Why Choosing Happiness Is Not As Easy As You Think

Thank you Frost Bank for partnering with me on this post! As always, all opinions and review are my own. 

Good morning, friends! If you remember from THIS POST when I first began the 30 Day Optimism Challenge, it’s slowly wrapping up and I’m here to sift through my feelings about the challenge. It was an invitation to choose happiness. As I typed that, it sounds silly. Right? I mean, why would anyone shy away from choosing happiness? Here’s the honest truth for me and most people: It’s easier and more comfortable to choose worry, guilt, anxiety, frustration, sadness, and resentment. Those are easy, effortless feelings. The end result of those emotions is heartache, but they’re still easier to feel because it gives us the right to not change. Change is hard. Our body wants to resist change. Our bodies would rather feel comfortable consumed in negative thoughts of worry, guilt, anxiety, frustration, sadness, and resentment rather than choosing new thoughts because we’re frightened of the unknown. For me, I know what worry feels like. I don’t like it. But I understand it and it understands me. My mind and body knows how to respond to worry. I know what it feels like and it’s so much easier to hold on to instead of accepting a new perception of reality and the FACT that I don’t have to feel the worry if I don’t want to.

Joining this Opt for Optimism Frost Bank 30 Day Challenge has been the best encouragement to choose a little bit of happiness every single day.  I was surprised with how difficult it was for me to find the time to participate in the challenge. But I was even more surprised with how much I quickly craved the encouragement that came every single day. I appreciated the gentle nudging to think positively and respond well to all types of potential negativity. Once you start taking on the challenge to be optimistic, you more quickly notice the negative energy that comes from not choosing to be hopeful. My absolute favorite moment from the Opt for Optimism challenge was the Day 1 card which encouraged changing perspectives. “List 5 Things You’re Grateful For” on a sticky not you’ll see every day. This act of recognizing the things in my life that make it all worth while has been so helpful to combat the tendency to focus on things going wrong. I have loved this new challenge and added this in to my gratitude mediation.

I recognize that my human nature finds it easier to stay in a state of worry and stress, but by simply being mindful of my emotions and how I truly want to feel, I can choose joy.

BEST ADVICE I WAS RECENTLY GIVEN: “I wish I could tell my younger self to keep a running list of my blessing.”

Um, I love this. For a bunch of reasons. Perhaps it’s understanding what I appreciate in life means knowing who I am, what matters to me, and what makes each day worthwhile. And paying attention to what makes me feel grateful connects me to everyone and everything else around me. It definitely doesn’t come easy for me to slow the heck down to see all that I have. Counting my blessings literally pulls me out of my problems and brings me to a safe place. And if I do slow down, I see 5 beautiful crazies to love, and who love me back. I think that’s the most miraculous part of children. No matter what, they love fiercely and unconditionally. What else could I need?!

I’ve always experienced gratitude to be the important key to finding happiness in my success. Focusing on what we are grateful for is such a rewarding way to feel happier and more fulfilled. What downside is there to practicing optimism? I haven’t seen any yet, seems like a goal that we could all benefit from embracing.

As this challenge is coming to an end, I’ve found 2 important questions to consider when I’m struggling to embrace optimism: What barrier am I facing to feel grateful in my daily life, and how can I connect more fully to my feelings of appreciation?

Why do I struggle with feeling grateful most of the time?

  • It’s not easy to acknowledge what I have. When I’m busy and my routine is filled with a long to-do list, I simply stop paying attention. I take for granted the blessings I have and end up not feeling appreciative. It’s hard to recognize my feelings when I’m busy running a household, spending time with my 4 young and very dependent kids, work obligations & deadlines, strengthening my marriage, connecting with my faith and sense of purpose, nourishing friendships, etc.. There’s SO much busy-ness available to get lost in. It’s no wonder why it’s difficult to acknowledge what I  have. Being mindful of the ease to get lost has been the #1 help in staying present with my list of blessings.

How can I feel more grateful?

  • Challenge my critical inner voice. I can feel more gratitude as I smoother the negative thoughts that I have about myself and others. That critical inner voice is a destructive thought process that hurts me in my day to day thinking by shaming myself and spending time worrying about others. My inner voice sometimes sounds like, “It’s all too stressful. You’ll never get anything done. I should never set goals because I obviously don’t have time to focus on them. Don’t bother making an effort. It never works out.” Wow. When I write out the negative inner voice, I can clearly see how it will interferes with my feelings of gratitude. It keeps me in my head, not the beautiful reality surrounding me. When I listen to that voice, I lose sight of my value, and appreciating the good in myself and in others. Acknowledging I have an inner voice and paying attention to what I allow myself to believe is all my choice. Staying in the present, and not listening to the negative self-talk allows me to naturally feel a spirit of optimism and gratitude.

It’s been a humbling privilege to embrace the small and simple challenges from this 30 Day Optimistic Challenge. Pop on over to see what it’s been all about!

Want to see more posts about Gratitude & Optimism? Tell me in the comments below!

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