How to be Happy in 19 Fairly Painless Steps

 

I may not have found the holy grail of happiness just yet, but I have managed to eek out a little bliss every now and then in these stressful shark filled waters I call my life. So I have decided to take a look back at the things I have done or tried in my journey thus far. It seemed like a good time to sum up the specific steps I’ve taken so I can take stock, move forward, readdress those things that didn’t take the first time, or reassess why things didn’t work at all.

  1. Identify what is great about you. You might be surprised at how awesome you already are. Make a list to see the awesomeness on paper.
  2. Really make those traits of your life a priority or use them more often to shine. If you take what you do well or the traits about you that rock and you do them more often, of course you are going to find more reasons to smile.
  3. Make a conscious choice about who you are. A choice not driven from history or others labels, but one that is truly you, or the you you would like to become. Make the choice of happiness when you do this. Stop blaming others for your position in life and take charge. Blaming others gives them the power, taking charges puts you in the driver’s seat. I prefer power every day of the week.
  4. Formulate your personal identifiers. These are the attributes you want to live by or be known for. This is your chance to chose who you are going to be. This list doesn’t have to be true at this moment, it is a work in progress. Include your current attributes as well as those you are working towards. Many people find happiness in reaching toward goals. Easier to reach for them if you know what you are reaching for.
  5. Review the people in your life and decide if they help or hinder your progress in either happiness or your intentional identifier goals. They may be friends or family and you may love them dearly, but if they don’t get your new life then they may hold you back from truly succeeding. I’m not saying let them go, I’m saying put them in perspective.
  6. Clean up your financial mess, or at least put it all out on the table and in the open so you can start looking at it. Knowledge is half the battle, the truth really can set you free. This is the path to fixing it.
  7. Take action to implement or move toward an intentional identifier. It isn’t enough to make a list, you have to take action. You have to remind yourself everyday of who you want to be and you have to do something to work toward that goal as often as you can.
  8. Let go of all the negative things that draw you down or hold you back. Whether it is people, things, habitual thoughts, or ruminations on your past, let it all go and start new.
  9. Stop patterns of behavior that do not work for you or bring you closer to your goals and happiness. Stop doing everything that negates who you want to be or what you want to have in life. Just stop it.
  10. Adjust your beliefs to allow your goals to be reached. If a belief is preventing you from reaching a positive lace or a remarkable goal it is time to rethink why you are chosing to believe something tat is clearly holding you back.
  11. Live on the edge and do things that scare you; you might be surprised at what you find or discover about yourself. Often living in the safety zone prevents growth and opportunity to make your life the way you really want it to be. You must be bold to move forward and out of your comfort zone and onto the edge. Those who make history or are fabulously happy are out there on the edge, trust me.
  12. Learn to live in and experience the Now- I I know it sounds new agey. Let go of the past and stop worrying about your future. If you live in the now the past is nothing but a memory and the future will only be brighter if you really truly just live in this moment.
  13. Be better to your partner. Give them what you want and they are likely to reciprocate. If not then have them read this. Remember they have value and possibly are right.
  14. Write your best about me. Avoid titles and roles you play in life and instead focus on the true things about you, See mine for inspiration.
  15. Choose to be healthy. Make one small healthy change every week and be surprised at how it catches on and how good you feel.
  16. Be productive. Do things that create peace or simplicity in your life. Do things that need to be done and can shrink your to do list. Do things that instill a great sense of accomplishment. Do the trivial things that get in the way of your greatness.
  17. Get creative! Do something new and creative everyday. This is to get your brain working and firing neurons it usually doesn’t use. Brush your teeth with your opposite hand, paint a mural, bake cookies, make an obstacle course… just do something new and interesting that is totally for fun or nonsensical. There is a lt of brain up there just going to waste.
  18. Exercise, but use your limited time wisely. Moving everyday can make a huge mood shift. If you don’t have time for a big workout just squeeze in something, anything. It will make your mind feel  happy and your body relaxed. This morning I did 20 min of yoga with a two year old on my back. It wasn’t proper, it wasn’t “correct” but I did feel better and he sure laughed a lot. :)
  19. Stop taking on responsibility for others feelings. You cannot control what they choose to feel or what they choose to believe. If you have not been hurtful or intentionally cruel then their emotions are not your responsibility. You will waste a considerable amount of time in life trying to solve the problems of other people. Usually those people have made the decision to be miserable and their beliefs have less to do with you than their own choices to feel unhappy. It will hurt, it will be hard, but you have to realize at some point in your life, you are only responsible for your own reactions and feelings. Not those of others.
  20. Fake it. Fake everything you want to do or be until you reach your goals. You can get where you are going, it just takes a little bit of creativity and embellishment sometimes.

I have now been on this quest to find a better way of life since July of this year. And the really cool, if surprising bit, is that I really do feel better. I really am seeing a difference in my mood, my outlook, and my life. Just imagine if you had been following the journey and doing it to. What might your life look like now? What changes would you have made? How far could you have come?

For those keeping score, or are simply curious. I have accomplished the following by taking the steps above:

  • I’ve lost 5 pounds without dieting
  • I now fit in my pre pregnancy pants, I’m talking the ones before our first child
  • I’ve cleaned up our finances and we can now pay all our bills with a little left over to fix an ailing truck and toddler
  • I can find things in my organized house
  • I’ve sold or given away much of my clutter
  • I’m nicer to my children and we have a lot more silly times together
  • I’m sleeping better
  • My to do list is remarkably shorter
  • I am reading like a fiend
  • I am halfway through a new fiction book I hope will be the winner winner to getting published and being a true writer
  • I have eaten gluten free with only two breaks ( this was for my son’s Celiac Disease, but I won’t lie and say I don’t think I am healthier or that it didn’t improve my mood)
  • I feel more at peace
  • I feel like I have found part of me I thought was forever gone
  • I can cope with the unknown with less anxiety
  • I no longer have ruminating thoughts about things I can’t control

What I am Reading: Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hall a man buys a ghost off the internet… enough said, if that doesn’t make you curious, nothing will.

What I am listening to: Life is Beautiful by Keb Mo.  Thank you Carri, for giving me his voice.

What I am watching: Before you poo poo me… I am a HUGE Star Wars fan (see first edition original movie poster in my house or my son being practically named after Darth Vader), but I am also a huge believer in raising amazing little men. I hope when asked who they liked best they will choose wisely. Food for thought. Honestly though, at 8 years old I chose Chewbacca.

Inspirations from the ether: I clearly didn’t utilize my baby’s sleep time well enough. Must see photos. Seriously,  no really, click it!

Now moment of the week: A potty trained two year old who did it all by himself one day and  hasn’t looked back. Bonus moment, finding out from his special doctor that he only has 6 more months of leg braces! 1 regular doctor visit down! Three more to go!

 

Confessions of a Habitual Overthinker

I’m going to make a confession today. I’m not perfect. Whew! That felt good. Apparently, some people are under the misconception that I am, or that I should be, or that this blog professes to be the solution for finding perfection. I’m happy to report these are all false rumors generated by individuals who are either insecure and intimidated by my goal of being happy (what the hell, who are you people?) or it is a misconception driven by the belief that I think there is a perfection or only one right way to live. On the contrary, what this entire blog is really about, at it’s core, is that there are MANY ways to live and that as long as you are living intentionally, as opposed to unthinking being shoved along on a path by culture and society, then you are doing the right thing and living the best life for you. I am not sitting in judgment of others, I am merely trying to start a movement or a dialog about finding happiness.

By its very nature intentional living allows for and accepts just about any path or preference of life short of harming others. So I am stymied that anyone who has read my words might feel judged or overwhelmed at them. How hard is it to just live your life, your way? And why does it make people feel insecure or judged when others attempt to do this or suggest they might try it? Why is overall life satisfaction and happiness such a negative thing or a bad word in our day to day lives? Is it really that hard to live your life without worrying what others think and feel? Apparently, yes.

I do not believe there is a perfect life, or one path that we are all destined to go down or that will provide all people with the happiness they crave or the life they deserve. Many people would not be happy in my life or with my choices, and I would be equally unhappy in theirs. However, this does not mean that one of us is right and the other is wrong. Even those folks who follow the status quo blindly are not necessarily wrong; if they are happy and content with the results that the status quo has provided, then it was the right path for them. If they are unhappy and unfulfilled with the result, then I would argue it is time for intentional living.

My desire and project to find happiness by embarking on a new goal each week is not one I take lightly, it is not just a whim, a random quest, or just thoughts in a blog. I am determined to create the life I want by using the best tool I have at my disposal, my brain. I am convinced that if I make the effort, do the research, and apply myself that I can reach a Zen like place where I am happy and content. I’m not talking about a mythical fairy land with Unicorns and leprechauns- I get that life is hard and there will always be moments of craptastic events outside my control- but I also know that if the rest of my life is in balance those moments will be easier to overcome and their impact less devastating.

This week it has been difficult for me to find the energy to write to the blog. Knowing that my determination to find happiness has inadvertently resulted in the loss of friendships is a hard pill to swallow. It has left me rethinking my goals and my method for getting there. It has left me to wonder if the power of words was just not the right venue for expressing my journey or the bumpy road ahead. Was it possible that words could unintentionally  hurt those I care about? The realization I have come to is that while my journey and my words might hurt others, it is only because they are not ready for this kind of path in their own lives not because I intended to hurt them or cause harm. They are not prepared to look at why they are unfulfilled. they are not ready to search and work for their own happiness. Instead they feel insecure, trapped, and overwhelmed and reading my words feels like a slap in the face and a confirmation that everything they thought was lacking in their life really is. For this I am sorry. I am sorry I have made anyone feel like less, when the goal was to inspire everyone to feel like more, that they deserve more.

The important thing I was reminded of, as I contemplated all of this this week, was that I can’t make all of the people happy, all of the time. And more importantly, to find my own happiness I have to learn to be okay with that instead of feeling responsible for their unhappiness. So this weeks goal has been to identify when I should feel responsible and when I shouldn’t, because apparently I struggle with that and I think it leads to a lot of unhappiness that is easily avoidable.

Are there thing you feel badly about that aren’t really your fault? Do you take responsibility for others feelings and reactions? Have you found any solutions to stopping this behavior? I would love to hear from you and I would love for you to share this blog with others. Thanks.

What I’m reading: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion If you like Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory, then you will love this book.

What I’m listening to: Wake Me Up by Avicii

What I’m watching: Shake

SHAKE from Variable on Vimeo.

Now moment of the week: Picking Pumpkins with little boys who say they are “cute”. In love.

Inspirations from the ether:

Wow, I have never felt less productive or more motivated to live the moments I do get very very intentionally. Must watch.

Fake it till YOU Make it

Let me start with this, taking a vacation for a week and staying home- better known as the “staycation”- is a dangerous thing. All it does is make you realize how great life can be if you didn’t have to work. Sure, going on a real vacation is great- duh -, and of course you have a great time because the theory is you left your worries and real life at home to do something new and interesting or relaxing and fun. But if you can have a staycation that is awesome, then clearly your worries have nothing to do with being home and have everything to do with working. :) Hence, my desire to write for a living. It would never feel like work and it could be done from anywhere. I have a passion for writing fiction- true story.

So this week my goal has been to once again get back to writing like I AM getting paid for it. Bottom line is sometimes you have to fake it till you make it. Actually, that is one of my mother’s favorite sayings and I think maybe one of her wisest. I hear this from people all the time; they faked their dream until it became real. Not necessarily full on lying to get there, but definitely just fudging of the truth until the reality matched the dream. Many successful people have employed this method, so why not me?

So how does one fake  being a writer without actually being a writer? Or, for your dream, how do you fake your dream until you make it? The simple answer is, you do it. Like Nike says “Just do it.” Do what you want to do, until it becomes the thing you hope for.

When I was 18 and a lost high school graduate I knew I wanted to work with animals and I had a strong feeling for dogs. When I got out of college with a degree in Biology, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for vet school as I had planned, so I went out into the world and started my own business. I became a petsitter, which in 1998 was not something people did or people used. Everyone told me it would fail, I would fail. Even my own mother asked what kind of people would pay a stranger to come to their house? It turns out lots of people would, and I made a profit in the first 4 months of business. By the end of year one, I was turning people away because I had no more time. But the funny thing is, I had NO experience running a business or taking care of people’s pets in their home. What I had was a drive to do it, and a 4 chapter book from the library that supposedly told me how. I can still remember my first client interview. I put on a show like I had been doing this for years! I said things like “Well most people do this…” or “Many of my clients want multiple visits a day…” um, I had no clients. Was it lying? Yes, was it a damaging lie? No. I was smart, I had worked with animals in a vet setting, and I owned pets, it wasn’t like I told someone I could build their home when all I’d ever built before was out of Legos or Lincoln Logs.

By the time my 6 years as a sitter were drawing to a close, so I could chase another dream, I was then calling myself a dog trainer. Was I a dog trainer? Sure, I had a dog and  he was trained. Ta Da! I didn’t once tell people I had done more than I had or had certificates I didn’t, but I did say yes when people asked if I could train their dogs when I did my pet sitting. Then six years later, when I was done sitting,  I was a certified trainer and had lots of education under my belt and a few apprenticeships too. I started training full time shortly thereafter and with all my experience with aggressive dogs during pet sitting, I become known as the aggressive dog worker. I didn’t really care for it, but I did capitalize on it. People figured if I could work with dangerous dogs, then clearly I could teach sit and down.

In essence, I have never outright lied, but I have misled folks or allowed them to mislead themselves. I have been honest about my abilities, though possibly exaggerated my actual history, and I have never had someone dissatisfied with my work because I only fibbed within the realm of possibility, not in the realm of fantasy. And that is the key secret to  faking it until you make it.

So back to being a writer. I do get paid to write and edit boring government documents. So I suppose that counts as experience. When people ask what I do, I tell them I am a writer knowing they assume that I write books or articles for magazines or the newspaper. I don’t elaborate and say “of boring government documents” they don’t want to know that, and I don’t want to tell them. So I am bending the truth or possibly omitting the truth. However, I soothe my conscience with the very real fact that I do write fiction, almost daily. I have yet to be published, but I can feel that day coming and I know I will get there. Why? Because if I fake it long enough, people are bound to believe me and an agent will, at some point, say “Man I have to represent this woman and this book”. So far I have written three books and numerous short stories (aka books I just couldn’t stretch to full book length). I have submitted two of these books to agents. The first got nothing positive, clearly I needed more work. The second got mixed reviews from “I love your writing and voice” to “I think your idea is really cool” and the ever popular, “you clearly have talent” why thank you- *blush*.

So the first generated nothing but rejections. The second got a we want to see more because you are good, but this particular work wasn’t for us kind of responses. IMAGINE what my third book will get when I send that out to the people who liked the second one? These people believe I am a writer because I keep sending them things I have written! My writing gets better because as a writer, I keep writing and practicing my craft. I am faking this baby until I make it. Sure, it may not be the first book I wrote went number 1 with a bullet like Jennifer Meyers who wrote The Twilight Series, but if it took JK Rowling a million rejections to get Harry Potter published, I think I am still in good company.

I won’t lie, rejection is hard to take, but with each rejection I knew I  could do better, if for no other reason than not liking people telling me I am wrong or I can’t do something. They have said that about me before, and somehow I still keep proving them wrong. In the spirit of intentional living I am making the boldest move I can (while still being a responsible adult with children), I am vowing to write daily and submit everything I write until I get paid to do it. That is the goal, that is the dream. And if I fake this long enough, I know I will get there. I trained dogs for almost 20 years, and it all started with a small fib, just an exaggeration really of what I had already done, and it opened one of the most amazing doors for me. It gave me the opportunity to do what I loved for years. Now I want to do something new. I am a writer, I write. Notice I didn’t say “I want to be a writer” Or “I want to write”.

What do you want to do? How do you want to live? What is your dream? And what can you do to make that dream happen? How can you fake it till you make it? Please share!

 

What I’m Reading: Bridget Jones- Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding. Once you have read the first two, how do you not read the third??

What Else I’m Reading: Still working on The Power of Now. It is so thought provoking I find I have to read each sentence twice to make sure I am really grasping the concepts. I like the premise, but I am not sure how I feel about the execution just yet.

What I’m Listening to: Randy Newman’s Land of Dreams Album, but specifically Falling in Love so lovely.

Now Moment of the Week: Getting artistic and painting my son a Pirate theme mural in his room. It isn’t done, but it has felt so wonderful just focusing on the project, just being in the moment of creating this vision for him. I haven’t done anything artistic in decades.

photo 1 photo 2

 

Inspirations from the Ether: Getting viral