Someone asked how one makes changes when one doesn’t know where to start. I have an opinion, of course. I believe the answer is always moving in the direction of smiling more often, having more fun, and feeling genuinely good. Not the momentary good of splurging on something we want or eating some treat. I’m talking about the kind of feeling good that lasts.
It’s taking a good, hard look at ourselves and seeing when have we felt truly good about ourselves—and doing more of it. It’s listening to that inner guidance that says: This is right—no matter what other people believe we should think or say or do.
It’s making changes by making sure we like what we’re doing. Example: If your goal is to get out more, start by asking yourself what you really enjoy doing. If you don’t know, decide to experiment knowing that if some things don’t work out, that’s okay. Set up rewards when you do something that’s hard for you—rather than beating yourself up if you don’t. If your goal is to be more giving, choose ways that will make you feel good—no matter what anyone else does or doesn’t do—rather than because you think it’s a cause you should support. If you’re trying to get yourself to do something you think you need or should do, ask yourself: What might make me WANT to do this? How can I make it fun—or if it can’t be (think going to the dentist), then what could I do afterwards as a reward that would make me smile or laugh?
What does all of this have to do with becoming a better person? Everything! If you stop and think about it, odds are you’ll realize that every time you’ve done (or not done) something you regretted, it was because you were afraid. If you’re smiling, anticipating something good, or laughing, it’s hard to imagine also being afraid. If you KNOW you can create moments of happiness for yourself, then the actions or words of others have much less power to intimidate you and you’re less likely to do or cling to things (or people) that are not healthy for you.
I know that in my own life, the times I’ve made the worst mistakes, taken actions or said things I regret, it was because I was afraid. When I feel safe and happy I don’t do that. I don’t need to. The more I’ve discovered my own strength, the more I’ve found my ability to create happy moments in my life, the easier it is to do new things, to be kind toward others, to love people and—when necessary—to let them go and truly be able to bless them. And the lovely thing I’ve discovered is that as I change what I do, others change how they respond to me. I don’t have to twist myself into a pretzel to be who someone else wants me to be and at the same time I can let them be who they are—which means I’m less likely to trigger the other person’s fears and they can be kinder and more accepting of me. I’m discovering that neither I nor anyone else has to be perfect to be worth knowing and caring about and wanting to have in my life.
It’s a process, of course. One I get better at with practice. And as you can see from my recent blogs, I don’t always succeed—at least not instantly. But I recover more quickly these days.
It’s not how most of us were raised—to look for ways to be happy and appreciate ourselves. We were taught, most of us, to believe that anything worth doing had to be difficult. I believe just the opposite—that the safer and happier we feel, the faster and better we’ll do whatever it is we want and need to do.
Here’s hoping that each of you are able to find lots of reasons to smile this week and to appreciate the best of who you are.
Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),