Don’t worry. Be happy.

I recently went on a therapeutic journey to rid myself of anxiety and stress. I had experienced these mental disorders in some form or another for years, but it wasn’t until I had a child that it became so severe and debilitating. My mind would race every single day, focusing on problems I had created in my own head. They weren’t major issues, nor was anyone else concerned about them. However I was so fixated on these unhealthy obsessions that I barely had any headspace or energy to focus on anything else in life.

I am now nearly 14 months postpartum, and about a month ago, nearly came to a breaking point. Postpartum anxiety is so challenging, lonely, and isolating. But with encouragement from my husband, family, and close friends, I was determined to get past it.

I came into this journey with three intentions set:

1. To rid myself of anxiety and worry and instead be free and happy
2. To be more affectionate and appreciative towards those I love
3. To connect to a higher purpose and become more spiritual

Through a lot of hard work and a trip away from my family to focus on myself, I’ve finally begun to set myself free from the negative feelings I was experiencing. With those in mind, here’s what I will take away and apply to my life from here on out:

Life is all about choices. We make our own choices to be happy, to be sad, to be anxious, to be worried – to feel any feeling. All of these emotions originate from our head and our heart, and we are in control to dial them up or down, turn them on or off, look at them or look away from them.

I recently have been reflecting on a podcast I listened to a couple years ago. It taught me that reality is simply based on the concepts we experienced in life. Reality is whatever you make it to be. Reality actually isn’t real. Instead of anxiety and worry, my reality can be happiness. It can be filled with happiness because I am in control. I will enjoy my life to the best of my ability and be happy with every choice I make. And I am in control to achieve that – I just have to do it, to believe it.

For me to be happy, I need to focus on the silver lining and always identify the positive. It does exist in every situation. I will interpret every experience, every person, every place, every thing as positive – no matter what. If something appears to be negative, find the positivity. It does exist. And if I really can’t find it, then I don’t need that in my life.

Similarly, nothing in life is truly annoying. Annoyance is just the filter to which people choose to see things. If I don’t focus on that filter, I can rid myself of the feeling of being annoyed.

I can never let myself get back to where I went this year: not putting myself first and instead putting my needs and desires last. I need and want to do the things that make me happy first so I’m best equipped to make those around me happy too. I need to eat when I’m hungry and sleep when I’m tired so I have energy to go about my day. If I take care of myself, I’m better equipped to take care of anyone close to me.

I was so amazed at how much I missed my family during my trip away. I started this journey wanting to learn how to show them more appreciation, and left with more gratitude than I have ever felt to have them in my life. I know that will come more naturally for me moving forward and am excited about it. I will continue to remind myself of the things I am appreciative of every day and journal about them as often as possible. There’s so much in life to be grateful for, and focusing on these things will help me feel more fulfilled. Gratitude isn’t just a checklist, it’s what keeps me going.

Life is too short to be around downers. I feel the most energized and the happiest when I am around people who truly understand me, appreciate me, and want to be with me. Surround myself with happy people and I am bound to continue to be happy myself.

No more multitasking. No more racing thoughts. When my mind starts to wander too much, take some deep breaths, slow down my heartbeat, and come back to what I am doing. Be present in each and every moment and enjoy whatever it is I am doing right then. There’s no need to plan what’s going to happen next – it will come, and I will soon have the time and headspace to think about it. In the meantime, finish the task at hand… and be happy about it.

Life is amazing, but short. Enjoy every second of it.

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