A Happy Community Starts with a Happy Self

We’ve all experienced this: you bump into a friend who’s in a great space in their life and their positivity and happiness is literally infectious! We feel happier for having seen them and say something like, “Let’s hang out soon. I miss you so much!”
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Or the opposite experience happens: you get together with a friend who seems snappier and grouchier than you remember and find yourself becoming frustrated and think, “Hmm, maybe I need to take a break from this person for a little awhile.”
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Your happiness affects others. Who we are, who our friends are, who we’re socializing it up with online, the voice behind the websites we read, the comments we leave- their moods, our moods- we all have an affect on each other.
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In studies it’s been shown that the happiness of a person can affect up to three degrees of separation. So, if you become happier, your friends are going to be happier, and their friends will get happier, and so will their friends- seriously!
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It’s kind of stunning when you realize that we can actually better our relationships and thereby better the community as a whole, just by being happier ourselves.
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Pretty frickin’ cool.
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The first time we learned this we felt a personal responsibility to work on our own happiness levels because it has such far reaching effects to those around us.
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Creating a happy community starts with creating a happy self.
How do you get happier?
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Our happiness formula is pretty simple= give yourself the things that you want and need.
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We’re not talking possessions- we mean those childhood dreams, unfulfilled hopes and natural talents that are patiently waiting on the sidelines.
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Make a list of the things that you’ve wanted in your life but have given up on because they aren’t practical, or easy. For instance, if you wanted to be an actress as a kid, it doesn’t mean you should quit your job and move to Hollywood, but you’d probably have fun taking an acting class or trying out for a part with a community theater.
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The more we can give ourselves both the things we want and need– regular meals, regular sleep, exercise and the pursuit of higher dreams- the more we can feel good in our bodies and minds, and happier overall.
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Think about a child who needs a nap, hasn’t eaten or who feels compelled to sing, twirl, or jump, but is told no- it often ends up in a temper tantrum. As adults we pretend that we aren’t as connected to our needs, but that’s a fallacy. We all need to take care of both our basic and higher needs or else we’ll have internal temper tantrums, which can manifest as anxiety or depression.
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Don’t hide the negative.
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One of the best ways to build community and friendship is to be honest about your good days and your bad ones. People are much more likely to share honest dialogue with you if you’re speaking the truth about your own life.
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Talk about awesome things- yes! But don’t gloss over the not so awesome stuff because when you have the courage to be vulnerable with others, they will trust you and give you the same in return.
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You know those people who always seem to have the backstory on everyone? They are more than likely a person who is sharing more and thus receiving more honest, open information from others.
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Try to withhold judgement
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We’ve all been cut-off by an angry driver, or gotten a look or comment from a someone that seemed critical, snappy or harsh. It’s our first instinct to think “What did that mean? Why did they do that? What the heck is wrong with them?” If we feel slighted, or judged, it’s all to easy to judge right back.
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But we never know what another person is going through internally. Maybe the driver that cut you off just received devastating news and is trying to get home. Maybe your friend that was short with you had a terrible day, or is worried about something and isn’t ready to talk about it.
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The more we can remember this quote by Plato: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” the more we can give people the benefit of the doubt. This serves two purposes: it allows us to withhold judgement and it helps prevent us from taking on other people’s negative emotions.
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Take responsibility.
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When a situation happens that you don’t like, rather than blaming someone for what they did to you, try asking yourself “What can I do differently to prevent myself from being in this situation again?”
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Unfortunately, we can’t change anyone but ourselves, no matter how hard we may try. So if you’re dwelling on what others did, you’re basically spinning your wheels in vain and your lack of being able to control this, or them, will only make you feel sad, frustrated and angry.
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If you can take responsibility for your own actions/re-actions in the situation, and see how you can avoid this in the future, you are learning how to shield yourself from future frustrations and no longer holding onto things you can’t change- ah, what a relief!
When we gain control in managing our own happiness, taking responsibility, speaking the truth of our lives and withholding judgement- we are living our own personal power and can better share our cooperation and friendship with others.
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When we take the time to nurture our biggest responsibility in the world- ourselves- we show others how to grow in this direction, and the positive feelings radiate from us so much others can literally feel it!
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Imagine a world where everyone was taking care of their needs and pursuing their passions…  It’d be pretty darn joyful most days, we can guess that much. Don’t we all want to live in that world?
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It starts with you.
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We only have the power to change ourselves, so let’s make the choice to make our own personal happiness a priority in our lives! To take care of ourselves, push ourselves and go after what we really want in this world in order to make our communities (large and small, online and off) even richer, more vibrant and more connected.
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Who’s in? Who’s ready to be part of the better world waiting for each of us? Let’s make this giant rock we’re floating around on a better place to be, one person at a time!
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How are you cultivating your personal happiness? How you doin’ at taking care of your own needs, too? What dream is in you that you know would be deeply fulfilling if you were to pursue it- and what the heck’s stoppin’ ya?
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Please share, we’d love to hear your thoughts and stories!
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{photos are found vintage, from the personal collection of Jena Coray}
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*Be sure to come visit with us tomorrow for an #OMHG chat from 1-2EST with Jena & Jen of The Maven Circle on building happy communities starting with ourselves!*