Friday, July 5, 2013

How I've Learned to be Happy

I used to be shy and insecure. I always cared what people thought of me, and I never wanted to not be liked. Part of it was because I was a little jealous of what everyone looked like, had, or did. Looking back now, I wish I would have learned these things a VERY long time ago.

After talking with people of ALL ages, I've found that most people struggle, in one way or another, with being happy with what they have. I have friends that struggle being accepted, friends that struggle with their looks, and friends that just focus on the past. I've been there on ALL of them. These lessons are what I have learned most recently and have changed my life completely. I'm so happy with who I am now because of what I've learned.  I will do the first five here, and then the last five another day.

1. Stop Complaining. This was a big wake up call for me. There are a few people who I've been around that always have that negative attitude. When I'm around them I notice that I also have a negative attitude. It's contagious. I also see a slew of complaints all over Facebook. I see road rage everywhere. I heard complaints at school, work, and at the grocery store. All of these are complaints that are passed along to one another. When I see them it kind of brings my mood down. When my mood was down, I had no idea how to bring it back up. I was just plain miserable. So was my husband/family. I needed to make a change.

I first stopped complaining about my job. That alone was a life changer. I realized that my life was in my hands. This job wasn't controlling my life, I was. Why should I let this job make me miserable? My home life was MUCH better.

I also stopped complaining about other people. I was complaining just because I was bothered with them. I had a yoga teacher that helped me see the big picture on this one. She said something along the lines of this: When you stop judging yourself, you stop judging others. WOW. I realized that I was complaining because I was unhappy with ME, not with them. So I stopped complaining about other people, especially out loud. ;)

I help organize with some activities put on for the ladies in my ward (aka church). During one of the planning meetings we thought it would be a good idea to come up with an activity that focuses on positive thinking. One of the ladies shared a talk that she heard in Time Out For Women, a conference meant to inspire and build women. This talk focused on shifting your negative thoughts to positive thoughts. Hilary Weeks shared a story about how she tracked negative thoughts/comments. All of her negative thoughts made her really sad. Then she focused on the positive instead and she was much happier. You can find the AMAZING talk on her blog HERE.

That talk totally explained the way I was thinking. It's funny how things like that happen at the right time.  That tied everything together for me. I now choose to focus on the things that make me happy, the things that I did right, the things that OTHERS did right, and just good thoughts. This alone made me 100% happier.

2. Find someone or something that inspires you. This might be a hard one to do, but it will be the most influential one. When you're inspired you are ON TOP OF THE WORLD. You think you can do anything. Guess what? You totally can! You can be inspired by ANYTHING or ANYONE. You just have to be open to it. You can find a hobby, talent, or job that makes you happy. Or, you can find a person that inspires you. People are harder to come by. I've had a few people that I've been inspired by. It's pretty rare, and when it comes you just know. Kind of like being in love. It's someone that brings out the best in you. Someone that makes you want to be a better person. Someone you are on the same page with, and someone that totally gets you. When you find someone like this, learn from them. I had a really great mentor when I was going through the Elementary Education program. She taught me to believe in myself. It didn't matter what everyone was doing, as long as I was doing what I thought was right.
My husband also inspires me. When we first met I wasn't in college and I didn't really know what I was going to do with my future. He is the one that encouraged me to enroll in school and earn a degree (he wanted me to be an accountant, but that was NOT happening haha). He expects me to be a good mom, wife, and person. I expect the same from him. We hold each other to the things we believe are right and support each other through all times. I'm lucky to have him.

This kind of thinking is what changes the world. We can all be like that. Look for things and people that inspire us and KEEP them in your life.

3. Stop getting offended. This was a huge relief lifted off my shoulders. I've opened up about this to other people I know, and have heard some similar stories. I moved into a neighborhood that I wasn't very comfortable with. Everyone had kids, and at the time I didn't. I worked full-time and went to school. Most of these girls either stayed home or had well-established careers. They always had these get-togethers with a whole bunch of girls in the neighborhood.  I was also new to the whole married life thing and I didn't know my place in this neighborhood at all-and probably for the first 3 years.
I would ALWAYS get offended when people would go and do things and they wouldn't invite me. I would get offended when they didn't engage in conversation with me. I would get offended over something they said to me. Really, I just got offended that I didn't want to be around them anyway- or so I thought.
I would also get offended with people that would treat me bad at work. I would get offended over everything.
Then I realized, it wasn't others that were making it hard on me, it was ME! 99% of the time they didn't mean for me to take something they said the wrong way. 99% of the time they were just trying to say something nice and I didn't take it that way. 99% of the time they didn't mean to not invite me. why would they? They hardly knew me. Should I invite every person I know to something I do? No, I shouldn't.  Should I over-analyze everything that is said to me? NO WAY! That would make me crazy.
I've learned to not get offended by what others say. Most people don't want to hurt other's feelings. If people have, just forgive them. They most-likely don't mean it. I'm sure I've offended people by things I said and didn't mean for it to come across that way. There's nothing I can do with how they take what I say. I just do my best to be a nice person and hopefully that comes across to other people.
I have now put myself out there and have built some great friendships with the people in my neighborhood. Friendships that I am thankful I didn't get being offended get in the way of it.
I can't control other people getting offended. That's their problem, not mine.

4. Don't care what others think. What others think of you is really none of your business. When you stop caring what others think about you, you become the person you always wanted to be. If you didn't have to have the approval of everyone, what would you do? I would create a blog of my favorite recipes and share my thoughts occasionally. I would put my insecurities out there for all to see.  I would wear whatever clothes I thought were cute, regardless if they're in style or not (and so what if they're 5 years old). Does it really matter? Do you really have to have the approval of everyone?
I have a friend who is just so naturally pretty. She doesn't think she is, but she is by far one of the prettiest girls I have ever met. We were talking about her new job and about a girl that was so pretty to her. This girl is the girl that likes to wear the stylish clothes, have lots of make-up on, and is also super-skinny. You know, the girl that has it all. She told me how she wished she could be like her. it just made me think that the girl wearing all this make-up, stylish clothes, and is super-skinny is trying to do ALL of that to look like my friend. Neither of those girls would need anything to be pretty. I just wished my friend could see how gorgeous she truly was.  For the record, I'm ALL for people doing what they want to make themselves feel good. So for the girl that wears a lot of make-up, that's totally fine. If it makes you feel good, then do it.
I'll admit, I used to care QUITE a bit about what everyone thought. Now that's changed and it's changed my life.
If you are comfortable with yourself, you don't need to worry about what others think.
5. Love passionately. Make sure those you love know it. Tell them you love them. It doesn't matter when, where, or why. Just tell them. Don't wait for others to apologize. Don't hold grudges. Go out of your way to make them feel loved. Wouldn't you want others to do the same for you? Doesn't it make you feel good when someone expresses how they feel towards you?
I have NOT been the best at this. I used to be closed off, afraid and embarrassed to tell people how I felt about them. I was even like this with my immediate family members. If I could go back and change it all I would. There were so many relationships and friendships that would have been much better had I communicated with them better.
Now, I don't hesitate to tell people how much I appreciate them.
If I feel promptings to tell someone I was thinking about them and/or what I appreciated them for, they've always come back and told me they appreciated what I told them.
There is NOTHING to be embarrassed over. It makes others feel good. You can change people's lives by telling them how you feel.

Don't get me wrong, some days I do ALL of this. Sometimes, I have really bad days   and feel like crawling in a hole. However, everyday I go in thinking like this and I can truly say I enjoy every day of my life.

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