I had a birthday last month, and I made a list last year on my birthday that I never published.
It still rings true so I thought I'd use it and add one more for this past year.
I remember in high school a girl threw gum at my car...while I was in it.
A drive by "I hate you" message, if you will.
That experience really bothered me. It was such a blatant expression of hate, and I hardly knew her.
After some sleuthing (it was high school. stuff gets around) I found out that the girl hated me because she thought I was fake. She didn't think anybody was actually that happy all the time.
I couldn't decide whether that made me feel better or worse, because I wasn't faking it. I really was generally happy and tried to be nice. But I also wanted to be genuine, and I wanted people to be able to tell that I was real. Nobody likes being fake, and nobody likes someone who is fake.
Mind you, my life wasn't perfect in high school. I had friends, but no close friends in my class at school, by my senior year most often ate lunch with the school counselor, and had blaring body image issues at play that eventually turned into an eating disorder. But though that was all very real and I had hard days, I wanted to be happy. So I did all I knew how at that point.
I've gone through phases where I've been down and depressed, I think everyone does.
But my life is easier and so much better if I choose to be happy, and I honestly believe it's a choice.
And not that I'm any sage, but here are 26 things I've learned through trying (and sometimes failing miserably) that work for me:
1. Be nice and you'll never regret it (whether they deserve it or not).
2. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
3. Love your family above everything.
4. Eat together.
5. When you know you should, but don't want to... do it anyways.
6. When you follow that advice ^ don't pout, it takes all the good out of it.
7. Talk to your neighbors.
8. If you think of something nice to do, do it.
9. If you dream of something you want to do, do it.
10. Don't let fear take your joy. Fight back (and if that fear comes from anxiety/depression:get help)
11. Love your body- it is amazing. And if it's healthy, you are more blessed than you know.
12. Find your escape, and make time for it (e.g.: reading, running, magazine browsing, painting, etc.)
13. Be confident in who you are. God made you who you are, and there's a reason for that.
14. Eat what makes you feel good. Sometimes that's a cupcake, and sometimes it's salad.
15. Figure out how to love your spouse even when you don't feel love toward your spouse. (*or friend, sibling, parent!)
16. We are all trying, and that looks different on everybody.
17. Practice self care. When you feel better, you do better.
19. Practice patience, and if you aren't good you can learn how.
20. Most things that you think you don't have, you can learn. (insert patience, talents, etc)
21. Learn your spouses (roommate/sibling/boyfriend) love language and speak it. Even if it's unnatural for you.
22. Figure out how to be happy where you are.
23. Say hi to people, even if you are afraid.
24. Say I love you. A lot.
25. Make life meaningful- whatever that looks like for you.
26. Even if you fail, and fail, and fail- keep trying.
So yeah, some days I feel mopey and tired and grumpy and fail miserably. But I keep trying and that makes a huge difference. When I look back, most days are happy days, not because every moment was happy but because I want to be happy and I make an effort to be.
So cheers to 26, and here's to hoping it's the most genuine, happiest one yet.