Living on The Brightest Side

Love yourself enough brightest side

I’ve been feeling a bit sick from the vertigo of transition. The forked snake tongue on the road ahead feels daunting as the deep dark forest just after dusk. The feelings of obligation overwhelm my waking hours and the guilt that I feel pushes down on my shoulders and keeps my pace like a snail.

OR

Change and transition is when the real magic of life happens. The varied opportunities that lie ahead excite me to my soul bone and I’m throwing myself down the path and feeling open to wherever it may lead. The solace I have gifted myself has made my own authentic voice more confident to speak up and be heard. I am grateful and hopeful for what is to come.

It’s all about how you look at it. Attitude is everything.

After a lifetime of negativity and toxic truths, I decided to take a leap of faith and start living on The Brightest Side. It took strength, confidence and self-love to let go of the personal dogma engrained so deep in my habitually chaotic brain. So, I sat with the questions instead of demanding the answers. I focused on solutions instead of problems. I reevaluated all the varied doctrine I had held tight for so long. The process of trying to empty myself of programmed mental and emotional responses and open up to new, authentic thought came from a place of pure self love. Pure self love comes from a realization that you really want to be happy and tend mindfully to yourself. The key to my happiness has been consistently letting go of expectations and outcomes and letting it all unravel one glorious moment at a time.

Letting things be what they are and not what I am expecting or hoping for has been a labor of love and worth every effort.

So, after 4+ years of writing this blog I am transitioning my effort and energy to living permanently on The Brightest Side where I will continue to write about my journey, but also write about how others can make their own promise to live life with positivity and kindness both to themselves and others.

I hope you will join me and together we can enjoy being at peace with our lives paths. 

Sending love to my dear Desiree who took the above photo of me during a weekend on the beach

Making a Happy Promise

sunset man arms

It was four years ago today that I decided to make positive change in my life in an effort to become the best version of myself. I’m grateful for my journey and I’m hopeful for what is to come. If the time has come for you to start your own journey, it may be comforting to have a roadmap to follow. I have created a 3 step outline of how my own journey has unfolded and I hope these steps will help you begin to define and discover how to navigate your own journey. I only claim to be an expert on myself, and I encourage you to become an expert on yourself. My hope is that what has worked for me will inspire you to design a roadmap that reflects your own journey.

1. The Awakening

The realization happens that change is necessary. You may or may not experience the beginning of a breakthrough. The signs showing up around you can be anywhere from violent to subtle. You make a decision to make change. The decision can just be to get started. The focus on exactly what needs attention possibly comes clear, but may unfold in time. The most important thing to do in this stage is be open to whatever comes next. You may feel a surge of energy and a strong desire to explore and learn, or you may just begin to feel calm and open. Be mindful and accepting of your feelings.

2. The Discovery

You begin to pinpoint the areas of your life that need changing. You begin to develop a stronger focus on how to approach them. You begin to explore and learn which vehicle(s) will suit your needs: mindfulness, yoga, piano, music, hiking, art, kindness…. as you begin adjusting to change. Your senses begin to take in and process information in a new way. Colors are bolder, music is sweeter, smells spark vivid memories, you may feel hyper sensitive in every way. Now is a good time to begin to be even more mindful of your thoughts and feelings in an effort to discover how to make positive change. Stay open to change and unattached to outcomes. The less expectations you place on yourself and your experiences, the easier this process will flow, and although it may not be easy, it will be worth it.

3. Finding Your Calm

It is now time to adopt a new normal, incorporate new habits, and accept imperfection. It’s time to live life happier and keep awakening and rediscovering in each moment. The more kindness and love you show yourself, the more love and kindness you will be able to show your loved ones. There is no finish line, so don’t search for it, but instead enjoy the feeling of a new beginning.

Every journey is unique.

Appreciate your own, distinct patchwork life.

Find your peace.

Enjoy your calm.

The Gift of Being Present

youarehere

The gross anticipation of a new year may be a false promise of a new start. 

The holiday season may fill you with a child-like anticipation of opening up a new gift. Will it be what I asked for? But, before you unwrap this new, exciting gift, it sits like a beautifully wrapped promise under the tree with a big shiny bow and the hope of a dream fulfilled. Maybe you’ve worked all year to secure your place on “the nice list” with the hope of enjoying your reward and now the anticipation of opening it and making it yours is almost too much.

You toast with champagne on new years eve and feel the buzz as you anticipate the countdown to a whole new year filled with promise and new beginnings, but then you wake up hungover to the same life you left the night before realizing that you are only one day older and the same old effort is not somehow all of a sudden enough just because the calendar has flipped.

I have yet to see a task too simple for people to complicate. I see people putting a lot of energy into making things hard instead of letting them be simple.

I do think this new year is a gift. When you open a gift, if you think whatever is contained in that box is going to change your life, then you have already set yourself up for failure. My problem is that gifting all of this “stuff” is not a gift at all. Maybe this year we can consider gifting time and experience instead. But why wait? Why does the calendar have to dictate when we decide to make a fresh start and give each other a gift? I would rather receive a thoughtful gift on a random Thursday that has deep meaning and love than a diamond necklace on a holiday, but that’s just me. I would much rather be given the gift of my loved ones being present.

We are the ones who give meaning to our lives, we shape our own reality. This year, take control and get better at making your life good. Become a master Storyteller of your own story. Whatever you do, just be, right now. 

photographic reminder above courtesy of pippalou from morguefile.com

The Thing About A Promise

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A promise is your word that you will accomplish something.  When you make a promise to yourself, it’s a promise that simply can’t be broken without serious consequence.  So, that’s the thing about a promise to yourself, it’s a pretty serious undertaking.  If I can’t keep a pact with myself, I am only accountable to me.  No one to blame, nowhere to hide.  So, I accept this obligation with great urgency.  I did this to myself, pledged this oath all on my own.  The punishment for failure is far too great for me to consider even straying from this path for a second.

I know a lot more about what doesn’t make me happy and who I am NOT than what does make me happy and who I AM.  But that’s a start.  I want to get to know myself better.  Part of this journey is understanding who I am and where my happiness comes from.  “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.”  ~James Openheim   So have I been foolish?  Have I been seeking happiness off somewhere else instead of seeing it and nurturing it right here where I am?  Maybe.

Self honesty is an important part of inner balance and in turn, inner peace.  How you honestly feel about yourself and how you truly feel about your values and your life will form your real opinion of yourself.  See your true value and speak it in your own mind and in your own heart.  Make it a habit to see the positive things about yourself and others will see them as well.   We are usually our own worst enemy.  “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James

‘My Happy Promise’ is a promise I made to myself, and even on the days when I don’t feel at my peak, I hold myself to my highest expectations.  I have seen people go to great lengths, both positive and negative, to gain the approval of others and I hold strong on my need to only gain the approval of myself.  It is not through the eyes of other’s expectations and perspective that I choose to measure my happiness.  Don’t get me wrong, I seek counsel from those whose truths and values are similar to my own, but even they know that I make the ultimate decisions.  It is the best teachers in life that guide your hand but don’t solve the problem for you.  And so I challenge myself yet again to get to know myself in a brutally honest way.  I pledge to be mindful of my thoughts and responses like a research scientist.  I will gather data and record my findings.

How well do you really know yourself? Do you truly acknowledge all the real things about you?  Are you the best possible version of yourself or is something holding you back?  If you can’t have this conversation quietly in your own mind, then you can’t move forward and truly find peace. How can you hold yourself to your own standards, understand your own values or visualize who you want to become if you can’t take the time to understand who you are today?

My Mind is a Playground

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My mind is a playground and sometimes I just let it play and I don’t write things down. It runs and skips and splashes in puddles. It giggles and does cartwheels and flying penny drops.
Other times my mind paddles a heavy canoe down a long murky lagoon and gets tired.
Some days my mind lays in the grass basking in the warm sun enjoying the nothingness…
There are times after I have let my mind wander that I wish I had written more things down. I know I had some good thoughts. Thoughts that made me pause and consider, grow and ruminate. But, like any growing pain, it’s the ultimate growth and change that matters. You don’t really remember the pain exactly, only that it happened.
The difference now is that I am thankful for the growth, and even the pain. Every romp on the playground, row in the boat and time spent in the nothingness are steps taken in the right direction toward a better, happier me. And that, in the end, is the reason for my promise.

On Being Content

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A funny thing happened on the way to being happy. I learned that being happy is an embellished state of being and not a completely sustainable state. It’s like adding bling to being content, or at least that’s how it feels sometimes. But, there is a way to raise your content state if it’s been set down too low and needs a bit of raising. I have found that the more ‘happy habits’ I incorporate into my days, the happier I find my sustainable happy state to be.

Some of my happy habits include:

1. Have conversations with my happy friends and try very hard to avoid communication with the people in my life that tend to be more negative.

2. When people ask me to do them a favor I always do everything I can to say yes.

3. Purge some of the everyday stressors…I changed careers and am now A Nutritional Cleanse Coach and help people get healthy and flush their body and life of toxins and negativity!

4. I mind my own business. I am working on being mindful about not making other people’s drama and emergencies my own unless completely necessary.

5. The complaint department is closed. It’s a lot more fun to share good news than complain about what is not exactly perfect. Life is pretty good, after all.

Instead of riding the highs and lows so frequently, I am finding it much more enjoyable to find the middle ground and coast; like going for a boat ride on a clear day when the water is like glass and the bumps seem even and soothing. I’m not going to miss riding the boat during the 6 foot waves when it feels like a storm is coming and the end is near; the days when you need to know exactly where your life vest is at all times because you never know when you’ll have to reach for it.

Finding my best self has meant finding that nice, comfortable middle ground. Life is full of storms, I don’t need to create my own on perfectly clear days, which is exactly what I was doing before I made my happy promise. Maybe I should have called it My Content Promise, but that just didn’t have the same ring.

Above photo courtesy of my relaxed and floating friend Shannon. Even her pretty toes look content.

Talking To Myself

We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.                                 -Helen Keller

The more hard times we face, the stronger and more brave we will become?  Not necessarily.  When I experience happiness it makes me crave more happiness.  When I struggle through pain and endure hardship I lust after joy.  Either way, I long to settle into a pleasant existence.  Some people around me seem to settle into sadness like a cozy pair of slippers while others dig and dig for delight until they are exhausted.  The journey to Serenity is different for each person and the destination just as distinct.  It’s up to each of us to decide whether or not we want to be happy.  Maybe it takes more effort to be happy, but I see the endeavor as worthwhile.  The payoff is big and the lesson I pass on to my daughters is valuable.

There are several parts of my personality that I am dedicated to working on during this journey to find more happiness for myself.  Even the more difficult changes are worth tackling if I ever want to truly reap the benefits of this process and one of the most difficult things for me to overcome may be my negative self-talk.  I work hard at rolling a big boulder of positivity up a very steep hill only to hear a voice in my head shouting cynicism in an effort to slow my progress and make me drop the boulder and get crushed in it’s path back down the hill.  I’m tired of losing momentum because of the angry committee in my head that spews negativity.  It seems that maintaining my happiness may be as hard as maintaining the positive self talk.  If I let even one negative thought sneak in, it slows my momentum.  But this life presents us with adversity and it’s not always so easy to stay positive.

My hope for myself at this point is that my hunger for happiness will help drive my ability to learn how to quiet the negative self talk and let me turn the naysaying into affirmations!

It’s only nice to say SHUT UP to yourself.

No More Toxic Excuses

The toxins in your life can range from the things we put in our body to the excuses we give to ourselves for doing, or not doing, the things we do.  Our world presents us with some toxins we can control, but more often there are many more that we cannot control.  The air we breath and the water we drink fill us with toxins everyday, yet we need them to live.  For many people, the excuses we give are just as toxic as what we put in our body.  Our brains are just as hardworking as our livers sorting through the junk and trying to figure out what is good for us and what is bad.  I only wish my brain was as scientific and unbiased as my liver in making that separation.  I can’t fool my liver into thinking something will help me when I know down deep that it actually does more harm than good.  I am capable of making excuses for my excuses in my brain if it means I can get what I want, and I’m sick of living that way.  Making excuses is not helping me to reach my full potential.  Making excuses is not making me happy.

I’m pledging to give up my excuses.  Just the way I would give up sugar and gluten in an effort to shed some pounds, I want to stop lying to myself and creating excuses for not doing the things I should be doing.  I think it will be just as easy to create opportunity to get things done as it has always been to build an obstacle course of excuses blocking me from achieving.  I’m ready to attack the toxins head on and fill myself up with more goodness and positivity.  It’s going to take a lot of work to flush these toxic excuses, but I’m ready for the task.

I do not know of a cleansing system on the market to flush out negative thought toxins, so I will have to do that work on my own.  The tools that I have learned so far on this journey such as mindfulness, guided mediation, diaphragmatic breathing and yoga will be more useful to me now that I am more familiar with how to use them properly, but each of us are in complete control of wrangling the web of excuses we create for ourselves.  No more excuses, I want to be happy.

Can you pick one excuse to flush out like a toxin today?

Unblocking the Path

Do we each have a predetermined destiny?  How much control do we have over making changes to our own life’s path?  We are who we are, that’s true, but each of us has the power to change, or not change, our current position.

Epigenetics is a complex area of study focusing on genes and the way they predetermine our health.  (Well, that’s my very basic understanding).  There is also a cultural epigenetics of psychopathy that is focused on mental disorders that gives light to how culture can influence a person’s developmental trajectory.  I would assume that all the effort going into both medical fields is to ultimately make positive changes in people’s lives.  All of this research just may allow people to trade in a few cards from the hand they are dealt.  We CAN alter the repeating patterns of the cycles that rule our lives.  If you have the motivation, the science is there to support the changes necessary to be happy.

I watch myself approach life situations the same way over and over and get disappointed in the same negative results.  Since becoming more mindful of my actions, my life is now being shown to me in 3-D, and the negative actions of others now seem to jump off the screen.  An intense position allowing me an unclouded view of those around me.  Even the simplest interactions with people get scrutinized beyond recognition in my effort to pinpoint the specific changes I need to make to become a better version of myself.  Unfortunately for me, some of the people closest to me have limited patience for the pace in which I’m making changes. In the end, this invokes the pauperization I often feel and ignites the fire under my impending course redirection.  My experiment in Family Epigenetics.  I’m ending this cycle of unhappy.

Sometimes the negativity you claim to see in another is actually a mirror into your own psyche.  Maybe looking into the face of your own child, or parent, exacerbates the hidden insecurities we hide deep within ourselves and claim to have conquered when really they represent the biggest mountain left to climb.  Maybe the mountain you don’t have the courage to even acknowledge.

I refuse to exist with a mountain blocking my path to happiness.  My epigenetic battle has just begun.

Judge or Jury?

I think you CAN judge a book by it’s cover. Isn’t that the point of the cover? The declaration that you CAN’T judge a book by it’s cover has always been a confusing one for me. We all have a story to tell and our covers reveal to the world exactly what we want others to judge us by. The way we decorate, or not decorate, ourselves each morning as we leave the house and go out into the world speaks volumes about who we are and even where we are going.

When we cross the line from judge to judgement is where we fall into peril. Is it natural to form opinions and judgements about others within the committee that lives in your head? Whether your thoughts and opinions about others are positive or negative is your own business, but be warned: The way you perceive and judge others may have more to do with yourself. How often do we use that same judgement on ourselves? How fair and impartial are you on yourself compared to how you judge others?

I can be pretty hard on myself. Why can’t I step on the scale and simply record a number in my head without the inner monologue about baby weight and not enough “me” time to work on it? Why do I even need to step on the scale at all? No reason really, other than to set the tone of my day: winning or defeated? Depends on the number. But, in the end, that’s all in my head. THAT is self-judgement and it isn’t making me happy.

Letting yourself be prisoner to harsh self-judgement is like being trapped under something heavy. What is gained through constantly being your worst critic and how do we learn this behavior? More importantly, how do we un-learn it. I’m digging deep. Then I’m digging deeper. I want to finally break through to my inner self and reveal the root of all this guilt and negative self-judgement. Now that I’ve picked up the pace and started to muster the courage to go deep, it feels like I’ve gone from a walk to a run. I pay more attention to my initial reaction to a situation instead of dismiss it and move on. I’m becoming an observer of how hard I can be on myself, and others, and I don’t like it. If I had a friend that was as hard on me as I am on myself, I would be very hurt. I need to stop hurting myself and start showing myself a lot more love and patience. I have a choice to be my own best friend or my own worst enemy.

It’s a lot more complicated to judge from the inside, but it’s easy to find the good in people, and yourself, if you try. I do believe that karma is only a bitch if you are.

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