Happiness is a Choice

I am a firm believer that the emotions we are feeling at any given time is a choice. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be grumpy. You may not agree with me and say that our bodies chemistry, our hormones play a part, and this is true. But we have the ability to change our body chemistry as well.

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Choosing how you feel consistently takes practice and the desire to feel better. It also takes a conscious effort initially. Over time choosing how to feel becomes easier and requires less thought to do. It is like learning to drive a car. When you were learning you had to pay attention to every detail. You had to tell yourself to put on your seat belt, check the mirrors, and keep a vigilant lookout for what was going on in your environment. Over time getting in the car and putting on your seat belt and checking the mirrors became second nature. Now as you drive you can eat, talk on the phone, and pay attention to your environment all at the same time without having to think so much about each different action. Learning to alter your mood is the same way. After a while, you will recognize that you do not like your reaction to something, and you can change how you want to feel in a lot less time.

Oftentimes a negative feeling has an ulterior motive, and other times it is just how we want to feel. What might the ulterior motives be? It may be seeking attention, or it might be that we have been taught this is the appropriate reaction to a given situation. Maybe your life has been hectic, chaotic, and very busy and you just need some time off and solitude. You can be grumpy and quiet and this is a message to others that you need some space. You can choose that, but wouldn’t it be easier just to ask for what you need? People do not always get the clues and then how you are feeling affects how they react to you and before you know it there is drama going on around you. This is not fun. So, in “Joy Quest” we are looking for easier, better ways to go about feeling better and having a happier life.

How you start and end your day can play a large part. If you have a day where as soon as you wake up you begin thinking about something that is bothering you, or something that recently did not go right, your whole day will follow that path. The body and mind will find what is familiar and comfortable and try to take you down that path. Humans are habitual by nature. We run on routines and head towards the familiar. Scientists say that 90% of what we do and think is a repeat of the day before. We wake up thinking about the past, and we do the same things in almost the same way, day in and day out. That gets boring pretty quickly. Have you heard people say they feel like they are on a hamster wheel? This is it. And it is time to get off.

Instead of repeating the past, how about defining a new future? When you wake up in the morning, instead of moaning, hitting the floor, and heading straight for the coffee, how about taking a few minutes to stretch, breathe, and choosing how you want to feel? Choose to do things differently. Maybe mix up the order. How you choose to think will affect how you feel. When I wake up I no longer jump right out of bed. I enjoy that I slept. I enjoy what the morning weather is. I appreciate my dog looking forward to me getting up. I also, and this is very important, think about who I want to be this day. I think about how I want to feel. I am not making a to-do list of activities, just an idea of how I want to feel. This starts my day off much better than when I used to head straight for the coffee maker.

I give myself enough time in the morning to enjoy peace and quiet. I love to sit on my back porch and just take in the new day. Now I do have my coffee. As I do this I just do not put a lot of thought into it. I pet my dog, watch the birds, and listen. It is meditative and relaxing. I do not have to feel like I have to rush into my day unprepared. I began this practice when my kids were young. I tried to get up 30 minutes before everyone else so I could have some quiet time to myself.

How you approach your day makes a difference. If you are going to a job you do not like then make plans to change it. What is it about the job that is not pleasing to you. Sometimes we do not like our jobs just because that is how we are expected to feel about work. It is not expected to be fun and enjoyable, it is something we have to do to pay the bills.

If it is a horrible place to be then begin working towards something better. Learn a new skill, or brush up your resume. If you are stuck somewhere you do not want to be, you are there because you choose to be. I am not saying go in today and quit. I am saying start taking steps to improve your situation.

If it is how you relate to the people, then you can begin approaching them differently. Make a plan to say something nice to those you do not like to be around, daily. Look for the opportunities instead of the limitations where you are. I can honestly say I did not like being away from home every day but I was grateful for the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people at my job. I did not always get along with my co-workers, but I appreciated how hard they worked, and I was empathetic to their personal situations.

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What goes in is what comes out. You cannot pour milk into a glass and expect to drink wine. It just does not happen. What do you expose yourself to on a daily basis? Do you listen to talk radio on the way to work, listen to the office gossip during the day then go home and watch the news? There is so much negative in the world. If this is what you are exposing yourself to this is what you will be feeling and thinking. You can not put in a constant flow of negative and expect positive to come out. It just does not work.

My husband likes to watch the news. I do not. I will take a book or my journal out to my porch and focus on anything but the news. I find I have a much happier outlook. I will watch what I think is important to know. I see updates of the corona virus, how it is affecting schools, and the weather. But the constant civil unrest, the shootings, the negative that is portrayed in our daily news is not beneficial to my positive mindset. In my car, I have a choice between my favorite music playlist, podcasts, and audible books. I found by turning off the radio I was not getting irritated so easily in traffic. I have also enjoyed many good books and increased my learning as I drive.  

The day can end much as it began. I take some alone time to evaluate how I did that day. Where did I not display who I want to be? If I slipped up I then ask myself how can I do better tomorrow. We are ever-expanding in who we want to be, who we display ourselves as. Is there anything we did that maybe we need to forgive ourselves for? Then do it. We can start each day new and fresh. Each day we can choose how we can feel and act.

You may ask me about reacting to how other people treat us. We have two choices. We can have a knee jerk reaction to other people’s behaviors or we can choose how we want to react to them. Just like choosing how you want to feel, we can choose how to react to the words and actions of other people. We can let it upset us, or we can understand that they may be unaware that they do not have to live on autopilot. We can be empathetic to personal struggles they may be experiencing. More importantly, we can choose how we feel no matter the choices others are making.

Today, begin noticing how you feel. You may want to put a note on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, and your dashboard of your car. Just something simple like, “How are you feeling right now?” This is just a simple reminder to choose to feel a way that benefits you instead of harming you. As you go through your day, happier, grateful, and at peace, you will be creating within yourself better chemicals and hormones. Our bodies were not made to like in a prolonged state of stress. The hormones and chemicals created to support stress have a harmful effect on our bodies and our health. Choosing to be happy more often, living in gratitude, will improve not only our mood but also our health.

If taking these steps feel like a huge leap for you, then you might want to consider hiring a coach. I help my clients to set goals, improve their sleep, relating to others, and their outlook on life. Schedule a free conversation with me so we can explore the path, your “Joy Quest.”

Do you love your life or are you doing what is expected?

That really can be a tough question. I am from the generation that was taught to find one thing to do with your life. Pick a career, one that makes lots of money, and make that the rest of your life. Our parents had things like one working parent family, one career for life, and a pension plan.

We now live a life where we have both parents working, there is no such thing as job security, and I am sure many millennials do not even know what a pension is.

Why do you do what you do? You grew up and went to college to be an attorney, a doctor, an engineer, or a CPA. That is what you were taught from a young age to do because it would provide for your family. You also wanted to make your parents proud, and since this is what they wanted for you, this is what you did. Now you feel trapped.

I spent the last few years working at a bankruptcy law firm and was surprised to see how many doctors, lawyers, and even accountants had to hire us. One time I ran a survey of our clients and their professions who came in and hired us over the previous year. The majority had college degrees and professional jobs. I was shocked, to say the least. So, what that told me is that in today’s economy, being a doctor, lawyer or CPA does not guarantee financial security.

Then the question is, do you love what you do? If you do and you are struggling to make ends meet, then you get the hard knocks lesson. They did not teach you business in school. They also did not teach you about self-care and work/life balance. They taught you how to work your trade. Now you are good at that, and you might love what you do, but you spend all your time having no other life. You have sacrificed everything to have a nice car, the beautiful house, but even those are nothing more than tools to get you through your days and maybe a couple of hours of sleep. Your relationships are suffering, you have no social life, and forget vacations. Even if you get one you have your cell phone and laptop at your side at al times.

It is time for a change, but you are not sure how to go about it. There is too much momentum behind what you are currently doing.

After spending years working in the law field, I saw what the “Happy” lawyers, doctors, and CPAs were doing differently. They had been able to regain a life. It is possible to have a full and satisfying life outside of your practice, and still make the money to support the lifestyle you want.

If you hate what you are doing, then maybe it is time for a change. Do you feel ill every time you think about going into work? Are you tired of missing your kid’s special events? Does your spouse or partner remember who you are? When is the last time you went on a date? Maybe it is time for a drastic change.

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What I want to see for everyone I work with is a peaceful balanced life. You do not have to stop what you are doing; you need to change how you are doing it.  I touch on these subjects in my book, “The A+ Legal office.” This was written for lawyers but applies to any service-based industry. If you have not read the book, it is a fun and easy read. If you have already read it and are ready to make the change to being happy and successful, it is time to invest in yourself. Please schedule your free 30-minute strategy session to get the ball rolling. This is not a marketing approach. This is a practice and a lifestyle approach. You will not find this anywhere else. Though I was the Director of Marketing in a successful firm, some of that does come to play. I always say, “work smarter, not harder” and that is where much of today’s marketing comes into play. We also look at who you have working for you and how to better utilize their skills and abilities. My goal is to see hard-working professionals able to have dinner with their families almost every night, to attend their kid’s games, recitals, and award ceremonies.

If you are ready to make the change, contact me. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired contact me. If you love what you do and want to live your life also, contact me. If you hate what you are doing and have always been doing it to please someone else, contact me. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

New Beginnings

We planted crape myrtle trees in our yard recently. They were just little three gallon trees. I am so excited about how fast they are growing. We did not really expect to see any thing from them the first year. When I went out on my back patio this morning to enjoy my coffee I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by new blooms of bright red.

What that brought to mind is that every day presents us with a chance to start new. Each day is a new beginning. What are you going to do with that gift? Every morning when we wake up we have a chance to remake ourselves into a new and better version.

Our natural inclination is to pick up where we left off yesterday. We wake up worrying over finances, an argument with our partner or kids, or a troubling project at work. The problem with doing that is you are not going to create a new day and a new you. You will just recreate the same as the day before. Is that what you want repeating in your life?

I love that if I have a bad day, when I go to bed at night I can leave it behind. When I wake up I am sure to start on a positive note. I wake up refreshed and grateful for everything I have. I do not even let myself think on what was wrong yesterday. Thank God, that is in the past.

I come at each day with solutions and not problems. If we focus on the problem then we are going to be holding onto those bad feelings for so much longer. If they get rooted deep enough, it can be challenging to dig them out.

In my writing of “Joy Quest” I have really put a huge focus on living a life of how to find joy and satisfaction no matter what is going on around me. I know it may sound like living with my head in the clouds (or the sand) but it really is not. I am aware of what is happening in my family, my work, and the world. I just know am at a place where I consciously choose how I am going to react to events.

I choose my reactions and how I want to feel, I do not let others or the world impose a knee-jerk reactions.

This offers a greater day (life) of greater ease and clarity.

So, if yesterday was just okay, or it was really bad, what will you do today to remake yourself so you can glide through the day feeling better. What can put a smile on your face even if things are not perfect.

Remember, Life is meant to be fun, everything is temporary and we can choose how we feel.

Enjoy your brand new day and the brand new you.

Love and Blessings,
Ashley J Spurgeon