Category: Uncategorized

The Happiness Myth

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Yesterday I was reading through one of my favorite books, “Buddhism:  Plain and Simple” and came across some notes I’d written in the margins on a particular chapter relating to the search for Happiness.  For context, let me begin by saying that I began reading this book some time last year in part of a search for peace.  I had become so consumed with the day to day hustle and bustle of life, constantly grinding and working toward tomorrow that I found myself unable to enjoy my present.  As a result, I’d become terribly discontent with life as I knew it.  To be clear, I wasn’t sad or depressed or angry… I just wasn’t as happy as I’d have liked to be and it bothered me.  I was wandering through one of my favorite bookstores in Columbus and found this book in the spirituality/meditation session.  One of my friends had suggested that I take up meditation as a way to alleviate some stress, and so I’d decided to explore this idea.  I came across Plain and Simple and, though I was not Buddhist, liked the premise enough to begin exploring.

Spoiler Alert:  It was easily one of the best books I’d ever picked up.

What resonated with me so much about this book was that, instead of teaching me about a religion, it taught me about life and a new way of looking at things.  There were very few chapters dedicated to the religion itself, and even those that were did not spend much time talking about the concrete portions of the practice.  Instead, the book spoke volumes about being present and being mindful in each moment of every day.  There were many valuable lessons that I took away from reading this book, but the most profound was the one regarding the balance of happiness in our lives.  Below are my notes from reading this portion of the book:

“Discussion with Matthew on Happiness vs. Sadness –

It is arrogant to think of happiness as a choice, and naïve to think of sadness as inescapable.  Our lives are in a constant state of flux and n either of those things are permanent. 

Malcontent arises because we are foolish enough to think that we can control how much happiness or sadness we have.  Life/the Universe has a way of balancing us so that neither option every really outweighs the other. 

The difference is in the focus.  “Happy” people are those that pay more attention to the good, and “Sad” people are those who give more credence to the bad – but neither has more moments than the other. 

It’s all a matter of perception.”

I remember being so proud of myself for having this epiphany – for finally understanding what seemed so simple once I gained the clarity to look at it.  The author of Plain and Simple says that life isn’t about telling ourselves stories (referring to other religions), but about investigating actual experiences.  And when I took the time to investigate my own actual lived experiences, I began to understand the balance between happiness and sadness, and realized that I only experienced true discontent when I was too stubborn to allow myself to feel things without needing to control it all.

I want to encourage you today, to stay in the moment.  Whether you’re feeling dramatically happy or sad emotions, or you’re somewhere in between, just allow yourself to feel them and try not to put too much stock or weight on what you’re feeling in that moment.

Understand that you will feel overwhelming happiness.  Understand that you will feel overwhelming despair.  And understand that both will eventually pass as your spirit returns to its equal balance – just like the rest of nature.

Love and light,

Kioshana

Seven Ways to Love Yourself More this Week

Happy Tuesday, Lovelies!

This is a post that I wrote quite a while ago, but felt like we could all use as we navigate through this week.  Enjoy!

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A good friend of mine asked a group of women recently, “What do you really think when you look at yourself in the mirror?”  As I watched woman after woman answer the question, I began to notice a pattern.  More and more, I saw that the women in the thread stated that they often recognized the beauty in their reflection, but quickly digressed into pointing out whatever flaws they saw as well.  I wondered, as I listened to sister after sister repeat this same pattern, what would happen if we instead focused on ways to love ourselves more throughout the week.  Loving and appreciating yourself is a huge factor in creating a sustainable self-care routine.  However, many of us have a hard time figuring out where to start.  Here are seven things that you can do to encourage self-love this week!

  1. – Refuse to weigh yourself

We all know that weight is just a number.  In and of itself, our weight has no power.  However, sometimes it is difficult to remember that, especially if we step on the scales and see a number that is slightly larger than we would like for it to be.  Instead of focusing on that little inconsequential number this week, make a promise to yourself that you will stay away from the scale and instead focus on all of the wonderful things that you love about yourself.

  1. Pay yourself an awesome compliment

Too often we go through the day doing the work of superheroes, and never give ourselves credit because we see it as just something that we do.  Take some time this week to recognize how amazing you are as a person. Whether it’s congratulating yourself on doing well on a class or work assignment, or simply acknowledging the effort you put forth into everyday life – give yourself the congratulations you deserve.  You are worth it, sis.

  1. Be grateful

When you wake up each morning this week, before you do anything else to start your day, take five minutes and acknowledge aloud some of the things in your life that you are happy to have.  This can be any number of things, including your family, your friends, your job, your killer body, a great relationship… the possibilities are only limited to what is inside your mind.  When you focus on the things that you love about your life, it becomes increasingly easy to love yourself and your place in it.  So go ahead, tell me – what are you grateful for today?

  1. – Get moving!

Nothing lifts a mood better than the positive endorphins generated from a good workout!  No, you don’t have to spend the week impersonating a gym rat (unless that’s your thing!), but spending a few extra minutes to go for a brisk walk around your neighborhood or taking a quick break to dance to your favorite song on the radio can do wonders for your mood.  Those awesome feelings will continue to flow through you long after you’ve stopped moving and will help light up the rest of your day.

  1. – Re-evaluate your priorities

As women, we tend to put ourselves last on our list of priorities.  Often we become wrapped up in things we don’t really want any part in because we feel guilty for saying “no”.  Take a few moments this week and evaluate where you are spending the most time, and what activities make you feel the most amount of burnout.  Once you’ve done this, begin cutting away some of the clutter.  I know that sometimes it feels cruel to do this, but the truth is that everything cannot be a priority to you.  Take some time to determine which things really matter and pour your energy into them.  Don’t forget to put yourself on the list!

  1. – Write a love-letter to yourself

This is one of my favorite self-love exercises, because I find it to be personally so effective.  On a day when you’re feeling really good about yourself and your life, write a letter to yourself acknowledging that.  Tell yourself how beautiful and worthwhile you are and remind yourself how much you appreciate your life, at whatever stage of the process you find yourself in this moment.  Then, fold that letter up and keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again on days when you need a little reminder about how wonderful a person you really are.

  1. – Re-evaluate the messages you consume daily

This one is a personal challenge for me, and one that I find myself working on daily.  There are so many negative messages that we are inundated with on a daily basis, and it is difficult not to internalize them all.  Even if we don’t realize that we are consuming these messages, they show up in other areas of our lives through the words that we speak, the music we listen to, the television shows we watch, etc.  Do a quick inventory of the messages you consume on a daily basis this week and determine whether those messages are providing you with spiritual nourishment or if they are sucking the life out of you.  If it’s the former, excellent – but if it’s the latter, maybe you should think about choosing some different messages that will help speak life into your world.

I hope that these suggestions have helped you.  For more great tips on incorporating self-care into your everyday life, please subscribe on the welcome page.  Thank you for reading – see you soon!

-Kioshana

Love vs. Value

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Several weeks ago, I posted this status to my personal Facebook page after an especially trying experience with someone who is very important in my life.  Over the last few weeks, this one sentiment has been the topic of many conversations that I’ve had with those around me, as the truth in it resonated with many.

So, what does it mean?

My parents divorced when I was 13 years old, after 15 years together.  There were several things that “caused” their split (none of which I’ll detail here), but at the base of it, it was obvious to everyone around them that they loved each other.  This fact made their breakup especially painful for me, and kept me wishing and hoping until I was well into adulthood that my parents would get it together and get back together one day.

Spoiler alert:  they didn’t.

I’ve often heard people say, “Someone desiring you is not the same as someone valuing you,” and for a long time, I didn’t understand what this meant.  I have always been a hopeless romantic, and dreamed about the kind of love that I’ve read about in the many books I’ve lost myself in growing up.  For me, it was all very simple – if you love someone, then you’re with them and that’s all there is to it.  My parents loved each other long after their divorce, so why couldn’t they make things work?

It wasn’t until I was an adult and navigating my way through my own relationships that I understood that sometimes love really isn’t enough to sustain a relationship – romantic or otherwise.  Humans are complex creatures and we all have different needs.  However, one of the things that we all require in order to have a successful relationship with someone is to be shown the respect that comes with knowing that person values you.

And, unfortunately, these things are not necessarily mutually inclusive.

I’ve been party to relationships (both romantic and platonic) in which I always felt a certain level of dissatisfaction with the way that I was treated.  At times, the other person in the relationship would gaslight me into believing that I “was being difficult” or “wanted too much”, and that they “loved me” so why wasn’t that enough?

The answer is simple – love is easy.  Love doesn’t require much effort because it happens naturally.  That doesn’t negate the importance of love in a relationship dynamic; it just means that there’s more to it than that.  The thing about successful relationships is that they are built on more than “just” love.

A sustainable connection to someone requires time and effort and a commitment to understanding him/her/them.  And when someone demonstrates to you that they aren’t interested in putting in the work to establish and maintain that type of connection, they’ve shown you that they don’t value your place in their life.

My parents were like that – they loved each other dearly.  However, it got to a point where my mother no longer felt that she was valued in the relationship, even beginning to question her value to herself.  Instead of allowing those feelings to take root long term, though, she decided to make a change for herself and leave the toxic situation.  She (and her children) were better for it in the long run, although it was very painful at the time.

I’ve learned from my mother, and from watching other people’s relationships and interactions over my lifetime, that we truly do teach people how to treat us by what we choose to accept, and people show us how important they are by the things that they say and do to us.  The person who prompted the status that you see above did so by demonstrating to me that he did not find value in me – and I responded by moving away from the person and situation. While he may not find enough value in me to treat me the way I desire and deserve to be treated, I do see that value in myself.  And because of that, I am unwilling to settle for anything less than my standard of acceptable treatment.

Ultimately, that is the most important thing – when we recognize the value of what we bring to a relationship, we understand how detrimental it is to accept someone who reduces our value in order to fit into what’s comfortable for them.  Real love doesn’t look like that – real respect doesn’t do that.

And if it isn’t the real thing, then what’s the point?

 

Love and light – Kioshana

On Forgiveness- Part Two of Two:

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Last week, we worked on forgiving ourselves – today, I encourage you to make it a point to forgive someone else.  So many times in life we hold onto hurt that is unnecessary and harms us in ways we’ve never imagined.  We find ourselves reaching back and reliving pain over and over again – giving ourselves fresh cuts in wounds that we should have let heal long ago.

 

Why are we still doing this to ourselves?

 

Today, I want you to think about someone who has hurt you deeply.  Allow yourself to feel the pain that that person caused you one last time, and then use it.  Write them a letter outlining all of the ways that they’ve hurt you, every single thing – pour your heart out and leave it all on the page.

 

Then, seal it up and get rid of it.

 

If you want to send the letter, fine. If you want to rip it up or burn it, that’s fine too.

 

But whatever you do – Let it go.

 

And as you divest yourself of that physical representation of hurt, let go of the mental/emotional ties you have to it as well.  We have to get to the place where we understand that reliving painful situations over and over again in our minds harms no one but ourselves.  While you’re carrying the mantle of this pain every day, that person is likely living in a space where he or she has let it go and moved on.  Even worse – it may have never occurred to them that they hurt you in the first place.

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Stop waiting on an apology that may never come. Maybe they’re afraid to – maybe they don’t think you’d offer them grace and forgiveness.  Maybe they just don’t care.  It doesn’t matter if they’ve never apologized – doesn’t even matter if they aren’t sorry. Forgive them anyway.

 

You aren’t doing it for them – you’re doing it for yourself.

 

And as you let go, let yourself enjoy the feeling of that terrible weight being lifted from your shoulders.  Relish in the lightness that accompanies laying burdens down and walking in your own truth. Free yourself, sis – you deserve this.

 

Wishing you all the love and light in the world –

Kioshana

On Forgiveness – Part One of Two:

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A few months ago, I had a falling out with a good friend. I was going through some things personally, and as a result l, I wasn’t a very good friend to her in a moment where she needed me.  I didn’t realize that my carelessness and self-absorption had hurt her until the damage had already been done, but by the time I figured it out – it was too late.  She’d ended our friendship, and I was left holding the pieces, confused and hurt over what had transpired.

My friend and I didn’t speak for quite a while, because she was unwilling to forgive me no matter how much I apologized.  We remained cordial to one another (for the most part) as we traveled within our mutual circles, but it always felt tense and forced.  We would have conversations, but didn’t communicate with each other.  I told her I didn’t know how to not be her friend – she told me she didn’t know how to be mine anymore.

My friend was operating from a place of hurt that I simply could not understand.  I knew that my intention had never been to hurt her, and I drove myself crazy wondering how an act of simple carelessness had ruined what was essentially a lifelong friendship. I made myself sick with the guilt and anger – rehashing it daily, trying to figure out how I could fix it, trying to remember why fixing it was even worth it.

Then someone gave me the best advice I could have gotten regarding that situation – *Forgive yourself, let it go, and move on*

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It was so simple… I was stressing over a situation I couldn’t control (her feelings), and creating turmoil within myself that I didn’t have to.  I’d done this thing (or rather, not done this thing) that had hurt someone.  I felt terrible about it, but other than apologize, there wasn’t really much that I could do.

Today, I’m challenging you to forgive yourself for whatever happened in the past that causes you grief in the present. So many of us (me included) have a tendency to hold onto mistakes or missteps that we’ve made, even after the rest of the world has moved on.  We cannot grow and prosper in the present or future if we insist on holding on to the mistakes of the past.  This won’t necessarily absolve you of the consequences that come with your action (or in my case, inaction), but it will make it easier for you to deal with yourself from a place of love each day.

You, above everyone else in the world, deserve your love and respect.  Make sure that you’re giving it to yourself daily.

 

Love and light – Kioshana ❤

 

 

On Finding Peace with Giving Up

When was the last time you felt good about giving up on something?  I don’t mean giving up crap food or cigarettes or alcohol.  I mean, when was the last time you felt good about giving up on a goal?

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Don’t look at me like that – this is a serious question!

American culture is extremely achievement oriented.  We measure our success (and therefore our worth) by how much we are able to accomplish or attain.  We push each other to strive for “greatness” in the form of more education, more money, better jobs, nicer homes and cars, etc.  Even those of us who have rejected the stereotypical forms of success (material/status indicators) compete over who can achieve the most “freedom” or “peace” in their lifestyle. Quite literally EVERYTHING is a competition – everything is about achievement.

(Side note:  This is probably why the rest of the world side-eyes us so often.  We are so focused on being “the best” that we rarely take the time to focus on people – others or ourselves.)

One thing that I know from being a habitual over-achiever is that goal-orientation can be extremely stressful.  We put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve, grow, and do more that we often forget to relax and enjoy where we are in the present moment.  Now, don’t get me wrong – having a healthy desire to achieve can be good for you.  Anything that helps you become your best self is a good thing, and should be encouraged in your life.

The thing is, though – sometimes working on our goals stresses us to the point where it is more harmful than helpful to work toward them.  Goals should be a source of motivation, not a source of stress or depression.  Achieving our goals shouldn’t come at the expense of our emotional, physical, spiritual, or financial well-being.

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We need to know that it’s perfectly okay to walk away from a goal or plan that isn’t working for us anymore. There is no shame in not achieving something that no longer serves you – especially when the work you’re putting into it is detrimental to your overall well-being.

I encourage you to make it a point today to take stock of the goals you’re working on in your life.  Honestly ask yourself, “Is this still worth it to me?  When this is all said and done, am I going to be better or worse off from having worked on this?  Is this achievement worth what I’m sacrificing in order to attain it?”

If you can’t give a whole-hearted “Yes” to each of those questions, then maybe you should take a little time to re-think whether or not this still fits into your life.

Remember, there’s no shame in letting go of something that no longer serves you.

Love and Light ~

Kioshana

Close Some Doors

This is a post originally written last June that I felt was especially relevant today ~ just a refresher, in case anyone else needed the reminder! ❤

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Earlier today, while casually scrolling through my timeline, I came across the above image and was completely blown away by the power in this message.

I don’t know about you all, but I personally am terrible about this.

There are people in my life who irritate me to no end and who add no value with their presence whatsoever.  Daily, I lament about how much I wish that they would just get the hint and go away – sometimes to the point that I become passive-aggressive in responding to their texts, posts, and calls.  I cringe when I see a message from them pop up on my cell phone, or roll my eyes when I see selfies and posts show in my social media accounts.  Even when I’m engaging them in conversation, I sometimes find myself becoming increasingly frustrated that they are seemingly so oblivious to my lack of interest in the topics of discussion.

It is maddening!

Yet I feel guilty about the thought of just letting them go because they haven’t actually DONE anything to hurt or bother me… and it seems wrong to cut someone out of life simply because I’m ambivalent about their presence.  As ridiculous as it sounds, it feels mean to tell them how I really feel – and I don’t want to be looked at as a mean person… even by people who I don’t really care about or want around me.

I’m sure that part of this is societal conditioning, and part of this is just my personality.  Growing up, I was the kid who worried about the most menial of things, because I didn’t want anyone to think I was being unfair or uncaring.  I can remember working myself into anxiety over the smallest of things – like whether to check White or Black on standardized test forms (thank God they’ve finally created a “multi-racial” box) because I didn’t want anyone to think I was showing a preference for one parent over the other.

Although I no longer stress about things as tiny as the abovementioned scenario, I still have a hard time with doing things that will portray me as a mean person – especially if the person hasn’t done anything negative to me.  I’m learning, though, that this is not a healthy practice to partake in, because it wears on me and drains me.  Letting go of people doesn’t necessarily make me a bad person, and I can do so without having to be mean about it.  However, it is important for me to do this, because keeping them in my life in an effort to preserve their feelings does hurt someone:  ME.

And if I’m being honest with myself, I’m probably not nearly as important to them as it feels sometimes.  I’m pretty sure they’ll continue to exist and survive with or without me.

I remind myself daily, and today I’m reminding you as well – we have complete control over who we allow into our space. Just because someone isn’t causing harm doesn’t necessarily mean they deserve a place in your life – especially if they aren’t inspiring good as well.

You don’t have to feel guilty about not offering space to everyone who seeks shelter in you… your time and energy are extremely valuable and you do not owe them to anyone you feel is unworthy of or unable to reciprocate it.  Acts of self-love come in all shapes and forms – adding value to your quality of life sometimes means removing things (and people) that take away from your happiness.

Do you have anyone in your life who fits this description?  How do you deal with them?  Is there anything you will change about the relationship going forward?

Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and share!

Make it a great day – I love you.

– Kioshana