Monday, March 27, 2017

HAPPIFY your life

**Dedicated to Sheelo Meekat**

"Happiness is a choice. I base my happiness on my own accomplishments and the blessings I've been given."

Last year, I decided that I wanted to focus on being happier. Though I generally exude a positive outlook on life, I still have my fair share of internal battles as well. I guess you can say I'm a secret pessimist. Only the people closest to me ever see my struggle. 

While reading articles about successful women, I quickly discovered how important personal happiness contributes to their success. (Only seems natural right?) In one article, the author thanked the Happify app for helping her find happiness in each and every day. Seconds later, I downloaded the Happify app in hopes of improving my level of happiness and taking control of my emotional well being.

Happify is composed of science-based activities and games that aim to elevate individual happiness. After answering a few questions about your life, you're given personalized happiness tracks that focus on the areas of your life that need improvement. Over time, Happify helps reduce stress and anxiety and allows you to train your brain to overcome negativity. 

The activities and challenges have helped me tremendously over the past year. I'm so much more in tune with how I feel emotionally, and I don't waste energy on situations outside of my control. I also enjoy the monthly check-ins, so you can tangibly see the changes you've made over time. 

I don't want to draw this blog out any longer than it has to be, so I want to focus on two of my most influential completed activities, my first and my last. 

My first task was to "Get to Know Someone". I needed to choose one person in my life that I don't know very well then chat them up about who they are, what they want to accomplish, listen, and just appreciate what they've decided to share. 

Though it seems straightforward, it may surprise you that this task wasn't exactly easy for me to complete. As an adult, I find that it's become more and more difficult to make new friends. Often, we only have a handful of established friendships then only develop new friendships with coworkers, because you see and interact with them every day. But my decision was made after an old acquaintance of mine from college commented on my Facebook status. 

Even though we only had one brief, awkward, yet memorable interaction in college, he has always been a positive presence in my life. From his sporadic likes on my social media channels, funny comments, and subscribing to my YouTube channel over a year ago, I decided to take a chance and chose to get to know him last June.  

I'll admit that I approached our lunch half-heartedly, preparing for the worst, and thinking we'd probably never see each other again after another awkward interaction. BUT... I was so wrong! 

I learned so much about him in less than an hour. Though he was unhappy in his career, he spoke with conviction and integrity about what he hoped to accomplish and what he wanted for himself. I admired him for being able to be so vulnerable with me. I don't open up to new people easily, and I get social anxiety from time to time. But he made me feel so comfortable that I was actually able to uninhibitedly share with him as well.

As we grow older, we're more aware and can quickly recognize when a friendship is conditional. And for reasons unknown at the time, I knew right away that this friendship wasn't going be like that. We barely knew each other, but I felt connected to him. 

He recognized my struggles with being promoted recently and transitioning into a leadership position. He identified with my growth mindset and desire to learn. He supported my ambition, my desire to build an empire, my hope to inspire others, and believed in what I was trying to achieve without questioning it. 

Like any normal friendship, we've had our own individual ups and downs, but with honesty and understanding, I'm happy to say that I'm still proud to call him my friend. I learned how important it is to nurture the relationships you have with others, whether it's friends or family, and even despite how often you're able to see them in person. It's sad and somewhat scary to think that if I hadn't suggested we grab lunch together, last year would have been entirely different. 

This brings me to my most recent Happify activity... as a thank you, I chose him to "Spend $$ on a Shared Experience" with. For this task, I had to choose an experience that I found meaningful and ask someone to share it with me - on my dime. It was also encouraged to do something that you've always wanted to do, but have been putting it off. And so, we went zip lining! 

Last Saturday, we experienced a Mount Hermon Redwood Canopy Tour. Together we embarked on a two hour guided eco-adventure surrounded by Redwood trees. It included six zip lines and two sky bridges at heights up to 150 feet. This was actually a first-time experience for both of us, which made it that much more memorable, and it felt so good knowing that I gave my friend this opportunity. 

The Happify app has allowed me to feel moments of true joy. It's helped me to overcome fears, be mindful, and enjoy life's moments for exactly what they are. It's allowed me to build and appreciate both old and new friendships. Time will continue to move forward, so I want to make the most out of my experiences in my lifetime. I want to inspire, aspire, give, and be grateful for everything that I am lucky enough to do each day. Happiness is possible for all of us. You just need to be willing to make the choices necessary to achieve it.