“These last few weeks have been a huge game changer for me. I have been inspired and uplifted by friends, old and new. I have been humbled on spiritual and emotional levels. I have discovered a part of myself I didn’t know existed—you know how they say you only use 10 percent of your brain? Well, it’s like I have only been using 10 percent of my heart, but something burst open, and I feel like my heart is overflowing with all kinds of love and understanding. I know that sounds incredibly cheesy, but it’s true. And I feel so light, so peaceful. Life is hard. You get up, you get down, and that seems to repeat itself over and over. But now instead of dreading the downs, I am trying to take everything in and see the good in it. I honestly believe goodness always prevails. That being said, be more gentle with yourself, smile at the strangers who cross your path, and try to see others the way their mothers see them—an amazing soul in need of unconditional love.” I wrote this on Instagram a few weeks ago, and am almost positive it is my favorite thing I have ever written. It came from such a raw, honest place deep inside. A place where anger, jealousy, and comparison don’t exist. And I LOVED being there. It felt so safe and pure.
One of my awesome blog friends, Meag, then commented on the photo and said she wanted two of whatever I am having. It made me laugh, but it also got me thinking about how I arrived at what I can legitimately call a state of tranquility.
I am not constantly in this zen-like state, and I have to work reaaaaallly hard to stay in this frame of mind, but I have finally found my own personal recipe for happiness, and this is what it entails:
- Inspiring visual reminders. I am that person who has a quote for anything and everything. My Pinterest quote board has honestly been my best friend and champion in some of my darkest hours. (And this Instagram feed.) I clearly have an obsession for the written word, and I find solace and comfort in knowing that other people are going through my same struggles. (Isn’t that the point of art, writing, and literature anyway?) The reigning favorite of all those is this quote by Sri Chinmoy, “Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.” There really is nothing else. These three things are the key.
- Good music. And when I say good music, I mean the stuff that makes your heart beat stronger and faster, and releases a million butterflies free to fly through your chest. When inspired words and a moving harmony come together, it is MAGIC. Music is so powerful, and I draw a lot of my inspiration and balance from it. This particular song is one of those for me.
- Simplicity. This only became apparent to me once I removed myself from my everyday surroundings—which will lead me to the next ingredient. We stayed at my parents’ house in Utah for almost 3 weeks and they live a simple life. I always start off our trips with apprehension at not having all of my gadgets and appliances. I feel like I am making them sound like Amish pioneers. They are not. But, for example, they don’t have a dishwasher because they live in the house my great-grandparents built in 1890, and many things have not been renovated since the 60s. That kind of stuff. Anyway, it always reminds me that we tend to over-complicate things in life, and shedding the excess is the thing that will set us free.
- Embracing change and seeking adventure. I tend to be a homebody. I can easily curl up in my bed and Netflix binge for 3 days without batting an eye. But that’s not healthy and usually sends me into a whirlwind of self-loathing. Getting out and exploring, nature in particular, is always an easy and wonderful way to keep me truly centered. We have been going on hikes as a family, exploring new towns and spending a lot of time at the beach with our toes in the sand and listening to the lull of the waves. It is so good for the soul, I tell you!
- Giving as much of yourself as you can. And by this I mean paying it forward and doing things for others to increase the quality of their lives. If you sense someone is sad or struggling, follow that nagging feeling to help better their situation. That intuition is usually right, even though it often feels like you are being presumptuous. Or, if someone needs a hand or a favor, say yes! Don’t limit your world with “no!” Channel your inner Jim Carrey and say, “Yes, man!” But also learn from his mistakes, in that there is always a time and place to say no. (That is the essential part.)
- Spending time with uplifting people. Not only is it important to have social interactions and bonds with people, but it is paramount that those relationships are with good people. People who understand how you think, appreciate your quirks, and just love and embrace you for who you are. I don’t have the energy or time to force friendships. This doesn’t mean that I think poorly of people with whom I don’t hit it off. I aim to never judge and forgive and love, just as Sri Chinmoy said. But that doesn’t mean I need to be everybody’s best friend. It’s just a fact of life. There are some people with whom you gel, and others you don’t. (This quote comes to mind.) But those people with whom you do find that connection, and who do elevate and uplift your spirit—those are the types that make life all the more rich. I love hearing their perspectives and sharing in their positive energy. After all, life is about relationships, considering that we can’t take the rest of the materialistic crap with us.
- Getting rid of unnecessary obligation and guilt. For me personally, I tend to especially rack up guilt and obligation with social media. I feel like if I don’t post something regularly to this blog I am leaving people hanging. And I don’t like that feeling. As much as I don’t act like I am a people-pleaser, I suppose I have become one along the way. But, I also have very recently learned how to do away with most of that extra guilt. This is my journey, and I need to stay true to how I feel about living my life. I am done with letting it bury me like it has for 20+ years. This applies to every facet of life, whether it be religious beliefs, relationships, life choices, or something as trivial as social media.
- Love. Do all things with great love. If it is in the true spirit of charity and kindness, nothing is too impossible or incomprehensible. By some miraculous way, the world begins to make sense. But even if it doesn’t, everything somehow works itself out and what you are left with is a case of the warm fuzzies.
So there you have my recipe for happiness:
Inspiring words + music + simplicity + adventure + good people + shedding guilt + no judgment + forgiveness + love = HAPPY!
I hope you can try it out for yourself and see if it works. It definitely isn’t easy to mindfully do all of these things every day. Some days are complete and utter failures. But the more it is practiced, the easier it becomes and life gradually gets happier and more peaceful.