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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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.

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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.

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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:

 

 

A Happiness Guide for Pessimists

I am not a pessimist, but I was raised by a pessimist father.  And anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely adore my father.  So when I talk about pessimists, it’s with much love.

Many people have asked how it is possible that I grew up an optimist.  I believe it was during the early days of my teenage years that the influence of a Godly man pointed me in the right direction.  My high school youth pastor lead me to a relationship with God and that by reading God’s word (the bible) and hanging out with other Godly kids, I naturally became an optimist.

I’ve received comments from readers who say that it’s easy to be an optimist when I haven’t ever faced hardships or devastation.  Does fire, divorce, physical spousal abuse, or infidelity count?  Trust me, I’ve had plenty to cause me to be a pessimist…

After my divorce 10 years ago, a close friend said that everyone was shocked that my marriage of 15 years had ended.  No one had a clue that I was unhappy.  Well, I wasn’t unhappy.  Okay, maybe there was a time that I was…but I was so miserable being unhappy that I decided to change that and be happy no matter the circumstances.  And I did.  I fought like crazy.  I was going to be happy.  I didn’t change my circumstances, I just changed my attitude, which changed my perspective.

Who really wants to be unhappy?

Happiness guide for pessimistsI kind of think that many pessimists believe that they can’t change their negative habits.  My ex-husband (also a pessimist) said that my happiness and enthusiasm was false.  Really?  Why, because I didn’t enjoy sitting around talking about how bad things are?  I didn’t enjoy “drama?”  I didn’t enjoy complaining?  I didn’t enjoy being around people complained non-stop…?  I believe that you can go out and fix a fence and be filled with joy as you do it.  You can make it fun.

If you are a pessimist, I have good news for you.  You can break free.  Your attitude is a choice.  Your perspective on life and circumstances does dictate your level of happiness.  And best of all, God never intended for any of us to live in a state of unhappiness.

From the bible:  (The Voice)

Psalm 4:7  You have filled me with joy, and happiness has risen in my heart, great delight and unrivaled joy, even more than when bread abounds and wine flows freely.

 Proverbs 29:18  Where there is no vision from God, the people run wild, but those who adhere to God’s instruction know genuine happiness.

John 13:17  If you know these things, and if you put them into practice, you will find happiness.

Okay, now that we know that God intends for his people to experience happiness and joy, how can we break the pessimist habit?

  • Think, act, talk, and conduct your self like the person you want to become.

 I clearly remember the night that I stood over the stove, cooking spaghetti for my husband and 3 kids.  I was on the phone with my best friend Rhonda.  I was grumbling about how tired I was of cooking for a family that didn’t appreciate what I do for them.  My husband walked in, and I snarled at him.  Rhonda said something profound to me that night.  I wish I could remember what it was.  All I know is, I made a decision that night to change my attitude and start being cheerful and happy.  I didn’t want to be that unhappy person, snipping at my children, frowning at my husband, complaining to my friends.  That’s when I decided to act, talk, and be the person I wanted to become.  A happy person, that people enjoyed being around.  A person my kids wanted to be with.  A cheerful and loving wife, that my husband wanted to be with.  (Unfortunately, my husband didn’t enjoy being around a cheerful wife.)

  •  Place a high value on people.

 My favorite thing in life is to encourage others.  Some say it’s “my gift.”  I don’t believe it’s a gift.  I think that when you help people, look for the best in them, try to bring out their positive qualities, genuine joy is the result.

  •  Look for something positive in every situation.

 When I lost everything in an apartment fire in the mid 80s, I could have sat and cried for days.  Instead, I looked at the outpour of love from a community of people I didn’t even know.  I was overwhelmed at the showering of gifts and clothing.  I was so much better off in terms of physical belongings after the fire than before.

  •  Choose to rid yourself negative character flaws.

 Three behaviors that I view as character flaws are:  impatience, being critical, being self absorbed.  Get rid of those, and you’ll see a huge improvement in your level of happiness.

  •  Say something positive in every conversation.

 Compliment, praise, acknowledge, bolster, raise up, and reward.

  •  Remove negative words from your vocabulary.

Negatives:

I can’t
If only
I don’t think
I don’t have the time
Maybe
I’m afraid
I don’t believe

Replace with Positives:

I can
I will
I know
I will make the time
Absolutely!
I’m confident
I’m sure

Start with little things, like changing your vocabulary or appreciating little things.  If you can to learn to appreciate them and be grateful for them, you’ll appreciate the big things as well as everything inbetween.

 I’ll end with a quote from John Wooden:

 “Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Confessions of a Procrastinator. 5 ways to overcome

Confessions of a ProcrastinatorI meant to post this blog last week…

But surprise, I put it off… Anyone who is close to me, knows that procrastination is my worst fault. It is my weakness.

I have spent most of my life doing things that I “feel” like doing. Yes I am a very passionate and energetic person. I can dive into a project and do great things when I’m very passionate about it. The sad thing is, I never feel much passion about doing laundry or washing dishes. Who does? Okay, maybe there are a few people out there who do enjoy the process. I envy them. I am obviously not one of them.

When I look at my to-do list for the day, my tendency is to “hope I feel like editing that video this afternoon, because right now I only feel like checking email.”

Other traps are like this one: I’ll play around on Facebook while I drink my coffee…hoping that the caffeine buzz will spur me into production.

It’s really been what I call a “hit or miss lifestyle.” When you go through life doing things you only feel like doing, and postponing the rest, a huge layer of stress and anxiety fall into your life.

I like to blame my procrastination on the epidemic in our society that wants instant gratification. I know that sounds contradictory…delay versus instant. But the instant gratification that I’ve succumbed to actually fits in well with delaying the things that don’t bring instant gratification.

I’m guilty of saying and feeling: “I want it all and I want it now.” All the latest inventions or new technologies focus on getting us things quicker and more conveniently. My children don’t remember life before the microwave, but that was such a HUGE deal when we got our first one. We could cook a hot dog in under a minute versus the 10 minutes it took to boil them on the stove. I’m even currently guilty of using a single serve coffee maker rather than brewing a pot of coffee. Waiting 15 minutes for a pot to brew seems so long rather than the 30 seconds on my Keurig. Our television watching has even changed. We now predominately watch on demand internet content (Netflix & Hulu) rather than my childhood process of waiting until 8:00 in the evening to watch whatever was being broadcast at the time.

Oh sure, I’ve excused the above changes to the reasoning that I’m saving myself so much time that I can be more productive. But it’s really not about being productive for me. It’s about laziness and instant gratification.

Procrastination for me has been the biggest thief of my happiness. When I procrastinate, worry and dread start building up. Unfinished projects pressure me. It takes energy to ignore what needs to be finished. I don’t sleep as well when I have something hanging over my head.

Procrastination is a HABIT. And it’s a habit that needs breaking. Procrastination puts things off. Procrastination is disobedience. If we are willing to obey and take action in the small details, we will have fewer problems with the bigger projects in life.

Forming the habit of being a “now” person is a person who does what needs to be done as soon as you can. Joyce Meyer states in her new book “Making Good Habits, Breaking Bad Habits”: When we refuse to use our time to do the things we need to do, we always end up losing time taking care of the emergencies and messes we created through procrastinating.

Don’t wait for a convenient time to begin any task. Character is not developed through ease and convenience, but through doing NOW what needs to be done no matter how difficult it is.

What if you’ve procrastinated so much, that you’re overburdened and overwhelmed?

Here are a few steps you can do now (and what has helped me):

  • Make a list and start with the most difficult and get it out of the way. Seriously, try it and see how much relief you feel. I only have a limited supply of willpower. Once it’s been used up for the day, chances of tackling hard tasks are pretty slim. So I dive into my hardest task when my energy level is at its highest. This ensures the best results. When I delay the hard tasks to the end of the day,you can count on it that I’ll reschedule to the next day. The delay takes a toll on my energy all day long. In the end, stressing over the task I’m procrastinating negatively affects all the other tasks on my list. Oh…and beware of the tendency to just ignore the entire list. I’ve done that too!
  • Divide the task into smaller tasks. I get overwhelmed when a giant project looms over me. I don’t know where to start or what to do first. Keep in mind that forests are made up of individual trees. (Showing my Oregon roots here) Though you may not be able to take down a whole forest at once, you could certainly start with one tree (or even a branch).
  • Commit yourself for a small period of time. I set a timer on my phone…ten minutes to clean off my desk. By frantically racing the clock for that short period, I usually find myself engrossed in the task and continue working. (My husband calls it “the zone.”) The feeling of dread that has been on my mind is quickly replaced with a sense of pride and satisfaction. Seeing what I can accomplish in ten minutes when I put my mind to it is quite motivating.
  • Schedule your tasks on the calendar. When I can plan out a week in advance on my calender, it helps me move past the initial paralysis I feel. Instead of just writing the tasks down in a to-do list, I take it a step further and identify when and how I’ll accomplish it. Yes, I do a ton of moving things around, but somehow planning out the tasks helps me complete them. It also helps me not forget things or let some small jobs slip through the cracks.
  • Reward yourself. Psychologists know that reward is a much stronger motivator than punishment. I love rewards. Sometimes just knowing I’m going to enjoy a cup of coffee on the patio spurs me on.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 When you tell God you’ll do something, do it—now.

God takes no pleasure in foolish gabble.

Vow it, then do it. Far better not to vow in the first place than to vow and not pay up.