As I’ve traveled and blogged, I’ve gotten a lot of messages from a lot of people telling me how jealous they are of me and my life. I admit that I am very happy with my life simply because I have a very, very blessed life and have had so many wonderful opportunities and experiences. But, I’ve decided to be a real person this year. My hope is that you can be as real with me as I am with you. So, here it goes.
As happy as I may come across on social media, the truth is that I have seriously struggled the past year to be happy. One of the biggest reasons I no longer live in the U.S. is because of the seriously awful times I experienced there. Happiness eventually became a struggle for me rather than an effortless state of mind. It became a choice. It became a long, conscientious effort.
I realized though that happiness stemmed from more than my life experiences and more so from how I processed, interpreted, and applied my experiences.
I am now at such a healthy place in my life; But let me tell you… it was a HARD journey to get here. I wanted to share with you the 10 things I did to change my life this year that ultimately changed my well-being and state of mind. I hope you find some of these helpful in your own life!
I strongly believe that happiness stems from gratitude. With this belief, I began practicing gratitude on a larger and more practical scale. It’s so easy to go through our days without noting, appreciating, or being thankful for the hundreds of big and small things we’re blessed with. Mindfulness – maybe this is what it comes down to – the idea of being consciously aware of the things going WELL in your life, or the people in your life that make it beautiful, or the undeniable truth that we are surrounded by beauty every day. Whatever it may be – a sunset, someone you love, an experience that shaped you – it is amazing what being mindful of those things on a daily basis can do to your life.
Let me just say this… I BELIEVE IN THE HEALING POWERS OF YOGA! Yoga has impacted my life in the most positive way possible. My body is healthier, my mind has more clarity, my heart is more open, my life is so much more bearable on an emotional level. Yoga has done a lot of different things for me, but more than anything I love yoga because it brings out the spirituality in me, the awareness of my mind and the power it holds, and the gratitude for my body and its strength. I feel a strange and beautiful sense of connection with the earth through yoga and meditation and this encourages a sense of respect for the earth and the people it holds within it. On the days I feel most overwhelmed, I meditate in the mornings (or whenever I can) and I find a great sense of peace and clarity for my life. If you’ve never meditated, I strongly encourage you to do so.
3. I set boundaries. And the boundaries I set were unconditional and no longer flexible. I no longer made excuses for men who disrespected me or people who took advantage of me. I learned that people without boundaries are often times very dangerous people to be surrounded by. I realized quickly that people typically only do what they know they can get away with; And when you are seen as someone with no boundaries, you will always be treated how THEY want to treat you rather than how YOU demand to be treated. There’s a lot of people I’d like to thank for teaching me this – you guys have saved me from a lot of douche bags and landed me the most wonderful guy who treats me so incredibly well.
4. I traveled!
And am still traveling as we speak. From small road trips to the beach to the other side of the world in Australia, I have seen so much this past year. Traveling has taught me so much about myself, about life, and about perspective. I have grown so much as a person and have had my mind opened to such an incredible degree. If you’re still living in the same place you’ve been living your whole life, do yourself a favor and pack your bags and get out of there! I strongly believe that one of the worst things you could ever do to yourself is deprive yourself of the beauty the world has to offer. You only know as much as you know and I promise you there is SO MUCH more to learn. If I could get paid to go around and pop people’s bubbles, I would make a career out of it.
This theory is essentially the idea of giving and taking. It is used in meditation and has tremendously impacted my ability to empathize with strength, compassion, and resilience. As I meditate, I follow this practice by breathing in the injustice and the suffering in the world (in my own little world and the broad world around me) and I breath out kindness, recognition, compassion, and empathy. This is something that I’ve needed to practice many times as many of the jobs I’ve worked and the experiences in my life have been emotionally overwhelming the last few years. This idea of letting the suffering in the world conform you into an empathetic and gentle person rather than one full of bitterness… this is what brings human connection, comfort, and healing. I guess what you’re aiming for here is the idea of altruism. I hope you look that up if you don’t know what it means
6. I let go of the people that belittled my growth. I’ll keep this one short and say this: small minded people will always belittle your ambitions. People with high ambitions understand what it takes to achieve them. Those are the people you listen to.
7. I surrounded myself with “real” people. Goodbyeeee basic bitches! I let go of the people I felt unsafe being myself around. I surrounded myself with people who were real – the people that had been through hardships and knew what it meant to suffer. I surrounded myself with empathetic people, strong-minded people, and people that would help me grow as a person. I no longer accompanied myself with people I had to zone out with at coffee because all they talked about was drama. I stopped spending my time with people who had no aim in life and got drunk every night because of it. (Not saying you shouldn’t have some fun). I surrounded myself with people who deeply cared about the well-being of others and not just themselves.
8. I watched more sunsets. Simple, right? Putting aside time as often as I could to sit and enjoy a beautiful gift the earth gives us every night. Sunsets have always given me this sense of peace, no matter how hard things are at the time. The sunset has a way to make you forget about all your worries and just focus on one precious reminder that life will always have beautiful moments even in the chaos of your hardships.
9. I chose to finally love myself.
Oh god… this one was hard. I remember reading posts before about “loving yourself” and in my head whispering “that’s called being conceited”. Oh man… Now I think, “that’s called being HEALTHY”. People who don’t love and accept who they are tend to be very toxic to others. I finally accepted the fact that I was not perfect and I dropped any desire to be “perfect”, but rather be the best version of myself. Sometimes the best version of myself showed up to class in the clothes I passed out in the night before. Sometimes the best version of myself drank way more coffee than necessary to survive my day. And sometimes the best version of myself couldn’t go to class because I was a train wreck 90% of last year. I often times hated myself simply because I hated my life experiences. Then one day I realized that those experiences shaped me into someone who was stronger, someone who had more empathy, who became more real, who knew how to love others better. And that’s worth all the shitty experiences that collectively shaped me into who I am today. Love starts within and spreads throughout. Love yourself so you can fully love others.
10. I made time for the things that make me happy. I played more music, I went the extra mile and woke up an hour early to go to a coffee shop I liked. I played more tennis, kayaked more, swam, learned new things. I hiked, I biked, I took more pictures. I sat on the couch and laughed with friends. I did anything that made me think, “I am so grateful to be alive”.