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Reflect Out Loud

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

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emotional strenght

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

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Transition

It’s as if parts of me are being violently ripped apart to make room for new flesh to grow. The old operating system doesn’t seem to be working anymore. I need an upgrade, but because I haven’t expanded enough I can’t seem to find the fitting program to help me glide into my new self.
It’s that awkward in between stage – where you’re not quite who you were and haven’t yet become who you’re meant to be.

Be Here First. You’ll Get There.

“Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.” – Mary Hemingway

Resisting your here and now because you want to be there and then will only create in you more emotional pain. You can eliminate additional, self-caused pain by accepting where you are in time as well as disidentifying from negative thought patterns.

There are times when our present circumstances are annoying. Of course you’d rather be in some future, more pleasant moment, because THEN you won’t be dealing with whatever drama is currently present. Totally understandable. Nevertheless, wanting to escape the present moment only adds to the already uncomfortable situation. For example, you have a job interview to get to but you miss the train so you’re probably going to be late. “FML” status, right? It doesn’t have to be.

Thinking to yourself over and over “I should have left earlier” or “I wish I was on the train” or “I will never get the job now” or “Why can’t I ever get anything right” or “Ugh, if only I never stopped for coffee” or “Ugh, where is the next train!!!??” or whatever other thought of this nature, will only add to the negative feelings you are already experiencing.

So what to do?
Be here now.
Be present with your situation without mentally projecting future outcomes and without blaming yourself or criticizing what is. This doesn’t mean become passive about your life and allow the world to just stomp over you. No. Quite contrary! When you allow yourself to accept whatever the moment is presenting you with, you approach your circumstances in a more peaceful, level headed manner. Instead of adding negative commentary to your already unwanted circumstance, you simply accept that this is where you are right now but it doesn’t define you. Missing the train is your present circumstance, and that’s it. There is no further need to add fuel to this fire with unpleasant thoughts. You accept that you are waiting for the next train and if there is anything else you can do about it, like take a cab for instance, you go ahead and do that. You do what you can do, and if there is nothing else you can do, you allow yourself to experience the truth of your moment without resisting what you can’t control. Breathe. Look around you and admire something beautiful. Take this moment to read or write. Take this moment to appreciate life and find something to be grateful for. If nothing comes up, allow yourself to just be present, breathing, being alive. Becoming frazzled will not solve your problems, instead, it will create additional pain in your life.

The mind will want to project all your worries and fears, but it’s only trying to protect you. It goes into “OMG, I am freaking out” mode because your mind wants your success and so it’s only natural for it to come up with reasons as to why missing the train was a horrible, horrible thing. Thank your mind. It is a tool that is only here to help you! Tell your mind that you appreciate it worrying about your well being and success and that you are going to relax now and breathe.

If anxious thoughts keep coming up, focus on your breath. Don’t attach to them and become identified with them as your ultimate reality. Remember, your mind is only trying to help. Let the thoughts pass like a cloud. Realize that you are not your thoughts. Breathe.
You’re ok.
Be here in this moment.
And from here, surely you will get there.
It starts with here. It starts with this moment.

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