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This is part one of my series “Finding Your Happy.” See part 2 here.
Over the last few years I’ve faced a lot of change, and a lot of loss. I’ve changed jobs twice, lost family members, gotten married, had to put down a few pets, and ultimately stopped participating in my own life. I was paralyzed by my desire to have purpose. I felt left behind, and as if I should have it together now, since I’m almost in my 30’s. I was so afraid to spend time or energy on anything that might end up being a waste of my time that I simply didn’t act on anything.
Let me tell you, that was the worst possible choice.
Now, I may have gotten to finally watch Stranger Things, and really gotten to know the cast of characters on NCIS, but I was resentful. I felt like I was living to work, living to serve my husband and friends, and getting nothing in return, not even a sense of satisfaction because I wasn’t accomplishing much of anything in a day. I was dissatisfied with my environment, my direction, my body, and my daily activities. I felt lethargic and sad, and I was lashing out.
I turned to Tarot and the “mystic world” for guidance. This isn’t new for me. I’ve always had an inclination toward the occult. I bought my first deck in high school when I worked at Barnes and Noble. I found it in a post-Christmas discount bin. Disappointingly, my self-readings came up vague, “You’re feeling lost, keep working to find your path, good luck.” I tried five or six times, using different methods, and every time I would get different configurations all meaning essentially the same thing, “chin up, one step at a time.” Needless to say it was frustrating especially as I was doing readings for friends and family that seemed a lot more pointed. It wasn’t until I was reading for a friend that I realized why this kept happening. My friend asked why I liked reading tarot, if I “believed” in it like one would a religion. My answer was a pretty immediate, ”No. Tarot isn’t a religion to me, it doesn’t define anything on it’s own it is more of a guide, the reader or readee does the defining.”
In my honest opinion, everything in the universe is energy down to our most minuscule parts. Energy reacts, it is what it does. It is drawn to or pushed away from something due to attraction and repulsion. It’s basic physics. Within my understanding, occasionally the energy making up a card, may interact with a person’s energy (attraction) and help you uncover what you already know in your subconscious. You bring all of your own baggage to a spread, your dysfunction and sorrow, hope and happiness, and that directly influences how you interpret the cards. All other aspects of a reading exists to give you a jumping off point.
Essentially, the cards kept telling me I was lost because that is how I was feeling, and while I may have been asking for guidance or direction, my subconscious had none to give. That’s when I realized I would have to seek out my own happy.
Nothing in the universe will bring you purpose if you do not reach out and grab it. There is not a person, coach, story, habit or special food that will bring out your fire. You have to seek it and foster it. This is no easy task, and it is constant work.
I have found a few things so far that foster and feed my spark. I’m working to pursue and feed these embers into hopefully a Hearth fire, like the always burning flames of Roman mythology. Here are a few ways you can find and foster your own spark.
- Throw out expectations
The number one thing that prevents me from feeling happy is disappointment. I am really good at expecting certain outcomes and wallowing in disappointment when reality doesn’t meet expectation. I have to work really hard at this one, especially as it is a lonely path, but I try to face the world with very few expectation, either negative or positive. I don’t expect my husband to not do (or to do) the things he agreed to do before I’m home if I didn’t explicitly set a time frame. I have to accept that he agreed to the task, but I can not micromanage how and when he does it. Nobody can read minds and everyone else has their own expectations. I hate to disappoint or be disappointed, so this has forced me to communicate better. If I want something done now, I need to ask for it to be done now. If I want to see my best friend at 10am on Saturday, I need to make those plans before Saturday. I also need to communicate if I only have a set number of hours to spend with her in order to not lose track of my day and time, if I have other plans as well. Losing expectations also forces me to open my mind. If I don’t expect to be too tired, or to dislike something, I lose the resistance to trying it.
- Seek novel experiences
On my path to finding my happy, I have had to redefine myself and the things that I enjoy doing. I have had to try a lot of the new things, and revisit a lot of old things that I had simply stopped doing. I am still on this path, so I am constantly listening to new music, trying new foods, going to new places, and testing out new hobbies. Just last weekend I learned how to make mozzarella cheese! I also set myself a challenge for 2017 to read 52 books this year, including new genres and topics I may have not sought out before. You can look for Meetup groups in your community that might appeal to your interests and get you meeting more people and trying new things. Or, sign up for a class on something you loved as a kid or you’ve been curious about trying. You can even just explore a part of town you haven’t explored before. The new experiences will help jump start your creative juices and whether you enjoy it or not, you’ll have learned something more about who you are.
- “Set goals, keep quiet and crush them”
Before you can set goals you need to know where you’re going. Sort of. I have no clue where I’ll be professionally in six months, but I do know how I want to feel and certain things I would like to accomplish in my life. However it best suits you, tap into your vision of your future, and build s.m.a.r.t. goals, and then crush them. I have gone through quite a few goal setting tutorials, New Year’s resolution lists, etc, and I have found that I really enjoy setting 90 day goals. They blend the momentum and excitement of a monthly challenge while establishing a long enough time frame to actually accomplish something. I can then break my 90 day goal into monthly, weekly, and daily tasks, so I always feel like I’m making progress. I am also working on my level 10 life spread in the Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Medium Dotted Journal [Emerald] I use as a bullet journal. You don’t have to keep quiet about your goals either. Whatever support you can get to achieve your goals is great, but you shouldn’t wait for a rally party either. Just get out and start doing it.
- Define your time
Set aside time daily to pursue your happy. The average American watches at least 4 hours of TV a day. Imagine having even a portion of that time to pursue something that makes you sustain-ably happy. I was feeling extremely overwhelmed, but wasn’t accomplishing much of anything in a day. Now, I plan my days and include one activity that works towards a goal per day. Being type A, I not only enjoy making progress towards my goals, but also the satisfaction of marking things off of a to do list. To keep organized and focused I use a bullet journal for daily and monthly planning and I have a separate weekly time budget. By tracking how I’m using my time I can not only make sure I’m taking time out for myself, but I also know if I need to stop doing something. If I have meditation scheduled on my weekly time budget, but I’m never marking it off of my to-do list, I know I either need to reevaluate how important that practice is to my happiness, or adjust my time budget to make it work.
- Nike that -ish.
Plaster walls with motivational quotes. Do whatever you need to do to get started. Do not put off writing the next American novel until your bed is made. The longer you wait to accomplish your goals, the longer it will take to get there. No one can provide you with motivation, and honestly motivation only gets you out of the chair, discipline keeps you up and gets you to the finish line. You also can not expect to find your happiness in another person. It comes back to those expectations again. Intentionally or not, people will always disappoint you if you put all of the power to make you happy in someone else’s hands. That’s like admitting defeat before you have even tried, and it puts a lot of pressure on the other person and is not going to get the results you want. Don’t let someone else’s actions or inaction keep you from being your best, truest self. Your happiness and success is entirely in your own hands, you just have to take action and do it.
Thank you for reading. This is the beginning of a series called Finding Your Happy. I will be working on this over the next few weeks with tips on how to seek out and harness your own happiness, and how to actually foster those sparks. In the meantime, if you’re feeling dissatisfied with your life; unhappy with your day to day, I’d love to hear from you about how you intend to take action and find your happy. Or, have you gone through this before, do you have any tips or encouraging words to share? If you’re interested in goal setting or using a bullet journal I highly recommend the Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Medium Dotted Journal [Emerald]. The format is perfect for customization, it comes in three sizes and dozens of colors, and it even has a pocket! I am on my second one and I couldn’t imagine my day without it.
This is part one of my series “Finding Your Happy.” See part 2 here.