Sometimes a girl has to get in her truck, drive to the middle of nowhere, climb onto a boulder, and reflect on the happy factors. I spent last week doing that, amongst other things, and you know what I discovered?
I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life.
A big statement, but true.
I had a few leftover vacation days to be taken by year’s end, so used the time wisely, searching out things like…
Internet-Free Writing Zones
Why? Because I’m in the throes of editing my latest novel for my agent, incorporating her (very on point) notes. Holy crap was that first draft overwritten. Anyway, it’s easy to get distracted when editing because it’s tedious. To combat the urge to drift to the web, I sought out places with no Internet, like:
Joshua Tree National Park
We have a house near Joshua Tree, where we spend every weekend. Since my days off fell on winter weekdays, that meant zero crowds in the park, so I grabbed my computer, hopped in my ’48 Ford, climbed up into the rocks, and got a ton of work done–even with the distractions of the gorgeous environment and watching the occasional passerby stop and do laps around Bondorella down below.
I also spent a couple of days in…
For a brief period in the 90s, I lived in Laguna. It was mostly a pain-in-the-ass due to traffic, but the beauty is pretty hard to beat. I stayed in the historic Coast Inn, built in 1929, and now operated as an AirBnb. The clifftop building has a large deck that overlooks the ocean. I spent two days pinching myself over the beauty of it all. Only downside? The room had internet. To escape the lure, I grabbed a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, tucked my computer underarm, and headed down the steps to the internet-free beach, where I once again found a big rock to sit and write.
Other Internet-free Zones
By Friday, feeling calm and happy and oh-so-productive, I hopped in the car, and drove to Arizona to spend a few days with my parents.
Told you I spent my time wisely!
My Happy Factors
So how did I get so darned happy? There’s nothing original here, in fact most of it teeters on cliché, but here they are, my key happy factors:
Curing my migraines was HUGE. The method I used did more than just cure my head, though, it changed EVERYTHING. Even if you don’t have migraines, if you’re struggling, never feeling good mentally or physically, look into getting rid of all that inflammation in your body by eliminating sugar and grains, and allowing your body to heal itself without the aid of medication. It’s life changing and I truly believe, the core to being happy. If your body is happy, your brain is happy. (click this link to read the story of how I cured my Migraines)
This one embarrasses me, but… meditation. I always thought meditation was a bunch of hippy nonsense, and even now while I’m doing it, I sometimes roll my eyes thinking this is stupid. Yet it works. I’ve reduced anxiety and increased productivity using the Headspace app, but instead of counting breaths, I repeat words I want to be true: Breathe In… Brave. Breathe Out… Happy. In… Calm. Out… productive. In… confident. Out… creative. You get the picture. Bottom line, meditation is about learning to discipline your mind toward the positive.
Living like a vagabond. Selling our weekday house in Orange County stripped a weird weight from us both. Minimizing what we need, living out of our trunks, and bouncing around from Airbnb’s and hotels four nights a week has brought clarity and joy. Is it sustainable? Who knows. But we’re going to keep doing it as long as it makes us happy, and right now, it most definitely does.
Stretching and movement. This has always been huge for me, but lately, thanks to our vagabond life, I’ve been neglecting this more than I’d like. With time off work last week, I put an emphasis on reestablishing my routines. Stretching and movement give both mental and physical fluidity, which in turn brings joy. And hey! I can almost get my right arm straight again! Woo hoo!
Be like Pollyanna. See the good, ignore the bad. Acknowledge stressful things and then let them go. No dwelling on crap. Think happy thoughts and you will be happy. Seriously. The whole Power of Positive Thinking thing works.
And lastly, Do Things That Make You Happy. Nature. Cooking. Spending time with the one you love. Whatever makes your heart sing. Like this seagull. You think he wasn’t totally stoked to find a bagel??
The Happy Factor Conclusion
In addition to discovering how happy I am, I also learned, I apparently like to sit on rocks.
And while I didn’t reach my goal of finishing the edit (five chapters to go)…
This week of focusing on myself–writing, stretching, being in nature–brought a sense of pure contentment and total happiness. I urge you to do the same. For this Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate, give yourself that gift and carry it into 2018.
Find your happy. It’s the very best place to be.
Until Next Time…