Lifestyle Blog: living with fear & anxiety

The real time thoughts of Sabrina

A Meaningful Life — July 11, 2018

A Meaningful Life

For a long time I have chased a life of happiness. I thought that making decisions to maximize my happiness would make me…happy. But this has not panned out for me. Chasing happiness has gotten in the way of me actually being happy. The more I wanted it, the more elusive it seemed. Trying to minimize the difficult decisions, the difficult tasks, and the difficult people created more problems for me. I thought the way to happiness would be by avoiding responsibilities, ignoring work, and skirting past tough decisions. Fighting my thoughts and pushing back against my daunting tasks did not make those things disappear. They were still there, looming above me, accumulating and putting even more pressure onto me.

I soon realized I was trying to operate on one extreme of the scale and that life is a balancing act. Sometimes we have to do difficult things. And sometimes, after completing difficult tasks, we feel even better than we did trying to avoid them.

Here are two main lessons I have learned:

  1. Happiness starts within. Chasing happiness via external channels does not work out. And just because I have tasks to do that I don’t enjoy doing does not mean I will necessarily be unhappy because of them. Oddly, doing tasks that I enjoy doing will not necessarily make me happy. Happiness is decided internally. By realizing that I have control within myself to determine my outlook and my response to situations outside of my control that happen to me, I can choose to be happy by being happy with myself and my efforts.
  2. A meaningful life is much better. By figuring out what gives you meaning, you gain the ability to push past difficulties and spring towards joy. I used to avoid asking myself what my purpose was. I thought it was irrelevant because we actually have no inherent purpose (very existentialist). But, this does not mean that life has to be devoid of purpose altogether. We can create meaning and purpose in our own lives. I believe this to truly be the thing worth living for, the thing worth working towards which allows us to lift above ourselves and do something outside ourselves. Living a life full of meaning allows us to look beyond our own person so that we can look beyond our own selfish nature and do a greater good. This can be as little as helping a friend in need. You can find meaning being a store greeter by making other people smile or by being a high powered lawyer who helps his or her clients find justice.

If I made every choice to maximize my happiness, I wouldn’t do anything worth doing. I would be stuck doing the easy things. But it turns out that completing difficult tasks lead to long-term happiness because one feels a sense of completion and capability after completing a daunting task. This leads to competency and the belief that you can do something you set your mind to. You realize you either have the skills needed or can learn the skills needed to do those difficult tasks. Feeling competency is part of the recipe to building confidence. Confidence leads to higher self-esteem. You hold yourself in a higher regard when you are confident. This then breeds happiness that stems from inside oneself. And happiness with the self is true happiness.

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The opposite of depression — June 25, 2018

The opposite of depression

depressionwordleThe opposite of depression is not happiness. Someone who is depressed can still feel happiness. Someone who is depressed can still give and receive love. Depression is beyond sadness. Depression is feeling completely dejected. Depression is the inability to take action. Depression is the lack of vitality. Vitality is the state of being strong, active, and energetic. Vitality, not happiness, is the opposite of depression.

Pursuing Happiness — June 21, 2018

Pursuing Happiness

f00f921b20738ce83799c9177143cfa4Chasing happiness will be an ongoing effort if you approach happiness in terms of what you achieve. Because no matter what your circumstance, your position, your thoughts… you already have the ability to be happy within yourself. As long as you are happy with yourself, everything else is a bonus. But if you have those external happiness makers – the perfect job, tons of money, a beautiful life – without having internal happiness, you don’t really have long-lasting happiness. The only way to true happiness is in accepting yourself for who you are and being happy with the person you see reflected in the mirror. The rest is a bonus.

Depression can be a smile — June 8, 2018

Depression can be a smile

define-happy

Our high-functioning society tells us to push forward. Achieve more, faster. Do more. Do better. Good is not good enough. And once we achieve the pinnacle of success we will also achieve… happiness.

But it doesn’t matter what you have, how much of it you have, what you’ve done, where you’ve been… You could have all the money in the world or none of it. You could have the best job in the world or no job at all. You could be married or single. You could have family and friends or no one. All of this doesn’t matter. Our outward circumstances are just that, outward.

Our inner turmoil doesn’t always show on the surface. In the post-Anthony Bourdain world, we remember that his life was met with laughter, fun, food, and continuously flowing drinks. His show has been a staple in our household. Every show with Anthony left me and my partner with a burning passion for life, the discovery of new places and an appreciate for new foods. We long to travel the streets in his footsteps. He was always very open about his past, his struggles with addiction, and his laissez-faire attitude. He had come a long way since his boisterous younger years – going from a bus boy to a successful entertainer. He gave us all hope that we may one day better ourselves and have a life full of adventure, travels, and good eats.

Mental illness is our modern day plague. We truly don’t know how many are affected and to what extent. Most don’t seek the help of therapists. I know first-hand that it took me a while to finally go see my first therapist. Since then I’ve had dozens of sessions.

Depression doesn’t have a face. It is an internal struggle, of which, few outsiders know the half of. Sometimes it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Sometimes it is triggered by a life event. For others, it just always is.

Having everything you’ve ever wanted doesn’t get rid of depression. Achieving external victories don’t resolve internal battles. Success isn’t some mile-marker where sadness ends and happiness begins. Long-term satisfaction with oneself can only be achieved by confronting those inner demons. Bringing the battle inward is the only way out.

Depression can be a smile. Depression can be jokes in the office-place. Depression can be happiness. Depression can be laughter. Depression can be living out your dream job.

It is a cloud that looms overhead, always watching and waiting.

 

Welcome to the dead zone — June 4, 2018
Why Pride Month Matters to Me — June 1, 2018

Why Pride Month Matters to Me

pridePride month is important to me because at one period in my life, which last about 18 years, I did not accept who I was. I was ashamed of who I was. I hid it so well that I buried it far in the back of my mind. I denied it everyday. And to make sure that people didn’t know that I was a lesbian, I was outwardly homophobic. I remember specific things I would say to friends and am appalled at the ease in which I said it. I was hiding behind those homophobic words. I wasn’t scared of everyone who was gay, I was scared of myself. I didn’t know how to process my feelings. Later on, I was pushed out of the closet after telling a few close individuals. Rumors spread, except these rumors were true. I wasn’t ready to face my life as a lesbian in the world. So I went back in the closet for two years. Again I hid from myself. And I did it pretty well. Until I got to be close to some LGBTQ+ individuals living their lives without fear and with complete love of themselves, I too felt at ease being around these individuals. They taught me how to love myself. They taught me that it is normal to be gay. Over time I learned that I deserve love. Love from others, but most importantly, I deserve my own self love.

Even though we are in 2018 and even though there are more progressive areas, discrimination still happens today. It is important to remember to be kind to everyone. Society needs to be more accepting of things they “don’t understand” because I think everyone can understand the concept of love.

I have been harassed both online and in person. I can remember every single encounter with those faceless strangers. I remember the heckling, laughter, pointing, nasty and lewd comments – I remember it all. I remember the fear I felt in every situation. I remember wanting to crawl in a hole. But I didn’t. I stood my ground and got better and better at handling every situation thrown at me. All because I was holding the hand of a woman I love or because I was wearing some type of rainbow pride article of clothing. Those strangers who harassed me identified me as gay and proceeded to tell me how they really feel, completely unprovoked. I’m minding my own business and am verbally harassed by homophobic individuals. I know it well, yet I am still unclear as to why these random people felt the need to harass me. I chalk it up to, “it’s their problem, not mine.”

My mom was worried that life would be hard for me. Sometimes it is. But life is hard for everyone for various reasons. I know one thing for sure, life would be even harder trying to live as something I am not.

I am no longer ashamed of who I am. I embrace myself and my life. I wouldn’t want to be any other way. My dream is that homophobia is just a term used in history books to explain a mindset that certain people had in a distant time. That’s why I celebrate Pride Month every single day of the year.

 

 

My 100th post! —

My 100th post!

Hi folks,

Just wanted to share that this is my 100th post. This blog has really evolved over the past three years since I started it in March 2015. It’s been really interesting looking back on my posts and reflecting on thoughts I’ve had. Sometimes I seem to rant and rave, other times I’m very compassionate and understanding. Life is much like this. We aren’t always in good moods and we aren’t always in bad moods. Life is a constant ebb and flow of different emotions. Imagine having monotonic emotions all the time? You’d be very bored, plus it just isn’t human. Allow yourself to feel all the feelings. It’s OK. Just don’t lash out at the one’s you love most when you are feeling down and negative.

I’ve gotten lots of feedback from a bunch of different people. It’s been great bouncing ideas off of one another. I hope to continue to cultivate an open environment where you can freely express your opinions, thoughts, and feelings.

Thanks guys and I hope you continue to read!

Sabrina

You’ll never be content by being complacent. — May 25, 2018

You’ll never be content by being complacent.

complaencyThe difference between being content and being complacent is a subtle one. Being content means being in a state of happiness. When you are content, you are satisfied with your current circumstances. Being a complacent person is something a little bit different. When someone is complacent, they are living in their own static world where everything is fine and they will continue to keep the status quo. Being a complacent person can mean being blind to things that need to change. They don’t feel the need to further educate, inform, or innovate. Complacency can breed laziness, because a complacent person refuses to improve upon themselves.

If you are living complacently, you can be content. However, improving upon oneself, one’s circumstances, and one’s openness to change will breed long-term happiness. Continue to learn, improve upon yourself, and keep moving. Stepping out of your comfort zone will help you grow as a person and experience more things. We all want to do more cool stuff, right?

 

Professional Critics — May 22, 2018

Professional Critics

social mediaWe, as a society, have long been a self-critic. In fact, oftentimes we are our worst critic. We hurt ourselves with our own words and that is a tragedy. Our platform with which we use to criticize is restricted to ourselves and our loved ones.

With the birth of social media, the lot of us have become professional critics with a platform to broadcast our opinions, whether they be popular or unpopular. We critique anything and everything, like a firefighter saving kittens from trees… “Why did they take so long?” or “Why are we paying them with our tax dollars to do that.” No matter how benevolent things appear, we can always find that one troll’s comment.

Nowadays, scrolling through comments hurts my soul. Sometimes I am even angered by them. But what are we to do? People are entitled to their opinions, no matter how controversial or hurtful or just plain cruel they are…

Twitter’s word limit necessitated us to be cleverer in our delivery; short and to the point. Short jabs that hurt quick and fast…

We must realize that the restriction of our words is not defined by the number of words we use in our posts but by the character with which we use to write those words. We have all filtered our reality to meet our perception of the world itself. For those of us reading hurtful words and comments, we must remember that we can’t turn a critic into a lover…

Despite all the negativity, we still keep coming back like that ceaseless tide.

 

It’s not what you do but how you do it — May 14, 2018

It’s not what you do but how you do it

Pressure is put on “Millennials” to choose a career and to design their life all during one of the most confusing times of their lives- right when they enter those critical years post-high school. Many students graduate high school and enter college or university eagerly trying to choose their right career path  based off of a perceived passion for a certain subject or field.

Pressuring themselves to find their passion and to follow that passion makes some young people anxious and fearful of choosing the wrong major and then the wrong career path. This creates undo stress and anxiety stemming from trying to figure out what their calling is. While young people often question their purpose in life, finding peace in their uncertainty is the only way to charge on. In time, things will make sense and fall into place as long as you follow your little curiosities. Pursue the things that seem to excite you and you will find that when reflecting on your life, it will make sense. Remember that hindsight is 20-20.

And really, it isn’t a matter of what you do, but how you do it. You could be a cashier at a grocery store or a landscaper or a software engineer or an accountant…and you can either be happy about it or indifferent towards it. Life may not be about figuring out what you are passionate about, but about bringing your passion into everything that you do. Think about if you bring passion to what you do or are you allowing your mind to be lost in the clouds wondering when your passion will fall from the sky, hit you on the head, and make you happy and successful. The secret is that there is no secret to happiness and success because the capacity to be happy is within you already. Change your mindset and you may come to find that your outcomes will start to change too.