Happy Challenge (Day 21)
Expectations are not bad, but they can be dangerous. Expectations can push you to dream big, or they can ruin an experience you would have otherwise loved.
Expectations can rob a person of the chance to prove themselves. It can ruin would-be relationships (both romantic and friend) by never allowing the the new to shine through.
They can prevent us from doing enjoyable things for fear of failure, embarrassment or displeasure. How many times have you chosen not to join your friends because someone you don’t enjoy is going to be there. Your expectation is that they will ruin your good time. But in reality… you ruined your own good time by not going… or by going and waiting, looking, and expecting them to do something to ruin your night.
Expectations can ruin our drive and motivation. They can make us quit (or want to quit) or feel like we have failed simply because we do not meet the expectations we have in our minds.
Put your expectations aside when you can. Let your first date run through without expecting anything. Without expecting the person to do or be anything. Let things happen the way they should instead of trying to fit your life into the square hole of your expectations.
Let the only expectation you have be that you can expect for everything to be different from what you expect.
Learn to let go. No one benefits from a grudge, certainly not the person holding it. And the only person who suffers for it is the person holding it… certainly not the person it’s directed at.
Let go. Be angry/sad/upset/disgruntled/bitchy/resentful/vindictive for a few days, and then let it go. Let it go as soon as you possibly can. You cannot live a happy life if you let bad things others have said or done bring you down. You don’t even have to forgive them (though some may say it’s the same thing as “letting go.” I believe they are very different.) Let go and move on with your wonderful, glorious life.
Do nice things for people. Small things can be nice things. Say nice things, give small gifts, make small gifts, pay it forward, do random acts of kindness… small things can make a huge difference in another person’s day and knowing you made a positive influence on someone else can be enough to make you have a positive outlook too!
Leave a note on a paper napkin telling your waitress she was fabulous and looked lovely. This is especially nice if she seems to be having a rough day.
Ask a random mall employee if they would like a coffee or a smoothie, no strings attached, just to thank them for doing a job no one wants to do.
Knit, sew or build a little gift for someone. Or maybe build a bird-house or a bat-house for the local bug catcher’s.
It’s never the wrong time to be kind!
Happy Challenge (Day 18)
Today’s challenge revolves around the “bucket list.”
Today, I want you to actually write up your bucket list. Write it out by hand or type it up online. Put down EVERYTHING. Want to be an Astronaut? Put it down on paper!
If you dream about it, write it down. This includes things you’ve already done. Especially things you never thought you could do. (Yes, running a mile without wanting to die totally counts)
Once you get it all down on paper, I want you to organize it several different ways.
- Put it in the order from most likely to least likely to accomplish
- Put it in order from your biggest dream to the one you care about the least
- Put it in order from least expensive to most expensive to complete
Now that you’ve looked at all the things on your bucket list from several different angles and written them 4 times through (hopefully enough times to make you really think about them) I want you to pick one and begin putting plans into motion to complete that item.
I mean it.
Don’t just think about it. Write down what needs to be done in order to accomplish the dream and start doing it. Maybe it means opening a savings account and setting aside money every week or month. Maybe it means taking a class at night at a local community college. Maybe it means buying a musical instrument or a book on a foreign language.
Whatever you need to get your plan in motion… today is that day. Nothing is in your way other than your own negative thoughts. Brush them away like sand from your hands: it’s time your bucket list becomes your life story!
Take the time to enjoy something that you normally rush through.
You may truly enjoy this thing. It may be a song, a food, a movie, your daily walk/run a book…
Whatever it is, absorb yourself in it completely. Stop going through the motions blindly and actually notice what you’re doing and how it affects you. Let every aspect of the experience fill you. Notice emotions, smells, sounds, thoughts…
You can enjoy things more if you actually give them the time they deserve. You will feel more fulfilled and that is a wonderful thing!
Happy Challenge (Day 16)
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
There are some days you’ll find that the most important question you can ask yourself is this:
“In the grand scheme of things, in the big picture of my life, does this really deserve the level of stress I am assigning it?”
Think about it. Really asses the situation. Then answer yourself as honestly as possible.
So often in our lives we allow all these little things to assume the role of big things. They aren’t. Flat tire? No clean laundry? Forgot to do your homework? Forgot to pick up something at the market?
Don’t let something little like that determine your outlook for the day. Because if the little things throw off your groove every day, then you won’t have any good days to look back on.
Happy Challenge (Day 15)
Since it’s Easter, I thought I would bring up family stress.
There is this strange obligation with family. The ability to simultaneously love a person and yet wanting to watch them get hit by a bus is never seen more strongly than between family members.
Some people think that because you are family that they can say anything they like to you, no matter how hurtful. Sometimes we feel that because they are family, we have to let it pass. “suck it up” “take it like a man.” Well, I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to take verbal abuse. Not from anyone. If you would ditch a friend for the very same words or actions then you need to have a serious talk with the family member that’s acting out of line. You don’t have to attempt to eliminate the person from your life, but you need to explain to them that a blood tie doesn’t grant them immunity. Be adult about it. Be respectful. Let them know that it hurts you, makes you uncomfortable, or makes you question your worth.
Making peace with your family may be one of the greatest things you ever do for yourself. Put in all the thought and effort you have, really try to make it work. If it doesn’t work, try talking to another family member about it and have all three of you sit down and discuss it. If that still doesn’t work, then you may need to consider removing yourself from the situation.
Everyone deserves a healthy relationship with their family, but often, you have to work for it. Put in the work and get the reward.
Enjoy your Easter and be HAPPY!!!! :D
Happy Challenge (Day 14)
Don’t be afraid to see positive where others only see negative.
All my life, I have loved the Dandelion. If I could claim a “power flower” the dandelion would be it. They (along with pretty much any “weed”) have amazing resilience. They grow where the more delicate and lovely flowers dare not. They are sprayed with poisons and chemicals year after year yet still they come back. They reappear every spring and show their happy little yellow faces all summer. The blooms make a delicious and sweet wine. The leaves are tasty in salads or tea and the roots are a potent laxative. In the fall, they turn into white tufts and we can blow them into the sunset, watching them carry our wishes off into forever.
They are magical! Yet… everyone hates them. Why? Who taught us to despise the things that persevere? Stop thinking negative things you’ve been told to think. Question your thought process when it turns to the negative. “WHY do I have a problem with this thing?” “WHY does this thing elicit this negative response/emotion from me?” Was it just something you learned after seeing it from your family, friends and media? Were you taught to think that way? Rethink it.
Beauty is everywhere… especially if you don’t let anyone else define it for you.
Reactions. Your reaction to an event can make or break your day… and what we do day in and day out becomes habit and habit becomes us. How we react to the negative things in our lives can change everything about us.
Start small. Show your joy when you have it. Do you cover your mouth when you smile? Stop (unless you have a mouth full of food!) Reply with exclamation points in your tone! (This is one of my super powers. I have earned a special right to use exclamation points whenever I want. Since I speak with them, I get to write with them.) Never be afraid to show your joy. Chances are, it will bring others joy too! Happiness is awesome like that! :D
Conversely, when something negative happens, sometimes it’s really hard to turn it into a positive. Once again, start small. If someone points out something negative about you “Har har har, you have a big butt” Smile, shrug and ask (in a friendly and sincere way) “So?” I have not had that response fail me yet. They look confused and huff off and I can smile knowing I didn’t have to say a single negative thing. I kept my mind in its happy place and I sent off my unworthy adversary with one, single, tiny, word. A two-letter victory. How’s that for being concise?
Try to prevent the little things caused by the outside world from raining on your parade. Wait… that adage is too old… Lets try a new one: don’t let the little things knock the latte from your hand. (Mmmmm latte)
Happy Challenge (Day 11 and 12)
Today is a double challenge. Not to make up for yesterday, but because they go hand in hand.
Today I want to help eliminate the need for lies. So much of our happiness is dependent on stress and our ability to cope with it. How can we ever hope to lead stress free (or at least minimally stressful) lives if we feel the constant need to alter the truth?
Once you change a truth, you must continue to do so until you decide to confess your lie or until the day you die. That’s some serious baggage to carry around. How many different lies and half truths do you need to keep track of to keep your life in order? You need an entire hard drive to keep it all straight if you actually sat down to write every single lie down. Who you told it to, why, what you said, what you used it to cover up, how many more times you had to tell it or build off it to continue hiding the truth…
So today, in our quest for happiness, we resolve to stop the lies. Small lies, big lies, pointless lies… stop. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the truth. I know. I get it. But it’s better to hurt someones feelings with the truth than to give them false hope. Hope should always be real. And just because a truth is negative, doesn’t mean there isn’t a positive side, find it and report it along with the negative.
Part two for today’s challenge is to confess the lie. (I have done this religiously with my mom for years. When I think of it… I tell her. Email, phone, face-to-face. Whatever. “Hey mama, remember that time _____? Well… here’s what really happened.” It’s okay. People who matter will understand. You may get a whap in back of the head, but you’ll feel better knowing you don’t have to carry the lie with you anymore.) How ever you feel comfortable confessing. Maybe you feel less vulnerable by posting it (to no one in particular) on Facebook or Twitter or G+ or tumblr. Maybe you feel the lie was so big it deserves a hand written and snail-mailed letter. It doesn’t matter. Wash the lie away with the truth. There is nothing in the world more powerful than truth and honesty, even when it’s ugly and painful. No one likes to be lied to. I don’t. You don’t. Your loved ones don’t. Muster your courage and free yourself.
Often times we become so caught up in what we do that we fail to notice that we’re making it more difficult than it needs to be.
Sometimes happiness comes from something so easy as simplifying your life. It may not even be something you notice as difficult. Maybe your schedule is working against you and you don’t realize it (How many times do you drive by the supermarket on your way home from school/work, but you wait til you get home and then drive back to do your shopping?) Maybe you can’t ever find something you need because the drawer/cupboard/cabinet/closet is too much of a mess and you get mad and throw things around in frustration. Maybe you don’t use the proper tools for the job because you never thought there might be an easier way. Find out! Google search! Find easier ways to do the things you do every day!
The time in your life is precious and it should be utilized as best you can. Don’t squander a single minute by doing things the hard way. These are your minutes!
Try making a list of your daily obligations. Include how many times you hit the snooze, brushing your teeth, washing your hair… everything. Then find ways to simplify the little things. Maybe you can make enough food for the week then pack a lunch the night before so you are ready to go in the morning. (Yay! Now you can sleep for extra minutes guilt free!) Plan out meals, schedule housework. Use a virtual or a paper calendar and make everything visible. It’s amazing how much stress you can relieve from your daily life when you aren’t in a panic because you forgot about XYZ thing.
Albert Einstein once said “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.” I believe this is exactly how life should be. Some things are innately difficult and other things are innately easy… Make sure that whichever it is, it is as simple as possible without breaking it down beyond it’s basic points.
Simplify, clean out clutter (physically and mentally) and give yourself room to breath by keeping a neat schedule.
Happy Challenge (Day 9)
Let us talk of judgement. Whether or not we realize it, we constantly judge others. We judge their clothes, their speech, their skills, their bodies, their hair, their families, their grades, their choice in books, movies, pets and friends. When you really stop a moment to think about it… how do we have time for anything else in our lives?
I want you to think about that above statement for just a moment.
Now I want you to think on this: What is judgement? What is it but a comparison to ourselves, what we know, love and are familiar with. How can we ever possibly be happy if we do nothing but compare other people to ourselves. Does it bring you happiness to notice that another does poorly where you excel? That another lacks where you do not? That should not be your source of happiness.
Conversely, if you compare yourself to people who are/have/do less than you, then surely you compare yourself to those who are/have/do more than you. This does not do anything for your self esteem.
So, next time you catch yourself making a judgement, no matter how small, stop. Think about it. Ask yourself why it matters. Does it? Probably not. Why care if the weird nerdy girl has mismatched socks? Why care if the tall skinny guy has pants that are a little too short? Why care if a beautiful girl has name brand clothes? Admiration is fine, but do not make judgments and assumptions, it will only bring you down.
Judgement is nothing but comparison and you are no one but yourself. Compare yourself to the person you were yesterday. Are you a better person than when you fell asleep last night? That’s what matters. This life is yours and no one else’s.
The only time you should take a moment to judge is if you are going to follow it up with an offer of goodwill.
The less time you spend judging others the more time you will have to get to know them.
Dig through your closet or your bookshelf and find a book you used to love.
A book that you’ve read so many times that you’ve destroyed the binding and maybe even lost a few pages.
Maybe you used to know this book so well that you felt emotion in the first chapter only because you knew what happened in the last.
Maybe this book was read to you as a child.
Maybe it’s less than a hundred pages.
Maybe it’s really long.
Maybe it’s a collection of tales or a story book.
Whatever it is, find it. Take it out. Flip the pages and smell the paper. Run your fingers along the cracks and splits on the cover. Close your eyes and have a mental love affair from just holding it. Feel the weight of it. Let it be as familiar as it used to be.
Now, you can curl up and read it, or you can place it back on the shelf. Both answers are correct. It can be wonderful to reread a book from our childhood but it can also be wonderful to let the emotion that it brings stem from the past, and not the present. The choice is yours, but let it stir you.
Today’s challenge (is very late! I’m sorry, but I spent the day in Boston with a friend from Brazil) revolves around our cultural obsession with success.
I want you to try something that you know you will fail at.
Something you have always sucked at. Maybe you love to do it, but you know you are just terrible at it so you stopped trying.
I want you to do it anyway. Maybe it’s drawing, or singing, or playing guitar… whatever it is… do it. Try it. Fail miserably at it, but let yourself enjoy it while you do.
You don’t have to be the best to try your best. You are worthy of all your endeavors, no matter if you excel at them.
The science of being happy… change the way you think about things.
This man managed to put my mental outlook into a 12 minute talk. Also: it’s very funny and completely safe for work.