You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘self improvement’ tag.
Yesterday, I posted a list of 10 Things to Eliminate from Your Life Today. Today, I thought I’d share some things to make sure are part of your life for finding some semblance of happiness and sanity.
- Exercise – You don’t have to win an ironman, just start moving more.
- Time just for you - it doesn’t have to be extravagant, but setting aside even just 10 minutes with no distractions that is all for you to do what you please with no one else demanding anything of you, take it. Everyday.
- A hobby – if you don’t already have something that you love to do and is your way to escape, find something. And make sure you make time to do it.
- Good friends – no you don’t have to go out and make new ones. But connect with the ones you have. Put a smile on their face. Pick up the phone and say hello and that you are thinking of them. Keep them in your life to add value to theirs and yours.
- Risk-taking – be bold, take a chance, let go of your fear of failure and try something new!
- Experiences/travel – doesn’t have to be exotic. it could just be a daytrip to the next town over. Get out more and discover new to you things. Broaden your horizons.
- Positivity - keep a smile on your face, look on the bright side, appreciate what you have instead of what you don’t. Adding a positive perspective to your life will change you at the core quickly and you won’t ever want to go back to being negative.
- Organization – both your time and surroundings need to be organized in a way that suits you in order to be productive and reduce stress.
- A budget – if you don’t have one, get one and stick to it!
- Sleep – go to bed earlier. I struggle with this so much even though I know that when I get more sleep, I am happier, more relaxed, more focused and able to take on all the other things that add fulfillment to my life.
My brother and his new wife just spent 10 days visiting sunny Florida. They stayed at my parents’ house and I got to visit them a few times. I would’ve liked to have seen them more but I was sick for that few days and didn’t want to get them sick too so we stayed huddled up at home.
I love my brother. I light up at the mention of his name, I can’t help but smile when I see him, laugh when he talks, and listen to his advice. I admire him so much for who he is. He is absolutely without question the most down-to-earth and true to himself person I know. He’s friendly to everyone he meets. He stands up for what he believes in.
My brother is such an individual. Nothing about him is anything but Andy. He refuses to conform to what others expect him to dress like, look like, act like. And all the while, people just love him. I have learned so much from him over the 29 years I’ve been alive. We are only 16 months apart in age and were often mistaken for twins growing up. That was probably helped by the fact that he was held back a grade in 5th grade so we were in the same grade for years.
I am going to share some things I have learned from my brother, some of the more important lessons he’s taught me through example.
1. All people are equal – he used to get in fights in middle and high school because he’d get made fun of by ignorant kids because his best friends were black. I know that he’s learned by now that beating people up isn’t the way to get them to listen to you. But he has always shown a passion for standing up for what is right and fighting for what he believes in. Now he just does it a little more civilly.
2. Don’t be a follower – live your own life, live it well and be happy with who you are. I will never forget the 3 months in high school that my brother didn’t talk to me. Not one word. After he found out that I had gone out to a concert with friends and gotten drunk and been smoking cigarettes. To him, I was doing what everyone expected in an effort to be cool (and he was right) and he had no tolerance for me being an idiot in order to be liked. That 3 months was hell. I was embarrassed that I had behaved so stupidly to try to make insignificant people like me and in the process made my best friend dislike me.
3. Show your love – when I see my brother with his wife, I think he’s amazing. He’s the perfect combination of loving but goofy, he takes care of her without being overbearing. He always thinks of her first for everything. That is how marriage should be. Putting the other person first and making sure they are shown everyday how much you love and appreciate them.
4. Laugh at yourself - NEVER take yourself too seriously. This is above all else the single biggest thing I got from growing up with him. He’s not obnoxious but he likes to make fun of people and he’s sarcastic and goofy. If you trip, he’ll laugh. That kind of thing. He makes the mundane hilarious and shows me how to smile and laugh through life even when things are bad.
Those are the big things. He’s special, my brother. I’m lucky to have him in my life showing that everything doesn’t have to be conventional and happiness can come when you are true to yourself and put a smile on your face. It becomes contagious.
Do you ever wonder why you’re here? What you’re purpose is and how you should be living your life? Wondering how to find happiness?
I think that one of the best ways to at least start on the path to discovering those things is to examine yourself and your life and determine what your gifts are. When I think of gifts a person has, I think of what identifies that person, what defines who they are, what stands out about them? Are they a person who just loves to make people laugh? Or are they a person who is a fantastic speaker or writer and can touch people through those mediums? Good at athletics or just very intelligent and great in conversation? Some are just fabulous parents. Others love design, aesthetics and find happiness in making things around them beautiful. Maybe a person is gifted with artistic ability and creativity. Whatever it is, everyone has gifts.
When you look inside yourself and think of the things that drive you, excite you when you get to do them, make you feel whole when they are part of your life, that is what I would call a gift. When you can embrace your gifts and live your life through their uniqueness, then you can begin to really find your inner happiness. You can begin to find comfort in who you are because you’re not trying to be something someone else is. Finding your strength in just knowing who you are, knowing what your reason is for being here and spending everyday fulfilling that purpose as much as you can is a great start down that path to inner peace and happiness.
I have been trying to find out who I am and what my purpose is and making changes accordingly. If I look inside myself and think of what my gifts are, it makes it much easier to embrace and live out the things that mean a whole lot to me. Along that same line, it makes it easier to stop doing things that don’t fulfill what I believe myself to be and what I want my purpose to be. My life, day in and day out has to be me living with purpose. From every dollar I spend having a purpose, to every moment with my kids, to every time I have a free moment, I want it all to be the most full it can be. I also want to make sure I am living out the uniqueness of my gifts. I love decorating. I also love a simple, clutter-free home to feel comfortable in. Those two things mean a lot in my life. It’s part of who I am and so my time goes into those things. I also enjoy writing. I won’t go overboard and call myself a writer, just a blogger. I enjoy it very much and the sense of purpose it brings to my life, the way it makes me think more about myself and the way it brings new ideas into my world each day. I am a runner. When I run, I feel relaxed and at ease and natural. It’s easier once I have pinpointed things that I define myself as to better use my time living out who I am and not cluttering my time with things that don’t add to my life.
Above all else, my family is my purpose. I am a wife, mother, daughter, and sister. I know not all women feel that motherhood is their ultimate purpose in life. I don’t know that it is for me either, but at this stage of my life, it absolutely is. I don’t have much more than my kids that drives me right now. As they grow older and need me less (sniff sniff) I am sure that my priorities and purpose will change. For today, I just have to live out who I am and that means being the best mother and wife that I can be.
I have to say, it feels good, and I feel very lucky to have found what I deem to be my own inner peace. It takes time to dig deep within yourself to find that, but once I did, it was so worth it. Waking up each day with goals and dreams and knowing if I just keep staying true to myself, I will get there is deeply satisfying and motivating.
People love to make assumptions about others based on how things *look* instead of digging deeper into how things really are. It’s probably a pretty normal human trait. You see someone and based on their clothing, car, whatever, an assumption gets made about financial status. I know not everyone does this, a lot of people learn with age and experience that how things appear on the outside aren’t always how they truly are.
Whether it’s that I don’t feel I owe a full entire story or every last detail about myself or whatever, I find often that people will take the smaller bits of things about me and piece together an altogether inaccurate picture of my life. I could say it’s my own fault and I can just give out more information. Or I can decide it doesn’t matter what other people think and I don’t owe anyone an explanation or more detail than I am comfortable giving. Unless you are my close family or very close friend, I don’t need to share every last detail of my financial picture, homelife picture or whatever other picture people only get small glimpses of.
Why do we automatically think someone in designer clothes is rich or worse – went into debt to buy them? Maybe those nice jeans were a gift. Or maybe she was lucky and found them at Goodwill for $4. The truth is, there is very little we can know about anyone around us unless we are very close and really *know* and therefore I have to not let my first impressions determine what I think of a person.
A lot of the people I know are into “keeping up appearances”. I know too many people who live their life to be *seen* as something they are not. And since I am a person who is working on constantly being true to myself, I can’t be bothered with that game. All those people trying to one up each other are just one upping things that aren’t real. It’s a vicious cycle. No matter how rich, successful, beautiful, amazing, talented I am…there will always be someone more than any of those things than I am. So the only way to be happy is to just be me and be happy with good enough for me. I won’t indulge those seeking that attention and I won’t seek it myself. It’s really quite simple. Just be who you are and don’t worry about who or what others are or what they have. The bottom line is we just don’t know and why do we *feel* the need to know? And if we don’t know…why go back to assuming the worst? Assume a person has something expensive because they’re bad with money and in credit card debt. Maybe they’re a super financially savvy person and financially free. The honest truth is that we like to think others struggle for what they have because it makes it easier for us struggling to feel like we’re all in the same boat struggling to keep up.
I see regularly people who get so caught up in how they think they look to others or thinking too much about what others are doing and how they’re doing it, that there is such a negativity to it all. Someone can quit their job and take a few months off work or take years off to finish school to further themselves? They must be spoiled, the recipient of a trust fund or just plain lucky. Why not that the person works their butt off and is smart with money and put themselves in a very worthwhile and hard-earned position of taking a break to find themself and to better themself? Because as humans, we don’t want to admit that those things are possible without some sort of intervention. We don’t want to think about the changes we could make in our own lives to be in that same position. We don’t want to give up the cushy comfy stuff that we surround ourselves with to pretend to make ourselves feel better and to artificially find happiness.
At the end of the day, the myth of stuff and money and all of that bringing happiness is what we *want* to believe because it’s more comfortable. Somewhere along the line the competition to be better, look better, have more has become the standard. And it’s because if we don’t have all that and more, we’re afraid people might *gasp* think we’re poor or don’t have the means to attain it! Why in the world would you not live in a huge house if you can afford to? Why would you drive an old car if you can afford a new one? Why would you work that dead end job if you have more skills? Maybe some people are just happy with what is.
When we let go of caring what anyone else thinks around us, then it’s possible to just live life. Not for anyone else, not to make sure no one thinks something bad about us. So what if someone thinks your poor? They won’t think so 30 years from now when you’re retired on the beach in Panama
I just kinda got going on this whole negativity funk all morning and then in the afternoon, I got a reminder that life is so fragile. A friend of a friend lost her baby. She was 7 months pregnant and it was her first child. I just cannot even begin to imagine that. I don’t know her and my heart breaks for her. Once you’re a mother you just have a bond whether you know a person or not and it’s just unfathomable to me that amount of pain.
So I slapped myself back to reality and realized how good I have it. My kids are happy (unless I haven’t fed them in a while) and healthy. I have everything in my life that I need. There is nothing in this world I need that I do not have. How freaking amazing is that? I mean, really?! Amazing!
I got all reminiscent. Thinking of the long road it has been for me to get to this place of happiness and being okay with good enough. 11 years ago, I was getting treated for an eating disorder. I was miserable with myself and my life and I was blaming the world around me for the injustice of it all. I was at a bad place with my parents. I was young and stupid. I had no idea how great I had it and all I should have been thankful for. I think it was shortly after meeting hubby 11 years ago that I stopped hating the world but kept hating myself. I never had great self-esteem as a kid and that continued into my late teen years and early adulthood. (Am I really not in early adulthood anymore? Yikes!) After being treated for and continuing to recover from my self-inflicted misery of an eating disorder, I slipped back into it a few years ago worse than ever. When I think back on those days, it seems like I’m remembering watching a bad after school special on television. It was so ugly what I did to myself and went through because I couldn’t see far enough past myself to realize there was much more to life than holding onto the bad stuff.
I let go of old grudges. I forgave the bad stuff that had been done to me and I started to move on. I said this to myself and I still say it to myself often. “My childhood was bad if I choose to remember the bad. My childhood was good if I choose to remember the good.” That pretty much can go for anything. It’s what I choose to hold onto, how I choose to look at things that make them the way they are. I have a good life if I am willing to look at the good and embrace it instead of focusing on things that are not good.
Back to the story…I wanted to have kids but didn’t really know what that meant. Then after a while of trying, I was graced with the amazing gift that is my daughter. She is such a blessing in all ways imaginable. She keeps me on my toes, she keeps me real, she keeps me laughing, crying, loving, appreciating. She tells me when I should or shouldn’t buy something for myself. At 3 1/2 she told me last week in a store loud enough for everyone to hear “No, don’t buy that skirt mommy. Your butt is too big for it.” before even seeing me try it on. Right there I hugged her and laughed. 5, 10 years ago, I would have been mortified and starved myself for weeks on end. She just keeps it real, keeps me grounded.
I know I’ve babbled before about the last two years – the transitions, the ups and downs, the good and the bad. All I have to say about that time now is that I am grateful. Grateful that the second chance I offered was welcomed. Grateful for the beautiful baby boy that came out of the turmoil. Grateful for the end of that road and moving onto a brighter tomorrow. Grateful for depression medication that helps keep hubby together and our family sane. Grateful for the unconditional love of friends who helped me through the worst patch of my life. Grateful to my parents for helping me when I needed it most and asking for nothing more than me just being me in return.
I could look at that time and play a victim. A victim of a faltering marriage and an angry husband. But I’m not. I’m not a victim. I’m just a girl who was shown rock bottom so that I can appreciate the little things more. I know how bad things can get quickly so I don’t take for granted my family or friends. I don’t take for granted a roof over my head. I enjoy and savor the amazing moments that make up each and every day with my husband and children and know to be thankful for smiling faces and a good life.