Monthly Archives: March 2015

International Day of Happiness – March 20. Oops we missed it…Not!

united-nations-303670_1280March 20 was the UN International Day of Happiness, a day designed to promote happiness as a legitimate goal of public policy and social progress. We missed it! Here at Comfort Colors, we certainly did feel something happy in the air, but the special UN day passed us by without much more notice.

We love the idea of a day designed to promote happiness (we like to think every single day should promote such design). That public policy should have this goal is commendable, indeed. We also believe that happiness can and should be a legitimate goal of business. Happy employees do a better job. Happy bosses treat their employees better and make better decisions. Happy businesses inspire loyalty among their customers and staff.

When your brain is happy, your work improves. Look at it this way: negative emotions like fear cause your body and your mind to basically close down and run. When you are confronted by a tiger in the wilderness, this might be a good thing, but at the office or the shop, not so much. Positive emotions on the other hand help you see new possibilities and even expand your skills and our limits. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises…and eventually maybe even your paycheck will rise. When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.

When your laughing the sun comes shining through.

It’s all about neuroplasticity, which means that thought has the power to actually change the structure of your brain. And why not? Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage and positive psychology expert who spent 12 years at Harvard studying what makes people happy, suggests that you can master your brain’s neuroplasticity and create more happiness in your work life by practicing these five habits for 21 days: gratitude, journaling, exercise, meditation, and email. Here is his list (from his article in Psychology Today):

1. Write down three new things you are grateful for each day into a blank word document or into the free app I Journal. Research shows this will significantly improve your optimism even 6 months later, and raises your success rates significantly.

2. Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours. This is a strategy to help transform you from a task-based thinker, to a meaning based thinker who scans the world for meaning instead of endless to-dos. This dramatically increases work happiness.

3. Exercise for 10 minutes a day. This trains your brain to believe your behavior matters, which causes a cascade of success throughout the rest of the day.

4. Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out. This will help you undo the negative effects of multitasking. Research shows you get multiple tasks done faster if you do them one at a time. It also decreases stress and raises happiness.

5. Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on your team. This significantly increases your feeling of social support, which in my study at Harvard was the largest predictor of happiness for the students. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-happiness-advantage/201108/5-ways-turn-happiness-advantage)

At Comfort Colors, we are all about happiness – it is a fundamental aspect of comfort. These five habits seem like good ones to practice. Let’s do this happiness-at-work thing!

 

 

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Celestial Matters: Equinox, Eclipse, Freaky Friday, and T-shirt Design

moonToday is the first day of spring and things are looking up. Way up. To the heavens, in fact. Today is not only the Vernal Equinox (the First Day of Spring), it is also the occasion of the Super Moon and a Solar Eclipse. In astrological terms, today is the big Kahuna. In astronomical terms “This is the Earth’s first — and only — total solar eclipse of the year and the first one since November 2013, NASA reports. The next total solar eclipse in the USA will be in August 2017.”
(http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/03/18/solar-eclipse/24970217/)

A Super Moon, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon T-shirt design comes to mind, occurs “when a full or new moon coincides with perigee — the moon’s closest point to Earth in its orbit. Basically, the moon will appear a bit bigger and brighter than usual in the night sky.” A Solar Eclipse “occurs when the moon’s orbit of Earth positions it directly in between us and the sun, causing the moon to temporarily block out some of the sun’s light.” (Read the whole article and see a cool illustrative video here.) The Vernal Equinox happens once a year (if we are lucky).

The coincidence of these three celestial events is rare indeed! This celestial line up happens once in a blue moon. Well, the blue moon is a totally different story that is much more common. The Wall Street Journal calls today’s line up  extremely rare and goes on to explain the three phenomena this way:

“Solar eclipses are rare. The illusion of a supermoon can be witnessed several times a year, when the moon flies closest to the Earth and therefore appears larger than usual. The spring equinox occurs every year, and marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere.…A solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the view from Earth of the sun’s disk, turning day into night. Though total solar eclipses occur somewhere on Earth every 18 months on average, they recur at any given place just once every 360 to 410 years. The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun but 400 times closer, so it appears the same size in the sky and virtually covers all of the sun during a solar eclipse.”

Some observers are calling it Freaky Friday, other Fierce Friday. We’re just calling it a gift. While T-shirt design is usually a little more down-to-earth, we’d love to see something commemorating this great day. Oh and it is the weekend. Happy Friday!

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The First Day of Spring is Nigh

crocusAccording to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, spring, or the Vernal Equinox arrives on March 20 at 6:45pm EDT. The Vernal Equinox is the day when “day and night are each approximately 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days before the vernal equinox). The Sun crosses the celestial equator going northward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west.” (http://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-seasons).

We are not so sure about the parenthetical bit about the actual time of equal day and night. True, the days are getting longer. And we are enjoying the increased daylight – maybe more this Spring than historically – but here in the Northeast (our T-shirt company has two primary locations: one in Vermont and one in Massachusetts) we are in a bit of limbo. Some call is Stick Season. Some call it Mud Season. Both names are quite accurate.

And so Stuck in the Mud, as it were, we are very keen for signs of spring. For us, spring isn’t just another season; it’s a chance to begin again. Here are a few signs that came to mind:

  • Seeds for sale in local stores
  • Daylight Savings Time
  • The beginning of Maple Sugaring season
  • The return of the red-winged black birds
  • Ice out (this is when the ice on frozen lakes and rivers gives way)
  • Snow drops, crocuses, daffodils
  • The smell of damp earth
  • Temperatures above freezing
  • Nesting birds
  • The beginning of baseball season
  • Trout season
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What it means to have your roots in Vermont

If you are in Vermont and it is still below zero when you read this blog post, you might think you are either completely nuts, part timber wolf, or the most hardy of souls. To remain here in the northern tundra of New England during such a winter is a true testament to your depth of character.

We have had a good old fashioned cold snap here in Vermont this winter. If you are the rugged, salt-of-the-earth type, you are relishing your resilience right about now. We Vermonters tend to think of ourselves as befitting the stereotype. We are resourceful, determined, unflappable, indomitable, optimistic, independent, witty, tough, and above all entrepreneurial.

We have our roots here in Vermont. These New England proverbs hold a ring of truth for us:
“Wishing isn’t doing.”
“The world is your cow. But you have to do the milking.”
“The hardest work is to do nothing.”
“The quickest way to do many things is to do one thing at a time.”

pieWe take particular pride in what we make and what we do. We strive to be the very best. You might think of it as Yankee ingenuity on steroids, but really it is more of a stubborn kind of survival instinct. We quash cabin fever with creativity.

Here are two great examples of what we’re talking about, both happen to have their origins in Greensboro, the current epicenter of awesome, about an hour’s drive from Northfield, the home of Comfort Colors. The Vermont cheesemaker, Jasper Hill, recently won a “best in the world” award at the annual World Cheese Awards in London. Its Bayley Hazen Blue sweeping the other 2,600 entries in the competition. Jasper Hill also won two “super gold awards for its sheep’s milk cheeses.” And for those of us who cannot live on cheese alone, Hill Farmstead Brewery makes the world’s best beer. This award was given by by RateBeer, a beer peer review site – the world’s largest and most popular. (Source: http://www.wcax.com)

Like our neighbors, we take great pride and comfort in our roots. And like them, we also try to keep a little bit of a sense of humor about it.

To the European, a Yankee is an American.
To an American, a Yankee is a New Englander.
To a New Englander, a Yankee is a Vermonter.
To a Vermonter, a Yankee is someone who eats apple pie for breakfast.
And to a Vermonter who eats apple pie for breakfast
a Yankee is someone who eats it with a knife.
~An old Yankee joke

(http://www.theheartofnewengland.com/Quotes.html)

 

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