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Science & Health

UCLA Senior Self-Publishes Book About Celebrating Happiness

Graduating UCLA this June with bachelor’s degrees in communication studies and psychology, fourth-year student Lauren Cook is an author of a self-published book about how to find happiness.

The book, “The Sunny Side Up! Celebrating Happiness,” was published on April 25 and is available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com in a physical or e-book copy.

Mojo caught up with Lauren to talk a bit about her book and writing process before the book signing tonight at Chi Omega.

What inspired you to start your blog and later write the book?

I’ve always loved to write and read other blogs and I decided I wanted to start a project of my own. I remember looking at Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project,” and thinking, I want to write a book about happiness. I just went through the whole book, highlighting it and emailed Gretchen about writing a teen edition. She didn’t really want to create a teen version, but it inspired me to write my own book.

What tips can you give bloggers and writers hoping to make a name for themselves?

My main tip is to be consistent because it doesn’t happen overnight. I wrote every single day for the first two years, but now it’s become more of a weekly thing. If you don’t have something new for your readers, then they are going to get bored and they are not going to want to come back. You have to be very self-motivated and nitpicky and be aware of how you want to brand yourself.

Could you expand on your writing process?

I really wanted to focus on the opinions of our generation. I interviewed people at UCLA, people from my old high school, anyone I could connect with. Facebook was a huge tool for me to get in contact with people all over the country. I asked them, “What makes you happy?” and I offered them 12 different topics, such as friendships, spirituality, etc., and they got to me and were really honest and I really appreciate that.

What was the publishing process like?

I decided to self-publish because you have so much more creative control and the product comes out much more quickly. I looked into some different self-publishing companies and signed a contract. I hired my own editor. I thought about getting a literary agent, but the process takes so long and I wanted to have it published by graduation.

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What sets your book apart from other how-to books?

My book is different because I’m coming from a peer approach. I really wanted this book to feel real and honest and not like some 50-year-old on their soapbox wrote it. The book features quotes from real people, so it helps the reader feel they aren’t alone. My book also focuses on how we can be happy now, instead of wishing our life away saying, “I’ll be happy when …”

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

Julie Andrews because when she lost her singing voice she found a new voice through writing children’s books with her daughter.

What’s your best piece of advice for students with regards to staying positive and finding happiness?

I call it the three G’s. The first is gratitude. I recommend finding five things you are thankful for, even if it’s as simple as a nice walk at UCLA. The second is goal-setting. Writing down your goals, no matter how outrageous, is really helpful. The third is giving back, and I love that about the Bruin community – we recognize how important and beneficial it is to volunteer and give back.

What tips would you suggest for self-promotion, marketing and branding?

Be consistent, know who you are and know which image you want to promote. For instance, when I do a speaking event, I always wear yellow. Even my book features bright, happy colors.

What do you do to make yourself feel happy?

Music is huge for me. Listening to music in my car is a chance for me to have my me time and sing even if no one is listening. Spending time with my family and friends. Humans are social creatures, and while it’s good to spend time alone, you need to be around people who make you laugh and feel happy.

What role do you think outside factors, such as health, have on happiness?

Health seems so elementary, but it is so important to get those core basics of enough sleep, healthy food and exercise in order to be happy. I also talk about success and not comparing yourself to other people. It’s about finding happiness in your goals and staying on your path. The book talks about finding a happy medium in dating relationships and not being head over heels in love or devastated when it’s over, but finding a balance. It talks about how to be happy when you’re single or dating and how to get out of unhealthy relationships.

How has going to UCLA benefited you in this process?

A big part of the college experience at UCLA is learning self-motivation. No one is telling you to get this internship or go to class. I really love the entrepreneurial nature of UCLA. It taught me that you can create your own brand and self-promote, through blogging or writing your own book. You really can do it on your own. The only person who needs to say yes to you is yourself.

What are your future plans?

I’m probably going to get my master’s in marriage and family therapy, but my ultimate dream is to write books, do motivational speaking and just help people. My goal is to really help our generation find their way to a bigger, brighter future.

How do you stay happy? What dreams are you chasing? Tweet us @dbmojo or comment below.

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Arts & Entertainment

5 things UCLA students would do if there were no laws on campus

The upcoming film “The Purge” features an alternate version of American society, which allows 12 hours of lawlessness each year. On Tuesday night, CEC showed a sneak peak of the film. The premise of the film is that crime rates become practically nonexistent because once a year, people are given 12 hours to do whatever they want, including murder, steal and other illegal activities.

After seeing a preview for the movie, I immediately thought about all the rules at UCLA that are just waiting to be broken. Except for, well, the rules about murder and violence. That wouldn’t be cool. Here are the top five rules we wish we could break.

1. Elevator Use

Even UCLA’s unwritten laws would come into play during “The UCLA Purge.” As a result, all residents living on the second floor of any building could press the “2” button in the elevator and not take the stairs. No more pretending like you are struggling with your books and have no choice but to ride the elevator. Fair warning: since there’s no rules, you might get punched in the face.

2. Go tunneling

A trip to UCLA’s secret underground tunnel system is on most students’ bucket lists. Some students have likely ventured underground already (and being technically allowed to do it may diminish the act’s allure for daredevils). But if you’re not much of a rule-breaker and you’ve always wanted to know what all the buzz is about – here’s your chance to do it.

3. Fall in love with a Trojan

No doubt many Bruins have found themselves caught in a Westside Story-like scenario: you’re in love with the enemy across town. Bruin and Trojan love is a major taboo. Allow your forbidden love to blossom into an open commitment. Let your colors shine and, if your heart so desires, trade in your blue for red. You can finally say that you…say that you love a…that you love a Tro — No. I’m sorry, I can’t do this. This is too much. With 12 hours to do anything, you should by no means think it’s acceptable to spend that time with your Trojan girlfriend or boyfriend. Forget everything I said about young love. Not even an Ethan Hawke film can allow this.

4. Frolick in the Inverted Fountain before graduation

Walking to class past the Inverted Fountain on a hot day is dangerously tempting. With no rules, you wouldn’t have to wait until your graduation day to wet your toes in the cool water. You could jump right in, and if you’re feeling super rebellious you could even skinny dip in the fountain. Students of every class year (not just seniors) could spend all day bathing in the sacred water. And then you could return to the dorms, sopping wet, and take the elevator to the second floor.

5. Paint buildings.

UCLA’s brick architecture is beautiful. But imagine a purple Powell Library and Rainbow Royce Hall. Maybe we should paint Bruin Walk yellow while we’re at it (Wizard of Oz, anyone?).

What would you do if you had 12 hours on campus with no laws? Tweet us @dbmojo or comment below.

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Food and Dining

Healthy Dorm Room Study Snacks

Hello, ninth week. The beginning of the end. The time when you just want to crawl back in bed and sleep for days, instead of tackling that paper or starting to study for finals.

Doing anything but studying sounds pretty appetizing right now, so why not do something that’s slightly productive? Before the real madness of 10th week sets in, now is the perfect time to go grocery shopping and stock up on some healthy snacks that will keep your energy up during those late night study sessions.

If you get easily overwhelmed by the massive aisles of the grocery store, use this list of some of the best snacks to have on hand in your dorm room:

  • plain instant oatmeal, topped with sliced banana, dried fruit, or peanut butter
  • fresh fruit
  • carrots and hummus
  • banana or apple (from the dining hall) with peanut butter
  • whole wheat tortilla microwaved with string cheese (served with salsa nabbed from Rendezvous)
  • plain greek yogurt with different toppings (in the photo above, there’s bananas slices, raisins, almond butter, honey and granola)
  • dried edamame (from Whole Foods)
  • cereal with milk (get a carton of milk to put in the fridge next time you go to Bruin Cafe, Rendezvous or Cafe 1919)
  • frozen fruit, like raspberries or pineapple – it’s the perfect snack on a hot day!
  • dry roasted nuts
  • light popcorn
  • a PB & J (make it in the dining hall and save it for later that day)
  • crackers with cheese
  • protein bars
  • trail mix
  • dark chocolate

What’s your favorite study snack? Tweet us @dbmojo or comment below!

 

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Culture

Beloved Brew Co Karaoke Connoisseur Bids Westwood Bar Farewell

When he was a UCLA student, a nighttime trip to the Westwood Brewing Company, more fondly known as Brew Co, for karaoke was a regular routine.

This may sound like the life of many students over the fabled age of 21, but Gabe Cardenas turned his rock and rolling into a part-time job after graduation.

After spending many evenings doing his best Shaggy impersonation while having to deal with old microphones and out-of-sync monitors, Cardenas’ interest in the karaoke field was piqued.

“I would always think that there are ways this could be improved because it used to just be a small system run by the bouncer,” he said.

Now, eight years after obtaining his ethnomusicology degree from UCLA, Cardenas is known by many students for running karaoke at Brew Co and singing along with them when they’re too, um, happy to remember the words to their favorite songs.

“I love working there because I’m there to entertain people and also help people entertain others,” Cardenas said.

One of the dangers of his career choice, however, is the frequent run-ins with intoxicated people unhappy with their place in the karaoke line. Cardenas said he turns to the movie “Roadhouse” in these situations.

“I tell myself be nice until you don’t need to be nice anymore,” he said, quoting from the film.

What keeps him coming back to his corner throne in the Westwood karaoke world is the fact that every night is different. Cardenas said he often hosts bachelorette parties and 21st birthdays, and once even spent an evening talking to tennis star Serena Williams as she sang karaoke with some friends.

Cardenas’ karaoke presence in the Village is in danger, however, because of the impending closure of Brew Co. The bar is slated to close its doors sometime this summer.

Students who know and love Cardenas’ karaoke program said that it will be one of the major losses when the bar closes.

“We love Maloney’s [O’Hara’s bar] and Barney’s, but Brew Co is really the place to go to at the end of the night and sing karaoke. When it closes, it will definitely be a big loss to UCLA students,” said Kylie Wilson, a fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student who frequently sings karaoke.

At the moment, Cardenas is looking to relocate to another bar in Westwood and has reached out to Barney’s Beanery a few blocks away.

Microphone photo courtesy of John Liu, Creative Commons.

-Alexia Boyarsky, Bruin senior staff

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How-to

A Guide to Gifting at UCLA: Last-minute DIY presents for friends and family

My friends will attest to my passion for gifting. Perhaps I appreciate the credit I receive more than the altruistic act, but I like to think of it more as a form of creative fulfillment, or yet another reason to spend, whatever floats your boat. Here are some tips to help you gift successfully at UCLA, bearing in mind all the constraints that college life entails.

Services you may not know/think about

UCLA housing offers a cool service named Bear Hugs, through which you can order goodies like birthday cakes, gift baskets with fruit and cheese or balloons and a teddy bear. They are delivered to “your special Bruin” in time for any holiday or just to cheer them up when they’re feeling down.

I don’t think I’m being too bold when I say everyone likes Diddy Riese. So, when you have a last-minute gift to buy and you have absolutely no idea what to get, this is a safe option. LA’s best cookie sandwich joint offers gift bags, boxes and tins of cookies, all so you can bring joy (and blocked arteries) into someone’s life. Plus they start at five dollars, so you can work with a college budget.

Easy last-minute gifting

If you don’t have time to go to Westwood and you live on the Hill, it’s not too late to treat your friend. A great go-to gesture is simply swiping at BCaf and getting a cupcake. They’re pretty and delicious, so they make a perfect birthday cake. Then, depending on how generous you’re feeling, you can give your friend the second pastry, or keep it for your starving self.

If you’re feeling a little more spendy, you can also go wild at the Hill Top Shop, Jacklemore-style. They offer a surprisingly good selection, including teddy bears, candy (Hershey Kisses are a nice gesture, for obvious reasons), and UCLA merch, which is a pretty safe choice.

DIY

When you’re completely broke and have a bit of free time, make your friend a present. A homemade gift is always that much more touching. Think along the lines of photo frames, scrapbooks, personalized boxes, t-shirts (made with fabric markers or iron-ons), accessories and decorations. And if you’re stuck for ideas, try a quick browse on websites like Pinterest or Buzzfeed for a source of inspiration.

Homemade greeting cards are a fun way to show you care. You can personalize them and they hardly cost anything. Use construction paper, photos, magazine cutouts, sequins, colored pens, ribbons and whatever else your heart fancies. If you don’t have much time, a post-it and colored pen will do the trick.

Grand gestures

If regular gifts are too “vanilla” for your taste, maybe you should try one of those grand romantic comedy-worthy gestures that make the world go “awww.” Although these are most appropriate when asking someone to be your date/marry you, they can brighten anyone’s day. Get inspired by this brave student, take The Script’s advice, or come up with your own idea.

Delivery methods

In-person gifting isn’t always the best solution, since it can get awkward on both sides. Mix things up a bit, and try these alternatives.

Order your gift online, and have it delivered directly to your friend. It’s such a nice surprise to receive a package when you’re least expecting it!

Plant your gift outside your friend’s door (if it’s not too valuable) and run away! You can make it anonymous if you’re shy.

The Lazy Option

If you absolutely don’t know what to get and do have a decent budget to treat your friend, gift cards are an all-time favorite. You can’t really go wrong and there are still ways you can be creative here. For instance, consider getting a Starbucks/any restaurant the person likes gift card, or one for a beauty treatment at places like InStyle Nails.

Do you have any unique gifting tips? Comment below or tweet us @dbmojo!

 

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