The Rewards Of Taking a Risk, Risk Taking and Happiness

"What is a large risk that you took in the last year and what happened?" "Describe what made the risk scary and if taking that risk provided a positive result." 
We take risks when we travel to a new city, start a new business venture or the biggest risk if you’re single, go out on! You may know people who jump out of airplanes, do comedy on open mike night or go to India to meditate and sleep on blankets next to 300 strangers. Taking a risk is scary, but it can make us happier. You may know people who won't try new foods, or go to plays or any kind of live performance because there is a risk it won't be good. Goodness, I read the mixed reviews of a bed and breakfast in Asheville and wondered if we should "risk" staying there. Then I realized, what the heck, they have rocking chairs on the porch, I can rock my way through any terrifying bed and breakfast stress. After all, it’s not as if this vacation has me laying down a mil on the crap tables in Vegas!  That's my plan for August! 

Gambling in Vegas is not what I am talking about, that's not a reasonable risk for me. But you may know the wonders of taking ongoing risks that others may deem far too scary from them. I feel a sense of excitement every time I speak to an audience, I know that rush I feel even after all these years and the knowledge and experience I bring to the moment. Each audience is different. You may have a similar experience in your life. You may know the thrill that a skilled surgeon has before a surgery or a seasoned climber has before a mountain trek or an experienced surfer about to take that big wave. It’s wonderful. That thrill and sense of adventure is one of many reasons I feel so blessed to be a speaker.

I was inspired to think about risk by a Psychology Today article on risk and happiness. The article shares the surprising finding that though the state of risk, of not knowing the outcome, is actually an anxious state that people who are curious go through that uncertainty, actually report the most satisfaction with their lives. The article states that, "Curious people generally accept the notion that while being uncomfortable and vulnerable is not an easy path, it is the most direct route to becoming stronger and wiser." In fact, a closer look at a research study by Kashdan and Steger suggests that, curious people invest in activities that cause them discomfort as a springboard to higher psychological peaks." 
Two of my dear friends are taking risks right now that I greatly admire. My one friend, let’s call her Sarah, is a successful writer. We were housemates in grad school and she won awards for her screenplays. Sarah is a published author and has been taking scriptwriting classes for several years. She is going to California this summer to pitch her fantastic TV show scripts. A big risk, and so exciting.  
Another friend, let’s call him John, has not drawn since he was in High School. He has started drawing again now in his 40's. John was talking to a friend’s young son and the young man asked him what hobbies and interest had given him joy in his life. John listed drawing among his past joys and the young man asked him, "Why aren't you doing it now?" John realized that all these years he had been concerned about being self-critical of his drawing abilities so he didn't want to take the risk of that negative self-talk. But, now he realized he was excited to take the risk so in the past month he started drawing and guess what, he is so happy and his drawings are amazing!  

So today think of the big risks and small risks you take. Appreciate them, revel in them and take a few more. Then let me know about the happiness you got for being curious. 
Below I put the short portion on risk from the long Psychology Today article and then the entire article.

The Real Reward of Risk
When anxiety is an optimal state 
It's a Friday night and you're planning on meeting friends for dinner. If you want to ensure that you'll go home full, you grab pizza or burgers. If you instead pick a cuisine you've never tried before (Ethiopian—sure, why not?) you run the risk that you won't like your injera and wat that much—but you might also uncover a surprising delight.
Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like. It also requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. Happy people, are, simply put, curious. In a 2007 study, Todd Kashdan and Colorado State psychologist Michael Steger found that when participants monitored their own daily activities, as well as how they felt, over the course of 21 days, those who frequently felt curious on a given day also experienced the most satisfaction with their life—and engaged in the highest number of happiness-inducing activities, such as expressing gratitude to a colleague or volunteering to help others.
Yet curiosity—that pulsing, eager state of not knowing—is fundamentally an anxious state. When, for instance, psychologist Paul Silvia showed research participants a variety of paintings, calming images by Claude Monet and Claude Lorrain evoked happy feelings, whereas the mysterious, unsettling works by Egon Schiele and Francisco Goya evoked curiosity.
Curiosity, it seems, is largely about exploration—often at the price of momentary happiness. Curious people generally accept the notion that while being uncomfortable and vulnerable is not an easy path, it is the most direct route to becoming stronger and wiser. In fact, a closer look at the study by Kashdan and Steger suggests that curious people invest in activities that cause them discomfort as a springboard to higher psychological peaks.
Of course, there are plenty of instances in life where the best way to increase your satisfaction is to simply do what you know feels good, whether it's putting your favorite song on the jukebox or making plans to see your best friend. But from time to time, it's worth seeking out an experience that is novel, complicated, uncertain, or even upsetting—whether that means finally taking the leap and doing karaoke for the first time or hosting a screening of your college friend's art-house film. The happiest people opt for both so that they can benefit, at various times, from each.

What Happy People Do Differently
One of life's sharpest paradoxes is that the key to satisfaction is doing things that feel risky, uncomfortable, and occasionally bad.
By Robert Biswas-Diener, Todd B. Kashdan, published on July 2, 2013 - last reviewed on June 19, 2014
For psychologists who frequently fly cross-country, how we describe our career to seatmates—mentioning for example, that we are psychologists—determines whether we get five hours of airborne intrigue or inside access to a decaying marriage or more detail than you can imagine about an inability to resist maple-glazed Krispy Kremes. Even wearing oversized headphones often fails to dissuade the passenger hell-bent on telling her story of childhood abandonment (which is why it is handy for research psychologists to simply say we study " judgments"). For those of us who risk the truth and admit that we study happiness, there's one practically guaranteed response: What can I do to be happy?
The secret of happiness is a concern of growing importance in the modern era, as increased financial security has given many the time to focus on self-growth. No longer hunter-gatherers concerned with where to find the next kill, we worry instead about how to live our best lives. Happiness books have become a cottage industry; personal-development trainings are a bigger business than ever.
The pursuit of happiness is not uniquely American either—in a study of more than 10,000 participants from 48 countries, psychologists Ed Diener of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Shigehiro Oishi of the University of Virginia discovered that people from every corner of the globe rated happiness as being more important than other highly desirable personal outcomes, such as having meaning in life, becoming rich, and getting into heaven.
The fever for happiness is spurred on, in part, by a growing body of research suggesting that happiness does not just feel good but is good for you—it's been linked to all sorts of benefits, from higher earnings and better immune-system functioning to boosts in creativity.
Most people accept that true happiness is more than a jumble of intensely positive feelings—it's probably better described as a sense of "peace" or "contentedness." Regardless of how it's defined, happiness is partly emotional—and therefore tethered to the truth that each individual's feelings have a natural set point, like a thermostat, which genetic baggage and personality play a role in establishing. Yes, positive events give you a boost, but before long you swing back toward your natural set point.
True happiness lasts longer than a burst of dopamine, however, so it's important to think of it as something more than just emotion. Your sense of happiness also includes cognitive reflections, such as when you give a mental thumbs-up or thumbs-down to your best friend's sense of humor, the shape of your nose, or the quality of your marriage. Only a bit of this sense has to do with how you feel; the rest is the product of mental arithmetic, when you compute your expectations, your ideals, your acceptance of what you can't change—and countless other factors. That is, happiness is a state of mind, and as such, can be intentional and strategic.
Regardless of your emotional set point, your everyday habits and choices—from the way you operate in a friendship to how you reflect on your life decisions—can push the needle on your well-being. Recent scholarship documenting the unique habits of those who are happiest in life even provides something of an instruction manual for emulating them. It turns out that activities that lead us to feel uncertainty, discomfort, and even a dash of guilt are associated with some of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences of people's lives. Happy people, it seems, engage in a wide range of counterintuitive habits that seem, well, downright unhappy.
A Blind Eye To Life's Vicissitudes 
The benefit of seeing the forest but not the trees
A standard criticism of happy people is that they're not realistic—they sail through life blissfully unaware of the world's ills and problems. Satisfied people are less likely to be analytical and detail-oriented. A study led by University of New South Wales psychologist Joseph Forgas found that dispositionally happy people—those who have a general leaning toward the positive—are less skeptical than others. They tend to be uncritically open toward strangers and thus can be particularly gullible to lies and deceit. Think of the happy granny who is overcharged at the car dealership by the smiling salesperson compared with more discerning, slightly less upbeat consumers.
Certainly having an eye for the finer points can be helpful when navigating the complicated social world of colleagues, acquaintances, and dates—and it's something the less sunny among us bring to bear. In fact, Virginia Commonwealth University psychologist Paul Andrews has argued thatdepression is actually adaptive. Depressed people, the logic goes, are more likely than others to reflect on and process their experiences—and thereby gain insight into themselves or the human condition—albeit at an emotional price. A little attention to detail helps with a more realistic evaluation of the social world.
Yet too much attention to detail can interfere with basic day-to-day functioning, as evidenced by research from Queen's University psychologist Kate Harkness, who found that people in a depressed mood were more likely to notice minute changes in facial expressions. Meanwhile, happy people tend to overlook such second-to-second alterations—a flash of annoyance, a sarcastic grin. You probably recognize this phenomenon from interactions you've had with your partner. While in a bad mood we tend to notice the tiniest shifts and often can't seem to disengage from a fight ("I saw you roll your eyes at me! Why did you do that!?!"), whereas when we're in a good mood, we tend to brush off tiny sleights ("You tease me, but I know you love being around me"). The happiest people have a natural emotional protection against getting sucked in by the intense gravitational pull of little details.
Similarly, the happiest people possess a devil-may-care attitude about performance. In a review of the research literature by Oishi and his colleagues, the happiest people—those who scored a 9 or 10 out of 10 on measures of life satisfaction—tended to perform less well than moderately happy people in accomplishments such as grades, class attendance, or work salaries. In short, they were less conscientious about their performance; to them, sacrificing some degree of achievement seems to be a small price to pay for not having to sweat the small stuff.
This is not to say that we should take a laissez-faire attitude to all our responsibilities; paying attention to detail is helpful. But too much focus on minutiae can be exhausting and paralyzing. The happiest among us (cheerfully) accept that striving for perfection—and a perfectly smooth interaction with everyone at all times—is a loser's bet.
The Unjealous Friend  
We're buoyed by others' good fortune
You've heard it a million times: The definition of a good friend is one who's there to lend a hand in times of need. In a recent Gallup World Poll, the biggest predictor of happiness at work was whether or not a person had a best friend they could call on for support. It makes sense, then, that we often assume that a good friend is the one who takes us out for beer and sympathy after we get passed up for a promotion—or that we're being one when we pick up our buddy at the bar after his post-layoff binge leaves him too drunk to drive.
Indeed, such support softens the blow of difficult life circumstances by helping the sufferer move past them. Still, new research reveals a less intuitive idea about friendship: The happiest people are the ones who are present when things go right for others—and whose own wins are regularly celebrated by their friends as well.
Support for this idea comes from psychologist Shelly Gable, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her colleagues, whose research revealed that when romantic partners fail to make a big deal out of each other's success, the couple is more likely to break up. On the flipside, when partners celebrate each other's accomplishments, they're more likely to be satisfied and committed to their relationship, enjoying greater love and happiness.
Outside of your primary relationship, however, why would capitalizing on others' success make you happier? Why should you support your born-lucky buddy by listening to him detail yet another sexual conquest when you're spending far too many Friday nights reading zombie comic books? For one thing, he really does need you. The process of discussing a positive experience with a responsive listener actually changes the memory of the event—so after telling you about it, your friend will remember that night with the model as even more positive than it was, and the encounter will be easier for him to recall a few years down the line when he's been dumped. But equally important, you'll get to "piggyback" on your friend's positivity. Just as we feel happier when we spend money on gifts or charitable contributions rather than on ourselves, we feel happier after spending valuable time listening to the accomplishments of friends.
In life, it seems, there are an abundance of Florence Nightingales waiting to show their heroism. What's precious and scarce are those people who can truly share in others' joy and gains without envy. So while it might be kind to send flowers to your friend when she's in the hospital for surgery, you'll both derive more satisfaction out of the bouquet you send her when she finishes medical school or gets engaged.
A Time For Every Feeling 
The upside of negative emotions
The most psychologically healthy people might inherently grasp the importance of letting some things roll off their backs, yet that doesn't mean that they deny their own feelings or routinely sweep problems under the rug. Rather, they have an innate understanding that emotions serve as feedback—an internal radar system providing information about what's happening (and about to happen) in our social world.
Happy, flourishing people don't hide from negative emotions. They acknowledge that life is full of disappointments and confront them head on, often using feelings of anger effectively to stick up for themselves or those of guilt as motivation to change their own behavior. This nimble mental shifting between pleasure and pain, the ability to modify behavior to match a situation's demands, is known as psychological flexibility.
For example, instead of letting quietly simmering jealousy over your girlfriend's new buddy erode your satisfaction with your relationship, accept your feelings as a signal, which allows you to employ other strategies of reacting that are likely to offer greater dividends. These include compassion (recognizing that your girlfriend has unmet needs to be validated) and mindful listening (being curious about what interests her).
The ability to shift mental states as circumstances demand turns out to be a fundamental aspect of well-being. Columbia University psychologist George Bonanno found, for instance, that in the aftermath of 9/11, the most flexible people living in New York City during the attacks—those who were angry at times but could also conceal their emotions when necessary—bounced back more quickly and enjoyed greater psychological and physical health than their less adaptable counterparts.Opportunities for flexible responding are everywhere: A newlywed who has just learned that she is infertile may hide her sense of hopelessness from her mother but come clean to her best friend; people who have experienced a trauma might express their anger around others who share similar sentiments but conceal it from friends who abide by an attitude of forgiveness. The ability to tolerate the discomfort that comes from switching mind-sets depending on whom we're with and what we're doing allows us to get optimal results in every situation.
Similar to training for a triathlon, learning the skill of emotional discomfort is a task best taken on in increasing increments. For example, instead of immediately distracting yourself with an episode of The Walking Dead or pouring yourself a whiskey the next time you have a heated disagreement with your teenage son, try simply tolerating the emotion for a few minutes. Over time, your ability to withstand day-to-day negative emotions will expand.
The Well-Being Balancing Act  
Pleasure and purpose work together
Even the most ardent strivers will agree that a life of purpose that is devoid of pleasures is, frankly, no fun. Happy people know that allowing yourself to enjoy easy momentary indulgences that are personally rewarding—taking a long, leisurely bath, vegging out with your daughter's copy of The Hunger Games, or occasionally skipping your Saturday workout in favor of catching the soccer match on TV—is a crucial aspect of living a satisfying life. Still, if you're primarily focused on activities that feel good in the moment, you may miss out on the benefits of developing a clear purpose. Purpose is what drives us to take risks and make changes—even in the face of hardship and when sacrificing short-term happiness.
Working to uncover how happy people balance pleasure and purpose, Colorado State's Steger and his colleagues have shown that the act of trying to comprehend and navigate our world generally causes us to deviate from happiness. After all, this mission is fraught with tension, uncertainty, complexity, short bursts of intrigue and excitement, and conflicts between the desire to feel good and the desire to make progress toward what we care about most. Yet overall, people who are the happiest tend to be superior at sacrificing short-term pleasures when there is a good opportunity to make progress toward what they aspire to become in life.
If you want to envision a happy person's stance, imagine one foot rooted in the present with mindful appreciation of what one has—and the other foot reaching toward the future for yet-to-be-uncovered sources of meaning. Indeed, research by neuroscientist Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin at Madison has revealed that making advances toward achievement of our goals not only causes us to feel more engaged, it actually helps us tolerate any negative feelings that arise during the journey.
Nobody would pretend that finding purpose is easy or that it can be done in a simple exercise, but thinking about which activities you found most rewarding and meaningful in the past week, what you're good at and often recognized for, what experiences you'd be unwilling to give up, and which ones you crave more time for can help. Also, notice whether your answers reflect something you feel that you ought to say as opposed to what you truly love. For example, being a parent doesn't necessarily mean that spending time with your children is the most energizing, meaningful part of your life—and it's important to accept that. Lying to yourself is one of the biggest barriers to creating purpose. The happiest people have a knack for being honest about what does and does not energize them—and in addition to building in time for sensory pleasures each day, they are able to integrate the activities they most care about into a life of purpose and satisfaction.
There's More To Life Than Being Happy
Nobel Laureate Albert Schweitzer once quipped that "happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory." Despite the apparent luster of achieving a predominantly positive state of mind, critics argue that the pursuit of happiness is a misguided goal—it's fleeting, superficial, and hedonistic.
Research backs up some of these claims. Studies by psychologist Ed Diener show that people actually pay an emotional price for intensely positive events because later ones—even moderately pleasant ones—seem less shiny by contrast. (Sure, getting a raise feels terrific, but it might mean you fail to fully appreciate your son's performance in the school play that afternoon.)
Perhaps more damning is a series of studies led by University of California, Berkeley psychologist Iris Mauss, which revealed that people who place a premium on being happy report feeling more lonely. Yes, being happy might be healthy—but craving happiness is a slippery slope.
As well-being researchers, we don't deny the importance of happiness—but we've also concluded that a well-lived life is more than just one in which you feel "up." The good life is best construed as a matrix that includes happiness, occasional sadness, a sense of purpose, playfulness, and psychological flexibility, as well autonomy, mastery, and belonging.
While some people will rank high in happiness and social belonging, others will find they've attained a sense of mastery and achievement. This approach appreciates that not only do people differ in their happiness matrices—but they can shift in their own respective matrices from moment to moment.
For instance, your sense of autonomy might spike dramatically when, as a college freshman, you shift from living under your parents' rules to the freedom of dorm life—and then plummet a decade later when you become a parent and must sacrifice even the ability to choose your hours of sleep. Yet it would be a mistake to assume that coeds have greater well-being than new parents. Rather, each group is experiencing a unique flavor. 
Parsing the good life into a matrix is more than linguistic trickery; shifting toward a mixed-bag view of well-being opens more paths to achieving a personally desirable life. Enjoying success in even one area of the matrix can be a cause for celebration.
Happiness By The Numbers
Distance from home, in miles, at which point people's tweets begin declining in expressed happiness (about the distance expected for a short work commute).
The percentage of our capacity for happiness that is within our power to change, according to University of California, Riverside researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky.
Number of residents out of every 100 who report feeling positive emotions in Panama and Paraguay, the most positive countries in the world.
The percentage of the U.S. population wealthy enough that their feelings of happiness are not affected by fluctuations in Americans' income equality.
"What is a large risk that you took in the last year and what happened?" "Describe what made the risk scary and if taking that risk provided a positive result."

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at

What Can You Do If Someone Says Something to You That Reveals They Have The Wrong Impression Of You?

What Can You Do If Someone Says Something to You 
That Reveals
They Have The Wrong Impression Of You?

You're talking to someone a co-worker, or perhaps your boss and they say something about you that isn't true about you at all.  What do you do in that moment to correct his or her misperception of you? Perhaps a mistaken impression is shared with you during your performance review, or in passing in an office conversation or meeting. Your boss or co-worker might get the wrong idea about your personality, sense of humor, interests, performance, your work or life goals or other things about you. What can you say in the moment or if you are too surprised to correct it in the moment, what is the best way to go back and set the record straight? These ideas are adapted from my book "The Conflict Cure

Sometimes you are sure they aren't accurate and sometimes you need clarification. I recommend, if you don't know how they came to that impression, you start by asking for more information.

Sometimes you don’t know why someone has that mistaken impression. You can't disagree or change your behavior without clarity. Ask for the details or a specific explanation of why he or she has that impression of you.

Start your statements with a "SOFTNER" statement that takes out any hostility from your request. You might try, "I need your help to understand..." or "Can you help me understand....?" or "I really want to understand what you’re saying...." Then follow with one of these statements.

  • “What specifically have I done that makes you feel that way?”
  • “Can you give me a specific time in the last three weeks that I did this?"
  • “Can you share a specific behavior of mine that you saw recently that led you to      feel that way?”
  • “Can you share an example of my behavior that fits that impression?

If you didn't know you did that and can now see why they feel that way, admit it. If you discover why they came to the wrong conclusion about you, you can correct it by using the “disagree” script.

Without making the other person wrong. You want to clarify and change their impression not start an argument, so speak in an even neutral tone. Ideally you want to calmly repeat what they have said first, to let them know you heard and understood it before you disagree. Make sure you use their words, don't elaborate or extrapolate. Repeating puts you on even ground with them. Otherwise they may say, "You misheard me."

  • "That surprises me, you feel that...." "That is different than my intention I feel that I....."
  • “You feel…about me, I disagree I feel…” 
  • “I think you have the impression that….but I would like share that I have done….that shows I am actually…..”

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at

Mind Your Ps and Body Cues

The Toronto Sun n Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Special to Postmedia Network

Mind Your Ps and Body Cues

Important things to remember when interviewing
for that summer job. “We’re able to read up
to 10,000 nonverbal cues in less than a minute,” says
body language expert Patti Wood. “Many hiring
decisions in interviews are based on reading those cues
in an instinctual way, with the interviewer then spending
the rest of the interview looking for evidence to back up
her initial snap (impression).” Give off the right cues with
tips from Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First
Impressions, Body Language and Charisma.

See success: “Visualize your success before
the interview, rather than imagining all the things
you might do wrong,” says Wood. Practice “live.”
Close your eyes and visualize yourself in the situation.
Imagine a self-assured handshake and sitting with
confidence — be warm and friendly, listen attentively
and answer questions assertively.

Less stress for success: The first few moment s of the
interview are do or die. “Your most important goal in any
interaction is to make the other person feel comfortable.”
By focusing on them, you’re no longer focused on yourself
and your fears. 

Manage the shift : “Your interviewer may back away
from you, break off eye contact, or stop giving
you nonverbal feedback. If you’re sensing that
something has shifted or changed, don’t freak out!”
says Wood. Just keep listening, connecting, and
answering the interviewer’s questions. “If it’s appropriate
and fits your personality, you can even choose
to be a bit feisty and say, ‘What can I do right now to
convince you that I’d be the best person for this job?’”

Lean into It: Lean forward to show that you are
interested, listening and connecting to what the
interviewer is saying. “But don’t overdo it; you’re not
trying to get in their face. Just aim for gentle, timely
leans. As interviewees, we tend to pull back when we
don’t like or are fearful of a question.”

Show your hands: “Always keep your hands open and
in view on the table or the arms of the chair,” stresses
Wood. Gesture normally. Tightly closed hands reveal
how you feel about the topic being discussed and
the person you are with. 

A great ending: The last thing you say or do matters 
a great deal! “As the conversation winds down, make 
sure your belongings are on the left side of your body 
so you can easily shake with your right hand,” says 
Wood, adding that you might shake hands more than once. 
Shake when you get up, at the door, and after talking for
a bit longer while parting. “Make that seem like the
most natural thing in the world, because every time
you shake hands, you’re bonding.”

Even if you feel you bombed the interview,
leave on a high note by closing strongly and confidently.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at

Last Day of School Rituals for Kids

Last Day of School Rituals for Kids.

  • Take a photo outside the school say the front entrance or by a tree or door at your house. One particular spot you can return to each year.
  • Take all school stuff, backpacks, papers, books, and symbolically put them away for the summer saying goodbye and have a great summer break!
  •  Come home, put on bathing suits and turn on the sprinkler or slip and slide on the lawn and have the kids, and (perhaps you as well), run through a sprinkler or slide yelling out each time they go some fun things they dream of doing over the summer.    Fun things they can yell out might be, "Eat peach ice cream, go to the pool, visit grandma, paint pictures, play in the dirt, skip rope, learn to hula hoop, build a fort, ride my bike, play with _____.,  Have a sleep over, make my own pizza, play with the dog, go to the park, roast marshmallows, catch fire flies."
  •  Create a start of the summer song and or dance that you do with your kids and do that same song or dance each year. You can pick an old classic sixties song, or some current hot song. Just make you’re your first day of summer vacation song is fun and upbeat and you will love singing to it each year.
  •  Have one fun new summer set of clothes for your child and have those clothes laid out on their bed and have them run to their room take off school clothes and put on summer fun clothes. 
  •  Have a special fun dinner at home or go to a fun restaurant you eat at rarely. Perhaps you can choose a theme restaurant like Japanese hibachi or Five Guys Hamburgers so there is specific memory, when you go there take a picture. At dinner go around and say fun things you dream of doing over the summer.
  •  Ask your child or children the Monday of last week of school what fun dessert treat like ice-cream they want that they don’t usually get and have that after last day of school. Or bake a summer cake and have them decorate it.
  •  Have a blown up beach ball, new beach towels and new bathing suits and flip flops, pail and shovel on the kids’ beds when they get home from school.
  •  Fill a jar with slips of paper, each slip of paper has on it one summer fun play dream like those listed in the run through the sprinkler option above.  You put some in yourself and have the kids put some in. During the summer they get to pick something from the jar to do.
  •  Go to the store before the last day of school and buy plants, or flowers or vegetables or herbs and fun pots and have the kids plant them the last day of school when they get home to show that new things begin when school ends and they can nurture and grow something over the summer.
Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at

20 Body Language Signs That Mean He's Into You

I was interviewed by Cosmopolitan on body language signs that mean someone is into you.  Click the link below to read the 20 signs. If you go the link they have photos to illustrate each image.

Like women, men don't always say exactly what they're feeling precisely when they feel it. But guys don't have to say much to show you what they're thinking. 
That's because unconscious body language signals can be extremely telling, says Patti Wood, a body language expert with more than 30 years of experience and author of Success Signals, A Guide to Reading Body Language.  
So, in the early stages of a new relationship (like when you first meet an online date), look out for the following signs to get a sense of what he's thinking.
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1. His pupils are huge. Either you're in a super-dark place, or this subtle signal means he's into you. "Dilation is a brain response that occurs when you like and are attracted to something," Wood says. 
2. His eyebrows are raised. People tend to use this subconscious expression to help open their eyes when they like what they see. If he raises his brows ever so slightly while you're talking, it means he's interested in whatever you're saying.
3. He shows you his front teeth. "Guys stop smiling like this around the age of 5 — unless they're really happy," Wood says. He might not show off a toothy grin while casually flirting, but on a really awesome date when he's having loads of fun? Look for teeth: "When he feels really happy, he's not covering that up," Wood says.
4. He smiles above the mouth. Real smiles extend well beyond the mouth: They lift the forehead and give you slightly squinty eyes. If his smile involves his whole face, it means you're genuinely affecting him in a good way.
5. He licks his lips in a cute (not creepy) way. When you're attracted to someone, your mouth produces extra saliva, Wood says. In response, he might quickly lick his lips or press them together. (Slower = creepster.)
6. He locks eyes with your face — not just your eyes. You might think that a guy who is totally enamored by you will find it hard to peel his eyes away and that is great. But now that everyone is used to being glued to their phones, nonstop eye contact can make people feel uncomfortable. We don't feel the same about someone starring at us. Just starring can now feel like an unwanted invasion. You can distinguish wither or not someone cares for you from a stalker stare by noticing if if he spends about 80 percent of your interaction looking from your eyes to your nose and lips, he's into you, Wood says.
7. He takes a deep breath when he sees you. Yes, men do require oxygen. But when he subconsciously takes a deep breath — he'll pull in his stomach and puff out his chest — it's a subconscious way to make his upper body look broader and his waist look smaller, two qualities that make him look more fit and (from an evolutionary perspective) more desirable, Wood says. In other words, he's into you and he's trying to attract you. More at

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at

Deciphering Denial: Kim Richards ‘Withholding The Truth’ In Dr. Phil Interview, Says Body Language Expert

I was asked to read the body language of Kim Richards as she was interviewed on the Dr. Phil show by  See my insights below highlighted in yellow.

It is not only Kim Richards’ ex-boyfriend Ken Blumenfeld who believes that the 50-year-old troubled Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star is lying about her drinking. After watching clips of the actress on Dr. Phil earlier this week, a body language expert tells exclusively that the reality star appears to be “withholding the truth!”
Body language expert Patti Wood MA, CSP told Radar, “Kim Richards appeared to be withholding the truth from Dr. Phil during the interview.”
“Following Dr. Phil asking Richards about her drinking in the past two and a half years, she looks to her right, which … is where she would look to create a statement rather than to her left where she would scan to remember things,” said Wood. “This indicated to me that Kim is trying to think up and create an answer rather than relay what is actually the truth.”
 “Right after that, Kim freezes in place, which is a high stress cue,” Wood said after examining the footage several times.
“This indicates that she fears being caught. Her head is down and forward slightly to protect herself. Her face is frozen in a moment of fear and sadness, but her forehead and brows are furrowed and her nose is clenched at the top. Her cheeks are lowered down.”
“Look particularly at the mouth and jaw at this moment,” said Wood, who is also a former substance abuse counselor and the author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma.
“The jaw is clenched down to keep the tears and truth from coming out and the lips are out flat and only slightly open, showing symbolically that she would rather withhold the truth and keep the truth locked inside.”
According to Wood, after Richards answered Dr. Phil by saying “That is not exactly true,” “One side of her face goes up while the other stays down. This lack of symmetry of the face shows a disconnect between how she wants to answer and the truth.”
“The science behind that is a disconnect in the neocortex of the limbic brain,” Wood said. “Basically, you reveal your true feelings on the one side of the brain before the neocortex can stop it.”
 “After Kim answers Dr. Phil, we see her lip tremble in fear and sadness,” Wood told Radar.
“The next shot that we see of Kim, she has changed body language positions. She is sitting with her hands folded closed on her lap. It is obvious that she has collected herself a bit and she answers with a teary and stressed voice about the times she had a drink.”

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at

Social Anxiety Tips

agreements occur between your children, try to listen
Dear Patti

Find the article below or by going to the magazine website

Social Anxiety
7 tips for reducing your
social anxiety and
improving your first
impression at parties
and networking events
none of them feels neglected
When attending or taking part in school events, try to do so
By: Patti Wood MA, CSP
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Street Journal, Forbes and 
Some of you may think of parties and mingling
opportunities and jump for joy whereas some
of you may think of punch and cookies and
meeting strangers and feel your palms begin to
sweat and your throat start to close. Here are fun and
helpful tips for feeling more comfortable at your next
party so you can change from a wallflower to a
“social butterfly.”

1. Go early rather than late. If you arrive before
other guests, it is easier to get acclimated. You can
stand with the host if you need courage or introductions.
You can even ask for an anxiety-distracting
task like taking everybody’s coats or asking if they
would like a drink. Nervousness comes out of your
body in many ways. One way is through your hands.
When your hands are confidently occupied with
useful tasks, that confidence message goes to your
brain and affects your entire body. It also gives you
an easily repeatable script, “Would you like me to
take your coat?” as a conversation opener.

2. Stand near the best smelling food. That is
where the people are. If the food is good, they will
think good things about you. Research says that
pleasant smells give rise to pleasant mood states and
persuasion research shows that when we feel good
we associate those pleasant feelings with the people
we were with when we felt them. Want to get a call
from someone you met at a party? Our sense of smell
is our strongest link to memory so someone you
meet near the good smelling food will be more likely
to remember you if they associate you with a good
smell. Food also gives you an easy conversation
opener. “Have you tried the crab dip?” “It’s great.” In
addition to this, holding and eating food, like taking
coats, gives you something to do with your hands.

3. Look for an Open Person. Having an open
body language makes you more approachable. Use
this information to look for people who you can
easily approach. Search for people who are intently
speaking to someone already. Spy the people who
have their feet slightly apart a few inches rather than
crossed, pressed together, or cowboy show of defensive
stance 14 inches apart. It is easier to approach
someone who is showing his or her palms as they
gesture and is smiling. If you are super shy, you can
Feeling anxious at the prospect of mingling with people is
quite common just go up and stand next to someone who
looks open and slowly mirror his posture. Research says
he is likely to start a conversation with you.

4. Go first….you can also introduce yourself. I
know I know, you’re thinking, "Patti, you are insane.
I hate to talk to people and you want me to initiate a
conversation!” “I’d rather stick a fork in my eye.” Put
down the fork. Research shows that when you
initiate you appear more confident to other people
and they immediately feel more at ease. In addition,
when they feel at ease, the comfort transfers to you.
Remember, two awkward people equal three times
the anxiety. In the classic movie, “Come Saturday
Morning” Liza Minnelli introduces herself with
charming tenderness to a shy boy on a bus.

5. Introduce people to each other. Again, you
have something to do, and goodness it takes the
pressure off you. You now say the younger person’s
name first to introduce them to the older person, say
the lower status person’s name first to introduce
them to the higher status person. Think bigwig’s
name is said last.

6. Ask a question and then relax and listen.
When I was in grad school and teaching at Florida
State I tried out for and got a part in a community
program. I almost lost my voice and I learned a lot
about listening. So much anxiety comes from not
knowing what to do or how to do it well. I can tell you
that the smartest thing you can do at a party is ask a
gentle question. It completely takes the talking pressure
off you. You don’t have to be witty and urbane
to be good listeners. And if “The Seven Habits of
highly successful people” is right, everybody loves a
good listener.

7. Nod your head. Nod your head. Women love
it. Men typically only nod their heads when they
agree, woman nod to show they are listening. Guys,
if you nod your head a lot, she will love you. Beware
of nodding your head at your female boss at the
office. Power people love it when you nod your head
too, but your boss might think you love them so
much you are willing for them to nominate you for
the office, “recycling waste committee for 2009.”

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at