CHOOSING HAPPY!

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About three weeks ago I found myself in a place I didn’t want to be. I was in a job that made me unhappy. I felt unmotivated to write, enjoy and simply participate in the better things in life. It came to a point where I had to make a decision to actively change my life. So I did something terrifying and I quit my regular 9-5 job to pursue something simple yet completely necessary, happiness. 

Standing up to ourselves and admitting a change has to be made is always the first step. Too many times we live in denial hoping a situation will get better on its own or that over time we will just learn to adjust. We force ourselves to “count our blessings” and feel grateful for something that simply makes us unhappy. Once we admit to ourselves how important it is to close that chapter of fear and dread, we can then begin with something new and beautiful.

Once I made the conscious decision that something had to be done, I came to terms with it. I stuck to it in my mind, never letting myself relapse on the idea of remaining in the situation. Any time I thought “maybe I could do this, just for a little longer” I made sure to ask myself “why?…” What on earth was more important to me than being happy and getting my life back? The answer was absolutely nothing.

The next and final step was putting the plan into action. I worked up the courage to speak to those I needed to, face to face, and told them the reason for my change. And that came with mounds of support. Our biggest fear is looking like a coward, being told we are incompetent, or facing the malicious backlash of our decision. Once you can get past the fear of others judgement and remember that your decision is not an easy one to make but it is NECESSARY, the rest will seem insignificant.

Three weeks later I feel rejuvenated. I am excited about my life again. I wake up every day looking at it like a new adventure. Of course I worry about things like money and what people will think of me not having a steady income. But you know what I do have now? Happiness, a joie de vive, a hunger for creativity and a stimulating yearning to live every day to the fullest. Because money is not the thing I desire most in life, its being happy, doing what I love or at least not doing what I hate. And I know I will never regret it for a second.

xo

L

100 Ways to Be Happy: #6- Stop “Missing” Out

d6ac481dbb1446520e282d07129c889eOne of the biggest problems with social media today is the commonly heard phrase ‘FOMO’ or Fear of Missing Out. Cruising through facebook or instagram can leave us feeling like we are in a world where everything we want to participate in is happening without us, but that’s simply not the case. That’s why lesson #6 is one I am working on as well…

#6. STOP feeling like you’re missing out.

It wasn’t until a recent conversation I had that I noticed, more times that not someone will come back from the bathroom or late to a party and go, “What did I miss?” We worry so much about what’s happening without us that we forget to realize that our own personal experiences are the things that matter most. And the answer to your question is always going to be “You missed nothing!” Over time I have realized how consumed I am in seeing how other people’s days are beating mine in comparison over instagram. How friends back home are settling down and getting married, and I wonder, am I missing out on this? The answer is no and slowly I am learning that I am having my own experiences that I am sure people are envious of! Every experience we have leaves a lasting effect on our day, or our life. The experience you were supposed to have waiting in like for twenty minutes for the women’s restroom shouldn’t be perceived as “I’m missing out on this party by waiting in this line”, but instead “Well this is my own path and a different moment I am meant to have instead, maybe something magical will happen here”. As silly as it all sounds, the second we start to ditch our FOMO and really embrace our own small unique experiences, the more we will love ourselves and find the happiness we are searching for. It’s not on your friends twitter page, or on your newsfeed on said miscellaneous social media platform, but instead that happiness is right inside of you.

nOURISH: Chicken Satay.

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I recently was blessed enough to take a trip to the sacred and beautiful Thailand. Thai food was something I always loved, but experiencing it at its most authentic form was such a gift. Spicy food is something I always crave and after a stressful or long day my favorite thing to do is crawl up on the couch with a good Indian or Thai dish. Somehow it always heals my soul and is something I know will always be there to comfort me. For those who aren’t necessarily into the spiciest foods but love ethnic cuisines, here is an easy and great app for you to bring to your next “feel good” event.

This Recipe (and images) was borrowed with love from www.blueapron.com

Ingredients
12 Ounces Boneless, Skinless Chicken
Breast, Sliced
2 Green Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Bunch Cilantro
1 Red Onion
¾ Cup Jasmine Rice
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
2 Tablespoons Mirin
¼ Cup Peanut Butter
12 Wooden Skewers

 

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Prepare the ingredients:
Wash and dry the fresh produce. Cut the green tomatoes into wedges. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Peel and thinly slice the red onion. Place the chicken in a bowl with half of the soy sauce and toss to thoroughly coat; set aside to marinate.
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Cook the rice:
In a small pot, combine the rice, a pinch of salt and 1½ cups of water. Heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer 18 to 22 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Fluff the finished rice with a fork.
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Marinate the tomatoes:
While the rice cooks, in a medium bowl, combine thetomatoes, rice vinegar as much of the red onion as you’d like (you may have extra onion), and half of both the cilantro and sesame oil. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to marinate
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Cook the chicken:
While the rice cooks, thread the marinated chicken onto theskewers. (You may have extra skewers.) In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of oil on medium-high until hot. Add the skewered chicken and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate.
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Make the peanut sauce:
While the chicken cooks, in a medium bowl, combine thepeanut butter, mirin and the remaining soy sauce and sesame oil. Whisk in 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to achieve your desired consistency for dipping.
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Plate your dish:
Divide the cooked rice and marinated tomatoes between 2 plates. Place the finished chicken skewers on top of the rice. Garnish with the remaining cilantro. Serve with the peanut sauce on the side for dipping. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Juggling Full Time Work with Full Time Happiness

 I just went from four months of riding the “F-unEmployment” train to working six days a week with two jobs and busting my ass. The opportunity arose so quickly and waiting to pull the trigger was not an option. In order to seize the day, I had to move quickly and reprioritize my life. The stress and learning curve of a new job on top of everything else life dishes out can make it difficult to find time to enjoy life. Here are some tips I am giving myself as well as others for when work or stress get in the way of your happiness.

 

  1. Work to Live. One thing we often forget (especially as a modern career driven individual) is that we work to SURVIVE. Making money should never take priority over your happiness. Keep in mind that we often bust our asses so we can accomplish and spend time doing the things in life that really matter like spend time with our family, take vacations, spread love, and be happy.

 

  1. Take time to check out. Technology has made it really hard for us in this day and age to “check out” of work. Constantly being bombarded by emails or texts about the next day can make work feel constant. When you get home from work or when the clock hits six, do something to check yourself out for the day. Meditate, put your phone on airplane mode, savor a dinner, call an old friend, but do SOMETHING to switch your brain from work mode to “me” mode and relish in it. You deserve to have your own time.

 

  1. Stay organized. Keep a list of things you need to do so you don’t get overwhelmed. Prioritize your list and try to manage your time during the day. Mapping out your duties will help you feel less stressed when you can see it all in front of you in a calendar or to-do list. Nothing feels more satisfying then crossing out your accomplishments and it will be easier to enjoy that free time when it comes.

 

  1. Don’t Procrastinate. Try and get your tasks out of the way as soon as possible. Letting things build up only piles on stress towards the weekend. Try and accomplish things when they are assigned to you so you can get them out of the way and start the weekend early! I promise it will make you feel better about your time management.

 

  1. Spend free time doing things you love with people you love. When your free time is limited, spend it with the people you treasure most. Often times we try to cram in work drinks or other commitments we don’t need to make for ourselves. You should be looking forward to the time you have set aside for yourself so do something you love with the people you love and honor yourself and how hard you work. The rest of the world can wait.

Xo

L

100 Ways to be Happy- #5: Do Favors for Free

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As we continue on our journey together to find the perfect place between productivity and absolutely bliss, we make our way to #5 on our list of little things we can do every day to help make us happy.

#5: Do Favors For Free

This is something even I have a hard time doing, and I’ll admit that. Often times we find ourselves offering favors and cataloging them so we can then use that resource later on when we need it. And although that is how favors work, that often dismantles the true intention behind doing a good deed. When a friend asks for a ride to the airport, we say “sure get me back next time”, or when we watch a friends pet we hope next time we’re gone they’ll be around to water our plants. And sure, that is what friends are for (to an extent) but the thing that will take the pressure of off favors and give us that warm fuzzy feeling inside is doing those favors for free.

We often place the expectations we have for ourselves on others and forget that this simply isn’t how the world works. And of course doing a favor for someone should mean they will be there when we need them to return it, but sometimes we might be disappointed or upset when that person doesn’t follow through. So how do we change this?

We change our perspective on definition of the word “favor”. 

Trusting that the universe (here we are back at #1!) will return that favor for us in a mysterious way later on should be the only thing we need to rely on when it comes to helping others. Same works for charity and good deeds. Helping others should be a choice we make to set an example, to give love back to the world and to DEMOLISH selfishness, not bring it upon ourselves.

So to practice this, do a favor for a stranger today, for someone you don’t know and can’t ask for a favor in return later on. Give a friend a ride because you love them and you want to. Not to bank on it later. I promise these favors will stop feeling like favors at all once we learn to turn them into gifts we give to those we care about.

“Know you not that a good man does nothing for appearance sake, but for the sake of having done right?”

 – Epictetus

 

xo

L

“Forget Your Troubles and Dance” – NotesFromFriends

 

unnamedLife can become very overwhelming at times, especially as you get older and take on more responsibilities. We over stress ourselves about things like money, love, and our health. I’ve fallen victim to this stress at many points in my life, but there has always been one thing that helped me maintain my sanity and happiness: DANCING!

In the words of Bob Marley, “forget your troubles and dance!” During high school, when I felt overwhelmed by the amount of homework my teachers assigned or I wanted to cry because my crush didn’t call me back, I would go to my hip hop dance class and all would be forgotten. My brain would shake itself of any stress that plagued it and focus solely on the beat of the music and the choreography of my dance teacher. In that two hour dance class, I’d clear my head and engage deeply with the present moment as I swayed my hips, bobbed my head, and tapped my feet. Dancing became my medicine; my relief.

Throughout college, I discovered that the best cure for a broken heart was a night out dancing with my girlfriends. They’d drag me off the couch away from my crumpled up tissues and sappy movies, force me to change out of my pjs, and bring me to a party or club to dance. Within the first few minutes, I’d release all the tension in my heart and embrace the music that hugged me like an old friend. We’d laugh, grin widely, and shake off our stress on the dance floor. Nothing in the world can compare to the happiness that overcomes me when I’m dancing.

The stress of Graduate school was still no match for the happy feet I experienced every Tuesday night at my Salsa class. After ten hours of thesis writing, the only cure was a night in the arms of my dance partners spinning on the dance floor. There’s no room for negative thoughts when you are tuning into the rhythm and beat of a song blasting overhead. Your brain forces out all thoughts, while your body responds to the music: shaking, swaying, tapping, snapping, spinning.

Not everyone loves dancing, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find this same euphoric happiness doing other physical activities. Research has shown that physical activity releases serotonin in the brain, which is directly correlated with happiness. So if you enjoy running, working out at the gym, biking, or playing sports, make time for those activities in your life. No matter how busy I get, I make time for dancing. If I don’t dance for a few weeks, I start feeling down. Then I finally go dancing and immediately feel that jolt of happiness and am reminded why I love it so much.

Life is too short to stress all the time and only dedicate ourselves to working. We need to do more things that make us happy. Taking a half hour each day to do some sort of physical activity, can greatly improve our happiness. For me, turning on Pandora and dancing around my house or office can give me that much needed boost of endorphins and happiness. So take the time each day to go for a run, a bike ride, work out, or dance alone like no one is watching, because your happiness depends on it!

By: Melissa Gittelman, author of “Sisters, Sunsets, and Self Discovery”

 

100 Ways to be Happy- #4: Magnetize Optimism

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After having some time to digest those first three #100ways I hope you are ready for more! Sometimes it takes a few tries to get into new habits, especially if they mean changing your mental outlook. But if you have been following along and trying any or all of the #100ways so far in your every day life, then #4 should be easy for you.

Magnetize Optimism. 

It’s easy to walk around life being consumed with the worries and what-if scenarios that plague our subconscious, and it’s okay to acknowledge and give them a moment to live, but the important skill is knowing how to let them go. 

Have you ever walked into a room and sensed the intensity of a fight, someone crying or having just been frustrated, and you just know before a word has ever been spoken? That’s because all of our emotions have energetic properties to them that exist and range outside of our own bodies.

We can all think of a person we have met at one point or another that we were drawn to, wanted to be like, or felt a comfort or stability with seconds after the introduction. Think about the demeanor of that person. They most likely were fun to be around, happy, and most of all Optimistic. Placing optimistic energy into the universe will magnetize more happiness and optimism to your life. 

There are only so many words that can explain the change and effect this will have on your life, so instead of challenging me while reading this post, TRY IT YOURSELF. The task itself is simple. Take time today to walk into a meeting feeling good about the information you have to offer, find the silver lining in the misfortunes of your day, write down ten things that get you out of bed every morning, and use those forces to drive you and emit your own optimism. Changing that energy around you will be a gift that you can then pass on to others. And for some it may not be as easy to do, but nothing worth changing for ever is.

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude”. – Oprah Winfrey

xo

L

 

nOURISH: Fuel Thin Mint Smoothie

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Smoothies have become a simple pre workout breakfast option for me over the last year. I am always looking for new recipes and interesting twists to making vegetables delicious! Moving to Los Angeles was a revolutionary step in understanding how my body could get the nutrition it needed in the most delicious ways possible and I am proud to call myself a bit of a Foodie. But what I love is being able to enjoy something with both my mind (what says yum), my body (what feels good after the yum) and my soul (what makes me go back for more). Plus anything with the words THIN MINT in the title perks me up!

 

The Perfect (Fuel) Thin Mint Smoothie 

(This recipe brought to you by ClassPass!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 square of Perfect Fuel Chocolate
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 10-15 mint leaves
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1.5 cups vanilla almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1-2 dates (optional, for added sweetness)
  • 2 ice cubes

xo

L

Reiki: A Massage for the Soul

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Invented by 19th century Buddhist, Mikao Usui, the term Reiki derives from two Japanese words, Rei being the higher intelligence that guides us and Ki the non-physical energy that animates all living creatures. After doing my research on the healing powers of Reiki, I finally took the plunge and had a couple of sessions. Now I feel it is my duty to spread the good word on this holistic treatment for anyone seeking a remedy to their physical, mental, or emotional imbalance. For those of you who are skeptics, trust in the knowledge that energy healing is a practice dating back thousands of years and is just as applicable in today’s modern society!

I’ve heard the name but what is Reiki?

 Reiki is a form of natural healing to balance, shift or replenish energy throughout the body. Similar to a massage, Reiki requires you to lie (fully clothed) on a table while the healer uses the light placing of hands on or over areas of the body, specifically the different chakras to channel that energy.

Okay so how does it work?

 Our thoughts and emotions are connected to the world through energy. When those thoughts and emotions are negative, that negativity creates an actual blockage on our cells and organs. Reiki works by clearing out the negative blockage of energy within our bodies and gives them a positive recharge. It raises the vibrations in and around the physical body to relieve us of negative thoughts or feelings. Reiki disables our fight or flight mechanism and enables a relaxation mechanism, which allows our bodies to heal (just as sleep heals a head cold, etc.).

How can Reiki help me personally?

Reiki can be used for all types of healing. I personally have gotten Reiki to become more in tuned with my creativity and to balance and understand myself. Reiki can also be used for stress reduction, anxiety, trauma, pre or post surgery, improving immunity, reducing side effects of medication, and the list goes on.

What should I expect to experience?

 Although I am fairly new to Reiki, I had a similar experience both times during my session. It is easy to fall into a meditative state during Reiki, which allows for a really transcendental experience. During the session, I experienced very vivid memories I had until then forgotten about, mostly of my childhood. I also experienced very lucid daydreams or visions, all things that led to a feeling of infinite peace and tranquility within my own body and mind. Many of these visions struck a chord with me emotionally and would give me overwhelming feelings of happiness or relief that came close to tears. After the session, I felt patient and effortlessly joyful. Conquering my day was inspiring and I found challenges to be rewarding and enjoyable rather than frustrating or exhausting. I was actively being the person I aspire to be.

Do I have to believe it in to receive it?

 No! This is something I struggled with at first when pitching the idea to friends and family. The beautiful thing about Reiki is it can be done on you without you even knowing (in a non-violating way). Many Reiki practitioners offer remote healing for people unable to travel or be with the practitioner. Reiki can also be done on animals to prolong their well-being and relieve pain. Give it a shot, or learn how to do it on yourself!

If you are in the Los Angeles area or beyond and are interested in receiving or learning more about Reiki check out: http://www.reikiforcreativeminds.com/

xo

L

100 Ways to be Happy- #3: Meditate Into Something You Love

 

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Meditation. An anomaly for many people, but as Buddhism, Hinduism, Yoga and other spiritual practices become increasingly mainstream, we find it being suggested to us more and more.

Many people have a hard time sitting in a dark room with their eyes closed trying to clear their mind from all thoughts. What will I eat for dinner? What am I going to wear to work tomorrow? Did I feed my cat earlier?

Getting rid of these thoughts and just being inside of your shell can be a really difficult (but beneficial!) practice for the modern soul. We are so used to the immediacy of connection and communication in our lives that it is often hard for us to turn that off and just be with our bodies.

SO, if you are the kind of person who just CANT find a way to quiet your mind for twenty minutes, thats fine!! A friend once told me during a discussion about meditation that he suffers from the same problem, but found a solution. This was an revelatory piece of advice that stuck with me:

MEDITATE INTO SOMETHING YOU LOVE.

Instead of sitting quietly inside yourself, be in the moment and MEDITATE into a delicious desert, a hug from a friend, a good book at lunch, a workout you like to do. Find something that you really appreciate in your life and MEDITATE into that moment. Enjoy and be one with that experience. Adding up all of these little things and taking even a minute to acknowledge and appreciate the experiences we have, IS A MEDITATION.

The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large. – Confucius

 

xo

L

 

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