Aside

Hey have I introduced my number one idol and inspiration as I delve into this world of happiness and how to better live our daily lives? Her name is Gretchen Rubin and she lives somewhere in that big city of New York.  She always replies to my e-mails, even the ones where my sentences are as simple as a 4th grader, her writing style is addictive, she is intelligent yet not to the point where you have no idea what she just said.  She’s LOVELY.

Featured on her blog is what she and a Navy Seal agree on the habit of happiness.  I found it intriguing and it is.  How to be happy: make your bed.

Here’s his excerpt from her blog:

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

So I woke up today at the ripe time of 11:10 am, goodbye productivity for the rest of this beautiful Saturday in California.  However, guess what the 1st (no like 12th, but still) thing I got done after waking up.  I made the bed. If this is your regular habit already, I applaud you.  But for the others, yes this definitely shifted my mood for the better.  I think this applies to not just happiness or feeling of accomplishment but the productivity! Productivity is one of the biggest factors for humans to feel satisfaction in their work.  Try this out for a week and see if it helps you with your daily life.

P.S. You can find her (this wonderful woman and hero of happiness literature) at http://www.gretchenrubin.com

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Aside

“We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.” ~Kent Nerburn

Please Always Remember Each Period of Life

Has it’s own magic.  It’s unique.  It’s riddled with problems, stress, doubt, and a new set of fears.  However, it’s a magical time in your life and much more rewarding and awesome than you think.  

It’s so much easier to get caught up in the negative sides of life.  You have extra bills to pay due to an extra commitment, you have deadlines you didn’t have before and you’re not sure if you can make ends meet.  The levels of uncertainty are above your head, I’ve been there.  I didn’t think I was going to get out alive either.  My parents have been there.  People I respect, all the ones who are famous for some great achievement have all been there as well.  

Please take the moment to see your circumstances in a different light,  remember that all the pleasures and joys as well as the fears and doubt will someday be gone.  So take advantage of it while it lasts, the good and the bad.  Focus on the good.  The silver lining. 

What I Learned from A Starburst Wrapper

We have a jar of Starbursts at my work.

After I work I grabbed my daily after-work Starburst.  After chewing on it happily I proceeded to put the wrapper in my purse.  And at that moment I calculated how many nearby trash cans there were within short walking distance.  At least 3.  And I realized, why do I feel the need to hang onto this trash? I know that I clear my purse out every now and then (once a year).  But do I do this with my life as well? Sometimes I hang onto a bad feeling or mood, or an argument with someone who is done with and over lingers on and on in my mind.

I walked to a trashcan and threw it out instead of shoving it in my purse or pocket ‘for later’.  Do this with the negativity that seeps in to your life on occasion, get rid of it just as soon as you get it.  For me, it was my metaphorical example of a fruity candy that really got me to understand the concept of letting it go.  For others, it might be Frozen. But, bad thoughts come at us and sometimes we seem defenseless.  You are so not.  Take what you want from it, delete the rest. Chuck the rest.  Then and now. Not later.  How about right now? Today?

Love,

Andi

 

From a Friend: The Gift That Never Stops Giving

When I was 15 years old, I ran away from home because I was pissed off at my parents for a reason I can’t remember. I didn’t have much money, so I decided to hop onto the skytrain(public transport train in British Columbia) and ride it as far as it would go. I reached the end of the line in less then an hour, and decided I wanted to ride it all the way back again, while trying to formulate some kind of plan of how I wanted to live the rest of my life without my parents or anyone. At the last stop, or the first stop depending on your perspective of it, a girl came on and sat in the row right behind me. I didn’t pay much attention to her at first, as I was busy writing my life plan on a napkin. It was a few minutes later that she got up and came sat next to me, curious as to what I was writing. I told her the story, and after a few laughs, we began talking about everything and anything. Her name was Amanda, 17 years old, and absolutely wonderful. She told me she was getting off at the last stop, which was also the first stop, depending on how you look at it. It was also the stop I had gotten on originally, and I told her we would ride to it together. The train ride took less then an hour, and what a wonderful hour indeed.

When the last stop did come, we both knew we probably wouldn’t see each other ever again(this was before the days of cellphones, and I was a shy little kid afraid to make moves). As we got to the end of the sidewalk which split in two different directions, she went right and I went left. Before saying goodbye she turned to me and asked me a question that has become a wonderful part of my life; she asked me, “Tell me something you have done, or want to do, that you think I should do? It can be anything, as challenging as you want it to be, or as easy. As long as you give me the rest of my life to complete it, I promise I will do it..” I was confused as to why, but I thought about it, and told her, “Sing a song acapella in a room full of strangers.” She said perfect and asked me if I would like a challenge as well. I told her I did, and she told me, “read, from start to finish, “Ulysses” by James Joyce.” I had never heard of it at the time, but I agreed, and we said our goodbyes.

I have a awful memory, and can’t remember most conversations I have with most people. But I remember all of that clearly. You know why? Because of the challenge she gave me. In the 12 years that have past since, I have tried to read that book in over 150 different sittings. Everytime I open my copy of the 780 page monster of a book, I always think of her, and I always think of that day. Ive never been sure if it was her intent or not, but she left her lasting memory on me with that challenge. I soon after learned what she did, was a completely wonderful and amazing thing for me. So I decided to keep it going. I’ve met a lot of strangers in my life; some that have become friends, and some, due to living in different time zones and whatnot, did not. I dont want to just have experiences and then let them go. I want to remember these meetings, and embrace the fact that they happened. So whenever I leave someone who has left an amazing impact of my life, I always make sure to add them to my Ulysses Bucket List. I ask them to give me a challenge, as difficult or as easy as they want it to be, and regardless of the fact that they have done it or not; simply something their heart has had wanted to do.

Some have been easy and fun; I met a man in India 9 years ago who told me to, for a week or a month, cook/buy twice as much food as I intend on eating, and give the other half to a stranger in need. I completed that mission 8 years ago, and thought about that man and the time we had all the way through. I met a girl on a cruise 6 years ago, who told me to jump into a body of water on a slightly cold day, without touching or feeling the temperature of the water first. I did that the very same year. I met a couple at an outdoor music festival a few years ago that told me to wear the most bizarre outfit imaginable and walk through a public place, completely oblivious to the fact that you aren’t looking normal. I did that task the very next day, at the same festival. Some have been difficult, to say the least: three guys I met in Amsterdam and smoked all night with, told me to go to a mall and give 10 strangers 10 presents. That one took a lot of courage, but I did it a year or so after I met them. It was nerve racking, but at the same time exhilarating leaving my comfort zone. A girl I met on a plane told me to skydive; Im still in the process of getting that done. A couple I met in Cali on the beach told me to tell the 5 people I hated the most, that I love them and respect them. That one was very difficult because of my stubbornness, but i’ve come close to completing that list many a times(still in the process, 2 more people to go).
And some things, have had an everlasting impact on my daily life. I met a girl at burning man, who told me that whenever I get mad at someone, walk away, sing my happy song in my head for 5 minutes, go back to the person i’m mad at with a calm heart and mind, and work things out. Ive made this my way of life. I once met a man at a gym in a hotel I was staying at, that told me “whenever your body and brain tells you that you are exhausted and done…use your heart instead and push out 2 more reps.” Ive made this my motto when working out or working on any kind of extenuating exercise in which my body demands me to quit. I also use it while working on anything, and while studying. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.

There are many others that each brought joy to my life. There are still many tasks I have yet to accomplish, and everytime I think of these tasks, I think of the people that gave them to me. It amazes me how well I remember all these people, while I can’t remember so many aspects of even yesterday. These experiences, not only do I take from them a “mission” or a “challenge”, I also take from them a memory of them that never fails to appear inside of my mind. I opened my Ulysses book for probably the 300th time yesterday, and read a few pages, which prompted me to share this story with you today. Im in the final 30 pages of the book, also known as the most dreaded of the read(in the last 40 pages or so, James Joyce doesn’t use a single punctuation mark; no periods, no commas, no nothing; a straight 50 page run-on sentence).

I never saw Amanda after that day, nor do I know if she ever did get a chance to sing a song to a room full of strangers. But what I do know, is that she gave me a gift that has never once stopped giving. So wherever you may be, thank you for giving me the Ulysses Bucket List. And I swear I’ll finish it one day. My life advice? Simple: Create your own Ulysses bucket list.

Moment of Happiness Thought

Sometimes it’s so easy to find what’s good in others, than to see it in yourself.  I know that I do this soo much.  I see the good easily in literally every single person I meet.  I immediately like you (usually I like you, on rare occasions I hate you and will always but that’s like extremely rare).  I immediately find something that I just trust, or really admire, and sometimes envy about you.  But with myself, nope.  I wish it was that easy.  Yes, we are our toughest critic but THAT’S NOT AN EXCUSE.  You need to stop living like that, finding the good in other people but not seeing it in yourself.  My greatest desire for anyone, especially those who randomly stumble onto this blog, is to love yourself with reckless abandon.  Because it’s fun, and just so much better than not believing in yourself.

As an exercise, write your name and how we met through the comments and I will write you something pointing out the good I’ve seen in you since we’ve met.  Life is too short to not be encouraged and I want to give all of the encouragement I can.  Because there is so much good in you and you need to open your eyes and see it, today!

 

Go to Bed Feeling Pretty

My best friend makes fun of my ‘pajamas’.  I usually wear a large T-shirt that I’ve had for at least 5 years and those American Apparel cotton shorts.  Sooo comfortable, so nice for the end of the day.  But like so not attractive.  So today  I decided to actually feel pretty as I go to bed and it’s insanely easy.  

First I decluttered as much as possible so I made my room pretty (or prettier than the mess it was before), then I lit a candle and the fresh scent brightened the room and made me feel happier.  And I chose a pretty top and bottom set to wear.  Put perfume behind my ear.  Played a playlist on Grooveshark.com.  And the best part is that this is all for me! In Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert does something similar when she picks out lingerie but for her to enjoy and feel good in and not for any man.  Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project recommended incorporating good smells in her daily life to boost happiness and she puts a bit of perfume on before she goes to bed.  

I FEEL GREAT.  I’m going to do this more often.  Here’s to ending the day on a high note and it took really little effort.  

Moment of Happiness Thought

On the way driving home from work the other day I got worried about an accident.  I do this often, I freak out about things like this because driving literally scares me so much.  I’m kind of a terrible driver.  Anyways, as I got anxious about a freak accident that might and probably will not happen, I also tried to simultaneously calm my fears by saying to myself, “Well then it’s just my time to go.”  And as I was trying to gain peace from this statement I realized NO! 

Am I satisfied with the life I have lived so far? 

The one thing…really, the only one thing that I wasn’t completely satisfied with is I wish I loved myself more.  If I was to leave this earth, the one thing I would really struggle with is “I wish that I was nicer to myself!” 

TAKE THE TIME NOW, WHILE YOU ARE ALIVE TO BE AS NICE TO YOURSELF AS POSSIBLE.