International Day of Happiness!

Today is the International Day of Happiness (note: check out that link. There are awesome things there)!

Today, take a moment to do some things that make yourself and other people happy! You can use this article as a guideline if you’re having trouble thinking of examples 🙂

1. A quote that makes you happy

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I live my life by this quotation! It always makes me smile and serves as a reminder that there are so many wonderful things in the world; sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find them.

Also:

What makes you think that elves are any more magical than something like a whale?

—Boyhood

2. A picture that makes you happy

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My dog in a field of wildflowers. The fact that I get to see him in a few days makes it even better!

Also, selfies with my dog:

3. A place that makes you happy

The beach by my house is one of my favourite places in the world. Whenever I’m stressed out and need to calm down, I take a walk by the lake and automatically feel better.

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4. A song that makes you happy

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5. A movie that makes you happy

Any Marvel movie ever.

All in all…

… There are so many wonderful & happiness-inspiring things & people in this world! Today, on #InternationalDayofHappiness, let’s all try to take a moment, breathe, and be mindful of the things that put a smile on our faces and a SPRING in our steps!

PS – happy first day of Spring!

 

 

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This Song Perfectly Describes My Experience with Mental Health Issues

As much as I love to empower and uplift people, it is extremely important to me to talk about issues in truthful ways, raise awareness, and destigmatize the conversation surrounding controversial topics. It’s a necessity to encourage empathy and understanding, and I hope that by listening to this song/reading the lyrics, people can sart to see how difficult and overwhelming living with mental health issues can be (I discuss my own interpretations of the following at the end of the article. Thanks for being open-minded.

“Lovely Sad” by The Maine

Ugly little feelings
Crawl inside my head
What’s the point in leaving
This California king-sized bed?
What-if’s
And the should-have’s
They start to eat my brain
The shadow of my youth has
Made the sun go black again
I look around and I don’t see the pretty things
The evil thoughts upstairs they don’t need company
This broken glass it reflects back
The person I’ve become

And now
Here I am
I feel numb
On the fence
On the run
Spill my guts
What an act
I am sad
But to me I’m lovely sad

Imaginary numbers
Control the ones we love
Fooled by affectation
And something up above
If you’re in love with diamonds
A simple death you’re dying
A wasted life to me
Here we are all liars
Just hoping to get higher
Than everyone we meet
Huxley said we live together but we’re always by ourselves
If you don’t like this type of weather you can move to someplace else
Significance is rarely found underneath your couch

So now
Here you are
Feeling numb
On the fence
On the run
Down and out
Such a drag
We’re all sad
But to me we’re lovely sad

I’m not at all claiming that everyone’s experience with mental health difficulties is the same as mine, and it’s important to not expect all individuals with mental illness to act the same. Everyone is affected differently, and each person’s experience is valid and should never feel invalidated. I learned about the importance of validation through Sashbear‘s creators in the context of helping those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), but it’s also extremely important in day-to-day interactions with anyone and everyone.
What is BPD?
“Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that causes unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. It usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood.” [Source]
Back to the Song…
To me, this song is a perfect representation of a lot of what I feel when I’m at those low points of mental health. The entire first verse is accurate and easy to relate with. It’s difficult to understand for those who haven’t experienced it, but at times people who have mental health issues find it hard to complete what may seem like the simplest of tasks; for example, getting out of bed can seem impossible and having a conversation can feel extremely tiresome. These feelings are all exhausting, but it can be really hard to confront them and break the cycle of negativity, since the sad/low can begin to feel comfortable, normal, or easier to deal with than the effort it would take to get out of the funk (hence “Lovely Sad”). That’s what the song means to me, at least.
Even though this week’s Song Saturday wasn’t as uplifting as they usually are, I really hope I made some people think, and others feel heard.
xoxo

Exercise Your Body, Help Your Mind

Lately, I’ve been on a little bit of a health kick–by health kick, I mean going on 20 minute jogs now and again and trying to eat healthy, but I digress–and I’ve been feeling a lot better ever since it started. I didn’t really become aware of how great I feel until the “Stress and Health” unit of my psych course came around, and I learned just how beneficial working out really is, aside from trying to fit into those pesky limits of “beauty” (I don’t know about you, but I know my body will never look like most of those girls’, regardless of how much I work out).

Here are a few things I learned about aerobic exercise:

Note: “Also called aerobic exercises. ( used with a plural verb) any of various sustained exercises, as jogging, rowing, swimming, or cycling, that stimulate and strengthen the heart and lungs, thereby improving the body’s utilization of oxygen.” (Source)

  • Reduces risk of heart disease by 30%, stroke by 400%, and breast cancer by 200% 
  • Increases life quality, well-being, self-esteem, and your immune system
  • Nerve growth factors are stimulated and thrive (these basically rescue your neurons from imminent death and helps them grow and function properly = proper function of the nerves in your body, including your brain)
  • Increases brain function–it is shown that people who do aerobic exercise receive better grades 
  • Shrinkage of brain may be stopped and/or reversed (this is like… a really big deal. As you get older/use your brain less, brain tissue will be lost and your brain will shrink. This contributes to losing your memory and becoming unable to do certain rather basic tasks in your old age. Basically, there are studies which show that aerobic exercise can work against this)
  • Helps A LOT to reduce stress as they affect neurotransmitters. This is because exercise reduces epinephrine, and cortisol (stress hormones) and produce norepinephrine (healthy levels can improve memory, concentration, attention, and confidence), serotonin, dopamine (pleasure molecule), endorphins (natural opiates), and glutamate (leads to higher cognitive functioning).
  • Can help with psychological illnesses, such as depression and anxiety

Citation: Myers, David G. Psychology, Tenth Edition. New York: Worth Publishers, 2013.

I know it seems scary to start exercising if you don’t do so already, but there are tons of little steps that you can take to help you reach your goals. A little is better than none, and your ability and confidence will build up pretty quickly if you stick to it! I’m definitely no exercise expert, and won’t pretend to be, but here are some things that I’ve found helpful:

  1. Have realistic expectations. For example, if you’ve never run before, or haven’t for a long time, don’t expect to run for thirty minutes straight–it may not seem like a long time, but it is for someone who isn’t used to it. It takes a while to build up stamina and ability, so don’t get discouraged if you have to take it slow and take a lot of breaks.
  2. Make use of technology! This one has been seriously helpful for me, as someone who doesn’t know much about working out (like… at all). Upon recommendation, I downloaded RunKeeper which is an awesome app for android and iPhone users. It tracks your progress and helps you to set realistic goals and plans to achieve them. There are tons of other workout apps which seem awesome as well, and can be hugely beneficial to you.
  3. “Werk Out, Twerk Out” [sorry, I have a thing for rhymes]. MAKE A WORKOUT PLAYLIST. There are actual reasons why this can help increase the success in your exercise AND it helps you to have more fun.
  4. Involve a Friend. Whether you’re actually going to exercise with a friend, or just tell a friend about your workout plan, their involvement will help keep you motivated and on track. If it’s a more experienced friend, you may even learn something, which will make you feel more comfortable.
  5. Learn the Right Way. This is definitely the most important piece of advice on this list. Make sure you know that you’re doing your workout the right way so that you aren’t hurting yourself. You can make use of YouTube, Pinterest, a knowledgeable friend, or a personal trainer to do so, but make sure you know what you’re doing or you can be seriously injured. This includes having proper equipment and clothing!!

If you don’t trust a beginner like me (I don’t blame you), here are some other sources with tips: 1, 2, 3 (2 give a lot of good advice and number 3 walks you through a lot of exercises step-by-step and gives examples of workouts for every level)

I never used to care at all about exercising. I’m lazy, I’m anxious about trying new things, and I’m just not an athletic person. I told myself that I was protesting against the typical standards of attractiveness and that it shouldn’t matter whether or not I work out, but I realized that this is the wrong way of thinking. A healthy body does more than just give you a nice looking body–it can improve your health in general, and that’s pretty rad.

Thanks for being here!

This blog is dedicated to happiness — mine, yours, and maybe even your friends’ and family’s (if I’m so lucky that people share my posts and find them helpful)! While it’s important to be knowledgeable about current events and social justice issues, I think it’s also incredibly important to take time to be positive every day. I think there’s too much focus on the negative, and I want to try to change that in my own life.

I decided to make my quest public to keep myself motivated, and also to motivate others as well hopefully; we all need it every once in a while. Each day of the week will have a different theme to it, and they will all be wonderous (hence “wonderousweekdays”). I haven’t come up with all of the names yet, but so far there will be:

  • “Masculine” Monday – content focused on challenging gender roles and norms.
  • Tuesday to come. 
  • #WomanCrushWednesday – a play off the popular instagram/Twitter tag, Wednesday is a day to give a shoutout to wonderful women, empower females, and challenge gender roles & misogyny.
  • Thankful Thursday – a day dedicated to recognizing all the great things in our life.
  • Feel Good Friday – random acts of kindness? Good news? Cute animals? Mental health advice? If it will make you happy, it fits in here.
  • Song Saturday – sharing the healing power of positive music!
  • Self-love Sunday – let’s focus on self-care and acceptance to start the #wonderousweek off right.

Morgan