The Life of a Chronic Over-thinker


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I can feel it in my head first. Everything gets a little light. Then I feel it in my heart. I can feel the heat rise up in my chest as my blood pressure rises. The signs are written on my skin as the blotches of a heat rash start to surface. My fingers start to clamp in toward my palms and holding things gets a little awkward. That’s what my anxiety feels like most days.

Some days it shows up as nausea. Occasionally, it’s a restless night of sleep. Other times, it’s a complete system shutdown and I can’t stay awake. — my mom calls it “possum-ing” — when my mind can’t handle everything, my body plays dead.

My anxiety can bring out the absolute worst traits in me. It makes me withdrawn. It makes me controlling. It makes me overcorrect most situations. It makes me take on too much and then blame everyone else for it. And many times, it drives the people that I love crazy.

There are times when the rational part of my brain is screaming “JUST LET IT GO — walk away. Breathe and let the moment pass.” — and the anxious side of my brain will do exactly what I don’t want it to.  I won’t let it go. I won’t walk away. I won’t breathe — I’ll actually breathe less. And I won’t let the moment pass. I will beat the conversation until far past its death. I will turn a five minute problem into a five hour problem. And chances are that I won’t feel better afterwards. And then I will replay every possible scenario in my head of how it could have or should have went differently — the credits roll and we play the show again the next morning.

I didn’t really know what it was for a long time. I didn’t know why my hands got really cold and I got light headed when a stressful moment hit. I didn’t know why I just shut down sometimes. I didn’t know why I overthought every single moment. And I am my mother’s daughter, I thought the worry, the over-planning, the control-freakiness in me was good for the public. “All of these ‘annoying traits’ will save you all one day” — at least that is what I told myself — until one day the world felt much heavier and I looked in the mirror a little closer.

I’m not medicated — except for the emergency baby aspirin that my mom has me keep on my desk in case of a stroke at 28 years old. I don’t go to therapy — although it wouldn’t hurt (for anyone to). But I can put a name on the face. And it is a slow process — but I’m learning to breathe slower. I’m learning to force myself to let go of things. I’m working on removing pieces of my life that make it worse. I’m intentional about how I react when a wave hits and I try to direct all of the raw energy toward something productive — usually work — and not something destructive — like fixing other people. << I mean how egotistical is that notion?? — sorry, separate thought.

And I know as I walk through the world that everyone is dealing with something. Everyone has a dark cloud in their life that they think is bigger than everyone else’s dark cloud. And if it is to them, then it is. It counts. As I deal with anxiety — someone else deals with depression — or crippling grief — or just an inner battle of not being good enough or where they thought they should be. So whatever you live with — I hope you live with it well. I hope if it doesn’t go away completely, it becomes manageable. And I hope you have the best life you can, whatever that may mean to you.

Get out of bed. Go out into the world. Live a day at a time (which is so hard for me, personally — when I could plan out everyday for the rest of my life instead.) And if it ruins a day or a month or a job or a relationship — that is okay too. More will come. And you can try to do better on those days. I will too.

And if you need to – go get help — without ever thinking for a second about anyone else’s perception of it. Ever.

 

 

The Consequences of Feeling.6.20.19


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In the movies, it always works out. You meet the characters after their long search for love. A strategically placed ballad from a generation you weren’t born in plays during a montage where all the two lovebirds do is ride together on public transportation and eat ice cream. They share the same pair of headphones. They laugh in a way that makes them throw their heads back. All the signs are there. They’ve made it. The credits roll and as far as we know, they live happily ever after. And for roughly 97 minutes, we all start to believe again.

We start to believe for 97 minutes. Then the credits roll. And the magic disappears.

I’ve spent most of my life half-loving people. Keeping everyone at a reasonable distance. Enough to make them feel important, but not enough for it to hurt when it ends. I go through the motions. I say the right things at the right times. Life runs its course, we change, we part ways…and at least on my end…recovery is a breeze. I know it’s cold. But it’s how I survive.

And then one day, for no particular reason at all — except for maybe I got tired of not feeling anything — I changed my m.o. Some know the story — the short version, the one that lacks the color that the pages held is this: “Two people, looking to fall in love with life, fell in love with each other. They jumped from planes, they climbed mountains, they made promises, they cheered each other on. They were the best of the friends. But the world kept moving, the things they wanted started to pull in different directions and one day they no longer matched. The problem wasn’t love. That was the one thing that came easy. But that wasn’t enough.”

We broke up. Swearing we would return as friends. And to the public, we handled it so well. I can’t tell his story, because I wasn’t there. The only side I know is my own. And the days that followed saying a long-overdue goodbye to my best friend were painful…to say the least. I don’t share the broken parts of my world with the public, because honestly, it’s no one’s business but my own — but for the sake of relieving myself of this weight, I have to write it down. All I know is the moment it broke, I regretted everything. I wanted to take back every word, every adventure, delete the photos, erase him from my mind. That’s how pain talks. And as a human who had put off feeling for so long… I felt SO MUCH. Too much. And I regretted ever feeling at all.

This was why. This was why the walls were built. It hurt. And I didn’t want anyone to know how much it did. It was fine, it was just a boy, just another member of the planet passing through my existence. I lied to everyone. Especially myself. And I made a promise that I would keep to me — I was done. If this is what pain was. If this is what it felt like to lose a loved one…I was good. I didn’t need that. I was going to revert back to what I knew and that was being numb.

But that’s the thing, right? The rise is supposed to be worth the fall. The pain means you felt something at all. And I had travelled through my life half caring for YEARS. And for a person who prides herself on loving life, I was missing the entire point of it. We read the books, we watch the movies, we romanticize the world we live in because we WANT to feel. We NEED to feel. The only life worth living is one where we experience things. We live, we breathe, we feel, we taste — all of those things are what make our numbered days on the planet worth it. And if I choose to, I can be numb — but what a waste that would be.

So when dark days come, let them. When the sun is shining, feel its warmth on your face. Let the world consume you. Let yourself dance and laugh and fall in love. Let yourself grieve and cry and mourn. Let yourself feel — all of it. And for more than 97 minutes at a time, allow yourself to believe. We’re all stories in the end, anyways. Don’t make it a dull one.

Waiting Until Tomorrow.4.15.19


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One last drink. One last roll of the dice. One last goodbye. We tell ourselves every day that we’ll do it differently the next, whatever our vice may be.

We convince ourselves that there is no better time to start than tomorrow. Why face today what our future selves are totally capable of handling down the road. A few more times won’t hurt anyone. But a couple of days usually turns into a couple of weeks. And a couple of weeks runs into a couple of months. And soon it has consumed way more time in your life than you ever thought you would give it.

The thing about a bad habit is they are usually only visible in the rearview mirror. We don’t recognize the beast that it is until we can’t remember the last time we didn’t drink. Or a casual cigarette becomes a pack a day. Or ten extra pounds turns into fifty. We can’t see the broken pieces until we’re standing in the landfill of them.

Bad habits are as much of a sickness as anything else. Always looking for one more fix before “it’s different this time.” Before “tomorrow will be better.” Before “only once more, I swear.” We promise ourselves a string of tomorrows until we are so deep under that the tunnel has went black. The light that we told ourselves we would walk toward is out of sight.

But one day we have to sever the limb and cauterize the wound. We have to stop making the same destructive choice over and over again. Because a vice isn’t a vice because it makes a positive impact on your life. These aren’t things that will help us grow. Actually, the only growth we’ll ever experience when it comes to these black marks in our lives is when we let them go. And the only person who can force us to do that is the only person who is addicted to the bad behavior.

You have decide you deserve a little better from the world. You have to choose to give that to yourself. No one is going to do it for you. You’ll have people on the sidelines, with no power in how your life will play out, who are rooting for you. They’ll cheer against whatever is weighing you down. They’ll watch sadly when you take your hits. But you…and me…and your friend…and your family member…whoever it may be. Only the person in the game can take themselves out of it.

Maybe if we try making that one good decision, just for one day. And then tomorrow, if we’re feeling strong, we make it again. Perhaps, if we force ourselves to just take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time, then regaining our footing won’t be such a beast to behold. Maybe if we stop looking at the mountain as a mountain and we look at it as just a string of steps in a row…that could make it doable.

So don’t be afraid of blowing the whistle. Be afraid of letting a lifetime pass and realizing you never called a losing game.

When Happiness is a Chore.


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“You’re always so happy.” “Your laugh cracks me up.” “I never see you not smiling.”

I am. It does. They don’t. 

For the most part, I try my hardest everyday to be happy. If life decides to throw a gut punch, I shove it deep, deep down inside of me and ignore it and I focus on something better. I think it is too easy to be miserable if you let yourself. I think staying positive, being happy even when you just want to sleep forever…sometimes that takes work. At least for me, sometimes saving my mentality takes real work. And sometimes, behind an obnoxiously loud laugh and a high-pitched “things are fantastic” response to every question — I’m tired. Somedays I get tired. And sometimes I forget that that is okay.

Since I was about five years old, I have always been a moment away from stroke-level blood pressure caused by stressing out about 472 things a day that are out of my control. Last year, I realized my stress-handling habits were pretty unhealthy. And I opted for some self-help reading and started researching therapists. At first, I didn’t even tell my mom…and I tell her everything.

Because there is this stigma around not being able to get your emotions in check on your own. It’s this perceived weakness that is built into us from the beginning. You can go to the doctor for physical needs, you can go to church for religious needs…but the needs of your brain and your psyche…those you should at least be able to handle. It’s your brain. Be happy. Don’t be sad. Don’t panic. Grab the steering wheel and take control. Or at least shove it down deep inside so no one sees it.

It is okay to be worn out. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to lose a battle to your stress levels. What isn’t okay, is living there. You can wear your grief or your anxiety or your depression like a badge of honor. You can wear it like an anchor if you choose to. It will be what people see when they look at you. It will become what defines you if you let it.

And I’ve written this and deleted it and rewritten and walked away from this topic a million times, because I DO genuinely love life. This isn’t a plea for help, but rather a subtle “I get it” for anyone out there wondering why they aren’t just a ball of sunshine and rainbows all of the time. It’s a longly, worded “I see you and it’s okay and sometimes it’s hard for me too” for the people who woke up at 10 a.m. in a mood they couldn’t shake and just want to go straight back to bed and try again tomorrow. I’ve been in my bed before listening to “Hello” by Adele on repeat before falling asleep from anxiety-induced exhaustion (because that is a very real thing in my life.)

Somedays I can see the entire world sitting at my feet. Unrolled in front of me for the taking. Somedays, I can’t even see five feet in front of my own face. Somedays, it all looks a little dark. And that is okay. And if you need to sleep, do. If you need a cheerleader, get one (I’ll text you how amazing you are if you need me to.) If you need a therapist, that is 100% acceptable. Do what you need to to save your mind. And let the dark days be the rarity, not the norm.

I like being known for a loud laugh. I like being happy, even when it’s work. I want to be remembered for being obnoxiously in love with life, even if somedays I’m tired. It is work. But so damn worth it.

Just Add Water.


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The other day, I walked by the only plant still breathing in my house. I’ve had a lot of casualties over the years. Seriously, I just gave away a cactus a month ago because I can’t continue to subject living plants to the inevitable suffering they will endure at the Rash House. But I digress…the other day, I walked by my plant.

He was looking rough. We have this fun little relationship (not so fun for him) where I get distracted by life and forget to water him for weeks. Until one day *that day* when I walk by and remember that I suck and run an emergency glass of water over to his struggling life form. One glass. One beautiful cylinder of H2O and he perks right up. Crisis averted. Everyone is still alive. And we move on with our lives, until we repeat the process in another couple of weeks…One glass. That’s all it takes.

Here’s the thing — I am easily distracted. When I get busy with work or when I have some personal demons hanging out more regularly, I lose sight of pretty much everything else except for my own concerns. I forget to say hello as much, I throw my headphones in, I don’t play with Ginger (my amazing ball of love, completely made of barking and fur — for newcomers)…I forget to water the people and things that I love. I forget to stop and fill their glass because I’m too worried about the amount sitting in mine.

But it doesn’t take much. It doesn’t take too much of our busy days to offer something to the people who surround us. We should never be so distracted that we forget to smile at the people that we pass in the halls at work. We should never pack our schedules so tightly that we forget to check on our friends just to make sure everything is going okay. We should never get comfortable with the excuse of a hectic life, we’re just never too busy to give a little good.

If we would just slow down for five minutes to say “hello” or “thank you” or “I really like your taste in socks”…(it’s a compliment, make it your own)…maybe we could change the entire course of someone’s day. And maybe that is the one day that needed that small boost of good. Maybe that was the morning when nothing was going right — we’ve all had them. It only takes a few seconds of kindness to add some value.

The point is this: I shouldn’t wait until my plant is almost dead before I water it. (In any area of my life — my family, my friends, my job —and hey, even myself)

… And maybe I should buy more fake plants.

Paved With Good Intentions.


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There is a naivety that is naturally built into all of us, something that slowly gets brushed away as time goes on. This sense of superiority that we cling to, before we have had any experiences to frame any sort of arrogance from. If there is one thing that I have learned from my short number of years on this planet, it is this — we are all imperfect.

Every year, I find myself drawn to this keyboard. Desperate to explain where I am and frantic to figure out where I am going. It always follows some flaw in my life…like that time I vowed to marry someone in a union I knew wouldn’t work out — trust me, I haven’t forgotten, I’ve only tried to. I wear that mistake like a scarlet letter across my chest. Or now, where I’ve spent two years finding myself, losing myself and hoping to gain some value as I change direction yet again.

Every year, I think I have cracked some kind of code. Like I’ve finally got it. The answer to what I should be. What I should have accomplished by now. A clear path to where I am headed. Every year, I’m wrong.

In 2018, I focused so much on myself. I enjoyed a lot of great highs because of it. I saw things that I’d always dreamed of seeing. I tasted food, climbed mountains and got injured a few times for the sake of adventure. I LOVED it. And I will continue to seek that kind of life…however…making these decisions solely for myself, well the satisfaction has been fleeting. As a person who doesn’t have my own family yet (aside from the killer humans that gave me life or sibling with me or the rad ones that let me “aunt” their children occasionally, you da best) I am searching for fulfillment. And I think that kind of lasting satisfaction, that kind of fulfillment is impossible when you are only focused on numero uno. That fullness is only available when you start living for others as well.

So this year, I’m going to keep it simple. I’m not going to pretend I know anything. My only goals include taking the large amount of love in my red, pumping vital organ and throwing it into the universe as often as I can. Taking more time to see the world through the eyes of others and using that insight to respond with more patience and understanding. To add goodness, whenever possible, to the lives of the people around me. And to take whatever judgement I think I am entitled to and shoving that into the deep, dark hole that it belongs in.

I’m going to make more poor choices this year, folks. It’s just part of the game. But I think, we’re all just trying. And if at the end of the day, we give the world a net gain…if we add more value than we take…if we make that our goal and focus our attention on it, how can we lose?

So if you’re doing well — good. Continue that. Build on that. And if you’re not. If you’re struggling everyday, searching the Earth and the skies for meaning…that’s okay too. Just don’t stay there. Every life matters. The ripple effect of our existence is incalculable. So start allowing yours to matter too, whatever that may mean to you.

Here’s to another year of faking it, in the hopes of making it.

The life we attract.3.27.18


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I have been in a rut lately.

I’ve been the human version of grumpy cat, slouching around the universe.  I have been stuck in an unfortunate cycle that I play off with long strings of silence, mixed in with the occasional splash of dark humor. I do this thing where I start seeing the worst in everything…and then down the rabbit hole we go.

The funny thing is that I have spent the last year “reforming my mind” for a more positive life and it’s amazing how quickly we can revert back to self-destructive tendencies. It’s something I have been giving a lot of thought to lately. How easily we let ourselves expect the worst…which results in getting the worst… and then blame the rest of the world for it.

The truth is that the quickest way to ensure that we will never get something (a healthy relationship, a bountiful career, a life of travel…) is to tell ourselves that we will never get it. If we decide that we are unworthy or incapable or just unlucky, we will self-fulfill every pessimistic prophecy that lives in our head. We will limit ourselves to what we believe is “achievable” and sabotage (perhaps unknowingly) anything that falls higher than our self-created barriers. If we don’t believe we deserve something…we will never get it. If we rely on the world to prove our own beliefs wrong, we will find a million reasons that show that the world is proving them right. It’s our job (my job in my own life) to train our minds differently…to expect more, work for more and not just assume and accept the worst.

We fool ourselves into believing concepts like “we only find guys who are jerks”…when in reality it’s because that is who we are seeking out…or “we will never be happy in our professional life”…because we are too afraid of failure to aspire above our current position or take a leap by changing course.

I am a bonafide expert at throwing up the necessary walls of defense before anything has the opportunity to hurt me. But the people in my life and the life that I desperately want will never align with that method of thinking. That reaction to the invisible monster of failure that I create in my own mind is a complete and total waste of the energy that I could be spending a million better ways. And that is the funny thing about the energy you spend…the good attracts the good…the bad attracts the bad. And if you live and breathe and expect the bad, that is what you will get. And I want the good.

Whether we like to admit it or not…and none of us do…we are all best at playing the victim in our own lives. Letting a lineage of failed relationships or addiction or financial failure or (my biggest fear) settling for a mundane existence, dictate where you end up in life is a cop-out that costs way too much. Nothing is decided. Nothing is pre-determined. We end up where we want to be if we have the courage to let ourselves. And failure is part of the game no matter what…but being so afraid of it that we never allow ourselves the courtesy of trying…well that’s the sort of thing you don’t realize is a horrible mistake until it is far too late and life has ran its beautiful course.

This is not a string of paragraphs that are meant to insinuate that I have anything figured out. I am constantly confused about my existence. And these thoughts only exist in me because I am surrounded by insightful humans with wonderful ideas and I’ve skimmed through a couple of self-help books. I don’t have any answers…just some ideas to pursue to live a better life. Because that’s the goal isn’t it? To always live a better life. I just walk through the fog that is my present and write about it when it gets too heavy occasionally.

I’m not even sure how to end this. I have about ten drafts in my folder that also prove that I wasn’t very sure how to start this either. Make life what you want it. Whatever that means to you, because I guarantee it’s not the same for me. Start working toward the life you actually want. And don’t just settle for the one you think you’ll end up with.

The Fear Line.1.17.18


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For a long time, I was the person who would fold if I had anything but a sure thing in my hand. I believed in extremely calculated risks. If there was room for pain, I avoided it. If there was a chance that I would be on the losing end, my defenses were already so far up that I wouldn’t be able to feel a thing. Whatever the situation was, I did my best not to care too much about anything. Never care enough that it would hurt.

It’s a family trait. Ever since I can remember, we plan for the heartbreak. We adjust accordingly. We keep a straight face even if we’re in pain. I think the Asian part of the group really hammered that last one in hard. Above all else, we are always there to save face and look strong while doing so. We’re upset, we grieve, we have loss…but it takes place in solitude. We close the blinds, we turn down the lights, we have our moment and then we re-enter the world like nothing ever happened. We enter the world a little bit harder. And occasionally, we drive ourselves a little mad because we have all of these feeling right below the surface that we refuse to show to the public…which includes those closest to us.

I lived a good life. Always had a steady job. Always had a steady relationship. Always had steady friends. I went through life on auto-pilot, never really losing much. Never really gaining much. No real highs. No real lows. Just a mundane existence. Standing in place, waiting for the next chapter to begin or end…after awhile, it was all the same. And I blamed everything else for not living the life that I wanted. I blamed money or circumstances. I blamed other people. I blamed location.

I used everything as an excuse except for the truth — I was terrified of change. Because the truth is that you can have whatever life you want. You can mold life into what you want it to be, if you decide to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Whether that is risking it all on a different job. Taking your effort out of a comfortable relationship. Putting your faith in someone new. Shedding some dead weight when it comes to the people who get your energy…whatever it is, it’s going to be unpleasant.

As a human, I don’t love feeling unpleasant. Actually, the very thought of feeling unpleasant makes me feel unpleasant. You can ask those closest to me. Discomfort is not my thing (not that discomfort is really anyone’s thing.) But what I have found is that it takes a whole lot of unsteadiness… a whole lot of being unsure… a whole lot of discomfort… to ever receive the opportunity to feel the best feelings in life. All the good ones… the great ones…don’t sit inside the safe box of your comfort zone. You don’t get to touch them with gloves on. You can’t dip your toes in the water without completely jumping in.

The higher the risk, the higher the reward. You have to climb higher to get the good stuff, feel deeper, risk getting cut open. And don’t get me wrong…I know how easy it is for me to say these things. Typing them on the internet is a breeze, living the way I want to live…completely open and exposed is not. I struggle with it everyday. Everyday I consider, even if just for a second, throwing all those walls back into the air and sliding back into my place in line. I’m anxious right now just thinking about it.

But great things have happened. More will. Something will not end well. Those will hurt. But it will be worth it. Living is always worth it. And the first step is the hardest…

So, if you can, welcome the discomfort.

 

Tripping Around The Sun.1.2.2018


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About the time when the tree branches are bare and my windshield is consistently (and annoyingly) covered with a layer of frost each morning, I make myself sit down and think about the year that has passed. Reflecting over where I have been and how I want to change it in the following chapter. I place my things in a pile of good and a pile of bad, weighing them on a scale that determines the success of my last 365. This year, however, I don’t feel like sorting… because I wouldn’t even know how to. Twenty-seventeen was transitional, eye opening, terrifying, freeing and easily, the best year of my young life.

This year started off…less than mediocre. I wasn’t in the best place, I wasn’t the best person and I definitely didn’t have the best outlook on life. (And that is not saying that I do now…but I can at least say, confidently, that it’s better.) A year that could have easily been defined by a divorce and dishonor brought upon my family (she said remembering now that she is Asian)…wasn’t. There will always be a couple of black marks on my 2017, but it will never come close to overshadowing the beauty that I saw on more than my fair share of days. And honestly, without those blemishes, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated the bright spots as much as I did.

Since the birth of 2017, I have seen and done more than I could have ever hoped. A stupid amount of downright wonderful people have entered and added to my life. In a string of seven days, I almost died in a flooded Arkansas, saw my nephew enter the Earth, and then almost died again jumping out of a plane…and I have never felt more alive. I believe in a lot of things again that my cynical self had put aside for what I thought was the more naive crowd.

A lot of people question my methods. At any given moment, more than one person is  legitimately concerned about my well being. And some people would probably (would definitely) call this year of mine selfish and reckless…and they would probably be right.

It took me 26 years to figure out what I wanted in my life. It took countless hesitations. Far too many poor choices. And it took a lot of waiting. Waiting on myself to realize what I intended to get out of my small amount of time on the planet.

I want to do 2018 and every year that follows, faster and stronger and more…alive. I want to stay on this trajectory that I am on and get better. I want to be a better person. A better family member. A better friend. I want to add to a world that keeps giving me so much to be thankful for. I have a lot of room for improvement and my only fear as this new year kicks off is that I’ll accidentally slide backwards…so the biggest resolution or goal or whatever you want to call it is that — to keep moving in a positive direction (a goal that can’t just stay in place for the next two weeks, before I decide to drink and eat like sh*t again.)

So my advice to everyone… if you know what you want in your life… Who you want. Where you want to be. What you want to do. Do it. There really is no time for hesitation or over planning. And there really is no better feeling than to be headed in the direction that you finally know you want to head. And while it is cliche to say, every night when you fall asleep, you are ending one entire day that you will never get back. One 24-hour period shaved off of your life at a time, dwindling down until the very end. But every single day is also an opportunity to make your life better. To make life for everyone else better too.

I realize that not everyone needs to chase a thrill. Not every person needs to hop onto a plane or out of one to feel alive. I just hope that whoever reads this…or whoever doesn’t…finds whatever it is that makes them get out of bed in the morning with a smile on their face. Don’t settle for an existence that is dreaded, because you only get one.

And when the next 365 are torn from the calendar and 2019 gets ready to make its debut, I hope I’m as happy as I am now…or happier. (I have nothing against extra amounts of happy) And I sincerely hope you are too.

Cheers.

 

 

A Happy Life.10.2.2017


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“Be so full, that even if they take and take and take and take, you can still be overflowing.”…as usual, some random quote on my Pinterest feed deeply affected me (I just typed the most millennial sentence of my young life). And while I write that with a pretty heavy hand of sarcasm, it’s not completely untrue.

This year, I had a quarter-life crisis (or told myself I did…probably, I’m just dramatic) and spent too much time throwing a party for me and my self-pity…I had balloons, streamers, the whole shebang. However, while sitting there surrounded by the darkness that I had allowed, I realized something. Something that should have been a lot clearer, a lot sooner. And that was that the only person responsible for how happy I am or how much I get out of life is me. And so I got up, turned on “Man in the Mirror” and started.

I started looking for the silver lining in situations. When someone acted like a total pain in the ass, I swallowed a big pill of pride and tried to see things from their point of view. When good moments happened, I worked on being really thankful for them…like “maybe nothing this great will ever happen again” thankful. I started living for the next great thing to show up instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I forced myself to just assume that maybe it wouldn’t…which was extremely difficult.

For years, my entire life actually, I have been doomsday prepping for the worst, putting defenses up around my emotions that would make Fort Knox jealous. Guarding my heart and sanity with an army of 300 Spartans…I mean people may get in, but they were going to have a hell of a time. What I didn’t realize, was how damaging all of that would end up being anyway. Protecting yourself from any lows, eliminates any highs. So I dug my heels in…am still digging my heels in daily…to change that about myself.

And by forcing myself, saying “you’re happy, you have every reason in the world to be embarrassingly over the moon,” everything did start feeling better. And when everything felt better, the bad things didn’t feel near as bad. I know there are still things that can and will rattle me, unforeseen poor circumstances that will hurt me… I’m not naive, I don’t believe just a positive mindset will result in living on clouds made of cotton candy…but waiting for those is a complete and total waste of the good moments that are here now.

If you act like there is a black cloud following you around, then it will always be raining. Do yourself a favor and let the sun come out.

The truth is, the world is going to do what it is going to do. It is going to knock you to your knees on a Wednesday morning, after a perfectly good Tuesday. It is going to break your heart just as soon as you think you have all of your defenses in place. It is going to take your breath away in the worst way some days.

But other days… if you let it, it will wake you up and make you feel alive. It will carry you places you hadn’t dreamed of for yourself. It will take your breath away in the best way…in a way that will make you hopeful, that maybe you’ll never catch your breath again.

The catch is that you can’t depend on the world or people or things to just give that to you. No one is entitled to a smooth ride. But making the best of it…deciding one day that you’re just going to be happy, may actually produce that result. And in the end isn’t that what matters? That’s the goal right? To look back and know you were really happy. Rich, poor, lost, found… whatever you were, you were happy.