How To Be Happy

You guys notice those 10-Step “How-To” Articles? The ones that give different tips or ways to improve something; ranging from hair to relationships. I came across one the other day that advised its readers on how to be happy. And as much as I find these types of articles interesting, I feel they are somewhat misleading…They say things like: Smile, Be Compassionate, Travel, etc.

But what if I just don’t feel like smiling? I’m tired, on my way home from a long, stressful day at work and the only thing I want to do is swan dive into my bed…there would probably be nothing more annoying at that point than someone telling me to smile. Being compassionate is a great quality to have, but what’s the line between compassion and doing more for others than for yourself? Which can be more detrimental than beneficial after a certain point and with a certain type of person. Traveling, which I’m sure is on the top of everyone’s bucket list, but what if we simply can’t afford to go anywhere? What then??

What irks me about these articles is they act like such a monumental accomplishment in life, like being happy, can be achieved in some certain amount of steps. Everyone has an opinion on what works, but that is based on their own perspective and life experience, which can be completely different from your own. The definition for happiness and how to get there means something different to everyone. For me, finding happiness has been a journey that is ongoing. I can say that I am in an exponentially better place than I have in the past, but I can’t say I’m where I want to be yet. The biggest things I’ve learned is that happiness is not a constant state. There are some days where you’ll feel like dancing, and other day’s you’ll feel like crying and there is nothing wrong with that. As long as you recognize the good and bad in life, and appreciate the high’s and acknowledge the lows, I feel like you’re on the right track. Anyone who says they’re happy 100% of the time, is probably not being completely honest with themselves.

I’ve also learned that your surroundings affect your attitude which affects how happy you can be. If you have people in your life that are always negative: they’re not supportive, they always doubt you, they’re always talking about something or someone; whether they’re a significant other or a best friend or your boss, that person is not healthy for you. Those How-To articles don’t mention the time and effort it takes to make necessary changes and commit to them which is hard for many of us who are a part of this generation that is so accustomed to quick fixes and instantaneous solutions. But the most important thing I’ve realized is that there is no quick fix to happiness. It’s not like a light switch that you can turn on. Toxic energies are contagious, and when someone is down, they bring you down to their level whether you want to be there or not. But if you keep pushing and trying to seek what makes you happy, you’ll get there.

Advertisements

Connecting Face to Face rather than on Facebook

When we were young, most of the time, making friends seemed like a breeze…all it took was a shy smile, quick hello or just asking to join in.  And next thing we knew, we had a new running buddy at the playground. Our social circles consisted of our parents, siblings, class mates and play mates that our parents set up. Everything was simple. But as you got older, especially when those awkward middle school years hit, finding and keeping friends became a bit more complicated.  While navigating the personal and life changes that accompany growing up, we also have to learn to navigate between the different cliques, norms and groups that become established and break down during these years, which can be an overwhelming adjustment. And with our generation being so integrated in technology, connecting face to face occurs a lot less often than on a screen.

My first semester in college, was one of the most uncomfortable experiences in my life to date. Coming from a small, intimate high school, where I had known most of my classmates since the 3rd grade then arriving at a huge, public university with 40,000 people was really hard for me. I’m naturally shy and introverted, so the idea of creating a whole new social group seemed impossible to me. I had made a great group of friends in high school that had taken years to cultivate and I had no idea how to find people that could represent those friends in my college life.  But honestly, that was my first mistake.

Coming to college, or when entering any new situation, you have to come open and unassuming. No one owes you anything. To make friends and meet new people you have to 1. put in the effort, 2. let people show you who they are and 3. be consistent. I (unrealistically) was expecting people to come to  me: for someone, anyone to miraculously see me, want to be friends with me and make the first move. My shyness and stubbornness in meeting new people prevented me from taking advantage of all of the new freshman who were living on my floor or in my classes.  Besides my roommates, a few floor mates that I had met through them and a handful of girls that I had done a 3-week pre-college program with, I hadn’t met that many people nor had I tried to. Yet, I still moaned and complained about feeling alone and missing my high school friends. Sadly, it took me until junior year to fully realize that the reason I was missing out, was because I wasn’t pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I hadn’t committed to any clubs, I hadn’t really tried to talk to anyone in my classes aside from group projects…I simply hadn’t put in the effort. But in my last two years, after I pushed myself to do new things and be more friendly, not only did I keep and better my relationship with the small group I had befriended freshman year, but I also met and bonded with a lot of great new people as well. And my senior year, was more fulfilling and exciting than the previous 3 years of college combined.

So the hard lesson learned was that making friends is not that complicated. When entering a new situation, what worked on the playground generally works when you’re older. A genuine smile, friendly hello and asking to join in is the only introduction you really need. And if someone doesn’t reciprocate a friendly hello?…you probably don’t want to be friends with them anyway. Their loss. So when we get stuck in the routine of life, and start to feel like our days are getting mundane, think about trying something new and commit to it. Go to dinner at a new spot, take an art or fitness class, attend an open mic night, try to go places that you haven’t been and reach out to someone while you’re there. Take an old friend and make new friends together. Even if you don’t meet anyone that night, it will feel good to experience something different and go back the next week and see if you find a familiar face.

When to Be Fearless

As June is upon us, I was panicking because I hadn’t picked a theme for the month yet (keeping up with a blog consistently is hard!) And with June being not only my birthday month, but also with my recent graduation from college: a new beginning; I decided to stop and reflect this month. To think about different lessons and realizations that I’ve come across so far and share them with you 🙂 So, this month on the blog will be Personal Reflections!

~~~~~

So recently I made the decision to do the big chop. Not necessarily because I wanted to go natural or because of any other emotional reasons tied to cutting off your hair…but simply because I wanted to know what I would look like. I’ve always admired women who could rock an ultra low cut, it’s a one of a kind look that not everyone can pull off. And I’ve always been curious but of course hesitated because of the omnipresent “they” that plagues so many of us. Worried about what “they” will think…so whenever I had almost worked up the nerve to seriously contemplate the move, I talked myself out of it: There would be no turning back…what about the versatility of longer hair?…what if I hate it?? So, I just pushed the idea out of my mind.

But, for anyone who knows me, they know my hair changes with the seasons. I’ve gone from pixie cut, to weave, to bob, to bangs, to braids, to natural and back to pixie cut with reckless abandon. So why should this hair cut be any different? It’s just hair right? It will grow back…and it’s pretty much the only style I haven’t tried yet. So, without overthinking it, I just made the hair appointment, showed the stylist a picture and let her and her clippers have at it. And gratefully, I love it!

Besides the excitement that comes with a new hairstyle, I’ve gained a new found confidence and assurance about myself: I feel unique, I feel beautiful and besides the ultimate perk of it taking all of 10 minutes to wash, deep condition, dry and style my hair, I’m simply proud of the fact that I did something I’ve always wanted to do. And, in the few days since I’ve cut it, I’ve gotten more compliments on my look than any other hairstyle I’ve had!

So, with this small but glorious victory with my hair, I’ve gained a rather important lesson about life. All of your thoughts and desires occur for a reason, those small seeds of ideas were planted in your head specifically because they were meant for you to carry them out. Whether its to start a business, drop everything and travel, reach out to someone or to just get a haircut…act on it! When it comes to making those decisions you’re a little iffy about, when its time to gamble a little, when that one thought keeps finding its way back in your head, be fearless! Because if you don’t, who will?? And at the end of the day, in the big picture of life, no one decision is the end, you can always bounce back. And I believe a “mistake” is only an indication that you tried, which is better than not doing anything at all and just wondering.