How To Not Be a Snowflake In a Snowflake Generation

snowflake

We are all special. And……we are all EQUALLY special – none more, none less.

I think most of us can agree on that. What we do not agree on, however, is just how we should be treated as individuals. Thus, the term “snowflake” was coined to mean a person who has a heightened view of their own importance.

According to Dictionary.com, the word “snowflake” has existed as a derogatory term for some time but changed in meaning and became more mainstream after its use in Fight Club when one character states: “You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake.”

Dictionary.com goes further to state: “Fight Club, nevertheless, did help to spread snowflake as a contemporary insult online in the 2000s to tease sheltered, helicopter-parented, everyone-gets-a-trophy young adults. The core metaphor is that such people are delicate like snowflakes, easily hurt by the hard realities of life, and think of themselves as special without realizing they are entitled and privileged— because every snowflake is different, as they say.”

That sounds like a VERY self-centered person, wouldn’t you say? But the problem with people who are snowflakes is (bet you guessed it) they don’t know they are snowflakes. They see traits such as selfishness, being easily offended, and living in a bubble in other people, but usually don’t see these in themselves.

Here is a little advice I gave myself to help maneuver through life in this hyper critical world and make sure I don’t become one of these self-indulged people. (It will also help to NOT become the butt of someone’s else’s joke.)

  1. Not everyone will like me.
  2. No one owes me anything.
  3. People are allowed to have opinions I don’t agree with.
  4. I am a wonderful person, but so is everyone else.
  5. No one is perfect, not even me.

While I’m at it, let’s discuss this: Everyone deserves their victories and celebrations in life, there’s no doubt about that.

However, some people (including me) think we have now gone too far. For example, when I was growing up most people had a bridal shower when they got married. Sometimes there was also an engagement party. Two parties to attend. No biggie for the friends and family. (Well, three actually. The wedding ceremony itself is a huge party as well.) So three commitments.

Fast forward to today. There is an engagement party, a bridal shower or tea (sometimes multiple ones), a lingerie party, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and the wedding. To make things worse, weddings are often destination affairs with the happy couple often becoming irate if loved ones cannot afford or choose not to attend the big bash.

Newsflash: Not everyone can, or wants to, spend $10,000 to fly half way around the world and stay in an expensive villa for a week just to watch your 10 minute wedding ceremony. THEY shouldn’t be paying off a credit card for a year because YOU got married.

And they shouldn’t have to. They don’t owe you anything.

The viral stories circulating online about bridezillas throwing temper tantrums because someone “insulted” them for the slightest little thing have become legendary. These reflect badly on the person as an individual and our society in general. We have now crossed the line from “come celebrate with me” to “come pay tribute to me”.

Here are some other things that have become excessive:

  • Throwing separate baby showers/teas and gender reveal parties. Most people don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they keep quiet. After all, it’s your child we are talking about.

 

  • Handing out school awards for EVERYTHING in EVERY GRADE. This makes awards so monotonous that when someone earns a real award it no longer feels special. In fact, I’m sure some of those categories are made up just so everyone can get an award. (Who really earns an award for best pencil sharpener in Ms. Smith’s 2nd grade class?)

 

  • Having graduation ceremonies for pre-school, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Again, it no longer feels special because you graduate and get gifts all the time, so nothing feels like much of a milestone.

 

  • Giving trophies to every child who plays a sport or participates in an activity. This sets kids up to feel like a failure when they do not get rewarded for every little thing they do as an adult. Also, taking away the competitive spirit will make many kids do less than their best. Why bother, everyone gets the same trophy, right?

Over the past few years I have pondered these points and I have learned two things that have truly impacted my life:

1. I need to earn my way through life in order to feel good about myself. Maybe that is not always fair, but it’s real. Fake accomplishments don’t give me any character or sense of self. I need to look inside myself and stop asking others to make me feel special. (Also see: Yes, You Can Be Taught How To Be Happy.)

2. Also, my whole life doesn’t need to be displayed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. It’s nice to keep some things for myself and my closest loved ones. Having some privacy feels good when I embrace it.

These new insights have given me freedom, rather than holding me back. Imagine that!

If I have stepped on anyone’s toes or hurt their feelings, I’m not sorry. That means you need to stop being a snowflake.

Now toughen up, and have a nice day!

Angela Christian PopeAngela Christian Pope is a teacher, author and creator of Happiosity.org. Check out more on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

Yes, You Can Be Taught How To Be Happy

you can be taught how to be happy

We all know there are several things we can do to help us be happier in life such as think positively and smile as often as possible. However, evidence now shows you can literally be TAUGHT how to be happy.

For the Spring semester at Yale University, a professor named Laurie Santos taught a class called Psychology and the Good Life for the first time. She felt that students on campus needed a way to deal with everyday stress that comes with being a student and also just living life in general.  Little did she know this class would end up being the most popular class ever offered at Yale.

I came across this class while reading an article about happiness (my favorite topic) and saw that a version of it was available for free (yes, free) on Coursera, so I decided to take it myself. I have not yet completed it, but I can already see that it contains valuable information that will make my life better. Hence, I am sharing it with you. (For more about how to be happy, see How To Write Precise Affirmations For Success.)

So far this class has really appealed to the learner in me as I have a background in both Psychology and Education. The science behind it cannot be disputed and the behavior changes needed to make the change are free – just like the class. There is literally nothing to lose by trying it.

In fact, it would be irresponsible of us to pass up a free resource that will enhance our lives, so please join me in the new journey of (even more) happiness!

Click here to access Psychology and the Good Life for free.

Note: When you finish each module, it will pop up a screen asking if you want to purchase the paid version of the class. Simply, swipe to the right to return to the next module. (Or you can purchase the class if you choose to do so.)

The Paradox of Choice – Why More Can Be Too Much (Too Many Choices)

The Paradox of Choice

Have you ever decided to buy an item on Amazon but then became frozen by the total number of choices out there – and left the site without buying anything?

Me too. In fact, I have done this countless times. Who can pick from 150 different white curtains? Or 300 different red toothbrushes?

Life is full of choices – good and bad, big and small.

Scientists say we literally make thousands of decisions every day, even though many of them are unconscious. I know that if I had to consciously think through each and every one of those decisions, I would be exhausted all the time.

I am happy my brain automatically makes lots of decisions for me. It saves brain energy and keeps me from being overwhelmed every minute of every day.

And while having choices in life is a good thing, I would make the argument that too many choices can be a bad thing – just as having NO choices can also be bad.

You see, the key to almost everything is life is moderation. See The Key To (Almost) Everything in Life: Practicing Moderation here. But moderation is no longer celebrated in American culture.

Things were not always this way. In the book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz makes the point that my grandparents’ generation was not faced with quite the barrage of choices that I face. For example, if their washing machine stopped working and they needed a new one, they simply went down to their local store and picked from the two or three models available. Then they took it home and didn’t give that choice another thought.

It is common today for shoppers to do hours, days, even weeks of research before purchasing a new appliance (me included). And even that does not guarantee that buyer’s remorse will not follow the purchase. The fear of missing out, or FOBO, is often joked about, but is also a real thing.

What if I had bought the model that was self-cleaning? And what if the third review was right and this model has plastic gears that will wear out?

Regret is a powerful thing, and in this world of perpetual data and reviews, I might never figure out which model is truly the best. That sets me up for the uncertainty that leads to the regret.

However, I recently bought the audio version of The Paradox of Choice and listened to it all the way through in my car while traveling. Then I started at the beginning and listened to the whole thing again.

After this, I came to understand many of the reasons why I was so stressed and impatient. My brain was simply working too hard to sort out the choices in my life.

We are all fairly smart when it comes to self care these days. Like everyone else, I read and research the latest information on how to be aware and happy. I know to cut off the electronics.  I only engage social media in the pursuit of passing on useful information. I get quiet time and meditation into my schedule almost daily.

I but I never knew I needed to put a wall between myself and so many decisions.

Before you ask, yes, this can be done.

First, just being aware that so many choices are out there (and stressing me) helps me get a handle on the situation.

Second, I put as many things on autopilot as possible. For example, I have created a rotating dinner menu. I simply repeat the same recipes in the same order, and occasionally add in a new one for variety.  Also, like many others out there, I have created a sort of “uniform” for work by purchasing multiples of the same shirt and pants and wearing the same outfit every day. I have a warm weather outfit and a cool weather outfit. (Sometimes I shake that up a bit, but I can always revert to the uniform on days I prefer to be on autopilot.)

Third, I limit the amount of time I search for an item I want to buy. At the end of that time, I make a decision based on the information I have at that point. This is completely liberating! I recommend this method to everyone!

Fourth, I made a commitment not to expend energy on making unimportant decisions. Does it really matter what flavor of ice cream I buy?

Fifth, I dedicate a few minutes each day to meditation. I started slow with two or three minutes per day and worked up to 10. My goal is 30 minutes per day. Some people manage to incorporate even more.

Life is much simpler than most people make it. This was a great place to start for me. Maybe it will be for you too.

Angela Christian PopeAngela Christian Pope is a teacher, author and creator of Happiosity.org. Check out more on Twitter and Facebook.

The Key To (Almost) All Things in Life: Practicing Moderation

Practicing ModerationModeration is a word that get a bad rap these days. Overindulgence is heavily flaunted in the media and also on social media sites. It looks like so much fun to go all out on everything in life that extreme behaviors have become the new normal. In fact, almost no one even thinks they are abnormal anymore.

But doesn’t it get tiring trying to carry EVERYTHING to the extreme?!?

There is another way.

The word “moderation” might not sound exciting or glamorous, but I have found it carries me a long way in life.  Engaging in some behavior, but not TOO much – works in many areas of my life: eating, sleeping, exercising, etc.

It also works with possessions. I need SOME stuff, but TOO MUCH stuff becomes overwhelming. (Hoarders is a show that both fascinates and scares me.)

But it’s not just possessions. I have found the principle of moderation to work in (almost) every facet of life. Spending versus saving money, following your passion versus earning a high income, and hours working versus hours relaxing –  more great examples. I must practice moderation in each of these categories lest I become too extreme in one area or the other.

I’m sure everyone reading this can come up with multiple more examples. The point is this: it is so easy to go along with everyone else around me. For example, I used to work too much because everyone else was doing it, and also because I felt it was expected of me.

Or maybe I spent too much money or overextended my credit because I wanted my children to have the same vacation or Christmas gifts as all their friends.

Then I decided to stop and take a breath.

I have more control over my life than I used to realize. When I decided to live intentionally I began to exercise my right be who I really wanted to be. I don’t really have to live my life in extreme debt, extreme stress, or extreme tiredness.

Here are some specific things that have simplified my life both recently and in the past:

My Christmas decorations don’t have to be bigger and better than everyone else on my block. Remember, moderation. I put up the decorations that make me happy instead. Then stop.

I don’t have to coordinate every office party at work. I decided to do one each year and delegate the rest with a sign up sheet. Because, yes, it is even possible to do too much for others. See The Benefits of Serving Others.

And this was probably my biggest problem. I hosted these huge sleepovers for my kids. I’m talking about 10 to 20 kids at a time. The kids all had a blast and I don’t regret the time and energy that went into those endeavors, but I now prefer to invite one or two friends at a time so the kids develop closer bonds with each friend (and also so my husband and I keep our sanity). I wanted my children to have as many friends as possible, but I overdid it just a bit.

I have found there are literally hundreds of ways I can make my life better with moderation.  Along with the principle of moderation comes the ability to say “no”. Sometimes that means saying it to myself. Sometimes it means saying it to others.

But I’m learning.

So here is my advice to everyone out there: Decide to mindfully practice moderation in all (or most) aspects of your life and it will simplify your decisions – both big and small.

You won’t be disappointed with the results.

Angela Christian PopeAngela Christian Pope is a teacher, author and creator of Happiosity.org. Check out more on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

The Benefits of Serving Others

The Benefits of Serving Others

As recent as a few decades ago, people put a lot of value on helping and serving others. You saw it woven throughout the fabric of our society. People helped their neighbors, their friends and their family anytime there was a need. It was a reciprocal relationship. When it was your turn, then someone helped you.

Fast forward to today…….

We live in a world that can sometimes feel very individualistic and self-centered. Many reality stars, particularly, have gained fame and fortune by appearing selfish and putting themselves before those around them. We also see this theme with many entertainers, sports stars, and even politicians. 

These people often appear to be the “winners” in life, right? They make headlines with their antics and things they say, while they rake in huge paychecks and live luxurious lives. Everything about being selfish appears to pay off, so they keep on doing it. And some of us support it by watching their shows, following them on social media, and eventually emulating them. That is how it leaks into everyday society.

But what ever happened to being a good person with solid morals? Do people even remember what those are anymore?

Society didn’t become this way overnight. It has been a slow progression. Years ago, it was common to herald virtues such as selflessness and helping others, but as the number of consumer goods continued to rise, so did the amount of greed. A couple decades ago, one of the popular bumper stickers read “Whoever dies with the most toys wins”. I haven’t seen that sticker in a long time, but that thought still prevails with most of society. 

I don’t think most people who live this way are even conscious of it. This way of life has become so ingrained in us that we only see it as doing what we are supposed to, which shows just how distorted things have become.

There are scores of articles detailing how social media has made people envious of the supposed “perfect” lives of their friends, family and neighbors. And, I understand, it is easy to assume that someone else’s life is perfect and that yours is inferior by comparison. So we turn our lives into a competition, whether consciously or unconsciously, so we can be the people at the top – the ones who have bragging rights on having the most shiny, sparkly life. 

There is one big problem with that. It’s very difficult to serve others while we are in competition with them. (Also see The Power of Gratitude In Your Life.)

And by not serving others we are actually denying ourselves some of the best blessings in life. Nothing on this planet makes you feel better than helping someone else. Nothing. It warms the heart of both the giver and the receiver, and the benefits of that help sometimes reach further than just those two people. 

The benefits of helping others are many:

  1. You lift up the person you help & make them feel loved.
  2. You give yourself a boost because doing good in the world feels good.
  3. You set an example for everyone else by promoting helping others.
  4. You encourage those you help to pay it forward.
  5. The fabric of our whole society improves.

Whether it’s picking up a dropped book or roofing someone’s house, every little gesture of kindness makes this world a better place. 

I had an opportunity to help someone last week that truly blessed me. I was in a parking lot and saw an elderly man shuffling slowly in the rain with his cane. He was getting drenched and so I fell in beside him with my umbrella as I walked him in the direction of his vehicle. After just a few steps, another vehicle backed up and ran into us. No one was seriously hurt, partly because I took the brunt of the car that hit us. But what would have happened to the elderly man if I had not been between him and that car? I believe whole-heartedly that I was meant to be there to shield him, and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to be of service to him. It made me feel good to be of use in such a wonderful way, and I hope that someone would do the same for my elderly father in the same situation. 

Being of service to others is a way of giving back to them and also yourself. Plus you make this world – let me say it again – a better place. 

Here is the best way to get into the spirit of serving others:

  1. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

It is easier to feel compassionate toward others if you don’t see them as your competition. Stop comparing your situation to theirs. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. No two lives are the same and it doesn’t matter if their life looks better than yours. The grass always looks greener on the other side, but it almost never is. 

  1. Be Thankful For Your Life

You can’t be envious of the lives of others if you are busy being grateful for your own life. And by this, I mean deep down grateful. Start each day saying or writing down all the things you are thankful for in your life. Even the smallest things are worthy of noting. Eventually, this exercise will reshape how you feel about the world  and your whole existence. 

  1. Wish the Best For Others

Now that you realize just how awesome your life is, be sure to wish the same for others. Always speak positive words and think positive thoughts toward everyone you encounter. What goes around, comes around. And that includes positivity and goodwill towards others. 

  1. Serve Others In Any Way You Can

Now that you have got your heart in the right place towards both yourself and others, you are free to joyfully serve others in ways you never thought possible. Tell others about what you are doing so they can get involved and receive those blessings too. 

  1. Don’t Limit Your Kindness To People You Don’t Know

Many people give to charities to help those in other countries or victims of natural disasters, but often overlook those close to them. It can sometimes be easier to give to a nameless face than to serve a person right in front of you. Remember that charity begins at home and we should help even if it feels uncomfortable at first, and always without judgement.

Kindness can be contagious! Pass it on!

Angela Christian PopeAngela Christian Pope is a teacher, author and creator of Happiosity.org. Check out more on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

  

 

How To Write Precise Affirmations For Success

how to write precise affirmations for success

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By now most people have been exposed to the Law of Attraction and have some idea of how that works.  However, there is a key to writing precise affirmations that will catapult your success.

Gratitude is a definite part of a successful life (see The Power of Gratitude In Your Life) along with visualization, goal setting, meditation, forgiveness, etc. However, what I want to talk about here is a specific and significant way that you write your affirmations. 

Why are affirmations important?

Our subconscious mind holds our deepest beliefs about ourselves and others, and also holds concepts that are deeply ingrained in us. Sometimes this can restrain us from achieving our goals.  Affirmations are our way of retraining our minds to eliminate bad beliefs and replace those with good ones.

If we believe we won’t succeed, then we won’t. It’s as simple as that. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” And he knew a little something about success. Attitudes and beliefs are literally the biggest influences on success.

To retrain your subconscious beliefs you want to write down statements that are positive and read those to yourself several times each day. For example, if you have social anxiety you might write “I am completely relaxed and comfortable in any social setting.” If you tell yourself that enough you will begin to believe it because your subconscious has no opinion on anything and will believe anything you tell it with enough repetition. 

But here is the caveat to that. Anyone can look at their life and write down a nice list of affirmations that will benefit their life and well-being. I did that myself several years ago. But after a long time of doing this I realized that I was not changing some core beliefs in my life. That’s when I came up with this exercise.

  1. Decide where you want more success.
  2. Determine what beliefs are keeping you from that success.
  3. Dig deep and find where those beliefs came from (an event or person).
  4. Write a specific affirmation for each.
  5. Read those affirmations several times each day.

For example, I determined that I was not reaching some of my career goals. Then I dug deep and realized I didn’t believe I could reach higher goals because of a past experience early in my career. You see, when I graduated from college years before, I was unable to get a job that I wanted where I lived. Moving somewhere else was not an option, and those jobs simply didn’t exist around me. Because of that, I took a string of jobs that I didn’t want and felt like a failure. That set the stage for me to believe that I would never truly succeed in my career. 

After I figured all of this out, it was easy to write the following affirmation: “I can get any job I want making any amount of money I want.”

Over time, this affirmation convinced my subconscious mind that it was true. It was that easy. However, it took time and dedication. This is not something that you can do once. Nor can you do it once per week. It must be done every day, several times per day until you see real results. But it is easy, free, and works every time if done correctly and consistently. 

I actually took this a step further. I downloaded a program called Mind of Winner. It allows you to choose from a list of subliminal messages or create your own, then flashes these words or phrases onto your computer screen a fraction of a second. This works in the background while you are doing other things on your computer.

You can also make a recording of your own voice reciting your affirmations or pay companies to make customized recordings for you.

The best practice is to deliver these messages to your brain as many times per day as possible, in as many ways as possible.

Happiness to all! (more…)