Communicating Happiness: You Can’t Be Sad While Holding An Ice Cream Cone

Three weeks without Instagram has NOT been an easy feat–which left me to get a little creative and loophole my way through sharing a few of my favorite Week Three moments with you. This past week was again super busy, and slightly tiring (not sleeping through the night is very unfortunate with just a couple weeks left of college). However, my weekend was full of happy friends, happy moments, and happy hours.

The weekend began by finishing my senior capstone project followed by a much-needed trip to Purity Ice Cream, so I pretty much set my Friday up for success. After our nutritious ice cream lunch, my friend Deanna and I decided to check off one of our Ithaca bucket list items: the lighthouse. After an interesting adventure through Stewart Park, we have to admit that the lighthouse still remains on our bucket list. Our Fitbits were pretty happy with our adventure though!

Check back to next week’s post, and maybe we’ll have found our way by then.

The day continued with spending lots of time with my friends in one of our final weekends in college. Graduation is crazy close! After spending some time with classmates to “cheers” to the end of our busy semester (and few years), I continued the night by grabbing a drink with my close friends. With the Happiness Challenge in full effect, I know I made Dad proud by ordering a bourbon cocktail (a little fruitier than he’d ever order!).

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Although I was hit with a lot of exhaustion this week, I didn’t let that get me down. Saturday was another full day–savoring every bite of my Farmers Market cider donut, embracing a rather chilly afternoon outdoors, and finishing the night dancing around with my best friends. My favorite part of the weekend was hearing one friend tell me, “you were so happy last night!” That’s something I haven’t heard in a while, and to know I genuinely felt happy without putting on a front–that’s a pretty cool feeling 20 days into my 100 day challenge.

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As you can see, the semester–and my college career–are really winding down. I’m finishing up my final papers and that’s about all I have left for school work. The rest of my time is spent unwinding and enjoying my friends. So far so good with the start of May. Now if only the weather could get the happy memo!

-Rachel

Communicating Happiness: We Were on a Social Media Break

To jumpstart 100 Happy Days and my #CommunicatingHappiness blog series, I decided I would participate in a “social media cleanse” beginning tomorrow, April 13th. This may seem strange that someone who is building a career centered on digital media wants to remove herself from social media. I am choosing to do this, something I have attempted in the past, because I believe part of my 100 Happy Days needs to focus on being in the present. Being in the present is something we hear so often, I know at least I do; however, I can never seem to fully grasp it.

I’m not saying social media is the root of all evil when it comes to happiness, but I am saying that I often find myself in an endless scroll on so many platforms–opening and re-opening apps–yet never really feeling any sense of joy after finally closing out of them.

I stand corrected on that comment actually, because my friends do know how to crack me up with a good, relatable meme.

The point though, is that as much as I love sharing images and life moments on platforms like Instagram, I still find myself feeling more negative than positive feelings as I lock my phone. And this is coming from someone who is an honest advocate in not sharing photos just “for likes,” but rather for the love of the photo or the moment. Even with this mentality on sharing posts on my own profile, it’s still as if this system with a sole purpose of “connecting,” disconnects me from my own life.

I’m attempting just 21 days (not 100) of closing my apps because let’s be real, social media is still a huge part of my life and the industry I am beginning a career in. I do hope that taking a break will allow me to refresh and connect more with myself and support system, rather than trying to connect with the lives of strangers on digital media.

I just want to reiterate that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with social media, although I do believe there are plenty of misuses and abuses to the digital world. I think this break will be a nice chance to focus on the backbone of communication. Communication is not only done through digital forms, even though this has become the new norm. The foundation of communication is the same as it’s always been, no matter what new tech apps launch next. It is sharing stories, speaking with people, listening and being fully engaged, writing, and emphasizing physical, authentic relationships.

I must place a disclaimer on this “cleanse” because I will continue using Facebook as the sharing platform for my blog and keeping up with events on my campus, and obviously I’ll be on LinkedIn as well for professional reasons. Additionally, I’m going to be taking the same pictures I always do over the course of the next month, so be prepared for plenty of #latergrams coming your way on May 13th.

And if you try to contact me via social in the next month please remember:

-Rachel

Communicating Happiness: 100 Happy Days

Tomorrow marks my 22nd birthday, a little horrifying to say this because 22 is that mark of reality–the year college ends and life as an “adult” begins. As much as I say I’m ready to start my post-grad life, this doesn’t mean I’m not a little weary of graduation, especially after this past year. It’s been hard to be happy and optimistic during my time in college just due to circumstances out of my control; however, I do want to be happy and optimistic. And I want to be happy and optimistic before the stresses of the “real world” begin to unfold. This is because I want to be prepared for whatever comes my way, strong enough to face whatever is next, and not obsess over how I have handled adversity in the past.

With this being said, tomorrow begins my “100 Happy Days.” You may have seen people do this on social media over the past couple years; however, my 100 Happy Days is a reaction to a birthday gift I received from one of my best friends. Called a “Happiness Planner,” this gift is a tool designed to help its owner (me) “reshape the way I think and to shift my focus to the positive.”

It’s funny how this idea of “happiness” has been popping up in so many facets of my life. In one of my communications courses, I contributed to a presentation on the book The Happiness Advantage, which shares principles that can guide a person to create happiness. The Happiness Planner that I was gifted just this week, is the perfect complementary tool for practicing the principles I just studied in my class. It’s as if now is the time I’m meant to reevaluate how I react to this life, and regain control of the single thing I do have control over: my attitude.

Returning to the concept of my own 100 Happy Days, I plan to document my next 100 days in my planner and also within this blog through what I’m calling “Communicating Happiness.” Don’t worry though, it’s a weekly blog series not daily! I’m going to take readers on the journey with me as I make my way through the next few months. A lot is about to happen in 100 days–birthdays, senior events, graduation, wedding fun (Maid of Honor duties!), a trip to Disney, moving in with my grandma for the summer, calling NYC my work home for a couple months, starting a career in PR and communications, and of course spending as much time as possible with my family.

I didn’t realize how much actually happens in 100 days until I looked at my calendar and wrote that list out. I know there are going to be plenty more bumps in the road, and plenty in those next 100 days; however, my focus in this blog series isn’t going to be on the bumps. Rather, it’s going to be how I can grow from any falls I may have and plan for the happiness that’s coming next.

Here’s to Day One of #CommunicatingHappiness.

-Rachel

 

“Do Not, Whatever You Do, Let It Take Away Your Sunshine”

It’s funny what social media can do for you. Thanks to new applications like TimeHop, we can be transported back in time to see and read exactly what we shared with the world in years past.

It’s amazing. You can be brought back to an exact day and relive the same emotions. All from one status update.

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Although I have reminders everyday, TimeHop showed me again today how 2013 was by far the worst year of my life. I say this because I can only pray that I, nor anyone else, ever go through a year like this again. It was the year I graduated from high school with my best friends and the time when I concluded what I now know was a near-perfect childhood in my small town. Following graduation, I had the chance to move to one of the most beautiful cities in the country—Boston.

In between those big milestones though, my life was changed. And not just the “growing up” and “moving out” kind of change, but in the way that could make a positive person who was ready to go out into the big world into a slightly more cynical person. A girl who then had to work hard to believe she was perfectly happy moving to a different state during an extremely difficult time, but just couldn’t make it work any longer.

This reminds me of the first post I ever wrote for my blog. It was the piece sharing my news of my decision to transfer to Ithaca College. I shared how I truly believed (and still believe) that transferring was not due to “failing” at BU, but due to the fact that I had to make a choice for myself. One that was far from easy, but necessary for my personal health and happiness.

The point of this side tangent is that I could go through life focusing on the struggles, but there isn’t one person in this world who is not hurting—who is not dealing with some sort of hardship. There is no comparison between peoples’ hurt. You cannot compare your struggles to a person next to you because you have NO IDEA what that person may be going through.

And that’s when perspective becomes everything in this life. We have the choice to change our lives. It’s not going to be easy, and yes it may be easier for different people. However, life can make you so harsh, so bitter. It’s up to YOU to decide if you want to stay bitter forever.

Everyone I know who has dealt with hardships understands how there are good and bad days. Depending on the circumstances, there may only be a few good days, but just attempting to make those good days outnumber the bad days is the first step in turning your perspective on life right around.

My first step was deciding to transfer schools. It hasn’t been easy in any way; however, I am learning to transform any negative aspect of this experience into a positive. Adjusting is difficult. Adjusting to any change is difficult. But this change is that first step—the first step in making the good days outweigh the bad.

Returning to the actual point of this rambling post–life is damn difficult. It throws us curveballs every single day. And sometimes these hardships cannot be reversed, we cannot take the pain away, but we can make sure we continue living our lives in the most positive way that is possible.

I want people to know I am speaking from my own experiences and circumstances. I am not ignorant to the heartbreaking pain I witness other people, including my own loved ones go through every single day. I can sit here and preach about how we can’t be cynical and we have to keep living. However, I do understand how it is not a quick fix, and cannot be the case for every person. You can’t just snap yourself into forgetting about pain, but you can take a small first step.

With this understanding, I still do believe there is always beauty in this world (as cliché as this sounds). Even if it’s beautiful memories that we live for, this is still beauty. And I do believe that in our daily lives we cannot let the small things get to us and cannot continue to carry the weight of pain with us at every single moment.

Just look for the good. Know that tomorrow is going to be a better day, but without wishing today away. I am far too guilty of wishing my life away–for always looking ahead for the weekend, for the next vacation or holiday, and creating expectations for myself without even appreciating the present. Not living in the present is something that does limit our happiness.

With this long post you’re probably wondering where this is coming from and what I am actually going to do now? Or at least attempt to do…

I’m not going to be bitter, no matter what I am dealt in this life. I’m going to try and share a little positivity to every person I come into contact with no matter how hard life may feel that day. I’m going to put a smile on my face when I walk out the door each morning and I’m NOT going to let anything take away my own sunshine.

-Rachel