Sunday, April 28, 2013

Happy ~A Documentary

I watched this incredible documentary last night called Happy.

It sort of explores the idea of happiness all throughout the world, not only talking about how to be happy, but also following the lives of certain people who are very happy today, despite horrific events that have occurred in their past. It also shows different cultures in the world who are the most happy or the most unhappy, and includes several interviews with psychologists who discuss the ways to measure happiness.

It is very interesting and incredibly touching! I highly, highly recommend it. You can find it on Netflix available for instant streaming. Here is the trailer!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Four Agreements, Pt. 3

Sorry I have been kind of lack-luster with my blogging lately. As it turns out, I'm a college student and also have a part-time job, so my free time is ideally spent sleeping. (Though I have used my laptop keyboard as a pillow more times this week than I care to admit.) Nevertheless-- I'm back with the third agreement!

The Third Agreement: Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

I'm gonna be honest. This is probably the agreement that is the most difficult for me. And we've all done it some time or another. For instance, finishing people's sentences in an argument. Assuming that because they don't apologize, they don't care. It goes hand-in-hand with the second agreement of not taking things personally. The truth is, the world is full of so many distractions, situations, and events and everyone reacts to them in their own strange way. Some people can rant all day long, pouring out their feelings, while the mere thought of speaking up is enough to make another person's heart race. But that doesn't indicate that those two aren't thinking the same thing. You will never truly know what is going on in the head of someone else unless you simply ask. And there is no harm in doing that.

So next time you're upset at someone, take the time to really listen to what they have to say before you jump to conclusions and walk away! It could really save you a lot of unnecessary drama.


Have a little faith! In yourself, in others, in your goals, in God.... Even if you are not religious, this can really be useful in whatever you do.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Exercising: A Secret Ingredient to Happiness

Alright, I'm gonna take a little break from The Four Agreements thing and talk about exercising, because it has really been helping me lately!

You've probably heard that exercising is a great way to de-stress, which is true, but there's more to it than that. One of the first things doctors ask their patients who come in seeking anti-depressants is if they've tried other things such as meditation or exercise.

Repressing a high amount of stress can be detrimental to your long-term mental health. Why? It wears down the connections between nerve cells in your brain, making you more susceptible to anxiety and depression, and affecting your memory and ability to take in new information. Exercising, however, allows you to take that energy and put it toward something that is beneficial to your physical health. It’s also great for your mental health because it stimulates the production of endorphins.

Endorphins are powerful little things. They function as neurotransmitters in your brain, produced by the pituitary gland during excitement, pain, orgasms, love, consumption of spicy food and—you guessed it—exercise. The effect of endorphins is similar to that of opiates because they’re your body’s natural painkillers and bring about a feeling of wellbeing and happiness. Ever heard of “runner’s high”?

So next time you’re feeling down or just stressed out, get your butt up and head to the gym, or better yet—make it a routine.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Four Agreements, Pt. 2

The second agreement: don't take anything personally.
Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

That rude customer at work. The school bully. Your mean professor who refuses to give you an A. You don't really know these people; you don't know what's going on in their lives, nor do you know what's going on in the heads of the people you do know. They could be dealing with something really difficult for them and maybe that's the reason they are taking it out on you. But whatever it is, it's not your fault and you shouldn't let it affect your peace of mind. 

I used to come home from work in an awful mood after dealing with customer after customer for ten hours straight and probably only getting about ten total please's and thank-you's. Sometimes they wouldn't even look at me during the entire time I helped them. I couldn't understand how people can be so rude. Then one day a lady came through the drive-thru being really short with me. I ignored it and asked how her day was and she said, "well, I just found out my mom has cancer." I had no idea what to say to that, but from then on I never judged a customer again and instead tried my hardest to give them a smile now matter how rude they were to me.

There's another way to look at this. Say someone does something incredibly hurtful to you. Maybe a significant other cheated on you and then dumped you afterwards and never even apologized. It's okay to be heart-broken for a little while but when it all comes down to it, that's their problem, not yours. Mean people are never happy people and that is unfortunate for them that they will never know the true joy in being kind and compassionate to others. Don't let them bring you down or make you feel like you're not loved. Instead, take this time to be grateful that you're not that kind of person. 

On a lighter note, I challenge you to start doing this on a regular basis. If someone says or does something that would normally offend you, don't let it. Smile right back to them and take pride in the fact that you're better than that.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Four Agreements, Pt. 1

There is this great book out there called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. To sum it up, I'd say that it's a set of guidelines for people who are seeking internal love, happiness, freedom and peace. My next few posts will be about these agreements and how to apply them in your life. I strongly suggest this book to anyone! Or at least to read the agreements and see the effect it can have on you if you incorporate them into your everyday life. 

The first agreement: be impeccable with your word.
Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

It might be a bit over the top, but according to Wikipedia, this guys is an "author of New Age spiritualist and neoshamanistic texts." So what can you expect?

I don't know about you guys but I can't even begin to count the amount of times I have blurted out something in a moment of extreme distress that I almost instantly wished I could take back. This agreement encourages you to not only think before you speak, but also to eliminate the amount of negative things you say about yourself or others. I understand that it's not realistic to do 100% of the time. Sometimes we need to vent. But although gossipping and putting other people down might sometimes make you feel better at the time, eventually you'll realize how bitter you're being, and people won't want to be around that. In the end, you'll feel worse about yourself.

With that being said, I challenge you to try this for one day. Do not say one negative thing about yourself or anyone else, stay positive. It's hard! But I've done it and it actually helps because soon enough you just forget about whatever you were upset about in the first place. Realistically, if you are mad at someone, all ranting about them will do is make you focus on it for a longer amount of time. Instead, try to forget it and talk about something more constructive! I've done it and it works. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Food for Thought

Side Note

I don't think I actually mentioned this in my first post but this is the first blog I've ever written, (besides an Art blog in high school.) With that being said, I'm not used to writing about my thoughts and personal life. I have gotten some mean feedback, some good feedback, and some constructive criticism. I was told that the stuff I was writing about was a little too heavy. I apologize, I'm not trying to make people sad, in fact, that is the opposite of what I'm trying to do. I definitely took that into consideration, edited my last post and will keep it in mind for future ones.

What I'm trying to accomplish here is not so much entertainment, but more along the lines of food for thought and a way to relate to people who are dealing with similar circumstances. Hopefully that will become more apparent as I continue to write and figure this whole thing out.

Because of that feedback, I'm no longer going to be writing about my experiences with anxiety/depression, but instead am going to try to keep this completely positive and inspirational to the best of my abilities from here on out. However, if you want to contact me about that, I will always reply!

To keep it short and simple-- be patient with me as I learn the ups and downs of blogging, and I will definitely take any polite constructive criticism or questions into heart!

Thanks :)

Childhood Memories

When I think of my childhood, I think back as far as I can remember, (probably around age five,) to around thirteen. And often when I do, I dwell upon a lot of pain, mainly rooted from my family. From the way I saw it, most people think back to their childhood and remember playing outside with their friends, going to school, and having no cares in the world. But I was filled with resentment. I wish that I hadn't missed out on so much and I wished that I hadn't wanted to grow up so fast.

But you know what? Everyone has something hard in their past that they have dealt with. Loneliness is not uncommon, and neither are losses in the family, divorce, fighting, the list goes on. There are so many things that can bring down your childhood but nothing can ever ruin it. As I said before, it depends on your perspective and how much you allow yourself to dwell on it.

So I'm gonna take this time to think about all the great memories of my childhood and I encourage everyone else to do the same. Here are some memories, most of which are pretty common among all American children, hopefully you can take a moment to relive them as I will.

One of my favorite memories was Disneyland. I was lucky enough to go three or four times throughout my childhood because my mom's side of the family lived about twenty minutes away. There's not much that can compare to that warm feeling of innocence and happiness that fills you up as you float with your brothers or sisters on a boat, listening to "It's a Small World After All" or sitting on your dad's shoulders, watching colorful fireworks on a hot summer night as "When You Wish Upon a Star" plays in the background. That feeling right there, that's happiness. After all, it is called the happiest place on earth! Sometimes when I want to go back to that feeling, I turn on one of the Disney Classics. My favorite is probably Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland.

Best memory number two? Christmas with the family. Everyone who loves you all packed into one room, with presents, and delicious food? How can that not be amazing? All the smiles, the pie, the christmas music, the kids table? Everything about it was wonderful. My family is a little split up now and Christmas has not been the same for about seven or eight years, but nevertheless, those years are ones I will hold onto dearly for the rest of my life.

I know I'm probably gonna bore you if I sit here listing all of my great memories, cause I know if I tried, I could probably come up with a butt load. So alas, here is one more.

Ummm.....Halloween, anyone? I don't know about you guys but I would start celebrating halloween about a month ahead of time. My family and I would decorate the whole house, listen to spooky music, watch scary movies, (remember Goosebumps?) go to the pumpkin patches with haunted corn mazes and hay rides, carve pumpkins, pick out our halloween costumes, attend Halloween parties, and most importantly... trick-or-treating! I can still vividly remember coming home with my brothers after a long and successful night of trick-or-treating, dumping out our bags of candy, trading, comparing and watching some movie on the Disney Channel. Usually Hocus Pocus, and having the time of our life. I miss that.

My point is, when you're depressed or regretful about a past experience as a whole, it's like wearing a pair of glasses that filters out the happy stuff and only allows you to focus on the bad. Sometimes it takes a little more effort to really convince yourself and specifically think about each individual thing in order to finally take off those glasses. But it can be done, just as I did. And when you do it, it will truly brighten your day.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

First Post!

I'm so glad I'm finally doing this! I guess I should start with a little introduction of myself?

As you can read in my description, I'm twenty years young, go to the University of Oregon in Eugene, and I'm currently a Pre-Journalism-Communication Studies major. I listen to just about every type of music, love cats, am addicted to caffeine, and enjoy long walks on the beach. Blah, blah, blah..... I know you don't wanna hear me talk about my likes and dislikes. Let's get to the real stuff, the reason I started this blog, perhaps?

 I strongly believe that these next couple of years will be some of the most important ones in my life, as well as the past year. A turning point, I guess you could say. I've been dealing with some depression and anxiety on and off all throughout my twenty years. When you're depressed, all you can see in your life are the negatives. But, there was something I heard not too long ago, (I think one of my teachers said it,) but it goes a little something like, "you can make any story seem happy if you only mention the exciting parts, or sad if you only mention the tragic parts." It was said in a different context but I think this is a good way to look at one's happiness. If all you think about, talk about, or see are the negatives of your life, then sure, your life is pretty shitty. But, on the other hand, if all you see is the positives, then your life is great! The truth is, however, that they're both there. Nothing is intrinsically bad or good. This is not a Shakespearean play. This is life. And it all depends on your perspective. Ultimately, your happiness is up to you. 

But who am I to say all this? Just a silly twenty year old girl acting like she knows about life and happiness, right? It's easier said than done. I'm aware of this. And that's why I'm writing this today. I have been struggling for the past year, trying so hard to get out of this mode of thinking. I'm too young for this and frankly I'm fed up. It has ruined friendships, relationships, my motivation, basically everything in my life has been negatively affected by my seemingly hopeless pessimism. I became too tired of putting on a front and pretty soon I was left all alone wondering what the point was anymore. And then I remembered a time when I was truly happy. I want that back again more than anything, and I'm ready to work for it.

But it's not going to come overnight. It takes time and hard work. This blog will hopefully allow me to look at my past with a more accepting and positive outlook, and allow myself to understand the lessons that they have taught me, (I'm a strong believer in the philosophy that everything happens for a reason.) With enough effort, I will be able to look at life in a more positive light presently and in the future, and hopefully be able to share this outlook with everyone else. :)