Just recently I have felt genuinely happy and comfortable in my skin. While on a quest to find who I am, it was not until I travelled to Kenya where I started to learn more about myself. Deeply rooted in my thoughts, I started to become aware of who I am as a person.
I remember telling people that I was happy. Happy. A word to describe a feeling or showing of pleasure or contentment. Telling myself and others that I was happy when I wasn’t, was a betrayal to my soul. After two years, I couldn’t stomach the pain of telling people that I was happy anymore, thus, I decided to take some time for my soul and started my quest on being authentically happy.
For me, being authentically happy stems from accepting yourself and loving each and every layer of your mind, your body, and your soul. Accepting myself did not come easy- of course. It began when I started to set an intention for myself. Shifting paradigms from a world of blame, doubt, and shame, to a world of allowance, tolerance, acceptance, and trust, was the first step. Rather than acknowledging self-hatred, I started to acknowledge self-acceptance. Living a happy life does not stem from self-hatred, thus I became aware of my mind, my body, and my thoughts and became one with myself.
When my inner critic becomes more vocal, now it is how I handle them and crush them. I use to equate my inner critic with a voice of reason. I always told myself that it was strictly the truth and that I needed to do better. It was not until I attended my first hot yoga session where I started to accept my insecurities and began listening to my heart rather than the voice in my head. You are probably wondering, why hot yoga? At first, I did not believe I could complete the session without failing. My inner critic kept telling me that I was not going to make it and that hot yoga was not something for me. I will admit, I am not flexible but I do love yoga. During the session, I kept telling myself to ignore the voice in my head and continue. After the session was done, I felt so good to have completed the whole class without falling, thus rewiring mind with positive thoughts.
Coming home from Kenya, I started to celebrate my strengths. Even when I felt like I have not done enough, I began listing all of the hardships I overcame, all the goals I have accomplished, all the connections I have made, and all the lives I have touched for the better. During our last night in Kenya, the group and I were asked to sit in a circle and close our eyes. Once we were seated, our facilitators went around the circle and selected a few of us to stand in the middle of the circle. After being selected, our facilitators read off statements like “touch someone who has inspired you,” and those who were standing would go around the circle to touch those who have inspired them etc. During this moment, I started to realize the impact I have made on people’s lives. I have never cried so much in my life and at this point, I began to fall deeply in love with myself. Back at home, we do not often hear our friends or family members tell us the impact we have made on their lives. With this activity, I became more aware of myself and the things that I do.
Furthermore, beginning to realize who I surround myself with became vital. I started to question those around me, especially those who reinforce negativity. After leaving Kenya, I have never felt so positive and at peace with myself. I wanted to continue the momentum but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy once I settled back at home. Thus, I began to distance myself from those who bring me down and talk negatively. With work, school, and everything in between, I realized this was my time to really let go of those who no longer serve me. I now surround myself with those who accept and believe in me, as well as, like-minded individuals who empower, inspire and thrive.
Lastly, dwelling on the past and regrets prevented me from practicing self-acceptance and being authentically happy. The most difficult part of this journey was learning to forgive myself and move forward. You may think forgiving those who have hurt is hard, forgiving yourself is more challenging. It takes courage. After my dad passed away two years ago, I was holding onto a string of regrets. During that time in my life, I did not know how to move forward. I began torturing myself with thoughts in which I knew was unhealthy for me. My grip on the string eventually became looser as I started to attend yoga and meditation classes, as well as have discussions about God with my mom and my friends. Everything happens for a reason and every mistake is a lesson in itself.
Although I’m still on this quest, I will tell that I am closer than I have ever been. With that, I hope you find the courage to accept and love yourself and being simply happy.
Dedicated to my dear friend Alaina.