7 dumb things we do that make our lives harder

I have a confession to make. I’m one of those “full of sunshine people”. Yep, it’s true. That statement was actually offered to me one time when I was working (my day job is in civil service). One of our regulars who suffers from many emotional and personality disorders snapped at me, “You’re just one of those ‘full of sunshine people’, aren’t you?!”

My response was “Yes. I am.” With a smile, of course.

It’s not the only time I’ve been accused of being overly happy and positive. It’s a disease, really. One of my co-workers said to me once, “You’re always so happy! Do you drive your husband crazy?”

My response was. “Yes. Of course.” With a smile (naturally).

So what’s my secret? Why am I so damn happy? It’s not always easy. Sure, part of my natural make-up and personality leans towards the optimistic, but sometimes you can make yourself happy, or happier. How? See my list below. These are the things you need to STOP doing (if you do it), or things that can be worked on.

Some of my writer friends and I recently talked about our “works in progress” or WIPs; the current book that we’re writing. We came to the unanimous decision that our first drafts suck. They’re terrible. Awful, horrible, not even good enough to be used as toilet paper. But that’s why they’re “in progress”. We know they will get better with a little time and elbow grease. They may not EVER be perfect, but we can get them close enough.

We, as people, aren’t so different. We’re all “works in progress”. We can all get better with a little work and time.

The concepts below are simple in theory if not in execution. If you’re a naturally pessimistic or negative person, you might have to work at it harder, but I’m convinced anyone can do it (because I always think positive!).

Here is my list of things I see people doing that contribute to sucking away their happiness and preventing the “progress” part of our stories.

1. Dwelling on things we have no control over

I put this first because it’s probably the most difficult, for me anyway. This is because (sorry to tell you this but) 95% of things in our lives are out of our control. There’s really only ONE major thing you DO have control over. Yourself. You control yourself, your actions and your reactions. That last one is the most important. You control how you react to situations, no one else can claim that. When you find yourself in a bad situation, stop. Think. What can you change about the situation? What can you control that will make your life better? If it’s a terrible “something” that’s happening, allow yourself to feel and cry and rage if you need to, but then focus on what you can control and work on what you can, let go of what you can’t.

2. Letting other people control us

This is a tough one, too. And we all do it. You let the guy who cut you off on the freeway make you angry. You let that negative co-worker or mean customer make you upset. If you think about it for a minute, it doesn’t make sense. It’s not logical. You’re handing control of your emotions over to a stranger, or someone who should have little say in your life. I have a test for situations like this. I consider how long this person is going to affect me. Am I going to worry about the guy that flipped me off during a road rage incident tomorrow? Next week, will it matter? Hell, will it even be an issue anymore five minutes from now? No? Sweet, let it go.

3. Not learning from our mistakes

We all screw up. We all do stupid things, and make mistakes and feel ashamed. That’s okay. It’s great, actually! The true test of a person is not the mistakes they make, but how they learn from them. Have you screwed up real bad? Awesome. Own it. Feel bad. Then make it right. What can you do to change your habits or make sure you don’t make that mistake again? Do it. Someone who makes the same mistakes over and over and never learns from them will never grow.

4. Not finding our blind spot

We all have a blind spot. A blind spot is something about ourselves that’s true and probably not a great thing, but we can’t see it. Maybe our fragile egos can’t take it and so we inure ourselves to this one, great truth. I’m always looking for my blind spot (probably blind SPOTS, more like). Whenever someone offers me criticism that hurts, after I let myself feel bad for a bit, I stop and ask myself–is it true? Self-awareness is so important. If you can find your blind spot, you can be aware of it and work on it.

5. Comparing our journey to others

I did this ALL THE TIME, especially when it came to my writing journey. I have gotten better, but this is one I still struggle with. Stop comparing yourself, your life, where you are at with others. It will never end. Even when you reach the same level of success as whomever, you will still want more. It’s an unfortunate aspect of the human condition. The grass will always be greener. You will always want what you can’t have and what others have and you don’t. We’re like toddlers fighting over the same color crayon. When you discover that you’re judging yourself against the accomplishments of someone else, stop. Compare yourself to the person who YOU were yesterday. Their journey is not your journey. Maybe around your corner is something even better, but you’ll never see it if you’re busy watching someone else.

6. Choosing hate over happy 

Don’t bother hating people. Don’t bother seeking revenge. You won’t bring them down, you will only bring yourself down. ‘Nuff said.

7. Letting the bad juju suck us down

When you find yourself getting stuck in a pattern of negativity, break yourself out of the cycle. Focus on something you love. Find your joy. Take care of yourself. Take a break. Go for a walk. Eat healthy (but don’t completely give up foods you love, everything in moderation). Be open-minded.  Most of all, don’t be too hard on yourself. Love yourself, and spread that love around. Forgive people who’ve done you wrong. We’re all human, we all have blind spots, we make mistakes, we let others control us, and sometimes we choose hate over happy.

It’s okay.

We’re a work in progress.

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Is the secret to getting more done to have LESS time?

Good morning world!

I am frequently asked how I manage to write novels while juggling a full-time, fairly busy career, kids, a husband and of course, other family and friends.

The funny thing is, I think I get more done BECAUSE I have a ton of other obligations. How is this possible? (you ask while slowly backing away from your computer screen because dear god Mary’s lost her mind)

Over the last six years of writing nearly every day, I’ve discovered that the more time I have, the more likely I am to waste it. Whereas, if I know I only have 20 minutes of dedicated writing time in any given day, I am extremely productive during that 20 minutes.

Case in point, I have taken days off of work here and there with the intention of getting a ton of writing done. After all, if I typically write 800-1000 words in the one hour I have each morning to dedicate to writing time, with an entire day, I could write 8000 words, right? WRONG. I usually end up binge watching Netflix or cleaning up my house, telling myself I will get to the writing later.

Of course, there’s other tricks to getting writing done, such as prioritizing. What’s more important? Watching the new episode of Outlander, or finishing a scene? I can record Outlander and use it as a reward when I reach my goal for the day.

Another trick: Knowing how and when you work best. I’m useless by the end of the day, so I dedicate my mornings to writing. I’ve also discovered that if I bring my laptop to work and write on my breaks, I get a ton of wordage in (this is because there’s no WiFi and I lock myself in a little room with nothing to look at but my computer, I’m so mean to myself!).

One of the great things about writing is that you can work on it anywhere while you’re doing anything even if you don’t have your computer or writing device with you. I’m always thinking about what I’m going to write next, or how to best shape a particular character. Most of the time while I’m driving (much to the chagrin of other people on the road, I’m sure).

The biggest trick for me though is this: No Excuses. Do not blame your lack of writing (or whatever your hobby or interest is), on other people. You decide when and if you want to do something and you make it happen. You are the master of your destiny and with a little dedication and effort, anything is possible.

If anyone out there has any other tips or tricks for getting things done when the prospect is overwhelming, please share!

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Hello World!

Website in progress while I figure out what the heck I am doing 🙂

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