My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘Happiness’

Cultivating happiness

happiness-choice-not-chance-blog

If I just get this new job/promotion…

When I get married…

When I own a home…

If I rescue a dog…

If I lose 10 pounds…

When the Brewers win the World Series…

When the stars align…

Then I’ll be happy…

I’m guilty of the if/when happiness trap. Of putting my happiness in the hands of The Future [which we all know is a mythical land that does not exist.] Yet, that is where we place the majority of our happiness.

More than once I have found myself in the situation that I knew would make me happy, only to realize that I felt the same. Not unhappy, but not as elated and ecstatic as I imagined my life would be in that moment. It took me a long time to realize that I had been mistaking excitement for happiness.

Cultivating daily happiness, rather than cultivating excitement, has been a practice of mine for quite some time. Life is exciting, absolutely. But not every day is a parade, and the practice has been choosing to be happy in the mundane.

For example, I recently was offered my dream job. A job that I had been wishing and hoping and praying would happen for as long as I can remember. During this time, I couldn’t help but eat, sleep and breath all of the if’s and when’s.

If only I get this interview…

If they really like me…

When they offer me the job…

When I finally begin my career as a librarian…

Then I’ll be happy.

I was in this constant state of limbo, living, but not really.

It was only after I took a step back to realize that even in these moments of doubt and frustration, I was happy. Would having this “dream” job be fantastic and amazing and crazy-awesome?

Of course it would.

But did not having this “dream” job make my life any more less fantastic and amazing and crazy-awesome?

Not really.

I have so much to be thankful for.

I’ve truly got the best friends and family a girl could ever ask for, a job where people really appreciate and respect the work I do, I am lucky enough to be living in such an incredible city with new adventures just outside my doorstep and most importantly, I have a sense of who I am and where I want to be.

I was able to cultivate happiness, not just excitement.

Looking back, I can see that this journey, this very long and sometimes frustrating journey, was in and of itself pretty exciting, The thrill of a call-back, the nerves I would get every time I went in for an interview, the jubilation I would feel when I was given praise and accolades due to my talent and passion for reading and helping others discover that very same joy. In every thing that I did, every step I took or leap I made, I not only learned more about myself, but also was able to experience life in a different way. It gave me perspective, another way of viewing things.

I am a big believer in everything happening for a reason. Many times, that reason doesn’t make sense in the moment; it doesn’t have a neon sign flashing, giving you any clue as to how and why this or that occurred (or didn’t).

But man would life be a whole lot easier if it did, wouldn’t it?!

What I think this whole experience has taught me is that you can make your own happiness. It’s not something that you have to wait to be given (if you get that job, if you buy that house, when you get married or when you loose those ten pounds). You can choose to be happy, to cultivate it even when you think you can’t or don’t deserve to.

In fact, it’s in these very moments when you need it the most.

You’ve got that power.

Pretty incredible, right?

As I begin this new chapter in my life, I am going forward with a new-found appreciation for what I have and not just what could be.

The time is now.

Get excited!

P.S. I’m pre-cultivating happiness and excitement because this is the year that the Brewers win the World Series. After all, as Terence Man once said, “If you…cultivate happiness, they will win.”

Or something like that. 😉

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A Dose of Tough Love

Hello everybody!

I hope you are all having a lovely Wednesday so far.

So, for those of you who know me and have followed my ramblings over the past few years on This, That and the Other Thang, you know that I am usually not a very serious person. I like to air on the positive side of things, and as you are probably well aware by now, jump on any chance I get to infuse bodily humor or tragic puns in my posts (or life really. I mean, how can you NOT have a good day when inundated with a good fart joke, am I right?). Today however,  I have a more subdued topic to talk with you guys about. A topic that I am all too familiar with, a topic that hits pretty close to my heart. A topic that I am very passionate about.

Those of you who have followed me on my journey to recovery from my former roommate ED have seen what a terrible, debilitating and horrible disease anorexia really is. It takes your health, your mind, your relationships and your dream/goals away. It’s a mask that hides the beautiful person you are, inside and out, a mask that makes you believe you are somehow less of a person, a person not worthy of love, of acceptance, of recognition. It’s a disease that is not very well understood, a disease that does not have just one cause, one symptom, one magic cure. It’s a disease that I struggled with for nearly ten years of my life and, while I still have a bad day or two thrown into the mix, it’s a disease that I have kicked to the curb, once and for all. I won’t get into too much detail about my road to a roommate-life (you can check out my journey here, here, and here if you’d like), but I will say that I am very blessed to be at a place in my life where the scale no longer dictates my life. Where I am proud to walk around with a little junk in my trunk. Where I can look at myself in the mirror and not only see the reflection staring back, but accept her, love her, be her biggest cheerleader.

Yes.

I have made a lot of gains in the past few years.

I gained my health, my relationships, my dream/goals and my faith. I gained my strength, my humor, my happiness and my zest for life.

I gained it all.

So what if some of it was in my booty, hips and thighs? Those things were just a bonus 😉

I stumbled upon this incredible video and just had to share. To be honest, I went through a rollercoaster of feelings watching this video.

You see, not but a few years ago, I was this girl. I would go to the gym and spend hours on the treadmill, the elliptical, scary thin and scary unhealthy. I did feel that many eyes were on me, and I did have a few people express their concerns. The level of embarrassment and denial I felt was through the roof, but at that time, my ED had way too much control over me to allow me to do anything about it. Since then, I have developed a healthy relationship to food and exercise, and, much like the woman in this video, have come a very long way from that sick girl, largely in part to the people in my life, my friends and family who helped me see what I was becoming, what I was doing, and that if I didn’t do something to kick ED to the curb once and for all, what I’d be missing out on.

Watching this video, really made me take a step back and see things from a different perspective. Seeing things from a clear and healthy mind, I cannot even begin to imagine myself as this weak, sick and unhappy girl and makes me incredibly sad. When I was in the depths of my ED, I probably would have not accepted help from a stranger. Actually, that’s a lie. I KNOW I wouldn’t have; “I’m fine. I don’t need help. I’m not sick.” The reality of it was, I was too sick to see just how sick I really was. It just goes to show how powerful miss ED really is, how she bends your thoughts and your reality. Sometimes it takes a bit (or a lot) of outside influence from caring individuals to help show you the truth, a dose of tough love. Seeing these people reach out to this young girl with such heart and compassion, a girl whom they had never met, and who by their caring actions inevitably ended up saving her life, made me heart smile so much and brought a tear to my eye!

If any of you are struggling right now (even I still have my bad days), please don’t hesitate to reach out. To a friend, a family member, or a stranger at the Y with a heart bigger than Texas. The same goes if you see someone struggling. You never know how you can have the power to change someone life!

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please visit the NEDA website for information on how you can help!

Thoughts on a Thursday

Move over Dr. Mustache Phil.

Take that, Dr. Oz.

And Oprah, you know I love you girl, but I think I’ve got a pretty good strategy for living a pretty darn fantabulous life.

Now I know I don’t have my own TV show–or network. Holey moley…is there anything that woman can’t do?! As a side note, my high school french teacher went to middle school with the Big O herself. So obviously I consider miss Winfrey and myself besties through association. I don’t have a fancy title in front of my name nor do I have the means to give everyone a car or send them to Australia. I can’t even afford to give myself a car and take me to Australia let alone hundreds of my biggest fans. Good golly, I don’t even have hundreds of fans.

No, I am certainly no Oprah or Dr. Oz or Dr. Mustache Phil (ack I did it again. But seriously, have you seen that thing?! It’s like it’s got its own zipcode), but I have lived. In the 25 years of my life thus far, I have see things, done things, experienced the good and the bad. I have succeeded and I have failed. I have laughed, I have cried, I have laughed so hard, I cried. I have overcome obstacles and challenges. I have learned and I have grown. I’ve seen me at my worst, and I have seen me at my very best.

You don’t have to be the Oprah’s and Dr. Phil’s of the world to know how to live a great life. You just have to have lived.

Here are just a few things on how to make your everydays the best that you can, from Dr. Wendi to you ;)

Live Deep. Never stop learning, playing or finding wonder in this great world around you. Get lost in a great book (s). Play a wicked game of Scrabble, winner buys the pizza. Get your craziest friends together and have an epic road trip, making sure to stop at every ‘largest ball of twin, biggest ball of wax and spam museum’ you can find. Don’t take for granted all of the little things that make up the big picture. Live the length of your life, but live the depth of it as well.

Travel Light.  There is no use in carrying around worry and regret. They only weigh you down. Always keep yourself open to hope and to love. To forgivenss and to faith. These are the things that give us wings and help us move forward. And sorry sis, but this also means at least trying to cut down on your luggage of shoes from 5 to 2 bags at most. I know it’ll be hard, but like Rob Schneider most famously said…”You can do it!”

Forgive Imperfections. In yourself and in others. Imperfections keep things interesting, fun. They are what makes you, you. Imperfections are those cracks where the light shines through. Are you too neat? Too dirty? Do you work too much or not enough? Are you bad with names? A terrible cook? A Cub’s fan? Hakuna matata. It is better to be perfectly imperfect that perfect. With maybe the exception of the whole Cub’s fan thing…now that’s just wrong.

Own beautiful things. And not just to keep in your back pocket or junk drawer tucked away for a perfect day. Surround yourself with things that make you happy; your crazy but amazing family and friends, your favorite four legged friend,  a ratty old Brewers sweatshirt that you have worn since you were in middle school that is literally just hanging by a thread but you can’t part with because of the memories that go along with it, a tub of Chunky Monkey. These are the things that help remind you of the beauty all around us. Trust me. It is there, oh how it is there! We just have to keep our eyes open to see it.

Make mistakes. Follow detours. Turn off your GPS and get lost. Sometimes it takes an unexpected turn to help us find the life that is waiting for us around the bend. Sure it may be scary. It may be dangerous or risky. But is life without taking a chance every now and then? Trust yourself and the path that is meant for you.

Take care of yourself. And yes, sometimes that means you need a pajama-wearing, Frosted-Flakes-eating, trashy-reality-tv-watching, doing absolutely nothing kind of day. You work so hard sometimes, pushing yourself to the limits and not taking the time to breath and relax. Coming from someone who knows, giving yourself a break every once in a while is vital for not going cray-cray. Be good to your body, but also to your mind and spirit. Contrary to popular belief, you are the only one who can.

And finally, always, ALWAYS know that you are loved! You are most certainly a gift to this world. You have so many people who care about you, who are there for you, who will be that person who will get up on stage with you and sing a terrible rendition of “I Will Survive” in karaoke and will also be that person who will come to you in the middle of the night armed with tissues and brownies after you just gotten broken up with. It may be your mom. You sister. Your best friend or boyfriend/girl friend. It may be a neighbor or co-worker. It may even be your furry four legged roommate. No matter who they may be, know that you have been brough into their lives for a reason. You are not alone. And that my friends, is way better than any car or trip to Australia could be.

Although O, I’m still waiting for my car ;)

Question of the day: How are you making the most of your days?

How to Walk On Sunshine

Happy hump day friends!

How is everyone doing?

As I was driving home today with my pup Thunder in the shotgun seat,, jamming to some seriously good tunage, one of my fav feel-good songs, Walkin’ On Sunshine, came blaring through my earbuds. Earlier today, I woke up with a terrible headache and was not feeling all that great. You see, I have been a bit of a stressball lately; I am in the process of maybe possibly hopefully moving back up to Wisconsin and am in the midst of trying to register for grad school classes, find a job, apartment, and a time frame to do it all in, not to mention where I am going to find the Benjamins to allow me to do all of this. AHHHHH!!! It’s all very exciting, but at the same time a bit scary, probably because the unknown is busy ringing my doorbell.

I was thinking about this all when this little song came on. Per usual, I grabbed my i-phone as a microphone and started singing at the top of my lungs, Thunder doing a great job as backup singer. After a mere two and half minutes, the length of the song, I was actually feeling oh so much better! My headache was gone, that stress knot in my stomach untied itself and I was, kinda sorta, walking a bit on sunshine. It’s amazing what a little song, a little bonding time with my bestest bud Thunder, and some perspective can do. Looking on the bright side, that’s kind of my MO.

Having been through a massive amount of self-reflection in the past year, I have become aware of many of my flaws–I always forget the punchline of a good joke, I belch like a sailor and I can tend to be too trusting.  Alternatively, I have been able to cherish a number of my best qualities and one of them is, for better or worse, highlighting the good and looking for a positive spin on everything.  Of course, if taken overboard in a “happy go, annoyingly lucky” attitude, this behavior tactic certainly becomes null.  But if you realistically, and honestly can find the positive spin where appropriate, it really can change all aspects of your life and lead to better days and endless opportunity, the ‘Walking On Sunshin’ form of action!

1.  Be aware of it. A lot of the time, most negative people don’t even realize that they are negative because this is the norm to them.  They have the attitude that feels “this is just the way it is”.  I think it’s important to talk to people who are in your life, and take constructive criticism from people who may have brought this to your attention.  It’s healthy to self-reflect, and it’s okay to be flawed…we all are!

2. Surround yourself by positive people! Have you ever found yourself in a group of people who are complaining and nagging about something, and in turn, you feel the only way to be a part of the conversation is to do the same?  Continuously surrounding yourself by people who look at a glass as half empty can train your brain to believe this is the way it is.  Not only does this set limitations as to what you think you can do, but it also trains your brain to associate certain activities, or people with these negative thoughts. You ARE, whether you like it or not, a product of your environment, so make it a good one!

3. Train yourself to actively look for the good.  If there’s one thing that is hard to do, it’s breaking a habit, or routine.  It’s like starting to wake up early again for work or school after just having gotten back from Spring Break.  At first, you have to actively push yourself to not hit the snooze button four times before falling out of bed, but after a couple of weeks, your brain has been trained and it has become a part of your “normal routine”.  Same thing. So if something happens in your life that warrants an attitude adjustment, actively tell yourself: 1. This has happened and I can not change it. 2. What is the worse possible case scenario? And is it really THAT bad? 3. How do I adapt to what has happened and move forward.  If you actively make this a part of your thinking process, it will seamlessly become a part of your attitude!

4.  Give people a shot.  I am a firm believer in giving everyone a fair shot.  If you’ve heard of preconceived warnings about someone, be weary, but also be open.  Each person’s interaction with someone can be very different.  I sometimes find myself acting a different way around certain people, because they give off a certain vibe, good or bad.  Someone else may get a completely different vibe from them and they may have a different interaction. Also, be prepared for disappointment and in certain situations, you may look like the “idiot” that did not take the warning.  But know that everyone deserves a shot to prove someone wrong…you never know, you may be surprised.

5. Accomplish yourself! People that set goals for themselves and achieve them are more likely to have higher confidence and therefore, are less likely to have a depressive attitude.  They are also less likely to search for the satisfaction in putting other people down to give them the confidence they are lacking! So right now, make a list of the 5 things you would like to achieve in the next 30 days.  It could be as simple as scrubbing the tub, to going for a walk without your phone.  Check off these tasks and check into a lifestyle of higher confidence, more happiness, and endless possibilities!

So remember, the next time you are feeling down in the dumps or are a bit stressed out, take five minutes, crank up the tunes, grab a hair brush and exercise those lungs! It’s sometimes the little things that help snap you out of your funk and into the funky chicken dance! Perspective. It’s all about perspective!

Have a great rest of your Wednesday guys!

Question of the day: Are you more of a glass-half empty or glass-half full kind of person?

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