Have you ever had one of those days when it seems like the sky is falling and it is only hitting you? I have been having a lot of those days lately. What’s more frightening is I have been struggling to figure out why. Then I had an epiphany of sorts. In the darkness I found myself calling out “Me…where are you? Can you hear, Me? Are you there???” Yes, I lost “Me.”
Wait, no. Let’s be honest, here. I didn’t lose “Me.” I abandoned “Me.” Walking through this life wearing many hats and subscribing to many labels, I had lost my identity and began to take on the persona of what others around me expected I be and not what I expected of myself. But when the chips were down last week and I needed someone to be there for me, namely “Me”, I found myself unable to muster up the energy to soothe myself. I was ill-equipped to pep talk myself into carrying on, seeing the brighter side, and pressing on until tomorrow. I had nothing. And what was worse, when I tried to find some external support, they had nothing for me either. I wasn’t important to them because I hadn’t been important to myself. I had abandoned “Me.”
But I found her. Last night in my dreams I stumbled across her tattered and torn, tears streaming down her cheeks wondering if anyone would come find her and take her home. “Me”, I said, “Are you okay?” With the widest smiling eyes Me said “Yes because you came for me. Don’t ever forget me again.”
I have arrived at a valuable lesson. There is no harm in nurturing oneself for it is the only way we can continue to be able to nurture others. It is unfair to expect others to take care of you when you don’t take care of you. I abandoned me. I scarred me. I lost me. But now I am making my way back to me because I am rediscovering me and most importantly I love me!
Friday is not only the first day of Spring, it is also International Happiness Day! Yes, there is such a thing and it is wonderful. One whole day to think of nothing more than happiness. A time to reflect on the true meaning of life, what happiness is and what happiness is not.
I had the privilege of learning about this wonderful day last year and was able to commemorate it with my coworkers. My story of last year’s celebration was featured in the April issue of Live Happy magazine and I cannot wait to celebrate again this year.
But what is happiness? Many people think happiness is found in the form of things. I’ll be happy when I get this job. I’ll be happy when I make this amount of money. I’ll be happy if I buy this house or car. I’ll be happy when I get married and have kids. True, all of those things can enhance your happiness but happiness is not those things.
Happiness is what you are not something you obtain. Happiness comes from self-reflection and being truly mindful of you inner self and your surroundings. Happiness materializes from self-acceptance and an awareness that while every sky may not be blue and every thunderstorm doesn’t end in a rainbow, trials mean growth and growth means maturity and understanding. They don’t call it growing pains for nothing.
I hope you will find a way to get in touch with your happiness and take some time out to commemorate this wonderful day. Whether it’s doing #happyacts for a random stranger or singing and dancing to the “Happy” song, take time to celebrate your happy. And if you are inclined to do so, stop back by this posting and let me know how you celebrated the day!
Me, I’ll be celebrating with friends, family and Live Happy magazine. Live Happy will be hosting a 24 hour Happiness LIve Stream filled with commentary by a number of “happiness” experts. Click the link below to register and be a part of the celebration. It’s free.
Have a HAPPY day!
Yesterday, as I was mentally preparing for the week, I started to think about why Monday gets such a bad rap. While we celebrate and revel in the nearing of Friday, we move along with drudgery and sadness as we near Monday. In fact, when things go wrong we will blame it on the fact that it is Monday or say things like “This is my Monday”, or “I’m having a month full of Mondays.” Why is that?
For most people, Monday means an end to freedom and time off to do whatever one pleases. Monday means it’s time to go back to work. Back to answering to the demands of others and back to a job that merely pays the bills. In the thick of all of that, we often fail to celebrate the good that Mondays represent and the opportunities they present.
Think about it. When you decide to diet or make a lifestyle change, what day do you most often select as the start date? Monday. When you plan to take vacation what day of the week do you decide to “officially” start the good times? Monday. When you get a new job or are promoted into a new position with new pay, etc., what day does that often start on? Monday. Hopefully, by now, you can see where I am going with this.
Mondays can be viewed in 2 ways. You can see them as those hateful days that put an end to your weekend. Or you can see them as a chance to try something different, celebrate change, or the start to a brand new ending. Either way Monday will be here same time next week and while that fact won’t change, your perspective can.
Mine did. Last night I made a resolve to have a month full of Mondays. Not the bad kind of Mondays. But the Monday’s that present opportunities for change, chances for growth and opportunities to start a brand new ending each and every day.
“No one can build a great dream until they have a solid foundation.” I heard John Maxwell share this wisdom a while back in a” Maxwell in a Minute” talk I received via email. At first, I thought it was ironic that “foundation” was the word he expanded upon since, at the time, I had just started my 4th ELDP rotation with the Aetna Foundation. But pondering over those words led to a deeper meaning.
For some reason, my mind went straight to the story of the Three Little Pigs. Everyone knows the story and, most importantly, we know how it ends. Three pigs built homes using very distinct materials. Yet only one pig emerged safe from danger while the other two weren’t as fortunate. Why? Because the materials they chose to build their homes with weren’t sturdy enough to withstand external danger. In their haste, they didn’t choose good solid foundational materials to build their homes. They were more concerned about the immediate promise of shelter and not their long term safety and well-being. Sadly, many people make the same mistakes professionally when growing their career.
To be successful, it is important to know what your foundation is and work in harmony with it. Whereas once I thought my foundation was title, prominence and a high salary, I have grown to realize my foundation is helping people achieve, grow, learn and lead healthier lives. Realizing this enabled me to make wise career decisions and to take advantage of opportunities that compliment my foundation, not work against it. While I realize my “foundation” may not be the material of choice for some, it is what works for me. Knowing my foundation gives me an opportunity to build a solid career for the long haul and not one that provides immediate prominence and monetary gain with little promise of long term satisfaction.
At the end of 2014, I graduated from Aetna’s Enterprise Leadership & Development Program (ELDP) signifying the end of a two year journey of experiential learning. Reflecting on this experience took me back to elementary school, when my fourth grade teacher would repeatedly ask: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In fact, this question, s asked of my classmates and I repeatedly throughout elementary, middle and high school. The intent was to get us to focus on what we would do as adults so that when we went to college we could work towards that end.
The last two years were full of unique opportunities to experience various areas throughout Aetna’s enterprise, to learn new skill sets and to apply existing skill sets in creative ways. But this experience also caused me to rethink the age old question of what I wanted to do when I grew up. For me, this question has evolved in to: “What do I want to be as I grow?” Looking at it this way denotes a continuous process that repeats itself allowing me to be renewed and reinvented over and over again.
Why do we stop asking ourselves the question of what we want to be once we arrive at adulthood as if life and opportunity stops? Early on, I set my sights on working in the legal field and spent many years doing just that. Yet today, thanks to the unique opportunity presented to me by ELDP, I am embarking on a new journey and a role that takes me away from my legal roots. That doesn’t frighten me, rather, it renews and energizes me. It’s like reaching adulthood all over again!
Personal and professional growth doesn’t have to stop simply because we reach adulthood in years. We can choose to consciously acknowledge growth by allowing ourselves to be renewed and reinvented. Or we can ignore it and grow obsolete. Either way, growth happens. The trick is constantly thinking not about what we wanted to be when we grew up but to think about all the new and exciting things we can become as we grow.
For some reason, this New Years I was very sensitive to the fact that we place a lot of emphasis on January 1. Understandably so. January 1 marks the start of a new year and signifies hope and opportunity. Many people resolve to make positive changes for the sake of their health and wellness, relationships, finances etc. at the onset of a new year. But what about the rest of the year?
I had to stop and ask myself that question because when I reviewed my journal for 2014, I saw a reduction in resolve and determination depending upon the time of year. As with most people, I was super motivated the first couple of months of the year only to wane in my determination as the weeks and months went on. I found myself ending 2014 with regrets but this year I am determined to do something different. This year I intend to inhabit my life daily.
As you read this you may question why I am making reference to inhabiting my life. After all that is kind of what the word means – to live in. But this year I am taking it a step further. I want to be present each and every day and value each day as if it was January 1.
I think about the butterfly and how their life spans from a few days to a few months depending upon the species. With such a shortened lifespan, undoubtedly the butterfly has to accomplish a lot in a small amount of time. They have to make each moment count. And most often (at least in my backyard) I find butterflies floating among the flowers and not perched on the stones.
So for 2015, I am going to get in to the habit of being like the butterfly. I am going to take some time each day to perch my thoughts and intentions among the flowers of friends and family. I am going to get in the habit of staying as far away from the stones of negativity and self-doubt. I am going to inhabit each day as if it is my last first day of January.
How will you in”habit” your life?