All Articles Tagged "happiness"
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.
Your friends can be your greatest confidants, your best supporters, and your fiercest ride-or-die allies, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t send you off, or give you some real jacked up advice. Sure, you can trust your friend when she tells you to spend an hour at the gym instead of an hour in front of the television, to eat a wholesome meal instead of a sleeve of Oreos for dinner, or to open a bank account instead of storing all of your cash in a cushion, but you can be sure that when it pertains to certain matters in your love life or home life, sometimes you’re going to want them to spend their two cents somewhere else.
Sometimes, a friend’s sole purpose is to rally you on, and push you toward choices that you’ve potentially already made. And sometimes your friend is there to be a stern voice of reason–available to give you blatant and candid truth, but that doesn’t mean that either of these approaches will yield the most sound advice, especially when it comes to important concerns. Knowing when you should and shouldn’t take your friend’s advice could be the key to saving your relationship, your job, and friendships, even with that very same friend–especially if you tend to begrudge your advisers. Trust me, it’s better to realize your friend’s flawed guidance before it’s too late, rather than after you’ve applied some of that “sage” advice to your life, and you’re forced watch how quickly things edge south. For instance:
“He doesn’t give you money? Maybe you should dump his broke a**.”
Obviously, if your friend is looking for a sponsor when searching for a counterpart, then she needs to be taking advice not handing it out. There’s nothing wrong with your man sharing the wealth, if he has something to share, but if a man is unable to or using his money to support his own needs, then you certainly don’t need your friend suggesting that you demand a handout. After all, as an independent woman, you can pay your own way and even toss your man a few singles if he’s in need.
“If you hate it so much, why don’t you just quit? You’ll find a new job soon.”
Being jobless in this economy is nothing to play with. There are more people on these streets dancing for dimes, pop-n-locking for pennies and singing for singles than there have ever been. While you shouldn’t be forced to stay in a difficult work situation, it’s always best to secure a new job before letting go of an old one, especially if you don’t have a train-dance routine perfected.
“Just go flirt with him. It’s not cheating, your boyfriend won’t mind.”
While a little male attention is always nice, you don’t want a light infraction to be taken as much more. Best case scenario: nothing happens …you talk to the guy for a few minutes and then you part ways. But, worst case scenario: someone who knows your boyfriend sees you flirting with that guy, or perhaps your boyfriend sees you flirting; the guy gives you his number and your boyfriend finds it, or maybe the guy expects more from you than you’re offering. None of this, however, should make you feel like you’re being shamed for getting peepers. Simply know that just because they’re looking, it doesn’t mean that they need to be acknowledged.
“Oh no… it’s not too tight.”
Chances are, if you think that a dress is too short or too tight, it is. You’re the one wearing it so you will know best. This can still be the fact even if your friend is just being agreeable or she thinks that you’ll look good in something snug or slightly provocative. Just know that when it comes to clothes and appearances, you’re the ultimate decision maker, and often, your friends are taken cues from you to see how you want them to respond.
“Go ahead, one more drink won’t hurt.”
Let’s be real, sometimes, one more drink really won’t hurt, but sometimes it will. And friends are often the ones passing more drinks to you, insisting that you aren’t drunk enough or that you need to “catch up.” Simply drink until you’re comfortable, and never feel peer pressured into consuming more than you want to –especially if you’re traveling home alone late at night or if you’re driving (so you really shouldn’t be trying to drink at all…just a reminder).
“You should really treat yourself, no one works harder than you, and you deserve it.”
Yes, sometimes you should treat yourself. However, if you have 100 dollars in that bank account, and 30 is about to go towards food, 30 is about to go to Macy’s and 10 is about to go to some dessert, then, based on your budget, you have just graduated from “treating yourself” to acting like a New Jersey housewife. Don’t spend all of your money on frivolous things when you’re low on cash. And I think we often do that to keep up with what our friends are doing when we’re out with them. Don’t spend more than you know you can afford, and don’t make your credit card your best friend just to keep up with the Joneses.
With all of this said, you should still feel free to vent to your friends, and continue to tell them as much as you comfortably would, but when it’s time for your friend to divvy out unwarranted advice, be prepared to guard your ears and listen lightly to some of their advice. There are times when you need the words of a friend to help guide you, but certainly, when it comes down to it, you should be making all of the important decisions. You don’t want someone who isn’t you navigating your life for you. Even if they do mean well.