What if the greatest success in life is to be happy? Can it really be that simple? What if we made decisions in our life based on whether or not it would make us happy? That sounds incredibly hard because there are so many other important elements to life. But is there anything more important than your own happiness?
I don't think that there is. When you are happy you are able to spread that to others. When you're happy, giving and contributing doesn't feel like work or effort. I don't know about you but sometimes the reason for my giving is to check a box or because I feel obligated and not because I genuinely want to. And I'm not just talking about giving to the poor. I'm talking about giving my time or resources to a friend or acquaintance.
I feel like so many of us are on this rat race to achieve and to be wealthy but what are achievements and material things if you don't have joy?
With those questions in mind, do you know what happiness looks like to you?
The thing about happiness is that it looks different for every person. There isn't a one size fits all approach to happiness. I just talked to a girl who loves true crime shows and they make her happy. To me, Dateline and Murder Mystery are my nightmare and would essentially be torture.
To me, happiness looks like peace mixed with laughter and loved ones. It looks like being outside, trying new things, and eating good (and healthy) food. It looks like getting to know myself as best as I can and loving that person. It looks like meeting new people and connecting in a meaningful way.
I've always been an achiever so the idea of having a life like that seems wrong or too simple. But maybe that's just the story I'm telling myself. Maybe that's exactly what I'm yearning for but I'm not giving myself permission for simplicity.
I'm not saying achieving is bad but I think the right way to achieve is through what makes you happy rather than trying to force yourself to achieve and then forgetting about your happiness in the process. I've heard the quote by Albert Schweitzer** so many times and it's actually one of my favorites - "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success," but it's almost like I'm seeing it for the first time. Or maybe finally taking it in.
I think so many of us have been going about life in the wrong way by trying to gain success and wealth. What we should be trying to gain is happiness - whatever that looks like to you. If you knew the only way to get success was to go through happiness would you be doing things differently? Perhaps more enjoyably?
**I just went down a rabbit hole looking up Albert Schweitzer and he is a fascinating man. He was a German-French theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician who also won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.
This summer I am getting married AND moving one month before the wedding. All during a pandemic. Cue the image above.
I have spent my fair share worrying about how it will play out. But ya know what?...It's exhausting.
Worrying is exhausting.
Most of the things we worry about don't even come to fruition. So why is it so hard to let go?
If you're anything like me it's because you long for control. But control over life is something we will never have. So what's the point?
As hard as it is, there is such a great peace that comes from trusting that things will work out the way they are supposed to - even if it doesn't look the way you thought.
Tips for Building your Trust Muscle:
1.) Awareness is always the first step. Are you wasting time and energy worrying about things that are out of your control? Think of all you could do if you focused that energy into something that better serves you.
2.) Check yourself every time you fall into worrying. Worrying is a habit that you have built. You have to deconstruct that habit by replacing it with better thoughts.
3.) Use the mantra "Everything is always working out for me." Say this to yourself multiple times a day until you start to believe it.
4.) Focus on what you have now and what you're grateful for to put yourself in a happier mental state.
5.) Stay diligent and consistent with replacing your thoughts. The more you focus on thinking better thoughts, the more natural those trusting thoughts will be.
What are you stressed about that you need to let go of?
✨God has a plan for your life. Everything IS working out for you. Even in the hard times.✨
For anyone who likes to be in control, which is most of us, grief is annoying.
Grief is annoying because it has a way of rearing it's ugly head when you least expect it. Anddd because it never truly goes away. It goes away momentarily but then later comes back. Sometimes as intense as before and sometimes not.
You can never get a hold on it because you never know when or what to expect. For someone like me, this is irritating. I like to check off boxes and then move forward and be done with it. Turns out it doesn't work that way.
My mom passed away (unexpectedly) 5 months ago. The first month was really hard. I allowed myself so much time to heal, cry, and do things that makes me happy.
The second month things started to get a little better. I started focusing on building my business and that brought new, exciting energy. The third month was the same thing.
Then December rolls around. My mom's birthday is in December, plus the holidays, and I was starting to lose it again. It was somewhat unexpected because I was making progress but I tried to lean into it and figured it was pretty normal with the holidays.
And now here we are in January and I'm overall worse off than I was in October/November. It's so frustrating! I'm an achiever and I like to get things done and yet I feel so much sadness inside of me and I can't seem to figure out how to do both.
And I don't want to give into grief! I don't want my grief to win! If I were in control I'd be done with it by now. But I'm not and it doesn't work like that, does it? Who know how long I'll be struggling through this.
They say to look forward to what you want but you can't look forward without dealing with what's going on in the present moment. So that's the journey I'm on.
Everyday is a new day and I have no idea what it'll bring emotionally. I've never felt so out of control of my emotions. And I'm an actress! And I'm someone who loves a good cry but on my terms, I guess.
For the time being it's just me and grief and grief is the driver. That doesn't mean that I'm not right there being the copilot or the annoying backseat driver trying to tell the driver what I want but for now, I submit.
No matter where you are in your journey of life, there is always more to learn. The moment you stop paying attention because you "already know something" is the moment you are in trouble.
There is always more to learn because YOU are different in any new moment, day, or week. Have you ever read the same book more than once and felt like it's a totally different book?
I'm currently rereading Think and Grow Rich, which was one of the first books I read when I started my personal development journey almost 7 years ago. I don't remember any of it! There have been so many times that I've questioned if I read the book all the way through the first time because I am in a totally different place so I am seeing the book with new eyes and new perspective.
Always be a student of life and always be humble. Maybe you are hearing the same information for the second or third time for a reason. Maybe you need to slow down, pay attention, and take it in a little more.
I can very easily fall into the trap of focusing on what I wish I had rather than being grateful for what I do have.
Yes, it is important to know what you want and to aim higher but if you are focusing on what you don't have out of jealousy or greed then you are missing the most important part.
The most important element to happiness and wellbeing is appreciation and being grateful for what you have and then being grateful for what's coming in the future. Trusting that things will fall into place rather than trying to obsess or control them is another important element.
It is such a waste of energy to focus on what you don't have or how you wish things had gone differently UNLESS you use that information to inspire change. Know what you don't want so that you can know what you DO want but don't spend time marinating in the things you don't want or fall into victim mode.
Spend more time focusing on all that you have than all that you don't!
There are some people out there that want to talk about or dwell on their problems and not do anything about them.
I've never understood the point in this. Yes, it feels good to connect with another person about your problems but if you focus more on the problem than the solution you could fall into a victim mentality.
The reality is, you are the victor not the victim of your life. If there is a problem in your life it is an opportunity to grow, learn, or change something.
Being solution focused keeps you moving forward toward your goal rather than feeling stuck.
3 Steps to Turn Your Problems into Solutions:
1.) What is your problem?
Ex. I don't have enough time in the day to do the things I want because I have kids and work a 9-5 job.
2.) How can you grow/learn/change?
Ex. What does your ideal day look like? What's missing? What's most important? You have to know specifically what you want before you will be motivated to make a change.
3.) Make small changes. You might not have time to have an hour for yourself but can you find 20 minutes? How long are you spending mindless on social media? Can you be more intentional and use that time for yourself? Those 20 minutes may not seem like a lot but, if you commit to 20 minutes everyday, they will lead to huge growth and progress.
It's all about moving forward from where you are. Be real with yourself and know your starting point and then focus on what you want and take small steps toward that thing. Big change comes from continuous small steps.
Which type of person are you committed to being?
I always forget that therapy isn't as socially accepted and mainstream as it should be. Therapy has been a huge part of my life as a child and as an adult. I was blessed that my mom introduced me to therapy at 14 years old. Back then, it was because I suffered from low self esteem but it's also been a huge resource to help me process painful events.
I truly believe everyone can benefit from therapy. Going to therapy doesn't mean you're crazy or weak. It's not something you should be ashamed of. So many of us have pain, trauma, or grief that we're holding onto from the past and therapy is a valuable tool to help you heal and move forward toward a happier version of yourself.
Before I tell you more about how therapy works I want to talk about what happens if you ignore your feelings and don't deal with your pain/insecurities. You can only ignore your pain for so long before it starts to bubble back up and a lot of times it comes up as other emotions such as anger, depression, or anxiety.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you had a tumor in your body you wouldn't ignore the tumor and pretend like it wasn't there. You would take action to address and resolve the tumor, otherwise it could potentially get worse. The same is true with mental health. If you ignore your feelings they will manifest into more pain and potentially lead physical ailments as well.
Therapy is a healthy, safe way to take care of your mental health but it can be intimidating and overwhelming so here are some simple steps to empower you to take the necessary actions for your wellbeing. There is no such thing as too little of a problem. If you are feeling unwell, your feelings are valid and justified. I used to think that I wasn't allowed to feel sadness because other people had more problems than me but that's simply not true. We are all allowed to feel how we feel without explanation.
How to Find a Therapist:
1.) Ask around for recommendations. More people than you think are going to therapy but for some reason we're all afraid to talk about it.
2.) Do a Google search or reach out to your church for referrals.
3.) Go to the therapist's website and make sure you connect with their messaging.
4.) You can usually schedule a free consultation to see if it's a good fit. Have an open conversation of what you're looking for.
5.) Ask if they take insurance, have a sliding scale (offer discounts), or take HSA.
Okay so now you're ready for your first appointment. Here's what you expect:
1.) You're likely going to be super anxious before you go. That's totally normal. You're doing something new and you'll likely bring up a lot of feelings but remember you have to go through your feelings to get to the other side.
2.) You may want to write down what you want to talk about so you have a fail safe if you forget.
3.) You may also find it helpful to take notes on what your therapist says so you can go back to them later.
4.) Sometimes you have to "shop" around. This can be frustrating because you feel like you're wasting time/money but you'll know pretty early on if your therapist is someone you feel comfortable talking to.
5.) If you have a bad experience that doesn't mean all therapists are bad. It's just like dating. Just because you date one bad guy doesn't mean you should give up on all men!
I just left my appointment. Now what:
1.) If you're like me, you're going to experience a range of emotions after each therapy session. I would often feel a lot of anger because I had been suppressing my anger for so long and was finally bringing it up. That's totally normal to feel a lot of new or intense emotions!
2.) Give yourself an hour or so after therapy before you jump back into work or anything else. Allow space for yourself to process what just happened.
3.) It's going to take some time to relieve yourself from whatever you've been holding onto. Don't expect all your problems to be fixed after one session. It's a journey and it will take some time. I used to ask my therapist how to resolve my problems and she would say I'm in the process of it just by talking about it.
Going to a therapist can be very scary and intimidating if you've never done it before. If you feel in your heart you could benefit from talking to someone the I'd encourage you to go for it. Take it one step at a time and give yourself grace along the way. It's messy but it's worth it, just like life.
I have come to realize that life is not a one size fits all kind of game. What works for one person to find happiness, success, or achievement may not work for someone else. Everyone has an opinion of how you should do things to find success.
Let's take sleep for instance. There are so many conflicting reports. Some people say we all need 7-9 hours of sleep while others maintain they are more effective when they wake up earlier and get 5-6 hours of sleep. And yet some people truly need 10+ hours.
With all the noise of what other people think it can be hard to remember things don't work the same for every person. Only you know how much sleep you need to be the best version of yourself. Just like only you know the things that keep you motivated.
Yes, you can look to others as a guide but the answers lie within yourself and usually come from good old trial and error. Pay attention to what works and what doesn't work.
Think of your life as a great exploration and be an investigator of your own life. THAT is the true secret to your success. The more you know yourself and what works and doesn't work for you, the more successful you'll be.
The first step is shutting off all the noise and opinions around you. What feels best for you? Trust that and then take action and adjust as you need to.
This morning I went to breakfast with a friend at a new restaurant. The menu was huge and had a lot of different options. Normally, I am terrible at deciding what to eat (I am notorious for looking up the menu before I go anywhere new) but I have started to realize that how you do one thing is how you do everything and my indecisiveness with my food options is bleeding into my indecisiveness with the rest of my life. I don't know about you, but I want to be the driver of my own life, so I have chosen to be more proactive when it comes to decision making.
It's funny how easily you can see things when you're on the outside of them. My friend narrowed it down to three options and then asked the server which one she would suggest. The options were: huevos rancheros, eggs benedict, and avocado toast. Mind you, she had JUST told me that she loves Mexican style food for breakfast and yet she still found herself in a pickle deciding.
The server told my friend she would recommend the avocado toast and I watched my friend, in disappointment, look at the menu where the huevos rancheros was listed as if she were saying goodbye to an old lover...so I called her out on it. Her heart very clearly wanted huevos rancheros and yet, she was asking the server to make the decision for her. But the problem is the server doesn't know what she likes. Only you know what you want. And this is true in most things in life if you will just commit to making a decision and really going for it.
Sure enough, she got the huevos rancheros, and it was amazing.
By the way, I've done this several times myself where I thought I wanted two things but then when the waiter said one option I was disappointed. And 100% of the time when I go with the waiter's recommendation after feeling that initial disappointment I regret it.
How can you apply this to life? Only you know what you really want and what is best for you. You may ask someone who has great intentions but at the end of the day you have to listen to your intuition and make the best decision for yourself.
I'll be honest, I love going with the flow and being spontaneous, but when it comes to business and success it is so important to plan your day before if begins.
I personally like to plan my day, in detail, the day before so that way when I wake up in the morning I know exactly what to do without using much thought or brain power.
I have found that my days are much more productive when I have a plan for my day rather than just letting life happen to me.
Tips for Planning your day for Success:
1. Think about what your ideal day would look like. What would you like to accomplish?
2. Make sure you allow time for breaks and fun which are important elements in having a balanced day. You don't want to dread your day.
3. Schedule your day in planner using as much detail as possible.
4. When tomorrow comes, stick to the plan!
5. Have a tracking system so you can look back at your consistency.
Do you plan your days or do you like to go with the flow? I'd love to hear what works best for you!
IG @stephygthatsme and @showuptogoup