28 Days of Adding Happiness – 5 Strategies for Being Happier

28 Days of Adding HappinessI cannot believe that it has been almost 28 days already! I really hope that this blogging series has helped some of you and has in itself added some happiness to the world. It has been an incredible project, and I am so grateful for having the opportunity to work with Sarah and to create such a positive project in the blog community.

Throughout this project we have posted up things that make us happy, things that make you happy, and things that make others happy. We have shared positive links, ideas, projects, and posts with each of you. Hopefully each day you were able to look forward to the information and creative awesomeness that we wrote to the world.

The saddest part of accomplishing a big project like this though is that it will eventually and inevitably come to an end. At some point there is a stopping point, or a point in which we must move on to the next project or the next thing. As one of my last posts in this series, I want to NOT say goodbye. I am hoping that you will continue to join me here at my blog for positive posts that celebrate life and bring happiness to others. In the mean time, I wanted to share a few ideas/ strategies for being happier:

  1. Choose Happiness – Happiness is a choice that we make for ourselves each day. We can choose to me weak, sad, upset, or unhappy. Or we can choose to be strong, happy, kind, loving, and positive each day. It is our choice and that is what makes it so beautiful! Sure, there are tons of things that can drag us down each day, but if we wake up and say to ourselves, “Today I choose happy!” it’s going to be a huge step toward making that happen in our lives!
  2. Be Grateful – Without a sense of gratitude, happiness can diminish. We become bitter and sad. We can feel alone or grouchy. However, when we learn to be grateful, even the small triumphs, tokens, and achievements become something to celebrate. Be grateful for what you have, who you have, and what you are able to do. Being here on this earth is a blessing. Don’t forget to be grateful for that!
  3. Forgive People – Holding a grudge is such a heavy burden. It brings us down, handicaps us, and eventually defeats us. When someone is truly sorry, forgiving them will free up all sorts of time and energy in your life. You will no longer need to worry about your hatred, your bitterness, your sadness. You will have so much more time for positive, wonderful, and happy emotions. You will feel so much better!
  4. Accept Your Flaws – We are all flawed and that is one of the most beautiful things in this world. Being flawed is what allows us to connect with others! Think about it, if you were perfect in every way, you would never need others to make you feel complete. If you were perfect, you wouldn’t need anyone because you could do everything for yourself and do it perfectly. There is a reason that we have people in this world that are talented in Art or Science, or Math or Writing, and the reason is because we can’t do it all ourselves. Once we accept this, we can begin loving ourselves for our own strengths!
  5. Laugh – Laughter is healing. It gives us the opportunity to feel good. Laughter reminds us that every moment of life doesn’t have to be series. It gives us a chance to let go a little, and as a little extra bonus, it ensures that we smile. Have you ever laughed without smiling? I challenge you to try that! Laughter is a real medicine for sadness and the best prescription for happiness. Do it every day!

 

Monday’s are Magical – Pink Hair Don’t Care

As some of you probably know by now, I recently colored my hair pink. It was a decision many, many years in the making, and the right time was finally now. Although I certainly don’t feel that I must defend this decision, I do have an explanation.  Even my husband is on board with my #pinkhairdontcare choice! Pink Hair Don't Care  Coloring my hair was something I had always wanted to do. To be honest, the first memory I have of colored hair was actually done on a dog. I thought it was so cute, and I really wanted it for myself, however, it never really made sense. Under the roof of my parents, I probably would have been grounded until I was 50, and after graduation and my move to California, I was still trying to figure everything out and get a decent job. It had always been impressed upon me that “normal” was the only way to be if I wanted a good job and “normal” did not include colored hair.

The first time I ever went crazy with my hair, it really wasn’t crazy at all. I was with my gal pal, Charlie at the mall and found some Mohawk hair product. We went straight back to my place where I proceeded to give myself a short Mohawk and die it so black that it almost looked blue. Since I was in the army at the time, I had to cut it in a way that I could wear it down at work, so I didn’t get in trouble for the cut, but I did get in trouble for the color which I had to immediately change. Here’s a picture of me growing out the Mohawk:

Mohawk Hair After that experience, I stayed inside the lines for the most part. I only used hair colors that were basically natural until I got out of the military. Then, I decided to put one small streak of hot pink in the front of my hair. I liked it, but it didn’t last long. Again, the boss wasn’t pleased, so I had to get rid of it pretty quickly. About a year later, I decided to go blond. It wasn’t very pretty on me. Going from a dark brown to blond overnight produces an ugly warm blond color in my hair that just wasn’t attractive. After a few months, I went back to normal. Then, a few days later, I decided to put a few streaks of blue and purple in my hair. That was a lot of fun until again, I got a corporate job and the boss frowned upon my colorful hair. Back to normal again!

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? It seems like every time I do something fun with my hair, my boss gets mad. For some reason, colored hair is frowned upon, and those that have colored hair get strange glances from people wherever they go. I almost feel as though colored hair is more horrific to the average boss than a body full of tattoos. At least that’s how it feels!

However, I have found myself intrigued by both tattoos and colored hair. I’ve never seen either as a bad thing, or looked at either with a raised eyebrow. I love when I see someone with tattoos or colorful hair. I think it’s beautiful. For the most part, I don’t even think that they do it for attention. I think they do it because they can and because they want to. Everyday people wear their favorite color clothing, drive their favorite color car, and decorate their homes with their favorite color, so why must it be so taboo to color your hair with your favorite color?

Back in June I announced my new, full-time job – working for myself from home as the CEO and Creative Director of Pretty Much (See that post here). I no longer had a corporate job in which I had to keep the boss happy. I was finally in charge and could do what I wanted with my hair. I’d been waiting forever for this opportunity, and I was pretty darn excited. I talked to my husband about it, and even he was on-board. So, just before we left for vacation, I went in and had my hair colored pink. I had a professional do it to ensure that despite the wild color, it would still look good and wouldn’t look tacky or trashy.

pinkhairdontcare2 pinkhairdontcare3My thought process, and the argument I used to win my husband over on the idea was that if I were given the choice between two different creative professionals to decorate my wedding and create my stationary, the first one I would check into would be the one with pink hair over the one with regular brown hair. I’m not saying that brown hair is bad or boring or that you shouldn’t have it, but I know from my personal experience that pink hair defiantly makes a create statement and brings out my personality.

So far, after nearly two weeks as a pink headed lady, I still love every inch of the pink. I still feel confident in my choice as well. It makes me really happy to know that there isn’t a single person that can tell me to change it or to fix it. I love that I can have pink hair. In a way, you might say “I left my 9-5 for this!”

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28 Days of Adding Happiness – Give Away your Gratitude

Thank youThe moment that we have bad service of that somebody doesn’t smile at as, we tend to complain. Any bad experience certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. We quickly hop online to write up a bad review or speak to the manager, but how often do those positive interactions get noticed. Sure, we might add a little more to the tip at a restaurant or smile at a stranger who opened the door for us, but honestly, how often do you really go out of your way when somebody makes your day or helps you out?

In the last few months, my husband and I have been trying to recognize these moments and situations a bit more. Have you ever seen those trucks that ask “How’s my Driving?” and list a phone number to call? We’ve actually called those numbers to give compliments to a diver who is driving well. It surprises the people on the other end of the phone line when they realize we are calling about a compliment instead of a complaint. Little things like this can make somebody’s day. It really can mean a lot to somebody.

Today, I want to offer you a way to make these people realize that they are appreciated; to show them that their kindness has not gone unnoticed. Go ahead and download these adorable little thank you notes. You can print them out and cut them apart. Then, carry them around with you. When somebody acts kindly or in a way that puts a smile on your face, give them one of these little cards! It will surprise them a whole lot. I guarantee that! If you really want to add a special touch, you can even write a short note on the back letting them know what they did to make your day.

Thank you notes

Click here to download this PDF

This is just another small way to add some happiness to your life as well as the life of someone else. You’ll fee good for having recognized the goodness within somebody else, and they will feel good for having been noticed. It’s really a win win!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post by Sarah over at With Love Paper Goods, and I’ll see you right back here on Sunday to share some more fun! Have an awesome weekend!

28 Days of Adding Happiness – Around the Web

Welcome back to Pretty Much! Did you absolutely love Sarah’s printable yesterday? I thought it was just darling, and I loved her idea of building happiness within her home by placing inspiring messages where her and her husband will see them most often. We all could use a constant bit of happiness in our homes everyday, so this is such a wonderful idea! I love it!

The Happiness ProjectToday, I want to share some really inspiring links with you. A while back I heard about a book called The Happiness Project. I fell in love with the idea of making small changes each month in order to make my life a little happier and perhaps a little more fulfilling. I read this book from cover to cover all the while taking tons and tons of notes. I took the information and research that Gretchen Rubin wrote about and created my own happiness project. Her book really has changed my life is a very real way. I feel that everyone should grab up a copy and read it. Even if you don’t end up doing your own Happiness Project, the book gives you a chance to reflect on what makes you happy and how you can change your life a tiny bit at a time.

Gretchen Rubin also has a website that she created for her project and continues to update regularly. In fact, she even has a blog! Not only did she write this book, but she also now has journals, print-outs, manifestos, and another book! I’ve picked that one up too, but haven’t had the chance yet to read it. I’m expecting that once I get back from my Walt Disney World trip, (Oh, did I forget to mention that I’m currently blogging from my vacation in WDW?) I plan to read that book cover to cover as well. It is titled Happiness at Home and looks just as good, if not better than the first book. It really ties into Sarah’s blog post yesterday about creating a happier home by placing inspiring messages around the home.

If you choose to read her book, I highly suggest checking out her website as well. The website has all sorts of lists, ideas, quizzes, and much, much more that can help you along your journey to happiness. Trust me, you deserve this! You can even sign up for various emails from Gretchen to include a daily happiness quote in your inbox! Oh, and she has yet another book coming soon!

Have you read any of Gretchen Rubin’s books? What did you think of them? Leave me a comment, and tell me what you thought. I’d love to hear from you! Don’t forget to visit Sarah’s blog tomorrow for another dose of Happiness as she gives some awesome Happiness tips! I love it!

Best!

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Progress, Production, and Purpose (Getting Your email under control)

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What happens when I bring up the topic of your inbox? You know, your EMAIL inbox? Yeah, that’s what I thought! You get a little freaked out, claustrophobic, and uncomfortable! I totally hear you.

But, Why does it have to be that way? I promise you that it doesn’t! I totally just said that out loud, and you should too. Ready? Let’s say this together:

“My inbox doesn’t have to freak me out, make me claustrophobic, or cause discomfort!” (You should tweet that!)

Together we can make progress, reduce your stress level, increase your production, and give your email box a purpose!

Okay, so now you want to know how that is even remotely possible. Well, take a deep breath we are going to get through this together. First though, I need you to do something for yourself. I need you to make a commitment to this process. I need you to set aside some serious time and commit to cleaning out your inbox….and…keeping it clean! You can do it! I know you can! I know it because I have done it!

Now before you start thinking that I probably didn’t have nearly the mess that you do in my email, I want to assure you that I had a crazy, wild, tangled up, serious mess! I’m talking about emails from 2014. Hello! 2004! I had folders that I haven’t touched in YEARS! oh, and don’t get me started on my duplicates! I had folders that were labeled “Important things to keep” & “Stuff worth keeping.” What the heck is the difference? I have no idea. All I know is that when I have to scroll endlessly to find a folder to put something in, I have WAY TOO MANY folders!

Alright, now that we are in agreement that I truly had a mess just like you probably do now, let’s move on to figuring out what to do about it.

Step One!

delete delete delete! I’m serious here folks. Start with the inbox itself. Remember how I asked you to set aside some time to do this? Yeah, well, you’re going to need that time right now. Begin at the top and just keep on going. If you have to take a break, then take a break, but DON”T FORGET TO COME BACK! Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to ever read this specific email? Does it actually have anything good in it? Is it a boring email that you signed up for and never even open because you are waiting for that day when you have time? Do you even know why you received the email to begin with?

As you go through each email, I want you to think about it. If you never open the emails to begin with, scroll to the bottom of the email, and click unsubscribe. I know it’s painful! But do it. It will feel so great when you are all done. Unsubscribe is your friend! Now delete the email. Believe me when I say that this will save you so much time and energy every single day. If it’s an email that you honestly know you are going to read, leave it alone or save a PDF copy of it in a desktop folder labeled “Things to Print.” We will come back to it when we start working through your folders. If you have glanced through it, and nothing sticks out as important, then go ahead and delete it. You’ll feel better. If you have looked at the email, and you know that you are going to use the info in it, you can either hold onto the email until we work through your folders or you can save a PDF copy of it to your desktop folder labeled “Things to Print.”

Continue going through your ENTIRE inbox until you have made a conscience choice for each individual email. Delete the ones you don’t need. Unsubscribe to the ones you never read, make PDFs out of the ones you need to print for reference, records, or other purposes, and only keep the ones that you absolutely must. These could include electronic receipts for items you have not yet received, correspondence with your wedding/event vendors, & anything that you might need to use later as proof of a conversation, permission, or consent.  (When I worked in corporate America, I would often forward email chains from my work email address to my personal email address because people were often pretty shady and I needed to cover my ass.)

I actually had emails in my inbox from my first husband while we were on-again/off-again & through our long and difficult divorce. Some were from one of my best friends/boyfriend, Ryan, who was killed when we were in Iraq together in 2007. I even had emails that I wrote to him after his death as a way to deal with the pain. I cried as I read some of them. It was literally a painful experience to go through all of that, but it was also pretty therapeutic.

Step Two!

First, congratulations for making it through step one. I know that was hard, but you did it! Good for you. Doesn’t that feel awesome!?! Let’s say this together:

“I cleaned out my email inbox, and I feel better already!” (You should tweet that too!)

okay, okay, step two… time to go through all the rest of your folders. this won’t be quite as difficult or painful as step one. The hard part is over. Now, I want you to do the exact same thing for all the rest of your folders. The catch here is that once you empty a folder completely, you are going to delete it. Yup, delete it! Just trust me, it’s for the best and for the greater good of your soul. If you can’t completely empty a folder, then, and only then, I give you permission to keep the folder. At least for now. Remember though, you are trying to make your life easier. You are going through these in order to reduce your stress level, increase your production, and give your email a purpose other than just collecting digital trash. Think of it as reducing your cyber footprint! I believe in you.

Step Three!

See? I told you the hardest part was over and that step two would be a lot easier. Good for you! You are almost done. How are you feeling? Do you feel like a superhero yet? Because you certainly should! Say it with me now:

I took control of my email because I am a superhero! (You know the drill, tweet about your progress – you deserve to brag!)

This step is even easier. I promise! Are you ready? Alright, now is that time for creating. At this point, you are no longer destroying the countless number of digital files like a destructive giant crushing your inbox. It’s time to create something you can be proud of. I am giving you permission to create some folders. You may also re-name any of the ones you kept during step two. You can even combine folders when it makes sense to do so. Here is a list of the folders that I have in my personal email:

  • School – for emails related to school that I have not yet been able to turn into PDFs or print and file.
  • Digital Receipts – for receipts that I either need to print and file or receipts for products that I have not yet received in the mail.
  • Disney 2014 – yes I have a folder for saving everything about our upcoming trip to Disney World so it is all in one place and can be accessed from anywhere in case I loose any of the information and as proof of payments and purchases.
  • Life is Messy Bootcamp – Mayi Carles has an amazing e-course, but after my surgery I got way behind in the course. I have all the emails in one folder so that I can catch up with all of her awesome activities and drills as I have time. The emails contain links that I need.
  • PDF – If I know that I need to turn an email into a PDF and print it, but I don’t have time right that second, I put it here. Having an empty inbox feel so much better than having a bunch of To-Do tasks staring back at me.

So, now that you know what I have going on, you can decide for yourself what the best way to handle your folders will be. Although you don’t have to have only a couple folders, I don’t recommend having too many. When you have too many, that’s when you tend to make even more because you can’t find the one you thought you had. For example, I had a folder labeled “From Me” and another one labeled “Emails to Myself” and both contained emails from my corporate America work email accounts that I sent to my personal account in order to save my ass in case of emergency situations that came about because of shady coworkers, shady bosses, and shady business practices. I probably didn’t need two folders for that same purpose, but since I had about 50 folders, sometimes it just became easier to make even more folders and even more email clutter. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap!

Step Four!

Once again, you did it! Hooray for you! I hope you are currently standing with your hands on your hips in front of a fan so that your superhero cape can blow in the breeze. I bet you look like a bad ass, because that’s exactly what you are! You are awesome!

That step wasn’t too bad. In fact, it was kind of like a half-step. I don’t have any cool ideas for a tweet about that one, but if you come up with one leave me a comment and I’ll add it in. You should really think of one anyways so that you can tweet about your awesome progress. Yu totally deserve all of these bragging rights because man are you working hard! I’m proud of you!

Step four could be the easiest step of all, but it could also be the hardest. Step four is all about maintenance. You just did all of this hard work. I would hate for all of that time you spent to go to waste. It’s time to keep your inbox clean. Don’t worry. I know you can do it. Each day, take 5 minutes to go through your inbox. Delete and unsubscribe to any emails that you don’t read. Remember, Unsubscribe is your friend! Print any emails that you need to keep for reference or file into your records. If you have a folder called receipts like I do, make sure that you go through it about once a week or once every-other week to clean it out once you receive your products and are happy with them. If you think you might need that proof of purchase later, print it out or create a PDF. If you have a folder labeled Disney 2014, (that would be pretty awesome) delete it when you get home from your Walt Disney World trip. And, at least once a week, empty your trash can.

You did it! I told you that you could do it! Doesn’t it feel good to make progress, reduce your stress level, increase your production, and give your email box a purpose?Let’s say it together:

“Today I made Progress, reduced my stress, increased production, & gave my inbox a purpose!”(You should tweet this last one for sure!)

Go Fly a Kite

Do you have any more tips for cleaning out your inbox? If you do, you should leave me a comment. Tell me how this has changed your life. I love to hear from my readers. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends on Facebook, twitter, or any other social network.

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