Acceptance, Mindfulness and Vulnerability = Recipe for Optimal Happiness

It’s hard to believe I haven’t written in over a year. I still love the idea behind Functionably Happy. Maximize happiness within responsibility, be efficient and productive while connecting with other fellow humans through humor. Anyway…yesterday a dear friend texted “I miss you, I’m struggling, can we have lunch soon!” and after a quick call we realized it’d been 14 months since her baby, my wedding, honeymoon, our full time jobs, summer vacations, new schools and kids sports. It also reminded me it was time to reflect and write.

Luckily it’s an era of fast talking with minimal words and we efficiently exchanged lifestyle stresses and tips, both astonished how we were constantly trying to do things faster so we could just have 20 min to exercise, maybe an hour once a week for Yoga. “I use VIA Starbucks packets and installed an Insta-Hot water dispenser at my sink, saves me 10 min a day making a pot of coffee!” “OMG Me too!!!”

It helps so much to talk and laugh with other humans, and afterwards I was reminded of the idea of vulnerability. At first the idea is scary; open up, share high and low points, risk being judged… but within the cathartic venting of facts and instances, brainstorming leads to creativity! I’m not kidding when I say that every person I talk to about any problem, struggle or moment of pride has a tidbit of connection or insight and it feels good, and feeling good makes me a more productive, loving and overall happy human in all areas.

Lots of women struggle to maintain their capable, intelligent selves with a career (feels really good to have a boss/self that values your hard work), while also allowing themselves to feel the connecting/nurturing feeling of raising babies (which sometimes doesn’t align with the career role), while wanting/trying to stay strong and in good physical condition, while keeping focused to organize laundry, dirty dishes, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, daycare, doctors appts, and sports schedules – much less a pedicure!

I’m a professional in my small town and my house is disheveled, for example. At first I was resistant to invite other “tidy” looking moms over ~ surely it would reflect on my ability as a photographer. How can we trust her with our family photos if she can’t keep her home neat? Now, I consider my “lived in” home a gift to other moms who visit – almost like a beacon of hope (ok it’s a bit dramatic, but I had to let go of something: I dislike cleaning, and value my time working and playing more). The bottom line is, I took a chance and let go of tidying up before friends came over; laundry is in piles – some clean and some dirty, sometimes I have to pick up a piece of it to know which is which. There is a lot of dust on my shelves, on picture frames on candle holders… there is cat hair along the edges of my hardwood floor down every hallway. But some families live on dirt floors right?!?! Allowing myself to be vulnerable made me much happier! (and turns out other neat moms were similar to me.) Happier feelings reduce stress, which increases creativity, efficiency and functionability (spellcheck needs to recognize this as a word!)

I’ve let go of a lot (sadly pedicures and not-so-sadly dusting my shelves), but I have my system, and actually “my system” keeps changing. Each of us has to go through our own struggle, figure out what makes us less sad and more happy by letting go of 1 thing at a time until you find your balance for the best physical and mental health that you can provide yourself.

Besides embracing vulnerability and acceptance, I work on being mindful within the “work”. And since everything is work, (even meditating) I figured out the only way I was able to achieve mindfulness, is by writing detailed lists that I rewrite each week. As things come up, they are added to 1 of 3 lists: List 1: Kids (make birthday photo album, pick up Weds early, names of friends to call for playdates), List 2: My Business, and List 3.: Myself, my husband, alone time. This allows me to really think of the writing (now) because I know I won’t forget anything by letting go of the past or future. Giving myself the freedom to feel the cool air as it comes in my nose as I type this, even though I have 4 photography jobs stressing me out with deadlines that seem unattainable, is where I’m at right now as I type. I add things to my lists while on a run (I stop and add my “to do” on the List 1,2 or 3), then I can continue running with a stress-free mindset. With a free-from-worry mind, many times creative ideas/solutions bubble up as a thought and I have to stop and write them down too in my calendar to look at later when home!

I like crossing things off lists. Crossing things off lists feels good, so go ahead and make a list of things you KNOW you’re going to do because you have to do them, so you get to cross stuff off!!!

If you’re struggling, remember you are not alone. Everyone single one of us is struggling, and if it doesn’t look like it, then they’re hiding it better and are probably holding stuff in and secretly stressed. We are human beings and built to struggle and survive. I refer to this quote occasionally: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” by Winston Churchill, which reminds me to be mindful as I keep going or it’ll be a lot less fun.

So, the bottom line here is: try being vulnerable, practice being mindful, and embrace the idea of acceptance that life will change based on you being vulnerable and mindful. You will not always feel the way you feel today. Your life will keep changing. Its exciting to think of where, why, when, with who and how your life will evolve.



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