As we head into the flurry of holiday activities, I think the word that comes to mind for me this year is relief. 2018 has just been a strange year.
I found love / I lost love
I made new friends / I clung tight existing ones
I wrote some books / Got a kickass new agent / Rewrote some books…
My oldest is getting more independent, and our mommy/son days are evolving / I’ve been getting more one-on-one time with my youngest
In other words, a lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same.
So what can I take from all of this? It’s just life, plain and simple.
But as I was working in the yard last week, I came across a straggly little snapdragon that had me thinking of another word to summarize the year: persist.
You see, I haven’t actually planted a snapdragon in this part of the yard for years. Though they’re my favorite flower (and I can’t help but squeeze each plant and go, “rawr, rawr, rawr” every time I see one) I’ve learned to let them go to seed. What comes up next year will be a surprise, their colors evolving into cool hybrid combinations. This year, I didn’t see any, and it bummed me out. Then all of a sudden, when I assumed the season was over, this little guy peeked its head out to say hello.
Sceneries change, emotions do their roller coast thing, but still we persist. It’s what we were made to do.
I attended the Indiana Women’s Conference last week in Indianapolis, and Dr. Catherine A. Sanderson gave an awesome talk on the Science of Happiness (she has a new book coming out soon, check it out here). Turns out, I’m one of the 50% who were born with a “glass-half full”, typically sunny disposition. (It also turns out that the other 50% aren’t big fans of my type LOL). Even so, not every day is all rainbows and butterflies for either group. As such, she offered 10 strategies for finding and maintaining happiness in your life. As we head into the holidays, which can be tough for many, I thought I’d share them with you:
- Change your Behavior. Get enough sleep, get regular exercise, spend more time outside, meditate. (Basically, do all the sh!t you keep meaning to do, but don’t.) 😉
- Find your match. This is intended for you both personally and professionally. Do what you love, be around the people you love.
- Read a book you love. As an author, this one definitely brought a smile to my face. If you need recommendations, shift your gaze a few centimeters to the right…lol.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Jot down things from your day that you’re grateful for in your life right now.
- Make a gratitude visit. Think of someone who’s inspired/mentored you in a major way. Write them a letter…then hand-deliver it. For them, there may be no greater gift than to know their impact on your life.
- Smile. Even when you’re not happy, smiles have been proven to decrease pain (and they’re contagious, you know. Sorry, that’s coming from my 50% group…)
- Perform random acts of kindness. Your choice, just do it.
- Spend money on the right things. You can’t take it with you, so spend on experiences, not things. Don’t go bankrupt doing it. 😉
- Avoid comparisons. Comparison is the thief of joy. Social media makes this all too easy…don’t fall into that trap.
- Build and maintain close relationships. This, per Dr. Sanderson, was the BEST predictor of happiness. Take the time, spend the energy, work through the conflict, learn to compromise.
Life’s highs and lows can be stressful. And we all know stress is a part of life. We can either let it exhaust and overwhelm us, or learn and grow from it. In other words, how we react to stress is up to us.
So persist. Don’t lose sight of the joy you want or have in your life.
You’ve got this.
Happy early holidays, everyone.