I’ll Be Happy When…

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

be_happy_when

"I'll be happy when..." is a dangerous statement that often leads to disappointment.

I'll be happy when I get in shape... I'll be happy when I graduate college... I'll be happy when I am financially secure... I'll be happy when I start my own business... I'll be happy when (insert your criteria here).

And then what?

You lose some weight, which is nice at first, but then you start to feel insecure again.

You graduate with honors, which boosts your ego, but then it's a struggle to find work in your field.

You build an emergency savings account, which makes life easier, but then it stops feeling like "enough."

You start a biz, which gives you purpose, but then you don't have any time or energy leftover for anything else.

Humans are terrible at predicting the future. Pinning your happiness to an external outcome is a critical mistake, because there's no guarantee the rewards will be as bountiful (or long lasting) as you imagined.

The Constant Whisper of Discontent

I have a hungry, hungry ego. It's like a perfectionist mother who will never be satisfied by her kid's accomplishments, no matter how impressive they might be.

My ego is the driving force that led me to pursue fitness, get in shape, and become a stay-at-home writer. Have any of these things made me happy? Not really. They improved my quality of life, but that's not "happiness."

I lost 50+ pounds and felt okay about my body for a while (but then I started to feel insecure about a lack of muscle). I loved every second of working from home at first (but then I started to get lonely, because there's no one to talk to).

Do the pros outweigh the cons? Certainly! But it's far from the world of perfection that I had originally imagined. Keep your expectations in check. Achieving a goal is rarely as glamorous or life-changing as you predicted. Do the work with no regard to the outcome. Embrace the process, because that's where the magic really happens.

"Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be." -Abraham Lincoln

Happiness does not come from external goals or circumstances. Happiness is a product of your internal thoughts. Never say, "I'll be happy when..." again. Replace it with: "I am happy now, because..."

I'm happy now, because I have friends and family who love me. I'm happy now, because I get to chill with my dog while I work. I'm happy now, because every day presents an opportunity to learn and grow. I'm happy now, because I have the freedom to express myself. I'm happy now, because you chose to read this blog (Thank you!). :)

I challenge you to make a list of 5-10 things you are happy about now at the beginning or end of every day. If you sustain a gratitude practice for several weeks or months, I bet it will make you feel better about life.

(Prove me wrong. I dare you.)

On Love, Writing, and Hustle

Friday, November 27th, 2015

love writing hustle

My love affair with writing began when I was 18 years old. I took a creative writing class on a whim and was immediately hooked.

My mom is one of the most nostalgic people in the Universe. She has memory books of pictures, play programs (I act in community theatre, too), and stories + articles written during high school and college.

As a teen, I was a devout Jesus freak.

I expressed my faith in editorials RE: Creationism + other hot topics of Christianity in the school paper. I also wrote science fiction stories about strange scenarios like cats collectively revolting and taking over the country (you know, like Planet of the Apes, except with cats... the imagination was strong in this one).

Writing serves several purposes for me (dumb fun included). First and foremost, writing is an emotional outlet. During the winter of last year, my mind was not in a positive place. I lived in an apartment so cramped it felt like a prison cell. My car engine died and I didn't have a roommate, so there was no opportunity to escape.

I remember feeling depressed and binge watching Dexter, Breaking Bad, or Sons of Anarchy for hours at a time.

Dexter is one of my favorite TV shows, because I can relate with having a "dark passenger" (don't worry, mine is wayyyy more boring than his).

My physical body couldn't get away from what it perceived as a "negative" environment and thus my mental body was drawn to escapist entertainment. Do you know the feeling? If so, it's Ok.

After months of twists + turns (but little personal growth or satisfaction), I started a stream-of-conscious journal. Note: I originally read about this reflection exercise in, "The Artist's Way," by Julia Cameron (click here to see it in action).

If you've seen Mean Girls, imagine a stream-of-conscious journal as the written equivalent of word vomit.

You wake up, roll out of bed, grab a pen + paper, and write down whatever happens to cross your mind (no matter how nasty or negative it might be). Call it a brain dump.

Get the junk out of your system first thing in the morning and it won't bother you as much later. Of course, keeping a journal isn't for everybody, but it never hurts to try.

Self-reflection is often a revealing experience.

You might discover the same anxious thoughts and feelings are triggered by similar situations or circumstances.

Step 1: Be mindful of potential triggers.

Step 2: Prevent, eliminate, or minimize them.

The thoughts, feelings, situations, and circumstances that have a detrimental effect on your mood or mental functioning may be defined as stress sources.

Journaling helped me figure out my biggest stressors. For the curious, here’s the top three:

  1. Environment (crappy apartment)
  2. Location (far away from friends and family)
  3. Money (enough to survive, but I wanted to thrive)

It is nice to "detach from the outcome," and "look on the bright side," but it's also good to be mindful of the perceived burdens that make it so hard to "think positive." How else would you come up with a plan of attack?

I don't mean attack in a, “beat yourself up,” way. It's best to treat yourself with tender compassion. Guilt and shame are unhelpful emotions. They shut down the part of your brain that believes it is capable of change. Talk about counterproductive. Love yourself for who you are (even the messy parts). This is step #1. It cannot be skipped.

Develop an offensive mindset.

Instead of letting problems grow or fester, starve them of resources by attacking the root cause.

My sadness was largely a result of my physical location. Moving was an expensive proposition, but it was the most obvious way to improve my overall quality of life, so I chose to focus my time + energy in that direction.

Remember my Netflix addiction? It took care of itself. In the past, it was easy to procrastinate, because I didn't have a purpose or compelling reason to act. Writing a daily journal helped me remember why I woke up every morning. "Why" is a powerful question to ask. Anytime you feel stuck or trapped, refocus by considering, Why does it matter?

I'm glad I worked hard enough to escape from what I viewed as a poor living situation -- it's easier to get into a good flow of writing (not be distracted) and I can tell the work is coming from a more positive place -- but I’ve realized hustling doesn’t make me happy.

Money can improve your quality of life to the extent that it eliminates or minimizes stressors, but I still felt empty inside.

Wow. That sounds dramatic, but it's true. I devoted so much time to work that I sacrificed love and friendship in the process. Don't misread me. I have a few near and dear friends. I'm connected with lots of great people on Facebook. But let's face the facts. Most of my BFF’s moved many years ago. I'm a bit shy and introverted, so I don't get out a lot, and as a consequence my love life was dormant for more than three years.

It's worth noting my inaction was partly intentional.

For one thing, I believe sexual energy can be directed to creative endeavors like writing Kindle books. For another, I felt really self-conscious about my living situation at the time, so I chose to save money and work on myself in lieu of dating. That said, I have been settled in my new home for three months now (and am 100% over being single), so it seemed like an appropriate time to dive back into dating.

In the past, I have called online dating "ineffective," because I had a few bad experiences that made me feel jaded.

This was mostly self-inflicted. A few months after writing my original profile, I gave it an unbiased second look, and was shocked by the negative comments and egotistical statements that came out of my mouth.

Looking in the mirror is hard, but necessary. Self-awareness influences many aspects of life, especially your ability to connect with others in a deep or meaningful way. After reflection, I rewrote my profile in a more positive tone, and women immediately became more responsive.

Recall I'm an introvert who hates bars and clubs. This =  the #1 reason why I <3 online dating.

OkCupid provides thoughtful personality questions about your kinks, needs, beliefs, desires, turn-offs, and other characteristics. As a result, you get to know another person while chilling at home in your pajamas. Some people feel this removes mystery and excitement, but others (like me) prefer to chat via written word before meeting face-to-face. Physical attraction matters, but I'm all about wit and sass.

My mamaw was recently diagnosed with stage four cancer.

Surgeons removed a cancerous tumor from her brain, but not before the disease spread to other areas of her body. Aggressive medical treatments would only delay the inevitable.

My family is choosing to let go, because we don't want mamaw -- a woman who was like a second mother to me (I rode the bus to her house every day after school as a child) -- to suffer any more than necessary.

Mamaw only has a few days left. I'm not saying this to beg for sympathy. It’s a plain fact. She has not been conscious for a while now, but I remember our last interaction (when she was still awake + aware) like it was yesterday.

A couple of nurses asked me to leave the room to give her privacy, so I went to the hallway, and overheard the following: "You should really meet my grandson. He writes from home, acts in plays, and he's seriously a funny guy... I bet you would like him!"

It was a good sales pitch. She highlighted the benefits of artsy, ambitious, adventurous.

The nurses giggled and made positive comments... maybe because saying: "Sorry ma’am, your grandson sounds too weird and eccentric for my tastes," would have been awkward.

A small part of me wonders if this moment is the exact thing that inspired me to say, "Forget my to-do list*," and concentrate 100% on meeting a compatible + considerate partner or dear one.  If my mamaw had a miraculous recovery that defied modern medicine, I know exactly what I would tell her:

"I got a girlfriend, mamaw, and I'm aware this might be crazy considering we only recently met... but we share a strong bond, spark, attraction, or whatever you want to call it… and we jive on most important life stuff, so I feel great about our odds… and why not trust the Universe for a change? I will always love you. Thanks for taking good care of me and showing me there is more to life than hustle."

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5 Weird Ways to Sabotage Yourself (#5 Is Ironic)

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Do you feel frustrated because you have ambition, but little to show for it? If so, you might be sabotaging yourself without even realizing it. Read ahead and I will reveal how self sabotage happens.

success

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4 Power Poses for Self Esteem and Body Confidence

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Hi. Please watch the watch the video to learn how power poses can develop self esteem and body confidence (and then read the blog below for examples from pop culture to help you with application). :)

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9 Things to Remember When You’re Having a Bad Day

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Even the hardest days contain lessons that will help you be a better person. Feeling down? Here are nine things to remember on a bad day.

bad day

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9 Surprising Benefits of Being Single

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

I’m convinced most people in long-term relationships are secretly miserable. Sure, it’s nice to have a partner to cuddle with, but relationships can also be inconvenient. If you don’t believe me, consider these surprising benefits of being single.

benefits of being single

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13 Things You Can Do to Make an Introvert Feel Loved

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Extroverts and introverts have different needs.

Extroverts are social creatures. Introverts most certainly are not.

Extroverts love small talk, but introverts would rather do anything else.

It is important to be aware of these differences so we can treat others with empathy.

If you know an introvert, do these 13 things to make them feel loved (#3 is my favorite).

introvert

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15 Rants about Addiction Recovery and Other Stuff (an ADD List Post)

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Did you know I am a bit ADD? It's true. This blog is a bit all-over-the-place (and tl;dr) but that's okay. If you're curious and like to read, check out these 15 deep thoughts about addiction recovery and other stuff.

addiction recovery

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5 Super Helpful Health Tips for Busy Women (#1 Will Change How You See Food)

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

womens health tipsBuffy the Vampire Slayer shared this blog on Twitter once.

Ask me to show you a screenshot sometime (was that the least discrete humble brag ever or what?). 😉

Speaking of Buffy, I thought this quote was appropriate...

"There'’s no such thing as a supermom. We just do the best we can." - Sarah Michelle Gellar

If you'd like to be healthy (but are so busy that it's hard to find time for yourself), these women's health tips will provide a gentle shove in the right direction. :)  (more…)

24 Ways to Be Awesome Every Day (#20 Will Make You Feel Warm and Fuzzy)

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

I used to be a banker (hated it); now I'm a writer, actor, health coach, and yoga teacher (love it). 

I used to be crippled by shyness so severe that I couldn't even talk to a female without breaking a sweat; now I am (mostly) comfortable in who I am.

I My life used to be lame, but I've made it awesome (by "awesome," I really mean, "noticeably better," but we all have a tendency to exaggerate, don't we?).

That out of the way, I'd like to share the top twenty-four (!) things I've learned in my life adventure so far. If someone ever asks me how to be awesome, this really big list would be my answer.

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Food for Thought: Four Life Lessons I Learned In Restaurants

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Note from Dan: I believe this guest post by my friend Kedric concerning some life lessons he learned in restaurants present some interesting food for thought that you should consider. Hope you enjoy! :)

You are what you eat!”

I hear this statement thrown around every time somebody tries to convince a person to swap french fries for a salad.

To a certain extent, it's true, but I’m not here to ramble about how eating fries will make you a blob of adipose tissue (maybe another time).

I bet eating out is an important part of your life. When you eat out, you're not just filling you're body with nutrients and vitamins; you're growing relationships with the people you care about.

In a way, your entire life resembles eating at a restaurant.

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Be Weird (Why Aquaman is Cool Even Though He Talks to Fish)

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Be weird (and don't apologize for it).

I used to agonize over the slightest criticism:

  • Nasty blog comment
  • Back-handed insult
  • (Whatever the case may be)

I wanted everybody to like me.

But problem with that... you should only be dependent on one person for happiness (look in the mirror).

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My 3 Favorite Ways to Take a Break from Work (#3 Is Sweet)

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Here are my top three favorite ways to take a break from work (tell me yours in the comments).

take a break

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Easy Morning Habits That Will Help You Wake Up with Energy and Enthusiasm

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Wake up like you mean it.

If you have a crappy morning, chances are you're going to have a crappy day.  Too many crappy days = a crappy life.

This action-packed post reveals how to wake up like you mean it.  If you revamp your morning, chances are you'll revamp your day... and possibly your life.

morning habits

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What Does It Mean To Be a Man? 10 Commandments That Guide My Choices

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

"What does it mean to be a man?" 

I cannot provide a final answer to that question, but I would be glad to share ten principles that inform my decisions in matters of love and life.

real man

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On Being a Good Boyfriend (or Dude Worth Dating)

Monday, September 10th, 2012

You're dropping the ball, dudes. You need somebody to throw you a bone.

Based on the conversations I've had with female friends and personal observations (people watching), a lot of you suck at this dating thing.

I know you don't like taking advice, but trust me. I'm not here to give you a hard time. Just trying to help. Word?

Ladies? Give me some "Amens" in the comments if you agree! Click ahead to discover how to be a good boyfriend.

be a good boyfriend

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