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Live Simply

Happiness – Grok Your Own Thing

Happiness What is happiness? I believe it is liking where you are right now in this moment. I also think it’s something that you cultivate, how you interact in the world, and figuring out what makes it all click for yourself. I am a big lover of the fact that the Founding Fathers of our great nation decided that the Pursuit of Happiness is one of our rights. They were a bunch of pretty happy guys doing exactly what they wanted to do. They knew that they could have that here, in this new place, and that everyone should be so lucky to go find it. Granted, it took them a while to think that women, children, African Americans and Native Americans were worth of it… but I give them kudos for trying.

This is all a part of a month long project to write a post to kick out 2016.

How Do I Pursue My Own Happiness?

Meditation: I am in a cycle (post 2016 election) where I am doing a lovingkindness mediation every morning. 15 – 20 minutes of a guided meditation. It helps to start my day with the idea that I have the capacity to be happy, healthy, live without fear and be at ease in the world and that you do too. It’s a small thing, but it helps.

Simplicity: Our house, mostly because my husband would prefer to live in a Zen Monastery is getting more and more free of clutter. I recently removed our couch and replaced it with two funky armchairs that are cozy enough that Franklin the Wonder Dog has abandoned the bed I made for him. I am quick to donate just about anything that I don’t use regularly and am keeping clutter to a minimum. It helps my peace of mind to have less stuff around and stuff doesn’t make me happy – it never has. I like quality things, things with personal meaning and empty spaces – that makes me happy.

Focusing: Really pairing down my life and business to what matters makes me happy. I am starting to really drive myself and my message around the idea that our own personal and professional development – what we value and how we act – is the trademark of our brand. Getting to that solid focus helps me feel calmer, more relaxed an ultimately happy. I’ve started, again, sending out a weekly email to drive that home. We are what we focus on and that helps drive my happy.

Saying Yes Even When I Don’t Know What the Hell I’m Doing: This last year I have said yes to doing Facebook Live videos every week without knowing anything about doing them. I put myself out there as an artist twice – once donating a piece to an auction that got purchased (squee!) and another in a collaboration youth/art project. I said yes to an overnight hike even when I didn’t have the right shoes, gear or any experience walking over a mile. I started a book club because a friend wanted one and the group has turned out to be amazing. I started an email list with a direct action to be more civically involved that has grown from 1 – 145 people in three weeks. I just put myself out there and decided, even if I failed in front of everyone, I would have fun trying, and I have. It makes me happy to take risks – even small incremental ones.

Having Goals: I didn’t do everything I set out to do, 7 out of 9 (not bad!), but looking at my goals everyday helped me feel accomplished. And just like everyone else that does something I like getting to the finish line and giving myself a serious high five. I’ll be doing more goal planning the first week in January because, frankly, it works.

Being Mindfully Kind: I practice kindfulness. It’s mindfulness in action. I am not always a happy camper. In fact, I grind pretty judgmental, but I know that when I gather myself into a kinder mode I am happier. I practice this in every post I write, every email, every phone call, every interaction, every damned thing. It isn’t easy and I miss the mark more than I like, but when I hit that spot of true engagement where I listened to the person, was compassionate and had composure and clarity I feel like I won a million bucks. Happy happy camper.

The Key to Your Happiness

The key for all of us is finding out, for ourselves, what actually makes us happy. Not what your mom thinks, your boss, your best friend.. but you. You have to grok your own special sauce of happy to be actually happy. And in my world, it’s whatever works. I’m not here to judge you (and I promise I’m working on that). You do you and find your happy place.

Believe – Born with Santa Spirit

Believe I believe in Santa. Not the Santa of the Coca-Cola commercials, mall or any of the ones forced to have kids sit on their laps. Those are all fine, but my belief comes from an early start and he embodies the holiday spirit that I love so much.

This is all part of a 31 day series where I bring in the spirit of the season and kick out 2016. #SuckIt2016

My Life with Santa

I have two very real moments with Santa. The first being that one Christmas Eve, which was always a big deal in our house, a knock came on the front door of our green stucco suburban home in Orange County, California. My mom told me to answer the door. This was an odd request as I was about 5 at the time and was never allowed to answer the door or I was beat to it by my older brother or sister.

I slowly opened the door and started to scream. Santa was standing on our doorstep. I started crying big blubbery tears because I was so frightened. I hadn’t yet met Santa in real life. My parents never took me to sit on his lap until I was about 8 (probably due to the extreme reaction to having him at our house). Santa! At my door. How could this be? I was inconsolable and he slowly retreated out of the front hall and shut the door.

Many years later I realized this was my dad (who had a thing for Santa, which I’ll share more about). I had no idea at the time and there are no photos from that moment. My parents, bless them, weren’t going to waste money on developing film at the FotoMat with a screaming kid pictured so I was saved that embarrassment. I just wish that I had welcomed him better, but, as they say, kids will be kids.

I’m Born with Santa Spirit

The legend of my conception is that it was Santa! That’s right. I was conceived on Christmas Eve after my dad, donning a Santa suit, jumped into bed with my mom. I love this story. My mom, who had lost a child the year before and was still grieving and suffering from postpartum depression (a term they didn’t know then) was probably not feeling so great about the holiday. She had a 10 and 11 year old to occupy, but wasn’t up to the usual holiday cheer. Seeing that, my dad, brought his own version of cheer to their bed and lo and behold a baby was conceived. I have a little of that Santa spirit in me, too.

Still Loving Santa

Now, in my life as a Main Street director, I get to bring Santa out to the masses during the holiday season. I get to see anxious kids climb on his lap to tell him their deepest wishes, moms place screaming babies trying to get something other than an awkward family photo, and whole families crowd around the guy in red to start the season right.

There is something magical about allowing ourselves to believe in something simple. Sure, my cognitive brain doesn’t believe in Santa – it’s a marketing ploy that has worked for ages – but my heart sees the smiles and the joy. I’m fine with letting my heart lead the way on this one. May we all get blessed with a little Santa spirit.

Renew – Renew Our Hearts on the Daily

Renew I feel, more than ever, that we need to renew our spirit, our humanity, our vision of the future and our faith in ourselves and each other. We seem broken. It isn’t just the election in the US or Brexit or any of the news from around the world – it is what is behind those moves. We seem to be reacting out in fear, distrust, and hatred for the other or unknown – them. We are bigger than this, people. We have the capacity to hold fear to the side as we step out in faith and love. That is what makes humans so beautiful and amazing. We can do this through a renewal of kindness.

This is part of a series where I am shoving 2016 out the door with all of the holiday spirit I can muster. #SuckIt2016

Today I posted a video about Lady Gaga on Facebook giving out gifts at a homeless shelter for LGBTQ teens in New York. The comments ranged from: it would be great if she didn’t have to film it or why do they have such fancy phones.

Sigh.

I get it. I do. It seems weird to have someone with no home have a better phone than you. It seems selfish to film your acts of charity. Ok. But who cares? We have no idea how much that phone is needed by that teen to connect to the world (fun fact – folks throughout Africa have more phones than we do). It wouldn’t have mattered if Lady Gaga filmed it herself – someone would have captured the moment because that is what we do now.

Another big sigh.

Renew Experiment One

Do it. Seriously. Do kind things. Smile even when you are grumpy. Pick a tag off the angel tree and buy a kid a gift. Pay for the car behind you at Starbucks. Whatever. Commit to doing one small thing everyday that is a little kinder. It will open your minds and hearts to the kindness around out.

At first you might feel a little fake doing these things, but after a while it will become who you are. It is so easy to criticize, complain, compare and calculate. I’m right there with you. My judging little mind likes to do all of those things. The PROBLEM with this (and it is a problem) is that you start to see the whole wide world as awful.

I don’t know about you, but when real shit hits the fan I want to be ready for it. Using my energy judging all the small stuff will make me tired and too exhausted to work when I’m really needed to combat the horrific. We have to renew our hearts on the daily.

Take the next week and MAKE YOURSELF do something kind every day. Film it or don’t. Just do it. You can report back or message me on Facebook if you found even the slightest change after the week.

Renew Experiment Two

Delete. Delete. Delete.

I spend half my time deleting things that I have typed online. Seriously. They don’t need to be said. I type it and then I delete it. No one needs my opinion about any blessed thing. No one needs me to point out their problem. No one needs my two cents.

Spend the next week NOT commenting the snarky comment. Not pointing out the facts. Not sharing the fear based article. Just choose the thumbs up or tap the heart. If you HAVE to share your opinion – delete it before posting. Seriously. One week to drop the judge and the critic.

Send me a note if this worked for you. Did it soften your heart at all? It may take longer than a week, but you have time – you can keep it going!

Renew

We, as Americans, do our level best to avoid being cruel to one another; we’re led out of a diverse nation to come together and learn how to live with one another in a way that elevates everyone and our way of life. We’ve tried mightily to renew and imagine – imagine anew what it means to be free, what it means to be fair.” Mark Tanako the first openly gay person of Asian decent Congressman in America.

Mark is right. We need to imagine anew what it means to be free and fair. Free of fear. Honestly, living in a constant state of fear is a drain on your mind and body. You can’t think right because the part of the brain that is activated in fear is the one that makes you run or fight – like when you see a bear. (It is not safe to run or fight a bear, btw.) You can’t live in fear 24/7 and you have to work to renew your spirit to give that fear up.

The world, despite the news, is better for humans right now then at any other time in history. I know that seems crazy given what you read about how “they” are ruining it (all of us have a they…). It isn’t ruined – it might need your support and your action – but it isn’t ruined. You can help best if you are working from a grounded, kind place. Are you ready to renew yourself? I know I am.

 

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