18 Mar How to Live a Happier Life: Things I Gave Up
“How are you so calm?” “Do you not have emotions?” “Are you really going to live life not worrying?” “Do you ever THINK THINGS THROUGH?” – my friends’ questions to me as of late.
And oddly enough, all of my friends have been calling me a Buddha in the past few weeks. I’m flattered, I truly am.
And admittedly, I wish I was enameled in pristine gold and THAT adorable! But also. I don’t want to be seen as some nonchalant, unemotional woman who is always cool as a cucumber and “SO LAID BACK.” And being so “casual” does not mean I don’t care about anything and I’m just going through the motions over here. It’s actually everything BUT that. I have my dynamic and explosive moments, but I just know how to keep my thoughts in check.
And the rule of thumb I have currently adopted is in order to live a happy life you have to simply GIVE UP. But I’m not talking give up in a quitting sense. Giving up, or letting go is the number one solution to serving your happiness for the long haul. Just like Buddha, he let go of life’s most trivial things to reach a mindset apex.
And you guys, I’ve never been a woman to give up. I used to like control. I used to plan and map my life out YEARS in advance (alas, my childhood dream of becoming Britney Spears as a schoolgirl in the “Baby One More Time” video never worked out). I used to be comfortable with the same, frozen routine day in and day out. I used to surround myself with the same social groups even though they vacuumed my energy.
Then the awakening set in, which sparked me to give up certain things that were not serving my life purpose anymore. Now that a quarter of my life has gone by, I knew I needed a *MAJOR* mindset shift because daily small habits just weren’t pushing me in the right direction anymore. As much as the truth hurt, I needed to slap myself in the face and become more self aware of my behavior that was not only poisonous to others, but to myself. At the end of the day, I was failing my authenticity, my vibrant character, and settling for someone I truly wasn’t. If my closest friends and family could describe me in several ways it would be determined, passionate, and compassionate. To return to these attributes of my true self, I gave up doing the following a long time ago to become MUCH happier (and these things are what separate the WOMEN from the little girls):
1.) Judge others – “Great people talk about IDEAS, average people talk about things, small people talk about other people.” An amazing quote by Fran Lebowitz that rings so true to me. When you gossip about others, you take away from productive time well spent on improving yourself. And I know gossiping fills up time at the local Starbuck’s sipping on mocha lattes with your girlfriends, but the Mean Girls Regina George lifestyle is only going to lead to inaction of getting shit done in your world. And getting shit done, making moves, and taking action is sooooooooo much more FETCH.
2.) Play the victim – Playing the victim is simply energy sucking. And I used to do this a ton, you guys. In fact, I craved the attention and wanted others to feel sorry for me! But then I realized feeling sorry for myself made me super unproductive to the point I stopped evolving. I want to grow, I want to live, I want to progress as a woman. Play the victorious, not the victim.
3.) Only receiving and not giving – The best gift you can give to someone is your time. And when you give, you create a domino effect of positive energy throughout all of your business, social and family circles.
4.) Watching TV – I’m sorry I’m not on board the “Teen Mom” train. Or tuning into the 100th season of Survivor. Or watching “I cheated on my husband with a dwarf” on Jerry Springer. Like WTF??? I can’t stand reality TV. I can’t stand talk shows that are heavy with small talk, gossip, and beauty secrets that don’t do shit for us general population peeps. Watching TV was freezing me from growth, from new knowledge, from worldly awareness, from getting out and being adventurous. From simply DOING. What we see on TV are framed stories that close us off from getting outside, connecting with others in person, and working on our integrity to move forward.
5.) Eating junk food – Letting go of toxic sludge elevated my energy, mood and physical capabilities. If you want to REALLY see something scary YET a nutrition game changer, watch Food Matters.
6.) Sleeping in late – Next time you are ready to hit the snooze button…DON’T. Chances are you will be more tired and lazy when you sleep in the extra 30 minutes. So once you are up wake the hell up and get on your feet. Use the mornings to start your day relaxed, not in a hurry. Cook up a bangin breakfast, read a good book, open your window and smell the fresh air. Get productive and focused. When you rise with the sun, you’ll become more in synch with nature, which is how our bodies have always been programmed.
7.) Seeing the negative in everything – Life happens. It is not a perfect world. But just remember that every break down will always turn into a break through. Victory is always born of struggle and defeat. A profound book I recommend on this subject is Choose the Life You Want by the fabulous Tal Ben-Shahar, my favorite positive psychologist. He outlines how to prevail in life’s toughest obstacles and how to see the light at the end of EVERY tunnel.
8.) Caring what people think – This one has always been a struggle for me. And it took a damn long time to overcome. Believe me I know…it is sooooooo hard to let other people’s thoughts about you get to you. Society has taught us to give a shit. But sometimes enough is enough! So stop giving a shit. What do you have to lose? Create your own life, don’t just be the extra in everyone else’s movie. Be the superhero of your own and own that shit.
9.) Reading celebrity magazines – If any of you read my article on women’s fitness magazines, you know my view in the matter. When I stopped tuning into the lives of celebrities, I tuned into my own. Celebrities are just like the rest of us, and excuse me for saying this, but I don’t give a damn that Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber broke up. Or who “wore it better.” I give a damn if I was better than yesterday. I give a damn if I overcome a devastating breakup and became stronger. Sorry for not caring, Hollywood. Except I’m not.
10.) Stressing the small stuff – “Our fatigue is often not caused by work, but by worry, frustration, and resentment.” Dale Carnegie nailed this mantra! And the best takeaway I got from his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living was next time you worry about something, write it down on a piece of paper, hide it away in your bedside drawer, then check it a week later. 99% of the time the petty things we worry about don’t even matter a few days or a week later. I dare you to try this method 🙂
11.) Doubting the universe – The world will give back to you what you give to the world.
12.) Trying to change others – People don’t change. But what you can do is change yourself and how you perceive a situation. And that is some serious freaking power right there! Changing people is hard freaking work. But changing yourself is easy because you are in 100% control of your action. So take the reigns, why don’t you?
13.) Wearing a ton of makeup – My ex boyfriend used to ask me “have you been working at the bakery?” and I would go “errr..umm..no why” and he would smirk “because your face is caked on.” DAYUM. *burneddddddd*. But he had a point. And I’m thankful for his fiery comment because I WAS wearing too much makeup! A lot of girls do. In fact, I had a few girlfriends in college who wouldn’t leave their dorms unless they had all of her makeup on. Many would go “Hold on Erica, I have to put my FACE on first.” At first I didn’t know what they meant until the overwhelming makeup bag was tossed onto the bathroom counter. Umm what??? Your face already is on. And your face is not a glob of liquid foundation. Or Johnny Depp Pirates of the Caribbean eyeliner. Wearing less make up has not only been liberating but I feel I’m not hiding for once. Now when I go on a first date I will show up with no makeup just so there are no surprises for the guy when the mask comes off. *And I’m 100% staying true to myself.* I feel real, I feel light, I feel ME.
14.) Having superficial relationships – You date a guy because he is handsome. Because he has money. Because he is “prince charming.” But if he were to lose all of that, would you still love him? Or you are friends with a group of girls because they are “popular.” Do your current relationships truly push you, motivate you, support you to becoming the best version of yourself? Do they allow you to be 100% who you really ARE? One thing I loathe is small talk. My closest friends and most fulfilling relationships with the opposite sex have encouraged me to think DEEPLY about the world. I don’t wish to talk about pasta, or new tiles on your bathroom floor, or what beer is worse Keystone Lite or Miller Lite, or a snapchat you got of your friend doing a #2. Seriously, what the hell? It is time to introspect your relationships a bit and what you’re getting out of your daily conversations. Instead, let’s talk about positive psychology, the wonders of the world, living in the present moment, mindfulness, your passions and dreams, fascinating books, unforgettable traveling experiences. K thanks.
15.) Thinking I’m always right – I used to think I was the shit. I’m now a confident woman and entrepreneur. But there is a difference between being a total prima Madonna and a confident badass. Those who are primadonnas think it is their way or the highway and no one else’s opinion matters. They avoid new information. They lack openness to the world outside of them. A confident badass, however, will strongly put their beliefs forward, BUT also embrace other people’s ideas. They will never stop learning, engage with new people and concepts, and use these tools to lead a successful life, connected life.
Though on the cusp, I’m not total Buddha status yet. And neither are you. But what we can do is let go of certain things that delay our personal growth, and make baby steps to mindfulness every day. I first thought I was going crazy. Give up TV? Stop wearing make up? No more reading pop culture magazines? These are things that I grew up doing! These are things I was taught to do my entire life! My routine is GONE! But slowly, I understood it was OKAY to let go of these external factors. And to quote the wonderful Dale Carnegie again “Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.” <3