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.


Please share or pin this post!  If you have more ideas on how to increase your happiness, share them in the contents.

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!

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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Confessions of an addicted multi-tasker…How to simplify in the age of distraction.

I’ve always been proud that I’m a great multi-tasker.  I believe that God made moms with this fabulous ability of being focused on multiple tasks at one time.

Take for instance when my daughter Holly was a baby.  With a small baby girl on one hip, I could cook for a family of five, help my son Wesley build a model of the King Ranch, help my other son Clayton with algebra homework, and fold a load of laundry…all at the same time.  That was a normal 5:00 pm ritual for me.  And I breezed through it effortlessly.  And daily…

When I was in College I took a course on business management skills.  The final exam was an office simulation.  We were systematically given multiple tasks to fulfill.   Business reports to analyze and type (on electric typewriters.)  A filing cabinet to organize and label.  An event to plan.  All tasks had to be completed within one hour.  During the hour, we also had to handle walk-in tasks (sort of like a receptionist) and answer the phone. We were given so many tasks, that it was basically impossible to finish everything. (Think Kobayashi Maru from Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn) I remember watching the student before me walk out of the simulator frazzled and in tears.  I felt pretty good when I walked out of mine.  Three days later my professor called me into his office.  He said that no other student in the history of his teaching carer had ever finished the amount of tasks correctly and in such high quality.  I was a natural.  I had no idea my great talent would also be my greatest curse.

addicted to multi-taskingFast forward 30 years.  I’m addicted to multi-tasking.  I can’t sit and watch a movie…without some other task or activity. I usually have a computer or iPad on my lap.   Unless it’s eating…  TV combined with eating is dangerous for me.  Mindless eating and watching TV creates for much over-eating and over indulgence.

My computer is another place that my excessive multi-tasking has taken over.  I have about 20 programs running at once.   While I’m working away on writing, my mail messenger sends an audible alert… I click over to see what email has come in.  Then back to work.  Then a Facebook notification shows up in the top right hand corner of my screen….I pop over to see who responded to my latest post.  My phone is next to me….and I get not only several texts, but notifications that my coach has posted a new tweet.  I stop to read the tweets.

Then I hear the buzzer in the background….my last load of laundry is dry.  So I rush out to hang up my husband’s shirts so they won’t wrinkle.  I sit back down to write some more and notice the mail man dive by.  I grab my mailbox key and head out the door.

Am I ADD? I don’t think so.  But I do believe that I’ve become addicted to doing multiple activities at once.

Are we in the age of information or the age of distraction?  I’m clearly easily distracted.  We have an endless supply of reading, unlimited shopping, chatting, gossip, news, and on and on… And a constant bombardment of notifications…  HELP!!!

In my trek to simplicity, I realized I had to do something beyond cleaning up my closet and my desk.  I needed to slow down and simplify my daily routines and habits.

Why?  Because multi-tasking can be a weakness.  It is exhausting.  It allows you to do many things at a lesser quality.  Being pulled in many directions is not a pace that can be sustained over a lifetime.

So here’s some steps I’m taking to overcome my multi-tasking addiction:

  1. Become a single-tasker. (Single-tasking is the process of limiting distractions and creating opportunity to successfully invest into one task at a time.)
  2. Discern the difference between distractions and purpose.
  3. Unplug (Being connected via phone and electronic devices keep me from fully engaging in others or my tasks.)

What are some practical steps I’m taking?

  1. I’ve unsubscribed to email newsletters.  Instead I subscribe to the blog and add it to my blog reader.  (Used to be Google Reader…but now use Feedly)  Now I only read blogs and newsletters at one sitting…with my ipad away from my desk.
  2. I’ve turned off most of my twitter notifications.  (Except for my kids)
  3. Check Email only three times per day.  I check it once in the morning before I start work.  I check it after lunch, and then around 4, when I take about an hour to respond to any emails from the day.  The rest of the time, my email program is closed and I don’t receive any notifications.  I turned off notifications on my phone as well.  No sounds alert me when an email arrives.
  4. Set up a DO NOT DISTURB on my iPhone.  From 8 pm until 8 am I don’t receive any phone calls or texts.  I do have a favorites list, that allows my favorites to call during the DND times.  Or if someone calls twice in a 2 minute time span, it sends the call through.
  5. When I’m spending time with my children or my husband, I turn my phone on silent.  I am TRYING not to read any texts or answer calls when I’m devoting time to someone else.  (Not answering a phone call is a HUGE improvement for me.)  Before we became so connected via cell phones, I was more connected in person.

As with any addiction, breaking away from multi-tasking is difficult.  As I wrote this blog, I thought about checking Facebook about a dozen times.  I even thought about checking to see if my newest client had emailed me back…  It’s all habits and I’m learning, slowly but surely, to focus.

Before you de-clutter… How to break the clutter cycle.

I’m assuming you’ve already decided that you need to simply your life. If you haven’t, here’s a quick refresher on why I’ve decided to simplify:

1. To make room for more joy

2. To make room for more peace

3. To make room for more freedom

4. To reduce the burden of “stuff”

5. To reduce my workload of taking care of my “stuff”

6. So I can enjoy quality instead of quantity

7. To find happiness by doing instead of owning

The last two are probably my most recent “revelations.” No, I’m not a minimalist. Not even close. But I think minimalists have found happiness far easier than me, the pack rat, the hoarder. Reading Joshua Becker’s Becoming Minimalist has change my life. I, like Josh. will never become a true minimalist, but simplifying my life, reducing the clutter…has already changed my life.

Here’s my problem. I started this trek about a year ago. I even blogged about the change in my office. I cleaned out my closet. But one year later, I feel like I’m back in the hoarder household, all over again. What’s up with that? One year ago I hauled out 12 bags of give-a-away stuff, but yet…my office is overflowing. My closet is still a wreck. My kitchen counters are filled with stacks of stuff…

I discovered that there are a few basic things that need to be ingrained inside your head before you start…or you’ll end up where you began. Like me…

This summer (one year later) I’ve learned some important concepts that I missed the first go-around.

  • Learn to be content with what you have. (MOST IMPORTANT!!!) All the decluttering in the world won’t matter….because you’ll just want more if you’re not content!
  • Stop shopping! No really! No more retail therapy. If you’re buying things to feel better, it won’t last. (Trust me!) Here’s a RED FLAG WARNING: If you’re buying things you don’t need, it’s because you’re dissatisfied in some way. Shopping won’t fix it. Learn to stop buying non-necessities.
    • Try a 30-day waiting period. If you want something, put it on a list. Wait 30 days. If you still want it after 30 days…. (Chances are your impulsive buy mode may dwindle and you’ll change your mind.)
  • Realize you already have what you need. Food, water, basic clothing, shelter, loved ones. (Everything else is extra) Here’s the pitfalls (or material addictions I struggle with):
    • The need for the latest technology. (My worst addiction!)
    • Stylish clothing. (Thank God I’ve been overweight. Being overweight strips you of that addiction)
    • Cool new shoes. (Okay…maybe this is my worst addiction!)
    • Fancier car.
    • Bigger house.
  • Learn to be happy by DOING, not owning. And by doing, I don’t mean shopping as an activity. Do things like talking and being with loved ones, cooking, creating, singing, exercise.
  • Learn the concept of enough. (Big challenge if you’ve been raised by depression-era parents. You hoard because you don’t know when the next famine will happen.)
    • Don’t get caught in the cycle of more. Having more breeds wanting more.

You accumulate clutter by being in the mindset of ACQUIRING rather than a mindset of ENOUGH. You accumulate it by having a fear mentality, not wanting to let go of things, wanting to hoard, wanting to keep everything for sentimental reasons.

So….You can declutter your home and get it looking beautiful, but if you don’t have a pre-cluttering intentional philosophy nailed down, a system of habits in place, a new mindset…in one year you’ll be back to square one….because….

  • You kept buying
  • You start putting things down in any old place
  • You refuse to let go of something sentimental.

BEFORE YOU START DECLUTTERING:

  • Determine what is a necessity and what is a want. Is this really a necessity? Can I function without it?
  • Determine your priorities. It will make deciding what to keep and what to give away much easier.
  • Decide that you will only keep one or two keepsakes from a deceased loved one. (I kept a quilt/aphgan from each of my grandmothers. Made it easier to get rid of the stuffed animals they gave me.)
  • If you don’t have room for it, if you don’t have a designated place to store, get rid of it.
  • Figure out if you’re keeping something for your kids and whether or not they really want it. ( I made my daughter go through several boxes of her baby clothes. We got it down to a small container of what she wanted to keep.) If they’re going to discard it after you’re gone, save them the trouble and do it now.

photo-1Last weekend we pulled everything down out of the attic. It’s was roughly 30 boxes. We were able to throw away or give away ¾ of the boxes. We only put 5 boxes back in the attic. Trust me, getting rid of my own baby clothes was hard. But I did it. Only kept a couple of outfits for nostalgia. I feel lighter.

My daughter is moving to grad school next month. I told her she could have anything out of my kitchen. She took a bunch of stuff. I haven’t missed a thing. Clearly I had too much!

Here’s to staying clutter free…