The Thing About Happiness Is
Happiness is a temporary state of mind. Not a destination or something to be claimed. The chase of happiness is a myth, what we really need to do is to stop running. We need to take a moment to explore the space in between, to see what we find when the dust settles. What happens when we let ourselves just FEEL?
“You don’t become happy by pursuing happiness. You become happy by living a life that means something” - Harold S. Kushner.
It took me a long long long time to realize this and an even longer time to understand that this isn’t a bad thing. On top of that, I want you to know, that even with this knowledge, I still struggle with the happiness grind. I still catch myself working towards manufactured milestones in the name of happiness. With the mindset of when I get X I will be happy. The thing about X is there is always another one waiting around the corner. It is so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of our world – chasing the dream, the extraordinary, the adventure. AND it’s even easier to be disappointed with yourself for feeling annoyed, tired, stressed, angry, sad or lost. Asking yourself, what’s wrong with me? BUT, actually THINK about it. What would we be if we never felt those things? We need the full enchilada to be satisfied, to be whole. We need all of our mind-states to be complete. No one wants just part of the story right? Who wants to read a novel where the main character is happy ALL of the time? You can’t connect with that, it isn’t real.
So what does all of this mean, how can we change our patterns? Well…everyone is different. You ultimately have find what works for you; BUT here is a sneak-peak into my growing toolbox that helps keep me off the chase.
The Necessities - Keep it Simple: First and foremost sleep, drink water and eat good food. Nourish and rest the body DO NOT skimp on this - your body needs to feel alive to thrive.
Meditation – Withholding Judgement: Meditation is truly magical; the benefits are COUNTLESS. In the spirit of embracing brevity however, we will only explore how the practice directly relates to the idea of happiness. For me, this is where it all began. Discovering my own mindfulness (really through yoga teacher training) opened the door to some much needed perspective. Introduced me to a new way of thinking and a new way of relating with myself; one in which I withheld judgement completely. Why? Because in developing the practice you have to have patience with yourself. You are forced to observe the mind, body and soul right here, right now. You are forced to accept how you have arrived this moment, always just as you are. Getting started, let go of the rules a little. Let go of expectation of the breath, of how much time you sit, of expectation of thought. Maybe the breath doesn’t come as easy or maybe you feel extra fidgety today, that’s okay. The practice is meant to first and foremost inform. Every day is different. Through that information you grow patient, you find acceptance, and you just grow. Sitting with yourself, accepting yourself, in all of your mind-states. (Pro tip: find one space you really love and make that your zen spot to harness your practice & bliss. Looking for more tips? Don’t worry I have some coming. Post comments & questions below).
"If your compassion doesn’t include yourself it’s incomplete" – Jack Kornfield
Journaling - Gratitude & Perspective: The next step for me was journaling. I am a MAJOR fan of therapy and truly believe if you can’t make therapy happen, for whatever reason, this is the next best thing. I recommend doing this right after you meditate, but OK to sit down and write whenever is best for you. Start by writing down what you’re grateful for. This can actually change the way you think and help you approach life with a more open, grateful heart. When journaling, don’t plan – just take a deep breath and see what comes out. This process kept my heart light and open. I was able to get out some of my most scary, mean, confused, inner thoughts and actually feel better – sometimes even make sense of something. Journaling is like having the best most honest conversation with yourself. What comes out might spark a whole new adventure or might completely release something that has been stuck for days maybe even years. It helps to buy a really cute journal…Write on! (More on setting goals and manifesting in your journaling practice another day)
Sticking to Commitments – Doing: If you know me at ALL you know that I carry around a MAJOR guilt complex almost everywhere I go. This is one of my BIGGEST focuses this year, LET THAT SHIT GO. In that journey, I have noticed that creating realistic commitments and sticking to them is everything. There is no bigger catalyst to guilt than not doing something you said you would do (and that includes commitments to yourself). To do this well you really have to know yourself, your threshold and your priorities. Then, it is easy to make more realistic commitments that fit your desired life. This, like anything, takes practice. It also changes with time, week to week. For me, I plan things out at least a week in advance (google calendar is my bible) and try to visualize how I want to create a well balanced week. Juggling me time, time with Ben, socializing, learning, long distance relationships, sweating, play, clean living, work etc. It is all very overwhelming for sure (especially in the digital age). Sometimes my practice is a priority, sometimes I just need a massage and a large glass of red wine. The key is to listen, be honest with yourself and communicate honestly with others. Don’t over extend your beautiful soul. Learn from previous weeks. Major bonus if you can let go of the expected outcomes we attach to our experiences. A LOT more on this to come – scheduling is a major major part of my life in the city. I have ALWAYS had a love/hate relationship with this and am super excited to share more as I settled into this new lifestyle.
Taking Risks – Getting on the Other Side of Fear: Nothing feels better than some good ole action. Sometimes all it takes is less thinking and more doing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well thought out plan and believe in its necessity for living an intentional life, BUT sometimes plans can be paralyzing (my fiancé actually taught me this). Sometimes you just have to act. You just have to let go of mapping out every single step, every single outcome and just take the leap. As someone who LOVES PLANNING but who has also made her fair share of leaps, I can speak from experience. Yes, the beginning is ALWAYS scary (and the middle). BUT how else can you really grow if you don’t push yourself past your comfort zone and explore the uncomfortable? There isn’t anything like the true bliss you find at the other side of fear. AND what’s cool is, as you grow, you will learn to consistently push yourself past new fears, past new discomforts, live through the challenge and keep finding what’s on the other side. What’s the worst that can happen?
Letting Go of Perfection & Expectation: My old boss once told me “Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.” This has lead me forward ever since. In order to take risks, make big decisions, be happy in your experiences you MUST LET IT GO. LET GO of expected outcomes, perfection and just DO YOU. Put yourself out there. Being REAL is far better than being cookie cutter perfect. When you are relaxed, being yourself, you will likely produce a close to perfect outcome (at least perfect for YOU). That’s because you are being authentically true to who you are in your life and your experiences. Not all experiences will be perfect, amazing, fun, successful. In this very real life we are all doing the best we can and when we can’t do that, we do what we can right now. That is more than okay because that is truth.
"Accept all that you have been. You have only ever done your best given your understanding at the time…you’re not here to be perfect but to experience the human adventure" – Mike Dooley
Replacing Comparison with Kindness: I am sure you have heard that comparison KILLS – it kills joy, confidence and really anything warm and fuzzy. I fall prey to comparison ALL TOO OFTEN, especially in the social media world we live in today. Comparing my body, outfit, apartment, relationship, practice, routine, clean living habits EVERYTHING. IT. DOES. NOT. FEEL. GOOD. Lately, I have been replacing comparison with kindness. When comparison creeps in (which it almost always automatically does) I take a moment, let it come and then flip it and reverse it. Replace I wish I had or feelings of animosity with wow that is so inspiring or, I am SO HAPPY for this amazing soul that they can do that, this person worked hard and look at that fabulous outcome. OR if that isn’t working I take a moment to celebrate myself and how far I have come – motivating myself to keep working hard to achieve whatever it is I think they have that I don’t. Kindness is king and will always always make you feel better J.
"Just be yourself – your unique existence is one of a kind, only you have the answers" – Mike Dooley
Taking the Time, Creating the Space: Part of this is physical and requires actually creating the time and space for yourself, your priorities and your commitments. Letting go of what doesn’t serve you and making room for what fills you. This isn’t easy, it takes time, patience, practice and planning (the good kind). Next level is creating the emotional space. Allowing yourself to feel through things and let go of what isn’t working, developing a new perspective of growth, interest and curiosity. Honestly, I am not sure which comes first?
Accepting Love & Help from Your Peeps: Part of letting go of perfect is knowing when to ask for help. Knowing when to lean on your people. Knowing that it’s okay to need more at times than you can give. Love is a cycle of giving and receiving. When you know how to ask for help, how to communicate without guilt, how to be ready to fully receive, that is true love. Seeing someone for what they can give, their gifts, how they can lift you and also, what that means to them. That is true connection and with it you can vibrate on higher frequencies together.
"Until we receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attached judgement to receiving help we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgement to giving help." - Brene Brown
Always Keep Moving: THIS IS KEY. Moving the body moves the energy. Moving the body, prompts you to shut off the mind and just FEEL into movement. THIS practice, although physical, is a true catalyst to spiritual bliss. Your heart, brain, emotions are DIRECTLY connected to your body and there is SO much you can learn day in and day out when you move. Physical practice can stretch that will-power muscle and be a tangible example of growth through a constant practice. ALSO IT FEELS AMAZING. I could go on FOR A LONG TIME about what this means to me and how the practice completely transformed my life BUT let’s save that for another day. For now, I will leave you with the insightful quote by Dory, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming….”
All of this helps me to stay present in my experience and my unique journey; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It keeps me grounded to my authentic process. It is a daily practice. It takes commitment, full awareness, honesty, vulnerability and compassion. Yes, I still feel lost, see expectation, lurk in comparison, and feel the weight of perfection. I am still learning, I am still changing, I am still growing. What’s beautiful is that, that will never ever stop. We cultivate these tools so we can continue to learn, grow and change for the better. ALL in order to, as Danielle Laporte so beautifully states, “Meet the bliss that pulsates with reality”
PS: I WOULD LOVE to hear your feedback. What resonates with you? What do you want to learn more about? Don’t be shy – reach out! And as always, thank you for reading.