Do More of What Makes You Happy

Inspiration for today’s post came by way of a meme with these words:

“Do more of what makes you happy.”

It sounds like such a simple command. However I know from experience that adding to my happiness by doing more of the things that I enjoy is not as easy as it sounds.

Do More of What Makes You Happy

What is Happiness?

Being happy is more than having a positive mindset or a Pollyanna attitude. The word origin, from Middle English hap and y, literally means lucky implying good fortune contributes to being happy.

Happiness is a state of well being that encompasses living a good life, one with a sense of purpose and deep satisfaction. Being happy can include strong, high frequency emotions such as joy, love, amusement, gratification and hope.

Psychology Today wrote:

“Research suggests that happiness can improve physical health. Feelings of positivity and contentment seem to benefit cardiovascular health, the immune system, inflammation levels, and blood pressure, among other things. Happiness has even been linked to a longer lifespan—providing more years to continue striving for fulfillment.

Those are powerful reasons to cultivate happiness. So why does being happy seem to be such an elusive state for many people? To do more of what makes us happy, we have to know our own particular brand of happy.

Do More of What Makes You Happy

In Pursuit of Happiness

We have a tendency to put the happiness of others ahead of our own, because we fear doing otherwise is selfish. Ignoring our own state of well being not only harms us, it ultimately doesn’t make others happy either. Not really.

There are times when it’s important to put the needs of another ahead of our own. Parents often make sacrifices for their kids to ensure their wellbeing. However, to ignore our own happiness, thinking we are benefitting someone else, skews perspective and creates bitterness.

In reality, I can’t “make” someone else happy nor can another create happiness in me. We are each responsible for our own state of joy and wellbeing. In fact, one of the best things I can do, to encourage another, is to live, really live, in happiness. Being happy gives other people permission and freedom to be happy too.

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, points out another important truth. If we pretend to be other than who we really are, in an attempt to make others happy, then our choices will lead us away from our happiness.

Do More of What Makes You Happy

What Makes Me Happy

Once we understand that happiness is an inside job and we are responsible for creating that state, we can focus on doing more of the things we enjoy. Regularly indulging in small pleasures, trying new experiences, going on adventures and being with people we love increase our joy.

I’ve learned, during my life’s journey, to accept responsibility for my own happiness. Cultivating my joy becomes a matter of doing more of what makes me happy.

Currently my list of happy-inducing activities includes:

• being creative – writing, drawing, creating vignettes, repurposing items, coloring

• gardening and being in nature

• spending time with family and friends

• spending time in solitude and reflection

• learning new things, trying new experiences

• traveling

• watching movies and listening to music

• daily ongoing conversations with the divine

• living in optimal health and wellbeing

• afternoon tea time

This is my unique list. I make sure that I practice some of these activities everyday. As I shift and grow, my list shifts as well. I become aware of what I need to do more of…and do it…not because I have to but because I want to.

Do More of What Makes You Happy

What Makes You Happy

Your list of what makes you happy will look different from mine. And it should. What makes you happy will differ from what makes me or your best friend or your spouse or anyone else happy.

What brings you joy? Which activities make you smile, brighten your day or create anticipation? Do more of those things. Everyday.

And if you don’t know what brings you joy and contributes to your happiness, start there. Fear can block the path to happiness. Do you fear that pursuing your happiness lessens someone else’s? Have you been shamed or ridiculed for doing things that are meaningful to you?

Work through the blocks, clear old energy, focus on who you are right now and make a list of what you would love to do. And begin to do more of what makes you happy.

Continually feeding happiness feeds the heart and soul as well. You…and me…being happy are beautiful gifts to offer to the world.

Do More of What Makes You Happy

Better an Oops Than a What If

Tonight’s Sunday Short, which is very brief indeed, was inspired by a few words.

“Better an oops than a what if.”

Those simple words, that I almost passed by without noticing, triggered an avalanche of thoughts.

Better an Oops Than a What If

Better an Oops

Thinking about living without regrets, which is my response to preferring oops over what if, I came up with this rapidly scribbled list.

BETTER…

…an embarrassed laugh than a sigh of resignation.

…trying and failing than never trying at all.

…taking a risk than staying safe.

…living large than playing small.

…doing something while afraid, rather than being afraid and doing nothing.

…stumbling over the right words than not speaking at all.

…to get lost while adventuring than lose the opportunity to explore.

…to love with all my heart than protect my heart and not love at all.

…to create an imperfect reality than live a perfect lie.

…to lose someone for being unapologetically who I am, than to lose who I am to keep someone.

Than a What If

These truths are still firing in my brain, but you get the gist of my thoughts. I am so determined to live a life without regrets, free from the soul damaging “what ifs”. The rapid fire pop, pop, pop of these sayings bouncing into my consciousness shows me how much my life has shifted away from the carefully chosen persona that I used to hide behind.

I’d love to include more Better… statements to the list above. Play along and add any that pop into your head, in the comments!

Better an Oops Than a What If

Pierced by Beauty

I love rainy Sundays. The falling rain curtains the house, shutting away the world and encouraging me to stay indoors and rest or participate in light, enjoyable activities. Several times today, the words of Simone Weil came to me.

“There are only two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction.”

I understand those words. My heart has been run clean through by both in my lifetime. I much prefer being undone by beauty. For today’s Sunday Short, I chose to share some of the beautiful arrows that have pierced my heart, by way of photos.

Pierced by Beauty

My heart is pierced by the beauty of …

Nature

Pierced by Beauty

Water

Pierced by Beauty

The Garden

Pierced by Beauty

My Family

Pierced by Beauty

Venice, Italy

Pierced by Beauty

My Beloved Scotland

Pierced by Beauty

Beauty Surrounds Me

The photos above are just a sampling of the beauty that moves me to my core. In truth, if I am open and aware, with eyes to see, I can be pierced daily by the beauty found in a sunrise, a stranger’s smile, a gorgeous fox running through a field, piles of fresh fruit, autumn leaves quivering on a tree, or a silver moon high in the night sky.

I am grateful for beauty’s ability to find the heart no matter how protected it may be. Even the most barricaded heart cannot withstand the sharp, sweet agony of great beauty. Nature, art, humanity, animals, architecture, candlelight all soften us and expand us so that we may then receive, and give, joy, hope, compassion and love.

Taking in beauty allows me to know I am enough. I’ve done enough. I can breathe it in and sit quietly with it, in deep appreciation. Beauty nurtures me and sustains me and leads me onward.

Pierced by Beauty

The Golden Light of Autumn

The day was gray and overcast. However, far from being depressing, the grayness provided an effective contrast for the burgeoning colors and golden light of autumn.

I felt inspired to capture those golden tones by lighting candles throughout the house and on the deck. Not only did the glow from candles warm my home and welcome in autumn, they created their own pools of gold, reminding me of the importance of being Light in the darkness.

The Golden Light of Autumn

Golden Autumn Throughout the House

This Sunday Short is captured through the power of photos, accompanied by some of my favorite quotes about this season.

The Golden Light of Autumn

“Turn your face to the Light, and the shadows fall behind you.” Unknown

The Golden Light of Autumn

“Know what sparks the light in you. Then use that light to illuminate the world.” Oprah

The Golden Light of Autumn

“There will always be a spiritual light that beckons to us, giving us the hope of rescue and relief.” L. Whitney Clayton

The Golden Light of Autumn

“I am struck by the simplicity of light in the atmosphere of autumn, as if the earth absorbed none, and out of this profusion of dazzling light came the autumnal tints.” Henry David Thoreau

The Golden Light of Autumn

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl

Golden Light

Before the light faded from the autumn sky, I slipped outside. The rust and gold colored tassels adorning the ornamental grasses in the garden stirred in the breeze. There was a ripple of energy in the garden, born by the wind but independent from it.

The energy carried the stories of plants nodding off to sleep, after a time of great growth, and falling leaves, and the promise of long nights of rest and contemplation. Autumn marks the beginning of a time of harvesting what we have created and of nourishing and replenishing ourselves.

How appropriate are the colors of fall, to warm our souls and our nights. How necessary the golden light of autumn to illuminate our way through winter’s darkness, until spring makes all things new.

The Golden Light of Autumn

Oklahoma Scotfest 2018

My Scottish blood got to sing today, and rejoice in the soulful sound of bagpipes, in neighboring Oklahoma. Greg and I joined my sisters, nieces, nephews and their children at the Oklahoma Scotfest 2018, in Broken Arrow.

OK Scotfest 2018

OK Scotfest

This annual event, which draws more than 25,000 participants, is a celebration of Celtic heritage, music and history. The festival features Scottish clans, set up in booths, athletic competitions, drum and pipe bands, Scottish and American food, and vendors selling a variety of Scottish wares. Traditional folk music as well as Scotrock is performed throughout the three days of the event, in stages set up in tents.

For the first time my Scottish clan, the Maitland Clan, set up a booth. My family and I had the pleasure of meeting another clan member, Annette. We enjoyed chatting and getting to know her.

OK Scotfest 2018

Photos from Scotfest

Here are highlights from the fun day:

OK Scotfest 2018The clan tartans on display.

OK Scotfest 2018Doing genealogy research, Greg has discovered a Scottish connection to the Buchanan Clan.

OK Scotfest 2018We enjoyed watching border collies compete to herd sheep. The dogs respond to whistled commands from their owners.

OK Scotfest 2018Look at these cuties! Weston and Lola arrived in kilts.

OK Scotfest 2018These handsome boys purchased their kilts at the event. Later Ethan and Kaleb wore their kilts to a Cub Scouts meeting and used the experience as a teaching opportunity to explain what a kilt is.

OK Scotfest 2018Athletes from around the world competed in Highland games.

OK Scotfest 2018Pipers and drummers preparing to perform. I absolutely love the sound of bagpipes.

OK Scotfest 2018The band Wicked Tinkers performs in the main tent.

Scotfest Opportunities

The festival provided wonderful opportunities to step into Scottish culture, in the middle of the US, and learn more about my heritage. It was especially fun to share the day with family and make new friends.

I loved the busy and rowdy atmosphere, the many colorful tartans on display, and the ever present wail of bagpipes. That sound stirs a deep response in my soul and calls to me. It is an invitation to return home, to Scotland.

Soon, I whisper. Soon.

OK Scotfest 2018

Never Settle

Never settle. Not the Sunday Short I intended to write today. That post was earmarked for another day. I worked instead on a different piece, long after I knew I was headed in the wrong direction.

As often happens when I go astray, I am gently and unmistakably guided back onto the right path.

Never Settle

My daughter Elissa recently sent me the inspiration for today’s post. It resonated with me deeply.

Never Settle

There are subtle variations that define the word settle. Settle down, settle up, settle in, get settled, settle on, settle for…all convey slightly different meanings. When we settle for something, as implied in the meme above, the meaning is to accept or agree to something that one considers to be less than satisfactory, less than desirable.

The counterpoint to settling is to be brave. Bravery requires courage and the willingness to face fears and overcome challenges to get what one truly wants. The root word for brave reveals that boldness and an untamed savageness are at the very heart of bravery.

I understand that. I’ve settled before, in my life, and I’ve bravely decided not to at other times. My truest self is always uncovered and called forth when I refuse to settle. As I am making some shifts in my journey, now, these words come as an excellent reminder of what is at stake.

Never Settle

This second quote that I saw confirmed that I was back on track this evening as I wrote. These words reinforce the need for courage and bravery, especially when hitting a reset button in life. I’ve started over several times as I have journeyed, most recently two years ago when my eating habits were completely overhauled. Starting over in any area of life requires the deepest of self love and the strongest of desires.

It also provides an opportunity…to not settle, to not give up or give in, to go where the heart is leading, no matter what others may say or what society may dictate.

As I watched a movie, my thoughts led me away from the earlier half written piece, and back to bravery, courage and never, ever settling again. Twice, in a short space of time, one of the characters in the film said “settle”. And that settled it! I knew which direction to go as I started over…and wrote.

Brave girl. Never settle again. I won’t.

Never Settle

Searching for Happiness

Several times this week, a simply drawn cartoon popped up in my various social media feeds. One character asks another where she found the object she carries, because he has been searching everywhere for it.

I smiled every time I saw the cartoon, because of the object bearer’s response. My heart and soul resonated with an enthusiastic Yes!

This evening, as I considered topics for today’s blog post, the cartoon, which I mentally titled Searching for Happiness, made the list of possibilities. Just as I looked over my options, a song began to play. I don’t even know what song it was but the word happy caught my attention. I laughed, my decision made.

Searching for Happiness

What is Happiness?

That’s a big question that people have been trying to answer since ancient times. Philosophers, writers, poets, artists, actors, theologians, singers, psychologists and countless others have sought to define what happiness is.

What it is not is just another emotion, or a positive mindset, or a fat bank account. People agree that happinesses is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life imbued with meaning and purpose. However the road to happinesses is different for everyone, as is the exact meaning. Living my version of happy will look different from yours.

Searching for Happiness

Creating Happiness

What is essential is understanding that happiness cannot be supplied by an outside source. No one can “make” us happy or sustain that state of being for us. What a heavy burden to place on another person. Happiness is something we create for ourselves, and it is sometimes hard won.

The journey to bliss can involve pain, challenges and letting go of past hurts and the need to control people and outcomes. As we grow in awareness, we grow into a happiness that is not dependent on circumstances or what others are thinking, doing or saying.

My personal journey to happiness included facing and defeating fears, embracing my whole heart and accepting who I am, practicing gratitude, seeing the presence of the Divine in everything and recognizing that I am the only one who can create my happiness, which lets everyone else off the hook.

Searching for Happiness

Feeding Happiness

In my state of happiness, there are many ways that I contribute to my sense of well-being. I regularly feed my happiness by doing the things that bring me joy: spending time with family, laughing with grandkids, gardening, traveling, expressing my creativity, cultivating solitary time, watching movies, writing.

Taking care of my health contributes to my happiness, as do ongoing conversations with the Divine, nurturing my dreams and walking alongside other people as they journey. Can I be happy and still experience sadness, anger or disappointment. Yes! Do any of those erode my happiness? No! Happiness is core to my being. No matter what else is going on in my life at the moment, happiness is what I return to. Like those toys from the 1980s, the Weebles, I can wobble and tip off my center, but I won’t fall down and stay there.

Defining Happiness

As I often do, I looked up the etymology of the word happy. It comes from the old English word hap, in the 14th century, which meant “lucky”. The word worked its way into many cultures, however from the Greek to the Irish happy originally conveyed the meaning of being lucky and having good fortune.

Isn’t it interesting that some still perceive happiness as an elusive state of being, and that only the lucky few ever achieve it. How empowering it is to realize that searching for happiness begins with a solitary inward journey, and creating it is the uniquely personal experience called “living our best life”.

Searching for Happiness

Explore. Dream. Discover.

A Mark Twain quote inspired today’s Sunday Short. This American writer, humorist and entrepreneur definitely had a way with words. He understood what captured the human heart.

His words that so captured mine this week were these:

”Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

Explore Dream Discover

This speaks to me on so many levels. I already realize that it is more important to me to not have regrets and be disappointed than to stay comfortable, stay safe. Twenty years ago, I was just beginning to understand this.

I was at the place in my journey where I was ready to “throw off the bowlines”. Doing so required inner work that took years. Making the decision to face fears, embrace who I really was and find my voice was what finally allowed me to slip free from the knot that bound me.

Standing on the bow of my ship named LIFE, and looking ahead twenty years, I do not want to arrive there and wish that I had been braver, done more, followed my heart.

That’s not happening.

I know what I want, I know where I am headed, and I am learning how to get there. The Divine is my ship captain, trust and curiosity, creativity and desire are my traveling companions. I am leaning into the moment and I am compelled to continue on the journey because I want to see where the flow takes me.

There is safety in the harbor, safety from storms, from shipwreck, from countless perils. However, my eyes are on that distant horizon where the light meets the sea.

Explore Dream Discover

As I read Twain’s words again this afternoon, the song from the Disney film, Moana, came to mind. I have the song saved on my iPhone. It is on my playlist of inspirational songs. When I listen to How Far I’ll Go my heart beats faster and my eyes fill with tears, every…single…time. Why? Because it deeply stirs the desire in my heart.

I’ve been staring at the edge of the water
‘Long as I can remember, never really knowing why.
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water, no matter how hard I try.
Every turn I take, every trail I track
Every path I make, every road leads back
To the place I know, where I can not go, where I long to be.
See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me.
And no one knows, how far it goes
.
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me,
One day I’ll know. If I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go. 
I take the words Explore. Dream. Discover. as a command to GO. It’s a command I am so very willing to obey. And there’s no telling how far I’ll go.
Explore Dream Discover

Creating Space

Imagine a closet, with clothes hanging neatly in it. Periodically, more clothes are added…sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly. As more and more shirts and pants and jackets and dresses are hung in the closet, joining the outfits already there, space becomes limited. Eventually, there is no room for even one more item. The closet is so tightly packed that it’s impossible to tell what’s in there or to easily remove anything to wear.

Creating Space

Today’s Sunday Short was inspired by a snippet of a meme I saw. There’s more to it than I’m sharing today, however the part that impacted me was this:

Make space for the next version of you…

Like the closet described above, our lives, our inner and outer lives, can get so packed with “stuff”, physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically, that we reach a point where we just can’t add or do one more thing. When that happens, our growth becomes limited, stifled, halted. There’s no space for us to expand who we are.

Here is a short, and by no means complete, list of ways to make space, so the next versions of our beautiful selves can appear.

Declutter physical space

If it hasn’t been used, worn, read, looked at, or enjoyed in the last 6 – 12 months, get rid of it. The tried and true method of creating three piles…keep, toss, give away/sale…works. Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, suggests holding each item to see if it brings you joy. If it does, keep it and create a place for it. If it doesn’t, let it go. Clutter clogs up energy, and clogged energy affects us. When I start to avoid my creative studio, because I’ve allowed mail, or documents, or books to pile up, that’s my signal to clear the space, literally, so I can create in there again. Cleared space allows me to breathe and move freely.

Declutter emotional, mental and energetic space

This is just as important as clearing a room or the house. Our minds and souls get filled with regrets from the past, losses, wrongs done to us and by us, and people who walked with us for a time and no longer do. Our thoughts return to those memories and we fret over them, even though there’s nothing we can do to change them. This is inner work, but so necessary to free us up to grow. Let go of those things that are constraining you. Let go of all of it. Pray. Meditate. Cut energetic cords. Write. Draw. Allow the cleansing and healing of past wounds. Do whatever works for you to uncover and them move that old, old energy through the heart and out. Then turn around and stop looking into the past. There’s no growth possible when our attention is constantly focused behind us.

Experience new things

This is one of my favorite ways to create space. It’s easy to get stuck in the ruts of old beliefs, habits and patterns, limited ways of thinking, and feeling comfortable. Nothing has opened up my life like trying new things has. It doesn’t have to be daily, but at least once a week, do something you’ve never done before, or do something in a fresh way, visit new places, eat different foods, learn a skill or hobby you’ve always been interested. Life loves a body in motion, and as we open to new experiences, more opportunities will appear, to experience, and we grow to meet them and inhabit them.

The beautiful thing is, as we create space around us and within us, expansion is inevitable. Our lives shift. Change occurs. We grow. And suddenly we realize, we are not the same person we were a year ago, nor do we want to return to being who we once were. We don’t “fit” into that space anymore.

We have become the next version of ourselves, and it is marvelous. With great excitement we journey on, knowing the next version of ourselves is on its way.

Create Space

Seven Wonders

Today’s Sunday Short was inspired by a meme I saw on Instagram recently, by Power of Positivity. It listed the “Seven Wonders of the World”. These weren’t the monuments and structures created by mankind in ancient times. I was captivated by this meme because it listed the true wonders of the world…our abilities to sense and perceive and love while in this realm.

Seven Wonders

My creativity kicked in and I chose to create seven mini memes using each of the wonders with my own photos. The fun was in creating and also in looking through photos and finding the perfect representation of the wonder. The original meme that fueled my inspiration is posted at the end.

The Seven Wonders of the World

Seven Wonders The Grand Canal, Venice, Rome

Seven Wonders The lone piper, in The Highlands, Scotland. Hear the song he played HERE

Seven Wonders Creeping phlox in my backyard garden

Seven Wonders One of my veggie bowls.

Seven Wonders Elissa, Dayan and I with our feet in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Cinque Terre, Italy. We felt the sea wash over our feet and the enormity of our experience, a long awaited trip to Italy, wash through our hearts and souls.

Seven Wonders Dayan and I experiencing a moment of hilarity on the Italy trip.

Seven Wonders The love between these second cousins, London and Aubrey, is profound.

Can you feel the magnificence and the wonderment of these human abilities? How grateful I am to be able to experience these wonders on a daily basis. And how mindful I want to be that they truly are gifts.

Seven Wonders