Crazy Happy…or Just Crazy?

I’ve recently set a new intention – to pursue crazy happiness.

Note that I didn’t say “to be crazy happy” – I don’t want the denial or stress that can come with setting that particular intention. But the pursuit of it is on my mind.

Basically, I don’t ever want to stop pursuing a happier life. I don’t believe there is a final destination of happiness.

Does that make me crazy?

Do more of what makes you happy.

The “good enough” mindset

It’s easy to find yourself in a day-to-day, good-enough mindset. I know I do it.

The kitchen is clean enough, my writing is polished enough. The trouble comes in when there’s still work to do and the results actually change your life. I’m not going to feel more fulfilled as a person by rinsing off one more plate or finding one more spelling error.

But, if I’m only “happy enough”, then that means I could be happier.

When I was “happy enough”

I was “happy enough” just less than a year ago. When my husband and I lived in Indianapolis, we were stuck in a routine that was just getting us by. We weren’t crazy happy. We were happy enough.

We both were in an environment that just felt like we were passing time. That could really be a depressing story if that’s just where it ended.

But we made a change.

We prepared to move to Los Angeles for months (we had talked about it for years actually), but I couldn’t have prepared for the change it actually brought. It’s been such an adventure!

Los Angeles may not be our final destination, but we are happy here and happy that we decided to take action in our lives. We saw something that needed to change, and we changed it. We talk often and openly about ways we can increase our happiness.

It’s something I want to pursue for the rest of my life.

Am I crazy?

One of the biggest thoughts I’ve had since setting this intention is that maybe I’m just crazy. We’ve traditionally been surrounded by messages that encourage settling and not taking risks.

Maybe the pursuit of crazy happiness isn’t worth it. Maybe the effort I have to put in isn’t worth the happiness I get in return.

But then I think, isn’t any happiness worth working for? And isn’t there happiness even more so with the work?

How to pursue crazy happiness

I am not a happiness expert. But I am currently pursuing it, so I guess I have a little to say about my experience.

You don’t have to move across the country to pursue your own crazy happiness. It may just be a matter of driving a different way to work or taking a walk in the morning.

But what’s important is that you don’t stop and say “that’s it, this is the end. I can’t possibly get any happier than this.”

What’s important is that you’re open to happiness.

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A Poem Worth Sharing – Desiderata

Lake Michigan Tree

Sometimes a poem just hits you hard and you can’t stop going back to it. I find myself reading and re-reading this poem on days where I’m feeling a bit lost. I even carry a copy of it around in my planner.

It’s simple and warm and happy – everything you need in a poem when you’re in need of a pep talk. I originally found it here.

What poems or quotes do you find yourself returning to?

Desiderata

by Max Ehrmann, 1952

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

The Confident Minimalist

Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.

– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

There is an inextricable link between confidence and minimalism.

You don’t have to be a minimalist to be confident, although you do have to be confident to be a minimalist. But it’s not something that has to happen all at once. As I began to rid myself of four college years worth of junk, I started to feel more confident and comfortable with myself. Like a block of marble that’s slowly being reduced and shaped into its final form. I was getting there.

The confidence grew, and the conviction to live simply grew alongside it.

Then recently (and quite suddenly), my confidence left the building and went to wallow somewhere without me – leaving me frequently frustrated and complaining. I began cooking less, cleaning less and buying more. I started to feel that without the proper duvet cover I would somehow lose my place in society (I did get a duvet cover and it actually is wonderful, although the time I spent worrying – yes, worrying about a duvet cover – I will never get back).

I felt the need to start “keeping up with the Joneses” and looked at my unpolished fingernails and old couch with disdain. I bought a coffeemaker (which, okay, I don’t entirely regret) and a new dress or two. And believe it or not, the more I started to purchase and whine over things I didn’t have, the less I felt in control. I felt less like myself.

Simple living room

But a few good conversations about goals started getting me back on the right path. Introducing structure back into my life and beginning again on simplifying has cleared my head. A minimalist lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but I do know that this feeling of confidence and fulfillment has grown for me and my loved ones who have even slightly simplified their lives.

Owning a large and ever-growing quantity of stuff doesn’t necessarily make you confident – and it certainly doesn’t make you a minimalist. It’s owning only the right things you need to get by in your lifestyle at its simplest. There’s more “you” and less clutter to distract you from yourself and your goals.

As I’ve become more confident throughout the recent months, I’m seeing that I have less fear of public speaking, of one-on-one meetings with my manager or clients, of engaging strangers in a friendly conversation. And if there’s one thing I love doing, it’s being friendly. So never be afraid to get in touch with me socially. I love hearing from you all – your experiences bring me so much joy and motivation to move forward with confidence.

Hopefully you’ve seen the confidence grow in yourself as you’ve simplified as well. And, where there’s confidence, there’s happiness. Check out this great story by Joshua Fields Millburn meeting a man who was unapologetically himself, and share your experiences in the comments below.

My Path Towards Minimalism

Everyone has a reason behind why they’re removing unwanted distractions and possessions from their lives. I realized I haven’t yet shared that here on my blog, so I figured it’s about time to let you in on it.

The Three C’s

Minimalism, for me, is about clarity, control, and concentration. These things were either lacking or failing in my life a couple of years ago, and I realized I needed to change. A lot of it had to do with my massive intake of nothing other than coffee, coffee creamer, and spaghetti with marinara sauce. I wasn’t in a healthy place, and my mind was suffering. It took a few eye openers before I actually started treating myself better with a proper diet and exercise. I noticed improvement.

Then, about a year and a half ago, I started my moving spree. I lived in massive apartment with friends, then a small house (where the bedrooms were 8’x10′), then a small and ancient one bedroom apartment, and then I moved to Indianapolis where I am today. Each time I moved, I realized it was more difficult than the last time – it required toting several loads across town in my tiny car and my parent’s truck. I started feeling, in a weird way, like this stuff was wearing on my like my poor diet had been. And it was.

This was my 8'x10' bedroom where I kept most of my things - and my rabbits.

This was my 8’x10′ bedroom where I kept most of my things – and my rabbits.

I started getting to the point where my bags of clothing weighed several times what I do. Every drawer was a junk drawer, and was getting worse. I found no joy in cleaning or in getting rid of things I no longer needed. So, I started to make some changes.

For Clarity

When I began to realize how much I and others around me truly had, I felt a panic settling in. What if this stuff prevents me from doing what I want? What if I’m missing out right now because I can’t let it go?

I hadn’t been creative in months, and it was difficult for me to do so if things were cluttered or if I didn’t have an adequate workspace. If I had a desk, it was covered up with papers and old coffee mugs. If I had a chair, it was piled high with clean and dirty clothes that needed a home. My work was often frustrating and my mind was waving a white flag.

Once I started to get rid of things, I was able to see more clearly both figuratively and literally – my space became easier to clean and more visually pleasing. I felt lighter and was excited about sharing what I had discovered with others.

This was a common sight in my room before I left for college. It's been a tough habit to break.

This was a common sight in my room before I left for college. It’s been a tough habit to break.

For Control

Another one of my nasty habits is to let things go wild, although are well within my control. While I’ve got a pretty good game face when it comes to every day interaction, I often feel as if everything is spinning out of my grasp and running away without me. My mind, my time, my aspirations…

Since I’ve become more deliberate about what I buy, what I keep, and what I eliminate from my life, I’ve noticed a greater sense of control. There’s not too many physical possessions in my life anymore that shouldn’t be, and that’s been doing wonders for me. I still slip up once in a while but learning how to talk to myself about mistakes and opportunities moving forward has been one of my unique challenges/opportunities as I head down this path.

For Concentration

I think this one is my most prized reason for eliminating things I don’t need. I get distracted and frustrated easily, and when things are in my way or aren’t where they should be, I’m thrown off. The less interruption, the more I’m able to focus on what’s really important. Like relationships, taking time to be creative, and taking care of myself.

Even this blog has been a product of what I’ve been working towards for the past couple of years – it’s a way for me to practice the discipline of writing (heh, although I’ve been terrible about keeping up with posts lately) and expressing myself for the betterment of others. The more I work on myself, the more I have to share with you all. It’s a beautiful circle.

So, what’s your reason for making the switch? I’m curious to know where you all have come from, and where you want this journey to take you. What are your “three C’s”?

My Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

2014

I think most of us do it. 2014 is the year we finally fit working out, blogging, and crafting into our daily routines. It’s the year we really stick to our resolutions. Just like last year, and the year before.

This year, I’m taking a different angle on resolutions. I’m looking into the future at December 31st, 2014, and imagining my ideal self. My journey this year is to become that self.

I suppose what makes this different is that I’m putting the pressure on the whole year rather than just the beginning. I’m allowing for missteps, alternate routes, and leaving room for the possibility that my ideal self now might not be my ideal self in six months.

My challenge for myself this week is to sit down quietly and outline exactly what I want to see myself doing a year from now. Then, I’ll work backwards (like creating an outline before writing a paper). I already have some ideas about where I’d like to see myself, but I’m planning on keeping many of my goals to myself and close friends – lest I announce it on social media and begin to feel that I’ve already accomplished it.

For those of us that are resolution-challenged like me, I think viewing the whole idea of change through this lens is going to be helpful. Now, instead of berating myself for losing grip on my resolutions from January 1, I can simply realign myself to the values I began seeking. I now have questions to ask myself – would my ideal self do this? Would my ideal self prefer that I beat myself up over this, or that I stand up and move forward?

Stand up and move forward this year. Hold yourself accountable to future you, not past you.

This blog will continue to be an examination of my progress as well as hold a strong focus on simple living, and I’m so excited about what this year is going to bring. I hope your 2014 is off to a beautiful start, and cheers to a creative, productive new year.

Love This Pose.

I know, I know. I’m not supposed to be on Pinterest while I’m planning my wedding. But, I actually have needed to use it for work recently, and I was reintroduced to one of my greatest pet peeves on the site. You know what I’m talking about. Those pictures of beautiful people and families and newlyweds embracing in a strange how-did-they-do-that kind of way and the user-provided caption below:

Love this pose.

What bothers me so much about this? It’s the idea that these pinners are trying to mentally and digitally catalog these poses for their future photo opportunities because they want to look just like that. They want their hands to make perfect hearts and for their babies to look so happy that viewers can practically hear her giggles.

But by focusing on creating the perfect pose, they’re already taking away from future candid photo ops. They’re planning out how happy and flawless they should make themselves look rather than truly focusing on the joy of the event being photographed.

Love this pose on Pinterest

A quick search for “love this pose” on Pinterest and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Why are we really posing?

Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?

I actually had this idea brewing when Mike Burns from The Other Side of Complexity shared one of his older posts on Facebook titled “On Posing for Acceptance” While he wasn’t talking about the same style of posing, it made me think of what this means in an alternative context.

When we focus on poses, we’re putting ourselves in an unnatural state. Why do we do it? So that other people can look at us and view us as the ideal. It’s all about being seen instead of feeling or experiencing what’s going on around us (hence my general distaste for the concept of “selfies” as well).

Don’t get caught up in what the internet tells you. The internet will tell you to stand like this, walk like that, and while you’re at it change your hair color and get taller. Poses are not one-size-fits-all, and they certainly don’t look good on everyone. The only thing that looks good on everyone, unfailingly, is authenticity. (Especially if you’re a total goofball and make weird faces in every “serious” picture you try to take).

I’m not saying that you should never pause and smile for a camera. What I’m advising is that you stop collecting “poses” like they’re Pokemon (gotta catch em all) and start reveling in the moment.

Stop going through life by standing still in your favorite poses. Start moving forward, candidly and genuinely.

Don’t waste time looking for cameras.

What is your favorite photo of all time? Is it perfectly posed, or is it candid?

How to Like Mondays More

Say Yes to Mondays

I am about to be that person. You know, the one who loudly and cheerfully says “Good morning, sunshine!” to people who have yet to fully awake. The one who tells you it’s a good day even when it’s raining and all you want to do ever is go home and curl up in all the fluffiest, home-madiest blankets that you own.

I’m talking about Mondays. And how they can be–gasp–good?

While I’ve been gloomy and generally lackluster today, I think this post will be a good reminder to me to stop making Mondays so hard on myself.  Because honestly, today could have been better had I just chosen to view it a little differently. And that’s the thing about Mondays. They have such a bad rap that people love to perpetuate amongst friends, family, and coworkers.

How are you today?”

“It’s Monday. What can I say?”

“I feel you there. The weekend was too short. Always is.”

^ This is me. And this is you, too. (Maybe).

So let’s make it a goal next, week and the weeks after, to practice some Monday-improving moves that might just help us out of the gunk-filled rut that we like to call the first day of the week. In addition, these ideas don’t cost a dime. I’ve been reading lists where every other suggestion is akin to “treat yo’self” – they often include unhealthy eating or costly lattes.

While these things would be lovely to do every day, this list may help you and I start small and address the largest problem. And yes. I’m going to tuck these away myself and work on my own Mondays.

Having a Positive – and Happy – Monday

Get good sleep. This one is so simple, but it’s essential. No more of the mindset that we can milk our weekend by staying up super late on Sunday. It’s really only going to end poorly.

Reflect. Before you get to work on Monday, look back at your weekend. Pick a couple of things that you are proud of/excited about that you did over the weekend. Prepare one or two happy accomplishments/memories/events from the weekend and you’ll have a pleasant answer for anyone who asks you “How was your weekend?”

Be prepared. Be sure that you come to work and take some time to outline your priorities for the week. Identify larger projects that you need to make headway on and acknowledge anything that’s not urgent, but still needs attention. Do everything you can from feeling the Monday overwhelm that seems to hit me hard each week.

Call someone you love. I talk to my mother often and find that sharing news about our weekends puts me in a much more positive mindset. If you can’t make a call, grab a coworker and go for a walk or eat lunch together. Share happy vibes.

Coffee and music work, too. Put on your Friday playlist and make room for just one more little cup of coffee and trick your body into thinking it’s Friday. There’s nothing wrong with that! Right?

Ultimately, productivity and positivity are the goals on Monday. And they both start with what you think and what you say – no more “it’s Monday. Nothing good can come from that.” Find a balance, and start your week off a little better.

What do you do to make Mondays a little more bearable?