Overthinking Happy?!

happyCan you overthink happiness?  Can you talk yourself completely out of being happy?  Can you talk yourself into being happy?  What do you think?

Today I met someone who told me that they think a lot.  In fact they spend moments every day meditating and what they like to call philosophizing about all different things.  And yet they have decided, what is the point of being happy?  This person feels like he can’t make a difference because who would care anyway.  We had an interesting discussion about appreciating what you have been given and finding happiness in each day but that does not seem to be enough for him.  This person seems to be overthinking what it means to be happy.  Is it only big things that make him happy or at this point would those big events even make him happy?

With these thoughts going through my mind, I went for a run (cause that’s how I process things).  I would like to say I came up with a wonderful solution, ideas that will help him, and he will once again find happiness.  But remembering that I am only human, I started thinking whether I have had times in my life where I expected more from happiness and didn’t get what I expected.  Don’t we all have those moments!

Just last summer I read this book:happiness1

 

I am sure you have heard of it, but if you haven’t, find it, read it, savor it!

Anyway back to something that I learned that I am hoping will help with this “overthinking happiness”.  Rubin writes, “To eke out the most happiness from any experience, we must anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory.  Any single happy experience may be amplified or minimized, depending on how much attention you give it.”  Is this the answer?  Have we solved the problem of overthinking it or have I just added more confusion to the whole concept?  Well, I would like to think that if we can step back, quit thinking about whether we are happy and just savor the experience for what it is, this will be a stepping stone to getting back on the right path.  Maybe it is more about experiencing the raw emotion of the moment then understanding it and identifying this as “the moment I am happy”.  Can’t we just feel it!  Can’t we just BE happy and take our minds out of it?!

My answer so far is quit thinking about, savor the emotions of the moment, and find something else to stress about rather than”am I happy”.  Because chances are if you are having that thought the answer is probably “no” and it is time to find ways to make some changes!!happy1

Oh my!!!

bostonAs a person who lives in Massachusetts and always calls today, “Marathon Monday”, I am overwhelmed at the events that occurred today in Boston.  I have shed some tears and been sick to my stomach since I heard the news.  I could hardly wait to get home from work to see the results and feel the joy of marathoners to give me that last training burst before my marathon in a few weeks and now I just sit in shock while watching the coverage on the news.

A wonderful thing occurs in such tragedies like this, we reach out to each other and try to understand “why”.  We rely on each other and look for hope.  We become stronger.

I have no more words to even digest this whole thing at this time but I found this quote that I thought was appropriate right now.

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”

Family!

We all have them whether we would like to admit it or not.  We have a family!  We also have opportunities to create new families.   Whether we move far away from our original family, find ourselves the last of our original family, or are just simply around the same people all the time due to your children’s activities and create a bond through shared experiences.  This is what has happened to us.

Most of my family members together last year.

Most of my family members together last year.

Over the past 12 years while my daughter has been competing in dance competitions, we have been a part of several different dance families but none as long as this current family.  We travel together, share food together, deal with our children’s crazy moods together, laugh together and here recently cry together (or at least for me).  This current family has been together for about 8 years with some going and new people coming in but the values are all the same.  We want to see our girls/ladies shine, express themselves, learn teamwork, build their confidence and most of all have fun.

Teen/Senior family members after doing an awesome job competing today.

Teen/Senior family members after doing an awesome job competing today.

Well today was one of those moments that I began to realize that it is coming to an end.  My daughter is graduating and even though there will be college dance performances to go to, this is it.  We have one regional competition left and one national competition left this summer.  The thought that kept going through my head all day as I went in and out of tearful moments was, “It felt like it just started and then it was over.”  Did I cherish each moment?  Did I take a moment to breathe and enjoy?  For the most part the answer is “yes”.  But you better believe I will be trying to do more of that over the next few months.

Then what?  A new “running family”?  I’m not sure.  All I know is that this idea of family and the people who have been part of our lives up to this point have made an impression on me.  I’ve grown by knowing each one and have enjoyed creating a new family through this shared experience.

How about your family connections?  Do they play a big role in your daily life? 

Feeling Off….

Do you ever have those feelings where you just feel a little off?  It may last just a moment, a day, or for me it has lasted quite a bit longer.  How do you get turned back on (not that kind of turned on you crazy people)?!  I would like to say it is easy and it is like a switch but that doesn’t seem to be the truth.  For me it is a struggle.  I feel trapped in my head and I can’t get out of my own way.

Today I began to turn a corner (or at least I am hoping I have).  I am writing my blog for one, haven’t done that in a while.  I went and did something I haven’t done in a while too, went to the movies after work with my daughter and enjoyed it.  Then had a great dinner with my family and laughed.  I’m attempting to get out of my head.  Quit thinking about my clients and the needs of others.  Quit worrying about making my numbers for work.  I am trying to find the better balance.  I know I talk about this a lot but maybe because it is so difficult to obtain, Balance!  I can barely walk some times because I trip over imaginary things on the road much less balance my life.

So this week I think I am going to spend the rest of it trying to actually get in touch with feelings on a daily basis.  Release the negative that is holding my back and focus more on the positive: I have an awesome family who loves me, a job that allows me to help others, and of course two cats who love for me to love them!

Have you felt off?  How did you get back on?  I would love to hear your ideas.

My Year of Gratitude

gratitude year1As I have referred to several times in this blog, I spent this year thinking, documenting and reflecting about things I am grateful for.  I made this my word of the year “gratitude” for 2012.  Each morning I would wake up and while eating my breakfast and waking up, I would write down at least three things I was grateful for in my gratitude journal a.k.a. a dayminder calendar.  The only pressure I really put on myself was to make sure I did not write the same thing I wrote the day before, make sure I do it every day, and remember these things throughout the day when I am feeling challenged.

I was really unsure what to expect from this project but my hope was that I would lead a more grateful life.  I think that was fulfilled.  An odd experience I began feeling was when I was having an emotional experience with something (like watching my daughter dance, listening to music, or just being in the moment and feeling moved) I learned to just let it happen.  My family will probably tell you that I cried a LOT this year.  I’m okay with that and I think they are becoming okay with it!  I learned that living in the moment takes courage to be yourself and just let things happen which for me include many, many tears.

When I read through my journal today, I noticed my most grateful things were my family, my challenges because they make me stronger, my job both new and old (changed jobs in October) because it is more than a job it’s a calling, the ability to run and push my body for more distance, and for my place I call home.  I also noticed that these things seem so simple yet are what makes up the majority of my life.  gratitude year

As a family we had quite an up and down year.  We were challenged in ways that I hope NEVER happen again but we were able to grow closer because of the situation.  We faced downs such as a job loss that took away 70% of our income and with it financial difficulty after we were just getting back on our feet but we survived and are stronger because of it.  We faced extreme joy with graduations from college, acceptance letters to other colleges, new jobs for the two of us, and just being able to all be together as a family.

Some personal things I am grateful for include finishing my first half-marathon (and in under 2 hours), competing in other races and doing well, graduating with my Masters degree, and being able to contribute financially with a full time job.

This word also came into play with my job.  I found myself challenging others with the word “gratitude”.  Even giving my clients homework to write about what they are grateful with.  It is amazing to watch others realize they really have a lot to be grateful for when they are at their most vulnerable moments.  And with this I have been able to watch their self-esteem rise.  (Which believe me helped me get through my tough situations) Who doesn’t need a little self-esteem boost on a daily basis?!

Overall, I think this project was a great idea.  I do plan on continuing it into the new year (already writing in my new calendar today!).

My new word is “Cherish” which I think is a great follow-up for “gratitude” and I can’t wait to begin using that word in my daily life.gratitude year2

How about you?  Will you take the gratitude challenge of writing about it daily?  Do you have word of the year?  If so what is it and how are you going to use it in 2013?

A week in somewhat of a review!

christmastree1I am so happy it is Friday.  The unfortunate part is that by the time I write this post and get it posted, it might be Saturday.  But I don’t care, I’m doing it anyway!  Not even sure what I am gonna write about but I felt the need.

I guess I will start with what I learned this week:  I learned that being a therapist is hard!  Okay, I already knew that but this week was a real challenge for me (especially in the midst of what felt like my own breakdown/breakthrough).  I got into therapy to help people and I guess with it comes the unfortunate wanting to “fix things” for everyone.  But, hey guess what, that can’t be done.  I know this but have to constantly remind myself I am just there to help others find their strength.  They have it inside them, I’m just there to help them.  So I guess that is a pretty big lesson to keep reminding myself of or just relearn again, over and over again!

I don’t know about you but I was also overwhelmed this week by the fact that this month has gone so fast.  I once heard someone say (and I totally believe) “we rush through our childhood wanting to grow up and then when we grow up we want things to slow down so we can enjoy them.”  I’m screaming for things to slow down!!!  Can you hear me?!  Not sure whether it is effective because life still seems to be cruising by.  So this weekend my goal is to try and slow down.

I did take a great step in slowing down tonight.  We had a Christmas show (I performed a tap dance with my daughter and it was wonderful) and then poof it was over.  Everyone cleared out and the place was quiet.  I waited around for the person to come back to lock up and I just sat in the silence.  I looked around at the trees that decorated the facility took a couple of pics (here is one)christmastree and just tried to relax.  I thought about my week, about the tragic news in Connecticut, and just thought “I need to continue to enjoy my family, tell them I love them, and never be afraid to be who I am because life is short.”  Maybe that is why you are getting this rambling blog tonight.  Maybe I want you to hear, “Life is short.  We must take every opportunity to cherish what we have.”

This weekend, this is my focus and something I want to continue to practice throughout the month as well as next year.  Maybe that will be my word of the year.  Last year’s word was “gratitude”.  Maybe this year will be “cherish”.  I think it sounds like a plan.

How was your week?  Did you learn anything new?  Are you glad it is Friday?  Do you ever pick a word and think/reflect on it throughout the year?  Why or why not?  Love to hear from you!

A Breakdown or Break through?!

breakdownEver thought you might be having a breakdown?  Maybe it was a break through!   What were your symptoms?

Over the past couple of weeks I have felt overwhelmed, cried to songs on the radio, wanted to turn around after it took me three hours to drive into Boston which is normally a 50 min drive and was pretty much in tears, as well as moments of begging for help from my Higher Power (God) to give me the strength and words to say to clients when I didn’t feel like I could help them.  Does this mean I am having a breakdown?  Believe me I sometimes feel like it!

But the breakthrough came when I realized that really I wasn’t taking care of myself like I am use to.  I have not been taking moments for myself to just breathe.  I remember this time last year I was pretty seriously training for my first ½ marathon ever.  I made the commitment to go to the gym and research how to prepare my body to run that distance.  This included rest, weights, and lots and lots of running. breakdown1

So recently I have been attempting to get back to that type of mindset.  Today I was able to start my day later and get some things done and end the day with a trip to the gym for a run.  I’m not saying that I may not be having a breakdown, I’m just saying that I have had a break through.  I need to take better care of myself.  The breakdown may have to wait.  Also if you lived near me you would see me driving down the road crying to songs on the radio like Rascal Flatts song “My Wish”.  Remember I do have the last one graduating this year and I love this song!!!

So breakdown or break through?!  Good news is that I’m moving forward and so could you!

Daily Prompt: Oasis: My Sanctuary

Daily Prompt: (from WordPress): “A sanctuary is a place you can escape to, to catch your breath and remember who you are. Write about the place you go to when everything is a bit too much.”

lake1Sanctuary = safety, a place to relax, a place to reconnect with self, with a higher power, with our self-confidence.  When I find myself overwhelmed I use a trick I teach quite a few of my clients with anxiety.  It’s called visualization and using your favorite place makes the visualization that much easier.  Here is where I go….

Our family lake house.  It is on an island so the trek begins via a small boat and short ride across to the island.  As we move across the water, I can see to the bottom.  The water is so clear and you can see the rocks that line the bottom.

Once we make it to shore at the island, I find myself drawn to sit at the edge of the dock.  It is here that you can hear the gentle lapping of the water against the dock and the rocks on shore.  Sticking my feet in the water, I can feel the refreshing coolness of the water.  It is also here that I can see to the bottom of the lake which is only about 3 feet deep.  The small sunfish are swimming around and every once in a while one will be brave enough to approach your toes and even take a nibble.  A gentle breeze blows through the trees and you can hear the rustle of the leaves.  The smell of the wind and water is so clean and refreshing.  lake2

I lay back on the dock with my feet hanging in the water and feel the warmth of the wood on my back as the sun beats down on my face.  Closing my eyes to hear the sounds of the loons and the nearby ducks.

I feel like I am there right now!  This is where I go when I can’t actually go.  And when I can it is that much better.

My other option is for a run.  Another place to just let go of the stress and overwhelmingness of the day and refocus.  Whether it is at the gym on the dreadmill or outside in my neighborhood, nothing beats a good run!

Maybe you can try the visualization next time you need to escape or better yet I hope you can go to your sanctuary!  Where is your santuary? lake

 

 

 

Sundays

weekends2Kind of a bittersweet day for me and I am guessing for many others.  It is the day before the work week begins.  I try and cram it full of all the things I did not get done on Saturday and then at the end of the day I find myself wondering where my day went.  Only to realize, hey you, “you did all of these things, got some things done and others procrastinated for another weekend but now it’s time to prepare for work on Monday.”   I wonder if anyone else has this dialogue go through their heads or if it is just me!

I guess this blog goes well with my balance blog from a few days ago.  How do we balance our weekends to be a recovery too so we feel recharged to take on a new week?  I must admit, I have only been working full time for about 3 years so I am trying to get use to this.  And I also must say that I like what I do, I just like to spend time with my family so much so that I begin to wish I was financially well off so I could stay at home and be with them more.  I am sure that this is not just my wish but the wish of many others. weekends1

So back to the question: How do we balance our weekends to be a recovery period so we feel recharged and ready to take on a new week?  Any ideas?  I might have a few.  How about the policy of no work at home!  Can’t say I follow this right now but I am planning on implementing it after the first of the year because I think I will be organized with my new job at that point to be able to make that call.

Date nights?!  We try to have them a couple of times a month.  Sometimes they range from a matinee movie, a long bike ride on a local rail trail, a concert (a little more expensive), and maybe a family date day like rock climbing.  Our goal is not to spend a lot of money but it is more about time spent together.  This definitely makes the weekend that much better.

What are some things you do to make the weekends last longer?  Is it okay to do nothing on the weekend?  (Really need to know the answer to this one!)weekends

Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving.  Many of you already know this but for those who are from another country, we celebrate originally because we were thankful for a large harvest back in the days of settling this great country. (If you want to read more try this site)  Today it has turned in to a day of celebrating with a large feast, including a turkey and lots of pies, and being surrounded family and friends.  So in my eyes it hasn’t changed too much, well except for the after Thanksgiving sales and the craziness they call Black Friday!  But I digress….

So this year as many of you already know, I have kept a gratitude journal and spend time each day writing down things I am thankful for.  I have done this for several reasons: One to remind me how blessed I am, Two to help me when I am struggling to remind me how blessed I am, and Three as a reminder to myself about how blessed I am.  I know, I know those all sound the same!  But think about it, if you are reading this right now you are blessed with a computer, eyes to see, understanding to read and the ability to pick a great blog to read.  🙂  

As I was thinking about writing this blog (which has really been on my mind since Monday) I was wondering how I would express my gratitude and how overwhelmed I am when I think about my blessings.  (Let’s just say tears come to my eyes and I get that lump in my throat.  They are happy tears though.)  Many of my friends did the days of thankfulness leading up to thanksgiving and listed them all on facebook daily.  I didn’t participate but was thankful for reading others.  It made me really think about what means the most in my life so here goes in somewhat poetry form:

Living these 40 years,

Shedding many, many tears.

 

Warm hugs and beautiful smiles,

Ability to run miles and miles.

 

Strength that astounds me,

Weakness that helps me grow.

 

Using my God-given talents to help others who are struggling,

And realizing it is not just a job but a calling.

 

Writing and reading blog after blog,

Having followers great and small.

 

Wonderful friends old and new,

Memories that last forever.

 

Family members both near and far,

Who love me no matter how crazy I r!

 

My girls who make me so proud,

And Dave who I love to be around.

 

I am thankful for every breathe and every second,

Take some time to count your blessings.