I’ve been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now but I didn’t really know what the objective of the post would be other than just telling the world I am HAPPY. Then I decided, that’s a good enough reason to write it. Throughout the past few years, I’ve been on a bumpy path of highs and lows, and for the past few months, I’ve been able to say with full honesty that I AM HAPPY. Here are some of the reasons I’ve been able to pinpoint…
I am happy because I love my home.
Moving to Redondo Beach was one of the best decisions I’ve made since I moved to Los Angeles. The slow pace, the friendly people, the beautiful views, the beach, the peaceful mornings and evenings, the rare car honks and my cozy apartment are only a few reasons why I wake up happy every morning and I go to bed with a smile on my face.
I am happy because I’ve been home a lot.
In the past month, I’ve felt like I’ve gained control over my life. I’ve been able to relax, work on personal projects, workout, see friends, snowboard, read, and even take up old hobbies. I haven’t had to drive up and down the 405 much (major freeway here in Los Angeles that has major traffic jams) or any other big freeway so my stress levels and driving frustrations have been very low.
In my line of work, having all this downtime is invaluable and I’ve made the most of it. I enjoy every second of it and don’t take it for granted.
I am happy because I’ve rekindled my love for the cello.
Okay, that might be a little bit of a lie. I used to hate the cello. My parents made me practice very early in the morning, before school, which led me to hate it. I had to practice for at least 45 minutes, in front of a mirror and most of the time before the sun was even up. It always felt like a chore and I never enjoyed it. I remember playing in an orchestra and thinking that even if I played the wrong notes no one would notice since the cello is always hidden in the back and no one really cares for it. When I was allowed to choose between the cello & karate (see I am strong post), I obviously chose karate.
For the last few years, I’ve been meaning to start it up again. I didn’t want to commit to buying a cello – they can be pretty pricey- so when I moved to the beach and found a place that rented them for $40 a month, it was a no-brainer. I took one lesson to refresh my memory, and then went home and started practicing. I am MINDBLOWN by how quickly it all came back to me. After a few weeks of practicing, I can read the notes and play basic songs. Hours go by without me noticing because I am so absorbed and rediscovering this world.
Did you know that:
Science has shown that musical training can change brain structure and function for the better. It can also improve long-term memory and lead to better brain development for those who start at a young age. Furthermore, musicians tend to be more mentally alert, according to new research from a University of Montreal study. (…) A study of cancer patients found that listening and playing music reduced anxiety. Another study revealed that music therapy lowered levels of depression and anxiety. (read more here)
I am happy because I make time for sunsets.
I don’t know how to explain this one yet but all I know is if I am home or on my way home, I instinctively run to the beach to watch the sunset. I’ll either sit there and call a friend or my sister or listen to a podcast or just watch the sun go down in complete awe of mother nature’s beauty. I will also sometimes walk up and down the sidewalk, petting dogs and watching clouds change color.
If I miss the actual sunset but get home and see the pink and orange sky against the black palm trees, it makes me happy. I can’t help it, a huge grin naturally appears on my face.
I am happy because I meditate.
It’s not really the type of meditation that you do at the end of a yoga class, or before you go to bed. It’s more of an active, guided meditation. For a few weeks/month now, I’ve been consistently listening to Justin Su’a’s daily podcasts at sunset. Justin is a Mental Performance coach- I’m still not really sure what that means but I can tell you he has some good reflections and thoughts on life’s daily struggles. The podcast is called Increase your impact.
I am happy because I am being vulnerable.
About 5 years ago a friend of mine recommended that I listen to the TED talk on Vulnerability by Brene Brown. Ever since the first time I listened to it, I’ve found myself going back to it for different reasons and in various phases of my life. I’ve talked about it to friends and colleagues. It really resonated with me. I thought it was a great concept, but I didn’t really know how to apply it. If I’m being fully honest, I was also unsure that I had the courage to do it.
Here are the important conclusions she comes to during the twenty-minute talk:
They (wholehearted people) fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating. (…) They just talked about it being necessary. (…)They thought this was fundamental. (She concludes with) This is what I have found: To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen … to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee, (…) to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough” … then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.
When I posted my last two blogs about being strong and celebrating five years in LA, I received a lot of comments about how courageous I was to be so vulnerable. The first time I heard it I didn’t think much of it, but as it kept coming up I realized maybe I’d become more open, more vulnerable with time, and I was becoming comfortable with it.
And so became the introspection. I realized I did open myself more easily to people. I am more grateful for this life I live in (not that I wasn’t before but I appreciate more naturally the little things.) I jump more easily into new situations wholeheartedly. I can see how this TEDtalk and the concept of being vulnerable started changing me, without being aware of it fully, and has had a wonderful effect on my personal growth.
I am happy because I am me.
I am enough and I know it. I’m not sure when it happened or why, but for the last few months I’ve learned to like me. This is ME. Like me as I am, or don’t- I don’t care. I am not perfect, but I know I am a good friend, sister, colleague and partner. I’m done trying to impress people that don’t deserve it and trying to be someone I’m not. THIS IS ME…AND I AM HAPPY.