6 Things You Can Start Today to Boost Your Happiness

Here’s my top 6 things you can start doing today to boost your happiness:

Accumulate Memories1.  Accumulate memories not things.

What memory will you create today?  Huge challenge for most, since I myself work all week long and by the time the weekend comes, I’m tired.  But sometimes I’m really not that tired, I’m just stuck in a habit of thinking I need to rest and I plop myself down on the couch.  There are no memories being made with your kids watching you watch the latest DIY show.  Or dragging your kids to Walmart to buy the latest toy or gadget.  Okay…these are memories,  but not a worthwhile memories!  Here’s a blog post that tells you why you are happier when you spend money on experiences rather than things.  Here’s my favorite book on simplifying your life.  

 


 

sinai2. Stop Comparing yourself to others.

When we compare ourselves to others, we are measuring our life against things and people who don’t have the same calling on their life as yours.  I strongly believe that God has a unique purpose for my life.  If I compare my life against someone else, my focus gets lost on someone else’s purpose instead of mine.  Other great reasons can be found here:  3 Reasons to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others  Here’s my favorite book on finding your sweet spot.

 


 

Journaling3.  Write in a journal.

It’s surprising to me how fast I feel better about anything thats’ worrying me or stressing me out, when I start journaling about it.  I hadn’t journaled in weeks.  I was increasing becoming more anxious.  I sat down Saturday morning and started to journal.  Old fashioned pen and paper.  And now my anxiety is gone.  Feels like a miracle!  I believe relief comes from voicing things that are inside of you.  Especially if you don’t have a friend or spouse who will listen to your ramblings.  My husband is a good listener, but some things I just don’t feel like sharing.  When I journal, I can get out those things I’m thinking without the fear of of sounding stupid, or having someone fix what I’m thinking.  (Men are built to fix.  Many times I just want to share without being fixed.)  Journaling allows me that.   Here’s a great post on why to Journal and how to get started.    Here’s my favorite book on journaling.


Unforgiveness4. Forgive.

When we walk around with unforgiveness in our heart, it drags us down. It takes up residence where peace and love should be in our hearts and minds.  It uses up energy.  I remember the first time I was wronged by someone, I mean life shattering “wronged.”  I went to a pastor for help.  He said forgive this person.  I said I can’t forgive because this person isn’t sorry.  My pastor said forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person’s repentance.  It has everything to do with our heart’s desire.  Since that time, I’ve had many opportunities to practice forgiveness.  I’ve even given other’s the opportunity to forgive me.  Ever got a splinter in your foot?  When it’s finally removed, there is such relief.  It’s the same with forgiveness.    Here’s a post on How To Forgive the Unforgivable.  Here’s My Favorite Book on Forgiveness


get outdoors5. Get outside and do something healthy.

There’s a reason why I like to exercise in the morning.  When I get out first thing in the morning, it sets the day in the right way.  And it’s more than mental for me.  Sure I feel accomplished and good that I’ve done something so important to my health.  But it’s more than a accomplished.  It gets my blood pumping.  And I just feel better.  Period.  Waiting until after work hasn’t worked for me.  I drag all day long…and then I get my pick me up.  That doesn’t make much sense to me.  And getting on  a treadmill doesn’t have the same affect either.  I need outside air and sunshine.  Even though there’s not much sunshine in the early morning, I still feel like I’m getting some vitamin D.  Here’s Why Exercise can Make you Happy.  Here’s my favorite fitness book (written by my coach.)


 

Instant Happiness6. Help Someone Else.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of forgetting your own sorrows.  Sometimes it’s gaining perspective.  Every morning on my way to work I call a friend who is struggling.  I don’t care how rough I’m feeling at the moment…when I call to give her encouragement, it makes me feel better.  One thanksgiving I was feeling pretty down about not having any family coming for dinner.  My husband and I were spending it alone.  That morning, we went and bought several family dinners from Cracker Barrel and took them down to the south side of San Antonio, where poverty is an epidemic. The joy on their faces brought me such peace.  It’s hard to feel down after lifting someone else up.   Here’s why Helping Someone Else Improves Your Mood.  Here’s my favorite book on Serving.


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New Year’s Resolution(s) Success Tips

2015 resolutions

When ever I’ve made new year resolutions, I’ve created this really great list of all the things that I desperately need to change or improve. But after three months, if even that long, I’ve failed at every single thing on my new year’s resolution list.  Like the picture, I’m jumping across a huge gorge.  What if, I can somehow, make the gorge not such a huge distance to jump over?  Would that increase my chance of success?

The end of 2014 brought many unexpected changes.  I started working full time outside the home.  This is a first for me in over 20 years.  The last 20 years I’ve run my own business from my home.  Now I’m back in Corporate America.  This has been a major life change, and with that a few adjustments had to be made.

When the decision was made to go back into the work force, my husband said I had to promise that I would figure out how to continue with Crossfit.  That was my only lifestyle goal.

And so as I started my new job on October 13th, I also started getting up at 4:30 am to participate in the 5:15 am Crossfit class.  I didn’t have much faith in my ability to succeed at an early morning workout.  I’d tried the class once before and never went back.  Until now.  And now it’s become second nature to me.  And I really really like working out at 5:15 am!! No really…I do!  It’s as big a shock to me as is for those who know me.

I’m almost three months in.  I’ve had a few ups and downs (getting to bed on time for an early morning wake up) but I think my success in surviving this transition was to have only one goal and work hard at reaching that goal. (Besides going to work every day!)

I think success for me comes when I can focus on one thing at a time, until it becomes a habit.  Once it’s a habit, then I can start on the next “resolution.”

I made Crossfit a habit 2.5 years ago.  Then August 1st I started Whole30 (which was only supposed to be 30 days….)and I’m on day 153!

One thing that has taken a back seat though is my writing.  I haven’t posted one blog since starting back to work.

So that’s going to be my first resolution for 2015.  I want to spend my lunch hour either journaling or blogging.  Daily writing.  And publishing a blog post weekly.

There…that’s it.  What’s your ONE New Year’s resolution?  Come on…only pick one and share it!

Broken Hearts & Growing Stronger

My pastor told me awhile back that I had a ministry with broken women.

Huh?

Yes.  A Ministry.

But I’m broken…

That’s the kind God likes to use…

Okay…I’m in.  I have a ministry with broken women…

When you’re called to minister to the homeless, you go to a homeless shelter.  When you’re called to be a missionary to Mexico, you go to….Mexico.  But minister to broken women?  Where would I go?

Well I didn’t have to go very far.  All of my very close friends are broken, too.  (They would be the first to admit that.)

When I was in College, I used to go white water rafting on the Rogue River in Medford Oregon.  I remember the first time I went.  I was in the raft with my high school friend Cindy.  It was a pretty terrifying trip.  Every turn was something different.  We didn’t have a guide.  We didn’t have a map.  We just headed out and practically screamed the entire way.  Here’s the thing, the second trip wasn’t scary at all.  I pretty much knew where the twists and turns were.  I knew where the big rocks were.  That second trip, and every one after that, was a much better experience.

rogueriver

You know where I’m going, yes?  When you’ve been down that river…

Being broken isn’t all that bad.  It’s the breaking process that is horrible.

A little over 2 years ago I started going to Crossfit.  I could barely lift a barbell (with no weights) I couldn’t run to the end of the driveway.  I couldn’t do a single sit-up.  My coach sat on my feet, and even then it was a huge struggle to squeeze out one.  I remember vividly getting that one sit-up done, and laying back down exhausted…spent.

Last week my coach was pushing me to do something really hard.  I looked over at her  and whined….almost crying…I hate this!  It’s HARD!!!  She sweetly smiled at me…and said…”Keep going.  This is making you stronger!”  I felt like throwing up.  I wanted to quit.  But she stood there…talking me through the last few minutes of the workout.  “Keep going…you can do this…you got this!”IMG_4518

Here’s the really cool thing.  It is making me stronger.  I can now lift a barbell easily.  (Okay…I’ll brag…I can lift 270 pounds now.)  100 sit-ups doesn’t scare me.  Everything she has put me through, from every squat, burpee, dead lift… to a weighted sit-up, it’s all designed to make me stronger…make me fitter.

Being broken is a lot like that. When we go through a season of breaking, a time of trials, challenges, and disappointments, we have an opportunity to either fail, quit or become stronger.  Being broken helps us build the muscles of our faith.  It can give us the caliber of strength we’ll need for what lies just around the corner.

When you’re in the middle of being broken, it’s hard to look up and see that you’re strengthening your muscle, so that you can lift more next time.  Or handle something far more devastating…  It all just hurts.

I’m here to tell you….you can do this.  I know it’s hard.  But this will strengthen you so that the next time something harder comes along…you’ll be able to get through it.

I wish there was an easier way to get stronger.  But the only way to get stronger is to lift heavy things.

What’s your heavy thing you’re lifting?

Here are some of the latest broken hearts I’ve witnessed from some of my friends and family:  Ovarian cancer that has spread throughout the body.  A husband who yells and screams at his wife as a response to his stress.  A spouse who’s been unfaithful.  A parent’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s.  A husband’s death due to suicide.  A child’s diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy.

Proverbs 3:5-6   Trust God from the bottom of your heart;

    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;

    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

So now that I’m facing another custody challenge with another child, I’ve learned to put my trust in God.  My own strength is nothing in comparison to it being in the hands of my heavenly father.  Someone last week said, “You don’t seem to be too rattled over all this drama.  I guess you’ve been to this rodeo before…”

igotthis

My Crossfit Coach Heidi wearing the head band I designed.

Yes.  I’ve been to the rodeo.  I’ve already been down this river.  In reality, my muscles are much stronger.  I have a coach standing over me saying…”Keep going….you cans do this.  YOU GOT THIS!”

Books that have helped me:

Feeling Left Out.

I struggle with being left out.

leftout

Examples:

When I was young, my very social parents would frequently have company over and they would always ask my brother to play the accordion for them.  I played the guitar and cello.  No one ever asked me to play for them.  Now granted, Bobby was very good at the accordion and was very entertaining.  My guitar and cello not so.  But as a child I didn’t really understand that.  I would sit and watch while the adults oohed and awed over my older brother.  I really can’t say I was jealous.  But I felt left out.

PICT0484

I grew up in Oregon, but all my cousins lived in Texas.  Our family vacations consisted of a four day drive to drive to Texas.  Out of the Mann Family, my brother and I were the only cousins who didn’t live in Texas.  I used to take a lot of ribbing…being the “city kin.”  I think my cousins would be horrified if they really knew how bad it made me feel…to not be one of them.

I clearly remember a time when my parents discovered that their group of friends were getting together for cards, only they were accidentally not invited.  I felt SO BAD for them.  I’m pretty sure I went to my room and cried.  (And it wasn’t even me who was left out!)

You’d think that becoming an adult would change that, right?  Well…  A couple of years ago while I was on staff at our church, there was a meeting for the full-time staff, to go over changes in the insurance.  Since I was part-time and paying for the insurance out of my own pocket, I knew I wasn’t supposed to be at the meeting.  My husband understood differently.  He said I was to go to the meeting because it was for any staff on insurance.  As I’m sitting in this meeting, it’s pretty clear it wasn’t intended for me.  About 20 minutes in, the head pastor motioned through the window at me, waving me to step outside.  He was very nice about it.  He confirmed that I wasn’t really a part of this insurance meeting.  I went back in and grabbed my purse and drove home.  In tears.

Okay last example… My oldest step son and wife just welcomed their first baby into their lives.  I stayed home to take care of my kiddos so my husband and Nanny (my husband’s ex-wife) could go to the hospital to see the new grand-baby.  It was 2 days later that I was able to go see the precious baby Hays.  When I discovered that I wasn’t listed on the hospital visitation list of grandparents, I fought back tears.  All of the other grandparents were listed…even step grandparents.  I just swallowed hard and waited patiently for someone…anyone to make sure I could visit the new baby.

Sounds like I have some pretty deep issues…

One counselor had once suggested that because I’m adopted, I have a strong desire to be “a part of the group.”  I disagreed.  Being adopted had nothing to do with it. Being adopted at birth and always knowing that I was adopted, made me feel special, made me feel chosen.  My parents worked very hard at making sure I felt loved and accepted.  As a matter of fact, I have always felt I was the favorite child.  (Sorry Bobby…I am the favorite child!)

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book (Ps. 56:8, NLT).

What’s that really mean?  God never wastes a hurt.  In fact, painful lessons can turn into precious gems.  When you go through a pain or a hurt, God won’t waste it.

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

What I’ve discovered is that my struggles of “feeling left out” is really a weakness that God is using for his glory.  Meaning, because I HATE the feeling of being left out, I work very hard to make sure those around me always feel included and never left out.

happyeverafterstory

I raised two wonderful boys that were my step-sons.  It was my mission to make sure they felt loved and included.  I’m knee deep in raising my second round of children.  Maddie is 10 and Garrison is 2 1/2.  This makes 5 kids I’ve raised, but only given birth to one.  My heart is equipped to love all my kids equally….with all my heart…and on mission to make them feel loved and accepted.

But it doesn’t stop with raising kids.  God has gifted me with the spirit of hospitality.  I strive to make sure that anyone who walks into my home feel welcome and loved.  You’d think that would be a challenge when it’s your ex-husband and new wife walking through your door. (Which recently happened at my daughter’s rehearsal dinner hosted in my home.) But it wasn’t a challenge at all.  What was once a weakness, God has turned it around to use as a blessing.  I no longer feel like an outsider, even when it’s my ex-husband walking through the door.  My energy is placed into making others feel included…including my ex-husband.

So what’s your weakness?  I’m pretty confident in saying that God knows your struggle.  And I’m pretty confident in saying he will use it….and it’ll be great!

Here’s the book that’s helped me:

 

 

Help! I Don’t Want To Quit Shopping!! Am I a shopping addict?

Help!! I don’t want to feel deprived. I don’t like being told no. I enjoy walking through the mall and seeing all pretty new colors. I like the feeling of walking through William Sonoma and picturing my perfect kitchen with perfect gadgets.  And don’t tell me I have a shopping addiction!!!

I think my trek through the mall gives me hope of a better lifestyle or a better home environment.

When I’m at the mall shopping, I enjoy the neatly stacked shirts, the organized and expertly combined colors. Everything is hung up and easy to see. Everything is orderly.

Funny how William Sonoma doesn’t have a stack of dirty dishes displayed in the corner. And they don’t have a stack of mail two weeks high teetering on the counter. Chico’s doesn’t have a pile of panties that have worn out elastic or holes in the seams displayed either…

No wonder I’ve always loved going to the mall. It was my escape from dishes, filled laundry baskets, and cluttered counter tops.

Do I have a shopping addiction?Buying a new outfit was liberating in some way. I’d come home, try to hang it up in my very full closet of clothes I haven’t worn in years. That is, if I could get into my closet…I’d have to push aside a very full laundry basket of clean stuff. Now what was in that basket anyway? (It had been in my closet for weeks….) But I had something new… Somehow it wasn’t as exciting the next day as it was the first day I brought it home and hung it up.

When I first heard about this simplicity and minimalist stuff, I shuttered. No way! I want a better life and I’m sure it means being able to shop for whatever I want, when I want. Right?

Where did that thinking come from? It certainly wasn’t from my depression era parents. They consistently rattled off phrases through out my childhood like: “You don’t need that.” “You need to learn how to say no.” “You need to save your money instead of wasting it on junk that’s just going to break.” “You have a closet full of clothes you don’t wear.”

I’m about to participate in Project 333.  But before I go through the steps of living with 33 wardrobe items for 3 months, I HAVE to take some internal steps in order to be successful.

I need to recognize:

  1. …that the feelings and emotions from the mall are stemmed from wanting and needing an organized, uncluttered lifestyle.
  2. …the need for more is really not a need for more. (Really? I need 15 purses?)
  3. …shopping isn’t a desire based on a physical need, but a desire based on emotion. I am trying to emotionally feel better by excessive shopping.
  4. …there is some other unfilled need or desire that triggers my urge to shop.
  5. …that shopping is an expensive hobby and creates more work at home taking care of, and storing the items. (I’m finding entertainment in other areas other than shopping)

I can declutter my house, organize mycloset, cancel magazine subscriptions….but until I dove in to why I wanted to shop, all the minimizing and simplifying didn’t help that much. Contentment and happiness needs to come from something more permanent than tossing out that shirt that was too small. (Yes, I hang on to it because I know I would love it when I lose 10 more pounds….)

Here’s what’s helped me and prepared me to do Project 333:

  • Happiness isn’t found in external things like a house, job, car, spouse, food, drugs, or shopping. My happiness is found in discovering my God-given purpose and pursuing it with the passion that naturally comes from recognizing it.
  • I need to remove things from my life that get in the way or distract me from my God-given purpose.
  • I want to spend more time investing in my purpose, and less time preparing for my purpose.
  • When I focus on my purpose, time wasters (shopping, tv, snacking) lose their appeal.

Okay…I think I’m ready.

 

Other books to help:

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