The Tyranny of Happiness

You’ve had a hard day. Sometimes, don’t you just want to hear—“I’m sorry, that’s really hard” instead of “you can do it!” or “just keep trying harder!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about optimistic thinking, but it doesn’t always help to be constantly bombarded with advice instead of empathy. This might be a shout out for all you guys just trying to be helpful…well, it’s not all the time. We girls don’t always need a suggestion to our problems, we’re smart cookies. We can figure out our own problems, unless we ask directly for advice. Often times, we just want you to listen.
But in all fairness, I was told the sickeningly sweet positive words of wisdom like, “Just keep a positive attitude!” last night and while I hate to admit it after my previous paragraph, it did help me out a little. It was also suggested that I should “meet new people” when I went out, and well, I guess the advice worked, because I did. So maybe there is some value to these comments…maybe.
My roommate enlightened me last night on the irony of how happy suggestions do not always lead to happy thoughts. It’s called the tyranny of happiness. I think that’s the perfect phrasing for it. Shouldn’t words of encouragement make us feel better? Not necessarily. There is certainly a time and a place. So maybe on the days when the Nancys are a little more negative and the Debbies are a little more down, we should mellow out a little ourselves when trying to empathize.
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
Posted in Happiness for Your Life | 1 Comment

Walking in their Shoes

Can helping be truly selfless? It’s been a common argument for a while now—whether or not self-interest is involved in altruism. And while I’m sure our own needs  can play a part in whether we help or not, there is one technique that researchers suggest for truly selfless giving. According to a study by Batson, Turk, Shaw, and Klein in 1995, when we show empathetic concern, or “feelings of warmth, tenderness, and compassion toward the other,” we often feel more compelled to offer assistance.
It’s based on the concept of “we-ness.” When we sense a similarity between us and the people we are helping, we can relate more to their needs and circumstances. And because the evolutionary theory suggests that we want to protect our genes, it would make sense then that we would want to help those that we feel more related to.
Let’s try to step in someone else’s shoes for the day. What would it feel like to wear worn out shoes from sitting on the street corner? What would it feel like to wear a cast or be immobilized in a wheelchair, despite what shoes you’re wearing? What if you have no shoes at all—because you lost your legs in a car accident? All of these things could happen; in a way, it happens when we imagine it. For some people, their “shoes” are a daily reminder of their reality.
May we offer to help people, no matter shoes “we’re” wearing. We’ve all been given different abilities and talents in our unique lives, but helping is a skill that everyone has. Let’s make good use of it.
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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Happiness for Moms

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! I hope you make the day meaningful for your mom, mamacita, mommy, momma, or mew—whatever special name you have for her. I want to especially thank my mother for all the wonderful things she has done for our family over the years. She is one special lady who shines her sunshine wherever she goes.
What qualities are you thankful for in your mom? Tell her so! I know it can be hard to say the words sometimes, but people, and our moms especially, should hear it. They should know how much we love them—saying it is the easiest way.
Here are 10 reasons why I LOVE my mom:
1. The Marila Cook dance: She is always the first person to get excited for me and I love how she gets so enthusiastic about great news.
2. Enthusiasm of the Energizer Bunny: She always has a smile on her face and she is one of the friendliest people that I know.
3. Her leadership abilities: She served as National Charity League President and she worked tirelessly for the organization. Her hard work paid off and she did an outstanding job.
4. Her dedication to education: She has always stressed the importance of knowledge. With her masters in nursing, she is always searching for new information to study.
5. Her caring heart: My mom worked as a nurse in heart surgery for over 20 years and she still works as a nurse. She truly cares about her patients—I think she is perfect for the job.
6. Her dessert skills: Oh, if you could see a cake that she decorates.
7. Party planner to the max: From our annual news year’s party, to every elaborate birthday party, my mom makes every special occasion even more special.
8. Giving back: My mom is a true philanthropist. I think she exemplifies the word “selfless.”
9. Laughter: My mom has a great laugh. She and my dad make a killer combo.
10. Supportive: Whether it’s a phone call, cards, or kind words, my mom always uses just the right words to inspire me.
I love you Mom! Have a happy Mother’s Day—you certainly deserve it!
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
Posted in My Sunny Side | 2 Comments

Best Pancakes in the World

“The best in the world.” Normally, I don’t pay much attention to that statement; after all, how can there be two coffee shops that have the best coffee “in the world” on the same street? But truly, I have found the best pancakes “in the world” right here in Los Angeles. And Esquire magazine agrees. Du-Par’s pancakes take the title in one foul swoop in melted in butter and served with a side of boysenberry syrup.
My dad first took me to Du-par’s when I was getting ready to venture off to college and since then, I keep venturing back to the shop that’s been in business for over 70 years serving up hot cakes 24 hours, seven days a week.
Why a post about pancakes? Well darn, pancakes make me pretty happy on a Saturday morning so why not post about it?
It’s become a family tradition to head to the best hot cake hut in town. Not to mention, it’s also a bakery so I highly recommend the boysenberry cream pie or lemon merengue. There are five locations—Studio City and Oxnard being my common spots. If you’re ever in the area, and you feel like putting a smile on your face, head on down for some pancakes at Du-par’s.
Here’s the website for more details: http://www.du-pars.com/
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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A Week of Thanks

Happy Friday everyone! It’s been a fun week, right? With beautiful California sunshine, May flowers, and friends, it’s been such a week of happiness. I thought today would be a good day to emphasize the 5 Daily Gratitudes. What are you thankful today, on May 6, 20ll? What is the best thing that’s happened to you recently? I think focusing on the positive things in our life is essential. Sure, we could make an equally long list of unpleasant things that are occurring in our personal lives or on a national or international level. But let’s take some time to see the Sunny Side instead.
Here are my 5 Daily Gratitudes for today:
1. Congratulations to Dan Chikanov for his recent victory in student government. He and six of his fellow running mates won seven of the 11 spots up for grabs. Great job Daniel! To see Daniel’s interview, go here.
2. I had a blast at American Idol—I was sitting right near Sir Anthony Hopkins who is one of my favorite actors! Not to mention, the singers were so talented. Can you see me? I’m in the red dress.
3. New bikinis for the beach. Check out Victoria’s Secret collection here!
4. Dinner at Cheesecake Factory with the girls: Three slices of chocolate cake later, we were happy campers.
5. Cinco de Mayo: A festive holiday that I rather enjoy. Ay yi yi!
What are you grateful for today?
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
Posted in My Sunny Side | 1 Comment

Sunny Star: Daniel Chikanov

Hello friends! And an especial hello to all you UCLA Bruins, as well! With student governments elections here at UCLA this week, it’s been a whirlwind of campaigning around campus. There are two slates on campus vying for the coveted slots—Bruins United and Students First. These students campaigning have a particular opportunity to make a difference on campus by representing the needs and desires of the entire student body. There’s one candidate in particular that I am especially supporting after I heard his campaign speech, emphasizing the importance of happiness at UCLA. Daniel Chikanov is running for to be the next General Representative and I think that he would be extremely successful in the position. I can’t wait for you to hear what he has to say, and please, vote for him and his Bruins United running mates today! I know I did!
Go here to learn more about the platforms of the other candidates: http://bruinsunited.com/
1. You are currently running to be a general representative with Bruins United. Can you tell us about some of your platforms that you plan to implement if you’re elected?
I have been working on strengthening the relationship between the Career Center, Alumni Association, and USAC in order to increase their exposure and accessibility to students. Many people don’t even know of the services the Career Center and the Student Alumni Association have to offer or even that they exist in the first place. Students will be able to acquire valuable knowledge and tools to attain the dream job they desire.

My second platform centers on revamping UCLA transportation and biking. Thousands of students get around campus and Westwood on bikes, skateboards, and scooters. The pavement around UCLA linking the campus to Westwood needs to be refurbished along with an installation of more bike racks to facilitate storage. By better integrating the local cyclist community this platform has the added benefit of increasing an environmentally friendly alternative to transportation needs in the area. In addition, to increasing cyclist safety, it will also give pedestrians the security of using the safer furnished pathways. Overall it will benefit all parties by simultaneously promoting campus safety and the freedom to choose one’s own method of transportation.

2. What about UCLA makes you happy?
This energized campus has never failed to bring a smile on my face every day. As I walk to class, there is always something to do, something to explore, something to learn, great weather, great people, and it really has made me feel like I’m at home. It’s a paradise.
3. How do you think you can make UCLA a happier place?
USAC has been doing much better in reaching out to students, but I want to expand it more. In doing so, I want to bring USAC to the students by strengthening the relationship between USAC, the Alumni Association, as well as the Career Center to provide easier accessibility to the resources available at UCLA. Rather than stressing about finding the resources, they’re able to find a resource at a relaxed pace. Along with my plan on a UCLA’s own laugh factory, not only will it give students a chance to crack some jokes, but it’ll give them a chance to bond on an emotional level where they have a share of happiness.
4. What do you think is one of the greatest challenges facing UCLA and how do you think you can improve it?
The biggest challenge would have to be equal representation. With having an immigrant as well as a disability background, I am familiar with the adversity that the underrepresented communities face. As a General Representative, it is my job to make sure that every student is being equal represented as well as having a voice in the student government because after all, they are the ones who are the backbone of UCLA. With that, I plan to reach out to various underrepresented communities and empower them.
5. How has the campaign experience added to your happiness?
Every day that I am out there, I meet someone new, I learn something new about life. It is that learning experience that people have been providing me that really has been helping me improve both my auditory as well as verbal skills greatly since they have been a challenge for me due to my hearing loss. For example, last week, we had a candidate debate and I have never participated in the debate before since I always had the fear of mispronouncing a word or not making any sense. This fear had kept me from running for any student government position, even in high school when my counselor wanted me to run for the president of student body. However, to this day, I have regretted not giving myself a chance to experience the political side of life or to overcome the fear and so with that I’ve decided to push through and overcome my fear. Along with the rigorous academic schedule adhered at UCLA, I put in a lot of hours into practicing my speech to prepare for the debate. When the day of the debate came, I went in knowing that I am a step closer to accomplishing my lifetime goal. I went in, delivered it, and never felt so confident. That feeling was definitely the best feeling I’ve had and I couldn’t be any more excited and happy to campaign because I definitely want to give students the chance to accomplish their goals since happiness is the key to life.
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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What Does Happiness Sound Like?

Because I’m going to American Idol today, I’m in the mood for some singing. Singing is a touchy subject, though. Some people have a phenomenal gift, most don’t, and many think they do but in all actuality…well, I guess that’s what auditions for American Idol are for, right? But most of can sing to some capacity and darn, I think it is fun. There’s nothing like singing in the car with your friends, belting it out in the shower, or just humming to yourself. Heck, I know I make up songs when I’m doing the dishes. I’m proud of myself for actually admitting that!
Singing is often a private thing because hey, most us can be honest enough with ourselves to know that we may not have the chops of Celine or Beyonce. I wish. But singing can make us so happy! From Disney’s sing along videos as kids to karaoke bars now, singing is fun at any age in your life and it’s an instant camaraderie builder. (Aka, you better know the classics like “Respect” and “YMCA” if you want to join along). And times are a changing—if you don’t know “Yeah” by now (hey, it’s been 10 years), then it’s time to hop on the belt out band wagon! It’s a part of American pop culture and being a part of that can bring instant happiness—especially when dancing is involved.
And for those of you that can really belt it out—don’t be Ariel when she hits the shore. Belt it out so that even Simon Cowell can’t turn you away. (Too bad I won’t get to see him tonight—but Steven Tyler is pretty good, too). If singing is your dream, and it makes you happy, then go for it! Singing is a talent that should not go quietly.
I’ll let you know how it goes!
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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