If you are not familiar with Brene Brown you should be. Her Ted Talk, books and now podcast (yay!) have been so helpful and eye opening to me. Mostly in the realm of authenticity. Deepak says “Living a life not owed by you is draining. Being yourself is the most fulfilling”. Yes, it certainly is. It’s just so obvious. I spent SO many years especially in my teens and 20’s not being my authentic self. I was really good at molding myself into whoever I was around. And I continued to do that all the way through my 40’s. For example, I mentioned before that I have bird feeders and like to bird watch. This was a hobby I kept under wraps throughout my adulthood. Why? Because I didn’t think anyone else would have an interest and honestly I thought their eyes would glaze over if I told them. But I love it. I love seeing all the different birds at my feeder. I love identifying new birds. I love tracking my life list to see how many species I’ve seen and I love going on birding walks and hikes. So, if I hid this hobby, how was I going to meet anyone else who enjoys it too? I mean, isn’t that the way to make real friendships? Not fake “let’s get a drink and do nothing else” friendships. Now, when I meet people I’m upfront about all my goofy things I like. I’m SO ME. And people can take it or leave it. It’s amazing how many people I meet who say “me too!” when I tell them something I’m really into. Ugh, so much wasted time not doing that. A long road, but I’ve learned this now. I’m only half way through my life so better to learn it now and make the change than to never have learned it!
It’s true, but until the reckoning of my late 40’s, I never attempted to be my authentic self. And it makes me sad and a little regretful of my past. But, I cannot live there. I can only look forward and be my authentic self from here on out. And in doing this, some people might drop out (and have) of my life. And that’s ok. When I really am who I am I find the right people to be around. They just “show up”. I can’t explain it!
Deepak says we need to do the following to be be our most fulfilled:
Be open and vulnerable Have inner strength Live in the now Increase strengths Be kind Overcome fears Be helpful
This again was all the things I was working on. More reinforcement that I was headed in the right direction.
Do you feel like you are being your authentic self? How could you be more true to yourself. I suggest checking out Brene Brown’s work at https://brenebrown.com.
Needless to say, I was not getting outside much during this time in my life. Taking a walk was out of the question. Even sitting in particular chairs was a problem. I tried to sit out on my patio as much as I could, but where I lived that is not a year round activity. Everything had stopped. I wasn’t able to attend my children’s activities and events for a long while and I was rarely doing anything social with friends or even family. By the time I got to my Happiness Project, I had read enough to know that managing stress was key to good mental and physical health. So, my next monthly resolution would be Get Outside. This would include being in nature and actual people! Did you know that social interaction is a HUGE boost to your longevity? Being disconnected from community is worse for your health than smoking or obesity. It’s a killer in it’s own right. No wonder I was feeling so awful. I was spending a ton of time alone. Doctor visits and seeing my family was the extend of my social time. Up until I started my exercise classes. Those classes were the beginning and I will talk more about that later. To read more about how being outside and social interaction affects our health click here: https://www.businessinsider.com/why-spending-more-time-outside-is-healthy-2017-7. The second month of my Happiness Project looked like this:
Resolution: Get Outside
My Quotation: “Be Active, Be Healthy, BeHappy”
Plan Bird Walk
Be a Local Tourist
Attend First Friday
Find Nature Events
Birding was an activity that I discovered when moving to the east coast from California. I was suddenly seeing birds I’d never seen before which got me interested in bird watching. Since we’ve moved here I’ve always had multiple feeders and bird baths. I would take guided bird walks in local parks to see more and different birds. I decided that I wanted to get back to these walks for a couple of reasons. One, I enjoyed them so much when I was doing them, all the different birds, having a guide to help you find said birds and the com-moratory of the group. Second, it would be an opportunity to be in nature. I have to admit I’m still working on this one. I was hesitating for a long time for a couple of reasons. One, the walking, which I have control of now. And two, the concern about looking up for two hours and the affect on my neck. This sounds like an ABCDE moment. I actually feel like this is doable this year!
Being a local tourist is something I’ve ALWAYS loved to do. And living in near the nation’s capital allows me access to SO many activities and things to do. This was an easy one. I’m a planner by nature. I’d just do what I had always done. Look for local events and attractions and go!
Attend my local area’s First Friday event was something I always had penciled in on my calendar but didn’t go. I was fearful of all the walking and what it would do to my back. But I needed to start getting out there, so I did it. My husband and I attended a First Friday event where we visited local galleries, had a light dinner outside, listened to live music and just chatted as we roamed the streets. It was wonderful. A nice, normal evening. Yes, my back and neck flared up some, but it was worth it and I was exposing myself slowly to allowing my brain to realize this was going to be the new normal.
Being in nature was never a priority for me before. Ever. I wasn’t a camper, hiker, or sporty or outdoorsy in any way. But now I realized the power of nature and being outside on my mental health along with the physical, so on the list it went. When I say “Find Nature Events”, that meant anything that took place outside. I went to local fairs and festivals, plant sales, anything I could find that took place outdoors.
Did you ever say no to an invitation without any real reason to? I did this all the time. I am lucky enough to have many friends in this great community I live in and over the years I am positive I said no more than yes to invitations that came my way. Not to say I wasn’t social, but I could have been doing SO MUCH MORE. So, this was a big one, and one that made an impact on my life. I started saying yes to every invitation. I also became that person who actually nails down a day and time when ideas of getting together were floated about. You know how it goes. You are chatting with friends and someone says “we should do that sometime!” or “we should all go to ..fill in the place!” It all sounds great, and then nothing happens. I became the person who would immediately send a text or an email to get the “thing” organized so it would happen. So, with combination of saying yes to what was coming in with being the organizer of the ideas, I suddenly I had a full social life again. And it was GREAT. Saying yes is still an affirmation I use in meditation sometimes. It’s easy for me to slip into “I don’t feel like it.” Even when I’ve made plans with someone and then don’t feel like going, I remember my reasons (my why) and force myself to go. And guess what? I never regret it. It’s always so energizing to be social. I’m learning a lot of these lessons later in life, well, mid-life, but I thank God I’m learning them at all. Life can be so much better.
Would you like to get outside more often? Try the finding local events (a lot of which are free), go for a walk in nature at a local park, and SAY YES to those invites you get!