My favorite Halloween Instagram post was the above simple graphic. On a day when we ask others to treat us, I appreciated the keen reminder to treat yourself. Maybe not necessarily on Halloween, but make it a point to sometimes to treat your damn self.
But how? Just Google it, right? Wrong. Despite the fact that there is a plethora of self-help publications, programs, and podcasts, do they really know what you need? We also get tons of advice from friends, family, and trusted mentors, but do they truly know what is best for you?
One of my favorite bloggers and authors is Courtney Carver. In a recent blog, Carver talked about trusting yourself when it comes to what’s best for you. For a long time, she trusted other people to decide the way to go but she has come to learn she herself knows what’s best for her. Amen sista.
I can relate.
Although I’m very strong in my beliefs and opinions (shocker, right BFFs?!), I can also sometimes be easily persuaded, influenced, and even convinced. Yes, I know this is a good thing in some ways as it’s always noble to have an open mind, but sometimes I find myself saying “Make a decision Carla and stick with it!” Needless to say, I read Carver’s post with eyes wide open and am joining her on a daily practice of trusting my own voice. After all, don’t I really and truly know what’s best for me and my little life?
What’s best for me is spending time with trusted friends, writing, travelling, and practicing yoga. I don’t write to be famous or exalted; I write because it’s therapeutic and feeds my soul. I don’t practice yoga to be a size two or to stand on my head; I practice yoga to be flexible and balanced and to drain my brain. I don’t value friendships because I want to be popular; I value them because they keep me grounded and teach me. Being in a big group of people exchanging small talk is not good for me. Spending quality time, even if limited, with those I love and respect is good for me.
Books are good for me. All kinds of books. Biographies, silly romance novels, historical books, spiritual books, and coffee table books. So many books.
Sometimes crying is good for me. After a good cry I find that letting go of resentment, anger, fear, or guilt is often just what I need. Accepting the fact that “it is what it is” is good for me. Unfortunately I like to fix things. I plot and plan and conjure up solutions to no end, but I’m learning that some things are just not fixable. And I’m okay with that.
My dogs are good for me. They demonstrate what is one of my most coveted traits, loyalty, like no other creature on earth. They love unconditionally and fully and they calm me. It’s not just me; research shows that petting a dog and being around one lowers one’s blood pressure. They are truly this woman’s best friend.
Spending quiet time praying and meditating is also good for me. I recently created a special place to do this in my home and it’s made all the difference. I love this quiet time alone knowing full well that I am never really alone.
Organization and order are good for me. I like things controlled and scheduled. I don’t like chaos. Funny thing is, I don’t care if you’re disorganized and I actually secretly admire those who can live in a topsy-turvy world, just let me live in my “everything in its place” land and we’ll be good. Yes, I can drive myself (and others) crazy with my orders to keep all in order, but order also gives my often harried and busy mind peace. I know, crazy and totally OCD but that’s me. And I’m okay with it.
Climbing into my comfy bed at the end the day always feels good to me. I also like to sleep in and wonder why doing so is often considered lazy yet going to bed early is not. I’m a sleeper and a night owl and I own it. To all you early risers, I say the early bird gets the worm because worms are gross and mornings are stupid.
Another place I love to lay down on is a massage or facial table. These hour-long sessions of pampering make me feel good and they make me feel grateful. They are perhaps the epitome of luxury but at the same time they epitomize self-care, being healthy, and life-giving soul care.
And how can I forget how good music is for me. It has been since I can remember and is still to this day. I know the words to hundreds of songs and any given song can either take me back to a certain time in my life, relax me, or motivate me. Music of all forms (except maybe opera and jazz) is extremely important to me.
Baths are good for me. I love the quiet and the water and the inner peace I feel in one. Lighting candles is also good for me. The scent, the flame, and the simplicity of one little item make me feel good. Walks also make me feel good as do the multitude of corny yet inspiring Hallmark movies.
The ocean is good for me. I love the sound of waves and watching a sunset or sunrise on the water. Napping on the beach under an umbrella with a book nearby is good for me. My nighttime relaxation app choice is always waves; sometimes mixed with rain, which I also love.
Traveling is also good for me and I particularly love road trips. Visiting interesting places where I can settle, discover, relax, and learn is good for me. Constant travel however, is not. Making beautiful memories in far away places with people I love makes me happy but I don’t need to see it all and go just to say I went. That, my friends isn’t good for me. It’s exhausting. And expensive.
Maybe it’s because I also value nesting. I am never bored in my home and actually long for quiet, do nothing days, especially after a long week or trip. I sometimes go out of my way to linger more and do less. I’m so over going, going, going and doing, doing, doing. Carla needs to her quiet time.
What’s best for me, and I would say almost everyone, is not comparing and competing. Being grounded and satisfied, on the other hand are good things. Two things I’ve always said I’m good at are writing and worrying, and yet I know worrying less is good for me, as is learning to trust and just be still. Maybe I should write about it!
On the flip side, I’ve discovered that rushing is not good for me and neither is juggling. They are perhaps at the top of my “To Don’t” list. Being maxed out is most definitely not good for me, I don’t care what anyone tells me. If it complicates my life rather than enhancing it, I’m out if I have any choice in the matter.
Change is not good (or maybe just not easy) for me either but I will say it’s something I’ve gotten better at. As spiritual mama and mentor Susie Davis says, “I like patterns that repeat.” Same. Give me stability and reliability and I’m good to go. As we all know however, life is not always about stability or controlling or scheduling everything so I personally need to be okay with change, leaving my comfort zones, letting go of control, and being a bit more spontaneous.
I’ve also learned that just because people I like enjoy doing certain things doesn’t mean I need to. I didn’t like “Game of Thrones” and I don’t like Halloween. My husband loves golf and we live on a golf course but even though I play the game, I’ve accepted the fact that I don’t love it and don’t need to play regularly. Give me a good friend to play with, an occasional round, or a couples event and I’m all in, but day-to-day grinding out a round just doesn’t appeal to me. And I’m okay with that.
Carver also talks a lot about minimalism and how removing just a few things from your life can make space for so much more. More important things. More things that are good for you. More life giving moments. It’s all about making room for the things you need and love and removing the things (and people) who suck the life out of you.
I need people in my life who feed my soul and I know that I’m blessed with some great ones. The women I work with feed my soul. My husband and daughter feed my soul. I love just chilling with my hubby and spending fun and quality time with our daughter. Nothing brings me more joy.
I also get joy from friends I’ve had for years. Some since high school and college and others I’ve made in the 30-plus years I’ve lived in the same city. They all feed my soul. My annual college girls trip (we’re on number 17 now) thoroughly feeds my soul and is something I look forward to every year. I have however, accepted that making new friends is work for me and not something I enjoy and that if you poison my spirit I have no place for you in my life. Others might tell me “but Carla making friends is good for you.” Guess what? Yes, if I make a new friend or a hundred friends who fill my life and feed my soul, I’m open, but I’m also good with the ones I have.
I recently wrote about Hygge, the Danish concept about slowing down and savoring the moments while making the ordinary extraordinary and the normal special. I love the idea that you should focus on spending time with those you really feel good around and not those you think you should feel good around. How many of us do that? Stop! Carla knows that’s what best for her is this very Danish notion of spending time with those she can be herself with and in a way that’s not demanding.
And I’m not sorry for that.
Carver would support me in this, as she is big on us not apologizing for things we don’t need to be sorry for. Included on her list are two of my biggies: staying home and saying no. She also says we need to stop apologizing for how we dress, thinking differently, being ourselves, and changing our minds. I agree and say yes to saying no!
Figuring out and embracing what’s good for me makes me happy and we are all in pursuit of happiness, right? It’s been proven again and again that happier people make healthier choices and that engaging in healthy behaviors contributes to our overall happiness. But all we hear is gloom and doom out there and that everyone else is to blame for our level of happiness. Not true! Research shows that about 40 percent of our happiness is determined by what we do, not our surroundings, genetics, or circumstances.
So join me in quieting those well-intentioned voices in our lives and in our heads and go with your gut and your heart. You know what is best for you and it’s time to listen to your own voice. It’s telling you what’s right or wrong loud and clear. Listen up and treat yourself. And not just on Halloween.