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Healthy Boundaries: Saying YES or NO to Making Plans This Weekend

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As an introvert, this could very well be my motto. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out and doing things. My social calendar was especially jam-packed from age thirteen to my early twenties. These days, not so much.

When I turned 22 or 23, I went from being a busy bee social butterfly – from always needing to be in the social “loop” – to pretty much being a hermit homebody. Maybe it was all those years of non-stop social stimulation catching up to me. Maybe my true introvert self had finally had enough.

Whatever the reason, I have a tendency to operate in extremes.

So when I initially stumbled across this graphic (via @thehavenly) earlier this week, I thought, “YES! Exactly! Say no to plans this weekend! Self-care! Woohoo!”

NATURALLY as a result, I now have four separate plans this weekend, and at least three confirmed plans for next week. Say what?!

My inner introvert is quaking.

While I will likely need to decompress with a good amount of downtime afterward, one thing that really surprised me this week was the realization that I’ve actually missed having regular and authentic human connection. Yes. What a shock.

The key to regular and authentic human connection means saying yes to the things that genuinely bring me fulfillment and joy. That begins with knowing what I value, my boundaries, the kind of person I want to be, and the kind of life I want to live.

A few years ago, a trending message in the self-help world was saying “yes”! Saying yes to new opportunities, invitations, experiences, etc. These days, a lot of the conversation I see and hear is focused on saying “no”. In a society that seems to go back and forth on the subject, YOUR ability to discern when to say “yes” or “no” will be your key to happiness.

Depending on the day and context, it may serve your happiness and wellbeing to say yes to some things; other days, it may be prudent to your wellbeing and self-care to say no. This includes learning how to assert boundaries with “yes, and/but” or “no, and/but”.

When you accept an invitation, remember you get to say when, where and for how long. Only you know what it is you truly need, others may have different needs and can’t read your mind, so don’t be afraid to express those needs.

For example, on Monday, I will be going to a rock show with a new friend. The show goes from 7pm to midnight at a popular venue downtown. With my growing hours of unpaid sleep debt, and an already jam-packed weekend, my inner introvert doth protest. But here’s the thing:

  1. I want to get to know my new friend better
  2. I love music and haven’t been out to a show in a long time
  3. I have the opportunity to go to this show for free
  4. I want to let my hair loose and have some fun!

I weighed the pros and cons, and the rewards I would receive (social connection, inspiration, enjoying great music) were well worth the cost (a few extra hours of sleep and downtime). AND I know the cost is not something to be taken lightly. How I’m taking responsibility for this is by:

  • Getting clear on what I need to feel healthy, happy and well next week
  • Asserting my “Yes, and/but” boundaries
  • Scheduling in time for very intentional downtime and regeneration between plans over the weekend, prior to going out on Monday, AND on Tuesday

My “Yes, and/but” to my friend was this… Yes! I will come, AND/BUT I will probably leave around 9 or 930 because I need to catch up on sleep. Does that work for you?

Admittedly, the response I got surprised even me. Not only was my friend okay with the boundary I was setting, he was so relaxed and nice about it! Needless to say, I think our friendship is going to develop just fine.

Are you grounded in what your mind and body needs? What are you saying yes or no to this weekend?

#WhereHappinessBegins
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_

None of us are entitled to our dreams, and we ALL have the right to pursue them.

I regularly find myself laying in bed, scrolling through Instagram, being flooded with thoughts of, “What is the point of blogging, or sharing anything online? Why do I even bother? I don’t stand a chance!”

Whatever your “thing” is, whether it’s photography, poetry, self-development, fitness, cooking/food, travel, beauty, music, business, female empowerment, dogs, cats – or any of the hundreds of other categories and specific niches under said categories – there are likely already hundreds of thousands of other people sharing and passionate about the exact same thing.

With that mindset, it can be pretty disheartening to attempt, well… anything in life.

*distant cries of all the projects I’ve started and stopped in my adult life*

But wait a minute. Why am I even trying to “keep up” with the rest of the internet?? And what is it that I don’t think I stand a chance in exactly? Being Instagram famous? Blogger famous? I mean, Seriously? Is this really what I’ve come to?

Here’s the thing. Pre-social media, in the days of the internet dial-up, I’ve been creative writing since I was 7-years-old, and journalling/blogging since I was 10 or 11. I read, wrote, drew, performed, doodled, documented, photographed. From a young age, I’ve been awestruck and inspired by art & artists, innovation & problem-solving, design, philosophy, and the many intricate details of human life and behaviour. I’ve always found different ways to express my inner world and tell stories.

My point is, when you are clear on the things you’re authentically passionate about and why, none of that other stuff matters. It doesn’t matter how many likes or followers you get. It doesn’t matter whether your passion turns into a full-fledged career, or remains as a hobby. Although, I’ll admit that being seen and acknowledged is way more fun than not at all. And how fun would it be to get to “play” and create for a living?

(Pssst. As someone who is a full-time creative freelancer who gets to work from home every day, be careful what you wish for!)

 

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer. – Jim Carrey

I believe the act of creating alone should be enough to bring you fulfillment, with or without recognition. So here are a few questions I’ve asked myself:

If the internet did not exist, would I still be doing this, or its relevant equivalent? If the internet did not exist, would I still want to do this for a living, would it be a hobby, or would I be interested in something different?

What is it that I truly want, and think I’m going to achieve by pursuing this?

For example, in my teens and early twenties, I was certain I had to be an actor, or writer/author. What I realize now in my mid-late twenties is what I truly wanted and want is a platform where I’m free to express my thoughts and be creative; to provoke deeper feeling and thought in myself and others; to open conversations; to help others alleviate pain and suffering.

That desire isn’t attached to any specific thing, vocation, or “dream” I have for myself. Nor is it attached to a specific platform.

It is ESPECIALLY not attached to any number of likes, views, or followers.

We are all blessed to be living in an era where making an income through our hobbies and passions is more viable than ever. On the flip side, many of us forget that it is actually a privilege to be able to do so – especially for the younger generations for whom this way of life is all they’ve ever known.

None of us are entitled to our dreams, and we ALL have the right to pursue them.

What you have to share, create, do, or say does matter, and can make a difference.

My only interjection is that whatever you pursue, do it because you truly believe in what you’re doing and why. Not because you desire fame or recognition, or because everyone else is doing it and you’re scared of missing out.

#WhereHappinessBegins
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_

Trust that the path you’ve been taken in life is where you’re meant to be.

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Trust that the path you’ve been taken in life is where you’re meant to be.

I’ll be honest. Some days feel pretty repetitive and meaningless – this blog is, after all, a discovery of where happiness begins; why would there need to be a discovery if one was already at their desired destination?

It can be easy to fall into the melancholic trap of thinking, “Why this?

Why that?

What is the point of it all?

Who am I doing it for?

And my brain is right! Life can be repetitive and meaningless, if you so choose. Think of it this way: Life is essentially your personal vehicle on this Earth, and you are the GPS.

I love long drives (and walks) with nowhere to go, and nowhere to get to, just a good playlist in tow. There’s something meditative and lovely about simply being in life with no expectation or distraction.

 

You grow your best thoughts in silence, solitude, and meditation. When you relax and think deeply, you are giving your inmost powers their best opportunity to disclose themselves. — Grenville Kleiser

All of my best, most revelatory thoughts happen in moments of deep solitude and meditation. I think if someone told me I could sustain myself on solitude, deep thought, and philosophical ponderment for the rest of my life, I’m 98% sure I’d be content 95% of the time.

But this is real life, and short of becoming a recluse or a monk, at some point you’ve got to choose to turn off somewhere and rejoin the world of the living. For deep thought will bring about deeper thought, but it is only in the act of living in which you feel truly alive, meaningful, and human.

The act of living is simply this: to choose with intention, the acts and destinations in life which make you feel alive.

To return to our car and GPS analogy, you choose where you want to go and why. You choose where to stop, turn off, get a coffee, and who to pick up along the way.

The act of living means going from aimless driving and autopilot-mode to one of intention and choice. When was the last time you made an intentional choice to make the choices that make you feel alive on any given day? No, not planning for this evening after work, not planning for the weekend, but NOW on THIS day today.

And in that vein, when was the last time you did something just for you that adds meaning to your life?

How many times are you going to talk about starting that hobby or project, learning that new skill, treating yourself to that self-care thing, going to the place with that person, reorganizing your finances, picking up the book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand? Even if it may be unexciting to the average person but means something to YOU, and adds to YOUR life.

Yes, life can feel repetitive and meaningless because many of us live every day waiting for the life we want to happen to and for us. We live vicariously through characters in movies and TV shows, and strangers in a box on our cellphone screens—strangers and characters, by the way, whose lives seem to bounce from BIG moment to BIG moment, skipping everything else in between.

Happiness can be comprised of moments of all sizes. While we’re waiting for those BIG moments of happiness—that promotion, vacation, graduation, relationship, proposal—it’s important to enjoy the little moments in between.

Let’s put the joy back into the little everyday things that are sacred, and just for us.

No matter what, whether your life is filled with big moments, or small… whether you prefer to spend today driving around aimlessly & freely, or GPSing it with choice & intention:

Move when you are called to move. Stop when you’re tired—in fact, feel free to take a nap on the side of the road. Switch lanes when the one you are on no longer serves in getting you to your desired destination. Crank up the music when things start to get boring. Roll the windows down. Barely make that red light. Go on cruise control. Change the station.

Remember, it’s never too late to change where you’re going. Where you end up is exactly where you’re meant to be.

#WhereHappinessBegins
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_

Why you should tell the truth and assert your boundaries, no matter what.

As I’m writing these blogs, it’s becoming clear to me just how paralyzed I have been in so many areas of life. Not only do I get stuck in ‘analysis paralysis’, but I’ve been paralyzed in communication from such a young age.

Ever since I can remember, it’s been difficult for me to assert my needs and boundaries. The interesting thing is I’ve never had a problem with being confrontational, or sharing my opinions and beliefs. So what gives? What is the key differentiator that separates the occasions when I’m outspoken vs. unable to verbalize my needs?

Avoiding things that risk my self-esteem, or ego.

As I speculate, one thing that comes to mind is Risk. It’s easy to share my thoughts and feelings on subjects I feel particularly passionate or knowledgeable about, i.e. I feel confident I’m not going to appear foolish. It’s also easy for me to share in social situations in which I feel safe, unthreatened, or socially dominant.

However, when it comes to scenarios where there may be a risk to my esteem and ego, or risks a relationship I care about (professional or personal), suddenly I’m mousey, and revert to a childlike version of myself. As a result of not asserting my beliefs and needs, I develop resentment, frustration, and diminished sense of worth.

Other repercussions include the breakdown of many relationships/friendships, staying in certain relationships for far too long, dissatisfaction in my work/career, feeling like I “never” get what I want, feeling like I’m GIVING too much, and just a general feeling of unease.

By not asserting my boundaries, which I see as the healthy walls we must put up to keep happiness IN, I end up building a different kind of boundary – the kind that keeps happiness OUT.

For ease of distinction, let’s label the latter as “Borders”; the primary definition of which according to Oxford Dictionary is, “A line separating two countries, administrative divisions, or other areas.” Keyword: separating.

Borders, boundaries, walls, the elephant in the room, whatever you choose to call it, the results are the same: they build a barrier between you and other people. Between you and love. Between you and what really matters. They get in the way of you getting what you truly want. Build a border high enough, and eventually you’ll block out any sunlight from getting in; light that is essential to your growth.

It becomes easy to be cynical and resentful of others.

 

That doesn’t mean walking around being a total A-hole with disregard for other people’s feelings. But it does mean cutting the bullshit that WILL eventually break the relationship down, anyway.

To tell you from personal experience, it feels so much better to finally air out your truth. Truly. The liberation and lightness you feel after unloading a truth will have you dancing down the street—EVEN if it costs you the relationship.

Is it easy? Nope. Is it risky? Yep. Nerve-wracking, exciting, scary, makes you feel alive? Yep, yep, yep, and yep. Does it put your relationships at risk? Yes! It absolutely may.

Here’s the thing: a relationship sustained on half-truths and resentment is no relationship at all. You are not doing anyone any favours by holding back. That doesn’t mean walking around being a total A-hole with disregard for other people’s feelings. But it does mean cutting the bullshit that WILL eventually break the relationship down, anyway. And if it’s not the relationship that breaks down, it will be your happiness, quality of life, and well-being that does.

Bullshit takes no prisoners, my friends. And for the most part, healthy relationships are able to withstand truthful and authentic communications.

What truthful and authentic communication includes:

  • Care/empathy
  • Open listening without internal dialogue
  • Vulnerability
  • Responsibility
  • Self-awareness
  • Genuine curiosity
  • Respect for myself and others

What truthful and authentic communication DOESN’T include:

  • Blame/accusation
  • A fixed point of view
  • Defensiveness
  • Assumption – including any unconfirmed “intuitions”
  • Expectation or setting the other person up to fail
  • Labelling the other person, or their actions
  • A fixed agenda

8 times out of 10, when I’m communicating from a place that is truthful and authentic, I am able to come to a new understanding with the other person or people, and resolve any issues/concerns at hand. Even when things don’t work out, expressing your truth—your needs, wants, boundaries, feelings and concerns—is completely rewarding on its own.

People aren’t mind-readers!

Expressing your truth also makes it SO much easier for the people in your life to actually contribute to your happiness! Instead of making them the reason for your unhappiness.

Can YOU read minds with 100% accuracy? If not, you should probably stop expecting others to read yours.

#WhereHappinessBegins
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_

 

Growing Pains: Why “Knowing How” Is Not Enough To Change Your Life and Habits

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I’ve been stuck. I’ve been stuck for a long time. Moreover, I’ve been stuck and waiting. Waiting for something to change. Waiting for my dreams to miraculously fall into my lap; for an opportunity to appear out of nowhere, and for someone to give me all the answers.

Answers about where life is going and what it’s supposed to look like.
Am I making the right decision(s)?
What am I supposed to be doing?
Am I a good person?
Do I have a purpose?
Was I right/wrong?
Will I have a good life?
Should I go on this date with this person? But where should we go, and what should I wear?

What I’m starting to understand is KNOWING will never replace DOING. Even if by some miracle, I were given all the answers and could see my entire life mapped out, it would still leave the DOING to get there. Even if I were given the answers about why I get depressed, why I procrastinate; if I could scrutinize and distinguish every detail about WHY I am the way I am, how my childhood has affected my adulthood, and the “reasons” behind all my actions, it would still leave me not knowing HOW to change, or WHAT to do with that information.

Knowing will never replace doing, nor does it actually produce the results we want. However, neither does knowing how and what we need to do to achieve what we want.

I KNOW that the source of my poor relationship to food and body-image has to do with feeling criticized by my family as a child and teen. I KNOW that when I’m stressed or depressed, I use food as a means to feel better. I KNOW that when I’m hungry and binging on food, it is usually something else I’m hungry for, or I’m dehydrated. I KNOW that to lose weight, I’ve got to eat less, DO more, stay hydrated, and get more sleep.

Does knowing ANY of that make losing weight and getting fit easier? No. Does knowing make me put my fork down? No. Putting my fork down is what puts my fork down.

It is the DOING of the action that gets results.

 

One of the most important keys to success is having the discipline to do what you know you should do, even when you don’t feel like doing it. – Unknown

The incessant need for humans to understand WHY and psychoanalyze our lives, our pasts, and every single decision we make easily becomes another form of procrastination that excuses us from actually taking the actions to change, or grow.

Of course, there is a necessary degree of knowing that must occur; the degree of which will vary under different contexts. For example, knowing HOW to lose weight may not help us lose weight, but NOT knowing at all is certainly a hindrance.

Therefore, there is a healthy degree of responsibility we must all take to be well-informed, and gather the basic understanding of the WHYs, WHATs and HOWs of any given situation. But that is where we must learn to draw the line, and not fall into the curiosity trap of analysis paralysis, OVER-thinking, and hesitation, which often leads to justification, resignation, and avoidance.

The most effective way to become unstuck, find “answers”, and change our lives (or aspects of it) is to do things in a way that is different from how we have become accustomed to doing them—simple, right? But not easy.

 

Insanity is doing thing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results – Albert Einstein

Growth does not feel good, at first. Growth is NOT fun – at first. Growth may even feel counterintuitive at times. You sure as hell can bet that when you’re running your first mile after months or years of inactivity, every cell in your body will be screaming, “NO! This is not right! What are you doing?! WHY are you doing this??? Stop!!”

As human beings, we are hard-wired for survival, which means doing things we know will keep us safe. It means not taking too many risks, or going past our comfort zone.

CHANGE feels really difficult and downright impossible at times.
STRETCHING YOURSELF past your current limits is uncomfortable. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. And as humans, we love to make it especially difficult by expecting to be at Point Z before we’ve even reached Point A.

Growth is not always fun, but necessary to your happiness, sanity, health, goals, and fulfillment in life. Taking Action To Grow is the only way to get the answers you’ve been looking for, whether that answer is a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’, to ‘Proceed’ or ‘Change Paths’.

Growth will NOT always feel intuitive. It is easier to be resigned or cynical about growth, than to have to endure the pain of change, which is really the pain of taking unfamiliar actions. Growth can be painful, but it is always less painful and more rewarding than staying stuck, living the same predictable cycles for the rest of your life.

#WhereHappinessBegins
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_

Making decisions when you’re in analysis paralysis

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Art installation by David Shrigley featured at Art Basel 2018 in Basel.

You either let them in, or you don’t. What are you afraid of?
You either jump in with two feet, or you don’t. What are you afraid of?
Would you rather choose, or have it be chosen for you? What are you afraid of?

Would you rather be the decider, the creator of your life, or allow life to happen TO you as you sit idly by, paralyzed by indecision? WHAT are you afraid of?

What I’ve been learning recently is that the point is no longer necessarily WHAT I’m afraid of, or over-analyzing why I am/am not doing something. It’s about being able to make decisions, and FULLY accepting them with all the things they may or may not bring, DESPITE any fear of the unknown, neuroticism, worry.

Lately, the challenge I’ve been rising up to is making a DECISION in the face of indecision, and letting the chips fall where they may. And believing that I am capable of handling anything that comes my way.

No more getting stuck in analysis paralysis. No more toiling, twisting & turning, sitting on a decision for days, weeks, months, even YEARS. You’d be surprised how freeing that is.

“Come in. Don’t come in” –> You choose.

#WhereHappinessBegins #CraveGoodArt #HappyTravels
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_

Cocktails with Seedlip Gin

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Majorly cutting down on alcohol has been a relatively long and difficult journey! These days my alcohol consumption is few to none.

My reasons for reducing alcohol intake:

  • Getting tired of the same old weekend haze, doing the same shit, with the same people
  • Questionable, or emotional decision-making
  • How expensive it is!
  • Empty calories
  • Negative effects on my body and skin (bloating, water retention, dullness)
  • Occasional post-drinking blues
  • Brain fog & fatigue for DAYS
  • Seeing the amazing people around me who DON’T drink and have just as much, if not more, fun
  • Wanting to fully experience everything I’m doing and the conversations I’m having
  • Wanting to learn how to break down my own mental/emotional barriers without the help of alcohol
  • Wanting to learn how to manage my own stress from the week without having to rely on alcohol to “unwind”

This journey has definitely been so much easier with brands today such as @seedlipdrinks creating such cool, sophisticated high quality non-alcoholic spirits that are beautifully branded as well.

Location: Daylesford Farmshop & Café, London, United Kingdom

#WhereHappinessBegins #CraveGoodDrinks #HappyTravels
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_