We all seek it, but what is it? What is true happiness? It can have a different meaning for so many of us, someone once told me : " To live in the past makes you depressed, to live constantly thinking about the future causes anxiety, but to live in the moment....that is happiness". Think about it, doesn't that make total sense? So simple, but so true. If I just focus on what's in front of me at this moment....my old little laptop, my groovy tunes playing on Spotify (and some annoying construction noises outside my window....NYC) then all is good in this world. Nobody's life is perfect, despite what their Instagram or Facebook page claims to prove (does anyone even use Facebook anymore?). Everyday stressors are part of life, what matters is how we deal with them. How we train our minds to handle them.
As I'm writing this I hear the news of Kate Spade. Sometimes life can get so overwhelming that we can't see clear and don't see a way out. If you're in this position, PLEASE, PLEASE reach out to a trusted friend or family member. If you can't there is ALWAYS someone there to listen, here is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline : 1-800-273-8255/ 1-800-273 TALK they are available 24/7 at no cost and with complete confidence that your information will NOT be shared with anyone you don't want it shared with. If you know of anyone who needs help, you don't have to be a mental health professional to help someone who is struggling. #bethe1to help someone in crisis. Go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org to find out how you can help.
Here are some tips on how to achieve happiness everyday.
Begin and end your day everyday being grateful for what you do have and for what you have accomplished. For many that could even be making it out of bed in the morning, for many don't have that luxury. Think about it. Focus on the positive and be truly thankful for it, and see how you feel. Trust me, you will start to see your life differently. If you have to write it down to see it, do it. Sometimes having something tangible is just that little extra you need to remind yourself that you did have some gains in your day.
"It's not happiness that brings us gratitude, it's gratitude that brings us happiness."
2. Be of service
This doesn't mean to give up your life and become Mother Teresa. Not at all, if you love to volunteer as I have through life...do it. It's almost selfish sometimes how good I feel after knowing I helped someone in need. You take the focus off yourself and your stresses. Swipe someone into the subway, buy a stranger lunch, ask the tourist with the open map in his hands and bewildered look on his face if you can help him find his way....however small or big your act of service or kindness is it comes back to you tenfold. I dare you to try it.
"In my life I've learned that true happiness comes from giving. Helping others along the way makes you evaluate who you are. I think that love is what we're all searching for. I haven't come across anyone who didn't become a better person through love." maria gibbs
This to me was a game changer. Living your life with a purpose can undoubtedly bring you happiness. Another piece of advice I was given was : "To be happy you need 3 things a. Someone to love b. Something to do. c. Something to look forward to. "
Someone to love: We ALL have someone or some people that we love, even if it's our loyal pet.
Something to do: This is important. "An idle mind is the devils workshop" my mom would say. It's true, we can get caught up in our minds and our negativity. If we keep busy, whether it be a job, a hobby or meeting up with friends for a run or a class to learn something new...we have very little time to think about unhappy thoughts. There are so many times that I felt down and forced myself outside the door, only to be pleasantly surprised at the beauty the day had given me.
Something to look forward to: This one couldn't be more true for me and my little wanderlust heart. Nothing makes me happier then planning a trip, whether it be local, domestic or international. I go into detective mode looking for all the hidden spots to view, eat and stay! It has gotten me out of so many dark times in my life. Whether is was an argument with a boyfriend, a break up or the loss of a loved one...planning a trip always gives me hope for the future. It doesn't have to be travel for everyone, it could be an evening with friends doing nothing but sitting around the house enjoying a glass of wine and catching up over a homemade meal made with love. Walking out the door and finally checking out that museum you have been wanting to visit in years (Please visit The Cloisters if you're in NYC, and thank me later!) or setting up that spa appointment you have been meaning to make but haven't. Which brings me to.
4. Self Care
I am guilty of skimping on this piece of advice, but after 4 months of recovery as a result of not practicing self care....you bet I learned my lesson! As we become adults and responsibilities start to build, we can be easily stretched beyond our limits. We put others needs above our own and end up resenting them for it, not the healthiest way to go through life. An important lesson is learning to say "no". I have always been "yes" girl. When I was in school and working 2 or 3 jobs I would never turn down an opportunity to have some fun. I probably should have. I skimped on sleep, a healthy diet and exercise and would go through my days running on fumes (and sugar free red bull). We have all been guilty of that, only it lasted until about a year ago or so ago for me. Living in NYC where the opportunities for fun are almost endless you can REALLY do some damage. I had to put my FOMO in check. I can't be everywhere and see everything, it was a hard pill to swallow. I can say I'm much happier now, picking and choosing what I want to spend my time and energy on. Getting a full nights rest should be a non negotiable. No matter what, get your rest. You want to talk about not being happy? Try me after I've gotten woken up 3 times through the night and then had to work a 12 hour shift. No bueno my friend. Not only will it ruin your mood, it can run havoc on your overall health. Just ask a cardiologist. Diet, now I could write a whole other blog post about this....but a hangry guy or girl is not someone you want to be around...or, how blissful are you going to be when you have massive heart burn due to making poor choices with your diet earlier in the day and now you are trying to fall asleep? Make your health your priority and happiness is just a byproduct of doing right by you.
5. Meditation and Yoga
Meditation has been a great tool. I'm an anxiety prone individual and taking a few minutes a day to stop, breathe and focus has done me a world of good. I HIGHLY recommend it. If you're not sure how to start or don't want to go to a studio, I recommend Headspace. It is a very user friendly app that has the most soothing, sexy voice guiding you through your meditations. If that's not an incentive, I don't know what is.
I also LOVE being out in nature. The ocean and the mountains are my happy places. Come Summer and Fall it is very hard to keep me indoors. Last Fall I spent 12 hours roaming through the forest alone on a single day, not once afraid of a Blair Witch Project situation.....I was in heaven! Came to find out there is such a thing as forest bathing, which is a type of therapy that was developed in Japan in the 80s. It's a thing people! A very good thing! I felt like a new woman after that day in the forest. I wrote a blog about my Fall experience here in New York and New Hampshire if you want to check it out!... The ocean! For almost my entire life I have lived by the ocean, if that says anything to you about how important the ocean is for me. Nothing makes me happier then spending a day under a blue sky in the sand listening to waves crashing and the sun kissing my skin. If in warm waters, like the Caribbean or Hawaii....it will be hard to pull me out of the water. There are many health benefits to spending time in nature, but that will be for another post. Yoga is also a practice that really helps keep you centered, quiets the mind and builds a strong body. I'm one of those restless minds always going and doing 5 things at once. I really loved my practice in San Diego at Sol Yoga and it has been hard for me to find a comparable studio here in NYC. I'm sure I'm just not looking hard enough, but if any of you know of a place here in the city...help a sister out! Practicing yoga can be life changing for someone like myself. I loved when my instructor started class with an intention, almost always matching what I was looking for or wanted to achieve that day. It feels good to take care of your body and to take that time for yourself to focus and block the world out for a little while.
I hope this helps you navigate finding happiness a little bit easier. We all have our days, but if you keep a positive outlook and take part in any of the tid bits I shared above.....you can't help but turn that day around. Even when you get called a slut by a homeless man for absolutely no reason at 3 am after he threatened to cut you with a can of soda. True story....ask my sister. We laughed about it minutes later inside a pizza shop as we enjoyed our slices! I still love you New York (staying positive) :) Have a wonderful week my friends....and don't worry be happy.
Good vibes always!