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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Pursuit of Happiness

For many years I thought to myself, "I'm not happy".  Looking back, I couldn't even define happiness. All I knew was that by my account, I wasn't it. I wasn't always smiling, I didn't have everything I wanted in life. Therefore, I spent most of my time stressed out and the opposite of happy.
The other day I was overwhelmed with emotion because I realized that while my life wasn't exactly where I always thought it should be, I was happy. I was overflowing with gratitude for all that I currently have. It's not perfect, and most likely never will be but I'm blessed to be breathing and everything else is abundance. After I devoted a considerable amount of time to gratitude for this revelation, I thought about the years I'd spent trying to get to the moment I just experienced and wanted to share the things that I believe held me back. You can't go back in time to change things. but hopefully, if you're reading this you either can relate or save yourself the struggle.

Here is a list of the top 10 things that held me back from finding true happiness

  • Caring what everyone else was going to think
Not only does it not matter but it's toxic to always desire approval from others. As long as you know you're doing what's right, trust your gut and forge ahead. The truth is, the older you get the less you care about the opinion of others because you realize the only person accountable for the actions you make is you.

  • Not spending enough quality time with family
There were so many times my Mom or my brothers would ask me to hang out just because they liked to be around me but I spent far too many years "doing my own thing" which mainly consisted of sulking and feeling lonely so it would have been beneficial to allow myself the comfort of being around the people that loved me. Now, I live 2000 miles away and I don't get to spend nearly as much time as I'd like with them. Spend moments with the people that love you most. 
  • Idle Time

Now that I have a career and a toddler I don't have spare time for anything. I used to take spare time for granted and even went so far as to use the adjective 'bored'. If you're 'bored' there's always something that can be done to remedy that.  Meditate, read, go volunteer your time some where it's needed. All of these things feed the soul. Just don't waste it. All the rumors you hear about time being precious are true. Live for those who can't and live life to the fullest while you're able to.Most importantly, take time to be grateful for everything.
  • The years I gave in to Self-doubt
What if you were your biggest cheerleader? What if someone told you of your talents, your intelligence, even your beauty and you just soaked it in, realizing how truly awesome you are? What happens with most people is that when they are told good things they're likely to shrug it off or even counter it with a reason why that simply could not be the case. Take a compliment. Take it in and let it soak down to your core until it blossoms like the nourished flower you are meant to be. Be confident of your talents, your skills, the assets that you bring to the table. If you can't advocate for your ability to kick life's ass who will?
  • The countless hours I spent sulking over love lost
The hardest phrase for me to fully understand as a person young and in love was "this too shall pass."  When your heart is broken it can seem as though you will never be okay again. You feel this insurmountable ache in your heart where love previously occupied. The truth about heartbreak is --it's temporary. If someone is meant to be in your life, destiny is good about making sure it happens. And, as painful as it seems at the time, taking a step back solo to reevaluate a difficult relationship can sometimes be the only way to understand what it is you really need as opposed to what you it is you feel you need. I'm not underestimating the growth that can come from heartbreak. I just wish that I hadn't cried so many tears thinking life was over when the truth was it was coming to an end to let better things begin.

  • Hours I spent thinking about how life could have been
Rather than spending time trying to change things in my mind that I had no control over, I wish I'd given the same effort towards thinking about how I wanted my life to be and how I could go about making it happen. I wish I'd taken more time to give gratitude for what I was going through instead of wondering "why me?" or even more detrimental, "What if?" Life is full of different roads and most of us don't ever find out the 'why', and that's okay.  If you believe in the universal truth that 'everything happens for a reason', you'll have what's called 'faith' and use that to push yourself through those times when you have no idea what's next.
  • Watching all those hours of Jersey Shore...
This is not to say I'm a hater. I tuned in every week to watch the atrocities that only can be committed in Seaside, NJ. However, I wish I spent more time exercising and experiencing life rather than choosing to be entertained by that which is MTV. I still watch trash tv, just in much smaller doses. Unlike exercise, meditation, reading, calling a friend, etc., trash tv does nothing to feed the soul. On the up side, I am a pop culture savant.

  • Letting fear stop me from moving forward
As I forge in to my mid 30's, the phrase "No Regrets" comes to mind. There are times I do wish I knew then what know now because I wouldn't have wasted so much time wondering what was going to happen. Instead, I would have jumped in the drivers seat, harnessed all that energy and used it to drive myself where I was meant to be. When I think of how many times I doubted myself and how it stunted my personal growth it's clear to me that fear is a determining factor for success. We really do stand in our own way by doubting our own ability. If you don't think the thoughts and words you think and say have a big part in creating your reality than you may not have reached the time in your life where you realize that you have control over what happens to you.

  • Not appreciating the great times
Life can be hard and not always fun. The older I get, the more responsibilities I have and the harder it is to enjoy the simple things and treasure them for the memories they will soon become. I wish I'd spent more time being grateful for all the fun I had. The carefree road trips, the parties, the shore houses, the barbecues and the times when I was so busy enjoying myself, I forgot to care about looking at my phone to see who posted what and I damn sure was too absorbed to ruin a moment by insisting on a selfie. Memories are precious jewels. Don't ever get so caught up you forget to make them and appreciate the time you spent creating them.
  • The time I spent not being Present
Spend the precious time you have on earth focusing on what you want in your life instead of what you don't want. Realize that happiness isn't some unattainable, mystical unicorn. It's a state that you can choose to experience. Don't always be 10 steps ahead of yourself trying to figure out how the rest of your life will pan out. Just be present and try to be in the moment at hand instead of the moment that's coming next or the one that came before. It's amazing how much positive energy could be spread if everyone was intent on just 'being' rather than anxiously stressing about the past and the future. One of the most awesome things about becoming a parent is that kids only know how to stay in the moment and they force you to stay in it with them. Whether it's playing hide and seek or eating a snack, everything for them is an adventure. I've come to the conclusion that we all need to try to be more like children and less like 'adults', or whatever that term has come to mean in our society and in doing so maybe just maybe-- we can value the time we have now all the more.