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The Happiness Connection  

Are you still in the closet?

Coming out of the closet is a commonly used expression to describe people who are LBGTQ coming to terms with their sexuality and sharing who they are openly.

Frequently, they pretend to be someone they aren’t to fit the expectations of family and society. No one wants to be rejected by their tribe.

Pretending you are someone you aren’t can be exhausting and soul shattering.

This may not be a situation you have to cope with, but have you ever stopped to think that you may also need to come out of a closet?

Do you let others get to know the real you, or do you hide certain parts of yourself from family and friends for fear you will be judged, criticized, or rejected?

Do you do things because they are expected, not because you want to? Do you have beliefs that you keep to yourself because you worry how they will be interpreted by others?

I recently had a conversation with a group of friends. One of them talked about the process she is going through as she comes out of a spiritual closet.

Her mom has very strong religious beliefs. My friend was raised with these, but no longer shares them. Until recently, she hid her new attitudes from her mother.

She isn’t the only person I know who is navigating their way through a break with the views they were raised with. It feels liberating to embrace a philosophy that resonates with you, but it can be intimidating to share that with people you think might judge you, or stop loving you.

Living a life that you hate can also cause you to shut away the real you. Feeling that you must put your life on hold to care for an aging relative, or to make the best of a bad marriage for the sake of the children will stifle you.

If you do it because you believe it is for the best and you want to, that is one thing. Feeling it is something you have to do because it is expected, is completely different.

I’ve made some major changes this year because I knew carrying on with the way things were would eventually breed resentment in me. Putting what I wanted into a closet for the sake of others wouldn’t serve anyone if it resulted in anger and bitterness.

My parents are 89 and 91. They are still relatively independent. They would love to have me spend more time with them and be their personal chauffeur, but they also understand that I run a business and have a life of my own.

We have talked openly about how we feel and have come to a solution that serves us all. This wouldn’t have happened if I had tucked what I was trying to accomplish into a cupboard and became a full-time companion.

It also wouldn’t have helped them remain independent.

Unless you have taken the time to become more conscious of who you are, you may never have considered whether you need to come out of a closet. If you are unhappy with your life, this might be something to explore further.

What do you want? What are your values? How would you spend your last day if that was today?

The happiest people have alignment between who they are on the inside and the person they show to the world.

If you haven’t taken much time for self-discovery and self-reflection, it is never too late to get started. Delve deep and get more intimately acquainted with the real you.

The more you know and understand yourself, the easier it is to honor who you are and care less about the opinions of others.

Are you hiding anything in a closet? If so, perhaps it is time to come out. There are people out there who will love the you that’s been hiding. Give them a chance to see you.



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Visualize the life you want

Visualization: formation of mental visual images. Merriam-Webster.com

Visualizing yourself dealing successfully with a difficult situation, remembering the words you need to memorize, or seeing yourself winning a trophy, can improve your chances of achieving that goal.

It is a technique used regularly by top level athletes.

Exercise psychologist Guang Yue discovered that people who did a virtual workout regularly for three months, increased their muscle strength by 13.5%. In other words, they imagined themselves going through a workout instead of actually doing it.

Those people who actually completed the workout, improved their muscle strength by 30%. I find it amazing that by simply visualizing the gym routine, you could achieve almost 50% of the improvement made by those completing it physically.

Visualization is recommended by many people for a wide variety of purposes, including weight loss.

I’m sceptical about its success for this objective. Perhaps I lack belief because I’ve tried it and so far never managed to get positive results.

I was with a group of female friends recently. The conversation turned to the idea of using visualization to shed pounds.

One person suggested finding a photo of yourself when you were the size you want to return to, and putting it on the door of your fridge. Every time you look at it, imagine yourself being that size.

I voiced my skepticism for this technique. I believe it helps to remind yourself what you are striving for, but less convinced that by simply imagining yourself as thinner, it will happen.

Everything is created twice; once as a thought and once physically. If you believe it, you can achieve it. That includes being slimmer.

However, I don’t believe that visualizing the perfect you will necessarily make it happen, and can lead to major disappointment. Imagining yourself making healthier food choices, or going to the gym regularly, perhaps, but not being reminded what you looked like 20 years ago.

Having a very specific picture of what you want can lead to tunnel vision. You may come to a point where you are incredibly healthy and vibrant, but you don’t look like you did a few years or decades ago.

This can lead to dissatisfaction even though you have achieved something amazing.

A few months ago, I had a conversation with a recently single, incredibly fit young woman. She shared her displeasure with the physical appearance of the single men she encountered.

I suggested that when she met the right person, she wouldn’t care so much what he looked like. She dismissed my words as crazy.

Before I was married, I always dated men over six feet. I didn’t give shorter guys a second look, until I met my husband. The fact he was only an inch taller than me didn’t make one ounce of difference.

 

Rather than visualizing a very specific picture, I suggest that you set an intention and lean into how you want to feel when that intention is fulfilled.

In the case of finding a partner, worry less about what they look like and more about how you feel when you are together. Decide what is important to you. You might appreciate loyalty, fun, or stimulating conversation.

When you meet someone, stop to see if how they make you feel matches your intention, rather than looking to see how tall they are or whether they are carrying a few extra pounds.

As far as weight loss in concerned, care less about what the scale says and more about how you want to feel. I suspect that a lot of people believe they would be happier if they were thinner.

I’m sceptical that would happen.

There are a lot of slender people in the world who are not happy. Learn to love the body you have not the one you fantasize about.

Decide how you want to feel in and about your body.

Rather than wanting to be a specific weight, set an intention to be healthy and vibrant. Visualize yourself living an active life with smart food choices.

I am accepting that my goal of feeling good about myself may be achieved when I am at weight that is different from the one I consider to be desirable.

If I feel my weight isn’t causing a health concern or stopping me from doing the things I want to do, I want to be able to accept it.

This won’t happen without effort. I am a work in progress. I have a lot of years of conditioning to undo.

So many times you may work toward something, only to discover that it didn’t transform your life the way you expected it to. Instead, be guided by how you feel rather than by a specific image of how it, you, or someone else should look.



Memory and menopause

Did you see that movie (long pause) about the queen?

You know, the one that stars (another pause) that actress who was in (yet another pause) that series about the murder?

For anyone who is trying to guess what movie my friend was referring to; it was The Favourite. Olivia Colman played Queen Anne. She was also in the English version of Broadchurch.

Does a conversation full of pauses and desperate attempts to find a name or word that insists on eluding you, sound familiar?

At first,  I wondered if I was experiencing early onset dementia. I relaxed a little when I realized that many of my girlfriends were having similar problems.

The chance of us all having Alzheimer’s was remote.

When I can’t think of a word, family and friends try to help me by offering vocabulary suggestions. Often they give me a similar word that works, but I know it isn’t the one I was searching for.

It’s as if the word is right there, but wearing camouflage that makes it difficult for my brain to pick out.

It was during a conversation like the one at the beginning of this piece that my friend and I got onto the topic of menopause. Why? Because having difficulty with your memory, especially when it comes to words, is a common struggle during this time of hormonal change.

There are three stages of menopause.

Peri-menopause is the time leading up monthly periods ending. This usually begins when women are in their forties, but can be earlier or later.

When periods have been absent for 12 months, you are considered to have reached menopause. You might think that is the end of the matter, but it isn’t. Once you reach menopause, you progress to post-menopause.

This is when some symptoms lessen. Some disappear completely in four or five years. Others last for a decade or more. There are some that never go away

You’ve probably heard about hot flashes and night sweats, but those aren’t the only symptoms that appear as estrogen levels decline.

I found a list of 34 Symptoms of Menopause. How can there be so many, and why had I never heard of many of them?

Let me share a few of them with you.

  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain – menopausal arthritis is a real condition
  • Burning tongue – pain can be widespread in your mouth including tongue, lips, roof of mouth, and cheeks
  • Electric shocks – you may experience more of these, especially just before a hot flash
  • Digestive problems – including bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, stomach cramps, flatulence, weight gain, and nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Itchy skin – the result of thinner and dryer skin
  • Anxiety – as many as one in three women experience this
  • Fatigue – extreme tiredness affects about 25% of women during these years
  • Hair loss
  • Sleep disorders – as many as 61% of women experience insomnia during the years from peri to post menopause
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory lapses – fortunately this appears to be temporary and will apparently rectify when menopause is over
  • Unexplained dizziness
  • Stress incontinence – also a symptom of aging
  • Allergies – you may discover you have reactions to things that have never been a problem before
  • Irregular heartbeat – don’t assume this is menopause. Get checked by a doctor if this happens
  • Panic disorder
  • Irritability

You may think this is a woman only conversation, but it isn’t. This is important for anyone who’s life intersects with women in their forties, fifties, and sixties. Severity of symptoms and how long they last varies widely, but accepting it may a challenging time, is important for life partners, employers, and colleagues.

Consider how much of the workforce is made up of women who may be going through hormonal change.

Traditionally, this topic has been kept quiet. You might be suffering from headaches, depression, and sudden hot flashes, but ‘women’s issues’ were kept private from the corporate work environment.

Things are changing. This is a health condition that makes it difficult for many women to carry on as normal. Some sail through it, but those who suffer need to be able to talk openly about it and be given support.

Sometimes it can be as simple as supplying desk fans for anyone who needs some cooling down from time to time.

The first step is to raise awareness of the situation, whether it is at home or work. Be knowledgeable, compassionate, and open.





Believe it and achieve it

I’ve lived for most of my life with a lack mindset.

I went through school, subconsciously believing that there were only so many good marks given out. If too many other people got As, there wouldn’t be any left for me.

In fairness, the bell curve method of marking is built on this idea, but for most of my school experience, this wasn’t the system used. If you did well enough for an A, you got one.

I also believed there was only so much success to go around. One person’s victory meant one less opportunity was available for me.

Viewing the world like this makes it difficult to work co-operatively. It’s hard to root for someone else if you believe it lessens your own chances to achieve the same. It encourages you to see everyone as competition.

I had the same type of lack belief around money. There was only so much to go around. If I spent some, it might never be replenished.

These beliefs hid in my subconscious mind, planted by my upbringing and experiences.

It wasn’t until I began my quest to live more consciously that my lack mind-sight came to light.

I wasn’t conscious of making a decision to adopt this philosophy and I definitely wasn’t aware that there was an alternative way to think.

It’s important to know what your beliefs are, because your mind will search tirelessly for evidence to support them. Situations don’t change, but how you interpret them does.

If you believe your family is always criticizing you, you will construe everything they say as being judgmental and critical. If you believe they love you and are trying to be helpful, this is how you decipher their words.

I’ve been dealing with water and sewer issues in my house for the past few months. The costs continue to mount. My outgoing finances far exceed my incoming ones.

You can probably relate to my situation. Life throws curve balls. Unexpected expenses arise. You can’t control the situation, but you can manage your response.

I realized last week that a conscious conversation with myself was overdue. How did I want to interpret the things that were happening? Did I want to live in abundance or lack?

If you live in abundance, you believe that everything that is happening to you will work out and serve you in some way. Money flows. It is going out now, but it can just as easily flow back in.

That isn’t to say you should sit around and wait for a lottery win. Look at your finances and see if there is anything you can do to help the situation. Perhaps it is time to live more simply.

Create avenues so money can come to you. Offer a new service or product through your business or take on an additional job. You never know what unexpected connection can appear that changes your life completely.

I believe there is an opportunity or idea that this challenging time will help me find, as long as I am open to it.

A lack mindset means you believe there will never be enough for everyone, and you need to fight to get what you can. It is easy to fall into a pit of despair and inactivity if you look at life this way.

Rather than believing you have any power to turn life around, you may think you are just unlucky. Life is happening to you rather than for you.

Trust isn’t easy. It comes in part from your level of self-esteem.

I believe I am resilient and strong enough to handle whatever arises on my journey through life. I know I will be fine.

I’m not sure what fine will look like. I’m hopeful it will allow me to travel the world in business class, but I’m willing to accept it might not. Whatever it looks like will be perfect for me and I’ll enjoy it.

How do you want to live your life? Do you want to feel abundant, or are you willing to settle for a life of lack?

You have a choice.

Happiness research shows that having money and material goods doesn’t bring happiness. The happiest cultures are in third world countries. Places you might think are lacking in abundance.

When life is challenging, you aren’t helpless. There is always something you can do. Decide whether you want to worry that you won’t have enough, or to trust that you will be fine?

If you believe it, you will achieve it.



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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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