Thursday, January 23, 2014

Want to Feel Happier? Go Have an Adventure.

Strolling through Washington DC with my niece.

Every day, we are given a ridiculously vast breadth of choice about how we'll live.

We can give in to the grind, our grief, or feelings of stagnation. Or we can go out and create joy. 

We can embrace opportunities to try new things, see new places, have adventures, or just indulge in our most favoritest activities.

The times you're feeling stuck or unfulfilled are probably most important—and hardest—times to do this.

But "doing cool sh*t" is one of the greatest keys to happiness.

In the fall of 2011 when I got laid off from my beloved job at Yahoo!, I could have gone down the dark path of worrying I'd never find another gig like that—or that I'd be collecting unemployment for months on end or run out of money altogether. Instead, I took a breath and tried to make the most of the situation life had thrown my way. Within weeks of getting the axe, I used airline miles to tag along with my niece on her college tour of the east coast. When I started working again, freelancing from home, I made it a point to pop out to my backyard during the day with my laptop and meet up with friends for lunch or morning walks.

I sought out stuff that made me happy.

Seeking joy and adventure doesn't have to mean climbing a mountain (although I highly recommend doing that at some point). It can be as simple as going to a movie by yourself on a Wednesday night or trying a new recipe or treating yourself to a walk on the beach at sunset. 

My friends over at Mimosa Lotus know this very well.

In fact, they've started a really awesome campaign to honor a dear, departed friend of theirs. They're calling it "How Do You Live?" and encouraging people to use that hashtag on social media to celebrate this simple, yet totally transformational way of looking at our time on earth.

The beauty of this approach is that the more you go out and do cool sh*t, create opportunities for happiness and growth, and let yourself take risks that feel good—the more you'll discover who you really are.

And isn't that why all of us are here? To wholly make that discovery?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Universal Secrets to Success

When I was in my mid-twenties, a girlfriend and I enrolled in a drawing class at the local community college. She and I worked in the same office, so once a week when the closing bell rang we'd carpool over to the school to indulge our creative genius. I think she was there because she wanted to become a better artist. I was there because I thought I might meet a cute guy.

I did not meet any eligible bachelors, but I did learn a lot about drawing—and life—from my professor. Frankly, I think he would have liked to teach more about the latter than the former. I remember one night, he went into great detail about the benefits of eating a macrobiotic diet. Another, he talked about the importance of changing your perspective—and how he often laid on the floor and looked up at his dog to feel what it was like to reverse their roles. The night I turned in my final sketchbook, he told me my skin was radiant. I think I radiated beet red after that.

He shared quite a lot with our class, but what stuck with me the most were six little words he said to help us ease into the artistic process.

Slow down.
Relax into it.

The reason they stuck with me was that they could be applied to so many situations. Maybe every situation...

Think about it: If you're in conflict with someone, don't things end on a better note when you slow down and breathe? If you're doing something scary for the first time—like giving a speech or writing an email to someone you just met on an online dating site—doesn't it ease the tension if you take a few deep inhales and exhales and relax into the process? Some people, like my friend Mike, would probably even say this is a great mantra for sex.

I think this approach has universal applications. The trick is remembering to apply it.

After my teacher shared this advice with us, I wrote it on a sticky note and kept it at my desk while I worked as an advertising copywriter. When I would get anxious about crafting the perfect headline or coming up with a winning ad concept, I'd remind myself that the best way to get into the zone and access creativity was to follow those six words. It worked like a charm.

Where do you think it would benefit you to slow down, breathe, and relax into it? Or are you already using this approach somewhere in your life and seeing success? Do tell!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

One-Minute Meditation: Final Dance of the Apricot Leaves

Chill out with a little video commendation for the apricot tree's final performance—before winter's chill stole its leaves from our yard. Nature's wind chimes come in so many lovely forms. (Even silent ones!)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What Do You Know You Deserve This Year?

"What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down."
- George Bailey, It's a Wonderful Life
Most people I know are really good at saying what they think they deserve. And not always so good at acting like they deserve it.

We all fall into this trap from time to time, knowing on one level that we should be getting more from our relationships, our selves, our paychecks—but maybe not quite feeling totally worthy of sticking to our guns to make it happen.

And so we make excuses and allowances.

When I was dating Mr. Redflags, I knew I deserved so much more, yet I told myself things like, "You're just being high maintenance," or "You have a strong personality, so no relationship will ever be easy." Lies. The truth was that I was compromising my own value because I was afraid of having another failed relationship at 31.

Fear of failing, and taking what you can get, will never lead you to what you really deserve. 

Although I can't take credit for the demise of that relationship, I can take credit for the mindset I maintained after it. I vowed to hold out for a love that I knew I deserved. I was committed to seeing my worthiness and keeping my standards high. And with that perspective top of mind, I went off into the world and tried to do as much fun stuff as I could (key to a happy life: go do fun stuff).

What happened came as a bit of a surprise to me then, but makes perfect sense to me now. I got what I knew I deserved. I found my Mr. Wonderful and began a pretty darn blissful life with him that led to marriage and a one-acre plot in Santa Barbara wine country.

You get to the good stuff when you decide you're worthy of it. 

When you truly see, feel, and believe how wonderful you are, not only are you better able to filter the less-than-excellent stuff and people, you attract more of the stuff and people you want—whether that comes in the form of a better working situation, more fulfilling relationships, more respect from family members, quality downtime, or all of the above.

Belief in yourself and your worth is at the heart of getting everything you want in this life. 

So how do you get to this place of belief? Start by watching the way you think and speak. Treat yourself the way you would someone you love. Take yourself on dates. Trade criticisms for compliments. Get really clear and actively build the case for your worthiness. And if you need a little push to make you remember how amazing you are, check out Wonderful U.

It's never too late to set new parameters around what you deserve. Why not try it and see what shows up in your life as a result?