The sunshine is gone and this week Seattle is plagued by rain and thunderstorms. I got caught in the pouring rain in my workout gear on Monday afternoon and was soaked like a drowned rat by the time I made it home. When the sun goes away it tends to stay away (at least in Seattle) so I like to say “when there isn’t any sunshine you have to be the sunshine”. I know, I know, it’s cheesy and cliche but I believe it is true. A little positivity and perspective goes a long ways!
I thought this set of photos by Madeleine Wilson was perfect for this post on being your happiest self. The compliment I receive most (not to toot my own horn or whatever) is that I am like sunshine. I love love love receiving that compliment not because I am a naturally happy and positive person but because I feel grumpy, snarky, bratty,etc. all the time and consciously try to be KINDER. I am naturally very high strung so I have to remind myself to be positive and not to let stress control me. I love these photos from Madeleine because they feel the most like me. I’ve been a bit of a hippie, flower child my entire life-hence the name of my blog, The Fairy Princess Diaries. I find myself most happy surrounded by nature, and yes, in the sunshine, so this last summery dress felt like a natural fit for this post.
10 ways to Cultivate Happiness like you’re Growing a Garden:
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Stop stalking instagram models and asking why you don’t have 23″ waist, stop looking at the success of the people you went to high school (or college) with when you don’t know the whole story, stop looking at your favorite fashion blogger and thinking your life sucks because you don’t travel around the world in free designer clothing, just don’t do it! Comparison comes in all shapes and forms but as a whole it’s just yucky. When you find yourself comparing or feeling inadequate log out of social media or extricate yourself from the situation in real life and take a breather.
2. Become a Better Communicator
The older I get the more I realize talking through all issues tends to resolve them (or at least helps resolve the issue). Work towards bringing up problems before they snowball out of control whether it’s with your partner, your bestie or your boss. Be a good listener and take a moment before you respond in a defensive manner. Half of communication is ensuring every party feels heard and validated in their feelings and ideas. This article highlights 6 strategies for becoming a better communicator (I think everyone can improve and see results).
3. Get to Know Yourself Better
The mantra for my blog (do blog’s have mantras?) is “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”. I truly believe there is immense power in self knowledge. When an event or conversation triggers a strong emotion, explore why. Ask yourself why you behave one way and someone close to you behave’s in a way that is so differently. Think about your own thinking. Dive into psychoanalyzing yourself and recognize that nothing is permanent. “I’m shy today but I may be extroverted and outgoing tomorrow”. “I tend to hate change but one day I might wake up craving something different and that is okay”. Welcome evolution! I promise only good things come from learning more about who you are. I wrote an entire post on 5 ways to Know Yourself Better.
4. Find something for YOURSELF and Be “About” it!
Since I’ve been in law school I have become happier, more stressed, but happier. Have something you can sink yourself into whether it is school, starting a side business, an art project or a fitness goal. When you have a goal that is yours and yours alone you will feel more than happiness, you will feel fulfilled.
5. Show People that you Love them
Don’t just tell people you care, show them. My love language is words so it is easy for me to fallback on showing people love in the way that is easiest to me, however, all people need love in all languages (see my post on the 5 love languages). Send your Mom a surprise bouquet, call your brother just because, bake a cake for your roommates, send a care package to your bestie across the country, leave post it notes all around the house for your significant other-get creative!
6. Keep track of Life’s Little Joys
Keep a gratitude journal or reflect on the best part of each day at the end of the day. Even if you think about what it is you love about your life on your morning commute the exercise will do it’s duty. Studies show thankful people are happier.
7. Challenge yourself in a New way
As the saying goes, when we stop growing we stop living! You are never too old or too inexperienced to try something new. Enroll in an adult ballet class, take up hiking, go back to school, grab a girlfriend and try out a pole dancing class, join a community organization, or learn to code from the comfort of your own home. Our brains love a challenge; our minds thrive on challenge. Consistently look for new ways to challenge yourself, happiness comes with growth!
8. Write a Love Letter
There is something so cathartic about throwing all of your feelings out there scrawled out on a sheet of paper. Even if you aren’t in a relationship you can write a love letter to your best friend or a family member who has been there for you through difficult times. Taking time to lift someone else up will surely make that person’s day, but you’ll find it will also elevate yours.
9. Practice Mindfulness
We live in an age that glorifies busy. Most of us are trying to challenge a full time job and a side hustle or school and internships and a job. Some people have kids and husbands and community responsibilities. It’s easy to fill up your weekly calendar months ahead of time. As I’ve mentioned previously being involved and building community is essential for happiness, however, mindfulness is the crucial component that forces you to slow down and sit with your thoughts. Mindfulness comes in all forms-you can journal, meditate, practice yoga or even force yourself to make your daily commute in silence without the distractions of Taylor Swift blaring on the radio or your favorite podcast whisking you away. Mindfulness is fantastic for combatting stress and allows you to reflect on your life. This article explains the benefits of Mindfulness and this Huffington Post piece breaks down 20 benefits of mindfulness (specific and general).
10. Let Go of Toxic people & situations
Sometimes letting go of toxic individuals means removing them from your life, sometimes it means letting go of the weight they have in your life and sometimes it means altering your mindset and taking control over the way they make you feel. It isn’t always possible to push every toxic person out of your life (your husband’s mom isn’t going anywhere) but you can learn to control your thoughts and reactions and thus release the control the toxic person has on you. When you have the power to escape a toxic situation (a bad job, an unhealthy relationship, a mean and judgmental group of friends) do what you can to remove yourself (often takes planning) without causing more drama than necessary. When you let go of toxic people and situations it won’t take long to realize you don’t even miss them,
Though I am currently at home in bed with the WORST sinus headache (I swear my cold keeps evolving into something new)I can honestly say I am at one of the happiest points. When I get frustrated over something little like traffic, an annoying bill or Pierre tearing up a plant-I remind myself how wonderful my life is. So much of life may be random or chaotic. We can’t control the political atmosphere, we can’t control when a loved one gets cancer or when a pet passes away, but we can control our choices and perspective. Feel frustrated, scream into your pillow, eat a pint of ice cream, grieve! Part of the human experience is feeling the depth and breadth of emotions life has to offer. But after you are done grieving seek happiness! Make choices to cultivate your happiness and build a life that fulfills you.
Feel free to share your tips for cultivating happiness, I love reading them<3
All Photos are by Madeleine Wilson.