Day 23: Adrienne's Simple Steps for Happiness Part 1 of 3

This is the first of three days from my friend and New Leaf Instructor Adrienne Koon. I trust you'll enjoy it as much as I did! - Anthony

Event for Today: Metta Monday at 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST Connection Details Here

Quote of the day - “Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit – not because you think someone else wants you to be different."  --Stacey Charter
So many times I’ve heard what people want out of life is to be happy. 
Some personal ramblings:

I have been struggling hardcore with stress...and anxiety about the stress....about the anxiety.  It's due to stress at work and other inner workings of my mind.  You know...self-doubt and feeling undervalued as a human, garden variety depressive thoughts, etc..  We all go through this, but that doesn't invalidate how you may be feeling.  Your feelings are very real for you and if you are not okay with them, it is okay not to be okay right now.  Don’t get stuck there though.  I feel like I may have gotten stuck for a bit too long and have spiraled a bit into more depressive thoughts which makes me want to be a hermit, when in actuality, I am quite extraverted!  It’s so conflicting and painful to feel like that.  If you’re reading this email, I’m sure you’ve felt the same at one (or several) points in your life.  And my heart genuinely goes out to you.
The First Steps:

You betta recognize!  Recognize your thoughts.  When you are feeling any certain way other than how you want to be feeling, there in lies your chance to take action!  So if you don’t mind, I’d like to take these actions together this week!  There are only a few today and I’m not going to mention exercise because that’s the most difficult thing to do when you just don’t feel like moving sometimes. 

  1. Sit outside!  It’s cold in a lot of the country right now, so bundle up.  Brrr!  Look at the sky.  Take it in, whether it’s daytime and the sun is out and you can see each cloud outlined by a shadow of another cloud or if it’s nighttime and the only star you can see is the brightest.  It’s beautiful out there and the graphics are amazing!
  2. Go to bed early!  As I sit up at 1:12am writing this, that is my advice.  :)  I have learned from experience that getting enough sleep (don’t overdue it) is essential to feeling emotionally and mentally better.  Sometimes, we are trying to find something in our gadgets late at night, but the gadgets won’t have the connection or genuineness we so desperately crave at times.
  3. Don’t eat the wrong things!  There is a psychological reason we crave certain foods and when we are feeling down or anxious, we usually reach for the worst of the treats, right?  I do love potato chips with a passion, but if I’m feeling down, I have started trying my absolute best to get something healthier instead.  I started buying unsalted pistachios (because stress + blood pressure = not okay) and they really are not terrible :)  They’re good for you too!

These are the simplest first steps you can take toward happiness.  I am going to do each of these today.  Please do them with me!  I’d love to hear about what you see when you’re outside today and what time you get to bed.  I will let you know in my next email the same.
Practice:  Meditate where you are right now.  Feel what is around you.  Are you on a chair that has a soft fabric and comfy cushion?  Are you sitting in your car in a parking lot?  Are you standing in the bathroom reading this with a toothbrush in one hand?  Notice your surroundings!  Come back to where things are happening.  Right here, right now.  Pay attention to the smells in the air and textures around you.  What is it you see?  As you’re observing, say it aloud!  This is called “grounding” and can bring us back to the present moment in an instant and can get us away from our anxious thoughts. 
This exercise is not to distract from the anxious thoughts, but to recognize we’re having them and to redirect to something healthier!  That, my friends, is a great starting point for anyone who may have needed this email today. 

I hope your day is peaceful and full of connection!  <3
P.S. - Exercise really does work.  I did 12 minutes of a good mix of jumping jacks and dancing like a fool and immediately, I felt better.  ;)
A Nice Resource for Today:  Carve Out Time to Meditate
The discussion group on Facebook can be found here:  New Leaf Meditation Project
<3 AJ

Adrienne Koon
New Leaf Meditation Instructor

Steps for Happiness Part 2 of 3

Good morning Anthony, we have our second installment from our friend AJ! Hope you can join us at tonight's meditation group. - Anthony

Event for Today: The Weekly Book Club is tonight at 9pm EST / 6pm PST but it has a special feature. Halfway through at approximately 9:30pm we'll pause for 10 minutes to talk through a gratitude reflection with our friend and New Leaf Instructor Chris. Details here!  

Quote of the day:  “Happiness is a choice, not a result.  Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy.  No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy.  Your happiness will not come to you.  It can only come from you.”  -- Ralph Marston
Think of the path to happiness as a path in the woods.  The path has to be put there somehow, right?  And it’s usually by you going the same route over and over again.  At first, the path is going to be obstructed and tough to get through, but over time, the path becomes easier to navigate and the result is a beautiful way through the woods!  Such is the brain.  We can create new neural pathways each time we choose to take a new path in our thinking.
Follow up from my previous email:
I was at work and on my lunch break, drove around the block to a duck pond that’s nearby.  There were not a lot of ducks because it’s cold here, but there was a crane standing peacefully, watching over the pond as a guardian to his kingdom.  He was so stoic and regal.  The patience he must have would be tremendous, I’d imagine. 
I also saw a building that was entirely made of mirror glass.  There aren’t many in the area.  I watched as a crow flew by and saw the reflection of the bird in the building.  The wind was slightly blowing and it gave me goosebumps.  It was a lovely, emotional experience.  What was yours?!
Also, I went to bed a little after 10pm :)
Remember how I told you I had been stuck a bit too long in the depressive thoughts pattern?  Well, it really hit me hard the other day.  I had a breakthrough though, I think.  What ultimately is going to help is what I am going to do about this whole horrible web of feelings I’ve unintentionally woven for myself.  And part of it started with writing these emails.
The Next Steps:

  1. Learn something new!  I don’t mean take up woodworking overnight.  I mean just learn something.  Google the world’s strangest facts.  Look up what a “thagomizer” is!  Search “engineerguy” or “Crash Course” on YouTube!  This will help you stay engaged with yourself and can boost your self-confidence!  Then, you can share what you learn with a me!
  2. Ask someone about their day!  I don’t mean the same old “how was your day?” bit.  I mean really ask them about their day.  “What exciting things happened in your day?” or “If you could do any part of your day over again, what would it have been?”  Listening to someone else can help us get out of our cyclical thinking and can make another person feel good, in turn helping us feel good too!  And law of reciprocity says they will ask you how you’re doing in return.  This is your opportunity to open up and form the start of the connection you’re needing.

Only two steps for today, friends!  Please share what you learn for yourself and about someone else!  I’m curious to know.
May your day be filled with willpower and self-compassion.
Choose happiness because it is good for your health.
A Nice Resource for Today:  Meditation Can Change the Brain
<3 AJ

Adrienne Koon
New Leaf Meditation Instructor

Adrienne's Simple Steps for Happiness (Part 3 of 3)

Quote for Today: "You have to learn to select your thoughts the same way you select your clothes everyday.  Now that's a power you can cultivate."  --Eat Pray Love
Event for Today: Water Cooler Wednesday with New Leaf Instructor AJ 9pm EST / 6pm PST - event details here

Follow up from my previous email

Today, I learned that “octothorpe” is another term for the pound sign or “hashtag” as kids call it nowadays. 

I asked a friend about their day and they opened up to me!  I was honored they trusted me.  I won’t go into detail because I will keep what they told me.  After empathizing with their situation, they were able to release that and ask me about my day as well.  I took the opportunity to open up as well and I have to say that I feel better and more connected to my friend.  It’s a good feeling.
The Not Final Step:

  1. Smile!  Yep.  Just smiling can trick your brain into happier thinking.  This is such a small step, but can be oh, so difficult if we’re really just not feeling smiley.  You can do it!
  2. Get rid of something!  We are trying to declutter our minds, right?  Sometimes our belongings can be as cluttering as our thoughts can be.  The following statement is from the article I’ve attached below and rings so true:  “By getting rid of clutter, we’re saying goodbye to an old way of doing life while simultaneously trusting that the present and future will be just as rewarding.” 

Smiling, learning, and going to bed early are only the start of something beautiful which you can cultivate.  It takes practice to move forward and start your happiness journey.  Just as we have our meditation practice, we should also practice selecting our thoughts.  If we don’t want to feel down and out, then we have the ability within us to choose a different thought.
Practice:  Meditate silently for 3 - 5 minutes today.  Think these thoughts as you’re settling in to meditate “may I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be loved”.  Say this phrase three times before your meditation or you can repeat the phrase throughout.
May your day be filled with good choices, prosperity, and happiness.  Please stay in touch!
A Nice Resource for Today:  Getting Rid of Stuff Can Lead to a Healthier Lifestyle
<3 AJ

Adrienne Koon
New Leaf Meditation Instructor