Choosing Happiness

My journey to happiness was a long one. After being the target of emotional abuse growing up, suffering the loss of my first marriage and the very worst- finding out I can't have children of my own; I found myself in a miserable place. I cried, all the time. I was sad, angry, disappointed and couldn't find my way back to being myself.

But here's what I didn't understand at the time, what I do know now, what I want you to know... Happiness isn't just going to be given to me. Happiness is not something that just happens to you. Your happiness depends on one thing and one thing only- it depends on you.

HAPPINESS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. 
 
Other people can contribute to or subtract from your happiness, but they do not create it. You can't find lasting happiness in another person. You won't find lasting happiness in anything other than your relationship with yourself. More importantly, you shouldn't put the burden of your happiness on somebody else's shoulders. That's not up to them, it isn't their responsibility and eventually they will disappoint you if you are unable to be in a healthy state of mind by yourself.
 
Furthermore, your situation can affect your happiness but it doesn't determine it. You determine your own happiness. How you choose to react to your environment and the things that happen to you, that's what makes or breaks your happiness. Have you ever noticed how some people with terminal illnesses serve as a source of happiness, life and encouragement despite their situation? Or how some people live relatively easy, happy, privileged lives and are miserable? That's because happiness isn't determined in your circumstances in life, it's what you make of your circumstances.
 
 
So how do you achieve happiness when you aren't happy? How to find your way back to bliss when you've found yourself on a hard and beaten pathway far away from the reality you wanted for yourself? I want to share with you how I did it & how you can do it too :)

1. Understand that happiness is a choice. Then choose it! Do the things that make you happy, change the things that don't. If you don't like your job, start applying to other places. Hate your college experience? Then change colleges or take a year off. I've moved across the country 4 times in my adult life. I've attended two different colleges, I got married and divorced. You have to make the decisions that are best for you. You have to have the courage to make the decisions that are best for you.
 
2. You are most like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose Wisely. When I couldn't get pregnant, young, unprepared, ungrateful mothers used to make me so angry and miserable. Facebook statuses complaining about dead beat dads and how miserable pregnancy was would worsen my state of mind. I would begin comparing myself to them wondering how it was me who had to endure being childless despite my love and patience with children. One of the single best things I did to change my state of mind was getting rid of those people. Childhood friends who didn't live the kind of lives I wanted to be a part of- gone. Acquaintances who complained all the time- didn't need them.I never once regretted deleting any of those people from my social networks or from my life. Now the only moms I surround myself with are the ones who are grateful for the blessings, the ones I can get excited with and be happy for. Optimism breeds optimism. Surround yourself by miserable people who aren't doing anything positive with their lives and it's easy to fall into that trap yourself. But if you surround yourself by happy people who make the most of their lives, you will be compelled to do the same.
 
3. Make new goals for yourself. For the first year and a half after failed attempts to conceive, I dug myself into a hopeless and bitter hole. I was meant to be a mother, the one thing I wanted most in life, the one thing I felt like I was meant to do beyond a doubt was taken from me. What was left without that? What was I worth without the ability to do the most basic thing women are designed to do? It was that line of thinking that had me knocking on depression's doorstep. I eventually learned to make new plans. That if plan "A" didn't work, there were still so many other options. So I made new goals for myself. Start my own business, travel to New Zealand, etc. I created goals that were exciting, new and fun. Something to look forward to in my future that had nothing to do with my uterus. Creating a new set of goals for yourself when life throws you a curve ball is a great way to stay positive and hard working.
 
4. Take control over the things you can. I couldn't change the fact that money was tight after my divorce, that I was struggling to make ends meet when I became a one income household. I couldn't change the fact that divorce brought me debt. But here's what I could control- I could control how much I worked, how hard I worked and what jobs I worked. When I took control over the aspects I could, I felt 100x's better about myself. I felt like I had a plan to get out of my current situation and it worked. After working 60-80 hours a week for more than a year, I paid off all of my credit card debt and got rid of all jointly acquired assets from my marriage and replaced them with items I worked for and purchased on my own. (new car, booyah.) I did that. I made that choice. I made that sacrifice, working 16-19 hour days sometimes. And it was worth it. You can't control everything but if you step up and take charge of the things that are in your hands, your problems are resolved much quicker :)
 
5. Treat yourself well. Feeling healthy is a huge step towards being healthy. I started doing a lot of cardio and classes when I decided to kick my depression in the butt and it was so rejuvenating. Yoga helps you relax and to feel at peace with yourself and the world. Kick boxing makes you feel energetic and powerful. Go sweat out your sadness or your anger and feel great about yourself with all the endorphins afterwards. Plus, classes are a great way to meet new girlfriends! A nice, clean gym you love and feel comfortable in is a great investment. So are spa pedicures. Treat yourself to nice things occasionally- a new book from the thrift store, a pedi, etc.
 
6. Pursue new things. Photography, cooking, scrapbooking, running marathons, volunteering. The more active you are, the more social and positive you are, the more it feeds back to you. When you're battling depression, you feel like you have no energy. The only thing that changes that is changing your mind set until your body reaps the rewards. Get yourself on a decent sleep schedule and don't allow yourself to stay in bed more than 9 hours. Once you've gotten a full 9 hours of sleep, force yourself to get up, take a shower, then go out and conquer the world. Trying things you never thought about before is a great way to rediscover your spice for life and to get excited about things again. Not every hobby will be for you but when you find one you're passionate about, it's so rewarding!
 
7. Simplify your life. When you simplify every aspect of your life, it makes things a lot less complicated. It makes achieving happiness a lot less complicated. I donated all the books I had already read, I gave away half of my wardrobe to friends, and I got rid of everything that didn't bring me direct happiness. I kept only the things that made me smile, like my favorite cat sweater; I kept my vintage pitcher vase with silk floral arrangement and I kept the crafting supplies I actually used. Everything else I gave away. Not only does getting rid of clutter make you feel relaxed and accomplished, but cleaning helps clear your mind as well. I also simplified my schedule and other aspects of my life. I already talked about simplifying the number of people in your life to upgrade the quality of people in your life. Think about your possessions and activities that way too. Only keep the ones that are worth your time.
 
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In the last year, my life has changed tremendously, even more so in the last 6 months. I finally learned how to be happy by myself. I finally found self-worth beyond my failed marriage and lack of fertility. I finally realized that this was my life and if I wanted it to be a great one, I had to make it a great one. No sitting around waiting for things to happen, make them happen for yourself. Train yourself to think in a positive and encouraging manner and it will start to come naturally.
 
These 7 things are the best 7 things I did for myself. The best things I did to change my life, my outlook and my experience. Despite depression, I found a way to choose happiness and breed positivity throughout my life.
 
 
Other things I recommend-
- Writing in a journal (I like get out my negative thoughts or worries on paper and reserve my words for lovely interactions with people instead of talking negatively.)
- Lists. Lists are super therapeutic for me. I write lists for everything! To-do lists, Accomplished lists, Goals lists, Grocery lists, you name it, I write it. Lists are amazing for organizing your thoughts.
- Taking bubble baths
- Joining an online community of like-minded people going through similar trials  (I highly recommend a Blog About Love for anybody who needs a daily dose of positivity and encouragement despite dealing with infertility or divorce.)
- Animal snuggling. My dog was a source of such contentment during that period of my life. The bond we share now is unbelievable. I truly believe she was meant for me and I for her. More about her rescue story later though.
- If you don't have an awesome cat or dog, watch funny cat videos on YouTube. Did you know watching videos of cute, funny animals and/or babies prolongs your life? It's true! Laughter cures so many heartaches.
- Everyday, write what one thing you are thankful for on a chalkboard, white board- whatever you have in your office or bedroom! Keep it where you can see it and change the message each day. When you focus on all the things that you have to be thankful for, it makes all the difference in your perspective.
- Try having a daily mantra. A quote to keep your mind focused throughout the day on a positive and directive thought. Try these: 
"When You Love What You Have, You Have Everything You Need."
"Gratitude Turns What We Have Into Enough."
"The Happiness of Your Life, Depends on the Quality of Your Thoughts."
  
 
I hope you found this post helpful and motivating to make major changes for yourself and for your happiness. Creating your own happiness isn't always easy but it's so worth it.
 
xoxo, Laura
 
[Important Note- At the time I was going through all of this, several years ago, my doctor informed me that I had mild/borderline depression. His opinion was that I was coping well on my own and therefore I did not need medication if I could continue on my own to make the best of my circumstances. Every case is different- if you think you may be suffering from depression, make sure you get a medical opinion on the best course of treatment for you. I am very pleased to tell you that today I am free from depression since changing my life using these simple rules for bettering my life.]