my cat Buster and I

What Makes Me Happy?

Today I’m linking up with some wonderful bloggers at FiveMinuteFriday, writing on the prompt, “happy”.

 

my cat Buster and I

Me and Buster.

Happy.

It’s a simple word, but why is it often so difficult to attain in our daily life?

As a somewhat serious person and a Christian, the obvious way to discuss happiness is to contrast this emotion with the deep, everlasting joy that can be ours no matter what the circumstances. I would also mention that if you are not able to feel much happiness, please take care of yourself until you can, and/or get the appropriate help as needed.

But besides all that serious stuff, sometimes I feel like it’s good and healthy, and helpful to just do something everyday that makes you feel happy.

No, our true happiness isn’t based on emotion, but we are real, flesh and bone people with real, sometimes raw emotions. It’s a good practice to care for our body, mind and soul, as well as our spirit. And it’s OK to “help” our emotions along in a practical way.

enjoy the little things

So here are some things that “help” my emotions to feel happy:

  • a nice, hot cup of good coffee
  • some slow, quiet time to myself
  • ice-cream (yes; I even scare my husband with how much this helps me)
  • some “girlfriend” time
  • spending time in nature, God’s wonderful creation
  • doing something creative
  • getting some rest and/or a good sleep
  • reading a good book
  • watching a good movie or favorite TV show
  • petting one (or both) of my cats
  • doing some exercise that I love
  • looking at and enjoying photos, the memories of my life
  • wearing something that makes me smile
  • watching “my” humingbirds
  • doing something with my family

These are just a sample of things I do that make me feel happy. And when we feel happy, it helps us to move in a positive direction and do the more important things in our lives.

My Bible verse-of-the-day today is this:

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.  Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”

– Ephesians 5:1-2, NLT

 

I believe that one way we can “imitate God” and “live a life of love” as Jesus did, is to just be happy.

It’s a decision, and one that some of us need to be more purposeful about.

Here’a to a happy day!

 

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Some things to think about (and comment, if you please):

What do you do to help you to feel happy? Do you notice that if you make yourself feel happy, you are more able to cope and do the things you know you should do? If you’re a Christ-follower, do you think that Jesus had a mostly “happy” demeanor?

 

 

 

 

sunlight in trees by water

What To Do When Your Emotions Are Fickle (10 Steps Towards Feeling Better)

sunlight in trees by water

Boy am I fickle sometimes.

I can ride the high of feeling happy, even to the point of giddiness, then in one fell swoop, sink to an emotional low, bordering even on feelings of depression.

Some of you know what I mean. If you are a woman, a middle-aged person, someone going through a difficult season, a teenager or pre-teen, dealing with too much non-stop responsibility, or one with a personality-type that tends to easily feel “melancholy”…….well, just about anyone…….you may have experienced this tendency too.

dark sky with bright clouds

So what do we do when our emotions are taking us on a roller-coaster ride of grand proportions? Here are some practical tips to help in times of emotional instability.

 

***Please note: If you are struggling beyond what is “normal” or expected in life, or can’t find the strength to even begin to move forward (with true feelings of depression), please visit your doctor or a professional to get the help you need. ***

 

10 Steps For When Your Emotions are Fickle:

1. Go back to what you know to be true.

Even if you’re not feeling it, you know certain things to be true. These facts can be an anchor for your soul. If you are a Christian, read your Bible and ask God to remind you of his promises. Dwell on good, true, positive thoughts.

Bible, journal and tea

Quiet Time

2. Practice gratitude.

Focus on the good. Think about, or better yet, record what you are thankful for. I try to consistently write in my “gratitude journal”, which I started after reading Ann VosKamp’s wonderful book, 1000 Gifts. Begin (or continue), a habit of being thankful for the little things, and life will look much better when viewed through a lens of gratitude.

 

3. Spend some time in peace and quiet.

Find at least a little quiet time. Make some time for yourself with no noise, responsibilities or distractions, even if it’s short or seems impossible. Send yourself to your room, lock yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes, step outside and breathe, light a candle, take a drive by yourself, go somewhere peaceful and just sit. Take time to listen to your own thoughts. If you pray, be sure to do that, but don’t forget to stop and listen, too.

votive candle

4. Take care of yourself physically.

Don’t deny the reality of how your physical health affects your emotional state! Get some sleep, take time to relax and rest, drink plenty of water, make healthy eating decisions, and/or get some exercise, and you will immediately begin to feel better emotionally. Take care of medical issues. Check with your doctor and/or do some good research, to decide if you need a little “boost” from supplements or natural remedies that are healthy and rarely have negative side effects.

quinoa with cinnamon, maple syrup and banana

cat on exercise mat

5. Don’t carry your burdens alone.

We were not created to live as hermits. We were designed to live and thrive in community, and it’s not a weakness to need to depend on others. Communicate with your family and loved ones about how you’re feeling, talk to a trusted friend, counselor, or pastor, and don’t let embarrassment stop you. Sometimes all we need is to someone to listen; other times a little direction or encouragement from others will make the difference in our emotional state.

*Added note: I’d love to add a brief comment here to suggest that not only do relationships help support healthy emotions, but they can even help to make us more successful in life. According to this interesting article, we would do well to lean on others, rather than insist on independently going it alone . *

6. Take a baby step.

Often, our stress and emotional lows are partially based on feeling overwhelmed with life’s responsibilities, or things we have not accomplished. Whether its organization or cleaning in your home, or something you need to get done for work or another important commitment, just take the next right step for now. You don’t need to accomplish everything at once, but even a little step will help to motivate you and move you in the right direction, giving you the strength to take one more the next time. Remember that you “eat an elephant” one bite at a time.

 

7. Establish boundaries.

I think everyone should read Dr. Henry Cloud’s life-changing book called Boundaries.  It’s a topic we all need to understand and embrace, because boundaries are healthy and necessary for everyone! We need to embrace our own responsibilities, but let go of those that are not our own. Whether it is an emotional boundary or a practical one, don’t be afraid to say “no” or set reasonable limits for yourself and others, and learn to communicate them clearly.

8. Listen to some quality music.

This could have been combined with my next and last point, but I decided that it’s effective and important enough to list separately. Music is powerful, and can help encourage us and lift our spirits. Positive lyrics and peaceful or joyful music can help to change our mood and move us towards a better attitude and choices. Listen to this song, “Where I Am Right Now”, as an example of a good, encouraging song for those who find themselves in hard times.

reflection in water near falls

9. Get out! 

This also can fall into some other categories, but I think is worth mentioning on it’s own. Nature and the outdoors was created for our pleasure. It is unnatural and unhealthy to stay inside all the time and not get outdoors. We need the fresh air and sun (and a natural dose of vitamin D), as well as just to not feel cooped up indoors for too long. Take a long (or even a short) walk, go on a hike, play with your dog, go for a bike ride, or just sit and breathe in the goodness.

10. Do something fun!

While it is important to take serious steps to make yourself feel better and to address important issues in your life, sometimes a little enjoyment can go a long way towards helping you to feel better. Do something you love, express yourself in creativity, read a good book, work on a hobby, watch an enjoyable television show or movie, play a family board or card game, run around with your kids, jump in a lake, have a good cup or tea or coffee, build a snowman, and/or eat ice-cream! (Yes, I know; I just told you to “make healthy eating choices”, but a little splurge once in awhile is OK and necessary, too.)

 

It’s amazing how even doing a little of something you really enjoy can completely change your mood. It’s OK to take a break from life’s responsibilities and hardships and enjoy some good, clean fun!

votive candle

 

 

While it’s natural and normal to feel the ups and downs of fluctuating emotions, there are things we can do to help stabilize our feelings. These tips can help us to move forward in positive ways in our lives and give us strength and motivation to deal with more important issues. Here’s to “smoothing out” our fickle emotions!

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Do you struggle with the ups and downs of emotions? What do you do to care for yourself when your emotions are lacking? Do you have any tips to add that you have found helpful?

 

30 Day Pilates Body Challenge

I Can’t Resist Sharing This Ten-Minute Pilates Challenge With You!

30 Day Pilates Body Challenge

Care to Join Me?

OK. I wasn’t going to do this, but I simply can’t resist!

It’s already Day #3, but I’d still like to invite you to join me for this 30 Day Pilates Body Challenge hosted by my new friend, Robin Long.

You see, I don’t know Robin, but after just a couple of days, she seems like a kind friend. She is an encouraging coach for this wonderful Pilates exercise challenge for the month of March! If you chose to join us and sign up for the challenge, she will send you a motivating email each day this month, along with a ten-minute daily Pilates workout video to complete. In case you think that ten minutes isn’t enough, I suggest you listen to her comments on that idea, here.

The emails are brief, but filled with encouragement not only to do the exercises, but also to create other healthy habits along with the exercises. So far, Robin has also encouraged us to have an accountability partner, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and to chose another goal in partnership with the workouts this month.

This 30 Day Challenge is all free, but if you want more, you can explore her Pilates subscription service, which can be purchased for a small monthly fee. It offers even more support, including new monthly workouts, missions, recipes and membership to her private “Sisterhood.”

Here are some fun (not exactly breathtaking) photos I’ve already shared on Facebook to mark and celebrate my success. And I must not forget that we are also encouraged to share and support one another on social media, including an encouraging, private Facebook page for those of us participating in this 30 Day Challenge.

Pilates, mat, workout

Day #1 complete (with cat).

Pilates video, water, cats

Day #2 completed, although the cats didn’t move a bit. Drinking water on side table.

Pilates workout, bridge pose, checking in

Day #3 slightly awkward “bridge pose” photo….just checking in.

Prayer & Bible reading, Exercise (Pilates & other), Drink water, "Me" time (read, photos, blog).

Day #3 – My personal goals for this month.

I’ll end by sharing my additional personal goals for this month. We were only asked to chose one, but mine’s a package deal of some daily basics:

  • Prayer & Bible reading
  • Exercise (Pilates challenge plus indoor or outdoor walks)
  • Drink enough water
  • Do something fun for ME each day (read; take or work on photos; work on blog)

These are priorities that I would like to do consistently every day, creating a life-long habit of self-care. This is one challenge that will help me to flourish!

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So, how about it? Can you commit to just ten minutes of Pilates a day for this month? Have you always wanted to try Pilates, but just needed a little push? Perhaps you could share this challenge with someone you think may also benefit. Please let me know if you sign up!