Happiness. It’s the one thing everyone is trying to find and only a few people manage to have it.
For me, I always relied on other people’s opinion of me to be happy.
- Were my parents proud of me?
- Was I skinny enough?
- Did the cute guy like me?
- Did my friends like me?
- Did my teachers like me?
- Did my boyfriend like me?
- Was I enough?
It’s a learned trait that completely sucked the joy from my pre-teen and adolescence years, but once I was on my own I began to realize that happiness isn’t something you can buy from a store or earn from someone else, it’s created within, and it will always be there the more you grow and nurture it.
I was always a Negative Nancy. Jealousy gnawing at my brain by comparing myself to every human on earth. If something didn’t go my way, I would bitch and moan for the entire day – maybe even longer. I would complain about anything and everything. I never trusted anyone, and always kept people at a distance. I always thought I was right, and if you told me otherwise, I would throw a fit.
It took a lot of pain before I realized that I was never going to be happy if I kept doing the same thing over and over. I realized that I needed to cleanse out the bullshit that clouded my brain, rebuke the negative thoughts I held on to, and start speaking life over myself. Here’s what worked for me:
I was the Queen of Grudges. You hurt me? Embarrassed me? Offended me somehow? I was done with you. You were cut off from my entire life, and don’t you dare think I’ll extend forgiveness in the next 10 or 100 years. I would punish the people that wronged me. Not like slashing tires or smashing their phones, but the silent treatment. Or even better, letting everyone in the room know that you done me wrong by putting the spotlight on me and giving you the coldest shoulder even Elsa would marvel at. I didn’t KNOW how to forgive. I was never taught true forgiveness. I was taught to be icy. Until one podcast I stumbled on that completely changed my life. It was a pastor who spoke on forgiveness, but compared it to real life. He said said, “when someone hits your car, dings it a little, makes a dent, that person is indebted to you to help you pay to fix it. Whether with insurance, or himself, there is a debt that he owes you for hitting your car. Unless you say to him, ‘I see this scratch that you made on something very precious to me. I know the price to fix it is high, but don’t worry about it. I forgive you: I release you from your debt.'” I’m not into cars at all, but that comparison shook me. How many times had someone purposely or accidentally dinged my pride, heart, or confidence? Or even worse, how many times were promises were made to me, and broken?
Yes, I am a Christian. No, I’m not going to throw holy water on you and scream “THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU” if you’re gay/trans/not the same race as me. Christianity has gotten all twisted and funky and that’s another story for another time. Now that’s out of the way, you know that I believe that Jesus was beaten, broken, and murdered on the cross for ALL sins, and yet His sacrifice alone isn’t good enough for me? I still have to punish others more? Even towards unbelievers – I believe in heaven and hell, so a person who might live in eternal fire and torture deserves even more punishment from me? I have to ignore, belittle, and shame them on top of that? Hell no. That’s not the type of Christian that I want to be.
So I cried a whole lot, and I forgave… everyone. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary.
Speak No Evil
This is second because it’s the second hardest thing to do. If you think I went from being negative to jolly old St Nick overnight you are delusional. I was constantly checking myself. Did I just say something negative? Yes I did. Did I judge that human over there? Yes I did.
Then I would change my perspective. If I thought, “that lady is moving so DAMN SLOW GET OUT OF THE WAY.” I would stop the anger and think, “that lady might have a ticket for speeding (like I do) and is obeying the law. You should do the same.” Or, “she might have a kid in the back seat that has motion sickness and has to drive carefully.” Or whatever! I just stopped getting angry and started extending grace.
I had to work at this, people. Sometimes I’d say something negative out loud, in front of people, and I would still make myself stop and say something positive out loud. Yeah, it got weird. But, I did it every day, many times a day, and eventually, my perspective changed into something positive.
Find That Greater Thing That Inspires You
Notice I said THING. Not a person. 95% of my life I wasted trying to be like someone else. Let me cook you up a hot plate of reality. People will let you down. Your mom will let you down. Your partner will definitely let you down (the toilet roll goes over not under!). Beyonce let’s people down (gasp!). Even you are going to let yourself down. So find that something greater. I’m not talking about greater domination and greater evil. Don’t be weird.
There is a reason that so inspirational books tell you to find your inner peace and love one another. Science has proven that the human brain lights up like a firework show and thrives when it gives and receives kindness. So pick up that book, go to that yoga class, listen to that sermon, and believe in something that is bigger than yourself.
Stop Thinking To Yourself Like That
Y’all. This was a hard one. I had spent my entire life putting myself down. I had an eating disorder so my self-hate was probably not as bad as yours, but we’ve all done it. We’ve all glanced at our reflection in the mirror and thought, “yup. fat.” We’ve all gone through our pictures and thought, “damn, is that really my arm?” The self hate is REAL. And let me tell you, it’s REAL hard to overcome. Here’s how I did it:
I had a bad night, a really bad night. And I was laying in bed playing with my wings (ok, my underarms), and it hit me: I could have been born without arms. Or, I could have been in a freak accident and not have any arms. I spent ten years trying to starve myself into having the thinnest thighs when I very well could not have any thighs at all. That’s when I realized that instead of hating my arms, legs, butt, etc, I should be grateful that I even have them at all-and that they work.
When I looked at myself in the mirror/saw what I looked like in pictures, I turned the disgust in my head into a compliment. No more thinking “Never sit down in pictures again, Alisha.” Instead I started saying OUT LOUD – “WOW those lunges have been paying off!” OR, “I look so happy in that picture.” I wrote down what I knew to be true and positive about myself. Example: “you have a bubbly personality that draws people to you. You have a loud laugh, and its contagious. You have a really pretty smile, and most people can’t tell it’s crooked anyway. You’re actually pretty cute with a little weight on. You’re funny. You make people laugh. Your left eyebrow is the shit.”
Stop thinking negative over yourself and start proclaiming compliments. You will start loving yourself
Toxic People, Be Gone
Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Think of all the people that you choose to spend your time with. What are they like when they’re around you? What are you like when you’re around them? Do you find yourself gossiping excessively? Do you mostly complain to them instead of tell them about the positive things in your life?
That saying: “you are who you hang out with” couldn’t be more true. Your brain will adapt to the people around you to make conversation and bonding flow easier. So… what has your brain adapted to?
My suggestion is this: take a break from those people, and focus on growing your happiness until your confident that a little bit of clouds won’t kill your fruit.
Happiness is like a tree.
- You have to plant it in good soil (rich in hope for a brighter future and faith that it will happen).
- You have to water it. Meaning, taking time every day to pour life onto it. Listen to a podcast, write down things that you are thankful for, and be KIND to others. Being kind is SO important to being happy. Science proves it here
- You’ve got to do a little weeding. Those poisonous plants that are flourishing within you now are only going to choke and kill your happiness over and over unless you grab a spade and pull those suckers up by the root. You might even need a shovel for some of those weeds, but don’t let that scare you. Pull out the bitterness, the grudges that you’ve been watering, the negative people, and the toxic thoughts that you’ve gotten used to.
- Let your happiness get some sun. Focus on what makes you happy. Is reading? Finding a new recipe? Jogging? Whatever it is, put the umbrella and over sized hat away and let your tree reach it’s leaves to the sun. By that I mean: Put away the distractions. Phones go in a drawer, family and friends get placed on hold, and give yourself some me time. Lean your face up to the sun and breathe. Do something that you enjoy once a day for an hour a day. Let the sun shine down
Do you struggle with being happy? Do you relate to any of my past traits? Have you found your happiness? What worked for you?
Share your thoughts below! <3