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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8 steps to free yourself of aggravation

aggravation

Sometimes I get aggravated over really simple things.  Like this morning.  I subscribe to text notifications of one of my favorite pastor’s tweets.   I’m guessing that something went wrong this morning, because I got around 10 text messages within ten minutes…so for the last ten minutes my phone’s been making noise.  And each time I go to look…the first two were okay…but every one after that, my annoyance…my aggravation intensified.  Did I want to throw my phone out the window?  No, but trying to write a blog with my phone going off proved to be a challenge.

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” ~Ambrose Bierce

1.  You have a choice.

Yes, you really do have a choice.  We live in an imperfect world with many imperfect people.  (Me included!)  Because we are born with a sinful nature, we will…yes…sin.  We have times we make mistakes.  Things go wrong.  Sometimes we make poor choices.  It happens.  A lot.  We are put into situations multiple times a day.  Newly married? New job? Even more so…  So why not start out the day with a decision or a choice.  A right choice.  Not to ignore when things go wrong, but to choose living the way God wants us to live.

galations5

2.  Question the purpose.

I can’t help but think of the guy who’s alarm didn’t go off the morning of September 11th.  He rushed out the door, barely said goodbye to his wife and kids, aggravated that he was late.  He didn’t even have time to grab a cup of coffee as he rushed out the door, cursing his stupid alarm clock.  He was on the train when he heard the news about a plane crashing into his office building at The World Trade Center.

It’s a habit to develop for sure.  A habit of questioning why this inconvenience is happing to me.  Ask “why is this happening?”  You may not ever know…  But having faith that God is in control helps.

3.  Where’s your focus?

EVERY time I get aggravated, it’s because my focus is on myself.  It’s my selfishness that robs me of my joy and happiness.

4.   Learn to respond instead of react.

thomasjeffersonquote

Angry people seem to act first, and think later.  No doubt Thomas Jefferson’s advice (quoted above) to count to ten or even a hundred before speaking while angry is aimed at giving people time to reflect on the consequences of their actions and possibly avoid impulsive, destructive acts that will be regretted later.

When I get aggravated and want to react immediately, the outcome NEVER comes out in my favor. I mess it up every time.  Mostly because my emotions take over my brain and I’m unable to think straight.  But when I take the time to step back, and think through my response, I do much better.  I’m able to reason.  I’m not crying.  I’m not angry.  I respond out of respect and love instead of anger and frustration.

5. Controlling actions instead of emotions

I really struggle controlling my emotions some times.  No matter how much I tell myself to calm down…I can’t get my heart to stop beating fast or my palms to stop sweating.  Yesterday I spent the day in court.  We were seeking to protect the grandson I’m raising from a mother who has repeatedly put him in dangerous situations.  My heart was racing when the judge called our case.  I felt sick to my stomach.  I couldn’t control those things.  But I could control my actions.  I didn’t speak to the mother.  I avoided even looking at her.  I smiled.  (Amazing how smiling actually calmed my heart and stomach!)

6.  Set the example

Do you have a spouse or a child who gets aggravated frequently? Is it because they’ve seen you get aggravated?  My 2 year old is like a sponge.  He is picking up on emotions and actions.  If he sees his father get frustrated in traffic, he then comes home and gets frustrated with his toys.  He’s learned it.  He’s seen it.  Sometimes just knowing that you are teaching others around you to act like you is enough motivation to make a change.  It may be a child or it may be a spouse…

7. What response do you want?

If you get aggravated with me, then my immediate reaction is to become aggravated with you.  Your aggravation doesn’t motivate me.  It doesn’t make me love you more.  It doesn’t make me move faster.  Perhaps you don’t even know you’re displaying aggravation… Well wake up and become aware.  Nit-picking, bickering, insults….they are not attractive!  And no one likes to be around a couple who nag on each other…  It truly will ruin your social life!

7.  Start Journaling

My biggest help to dealing with frustration and aggravation is to take it to paper with a pen.  I’ve been journaling since I was 11 years old.  When it goes down on paper, somehow it helps me to deal with the emotions I’m struggling to control.  (And yes…my journaling is now translating into blogging!)

8.  Learning to Laugh

I laughed today when the 10th text came in.  I thought, if this pastor knew how his system of sending out tweets failed, I’m sure he’d be scratching his head…struggling with frustration I’m sure!  So try to laugh… It’s much more fun to smile than frown.  Feels better to be happy than angry…

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:

 

 

Going after peace not war…

Holly & Garrett's sendoff

Holly & Garrett’s sendoff

Fifteen years ago I was the mother of three children, and married to a fairly passive pessimist. I lived a hit-or-miss lifestyle. (Meaning I lived without much intentionality. I acted on how I felt, when I felt it, without much regard to consequences.) Because of the constant conflict of an optimist living with a pessimist, I walked around from episode to episode of frustration. When frustration or disappointment would arise, here’s the steps I took to process the emotions:

  • Immediately express my feelings.
  • Continue to express my feelings until I felt relieved of frustration.
  • Chronically recall my frustration and remind those involved of my disappointment and feelings.
  • Forgive only when I couldn’t remember what frustrated me, or forgive only when some new frustration replaces the old.

So how’d that work out for me? I became divorced after 15 years of marriage. Was how I dealt with my frustrations the cause of my divorce? Well, no. But I can assure you it didn’t help either.

Living an Intentional Lifestyle instead of a Hit-or-Miss Lifestyle

 

frustrated momSwim season is over but there was a day in June when I had to have our daughter at her swim meet before 7 am. Yes…7 am on a Saturday morning in the middle of June! Not exactly easy, but somehow grace was abounding, because we were on time. Leaving this early left my husband (who is time challenged) to get to the meet on his own. Time challenged means he is notoriously late. He’s been that way as long as I’ve known him. I know it. I’ve lived with it for over 10 years. And yes, it’s a source of aggravation for me.

The meet started at 8:30 am. Maddie’s first event would be a little before 9:00 am. Since parking is awful at our pool, Randy need to ride his bike. I told him to leave by 8:30 so he wouldn’t miss her first event.

Well, as you can imagine, he missed her first event. And yes, I was extremely disappointed.

Here’s my natural reaction.

  • Be upset and ruin my morning.
  • As my husband arrives, show my frustration
  • Scold my husband in an attempt to relieve my frustration.

Yes, I was looking to not feel bad. Who wants to be angry? (Well some people thrive on it…I’m not one.) Some people choose to be angry, and that anger draws out past frustrations that didn’t get resolved–like my repeated frustration that my husband is chronically late.

Sometimes it’s hard not to get angry…especially when it involves my children. When it comes to my children, I am literally a Momma Bear, protecting her cubs.

So here’s how my hit-or-miss lifestyle would cope: My husband arrives, I greet him with a frown. Since it’s crowded, my scolding is public. His reaction is public. I don’t feel better. He’s obviously already aware that he’s late and feeling disappointed, but his reaction will be an immediate defensive response. Result: we both have a miserable time at the swim meet, the rest of the day will be strained. Our connection as a married couple has taken a huge hit.

So is it worth it? No!

Here’s how a loving and kind wife, who chases after peace could handle it.

  • Recognize my anger. Sometimes just acknowledging your frustration diffuses the emotion.
  • Determine the root of the anger. Is it really that awful, or is it a reaction to an underlying issue? If it is an underlying issue, a public swim meet is not the venue to discuss the problem. And discussing it in anger will not produce any positive results.
  • Determine if my anger is justified. If it is, then wait for a better time to discuss. “Walk away” and wait till you can discuss without emotions being intense.
  • Determine your outcome. What is it you want? An apology? Knowing he’s aware of his problem and promises to do better? An acknowledgement that he messed up? Once you know what outcome you want, rationally figure out the best way to get that outcome. A public and emotional confrontation is not an effective tool.
  • Ask yourself if your attitude will make your day better or worse?
  • Ask yourself if you are seeking peace?
  • Is it really worth losing my joy over this issue?
  • Anger and frustration is a choice. Sometime it sneaks up on you, but it’s still a choice to continue in a state of anger.

If you struggle with anger and feel unable to diffuse it, there are deeper issues going on. Are you trying to punish your mate with your anger? Let God take control of teaching your spouse. Pray for God to help him with his issues.

So what did I do? By delaying my reaction, I realized it wasn’t that big of a deal and I didn’t have to do anything. He was more than on time for her next meet. And my connection to my wonderful husband stayed intact.