Can You Always Be Positive?

True happiness isn’t forever, it might not even be for a while. It is found in the moments we least expect it, and sometimes hidden in the times we need it most. Happiness is fleeting.

When I say that happiness doesn’t last forever, I don’t mean that in a such a cynical way. I say that happiness is fleeting because the truth is, life happens and we don’t ever get to choose when. Mistakes are made, things are lost, and bonds are broken. And with these losses, there goes our expectation of infinite happiness right down the gutter.

Many of us feel unsatisfied with our current state of life because our ideas of happiness don’t coincide with reality. Our ideas of what real success and happiness look like are corrupted by social media and the fabrications we’re exposed to every day. We are lead to believe that happiness is perfection, and we convince ourselves that once we are finally happy that it will last forever.

This faulty perception of happiness only gets worse when we begin browsing through social media. I consistently come across a sea of lifestyle posts and ‘hacks’ on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram that I can’t take seriously. These influencers tell us that if we drink more water and get some sunlight each day, then we’ll grow into the person we want to be as if we are mere plants rather than complex, unique human beings. If it were as easy as drinking water and getting sunlight, then we would achieve perfect physical and mental health. For someone who has dealt with anxiety that interferes with everyday life, I understand that there’s a lot more to overcoming the downs of life than that and I’m sure almost everyone can agree.

The thing is, of course platforms like Instagram are going to be filled with picture perfect profiles. We all want the world to see the best version of our lives- even when it isn’t truthful. I can relate with the desire to create a positive image, and I do believe that platforms such as Instagram can be beneficial in that sense. When people land on my profile I want them to see the best version of myself.

The issue I have with this is the negative effect it has on all of us to be mislead by these perfect profiles, particularly the younger generations who are so invested in social media. When we scroll through all of these images, we’re seeing people living in a dream like state. These perfectly crafted profiles make us feel as though we’re missing out on the joy that all of these people we follow are experiencing, or seem to be experiencing.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people comparing themselves to popular influencers that promote this image, or commenting along the lines of “I wish I was you!”

So there we go again, reaching for something out there, for that pure joy we see on social media.

But it’s not real.

We can convince ourselves that we can control our lives the way that we control our social media profiles, picking and choosing which moments we want to live out.  

But again, that’s not possible. If that was the case, then we’d all be manic.

In real life we live out the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the sunshine and the rain. We don’t get to slap a sunset filter over it and say that we had a perfect day. Sometimes things just don’t go the way we want it to, and that’s okay. That’s life. And the sooner we begin embracing the unexpected rather than running away from it, the closer we are to real happiness.

I came across this quote while watching Euphoria the other day that perfectly sums up my point.

“I had a therapist once who said that these states will wax and wane.

Which gave my mother relief, because it meant that in the bad times, there would be good times.

But it also gave her anxiety because it meant that in the good times, there would be bad times.”

Although simple, this episode does an excellent job of explaining how clinical depression works for most individuals. Not only does this episode accurately portray how it feels to live with depression and anxiety, but it holds true to the nature of life for all of us.

It can be somewhat frightening to realize that we don’t always know when the next low point will be for us. But if everything always went the way we want it too, we simply wouldn’t be alive. Think of it as the ups and downs on a heart monitor. If you see a straight line, there’s no pulse. If you see it consistently going up, well, that’s not exactly healthy either.

So at this point you might be asking yourself, what’s the point? 

Why am I writing this? As I began to write this post I didn’t know exactly what direction I was headed, I just wanted to remain honest above anything else. Even though I try to keep my writing on the positive side, it’s not always so easy. If I only covered the positive topics then I would be missing out on exploring so many other subjects surrounding mental health that other people can relate to.

So back to the question I set out to answer, it’s a little complicated. While I don’t believe there is a way to always be positive, I do feel that it’s important to always hold on to the hope that things will get better.

If I could give anyone advice on how to be a more positive person, it’s to accept that you don’t always know what tomorrow will bring, but hold on to the hope that the hard times will pass and you will find yourself living out those happy moments again. Don’t let that fill you with fear, let it fill you with excitement.

Instead of viewing happiness as perfection, instead of trying to keep it forever, view it as moments. It’s true that happiness is fleeting; like every other emotion it comes and goes. Happiness is found in moments that turn into memories we can cherish.

So stop chasing perfection and start chasing those moments. It’s that rush you feel when you catch the perfect wave, or that moment when you break through the surface of the water after taking a daring leap. It’s the sense of pride you have when you can finally feel your diploma in your hands and the warmth that radiates from those who supported you along the way. It’s in those moments when you find yourself laughing until your chest aches, or that joy you feel when you reconnect with a friend for the first time in what felt like forever.

Even on your absolute worst days, happiness is there, in that smile that illuminates someone’s face when you do something kind. Happiness is everywhere, even in the bad, if you would just open your mind to it. 

It’s like catching a firefly in your hands, even in the darkest nights. There will be times where the nights feel dark and you think the light has ran out, but it is still there, waiting to land on the palms of your hands again. And those moments, like fireflies, will come back to you when you least expect it.

Have Faith In Yourself Today

A simple reminder that confidence does not mean believing that you are perfect, or thinking that you can go the rest of your life without making any mistakes. Confidence is never to be confused by arrogance.

Confidence is having faith in yourself, knowing you have the power to make your own choices each day. Likewise, it means having the strength to forgive yourself even when you make mistakes, because you know you are capable of growing and becoming a better person than you were yesterday.

Don’t let the word “confidence” intimidate you any longer.

There’s no better way to build you own confidence than to place trust yourself in every step you take.

Have some faith in yourself today.

xx

An Honest Review: “The Voice Of Knowledge” by Don Miguel Ruiz

I caved. I’ll admit it.

I finally read the infamous series I heard so much about.

My family told me to read it, every lifestyle blogger alive told me to read it, my dog told me to read it, even my my neighbor yelled over the fence, “You have to read this book!!”

I may be exaggerating a bit- but the point is, I heard a lot about the series before I finally picked it up for myself. For some reason, my very stubborn personality works in strange ways. Sometimes the more I hear about a book, the less I want to read it.

Despite this, the main reason I was so reluctant to read it was because it’s common for the reputation to precede books in this genre, and I couldn’t help but convince myself that this would be the case.

When I got stuck on a five hour flight I decided I would give it a chance, and to my surprise I couldn’t put it down. I was pleased to discover that The Voice Of Knowledge lives up to all of the praise.

After reading it thoroughly, I felt enlightened and refreshed with a more positive perspective on life. On some days when I’m feeling particularly stressed or negative, I find myself reaching for the book again.

Reading The Voice Of Knowledge took me on a walk down memory lane, reminiscing over the joy I experienced as a child before I let the the opinions of others affect my self image.

Any young adult will thoroughly enjoy this book because I’m sure we can all relate to Don Miguel Ruiz’s experiences growing up in a fast paced world. As he mentions in the first book of the series, so many of us let the opinions of others define our worth.

At one point Ruiz remarks that you must read his book multiple times in order to catch some of the details you missed the first time, and this definitely holds true. Depending on what your current situation is, you can apply lessons learned in the book to your own life.

Ruiz’s work in The Voice Of Knowledge stands out to me for his ability to take such a complex topic, finding inner peace, and breaking it down into a way that any reader can understand. Ruiz draws inspiration from toltec wisdom and applies it to the modern world.

There is a certain simplicity to the book that makes the message even more powerful. Ruiz stands by the “one simple truth”, inspiring readers to stay their most authentic selves. Ruiz motivates readers by telling them to take control of their own happiness again and embrace every little thing that makes them different.

Anyone who reads the first book of this series will take away so much knowledge, and get a step closer to a peaceful mind.

Now if you haven’t read the book yet- I’m adding myself to the list of people who recommend it.

xx

Thank you for reading as always. Have you read any of Ruiz’s work? Let me know in the comments!

Changing The Way You Define Happiness

What does it mean for you to be happy?

For many of us, happiness is something we chase every day of our lives. Our own definitions of happiness are described by a list of achievements and assets we desire to call our own, and even after we reach these goals, the list seems to reach beyond infinity.

It means having the ideal body, obtained by endless hours of pushing ourselves to the limit in the gym, followed by scrutinizing our bodies in the mirror until we find something new to ‘fix’.

It means creating the perfect facade in our online profiles to convince our family and friends that we are living our absolute best lives. Sometimes we do this by posting pictures from last years spring break with the biggest smiles on our faces, or by flaunting how insanely in love we are with our significant other.

It means landing our dream jobs, often because they have higher salaries, and the feeling we get when we can finally say “Look, I made it!”.

We tell ourselves that it will not hurt to chase these goals and successes, certain that once we reach the next step we will finally be happy and content with ourselves. Just one more pound, just one more time, just one more day spent doing something we don’t want to do in hopes of creating a better future. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with pursuing any of these goals- in fact, a great sense of pride can be accomplished in working towards a better version of ourselves. This drive to better ourselves is what we need to keep ourselves moving.

The problem is that in constantly finding things to change about ourselves, our definition of happiness becomes perfection. By thinking that what we have in the moment is never enough, we are condition ourselves to think that we can never be happy in the present moment.

This is when it becomes necessary to draw the line between maintaining a healthy amount of motivation and chasing an unrealistic state of perfection. Because obsession with the distant future plants a seed in our mind that is difficult to uproot. It leaves us in a constant state of unease, trapped by the belief that we can never be happy by simply loving ourselves and our lives for the way we are now.

Sometimes it takes stepping back and assessing our current situation to realize what is worth pursuing, and why exactly we want to pursue these goals. Are we seeking change because of an intrinsic motives, or extrinsic motives? In other words, is it because it will bring us joy- or because we are seeking validation from others? Once we identify the true reasons we want to change, we can determine whether or not it will provide us with long lasting happiness.

The best way to find happiness is to stop associating it with perfection, and start associating it with peace of mind. The peace of mind that comes from knowing that it is okay for each of us to move at our own pace and choose the paths in life that we wish to take. Is is not until we learn to accept ourselves and our current condition, flaws and all, that we can finally be happy.

Why You Should Open Up About Your Mental Health

four person standing at top of grassy mountain Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com[/caption]

If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, bi-polar or other mood disorders it’s important that you know one thing: it’s much more common than you think. I know how just scary it is to go through this thinking that you are alone, and especially how overwhelming it can become when you feel as though no one will quite understand. I’m here to tell you that there are people out there who understand, and opening up about it to a close friend or family member can be life changing in many ways. Here’s why.

Communication Is Key

Telling your loved one’s what you are going through is vital if you wish for people to understand you and the reasoning behind your actions.

As someone who has dealt with this first hand, I know what it is like to let anxieties damage relationships with family and friends. Many of us tend to isolate ourselves from those we care about, convincing ourselves that they don’t want to be around us before we give them a chance. When a close friend of mine sensed that something was up, I decided that I should open up about my own anxiety before I let it get in the way of an important friendship. I explained that I’ve always dealt with anxiety and that lately it had reached a high.

Doing this allowed them to understand that I wasn’t pushing them away because I didn’t care about them- that it was actually the opposite. They understood that they hadn’t done anything wrong. That sometimes I might feel distant.

Telling someone you know you can trust means they know when to reach out to you when you need it the most. They’ll understand that sometimes you want their support even when you deny it. They’ll also grow to know when you need your space and that you have limitations that they should not push.

Sometimes We Need To Let It All Out

woman looking at sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Before I finally gathered the courage to tell a close friend what I had been going through I kept everything balled up inside. Every single anxiety inducing thought and worry was suppressed, leaving me feeling utterly hopeless. The longer I waited to tell someone the more built up. And for the longest time I had convinced myself that I shouldn’t trouble anyone with my worries. I thought that it wasn’t fair to burden others with my problems, that I could just push those negative thoughts and feelings and that it would be all right.

Keeping everything inside isn’t healthy, or will whatever you are dealing with will go away.

Something I learned from opening up about my problems is that talking about them might not fix it, but it may help bring some clarity  and release pent up feelings.

This is always up to you- some of us find it easier to resolve things on our own while others find comfort in seeking advice and sharing.

But what if they look at me differently?

I could lie and say that I am 100% comfortable discussing my experience with mental health and that writing this is easy. But I’m not going to because that is simply not the truth.

My biggest fear before telling those close to me was that they we treat me differently and see me as fragile or weak. Recently I discussed this with a close friend and I discovered something different. They told me that after I told them they were shocked that I was able to function so well. In fact, they said they felt proud knowing that I continued to put myself out there despite the fears holding me back. I was surprised by what my friends told me after I said this. They didn’t think that I was “weak” or “just paranoid” as I thought they would. They understood that my anxiety and depression didn’t define me. I was the same person I always had been- they just knew more about me.

What if you don’t feel ready, or you feel that your family/friends won’t be supportive?

In this situation the best thing you can do is encourage them to do a little research on mental illness- it is amazing how much someone’s perspective can change once they gain more knowledge on the topic. It’s absolutely okay if you want more time, just know that it’s never too late to reach out.

If all else fails and you still feel that they aren’t supportive, know that there is always someone out there who is. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted adult or to the many resources you can find online.

Don’t let your anxiety or depression convince you that you are not worthy of love and support. If there is anything you take from this let it be that you are always worth it and your health should remain your priority. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It’s up to you how you fight your battle and those who you wish to bring with you.

light sunset people water
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Stop comparing your success to others. If you are proud of yourself and what you have accomplished, then you are doing just fine.

Growing up in an age where everyone’s lives can be posted online with the click of a button, it is difficult to resist comparing ourselves to others. We are constantly reminded of what other people are up to and there seems to be this secret contest of who will become the best. We see young models, celebrities, and other images of success every time go online- this leaves us with a constant feeling of resent when we look back at our own lives, and realize that maybe we can be doing more with ourselves.

What we must not forget is that, some people do have the luxury of being born into wealth, or with more opportunities and resources than others. On the other hand, some people work their way towards wealth, fame, or whatever it may be, and we find ourselves wishing we were at the same level of progress as them. But we can not get caught in the toxic mindset of comparing ourselves to others. we should always remind ourselves that reaching our goals, however big or small they may be, is a journey. Some of the best things take time, and if that means you will encounter a few setbacks along the way, face them with confidence. Face any bumps in the road with your head held high, knowing you will find a way to overcome them.

It is also important to remember that it is okay to have different goals as others! Some people dream of becoming surgeons, or lawyers, or even an actor- some of us dream of a simple lifestyle. It does not matter which path you choose, as long as it leaves you feeling fulfilled and content with your life. It is time that we stop measuring our success and accomplishments with one another. We should all read a point in our lives when we realize that we are enough. The value of our achievements is not determined by what others believe is right- it is determined by what we want for ourselves, and the strength it took for us to get there.

For those of you who have struggled to make it, I hope you know that you are strong. If you have been working hard to better yourself and reach your goals, be proud of yourself. Give yourself the credit you deserve.