All Articles Tagged "happiness"
“You know you’re about to be grown, right? You are grown at 25, but when you turn 26 this month, that’s really it. Next is 30!”
My dear, dear, blunt friend told me that this morning. And while she smiled and went on her way, I was left with the nerve she hit. Not the last one, thankfully, but if I’m not careful I may only have a few left! Between wrestling through childhood struggles, figuring out what I want to do with my life, and being reminded of my singleness by all the weddings and baby showers, this past year I’ve been having a quarter-life crisis! And from the texts I get from my friends, I see I’m not alone.
I remember going to college full of hopes and dreams for my future, and graduating with a head full of doubt. Four years later, while I’ve had the opportunity to work with some talented people and had a great deal of fun along the way and still am, I often wonder whether I’ll ever get anywhere near where I dreamed I’d be in life. I’m getting to do what I love (writing) by way of different platforms, but doing what you love doesn’t always pay the bills. Every now and then I find myself on Indeed.com considering applying for a full-time job somewhere I don’t want to work, so that I can stop living the life of a starving artist with supportive parents. I want to be able to pay my bills, give gracefully to my church and other organizations, save, shop, eat good and travel like other grown folks. Well, I do some of that now, but I want to be able to without praying for a freelance or babysitting gig afterwards to make up for the money I just spent treating myself. I want to live comfortably. But I also want to do what I love. Is that asking too much? I mean who buys cake not to eat it too?
Maybe it’s my parents’ fault. Yeah, that’s it. They spoiled us, especially me. Now, I can’t imagine having to work somewhere I don’t want to. Then again, I blame all the famous people on television that say you can do anything you put your mind to. Or maybe it’s the (false) prosperity gospel teaching that made me think naming and claiming was the key to unlocking my dreams. Better yet, all the positive thinking speakers and authors sold me some false hope too by giving my words more power than they actually have. None of these people sent a memo to the economy, employers, or my future husband that they were suppose to give me what I desire.
But wait, I’m 25, so I can’t really blame anyone else for what I decide to believe, can I? I can choose what to believe now about success—namely that success is not defined by status. If I’m supposed to be a janitor, then being a CEO is beneath me. That might sound strange, but success is determined by purpose and purpose is prescribed by God. And if you’ve ever heard any Bible stories, then you know God’s purposes are quite different than ours and His means are always unconventional. I could be right where He wants me to be, but too busy looking at where other people are to appreciate and invest where He has me. Now, don’t get me wrong, because of my spoiled upbringing, I do have to check my laziness and be sure that I’m not actually hindering myself. And I should dream and set goals that seem far-fetched, because I don’t know what might be in-store for me. But I also have to pursue contentment in the here and now. I have to embrace the truth that contentment is not about having what you want; it’s about wanting what you have.
Here’s to 26 and whatever it has in store!
Caresse Spencer is a writer for urban and Christian culture by way of Reach Records, Blueprint Church and the Rebuild Network who is currently working on a campaign (All is Vanity) with artist/songwriter Natalie Lauren to help women discover the best path towards getting more out of life. Check out her website CaresseDionne.com and follow her randomness on Twitter @caressedionne
I’ve been a Simpson’s fan for years, and one night after my daughter had gone to sleep and I could watch all the greatness that was the fourth season, it made me begin to think about some things in my life. On the episode “Lisa’s First Word,” Marge was groggily telling a toddler Bart a fairy tale. She ended it with “…and they both lived happily ever after.” Bart immediately asked: ”And then what?” I was folding my laundry when I stopped and realized: ”Yeah, and then what?!”
Have you ever been so fixated on accomplishing a goal, and was thinking: ”Okay, if only I can just get this [insert goal here], then things will be great.”? I’ve felt like that more times than I would like to admit. For years I lived my life as: Man, life is going to be great when I graduate college/have this baby/get out of this marriage.” But the thing that I realized that I lacked was thinking about “and then what?”
I grew up as an over planner, having my days timed to the second of what I was going to do, and having my life mapped out. However, life happened, and I found that I was living for the “Happily Ever After” life. So, when I got what I wanted/worked for, since I didn’t give any thought to what to do with it, I was sort of lost. Yes, I achieved some goals that I had set for myself since I was a child, but what now? What do you do with those accomplishments?
One thing that I wished I would have realized, or someone would have told me, was that you can’t just rest on your laurels. You are amazing, that should go without saying, but you can’t just sit back and have someone constantly congratulate you. Once you received that first distinction, do something with it. Use it as collateral to move into the field that you want. Sitting back and patting yourself on the back is not doing you any type of justice, or your future.
Have a contingency plan that connects with what you have succeeded in. Since I was a little girl I always wanted to be a writer, that’s been the only consistent thing in my life. However, accepting compliments and awards for writing wasn’t doing anything. I was given an opportunity to try out book editing, and did it successfully for a few years and for a few big named publishing companies. With that, if/when I pen the great American novel, the background that I have with editing, and the connections that I have with different publishing companies could help me to achieve that goal, while also providing me with a foundation of how to continue having a prosperous life.
Don’t just thinking about about “Happily Ever After,” think about “Happily Never After.” Happiness and success is a luxury that will only come with experiencing failure and confusion. Sometimes when people fixate so much on a goal, but don’t anticipate the roadblocks that come with it, when those roadblocks hit, people stop pursuing. Well, you are going to hit those roadblocks. Success is rarely linear, and there are times that you’re going to have to face a failure and figure out a different way to proceed. I’m not saying that you need to fixate on the negative, just acknowledge that it’s a possibility, and when it happens, that’s when your contingency plan can come into play.
Your life can be a fairy tale. But remember, when you go to ride off into the sunset, you kind of have to know where you’re going, otherwise, you will get lost.
What’s your favorite fairy tale? Share it with Kendra Koger @kkoger.
If I were to ask you to tell me five things about your day, would it be safe to say that the majority of the things that you would rattle off (besides, “Who is this weirdo asking me about my day?”) would be negative? I’ll assume again and say that answer is yes because humans have a tendency to fixate on the negative. That’s not coming from me, that’s science saying that. Negative things have a tendency to stick with us longer than something positive, but I’m from the school of “you are what you think,” and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a negative person. I don’t want that for you either. So, I’m going to offer up 9 different ways to help you to turn that scowl upside down and help you to train your mind to immediately go to the positive instead of fixating on the negative.
So, I decided not to let all my black bourgeoisie film-critic friends keep me from going to see Tyler Perry’s Temptation this weekend. I too have shaken my head at many of the overly dramatic scenes and “coonery bafoonery” that can often cripple his films, but a conversation with a good friend who appreciates Perry’s efforts to tell black stories and employ black actors, made me give this one a chance. Plus, I think we’ve unfairly put the accurate and vast, yet still noble, depiction of our entire race on his shoulders like he’s that one black kid at an all-white school who has to represent us well. I think it’s time we (myself included) gave him a break.
This Easter weekend, spirit of grace and Jurnee Smollett-Bell (who I wish had grown up more in Hollywood like her Olsen contemporaries, then again, maybe not) got me out with all the other black people for our family reunion at the movies. You know, that’s another thing about going to see a Perry film—it’s an experience you get to have with your theater cousins and aunties who are laughing and giving their commentary right along with you. I’m pouring it on kind of thick, huh? Well I’m not going to go as far as nominating this one for an Oscar, although I hope one day he makes a film worthy of one, but I do think this is a movie worth its ticket price.
While some moments linger too long, his flare for the dramatic still takes center (maybe left center this time) stage, and there may be a hiccup or two (Why doesn’t Brandy appear aged at the end, while the other characters do?), I appreciate this film for all the questions it made me ask myself. I’m all about that. And while centered on infidelity, it poked at the human experience in many ways, beyond relationships.
The storyline and its characters asked, “Are we satisfied with our lives?”
Maybe there is more that we should pursue (unless you are married, please just tell your husband to keep pursuing you), or maybe we need to learn the secret of contentment.
They prodded, “How far will we go in pursuit of satisfaction?”
So many of us are unsatisfied with our careers and relationship status that we’re willing to quit our jobs or lower our standards to be happy. But as ol’ girl from “Rock” reminds us, the pursuit of happiness can lead to a dead end or be a thrilling drive in the wrong direction—count the costs.
They challenged and pleaded, “Have we already compromised ourselves?”
While our closet can be full of new clothes and shoes, when we look in the mirror, we should still know who the heck we are! We must establish immovable boundaries in our sober times, so while we’re focused on progressing we don’t get drunk off success.
Finally, they left us asking ourselves, “Do we know our own worth?”
Having a firm identity will give us expectations for ourselves, our jobs and our significant others, and keep us from being lured away by something or someone who promises to buy us. Our self-worth cannot be found in something or someone else. It must be established by and in the unchangeable.
Yes, I got all that from Temptation. So, thank you, Mr. Perry, for teaching us a few lessons on life and love without the bodysuit and wig. I think we’re willing to learn from you, if you take yourself as serious as you should. I, for one, am now.
I’m Just Saying, You Can Do Better: Things Women Allow In Relationships, Work And Life In General That Need to Stop Now
For every man that’s ever cheated, lied, used or abused, there was a woman who put up with his behavior. Okay, obviously not “every” man, but you know what I mean. That extra helping of testosterone make some men trifling, manipulative and sneaky from the womb. But you have to be honest, either you have that friend or have been that friend that every few months finds herself blowing the dust off the Keyshia Cole The Way it Is album, posting Instagram quotes like, “It’s funny how the people that hurt you the most, are the ones that swore they never would” and many other suspect things of this sort. Seriously, are we doing this again?
Part of truly moving on and finding the love and respect we deserve from both friendships and romance, is taking some time to reflect on the part we played in the situation. Like the song says, “Everybody plays the fool…sometimes.” But if you constantly find yourself being the victim of disrespect and heartache, you have to stop wondering why your heart always ends up broken, and start questioning why you keep leaving it in reckless hands. When it comes to playing the fool, another popular saying says, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.” We can’t keep expecting people to reform their disrespectful behavior if we don’t hold them accountable, and by “we” I mean women as a whole. We can’t look the other way when we see another female used and abused and then look crazy when no one runs to our defense when we are treated the same way. Below are 10 things that we allow that need to cease now:
1. Being referred to as “jawns” and “bit**es”
You couldn’t tell me my eleventh grade boyfriend didn’t love me when he pointed me out from across the hall and told his boys I was his “young jawn.” I don’t know if this is just a Philly term, but “jawn” is used to refer to everything from a girl to a Double Bacon cheeseburger at Wendy’s. It’s one thing when I am teaching a class of eighth grade girls giggling at the boy with the peach fuzz above his lip talking about grabbing a “jawn” to take in the bathroom, but it’s pathetic when I see grown woman laugh at the “clown” who approaches them with an, “Excuse me miss,” and brag about being some man’s bottom b***h. Do I have to refer you to Queen Latifah circa 1994? **Sings** UNITY, you gotta let em’ know, you ain’t a b**ch or a h*e…
Facebook Envy: How I Learned To Stop Making Myself Miserable By Comparing My Life To That Of Others On Social Media
We increasingly seem NOT to be able to filter through what we see on social networks. Our Facebook events are loaded with graduation parties, weddings and new job celebration dinners. Our Facebook “friends” are uploading photos of their new homes, their exotic summer vacations in Bali, the newest degree to hang on their walls – while we scroll aimlessly through it all and sigh. No matter how right things might be going in our lives, sometimes we let social networking get to even the best of us, and make us long for something more because well, “they” seem like they’re happy and they’ve got it all.
We torture ourselves with social networks and wonder why we’re miserable. Life coach, Christine Hassler of TheDailyLove put it best in referencing speaker, Steven Furtick: We are often looking at “someone else’s highlight reel while we’re knee-deep in our own behind the scenes footage.” What we see is calculated and controlled. And what we feel when we see everyone else’s perfect lives splashed across our timelines should be conditioned to that very fact.
I had a hard time with this when I first came home from completing my MBA. I thought I would immediately find a great salary, apartment, and car and be living the same happy, go-getter, jet-setting lifestyle that quite a few of my friends had been fortunate enough to find directly out of college. I was very wrong.
That wasn’t the course my life took. Regardless of how many rings of employment I threw my WELL-qualified hat into, more often than not I never even heard back once I applied. I fell into depression without even realizing the depths to which I was sinking. I was angry all the time. I refused to leave the house. I sat around in my bathrobe, with a mug of hot chocolate (even during the summer months) watching The Food Network and reruns of A Different World. I scrolled through my Facebook and Twitter timelines aimlessly, watching everyone else live while I felt like I was dying inside. I felt like a failure. Why? Not because I actually was. I had gained two degrees within the course of seven years, gained three years worth of invaluable work experience within a dynamic graduate assistantship, and had gotten over my fear of driving. By any fair standard, I was no failure, but by comparison and low self-esteem I was a complete failure. I had allowed others’ highlight reels via social networks to mash my view of myself into a tiny bit of a thing, thus cementing the fear that I would never get out of this jobless, bathrobed slump.
What was my cure? Getting so busy living my own life instead of vicariously living every controlled moment of someone else’s. It really was that simple. I deactivated my Facebook account quite a few times when I felt that I was getting sucked into the comparison game. I looked at my life – where my strengths, gifts and passions were and decided to make the most of those things. I created my own website geared to the empowerment of young women of color and began to look for women from all walks of life with inspiring stories to tell and interviewed them.
It was the most liberating and life-affirming thing that I had done in quite a while because I was using my gifts, my values, to be a catalyst for inspiration. To help other young women avoid the very things I had previously succumbed to. It mattered very little now what others were doing. I was happy for “them.” But I was truly excited for me.
The times that we are most down on ourselves and envious of others’ lifestyles are when we’re too lazy, too fearful, too overwhelmed to get up and make something of our own lives. And I had been all of the above. What we then admire and envy in others is not their experiences, but their fortitude, their courage, their drive, their freedom to live.
Social networks are great tools when used for what they were originally intended: to catch up with old friends, to network, to market products, to share ideas. It’s when we internalize what we see via these networks that things begin to go left. If we simply choose to live well and fully, there will be no time for comparison because life will unfold into a blessed experience we could never have imagined.
La Truly’s writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check her out on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and AboutMe www.about.me/latruly.
Humans, we’re such a weird bunch, aren’t we? As much of some would like to claim that we’re creatures of habit, there’s this little thing called “human error” that we can’t account for. Small things that seem so innocuous can have such a large effect on our behavior. What things you might ask? Let’s see.
He Might Be A Good Man, But He’s Not The Man For You: Why If A Relationship Doesn’t Fit, Don’t Force It!
“Girl, he’s a good man….you better stick with him.”
“He’s a great catch…”
“He’s going to make a great husband…”
“Girl you better do what you can to keep him!”
How many of us have heard one of, if not all of the quotes listed from friends and family? How many of us have forced ourselves to stay in a relationship where we weren’t happy because someone else thought the man we were involved with was a great catch? Or how often have we convinced ourselves to stay in a relationship we weren’t so happy in because the man we were involved with was indeed a good man, but he wasn’t the good man that we should have been with? I recall several of the relationships I remained in being with men that were indeed good guys, but I wasn’t happy in those relationships.
I wasn’t happy because I often felt that there was something missing within the relationship, but I stayed because at that time in my life, I didn’t want to be single, and I didn’t want to let go of a good man. At that particular time in life I didn’t see the value in being a single woman. I didn’t view my single life as the blessing that it is, but rather saw it as a burden that I would have to bear. Now that I think about it, I sacrificed my personal happiness for personified happiness; and was it worth it? Not at all. Oftentimes we as women force ourselves to remain in relationships with men because we fear being alone, we think that we won’t find anyone as good, or we think that there is a shortage of good men to have happy, healthy and productive relationships with, when the fact is that none of these things are true.
There are so many great men in the world to have relationships with, but we have the tendency to hold on to one we think is good for us, and our fears won’t allow us to see that. Forcing ourselves to remain in relationships that don’t make us happy only limits who we are, it puts a hold on the relationships we deserve and it stifles our internal happiness and it is not worth it! Why isn’t it worth it? Because happiness is something that should be valued and every woman deserves to be happy in or out of a relationship. Over the years I learned that just because someone else thinks a man is a good man, it does not mean that he is the good man made for me. I often listened to my friends and family when it came to men and dating, and they would encourage me to date a guy they felt had great husband qualities and whom they thought would be a great match for me, or to stay in a relationship they thought was good from face value. I even remember a few of them saying ‘don’t mess this one up!’ While their intentions were good, I should have listened more to my instincts in regard to what made me happy in a relationship, rather than forcing myself to stay in a relationship that made everyone else happy. Now that I think about it, I didn’t really know what made me happy because I was so focused on having a relationship rather than enjoying my single life. Having a relationship is something that everyone desires, but being happy is something that everyone deserves and that should not be sacrificed. Ladies, if a relationship you’re involved in does not enlighten you mentally, uplift you spiritually, and balance you emotionally then walk away from it because it does not fit you, so don’t force it. How many relationships have you forced yourself to stay in? Did they really make you happy?
Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.
While watching an episode of my addiction, Girls, a change in the story line reminded me of a time in my own life that to this day, I regret.
The character of Hannah, played so effortlessly well by Lena Dunham, is an aspiring author with a ton of ideas for a book, but no direction to figure out where to start. When she reunites with an old writing professor, she’s coaxed into attending a creative writing reading, where she will share a story of her choice to a room full of strangers. Going into the reading, Hannah is very sure and very confident about the topic she wants to discuss: a college boyfriend who was a hoarder and her experience sleeping on a stack of empty Chinese food boxes in the attempt to relate to him. To you and I, I’m sure that sounds crazy as hell, but it could have made for a very interesting story to share–had she gone through with it. However, her boss got to her first. Said boss, the comical character Ray, wasn’t feeling it. She told him about her idea and he told her that it pretty much lacked all depth. Instead, he encouraged her (note: he doesn’t write himself) to write about something real, his recommendations included racial profiling, acid rain or death.
Feeling discouraged, Hannah completely changed her story on the train on the way to the reading, and made up one about an Internet boyfriend who died for shock value (a parody of a story by an old classmate whose recent published book about a real-life boyfriend who killed himself sent Hannah into a quarter-life crisis). No one liked it, and she wound up doubting herself and her capabilities even more. When her former professor asked her why she didn’t stick to her original hilarious story idea, she said she bailed on it because it didn’t have depth…her reasoning clearly influenced by the opinion of her boss at the coffee shop. Taking his advice and doubting herself had wound up making Hannah look like a complete a** in front of a room full of strangers.
As random as that story sounds, I’ve been in a similar situation. A situation where I let other people put doubts about my abilities in my head, enough to make me leave behind a past dream of mine. At the age of 12, while vacationing with family in Nigeria, I was spending a hot day in the house drawing. Doing illustrations and sketches as a teen was my passion, or so I thought it was at that time. But on that same day, while minding my business and letting my surroundings inspire me, the man doing laundry for my father, who I wasn’t too fond of, saw what I was doodling and asked me what it was. When I told him, he said my sketch didn’t look good, and proceeded to draw a picture of me that he lauded as much better than my own. Feeling like an absolute failure, and being that I was only 12 at the time, an impressionable age, I put my pencil and my drawing pad down–and literally never picked it up again.
I can now admit that honestly, drawing wasn’t what I was meant to do for a living. However, at 12, I had years and years ahead of me to get better, to train, to improve and to grow. But because I was young and embarrassed at that moment, I let someone else make me feel like I would never be a good enough artist, and I didn’t even allow myself the opportunity to get better, so I just gave up. This dude, when I think back on it, was washing my dad’s drawls for a living and I gave him the power to judge my work. He was clearly no trained artist his damn self. It’s something that I definitely wish I hadn’t let happen, but at 12, I wasn’t too good at defending myself or my dreams just yet.
As a grown woman I can now see the error in my thinking, and I encourage you, on this day and moving forward to never let people push you away from your dreams because they want to be negative. With every great dream, there will often be a hopeful dream killer looking to stop you dead in your tracks. And every once in a while you might realize that a path you were enthusiastic about is not necessarily the route you want to go in the end, but make that decision on your own. Please don’t let ambition-less people with too much time on their hands and shade to pass out who don’t want to see you succeed talk you out of your destiny. Because when you do, you walk around with a boatload of shouldas, couldas and wouldas to sulk about when you give up on yourself. Don’t give your haters that much power over your life. You have more talent and greatness to offer the world than people give you credit for, and as long as you know this, remember this greatness, and are confident in it, BABY, you can’t be stopped.
A Lesson Before Dying: What My Aunt’s Death Taught Me About Freedom From Fear And Living Life To The Fullest
Her oxygen was turned up to the maximum and she was non-responsive. She wasn’t even squeezing my hand now. But I held her hand and prayed that God would work a miracle, or if that wasn’t in His will, that He would at least give me peace about the situation.
I want to say that my aunt lived a full life but I can’t. I want to say that she did most everything she dreamed of doing before she passed but she did not. I want to say that she was free of the chains of others people’s opinions but she was not. While I watched her live a beautiful life dedicated in service to God as a pastor, mother and all-around nurturer, I also watched her live a life tortured by fear.
“What would they say? What would they think? How will they react? Is it the right time? We have to wait….”
She lived a long life as God’s servant, but the fullness of that life never came to complete fruition. I took a long hard look at her life and saw how it mirrored my own. At 26 years old, I have been afforded many opportunities, many of which I took, but many of which I let slide between my fingers. Why?
I refused myself the deserved happiness and pride of receiving my Master’s degree for fear of being called “uppity” by my own family. (NOTE: They called me “uppity” anyway.) I deferred to share my hopes and dreams divinely placed in my heart for fear of them being shot down as so often they were. I turned down more than a few opportunities to travel abroad for fear of being called flighty. I’ve held myself back in a major way simply because of fear. Fear of failure, fear of other people’s disapproval, fear of the unknown.
But as I watched my aunt, my second mother, lay passing away in that hospital room I realized that life is not to be feared but to be lived. And not just lived in mediocrity, but wholly, abundantly, fully, lovingly, freely. What a disservice we do to ourselves and the God who created us by living just to get by when He has so much more in store for us!
I made the choice that day to usher in my 27th year of life, 2013, with a new mindset, a new outlook, a new resolve to BE and DO everything for which I am purposed. I’m going to learn how to swim (I know right?). I’m going to fall in love. I’m going to travel to many a beautiful destination, camera in hand. I’m going to do the service work I’ve dreamt of for years. I’m going to push myself out of my comfort zone, past the ridiculing stares and whispers of others, and I’m going to honor God with my life.
During her life, my aunt gave me roots: a deep respect for God, a desire to stay humble, a desire to serve wherever, however I can. And in her passing, I believe she gave me wings. For I have realized that tomorrow certainly is not promised and every single day, every single moment, every single breath I breathe is another opportunity to be whole, excellent, and free. I relinquish the fear that once drove me to sacrifice myself to the gods of mediocrity and I choose to honor the God of my gifts and talents and callings and opportunities.
It’s a new day and I’m 26 years young. Let freedom (and purpose) ring.
La Truly is a late-blooming Aries whose writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check out her blog: www.hersoulinc.com and Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.