Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stop Getting in the Way of Your Own Happiness

Source: via Rachel on Pinterest

I have made big changes to my life these past few months that have brought me back to a place where I can marvel over what each day will bring and lately I look to the future with wide eyed wonder. This whole summer I have seen the beauty of my City of Angels with fresh eyes and have a new found appreciation for the people who wander its streets every day. Every face has a story and every street has been witness to a kiss, a tear or an embrace that has marked some one's existence. Life can be mundane and routine and it is moments such as these that make us who we are and if we are lucky they transform us and bring us closer to becoming the people we were meant to be. If we are too busy worrying about the superfluous nuisances of  life we will cease to exist in the moment and before long we will stop appreciating the beauty that is all around us.

I am saying this to myself because I have difficulties enjoying the moment. It has always felt like living in the moment was a dangerous way to exist after all it was planning for the future that helped me survive the insanity that followed my parents divorce and the instability of my teens and early 20's. I always looked to a brighter future when things weren't great because at times it felt like it was the only way to get through the uncertainty of life. The problem is that I became stuck there in a mindset that can only look to the future, and while hope is definitely what sustained me in difficult time it also made me unable to enjoy the present. I know im not the only one that suffers from this mentality, it plagues many of us. I call it the glass half empty problem, It goes something like this- "when I have that degree I will be happy," "when I buy that new gadget I will be happy," "when I get that promotion I will be happy." It took me a long time to accept that this is my life, LIKE RIGHT NOW! It's not starting tomorrow or when I lose 20 pounds.

Here are my tips to discovering bits of hapiness everyday:

1) Talk to Strangers- I know it goes against everything we were told when we were kids. But trust me every person you encounter has a story to tell, I just met a girl who visited Cancun and fell in love with the people and the place. She wasn't unhappy with her life here in the U.S but she had stopped enjoying herself and was in "the safety zone" with her job and in everything else. She saved up some many and moved to Cancun within a few months of visiting. She told me how in her new life everyday is an adventure and she feels more alive than she had in a long time. She took a leap of faith that inspired me to make sure that I find something to be amazed by everyday even within the boundaries of my hometown. On the plus side she also fell in love with a local four months after arriving there! People want to share their story you just have to ask them about it and you will be surprised at what you can learn from them and how it can inspire your own life. On the flip side, people want to hear what you have to say too, when is the last time you spoke to a new person? Made a new friend or even re-connected with an old one?

2) Look Around You- Yeah, that means look away from your phone and up at the sky, a tree, a sunset whatever. It sounds stupid but once you start to think about it you realize how we hardly every do that.  I think I went years without appreciating the peacefulness of a summer night. Even in the grand city that is LA we can find bits of nature that help us connect with the part of our humanity that can get lost in the urban jungle. I sat on a swing set in a park a few weeks ago and looked up at the trees and the few stars that the pollution allows to come through and had the most amazing time sitting there contemplating where I have been and for the first time ever appreciating not having a flow chart to map where i'm going next.

3) See the World Through the Eyes of Another- If you're as lucky as I am you already have special people in your life that can help you appreciate things that you may not notice on your own. It can be music, it can be a piece of art, or even a funny commercial. Observe the passions of others and you may find beauty in unexpected places. I was in West Hollywood recently and caught a glimpse of this magnficient mural by Shepard Fairey.

You've seen his work as he is the creative force behind the now widely know Barack Obama "HOPE" poster. but then thanks to the person I was with I actually went up close and actually took a moment to appreciate it and noticed the slight imperfections that made the piece authentic and I couldn't help but admire the countless hours that are put into a piece of this magnitude. My ephiphany for that moment was that even the most beautiful things have slight flaws that dont necessarily make them any less amazing but they do make them unique.

4) Find "Your Thing"- Writing has helped me see the world through different eyes and to look within to answer the questions that at first I thought would be answered by external sources. When I first started writing I was overly concerned with my audience and my writing had to have a purpose and my lack of posts this summer is a testament to said insecurity. I now realize that writing for me is much more selfish pursuit as it allows me to make sense of my thoughts and actions. I have since started journaling much more often and writing down thoughts or a even a music lyric that touches me in a particular way. We aren't all writers but we all have "our outlet." I encourage you to find yours and it will change your life.

Lets all stop waiting for our lives to begin and stop getting in the way of our own hapiness. I am trying something new lately, I am letting my heart lead the way.
Wish me Luck!

Betsy Aimee