I was almost ready to throw this concept out the window. Not that I thought I couldn’t find it, true happiness, but as a society we are far too busy defining what it is. Instead, I began adopting a philosophy first taught to me by my friend. #YouDoYou. The hashtag is undoubtedly elemental to the expression.
#YouDoYou is a way of life. You choose your own path, pick your own toppings for your pizza, and take care of yourself before helping others, just like they tell you on the airplane. And, by taking care of yourself first, you can take care of others.
The friend that imparted this philosophy on me, we’ll call her Birdie, is one of those amazing, radiant people that makes you ask the question: “How does she do it?” Of course, Birdie has her own struggles too, but she always seems to be able to find the positive in every situation.
For a while, I longed to be that way. I thought I could train myself to be bubbly and outgoing and “on” all the time. But, it’s just not how I’m built. To find that positivity, I had to take a slightly different route. That’s where #YouDoYou comes in. I think I had been striving towards this way of life before, I just didn’t quite have a name for it.
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of digging, returning again to the happiness trap. We all get trapped from time to time. We think that happiness is a golden goose that we will eventually find, when it’s actually a prize that’s individual to each and every one of us.
So what’s in the golden egg, what’s my secret? Like most of you, I’m still figuring it out. But, recently there have been a few things that have helped.
1. New hobbies: A little over a year ago, I had an “a-ha” moment. I needed to take better care of my body. I dabbled in Pure Barre, running, eating “clean”, lifting weights, and trying to forget about the existence of carbs. A combination of which helped me lose 20 pounds. Along the way, I gained a new hobby and a sense of community. In real life (and through social media) I met people who have a goal like mine, to live a healthy life. I’m no Ironwoman, but I know that this hobby is here to stay and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
2. Personal development: Some people hear this phrase and automatically get spooked or think “Lame!”. Personal development is so important. For me, I felt a need for personal development after graduating from graduate school. For the first 24 years of my life, I’d done nothing but school, school, school. When you are a kid, you’re constantly having new information thrown at you. There is no time to pause, let alone breathe. When the noise fades, there is a need to learn that is no longer automatically filled. I’ve started simple, trying to read a “soul” book or listen to an inspiring podcast every couple of months. Over the past year some of my favorites have been: Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Dave Ramsey Show, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (along with her podcast), AnnaMariaLocke.com and A Blog About Love.
3. Habits: This is a practice I’ve gotten better at from both my new healthy lifestyle and observing others (from famous authors to friends). Habits bring stability to our lives, while also benefiting us. Granted, they must be healthy habits. Some habits I’ve incorporated into my (adult) life so far: Hot baths when I’m feeling down, drinking water like a mad woman, *not* watching scary T.V. before bed (buh-bye Scandal!), getting away from screens (a work in progress), and walking my dogs. These are a good start. A big habit that I want to shape is spending an hour or two a day being an entrepreneur. Sometimes, I forget that small steps make big ones and I become paralyzed. I don’t take any steps at all. Stay tuned for that work in progress.
These are just three of the things have made me “happy” lately. My happiness equation is not balanced, but I feel good knowing I’m getting there. So now, most hypocritically I ask, what makes you happy? Or rather, how are you doing you?