Happiness is hard, fear is easy. Most people would assume it’s the opposite. Even in the past, I would look at people who were wildly happy and think ‘they must have a super easy, awesome life.’ The truth is that the majority of people who find genuine joy in almost every moment actually worked their asses off to get there. They decided on what they wanted out of life, took a leap of faith and dug through those messy bottled up emotions and memories. Let’s face it, life can suck sometimes and we all have conditioning that lead us to how we process situations and emotions. We are in this together. But just because we experienced things one way in the past, does it mean we have to continue that same pattern for the future? Nope! You can change your brain. Take a look at my most recent post on judgement to find out some ways to let those old habits die hard. By coming to terms with why we comprehend things the way we do, we can move forward with our dreams and goals without that old voice destroying the path that lies ahead. Life is too short to spend focusing on what’s around us rather than what power lies in us, and what we cannot control versus CAN- such as our reactions and interpretations.
After some of those old patterns are released or at least under construction, it becomes easier to love ourselves. Do you ever notice when you are around those ‘happy’ people and you can feel a strong, beautifully radiant energy coming from them? Or a calm even when times get tough? That’s because they continuously work to be aware of how they want to keep growing, while releasing any parts of life that do not serve them. They learned and continue to learn how to love and respect themselves for what they have been through and understand they have a place in this lifetime that is equally as important to anyone next to them. It’s easy for us to compare and think that because someone has more money, a bigger house or married before we did, that they are happier. For the majority, that’s not the case. A lot of people cover their emotions with material things or relationships to avoid staring the problem right in the eye and will continue to search to avoid internal battles. Sometimes slowing our fast-paced lives down and sitting still to think is all it takes. Once you can manage to look in the past and understand there is a reason for your journey, you can begin to appreciate how it’s shaped you thus far through what you’ve learned. This enhances present and future experiences around you, making them that much richer and rewarding. If your cup is empty, how can you fill up anyone else’s? You are in charge of your own cup.
Practice makes perfect even when it comes to loving yourself. This is where I catch myself slipping sometimes. I can notice my old debilitating self-talk creep back in if I do not make a daily or weekly habit out of what exercises have successfully kept me moving forward. Self-love is often associated with treating yourself regularly, and yes that can be a component as long as it too is not becoming a tool to cover up feelings we are avoiding. When I catch myself in the midst of retail therapy, I think ‘is this really what I need or are there some hidden emotions responsible for draining my bank account?’ Luckily, there are some alternate ways to make sure you are loving yourself on the regular and maintaining a healthy mindset…while retaining your cash flow.
1) Daily self check-ins. How are you feeling physically, mentally and emotionally? What are your goals for the day or week? If you have time to journal, write it all out. Even if it's a few adjectives, this allows us to process these emotions and release them, letting go of any heavy feelings to be at our happiest.
2) Gratitude practice. Starting your day with 5 things to be grateful for gets your brain on a positive track. While already feeling lighter, you also process interactions in your day more positively versus seeing the worst in situations.
3) Meditation. Whether you stop for a few deep breaths, a yoga class, have a favorite guided meditation or do some visualizations, these practices allow us to be present, slow down and recall what we truly desire out of our day and life. My personal favorite is manifestation or visualization. What gets you more excited and on track than seeing yourself complete the things you’d like to do most? And it can strengthen your follow through.
4) Affirmations. Write down 10 things you love about yourself. Sometimes it also helps to note why you love those traits to create a deeper meaning. These can be physical or personality traits. Anything you can think of! With the world around us portraying that there's always something more to be had, we can often forget the good that exists right in front of us, specifically in ourselves. We are all unique recipes so honor and share your differences so others can honor them, too.
5) Do what you love. Everyone needs this balance in their life and in their own way. If you like to get outside for fresh air, schedule it in your calendar to keep you accountable. If you love spending time with family but feel like the week gets too busy, get up a little earlier one morning to make a family breakfast. Whether it has to do with the people in your life, activities or something creative, make sure you are carving out at least a little time every week for something that lights you up. Hopefully that eventually becomes everyday, but start small if you have to (make sure to include the above points). If you’re not sure what activities you enjoy, think back to the past. What made you happy as a kid? What moments made/make you smile or your heart swell?
Don’t be afraid to be happy. It can be tempting to stay in our personal fears because it requires no immediate hard work, or tears in some cases. But is the prolonged stressful perception worth it? Or would you rather rip it off like a band-aid? Not to say that continuing to grow through life is easy, but it gets easier with time and your life will change for the better as well-at least that's my personal opinion as I keep practicing this mindset. In an often-rigid world, we feel pressured to accomplish specific things like the so called ‘American Dream’. Not all of us would be happy in that situation or other like examples, and there is no reason to feel guilty for that. It may seem more difficult to run against the grain but if you are surrounded by like-minded people and believe you have the support (even if relationships are a work in progress too, just believe), you’ll get the proper love and constructive criticism in creating your life. Still afraid to jump on board? Ask yourself, what’s the worse thing that could happen and is it really all that bad?