Cowgirl Communications
by Katie Dressler
Chief Officer of Member Engagement

It seems as though I’ve heard and used the saying a lot lately, “Just be Happy!” Should be easy, right? Stop stressing over things you cannot control, change your attitude and be happy. Truth be told, it’s not that easy. We don’t know what that person walking on the sidewalk as we pass by is going through, we don’t know why our co-worker is suddenly short, agitated and distracted. We often immediately judge a person, before walking in their shoes. On the flip side, when we are that person walking down the street, we often worry what others looking at us are thinking, or when life gets good, we keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, and ultimately end up sabotaging our own happiness. As summer rolls around, now is the time when we all get that extra vitamin D that is supposed to be a mood lifter. However, regardless of the sun and warm weather, being happy isn’t something that’s easy for everyone around us. Sometimes we don’t even realize the daily habits we have that are preventing us from happiness. Let me elaborate.

Fear and Worry: Fear and Worry often go hand in hand. When I worry about what others think about me, I prevent myself from enjoying my glory moments. Truth be told, worrying is something we all do at some point or another. While some of us are better at hiding it more than others, there are always things we will worry about like finances, family, our job, etc. We all are going to fail, have bad days, or bad barrel runs, sure, but instead of worrying all the time, we can learn from our bad days, and use that to motivate ourselves to have good days. Don’t worry about how a project at your office might fail or how much work you must get done. When you spend your hours at work or at home focused on enjoying the time with those around you, and working hard to accomplish the task at hand, then the rest of life will fall into place, including your happiness. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its troubles, but instead empties today of its strength. Worry less, smile more and let the happiness ensue.

Comparison: Now is the time of year that I often let comparison get the best of me, even when I know not to.  As the rodeo season starts, I watch other girls compete and ride, and I immediately start comparing myself to them—again, when I know better. What seems like picture-perfect runs, bigger pickup and trailers and faster horses, how can I not compare myself? If you find yourself like me during this time of year, it’s good to remind yourself, as I do, that things aren’t always as they appear. Those that I compare myself to might be in more debt, might be unhappy or struggling with their barrel racing as well.

Instead of comparing myself to these other girls’ runs and stressing myself out, I need to remember to compare and evaluate my own runs from last summer. When focusing on my goals, versus comparing, I can grow on my own terms and learn to be happy. Reminder for the day: Comparing ourselves with others steals our joy.

Gossip: It’s like junk food or a drug. We know we shouldn’t do it, yet we keep doing it because it’s just too good sometimes. Gossip hurts others, brings negativity and breaks trust. It’s easy to gossip about coworkers or members that come in, but in the long run, it can hurt all those involved and prevent us from enjoying life and happiness. It’s important that day in and day out, we try to avoid gossip, as no beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart.

Self-Doubt: Some people can easily be confident, while others struggle with it. Unfortunately, self-doubt is just another way to destroy confidence. Believing in yourself and your choices in life, is part of being confident. If you’re constantly doubting every decision you make, thinking it’s not good enough, means you’re sure to join the unhappy train, in a short order. Also, it’s important to remember, no one is perfect. Trying to reach perfection is setting yourself up for that doubt and unhappiness. A great quote that helps me through barrel racing, is “When you believe in yourself, you’ve already circled the third barrel.” In normal terms, when you believe, the hardest part is already done.

Ignoring Your Creativity: We all have a creative side, whether you believe it or not, you do. Being creative could help lead to happiness, as it’s a great way to express yourself, reduce the risk of disease or illness even, when you really think about it! When you pick up a hobby, or branch outside of your comfort zone and use your creativity, you can reduce your stress, boost that positive emotion, and take your mind off other things. Creativity is something that shouldn’t be ignored and can easily add happiness in your life.

Excuses: No one likes to hear excuses, yet we all are good at making them some days. Excuses are merely a way for you to feel better and a justification for not doing the things you need or want to get done. Excuses allow us to keep being stubborn, making the same faults and mistakes, instead of learning to stop making them. Owning up to your mistakes at work or in the arena are two ways that can help lead to happiness. You might be thinking, how is that possible? Relieving yourself of the grief from your mistake can help you move forward. Also, it can help prevent you from doing it again. If mistakes are what is making you unhappy, don’t make an excuse for it. Own your problem and work hard to fix it.

Over-Stressing: This goes hand in hand with fear and worrying. Regardless what most people assume, or those studies about “millennials changing work culture,” say, most millennials really do work hard at work and life. I will say that our generation, me, and my friends around me often work really hard at trying to prove ourselves to the world in every aspect. This constant need to prove ourselves for all generations can take a toll on our happiness. Sure, some days it seems impossible to not stress over something, right? However, from recent experiences and funerals I’ve had to attend this spring, I’ve learned one thing: we are over-stressing. Stressing WAY too much, versus remembering to enjoy life’s moments, as they aren’t promised forever.

I’ve had friends lately tell me how stressed they are. My question is, why? If you feel yourself just trying to stay afloat, take an hour of your day to write down your goals, write down why you’re working yourself so hard and write down what makes you happy in life. If those things don’t line up, then perhaps you’re over-stressing about things that shouldn’t be stealing your happiness. Take a step back, create a more positive atmosphere, enhance productivity and move forward without that stress. If that still doesn’t work, I find writing down things I’m grateful for relieves my stress and surely puts into perspective how much I have to be happy about!

At the end of the day, it’s easy to feel down in this big world and fast-paced life. But, perhaps some of these things I listed are the reasons for your unhappiness. For many, feeling happy seems to be a lifelong pursuit, when it shouldn’t be. Happiness is found on the way, not at the end of the road. By simply looking at some of the choices we make in our life, achieving true happiness may be easier than you think. Life is about finding what makes you happy, and removing those things that make you upset. If you find yourself dwelling in unhappiness, learn what’s making you unhappy and fix it. Find those people in your life who are going to help you smile even more, and make your life a little bit better. Better yet, be that person for someone in your life, your office, or even for a member at your credit union.

Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside. A life where even through unhappiness, you train yourself to find the blessing in everything. By doing that, happiness will come. Most importantly, don’t try to sabotage your own happiness by getting mired in those seven bad habits I talked about earlier. Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections. After all, life only comes around once, so do what makes you happy.

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