Friday, January 13, 2012

first and foremost from within

It is strange to watch your priorities and motivations rearranging themselves. I have been reading a lot of books lately that fit squarely into the "self-improvement" genre. I am not one to let others tell me how to live or how to think, and I am certainly not in need of someone to hold me up and point me in the right direction. But my curiosity regarding these novels and my great affinity for what they have to say has made me realize that I was searching for something, yearning for something I found lacking within myself.

One doesn't always know when they are unhappy, but in this case I was certain of it. I felt hopeless, alone, and overwhelmed both by my own ambitions and by what many would consider aggressive bad luck. Those who know me would describe me as amiable, quick to laugh, and full of energy. Those who know me best, also know that I suffer dark bouts of depression and uncertainty with greater frequency than I would have ever let the rest of the world see.

I was looking for a solution for my doubt and unhappiness, and turned my attention to the inspiring words of others. I picked up "Simple Abundance" by Sarah Ban Breathnach a little over a year ago from my sister's coffee table and read the day's entry. I had poured my heart out to my sister and wept just moments before and was seeking a distraction while she was busy with a task. I believe with a fair amount of skepticism in kismet and destiny, and I have been certain of few things in my life as much as I am certain that I was meant to read that entry in that very moment. Whatever power you believe in, be it God, a sentient universe, or karma... I was meant to read that page.

I borrowed the book from my sister and later acquired my own copy along with many of Sarah's other works. It is hard to describe the emotions I felt that day, as if a switch had been flipped in my core from off to on. Sarah didn't have the answer I was looking for, not all of it anyway, but she revealed the path to me. She opened my eyes to the inspiration and motivation that can be found in "self-help" section of the library. As with 'luck' and 'destiny', I read many of these books with a healthy dose of skepticism. Reading others' ideals on how to find contentment and personal worth allowed me to scrutinize how I viewed myself with a new light.

It was during this exploration of self, both on how I thought and on how I reacted to the world around me, that I discovered the source of much of my discontent. My own thought patterns and emotions were poison, bad habits given too much power through repetition. I was literally my own enemy. Happiness comes first and foremost from within in spite of what lies outside one's self. I have great bounty in my life, friends that care for deeply for me, family whom I adore, a safe home in which to live, clean water and air, plentiful and delicious foods, and a culture in which I could find all the answers I needed with a computer and a library card. I only had to open my eyes and witness what I had and realize that happiness was mine if I was willing to claim it.

I continue to read books directed at improving one's self and one's life, gleaning pieces of wisdom from every other page to incorporate into the major discovery I made. With each book and article I read, I find new ways in which to examine myself and my thoughts and new avenues to explore on my journey to self-appreciation and contentment. Meanwhile, the many things that seemed so important before have lost their power over me and new motivations have taken their place. Every move I make now is a positive step toward my ultimate goal of lasting and meaningful happiness.

Thanks, Sarah.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

laugh until you cry

Sometimes life sucks. You can sugar coat and silver line all you want, sometimes life just sucks. I can attest from personal experience that even the best of intentions are not always taken as they were intended, and even the most positive of attitudes can turn bitter at the flip of a switch. You frequently don't get what you want, and sometimes don't get what you need, and you will find times that you feel that the whole world is against you.

My remedy: laughter. You can complain that the old adage "laughter is the best medicine" is old and cliche, but you can't say it doesn't work. At least... not without trying it first. What never fails to make you laugh? What website, jokes, or videos always crack you up no matter how many times you view them? Have them on speed-dial. Have them set up so it would take only seconds to bring them up. When you are your most upset, most angry, most depressed... put on what makes you laugh. Apply liberally.

I have a folder on my harddrive labeled "Laugh, damnit", and it is full of screenshots of my favorite jokes, images, and cute cat pictures. I cycle through the folder with Windows Image Viewer until I'm chuckling. Then I get myself something I enjoy, like a chocolate shake or my kitty, and read more until I'm laughing so hard my sides hurt.

You'll be amazed how quickly your day can turn around if you give yourself just a few minutes to laugh until you cry.

Friday, January 6, 2012

a dream is a wish your heart makes

Something about that high, sweet, and inspiring song from Disney's Pinocchio always made me feel as though I could whisper my deepest desires into the endless night and the stars would carry it away into forever. A sigh, a tear, and a smile. Dreams, the great wishes of the heart, had finally been given a voice to a young and impressionable artist and writer. Needles to say, I instantly became a Disney fan, measuring my live by the melodic tones of so many classic fairytales breathed into life by the magical kingdom. I pined with Ariel, grieved with Simba, and danced with the mushrooms.

As a child I believed with all of my heart that Jiminy had it right, but somehow the message got lost somewhere between learning to solve for an unknown and discovering the trials of responsibility. It is so easy to forget how wise a pure spirit is, like that of a child. How simplicity can open the mind, heart, and soul. Twenty years later, I finally remember what I knew as a little girl.

You can whisper your heart's wishes into the sky and if you listen with all you are, you can hear the stars' reply.

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