What’s The Least You Could Do? Do That.

I know it’s going to be “one of those days” today.

I can already tell from the way I woke up that am just not feeling ‘it‘ today.  You know what I mean? You feel you either didn’t sleep enough, or you slept too much, your head hurts, your eyes – heavy, and you feel as though your mood didn’t get the memo that your mind had all of these productive plans for you to tackle today. 

grumble…grumble…

It doesn’t matter that I took 10 minutes last night to plan out my day, just like those people who have their lives together suggest that I do. It doesn’t matter that I got my recommended 7-9 hours of sleep, nevermind the fact that I probably only had 2, maybe 3, REM cycles…if I was lucky. And it doesn’t matter that I drank water when I woke up, made my bed, opened my curtains for the light of the day to come through, nope, nope, nope. I followed all of the “rules”, played by the book, had a routine… all of which I know to be true to help and yet it wasn’t helping.

Today was just not happening for me.

I moped and pouted my way around for a while this morning, angry at the world for making me wake up in this mood with absolutely zero desire to do anything. I didn’t want to make breakfast, exercise, or go about my day doing all of those peppy, productive things I had planned. I could barely stand the thought of changing clothes*, how was I going to get anything done today?

*For the record, I did change clothes. I had put on jeans and a decent T-shirt, only to change back into sweatpants and a pullover not even 4 hours later. The point is, it was the least I could do.

“What’s the least I could do”,

I thought to myself. If I couldn’t stand to do anything today, then I could just muster enough energy to spend my day doing the “least I could do” for all of the things I had originally planned.

Sometimes we have ‘days’.

Having ‘days’ does not mean we quit, are lazy, are not working hard towards our goals, or that we are anything less than we are on any other day of the week, month, or year.

It’s the Universe’s way of either: A, testing us. Or B, telling us we need a freakin’ break to calm down and chill out.

Today, the Universe was telling me to chill out because I have been on hyper-drive this past week, working my butt off on endless mentally rigorous and physically laborious projects.

Doing the “least I could do” was my master plan for today. I wanted to find a good balance between surviving the day and owning the day. So, ok, I wasn’t going to exercise for a full 30 minutes or even take a shower (don’t judge), but I could at least stretch for 10 minutes, and take a bath (see, I cleaned up).  That, my friends, was the least I could do. And today, was a “least I could do” kind of day.

The day I had planned and the ‘least I could do day’ that actually happened looked a little like this:

The planned day

  • Get up at 7:00 AM, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
  • Make a green tea
  • Cook a delicious and elaborate breakfast complete with avocado toast, two sunny-side-up eggs, and chicken sausage. Yum!
  • Go for a run along the river trail for 30 minutes
  • Take a hot shower, put on nice clothes and do my hair
  • Clean the entire home (Wednesday is cleaning day); the dusting, sweeping, mopping, toilets, windows, vacuuming, trash, etc. AKA, the works.
  • Read something stimulating for 30 minutes to get my mind in a ‘work mood’ for planning my business and side hustle projects.
  • Make a delicious lunch, something like pumpkin ravioli with turkey bacon and feta cheese, drizzled with honey. Yes, I make good food.
  • Spend the afternoon in ‘work mode’, watching education videos for my coursework, working on my professional sites, finding more freelance work.
  • Make homemade chicken wings and homemade pizza for dinner. For real.
  • Do the full evening routine, which today, would have included: evening walk, making a pot of tea to enjoy in the loft while I read philosophy books, write an elaborate introspective piece in my journal, clean up from the day’s happenings, and pack for my day trip tomorrow.

The ‘least I could do’ day that actually happened

  • Finally get out of bed, groggy-eyed, and flat-tailed at 9:30 AM
  • Still made a green tea. Luckily it’s a 3-step process that I could do in my sleep. 
  • Made cereal. So much for the elaborate breakfast. I did add in a chopped banana, though, and that took effort.
  • Instead of the run, I stretched for 10 minutes. Ok, more like 5 minutes. But I also played with my cat and she likes to run around so that counts for something.
  • No shower, but I took a hot bath for 20 minutes. Much better choice. And I did put on real clothes, decent ones, and sort of fixed up my hair. A little. Basically, I brushed it.
  • Hooray – I did clean! Instead of ‘the works’, I did the ‘once over’. You know, I swept the areas that were obviously dirty, used a swiffer for like, a minute, vacuumed only the most used rooms of the house, and wiped down countertops. Still, it looks pretty clean in here.
  • Instead of reading a novel written by someone successful and who totally has it together and built their dream business or changed the world or something like that, (hey, I don’t need that kind of negativity today), I skimmed a few blogs. 
  • Lunch was frozen pizza. Nuff’ said.
  • For the afternoon, I worked. On my Netflix watching abilities, in my sweats, in bed. To be fair, I made myself a homemade coffee, and did send some work-related emails and spent about 25 minutes doing work-ish things. But that was the least I could do and that’s all I did. Then it was me, coffee, and a movie in bed.
  • Homemade chicken wings still happened, thank you very much. With another frozen pizza. 50% is still greater than 0% last time I checked.
  • The evening….well it’s evening now. I will not be packing for my trip but will think about packing for my trip. I will not be making a pot of tea but will make a cup. And instead of reading and learning some more, I am going to zone out with a magazine instead and maybe doodle in my journal instead of reflecting. 

And there you have it. That’s how you do the least you can do. Every day is not going to go according to plan. It’s impossible to always have it together. Even the people who claim to always have it together, don’t. I don’t know why people would claim that. And the ones who advise you to “give it your all” each day or to “suck it up” are giving you some pretty bad advice. It’s not about seeing how much you can do each day or killing yourself to get all of those things done that you said you would get done for the sole fact that you said you would. One day will not sabotage your goals or plans.

When life throws you a curve ball and you find yourself lacking the energy and lacking the motivation, all of those self-help types of blogs and books won’t necessarily help you. You know yourself better than those people do and sometimes those tricks to get motivated or find inspiration just don’t work. If you’re having one of those days, like I did today, ask yourself “what’s the least I could do” and go with it. 

Do You Know What Your Beliefs Are?

I recently started reading You Are A Badass, by Jen Sincero and immediately am in love with her writing style and her insights. More specifically, it’s her explanation of our conscious and subconscious minds that I want to share. Jen starts her book off with helping us understand how the heck we even got the way we are today, taking a deep dive of our minds, both our conscious mind and our subconscious mind. The part of our brain that does the thinking, tells us we want to change ________(fill in change), and the part of our brain that actually drives what we do (or don’t do) is the subconscious mind. These two parts are completely separate from one another and most of us don’t understand that we have two parts and if we get that, we lack the awareness of our subconscious minds and the beliefs responsible for our behavior day in and day out.

Because we aren’t fully aware of our beliefs and why these are the stories we tell ourselves, we have the impossible time of trying to implement real, lasting change in our lives. This keeps us from living our truest lives and creating our own versions of happiness.

The conscious mind is where we do all of our thinking, analyzing, worrying, etc. This part of your mind thinks it is in control, but it is sooooo not. And our subconscious mind doesn’t do any thinking, but is really the one in control; that dictates all of our actions and holds our beliefs. The kicker? The beliefs you have are likely not your own! You’ve been living a life according to someone else’s beliefs and that’s why you are so frustrated and unhappy.

So many of us are living our lives based on beliefs in our subconscious that aren’t our own. If we can wake up to these beliefs, we can have the power to change them and live the lives we’ve always dreamed of for ourselves.

If you’ve ever told yourself that’s it, I am doing this once and for all. I am going to __________, only to find that yet again, putting action to those thoughts is nearly impossible and no matter how many times you try, you can’t just seem to stick to it or make it happen, it’s because we are living our lives based on beliefs that we have held onto for our entire lives. Most of us are unaware of them so we continue to go about our days acting in accordance with our beliefs, of which are not our own, no matter what you say you want or will finally do or change once and for all. These are the beliefs you have about money, about careers, about family, about fitness, about food, etc. These are learned from childhood and through your adolescence that family and friends have taught you through their words or even actions; things that they believe and now they’ve passed them onto you, which has you thinking they are your beliefs. But, are they?

When we aren’t aware of why we are doing what we are doing and the stories we are telling ourselves, our behavior stays the same and we spiral in the thoughts and frustration of why can’t I ever seem to have more money; why can’t I lose these 25 lbs if I know that I need to be healthier; why aren’t I pursuing my deepest dreams if I know that they are truly what I want?

If you do not run your subconscious mind yourself, someone else will run it for you. – Florence Scovel Shinn

The key to breaking through is to dedicate time to start analyzing your own beliefs. Take a look at some of your less than impressive areas of life and start thinking about some of the underlying beliefs that could have created them.

If you are feeling a constant up and down relationship with money, for example, and no matter what you do, cannot seem to get a grasp on making more money or having more money? Grab a journal, notebook, piece of paper – whatever floats your boat – and write the first 5 things that come to mind that you think of when you think about money. Answer additional questions to help you understand these stories you have about money (aka your beliefs). What was your parent’s relationship like with their money? What about others you were around, how did they handle money? What were your friend’s beliefs with money and how was their relationship with money? And even take a look at people in your life now. How are the relationships with money of the people that you surround yourself with every day? Are there any correlations between these beliefs and relationships and your own?

Once you go through this exercise with a key few areas of your life that you truly want to see change, you’ll have the awareness and understanding of what your beliefs are and where they came from. This gives you the power to change those beliefs. You have to go from wanting to change them to deciding to change them. It all starts with awareness.

What have you learned about your beliefs today? What will you believe in now? How will you rewrite your beliefs?

Stuck in A Rut: Ways to Shake Up Your Routine

The same thing happens day in and day out. You awake at the same time every day, perform the same morning ritual, take the same route to work, work on the same projects, and have the same evening activities waiting for you when you get home. Boring!

There is both good and bad in routines. On one hand, a morning routine, in particular, helps us stay on track and keeps us focused on the first part of the day. We as humans find comfort in knowing exactly what we will be doing at any given time. Uncertainty is not our friend (more on this in another post). And it is true that routines can help us all be a little more productive, right? On the other hand, when unforeseen circumstances throw our beloved morning routine out of whack, we have an urgent need to fix the problem. We’re not agile and oft find ourselves having more difficulty in dealing with these small changes. What do you mean I overslept. Now my entire morning is thrown off and my day will be bad. See what I mean?

Although habits that lead us towards long-term objectives are rewarding and beneficial, all too often we find ourselves partaking in our routines simply out of habit and not out of gain. Avoiding new situations can hold us back.

If you find that your routines have started to lose their luster, or let’s be honest, have lost their luster years ago, it’s time to do something different. Why? Because any routine you have that creates additional stress, unnecessary pressure or has just become stale and unfathomably boring, is not doing you any favors. 

Never underestimate the power of small changes. Hence, the term: shake-up.

So now the question becomes, how do I shake up my routine? Good news: it is not necessary to completely change everything you have done up until this point. In fact, having routines in place is very strategic and helpful to reach goals. For example, if you want to become less stressed and made a promise to yourself to meditate daily, then by all means, keep that routine. It is only necessary to make small and subtle changes and tiny shifts in your current perspective and mindset. If you have been meditating for 10 minutes right when you get out of bed, try brewing your cup of coffee first and sitting by a window instead of your usual spot besides your bed.

Try to remember why these routines or habits started.

Do you remember why you wanted to start waking up at 5AM? Or why you chose to dedicate 2 hours each weekend to practicing your instrument? Try this: get a piece of paper and pen. Write out all of your current routines or habits – yes all of them. Next to this, write out your “whyThe purpose: You may find that some or even many of your current routines are stale and boring simply because they no longer serve your key values or goals in life. And that’s ok! We are human. We change our paths constantly and we want different things for ourselves. It’s part of growing (and no, we never stop growing). This exercise may help you realize that not only do you need to shake up your routine but maybe it’s time to retire some current ones completely.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and maybe start from scratch.

Just as we are constantly evolving, who we may have been 5 years ago may be different to who we are today – in terms of our preferences and at the very least, our situations. So while you may have previously been a morning person, maybe now your schedule works in favor of you sleeping in, so in fact, there is no need to force your routine of 5 AM when you can adjust and stay up an hour or two later and try that on for size. Or vice-versa. If you eat the same thing for lunch every day, you could either make a small change and tweak some ingredients or condiments for that lunch, or get really crazy and do something completely different for lunch every day. Watch out world! Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to keep it manageable for you. There is no benefit or point really, in changing something so drastically that trying to manage this new routine is actually more stressful than the boring, old, stale one you had. Beware of decision-fatigue! Don’t make it harder on yourself.

Alright…

Have you analyzed your current routines? Did you check to make sure they still serve a greater purpose or help propel you to a specific goal of yours? Great – you’re on the right track! What’s left is just thinking through your current situation and finding where you can be a little more flexible or creative in your approach to these routines. You may find that you just need a small, subtle change in order to fall in love with your routine again. Or you may find that you need to abandon all hope, say goodbye to a routine and completely re-invent it. That’s ok, too. Sometimes when we do that, we come back to our original routine with a fresh perspective and appreciation. And sometimes, we find something entirely new that ignites a new fiery passion within us that keeps us going.

And when you find that it’s not working again, keep tweaking. This is the beauty of our lives. We are not meant for static, stale lives. Yes, we are creatures of habit, but that doesn’t mean the habits have to be boring.

You Must be Dreaming

When is the last time you dared yourself to dream?

Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, we lose sight of our deepest dreams and all of the things we want for ourselves and our lives. We tell ourselves what’s the point, I won’t ever have that, or I can’t do that because of [insert excuse here], but really, we stop dreaming because we sneakily avoid holding ourselves accountable for taking action towards our dreams. Instead of spending the time dreaming up what we want in all areas of our lives, and admitting to ourselves what they are, we cowardly avoid it all together because we can’t face the fact that even though we are responsible for our own dreams becoming a reality, we continue to day in and day out, not take any action towards them. We would rather not admit to them at all. How sad, right?

I am currently reading a book called Maybe It’s You by Lauren Handel Zander and she is a wizard in helping people from all over the world get out of their own way and not only realize their own dreams, but finally do something about them all. I won’t share my opinions on the book quite yet, but there is an exercise in the beginning where you are to write out your dreams in all 12 areas of life that I think is particularly interesting and exciting.

If you want to start living your dreams, first you need to identify what those dreams are in the following areas:

  • Self
  • Body
  • Love
  • Spirituality
  • Career
  • Money
  • Time
  • Home
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Fun & Adventure
  • Community & Contribution

Do you remember how to dream?

The key to writing out your dreams is to remove any negative feeling and any negating words. The point is to write these out as if they are already happening and as if you are already living them. Describe them in detail, describe how they make you feel, and be very specific. This is the part where you have to be honest with yourself and remove anything that might hold you back from writing out your own truth. Nothing else matters – not whether or not they can happen, not whether or not someone else reads these – write from a place of inspiration. Dig deep and find what sparks your soul and what you know would make you happy.

This can be a very exciting exercise and one of significant self-discovery. It could unfold some new dreams you never realized you had because you never allowed yourself to spend time dreaming of them, or affirm some existing dreams you’ve long since tried to make a reality.

To sum it up, here are high-level steps to keep in mind when writing these out:

  • Be specific; capture what your dream looks and feels like so you can fully visualize it.
  • Write in the present tense; it keeps you accountable and allows you to accept that this is your dream.
  • Be kind; focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.
  • Be honest; admit to everything you want, otherwise how can you fix what isn’t working now so you can get to what you truly want?

Here’s an example taken from the book itself of how a well-written dream may sound:

The area is SELF:

When I walk into a room, people want to know me. I’m that guy Bold, happy, and unstoppable. I am always looking for the next adventure. I am proud of the contribution I am making to the world. I am decisive, transparent and, did I mention, confident. I am exceeding my every dream and then some. I am a leader everywhere in my life: professionally, socially, and with my family. Yes, even mine! I am a masterful ring-master, proud of the difference I have made and how open, honest, forthright, and fun I am with everyone. I am deeply happy.

How motivating and inspiring is that?

Don’t be discouraged if you’re finding this to be a little bit more difficult than you originally thought. We have spent so much time not dreaming that of course it is going to be hard or feel a little awkward at first, but if you keep working on them, you’ll eventually get them right. I am currently on draft #2 of most of mine and am still finding it hard to allow myself to dream. The hardest part is the actual dreaming – what do I really want, what would this look like if it could be the exact way I want it? Those are hard questions, but I just start writing. Then I edit. Then I get more specific. Then I describe.

You’ll know it’s right and complete when you are able to read it back to yourself and it makes you smile and feel motivated, inspired, and excited, just as reading that above example made you feel. When you can’t help but feel completely overcome by happiness in reading it that you can’t wait to get started on making that dream become a reality, then you know it’s done.

So, get to work – start dreaming!
Photo from Pixaby on Pexels

How to Make Difficult Decisions Less Difficult

A major life decision is never a choice, but rather a realization that the decision has already been made. – Doug Cooper

We’re all faced with difficult decisions that we must make. Most of the time, we struggle over large, life-changing choices like ending a relationship, moving someplace new, leaving a job, starting your own business, getting married, and so on. It’s no surprise that these come with the stress and pressure of choosing the “right thing” – and even figuring out what that “right thing” is.

But even the seemingly smaller decisions can hold such a weight in our minds that makes it difficult to choose for even those. Sometimes it’s hard enough to decide where to go eat for dinner, what clothes to wear today, whether or not you want to cut your hair, or if you should press snooze one last time.

I recently made yet another life-changing decision (because I somehow cannot get enough of these), and have decided to leave my job. I don’t need to share my ‘now what’ plan or explain why I chose this in order to get the point across that this was no easy decision to make. But, it was without a doubt, the right decision for me to make for myself, which is exactly why I did it.

The good news is that these decisions, no matter how big or small, don’t have to zap you of all your physical or mental energy. They don’t need to be so difficult that you can’t seem to think straight, or you make yourself ill over them.

Sometimes the hard thing to do and the right thing to do are the same.

So how do you know what the right choice is? From my very personal and very recent (2 days ago) decision to put in my notice, I want to share some advice. I would like to say that I flowed very effortlessly through these helpful tips for making difficult decisions less difficult, but it was not until after my decision was made that I then reflected upon the process. I thought about what it was like for me to go through the journey ultimately arriving at my decision, the extremes and messiness in between that I had experienced and felt, and how I could have made it a little easier on myself.

“Doing what is right means doing what benefits your body, mind and soul. It has to light you up. If it doesn’t, it isn’t right for you.” – Tara Jean

Here are my steps into making difficult decisions a little less difficult:

  • Leave your emotions out of it
  • Don’t ask for anyone else’s opinion
  • Pretend you’re alone in the world and are in charge of the outcome
  • Don’t ask Google and don’t read any articles telling you what you should do
  • Don’t add in any additional decisions; no matter how small. For now, it’s just A or B.

The biggest favor I could have done for myself would have been to disengage from everything and everyone for just 10-15 minutes with no interruptions to just hear my own internal voice. What was it telling me I wanted or needed – not what did so-and-so think of it, not what will so-and-so think of it, not what did I fear about it, not what was the right way to decide this, not how will people think of me if I do this, and certainly not what would I do after this decision (that doesn’t matter quite yet). No. Had I been able to just think for a minute about what I wanted and why I wanted it, the decision would have been clearer a lot sooner and wouldn’t have caused me so much internal distress. It’s only when we allow our emotions to get in the way or allow ourselves to listen to others, that decisions become difficult for us to make.

And here is what not do after your decision has been made:

  • Apologize
  • Explain yourself or find a reason to justify it
  • Put anymore thought into it
  • Wonder if it was the right thing

The hard part is over. There is absolutely no need to be so hard on yourself or make it more difficult than it needs to be. Never be sorry for something that is right for you. Just like you are fully capable and entitled to make decisions for your own life, so is everyone else (and they do), so never apologize for yours. Also, instead of spending time thinking more about it, lay it to rest. I am only 2 days after making such a large decision, but I spent most of yesterday thinking about it, the conversation I had with my boss, what everyone else will think when I tell them, and if I did the right thing. I wish I hadn’t wasted my mental energy on those thoughts yesterday, because really, it doesn’t matter. I know it was a decision I needed to make and am happy I made because I feel a sense of relief and excitement, a sense of pride and bravery for doing it, and an entirely new sense of calmness as I stare into the face of the unknown.

So for anyone else out there facing a difficult decision, I hope this reaches you and helps you be more confident in what you already know to be the right decision for you. Stay true to yourself and your needs and believe that you are strong enough to get through anything. You’ve got this.

stay-fearless-in-the-pursuit-of-what-sets-your-sould-on-fire

The Power of Thought on Self

A Man is but a product of his thoughts – what he thinks, he becomes. – Mahatma Ghandi

The Link Between Thoughts, Feelings, & Your Behaviors

What we think and continue to nurture with repetition and emotion, will become our reality. When your thoughts are in control of Self, it’s important to understand the link and recognize harmful patterns so you can work to correct them. What you think directly affects how you feel. How you feel directly affects how you behave. And then how you behave is a reinforcement on the initial thought. So, if you think you’re not good enough, you’ll feel like you’re not good enough, and then you will behave like you’re not good enough (missing out on potentially amazing opportunities and experiences). What that cycle does is reinforce that you must then, not be good enough.

The Implications of Bad Thought Patterns on the Self

If we then don’t feel good enough, we continue down the dark path of self-limitation. Our brains will likely continue to look for ways to reinforce this thought or we will not listen to anything (thought or verbal) that is contradictory to this original thought. Think of times when you’ve gone through these patterns. You might have a day where you tell yourself you’re a failure. Immediately, that follows with a strong negative emotion. You then look for other instances in your collective memory in which you’ve “failed”, or at least deemed yourself a failure. That spirals into I must be a failure. I failed today, I’ve failed at these other 5 things, I will continue to fail. This on repeat becomes toxic to our Self and will ultimately lead to our defined reality.

If in those times you’ve had a friend, family member, or even boss reassure you “Hey, don’t worry about it, we all make mistakes, you are not a failure“, how many of those times have you listened? How many times has what they said changed your reality of your Self? Likely none. This is because our thoughts have more control over our realities than anything anyone else can say. If you think it, you believe it, you become it.

How to Gain Control and Change Thought Behavior

Although this can be disheartening to many at times, especially when those thoughts feel uncontrollable, the negative patterns of bad thought – bad emotion – repetition – reality, are completely within our power to change. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to change the thoughts were having, or at least control how we view those thoughts.

Dissociating Feelings of Thought with Self

When you have a thought such as I am a failure, one of the first steps we can take is to remove our Self from the thought, lessening the opportunity for us to define ourselves with these thoughts. Instead, replace it with a feeling thought. So I am a failure becomes I feel as though that project was a failure. It helps shift the perspective unto something else and away from the Self. Only then can we truly analyze the why something felt that way. I was in charge of the project and I didn’t do a good enough job leading my team to complete it on time, so the project was scrapped. This isn’t a good thought either you’re still associating the feeling of failure as a direct result of something YOU did, which puts the Self at risk of being defined as a failure, keep digging. The project was not a top priority for our department so another path was followed. That really is what is at the root isn’t it? The project simply was a no-go not because you are a failure. It just simply didn’t happen.  Why does everything have to have a reason behind it? Why do we have to analyze everything and tie it back to ourselves? We don’t and you can control whether or not you do so.

Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go.

Replacing the Bad with the Good

It’s also very important that we practice telling ourselves good stories. Ultimately, if we are going to define our own realities, why would we ever want to choose something so terrible for ourselves? Surely, that is not what we’d prefer. So we must work at having good thoughts with good feelings and repeating that process until that becomes what we believe and ultimately our realities.

Not all Thoughts are Created Equal

It’s important to remember that the power of these thoughts on Self is determined by not only how often you have the thoughts, but also the strength of the emotion tied to those thoughts. It does no good to you if you have one-off good passing thoughts throughout the day, but then continue to have habitual negative thoughts for the rest of the day. Essentially thoughts cancel themselves out and your reality is a sum of all of your thoughts plus the strength of each. If your emotions and frequencies are higher for negative thoughts, those good thoughts will be of little help.

The key is to start with simple awareness. Just entering a state of awareness of all of the thoughts passing through on a daily basis will give you insights into which types of thoughts you’re experiencing more of (negative vs positive), the frequency in which you have them (daily or often each day), and the emotional strength of those thoughts (scale of 1-10 on how they make you feel). 

Then build to replacing those unwanted thoughts. If the disassociation process is a little too difficult right now (it will get easier), start with replacing a bad thought with it’s positive equivalent. For every I am a failure and will always be a failure, replace it with I am successful and will continue to work hard at my success. Then, think of specific instances in which you did work hard, accomplished something you were proud of, and allow yourself to feel those strong positive emotions in thinking about it. If this process is repeated, you’ll begin to notice a change in how you shape your own reality and what that reality looks like.

Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.

 

 

What is Happiness?

Happiness is a state of being and it’s also a choice. And everyone has the same desire to be happy.

Stay with me, here.

Happiness means different things to different people. Happiness feels different to different people. Happiness looks different to different people. This difference is everyone’s personal state of happiness. It’s completely open to interpretation. But it’s not difficult to understand what your own personal state of happiness is.

How do I find my “state of happiness”?

Most people will give you a list of questions to help to define your own happiness such as “what makes you genuinely happy?” Yeah, that’s no help. I believe that if you are given a specific set of questions such as the one above, or the famous “what would you do if you could not fail”, your brain won’t explore any other questions or possibilities that might help you shape your own happiness. Not to mention, who cares what you would do if you could not fail. That ruins the point of doing it in the first place. No one truly wants to be perfect because then what’s left after that?

I think it’s important to reflect on specific moments when you felt satisfied or fulfilled. That simple. From there, go through the basic 5 questions of who, what, where, when, and why to truly understand and start mapping out your personal state of happiness. That may look something like this:

  • What were you doing? Be as specific as possible. Really think back onto what is was that you were doing that made the activity so satisfying or so fulfilling.
  • Who were you doing this with? Were you alone, with a specific person, or perhaps even a group of people?
  • Where were you? What was around you? Sometimes we may have felt joy curled on the couch reading a book, but the reason on why is was so satisying is because there was a storm outside and the rainfall and thunder made us feel more joy than had it been sunny and warm. Or maybe you were in the grocery store and decided to break out into singing when your favorite song came on the radio. Happiness can be felt anywhere.
  • When did this take place? Was it first thing in the morning, during a work break, or even at 11:00 PM during your only free time? Recognizing the things that make us feel happiness is important, but the when we do them, can make all the difference.
  • Why were you doing what you were doing? I think this piece is extremely important. Most people fail to spend time thinking of why (“oh, I don’t know”, they’ll say, or “because that’s what I normally do”, but this is fundamentally important to understand if we are choosing to do things because we ourselves truly want to, or if there is some type of external influence to our decisions (which happens more often than not).

Through my own findings from this exercise, I found that I was not filling my days with enough of my own moments of happiness, but also when I was, the timing was completely misaligned. The two biggest issues were my lack of physical activity (and when I was it was at at the wrong time, doing the wrong type of activity). And I worked much longer than I was willing to work which meant that I was choosing every day to sacrifice time with loved ones, my own creative time, and time I loved to spend cooking fresh meals.

Two immediate changes I made were to switch the time of my workouts and to change the structure of my work days. I can’t always change the fact that I have to work more than 8 hours sometimes, but I can choose everything that happens in those 8 hours and sometimes that makes a huge difference to the amount that gets done (lessening the need to work so long all of the time). These alone have opened up more opportunities to fill in time with happy moments.

Ok, but you said it’s also a choice. Where does that fit in?

Would you get mad if I said “all of the time!”? Really though, you get to choose every day, every hour and every second whether or not you want to be happy or feel happy. I can just see the eyes rolling right now and hear the protests – right, so I’m getting divorced, so let me just be soooo happy about thatYeah, and I hate my job and don’t get paid enough to deal with what I have to deal with every day.

Ok, ok. So let me just say this.

To you, who is in the middle of a terrible and difficult divorce – why can you not choose to be happy each day? Even though the divorce process may be difficult beyond imagination, are you choosing to continue to fill your days with those moments that you found bring you satisfaction and fulfillment as found in the exercise above? Or perhaps you are viewing this one part of your life as your whole life and are letting it define you, even though it is something you are going through, not something that you ARE. You can still take control of so much else in your life and choose to fill it with satisfying moments and fulfillment. Maybe even more so now than you could before.

And to you, the job hater –  I get it. I may find myself in the same boat sometimes. Think of your work day in moments. Do you typically have more happy moments than not happy moments? Reflect on the tasks you do each day and write them out if it helps. Which ones bring you joy (do not think of external factors, meaning no “oh I would be happier doing this if so-and-so would get their act together and just do this”).

No, just think whether or not the specific job tasks make you feel personally satisfied or fulfilled. If they do, then your job isn’t what is bothering you, it must be something about the job that is misaligned with your personal values. If that is the case, you have to make the choice to either continue to live misaligned to personal values, or to find happiness and peace in your workdays knowing that you truly love what you do and by filling the days with more of your state of happy moments.

Think of it this way – If you ask someone “Are you happy” and they respond “yes”, that means that they understand their own state of happiness and also have chosen to feel happy in moments more often than not choosing to be happy in moments. If their answer is “no”, they may not have figured out their own personal state of happy and need to, or they are not making the choices each day to live their personal state of happiness.

Have you ever had a friend tell you that they aren’t happy for one reason or another, but they never seem to do anything about it? That’s the choice we’re talking about here. You have a daily choice to choose happiness and continue living in your own happiness. You just need to start mapping out what happiness means for you.

adult-attractive-beautiful-1261459.jpg

Photos by Andre Furtado from Pexels