Four Simple Steps to a Happier You

I recently read an article that said that positive thinking is BS.

I agree. Positive thinking IS bull unless there are actions that follow the thoughts. Unless the thinking gives way to planning, goal setting, and doing. In my last post, Healthy For Life: How Not to Die, I made the commitment to go start a positive change immediately in my diet and my exercise routine.  In agreement with the idea that positive thinking is bull, same as positive intent, I decided that my actions should match my words and have gotten up for three days straight to run 3.31 miles around my neighborhood, practice yoga & eaten a whole food diet. My commitment to my physical and mental health has taken precedent and the excuses that I previously had no longer exist. If there is a will, there is a way. You do it, or find an excuse not to, I truly believe it is that simple. I also believe that this attitude is thanks to my upbringing and the safety I felt from the constant reassurance of my family and the safety net they have always offered me. I might have been through many tough moments but I never felt alone. I was always cheered on even when my choices seemed a bit odd.

I have led a yo-yo lifestyle with health, thus I am not dismissing that sometimes life can give us a rattle and activities and practices we commit to doing are flushed down the drain, but it is important to take responsibility for our authorship in letting that happen, and understand that we have the option to transform those moments into opportunities to become better versions of ourselves. Admittedly, there are mental diagnoses that make a huge impact in the way we process the world. I have no authority in the psychosocial or psychological fields, I just think there is value in having a conversation about the ways can impact the people around us and discussing simple ways that we can make each other’s lives better.

We all know that life is a series of ups and downs, but it is up to us keep our the pendulum of our actions and thoughts balanced, without swinging too hard to the to the hyper-positive or hyper-negative. I feel like finding a tribe or community can facilitate our being able to overcome setbacks. In the book “The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Healer, Teacher and Visionary”  Angeles Arrien, PhD., makes the compares shamanic people’s remedies to our most common ailments.

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.

When did you stop dancing?

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop being enchanted by stories?

When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul. Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.”

Perhaps the idea of dancing, singing, storytelling and silence doesn’t initially fit your needs but if you consider moments where you have found happiness, perhaps they can fit into one of those four categories.

Just yesterday, I went to dinner with five students. In the car ride there I was overwhelmed by the overpowering chatter and the screaming and shrieking and excitement- hey! it’s the end of the year, please don’t judge. I just wanted to do something nice with them before my last day as a Spanish teacher at KoSchool.

As we sat around the table and ordered horchata, hibiscus tea, and my wine 🙂 something beautiful happened; my impatience and frustration dissipated- it wasn’t the wine- it was that we told stories which lead to laughter, that we connected, that I realized how much I cared about each of those beautiful souls and how I would greatly miss them. By the time I drove the last two home I was in heaven. We started singing along to the radio and dancing! Laughter and more laughter came about. We took an hour to take a 10-minute drive, going through every street in the Barton Springs Neighborhood, stopping at random moments to see unexpected treasures. It was one of the best car rides of my year.

On my way home, I thought about how my students dance, sing, tell stories and contemplate in silence all the time with their friends, and sometimes, if I am lucky, with me.  Why don’t we do those things more? At some point, our life gets too complicated to sing daily, to dance in the kitchen, to tell stories and to be still in silence?  or is it that in adult life there is a more refined way to address the tenants previously presented? Maybe we can commit to doing them more, I am.

In exploring my own cup of happiness- which is mostly overflowing- I found these four recipes for success.

The art of letting go: I consider it subtitle for storytelling.

Write a letter: Writing a letter is a way of clearing what you need to say. It is also an action you are taking and not just thinking. We have over 60000 thoughts per day, by writing some of those down we can move on.

Write your story: You have the power to control your actions, why not enjoy going even farther with creativity and making yourself a superhero or a god/goddess.

Talk it out: I love my friends. I tell a few everything. I find comfort in them in sharing my story and them sharing theirs, in our being able to process life together and cry it out or laugh it out. I am lucky I have a beautiful tribe that I have created through many travels and relocations.

Breathing it all in love it all out: I consider it a subtitle for silence. If you can actively breathe your situation in, and actively exhale it and let it go, you will immediately star to relax and release. The breath allows your mind to focus on something other than the anger, once you get there you can decide it isn’t a benefit and leave it behind you all together. I think the exercise of silence can take many forms; yoga, swimming, meditating, communing with nature, or just sitting in silence in a tub relaxing after a long day.

Singing: I feel like this is self-explanatory and the reason it doesn’t happen more often is because people get embarrassed by showing vulnerability. Screaming along to your favorite song in your car makes you happy and is an amazing release! Singing with people can be even more moving! Check out the video below, total strangers connecting over music!

Dancing: The most important aspect of dancing is freedom, more so the freedom to release. In this way, it goes hand in hand with my practice of yoga. Being explorative with movement and your body allows you to be free. Here is a great example of how dancing can create a unique moment!

I am committing to embracing all of the above daily. No matter what my day is like I will sing in the car and leave my worries to the side, no matter how my day goes I will practice yoga or dance when I get home, no matter how my day goes I will reach out and listen to someone’s story.

Life is too short to dwell in any negative emotion too long. Let’s commit to making every day a beautiful day.


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