Quilting Happiness

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Recently I had a conversation with someone where they helplessly said “I don’t know…I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I’m just not happy with anything in my life.” ¬†Hearing that broke my heart; living unhappily is such a terrible existence. ¬†And yet, so many people live the majority of their lives in a permanent state of misery.

Sometimes, this misery becomes so ingrained that it doesn’t even feel like misery. ¬†I had no idea that I was living such a wretched existence until I separated from my ex-husband and felt little inklings of happiness stretch like tentative rays of sunshine after a storm. ¬†While I certainly knew I wasn’t ecstatic, I had no idea how bad that life really was while I was in it.

In this moment, if you were to ask me if I was happy with my life, I would unequivocally answer “yes.” ¬†This may seem strange if you know my present circumstances: recently laid off, freshly single, one million minor crisis’ happening at work on a daily basis. ¬†And yet, overall, I am joyful.

This got me thinking: WHY am I so happy? ¬†What is it that I, or anyone with a constantly positive state of mind, do or don’t do that contributes to this feeling of joyful contentment? ¬†After some contemplation, I settled on several key factors:

Have a reliable, positive, and multi-leveled network.  This is such a big component because we as humans are wired to interact with others.  However, you cannot have all surface acquaintances or all deep bosom buddies; our connections need to be varied.  I have a couple of extremely close friends, several good friends, and lots and lots of positive shallower connections.  Going through my recent breakup, I lost one of the major keystone connections in my life, and had he been all that I had, I would have been completely at a loss.  However, with the help of my close and good friends as well as my continued positive interactions with everyone else, I have been able to stay afloat and keep my spirits up.

Putting in the time and effort to create and maintain these relationships may seem like a burden, but I firmly believe that if you do not have quality relationships in your life, it is impossible to be truly happy.  However, these relationships must be reciprocal; you cannot simply mooch off of someone else, and you should never allow someone to mooch off of you.  When both parties put in the same level of effort, that is when this piece of happiness falls into place.

Exercise. ¬†As much as we like to deny the hard science of how our minds work, putting in some sweat equity on a daily basis is a serious piece of the happiness puzzle. ¬†Although starting a workout is pretty much the worst thing ever, finishing it is one of the best feelings in the world. ¬†Your endorphin’s are kicking, and anything that negatively effected you throughout the day simply fades away into a haze of “ahhhhhh that was awesome”.

And lets face it, it’s hard to be happy when you don’t like what you see in the mirror. ¬†Presenting the best version of ourselves physically primes us to be the best version of ourselves mentally. ¬†It’s difficult to be miserable when you reach for something and notice a little baby bicep flexing as you bring it back. ¬†Hard work is hard freakin’ work, but it seriously boosts your mood to see results.

Work towards something specific.  Throughout my entire life, I have always had something to work towards.  First, it was my degree.  Then it was finding a job.  Then it was my Masters.  Now, I am working on getting my real estate license and have plans for an admin credential and possibly a life coach certification within the next ten years.  The point is, I am never resting on my laurels.

If you are working towards a specific goal, it is obvious if you have achieved it or not.  And working to get that accomplishment tucked under your belt gives you a sense of purpose, which contributes to happiness.  If you know you are on the road to achievement, you feel excited about getting up each day and have the gumption to persevere through the rocky patches.

Actively seek improvement.  I am constantly looking for ways to make myself a better person and teacher.  If I hear of an awesome teaching strategy, I try to implement it in my classroom.  Outside the confines of my work, I am constantly reading all different types of books and online articles as well as listening to podcasts on various topics.  I love getting into deep conversations about the world.  All in all, I am always trying to be better than I was before.

Truly desiring to make yourself better requires a humble acceptance of yourself as you are right now. ¬†However, acceptance does not mean stagnation. ¬†Just because you have accepted that you have slid into the ditch does not mean that you stay in the ditch. ¬†Seeing yourself grow and looking back to see how much you’ve changed for the better is a big piece of long-term happiness.

Love the majority of your day. ¬†There are very few parts of my day that I dislike. ¬†I love breakfast. ¬†I love jamming to my tunes as I drive to work. ¬†I love getting organized for the day. ¬†I love interacting with my students. ¬†I (usually) love the gym. ¬†I love writing blog posts. ¬† I’m ok with learning new real estate things (although I’m not going to lie, I’ll be pumped when it’s over). ¬†The only things that I truly hate about my day are when I have some students act like a-holes, or when something goes awry that I did not forsee (usually traffic-traffic puts me in a TERRIBLE mood).

If you genuinely LIKE/LOVE 80% or more of your day, it is highly unlikely that you will be unhappy. ¬†So many people tie themselves to jobs, people, or circumstances that they hate, and then wonder why they are miserable. ¬†If you find yourself unhappy with something, make moves to change it. ¬†Money, “security”, and comfort are NOT worth a constant state of misery.

Be ok with YOU. ¬†You have to be ok with who you are as a person before you can truly settle into a state of contentment with your life. ¬†I recently went through a period of time where I thought that my career goals and life aspirations were not good enough because I saw other people passionately pursuing other things that seemed ‘better’ or that might bring in more money. ¬†My happiness severely diminished during that time. ¬†When I mentally slapped myself and replanted my foot firmly on the soil of MY dreams, my joy returned.

You are a unique person.  It is impossible to accomplish the exact same thing that someone else has accomplished, so it is silly to even try.  You know what gives you joy, you know how you want to live your life, and you know what gives you a sense of purpose.  When you fully embrace what YOU want, not what the yoga masters, hardcore businessmen, or spiritual gurus tell you to want, THEN you can embrace your personal happiness.

Overall, your happiness is like an old, hand-pieced multicolored quilt that has been in your family for generations. ¬†It blankets everything. ¬†It is handmade. ¬†No one else has one just like it. ¬†Sometimes, a square or two might come loose, but if it’s a quality quilt, those squares aren’t completely lost and there are still enough squares to cover up with until the damage gets repaired.

If you find that you are unhappy with your life, take stock of all of the pieces. ¬†Magnify those squares that give you joy. ¬†Mend the squares that let in the draft. ¬†Sometimes, an entire square might have to be replaced, and that’s ok. ¬†Happiness IS something that you have complete control over, no matter how much we lie to ourselves and argue that we do not. ¬†Take charge now; in the end, our money will be spent or given away and our possessions will break or change hands. ¬†It is only the intangible-our relationships, our integrity, and our happiness-that we will get to keep for all time.

Things my Mother Taught Me

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My mother taught me how to read. ¬†Since before my memories begin, she was constantly reading to me; my favorite books were Ann of Green Gables and Little House on the Praire. ¬†I’m pretty sure I was reading on my own by age 5, but we continued reading together at night for long after that.

That lesson might have been be simple, but it shaped my whole life. ¬†An avid reader throughout high school and college, I eventually ended up becoming an English teacher. ¬†And now, it’s come full circle as I strike out into the wildly unknown world of writing.

Reading is one of the greatest gifts my mom ever gave me.  And as I look back on my 28 years, there were so many other subtleties that she gracefully emanated that shaped me as a person.

My mother taught me the value of a goodnight kiss. ¬†Every. Single. Night. my mother would tell me goodnight and give me a hug and a kiss. ¬†When I got to be a bitchy (oh, and I was BITCHY) teenage girl, the ritual didn’t change. ¬†The one night she stayed at my door and simply said goodnight is branded into my memory. ¬†Although I would never show it, the absence of her touch that night made me feel cold and alone and panicked at the thought that maybe, just maybe, I had finally pushed her too far.

My mother taught me the value of an open home. ¬†There were many nights where I was relegated to the couch or the basement in order for a guest to have a bed. ¬†It was so common that it wasn’t even viewed as an inconvenience. ¬†Many memories include the presence of other people in our home, which added a richness and depth to my life experience that I would not have gotten if my encounters with others only consisted of sterile greetings in restaurants or church. ¬†To this day, I offer my apartment willingly and spontaneously to anyone who needs or wants a place to stay for a couple of nights.

My mother taught me the value of inner strength. ¬†In her younger life, my mother has survived her parents’ rocky divorce and sexual assault. ¬†She has watched her five children struggle with friends and relationships and teenage angst. ¬†She has had to stand by as I got physically attacked, married to the wrong person, divorced, and moved hundreds of miles away from anyone else in the family. ¬†And yet even with all of that burden, if you were to talk to her about a problem you were having, she would listen and care and shed more than a few tears over your predicament. ¬†She never crumbles, but simply moves forward with determination.

My mother taught me the value of consistency.  She would have dinner made from scratch on the table every single night.  And every single night, barring work schedules or other scheduled events, we would eat dinner as a family.  I have no idea what we talked about during our meals, but I do remember that they happened.  This core remains unchanged now that all but one of us have left the house, and it is something I look forward to every time I go home.

My mother taught me the value of partnership. ¬†My mother is the quintessential housewife. ¬†She cooks. ¬†She cleans. ¬†She irons my dad’s shirts. ¬†She makes sure that he has meals ready when he comes home. ¬†My dad, on the other hand, is the ultimate man of the house. ¬†His business is the main source of income, and he spends his spare time fixing cars, mowing the grass, tinkering with tools, and taking out the garbage. ¬†In today’s day and age, their relationship can seem ‘unfeminist’ or ‘outdated’. ¬†But all I see is that it works. ¬†They both do what they do best, they pick up each other’s slack, and best of all, they are happy.

My mother taught me the value of unconditional love.  I have always been independent and stubborn.  While my edges have softened as I have gotten older, I am still far from what my mother would ideally have as a perfect daughter.  Yet throughout all of my childhood sass, teenage attitude, and young adult mistakes, I have never once felt unloved.  I have never once felt unsupported.  And I have never once felt like she wished I was anything other than me.

Overall, even though my mother has given me invaluable lessons, the biggest gift she has given me is simply being herself. ¬†I have never once seen her try to put on a facade, or act like she was different than who she was, or try to portray a facet of herself that wasn’t actually there. ¬†She is always¬†her, in all of her raw, messy, amazing, graceful, crying-at-the-drop-of-a-hat, stubborn, opinionated, laughing, caring, oblivious, loving glory. ¬†In a world full of smoke and mirrors, she gave me an example of true authenticity, which is more precious that all of the rubies and gold in the world. ¬†I can only hope to be half as rich as her one day.

I love you Mom.

Do YOU

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I have a million things on my mind that I want to blog about today.  And of course, knowing me, I am choosing the hardest one. But as I feel it is the most important one, here I go.

Last weekend it was pointed out to me that I have become less authentic to myself.  Not personality-wise; I am still the same positive, goofy, spontaneous, organizational freak that I always was, but I am in danger of applying other people’s ideas and life goals verbatim onto my own.  In other words, I am failing to take a step back and truly think about what I want for my life and unapologetically issue my personal stamp of approval.

Now, I feel that this happens quite a bit in life.  Parents are a big offender: Sarah wants to try to be an actress, but Mom and Dad want her to have a more stable life, so eventually Sarah takes on their thoughts and ideas as her own the more and more they preach about it, forgetting that she actually has a passion for the arts and not for inputting data.

I think the hardest culprit to discern, however, is the one that is the most subtle: the people around us whom we admire, with strong personalities and goals for their own lives who are charging full steam ahead.  Oftentimes, their belief in their personal project or path is so strong that they come across as looking down upon anyone not on that path without meaning to.

When you admire someone, you naturally want them to think highly of you.  And as the saying goes, imitation is the highest form of flattery.  But the thing is, if you are truly admiring the right people, they will want you to become the best version of yourself, not the second-best version of them.

It is only the secretly insincere individuals who crave followers; leaders want to surround themselves with leaders.

This realization that I had moved into fangirl territory was upsetting to me.  I pride myself on my strong personality, and I have always thought of myself as independent and able to carry my own torch.  The fact that I am in danger of losing my own personal vision for my life is heartbreaking.

This problem could be easily solved if I got rid of everyone in my life and had no outside people influencing me.  But that solution sucks, obviously.  No one wants to go through life alone, and it’s pretty much impossible to avoid outside forces unless you live out in the woods eating roots and berries and communing with nature.

So how do you keep those strong, admirable individuals in your life yet still stay true to your personal vision?

You have to have a personal vision.  Lately I have come to realize that thus far, I have had a vague sense of direction of where I want to go, but I have not taken the time to sit down and specifically map out what I want out of life.  As I have discussed in other posts, this is dangerous; a ship without a compass is pretty much just a bathroom toy subject to the whims of any giant two-year old splashing around in the tub.  You need to have a sense of direction, and a sense of direction only comes when you have a sense of purpose.

You need to be in tune with yourself.  People avoid actually getting to know themselves.  Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Orange is the New Black, and millions of other ways to entertain ourselves are waiting to be utilized at the snap of a finger.  Entertainment in and of itself is hardly a bad thing, but when it is used to avoid introspection and examining your life, it becomes a convenient set of blinders rather than a small moment of fun.  It is critical that you spend some time alone; not alone with your music or your books, but really, truly alone with nothing but your thoughts.  Who is this person you only slightly know as yourself?

You need to stop living in fear.  We are social beings.  We want to be liked.  And that makes us shy away from anything that may potentially end up in us being put in the outer circle of society.  But in all honesty, if you are true to YOU, people who are really true to themselves will recognize that and appreciate it, even if it is different from their truth.  If someone doesn’t care for your vision, fuck ’em.  People who don’t value an honest and true expression of intent aren’t the type of people who are worth keeping.  And it all honesty, it becomes so much easier to shed people you don’t want and attract people you do when you simply commit to your truth.

When we are not fully focused and committed to what WE want to do, we project other people’s judgement onto our lives before they even have a chance to, and for some reason allow this mythical judgement to influence us.

The cliche of ‘dancing in the mirror’ has come to represent freedom, self-expression, and self-acceptance.  It sounds hokey, but when you try it, you realize how much of yourself you are hiding from yourself.  Back in the day, I couldn’t even watch myself dancing for two seconds without being embarrassed and thinking omg, I look SO dumb and stopping–and I was alone.  There was no one to judge but me.  Why the hell did I care how dumb I looked?  I was looking at myself from an outside perspective, and I found lack because I had not embraced my inner truth that I just wanted to freakin’ dance.

When you take the time to get to know who YOU are, you become dissatisfied with becoming anything that doesn’t align with your desires for your life.  Take  the time to get to know yourself; at the end of the day, you go to your grave wrapped in solitude, and eternity is a hell of a long time to spend with a stranger.

 

Mature Communication

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Today my thoughts have been centered around communication and the vital role that it plays in every aspect of life. ¬†However, despite its crucial nature, I feel that so many people either undervalue it or simply don’t put in the effort required to make it effective.

If you want anything in life, you need to communicate that desire. ¬†When we are babies, we don’t shy away from screaming at the top of our lungs when we want food, comfort, or a diaper change. ¬†While tantrums are not the most sophisticated form of communication, they do get the point across rather effectively. ¬†As parents, we know that it can only be one of several things, and it’s a short process of trial and error before the ‘off’ button is magically found.

However, there are many people who dish out the equivalent of an child’s meltdown-screaming, silent treatments, insults-and a) they expect the individuals they are communicating with to go through the trial and error process in order to figure out what they want and b) they believe that this is an okay way to get their needs and desires across.

As adults, we need to be mature enough to admit to ourselves what we want and need, and kind enough to those around us to tell them those things in an effective manner.  It is not fair to anyone, be it a spouse/partner, friend, family member, or business associate, to expect them to figure out what the heck you are wanting.  No one should have to take on the role of Sherlock Holmes when it comes to their relationships.

So how exactly DO you communicate your feelings in an effective manner?

You need to decide first and foremost if they are feelings that actually need to be communicated. ¬†There have been several times where I get annoyed at something that someone has done and I feel like I should ‘clear the air’ or let that person know that such and such bothered me. ¬†However, if I sit on it for a bit, I am able to work through those feelings myself and avoid an unnecessary confrontation. ¬†If I had flown off the handle at the first feeling of irritation, the problem would have escalated rather than slipped silently into the abyss of “stuff that actually isn’t that important”.

If the feeling needs to be communicated, communicate it in the way that is most effective for you. ¬†For me, writing has always been how I express myself the best. ¬†In all of my relationships, the most productive conversations that I have had have started with me writing a note or an e-mail to that person. ¬†I’m not good at thinking on my feet, so taking the time to organize my thoughts in written form is extremely helpful in making sure I include everything I want to mention. ¬†In my most recent discussion, the other person responded with a voice recording because that is how HE communicates the best.

Don’t be afraid to be unconventional with how you communicate. ¬†The status quo of sitting down and hashing things out might work great for you and whoever you’re talking with—it also might cause things to escalate and completely backfire. ¬†Exchanging e-mails and voice recordings might seem weird, but for me, it works. ¬†Always go with what works for YOU.

If you are able to communicate what you need/want in a way that works for you, don’t forget to listen. ¬†Oftentimes we are so relieved to finally be able to express what has been bottled up that we completely forget that conversations are a give and take. ¬†You should want to know how the other person is feeling about what you say; perhaps there is something that you didn’t take into account, or something that they have neglected to transmit on their end.

At the end of the discussion, both parties should feel heard and feel good about the result. ¬†And if that consistently doesn’t happen, then either your communication skills need to be revamped or that relationship is simply not worth keeping. ¬†Many times people think that if there is an issue, it’s an automatic deal-breaker. ¬†For me, having issues does not discount the relationship; it’s the communication piece that reveals if it is a solid investment or not.

Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship. ¬†This includes communicating the good AND the bad. ¬†If you only communicate the positive and sweep the negative under the rug, this is like living on a diet of sugar; it’s delicious, but not life-sustaining. ¬†However, if you only focus on the bad and leave out the good, that’s akin to being on starvation rations; eventually, that relationship will look as bad as a wanna-be Instagram model.

You need to be able to communicate productively with each and every person who is in your life. ¬†If you aren’t used to conveying things in a mature manner, it can take some getting used to, but once you gather the courage to approach it head-on, the results will speak for themselves.

Don’t go through your life stuck in teenage drama mode. ¬†Figure out how you really feel, own that truth, and be able to show that to others in a way that invites quid pro quo. ¬†Resist being sucked into immature exchanges. ¬†And most of all, embrace how you feel without discounting the perception that others hold. ¬†Be bold, be aware, and be open.

Awesome Begats Awesome

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At this moment, I am sitting on my couch, basking in the memory of an incredible birthday weekend spent with people that mean the world to me, gallivanting around the southern half of California, and dancing the night away.  *sigh of contentment*

My birthday was amazing.  And if you know me, you know that I planned it out approximately 5 months in advance, invited everyone I cared about, and sent out hourly reminders until the day of.  There was no room for error, and I loved every single second.

On Sunday, I was discussing how awesome my birthday Friday was with someone, and I made the comment that it turned out great because I made sure that it turned out great, leaving no detail left to chance.

He offhandedly remarked “well yeah, but it probably had a lot more to do with being an awesome person.” *cue blush*

After my initial flattered response (sadly, it wasn’t just a compliment for me), we discussed how the people who are generally wonderful have positive and amazing things happen to them, while the people who are generally terrible have shitty and negative things happen to them.

In a phrase, you attract what you radiate.

This concept is nothing new. ¬†I have read multiple articles on the topic, sayings like “your vibe attracts your tribe” are everywhere, and people are always quick to point out how someone caused their own downfall in one way or another due to their mindset.

And yet, it is rare that people actually take this truth into consideration in their daily lives.  There are so many times that individuals see something that they want and are flabbergasted when they cannot seem to obtain it or when it does not fit into their life.  If you want something out of life, first you must become attractive to that thing.

The biggest example I can think of to illustrate this concept is our relationships with other people, both romantic and platonic.  If you as a female are attracted to strong, intellectual men yet you are a party girl who just wants to get some dranks every weekend, you will not appeal to that type of man.  If you are a male attracted to feisty, independent women, you cannot be living with your parents and crumbling to their every desire.

If you want friends who are ride or die and will be there for you no matter what happens, you have to give that to them first. ¬†If you want friends who can travel the world with you, don’t limit yourself to your high school bestie who has never left the hometown except for the occasional Christmas at Grandma’s the next state over.

People who are awesome want nothing but the highest quality out of their relationships, careers, and daily life.  They also tend to have universal traits: Kindness, passion, drive, consideration, and zest for life rarely are possessed by subpar individuals.

There are also things that could make someone extra amazing to one person, and be a total turnoff to another.  One random example of this is geekiness.  In my view, going crazy for ComicCon or the latest Star Trek movie is not my idea of impressive, and if I met a man who was obsessed with these things, I would not give him a second glance.  Yet for other women, this same trait would be their kryptonite.

Our life is created not by what we desire, but by what we offer.  There is a reason that I am not attracted to comic book nerds: I am the furthest thing from that myself.  However, if I want to attract the strong, confident, successful, fit man that I want to end up with, I have to make sure that I am embodying those things.

Now, people constantly change, and there is nothing wrong with desiring more than what we can give at the time, but if you are not making strides towards closing the gap, that opportunity or relationship will drift away.

If an opportunity or a person shows potential, it’s worth it to explore it to the fullest. ¬†However, nothing will come to you with its potential fully realized, gracefully draping its fully bloomed self across your lap. ¬†Anything that seems like it could lead to the Realm of Awesome will take effort.

 

This is why potential without action is useless.  There is everything right with seeing true potential inside or outside of yourself.  There is everything wrong with simply sitting back and expecting great things to happen with no effort.

If I had not taken the time to plan out my birthday to the tiniest minute details, who knows what could have gone wrong or what expectations might have been crushed.  However, because I acknowledged my own desires and took action to make it happen, I got to enjoy a magnificent day.

Every single person has the potential to be someone AWESOME.  But just as a medieval fire would not start without the action of striking flint to stone, your potential for awesome will not alight without you taking strides to make it happen.

Take time to cultivate the impressive parts of yourself. ¬†Devote energy into investing in you. ¬†And when you decide to fully hit the road to Awesome, you’ll find it’s quite easy to link up with others on that same journey on your way. ¬†And once that happens, who knows what other amazing, breathtaking, wondrous things are waiting to transpire?

 

 

My Eye of the Storm

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Right now, it feels like my life is one giant chaotic hurricane. ¬†I am in the process of looking for another ‘just-in-case’ job. ¬†I am trying to find a temporary place to live. ¬†I have massive amounts of grading to do. ¬†I myself have to write several letters of recommendation for teachers in my department that are possible laid off as well. ¬†I am in charge of a million different things at my school, all of which seemed to have events this month. ¬†GAH!

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to write my usual two posts a week. ¬†Sitting down now, I was just about to start in on my work when I took a pause, and reminded myself:

It will get done.

It doesn’t matter if I take an hour or two to write this post. ¬†I know myself, and I will handle my responsibilities like I always do. ¬†However, if I don’t take time to do things for myself during periods of high demand, that’s when the possibility of failure becomes real.

Humans are tricky beings.  Sometimes, the very thing that seems to create the most productivity (grind grind grind!) is the very act that leads to our downfall.

We are not meant to push ourselves to the absolute limit each and every day.  We can do it for a period of time, but eventually, progress crashes to a halt.

I’ve had to learn this the hard way with working out. ¬†I thought that if I worked out three times a day and ate next to nothing, I would drop weight like a player drops an old fling. ¬†Lies. ¬†The scale would not budge, and it actuall shot up whenever I didn’t stick to my iron regimen. ¬†Now that I’m eating a normal amount of food and working out once a day, I am actually seeing results.

That’s not to say that there can’t be periods of time where you need to hit the gas over a longer span of time. ¬†However, if we make that our go to MO, it will catch up to us eventually.

When our life becomes highly chaotic, that is when we most need to take the time to center ourselves and take the steps necessary to clear the cobwebs from our head.

But, these also have to be purposeful moments.  A lot of the time we push ourselves so hard that our recovery is sitting on the couch watching TV or going out and binge-drinking.  This is not actual recovery time, because it does nothing to re-energize you.  Every time I waste an entire night watching TV, I feel annoyed with myself for not getting SOMETHING done.

The goal of taking time off should be to advance something that you and only you will benefit from (which will lead into peripheral benefits for others). ¬†This is proven time and time again by mothers who ‘selfishly’ take an hour for themselves to work out, and instantly see the positive impact this purposeful time makes in their day to day lives.

Many people might say that taking time off to be productive defeats the purpose of taking time off.  However, the end goal of time off should be an increase in enjoyment and re-solidification of your purpose.

Think back to the times when you were the most happy.  For me, those times include being with the people I love and care about, reading a great book, or working out.  All of those things, besides giving me contentment, move me towards a personal goal.

There is also a flip side to this coin. ¬†If you are a person who doesn’t push themselves at all, in any capacity, or for any purpose, you are failing yourself. ¬†If your whole life is simply floating in a giant inner-tube being pulled every which way by the current, this is a waste.

Every person is given the chance to make their life purposeful.  The awesome and intimidating reality of this is that you get to choose your purpose.  And the scarier part is, it might not be the same as the people next to you.

Humans are not solitary creatures by nature, and it is very easy to look to someone stronger than you and emulate their life and projected purpose.  It gives us a feeling of safety when we see other people doing the same thing.

However, the beautiful thing about life is that there are no two people who are on the same journey.  If you have truly solidified where you want to go, and actively work towards that goal on a day to day basis, there is an inner sense of contentment that no one can take away from you.

Passionately be at the helm of your own ship. ¬†The entire world is lounging before us, and no matter where you intend to end up, it’s always more rewarding if you earnestly battled the storms and Kraken’s to get there. ¬†You are not a message in a bottle waiting to be drifted to a foreign land. ¬†An epic journey awaits you if you simply pull out your sword and bravely unfurl the sails.

 

 

 

Be F*cking Nice

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Today, I was the recipient of pure, unconniving, good ol’ hometown nice.

I found a desk that I wanted to get on Craigslist yesterday, but I lacked the space in my tiny Nissan Versa to move it. ¬†I posted a message on Facebook asking if anyone had a truck or an SUV they would be willing to let me borrow, but made plans to rent a Uhaul as I wasn’t really expecting anyone to respond.

Lo and behold, a guy I haven’t spoken to in quite a while commented that he had a truck and was willing to help! ¬†I texted him and arranged the time; he drove me to the place where the desk was, helped me load it, and gave me a hand bringing it in to my apartment. ¬†When I offered him payment for his gas and time, he refused and said “nah, it’s just what nice, normal people do.

How refreshing is that?

He had zero agenda.  He did not benefit from the exchange at all.  And yet, he gave his time and assistance in spite of the lack of reward.

I follow CEO Andy Frisella on Facebook, and a couple days ago he posted the following:

Be fucking nice.

Its not that hard.

You never know the impact a simple gesture can make on someone.

A hello.

Holding the door for someone.

Complimenting someone (with out an agenda)

There are a million ways to help people…and sometimes the simplest are the best.

Give people faith in humanity through your daily actions. Its good for both of you.

I love this post.  So much so that I stole part of it for my title.

It is admirable to be a driven, goal-oriented person.  Sometimes, however, the same people who are galvanized to succeed are also the people who brush past the niceties in order to drive hard for the prize.  This tunnel vision is great at times for getting results, but it sucks for creating relationships.  And relationships are what push you past the finish line those crucial .2 seconds before the competition.

Case in point, if you have equal¬†on-paper qualifications and an equivalent success track record as someone who is gunning for the same position or sale as you, but you’re a bitch/dick/unpleasant, it will go to the nice one every. single. time. ¬†Humans don’t want to be around horrible people (even if they are a horrid specimen themselves).

Nice has gotten a bad reputation. ¬†So many individuals think that “nice” is a synonym for weak. ¬†Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Try doing someone a favor when you are exhausted and all you want to do is sit at home in silence. ¬†Try holding a pleasant conversation for a couple of minutes with someone you secretly can’t stand. ¬†Try to compromise on something when the outcome actually affects you.

Yeah.  Not weak.  Not weak at all.

Sometimes, being nice is a task accomplished by those with only the most impressive store of willpower and inner strength.

Growing up in the Midwest, I was saturated with nice throughout my entire childhood. ¬†Neighbors stopped in randomly to chit chat. ¬†Checking out at the grocery store always included a “have a great day!” from the cashier. ¬†The mail lady bought our pet rocks that we were selling on the side of the road. ¬†To me, nice was simply normal.

In today’s world (or maybe it’s just anywhere outside of the Minnesota bubble), being nice is viewed as an anomaly rather than the status quo. ¬†I have never had so many people comment on how “nice” I am more than I have in the 2.5 years I have lived here. ¬†It’s something people notice and appreciate, especially when it’s atypical.

Now, to play devil’s advocate, one cannot go out of their way to be nice all of the time, or nothing personal will ever get accomplished. ¬†There comes a point when your actions can cross over from nice to doormat. ¬†That being said, when it costs to you nothing to lend a helping hand or give of your attention except a little bit of time or effort, just do it.

The world is one big mirror that gleefully reflects every single thing you show it.  Is the universe displaying positivity?  Are doors opening for you?  Do you step outside into a playground of friendliness and possibility?  Or, is the galaxy one swirling dark mass of negativity and suffering, with walls rising in every direction and people slamming into your shoulder as they rush past with their hat pulled low and their collar pulled high?

You have the power to create a little bit of beauty multiple times a day.  The more times you take the opportunity to be nice, the more times the world will bring nice to you.

The guy who helped me move my desk today?  I became friends with him after I offered to help him push his truck into the garage when I saw him struggling to do it himself.  You never know when your acts of kindness will come back to benefit you, but I can promise you, they will come back.  It might not be the next day or even the next year, but eventually, the tiny seeds of positivity that you plant will bloom, and the winds of life will blow those second-generation seeds back into your own garden right when you need them.

So really, what do you have to lose? ¬†Go ahead–pull on your overalls, grab a shovel and hose, and¬†plant nice.