Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Habits for Happiness and Fulfillment (Take Two)

One of the special notebooks where I capture lists of dreams, gratitude and goals.  

This morning I received an email from a blog reader asking me about specific posts I'd written on keeping gratitude journals as a way of tapping into happiness and boosting our energy.  Her e-mail couldn't have come at a better time.  I've spent the last few weeks going over old writing, writing new things, and diving deeper into the material I have on the many ways we can use journals and writing in our lives to help us grow personally and with others....using journals with ourselves and our families. In going back over my posts to find some specific posts on happiness to share with her, I found this one on Habits for Happiness and Fulfillment.  It was so much of what I needed to reread today.  Funny, even though it is almost three years old, it is perfect for my TODAY!   

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.


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

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gift of the Run; Beauty to be Found

Such beauty greeted me on my run tonight. Lonely streets, 
snow covered ground, 
little footprints and happy snowmen winking at me with crooked grins, lopsided hats and carrot noses -- signs of the joyful life that graced another snow day.
Small town charm surrounding me as I passed churches and little bungalows with red doors... 
The sky lit up with the sun peeking through for a glorious sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains.
It stopped me in my tracks. 
     in awe at the beauty that is there for us when we slow down to take it in. 
I ran on with the perfect song in my ear, my heart feeling big and wild 
       passing field after field, 
street after street 
Then there it was...the bright and full moon leading me home, 
smiling down on me while I counted the first stars of the night...feeling blessed and beyond grateful to be living this life and to have the gift of the run.


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