Updated: Feb 8
I’m trying to practice gratitude. Apparently, my top strength is positivity – and I am very good at finding the silver lining in most situations. I can smile while crying and upset, maybe I’m just so happy to have someone listen to me and it comes through. Even when I’m embarrassed or reflecting on a mistake, I can laugh about it… though that might actually be self-deprecating humor. That’s okay though, right? Do they still consider that unhealthy? Screw it. Life is too boring when you can’t laugh at yourself! I do like to hype people up and celebrate. I like being encouraging and happy. But the fact of the matter is, I’m not surrounded by others with this same “gift” and my needs as a positive person aren’t always met. One of my needs is an upbeat environment. I can create this upbeat environment for others… but some people just don’t want to see the good, like ever. That’s fine, their strengths lie elsewhere. When I am in an upbeat environment, though? Un-fucking-stoppable. I see all the possibilities! I spot everyone’s talents! Ready to take action and keep the momentum going! I can be motivating and inspiring and creative. That has not been the case lately. Things are stressful in a lot of areas of my life right now. They really don’t have to be. I need to create that upbeat environment for myself and if others want to join me they can, but I can’t keep getting annoyed at the people around me for being energy drainers. I am POSITIVE that people need some damn humor in their lives already. Why is everyone so serious? Why does it have to be so hard? Can’t we work on improving things without being so negative? I can change the world when I’m in the right environment (for me) and I really believe I can harness my strengths to impact the greater good. So, that’s why I’m practicing gratitude. I don’t know if I like this term the best but it’s what the internet and psychology articles are calling it. It just seems so… boring? Like to “practice” is to check off something on a list. It doesn’t sound exciting enough. It needs a bigger name! It’s about being happy with what you have and appreciating the good things, why isn’t the name happier? How about… Dancing with Dopamine? Celebrating Good Vibes? Alright that’s corny AF but I like it. Let’s roll with it until we find something better
So, what Good Vibes am I celebrating? Just because I’m doing this to create the upbeat environment for myself doesn’t mean I don’t want to help create it for you too! Really, what’s the point of finding something that works for you if you’re not going to share it with others it can benefit? Well, I’m recognizing those things that bring me joy, no matter how small they may seem. These are a few of my favorite things;
1. Music! - Is there anything that gives us a sense of belonging the way music does? I have a wide variety of music on my Spotify… my “favorites” playlist goes from Whitney Houston to Stevie Nicks to Beyonce. Nothing like belting out Rosana one minute and the next rapping to Back That Ass Up. My favorite thing about living in a technological world is the fact that ALL music is available at my fingertips. Doesn’t matter the genre or decade or artist… I can experience it all. Some days I’m all disco fever and others I’m rock n roll. Some days are all Whitney. Music can take you back to good memories. No shame in playing your favorite Christmas songs in July! There’s music to match my mood or there’s music to lift my mood. Sometimes I need to remind myself who am today. Maybe I’ve gotten doubtful in my abilities… time for the bad bitch playlist! Maybe I’m taking life too seriously and need to be silly, so I’ll play the fun songs. When I’m just feeling “extra” I sing along to Queen. I can be angry, annoyed, sad, confused, overwhelmed, or nervous and all I need is to go for a drive listening to my music and I’m feeling better already. From the lyrics to the instruments to the beats and the voices… music can never be underestimated. Nothing else radiates my soul like some good tunes. Whether I sing it out or dance around, music gets me Intune with myself.
2. Dancing! – I didn’t want to combine this in with music because it’s a mood all on it’s own, though they do go hand in hand. I am here to tell you the truth; you do not have to dance well to be a dancer. If you’re feeling the music and your body wants to move – move it! Exercise is so good for us, but dancing is my favorite form. It’s exercise for my soul too. It’s free moving and creative and expressive. Just from the few examples above, it’s no secret I listen to all types of music. I move along to them all too. I don’t exactly want anyone to witness ALL of my dancing… so I put the earbuds in and turn up the volume first thing in morning when no one else is awake and only my cat can give me funny looks. It’s powerful to start the day this way. Eh I might forget to eat breakfast but that’s okay, I’m nourished with movement. My favorite part of weddings or parties is the dancing. Hit the open bar and it’s on the dance floor for the rest of the night. When I kick my heels off you know it’s getting real, I take having fun seriously. If even sitting at the computer working on something, I’m bopping back and forth. I hope I’ve made some random people’s days in traffic too, if I’m dancing in my car and make eye contact with another driver I just smile and keep those shoulders bouncing. I don’t know, no one has flipped me the bird yet (for that at least), so I’d like to think I’m passing along the happiness. I’ve spent a gigantic portion of my life concerned about my body’s appearance -weight and proportions and the fit of my clothes – dancing is an active way to appreciate it and love it and use it.
3. Writing! – This blog is new, but I’ve always been a lover of the written word. I love reading and I love expressing myself. Sometimes when I’m speaking, I don’t get my thoughts out clearly or coherently (maybe I allow others to interrupt me too often and lose my train of thought) but when I type, write, or text I’m pretty articulate. Well, I guess those of you reading can judge that, please tell me I’m spot on here LOL. I’ve wanted to write a blog or a book or articles for SO long. I just never did because I thought it had to be perfect before sharing. So, I waited. But then I started writing in my notes app on my phone, or saving drafts in my Word docs. It is so freeing. I have so many thoughts I need to get out and even if I never share some of the things that I’ve written, I feel a sense of relief in expressing myself. One day I decided to start this blog and figured if people read it, they read it. It’s a place to archive my thoughts and practice a hobby. I have so many notebooks filled with random thoughts, recollections of my experiences, stories, advice for others I found helpful… it is cathartic for me to get it on paper (or text). I always thought of myself as a good writer, getting good grades on my papers in high school. Then college came around and I found they don’t like the format we’ve been taught to use and I was getting grades I wasn’t used to. I mean I’ve never gotten high marks on research papers (what’s with citing and shit?) so those I wasn’t too concerned about. But the papers expressing my ideas or understanding of concepts were C level at best to my teachers. I took that to mean I couldn’t write. So, I stopped. For a long time. The cool thing about being an adult and the internet is that I can write in whatever format I like. I don’t care if it’s the proper way to write, if the words “ain’t” and “gonna” express a thought or story better, then I’m using them. It’s the way I speak, my written words need to reflect that. Don’t get me wrong, I am a professional so when it comes to business emails and those things, I use “acceptable” grammar. But that’s not the kind of writing I’m talking about. I don’t want my message to get lost in a sea of grammatically correct phrases when I’m writing for myself. My mind is a jungle of ideas and thoughts and experiences – writing helps me collect those and express them. Even if just for myself to read, it helps me see in black and white what I’m feeling. Sometimes it helps me to understand or put my thoughts into perspective.
4. Pets! – If you grew up with dogs then you already know the unconditional love that only they can give. They don’t care if you’re embarrassing or clumsy or silly. I have yet to meet another human being that is as happy to see me as my dogs are. I don’t even live at my parents’ anymore, and I still consider those boys my dogs. When I’m pulling around the corner to my mom’s house, my heart just fills with the thought of walking in and getting pummeled and slobbered on. I love it. I love when they come barreling to the door when they hear my car pull into the driveway. When their ears go back, and their eyes get wide, and their tails are wagging so fast it shakes their whole bodies. The yips and the licks and prancing around! They push each other out of the way to get my full attention. Jethro refuses to let me pet them both at once, he needs both hands petting HIM. They want to be near you no matter what you’re up to. They wanna play and go for walks and run around and snuggle up for naps. Dogs just know when you need comforting too. They can sense it and know the perfect moment to show you love by putting their head on your lap or placing a paw on your leg. They’re just the most loving. Okay, so I do love cats too. My mom’s cat Clark is literally the coolest. He jumps on my lap the second I sit down. Purring and meowing and doing that paw thing they do. All he wants is my snuggles. I also have a cat of my own, I just waited to bring that up because – save the best for last, right?! She’s still a baby and hasn’t quite reached the age where she likes snuggling yet… but damn is she funny! She has these little mousey toys that she plays with, like soccer star level. She even plays fetch with her favorite one! I do get some cuddle time with her… on her terms. Apparently, the bathroom is the one room in the apartment that she is all about me. Scratches at the door until I let her in, wants to be pet and purr and rub her face against mine. Mostly she shows affection by walking up next to us and swatting her tail at us, but if I’m in the tub or washing my face she becomes that cat who wants to love up on ya. I can’t believe I went 5 years in my apartment without a pet. My entire life we’ve had dogs and cats, I didn’t realize I was missing out on such an important part of my life until I brought my Stevie home. Yes, her name is Stevie… Stevie Tricks. And if she were a he, the name would be Stevie Thunder. I love my pets because they keep me connected -to myself, to my humanity, to my Earthly being.
There are many other favorite things: coffee, cabernet, swimming, jogging, deep talks with friends, comedy, podcasts, learning & experiencing new things… but I wanted to highlight how music, dancing, writing, and pets have been a source of happiness for me. After writing this, I see the theme is expressing myself and feeling connected or grounded. Not just in this season, but throughout my life, being able to express and connect with myself is always so important. These are the Good Vibes I’m celebrating. These are part of the upbeat environment I need to live fully and thrive with my strengths. I can spend some time each day appreciating these favorites of mine, and I can try to incorporate them in my workday so that I feel more energized. I know I can’t take dogs or cats into work, but I can certainly play my music (well, not ALL of it would be appropriate) and dance at my desk. I can write little things during breaks, about the ideas I have, sum up an experience. If you have some things that make you feel whole, find a way to fit them into your busy day. Sometimes our needs aren’t met because the people around us don’t have the same needs as us, not because they aren’t accommodating. Not everyone needs the upbeat environment that I do. So, I am creating it however I can, wherever I can, and whenever I can. It starts with me recognizing what brings me joy and celebrating those things. It starts with me putting these things in my day to day and appreciating them often.
I hope you are able to find your strengths, realize where your talents lie, and recognize what your needs are. I used tools like the Gallup Clifton Strengths, there are 34 “talent themes” in the assessment. You can purchase the full 34 report for $50.00 (I recommend this if you have the money to spare, I like knowing what my “weaknesses” are too, apparently discipline is dead last for me LOL). Or, you can purchase the top 5 for $20.00 – these are your strongest talents, but I have heard that the top 10 or 13 are really influential to our individual selves too. I also like the Enneagram, though there isn’t a whole lot of advice I can find in a professional or career aspect. I recently took the DiSC assessment but haven’t explored that enough right now to comment on it. Self-awareness is a great thing, it doesn’t have to always mean finding your faults and “fixing” anything. You can use self-awareness to make sure you’re into your authentic self and find ways to have your needs met. Life is confusing, its way easier and more enjoyable when we understand ourselves better.
Until next time,