit of progress every day. Research shows this is the best way to actually achieve your goals. I love this post by Leo Babauta of the awesome Zen Habits blog about how to create a flossing habit by flossing just one tooth.
  3. Be a little kinder to yourself. Most of us are our own toughest critics. “I suck because I can’t do that yoga pose the woman on the mat next to me is doing,” “I have no self-control so I eat too many sweets,” “If I were smarter I would get that job I want.” Would you talk like this to your friend? No. Try treating yourself with the same kindness and compassion you give to those you love.
  4. Give yourself permission to have a bad day. I’m an optimizer so when something is going wrong my instinct is to try and make it better. But sometimes stuff just goes wrong, you have a bad day, you’re feeling rotten, stuff isn’t going your way. Let it happen. Give yourself permission to have a bad day, not get a lot accomplished, not make it better right away, and well, if the best thing you do that day is have it end and go to bed, awesome.
  5. Make someone feel good once a day. If this sounds daunting and not something that fits into the “simple” list, it shouldn’t. Hug your kids or significant others just a bit tighter in the morning. Say thank you to the barista who made your coffee and smile. Text a friend and tell them they are awesome. Give your colleague a genuine compliment. Making someone feel good takes a tiny bit of effort and is one of the easiest ways to add joy to your life.
  6. Do less. That big home project you’ve been putting off that’s weighing on you? Consider just not doing it. A woman I met recently told me she had been planning to re-upholster a few chairs and had them in her basement for years. One day she realized she would never actually get to it so she called a junk removal company that came and picked them. “I felt so relieved and happy,” she told me. Want to have friends over but don’t feel like cooking? Don’t; get takeout or ask everyone to bring something. Doing less doesn’t make you lazy, it makes you a better caretaker of you.
  7. Move a little slower. I feel like we’re all hurrying through our lives instead of living them — maybe you do as well. Find time every day or at least once a week when you move slower. For me this is Saturday mornings: Instead of my usual early morning walk followed by crazy-paced getting ready routine, I wake up later, take a slower later walk, and then actually sit down for breakfast with my family without also checking email at the same time.
  8. Try new things in small doses. If you want to learn a new language or how to cook Italian food, cool. But trying a new recipe or taking a different way on your run or walk are awesome small ways to add new experiences to your life. Not only does it make life more fun, but research shows that it also helps time slow down.
  9. Don’t text and walk. I think texting has become such a core part of our lives that this deserves it’s own spot on the list. (AKA I have a problem with this and I’m going to try to do a lot less of it.) You know that texting and driving is dangerous, but did you know that texting and walking is more so? Nick Bilton made not texting and walking his New Year’s resolution and wrote about it in The New York Times; I was inspired to add it to this list.
  10. Keep a what “I’ve done list”. Instead of always focusing on what you have to do, appreciate what you have done. You can do this daily when you write your to-do list — it’s one of my favorite productivity hacks — or keep a separate list. Kiddo and I recently started a little learning jar, where we put in notes about things we’ve each learned this year. Whatever format you choose, give yourself some credit and pause to appreciate what you’ve done, learned, experienced as you go through the year.

Happy New Year and here’s to an awesome 2015!

Mindful Break: Meet My Son (15 days old)

21ff76a3-6a13-4709-8450-9697c271c34bOn November 23 at 1:47am, my son Remo Romanelli was born.

As many of you have witnessed before, to see that little human being suddenly appear in the delivery room, all I could think was:


Over the past 12 days, I have spent hours staring at his little toes and fingers and ears and lips that formed on their own in the womb and I thought,


Last night, he lay on my lap and we watched SportCenter together and he lifted his tiny head to stare at me, I thought,


And then, after the 12th consecutive sleepless night, as my wife and I lay awake shaking our heads at the ungodly hour of 3am, I thought to myself,


After doing my best to be supportive of my wife’s 24 hours of labor, I took a taxi home at 5am Sunday morning. It was both the most exhilarated and exhausted I’d ever been… all at once!

I told the taxi driver all about the night and how proud I was of my 6 lb 12 oz bundle of love… AND my wife for laboring for 24 hours!

And the taxi driver, parent of 3, said, “Get ready to be exhausted. You are not going to have anytime to yourself. Kids get sick. They are going to whine. They are going to take everything you have and ask for more.”

And I was thinking to myself, “Geeeez, I’m riding home with the Grinch.”

But then, the taxi driver said, “But you are going to have so much love in your life and it’s all worth it!”

Whether or not you have kids, you know that life is most raw, most awesome, and most wonderful when you are teetering at the edge of ENERGY AND EXHAUSTION, SUCCESS AND FAILURE, HOPE AND DESPAIR.

But you can’t stop digging in and stirring. Because as the taxi driver said, love is what comes from all those emotions.

You need every single one of your losses and failures, wins and triumphs, bad days and bad moods, great days and great moods… to create the alchemy of love.

UPS Makes Us Happier

We talk a lot around here about how doing nice things for other people is one of the surest paths to being happier, so when I saw this video this morning, I knew we had to pass it along. If I didn’t already love the folks in the big brown trucks—saving me from a trip to the mall!—I’d adore them, now. Check this out:

Way to go, UPS. You made Carson happier, and you make us happier, too!