I actually am happy.

A question was posted on a hooping forum I am member of. The question was: ” Are you happy?  No seriously?Are you  happy?”

My answer seemed like something I might as well  share here as well as on the board.

” I am happy. Not always of course, sometimes I get kind of down, sad or angry, but it generally passes quickly and I’m back to my baseline state of happy. I’m not all and rainbows and puppies, but there are moments- many moments lately when I’m not just happy, I’m joyful and I actually feel like I might just explode into confetti sparkles. I really try not to be nauseating about it, but I’m sure I’ve annoyed people who don’t want happiness around them.

It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to this place though. A lot of self discovery, a lot of introspection and dealing with old emotions that I had just ignored at the time. Lots of (don’t laugh, it was pretty helpful) inner child work, lots of journaling, meditation, prayer, physical activity,  lots of work on identifying what I actually wanted out of life and then manifesting that. I read hundreds of self help books, I’ve gone on lots of retreats and workshops.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned about happiness for me is that I am the one who is responsible for my own happiness. No one else is. I get to choose how I react to every single event, every moment of my life. I might as well choose to be happy and to make choices that make me happy.  Now, I know that if you are chemically depressed it’s not as easy as just this, but it still comes down to making choices and taking personal responsibility for your life.

You create your reality with your thoughts. If you think life sucks, it will. The more you love life, the more it will love you back. It is the law of attraction, the secret… whatever you call it, we live the life we think of.

Whatever you think of comes back to you… If you focus on the crap, what you lack, what sucks and what has made you unhappy in the past, you just wind up attracting more of it into your life. It sounds so trite, but there really is something to the whole positive thinking jazz.

You can train your brain, and choose your thoughts. It’s really tough at first, but you can use things like meditation and NLP (neurolinguistic programming) to change your thought patterns and put them under your control. Then, you can consciously create your reality. Gratitude is one of the most powerful ways of cultivating thing. Practicing gratitude automatically changes your thoughts and will actually change your life. After awhile it becomes a habit and things start to get crazy wonderful when you are grateful for everything that is.

Once you’d created happy, healthy thought habits, you have the power to create the life that makes you happy. You get to choose happiness in every moment.

Barney Stinson said it best. “One morning I woke up and I was sad, and then I decided to be awesome instead. True story!”

After years of learning how, I can finally do this and it’s more rewarding that I can even explain.
Life becomes awesome at a whole ‘nother level.

Get Rid Of Things That Suck

Sounds obvious right?

But how often do we hang onto physical and emotional crap that drains our energy?

We feel best when our energy flows freely. When we can receive energy properly, from the air, food, our environment, people around us etc, and when we can expend our energy without being blocked (by people, circumstances, etc).

When we have too much  physical clutter around us, it’s stressful. It doesn’t allow energy in a place to move around effectively or naturally. I don’t know much about Feng Shui, but I do know that clutter leads to blocked Chi (energy).

Physical clutter also leads to more mental clutter. Our outside world tends to reflect our inside world and vice versa. There is a biofeedback between them, and we can approach clutter clearing from either direction.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to clear physical clutter. Gretchen Rubin from ‘The Happiness Project” (blog and book) devotes a month to clearing clutter away. She organized closets, got rid of junk, basically just cleaned everything up, and she felt amazing. Lighter, clearer. Physically and spiritually. I’ve gotten this de-cluttering high myself. It’s hard to get started, but incredibly rewarding.

A more difficult kind of clutter clearing is to get rid of the less tangible energy suckers. Friends or acquaintances who are energy vampires, taking and never giving anything back to you. Obligations you said yes to that take up your time and energy that don’t give you much if anything in return.  If you are already stuck in situations like this, how do you rid yourself of these sucky things?

Well, the first step is to avoid taking on anything else that will drain your energy unnecessarily. Learn to say no (in a pleasant way). It’s not mean, it’s taking care of yourself, so you have more energy to give to the people and projects that you are passionate about.  If you’ve been saying yes to everything people ask of you, it can be difficult and scary to set boundaries up for yourself like this. Just remember, you don’t owe people an in depth explanation as to why you can’t volunteer for your cousin’s charity dinner/silent auction. Just give them your best wishes.

Recently, I was getting bogged down by a lot of negativity online. It was starting to affect my mood, and I decided to protect myself. I’ve hidden friends on facebook who constantly had negative status updates. I’ve de-friended a few of the worst offenders. I’ve taken a break from a few message boards. I’ve spent more time writing, exercising and just being outside. Doing things that re-charge me instead of suck my energy.

I stopped watching the news and reading the daily paper a few years ago, when I noticed how much it affected my blood pressure, my mood and my energy. I read headlines as I walk past paper boxes, and I check google new every once in awhile, but I refuse to be immersed in it. I’ve been told it’s cowardly and of no use to stick my head in the sand, but you know what? I’m happier this way. I still know what’s going on in the world, and I’ll research stories that seem particularly relevant or interesting, but I’m not constantly being bombarded with messages that the world is an awful place of pain. Because of that, I have more energy to be positive and to spread love and light to those I encounter, which goes far further than improving the state of the world than just worrying about it ever will.

Thoughts Become Words, Words Become Deeds…

Mahatma Ghandi

Keep your thoughts positive,
because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive,
because your words become your behaviours.
Keep your behaviours positive,
because your behaviours become your habits.
Keep your habits positive,
because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive,
because your values become your destiny.

~ Gandhi ~

These words showcase the importance of positive thinking.  Your thoughts directly create your reality. They create you as a person. All of you. Your destiny, as Ghandi said.

You determine your destiny.

If you think your life sucks, it will. If you love life, it loves you back.

I am blessed because it’s always been easy for me to see the bright side to things. A friend of mine once told me one of my superpowers was to see the silver lining in anything.

I know it’s not that always that easy. In fact, sometimes it seems darned near impossible to feel good about life. To think positively and be happy.

The key is to keep trying. It’s like anything, it gets easier the more you do it. Like Ghandi says thoughts and words and deeds lead to habit. Once it becomes a habit, it becomes far easier to flip back into a more positive frame of mind.

That’s because our thoughts and emotions literally become easier to think when they are habitual. Physically, I mean. The more you do something, or think something or feel something- the more you do it. Our thought patterns become a habit just brushing your teeth. Because it’s those thought habits that actually create those physical habits.  This is how neurolinguistic programing works. By creating new thought habits.

You’ve heard before that the only thing you can control in life is your reaction to it. It’s true and it all comes down to how you frame your perspective. Negatively or positively.

Any negative event or crisis can be the catalyst for something incredibly positive. Something that seems like a dream come true could turn out to be a nightmare.

Imagine a friend getting fired. Seems like the worst thing in the world, completely unfair and ridiculous. But it turns out it gives your friend the opportunity they’ve been waiting for to go back to school to study Architecture, their dream.  A shift in perception, seeing the opportunity in crisis, allows events to be a vehicle for growth and change.

If you can manage it, next time life throws something that seems to suck your way, imagine for a moment what good could from it. What kind of opportunity?

My silver lining powers lead me to point out the silver linings in (appropriate) situations. You tell me it sucks gas is so expensive, I’ll reply: at least it has people thinking about their fuel consumption. You see more people biking, walking and taking transit because of it.

I know this positivity can get on people’s nerve. I understand. I just can’t help it. It’s a habit!

Changing My Perspective

I am usually a really, really positive person.

I’ve been told my super power is to find a silver lining in any dark cloud. It is true that I can find a positive spin for absolutely anything, but every once  in a while I give in to circumstances and allow myself to feel crappy. It’s partly laziness,  sometimes feeling hard done by because things didn’t go exactly as I expected them to and sometimes it’s just me being too dang hard on myself.

Once I start the negative self talk “This is stupid… This is unfair… I’m gonna get sick… I’m gonna get fat after eating all that….”,  I create that reality for myself. Whatever I’m saying is exactly what happens. It spirals, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and leads to more and more negativity.

Fortunately for me, these moods never last long. A day or two max. Unfortunately for me, I realize the whole time that I am choosing my narrative, and that the negativity is simply indulgence. That adds some extra guilt to the whole package ’cause I know all it would take to pull myself up and out of the hole is a change in my perspective.

It takes some practice, but we are able to control our thoughts, which in turn control our emotions, bodies, actions and even our deeds.  Seriously, there is something to this whole ‘positive thinking’ thing people go on about. It also works in the other direction. Your actions and bodies can change your emotions and thoughts as well. For example, if you fake smile  or laugh when you are feeling down  you will actually start to feel better. There is a biofeedback between your body and brain that works almost like magic.

This is the main idea behind the science of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), which literally means programing your neural pathways with your words.  People have been using words, mantras,  affirmations, incantations and all other manner of words with focused intention behind them, to change or create a certain feeling, emotion or reality for a millenia. There is actually a science behind it. NLP explains the physiological process involved and some amazing quantum physics (outside the scope of this post) explain the how.

But regardless of how it works, I do know affirmations change our thought patterns and in turn create our reality.

My affirmations for this week are:

I am healthy, happy and whole.

I am peaceful and joyful in every moment.

I am unfazed by the little irritations that life brings.

I bring joy, light and love to every situation I encounter.

I am patient.

I practice loving kindness and compassion with myself and all others beings I encounter.

I am love.

What affirmations will change your perspective today?