I took this photo in a little café in Dublin, Ireland in November 2016 because it really resonated with me and the journey I was embarking upon. For the majority of my life, I can honestly say that I wasn’t genuinely happy. I learned how to “perform happiness”, but I didn’t understand what it meant to be truly happy.
Growing up, no one teaches us how to be happy. We are taught to be well-behaved (well…most of us🤣), to go to school and get an education, get a good job, work hard, make money, and start a family. It was assumed that if we follow this generic blueprint that happiness will naturally result. Then you grow up and realize how much of a lie that actually was. Happiness is a learned skill and is unique to each individual. No generic blueprint & no amount of money will get you there. Since no one teaches us how to be happy, we have to seek that knowledge for ourselves. After my father passed, a lot of emotions came to the surface that I decided to deal with once and for all. I was committed to identifying and resolving my issues and being intentional about learning new ways of thinking and living. I read countless books on cultivating happiness, spirituality, reprogramming our ways of thinking, and general self-help and empowerment books. I realized that you have to put the same vigor into learning how to be well as you do into studying for an exam or learning a new skill at work.
For so long, I had this nasty habit of constantly comparing myself to others, which only further exacerbated my unhappiness. I was basing my perception of my success on where I thought I *should* be as it related to others, instead of focusing on my unique journey and what the universe had in store for me. Then one day, I read a quote that I’ll never forget. It read, “COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY,” and it really put things in perspective for me. There are people praying for what you believe isn’t good enough and the only reason you think it isn’t good enough is that you’re using others as a benchmark for your own success. Comparing ourselves makes no sense because we all have completely different starting points, gifts, and destinations.
Deciding to stop comparing myself to others was such a freeing moment for me. I started moving and looking at the world differently. I no longer cared that someone made more money than me, that so-and-so was married and I wasn’t, that someone else had the car or house I *thought* I wanted. Everything that was for me would come in due time and it did! I am living out the life of my dreams & I now realize everything that I had to go through was necessary for me to get here. Your path is your own…I can’t stress this enough! I know it’s hard not to compare yourselves in this social media age, but I implore you to focus on your journey and nothing else. No one knows what others have had to go through, give up, or trade-off for the life that you *think* you want. Also, there are a lot of people faking it to create an image of a life that simply doesn’t exist. There’s no happiness in that.
Today, I can honestly say that I am genuinely happy. I am more in tune with myself emotionally and make a point to do the things necessary to maintain my happiness and wellbeing. This doesn’t mean I don’t have down days or that bad things have suddenly stopped happening to me. However, I’ve learned to shift my perspective, accept what is and practice happiness every day.
Happiness came when I became intentional about doing the things necessary to be the best version of myself. I practice happiness in the following ways:
- I love myself unconditionally. I am my biggest cheerleader and try my best not to tear myself down. Plenty of people in the world will try and tear you down. Why on earth would you choose to make it an inside job too? Using positive affirmations is a great way to reprogram how you speak to and about yourself.
- I do the internal work necessary to release past & present hurts. I am constantly learning and educating myself on emotional wellness. I no longer let what happened in my past sabotage my present or future. Take the time to do the uncomfortable emotional work to heal. Nothing is more uncomfortable than not healing and feeling stuck.
- I prioritize my mental, spiritual & physical wellbeing over anything else. Because if I’m not well, nothing else matters. Yoga, meditation & growing in my spirituality were game changers! Instead of giving yourself what’s left over, nurture yourself FIRST and then tend to others.
- I set goals for my life and have the discipline to make decisions that align with those goals to the exclusion of everything else. If it doesn’t support your goals and the life you want to live, don’t entertain it. You’ve got better things to do with your time.
- I prioritize my peace… I am steadfast in saying NO to those people and things that don’t serve my highest good. Y’all know how I feel about this. Trust your energy. If you feel drained around someone, that’s your soul telling you they are no good for you. If they bring drama into your life, force them to take that act elsewhere!
- I started living in the moment and stopped being fixated on the past and future, both of which none of us have any control over. Mindfulness training has been a Godsend. Work on focusing on the present moment. If you’re outside walking, your mind shouldn’t be on what happened yesterday or what you need to get done tomorrow. Focus on exactly what is in front of you. A great spot check is to ask yourself, “Is my mind where my body is?”
- I practice gratitude. Each morning I make a point to list at least three things I’m grateful for. It’s so easy to focus on what’s wrong that you forget to focus on everything that’s going right. Focusing on what’s going well in your life is a great way to change your perspective and attract abundance.
- Most importantly, I forgive myself. None of us is perfect and we will make mistakes along the way. Instead of dwelling on the mistake, I now accept that the mistake was just a lesson that I had to learn on this journey of life. However, once you learn the lesson, LEAVE THE CLASSROOM! We waste entirely too much time repeating the same mistakes over and over again expecting the outcome to change. This is a great way to remain stuck in an infinite loop of sorrow.
Be committed to doing whatever it takes & getting whatever help you need to remove any negative habits, thought patterns & limiting beliefs, choices, people, etc., from your life. You cannot have a positive life while constantly entertaining negative energy.
If any of this resonates with you, know that genuine happiness is attainable. Know that there is a better life waiting for you on the other side once you commit to practicing happiness. Being happy takes work, but it’s worth it. How will you practice your happiness starting today?
Below are some of my favorite books I read last year that helped fuel my personal & spiritual growth. They are all available at super affordable prices in my Amazon shop. They are a great addition to any reading list!
Click each image to go directly to its Amazon page.
I Am by Howard Falco
Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie
You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
The Happiness Equation by Neil Parischa