October 30, 2012

My Falliday

When I get stressed or overwhelmed, I'm not the type to dive into “my work.” Distractions and keeping busy aren't that effective for me. In fact, they make it harder. Instead, I need to be with the problem, take a break from as many things as I can, and fix whatever is not working. Usually, this doesn't entail a long, drawn out process, but only an acknowledgement of how I feel. For example, it pays to question why I'm in a bad mood. If I didn't get a restful sleep, I can find a moment to lie down for a rest during the day. If it's because I haven't eaten in awhile, I grab a snack or a make a meal. I'm giving my body what it needs instead of bulldozing through the day and ignoring my blues.

October brought many things to me, a good number of which were stressful and unpleasant. At first, it felt like the average stressors people deal with on any given day. They were such small things. I wasn't facing anything life-shattering. Soon the weight of it began to hit, and I knew it was time to slow down. I was in need of some quiet.

During this rest with my messy mind, so many fulfilling things were happening in my life. I embarked on a life-changing road trip, celebrated a very important anniversary, and bonded more deeply with J over shared vegan dinners. These are some of the many things I've been anxiously waiting to share on this blog, but my thoughts were dedicated elsewhere at the time. I decided not to pressure myself to write on the blog until I felt like I could devote myself fully to each post written.

It was a crazy month of questions, but I'm ready to move beyond “being with it”. The blog wasn't the only thing that had a quiet period. The rest of my life was similarly unstructured. Some cool things came out of this break – which I've dubbed “my falliday” – , but I didn't arrive at any conclusions. I think in the beginning I was expecting to arrive at a few, but then I realized that I wasn't looking for closure but growth. It's happening. Right here, right now.

And so I'm back now, and I've got some great posts lined up. Next up, stay tuned for a two-part, very special anniversary story. (Hint: It's not about how I fell in love with J, but does star a handsome little man.)

October 04, 2012

The True Source of Happiness

The fortune on my herbal teabag today said: “Happiness comes when you overcome the most impossible challenge.” I pondered what that meant and how it can be interpreted. At first, I was staunchly against this idea. One may consider the “most impossible challenge” to be conquering an illness. What if that “impossible challenge” never comes to fruition? Are we doomed to wallow in a sad, hopeless state for the rest of our lives because of unmet impossible challenges?

Do I think that achieving a perceived impossibility will bring happiness? No. Happiness is not hiding in some dark corner of an unreachable shelf. Happiness resides inside us at all times. We only have to choose to access it, to set aside the drudgeries of life and embrace it. There is no triumphant challenge that will give us happiness.

As quickly as I tossed the teabag out, I returned to the kitchen to retrieve it. I wanted to look at it once more and really think about the possibilities. I don't know what the author meant, but the intended meaning has finite value anyways. Meaning is fluid; it is shaped by individual perception. It matters little what the author had in mind when penning this quote. What matters is what I take from it.


And, what does “impossible” really mean? I don't think that impossibility exists. As the popular Situationist slogan of the 1960's declares, “Be realistic. Demand the impossible.” When you change your thinking and believe that anything is possible, miraculous things can occur. You may not always get what you want or what you are seeking, but what you receive will be monumental nonetheless. It may seem dreamy and idealistic, but practicality can be a real killjoy. I'd rather be a dreamer in action than a complacent person stuck in the cogs of the machine like Charlie Chaplin's iconic scene in Modern Times.

What is creating the idea of impossibility? We create it for ourselves. “I will never be a vegan. I love cheese too much.” “I'll never pass this math class. I just don't understand it.” “I can't play piano because my hands are too small.” “My disease is incurable. There's nothing I can do to fix my broken body.” We are limiting ourselves and our abilities with excuses. Just because we may not become the most perfect vegan/world-renowned physicist/present-day Chopin/health superstar doesn't mean that we should stop breaking down the boundaries we built for ourselves. Demand the impossible, and a whole world of so-called unreachable possibilities will manifest themselves.

Now that I've established my thoughts on the impossible, what about happiness? What is it and where can we get some?

So many people spend their lives being miserable. Sadness and anger are pervasive. Fears grow out of universal hurt. People are angry at their own misfortune and jealous of others for having opportunities. Many people self-medicate with otc's, food, booze, illicit substances, celebrity gossip, religion, consumerism, and more. Everyone, it seems, is looking for happiness. But, where could it have run off to? What master thief has pulled off the greatest heist known to mankind? We rob it from ourselves. 

"We all harbor what it takes to sculpt our reality. If only we can consciously step out of our own way! We are the only thing holding ourselves back from shining bright." -epicself.com 

Back to the fortune. What if “overcoming the most impossible challenge” means overcoming your own limitations, overcoming the idea that happiness needs to be sought out? I like that interpretation – a lot. Let go of anger, resentment, fear, and insecurity. Banish the lethargy and negative thought patterns. Smile. Be grateful. Play like you used to as a kid. Be happy. Give yourself a daily reminder (as I do) that it really is that easy.