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Reflect Out Loud

"The unexamined life is not worth living." – Socrates

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challanges

Ache

My head aches.

My body aches.

My heart aches.

My stomach aches.

My soul aches.

Was it one drink too many that eventually did it?

I’m tired of being the one who’s always wrong. Despite my every attempt it just seems like I’ll never be good enough for you. I’ll always be wrong. Always be not enough. Always be the crazy blonde girl who jumped on stage.

I don’t like who I see in the reflection mirrored in your eyes. There’s this distorted image of me. There’s me looking away because I can’t make any sense of why you’re staring at me.

Are you trying to figure out if you like me enough to stay? Have you made a decision? Will you ever?

My brain aches trying to decode your mixed messages.

I’m tired. I’m old.

I’m exhausted from overthinking. From trying to “figure it out.”

From wondering if you’re just waiting for someone else to come along so the “place holder” I’ve become can just be discarded like an over used tissue paper.

Actions speak louder than words. And all I hear you saying is “I care. But not enough.”

 

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Happiness is a Lifestyle

And then it dawned on me… happiness is more than just a feeling, it’s a lifestyle.

If you want to run a marathon, you have to train.
If you want to perform a song, you have to rehearse.
If you want to be physically fit, you have to exercise.
And if you want to be happy, you have to practice.

It is easy to be happy when life’s smooth sailing. When you get the promotion. You get the house. Your health is phenomenal. There is money in the bank and that new stock you just purchased skyrockets beyond belief. When you catch all the shiny green lights underneath a clear blue sky on your merry drive to work. When the bartender buys you an extra shot of whiskey. When your in-laws never make it to the Sunday brunch (just kidding with that one… haha).

But being happy only when unicorns are splashing magical pixie dust on your path is too conditional to yield lifelong sustainable happiness. Life can be a straight up asshole sometimes. This is why if you want to live consistently happy you must practice happiness as a lifestyle and not simply as an emotional response to desirable experiences. Happiness is a tool you can whip out of your pocket especially when circumstances are trying. It’s like that Optimus Prime type Swiss-army knife you’re gonna wanna carry around with you wherever you go. Because what happens when things don’t go exactly as planned? What happens when you don’t get the promotion? When your finances become unstable? When your health is compromised? When you have to change that flat tire in the middle of a snow storm? When the in-laws actually make it to Sunday brunch!?  (Yeah. I went there!).

I’ll tell you what happens. Happiness often gets thrown out the window.  It gets donated to the nearest Goodwill along with those purple suede bell bottom jeans you have no idea what possessed you to buy in the first place! But this is when you need happiness most.

Absurd, right!? Being asked to be happy when situations have gone wrong.

But here is my question: Do you want to be happy or not?
If you answer yes, then two things:
1) You must seriously choose and commit to be happy
2) You must act in alignment to your choice to be happy

CAVEAT: IT WILL NOT BE EASY. Just like it isn’t easy to get those 6 pack abs everyone so desperately wants.

The ease of the challenge will depend on how much a particular undesirable circumstance impacts you. For instance, it’ll be much easier to exercise your happiness muscle when a simple undesirable circumstance, like spilling some coffee on your white shirt occurs, whereas losing your job will require having had quite some practice.

There is more to be said on the subject as it is not as straight forward as I’m describing it to be. There is an entire process that involves processing and accepting your current emotional state before actively choosing happiness as the preferred state of being. I will write another post to clarify in more detail exactly what this process entails. For now, I kind of just want to throw this out there to get some kind of ball rolling.

But essentially, what I have noticed is that if I want to lead a consistently happy life, I have to actively practice happiness as a way of being and not only as a response to my desired experiences. This doesn’t mean I’ll always get it right and it doesn’t mean that it’ll always be easy (and that’s okay), but the more I make happiness a regular habit the more happiness I’ll experience.

*Image credit to google images

Reality Check

I have finally come to accept and realize that reality is ultimately this: sometimes shitty sometimes not so bad. There are days where everything will flow. Someone will hold the door for you. The train will arrive right when you get there. The local coffee shop will treat you to a free pumpkin spice latte. You’ll find a dollar waiting for you on the sidewalk. And then there are the days when it seems like Satan has crawled out of hell with a personal hit against you. You open your eyes and there are already 5 missed calls, 3 voice mails and 14 messages demanding your attention. The dog chewed on your favorite pair of sneakers and decided to poop in the kitchen. Apparently you didn’t get the memo that they were doing construction and shutting off the water in your building from 7 am – 1 pm. There is no free latte and the $3.97 cup of coffee you just bought happens to spill on your perfectly white blouse. These are the small occurrences. Sometimes life is out to shower you with the big accomplishments – the wedding, the house, the car, the new job. Yet at the same time it’s out to fuck you – the cancer, the receding hair line, the breakup, the gigantic debt that haunts you in your sleep.

So what to do?

I realize you have to take the good with the bad. Roll with the punches. There will be moments where you will be smiling, joyful at all the wonderful things that you have created and that life has lined up and synchronized for you. And then there will be moments where it’ll all be shit. A landfill of steaming shit surrounded by hungry and pregnant flies. You will cry. You will get angry. You will feel lonely, lost, confused. Unsure of what to do and which direction to take. You will experience loss and it’ll hurt. There’s no way around it. The way is through it. But it won’t be shitty every day. It’ll also be fun. Exciting. Awe-inspiring. There will be so much laughter. Romance. Connection. Moments of peace, clarity, calm. You’ll be energized and filled with enthusiasm and zest for life. Just as the ocean waves rises and crashes back down, so will you.
It’ll be easy and it’ll be hard.

That’s just the nature of reality.

Dance With Your Life

“Everything – the good and bad, pleasure and pain, approval and disapproval, achievements and mistakes, fame and shame – all come and go. Everything has a beginning and an ending and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” – Richard Carlson

Life can be so unpredictable. One moment you are sitting there smiling, sipping some coffee – the next you’re in tears because of unexpected events beyond your control.

We cannot control what happens outside of us. A plate breaks, someone yells at you in traffic, a woman cuts you in line at the grocery store, your company downsizes and you are cut from the team, the kids are in trouble at school, there is a sickness in the family, the list is endless. Nevertheless, you can control how you react to your external circumstances.

When you live your life from the inside out, you finally come to a place where you always have control. You always have a choice when it comes to your internal feelings about the chaos going on all around you. Life will hand you curve balls. Inevitably, something will eventually go wrong, and it is at this moment where you can breathe and tell yourself “I am in control of how I respond and of how feel about this situation.” You can think to yourself, “Will I react by feeling defeated, angry, and upset? Or will I let go, breathe and invite peace into my heart as I take deliberate, intuitive steps to bring myself out of this situation?” You always have the power to choose the latter. You do not have to choose to feel bad when the car breaks down or when you lose your job or whatever other difficulty. It may not be easy at first to realize that you have the power within you to switch from painful reactions to peaceful ones. But with practice and awareness you will come to see that you do have a choice as to what you harbor in your internal space and how you will react to your external world.

Life will always hand us troubles and because of this it is important to become a peaceful warrior. Challenges are opportunities for our growth. We learn from our mistakes and from our difficult circumstances. We learn to let go and realize that when one door closes it also opens new doors of opportunities. One day, we will all eventually let go of everything – this is called death – the total letting go of all. So why not practice now? Let go of painful reactions and embrace peaceful responses that allow you to dance with the unexpected maneuvers of life rather than battle with them only to bring yourself more pain. Dance with your life!

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