All Articles Tagged "happiness"
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.
Read more on MommyNoire.com.
Soror Rachel just got engaged and her wedding will be in Austin, TX, taking place just two days prior to my freshman roommate Trish’s baby shower in Chicago. Of course, I have to cross my fingers and hope that those dates don’t conflict with the date of my twin sister’s grad school graduation from (*insert name of fancy university*).With all of these things on my plate, I’m just hoping it won’t interfere with me watching a new episode of Scandal…
At this point, if you’re like me, you may feel like should have accomplished more for yourself by now than just having good looks, a winning personality, a fancy degree (where my liberal arts folks at!?), your hopes, and being a gladiator for Olivia Pope. In your mid to late 20s, your peers have been making it rain fifties and hundreds at every social outing, while you frequently collect change from cushions and crevices so that you can fund a trip to the neighborhood bodega to buy a bag of UTZ sour cream and onion chips for dinner.
The Internet hasn’t helped either. It constantly updates you on every single life change and triumph that your peers encounter. Facebook and every other social media outlet have made everyone else’s advancements readily available for your consumption. After scrolling through your newsfeed, you feel like you’re still playing dress-up while everyone else is suited up for real. You may be happy for your friends and you can certainly “like” their actions on Facebook and Instagram, but it doesn’t make you a bad person for being a little over seeing it all.
Everyone that you know seems to be frying bigger fish and doing big things in their lives. You’re just finding your footing, and that makes you stressed about your future. Trust me, I can fully relate.
Top-tier careers, engagements, marriages, pregnancies, children, and/or benevolently living abroad while developing water irrigation systems and feeding the hungry children of Malawi–my peers seem to be doing it all. But there are two things I had to remind myself to do:
Relax, and breathe.
Life is not a race…even though it may feel like you’re always finishing last.
I learned that your peer’s success does not equal your failure, and if someone’s newsfeed is getting you down then you might need a break from social media in general. If other people’s happiness is making you feel left out, and affecting you on a basic level –destroying your mood one update at a time — then you should unplug. Stop reading about what other people are doing and work on yourself. Also, actively pursuing your own goals or even spending time to decide and pinpoint what your life goals are is just as valuable as achieving a goal.
There’s no satisfaction to be had when unfairly comparing yourself to someone who appears to be doing “better” than you. When you compare the worst aspects of yourself with someone’s best, it’s damaging to your sense of self – and it doesn’t help you accomplish your goals.
Additionally, you don’t really know the lives of the people that you’re comparing yourself to. You don’t know what struggles or difficulties they may be facing or what they had to overcome to get where they are. Their priorities may be completely different than yours and they may have made sacrifices that you wouldn’t be willing to make.
And hey, some of them could just be faking it like everyone else, in which case, you can’t compare yourself against inaccurate information. Many people are pretending that they’re more accomplished or happier than they actually are. And on top of that, nepotism isn’t just a word, it’s how a lot people are getting by nowadays. Knowing people, making connections and networking like it’s nobody’s business is getting a lot of people very far. Because a friend’s cousin’s sister’s nephew went to church with Jane Doe, they have an in, and you’re left feeling like you’re on the outs.
Try to make a list of your accomplishments, so that you can remind yourself of all that you’ve done and the things you want to do. Create a checklist that’s comprised of big things and small things, so that you’re always checking things off of your list. Do this so that you realize the importance of achieving conceivable small and big goals. And, finally, pace yourself. Take your time and enjoy your life. Incessantly obsessing about progression toward a large goal is like weighing yourself after every meal and hoping to have lost weight after each weigh in…we all know that things don’t work that way.
I learned one lie that I was taught was that “there’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Now, I’m all for trying to get clarification on things that have escaped your conventional wisdom, and wanting to know more. However, the adage rings false to me when someone approaches me with the: “Why are you so happy all the time?” question. The reason why I get so annoyed is for a myriad of reasons, but I’ll break it down to two.
One, how in the crap am I supposed to answer that? “Because.” “I don’t know, I just am?” “Um… I don’t know, why are you so bitter all of the time?” It’s a question setting you up for failure, because no answer is going to be satisfactory to the person with the gall to ask you. In fact, they’re not trying to get an answer from you, which leads to the next point.
The main issue isn’t the fact that these people are being drawn to my sunny demeanor and want to know the secrets of how to have a perma-smile on their face all day. (Which isn’t as great as you might think. My cheeks are usually a little sore at night). These people aren’t asking because they’re tired of being unhappy and they want to fix their thinking to be more optimistic. Most of the time when people are asking me this, it’s usually with a judgmental and condescending tone. They ask as if there’s something wrong with me for wanting to express my joy. Then, the more bold ones will try to “fix” me, with suggestions of personality adjustments.
Like, really? What is wrong with some people? Do you know what they remind me of? The Dementors from the Harry Potter series. These people are so uncomfortable around happiness and joy that they try to suck all it from you until you’re a sad, soulless being, just like them. In all honesty, most people aren’t worth the headaches that they give you. (See, I’m not joyful all the time.)
I never understood why people would want to make others feel guilty for happiness. Or make you feel rude for expressing it. Now, I’m not saying to go to funerals, hospices, or accident scenes and start singing “Joyful Joyful,” but if you’re feeling a certain way, express it. If you’re happy, show it.
Life is filled with multitudes of people, and each one is going to be filled with their own type of emotion. People might not always appreciate your happiness, but their side-eyes are worth it. The worst type of way to feel is the emotions that come with neglecting your own feelings, and suppressing them. That feeling is usually accompanied by allowing someone else’s sensibility of how you should behave to affect your own.
Let’s be honest about society right now, so many people can be comfortable in dysfunction, but uncomfortable around happiness. How people can make you feel as though there’s something wrong with you for enjoying more of your days, than the ones you discount is beyond me, but it happens.
I remember the days of feeling guilty for being so happy, and apologizing for it. But then, something hit me. STOP! Stop apologizing for it! You wanna know why? Because I was so unhappy for so many years. Trying to decipher the pain from my past, and the resulting consequences of my present and being so afraid of the future that my early years were a shroud of pain. Then one day, a glimmer of true joy came, and I never wanted to let it go. I embraced it, and loved it.
So now, when people ask me why I’m so happy, I stopped apologizing for it. Who cares if it makes them uncomfortable? Now, I just say, “because I earned it.” Every smile, every laugh, anytime that I was bold enough to click my heels in the air (it’s happened), I deserved, and I still do.
Dear reader, realize that if you’re happy, you earned that. Never let anyone make you feel guilty for it. Get over trying to figure out a way to justify your happiness so it makes sense to other people, because until they get to the point where they can truly embrace joy, you’ll never make sense to them anyway.
Kendra Koger is all smiles and the occasional tweeter @kkoger.
From Single Black Male
Laying there at night, taking inventory of your life between self-induced orgasms, it is inevitable that you will think on a past relationship and ask yourself, “did I fumble?” Hindsight is always 20/20; coulda-woulda-shoulda’s abound when you look back at experiences that seemed muddled at the time. Now, everything appears exceedingly clear: you should have gone left instead of right, zigged instead of zagged, on and on to infinity. I am convinced that the easiest way to give yourself a meltdown is to second-guess your moves in life. In love, like chess, you can’t take a move back.
At times like these, you are experiencing a normal reaction to being alone. As social creatures, we all crave intimate connection to an individual, family and community. So a streak of loneliness while single is natural, and to be expected. But it can also be dangerous, leading you to engage in behavior to satisfy short-term needs, while having long-lasting effects. And so we must learn how to identify the signs, work through lonely periods, and conduct ourselves properly when interacting with others from a place of neediness/loneliness.
There is a difference between being alone, and being lonely. Alone is a status –someone who is single with little or no action in their draws is technically inactive and alone. They don’t have a special someone to share their burden, they must keep their own counsel, and their rise or demise is entirely their own. When alone, you can take all the credit for the wins, but you assume all responsibility for the losses. It is as frightening as it is liberating, and you will discover exactly what you are capable of – to the most positive and negative extremes. With a determined mind you can make phenomenal strides in self-improvement, or descend into a pit of depravity because you have no one to catch your fall, or propel you forward.
This self-sufficiency makes single life so important because tests that determine our passage to the next level are often solo endeavors. You may even notice that certain doors only admit one at a time, and spiritual discoveries only happen between you, your spirit and The Everlasting. And with a constant focus on companionship, you can slow or even block personal progress. If you don’t acknowledge the value of solitude, embrace and develop your oneness, you squander valuable opportunities to become even more of a catch for your next mate.
Read more at SingleBlackMale.org
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
When the work you are doing fills you with happiness and a sense of purpose it’s easy to wake up every morning and lose track of time in the doing of it. The ease with which you give your time, take risks, and allow your creativity to flow will naturally lead to success.
Not many of us can say we are doing what we love however. Try finding the joy where you are. There are pros and cons to every job, think of the tasks you actually enjoy doing and work to master those areas. By honing in on what you do love your mood will remain improved even when doing the not-so-great bits. You’ll be surprised how far a better attitude will take you and how others (including your boss) will take note of your skilled approach to the key job functions that you have mastered.
Actress Jenifer Lewis Talks Self-Love And Setting Standards: ‘I’m Waiting For A Man That’s Not A Boy!’
Baggage Claim actress Jenifer Lewis has never been afraid to keep it real. The 56-year-old Hollywood vet recently opened up to Necole Bitchie about self-love, what she’s looking for in a man and Black women and their health. Check out some highlights from her interview below.
On how she stays so vibrant:
“I drink a lot of water… fruit, vegetables, a little protein. I exercise. Pilates, you know strengthening. You have to take care of yourself.”
On the importance of being healthy:
“And I just want to say this out loud, 4 out of 5 African American woman are either obese or overweight and I want them to take care of themselves. I’m not preaching, it’s just, why be successful if you’re not healthy? I say that every time I get in front of microphone because I love my girls. So take care of yourselves!”
On dating and relationships:
“It sounds cliché but you gotta love yourself so that love won’t be a stranger when it shows up. You’ll know love. You’ll know what it looks like. You’ll know how it makes you feel. I’m waiting for a man that’s not a boy…or shall I say, I’m taking care of myself until he shows up. Because I ain’t looking. That’s too much drama. It’ll happen if I want it to happen.”
Watch her interview on the next page
He’s not perfect… and Lord knows that I don’t need him to be.
He doesn’t “bless me” when I sneeze, or ask me if I want the last chicken wing. He frequently reminds me of the costs of past meals and activities and he informs me of his attraction to every thin woman we see on the TV screen. He doesn’t always vocalize his affection or adoration, and he doesn’t always vocalize his anger or when he’s hurt. He has no interest in the idea of family or marriage, or any set plans for his future. He has no sense of time or romance. After we’re done having sex, his first question often is, “You took your birth control, right?” He can be immature and, at times, premature.
At the very same time: He’s passionate and his kisses incite heat. He never looks at another woman in my presence, and his eyes constantly tell me that I’m beautiful. He’s handsome and caring. He’s patient and he’s calm. He would never make me cry on purpose, and when I do cry, he does his best to correct that. He holds my hand at dinner tables and on walks down the street. He responds to my mistakes with forgiving laughter; and when we rest, he folds me close into his body like a well-kept secret. He’s knowledgeable about things that matter and plenty of things that don’t. He reads and he writes. He opens my eyes to new music and culture.
He probably isn’t my soulmate or “the one,” a concept that shouldn’t concern me so much in my 20s, but somehow it does, and on some days, the fact that he isn’t makes me sadder than it does on others.
The three year involvement was founded when I was still in a relationship with someone else, during the last term of my senior year of college and the last term of his junior year. Our relationship was cemented just over a year ago after I moved to New York, partly to be with him. Being with him has made me happy. Even with the hour travel between Harlem and Brooklyn, and whatever complications might intervene, I’ve remained ecstatic.
We are in love, but we’re at different stages in our lives –and we probably always will be. We both know it, we simply never discuss it. While we share similar mannerisms, dreams, passions, ideologies and professional goals, I can take little comfort in that. I am his first girlfriend, his first lover, and the first woman that he’s ever loved. He isn’t those things for me. I could settle down in a few short years, but the world is just opening up for him. Sometimes we discuss my past experiences and he has no comparative notes –and I can tell that this bothers him. He will want to “sow his royal oats.” My plans for extensive travel, to make each coast a temporary home; to visit spare continents with my small but loving family in tow is strange to conceive because we aren’t one another’s ideal travel companions. In several ways, big and small, we’re doomed to fail.
Why remain with someone even though the relationship has an expiration date? Why not cut losses now before becoming too attached? Why not try to “incept” the idea of a longtime commitment? Or convince him that adventure and family is what he wants too? The answers to these questions are simple. I don’t believe in Hollywood endings, the possibility of changing anyone’s mind, nor do I believe in the idea of depriving myself of happiness. The challenge then becomes a personal one, to take one day at a time, to slow everything down, and not to fret about milk that hasn’t been spilled. Each time I get riled up about the future, or imagine a wedding or a baby shower, I prescribe myself a chill pill (which can also come in the form of a gin and tonic), and I think about how I can make my relationship better today. I challenge myself to not obsess or demand a discussion on the matter because whatever is said will undoubtedly be unsatisfactory, and it will most certainly upset me. I dismiss the urge to break up with him or manage the situation. I attempt to remain in my globe of temporary happiness, ignoring the future, and while never seeking anyone new, I remain constantly aware that there is someone out there for me who wants the same things that I want and need, but that’s a while away from now. For now, I’m just happy loving the one I am with.
When you go to sleep at night, the way you feel about yourself isn’t determined by what happened that day — what other people said or did — but rather how you responded to the day’s events. Here are 14 little daily adjustments you can make to be a little prouder of who you are.
Keep your eyes on the prize, ladies. The sexual revolution, Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, Oprah, the shifting economy… there are countless components that have gone into the progress and success of women in the world, in the home, and in the workplace. Women have advanced in media, in politics, in sciences and in big business, and they’ve done this by utilizing skill sets, and by identifying and actualizing goals that they’ve set for themselves. While every woman can’t be Condoleezza Rice or Martha Stewart, every woman can set certain goals in place for herself so that life may be as fulfilling as possible.
Some people like to claim how they love honesty, and how they love “keeping it real.” Honesty can sometimes seem like a lost commodity, especially in this internet world where you can sit behind a computer screen and pretend to be someone you’re not. For some, when you leave your internet world you can be yourself, but for others, they continue the façade. Some people have been doing it for years, before even sitting behind a screen and have lost themselves.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that I’ve had moments like that in my life as well. I’d wake up in the morning, not really liking how things were going in my life, but when I stepped outside of the house I’d plaster a large smile on my face. Overcompensated to friends and strangers of being too nice, because I was being mean to myself internally. I went through a long period where I didn’t like me. People liked me, and I liked that people liked me, but I didn’t like myself. I would cover my mirror with quotes and pictures of destinations that I hoped to visit, but in all actually, I did it so I wouldn’t have to look at myself.
I’d been wearing a mask for so long, since I was child. Playing the role of the little girl who smiled when she wanted to cry, laughed when she wanted to scream, and went silent when she wanted to be heard. It’s hard. It’s hard hiding who you are, especially at that young of an age. The issue was, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be liked for who I was. The flawed person that I am, and will continue to be. So, I overcompensated, and tried to be perfect. The perfect daughter, sister, cousin, friend. When people needed me, I would do what I could to be there for them, because I was afraid that saying no would make them not like me.
They say that if you do something 21 times in a row then it becomes a habit. So imagine years of wearing the same mask, over and over again. Not really wanting to, but out of habit.
One day my youngest sister accompanied me to the doctor’s office and after my exam, the doctor started asking me the normal routine questions. He then started asking emotional questions, like: “Are you happy?” “Do you ever feel like life is hopeless?” With the same smile on my face I told him no. My sister had a reaction that caught my eye. I don’t think it was a voluntary one, but I could tell by her reaction that she wanted to say something.
After the visit, we got in the car and I asked her about it. Her response to me was: “Well, I don’t think that it’s good for you to lie to the doctor.” I got offended because, I didn’t lie. I’m happy, I’ve alway been happy, right? She then began to tell me she could tell that I wasn’t happy for a long time.
I didn’t realize that I was in denial for so long that I was actually beginning to believe my own denial. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see myself in the mirror, it was just that I didn’t want to acknowledge the truth that I’ve been suppressing in my eyes for so long.
It was so hard having to acknowledge my unhappiness in life that I’d held on to for years, but doing so was the way for me to finally face all the feelings that I’ve been hiding behind. I was finally in a place where I could not only just get help, but be able to actually properly receive it.
So to you, dear readers, it might be hard for you to acknowledge that one thing that keeps on tugging at your heart that you know hurts. Sometimes, denial is a very safe place to be in, but if you stay there, you are cheating yourself from truly experiencing life.