In the pursuit of happiness

“Everyone is struggling to attain happiness and avoid misfortune.”

This is the first sentence of the introduction to the book that shaped my childhood, The Divine Principle. I have long been in pursuit of happiness as are most of us in one way or another, but at some point (after several readings); I realized that this book holds the key, the formula for real long-term joy. Unfortunately, it is also a long, technical, difficult read, so the book itself is not really for everyone. However, I believe the principles in it are applicable to everyone regardless of faith or lack thereof.

So, instead of writing a book review and sending you all off to read a long, heavy book with complicated diagrams and big words (although if that’s your thing, go right ahead), I’m going to give to you the ultimate formula to joy right here. Why? Because the purpose of your life is to experience joy! And the world is in serious lack of just that right now.

So here it is:

Love yourself + Love others + Love your physical domain = True joy

 

Or, if you’re more Biblically centered, here’s the same thing with a little different wording:

Be fruitful + Multiply + Have dominion = Heaven on Earth

So what’s that supposed to mean?

Well, love yourself does NOT mean be an egotistical jerk. It means to love and accept yourself for who you are. Your mind and body work in harmony, so there is no guilt or shame, just love. It’s being able to look yourself in the mirror and smile because you the love the person that you are. Such a person always comes “bearing fruits” (figuratively, not literally) because they are blessing to be around.

Love others is all about your relationships, having loving, harmonious relationships with the people in your life. Your grandparents, parents, siblings, spouse, kids, friends, neighbors, etc. can all count depending on your age and life situation. Multiply the love y’all!

Third, we have love your physical domain however large or small that area may be. It means to be a kind and loving master over your surroundings, which can include your home, garden, pets, workplace, finances, and/or role in the community. It’s about having a sense of purpose and feeling in control of your life. It’s about taking care of the world we live in.

A lot of us tend to focus on one or two of these points in our own pursuit of happiness, but then there always seems to be a little tug in the back of our minds telling us that something is missing. It takes all three to really feel like you’re living in heaven on earth.

It’s a simple formula, but the reality is that it is hard. For me, forgiving, loving, and letting go of hatred and self-pity took a lot of time and tears. I started my journey as a fat, quiet, lonely preteen who just wanted to be seen (as terrifying as it was). Then, I prayed. I prayed and prayed and slowly but surely certain people entered my life to help pull me out of my dark hole until I became aware enough to start climbing out myself.

I am not perfect. I still have a long way to go, especially in the 3rd part of the equation, but I’ve come a long way and am now happier than I ever was back then. I’m sharing all this in the hopes that everything I’ve been through can somehow help someone else on their journey to happiness.

Take a look at the equation. Where do you think you are the weakest? Start there. Feel like you’re missing all three? Start with the first one. It’s hard. I know. I hated myself for years, but even taking the smallest step towards self-acceptance makes a world of difference for yourself and for the relationships you have with the people around you. I will be posting more resources that have helped me as time allows and if you have a resource that has helped you feel free to share it in a comment! The more the merrier 🙂

Life With Kids

So, life with kids is tough. I love them like crazy, but man oh man do I miss waking up after the sun has risen. At some point, I made the resolution to write one blog post every month. HA! Just where did I think the time or energy for that would come from?

I’ve got two boys. BOYS! I come from a family girls, so life preparation for raising sons: 0

My 2 1/2 year old is a whirlwind of energy. When I picked him up from daycare today the adults gave me this exhausted laugh. He’d just spent the last 3 hours running, jumping, climbing, and bouncing non-stop at break neck speeds. What could I say? That’s how he is. We have sweet moments of reading books, watching cars, or gazing at the sky together, but that’s all they are, moments. Most of his day is full speed ahead and I’m doing all I can to keep up. He is a sweetheart though. He always looks back to check on me.

My 10 month old is darling. I can’t get enough of that beautiful smile. He also knows exactly what he wants and will fight for it if he has to. He doesn’t get sad; he gets mad. Then he smiles, and it’ll melt your heart. I look forward to seeing his character develop and reveal itself even more.

I never knew my heart could grow so much before having kids. I also never knew what true exhaustion feels like, but somehow they come hand in hand. I give so much because I love so much and the joy I feel from all that flowing love makes it all worth it. I’m also very lucky to have a man who lets me have some time off once in a while to recharge my batteries.

Life is good. I may look like a mess and not always be able to utter cohesive sentences but life is good nonetheless. 🙂

10 Things I Never Thought I’d Say Before Becoming a Mother 

Time for a long overdue update. We were traveling last month which should have inspired a traveling with baby post but I ran out of time and energy so instead, I focused on quality relaxation. It was totally worth it. Now for some funny thoughts to lighten the day: 

10 things I never thought I’d say before I became a mother 
  1. I love the sound of snoring (nothing like knowing your baby’s sound asleep)
  2. Nice burp. Got any more? 
  3. I’m going to bed (at 5 pm)
  4. Wow, I got 4 whole uninterrupted hours of sleep! I feel amazing!
  5. Can’t we take him with us? (Suffering my own separation anxiety on our first adults only date night after birth)
  6. You made your pants disappear… (How is that even possible? He was barely half a year old at the time)
  7. I make my own baby food. (I always thought I’d be a jar person but time has proven me wrong)
  8. No knees on the table!
  9. Don’t eat the toilet!
  10. Maybe one kid is enough. (I’ve always been a fan of big families but after having one of my own through a quite traumatic birth, I can see why some people stop there)

A Love Story

Six years ago I met the man who changed my life. It’s strange to think that it’s been so long but then again, the me before that moment feels like a lifetime away.

I grew up in a religious household where abstinence before marriage is seen as one of the keys of marital success. From the day, as a teenager, I pledged my purity to God and my future husband, I wondered, worried, and eventually prayed about what I was getting myself into.

I’d learned that a happy relationship is based upon two happy and whole people coming together. Two miserable, needy people create a relationship that is the same, miserable and needy. So, I worked hard to become a beautiful (in my eyes), strong, independent woman which, let’s face it, was a big jump from the cowardly, insecure teenager I was. It took years and required a lot of help.

And after several years, one day I woke up and realized I was happy. I was involved in my community, working on several projects that I cared about, meeting up with incredible, inspiring people on a daily basis, and on my way towards getting my degree. I found causes that I was passionate about and was regularly moving outside of and extending my comfort zone for those causes. It was an incredible time in my life. However, every night when the day was done, I would feel something missing. There was a gaping hole in my heart that liked to make its presence known in the quiet moments. I had family, friends, colleagues, mentors and mentees but I felt alone in the deepest recesses of my heart. My prayers still, after all that time, reflected my desire for a soulmate and a best friend. And after six years of worrying, waiting, and praying, I got an answer while meditating in the countryside of the Dominican Republic, “He’s coming.”

It was another six months before we were introduced to each other by email after we had both individually applied for a matchmaking. Then another week before we first made eye contact in the revolving door of the Pennsylvania hotel in Manhattan. However, it took only one weekend together in the Big Apple for me to know that this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I committed myself there and then to this relationship. I can’t say it was love at first sight because I know what love feels like now and what I felt in that moment was nothing of the sort. It was more of a shock, I literally froze in place (getting my bag stuck in the door as a result). Call it divine inspiration. It felt like God in that moment spoke to me and said, here’s your answer, take him or leave him. I took him.

Thus started the very awkward period of getting to know each other long distance. He came from a cold northern country on the other side of the Atlantic and I was living in the heat of the Sunshine State. We were 6 hours apart in time and a whole world apart in culture. Those first couple years were admittedly tough. We had our ups and downs and there was one point where I wasn’t sure if we’d make it. I am however, a stubborn person and the harder it got, the deeper I dug my heels in. He thankfully, is an honest, sincere person and together we made it work.

Today, I’m married to the love of my life and just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love anyone more than I loved him, our son popped into life and proved me wrong. I am a more loving, honest, and confident person because of him. He brings out the best in me and I am a better person for it.

I seem to have a pattern that if I can survive six years or be patient for six months, then blessings will come in the seventh.

Here’s looking to year seven of our relationship and year one with our beautiful baby boy. Love ya both and I’m so lucky to have two valentines this year.

Happy Valentines Day!

A new year

It’s a new year and I have entered a new stage in my life. In 2014 I became a member of motherhood. I never knew my heart could love so much. My heart leaps for joy at every smile and coo and despairs at any sign of suffering my little one goes through. 2014 also made it very clear that I need to take care of my body more if I want to enjoy a long and healthy life. Strained backs are really painful and debilitating. So, with that in mind, time for new year’s resolutions!

1. Learn: I am a firm believer in life-long learning and want to focus on learning new things this year whether it’s by reading, watching lectures, or interacting in an unfamiliar setting. My mind needs exercise.
So, to be concrete, let’s say one book, lecture, or out of the box experience per month.

2. Listen to my body: After a year of pushing my body to its limits (pregnancy +busy lifestyle), it’s time to slow down, take a breather, and do my stretches.
Concrete goal: 20 minutes of exercise/stretching every day.

3. Give back to my community: Now, I realize this may seem difficult with baby in tow and I intend to focus most of my energies on my family, but giving back brings meaning to the hustle and bustle of my everyday life. It doesn’t have to be in a big way. It’s the little things like buying a coffee for a beggar, recycling, listening to a friend, and so on that build up in a big way.
Since I don’t know how to be concrete about this point, I’m going to make the goal of writing about this and my other goals here on this blog to hold myself accountable. To be realistic, I’m aiming for one post a month.

Ok 2015, here I come!

Patience

Patience. I had always considered myself a patient person; that is, until I met my husband. Being with him made me realize that the patient self I proudly showed the world was merely an illusion, a façade. I too, have anxieties, worries and a bubbling impatience when things don’t go my way. I suppose, I was just used to things going my way before I met him. I unconsciously abandoned anything that wouldn’t go my way and therefore rarely had to wait very long (in my mind) for anything. However, my husband was the one thing I absolutely would not abandon and so, the journey of growing and self-discovery began.

Now, it looks like our coming son is following in his father’s footsteps. He’s making me wait. His due date has come and gone and I’m still huge and heavy with weight of my growing impatience. I know he will come eventually, but I want to hold him in my arms and kiss his cute little nose now. I don’t want to wait any longer. It’s taking all I have to remind myself that just as with my husband, the best things in life are worth the wait.