Welcome back, Sit, Stay, & Bloggers! A new year is upon us! Do you subscribe to the “new year, new me” mantra? Did you set a new year’s resolution? We’re officially one month into the new year. Some of you are excelling beyond expectation at your new year’s goals, while others might have dismissed their resolutions altogether. Whatever your status, you set a goal, and that’s progress in and of itself! Be proud!
You might notice some “New year, new me” progress here at Sit, Stay, Blog in the form of a new website design as well as a new domain (www.sit-stay-blog.net)! I’m very excited to share these changes and updates with my readers and hope that it will propel me into a successful year of blogging!
The end of 2018 marked a special time for me — I completed my master’s degree! This monumental experience has reminded me about the importance of pausing to reflect inward on who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m headed. Through this self-reflection, I’ve learned something: I’ve been chasing happiness.
Chasing happiness is a strange concept. On one hand, you’re trying to achieve happiness (a positive). On the other hand, you’re missing out on life as you’re trying to get there (a negative). As I reflected on where I’ve been, I realized that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time striving to live in the future. “I can’t wait until this semester is over.” “I’ll be happier once I move.” “Life will be easier when I have a 9:00 to 5:00 job.” These statements are a reflection of my eagerness to achieve whatever goals I had set for myself; however, they also represent a grim reality of how we, as a society, operate on a day-to-day basis. We wake up on a Monday thinking, “I can’t wait until Friday.” When we are faced with something we don’t want to do, we can’t wait until it’s over with. We are eager. We chase happiness. We push aside our ability to be mindful of the present so that we can invest all of our energy into whatever a future of happiness looks like. I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with this sense of eagerness in striving for happiness in life. For me, however, I’ve learned it’s important to consider the process in how I get there.
Self-reflection can teach you a lot. More recently, it has taught me that, at any given moment, you are in control of how you feel. You have the power to choose happiness or chase it. You can choose to find happiness in the smile given to you by a passerby. You can choose to be happy about the wet doggy kiss your four-legged friend just greeted you with as you walked in the door after a long, hard workday. Perhaps you can choose to be happy about the teachers who have provided you with the education necessary to read this blog post. In the most simplest form, you can choose to feel happy about the beat of your heart that allowed you to wake up this morning and start anew.
This sounds like a relatively simple concept. However, it requires a change in your frame of reference, and change is difficult. We are a society that resists change because it’s much more comfortable to stick to the status quo. I’ve chosen to embark on this new year with the goal of finding happiness each and every day. I am working to eliminate phrases such as “I can’t wait for…” from my vocabulary and instead am choosing to focus on more present day events that spark my happiness. In this first month of 2019, I have actively chosen to feel happy about settling into my new home, spending time at home relaxing with Pinella and Alex, receiving three job offers, increasing my presence at my favorite service dog organization, reading a new book that broadens my political knowledge base, revamping the look and style of Sit, Stay, Blog, and the list goes on. As this year progresses, I hope to continue to be more conscientious and deliberate about finding a way to celebrate all positivity, big or small, while minimizing my exposure to negative energy.
Understanding the difference between choosing and chasing happiness is step one. Step two includes implementing action steps into your daily routine to promote feelings of happiness. Action steps include activities that allow you to be more mindful, present, and in touch with your everyday experiences. While not an exhaustive list, below are some of the strategies I employ to reach a state of mindfulness to ensure happiness:
- Reading a book
- Spending time with an animal (Animals live in the present and are wonderful models to their human counterparts about how to be mindful)
- Coloring/getting crafty
- Unplugging from social media
- Recognizing your five senses (paying attention to how things look, smell, sound, taste, and feel)
- And much, much more!
2019 will be a year of firsts for me. It is the first time in 20 years that my identity will include something other than being a student. I will embark on a new lifestyle that includes full-time employment. I will teach and be taught many new things. I will care for others and be cared for. I will strive to live my life in the present. Most importantly, I will choose happiness.
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Until next time,
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