What makes you happy?
We all want to be happy but very few actually know what makes them happy. If we don’t know our destination, how can we be sure we’re on the right path?
I wanted to find out what made me happy, so I started to document the times when I felt happy and those when I felt sad. After some time, I could see some common threads.
Like the one time I wrote, “Had a good mediation session today. The clients were able to settle everything.They felt so relieved after the mediation that the wife came and gave me a hug on her way out. Arriving home after, the kids have eaten the spinach and meatballs I’d cooked for them (yay for healthy eating!), and are sitting together talking and laughing as they watch a movie. My husband comes and chats with me about my day as I smoke my Arabic waterpipe (Shhh, my secret indulgence).”
When you know what makes you happy, you start creating more pathways for those things in your life (well, maybe not the waterpipe). You also start appreciating the day to day stuff. We don’t need to wait until we have that million dollars or go travel around the world. We can have pockets of happiness everyday. We just have to be able to recognize them for what they are.
“In service to achieve success, we sacrifice happiness, in the hopes that success makes us happy.” Chris Williamson
I really hate bran muffins. They’re dense, hard to swallow, and no matter what fancy name they’re given, they’re just never tasty. But we’re told they’re healthier and better than their luscious, airy, tasteful counterpart- the “normal” muffin. 😋
We tend to just follow what we’re told about health, money, and mindset. The more “freedom” conversations we have as a society, the more confined we all feel. But every once in a while, I hear someone say something “audacious” and it reminds me that I can think for myself too!
Gretchen Rubin, the *happiness* guru says that she doesn’t meditate.
Alex Harmozi, millionaire investor and fitness enthusiast says that he just works and has no hobbies. Others say to him that it’s unhealthy, but that’s what works for him, and he ha no intention to change.
As for me, I will continue to pass on the bran muffin and go for the calorie-filled but tasty option.
Change the world by being yourself. – Amy Poehler
I went to Canmore a couple of weeks ago for my yearly solo retreat. Every year, I book 3 days in the mountains to spend alone. I love this time. I go for long walks, have my favourite food, and I make plans for my business. I return home happy and refreshed.
What I don’t understand is why I am comfortable telling you this, and not my own siblings?! Every year, I do my best to avoid telling them about it. And if I talk to them while I’m there and they ask what I’m doing, I simply say, “hmm just doing the dishes, you?” (No, they’re not on this email list.)
To be honest, I don’t tell them because I’m afraid they’re going to judge me. I hear them in my head saying, “Wow, Zeina is spending on accommodation, and leaving her three kids at home for no real reason?!”
Do you agree that we all limit ourselves because we are afraid to be judged? Can you think of something you love doing but you don’t or you avoid telling people about? Is it because you feel judged?
Let’s both promise each other that we will not hide from who we are. We will tell others. We will express ourselves without fear of judgment.
“Strength isn’t trying to pretend to be something you’re not. It’s having the courage to live the truth of who you are.” Marie Forleo
What makes you happy? Take me seriously for a minute and tell me 3 things that truly makes you feel joyful. Joy- according to Brené Brown, is the one feeling that is the hardest for us to accept. We tend to not allow ourselves to feel joyous because what if it’s taken away from us?
What if we get “too joyous” that we let down our guard? Something terrifying will surely happen. What if we’re actually not worthy of being happy? According to Brené, the best way to lean back into happiness is to practice gratitude.
So next time you get that tingling feeling of excitement or happiness, simply say, “I’m grateful.”
“It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.” David Steindl Rast.
Lewis Howes, in the Mask of Masculinity talks about the proverbial stoic mask that men often wear. He says that this mask creates disease in the heart, mind, and soul such that you become a prisoner to your own feelings.
I see many of my male clients struggle with (often avoid) processing their feelings. This hinders their ability to be more clear and present when negotiating their divorce.
I suspect this even spills over to other areas of their lives. I see many GOOD men avoid relationships and intimacy long after the divorce is over because they don’t trust themselves to be good partners again.
I wanted my clients and all men who relate to this to be able to make sense of their current state, identify root causes of their struggles, and navigate feelings and relationships with ease and confidence.
So I teamed up with Matt, a seasoned therapist, with years of experience in group therapy, and someone who personally experienced divorce. We created Men’s Training Camp, a group program that trains men to curb stress, increase emotional intelligence, and create lasting relationships.
“The heart of man is very much like the sea; it has its storms, it has its tides, and in its depths, it has its pearls too.”
– Vincent Van Gogh, artist
There’s this youtuber that I follow- not one of the cool ones, like Mr. Beast. (if you have kids under 12, you’ll know what I mean). No, my guy’s name is Marcus, and he is young and nerdy looking and has a thick European accent. His channel is about business platforms comparison. Yes, I can be nerdy like that too.
Anyway! Yesterday the message on his video was unusual for him. It said, “How I made $100,000 from Youtube”. I automatically clicked. Marcus had this child-like look on his face, and he said, “Guys, I don’t usually share this stuff, but I promised myself to do more things that scare me. And it’s been working well for me, as the more I do, the more I gain.” And then he went on to explain his strategy with youtube.
It made me think that fear is truly the ultimate future activator, if you focus on it. It’s our message to do something away from comfort and complacency.
What about you? When was the last time you did something that scared you?
I’m personally afraid of high intensity training, so I’m going to sign up next week. Wanna come along?
“Fear is not your enemy. It is a compass pointing you to the areas where you need to grow.” Steve Pavlina
If you have Muslim colleagues, friend, then you know that they are now observing Ramadan. It’s a month in the lunar calendar, wherein millions of Muslims from all over the world fast from an hour before dawn until sunset.
Sounds pretty hard, right? Well I’m Muslim too, and I agree- it’s super hard. A day without coffee, are you kidding me?! But aside from the many health benefits of fasting, one thing it gives me is the ability to be still.
Here’s how Ryan Holiday, author of the book, Stillness is the Key, describes stillness:
“It’s the ability to be steady, focused and calm. It is about knowing yourself. Stillness contributes to responding in the right way – being resolved where needed and accepting what is not in your control as needed.”
Control makes us feel safe, so just accepting what is, is such a challenge. But during Ramadan, stillness comes easy for me. Do you wish you also would have the ability to be still? Another easy read on the subject is The Practicing Mind.
“The first step toward patience is to become aware of when your internal dialogue is running wild and dragging you with it.” Thomas M Sterner
I love Matthew McConaughey. When I listen to him speak, he sounds like someone who sees the world through a humanity lens. If you’ve never heard him talk for more than the 10 minutes he gets on those night shows, I invite you to listen to this podcast episode with Tim Ferris. One of my favorites.
Mathew who has a net worth of 160 Million, says that there are only three important things in life. And every morning, he makes sure to remind himself of what they are:
- he’s okay
- his family is okay
- he has something to look forward to.
That’s it. The third one is very insightful. Think about it. When we feel depressed, we don’t look forward to anything. Life feels dull. For us to enjoy life, we need to be looking forward to something we are excited for.
“Despair is the belief that tomorrow will be just like today.” Rob Bell
Kristen from my team is usually the first person you’ll speak to when you reach out to us. You’ll quickly sense that she’s kind, smart, and a truly empathetic person. She also has the funniest stories around the office! but I digress… Kristen believes so strongly in our work, and encourages people to choose us and avoid the alternative lawyer-lead routes. Every now and then, a potential client declines our service, and that makes Kristen feel disappointed. She says to me, “we lost so and so”. And I usually reply, “no, we gained space. Space for others who are a perfect fit for us. Space for our kind of people.”
When you “lose” a partner, a friend, or even a client, replace the narrative of the loss with an attainment. By them leaving your life (or you choosing to leave for that matter), know that the void is now open and available space for your kind of people. Mindfully invite them and be excited for their emergence.
“Surround yourself with those who reflect your own beauty and brilliance back into your heart.”
A few weeks ago I connected with someone on LinkedIn. She offers a service that I’ve been researching. On the zoom call, I felt that she’s the right person for the job and I really enjoyed getting to know her. I thought she did too. I mean why wouldn’t she? Most people like me when they get to know me. Right?
She had promised she’ll send me a proposal. I didn’t get one. After about two weeks, I messages her and wrote, “Hey, great meeting you. I’m looking forward to getting that proposal!”
I thought maybe something happened to her or her family, but she was posting regularly.
That stung. I felt unliked and rejected. It felt worst coming from someone I actually liked!
During dinner, I told my husband about it, and with complete ease and practicality, he said, “Zeina, follow your own mantra and don’t attach meanings to actions. You don’t know what is going on for her, and even if she didn’t want to work with you, that’s okay. You don’t have to be liked by everyone.”
I thought about it for a moment. So true. Makes total sense. Hard to adopt as a first thought though.
Later on that night, I was reading Dare to Lead by Brené Brown, where she says, “We are all conspiracy theorists with our own stories filling in the data gap with our fear and insecurities.”
“Stop taking things personally. When you understand how many people cope by projecting, you’ll realize that you’re not actually the problem.” Steven Bartlett.