Purpose To The Pain

Pretty amazing what that change in perspective can do for you. When you change the lens you look through, the whole picture takes on a new look.

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We have been learning a lot about the addictive power of negative thoughts this week, and frankly given the power that positivity has had in my life, it is hard to admit that I am still one that can easily be drawn to that dark under current all too easily.

As Doreen and I have been prepping for our 30 Days of Happiness event, we have been holding many conversations, looking over research, and frankly having quite a few revelations about ourselves.  The amount of “Aha!” moments I have had in the past week and a half have left me a little dizzy and slightly off kilter, to be honest.  But this journey we are taking into self discovery is pretty amazing, and realizing that intuitively we have been able to find ways to cope with life’s difficulties in ways that have preserved our hope has been eye opening and rewarding.  Hopefully, you are recognizing those same bits of self wisdom in yourself, too.

Something that struck me was the idea that 50% of our happiness is determined by our genetics.   A full half of how happy we will ever be comes not from our level of success, the money we make, the people we surround ourselves with, but from our own unique gene pool.   In my case, I have some great genes to work with and I am lucky for that.  But I also have family traits that include depression, addictive personalities, grudge holders, and Debbie Downers.

I have worked really hard to look for the good in each situation presented to me, to find that one thing that I can use to build from.  At first it began as more of a “Fuck you, I’m going to prove this can’t break me”, which has it’s merits in survival mode.  And then it began to morph more into “If this is how it is, and I have to live with it, what can I get from it?”  Today I “mine for the silver lining” and my kids and I refer to everything, good times and challenging times, as “Adventures”.  I made a conscious decision to change my perspective, to look for the blessing inside the curse.

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Image Sourced Via Pinterest

Truthfully, this process of changing perspective started with my mother when I was a child. I guess I presented outwardly as a bubbly child, would play with my brother and friends when we were out, but after a long day of childhood adventure when my dad would arrive home and ask how our day went, no matter how many great things we had done or experienced, I focused on the one bad thing of the day.  Instead of “We spent the day with our friends playing at the farm, climbing on the hay and feeding calves and then decorated cookies after lunch”, my dad heard “I stepped into a puddle and got my new sneakers dirty”.  This became a pattern, and my mother was worried that this would be my life.  She was  reminded of her own mother, who would focus on the bad things of the day.   So she instituted a new rule at dinner, I could still tell my “daily tragedy” but I also had to tell three good things that happened that day. She told me one of her great moments of success was when I stopped at a puddle in the parking lot, pointed to the oily layer on top, and said “Mommy, look at the pretty melted rainbow!”  Pretty amazing what that change in perspective can do for you.  When you change the lens you look through, the whole picture takes on a new look.

My backstory includes being molested as a child, surviving rape, and several abusive relationships.  I viewed myself as a victim, as dirty and worthless for a very long time.  My low self worth from the early traumas made my choices in relationships continue a pattern that would reinforce that self view.  Receiving professional help through counseling helped me to change my self portrait from victim to survivor.  By changing my own perspective, and accepting that these events have worked to forge me into the woman I have become, I have experienced an explosion in self growth.

Because I no longer feel that I have to hide from my past, I have become a mentor to several young women who have suffered similar issues, grown deeper friendships, have grown closer to my Mom and Dad (telling them the truth recently after hiding the molestation for over 30 years), volunteered with organizations working with Veterans and children in the hopes that I can give a “purpose to my pain”.

My strength has come from my struggles, and the fact that I never lost the ability to search for that silver lining.  My hope is that we can help you this month discover your happy, make the most of your genetic 50%, and help give you some ideas on how to mine your own silver linings!

Negative Addiction

While doing some research this morning, I came upon some stuff that kind of has my mind wandering a path of thought provocation.

Last week in the blog post ADDICTIONS, we discussed the power of getting addicted and perpetuating negative emotions and focusing on the destination.

I want to expand a little on that Addiction to Negativity. Let’s put a reason behind why it’s so simple and easy for us to fall into that cycle.

According to psychology research, we are genetically and historically predispositioned to focus on those pinpoints of negativity. Why? Those negative emotion moments are our armor of protection. We wouldn’t want to be in a daze of serendipitous bliss and contentment standing in the middle of a highway, ultimately getting plowed down by a semi truck.

While negative emotions have usefulness, their power is exploited daily. It’s is our news stories because if it “bleeds, it reads” and in politics. It’s what sells! Take a break for a second. Go pull up your social media outlet, click on one news page. In the last ten posts, how many are positive, upbeat and uplifting? 

Take a look at what your friends are posting. Are they negative, inflammatory and full of negativity? 

We are surrounded by addicts. How we view this is up to us. We can either survive in the moment or we can thrive and inspire.

Breaking the addiction to negativity is going to take a little work and some serious mental power. We can’t change the world all at once but we can change the world one person at a time… Starting with ourselves!

Negativity is a society accepted heroin. It’s a drug that perpetually draws us deeper into a closed world. Now, what if you realized that there was more positivity (aka sober moments) in your day that negativity?

There’s the old adage “the good outweighs the bad” and it’s still true. We have much to be looking out for. It just takes a little bit to wean ourselves from the negativity addiction. 

First we need a positive emotion to focus on. That’s part of the reason we decided to host a 30 days of happiness for the month of September on our Facebook page. 

In the meantime, let’s talk positive emotions. The top ten (one being the most frequent) are:

  1. Joy
  2. Gratitude
  3. Serenity
  4. Interest
  5. Hope
  6. Pride
  7. Amusement
  8. Inspiration 
  9. Awe
  10. Love

If I asked you to create a portfolio based off one of those emotions, what would you include? Who’s photos or letters would be in there? Where would those photos be taken? What moments would you share?

If I asked you each day to add one moment of your day into a memory jar, what would it be?

I’ll have more on these topics in detail soon in future posts based off my research notes. The key points to breaking the negativity addiction is that you need to be actively involved and seeking the positive moments.

Positive Psycology isn’t a spectator sport. You have to get in the game and experience it for yourself.

Christopher Peterson 

Lessons learned on Raceday

While most of us are spending lazy days on Sunday’s, there is a collective group that calls it a work day.

That group is involved in racing. Hundred upon hundreds of people work these events we all watch in leisure.

Hidden within the televised events are some really good life lessons. Sort of hit me today while listening in on one of the driver’s radios.

The crew chief noticed that once the driver calmed down, he ran faster laps. When the comment was made directly to the driver, the response was it was all about clean air.

A little side note is that this driver didn’t pit on the last caution, so he was running on old tires too.

Where’s the lesson? Well, let’s break it down. It’s all about components that build a whole. New sneakers would have helped with greater comfort and made a little speed. A bad attitude alters ability. And lastly, a little bit of fresh air changes performance.

In racing, it’s all about team work. The driver must work with his crew, but also the car and maintain a calm mental status. The elites still have struggles with the issues. 

The issues demonstrated under the unique aspect of seeing the inside world of racing, just demonstrates that we all face issues under pressure and how we react impacts our performance. Our team is crucial to helping us make appropriate decisions and keep our mentality in check.

If you had to pick team members in relation to your life, who would you assign to the positions needed?

In NASCAR, you have six guys over the wall. Six guys that keep your sneakers going and your car the best it can be. You have a crew chief that helps you with the set up and keeps you focused on the future. You also have a spotter that keeps you from wrecking out.

You are the driver. Each of these positions keeps propelling you forward or backwards. Just as in these races, each member is crucial to what happens. You can’t do what you need to do alone or without a single one of those members. 

Top performing teams have the best working crew that’s uniquely performing to match together. The better they work together, the greater the end result.

What’s your strategy to earn championship status? Remember, their schedules are 38 weeks and it resets every year!

Whisked Eggs

There are some days that just have so many bad moments that I feel like I’ve beat beaten. Like someone is preparing to make scrambled eggs with my life and I’m at the stage of being just the whisked eggs in a bowl.

Here’s a new perspective: I started as an egg. Someone cracked my shell. Spun me around a few times, distorting me from my original state not once now but twice. What’s the next step? 

The frying pan or oven! Well crap!

When all is said and done, once I’m flavored with a little salt and pepper, maybe a little grated cheese or other toppings… Doesn’t that make me a better product for the tastebuds than my original raw, shelled version?

I know that hard days are really difficult. As a farm girl, battler of MS, survivor of abuse and more, I know all about bad days. There’s days I fall down (literally) 100 times and although it’s a struggle, I always get back up.

Why don’t we give up? Let’s take a look at our history. Back before evolution and our species was hunter/gatherers, each individual HAD to fight beast and nature to survive. Somewhere in there, during evolution, the genetic predisposition for a warrior gene emerges.

Today, how we define and utilize that warrior gene is much different and applied to different aspects. Today we call it determination. We fall down a 1,000 times and we stand back up 1,000.

How are we different than our hunter/gatherer ancestors? We have a greater knowledge of happiness and acceptance to change. We are better equipped to handle the mental challenges. We have counsellors, advisors, therapists and a higher intellect than ever before in known history.

What do you do if you fall down? I always answer it depends on how I land as to the sequences of events but ultimately the end result is ALWAYS the same! I stand back up. Sometimes there is support and other times there isn’t. Sometimes I sit and cry first. Sometimes I have to crawl to find something to grab onto. It doesn’t matter the time frame between landing face down on the ground to standing upright, I still get back up.

When days are bad and you feel beat up, just look at each issue as a stumble.

The coffee pot broke, stumble. But you didn’t get hurt and you are still kicking. The dog chewed apart your brand new sneaker, stumble. It was a waste of money for you but your dog has her favorite new chew toy and you see that your dog has depression anxiety issues because she loves you THAT much.

The list could go on and on. You are all smart and get my point by now. Bad times can either stay bad or end good. It’s all about our personal perspective and our warrior spirits at the end.

I’m going to go throw myself in the frying pan now. I’m ready to get this party started with all these new added ingredients. I think I’ll aspire to become an omelet so I get more tasty goodies!

Where’s the person who just became orange juice? Bread? Jelly? 

We all go through changes. It’s up to you whether you rot and become compost (can still be a positive end result if you need to start a new life away from your current situation) or become something new and improved!

Little side note: Sap from maple trees can be very bitter. With the right kind of attention, love and a little heat it transforms into Maple Syrup. It all depends on how it’s handled. Be aware of how you handle yourself and how others treat you.

Just some “food for thought”… Now who’s ready for pancakes and eggs?

We are all diamonds in the rough. This blob of stone:


That when cut and polished turns into a precious stone:


It’s all about perspective and how YOU see yourself!

Addictions 

Today I want to talk about addictions. No, not to drugs or alcohol but, emotional and verbal addictions.


When you talk to your BFF or your spouse, do you talk about the happiness and joys or do you vent?

I’ve done it myself. You fall into the spiral where this is wrong or that’s upsetting. Next thing you know you are on a bitch fest that lasts a week and every topic that makes you emotional in a negative way takes over your head, mouth and attitude.

I’ve been talking lately about just how bad that’s gotten with a great deal of people I talk to. Whining about poor financial situations, complaining about unrequited love, and to top it all off political bickering.

Where has all the conversation gone about things like I’m so proud of my kid or a kid saying how awesome a night at the movies was? How about how great a persons job is or how cool a new gadget is? How about the blessing of lifelong friends? Anything! (Insert crickets chirping here)

Facebook kindly gives a “today in memories” now. I go through mine on a regular basis to see how far I’ve come professionally. You can always tell when I had a bad day or I was frustrated about something. The posts express it. Don’t we all try to just connect? Expressing the negativity is more of an outlet to me to have someone, anyone tell me that it’s going to be okay. That the sun will still rise tomorrow and that this too shall pass.

But is it bringing me joy and happiness? To know I have positive friends yes! But is it helping ME? Not really!!!! Why?

It’s not helping because I’m not really solving anything and I’m sharing my misery with others. Sure I get comments that are positive but they only pat me on the back, give me a hug and don’t offer a solution.

What if I reworded negative phrases from “Today was miserable. Nothing is going right.” to “Today was a real challenge. I’m going to recharge tonight and try again tomorrow.”? The pattern of speech goes from miserable to optimistic. 

Here’s the next addiction:

Happiness isn’t found at the end of the journey, it’s found in the journey. Happiness is the Thelma to your Louise! It’s sitting right there next to you, stop ignoring it and giving it the silent treatment because today didn’t meet your expectations.

Who cares about money and status, fame and glory? I know public figures and let’s just say I’ve witness the misery of microphones being shoved in your face and cameras constantly pointed at you. Money and fame come with its own set of massively negative, over scrutinized moments.

One thing these people have taught me is the pure joy in being IN the moment. It might be a quiet day with friends at home to pulling pranks on that same group. It’s about sharing what you do have with others in the moment. It might be laughing at yourself over some stupid picture from almost a year ago.

Make a pact with yourself, for yourself to break these addictions. Stop taking the misery train. Stop thinking about the destination. Enjoy the moment my friends!

Happy Moments

I sit here this morning. I’m looking forward to our 30 day Happiness Event and I’m thinking about all the images, articles, and art I’ve seen in the last two days about happiness.

Many of them focus on key phrases like 

HAPPINESS IS… 

And even one that made me happy (absolutely no pun here) to see.


There are many different definitions to exactly what happiness is. Never once have I seen anywhere else what happiness isn’t. So I’d like to take a second to talk about that aspect.

Happiness isn’t judged. It’s not paraded around a ring to be awarded points. It’s just there. It’s something uniquely individual to the emotions invoked in each unique individual.

Happiness isn’t size. Happy doesn’t care is you are tall or short, heavy or thin. It doesn’t care how you are externally.

Happiness isn’t controlled. No one can tell you when to be happy and when you can’t. It’s yours. All yours to seek, find and keep. If you aren’t happy, you’ve stopped looking for it.

Happiness isn’t about rights or wrongs. If it feels right and makes you smile, laugh or feel content, then seek it. If it sucks that laughter away, turns the smile upside down or makes you feel edgy, it’s not making you happy.

Happiness isn’t more money. Sure more money can buy anything you want but can it give you what you really need to fill your face full of smiles and your heart full of laughter?

Happiness isn’t a magic potion, pill or quick fix thing. Happiness, true happiness, is found in moments. 

Moments talking with your BFF, laughing over silly things. It’s found in a baby’s first laugh, their first steps, their first everything. Holding hands with one you love. Jokes. It’s having a job you love. It’s inspiring and empowering others. It’s helping those in need. It’s in meeting a goal you’ve been working on and finishing your first 5k. It’s in the tears shed as you drop off your child at school the first time and years later at college. It’s about warm blankets in winter. The smell of warm sugar cookies. The heat in a cup of coffee. It’s in a family photo. It’s hidden within the pages of books.

Happiness is every where, in everything. It’s just up to the individual to decide the moments, the feelings and the pure joy of each.

What do you think? Which moments bring you the most joy, happiness and peace? 

It’s said that to find true success, you have to be happy first! Why not bring a little excitement back into your life? Join us for the 30 day challenge! You have nothing to lose in the few minutes a day it will take and only more happiness to gain.

The challenge is a personal one set up with a support group to help you along. Again, there is no right or wrong. It’s all about YOU and your happiness!

Gratitude and Happiness

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Let’s talk for a few about Gratitude and Happiness.

Why is gratitude an important part of every day life?

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

I’m sure many of you will look at that work thankful and automatically think of thanksgiving. Why do most of us save that for one day a year?

We are running an experiment is showing gratitude, thankfulness and appreciation.


Photo from BoHo Berry on Bullet Jounaling

Here are some ideas on how to participate:

  1. During evening meals, write down something you are grateful or thankful for each day in a journal.
  2. Write a list of things you like about someone else and share it as a demonstration of appreciation.
  3. Share pictures daily of something each day you are thankful for.
  4. Pay it forward
  5. Listen to others
  6. Write down one sentence a day for what you are grateful for in yourself


Photo by Writing Bravely on Instagram 

Let’s use the hashtag #inspirationalgratitude for social media posts so we can all inspire others to join along.

Where does happiness tag into all this?

“People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune system.”  A favorite quote from Happify in an article titled, The Science Behind Gratitude.

The basic thing we are doing in our daily expressions in gratitude is generating a Happy Journal. Happiness jounaling is a great way to express our gratitude and our thanks.

There are many blogs that have prompts to get you going and to start you on your way!


Photo by Pepper and Twine on Tumblr 

There are no limits to the how you share your gratitude and happiness. It doesn’t even need to be daily, even once a month is a great place to start. Give yourself 5 minutes. That’s all it will take.

Photo provided by heartistic.jess on Intragram
What’s your #inspirationalgratitude today?