Stop Saying “I’m Fine.”

Stop saying, “I’m fine.”

Two words have never been easier to say than “I’m fine.” With this quick-phrase, one can effortlessly avoid attention. If only it were always this easy to dodge our peers. 

Man's Hand in Shallow Focus and Grayscale Photography
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But there are times that we are not okay. We aren’t afraid of help; we don’t want people in our business. Who wants others to take control of our lives when they have their own to run. Then there comes the pride of knowing that someone had to stop what they were doing because we couldn’t control our situation. We’re adults, just like everyone else. We can manage our own lives. 

Anxiety, stress, and depression are not typical. We hear that everyone deals with these. Since everyone is dealing with anxiety, having stress must be expected, right? Nope. Think of it as body pains. We all have our moments of aches, but having a spasm is not the norm. 

As with body pains, emotional pain needs time for healing. If we sprained our foot halfway through a 5K run, we wouldn’t continue running. We would slow down or stop. And just when we were about to lose all hope, a supermodel would run to our side, ask in a calm but caring voice, “Are you all right?” 

“I’m FINE.” we’d reply as each pain riddling step forces a whimper. “YEP! I’m okay! There’s nothing to SEE here!” And with a simple “Well, okay.” Our glamorous assistant disappears, leaving us with two new words (or expletive). “Fudge Nuggets!” 

Never be too proud, modest, or embarrassed to ask for assistance. And since we are on that word, I prefer to ask if I can “assist” others. Mental people need help. We are not mental, but we may need an extra pair of hands or another strong-back. See the difference? 

Until the next blog, live life and be happy. 

I Want You To Hurt As I Do

Have you ever faced an overly happy person just minutes after waking up? We may even growl a little to warn sunshine pants that they are on dangerous grounds. Notice the mismatched attitudes versus the reactions of both parties. One is a bundle of joy while the other is a bowl of good-gravy; I’m not there yet.

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This is important to note. How often do we encounter someone with a polar opposite attitude? Now imagine a person who just received news that they are getting laid off and they are in a roomful of people celebrating So-and-so’s birthday. Bad-news-bear may not want to stay for the party and may project their feelings and emotions onto others if forced to do so.  

There is a primal mindset that will question the situation. Why should we be the only ones hurting? We want others to know the pain we feel. This is why we often say or do things that we don’t mean. We don’t want to be alone, and we shouldn’t be alone. 

There are times that we have trouble expressing our feelings. How do we tell others that we hurt without sounding petty? We should ask a trusted friend to lend an ear, but make sure to let them know that we don’t know how to express how we feel. This affords them an upfront explanation of the jumbled words that will follow. As we speak, it is essential to breathe. Hey, emotions can leave us breathless. Keep calm and speak clear if you want the listener to understand what is said. I once had a junior sailor tell me his whole life story while sobbing through every word. To this day, I cannot tell you anything he said. However, I let him finish. When he appeared calmer, I informed him that I couldn’t comprehend any word formations. To my surprise at the time, he just smiled and said, “That’s all right.” 

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Misery does love company, but a pained heart also loves a good ear. We often forget to check on each other. Our routine wraps us up, and our focus is on everything that is an arm’s length away. Perhaps if we took the time to look up and asked how everyone was doing, we could alleviate the isolated feeling others feel. This would also afford others a chance to unload their thoughts; just make sure we are ready in case they do choose to unload everything onto us.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy. 

A Better Life

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In my youth, I concluded that poverty doesn’t provide happiness. So, I started a quest to find a better world. I wanted to be happy and have a life I could enjoy.

Is there such a thing as a better life?

This question frequents my thoughts. And yes, there is a better life. If we lack food and water, shelter, or clothing, then we are in need. If we have them, then we are looking for comfort. Think of a person with no shirt,  a cotton shirt, and a silk shirt. Most of us will agree the silk shirt feels the best. But is it the best shirt?

What is a better life?

Thresholds and boundaries define our happiness. My dreams may differ from yours, and that’s all right. But in our search for improving our lives, we should keep a reality check. Living in a big house with luxury cars sounds cool until it’s time to pay the taxes. Perhaps we should lean towards a simple home and car. It’s not glamorous, but it fits the bill. 

How do we achieve a better life?

If we want more things, then we need more money. Happiness requires fulfillment and satisfaction. These do not go hand in hand, as most people believe. Ever hear of the lottery winner who wished they never played those winning numbers. Money can buy material things, but the joy fades, leaving us wanting more. Welcome to the nature of humanity. But that’s a different blog. For now, if we want a better life, it is essential to enjoy the one we have. Stop the hungry eyes and daydreaming. Somewhere, someone wishes they could have our lifestyle. 

Another aspect to remember, as we get older, our wants and dreams will change. Our goals and passions in our sixties will differ from when we were forty, which differed from our twenties. This means our definition of a better life will change. Buying a single-story home may prove more beneficial when it comes to aging hips and climbing stairs. Knowing our present and future limitations will pay in the long run. Be honest and truthful. 

Is it wrong to want a better life?

If we are looking to impress others, then our quest for a better life is foolish. It is petty and juvenile to want a better lifestyle in the name of gloating. “Look and me and my things” are the words of an imbecile. Don’t do that. Instead, stop worrying about others. They are not worried about us, and our happiness should be for ourselves. We deserve to be happy. 

Find happiness and contentment within the present to enjoy our future.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

Stop Yelling

When I was a child, I was taught people only learn through pain. So, I learned not to touch fire only after getting burned, and specific actions brought on corporal punishment. If I didn’t repeat the deed, and my bottom was safe. The Department of Human Services (DHS) visited our home on occasions due to a reported bruise or two.

Since physical contact brought unwanted attention, yelling became the new form of outlet. Yelling for a minute or more can produce a fair amount of adrenaline, and coming down from a chemical high feels good. We know people can develop an addiction to adrenaline. This is how some drama llamas are created. In the aftermath of a scream-fest, a point was made, and a calm feeling soothes the soul as we collect ourselves. No bruising means no DHS representatives.

The irony of each scenario lies within the need for controlling a child while we are losing control. We do not need to hit anyone, nor do we need to assault them verbally. We are responsible for our actions. Others did not make us angry; we chose to get angry. Scenarios may upset or aggravate us. This is life. How we deal is this aggravation is up to us.

If we cannot express ourselves without yelling, then we need to excuse ourselves and calm down. I have stepped out of many conversations to collect myself. This, in turn, brought on newfound respect from my peers.

In my youth, I yelled at my junior peers to get the point across. I later learned that yelling at a group was less traumatic for individuals, but not for the ones observing the verbal onslaught via third-person. Third-person stress cannot be adequately controlled. Therefore, we must manage the stressors. As stated earlier, if we cannot talk without yelling or screaming, then we need to hold our tongues until we can. (not literally).

For those of us blessed with a quick or strong temper, it may take more discipline to achieve having an adamant conversation under eighty decibels. But, as with everything worth learning, it takes time and patience. Learn to express disapproval or aggravation without raising the volume. Everyone can hear us just fine. Breathe in slow, then breathe out slowly. We are the paragon of professionalism.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

Boat: Life

For years boaters have declared the word boat as an acronym: Bring On Another Thousand they state. This may sound silly to those of us who never owned a boat. Cars and trucks don’t cost much to operate. So why would a john boat or pontoon cost so much? And what does a boat have to do with happiness?

Don’t fret. The metaphor has everything to do with happiness. 

When it comes to watercraft, we want bells and whistles everywhere. GPS, fish finders, remote-controlled trolling motors, sonar, radar, weather maps, and dolphin translators. We want it all. The problem is, they cost a lot of money. And, once installed, we have to maintain them.  So, is there a perfect boat? Well, that’s like asking, is there an ideal car?

To keep the cost down, we must simplify our boat. A kayak cost less to maintain than a sailboat. After all, fewer parts equate to fewer expenses. Our lives are no different. Yes, frills are nice, but they cost. 

“So, we need to go without to be happy?”

As much as I would love to say no, there is a level of truth to this statement. Happiness is not in the “poor house”; it’s in the “simple house.”  Smaller bills leave more paycheck at the end of the month. Living within our means allows us to enjoy life. Live beyond those means, and we will always chase bills. 

Is there such a thing as too simple? I believe it depends on the individual. Some may find happiness with a canoe, while others need a gheenoe. Whatever the case, we must define our threshold. Stray too far from this point, and we’ll be unhappy. What good is a boat without some form of propulsion? Being stagnant has no “Woo” factor.  We need mobility.

Life works in a similar. When kept simple, life is easier to maintain and enjoy. Yes, a luxury yacht sounds great until it’s time to pay the crew, boat slip, and maintenance fees. We will find more happiness and satisfaction by staying within the means of our finances. This will also prevent us from Bringing On Another Thousand.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy. 

The Neutral Life

Life is simple, people make it difficult. In most regions of the world, people live in comfort. We no longer need to hunt or forage for food or water. Traveling long distances is easier. It doesn’t take us all day to travel twenty miles. And, our technology allows us to communicate with loved ones no matter where they are on Earth. But, we still cannot find happiness. We insist on complaining about how bad we have it, and how bad life is.

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Life contains elementary laws that lead to our happiness. We must accept who we are. Upon realizing where we stand in relation to our morals we either need to change or maintain our habits and routines. Next, we need to control our wants. Contentment leads to satisfaction. “Want” is a bottomless pit that we will never be able to fill. We will always want more. Learn to be happy with what we have. Treat others with respect. We shouldn’t go around trusting everyone in hopes that they will do the same for us. But, it is uncouth for us to keep the world at bay assuming everyone has an angle or a plot against us. Finally, it is up to us to enjoy the simple things such as a cup of coffee and the sunrise. Find moments in our hectic life and pause. These are the things that lead to happiness.

But, it’s people who insist on not leaving well enough alone. We mettle with everything in an effort to find improvement. Our cars need to be faster, our houses need to be bigger, and our clothes need to draw more attention. That’s it. The fundamental reason for our dissatisfaction lies within the fact that we need to be noticed. We compete with those around us for the sake of saying “I’m better than you.” It’s sad that we cannot accept ourselves nor others. We must compete and strive for the attention of others. Do we really need that affirmation? Are we so shallow that we are willing to sacrifice others for a moment of fame? Yes, yes we are.  

Life is neither good nor bad, but our perception may say otherwise. Life didn’t give us a flat tire, the nail in the road did. Life didn’t give a crappy boy/girlfriend, we chose them. Life didn’t give a dead-end job, we applied for it. Life is a buffet and we choose what to have on our plate. Yes, there are outside entities that affect us. But we are responsible for how we act, react, and treat others. Life didn’t make our bad decision nor did it make our good ones. We did. 

Life is neither for nor against us. It is a stage upon which we live our lives; the good life. But what is a “good life?” Surprisingly, the answer is as unique as the person we ask. In fact, everyone has his/her own definition. Referring back to the buffet, we are making our plate. We choose who to have around. Our anger is our own. Just as our joy and happiness are ours as well. Life is not plotting against us. I’m sure Albert Hitchcock and Steven King would disagree.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

Always Keep A Hand On The Wheel

As we stand on the side of the highway of life, a low mechanical whine demands attention. Our heart begins to race as a single-car appears over the horizon. Loud, obnoxious happiness is seen as the driver waves both hands high. Each second without control adds to the emanate danger. 

Consumed by the howls of demonic engine screaming for more gas, we watch the car pass. Within a glimpse, a young girl shoots us a wink and loses control. Screaming tires scramble for control that was never there. A late corrective steer sends the car sideways, allowing for a savage bite from a pothole. Intense pressure builds on the suspension as the wheel hooks into the road. Like a rolling log, the car tumbles within the lines as it comes to rest on its wheels. 

We cautiously begin to walk over to the scene. The young girl, miraculously unscathed, rants, and complaints about how good life was. Blame went to the pothole, then to the city for not fixing the pothole. Questioning why bad things happen to good people, she stated that she emphatically knew something terrible was going to happen.

“It always does. You can’t enjoy life for too long without something coming along and knocking us off the high-horse.”

End scene.

The girl seemed oblivious to the cause of her wreck (lack of hands on the steering wheel). Instead, she blamed the pothole, then the city for not fixing the pothole. How often do we replicate this scene in our lives? Perhaps we never engage in positive thinking, staying optimistic, or having gratitude. We may even go as far as blaming others for our misfortunes. 

If we have gratitude, then we are not whining and complaining. We are focused on the positivity in our lives. Yes, bad things will happen. But, with positive thinking, a productive solution is found. 

Like the song says, “Don’t worry, be happy.” If we are worrying, then we are not looking for a solution. It is impossible to do both at the same time. Be grateful. No one likes a complainer. If one cannot find positivity within a situation, then they need to ask someone for assistance.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and lose sight of the good in our lives. It happens to everyone at some point. But, taking the time to remember the positives allows us to have pride in our life. We are unique and special. Never take that for granted and keep both hands on the wheel.

Until the next blog, Live life and be happy.

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Mindset Of A Drama-Llama

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Solitude brings a deafening silence that forces us to take a long hard look at who we are. Some people may like what they see, but most will not. As we gawk at ourselves, we tend to focus on the negatives. 

“We don’t do this or that. We failed in these areas. And, our peers agree we suck.” 

We feed our inner demons and become our worst critic.

Deeds from the past come crawling out of their graves. Our minds begin to rationalize what we should do and what we should have done. An avalanche of “if’s” devour our confidence until we are nothing more than a whimpering soul wishing we had done more. 

Not everyone welcomes downtime and silence. Some need to stay busy to avoid the spotlight. Or, perhaps, they need to cause others trouble to prevent a judgemental eye from their peer.

The drama we create keeps others on their feet and off of our backs. At first, the troubles are small, but as life goes on, we become better at manipulating peers. We fabricate so many stories that it is hard to see the truth. And the best part is we are getting away with it. No one knows we are involved. We have successfully become drama-llamas.

No longer do we need to look at our ugliness. We have the world dancing and trying to put out the fiery rumors that burn in their world. Our intentions lie within the fact that no one cares about unseen imperfections. Perhaps we’ll rush in and save them, becoming a hero and “true friend.” How great would we look then?

Some of us are addicted to drama. Peace brings tranquillity. Chaos brings change. New people equals new opportunities. We hope things will be better. This is a prodigal dream due to our lack of self-improvement. It is selfish to change our environment, peers, or stature, but not change ourselves. Only a juvenile mind would scream, “I want others to hurt because I hurt. Why should I be the only one with pain?” A fool seeks comfort from pity. We are better than this.

To peer into the thoughts of those who are mentally addicted to drama helps us to understand the simple fact that we cannot help those that do not help themselves. It is my personal opinion that we should avoid drama-lovers. They are toxic and will cause harm until they change their mindset. When dealing with anyone, whether good or bad, be professional. Treat others with dignity and respect. Sometimes this does mean that we need to excuse ourselves before we lose self-control. 

If we feel that trouble follows us everywhere, then we need to evaluate our disposition. We must accept the fact that life is not good nor bad. Life is existence. Our motive, mindset, and attitude determine our perception. We are the reason we believe life is for or against us. Events happen every day; our approach determines how we cope. 

When an unexpected bump in the road comes our way, we can either smile and say, “That was unexpected.” Or, we can get mad and chuck expletives and everything that moves around us. The choice is ours. 

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

I Will Be Happy When…

A time will come for those who want to chase their dreams. The joys of life are placed on the back burner. This may come during college, military career, parenthood, or whenever our upmost focus is needed, and there is no time for dilly-dallying. 

For me, I turned my back towards happiness while I served in the Navy. Why would I do such an unthinkable thing? Because I knew the good time of the economical ’90s couldn’t last forever. I needed security, a career that could stand the test of times. Thus, the reason I joined the military. Yes, the pay was less than adequate until I made E5. But I was working towards a military retirement that I could draw without being in my golden years. My goa consisted of getting paid for the rest of my life by sacrificing a part of mine.

Parenthood has a similar effect. Though I have no children of my own, I have watched friends and family focus on providing the best for their children. Time and time again, I observed these heroes put their wants and dreams on hold. Selfless sacrifice such as this is noteworthy. After all, it’s in our children’s nature to take without fully understanding the cost on our behalf until they become parents. 

This brings me to my point. When do we plan on being happy? For me, It was after the military. I’m not going to say I was “Joe Navy,” not even close. But I held my tongue and kept my posture. Each day was another day of uncomfortable conformity. With patience, wisdom, and much focus, I made it. But here’s the kicker, I became accustomed to the military lifestyle. My life was about to become upside down upon my retirement.

Here is where we stumble when it comes to our happiness. We never stop. I took the time and asked, “what made me happy?” I kept the list simple. A steady job and a house in the semi-rural area were my priorities. My anxiety was high, but I kept a level head. I needed to complete my list of objectives. I took the proper steps, and every day, I reminded myself to be happy. To some extent, I had to learn how to be satisfied.

When transitioning from one lifestyle to another, allow time for adjustment. If we backslide, that’s all right. It’s part of growing. The main goal is to start something, do something, and be something. We will grow towards our focus point. So be mindful of what is in our sights.

Know when the task is complete. There is always room for improvement or excuses for why we should stay engaged in our work. Don’t fall into this trap. Define a stopping point. Although parenthood never ends, Setting a date for when our focus will be on us is crucial. Stick to the date. This may mean that our children will learn how to “adult” on their own. Yes, it’s scary. But that doesn’t mean that our plans are derailed. We deserve to be happy.

“I will be happy when…” will never come into effect if we don’t allow it. Weeks lead to months lead to years lead to never happening. There will always be a reason why we can’t start. Make a reason and tell the world why it’s our time. The moments for sweat, toil, and tears are over. It’s time for us and our happiness. Doing so is vital for our health. No one has extended their life by staying stressed out. Find your happiness. You deserve it. 

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

Coping Is Not Being 100%

If we are coping, then we are good, right? After all, to cope means to deal with a problem successfully. Yes, but no. I believe this is where we forget that we are human. If we are dealing with an issue, then we have not found a resolution.

Imagine a person treading water in the ocean. How long can that person last before being overwhelmed with fatigue? Now let’s say we cruise by in our boat, see the swimmer, and think, “Meh, they’re fine.” and pull away, leaving the poor soul to fend on their own. This is the same course we take when we assume others are all right.

All aspects of life can reach a level of fatigue. Social, financial, physical, mental, or whatever we are susceptible to catastrophic exhaustion. It’s at that point when we see no way out that depression and anxiety take control. By managing the stress in these areas, we can mitigate our problems. This means that we may need to rely on others to pull through.

When assessing our situation, be honest. Just because our head is above the water does not mean we are doing well. If someone asks how we are doing, don’t reflexively volley the answer, “I’m fine.” If we are not “fine,” then we shouldn’t say we are. That’s called lying. We do not need fiery pants.

Nevertheless, we don’t need to console everyone that asks how we are doing. That would be ridiculous. But, if we need assistance, then we should look for it before we sink. Don’t worry about being a burden on others. If they asked for our help, we would be there, right? The same applies to us. They will be there for us, especially if they are checking on how we are doing.

If we are coping, then we have not found a resolution to our problem. We balance and manage our stress effectively as not to overburden our daily routine. We may not be 100%, but we are steady. And when the time comes, and we need assistance, we will find it. All we need to do is ask.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.