August 1, 2014

Happiness comes from...

This is kind of an extension post to my "Green Grass" post I did a little while back. The gist of that post was the guilty feelings and thoughts I had been having of "I'll be happier when...". I had given myself some advice on how to work towards happiness by having to a. really wanting it, and b. really working towards it. That post was written about three months ago, and I have to say I am making progress. 

So lately I have been noticing a couple of things in my life that I just wanted to express. It relates to my "Green Grass" post because I've noticed that a really great way to work towards happiness is all about the acts that we decide to make. When we make good choices, we obviously feel good and have a more positive outlook on life. When we make wrong choices, we feel guilty and burdened with life's demands. So here are a couple of observances I have made in the past couple of months. 

1. I am surprised and sometimes even baffled when a complete stranger does something nice for myself or others. Let me see if I can try to explain this. As I have gone about my everyday life, whether it be running errands, walking in my neighborhood, or just driving in my car, I have noticed that I am surprised at the genuine goodness that still exists in people. Now, I don't know why this is such a shock to me. I know that there are so many good people in this world, who are constantly just giving of themselves. Maybe I feel this way because I need to improve my own desire to be kinder and to provide more service to people. Some examples of this genuine goodness that I have observed is a complete stranger paying for a young mother's grocery bill because she didn't have enough money to cover the groceries she needed. Another example is a stranger giving a homeless man some groceries. I was walking my dog the other morning and a complete stranger was jogging past and joyfully said, "Good morning!" to me. All of these events of caused me to ponder why I was so surprised that they happened. I think in today's society we have become so immersed in ourselves, and just live in our own little bubble, that we don't take the time to notice others around us. I think we may simply ask ourselves, "Why would someone do that?" thinking they have a hidden agenda, or maybe feeling like we don't deserve the kindness given to us. At any rate seeing these examples have really made me open up my eyes to the goodness happening all around me and trying to give it back.

2. I wonder why so many people wear frowns on their faces when they could be smiling. I am quite aware that I am guilty of this. I have what others have called a unique "resting face." When I am just sitting listening to somebody, or thinking about things, others interpret this as me being sad or angry. I can't count the number of times someone at church has come up to me concerned, because I am sitting with a frown on my face. And I am never mad at anybody or anything, I am just simply sitting there thinking. So I started practicing different ways to "rest" my face. I have tried smiling to others more at church, when I'm out and about doing errands, or even just talking with friends. As I have really made this effort, I notice just how many people I encounter who are scowling and complaining. I always wonder what is happening in their lives that they wear their burdens on their faces. I just try to make eye contact and smile because I personally know how much it makes my day when someone smiles at me. And you know what? Most of them actually smile back at me. It works. 

3. I wonder why we deny ourselves happiness. I have noticed that as I have genuinely tried to embrace the kindness happening around me, and trying to pay it forward, I have been happier. As I mentioned, I think we sometimes feel we don't deserve kindness from others, for whatever reason. So we decide to hide in a shell. It's kind of like we deny the blessings that can come our way. I've always believed that our Heavenly Father is just pouring out all these blessings in our lives, and we either notice or we don't. It's when we don't notice those blessings that we deny ourselves the happiness we deserve. This is something I tell myself all the time--that I am worthy of blessings, and that I do deserve kindness. We all do. We are all in this life together, and it's up to us to help each other on the way. 

July 1, 2014

25...Quarter of a Century

Today is my birthday. Not to sound conceited or wanting extra attention, but I just feel so happy and blessed today. So grateful to be alive. So happy the sun is shining (thank you California). And feeling so blessed to belong to the family I do. I'm forever grateful for that. I keep thinking that I can't be just doesn't sound right :) And I was thinking I don't write much about my day-to-day things/feelings often, so enjoy.

Drinking: ice water. It's kind of hot already :)
Reading: The second book in the Fallen series. Also A Little Princess. I don't believe you have to finish one book and go on to the next. I like having multiple stories to think about :)
Wanting: to feel more confident about going to Girls' Camp next week. :)
Looking: out the window. Loving the sunshine and summer weather.
Playing: Candy Crush, what else?
Wasting: time probably. I could always be using my time better. 
Enjoying: life. Not trying to sound corny or anything, but my birthday wish to myself is to make this upcoming year more enriching for myself. 
Waiting: impatiently to see my family again :) 
Liking: pomegranate fruit strips from Target's Simply Balanced brand. So yummy.
Wondering: what the day will hold.
Loving: having Denver as my companion. I honestly don't know what I would do without him.
Hoping: to have not as much stress the rest of the week.
Needing: books. Can never have enough books.
Smelling: vanilla scented candle. Such a home-y, relaxing smell.
Wearing: simple jewelry. No fuss. Casual.
Noticing: how cute Chomper looks curled up in the chair next to me. What a sweetheart. 
Knowing: how precious life is, and to never take it for granted.
Thinking: about what I want to accomplish as a 25 year old :)
Feeling: Grateful for all that I have.

Opening: birthday card from my cousin Jamie. She's the best! 

May 22, 2014

Green Grass

Lately, I have been guilty of a far too common thought. "I'll be happier when...". I think this thought creeps into our heads more often then we like, and if you're anything like me you feel extremely guilty for having those thoughts. I know I have much to be grateful for. I know I have a lot to live for. So it is always disturbing to me when I have these pockets of weakness and feel bad because I don't have everything I want right now. Because most of us, myself included, are fortunate to be blessed with many things others can only comprehend of.

So, as I have been contemplating my life (cue some pity parties) for the last week or so, and focusing on the things I wish I had right now, I was humbly put in my place when I read this quote. 

Well there you have it. As I stopped and read that quote, I felt shame/guilt, happiness and encouragement wash over me. If you think that isn't possible, I'm here to tell you that it is indeed quite possible. This is another common saying we tell each other all the time. "The grass is greener on the other side." What hit me about this quote was that I (and all of us) can have that desired greener grass too if we work for it. Now I think of myself as a pretty hard worker when I put my mind to something. But if the desire isn't there for me, I find myself complaining and whining and probably acting downright childish. In order to overcome this obnoxious behavior, I have found that setting small goals towards what you want to accomplish that will make you happier works. If there is anything I want to change about my situation and circumstance, it is up to me to make it work and make the necessary sacrifices and changes. I often think of Maria Von Trapp from The Sound of Music singing, "Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could." 

It's painted in black and white, we have to work for what we want. I have been reading this wonderful book, "Celebration!: Ten Principles of More Joyous Living" by Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards. One of the things she mentions on how to combat those feelings of discouragement and weakness about our situation is to 

"look more consistently at what I have done, than at what I have not done" 

She also goes on to say that we all have the power over our own work. That ultimately, we have the responsibility to create a joyous life for ourselves regardless of circumstance. So whether we are feeling lonely, stuck in a rut, or feeling inadequate, we can change. And it is up to us to become better, not someone else's. That is one area I'm guilty of as well. Sometimes I just wish my fairy godmother could swoop in and with a flick of a wand make everything better. But then I'm also chastised for that thought. Because fairy tale wishing is fine in moderation, but it's not reality. And I think of those Disney princesses who lived in those fairy tale worlds, wishing they could change something about their lives, and alas, they did! Snow White escaped from her evil step-mother and created a happier life serving the seven dwarfs. Cinderella had the desire and faith to attend the ball. I think we forget that she had the intention to make herself a dress and go to the ball on her own before her stepmother bogged her down with chores. Rapunzel wanted to have an adventure to see the floating lights and explore what life was like beyond her tower walls, and with a little push did just that. Tiana wanted to have her dream restaurant, and she worked hard and scrimped and saved every penny she had to make her payment. So yes, we all have the responsibility to change and make ourselves happy, even a princess. 

I tell myself often that this life is what we make of it. We are here for a purpose to prove ourselves worthy of a even better life after this one. So instead of wallowing in self pity because we can't have it all right now, we need to realize change only happens if we make it happen. Our grass can become just as green as the lawns we envy. We can make our lives more joyous if we focus on what we have done in our attempts to make ourselves happier, rather than what hasn't happened yet. 

February 28, 2014

How to love your body

Winter seems to kind of wear down on me. You know the feeling of grey skies, rain (or snow) and just that "blah" feeling. That is why I always look forward to spring. I just love turning over a new leaf (metaphorically of course. I have never literally done that), the freshness of everything, the soft sweet colors. Yet. with spring comes summer, and although I am fond of warm weather and blue skies, I don't like the summer time, because it is a time (for me) about body insecurities. 

Last year, I really didn't feel content with myself. I can't tell you why, but I did. I've always been shy and insecure about my physical appearance. I think every woman and girl goes through this, and I have improved throughout the years. But I used to always have these moments of despair, always comparing myself to other girls my age. I always thought I didn't measure up, that I wasn't pretty enough, my clothes weren't quite right, you name it.  As I have grown older, those insecurities seem to fade, but at times I am back to my teenage self. Last year was particularly difficult. I was just really dissatisfied with how I looked and how I felt. Seeing as I really don't want to go through that again, I have come up with four reasons to help me "love my body". These are things I am in the process of doing to help me and my inner/physical self. 

1. Work out. I have always loved to work out. I remember as a child putting on my leotard and having a grand old time keeping up with our Crystal Light Aerobics video. I always loved that feeling of liberation, and being one with your body. I always loved pushing myself to the next physical limit to see what I could achieve. Although I love working out and the amazing endorphins I receive from doing it, I have never been good at being consistent with it. I have always worked out to take care of my body, and it needs to happen more. I usually do a cardio workout three times a week, and then alternate with yoga on the other two days. So because I love it, I need to do it more often. Goal number one--consistent exercise routine.

2. Compliment myself. I know for me, sometimes when I am in a slump, I think negative about myself. Nothing ever looks right. Nothing I wear seems good enough. I pick myself apart with imperfections and by the time I'm done I am even more depressed about myself. (No wonder.) I know by doing that I'm kind of saying to my Heavenly Father, "I'm not grateful for the life You gave me." I can't imagine how that must hurt our Father in Heaven. So, instead of all that negative talk, I'm going to compliment myself more often. I like to write on sticky notes and put them on my bathroom mirror. Maybe it's a little cheesy, but it works. Goal number two--compliment myself more often. 

3. Wear bright colors. Ok, so this may seem a little silly. But my goal this summertime is to wear brighter colors. Now I have always shied away from those bright vibrant colors. Part of it is I'm a reserved person. I don't like drawing attention to myself or standing out.  But I truly want to be in a state of contentment with myself, and to be happy with the clothes I put on myself. And if you are happy on the inside, you should show it on the outside. Goal number three--Brighten up! 

4. Spiritual uplift. I have always believed that "you" consists of three parts. Physical, mental, and spiritual. I am the happiest when all three of those aspects are in balance and harmony with each other. I have found during the times I constantly work out, think positive about myself, and am spiritually at ease, I find my reason for living. I love those little moments when I am just so happy with life. I need to have those happen more. I love to learn. When I really get in those modes, I devour the scriptures and talks and books like there is no tomorrow. I need to have that drive to improve my spirit. Goal number four--Spiritual lift. 

So. That is my plan for this summer, although I really should continue with this all the time. So although summertime is a phase of insecurity, I plan to come out on top this year. 

January 25, 2014

Labeling Others. It's a No No.

Today I'm expressing something that might come close to a rant. But, I have to let my feelings out and this blog is the place to do it. Lately, I have been seeing this trend of "labeling" people over the internet. I've been noticing it all over Facebook. Maybe I'm lacking in sense of humor, or maybe I just don't get it. But as I've been seeing these "labels" and how others are defining themselves based on these, it honestly worries me. Some examples are minor. "What kind of celebrity are you?" or "What your home says about you."  Now to be fair, these quizzes are obviously meant to be taken lightly. Ok. It's fun to imagine yourself as Julia Roberts, or if your house looks a certain way that supposedly reflects upon you as a person. But I've been seeing another kind of label that actually has me offended and it's all over Facebook. "What kind of Mormon are you?"  

What does that even mean. 

Normally, I am not one to really voice my opinion if I disagree about something over Facebook or the internet. The main reason is because my opinions are mine to have and naturally being a reserved person, I don't express my feelings on something negative way often. Number two, obviously, it's the internet. I don't really want the world knowing intimate details about myself and what I think. But back to the subject. "What kind of Mormon are you?" I have heard this over and over again. When I was up at school, students would label you a "Utah Mormon" or a "East Coast Mormon" or whatever state you were Mormon. Or sometimes someone would scoff at another person and say, "He is such a Peter Priesthood", or "She is such a Molly Mormon." And I have to say, I got sick and tired of it. I still am sick and tired of it. I was under the impression that as a  Mormon, you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You are a Christian. A follower of Jesus Christ. So where did these labels originate from? And who started it? I have to say, I'm ashamed in them. Because these labels are offensive. It divides people. It puts down people. I do not care where you are from. As a member of any religion, you share the same religious beliefs. You strive to become united as members. And you are commanded to love one another. And I am sorry, labeling people (or people in general)  in same church is just plain wrong and it doesn't matter. What matters is that you strive to become the best person you can be. You, personally, are setting goals for yourself everyday to be better than you were yesterday. And if that means you are doing something different from somebody else, so be it. 

I wish we as people would stop labeling others. I wish as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we would step up and stop with this whole "Utah Mormon" or "Molly Mormon."  As long as you are striving to do what is right, and striving to create a happy fulfilling life, that is all that matters. 

January 1, 2014

2014: New Year's Day

I absolutely love New Years. I have always loved waiting for that last minute on New Year's Eve until the brand new year introduces itself. I have always eagerly anticipated writing down my New Year Resolutions on a fresh piece paper in my journal. A new year, new goals, a new me. That is something I have sought for year after year. It's always been fun for me to look back in my journals and see what my goals were and if I had accomplished them or not. Even if I had a list a hundred items long, if I had just achieved one resolution, I had succeeded. 

The past couple of years, I have followed in my sister-in-law Shannon's example by choosing one word and working to incorporate that word into my life for that year. I have enjoyed doing that. This year I am doing something a little different though. I'll explain. A few weeks ago I attended a women's Christmas dinner provided by my church. It was wonderful, and the main point of it was towards the end of the dinner, one woman talked about the significance of the wise men in the Christmas story, and how much they meant to her. She loved that they had traveled so long, and so far, to bring gifts to the baby Jesus- that they not only brought physical gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Christ, but they had each brought Him the gift of time. This woman then invited the rest of us ladies to think about the upcoming year, and ask ourselves, "What is my gift for Christ this year?" She told us we could adopt this phrase into our lives, and instead of making a list of New Year Resolutions, we could seriously ponder this phrase and mold it into our lives. I took this invitation to heart, and really began to consider all that the Savior had given me personally. Even though I will forever be in His debt, I knew that I have my whole life to improve myself and to grow closer to Him. So I figured I would still choose a word to represent my year, and intertwine that with the gift I am giving my Savior this year. Here is what I came up with. the act or process of reclaiming, the state of being reclaimed. 

This year, I will strive to reclaim myself. For the past few years, I have kind of lost confidence in my own abilities, on my self-worth, and completely putting my trust and faith in Jesus Christ. My gift to Him this year is reclaiming my faith in Him. I want to strive to put Him first, so in order to do that, I need to determine what is most important to me and make some changes. For instance, something I have always been shy about is letting it be known to others that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have always been respectful of other religions and life choices, and I was always afraid of offending someone, or having them think differently of me because of my religion. Not anymore. At this time in my life, it is time for me to stand firm. I need to reclaim myself as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and that includes putting my complete trust and faith in Jesus Christ. 

I know if I do this- putting my faith in Christ, then I will somehow be able to reclaim myself. I will be able to enjoy each day, and not spend so much time worrying on the future. I love this quote by Marjorie Pay Hinckley: 

So there you go. Just a little bit about where I hope my new year takes me. Happy 2014, may it be a wonderful year for all.