Tag: happiness

I Can Do A Happy Dance Especially In My Yoga Pants

I will come up with any reason in the world to wear yoga pants. Why? Not just because I love doing yoga – it’s great for the body and the mind – but because I love the pants. They’re soft, stretchy and even stylish, they feel good against my skin, and bonus – no undies needed. Nobody really wants panty lines. (No judging please.)

I have eight pairs (yikes!) all black and boot cut, comfy cotton/spandex blends, and I wear them with everything from boots with heels to clogs to flip flops. They’re fashion-forward, you can dress them up or down – in fact they’re making yoga dress pants now and even yoga jeans. Throw on anything from a tunic to a tee, a seasonal sweater if need-be, and you’ve got a winner outfit year-round.

Which got me thinking.

If yoga pants make me so happy every time I put them on, is what we wear – or what we feel good wearing – driving our overall happiness factor? Because so many people (myself included) walk around finding all kinds of reasons to be unhappy. All kinds of reasons. But seemingly…without reason.

Have you noticed that?

People get so comfortable in their unhappiness that they actually think they’re happy, but don’t know why they’re not. Yea read that again.

Then examine your own loop. We’re happy one minute for whatever reason – we love what we’re wearing or eating or watching – then the next minute something trips us up – the electric bill arrives, the internet blips out, the cat puked, or somebody in our orbit projects their own unhappiness into our airspace. Boom, happiness balloon deflated.

I only recently noticed this – or maybe I just ignored it – because it’s really easy to slip along the path of negativity. We always find reasons to be miserable in the moment some discomfort comes along. Then if we don’t catch ourselves and remember that overall life is actually really good (and yes, this may take some remembering as we ebb and flow through our day,) we might forget to be happy.

It happens, a lot. And ironically happiness the one thing everybody most wants in the world. I guess we forgot that too. I just heard the coolest thing in an online life-changing class taught by a guy who is seasoned in joy. He said we are wired to win – our default settings are perfect health, super abundance and yes, bliss. As in, we already have the winning lottery ticket, we just don’t really know it.

But I do, every time I put on my yoga pants.

 

 

 

The Big Reveal: Love Yourself More

What do I miss besides my youthful glow, my grown-up children, and that phrase “you have your whole life ahead of you”? A lot of things actually. Like writing a blog every day. Or being able to eat spicy food. Sometimes I even miss little things about owning a house – mostly the ability to do what I want with the outside decor each season or on holidays, pumpkinswreaths, pumpkins, flowers, even answering the door to trick-or-treaters. Don’t get me wrong, the freedom of condo-living is awesome and I may never again want another piece of the American Pie.

It’s only recently that I’ve come to embrace a lot of things about midlife, and not just dwell on things I miss. All that stuff you hear about getting older is true, including gaining wisdom. But instead of sharing the to-do list of successful aging, or what to put on a bucket list, I’m just going to share the one piece of essential information I now have. It doesn’t cost anything, take any time, it even doesn’t require special skills, knowledge or training. It’s actually something everyone can do.

Love yourself more.

That’s right. That’s it. Love yourself more.

For many of us by the time we get to this midlife turning point we are tired – we feel bogged or beaten down, by life, by others, even by ourselves. We think we haven’t achieved enough, aren’t successful enough, don’t have enough money or the car we hoped for by now, the paid-off mortgage, the retirement fund, many of our dreams are starting to seem like vaporous clouds floating out of reach. Not to mention our body just isn’t what it used to be.

dont-worry-if-someone-doenst-like-youBut I’m here to tell you, nothing will change our past circumstances, and while there is always hope for the future, the most powerful thing we can do is love ourselves as we are in this very moment today, right now. Our health and well being depends on it. By the way, not loving ourselves proves what point and to whom?

It’s not easy. We are a society that focuses on youth, wealth, power, money and looks, and aging gracefully seems impossible. While we can’t fight that reality, we can learn to accept and appreciate ourselves just as we are, no matter what. That perception changes everything.

zuesSir Husband and I are paying attention to the midlife people around us who appear to have this “I Love Me” thing down. They seem happy, well-adjusted, and comfortable inside their own skin. We listen to what they say and watch how they move through life. Sometimes we even ask them what their secret is. Do they look in the mirror every day and say “You are awesome” in a Stuart Smalley affirmation way? Do they imagine themselves as the Greek god Zeus?

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It’s easy to feel powerless when we’ve got a lot dragging at our feet, and isn’t always easy to shake off. I know a lot of miserable people, I used to be one of them. But what we noticed is that happy people keep their focus away from life’s sludge. They don’t let it invade their personal space, or their minds. Even if their situations are not the way they want them to be, they are ok with a different “different.” We have to see ourselves, and what we want, differently.

What do I really miss? Not realizing I’m worthy and deserving of my own love long before now. It’s truly the undercurrent of happiness.

 

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Feeling Rejected? Mourn It And Move On

identityHere’s where bloggers can get into trouble. People see a post that although is anonymous, they know is about them, or they think it is, and they back off from interacting with us – even if the post was all good. Not because they are angry – or maybe they are – but because they are afraid. Like how a lot of people are afraid to speak to the media. There’s something intimidating about it I guess. When other people take you into their hands, especially public hands, all of a sudden you’ve lost control – of your persona, your self-image, your perceptions, maybe even your identity.

I’m not shy about sharing my blog, that’s what most bloggers do. We write and want people to read it and feel something, relate, discover, even feel validated. We don’t want them to turn away.

suck-it-upWhen I moved home after 14 years gone I had hope, not even expectations, but hope of renewing lost friendships from all those years ago. My memories – the few I do have in spite of situational amnesia – are good. So I thought that maybe for some of my old tribe, their memories would be good too. But now I’m not getting that vibe. It’s not that they are shunning me, but some are brushing me off without batting an eye – which feels hard when I extended a kind hand built on a cherished past. They simply aren’t responding to my gestures. Way to burst my bubble people.

As we know, life is not a fairy tale. We just want it to be. Of course I wanted some big happy reunion, and why not?

sometimes-only-paper-will-listen-to-youSo when we get the blow off, or the polite ‘thanks but no thanks,’ we start to wonder what’s wrong with us. What did I say or do that makes them not want to be friends again? I know I have a lot of baggage but I literally left it at the door – my other door – the one I moved away from. I never put it on the moving truck because I didn’t want it anymore. Don’t they know that? Can’t they tell? Or is the brush off not even about me?

I’ve always been an outsider. Picked last in gym class, bullied, made fun of, betrayed – that’s a big one. Betrayal leaves damaging scars that are very hard to ignore. So it’s hard to assimilate being ditched. We can tell ourselves it’s not us it’s them, or we can try to accept and let it go. If I am going to raise my vibration like saints or Jesus or da Buddha – rise above that level of fear-based living and into a higher space of love – then I have to say ok, briefly mourn it and move on.

jesus-and-buddha

My new thing, that I say to myself of course, is “So be it, I tried. I wish you goodness, see you in the afterlife.” Yes I believe in an afterlife, and it’s comforting to think that in that “place” everybody loves everybody and it’s nothing but happiness and joy.

That’s the bottom line really – happiness and joy – that’s all we want. So I’ll keep extending it outward, even if it’s rejected. What else can I do. Well…I can blog about it.

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We All Work To Be Happy, But Are We Happier Being Content?

happy and know itIf you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.

Great. 52 percent of us just clapped.

But how many of us are telling the truth?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since finally moving back a few weeks ago to my favorite place on earth – home. After leaving a nightmare here several years ago and moving far away into a fairy tale that ended up being wrought with its own melodrama, I went from happy to horrible, to happy to miserable, to happy one minute, unhappy the next, up and down, around and round for years. It was exhausting. I can truly use the cliche that the last decade was both the best of times and the worst of times.

tiredSomewhere along the way I lost the understanding of the concept of happy. It’s a weird thing when you are entangled in abusive in relationships. Sir Husband and I share the most deeply heartfelt love, but we were surrounded by nasty, hurtful, vicious people who were so unhappy inside themselves, they could not stand to see us happy. So they worked hard to burst our bubble. (And some still do to this day.)

So when we recently moved back home – which makes us both  exceedingly happy – I wondered why I wasn’t oozing joy 24 hours a day. Happiness was in there, but it was elusive, and I didn’t understand. Were my emotions trapped in a habitual web of only feeling bad? It was a valid theory.

ocean feetBut in spite of all the hurdles that came with our house sale and move, and even in spite of the past’s big stressors that take time to heal, I felt a quiet sense of stable peace hovering in the background.

It dawned on me that how I am feeling is content. Contentment is a state of being that comes from being ok with life in spite of external circumstances. It’s an acceptance of where we are, knowing we’re doing the best we can, and not worrying about what we can’t control. It’s internal satisfaction regardless of… fill in the blank. Through the years I’ve had a whole heck of a lot of words that filled in the blanks.

There’s a huge emphasis placed on being happy everywhere we turn. Society’s modern psychology pushes the happiness quotient on us like it’s a prerequisite for living a good life. That’s a lot of pressure. And it’s not realistic. Because happiness, according to experts, is actually a fleeting feeling. It’s a momentary emotion that by some definition is based on attaining things we want. Gallup polls even reveal that higher income bracket people say they are happier than lower income bracket people. But does it validate the truth?

This brings me back to the verbiage. Contentment is a word that makes a lot of sense regardless of where we fall on any measurable scale. And if this all sounds disappointing – that being content is the booby prize – stop for a minute and think about how happy it might make us to feel peaceful with our life. The pressure comes off just with the word itself. Content. It means in a state of peaceful happiness and satisfaction.  

I don’t know about you, but I’m clapping my hands.

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It’s Ok To Be Happy Even When We’re Not

A heck of a lot of people seem miserable right now, and until recently, I used to be one of them. It’s so easy to get caught up in our stressors and not realize how impacted we are or even who we are because of them.  And because birds of a feather flock together, we gravitate toward others who are equally miserable and support us in our unhappiness. Then we call them our tribe, our community, and we feel better about ourselves and our life. After all, misery loves company.

unhappy hour

A long time ago I became part of a special needs advocacy group that had thousands of parents all fighting the same process to help their child diagnosed on the autism spectrum. It felt good to belong to a group of like-minded parents on the same journey. I made quite a few close friends and we banded together in determination and support.

mazeRaising a child on the autism spectrum can feel like living in a dark maze that takes an incredible amount of effort, diligence and hope to survive. There are so many pitfalls along the way, but we have that community of supporters who hold our hand, sometimes even carry us, without asking for anything in return.

Through the years it was interesting to watch how other people coped. As time went on our children grew up, but some of us stayed friends maintaining a special timeless bond.

The trouble is, that the misery that we felt going through the toughest times with our children became so habitual that for some of us, it stuck. We lived in daily turmoil, so much so that our mindsets settled into that pattern of darkness and despair, pessimism, fear, sadness and pain. We never came out of the dark hole long enough for the light to make a difference.

This can happen with anything in life, whatever our issues and circumstances – health, family, work, relationships – doesn’t matter. We can get stuck without realizing it, looking at our life and the world around us wondering when it will all change for the better.

happy againBut it’s not the world that has to change, it’s us. And it took me a lot of years to really see that. Our actions and responses are rote. The way we think, feel, see, hear – we perceive our entire life through our misery filter. Eventually, when it goes on long enough, we forget that it’s ok to be happy. Question is, are we willing.

After losing most of my friends and life as I knew it, it finally occurred to me that my misery was inside of me. That was huge. But ironically the road to happiness was actually harder to navigate than the road to raising a child on the spectrum. I had to examine and shift every, single aspect of my thinking in each moment, every, single day. I had to re-route my habitual way of existing mentally, emotionally, even physically. It was literally “starting over” all the time – catching myself and what I said, thought, felt, and reaching for a better option.

I did the work and feel much better. But I’m not sure the work is ever “over.” It’s all about how we look at things and whether we can find the goodness, even when it’s minute. When the goal is happiness, the path is deciding it’s possible right now. No matter what.

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Written yesterday on my son’s 23rd birthday. We both made it to the other side. 

Finding Joy Is All How You Look At It

2016062695152226You know that feeling when everybody around you seems to be feeling joy and you are too *fill in the blank* exhausted, busy, overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, upset, any un-joyful feeling works… to feel the bliss?

Everybody feels this at one time or another. There are times in our life when our day/week/month/year isn’t flowing with contented ease. It can be anything – work, family, health, circumstances – that keep us teetering on the edge between feeling good and feeling bad. Sometimes all we have to do is see somebody happy and we get that twinge of wondering when we will feel that too.

I’ve not only been reading about this a lot lately, I’ve been living it. Caught between the yin and yang of finally experiencing some dreams come true and the static surrounding their reality, I’m still on a wild and crazy ride every single day.

It started when Sir Husband got his new job. This was his dream job come true. Miraculously we also found a wonderful place to live a week before he started, right where we wanted to be. It’s where I originally thought I would live forever many moons ago when I bought a house here. But life happened, and it took literally 16 years to get back “home.”

IMG_2001We’re not in not the house I lived in, but it’s in the same town. He moved in when he started his job a month ahead of our official move. All I heard every, single day (and night) was how happy he was. How much he loved it. How he couldn’t wait until I moved too, and how he dreaded having to deal with going back to our old abode to sort, pack, and load.

Hey! I want to feel that joy too! Totally not fair. 

Although I was beyond happy that he loved his new job and my old stomping ground – the place we would soon call home together – I struggled hearing his joy. I wanted to be there…wave a magic wand and poof – all the hard stuff done – from packing our belongings to un-doing and redoing every, single detail of our lives. That takes a lot of work and a long time, and I’m not good at seeing or feeling the joy when I’m buried in the hour-to-hour process of trying to do it without a magic wand.

That’s what we all want – the hard stuff to be over. But guess what I recently learned as I was working on my latest dream-come-true venture with Sir Husband. There will always be hard stuff.  So while he was busy in a new unfamiliar job, living in unfamiliar surroundings and loving every minute, I realized it’s all how we look at it. It was hard for him too for different reasons, but he opted to look at it differently. To shift his focus.

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Joy a mindset as well as a feeling. It’s the difference between existing and experiencing. It’s so easy to just habitually exist – trying to get through each day as opposed to living each day. Thinking only about what it would feel like if…or when…instead of noticing our life that happens in between the tough stuff.

It’s possible. That phrase take time to stop and smell the roses is trite but true. Some people just know how to do it. Joy is always there, we just have to stop and experience it.

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Marriage of My Dreams, In-Laws of My Nightmares

Should a mother-in-law be allowed in the delivery room? A roundtable discussion on the Today Show prickled up some spines. The answer is strictly personal, I had a couple of friends eating McDonald’s next to me when I delivered one of my boys. But my mother-in-law? No way. I’ve had two, neither of whom I adored. And the feeling is quite mutual, although the first one has since passed away.

All families have issues, sometimes personality mismatch is status quo. But occasionally it’s so extreme, defying all understanding, that we are left to assume there is some Divine lesson to be learned. Sir Husband and I pay attention to that. A few in our lives do not.

peas in a podEverybody’s got an in-law story, and they usually resonate the same: troublesome tale of two women and a poor man in the middle. But not in our case. We have three peas in a pod – Sir Husband’s mother, his ex and his sister united on a warpath of hatred and anger, against both him and me.

Many wives since the beginning of time use the old cliche, my mother-in-law is a piece of work. But can they say she disowned her son and his family because she loves her ex-daughter-in-law more and admits it? Ours is a wicked story of some unhappy fems who live from deep misery.

It goes something like this. A long time ago, a kind man with a good heart and sensible head lost his senses one day and on the rebound, married a woman he did not love. Shortly after they were married she revealed herself to be a broken soul, and manipulated him to the death to get anything she wanted.

He tried hard to stay with her, but his unhappiness grew. And his mother knew it too. She insisted he work even harder, so that is what he did. He never meandered out of their marriage, but longed for relief from his loveless misery so much that when he looked in the mirror every morning he hoped for cancer to die and get away. That’s pretty sad. Eventually he left. And his mother never forgave him.

That’s my mother-in-law. A not-so-lovely woman who decided that her son was not worth his own happiness. What kind of mother is that?

edgar allen poeBut that is only the beginning. I’ll leave out all the ugly gore – from hurt and harassment to helping alienate Sir Husband’s children from our lives – we now understand the meaning of “shunned.” No matter how hard we’ve tried to both communicate and understand, we are blatantly ignored and years later are still left shaking our heads.

So we’re done. At some point emotional toxicity just becomes too great, even when it’s family. We’ve worked hard to come to peace with it – nobody deserves this kind of treatment, especially from their own mother and in-law. It’s clear she’s got her own issues, that stem from something deep.

There are two great things that rule us. Love and fear. And we will do anything when under their spells. When people are triggered by their deepest fears they lash out, and project those fears onto the people who triggered them. It doesn’t excuse hurtful, hostile, abusive, violent actions, but it helps explain it. The problem is that living from fear comes with a terribly high price. Sir Husband’s father died of cancer at age 62.

I only knew my deceased father-in-law as the father of my high school best boy-friend a long time ago. Sir Husband and I go way back to years of really good times. In fact, we believe in angels, and think his father helped us reunite. We’re sure if he was still alive, he would welcome me now, and have some strong words with his wife.

It’s a shame my mother-in-law is so unhappy. And while we feel like we’ve lost some family, Sir Husband and I choose to live from love and not fear, which is infinitely a better spell.

 

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Not A Care In The World Is The Goal

“Take your time, I’ve got all the time in the world,” the bakery gal said to me as I was trying to decide which muffin to order with my coffee. It was mid-day, so I missed the morning rush, but the pressure was on. There were a couple of people behind me, and I sort-of didn’t believe her that she had “all the time in the world.” That phrase actually perplexes me. Time isn’t infinite by my calculation, I’m pretty sure we have a finite amount of time to work with, and we don’t even know what it is.

Which got me thinking. Maybe life is too short to care in such great detail about every little thing – like whether I want a blueberry or bran or opt out and go for the scone. Sure life is too short not to enjoy what you want, but to care is a whole different matter.

“I actually don’t care,” I told her, but I did. I was hurried and couldn’t decide. I’d love to be one of those laid back, “not a care in the world” kind of people, but I’m not sure how that’s even possible.

We spend so much time investing in so much stuff that in the great scheme of things may not matter. Even when it’s stuff that we think matters, is it possible we’re so focused on a desired outcome, that we forget the big picture? Time is running out after all.

There is gobs of information out there about how to proceed in life, how to find our purpose, expand our soul, process, push, succeed, achieve, win. What if the actual win is not really caring about the win, but just enjoying the life that we have as we’re living it?dalai lama

A recent Facebook post from the Dalai Lama – by the way it’s a hoot that he’s on Facebook – said he often asks himself, “what is the purpose of our lives?” and he concludes that it is to be happy.

 

So plain old happiness is the bigger picture. And in order to have it, I’m guessing we better take some time to stop caring so much about all the things that get in the way of it. I don’t mean feeling pressure to pick a muffin, although that too.

I mean bigger things, like worrying about what people think, or what we should be doing, or how we’re doing it, or what we are supposed to be learning or saying or believing. It’s so easy to wrap ourselves up in caring about everything – from a process to a goal to results or an outcome – that we forget about the bigger picture.

And then there’s the people-pleasing issue. We don’t want to let anyone down, hurt anyone’s feelings, alter the dynamic, neglect our roles and responsibilities. There are always obligations to others. Not to mention we are taught to control how we feel, to do the right thing and to put our energy where we are supposed to.

But since time is of the essence, shouldn’t we take the time to prioritize our happiness? What if we gave ourselves permission to not care about things that don’t make us happy, and focus more on the things that do. It sounds freeing, and may bring some relief.

There is a fine line between caring and not caring and a discerning ability to do so. Maybe it’s through not caring so much that happiness is truly achievable. Not a care in the world? That is definitely worth caring about. Oh, I went with the pumpkin chocolate-chip.

choose happy

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