You might be good at your job or cooking or whatever. I’m FANTASTIC at making salads. 😂 …
You’ve probably worked hard learning, practicing, and eventually you even grew. You nailed riding your bike … driving the car … being a good parent (for me it was after my kids were already adults 😂).
Being good at those things just became your natural, normal self.
But being good at happiness? Is that a thing? (Hint, it is.)
The truth is, happiness doesn’t feel normal for lots of people. (A recent poll revealed that only 14% of Americans say they’re very happy – a statistic accentuated by the COVID pandemic.) 🥲
You can chase after it with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, or even fairy-tale relationships.
You can blame others for how you feel.
You can react defensively to situations and people.
You can argue for your limitations without even knowing you’re doing it.
You can sabotage yourself …
See any of this in you? To some degree, we all do it.
And yet, others seem happy and satisfied all the time, despite challenges they face.
So, how can you normalize living a life you fricken LOVE? To be happy? To stop suffering?
Sure, life hands you shit sandwiches at times. But as spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle says, “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.
Think about your life and the patterns you’ve played out.
How do you react to challenging situations? Calmly or does your nervous system freak?
How much do you blame others for your pain? Those a$$holes! 😂
What do your relationships look like? Is your parents’ crappy relationship the same as yours? 🙃
You learned these patterns as a child when you relied on mom and dad for your survival. You instinctively did things that got positive reactions from them. That made you feel safe and loved. It seemed to work, right? (at least the way your 2-year-old self saw it).
But now you and others, often unknowingly, have continued these behaviors as an adult. You know the ones … like pitching a fit when you don’t get your own way, or shutting down and freezing up when your partner gets angry.
Those unexamined thoughts and patterns that play out in your relationships feel normal.
I love the story that author David Foster Wallace told in his 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon college:
“Two young fish are asked by an older fish, ‘How’s the water?’ and one young fish turns to the other and says, ‘what the hell is water?’”
Like the fish, we’re not aware of what’s going on around us.
Without awareness of our emotions and behaviors, we’re swimming in a watery pool of unconsciousness – mentally, emotionally, and physically. 🙄
So, here’s 3 ways you can feel more connected and happy:
Treat yourself to kindness first thing in the morning. There’s no one way to start your day. What matters is what works for you. But it helps to start with intention.
What can I do today that makes me happy from the tips of my toes to the top of my head?
Or what can I do today that satisfies me and brings me peace?
Making yourself a priority is a super sweet, delicious way to live.
Training your brain to see and focus on the good stuff diminishes feelings of stress. Remember, what you focus on expands.
Bonus Mental step: Stop lying to yourself. Bullshit stories of “I’m not smart enough, attractive enough, lovable enough” and just plain not “good enough” feel like dung and prevent you from ever being happy or satisfied.
Our emotions influence our thoughts and actions. Consider how often your thoughts run amok … taken over and derailed by fear.
The key is shifting your thoughts, which changes your mood. It’s like a mental reset button. How can you do that?
- Create a gratitude journal.
Each day, write down a couple of things (or more) that you’re grateful for. Take it out when you’re needing a happiness boost. People who keep gratitude journals are happier and healthier. In fact, they have stronger immune systems.
When you take good stuff for granted, you diminish the value of good things that happen to you. By being aware of what you’re grateful for, you’re expanding your “this feels fricken AMAZING” feels. And that makes you happier.
- How do you want to feel?
Focus on feeling the feeling that you want more of in your life. Let go of trying to figure out how to get it. You want a new car? Feel the feeling that getting the new car would give you in every cell of your body. Want to supersize a juicy intimate relationship? How would that feel? Feeling this desired emotion in every cell of your being, will increase your body’s frequency to create and receive just that. 🥳
Pssst. Don’t get all bogged down in others’ opinions of you. There’s freedom in not giving a shit what other people think. It frees you up to be honest, open, and vulnerable to others, too.
Let yourself be human and accept all of your emotions. Harvard educator and founder of The Happiness Studies Academy Tal Ben-Shahar says, “Rejecting painful emotions can actually hinder us from experiencing pleasurable emotions. When we try to suppress emotions, those emotions intensify. To fulfill our potential for happiness, we must first embrace unhappiness.”
Spend time sitting with shitty feelings and send them love, just like you would love on a little girl who just skinned her knee. Acceptance, instead of denial and making things wrong, feels tons better.
Your mind and your body are connected – psychologically and physically.
Happy people take care of themselves. They eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep. In fact, studies show that exercise boosts your mood. Why? Because it changes your brain, not just while you’re exercising but also over time.
Thirty minutes of exercise each day helps reduce feelings of loneliness or depression. It also lowers stress and anxiety triggers. It actually minimizes your body’s “fight or flight” response. But even 2 minutes of exercise can make a difference.
Entrepreneur Richard Branson says, “The only reason I’m able to do all the things I do and to keep on top of a busy schedule without getting too stressed is because I stay fit.”
I fully agree with Mr. Branson. Over the years, I’ve used movement in my body as a meditation. It resets my brain and releases stress that I don’t even know I’m carrying. Honestly, it helped to keep me sane and supported me in processing overwhelming feelings when they came bubbling up. It still does.
Practice Yoga and Meditation. Some research shows that aerobic activity like running, biking, or swimming works best on your brain. But find what works best for you. I find Kundalini yoga especially good because it opens up energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine. It can help you channel your energy and release yourself from stress and living on auto-pilot. This article does a great job of explaining Kundalini yoga.
But what about when you’re feeling really anxious? One tool I’ve used many times can be found in my YouTube video, “Do this to get rid of anxiety right now.” It’s an exercise called bilateral stimulation. It literally changes how the memory of your perceived problem gets stored in your brain. Amazing.
You make choices all day every day. Happiness can be one of those choices. 🥳
Happiness is a practice. It doesn’t just come out of nowhere. It’s not one big thing but lots of small things that add up to happiness becoming your normal way of life.
Normalizing happiness in your life takes awareness and work to make new choices (like most anything). But it works. And you deserve to live your juiciest, most satisfying, happiest life ever.
Are you feeling like that spark inside of you is lying dormant?
Come join me and a safe, supportive online community for women.
It’s called Journey to Your Center because that’s what you do. Working personally with me, the group explores a new theme each month – relationships, what causes you to suffer, karma, intuition, and more.
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Grab your front-row seat to real women leaning in and clearing bullshit lies and limitations about themselves that they didn’t even know they had. You’ll also learn the secrets to intimacy (it starts with yourself and transforms your relationships with people you love). 🙌💜🥳
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