Monday, April 12, 2010

March: "No"

March: Discipline

March has been a constant reminder of what I promise myself. My best friend calls me “a people pleaser”. In no way am I an extremist. I am not going around paying peoples phone bills, or running errands for them, etc. I tend to want to make things fun for everyone before myself. I find it my duty to break awkward silences, to try and get someone a drink, to act as host or bring up something fun to do. Not only that but I feel a big problem I have is a responsibility for showing up. I have been known to never say no to an invite. Most of the time I am there rain, sleet, snow, possible tornado I will give it the old college try. I am not saying I don’t have a good time, but I have been stuck too many times in situations I don’t want to be in for the sake of not ruining anyone’s weekend, birthday, bat mitzvah, you name it.

So I have been practicing the art of NO. I have been saying “no” to anything I don’t feel like doing. Like “No, I will not be working here full time”. “No, I wont go to your birthday party, but Happy Birthday.” “No thanks, I will not go with you to stalk that guy you like who lives around my neighborhood. By the way that’s creepy.” “No” is liberating. “No” can be the best decision you ever make. At first saying “no” left a bad aftertaste in my mouth. Like I had taken a bite out of the fruit of limitations. Soon enough I realized I needed to set my limits clearly to live a happier life. Stand your ground, know exactly what you don’t want to do, and don’t do it. Denis Waitley once said,"Everything is something you decide to do,and there is nothing you have to do." Limiting the amount of say outside forces have on your time is key to focusing on activities that bring you joy.

What situation do you find yourself in all the time that dont bring you the joy you deserve? This is a good indication you need some “NO” in your life. Get fed up n just say it “NO!” Scream it out loud if you must.

"Let me listen to me, and not to them"- Gertrude Stein

Sunday, April 4, 2010

March: Late

The Happiness Project (click the THP label on your right for more info)

March: Discipline

How many of the opinions you had 5 years ago have not changed? I was presented this question during one of those heated classroom debates in college. You know that rare instance when even the quiet guy in the back of the class expresses a brief moment of interest. For me the answer was simple 75 percent of my opinions from 5 years ago have not stood the test of time. I had opinions on all sorts of stuff. I had opinions on how everyone else should act, how the world works, how my hair should look, the list goes on and on. Your opinions are your beliefs they transcend into your actions. If it wasn't for an underlying opinion that all customer service representatives are dumb I would not speak to them as though they were children.

One of my opinions about life has just been shattered. I never realized I held this opinion it just kind of became part of my life, that little secret ingredient that made me who I was. I actually embraced it, stamped my seal of approval and said onward with the rest of my magnificent existence. I have grown to understand the constancy of certainty is change. Eventually our path to growth persuades us to shed the beliefs that don’t serve us. Like a snake shedding its skin. Some beliefs are so ingrained into us that it takes a magnitude of an event or events to finally realize they no longer serve any purpose in the life we want to live.

I live a life full of responsibilities, less than some, more than others. I also have a very leisurely attitude regarding time. I don’t see a specific point to going to class unless necessary and by necessary I mean it must be a very strict class requirement. I have been late all my life. Lateness to me is slightly fashionable. Actually I cruise very whimsically through my life. I never think a slight lateness will ever cost me much. I once showed up to an interview for Citibank in which the manager actually wanted to start an argument with me about my 5 minute lateness from the previous interview. Yea, I didn’t get that job. I have held on to this belief that I can go through my life late. Lateness has never been too much of an issue to keep me behind, it has just served as a slight nuisance but never caused me much harm. Today I was my usual 5 min late, for check in at the airport. I made my way calmly with my beliefs packed neatly in my luggage along with my bras and panties. “ Hi I'm late I think” I said. I realize now my attitude was so “eh whatever”. “ Yes 5 minutes late” the voice behind the counter expressed. I never made it on that 2:30 flight. My poor 21 year old heart, once filled with excitement and hopes of uniting with my friends behind the gates, was crushed with disappointment. My wallet also suffered a heavy 50 dollar defeat for the booking of a later flight.

March has been dedicated to discipline. Starting out this month was about keeping my promises. All month I have embraced situations that required me to keep the promises I made to myself. I aimed at forgetting my “people pleaser” mentality and focus on the only voice I hear when my head hits the pillow at night. I realize now this month of discipline stems from feeling not in control over my time. It never crossed my mind that my beliefs/opinions where constantly there, serenading my unconscious decisions. My opinion on lateness was so ingrained in my brain that even after missing my flight it honestly took me some time before realizing I had no reason for being late. I could not blame traffic, the weather, or another person. My opinion of lateness was the cause of my disappointment.

Take a look at your actions, even the ones that seem harmless. Think about what underlying opinions those actions express. Ask yourself if they contribute to some area of your life you are not happy with. Its hard to look at your actions so bluntly. Its hard to not make excuses for yourself. I know I try my best to be kind to myself.

I have an opinion that has truly held its own for a long time. Be kind to yourself but acknowledge your wrongs. It took me missing a plane to realize; where my life is going the idea of lateness being completely OK has no place. Don’t wait until the moment you miss a plane or an opportunity or a life to recognize the opinions that don’t serve you.

“Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them.” –Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Friday, April 2, 2010

March: The Month of Discipline

The Happiness Project (please click on the Happiness Project label to your right for an explanation of THP)

MARCH: Discipline

No, I am not aiming to be a ninja or samurai, or even a gymnast. No, I don’t want my life to be a boot camp. My definition of discipline is keeping the promises I make to myself.

Why are we so willing to disappoint ourselves? I promise myself all types of stuff. I promise myself I will never do this or that again. I wont speak to a certain someone anymore. I will do my homework when I get home. I will keep my schedule in order. My resolutions slip through the cracks unsatisfied more times than I can count. If I cant keep the promises I make to myself, than how can I become upset when someone else doesn’t follow through with promises directed at me? Moreover, how can I want something from others I don’t even give myself?

Happiness has a lot to do with feeling in control. I have a firm belief we can’t control anything but ourselves. I have grown to be more tolerant of other people’s bullshit, the weather, random things that come up, etc. because I accept this as the nature of the world. So by control I mean control over ourselves.

I decided to dedicate my month to discipline because it’s important. Discipline makes character. Although it might sound a bit restrictive I am going about it in my own way, no boot camp required. Sometimes, happiness doesn’t always make you happy at the moment. As much as I hate getting up to go to school in the morning, and lord knows I love my sleep, if I weren’t going to school I would be miserable. Miserable because something I value would not be taking a part in my life. I love to learn, I love school. This idea might not fit every person, but that’s why this is MY happiness project and MY life. What discomfort do you put up with in order to keep what you value in your life? Discipline is all about looking at the bigger picture. I more often than not dislike the writing process. But it brings me joy to write, to express myself. Without the discipline to carry out what brings me joy the happiness in my life would surely deteriorate. A month dedicated to keeping my resolutions truly sets the stage for the rest of my happiness project.

So a repeat, no I am not taking any karate classes. I am not going to be practicing for the Olympics. No I will not be joining the marines (although my brother is, I’m so proud). March was all about keeping the promises I made to myself.

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