Working in the financial services industry, I worked with all kinds of people, whether customers or employees. I learned to have a really thick skin and keep my serenity in the heat of the moment. I noticed some things over the years that can make all the difference in your attitude, which in turn affects your health and overall well-being.
It is human nature to chase after the dream, whether it be the American Dream, the dream of homeownership, traveling the world, or maybe hiking Mount Everest. Everyone has their own idea of what the dream will be. For me becoming a real estate investor was my clear path to financial independence. Many consider the dream to be retiring without a mortgage and a decent savings account. Only you can decide what your dream can be.
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But does this stuff really make you joyous?
I have lived paycheck to paycheck, and I have been very comfortable. Whatever side I was on, as I look back, we had joy. So whatever dream you are chasing, when you get there, will that finally make you joyous or even happy?
The answer is a resounding NO. Event-based happiness is fleeting. Back in my late 20’s, I took a class, and the instructor said, “Happiness is a trip to Disney World; it ends. Lasting joy is totally different in that it should be a state that continues on no matter your circumstances.” I can tell you that statement has stayed with me through the years, and it has been the most influential statement of my life.
Managing Your Emotions
This is why, through the tough times, I was able to surrender and maintain my peace.
I understood, through time and practice, that my circumstances did not dictate my attitude or joy. As time went on, I know that things always work out. Maybe not for the best, but they work out. I have enough experience to see the forest through the trees. I have also disciplined myself to think and act a certain way. Through practice.
I had an employee who was really negative about life in general. She would come in moping and complain to her staff about her life. As I worked with her, I would coach her about her negativity and general attitude. She changed dramatically that year because she wanted to change. Anyone can do it with the right tools.
Tips For Living a JOYOUS Life
Surround yourself with the right people
I am fortunate that my husband and I do not allow each other to get into a negative space. I have a lot of friends. Should I surround myself with those friends daily? Some I should, others, although I love them dearly, I should not, and keep them at a slight distance.
There have been times when I have to distance myself from someone who is too toxic, negative, or unmotivated. It will change your thinking and attitude. On the flip side, find people who have a positive outlook and are motivated.
At work, I had to meet with my peers every week for meetings. I watched in disbelief, as a new manager came into the fold and they proceeded to sit there and tell her everything possible that they thought was wrong with the organization she decided to work for. She just made a decision to leave another company for this? I wondered if she was sitting there thinking, “What the heck have I gotten into?”
I quickly distanced myself from those managers mostly because did not want to hear it but also because their behavior was so ugly. They were living at their lowest level.
People try to bond over gossip and negative attention. I recognized then that gossip is low-level thinking and does not make for a positive environment. It became like a middle school. It matters who you hang around with. You need to challenge your negative thoughts and keep your distance from those who practice these behaviors.
I can not stress this one enough. Lack of gratitude is a huge problem, especially here in the US. When I get a bad attitude it is generally because I am not practicing gratitude and I am comparing my life to others.
Comparing your life to others can kill gratitude. Wake up every day and come in here knowing what you are grateful for. I would go behind the teller line and ask, “What are you grateful for today?” One of the tellers that worked with me totally changed from this practice.
Since then, she has moved away from the toxic people in her life and rewritten her story. When she calls, I can hear the joy in her voice. She took control of her circumstances and changed things.
Bad things happen to everyone, even joyous people. You can jump on the emotional roller coaster and dive down into the depths of despair, but the bottom line is, that will not change your circumstances. Staying level-headed, taking ownership, and coming up with a plan will change your circumstances.
Looking for solutions changes your mindset. Setting goals will take your mind off the problem and helps you to focus on the solution. Challenge your negative thoughts.
- Is what you are thinking really the truth?
- Can it be changed?
- Am I basing this on the facts or my feelings?
- Is this how other people view it or do I misunderstand the situation?
- Is my heart really broken, or do I have unmet expectations?
- Try to be objective about a situation and focus on positive outcomes and what you can learn.
Set goals and use time blocking
Coming up with a plan can be difficult for some people. Get an accountability partner. For me, it is my husband. He will remind me of the goal and vice versa.
Do we really need to add new landscaping to the yard or is it more important to be debt-free? Our yard looks respectable, but we are not outshining our neighbors. I would rather use that money to travel.
I have a friend who only buys used stuff for her family unless it is absolutely necessary. She is debt-free, homeschooling 4 children and they go on no less than 8 vacations a year. They just bought a new 12 passenger van to travel in last year for cash. Is it really that important for your kids to be wearing brand new department store clothes if you have credit card debt hanging over you?
Time blocking is really important to me because I can allow distractions to take me away from my goals. When I am writing that is all I do. No social media, no phone. When I was working in the financial services world, I would email myself a list every night for the next day. Getting goals accomplished will make you feel more confident and settled. Just make sure your goals are reasonable and have some flexibility.
Comparing yourself to others is the thief of joy.
A little cliché? Maybe, but it is true. When we were working to pay off our debt, we made the decision, not to buy new cars.
I was driving an old Lincoln Navigator, that I had purchased, brand new off the lot in 2004. It was
Fortunately, those same people would complain about their financial situation, which helped me stay motivated. Some of these people were in their 40’s buying $80k cars and a new larger home that will be started off with a 30-year mortgage and they still had credit card debt.
They will be working for an organization for the rest of their life. There was nothing sadder to me than to talk to a banker who was at retirement age, and they admitted they could not retire.
Get enough sleep
In the last year of my banking career, the one side effect of stress that I had was lack of sleep. Especially on Sunday night as I went over my plans for the week.
As you age the difference you feel is significant when you are not getting enough quality sleep. For me, I needed hormones to rebalance and that helped.
Other’s can try Melatonin, Sleepy Time Tea, or some other natural aid to get you there. Eating healthy helps as well. Get on a wellness program and exercise also promotes healthy sleep patterns.
At least get moving. I am totally guilty of this one. If you are not sleeping, it may be because you are not getting rid of excess energy. Even a brief walk every day can release the stresses of the day.
The one downside to working from home is I could pretty much stay on my couch and work all day. I force myself to get up, stretch, play with the dog, and even go out shopping and walk around the store.
When I worked in a corporate environment I made sure I took the stairs and walked around the branch throughout the day. At one place I worked, we all walked around the building a couple of times a day. Join an accountability group on Facebook.
Also, being overweight can be a concern for many. Often it can be a sign of other issues, like mineral and hormone imbalances. You are uncomfortable and unhealthy, then illness and pain start to set in as you age. You are not as motivated to do things or go out because you are tired. It is a vicious cycle. You do not need a beach body, but you want to be on the healthy spectrum.
People get stuck in an identity that does not make them happy and then they buy into that identity. You can rewrite your story. Don’t like your career? Start working on a different path.
When I wanted to become a real estate investor, I was on the computer reading after my kids went to bed to learn everything about the industry. I rewrote my story, came up with ideas to get started, and started implementing a plan.
- Get your finances ready so you can move into an entry-level position in a new industry.
- Write out your old story. Find the points you do not like and come up with a plan to change them. Journaling is a great way to write this out.
- Do not ever get stuck in the mindset that you have already invested so much time in whatever career, job, or industry. Sometimes, we are so focused on what we are losing and we have no idea what we can gain.
Read self-help books and listen to motivational speakers
I know I am going to get the eye roll here but it was key for me to change my thinking. I was not raised by deep thinkers or entrepreneurs, and I certainly was not hanging around any. My parents did not teach me anything about personal growth.
The most important book of my life, besides the Bible, was written by Zig Ziglar. He has several of them you can get started with and is a great example of a motivational speaker that changes lives.
In my early 20’s I wanted to rewrite my story so I had to change my thinking. I went from being reactive to living with intention and purpose. Nothing will change until you change.
My last team, we used to send out motivational quotes and they bought me a Zig Ziglar book as a gift. We would all take turns emailing out quotes for the day to keep our mindset clear.
The little cancers of the day would sneak in but every morning we started off with a quote that got us off on the right foot so we could handle those negative situations.
I still find people to listen to that help me keep my mindset. Yes, I have already heard it. Yes, it is repetitive. But you know what? So is all the negative noise out there in the world that can eventually take over your mind.
Surrender does not mean give up. It just means, understanding your circumstances and being okay with them. You can still be surrendered and move to change your circumstances. It just means you are not going to freak out every time something does not go as planned.
Everything is temporary. Your job, your friends, your situation. Life can change in a minute, for worse and for better. Look over your life and how circumstances always change. It can be a meeting or a new introduction that changes your circumstances, but you may miss it if you are wallowing in your situation!
Forgiveness is easier said than done! But think about it this way, the longer you are holding on to whatever offense you have, the longer it will have power over you. You will be stuck in the offense. I have seen this take over people’s lives.
I don’t have any great words of wisdom on this one because it is a process that everyone goes through and learns differently, but this is what I know for me. Forgiveness, for me, is no longer holding that person accountable for their actions. When I remove the expectation over them and let go, forgiveness comes in.
Understand that forgiveness is not a feeling but an action. Focus more on my ownership in the situation and how I could do things differently next time. Learn from it.
There are several things you can do.
- Make the decision to forgive.
- Pray for the person.
- Talk about it with them and be honest.
- Put yourself in their shoes.
- Lack of forgiveness in your life will eat you alive. Remember, forgiveness is just as much for you, as the other person.
Let’s wrap it all up! Staying positive is a choice that only you can make by not allowing your circumstances or other people dictate your mood. You will always have to deal with conflict in your life so that is a constant. It is how you deal with that conflict is what matters.
Practicing Joy is the Key
Practice makes perfect. Start with one change or habit and practice it. Then add another and another. Over time you will not even realize how much you have changed your mindset.
Remember, Everything is Temporary
I would love to hear what you practice to maintain your JOY!