Feel Good Friday

On Fridays, I post about good news that happens in the world.

Bird of Paradise in San Diego Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Bird of Paradise in San Diego
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I’ve been doing Feel Good Friday for over 6 months now, and what I’ve found is that it’s getting easier and easier for me to find positive news stories.  I’d like to think that it’s because the world has become a better place in the last 6 months, but I think that’s even beyond my optimism.  I think what’s really happened is that because I’ve trained myself to look for positive news stories, I see them more often.  People know I do this, so they send me good news stories to be featured here.

The fact that I see what I look for just proves what I keep saying: you find what you look for.  Keep expecting to see all the bad stuff, and that’s what you’ll see.  Expect the good stuff though, and the world opens up in unexpected ways.

So, welcome to this week’s version of Feel Good Friday.

Eva Mozes Kor is a woman who survived the Holocaust.  She talks about the power of forgiveness, and has forgiven the Nazis for the Holocaust.  She’s even “adopted” as a grandson the man who is the actual grandson of the former SS commander of Auschwitz.  Forgiveness is powerful; it had the power to release you from what imprisons you mentally.  It doesn’t excuse or justify; it’s simply a gift you give yourself.  This is a powerful article.

Charlie walks his dogs every day, but when he got leukemia, it became harder for him to complete his walk.  Some neighbors noticed, and so they put chairs on their lawn so that he could rest if he needed to.  It’s a simple gesture, but it made him feel cared about.  Remember, sometimes the simplest things we do for others have the largest impact.  Putting chairs on the lawn is not a big deal to most of us, but to Charlie, it meant that others cared, and that he could keep doing something he loved.

Vivian Boyack and Nonie Dubes have loved one another since 1942, and they finally got married last year.  They said that they weren’t sure, even after 72 years, that they wanted to go public with their relationship, and that “we’ve always been married in our hearts.”  I can’t help but cheer for marriage equality, even while thinking how unimaginably difficult it must have been for them to love one another for so long but hide their relationship from others.  I’m so glad that they finally had the choice to marry; they deserve their commitment to be acknowledged and applauded.  72 years is an amazing milestone for anyone.

The UK did a survey on why women don’t work out, and found that it’s because of fear of judgement.  More people die from inactivity than obesity.  That’s right, kids: it’s better to be an active fat person than a sedentary skinny person.  So, instead of just telling people to work out, they made a video of real women sweating, jiggling, showing off love handles and stretch marks.  And guess what?  In my opinion, it’s beautiful.  Watch the video, and then go out and do whatever you love to do.  Be fearless and confident, because that, more than your weight or perfect hair or makeup, makes you beautiful.

Do a good deed.  Smile at someone.  Thank someone.  Tell someone what they mean to you.  Be the unique and wonderful you that you are.

Go forth and be amazing today.

6 Ways to Be Happier

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

On Wellness Wednesdays, I post about a wellness topic.

Most of feeling happier is to stop caring what others think.  No, seriously.  It’s not rocket math.  Most of the things we worry about has to do with how others view us.  Okay?  Got it?  So I can end this blog post here, right?

Oh, if only it were so easy!

The fact is that people aren’t like light switches.  We can’t just turn on and off the caring thing.  And caring about what others think is a good thing, sometimes.  But there’s a difference between caring about others and caring what they think.

I care about other people.  I try to be a good person and cause no harm to others.  But if they don’t like me for some reason (my weight, the way I dress, the fact that I laugh and talk too loud, my really bad jokes), I don’t care.  I don’t care what they think.  My friends think I’m wonderful.  And honestly, there will always be people who don’t like me.

So how can you learn to be happier?

1.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  This one is really important. You’re you, and you’re beautiful and perfect in your uniqueness and flaws.  Maybe your best friend is a great cook or a great decorator.  Maybe your dad can fix anything in a MacGyver-esque way.  Maybe your neighbor’s dogs don’t bark or their kids always look clean.  Maybe everyone else is thinner-has a better car- better clothes- makes stuff that looks like it does on Pinterest.  Whatever.  Who cares?  We all have things about ourselves that we’d like to change, and things that we could be doing better.  You’re you, so only compare yourself to you.

2.  Continually strive for improvement.  “But wait… you just said that I’m great the way I am!”  Yes, you are.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve.  Now, improvement does not mean perfection.  I’m going to say it again: improvement does not mean perfection.  If you’re not naturally organized, deciding that this is the year everything is going to be and stay in perfect order probably isn’t realistic.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  If you want to get organized, start with one thing, like the kitchen pantry or the living room.  Try to be a little better than you were yesterday.

3.  Practice acceptance and non-judgement.  One of the hardest things to learn in life is to stop judging yourself and others.  Unless you’re perfect, you don’t have the right to judge others.  And if you don’t expect others to be perfect, don’t expect it from yourself.  You can dislike a behavior without judging the person.  Please believe me that unless you have the whole story, your judgement is likely a mistake.  There are certain behaviors that are wrong, but at the time, it may have seemed like the best choice.  Accept others for who they are, mistakes and all.  This acceptance and non-judgement doesn’t mean that you allow toxic people in your life; it just means that you don’t judge them for who they are and where they are in life.  Same goes for you.  We all make mistakes, even when we know better.

4.  Try to forgive.  This may be one of the hardest things that anyone does.  Forgiving someone does not mean that what they did was okay.  The other person doesn’t even have to be part of your decision to forgive.  All forgiveness means is that you’re choosing to let go of what hurt you.  Sometimes you can forgive once, and sometimes you’ll have to forgive over and over.  You’ll let go of the pain and it will stay away for a little while, then come back.  It’s okay; you’re only human, and you’re doing the best you can.  But the act of trying to forgive is freeing, and you’re worth it.

5.  Look for the good in yourself and others.  You see what you look for.  If you’re looking for all the bad things people do, that’s what you’ll see.  Shift your focus.  It’s like that optical illusion, the old lady and the young woman. Maybe you look at the illusion and immediately see the old woman.  And if no one told you it was an optical illusion, if no one told you to look for the young woman, that’s all you’d see.  But once you look for the young lady, you find her.  Maybe you have to look for awhile.  Maybe someone tells you where to look.  But eventually, you see it.  She was always there, whether you saw her or not.  Same with the good in yourself and others; it’s there, even when it’s hard to find.

6.  Practice gratitude.  Instead of focusing on what you want or what you don’t have, focus on the things you do have that you’re grateful for.  Take time out every day and find something to be grateful for.  Write them down or share them.  When we write things down or speak them out loud, we give them power.  You’d say your complaints out loud, wouldn’t you?  Try the same thing with your gratitudes.

We’re all just works in progress, and being human means being in a perpetual state of growth and learning.  Try one of these things and work on it.  When you notice a difference, try another.  Don’t try to do it all at once, or you’ll end up feeling bad about it.  We all have days when we can’t do any of these things, when we should stay in bed with the covers pulled up.  Just be the best you that you can be today.