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Six Things That Made Me Happier

Do you ever feel like you’re sleepwalking through life? You want to love your life again, but you’re stuck, and you don’t know how to change the rhythm? You can list all the reasons why but you don’t know where to begin to shift your mindset, so you do nothing. You complacently stay in the status quo.

Six Things That Have Made Me Happier In 2023. Jennifer OBrien City Farmhouse

I can certainly list all the reasons why I felt stuck. I’ll begin with Covid and the lingering echos that still highjack my thoughts, then slide right into the house, family, and kid stress, add to it the long list of to-dos that never gets shorter, the feeling like I’m never doing one thing good enough, the anxiety of an uncertain future, hormones, the weight of the world, the weight I put on myself, literally and physically, and, oh yeah, the pressures of social media. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Now I’m sure we don’t align on everything, but I would venture to say if you feel like you’re also on a hamster wheel, then maybe one or more of these things resonates with you.

Six Things That Have Made Me Happier In 2023. Jennifer OBrien City Farmhouse

Let me start by saying I’ve tried to be a happy, positive person all my life. Anyone who’s met me in real life would (hopefully) agree. What many people don’t know is that inside, I’ve tormented myself. I’ve been paralyzed by fear, insecurity, and scarcity for far too long. And I’ve been incredibly hard on myself in the process. I do believe it came from things that took up residence from my past, like most of us. Through the years, I’ve tried to peel back the layers to better understand myself, you know, the who, what, and why. And for the most part, I know the origins, and their reign over my ego has loosened substantially.

Stay with me, there’s more. I had an awakening recently. There was a shift in my perspective literally the instant I woke up on January 1, 2023. The resounding message that rang in my ears was, “you are deserving now, today, and every day after.” It also said, “in six months, you will be fifty, so stop wasting time.” I swear I didn’t get the memo that in order to show up for others, you must first nurture yourself. For most of my adult life, I believed that being a martyr was the norm and almost heroic. I wasted so much time.

Six Things That Have Made Me Happier In 2023. Jennifer OBrien City Farmhouse

Like most breakthroughs, there was a catalyst. It came after months of intense hustle, from the summer season that led right into Christmas. I was trying to work every angle of my business in the most authentic and productive way possible. I was out on submission for two books, and much of the feedback for non-fiction came back, saying my social media numbers weren’t strong enough. I wanted this dream so bad I could taste it. And I worked hard to improve myself based on the feedback. By the way, if you’ve ever tried to publish a book, the criticism is harsh, as in sucking the life out of your sails harsh.

So there I was at the end of December, feeling depleted, a little lost, and very overwhelmed. I had never worked so hard in my life, pumping out content that supported my design business and my writing dreams. I was feeling vacant and wondering why all of the work hadn’t moved the needle. Up until that point, I chased my dreams because I had something to prove. That I wasn’t still the same kid that had learning delays, who was embarrassed time and time again for being called out for the “low” reading and math groups. Little did my parents know I had processing issues that led to the delays that made my early years difficult. It’s amazing how some scares never quite heal.

I woke up on January 1, took a walk, and my world shifted focus. For the first time, I believed I was deserving. Worthy of joy and peace, living wholeheartedly, loving myself unconditionally, not worrying every second of the day, and doing something just for fun that refueled me and fed my soul. So at almost fifty, I decided to alter the things that weren’t serving me. I did this for me but also for my mom and sister, who passed away way too young. Yet another worry every mom can relate to. I woke up that day with clarity and said to myself, you’re lucky to be here, dammit.

Six Things That Have Made Me Happier In 2023. Jennifer OBrien City Farmhouse

With this new perspective, I knew these six things would help me love my life again and sustain this newfound happiness in 2023.

  1. Exercise is a must. I usually walk two miles or work out. I’ve missed three days since January 1, yay! This can be anything, the only goal is to clear your mind and raise your endorphins. Mentally, I can’t live without this. Crazy to come to this realization at almost 50.
  2. Hustle without balance is destructive. And being present is the greatest gift of all. I know this to be true, when we leave this place, all that matters is the love and memories we shared with the people we love. I’ve lost enough people to know that.
  3. Mindful thoughts are key. Each day begins with, I am lucky... The power of our thoughts is more powerful than we think. The law of attraction states that if you believe in positivity, it will bring positivity. I’ve always believed in gratitude, but now I sink into these feelings and regard them on a level I didn’t before. They can be as simple as, I am lucky because I can pay for my groceries today. Think Lucky Girl Affirmation.
  4. Nutrition matters. I’ve been so focused on feeding my family that often I go without lunch and or dinner. That made my anxiety bonkers. No more. I meal prep now, making sure I get enough protein.
  5. Alcohol may not be the best thing. The jury is still out, but I drank for the wrong reasons to deflate and escape. I needed to override my system and limit it drastically to see if I could be happy without it. This is a very personal choice, and to answer your question, there was no issue with quantity, ever. I am lucky, I know that. I would look forward to it on the weekends, just a glass or two at a time. But I realized it wasn’t making me any better. In fact, it was keeping me tied to a past I needed to let go of in order to move forward. From parents who were no longer here, a sister I missed terribly, a fractured extended family, low self-esteem that kept me flightless, and of course, failures. I was hiding in the feeling of my younger, carefree self, the one who didn’t worry about anything. But the truth was, it was giving me more anxiety than the worry itself. Anyone who is in menopause, peri-menopause, or who is hormonally unregulated knows this to be true.
  6. Doing more things that bring joy. I know I am worthy of joy, big and small, everyone is. These are things that have no other purpose or motive but joy. Some things include a trip to the bookstore or library, putzing around your house, an afternoon latte, a bath, reading on the weekends, weekly pedicures, writing, a movie with my family, thrifting, or a walk on the beach. Their goal is to fill my cup, refuel, and re-center me. These are not intended for creating content. For me, there has to be a line drawn, or else I can’t fully embrace the experience. And as I head into this chapter and season, I need to be present to experience every incredible layer.

If you’re feeling this way, too, hopefully, this makes you feel less alone and crazy. What I found is by doing these six things, I now find joy in everyday tasks, whereas before, it felt like more things I have to get to and through. It’s taken me a long time to get here, I don’t want the same for you. After two months of practicing these six happiness triggers, I can now say I chase my dreams because I know I deserve them. And that’s huge for me.

Have a happy day, friends!

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  1. It was nice to read that I was not alone in feeling this way. Your listing of what you were going to do to bring joy to your life was very on point. Thanks for writing a very helpful post.

  2. Love this! Such simple concepts, but always seems difficult to arrive at them. Definitely plan to try these.

  3. Thank you for writing that. I completely relate to everything you wrote and it was something I needed to read as a reminder. Wish you much happiness and peace within.

  4. Thank you Jen. We are so HARD, harsh, critical of our imperfect selves….sometimes, we don’t realize how mentally damaging that can be. Happiness, doesn’t come from how much or little we have…it comes from within. Learning to love ourselves, letting go of childhood trauma, and loving that little girl inside us can be challenging! But, it’s so worth every tear and hill we climb. I LOVE YOUR 6 things you do to maintain it. It’s not perfection… progress on our journey. Being present for the ones we love…yes, but, SELF CARE is the key longterm. I’ve followed you for awhile, and somewhere I found out we both live on Long Island. May you keep discovering your gifts, I see them in you everyday.

    1. Hi Lee, Yes to everything you wrote!!! I wish those realizations came earlier in life, but as you said, it’s all a growing and learning process. So happy to know you are from LI. Cant wait for summer!

  5. Jen, I can relate to all of this. Add to it the feeling that life is passing me by because I’m so wrapped up in the fact that life is passing me by. 🤦🏻‍♀️Needing to be present in the moment, knowing that I can’t go back in time and that’s ok. Havingthat need to hold on so tight to my children ,but also knowing the right time to let go. 💕Reminding myself that memories made now and in the future are as wonderful as the old ones. Some of the faces change whether they pass on or just pass through, and that’s ok. It’s all so hard and wonderful and just life. Thank you for your words. ♥️I want to take in some of your strategies.

    1. Teressa, I’ve heard life be called Brutiful:). It makes sense. It’s brutal and beautiful at the same time. Change is so hard. We have so much ahead of us and it’s scary but wonderful too. xoxo Jen

  6. Hi Jen – You are young enough to be my daughter – but I always believed in having a positive mindset – maybe because in the 1950’s Doctor Norman Vincent Peale wrote a fabulous book “The Power of Positive Thinking” – it is an excellent guide to living a healthy, happy and successful life!

  7. Thank you, Jen. I too can relate to everything you’ve talk about. Now that my children have left the nest I’ve had to reevaluate my life…in a good way. Thank you for being open and honest. Sending positive vibes and blessings.

  8. In 1979, I turned my life “back” over to Christ. Now I knew it wasn’t going to make everything happy happy happy. As I say, “happy takes a happening but joy is eternal”, and even in the hurricane of life and health, it is forever.
    Jen, it’s good to know you are not alone and you are precious.

  9. Living with a grateful attitude is such a lifechanger! Great blog post!
    Do you live near Riverhead NY? The video with Home Sense looks familiar…I have familiar on Shelter Island and in Southold. I really enjoy your posts!

    1. Hi Kristen, I do live near RH. My husband grew up in Southold and worked on Shelter Island. What a small world! Thank you for taking the time to connect:)! Jen

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