Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Habits for Happiness and Fulfillment

I woke up earlier than usual this morning.  The birds are singing, the house is quiet with sleeping kids, my coffee is hot, and life feels full of possibility.  Every so often I get this feeling like something big is right around the corner in my life.  Something important and exciting.  Something that is ready for me when I'm ready for it.  The next step.  The next opportunity or puzzle piece to this joyful life!  Whatever it is, I feel like something positive and enriching is coming and I'm open arms and ready.  And I'm excited for the next step while still being present and fully happy with my life now.

Recently, I've been reflecting on the key components to living a happy and successful life.  Happiness and success are different for everyone and I truly think that a huge part of experiencing it comes from our perspective and attitude.  So much of feeling "rich in life" comes from what we do with what we have.  I'm always inspired by the people in my life that continue to dream big and see the many blessings and gifts in life despite their financial status, house they live in, job they have, etc.  Those naturally optimistic and joyful people that keep on keepin' on towards their dreams and goals!  The people that inspire me to use my gifts and what I have to make a wonderful life despite the things I lack.

I have to say that I feel pretty darn happy with my life right now.  I have not always felt so joyful and peaceful.  In fact, growing up and all through college, I was one big ball of fear, stress, and worry.  I'm so glad that chapter in my life is finished!  This morning I jotted down a list of things that I thought were key to being happy and living a personally successful and fulfilled life.  A life of joy, challenge, and satisfaction. I've really tried to be conscious about making these things "habits" in my daily living and over time they have become routine and natural components in my life.  Here are some of my "habits":

Habits for Living a Happy and Fulfilled Life

Focus on Gratitude
This is huge for me!  I have lists everywhere filled with things I'm thankful for.  These lists of gratitude include all kinds of things from the breakfast I ate this morning to the lessons I learned from my injury last summer.  So much to be thankful for and I truly believe that when we focus on gratitude and recognizing the things we have to be thankful for, then we end up getting more of the good stuff in our life...the stuff to be thankful for!

Love Fully 
I'm not perfect at loving others...who is?  But I try to live a life where I show love and compassion to the people around me.  I'm human and I do fall into traps of getting irritated with others and finding myself wanting to "vent" about someone but one of my big goals is to challenge myself with "How I can love others, especially the people that are hardest for me to love?"

Use Your Gifts to Give to Others
There are always ways to give of ourselves. The cool thing is that we each have unique gifts and it doesn't always take a lot of work or resources to use our gifts to help others or to make our community and world a better place.  I find that sometimes just giving my "words" or "thoughts" to someone and telling them something they might need to hear is a way to give (and love).

Faith in Something Outside Our Own Power
 Having faith in a higher power and being able to find refuge and strength in prayer and spiritual connection is such a comfort to me.  My faith gives me peace and a feeling of being safe and protected.  It also helps me trust and get through things that I can't understand.

Live without Fear and Doubt
Fear is deadly.  It will suck the happiness right out of life and serve as one big road block to keep you from where you want to be.  Fear is perhaps one of our biggest enemies to reaching our goals.  It has taken years for me to be able to dismiss the fear that starts to creep up and get in the way from believing in my dreams.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of failing.  Fear of losing what we have and taking risks. Fear of people not taking us seriously or thinking we are stupid for our ideas.  I lived with fear for Way. Too. Long and I'm thankful to finally be keeping it at bay.   This has been KEY to making some of my dreams become reality

Focus on What is Right
We can all make a long list of our flaws, the things we should have done different, and the ways we screwed up big time!  Although it is good to have a healthy dose of humility and know our flaws and areas of weakness so that we can get better, it is dangerous to get stuck in dwelling and obsessing over the things we messed up on.  It is so easy to get in that rut of being mad at ourselves for things we did that now appear to be all wrong!  Instead, I try to focus on what is working for me now.  What am I doing right?  What steps am I taking to pull myself up and move on?

Take Something to Learn From and Move On
Use those "mess ups" and lows in life as a learning experience.  Take the lesson that has been provided for you and move on with new tools for living!  A gift in disguise to make us wise (that just sounds good when you say it).

Trust in What You Know
Believe in your own wisdom!  Trust that you have lessons to teach and advice to give yourself.  So easy to second guess ourselves and think we always need the approval or advice from others.  Sometime we just have to believe in what we already know!

Set Goals
I've mentioned goals a lot in this blog!  Such a necessary part of my life in making it better and moving closer to my dreams.  The cool thing about goals is that they don't have to stay the same.  They are like steps to a ladder to get us to where we want to go.  We might sit with a goal for awhile and then move on without reaching it.  Sometimes having a goal and living with it for awhile is just an avenue for reaching a new place in our life where we can then reevaluate and change our goal to fit us better as we grow.  I'm big on having longterm, short term, big and small goals!  Go for it...set some goals!

Celebrate The Little Things
Part of having goals in life is to accomplish new things.  When we do find ourselves meeting our goals, it is important to celebrate our success!  Even the small things are worth celebrating!  Celebrate you because you should should be your own biggest fan.  I'm constantly telling myself "Good Job" and finding ways to celebrate throughout the days.

Take in the World Around You
This is the hardest for me!  To work on slowing down enough to be fully present in my life and the world around me.  I struggle with just turning my mind down and really listening, noticing, and being in the Now.

Believe You're Already There
My mom always reminds me to "Tell your story the way you want it to be".  For a long time I didn't really know what she meant by this and I just humored her with yeah yeah.  But I'm realizing more and more just how helpful it is for me to really believe in my importance and see myself already doing the things that I want to do...become a professional writer, dream big with running, be the best mother I can be, and find ways to use my gifts as a teacher.  We are all people and sometimes the only thing that separates the doers from the "maybe some dayers" is the belief that something is really possible and already going to happen.

What are some of your habits of living?


I don't write here as often as I used to but you can also find Runninghood on:


  1. Amanda, I'm right there with ya! this is a wonderful post. I feel like big things are happening in my life right now. I think it's so important to be thankful for what I have, because I have everything I need.

    You have an amazing gift of writing and it's so awesome that you realize it and share it!

  2. Seriously a great post. Well put. Thank you.

  3. Great post!
    One of my keys that has worked wonders and has become a great habit is positive self talk. Even if it feels ridiculous at first it truly is a self fulfilling prophecy.

  4. This is exactly how I was feeling today!! I finally feel like I know what I'm doing, what I want and how to get there :D I was really lost for a few years, feeling like I didn't know where I was going, aimless you could say. It is amazing how blogging has helped me set goals and pursue my passion.

    I totally know what you mean when you say you get a feeling something big is around the corner. I've been getting that feeling that I'm on the verge of a break through :)

  5. so with your running journal, is it glue, glue stick, double sided tape, rubber cement that you use.

    I'm a huge advocate of self affirmations- both to start the day, but in running. Sadly I have been lacking using them while running, but I will keep reminding myself for this race how great I feel, how thankful I am to be outside running and keeping active, and that I'm awesome :) haha

  6. I love "celebrate the little things". I think that is so important for us and especially for our kids. Celebrating the little stuff is so much fun for them!! Every day can be a celebration if we choose to make it that way.

  7. Lisa, these pictures are from my mom's journal...her collages are so awesome and inspirational. I think she uses a glue stick like me but I'll have to ask her. :) Maybe rubber cement.

  8. Amanda....I love your post today. I secretly have been working on my running journal, because of you:)
    I am thankful that I am running again thanks to my great ART therapist. Am i slow? yes. Am I tired after? yes, but man does it feel good! I even said a prayer before I started, just to thank God for my ability to get out there.
    Thanks for you and your great post!

  9. Habits of Living. That is deep.
    I definitely agree with the gratitude and the idea of learning something from mistakes and moving on.
    I'll admit that I have been incredibly lucky in my life, but I still hold on to the idea that if my loved ones are ok, then everything is good.

  10. This was a beautiful post.
    I love that gratitude and sharing your gifts with others was on there because that is what I totally believe. It's not always easy to be positive but when you focus on what you already have it's hard not to quit the pity party and be grateful.
    I love where you are in your life and how happy you are. I feel much the same way. I think my trick or habit would be to pay attention to the little things that might otherwise be passed by. Sometimes the little things make ALL the difference.

  11. Ok, so I am technically cheating on my blogging hiatus but I just had to post a comment after reading this. Thanks so much for writing this because this is just what I needed to hear. Lately, as a stay at home mom, I feel like sometimes I focus so much on what I don't have or what I have to give up (e.g., second income that forces us to budget and cut back on my expenses/luxuries, my schedule and life as 90% of my day is focused on attending to and taking care of the needs of others), but I loved reading this and being reminded to be grateful for all that I do have and that is also okay for me to set aside time for myself to dream my dreams, and be a good mom, wife, friend too. Thanks so much for continuing to write, run, and inspire us. I know balancing it all is tough!!

  12. oh, and awesome 10k race last weekend...what a great time! You are going to do so awesome in your marathon!!!

  13. So I absolutely love your posts and I hope you don't mind but I wrote about your blog as my entry. Great post!

  14. I love this post! All of the habits you mentioned are awesome and so important!

  15. This post was so inspiring, thank-you for sharing!

  16. I think everyone can get lots from this post. Lots of great ideas and reminders here.

  17. I wish I was more like you! I really struggle with negative thoughts and do not know how to roll with the punches. I also love your collages. I'm going to make a concerted effort to be positive for the rest of the week. Thanks!

  18. so true! you should write a book! UGH! I have to make time to work on my pretty!

  19. I LOVE reading your posts at work and then having something to ponder all afternoon!! Great great stuff here!! I'll be back when my kids are in bed:)

  20. Wow woman! You put my journal to shame. Thanks for the kick start to pick it up again and write some positive things in it. I have a lot to think about tonight--thanks again!

  21. I see a lot of moms getting their identity mashed with their kids/family. Although I believe that family should come first, I also strongly believe in continuing to nourish your own soul and grow as a person. This is partly why I love training and racing. It allows me to take risks and live in a way that I could not otherwise. My life is pretty "safe" now - family life is good, work is stable and reliable and there is really nothing about myself that I want to change or work on (I did plenty of that when I was younger). Training and racing allow me to get outside of the "safe" in a way that is actually pretty safe (e.g., really nothing major to loose, maybe my ego:). I see a lot of the younger me in this post:)

  22. My grandpa said something to me when I was 19 years old. We were sitting in the Rainforest Cafe inside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. I was looking longingly at Studio 54 and said that I couldn't wait until the day I could go in there. He told me to not wish my life away.

    Very simple. But it really stuck with me all of these years. So now, even though I do look to the future and get excited about what is in store, I try to always enjoy the now and what I'm doing. I can even relate it to running. There are times when I'm just struggling or tired or hot .... but I try so hard to just enjoy it because some day I might not be able to be out there sweating during a good run. There is always a positive in any situation, so as hard as it gets some times, I try my best to find it!

  23. Such a beautiful post. So inspirational. I'm at a crossroads in my life right now and this has really helped me put my views into perspective.
    Thank you so much for your wonderful writing abilities and sharing them with us.

  24. thought you might be interested in this blog post. It has some interesting info about treadmill running and a lot of other stuff you might like to read.

  25. I love reading your posts. They are so positive and uplifting.

  26. I love reading your blog.... You write about life and running...

  27. What a great post! I have to remind myself to keep my fears and anxieties in check. It's a hard time to be starting a career, and sometimes that gets to me. But I should focus on all the possibilities that might be open to me right now.

  28. I love this.
    for me it is to try to be PRESENT. that is not always easy. Life goes fast, I found that here in California people are always in a hurry..after 11 years I still don't get why. They are missing the important stuff trying to be the first somewhere..Since becoming a parent and more since I found out about my tumor I am more PRESENT. I can slow myself down and appreciate the day, my kids, my friends, nice flowers, a good book. Simple things.

  29. OK-I'm back! Really a great post. Had me thinking and reflecting all day!!

    Feeling happy! Such a great place to be:) I'm glad you're there!

    Love fully. I need to work on this as I seem to be pretty good with my actions but not always my thoughts....I do try to see the best in people. It's tough at times but also humbling when I make mistakes and see people/friends reach out and love me fully despite it.

    Live without Fear and Doubt. Such a GREAT paragraph. This one is tough. Fear is human nature. We can't escape it. It's going to be there but we do have control over how we deal with it. "Keeping it at bay". Well put. What an inhibitor to success fear can be if one can't get past it....took me way too many years to realize this....

    Trust in what you know! Right on.

    Love the setting goals. The idea that as we grow and change so can our goals. "an avenue for reaching a new place"

    Believe you're already there! This is awesome. Love love LOVE this. Your mom's journals are really great!!

    Once again, I didn't make it to the question before my unproofed 10 paragraph allotment was up. Great post. You are SUCH an excellent writer. I find myself just reading and nodding my head because it just flows and it just makes sense! So excited to see what "the next step" is for you!

  30. Yep, I knew it. I am the first guy to comment here. Oh, but I have a good comment. I like what you mom said, it reminded me of my favorite quote from Mark Twain:

    “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years".

  31. Such a positive and encouraging post about life!! It gave me a little pep in my step this morning!!
    Have a great day!

  32. Those are great habits to have -- sustainable and full of sustanence.

  33. What a wonderful post. It sounds like you are doing YOUR best to live your life to the fullest. I love it! I make lists of gratitude as well, especially when I am having a pity party for myself. That's the quickest way to help myself snap out of it. Counting blessings is the best way to turn a day around.

  34. I really enjoyed the pictures that you posted - I love doing artsy crafty stuff like that, and it is inspirational

  35. You're an amazing woman, Amanda! I could go on and on but I'm going to leave it at that!

  36. This post makes me have a big, goofy grin on my face! So happy that YOU are happy! Your dedication to reflection and goal setting inspires me! I feel like you are so observant to your surrounings and loved ones--great model for your children.

    Tell me, do you get dubly inspired when writing journal thoughts with your naked lady pen?!! kidding!

  37. Oh what a post Amanda. You have really shared of yourself here and helped others. Thank you! Big enormous hug XXX

  38. I needed to read this today!! I think it is so important to look back and reflect, like you have. We learn from our mistakes but also from successes. Thanks for sharing these! dogleg glad I found your blog a few months ago!!