What makes you happy?

What has everyone been up to this week?

I had some ups and downs but overall it ended on a high note. Things got back to normal at work after Wednesday and we all kissed and made up. Not literally, of course! But where I work there is just 4 of us. We are very close and are pretty much a family. We have our little sibling squabbles occasionally but always work it out and move on!

Thinking of this week I caught another documentary! I know I am an addict! Scrolling through my Netflix the customized recommendations are probably very unusual. We have “man vs. nature” shows because I have watched almost every survival show on Netflix, “social documentaries”, “food documentaries”, and “British television”. All the documentary recommendations are for me and the British television is for the hubby. We are quite eclectic.

But I caught one about happiness. It travels around the world and looks into many different cultures and talks about their overall happiness level. Did you know that in Japan people literally die because of stress and being over worked? In other cultures, people with almost nothing prove to be happier than many Americans.

This got me thinking about my own life. I am a very happy person now, but there was a period in my life where I struggled with serious depression and anxiety. It kind of runs in my family, my father is seriously nervous and anxious and my mother use to struggle with depression. Now over the years I had a few options; I could live with depression, I could take medication to cope, or I can try to learn to embrace happiness.

Slowly over the years I weeded out things that added turmoil to my life and now can maintain a feeling of content. And no, I didn’t win the lottery! Here is a little bit of insight into my “crazy” and the things that keep me happy!

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~ My job! I realized at some point that 8 hours a day is a long time to spend doing something you hate. I decided that happiness in the workplace was more important to me than money. I worked at a retail store as a front line supervisor when I made this realization. I was pretty much physically sick with stress most of the time. I would come home and cry every night to release the tension and pressure of the day. At the time my husband and I were just newly dating and he would sit with me as I cried and calm me down. DAILY. I had jobs I didn’t like before but this one topped the cake. I sacrificed pay to move to a place I enjoyed. Once I got a new job, which is actually where I currently work, I realized that happiness in the workplace is one of the most important things in my life. I would never put myself in a situation where I hated my job that much again.

~ My family! I have a wonderful husband and two lovable doxies. In addition, both sets of parents, mine and my in-laws, have really supported me unconditionally over the years. Before I started dating Keith, I was in a pretty bad relationship. We had known each other all of our lives and when we exited high school we started dating. We dated for 3 years and the whole relationship was drama. Neither one of us did anything wrong, we just weren’t a team. His personality and mine just could not work together to create a happy relationship. Since I was young and naive we stayed together much longer then we should have. I am by nature more or less a push over, I don’t like confrontation and if a fight gets too intense, I’ll just cave. The boy was more combative and he could break me down every time. This creates an imbalance of give and take in the relationship which made me very stressed out and depressed.

Keith on the other hand works well with my personality. He does not wear me down until I cave and knows not to fight with me. You are much more likely to get something done with a conversation then a fight. If I feel threatened in any way, I serious freeze, I check-out of the conversation and that point forward I just cave to get it over with. I have worked on this quality in myself relentlessly over the years – actively forcing myself to stay strong under the pressure of disagreement – I listen to other people’s point of views but try not to sacrifice my opinions just to avoid conflict. But it is still a struggle. I just am a people pleaser by nature!

~ EXERCISE! I have never been able to manage stress better then when I exercise regularly. For me running is my meditation and it helps me relax. I know running may be scary for some people and relaxing on the run may seem like a weird idea, but once you get into a groove with your feet and the road there is just something soothing about it. In addition, I sleep better and feel better. You can easily monitor progress over something you can be in control of and this is a great self-esteem booster!

~ Friends! I have worked pretty hard over the past 5 years or so surrounding myself with positive people. Not all my friends are naturally positive, but just having a few solid positive influences has done wonders for my outlook on life. For me, this is my track girls. They are all very strong and focused on living happy, healthy lives. Positivity can be contagious in a group setting.

~ Alone time. I do take a few hours a week outside of running to spend time with myself and do something I enjoy. Whether it be reading, watching TV, or going for a hike. I do like the time I give myself. Other than my natural feeling of anxiety and depression, I also struggle with just being anti-social. Put me in groups of 5 or more and I become pretty nervous and irrationally uncomfortable. Now since growth is important in life and I chose to marry a social animal, I force myself into group settings frequently to try to work past my issues with large groups. BUT I do value quality time alone which helps me recharge my “social batteries”.

~ Self-talk!! This is probably one of the most important things in life. If you tell yourself bad things all the time then you will feel bad. I try to stomp my negative self-talk and change it something good.

~ Giving back! With my schedule it is really hard for me to do serious volunteer work as of now, but I try to show compassion to others and do nice things when I can. Even if it is just paying for the coffee behind me in line at the Starbucks. I try to give as many little touches as I can. This not only puts a smile on other peoples face, but makes me feel good to help out someone else.

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I have not struggled with depression in quite a few years. I worked pretty hard to create a strong balance in my life. I try to keep everything in an equilibrium – this helps me better manage stressful situations that may occur. If one area of my life starts getting bumpy, I rely on the other areas to keep that balance which helps me work through the problems I may be having.

Now I know I am young, have no mortgage or kids yet and I am aware that I will face many obstacles ahead. I read many blogs out there and sometimes wonder how I would handle the serious problems that some of these people face. And honestly I don’t know. All I can do is focus on things that I can control and try to let go of the things I cannot.

In any case, I really enjoyed hearing about people around the world and how they maintain happiness. If you have Netflix you should check out this documentary….

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Hope this post wasn’t tooo off topic!! Tomorrow I have a 5K race in the morning so I should be back to business as usual with the constant chatter of running and eating!

I am seriously thinking this week I will have a good weight loss and a high chance of coming in under 220lbs! I have been on track every day and stuck to my workout schedule pretty well! I have a 3 day weekend, so I plan on trying some new recipes and seeing what I can create in the kitchen.

I have some other running news, but I will explain the plan with my new race report tomorrow.

Night all!! Need to get some quality sleep for my race!

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BUT one finally thought – I would love to know….

What makes you happy? And how do you cope with the pressures of life?

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Stay strong! You can do this!

About Morgan

I am a runner who is working to change all the aspects of my life to get fit and stay healthy.
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2 Responses to What makes you happy?

  1. Cindy says:

    Great post! Being mentally healthy/happy is so important for your overall health. Surrounding myself with positive people, the ones I love and having personal time keeps me happy 😀

  2. I love this! It’s great that you can focus on things that make you happy. I love my job as a grad student even though I make very little money — it’s so much easier to greet each day when you’re looking forward to getting where you’re going 🙂

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