Whitney Fretham, a friend and colleague, wrote this great blog post last week. She agreed to let me post it because I think it resonates with what we usually talk about here. She is a Health Coach and a great inspiration. Read her story and then DEFINITELY read this blog!
The Happiness Factor
Posted on May 12, 2012 by Whitney Fretham
On this gorgeous Saturday afternoon, I am truly happy.
I don’t mean happy in a fleeting smiling-moment of pleasure sort of way. I mean it on a deep, spiritual, mental, emotional and even physical level. The kind of Joy that runs deep through my blood, keeps my breath steady, makes the corners of my lips curl ever so slightly to a quiet contented peaceful smile. It is Joy that I truly have only experienced when all parts of my life seem to be coming together in harmony, and I feel a powerful connection to this Earth, my merciful Creator, and all God’s people and creatures.
I can honestly say I only recall one other point in my life when I was feeling this type of Joy. It was between high school and college, when a whole world of possibility and hope and enthusiasm for the future opened up for me. I was on a journey of discovering my self and was surging with excitement for the New Life that awaited me in college and beyond. I was exploring a new relationship with my God and allowing gratitude and Joy to permeate me as I burst forward into change. At that time, I was also experiencing young-love with a new boy, and felt like I was on cloud nine that entire summer.
Since then, my Joy has waned as I navigated through (what felt like) endless transition, challenge, disappointment, renewal, and hope. For a while after college, I felt hopeless, like my Joy had disappeared indefinitely. I was scared, depressed, and miserable, feeling disconnected with my friends, my newly-married husband, and most dramatically, my self. I felt like I’d failed somehow in my four years of supposed “self-discovery” through college, as I truly didn’t have a clue who I was! What went wrong? Wasn’t I supposed to feel this sense of anticipation for all that awaited me in adulthood? I was lost and frustrated with where life had taken me.
Looking back, I realize now that what was “wrong” was that I was missing my Happiness Factor. I didn’t really know what would make me happy, or how to find it. I was doing work I thought would bring that happiness, but it didn’t. I was eating plenty of cheesecake that I thought would make me happy, but it didn’t (it only made me pudgy, mind you). I was allowing the preconceived notions of what I thought would make me a happy, successful young adult keep me stuck and mired in hopelessness.
Things started to change when I decided to truly explore my Happiness. I hadn’t really ever taken the time to explore who I envisioned myself as in the present and future. I had always fit myself in the box of stereotypes that I was labeled throughout my schooling based upon who I “hung out with.” I thought I was just a Type A, nerdy-goodie-two-shoes, musician, hobby artist/writer, animal-lover, and tall, average-framed mediocre never-athletic body. When I stopped to actually consider who I wanted to be in my ideal, happy world, I realized that there was a lot missing from the picture.
I am not stuck in stereotypes. I am a creation of who I imagine myself to be, and how I live my life to be that person.
As long as I was allowing these limiting descriptions of myself to define my entire being, I was stuck. Unhappy. Unfulfilled. Longing to be more.
It started with a list. Being a total “Type A” personality and prone to writing, I sat down to make a list of all the adjectives I could think of that I would want to describe myself as, and hope that other people would use to describe me. In my huge paragraph of words, I realized that so many of them that I longed to embody were so far from how I was living my life in the current moment. I wasn’t fit. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t eco-friendly, self-respecting or peaceful. Next, I wrote out a list of possible careers I could see myself doing in the future, and starred the ones that “sang to me” on a spiritual level. Lastly, I wrote out a couple pages of active statements about who I am, what I do, and how I feel and live as this Ideal Happy Me in the future. “I wake up in the morning to practice yoga and eat a healthy breakfast.” “I love my work, and I provide value to my life and others doing it.” “I am a good mom, wife, daughter, and friend.” “I am fit, flexible, and eat organic, sustainable food.”
This exercise in Self-Discovery opened a whole new world of possibility for me. I realized that by actively making changes in my life and beginning to believe I could be this “me” I would dramatically increase my Happiness and Joy as I came closer and closer to my True Self.
I sit here writing today as a totally different person than I was two years ago when I first considered who I am. I am on a new road in my career – one that delights me every time I am blessed with opportunities to meet and help women—a journey of finding peace and contentment with my body-image and lifestyle, and actively pursuing my goals and dreams each day.
The Happiness Factor I was missing in my life before… was Me.
When you’re living your life as close to your True Self as you can, making choices and taking action that align with your beliefs, treating your body and life with respect, and feeling connected to those around you, your Joy will expand. You feel light. Breathing is relaxed and easy. You do things that bring you pleasure and health. You feel compassion for the suffering of others. You stand by you.
Are you missing out on your Happiness Factor in life? Try a self-discovery writing exercise to help realize how you should change. And if you need help making those changes toward Happiness along the way, let me know. I’m here to help.