(Originally posted June 9, 2015)
A Little Background on Me.
2010-2013 was a time in my life of self discovery, soul searching, fear, excitement, sadness, happiness, stress, but most of all, personal growth. I graduated college, got a job that fit my degree, moved into an apartment in the city by myself, and eventually realized that I was on my own and had to face myself, my own thoughts, and my own dreams and fears, while learning things about myself I never knew.
Year one post-college was like PTSD from living by rules of others. This stress came from unhealthy relationships, playing by the rules of school, family, religion, and modern day expectations and stereotypes. I was constantly making decisions based on what other people thought were right, what I was “should” do, what other people did that worked for them, etc. “What would he or she think if I did this?” was constantly going through my head. This over thinking brought unnecessary anxiety, stress, and self-doubt.
During this time there was only one real thing that I knew what I wanted for myself; it was looking great and getting into shape. I chose not to play sports in high school or college and in turn I felt like I was missing a huge part of myself. I was determined to start my own physical fitness journey so I began working out consistently for the first time in my life. I was fortunate enough to have dated someone who taught me how to eat differently and lift weights, which changed my physique and life for the better. Feeling good and looking good brought me a huge amount of confidence that I never knew that I had or could have.
It wasn’t until after 1-1.5 years after college graduation that I had the confidence to start making decisions based on my personal desires while throwing everyone else’s opinions out the window. To be honest, it was scary at first, really scary. And difficult! Maybe part of the difficulty to think for myself came from the territory of being the youngest child and naturally doing what everyone else did by following other people’s footsteps, or being raised to always to do the right thing, which caused me to never want to disappoint anyone. None of these were bad things, but I think it trained me to live by other’s expectations and not mine.
Health Isn’t Just Physical; It’s Mental, Too
Two years out of college I was in the best shape I had ever been in and looked great, but that didn’t keep me feeling good or as healthy as it should have. STRESS. We all know it; it kills you. No matter how well you eat or how much you work out, if there’s an excess of stress in your life and you’re not happy with the rest of your life, you end up sick, tired, depressed, and not the best you that you can be. That was me. I was having health issue after health issue, always going to the doctor for one thing to the next, or just getting run down constantly when there was finally a day off of work/school, and not being able to enjoy the time off I had. Most of this stress came from an internal conflict; I was very unhappy with my career. I was doing a great thing by teaching music and bringing joy to the lives of underprivileged inner city students, but it just wasn’t my dream or passion. I got into it because I was good at it, but that wasn’t enough. The biggest problem was that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I have found that problem to be one of the biggest reasons for unhappiness. And that took over every thought it my head; “I don’t know what I want”. It became an obsession and I couldn’t think about much else.
The Law of Attraction – Feeding My Desires
In my third year of teaching I was recommended the book “The Secret”. This book is based on the book and theory of “The Law of Attraction”. The term comes from the theory that “like attracts like” and that focusing on negative thoughts brings negative results in your life, while focusing on positive thoughts brings positive results. It taught me many lessons, but the biggest two lessons that I took from the book were 1) Always think about what you want and 2) If you don’t know what you want, think, “I want to know what I want”. Lesson 2 transformed my negative thoughts to hopeful thoughts and gave me faith that with time, I would understand what I wanted to do with my life.
My Happiness Journal – Who Am I? What Am I Grateful For? What Do I Want?
At the end of 2012, after reading “The Secret”, I started my own “Happiness Journal”. I took a blank workbook, and based on suggestions from the book, each day I started a template and filled in the blanks of “I am”, “I am grateful for” and “I want”. In the back of the book I started my own bucket list. Getting to know yourself is intimidating. It’s easy to just roll through life having someone else tell you what you want and how you should live your life; but it’s empowering to truly understand your own mind and your own life desires. It’s so easy to never actually do it; no one else is accountable for your thoughts and no one else is in your head but you! This journal forced me to take the negative thoughts in my head and find a way to find its opposite. It taught me how to manipulate my thoughts of worry and fear to thoughts of confidence, gratefulness, positivity, and desire. Confronting myself by using my “Happiness Journal” was the start of my personal freedom, mental health, and happiness.
Writing in my journal gave me the confidence to act on my fears and have the will power the change the things that I didn’t like in my life. I realized that I needed help! I hired a career counselor who helped me learn more about myself through coaching and personality tests. She was able to help me use my skills and experience and find a job in consultative sales, an area that fit my personality very well.
How the Happiness Journal Has Helped Keep Me Happy the Last Two + Years
Confronting my fears, hiring a counselor, and switching careers was a time of a lot of transition! It was gut wrenching, time consuming, and intimidating, but so worth it. I’ve never been happier! My happiness isn’t a result of a magic journal. It’s a result of the actions that I continue to take from understanding myself, loving myself and having confidence in myself, being grateful and positive, taking the time to do the things I enjoy in life, and understanding what I want in life. Happiness doesn’t come from getting what you want. It comes from understanding what you want and embarking in a positive journey to attain those desires. Happiness is a proactive choice that we must make on our own, and my journal helps me keep this mindset. The journey is invigorating, eye-opening, and awakening. I am constantly learning about myself, changing, and working towards new goals based on my desires. I don’t have the perfect job, house, or everything that I want, but I have become content with my life because I have learned to find happiness within myself. Your own happiness is a personal journey and will be unique to you. And that’s why I am so exited to finally share my journal with you – it gives you the opportunity to find your personal happiness. Be happy. Be YOU.
You can find the “Happiness Journal” on my website. Click “Healthy Mind”.