The Happiness Toolkit

Wow wow wow, what a whirlwind of a semester it has been! I can’t believe that my first year at Miami is drawing to a close in the next two weeks. It’s seriously sooo surreal. I haven’t had time to sit down and sort my thoughts out on the blog in weeks. It’s hard for me to not feel guilty about that, which is something I’ve been working on. I don’t have any classes on Mondays, so I literally try to pack every single thing I have to do that week into one day. On Sunday nights when I write out my schedule for my Mondays, it looks a little something like…

  1. Meditate (10 mins)
  2. Workout/shower/breakfast (2 hours)
  3. Get my work done (literally all freakin day)
    1. WRITE BLOG POST (2 hours)
    2. Do my 70 million homework assignments (5+ hours)
    3. Plan Tuesday’s yoga class (1-2 hours)
  4. Yoga teacher training (2 hours)
  5. Crossroads small group (1 hour)
  6. Usually some sort of sorority sisterhood thing (1 hour)

And when I get into bed at the end of the day, usually everything is done…EXCEPT for the blog post, which is my favorite thing to do. (Working out usually doesn’t get done either, not gonna lie). Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, I finally graduated from my 200-hour yoga teacher training program, so I’m officially a certified yoga instructor!!! (With two more hours of free time on Mondays to put towards writing!) (Except for next Monday when I’m locked away studying for five finals!!!!)

The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, to the point where I’ve felt like I’m going to get whiplash. One minute I’m surrounded by my best friends happy as can be, and next thing I know, I’m drowning in homework. Then I’m teaching yoga, and I’m in my element, and all of a sudden I blink and I’m going through crappy boy stuff. That’s not unique to me either – that’s just the way life goes. It’s a constant ebb and flow of ups and downs. I have learned time and time again that I can’t control what life throws at me, but I can choose how I react to it. Life threw me a huge curveball a few weeks ago. It was a massive test of my strength. What happened specifically isn’t what’s important – it’s what I learned from it that I want to talk about today. 

Sooooo without further ado, this is my Happiness Toolkit! What is a happiness toolkit, you may ask?? Good question! The Happiness Toolkit is something that I didn’t even realize I had been compiling over the past year – but when life knocked me off my feet a few weeks ago, I had all of these awesome resources at my disposal that helped to get me back on my feet. Last year I was falling apart…a funny look from someone in class or an unanswered text from a “friend” was enough to send me into hysterics. I don’t think old me would have been able to handle this curveball, but new me most certainly can. I heard a really awesome quote yesterday about discipline…”Do today what you don’t want to do so that tomorrow you can do what you couldn’t do before.” Self-love has been my practice for the past year, and I have been pretty dang disciplined about it. Have there been slip-ups along the way? Fork yeah there have been. But, by being disciplined in the practice of self-love, I have been able to conquer challenges I couldn’t have before. I couldn’t do it alone though, so here are the things that get me through.

  1. An intention. When life is going great, there are so many reasons to get out of bed in the morning. But, when life is sucking ass (or even when it’s just kinda average or mehh) sometimes laying in bed all day sounds more appealing than getting up. It is easy to get lost in the mundaneness of everyday life and to forget why you made an effort to put on pants and take on the day. Every yoga class starts off with intention setting. When I teach, I lead my students through a warm-up, and when I bring them to standing at the top of the mat, I give them 30 or so seconds to set an intention for their practice. I say, “Take these next moments to set an intention for your practice this morning. Maybe there is something you want to focus on, or someone you want to dedicate this to, or something you want to carry with you throughout your day.” It’s one of my favorite parts of practicing yoga besides savasana (aka the few minutes you spend at the end of practice just lying on your back and breathing). In my own experience as a practitioner, I get super caught up the physical postures or remembering to breathe or fixing my clothes or wiping my sweat that I forget why I even decided to practice that day in the first place. I need to be reminded throughout the hour to come back to my intention. This is true for life as well. I have to be reminded every day what it is that I put on pants for, so every morning I write down my intention at the top of my planner. You don’t need a new one every day though! Just pick one and roll with it! If you’re having trouble coming up with one, you can steal mine!!! My underlying intention for every day is this: “I am in the progress of positive change.” And just for funzies here are some other ones that I love! “Set out to learn something today that you didn’t know before.” “Do today what you don’t want to do so that tomorrow you can do what you couldn’t do before.” (I just love that one). Be as creative as you want, but I recommend writing it down and referencing it throughout your day. Setting an intention will help you outline your purpose.
  2. Family. Damn, I love my family. I have amazing parents, and my sisters are my best friends. I am so blessed to have the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that I do. (And my doggos too, can’t forget Beau and Gertie). But my family extends far beyond those that I share my name and DNA with. I have found friends at school that I love like sisters. I have deep roots back home with the girls I grew up with. When I tell stories about my guy friends, I usually say at some point, “I love him so much, he’s like a brother to me.” I have role models that when I speak of them, I say, “She’s like my second mom.” Family is there to lift you higher through the good times, and to hoist you back up when you fall into the bad times. Family is an absolutely essential part of the Happiness Toolkit. If nothing else, fill your Toolkit up with those that you love.
  3. A hobby. This can be anything that adds a little light to your life. For me, it’s yoga. Or writing. Or cooking. Just find one thing to do that makes you smile. At home when I cook things, I get this hum inside my body. It’s like a weird electric buzz. I think about nothing other than what I’m creating during that moment. It’s the perfect distraction because I get so enveloped in what I’m doing that I forget why I was upset. And when I’m done, I have something delicious that I created, and I’m left fuller than I was when I started – both physically and emotionally. The worst mistake you can make when you’re sad is falling victim to your vices. I have never understood why people drown themselves in alcohol when they’re upset. But when I take a step back and release judgment, I recognize that I fall victim to my vice all of the time, which is junk food in its many many forms. After a late night binge fest, I feel shittier than I already did. Trust me…I was so stressed out this week over two papers I had due the same night that I ate my body weight in cheese sticks. I woke up with some fresh pimples to show for it. When I cook when I’m sad, it’s a way for me to harness some control over my vice. I don’t just grab the nearest salty thing I can find and shovel it down my throat…I have to put some thought and intention behind what I’m putting into my body. A hobby is a perfect addition to every Toolkit because it serves so many purposes. It’s a distraction, it’s a cathartic release of energy. It can be your intention even! “Today, I’m going to cook something wonderful and nourishing.” Set that as your intention and roll with it.
  4. Something to believe in. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it’s guiding you towards a place of love and light. Maybe it’s a belief in God, maybe it’s the belief that it’s gonna finally stop freaking raining every 30 seconds and the sun is gonna come out, or maybe it’s the simple belief in the good things that are coming. It’s the clarity that comes with recognizing that flowers that are blooming all over campus are because of the rain that’s been washing over Oxford. Maybe set this as your intention…”I believe in the good things coming.” Having a little faith will relieve so many burdens off your shoulders.
  5. Some other important items to include: A binge-worthy Netflix show (The Office has helped me laugh my way through some dark times). Some happy reading material…check out my girls Ashley Hetherington on http://thehoneyscoop.com and Allie Humaney on https://www.positivelyallie.com for some inspiration! I’ve been so lucky to get to know these two girls over this school year, and they’re doing big things on their blogs! A journal is also a Toolkit essential to help you get your feelings out on paper. A solid happy music playlist (I can’t stop listening to my thetaaa flowww playlist on Spotify that I made when I taught yoga as a sisterhood event), or a good podcast (Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations!!!) And last but not least a smile :)))))))))))))

I’m so thankful that I had all of these things to help lift me back up and to continue to help me build a stronger and better version of myself. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it damn well wasn’t built without some tools! 

In grace and gratitude, in love and light…xoxo!

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