I took the long way home to process everything I learned at the workshops I’d attended that day. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, 8 November.
As I was walking ‘mindfully’ home from the Festival of Change I heard someone call out: “Hey lady!”
I looked back and kind of kept walking – he had a “problem”, don’t stare – but I couldn’t help but do a double take.
“Hey lady!” He called out again waving his hat around like he was missing his last taxi: “You’re a beautiful lady!” He called, massive smile on his face, a sing-song tone.
I had a moment where I paused: “Me?” and then realised. I smiled and waved back.
It got me thinking about how many souls are dismissed, their messages never heard, simply because – through possibly no fault of their own – they have a “problem”.
I mean, what credibility did this man have to say I was beautiful?
Could he even comprehend what beauty is?
And who am I to judge what he thinks is beautiful?
So my close friends know and understand my struggles of late.
I’ve become quite the guru this year: want to lose weight quickly and permanently?
Live through something traumatic and almost impossible to let go.
Want to be more mindful?
Sit with the pain the trauma brings – because you can’t see the future, the next year, the next week, the next day, the next hour – you can only concentrate on the moment that is now and taking that next breath, and the breath after that to get you through… And if you breathe through the pain, just one more breath after that, then you’re a breath further away from the initial pain.
It’s coming up to a year on my healing journey and no one can tell me I’m the same as I was before the incident occurred. But the events still haunt me and maybe they always will. My first thought when he called me beautiful was my ex-boyfriend calling me fat and the next moment he’s crying on the bed telling me he doesn’t want me to leave and men will only abuse me. Of course, at this point, I thought he had my best interests at heart. Little did I know he had been abusing me in every possible way – for nearly a year.
All I see now is a lot of strangers in my life who I need to get to know again.
Only this time – I come with criteria for friendship AND relationship and it’s come to this because of how badly I got annihilated by this horrible person – and it’s the only way I can ensure I’m protected and it won’t happen to me again. This protective coat will make it so I don’t have to keep watching out for it, remembering it, going over it. Here it is, it’s pretty simple:
1. If you lie – you’re out.
2. If you hurt me – you’re out.
3. And if you can’t stand beside me in a courtroom – even knowing I’m right, honest and just in my truth: knowing because you stood and witnessed it all yourself, whether at the time or months before – because you’re “scared”?? You’re out too.
No three strikes.
Just a “thanks but this isn’t going to work for me”.
I can’t even begin to tell you how the “men” I had in my life at the time I experienced the worst abuse I’ve ever even heard of, who I thought had my back, but none would stand up in a courtroom and say:
1. Yes, he spat in her face – I was there: I watched her wash it off
2. Yes, he left notes all over her car windsheild so she couldn’t even see in – I was there: I saw her snatch them away
3. Yes, he tried to drive into her three times, because she called me hysterically after: I escorted her to the police station and watched them turn her away
Unsurprisingly to me: they’re all strangers to me now. For some reason, this came as a shock to them.
The next thing is … I don’t have a lot of time for … “stuff”. I’m more impatient than ever before.
I have a new found value on my time and freedom, which I mentioned in my vlog on Monday.
So don’t talk to me about strength and courage if you’re not willing to do what it takes to grow those things.
It took me a year to develop my knowledge and it’s valuable – and although it’s freaking hard work to get there, don’t take some steps and then quit. If you’re not committed, don’t start!
Don’t let your self down.
And don’t waste both our time with procrastination or inaction.
If I’ve learned anything from being abused by someone I loved – it’s that “life’s too short”.
I learned a lot about being abused and the way an abuser’s mind works, following my abuse. I learned about narcissistic abuse. I learned why he lied. I learned why he cheated. I learned why he could never tell the truth. I learned that he doesn’t have an authentic self and all the jealousy that would have suffocated him as I innocently paraded before him.
I had everything going for me. Everything.
He wanted to tear it down.
Oh, but he was just “caring for me”. You’ll see what I mean by that in my next video. What I will say is that an abuser (who is generally a psychopath) will manipulate your perception, your reality and fit it to theirs to make themselves appear innocent. And once they have your trust from their twisting and manipulation, they will abuse you more – worse – harder. And if you ever think the cycle of abuse is going to stop, even when things start to settle down again: you’re wrong. That is why it is a CYCLE of abuse, not a PATTERN like a toxic relationship. And you’ll be amazed how many people get their abusive relationship confused with a toxic relationship … I was one of them. And you’ll be amazed how many people refuse to talk about it because of MORE threats or the addiction they have to their abusive partner. I was one of them. I remember at the end of the relationship, I was so addicted and so completely terrified that he would do what he did – that I was looking at clinics in America at $30,000/day for “love addiction”. I didn’t need that. I ended up spending $10,000 just to get clear of him and be safe – I’ll never regret that spend now I realise how much danger I was in and I only realised once I was removed from him. And only for the abuse and torment to continue – that was frustrating, that tested me, but it made me love myself more than I ever have because for a someone who ripped my self worth down and took my self esteem with it, at the same time he helped me restore it as I went: NO CONTACT. No Contact, as I quickly learned is the only way to combat a psychopath.
I don’t care that he thinks he got away with everything and more – why? Because I’m pretty sure everyone can see who he is and what he did, without me saying all that much at all. And, I didn’t have a platform before: I just wanted everyone to be happy. I didn’t have a story or a reason why or a niche to focus on. I had it so good, which meant I didn’t have that place to speak from. Now I do.
Not because he gave it to me.
Because I rebuilt myself from the ashes he left me with. And I rebuilt myself in such a way that I’m strong. It will forever feel strange to me that a 45-year-old man was so panicked about his windscreen wiper blades being lifted on his car (not damaged – just lifted) that he had to get an AVO. It was that serious. He felt in that much danger and fear. He was that terrified over something I did, when he wasn’t even around, that he had to restrain me.
And how can I forget that fact: he “knows someone high up in the police force” – how will I ever forget the threat he had over me for months and months, keeping me trapped with him.
I’m not scared ANYMORE!
What he never knew was the day I decided to leave, I grew enough strength to not only get out – but to suffer the consequences that came with that.
And he’s narcissistic, so I knew there would be consequences to wanting to pursue my freedom. OK, and there were…
But guess what? I have no regrets!
In fact, as long as I have my life completely separate to his, free of the lies and deception he continues to feed those around him, I can’t feel bad about a thing! Because no matter what the consequence was – I’m living the life I wanted in the first place. All I wanted was to be free of him! And all my evidence against him demonstrates that. It demonstrates that he stalked me interstate. It demonstrates that I told him to leave me alone. It demonstrates his psychotic letters telling me to give him his padlock back with his name engraved in it. Freakin’ weirdo! And it demonstrates that he continued to contact me well after he got an AVO against me – that’s really kind of weird though, isn’t it?
It was all REALLY weird!
So I’m glad to be free of that.
I’m glad I don’t have to keep holding onto his crazy crap “in case” he does something!
Anyway … I got thinking about the man who called out to me to tell me that I’m “beautiful”, who I mentioned at the start of this post…
And something stood out to me – mostly about why it made me feel so good to hear it from him:
Do you think he said it because he thought he’d get a date from his words?
I’m almost certain that wasn’t his intent.
He wasn’t running after me. He wasn’t perving on me. He was more looking at me – like a child looks at a flower with wonder.
And without intent – he made me smile and feel really good about myself.
And that got me thinking about intent … just generally. I always thought I had to make effort, that I had to do something with intent in order to positively impact someone. That’s not true… and this proves it.
We don’t need intent to positively impact someone.
But if you do have intent – what is it?
Is it positive?
The other day I re-posted a comment that created great uproar on my Facebook page about the Melbourne Cup horses. I didn’t have positive intent in posting it, I wasn’t in a positive space … but I did have intent.
So if it’s not positive – what will it do?
Will it challenge thinking and beliefs?
What’s the best that could happen?
I made people see another side. Possibly a side they hadn’t considered. Maybe a side that evoked guilt but may also stick with them next year and the year after and make them think twice about their next horse racing bet.
And if you have no intent – what’s the best that could happen?
If you’re striving for a positive, authentic existence where – right or wrong – you speak and you give value to your opinion: you’re who I want in my life
My big take away from the Festival of Change was that negative doesn’t mean bad.
It means change.
Change means breakthroughs.
It means resilience.
It means great opportunity to practice resilience.
I believe everything happens with perfect timing. For example, I don’t even want to know what would’ve happened if I didn’t have two years of conscious positive training and learning behind me before the events I suffered last year. Due to my pro activity, I was able to connect with my soul, something not many people do. And I’m comfortable on my own – something not many people are: so instead they get married and they have kids and they use drugs and alcohol to drown that out. They stay addicted to their abusers, to avoid the loneliness – which they think will be much worse. I’m living proof: it’s much better!
Let me say that again…
IT’S MUCH BETTER BEING ALONE THAN WITH AN ABUSIVE PERSON!
I am the luckiest girl alive because of the way I enabled myself to transform my situation to help others.
I am the luckiest girl alive to have my thoughts, my feelings, my strengths and my ability.
I’m the luckiest girl alive to have my family and friends unconditionally standing by my side.
I’m the luckiest girl alive to have my ambition, my determination, my resilience and my persistence.
I’m the luckiest girl alive to have healed myself in such a way I’ll forever value and love myself.
And … I’m the luckiest girl alive – just because I’m: me.
How many people can say that?
Life isn’t what happens to you – it’s what happens next.
What happened next was my abuser kept abusing and I was long gone and never returning.
What happened next was I changed. I rose. I spent a year making up for the year that stopped me being who I was trying to be: because I couldn’t go out, I couldn’t see my friends, I couldn’t study… I couldn’t do anything because of him. While he went out, while he cheated, while he lied … I stayed home.
But I made up for all that this year. And now I have bigger and better lessons to share, which makes me super excited!
Finally, I want to thank my sister, Lara-Jane Busse (pictured with me as we get set for a road trip – I know she doesn’t like that picture, so I’ve made it small), who has been right next to me every step of the way. You are the best sister on the planet. I love you.
Lara and I speak on the phone every day. Her ongoing encouragement helped me get where I am today. She stopped me giving up and continues to motivate and inspire me.
And most of all, she was the one person who said “I will speak for you in that courtroom!” and she was nine months pregnant and in a different state at the time, and I know how close she was to coming to be with me anyway!
That’s what a best friend looks like to me.
And not many people have a friendship like ours.
And I’m the luckiest girl alive to have this friendship with La.
I’m the luckiest girl alive to have been called beautiful, even by this man who was a stranger to me.
I’m the luckiest girl alive to not only have had my beauty seen, but also acknowledged and pointed out to me.
I’m the luckiest girl alive – because after a year of fighting demons my abuser left behind: I accepted what I heard. And it felt good.
Your challenge this week is to point out someone’s beauty!
Thanks for letting me share.
Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity. Hippocrates
Sometimes even the flight of an angel hits turbulence. Terri Guillemets
This year I have very openly and very slowly worked to recover from the breakdown of my relationship with who I thought was my dream man … who not only intentionally hurt me, but trapped me with domestic violence and persistent threats. He then went on to continue to torture me slowly as he carried out ever threat.
The damage that person caused to me emotionally and mentally caused such inner annihilation and destruction, I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same. After I used the last of my strength to get me away from that relationship, and parted with thousands of dollars to keep me out of harm’s way, there was literally nothing that wasn’t wiped out inside. It felt like a bushfire had gone through and torched every living cell within me. The pain was indescribable.
“When the Japanese mend broken objects they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold, because they believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful,” Barbara Bloom.
I recently learned about Kintsugi – the Japanese art of broken pottery, where they fill cracks to make the shattered ceramic more beautiful … and possibly more valuable. And there’s a lesson in Post-Traumatic Growth with that, I have made the decision to become more valuable to people as a result of my experience.
When you love someone and you trust them, and it doesn’t work out, it’s heartbreaking – but to become consciously aware that the same person you love unconditionally is deliberately hurting you and getting off on the power, it’s the hardest thing to comprehend. My situation was particularly painful as I had to come to terms with the fact that I was never loved, I was just a pawn in a narcissist’s game. So, after receiving plenty of feedback that people are enjoying reading the lessons I get from my experiences (which is what Happiness Weekly is all about – taking something positive from times of adversity), today I want to share what I have learned as I ventured into the greatest adventure of my entire life – my healing journey:
If you think you can’t – you more than likely can and at some point the universe will prove it to you
You are emotionally stronger than you think at any one time, and smarter than you know
There are positives in everything that feels negative and in every negative or disappointing experience we endure – sometimes you just need to look harder to find it
Every event is just an event until we add perception to it – it’s up to us to decide if it is positive or negative
Nothing – NOTHING – in the world matters more than what you think of yourself and what happens to you. No one cares about your story as much as you do and no one will care about what happens to you, as much as you will
Don’t let someone control how you feel about yourself – whatever you don’t like, you have the power to change
Until you forgive, you can’t move forward – start by forgiving yourself
Release the guilt – you didn’t allow it to happen
Let go of the shame – you don’t need it and it’s never helpful
It’s up to you if you let people continue to hurt you or not
Laugh! If you laugh at a situation, your recovery has begun. If you can’t laugh at it, find someone who will. If they can shift your perspective, this person is an angel – make sure you tell them.
Don’t let a situation hold you back – as soon as you take a step forward, you have started your healing journey.
Try it! Even if you’re scared – try it – it won’t be as bad as you expect
Don’t let fear trap you – keep doing things until you have overcome your fear. Don’t allow fear to develop into a phobia. Don’t be ashamed to seek help
Don’t regret anything – you’ll have good days and bad, but have faith that your pain will eventually bring you strength
Force yourself to go out – even if you don’t feel like it, go – even just for a little while – it’ll get easier
Fact: Psychopaths, Narcissists and Sociopaths exist, even if you’re like me and you don’t want to believe it – and they look human – accept it and learn how you can protect yourself from them moving forward
Choose to be around positive people. If the conversation gets too serious or your stop enjoying the company, drop it and/or leave
Be selfish – no one felt what you felt, no one experienced what you experienced, do what you need to do in order to step forward
Share your joys with others – even the little joys. As you recover you will be more mindful and appreciative of smaller blessings, share whatever you find
New beginnings really do disguise themselves as painful endings – hang in there
This Buddhist chant brought me a lot of strength: “The lotus is a flower that grows in the mud. The thicker and deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms”
Abusive people isolate their victims – nothing keeps you stronger than friends and family – treasure them always, reconnect as soon as you can
There are no positives to sleeping away a sunny afternoon, get out and enjoy it!
Strangers sometimes have a greater impact on you than your friends, be open to their kindness
Once the traumatic event has happened to us – it is done – you can’t undo it – don’t go over it
If people judge you – shrug it off, they don’t know any better
Everything happens for a reason – think where you would be if whatever traumatic event you went through didn’t happen to you. Could it have protected you from something much worse?
If you’re trying to take down someone’s reputation, be prepared to draw attention to your own. I can promise you, people won’t just look at the person you’re assassinating but they’ll also look directly at you
Normal people don’t go around intentionally hurting others. Pain caused by others means you’re still alive – use that to fuel you – and going forward, surround yourself with normal people
Use trauma to change the world so it doesn’t happen to others – write to politicians, raise the voice of what happened, get qualified to help others if you’re passionate about letting it shape you
You’re never too old, too smart, too educated, too rich, too anything, to learn. Always be open to learning and your challenges will turn to opportunities. Turn your painful lessons into pathways for growth and your life will continue to evolve even through adversity
Our intuition shows us all the red flags we need, if we choose to ignore it, it’s up to us to take responsibility for any consequences that follow
NEVER look back – unless you’re looking to see how far you’ve come
Revel in the bliss of ignorance. When we go through something traumatic, we often look over our shoulders this only opens us to more pain – shut down your curiosity unless it’s moving you forward
Education is the best way to true self-empowerment. Don’t put up with what happened to you, learn about it, understand it and empower yourself so you’re equipped to move forward
Always, always, always do the right thing by yourself – you’re the one who has to live with whatever happens next
Some people want you to be miserable and they will go out of their way to achieve this. These people are miserable. You will only be miserable if you let them in and allow them to disturb your inner peace
If someone abuses you, cut them out – if they find a way to seep back in, cut them out again
Moving forward is challenging but it’s a lot more rewarding than stepping back. Stepping back only repeats old patterns, particularly where a narcissist is involved – never surrender to being a source of supply more than twice or you’ll be prisoner for life
Give yourself time. Be patient. It took two and a half months for me to start seeing and appreciating these lessons. Before then: darkness. There’s no time limit on your healing journey and recovery – it won’t be immediate and it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it
Fairy tales aren’t real. The knight in shining armour doesn’t exist – don’t wait – muster up your courage and be your own hero: save yourself
Ignore judgements – narcissists can’t pretend events happened for long periods of time – but a victim will suffer genuine trauma. It’s clear when someone is genuinely suffering
Find a buddy who has been through a similar experience. Share the lessons you have learned and support each other when one is feeling they’ve reached their wits end
Let go – be prepared to lose everything because it is only then you can fully move forward
Alternative and natural therapies can sometimes heal you better and faster than modern traditional therapies – be open to them, even if your doctors aren’t
If someone is truly a victim, they won’t need to tell the story – you’ll see it
Smear campaigns are spread by abuser’s minions – don’t take offence, just think of them as those little yellow cartoon characters from Despicable Me and at the end of the day they’re manipulated victims just as you may have been
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within,” Maya Angelou – keep your light shining
You can and will survive. If you made it out alive – be grateful for your life and your freedom, embrace it
Embrace work – a job gets you up in the morning and adds purpose to your day. Don’t quit!
When you feel bad – and you will feel bad as you recover – look at the areas in life you’re excelling at despite what you’re going through, concentrate on what you’ve achieved and where you’re heading
Life’s Plan B can be even better than how Plan A was ever going to turn out
No matter how much you try, some people don’t want to be helped. That’s their choice.
Don’t think negatively towards someone. No matter how much they hurt you, don’t wish anyone bad fate. If you’re not feeling bad enough from being hurt, you’re only going to feel worse by having negative, spiteful and malicious thoughts about someone. Don’t give your abuser any more power or satisfaction – always wish them well even if it’s just to set yourself free
Nothing is coincidence when someone is abusing you – they’ll make it look that way, but they intend on every fine detail
Love the people surrounding you. If they love you back, don’t take them for granted. If you do and you lose them, that’s your loss. Learn from your mistakes
SAY IT STRAIGHT! If you don’t agree with something, say it. If someone’s wasting your time, tell them. Life’s too short for bullshit
Don’t wait for anyone. If you get feelings for someone and they don’t feel the same way about you, but suggest “maybe later” – keep looking forward to the “what’s next” because it’s not them
If your instinct says no: the answer is always NO! Trust your inner voice
Remember your values. They’ll flick up in your mind when someone does something that you don’t agree with. These flashes are easy to ignore. Don’t deny the things you truly want because you’re trying to please someone. Instead, find someone who shares your values
When you feel shut off from the world, the real angels will appear in your life. Hold on to faith. I have established multiple friendships in the past six months that are stronger than friendships I’ve held onto for several decades
Be who you want to be!
Nothing screams Carpe Diem or YOLO (You Only Live Once) as loudly as a healing journey. Embrace it! Learn from it. Use it. Do everything you want to do. Be whatever you want to be
If someone makes you happy – happier than you feel when you’re alone – figure out what it is about that person that makes you feel that way. Now try to figure out how you can replicate it to make yourself feel that way. Once you’ve replicated that feeling, date them again – if you’re still into them, they’re probably good for you. This is a lesson in a healing journey: DO NOT depend on people for your happiness because you will be disappointed
Time doesn’t heal all wounds, sometimes we just learn to cope – and that’s ok too
Self-trust is the most important trust you can have
Self-forgiveness is the hardest thing to do – avoid putting yourself in a situation where you need to exercise it
And all I have left to say is this… WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER!
I’d now like to invite you to share with me – it doesn’t have to be big – what lessons have you learned while recovering from a traumatic event?
You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. John Bunyan
The efficiencies of the internet are moving us towards a more insular world and it is becoming more difficult to be mindful of helping others. According to the Dalai Lama that is our sole purpose in being here on earth – to share our compassion and help others.
The Pay It Forward movement has been particularly active on Facebook this year. You may have noticed several posts that read:
“To start this year off in a caring way I’m participating in this Pay-It-Forward initiative:
I don’t usually buy into these things, but due to a recent act of generosity I have decided to get involved, this is for real.
The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in”, will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year – anything from a book, a ticket, a visit, something home grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise!
There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.
These five people must make the same offer in their Facebook status and distribute their own joy. Simply copy this text onto your profile (don’t share) so we can form a web of connection and kindness.
Let’s do more nice and loving things for each other in 2014, without any reason other than to make each other smile and to show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love-filled year.”
So while our modern world seems to be encouraging selfishness, greed and isolation – Happiness Weekly looks at some ways that you can help others this week without having an agenda of your own. Truly helping others means there’s nothing in it for you – in fact, the person you may help may never be able to repay you and that’s the ultimate aspiration in truly helping others.
The benefits of helping others includes:
- Connecting you to someone in an otherwise very lonely world
– Enhancing someone else’s life
– Making the world a better place to live
Things you can do to help others
- Teach them something new
– Smile and be friendly
– Volunteer for a charity
– Start your own charity
– Make a donation
– Share your knowledge
– Help someone do something – e.g. cross the street, change a flat tyre, get from A to B
– Donate something you don’t use
– Comfort someone
– Buy food for a homeless person
– Listen to someone
– Do a chore for someone
– Send a nice email
– Share your favourite things (movie, song etc) – if you enjoyed it, someone else may too
– Give a loved-one a massage
– Praise someone publicly
– Be patient with someone
– Tutor a child
– Make a care package for someone
– Speak up for someone – sign a petition, write a letter etc.
– Offer to babysit
– Share what you have
– Find out what’s valuable to someone and get it for them
– Present an opportunity to someone or make them aware of it
– Give transparent feedback to better performance (without being too critical)
– Introduce people to each other, help people network
– Give someone a gift
– Do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return
– Welcome a new neighbour by baking for them
– Use your power to help people around you have a good day
– Only see good in people and treat everyone accordingly
We’re all here together and the only certainty is we have one life and we’re living it now. Help others to be the best they can be where ever you can, because if everyone surrounding you is doing the same, imagine the powerful world we would live in.
Pages that helped inspire this blog:
For pleasure has no relish unless we share it. Virginia Woolf
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By sharing the Happiness Weekly website with your friends, it’s not only likely that your communication will improve but you will improve the communication of your friends around you. This will inevitably provide a shift as everyone is able to express their thoughts and feelings clearly and so your friendship circle will naturally develop and grow and you will naturally encourage new people into your life. Happiness Weekly is also a great conversation starter: it contains topics and information that are worthwhile sharing with your new and old friends.
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The more popular Happiness Weekly becomes, the more likely it will be to continue. While the writing-style may come across as easy to follow, a lot of time and planning goes into the blogs published by Happiness Weekly which is produced by a single person. The purpose of Happiness Weekly is not to raise revenue but to simply give back to the world in a way that promotes happiness and wellbeing – because it’s not hard to be happy, but knowing how to communicate effectively and respecting others is important. If you have enjoyed a blog by Happiness Weekly, you can show your appreciation and support by simply clicking “like” in the comments field.
10. Sharing is all about helping others
Now it’s your chance to give back to the universe and pay it forward. Tell your friends about Happiness Weekly by getting them to check out the website: www.happinessweekly.org! Share some blog posts on your Facebook pages, repost quotes on Facebook or retweet through Twitter. Spread the word to your community and encourage them to pass it on. Help Happiness Weekly grow so we can all live in a happier and healthier world that actively promotes self-awareness, encourages fair and assertive communication and enables everyone to make the best choices they can in their situation.
Happiness is self-contentedness. Aristotle
Being happy with what you have is the fastest way to be truly happy every day. Unfortunately, you may have experienced losing something or someone that was making you happy, simply by taking it for granted. Many people don’t learn from this mistake – mostly because they don’t know how and they’re not open to changing their ways.
In 1965 at President Johnson’s second inauguration, Rabbi Hyman Schachtel said: “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” Appreciating what you have makes us happy because it gives us the opportunity to step back from the detail and have a look at the overall picture. Honestly appreciating the people in your life and making time to show them your gratitude (by spending time with them or doing small things for them, even just letting them know) will make you a happier person because it gives you presence and helps you to honour your life as it is. Being thankful for these small but significant blessings is a choice, and a simple positive decision can open you to positive feedback.
In fact, research has shown that gratitude enhances your quality of life. A studied by two psychologists (Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis) showed that daily gratitude resulted in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. It also showed less cases of depression and stress, the subjects were more likely to help others, appreciated regular exercise and made greater progress towards achieving goals.
How to appreciate what you have
There is no specific method in learning to appreciate what you have – but there are some exercises you can do to start practising.
1. A gratitude journal. Write down three to ten things you appreciate each day before bed
2. A gratitude letter. Write a letter to someone who has exerted a positive influence in your life but who you haven’t had a chance to properly thank
3. A 21-day challenge. Avoid complaining, criticising or gossiping for 21 days. Experts suggest wearing a coloured wristband throughout your time to keep you constantly aware of the challenge
4. A gratitude charm bracelet. Make and wear a symbol of your gratitude every day to remind you to appreciate the things that you DO have in life
5. Enjoy the moment. The ability to appreciate what’s in front of you has nothing to do with what you actually have. It’s more about how you measure the good things in your life at any given time
6. See every day as an opportunity. Set attainable goals and look at each day as an opportunity to improve on yesterday, rather than focusing on imperfections. By focusing on improvements, you’ll naturally move toward your larger dreams and will respect the way you’re doing things
7. Take action. If something is negative, be positive. If something isn’t right, change it so it is. Be the change you seek and set an example for those around you
8. Be responsible. Be who you want to be and act accordingly. If you don’t like something about yourself, have the courage to start looking at what it is and changing it
9. Want the things you already have. Be mindful of the achievements (and even material possessions) you have obtained in life and use them to your full advantage. Make a list of your achievements and accomplishments. Take time to reflect on how far you have come to appreciate where you are now
10. Understand what makes you happy. Learn to appreciate your individuality – no one is perfect, but you can be the perfect form of yourself
11. Meditate each day on the things that make you happy. Really take the time to focus on these positive things and give thanks
12. Treat yourself regularly. You can only appreciate the people and things around you when you appreciate yourself. Remember to reward yourself (a positive action) when you reach gratitude goals
13. Be grateful for your health. Ensure you maintain peak condition by eating the right foods and participating in regular exercise.
14. Practise seeing what you have. Avoid waiting until you lose something to appreciate it! Start a list of the things you’re grateful for – it may include: family, friends, lovers, health, your environment, your senses, electricity, music, recycling, air conditioning, your happiness etc
15. Volunteer for the less fortunate. Spending time working with the homeless, sick or another disadvantaged group is a great way to put the things you do have into perspective
16. Make a scrapbook of the good things in your life. This will be a visual reminder with pictures or symbolic representations of the things you’re most grateful for
17. Watch a powerful movie such as “The Pursuit of Happyness” or “Pay it Forward” to motivate you to continue taking steps to show your appreciation of life.
Appreciating people in our life
Unfortunately, it’s often people we lose more than material things when we’re taking something for granted. And it isn’t until they’re gone that we realise our behaviour. How can you avoid this?
1. Remember the reasons that person is close to you. What qualities attracted you to them in the first place? How often do you appreciate these qualities? Remember why they’re a part of your life
2. Tell the people in your life you love them and why you think they’re special. Verbalising you’re positive feelings will reinforce them in your heart
3. Recognise the person’s current expressions of the same qualities that attracted you in the beginning. Living in the moment helps us to really see how valuable others are to us
4. Take time to respond when someone you care about is doing something that you appreciate. Send a clear message of appreciation – a smile, a comment, a helping hand, a gift, positive feedback… it can be anything
5. Spend time each day appreciating these special people in your life and listing the reasons why. This will affect your attitude towards the special people in your life – making it positive!
How to change things when you don’t appreciate them
Having the courage to change things when you’re not happy with them can take a lot of courage. Sometimes we are too comfortable with things to change them, sometimes we have good excuses for why we should stick with the way things are (often holding onto hot coals for far too long), and sometimes it’s just laziness.
1. Figure out what you need to change and be clear with yourself why it needs to change
2. Set yourself a goal to break the habit or change the situation – including a deadline
3. Make the change happen. Reward yourself when you complete the change and build a new, positive habit (or situation) in its place.
- Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. William James 5 hours ago