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Why Having Your Sh*t Together Is Overrated (and Misunderstood)

“It’s not about time, it’s about choices. How are you spending your choices?” ~Beverly Adamo

Hi, my name’s Tash. I’m twenty-six years old and soon I’ll be living in a van.

My sister is twenty-three. She owns her own flat, which she shares with her long-term boyfriend and their pet tortoise. She has a well-paid job that she enjoys, and she even has a company car. For some people, this might look like she’s really got her sh*t together—she’s ticking all the right boxes!

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying she isn’t! I’m very happy for her and everything she has achieved, and she really is doing a great job. But personally, this isn’t my idea of having my sh*t together, and it certainly isn’t a life I see for myself.

Yet the other day she said to me, “If you don’t get a house soon you’ll probably never have one.” My reply? “That’s okay, I don’t want a house any way.”

You see the thing is, everyone has these preconceptions of what it means to “do well” and “get your life together.” Do you have a house? A good job? Are you earning a good salary? Do you have a partner to share it all with? Will you be getting married? Are you planning to have children?

These are all things we are led to believe we should be working toward, because achieving these things will make us happy and complete.

Well, I call BS!

I don’t own (or even rent) my own house. Okay, I am married, but that certainly doesn’t prove I’m adulting well. I’m giving up a great job in order to pursue my career as a freelance writer, so as of March I’ll officially be unemployed. Oh yeah, and in April my husband and I will be packing up our entire lives and living in a van.

But do you know what? I couldn’t be happier or more proud of our decisions.

What Brought All This On?

Let me rewind. A colleague of mine recently turned twenty-six as well. As I stopped by her desk one day she said, “I thought I’d have my life together by the age of twenty-six.”

This got me thinking, what was her definition of having her life together? I told her, “If by the age of twenty-six you wanted to be happy, in a job you enjoy, and looking forward to your future, then you’ve got your life together, right?”

We all want different things from this life, but there’s so much pressure to follow suit and do what has always been seen as the normal or correct way of doing things.

I was that way once. When I was at university, if you’d asked me where I wanted to be by this age I’d have probably seen myself in a fancy PR job, living in London, navigating busy city life, all with a smile on my face and a decent amount of money in my savings.

PAH!

Right now that sounds like my worst nightmare (and a far off dream as far as a good savings account is concerned!).

But What if That’s My Dream?

Please don’t for one second think I’m belittling or making fun of those who want to live the city life or settle down with a spouse and kids by a certain age. We are all different.

And this is exactly the point I’m trying to make. My husband and I agree that we don’t want to be tied down to one place, certainly not for a long time any way! Together we’ll be traveling the UK and Europe in our campervan. Then, when we’re finished with that, we’ll probably downsize our lives even further by living out of a backpack and going further afield.

Because for us, having our sh*t together means exploring new cultures. Being able to pick up and move on when we want to. Evening walks along the beach. Backpacking around the world. Waking up every day feeling excited and happy. Living our best life and being the best versions of ourselves because of our choices.

But again, I’m aware of plenty of people who would never want or choose to live out of a backpack.

The point I’m trying to make here is that having your sh*t together doesn’t mean conforming to what others perceive as normal or aspirational.

It’s about chasing your own dreams and finding what makes you happy. It’s about creating a life that you can’t wait to wake up to every day.

It’s about wholeheartedly embracing this short life and what it is you really want, whether that’s getting married, having kids, throwing yourself into your career, or in our case, exploring the world in a camper van.

There’s no right or wrong. There’s only what feels right for you.

Hi, my name’s Tash, and though I’m choosing an unconventional path, I have my sh*t together! How about you?

About Natashia Larkin

Natashia is a freelance writer and digital nomad, having swapped her 9-5 for a life of travel. She and her husband are exploring the world one country at a time, in their self-built campervan, Stella. Join them on their pursuit for happiness and simplicity by following their blog here larkinaround.co.uk.

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How 5 Simple Habits Made Me Love My Life More

“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.” ~John Irving

Your habits are directly related to the quality of your life. Good habits lead to joy and fulfillment in your life, while not-so-good habits leave you yearning for your life to be different.

I think I always knew that, I just wished I took it to heart sooner. Better late than never, right?

Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits, says that “Habits are the invisible architecture of our daily life. We repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily, so our habits shape our existence, and our future. If we change our habits, we change our lives.”

I’ve spent far too much time in my life languishing in worries and regrets, wondering why life had to be so hard. I looked for outside sources to come in and save me. No rescuer ever came, at least not one that made a permanent difference.

I’d always wind up on the same boat: wondering why others seemed so content with the lives they were leading while I continued to have a burning desire for something different—something I really couldn’t even name, though I tried in vain to do so.

I set big goals and made big plans that I was certain would make all the difference for me. Usually, my big goals and big plans wouldn’t live beyond the next new moon. Even when they did, though, the things that I thought would make me happy didn’t. The things that I thought would bring me peace only annoyed me for their utter lack of peace-creating properties.

By profession, I’m a strategist. I look at all the many things that contribute to situations being a certain way and explore ways to move the situation toward where I want it to be. Turns out, sometimes you don’t have to overhaul anything; sometimes, small, simple tweaks can make a big difference.

As the saying goes, it takes large sails to move a large ship, but the captain need only make a small adjustment to the rudder to change the direction. The other part of the saying is there’s no point in adjusting the rudder if the ship is not moving; you won’t go anywhere.

Your daily habits are the small rudders hat can help you move your life in the direction you wish. Choosing good habits day after day is the movement required to experience the positive life changes you’re seeking.

I like to think of myself as an intelligent person, but what I neglected to see in my own life is that the smallest tweaks done day in and day out have the power to move the mountains I want moved. When my eyes opened to the power of small changes practiced daily, miracles began to unfold in my life.

Below are some of the simple daily habits I’ve worked to incorporate into my life that are making such a huge difference for me.

1. Meditation

Yeah, yeah, I know. Everyone says meditate, but did you ever consider that maybe all those meditation-lovers are offering an you an insider’s tip (pun intended) that in fact is actually priceless?

I have an overactive mind, as many people do. It loves to tell me about all its worries and warn me of threats that in reality aren’t all that threatening—nothing more than a mouse posing as a monster most of the time.

My mind loves to relive situations and conversations over and over and over; it’s so tiring! I’ve found that the antidote to my endless chattering mind is daily meditation.

I don’t do anything complicated. I just sit in a relaxing position, tune into serene instrumental music on Spotify, and focus on my breath. Anytime I notice that my mind is wandering (as it always does), I return my focus to my breath. In times of silence answers seem to arrive to incredibly insightful questions I didn’t even know I should ask.

2. Kind, loving self-talk

In the past, my inner dialogue wasn’t all that friendly. In fact, I was my own worst enemy, a relentless bully whose malicious words would leave me disheartened and unable to face the world with any sense of self-worth or confidence.

I didn’t come by this demeaning self-talk accidentally. Its roots go back to my childhood.

I grew up in a Roman Catholic home with seven children (another sibling died before I was born) and two overworked, exhausted parents who were flat broke all the time.

My father struggled with alcohol addiction and mental illness. This, along with my mother’s enabling patterns plus her own low self-esteem and depression issues, defined how the house was run.

The focus of the entire household was on managing life around dad’s issues.

Growing up, it seemed to me that nothing I ever did was good enough for my dad, though I tried so very hard to please him. I craved his love and positive attention. He either ignored me or criticized me, and when he criticized me he often did so in the most brutal tone.

I took to adopting that brutal tone in my inner dialogue and kept up the cruel inner monologues for years and years. I rationalized that I was just keeping my standards high, because who wouldn’t want to have high standards, right? A father would only criticize his daughter to help her improve, right?

So I kept criticizing myself; it never occurred to me that dad lashed out at me because his whole life seemed like a mess, so by God, the one thing he would have control over was his children.

There I was as an adult, using unrelenting, vicious self-criticism as a way to be perfect so I could get the love and attention I sorely wanted from the people in my life. It was a strategy that was never going to work; it had to go.

After examining my bitter, demeaning inner voice, I realized that I would never treat another human being this way, so why was I permitting this type of untenable talk go on inside me? I deserve better—we all do!

Now when those critical thoughts come up I’m patient with myself without buying into the scolding voice that’s offering up the hypercritical self-assessments.

I look at the scared girl behind those ugly comments and extend my deepest love to her. You see, while I refuse to allow my inner critic to talk to me in vile ways anymore, I also recognize the only reason I ever talked to myself that way was out of a deep need for belonging and protection. There was a call for love behind those ugly words, and now I simply acknowledge that deep desire for self-love without chastising the hurting girl who was trying to get my attention in the only way she knew how.

3. Follow the five-second rule

I love Mel Robbins, and the day I learned about her five-second rule was a very important day in my life. (And I’m not talking whether it’s still safe to eat food that’s only had five seconds of contact on the floor—that’s a whole different discussion!)

In a nutshell, here is Mel Robbins’ five-second rule, in Mel’s words: The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must count five-four-three-two-one and physically move or your brain will stop you.”

So, you’re not a “morning person” but you have a goal of getting up earlier in the morning? Then the moment your alarm clock goes off, count five-four-three-two-one and jump out of bed. No more hitting the snooze alarm.

Yes, in the moment of those early morning hours, of course you’d rather stay in that warm comfy bed—who wouldn’t? But staying in bed doesn’t align with your bigger goals, and getting up does. If you move within five seconds, you’ll move toward your bigger goals. If you don’t move and allow your clever mind to talk you into staying in bed for “just a bit more,” you’re sunk.

If you want to change your life by getting up earlier so you can write that blog you want to write (a-hem, what I’m doing now) or do that exercise you know your body needs, then make those goals your priority over an extra thirty minutes of sleep and use the five-second rule to help you get your body out of bed.

Adopting the five-second rule is one of the best habits I’ve ever taken up. For the sake of full transparency, I admit I’m not always successful at sticking to the rule, but the more I try, the more I succeed.

“If your habits don’t line up with your dream, then you need to either change your habits or change your dream.” ~John Maxwell

4. Feed my mind

I’ve always considered myself to be a learner, though in actuality I get lazy about learning. It’s hard to improve your life if you’re never giving your brain any new information. Feeding my mind on a regular basis has become a top priority for me.

My “feeding my mind” goal looks something like this: one retreat a year, one book a month (that I can either read or listen via audio), one podcast a week, and one smart article on something I want to learn about each and every day. I’ve found that starting the process builds momentum; I often crush my minimum goals!

Feeding my mind in healthy ways also means giving up some unhealthy habits. I’m extremely careful about how much news I watch nowadays. While I don’t want to keep my head in the sand, I find it’s important to limit the number of negative messages I allow into my mind, and news channels are notorious for going over the same disturbing stories again and again. I make time in my days for my extra reading and personal growth activities by getting up earlier and limiting my Netflix and HBO time.

I’ve also modified my budget so I can afford the audiobooks and retreats I want to buy. My clothing and dining out budget is about half of what it used to be, and it’s a trade-off I’m happy to make.

The habit of feeding my mind is opening up whole new worlds for me. I can’t tell you how often I’ve read about something and the perfect opportunity comes up for using what I’ve learned in both my professional and personal life. Louis Pasteur said, “Fortune favors the prepared mind,” and I couldn’t agree more!

5. Do something outside my comfort zone at least once a week

If I were a more ambitious soul, I might put a “once a day” rule on this habit, but for now once a week works nicely for me. The habit of doing the same things the same way every day is life draining, while the habit of stretching outside your comfort zone regularly is life expanding. I’d rather see my life expand rather than to contract and shrivel, thank you very much.

Today, I regularly practice being brave—allowing myself to be seen, allowing myself to be vulnerable and unskilled at new things. I don’t tiptoe outside my comfort zone anymore; I’m even willing to take huge leaps.

I quit a job that I’d been in for twenty-two years without having the next job lined up. I moved 2000 miles from family and friends to live in a beautiful part of the world where I’ve always dreamed of living.

I now work in freelance, consulting, and coaching roles, which means my income fluctuates a lot. I’m not always certain how much money I’ll earn each month; I could have never tolerated that degree of uncertainty before.

It’s surprising how much your life can transform in miraculous ways once you’re willing to not be perfect in your own little world but instead actively choose to be imperfect in a world that might judge you. When you take risks that might leave you flat on your back, they also might enable you to soar.

I’ve found that bravery is rewarded, maybe not always in the moment, but always in time. I encourage you to be brave; it’ll change your life!

About Janette Novak

Janette a confidence coach and the founder of Believe And Create, BelieveAndCreate.com, a personal development initiative that helps people believe in themselves more fully and create lives that they love.  Janette also owns Illuminate Marketing Communications, a digital marketing agency that specializes in content marketing. She lives in Flagstaff, AZ.

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25 Things Introverts Want You to Understand About Them

“Solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe.” ~Susan Cain

We live in a culture that celebrates extroversion and sees introversion as a weakness or something to overcome.

If you’re an introvert, you may have grown up believing there was something wrong with you. You may not even have realized there’s a word for your personality type, that 26 to 50 percent of the population falls under that umbrella, and that our brains are actually wired differently than extroverts’ brains.

According to Scott Barry Kaufman, the Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute (which sounds like the coolest place in the world to work), it all boils to down to the neurotransmitter dopamine.

When our brains release dopamine, we feel more motivated to strive for external goals and rewards, like a raise or an ever-widening social circle. Though we all have the same amount of dopamine in our brains, the reward center is more active in extroverts. That’s why an extrovert might feel energized and excited anticipating a social event, while introverts might feel over-stimulated.

We introverts rely on a different neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which makes us feel good whenever we turn inward—something we’re much better able to do in calm environments, with minimal external stimulation.

Yes, I said “we.” I’m a proud deep thinking, quiet-time needing preferrer of profound conversations over small talk. I’d rather dissect the meaning of life on a rooftop below a starry night, with one close friend by my side, than scream over loud music amid a rowdy crowd at a party or in a bar.

For years, I felt like a loser because I have fewer friendships than most and spend more time alone. But it’s not that I’m less likable than other people (or at least, I hope that’s not true). It’s just that I detest forced socialization, superficial relationships, and feeling the pressure to ‘perform’ for a group.

While I’m beyond relieved to finally recognize my personality type isn’t a character flaw, I appreciate when the people around me understand and value my nature as well. And I know I’m not alone.

I recently asked the introverts within Tiny Buddha Facebook community what they wish people understood about them, and their responses all sounded like pieces of my own internal monologue. Below, I’ve shared a small selection of the 1,000+ comments that came in.

If you’re an introvert, this list might put into words what you’ve thought many times—from all different angles, while enjoying various solo activities. If you’re an extrovert, this will hopefully give you a little more insight into how your introverted friends feel, what they want and need, and why they do the things they do.

25 Things Introverts Wish People Understood About Them

1. I’m never lonely. I love, love, love the time I spend alone (or just with my immediate family). It feeds my soul. ~Kim Kay

2. I would rather have a deep conversation with one or two people rather than small chit chat with twenty-five. I value quality over quantity. ~Lyle Hatch

3. I’m not grumpy or unsociable, I just don’t know how to do small talk. Also, I’m not boring or uninteresting; you just never initiate deep conversations with me. ~Natashia Lee

4. I do not enjoy forced conversation and situations. They only makes me want to retreat back to my own space. Just let me sit back to observe, and I will decide if I should join in. ~Michelle Bush West

5. I do not think I am better then you. ~Kimmie Nielsen

6. I mean what I say and only speak when I have to say something. ~Roland Laufer

7. Not wanting to hang out is not personal. I need way more down time and rest than other people may, and that doesn’t mean I’m lazy. ~Dani Hughes

8. We’re not all social butterflies; we’re more like social caterpillars. We take a while to open up. When we do, we can either be like a butterfly around you, but if things go south we’ll want to stay in the ‘wrapped up’ phase forever! ~Carole Ann Rickerd

9. Canceling plans with people less than twenty-four hours beforehand has nothing to do with them and everything to do with my self-care. ~Sahej Anand Kaur Khalsa

10. Just because I’m not all smiley and enthusiastic doesn’t mean I’m not happy. ~Brandon Logan

11. When you mention how quiet I am because I don’t talk much in large gatherings or make a big deal when I do speak, it just makes me feel self-conscious and retreat more into myself. ~Angela Eaves

12. I cannot be “on” when you want me to. There are times when I can join the conversation or party, and times when I simply cannot. ~Sabree Johnson

13. Just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean I’m anti-social or stuck up. It just takes me longer to recover from events and big groups of people. ~Angela Stewart

14. I deeply care and empathize with so many people in my life, even those that I don’t know personally. I can’t ‘turn it off.’ Going home is my way of avoiding overworking my emotions. It’s so I can rest up and be a good friend, colleague, employee, and citizen tomorrow. ~Jayme Taylor

15. My silence in group conversations isn’t aloofness, indifference, or lack of personality. I’d just rather get to know you one-on-one before I start revealing my thoughts and opinions. ~Amanda Perrett

16. Just because I’m not loud and don’t share my feelings with everyone in sight, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have them. Quite the opposite. I feel things very deeply. ~Liz Szentendrei

17. I’m not a flamboyant personality, but I have as much substance as the next person. ~Terrie Lynch

18. Sometimes I just want to walk in silence, but I am neither sad nor lonely. ~Debra Temple

19. Just because we keep to ourselves, or we are not talkative, does not mean we do not have an opinion or are less intelligent than others. ~Tony Solis

20. Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I’m upset or mad, so there’s no need to keep asking me “Are you okay?” That gets very tiring. ~Linda Burton

21. I’m not talking because I don’t have anything worthwhile to say and I’m fine with the silence. ~Amber Lockey

22. Sometimes I may act extroverted, but it’s kind of a survival skill I’ve adopted in an extroverted-centered world. Still leaves me feeling mentally exhausted and drained. And feels unnatural. ~Dalas McCown

23. If you ask a question and we don’t respond right away we are thinking through every possible response, how you might react to each response, if it is actually the truth, and then we might get distracted and eventually ponder the meaning of life … even if you just asked how we are doing. ~Michelle Cobley

24. I don’t hate people. I just save my energy for genuine interactions. ~Sharon Stewart

25. I want to be invited! I may not always go or have the ability to stay long, but it doesn’t mean I want to be entirely left out. ~Diana Rouge

Extroverts, is any of this news to you? And introverts, is there anything you’d add to the list?

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She’s also the author of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal and other books and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. An avid film lover, she recently finished writing her first feature screenplay and is in pre-production now.

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