Tag Archives: search for happiness

Making Social Media a Positive Experience

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If you’re like me then at one point you either deleted/deactivated some or all of your social media accounts, or you at least gave it some thought. However, I want to address how you can actually turn social media into a positive and uplifting experience. I’ll mostly be referring to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but the rules should apply to all of social media.

The first, and most important step in my opinion is to unfollow certain pages or people. Now, there is a difference in unfriending and unfollowing someone. On Facebook you can unfollow someone without unfriending them. All this does is simply stop showing you their posts. But don’t get me wrong, if you feel the need to unfriend someone because of their negative or hurtful posts, then by all means, go for it. I even use the block feature sometimes, but only when someone attacks me personally or takes time out of their day to direct certain things at me. Tagging, private messaging, constantly arguing or posting negative things on the posts that I share will all lead to my blocking a person. However, I typically unfollow or unfriend people instead of blocking. “But Chase, the negative person is my family! I can’t unfriend them!” Okay, but you can unfollow them under notifications. That button works exactly the same for someone you’re related to or someone who’s a complete stranger. Don’t be afraid to use it. You have every right to block out negativity if you find it affecting you. Just because someone is kin doesn’t mean you should tolerate toxic, negative, or abusive behavior. Don’t excuse what they do just because they’re blood. You deserve better than that.

The next step goes right along with unfollowing, and that’s my following certain pages or people who are always positive, happy, and post good things. I have several pages that I follow on Facebook, and I went to their page and changed notifications to “See First”. That means I will see their posts on my timeline above others. When I’m scrolling through my timeline I see the things these pages post first. I have weeded my way through many pages and changed notification settings for “See First” on many of the really positive pages that I’d like to see on a regular basis. Also, by liking or commenting on posts by these pages the algorithm of Facebook will make sure you see these posts more often.

Alright, so let’s take a breath here because this next step is going to be difficult for most. STOP INTERACTING WITH NEGATIVE PEOPLE/PAGES! Just because someone says something you disagree with doesn’t mean you have to comment on it. Unless you have an educated opinion, and aren’t just speaking out of anger or hurt, then you should just move on. Feel free to unfriend or unfollow the page/person. I do this often. Not everyone is going to share your opinion, and that’s okay, but just because I disagree with someone doesn’t mean I have to get involved. This typically leads to an argument, which will negatively effect me the rest of the day. I hate that feeling. So the best thing is to just keep scrolling. I also avoid reading the comment sections on some of the posts or videos I see because I know there’s a 99% chance that someone will have something negative to say no matter how positive the video or post. Sometimes it takes a bigger person to simply walk away from a situation. The minute you begin, or participate in an argument you’ve lowered yourself to their level. There are literally people online who seem to have a daily goal of just ticking people off. Don’t let them win.

The next step is to not only watch/read/like things that make you happy, smile, or laugh, but to also share those things with your friends. I constantly share motivational quotes, cute animal videos, laughing baby videos (those are my faves!), and posts that restore my faith in humanity. Be the kind of person online that you want to follow and interact with on a regular basis. Don’t share negative things and stop posting drama.

My final step, and one I rarely use, is to report certain posts or people. Please understand that this should be used as a last resort. When do you report someone? If their post violate the terms and policies of the social media website. For example, if someone posts something extremely violent, threatens suicide or harm towards others, posts nudity, something regarding sex/child trafficking, constant harassment/bullying, etc. then please report those posts. Do NOT be that person that is constantly reporting someone just because they disagree with you. Please reserve this for dangerous, violent, or sexual posts.

I can honestly say that by doing these things I have literally created a positive/happy Facebook/Instagram timeline. I can scroll through FB or IG each day and see literally nothing but happy and positive posts. I see/share things that make me smile because I know if it makes me happy then maybe it will make someone else smile, and you never know who may need it!

So let’s go over this one more time:
1. Unfollow/unfriend certain pages and people.
2. Follow positive happy pages/people & change notifications to where you see those posts first each day.
3. Stop interacting with negative people. Don’t participate in arguments online. Just because you disagree doesn’t mean you need to voice your opinion. Be the bigger person.
4. Share things with others that make you happy/smile/laugh. Be the person online that you would like to interact with.
5. As a last resort, feel free to report dangerous, violent, sexual, or harmful posts or people to FB/IG/Twitter if it violates their terms, policies, and community guidelines.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you try any of these steps and if it makes a difference! 🙂

-Chase

**Speaking of social media, feel free to follow my blog on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter 🙂

2020 Vision

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As 2019 comes to a close people will inevitably start talking about their New Years Resolutions! Lose weight, save more money, cut back on splurges, go back to school, etc. However, you don’t have to have some huge drastic resolution. Most of those are left by the wayside by the end of February anyways. Sometimes the only resolution we can make is to just keep pushing forward and hopefully do better tomorrow than we did today. Granted, it’s not a “normal” resolution, but for me it is. There are days that I really struggle. Sometimes just getting out of bed before noon feels like an accomplishment and should be rewarded with at least a participation award. Yet other days I thrive and I’m up by 8am with coffee poured, music playing, laundry in the wash, and half of my house already cleaned by 9am. These are two very different days and I never know which one I’m going to have until it happens. I wake up in a great mood, or not so great mood, but how I handle that is on me. I can allow it to bother me and bring me down, or I can make myself go. I can continue through my morning routine of positive affirmations, stretching/yoga, listening to music, drinking coffee, cleaning house, playing with Maggie (my doggo!), and then starting work. Normally by the time I’m ready to start working my day has already changed for the better. It’s amazing what will happen when I focus on the positives and not the negatives. You’ll hear me say a lot (if you continue reading my blog, and I REALLY hope you do) that you must be an ACTIVE participant in your recovery. I take mental health meds every single morning, but that doesn’t mean I can remain in bed and expect them to magically work. Absolutely not! I have to work with them. I have to become more active, eat better, listen to upbeat music, read inspiring books, talk to positive happy people, and I have to be present. The medicine will only do so much, but we have to do part of the work too. It’s not easy, and sometimes it sucks, but it will only get worse if we don’t try. It’s like training for a marathon only to arrive on the day of the run and expect all your training will run the marathon for you. Nope, not how it works sugar! You have the skills and your muscles are stronger, but you still have to put forth the effort to get to the finish line. Let’s do it together!

I’ve already heard sooooo many people talking about 2020 vision for this coming year. Yeah, it’s a cute pun, but I wish I had 2020 vision for my future. I wish I had a crystal ball that could tell me everything that was going to happen in the next year so I could prepare for it. I wish I could see all the bad and good things that are going to happen, but I can’t. The lesson here is we have to learn to trust our higher power, whatever you may call it. I call it Spirit, some call it God. Whatever works for you, we have to believe that this Universe is too big for things to just happen. We are not always in control, and sometimes that for the best. Over the past two years I’ve had some wild stuff happen and it’s because I had quit being active in my recovery. I relapsed (on pain medicine and in my mental health), I quit doing the things I KNEW helped my mental illness, and I began to isolate myself, a lot. The crazy thing is that when it comes to those things I sort of do have 2020 vision. I know that if I start doing those things I will get worse, my mental health will decline, and typically a drug relapse is not far behind. Yet, when all this happens many of us think, “How did I not see this coming? How did I not catch it?” Well, chances are we did see it coming. And if we didn’t, I can assure you our family and friends saw it. When bad things happen, especially dealing with my addiction or mental health, I tend to say, “Well hindsight is 2020.” Yet it takes me a while to learn that if I had been more present each day I would’ve caught on to the downward spiral in which I was spinning. When you’re draining a tub you see the water going out, and you still have a chance to plug the drain before it all disappears, yet many of us (myself included) tend to get in this zone of just watching everything go down, mostly because we’re just downright exhausted. Then when the water is out of the tub we frantically plug the drain and pray that the water would just come back.

So for the year 2020 I encourage you to develop more 2020 vision when it comes to your mental health and/or addiction, or whatever problem you may be having. Become a present and active participant in your recovery and your health. I have even allowed close family and trusted friends to let me know if they see me headed in the wrong direction. As someone with depression and anxiety our brains often play tricks on us, but typically those outside of your head will see the signs that something is going wrong before you do. If you have a trusted friend or family member that you would be willing to hear this from then I encourage to to talk to them. I told my parents and best friend, “I don’t always notice when I’m getting bad so I need you guys to watch out for me. If you see something or start to notice a negative pattern please tell me so I can fix it before it gets worse.” I have been hospitalized three times and each time could’ve been prevented if I had been more present and proactive with my mental health.

So let’s go into 2020 with a clear vision of what we want and how we’re going to achieve it, and not just a bunch of empty resolutions with which we know we won’t follow through. Let’s be there for each other. Depression/Suicidal Ideation/Anxiety/Etc is a deadly, silent, and invisible illness. We MUST rely on our support systems to get us through the hard times. If you don’t have a support system then reach out to me. I love you guys! You’re stronger than you realize and we can do this. Let’s start this new year off right. Let’s make 2020 the best yet!

-Chase

*Feel free to email me anytime or follow my page on Facebook or Twitter 🙂

Dancing With My Dog

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I have these little things that I called Daily Dance Parties.  They.  Are.  A. Blast!!! Lol.  I literally crank up the music and dance like a stupid idiot for ten minutes, or sometimes longer if I’m cleaning.  What cracks me up is that sometimes my dog (a Maltese Yorkie mix) gets involved.  She’ll hop around on her back legs and it literally looks like she’s dancing, and I love it!  I know if anyone were to see me they’d have me committed (again), but I don’t really care.  I love my dance parties!

Sometimes shit happens, but you just gotta dance with your dog! 🙂

Broken Glass

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Why is it that we are always looking for happiness, but we refuse to do any work to get it?  Why do we read “self help” books, but not take the advice of the authors?  Happiness is not hard to obtain, and it simply involves changing the way you think.

Just the other night I had a friend of mine (who also happens to be a Shaman) over for dinner.  In the midst of cooking, a glass fell off the counter and shattered all over the floor.  I cleaned it up, threw it in the trash, and continued cooking.  I bought the glass at the Dollar Tree so I knew they will have more that only cost one dollar.  Why get upset over something that is so easily fixable?  In Buddhism we are taught that our suffering is brought about by attachment.  Nothing lasts forever, and I knew the moment I bought the glass that there was a chance it would break at some point.  Therefore, I didn’t get attached to the glass, but I did enjoy it while I had it.  My reaction could’ve been totally different.  I could’ve been angry that the glass broke, and I could’ve allowed myself to get upset over something so small.  However, my friend and I continued cooking, and I have yet to replace the glass.  The empty space in the cabinet where the glass once sat is somewhat a reminder that impermanence is all around us.  Enjoy the things, and the people, that you have in your life now, while you still have them.  Don’t wait until they’re gone to appreciate them or tell them you love them.  Tell them now, today.  Change the way you react to certain situations and happiness is soon to follow! 🙂

Touchdown!

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The Quarterback runs as fast as he can!  He’s at the 40, he’s at the 30, at the 20…TOUCHDOWN!!!

Johns’ team just won the game and he couldn’t be happier!  Sarah, on the other hand, just had her team beat.  She drops her head in shame and exits the stadium.  John continues his celebration out of the stadium along with the hundreds of other fans that are ecstatic that their team just brought home the win!

Let’s look at John and Sarah for a moment.  He is happy, she is not.  Why?  Did the football game make one happy and one sad?  No.  The football game did nothing to affect their happiness, but their reaction to the outcome did.  Had Sarah been a fan of the team that won then she too would be happy.  It’s all in how you respond to the end result.  Say, for example, you get caught by a red light.  You huff and puff, and possibly curse, but then you watch in horror as the car that just went before you gets hit at the next intersection.  You realize that could’ve easily been you, and now getting caught by the red light doesn’t seem so bad.  Now let’s step back.  It shouldn’t take a near death experience to teach you that getting caught by a red light really isn’t that bad.  The next time a red light catches you think, “Hmm, there could be an accident up ahead but the few seconds that this light holds me may keep me from being involved.”  Missing a bus, forgetting your keys, etc. are all things that may benefit you in the end; you just may not realize it.  Let’s say your current relationship ends and you are devastated.  However, three years down the road you  meet that special someone that you know is your soulmate and you begin to wonder what you were doing with your ex to begin with!  The loss of one relationship brought about a better, stronger one.  At the time you didn’t see it that way, but it worked out in the end.

I try to approach all things with this mindset.  I recently read a book that taught you to tell yourself that whatever is happening to you is the best possible thing that could happen to you.  The universe has a way of lining things up to work out exactly as they should.  Trust it, and realize that, although you may not see it now, things may work out in the end.

Tie-Dye Bandana

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This summer I decided to teach myself the beautiful art of tie-dye!  I went all out buying several white shirts, several white bandanas, and even a cloth tote bag.  I was determined to make the most beautiful tie-dye creations that anyone had ever seen.  Now, let me preface by saying that I am quite OCD, so I wanted this tie-dye project to be absolutely perfect.  That was my first mistake.

The shirts actually turned out pretty good, however, the bandanas and the tote not so much.  Honestly, they looked pretty awful.  Yes, I was upset, but then I remembered that tie-dye isn’t about perfect; it’s about having fun and using color to express yourself.  Once I realized this the bandanas actually started to look halfway decent.  The tote still looked terrible, so I just trashed it! HAHA!  There were several spots on the bandana where I had put too much dye and it caused the colors to run together making either a black or brown muddy smudge.  Other places I didn’t put enough dye and they were very light and there were even some white spots where I had missed putting the dye all together.  I’m the type of person who always tries to see good out of every situation, and I also try to use each of those situations as a learning experience.

The bandana is kind of like my life.  Some spots were lightly covered with dye.  Those times in my life were the easy times.  School was great, my health was great, everything was going well.  Then there were other times, like the dark loaded down spots on the bandana, that were extremely difficult.  Losing my aunt Lisa (who was like a second mother to me) was one of  those times.  Unable to cope I decided to just take a few extra pain pills before the funeral, which eventually led to an even darker place in my life.  Those were the black spots on the bandana.  There was absolutely no light.  No good, and no positive in my life at that point.  However, I sought out help and the white spots on the bandana started to show up again.  I lost 135lbs, had finally beaten my depression (for the most part, and with the help of medication & therapy), had gained victory over my substance abuse, and was genuinely happy with my life.  I was no longer living in a fog, and I can honestly say that I’m extremely pleased with where I am now.  I’ve said before that if I had to go through all that again just to be where I am, I would.  I wouldn’t like it, but I would do it.

How does your bandana look?  Is it mostly dark?  Covered with light spots?  Regardless of how your bandana looks it’s still yours, and you shouldn’t just throw it away.  Life may absolutely bog you down with tough times, but they won’t last forever.  Life may also bless you with wonderful moments.  Sometimes you have to wait out the storm in order to see the rainbow 😉 (As cliché as that is!)

I challenge you to try and look at all the situations in your life as a learning experience.  Good or bad, try to find the “silver lining” and not just focus on the negative.  There’s bound to be some positive moments in there somewhere!

Late Introduction

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Hello there, and welcome to my blog (even though I’m a little late on this haha)!  I’m so glad you’ve decided to join me on my journey to finding happiness, and becoming physically and mentally healthier!  Let me tell you a little about myself.

I grew up in a small town in middle Tennessee, I have two sisters, and I’m the glorious middle child!  My parents are both teachers and I graduated from high school in 2008.  I’m a gay Buddhist who loves to learn, and I currently work as a 911 Operator/Emergency dispatcher for two counties.  I attended college for a few years at the University of Memphis before moving back home and changing my major from vocal music performance to psychology.  I now attend part time online/night classes at Motlow State.

I’ve always struggled with depression, but it wasn’t until June 16, 2012 (after a very serious bout of depression and substance abuse) that I finally decided I needed professional help.  I checked myself into a rehab facility at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital for ten days and came out a new person!  Since then I have turned my life around tremendously!  For the first time in a VERY long time I actually enjoy waking up every day, and even wake up early to take in as many minutes as possible during the day.  I cannot tell you how happy I am to be alive and free of all substance that used to bog me down.  I’ve learned to face my problems, learn from them, and help teach others not to make the same mistakes.  I’ve since lost 135lbs, been promoted at work, saved SOOOO much more money, and improved so much compared to the person I was.  Plus I smile…a lot! 🙂

I decided to start a blog not only as a way to journal my thoughts and feelings, but to also help others who may be suffering.  I’ve learned to focus on the good things in life rather than the bad things, but I don’t ignore them completely.  I wake up every day, make my bed, and typically start my day with some yoga, a light breakfast, and some coffee.  I spend this time thinking of things that make me happy, and I also try to center my mind for the day to make sure I get started off on the right foot. My day may consist of many things: working, hiking, camping, swimming, kayaking, walking, dancing, singing, cleaning, etc. but I always do them the best I can, and I make sure I enjoy every minute.  You must be an active participant in your own recovery.  Let me repeat, you MUST BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN YOUR OWN RECOVERY AND MENTAL HEALTH.  You cannot just sit by and expect to get better.  Yes, you may be on medication (as I am; a basic depression pill), but you still have to play a lead role in getting better.  Medication can only do so much, and it’s not a fix.  There are still days when I struggle, but those days just remind me that there is still work that needs to be done.

Now that all that is out of the way, I look forward to having you take this journey with me!  Please, feel free to ask questions, leave comments, and share my blog entries.  I want to help others so if you feel that someone you know could benefit from a post or something I’ve said, I won’t mind a bit for you to share it with them.  We are all brothers and sisters of the same species in this amazing universe that we live in!  I’m here for you! 🙂

Laughing Loudly

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I once read that by making yourself smile and/or laugh you actually lift your mood.  Whether it’s a genuine, real smile or a completely forced one, it doesn’t matter.  Whenever you smile it sends a message to your brain that says, “Hey!  I’m smiling, there must be something good going on.  Let’s party!”  Plus, it often makes you feel a little silly which normally causes you to laugh…at yourself! 🙂

I’m Buddhist and I love watching videos of the Dalai Lama, whether it’s an interview, or just a biography type documentary.  He is always smiling and laughing, and while watching the video I often find myself smiling as well.  His happiness just radiates and it’s incredibly contagious!  Don’t believe me, just click HERE!  You can also click HERE to check out a hilarious video of babies laughing!  There’s just something about watching people laugh that just cracks me up.  It’s also very rewarding to make someone else laugh.  I often tell little corny jokes throughout the day in order to brighten someones day, and it’s so much fun.

It seems I’m always challenging people to do something that makes their lives just a little bit happier so here you go:  I challenge you to find something to laugh about or smile about every day, preferably several times during the day.  Try smiling at someone in order to pass that smile onto them, which will inevitably move onto someone else.  You never know what someone is going through, and maybe they need a smile.  They are incredible gifts that are free to give so feel free to give as many away as possible!  You will definitely make someones day just a little bit better.

Rushing to Slow Down

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Your alarm blares, you jump out of bed, take a quick shower, skip breakfast, grab a quick cup of coffee, rush out the door, rush to work, and then wish that your day would go by as quickly as possible.  Once you clock out you rush home, rush through dinner, rush through your nightly routine, and then go to bed.  Tomorrow you’ll wake up and do it all over again.

Why is it that we are so obsessed with rushing through life? Why can’t we just slow down and enjoy the present moment?  From the minute we wake up to the time we go to bed we are often hurrying to get things done.  There are 24 hours in a day that won’t go by any quicker no matter what you do, so why not learn to enjoy some of it?  In the morning I wake up just 20 minutes earlier than I used to in order to make a decent breakfast (which normally consists of scrambled eggs, toast, fresh fruit, and coffee), do some yoga, make my bed, and just relax for a few minutes as I allow myself to wake up.  I don’t even take my cell phone or laptop into the kitchen because I want to have a mindful breakfast, and not allow my phone to distract me.  I’ve noticed such a difference now that I start my day in a more calming and peaceful manner.  I’m not as prone to anxiety, I’m not as likely to get irritated or upset, I’m generally more productive, and I’m just much happier throughout the day.

It’s such a strange practice to actually force yourself to slow down.  We’re not used to that, and if we change our pace at all during the day, it’s normally to speed up in an attempt to get more done.  However, I’ve learned that when I speed up I typically end up making more mistakes and just tend to get more irritated.  Yet, if I slow down, I don’t make as many mistakes and actually get the same amount of work done (if not more) by the end of the day.

I recently bought a new wrist watch and I’ve now developed a pretty neat practice…when the quiet ‘beep’ goes off I stop what I’m doing and take a few deep breaths.  I also think of something that makes me happy, and I make myself smile.  Sometimes the smile comes without force, and sometimes I actually have to “fake” a smile.  Yet, even when you fake a smile it still helps to lift your mood. Try it, it works!

I want to challenge you this week to slow down.  We are always rushing to the next minute, next hour, next day, or the next week, yet there’s no guarantee that we’ll even be here.  So take a few minutes out of your busy day to just enjoy the present moment.  Remember to breathe, remember to enjoy, and remember to live.

Yoga in the Woods

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There are few things that I enjoy more than being in the woods. Out in nature, the wind on my face, the smell of plants filling my lungs, the feel and sound of limbs and leaves crunching under my feet. It gives me such peace and truly makes me feel one with the universe. I feel such happiness and even writing about it now slows my heart rate and reminds me to take a deep breath. However, I’ve recently discovered something even better than just walking in the woods…yoga in the woods. I’ve never really been a big yoga person, but lately I’ve been doing much more of it.

About two months ago I injured myself pretty badly while working out so I was forced to cease almost all physical activity for almost four weeks. I started physical therapy at that point and the first thing they had me do was stretch. It hurt, a lot, but I knew I had to do it in order to wake up the muscles that I had not been using and begin the healing process. During this course of bodily torture I realized that the stretching exercises (most of which were your basic, and even some complex, yoga moves) actually calmed my nerves, made me less anxious, relieved pain, steadied my breathing, chased away some of the depression I had been feeling, and helped to elevate my over all attitude. For this reason I began making my appointments for the morning time because it always seemed to make the rest of my day go much smoother after I had completed my physical therapy. As my physical therapy continued I started to incorporate my stretches into my morning routine at home. I’m not really sure why, as I don’t know the science behind it, and it may be mostly a mind trick, but it has really made a difference. During this process I had noticed that my depression was slowly creeping back in and I knew I had to do something. I was sitting a home last week, and as I’ve finally gotten to the point that I can walk without too much of a limp, and I can put my full weight on my foot and back, I decided to go for a hike. As I slowly and carefully walked through the woods my mind began to slip back into that comfortable and welcome place of peace and stillness. I stopped, put down my backpack, closed my eyes, and breathed. Deeply. It was incredible. Being back in the place I love after almost two months of being confined to the house and my work, truly brightened my day and calmed my entire body. I started to stretch, not even realizing I was doing it, and before I knew it I was doing yoga. Right there in the woods. I took off my shoes and my bare feet gently meshed with the ground and leaves. My muscles welcomed the stretches and my lungs were grateful for the fresh air.  I think I did this for about 30 minutes, although I had honestly lost track of time probably five minutes in so I’m not really sure. When I finished my hike and made it back to the house my mind was in a state that it had not been in a long time…complete ecstasy. I was somewhat emotional, happy, energetic, peaceful, calm, and there was not a single thing that could’ve ruined my day. 

I’ve only done this twice so far, but I will definitely continue. It just goes to show that happiness can be found in the most basic of places. I didn’t spend a single dollar, I didn’t travel to some foreign country. I was simply there, about a mile from my home, in the woods with my bare feet on the ground. That is where I found happiness. That is where I began to breathe again.