growth + wellness

Attitude: Be Happy

March 18, 2015


The older I get, the more I realize what a swindle adulthood is. As a child (and even young adult) I thought adults are supposed to live the high life because naturally life could only get better with fewer restrictions and more privileges.

And then I became an adult.

And shit got real.

The never-ending bills are annoying. The paycheck that seems far too small to compenstate your education/training but must be stretched to cover basic living expenses, allow a splurge once or twice a month on things that make you happy (mani, pedi, happy hour), and maybe, just maybe, be used to “save for retirement.” Saving for retirement actually requires you to do this on your own because your employer doesn’t consider your position (yeah, the one you needed a PhD to get) eligible for a 401k match. Doing all that AND trying to save for a house, a commitment ceremony celebration (just feeding and housing people for a few hours costs an unbelievable amount of dollars), future child(ren)’s college fund(s) (if you even procreate, because, let’s be honest, your 30+ year old ovaries are shriveling up with each passing day), or a trip around the world.

Now, you could pay for all of these things on credit, but then that just ups your debt and lowers your credit score. And those things make it increasingly more difficult to do things “right” as an adult. The very idea of owing some one or something and having to pay them for the rest of your life, leaving you only debt to pass on to your children (if you have them) seems to be a twisted version of the American Dream. But, it’s many people’s reality. And it’s a huge burden to carry and always have to consider. It causes stress, and stress has all sorts of consequences to your mental and physical health. Bleh.

Financial worries aside, there are other life things that happen that you’re trying to balance, maintain, build, or move past. Career, family, friendships, personal development – all things that require time, effort, resources, and management. “They” say you can’t have it all, and you don’t realize how true this is, or at the very least how true it seems, until you’re flailing your arms trying to juggle all the things you [think] you want without dropping the ball(s).

And all the while the questions, the doubt, the uncertainty is flooding your mind. Is it supposed to be this difficult? Am I doing something wrong? Should I be doing things differently? Am I spending enough time with/on ___? Have I given my best? Is my best good enough? Is it time to let this dream go? Do I really know what I want? Is what I want right for me? Do I need a change in game plan? Will it get better? Do I wait? Do I move? Did I make the wrong decision? Am I where I should be? What should I do next? Bleh.

All of this internal clutter and clamor is clogging your ability to be the carefree and high functioning adult you thought you would be. You don’t even know how to define how you feel because you feel ALL of the things – good, bad, or ugly.

It’s documented all over this blog the worries and concerns I have dealt with over the years and continue to struggle with even as I type. It’s like I’m always in a state of transition and I can’t tell whether or not I’m on the right track or how and when I’m supposed to make my next move in life. How can I be happy and fulfilled when most of the time I feel like shit? I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Or… maybe it’s just me.

Sometimes I deal with stresses and challenges better than other times. I’m still figuring out how to take control of me and empower myself to handle whatever comes my way. It’s not always easy, Lord knows. But I’m being more intentional about it and I feel like I’m on the right track.

In a recent interview with Attitude, a British gay lifestyle magazine, RuPaul1 – gave some very sage advice about personal ownership and responsibility.

If you feel unhappy, do something about it! And usually, doing something about it has nothing to do with anyone else. It has to do with you changing your mind. A miracle is a change in your perception.

If you feel unhappy, do something about it! That is a good word, Mama Ru!

While it’s a simple concept, I find it really quite profound. And it’s not to say there won’t be moments where everything will be great and amazing and you can be happy at the snap of your own fingers. But I do think there is something to be said about one’s own willingness to take action and choose to be happy, choose to be positive. The more I get into meditation and mindfulness techniques, the more I am reminded how much my attitude and my perception are completely in my control. And when I make the effort to say “I’m going to have a good day,” I have a good damn day. People and situations might still annoy me, I may fail at some task, something really bad might happen – but there’s nothing I can do about those external factors that will always be there. I can control how I react, I can control how I deal with it. And if there’s ever a time I can’t do it on my own, I need to make sure I get help.

I’ll be the first to admit it is NOT easy or comfortable for me to do this. It takes my intentional practice of changing my perception, changing my attitude, every single day. And I don’t always succeed but every day is a new day to do better and be better.

Being happy,

1 I love RuPaul!! I’m slightly obsessed with him. I plan to document my love of RuPaul, his Drag Race show, and his podcast. Coming soon to a blog post near you…

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  • Reply thecollinb March 18, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    these paragraphs have been my life for the past seven months. I left a great job to pursue a career in education. I also left to get time with my family that I was missing. the joy never came, the time that I gained and was giving didn’t seem valued by the ones benefitting the most from it (wife and kids). my perception grew to “everyone is too busy for me”. I felt and still feel super isolated. I almost sabotaged my marriage being insecure. only after weeding through multiple self help sites and books did I come across the gem (no pun) that you are writing about in that it takes a concentrated effort of self to be happy. you allow yourself to be happy as much as you allow yourself to slip into deep funks of depression. but if you have ways to pacify yourself that you truly enjoy you can will yourself into happiness. and it takes that concentrated effort every single day until you find your rhythm again.

    it’s also comforting knowing other people go through it as well which is why it helps to be vulnerable and talk to people you trust about it. cause inside your own head isn’t always a good place to try to work out your problems.

    • Reply Gem March 18, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      wow! this is such a real and honest response, thank you so much for sharing! and i completely understand how you feel. it is comforting knowing that there are other people (most people in fact!) that have been there, are there, or end up there often.

      i’m always in my own head and sometimes that space makes a situation even worse. and maybe one day soon i’ll talk about my quest to meditate and find more inner peace and mental calmness. my brain is busy and i’m trying to slow it down so i can think clearly.

      thanks again for reading and commenting! best wishes to you on being happy 🙂

  • Reply Tunde March 18, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    i 100% feel you. that is all.

  • Reply Tunde March 18, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    *hugs* btw.

    • Reply Gem March 18, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      thank you *hugs*

  • Reply dovegirl1920 March 24, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    I completely understand where you are coming from. When people ask me “how are you doing” I always respond wonderful. I believe that if you speak things into the atmosphere they will become reality. There are times that I think being an adult SUCKS! Then there are other times when I think life is pretty cool and I am enjoying the way that it is playing out.

    • Reply Gem March 25, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      you are right – my adult life is filled with some pretty cool things, and i often take that for granted. and part of the problem may be focusing on the negative more than the positive.

      thank you!

  • Reply OnSlaught April 14, 2015 at 12:20 am

    Your words are a comfort and a reality for many who have come to the actualization that life is complex.

    I think adopting, learning and growing in mindfulness has helped me to both mature and take in stride some of the set backs, obstacles, and pain life has dealt. It has also allowed me to open up and see the beauty in even the most minute and mundane situations in life.

    Thank you for your insight and shine bright Gem!

    • Reply Gem April 18, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      thank you for reading and commenting. i’m still trying to learn how to appreciate even the most minute and mundane situations in life. it’s so easy to be distracted by what seems bad and unwanted, that you miss all the other good things that arise. i just gotta keep practicing 🙂

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