All Articles Tagged "happiness"
Worry is one of our least productive emotions. Not only does it make you feel terrible (and give you worry lines), it doesn’t help you solve your problems. In fact, it can make them seem even bigger than they actually are. Unfortunately, for most of us, worrying and complaining is natural: The day is not long enough, we’re stressed out, and our to-do list just keeps getting longer.
So how do you give yourself some space to relax? Sometimes it’s as easy as turning all of that worry and negative energy into action. Simply switching your focus to a creative and positive head space to solve the problem when you have something bad to say about it can change your outlook — and the things about your life that are getting on your last nerve.
From problematic boyfriends to salaries that seem too low, here are all of the struggles we can shake off and stop complaining about right now.
Life is short. Live each day to the fullest. Life isn’t about how many breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away. We’re all familiar with these cliché, but loaded, phrases. They speak volumes to how we should model our lives, even if we hear them more times than we’d like to and often times when we’re not in the mood to hear them.
Up until recently, these phrases were simply mottos, words that I spewed out when I’d decided abruptly to try and get my sh*t together for the umpteenth time. But after having to make some serious decisions about my life as of late, these words have become so much more. After meditating, praying, and reading tons of self-help books, I’ve begun implementing these things in my life to make the rest of my life, the best of my life. Here are some of the things I’ve learned.
By Kasey Woods
I’m not in control of my happiness. That is the theory that I accepted for a very long time.
It appeared that whenever things were going too well, for too long, some unknown force would ultimately descend upon me and effortlessly snatch away any feelings of well-being I was experiencing. I attributed this abduction of my happiness to the fact that I had merely exceeded my “happiness quota.” Essentially, the universe just wasn’t going to let me get too happy. I deduced that I had a happiness limit and if I came too close to that limit, or God forbid exceeded it, the universe would be forced to cut me down to size, humble me and remind me who was in charge.
Believe me, I had very good reasons to believe this far-fetched theory. One example of an swift and forceful response to an overabundance of happiness happened in March of 2012. During the first few months of 2012, things had been going very well for me: my career was zooming forward at the speed of light, I was six months pregnant and excited to meet my new bundle of joy, and my personal relationships were flourishing. Things were going really well. But as usual, this feeling of “well-being” would prove to be short-lived.
I remember commenting to a friend that I sensed I was getting too close to my “happiness quota.” “You know, things can’t be too good for too long,” I told her. She scoffed at me and replied that I was just being paranoid, (I mean who really believes that their happiness is rationed out by some mythical energy source that rules the universe? … Me, that’s who.)
Within a week of that ominous conversation, the biggest life-changing incident that has ever happened in my life took place. I accidentally ran over my then two-year-old daughter with the family car and was subsequently run over myself after throwing my six month pregnant body under the vehicle in an effort to save her.
This horrific accident not only put me well below my perceived quota, it left a far greater impact on my life. Happiness seemed to eluded me. Though my daughter made a complete recovery (after days in the ICU and numerous fractures and bruises) and my unborn child was born beautiful and healthy as well, that incident implanted doubt and fear as my new constant companions. My daughter’s life was almost lost due to my negligence and my psyche responded with almost OCD like tendencies. I would check, recheck, and check again to make sure that my children were present and accounted for when in the car, even if I understood that I had taken all the appropriate safety precautions a mere seconds earlier. Anytime I was away from them I was preoccupied with wondering if they were OK. I began to have frequent and brutal panic attacks that came and went as they pleased.
Eventually, with therapy and a great life coach, I was able to come out of that space. Through intense counseling I have learned that I was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a common reaction to a situation as awful as what I had experienced. That situation also “turned up” my current bipolar disorder symptoms, which at the time were undiagnosed. The effects of trauma on your mental health are well documented and something that today I know a great deal about.
Through it all, the greatest lesson that I learned was that I deserved to be happy; that my happiness doesn’t have a cap. After the hard work and dedication to my mental health that I had to commit to, I finally understood that there’s work necessary sometimes to be happy and content. No, it wasn’t easy pulling myself out of that slump but if I allowed myself to stay in that space I would certainly still be there now. Once I accepted that there was no theoretical force keeping my joy at bay, it was easier to also accept that the only thing keeping me from being happy was me.
Ish Happens!! It’s how you react to these occurrences that makes the difference. I now recognize that the lows that regularly came soon after my highs were in part due to an undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and that the chronic sadness that always triumphed over spurts of happiness was in fact depression.
Sometimes life has a way of making us believe that everything is working against us. We believe that we are not worthy of the good things that life has to offer. For years I truly believed that there was a finite limit to my happiness. Today I live by the motto: no one can want something for you more than you want it for yourself. With this in mind I have thrown away the notion of a happiness quota. I want limitless happiness. I want to end the fear that has historically preempted the happy moments in my life, and I now command my journey to be one of unbounded joy and optimism. I accept my role in achieving such a feat and I revel in the notion of grasping happiness and not letting go. I implore you to do the same.
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How happy are you with the state of your life right now? Very happy? Happy? Unhappy? Or just feeling “aight”?
I think I’m in the latter group. I had an epiphany of sorts over the weekend about my pursuit of happiness. I realized that despite the many things I have to celebrate, for some reason, I can’t say that I’m currently that happy with the state of my life right now. I’m not happy with wedding planning, with the ups and downs of work, with the mouse situation in my home (which is supposed to be my sanctuary), with my financial situation, and with some of my friends and sometimes, my family. I’m not depressed, but rather, ridiculously stressed. Maybe you can relate.
I didn’t really confront this until my pastor, after reading Phillippians 4:10-14, asked everyone a simple question: How happy are you right now? The whole sermon was to offer you the story of Paul, how he was able to be optimistic while facing what seemed like insurmountable trials, and how we can be happy where we currently are. And while I left church feeling good, feeling optimistic, I went through a series of unfortunate events as the day went on that reminded me of how unhappy I really am. From losing my brand new monthly MetroCard ($116 down the drain) and realizing I really couldn’t afford to buy another one, crying at brunch with my sister while talking about wedding planning woes, to having awakenings about the people I call my friends, it was quite the struggle. By the end of the night, after speaking with my best friend, fiancée, and mother, I realized that despite smiling and trying to be a more positive person and wanting to exude that, I don’t fill myself with that positivity.
And I think it’s because I let so much of what happens around me, or sometimes, to me, affect me. To the point that I didn’t realize I’ve been fighting just to maintain a sense of peace, albeit unsuccessfully. I put too many expectations on the people around me, and when they don’t live up to them, I’m left feeling like I’ve been deserted. I let too many people tell me what expectations they have for me and my wedding. I let people tell me years worth of work isn’t good enough despite all it took to do it and what came from it. I let the negativity on social media and the inconsequential sh-t consume my thoughts, and when people around me act like assholes, I temporarily think it’s cute to stoop to their level, only to feel bad about it later. When I make efforts while others do nothing, I’m left wondering why incessantly. What goes on around me always tends to leave me questioning and being too hard on myself. So as my mother instructed me to do, I’m going to do a better job of removing myself from negative spaces and situations. And working on filling myself with whatever it is I’m looking for from others.
So, aside from using it for work purposes, I’m taking a break from social media. When I want to be nosey about what’s going on in people’s lives, I’m going to start ignoring celebrities and instead, call and have direct interactions with my close friends and family. The people who I have been saying for months I can’t seem to find time to interact with, despite finding time at the end of the night to flip through Instagram.
I’m going to fill myself with more positive affirmations and know that whatever positive things happen to other people I should applaud, and not compare to my own position.
I’m going to focus on the things that matter instead of dwelling on the petty. Save money towards things of long-term importance instead of going broke trying to keep up with the Joneses (that includes in my wedding planning).
I’m going to concentrate on the things and people that help to make me happy. Push myself to go to my weekly yoga classes and free my mind even when I’d rather stay in the house and eat Doritos.
I’m going to a better job of identifying what I’m feeling. Whatever I’m feeling I’m going to accept, acknowledge, find out what’s causing it, and move forward instead of dwelling.
And I’m going to do a better job of doing all the things that I’ve read, both online and in the Bible, that help to bring happiness. From focusing on my relationship with God (if you don’t believe, I’m not judging you, but please don’t come for my faith please and thank you!) and my blessings (and where I could be), to giving back, working out like a fool when I’m feeling the weight of stress, getting more sleep, and more than anything, reminding myself that joy shouldn’t come from the world. I shouldn’t let the things that happen outside of me impact what goes on inside of me. If that is the case, I’ll always be at the mercy of the shenanigans of others.
Of course, this is an ongoing process, getting back to happy. And honestly, I already know it’s going to take some time. But I feel like this is what I’m meant to do this year. Because it’s important for me to be able to confidently say that I am happy, and know the smile on my face is as real as the happiness I’m feeling within. Until then…
Self-preservation is a behavior that ensures the survival of an organism.
Like the girl group Destiny’s Child once sang, “I’m a survivor, I’m not going to give up, I’m not going to stop. I’m going to work harder. I’m a survivor, I’m going to make it. I will survive and keep on surviving.” Or like Gloria Gaynor sang it in1978, “I will survive. I will survive. Hey Hey!”
Black women have been self-preserving since the beginning of time.
The skeleton of Lucy are the oldest bones ever found. Scientifically speaking, her existence dates back to 3.2 million years ago. Lucy is not just the oldest woman on record, but she is also a Black woman and evidence of our innate ability to self-preserve. Like Robin Harris notated in the film Bebe’s Kids, “we don’t die. we multiply.”
In America alone, African Americans are a community of 42 million people strong predominantly descending from 450,000 chattel slaves transported during the transatlantic slave trade. Even when we were in bondage, raped, and degraded to a level as low as 3/5ths human, Black women put their emotions and feelings of worthlessness aside to still love their spouses and offspring for the purpose of community and self-preservation. But is surviving enough? Is being magical with limited resources enough? Should we continue to put aside how we feel for the betterment of the whole? What will it take for us to move past being strong survivors to happy and fulfilled? How can we as Black women not only survive but thrive?
This is #BlackGirlMagic Defined (Pt. 3): Surviving Vs. Thriving And The Happy Black Woman.
In our heart of hearts, Black women are givers. We give all we have to those we love, and when we have nothing left to give we find a way to make some more. Then, we give that away too. This is #Blackgirlmagic defined at its best! Black women are selfless beings. We find joy in giving all our love to our husbands, partners, children, families, and friends. But who loves us and gives to us? It seems as if all we have done is survived, we have not as a whole progressed, evolved, or thrived. How do we preserve our own wellbeing too?
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
– Maya Angelou
According to Merriam-Webster, to thrive means to grow or develop well. To thrive is to prosper and flourish. It is not enough to wake-up every day, to eat, to maintain a roof over ones head, to put clothes on one’s back, to work, and to have energy to love others. This is just surviving. These are the basics. To thrive is to do all of the above and enjoy your life and the company you keep while doing so. Are we thriving as Black women?
I know that we are working hard. I know that we are paying bills. I know that we are independent goal achievers and/or multi-tasking lover mothers, but are we happy? I took a poll amongst friends while researching for this piece. How would you describe #Blackgirlmagic?
Strong, resilient, beautiful, smart, sexy, bold, audacious, ambitious, God-fearing or loving, these were the words that came up repeatedly. What’s missing? Happy, excited, adventurous, joyful, fun, funny, no one mentioned these words.
I’d like to end this three-part series with a call-to-action. We know that we can survive. We know that we can overcome any obstacle put in our way. We know that we can raise children and love lovers into magical unicorn human beings who defy odds and champion success, but what about our dreams and smiles and visions. We’ve done all this with a glass half-full. We’ve been sacrificing our own feelings and wellbeing to win the war. In 2016, it’s time to get our happy back and thrive. Then we will be able to teach our lovers and children how to do the same.
Just imagine, if #BlackGirlMagic Defined meant happy. We’ve done everything else. It’s time to put our love, self-love, on top.
Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience. She resides in Philadelphia, Pa with her Husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace. Clarissa is also an expert in impact investing. She is the Communications Associate at Impact America Fund.
Nothing can shake up an otherwise wonderful marriage like financial distress. The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysis cites “money issues” as the third leading cause of divorce. However, financial difficulty doesn’t have not have to mean that the end is near for you and your sweetie.
According to a recent study, which was published in the Journal of Personal Relationships, simple expressions of gratitude have the power to “protectively buffer marital quality from the negatives effects of financial stress.”
“We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,” said the study’s co-author Ted Futris, who is an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Data for the study was collected through a telephone survey during which 468 married individuals were quizzed about their financial well-being, expressions of spousal gratitude and demand/withdrawal communication. Researchers found that expressed gratitude between spouses was “the most consistent significant predictor of marital quality.”
“It goes to show the power of ‘thank you,'” said the study’s lead author Allen Barton, who is a postdoctoral research associate at UGA’s Center for Family Research. “Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes.”
Perhaps a “thank-you” per day helps to keep the divorce attorney away?
“Importantly, we found that when couples are engaging in a negative conflict pattern like demand/withdrawal, expressions of gratitude and appreciation can counteract or buffer the negative effects of this type of interaction on marital stability,” Futris continued. “When couples are stressed about making ends meet, they are more likely to engage in negative ways–they are more critical of each other and defensive, and they can even stop engaging or withdraw from each other, which can then lead to lower marital quality.”
For this particular study, gratitude was measured regarding the degree to which participants felt appreciated by their spouse, valued by their spouse, and acknowledged when they did something right.
“All couples have disagreements and argue,” Futris said. “And, when couples are stressed, they are likely to have more arguments. What distinguishes the marriages that last from those that don’t is not how often they argue, but how they argue and how they treat each other on a daily basis.”
Food for thought.
by Penny Jones-Richardson
What does happiness look like to you? Do you wake up every morning thinking about how happy your life is? Truth is, not many of us do. Most people go through life looking for ways and situations that will make them happy. The definition of happiness means many different things to different people. To me, happiness is spending time with family over meals and good times. We laugh, eat, play games and talk about old times.
But for some people happiness is something that they seek. Happy days and happy times consist of going away from the everyday stress of a busy life. Happiness for them is something that is found or an adventure.
Here are five ways I use in my practice for clients to identify their level of happiness. It is not the only tool I use to measure one’s happiness, but the results are sometimes astonishing.
- Are you following your dreams? Many people find their happiest days when they are doing things that make them feel good about themselves. When a person spends time reaching for goals and doing things to better their situation, these individuals tend to be more often quite happy.
- Do you have quiet time? This may come as a surprise, but spending quiet time is essential for one’s happiness. During this time most people are able to block out negative thoughts and listen to what their hearts are saying. Also during this time, you can reflect on what it is that will make you happy in your life right now. Quiet time can be resting, reading, bathing or doing nothing at all.
- Is there too much stress in your life? OK, everybody knows how too much stress is never good for you. But did you know that people who deal with lots of stress in their lives are generally not happy people? Stress brings on many different things, including unhappiness. Try your best to get rid of stress and watch how happiness will soon follow.
- Do you hang around happy people or people who are always unhappy? Ever find yourself hanging around someone who is always talking about how miserable her life is? These are the people who always seem to have something negative to say about everything around them. If you ask them how their day is going, they’re sure to tell you about all the bad things that seem to be bringing them down. Be careful and remember to watch the company you keep! Negativity is like a virus; if you’re around it too much, you will catch it.
- Are you getting enough sun? I usually need proof that something works. But after reading the effects sunshine has on people and experiencing this first hand, I truly know this is real. I find myself really happy when the sun is shining bright and I am out enjoying it. The sun does many things for people, but the mood change affect is amazing. If you don’t believe it, try it for yourself.
And, as always, stay focused, stay determined and keep striving for greatness.
From BLC Life
If you tell a lie to yourself, but no one else is around to hear it, does it count? As ridiculous as that sounds, it seems as though there are things that we’re willing to stay in denial about. Chances are that since we lie to ourselves, it’s easier to get away with certain follies because we don’t have to be accountable to anyone but ourselves.
I don’t think its a necessarily a bad thing, but it might not be the best thing either. Here’s a list of things that some people lie to themselves about.
How many times have you heard someone tell you to act your age? Yes, maturity is important but there’s nothing wrong with a little jovial behavior from time to time. In fact, it could be just what the doctor ordered. Stop walking these streets all uptight and learn to chill out. Here are some reasons why embracing your inner child is actually a good thing.
Wouldn’t life be great if we could wake up daily in a joyful mood and move through the day without losing an ounce of that joy? Okay, maybe we could lose an ounce or two, but for the most part we would remain pretty happy. The thought of it feels good to me. I think that would be bliss.
But we all know that finding and maintaining joy just isn’t that easy; especially when you are a busy mom with a ton and her plate. For many busy moms, adding more joy to each day can prove to be quite tough. After all, who has time to worry about joy when you have work to do, bills to pay, kids to raise, and places to be. Of course, we all know how important joy is, but achieving it consistently can seem impossible.
Yet, here is what we all must acknowledge and embrace as mothers; moving through life feeling weighed down and depleted is no way to live. It’s not just bad for us, but it can really do damage to our kids. You see, the way we live life teaches them a lot about how to live life. Do you want your kids to grow up thinking that joyful living is some elusive dream? Don’t you want them to feel like joy is attainable?
So, when life is too much to bear and you just want to crawl under a rock and take a 20-hour nap, how on earth do you add more joy to your day? It isn’t always easy, but I think these suggestions are a start. Doing these things doesn’t make life perfect, and it won’t fix any major dilemmas you face in an instant, but it sure will leave you with days that have a lot more joy and a lot more hope. You’ll take that, right? I know I sure will.