Practice Happiness

Over the past years I’ve grown a lot.

You know how sometimes you look back and see how much you’ve grown. And a little twinge of embarrassment comes over you as you think about how you were before the growth.  Thankful to be standing, I wish I could have learned more quickly (or less painfully- or less publicly).  But that’s not really how my growth worked.

In the past 7 years I’ve experienced dark days when I wondered if my marriage would make it, I felt lonely and angry a lot, instead of letting people get close to help-I found ways to avoid being known, I had to learn how to lean into my husband instead of away from him, I encountered intense physical pain with no clear solution, I got a glimpse of my imperfectness close up (it was uglier than I imagined), I was wrong a lot—but acted like I was right a lot, I had to change shitty thinking patterns, I wrestled with my identity being tied to my work, I started seeing a listen lady to talk through my problems because getting stronger on my own was a dead-end. And I wrestled with God’s love for me.

They say every 7-9 years your marriage will go through some kind of turmoil- the way you interact with each other and how you love each other needs to be re-addressed.  And you have to fall re-in love.  I wonder if that 7-9 years thing is also related to personal growth.  Enough time goes by for real life change to happen- for better or worse.  It’s like enough time goes by that you can’t avoid the real poop of life- you actually have to deal with the poo (or be covered in it… or cover it up with a really good numbing strategy).

The path since I left my job in March 2014 has been slow and tender-- in so many good ways. I have experienced a closeness to God that I was too busy to accept/see/acknowledge/appreciate/fill-in-the-blank before. I have margin for relationship, for gratitude, and for community.  And as it turns out- those things each contribute to our individual sense of happiness!

I recently watched a documentary called Happy.  It was, of course, about finding out what makes people happy.  40% of our happiness on any given day is due to genetics.  We're hardwired for a certain spectrum of happiness, which explains why some people seem happier than others. Another 10% of our happiness is affected by events and experiences.  Like "I got a promotion” or "I lost my dog"… you know things that affect your outlook on any given day.  So that leaves 50% of the pie left.  50% of our happiness is within our control.

So happiness isn’t something that happens to you. It’s something you practice! 

So here are the three things you can do to practice happiness:
  1. Be in relationships where you’re known.  People who are in relationships where they are able to be vulnerable and known in all their imperfections are happier.
  2. Serve the community.  Whatever community you’re a part of, join it.  A study of people who live in Okinawa Island, which also has highest # of 100+ year-olds per capita, attributed their longevity and happiness to their sense of community. Instead of asking what do I get?  happy people ask what do I have to give?
  3. Practice fruits of the spirit.  Since it wasn’t a Christian documentary- they said ‘practice spiritual concepts’.  But the point was, that even if you’re not a religious person, those who practice concepts like gratitude, empathy, compassion, love were happier.  And furthermore, you can actually train your brain to light up with those emotions.
Over the next 8 weeks, I’ll be writing and getting input from friends on how they practice happiness, on how they use their voice, and on how they’ve grown. 

Please stand by for more posts from some of the most loving creative respectful thoughtful people!

Love and happiness,


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