I prefer to state, "New year, improved me", giving praise to the years past and how they have sculpted my being, leading me into 2015 with lessons learned, yet much, much more to mold.
I'm ready for it.
14 is my favorite number. My "lucky" number, we'll say. I was born on the 14th, and good things coincidentally seem to happen to me regarding the number "14". For example, I had locker number 14 when I took my best MCAT, I had a $14,000 scholarship in college, the best wine I ever tasted was $14.00, 14 was my basketball jersey number in high school (okay, let's NOT talk about that one)...you get the picture.
Being that 14 is my jam, I assumed that something magical would happen to me in 2014. It was MY year! I thought I'd meet my soul mate, get accepted into medical school, run a marathon, or win the lottery.
I guess I limited myself there by not purchasing any lottery tickets (Dammit, Vanessa!)
None of those things happened. I'm soul-mateless, not in med school, definitely didn't run a marathon, and I'm wallowing in debt.
I can't discredit 2014 completely, in fact, it WAS a great year. I just expected 2014 to be a bit more meaningful. As seen in my Birthday Post I learned a lot, improved myself, and proceeded further towards my goals.
I was never big on New Year's Resolutions. I have a few simple ones that I'd like to chip away at (curse less, travel more, stop fabricating stories, put down the phone, pick up the weights, read more, pursue my goals, volunteer, etc.)
My biggest one, as always, is to be happier. Being happy encompasses every aspect of your life. It is the one-stop-shop for resolutions. This is because being happy means changing yourself, your actions, the way you treat people and situations, and, in turn, your attitude.
I was sitting at dinner with a close friend the other night who had not seen me in a while. We spent time catching up, sharing life stories, and expressing future goals. After some time she looked over my face inquisitively, and when her eyes made contact with mine she stated, quite matter-of-fact, "You seem happy". She pressed further with a sincere curiosity, "How did you become so happy? You always say, 'You need to find happiness with yourself before finding it with someone else', how do I do that?"
Talk about a loaded question.
I spewed back a few cliche statements as I attempted to formulate an appropriate response. I gave her the basics, as if I am some happiness guru (spoiler alert--I'm not), and the conversation moved on.
To my dear friend, and anyone else looking to improve their happiness in 2015, here are a list of a few things I've picked up so far, and want to continue to improve, to contribute to my happiness.
- Have a routine, but occasionally break it. If you don't have a full time job, or a consistent schedule, it is extremely difficult to keep yourself on a routine. I, for example, only have night classes, and could easily sleep in all day. However, I try to wake up early every morning, have my coffee, my work out, and get my day started. On the days I do get to sleep in--the days I break my routine and do something different--I appreciate those moments that much more.
- Be thankful for everything. A thankful heart is a happy one. Wake up each morning being thankful for where you are, all you have, and every experience. When I start my mornings with gratitude, appreciating and thanking God for whatever comes to mind, it sets the tone for a happier day where I can be thankful for everything that goes right, and find a way to be grateful for the things that go wrong.
- Do a little of what you love every day. This is a big one. Take a half hour to do whatever it is you enjoy each day and those bright moments will contribute to a more cheerful 24 hours. When you look forward to having this relaxation time, the tougher times become more manageable. Read more in this post: Happy Now, Happy Later.
- Experience more, document less. I'm bad at this one. I always whip out my phone to Snap Chat my experiences. I want to stop this. Sure, it's great to take a few pics...but everybody does not need to know what I'm doing all the time. I want to try new things (I'm trying snowboarding next week!), galavant through nature more, travel, and taste new foods. I want to see the world through my own eyes, not the screen of my iPhone.
- Get closer to your short term, and long term goals every day. A large contributor to my happiness is knowing that I'm working towards something. If every day you know that you are working towards something you want, you will end the day with confidence that you're making a difference and carving your own path. We can't expect things to be handed to us...if I want to run a marathon, I'm going to train every day. I want to be a doctor; I'm going to study every day. Accomplish those small victories daily, and your heart will smile knowing that you're a small, or big, step closer. And continue to set goals for yourself forever.
- Take care of your body. Nobody is taking my Taco Bell away from me. We all know how much I love junk food. I see it as a treat, though. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and you will feel great from the inside out. Don't deprive yourself of anything forever, though. Treat yourself to that Taco Bell occasionally, and it will taste SO much more delicious. Exercise for YOU, and stop comparing yourself to other people.
- Nourish your soul. This means different things for different people. I like to start my morning reading my Bible or devotions book. I'd also like to start meditating. Spirituality is scientifically proven to be linked to happiness. Find your spirit, nourish it, and that peace will be exuded out of you. Knowing there are things in life bigger than you puts much into perspective.
- Be friendly, meet new people, but stay in touch with old friends. You have billions of people to choose from, billions of people with different experiences from you, billions of people with new stories. Open up your heart and be willing to meet new people and learn from them. BE FRIENDLY. A simple smile and hello will cause countless people to find you approachable. I walk around smiling and random people literally tell me their life stories. I get that from my mother. It feels nice though, I like when people open up to me. As for the people already in your life, remove the toxic ones who tear you down. They are easier to recognize as you get older. Keep in touch with those who you can laugh with, who encourage you to be your best self, and those you can trust. Don't let these amazing people fade out of your life.
- Stop talking about people, start talking about ideas. I need to work on this. At first, eliminating gossip from your conversation may seem comparable to eliminating cheese from macaroni and cheese, but soon you find that when you stop talking about people, the conversation becomes much richer, and you feel better about yourself.
- Be resilient. When "bad" things happen don't dwell. Do not let sadness and disappointment get the best of you. Look at situations in a constructive manner, How can I resolve this? What are my next steps? What can I do so this doesn't happen again? How Can I do better next time? Learn lessons from every situation, find a way to move on, and do it. The bad things will stop seeming so bad when you look at them as opportunities to improve.
- Be optimistic. If you're a pessimist, fake it until you make it. Look at everything life throws at you with a positive spin and eventually you will truly find the good in everything. Be willing to help, hard working, and take every task assigned to you with a cheerful heart. See the positives in other people (even if you have to REALLY look). Be happy for other people (I know, my whole news feed is engagements too...). Stop complaining!
- Spend less time over analyzing, and more time speaking what's on your mind. I'm not sure what goes on in the male 20-something brain, but speaking for myself, and many of my female friends, we tend to over-analyze. I think I've gotten better at this...but can surely still use some work. Instead of being angry at your friend and sending passive aggressive messages, be straight up. Confront people with what's on your mind in a calm, non-attacking manner, and work through your problems so that there is nothing to over analyze. Respect yourself and your relationships enough to know you can improve them. When you are honest about the way you feel with others, they will eventually share the mutual respect and be honest with you, giving you less to over analyze, and more room to grow. As for boys...stop reading into everything they say, and stop waiting around for them to make the first move or send the first text. I'm a firm believer in the fact that if a guy wants to talk to you, he WILL find a way to. If he hasn't, why don't you text him? If your options for the evening involve staying in alone and waiting for this kid to text you, or you growing a pair and asking him if he wants to go out, why not? Worst case, he says no, and you spend your night how you would have initially. His loss, you're awesome, and your take-out disco fries will taste better anyway. Just don't give the guy too many chances, speak your mind with dignity (don't drunkenly text I LOVE YOU), and you'll be happy to find that people will stop playing games with you.
- Be forgiving, and see other peoples' sides of the story. Practice putting yourself in other peoples' shoes and seeing things from their perspective. Even if you can't understand a person's actions or motives, forgive. Never harbor anger or hatred, it's poisonous. Forgiveness is more important for you than the other. It doesn't mean you have to keep the person in your life, or allow them to treat you the same. It doesn't even mean they have to say sorry. It means you're saying to yourself: What they did was wrong, but I'm not going to let that bother me anymore, I'm bigger than that. You'll feel light as a feather.
- Think before you speak and act. Never speak out of anger, fear, or shock. Take a deep breath before you'll say something you regret. Words are powerful and we can't take them back. We can't take angry emails back, either.
- Practice kind acts. This one is simple: do nice things, feel nice. It can be as little bringing a coffee to someone having a bad day, or as big as taking a missions trip to a developing country. Do little nice things every day, and big ones occasionally. You'll be happy knowing you contributed to someone else's happiness.
- Encourage others. I cannot emphasize this one enough. ENCOURAGE OTHER PEOPLE. You can often tell how a person feels about themselves by the way they speak to others. If a girl is calling another girl "gross" or accusing her of having an eating disorder because she's thin, that girl clearly lacks self confidence. Please, please stop doing this. Let's encourage each other, praise each others accomplishments, accentuate each others great qualities, and stop focusing so much on image. Especially as women. We are such a strong force when we can be kind to one another, let's PLEASE start building each other up, stop the smack talk, and we will all be a lot happier about ourselves. Stop tearing people down. When you make people feel good about themselves, when you point out their awesome attributes, they will WANT to be around you. Do it.
- Practice cleanliness and organization. Clean home-clean head.
- Stand up for yourself, and stop doing things because you "feel bad". Learn to say no. Do things because you want to, because you will benefit, not because you're intimidated or "feel bad" for someone else. It's good to be there for people...to an extent. Don't get taken advantage of, know your self worth.
- Don't base your happiness on anybody else. Happiness is self sustained. No person can give it to you. If you're not happy now, a boyfriend or girlfriend will not bring you joy. Relationships are better when two HAPPY people contribute to each others happiness. Don't feed off someone's spirit, it will just bring the both of you down.
- "TREAT YOSELF" Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle said it best. Give yourself that R&R and tell yourself that you're awesome. Make yourself look nice (dress nice, comb your hair, throw on some gloss....something!). Exude confidence (not cockiness).
There are a ton of ways to find happiness, and everyone has to do that on their own, but I thought I'd share those few of mine that definitely help me wake up and go to sleep smiling. Now, for a few outfits:
Bag and booties were gifts :)
For New Years I was a bit more casual....I didn't want to hurt my ankle this year (as is New Years Tradition) so I wore flats.
I did well at their sale! go!