Advance Reader Copy – Sample Sections

Copyright © 2023 by Emily Florence, Good Day Publishing

 

Even Better

 

“Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.”  Dalai Lama

 

Contents

Dear Reader

  1. Live Your Life for You
  2. Be Good to Yourself
  3. Bend With Life
  4. Know You Are Worthy
  5. Choose Happier
  6. Surround Yourself With People Who Make You Feel Good
  7. Don’t Stumble Over What’s Behind You
  8. Be the Lighthouse
  9.       Let the Little Things Go
  10.     Find Things to Appreciate (Even When it’s Hard)
  11. Keep in Mind, We’re All Going Through Something
  12. Check In With Yourself
  13. Take Time to Be Alone
  14. Love, and Let Yourself Be Loved
  15. Know You Deserve to Be Loved, Just as You Are
  16. Ride Your Moods, Own Your Emotions
  17. Trust That You Will Be OK
  18. Don’t Stand on the Sidelines of Your Life
  19. Feed Your Passions
  20. Create Before You Consume
  21. Take a Daily Moment of Joy
  22. Let Bad Thoughts Go
  23. Take Inventory of Your Life
  24. Expect Great Things
  25. Be Open to Life’s Possibilities
  26. Understand Rejection Is Redirection
  27. Don’t Settle for Love
  28. Enjoy Your Solo Time
  29. Be on the Same Page With People You Date
  30. Love the One You’re With
  31. Have Your Own Life Outside of a Relationship
  32. Go Easy After a Breakup
  33. Travel Solo
  34. Savor the Sweetness of Doing Nothing
  35. Make Someone Smile
  36. Trust Your Intuition
  37. Start Your Day in a Positive Way
  38. Eliminate Life’s Little Annoyances
  39. Make Space in Your Calendar
  40. Honor Your Life Seasons
  41. Practice Patience
  42. Try Not to Compare Yourself to Others
  43.     Re-Think Success
  44. Be Happy for People
  45. Plant Good Seeds for Others
  46. Be OK With People Not Liking You
  47. Be OK With Not Liking Everyone
  48. Follow the Signs
  49. Believe You Can
  50. Have a Healthy Relationship With Money
  51. Clear Out Your Clutter
  52. Spend Time in Nature
  53. Be Good to Mother Earth
  54. Tune Out Drama
  55. Love Yourself No Matter What
  56. Step Away From Self-Blame
  57. Be Proud of Yourself
  58. Set Intentions in Your Day
  59. Take Good Care of Your Health
  60. Prioritize Sleep
  61. Move Your Body and Exercise
  62. Be Kind to Your Mind and Meditate
  63. Take Naps
  64. Laugh, a Lot 
  65. Take Vacations
  66. Scroll Social Media With Care 
  67. Put Down Your Phone
  68. Be a Better Listener
  69. Practice Affirmations
  70. Create Healthy Boundaries
  71. Try Not to Take Things Personally
  72. Schedule Your Day in a More Productive Way
  73. Ask for Help
  74. Try Something New
  75. Be Part of Something
  76. Be True to Yourself
  77. Know How Much You Matter
  78. Remember, You Know What’s Best for You
  79. Grieve Your Losses
  80. Make Peace With Uncertainty
  81. Go Easy With Life Changes
  82. Choose Love Over Fear
  83. Let Life Surprise and Delight You
  84. Slow Down and Savor the Moments
  85. Find Your Happy Place and Go There Often
  86. Release Your Worries
  87. Forgive and Move Forward
  88. Flip the Script on Your Life Stories
  89. Don’t Be Afraid to Choose Again
  90. Remind Yourself, Tomorrow Is a New Day
  91.       Love Yourself More
  92. Accept Compliments
  93. Highlight the Good
  94. Stay Calm and Holiday On
  95. Turn Your Day Around
  96. Keep Going, Keep Growing
  97. Treasure Your Friends and Family
  98. Always Be Ready to Celebrate
  99. Relax and Enjoy Your Life More
  100. Spread Joy
  101. Trust Something Even Better Is in Store

Epilogue

 

Dear Reader

Life is messy. It’s not fair and it doesn’t always go as planned. We all face dark days, hard times and grief so painful it brings us to our knees. This is the human experience – no one is exempt. You may not be able to control as much as you’d like in life, but you are not helpless or cursed. No matter where you are right now, or where you’ve been, you have the power to create a life that’s even better. 

You should know from the start that my life isn’t perfect. I am not perfect. I haven’t conquered all of my goals or dreams. I’ve fallen short, made mistakes, had my heart broken and witnessed my health crumble. I’ve let my emotions get the best of me, I’ve hurt people I never meant to and I’ve been betrayed by people I trusted. At times, I’ve felt sadness so deep I could hardly get out of bed, and I know all too well how debilitating anxiety and overwhelm can be. 

Still, I know my life is blessed. I haven’t cracked all the codes, but there are many truths I’ve learned so far. I’ve learned how to seek out the good and create more moments of true happiness and peace. I’ve learned that life isn’t perfect and there will always be something that’s out of our hands, but it’s also full of possibilities and magic, and we are all capable of experiencing more joy, love, calm and ease. I’ve learned that there’s so much we can do to feel better each day – no matter what’s going on around us. 

That’s what this book is about. 

Some of the life lessons you’ll read in the following pages I learned through trial and error. Others were passed down to me from family and friends I’m lucky to have in my corner. Some lessons come from my studies, including a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology, a Master of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism and a Life, Life Purpose and Career Coaching Certification. Other tips, tools and nuggets of wisdom I learned from people I’ve known in my daily life or crossed paths with through travels, and teachings I’ve put into practice from authors and inspirational figures. While not everything in this book may be your cup of tea (so please feel free to take what speaks to you and leave the rest!), it is my promise that what you read will change your life for the better – if you let it. 

If you’ve lost your way in the sea of noise that can be our modern world, I hope this book helps you find your way home to the person you truly are and connects you with the life you are meant to live. 

Thank you for joining me. I’m happy you’re here.

With love and smiles,

Emily

 

“The purpose of life is to know yourself, love yourself, trust yourself and be yourself.” Yogi Tea

  1. Live Your Life for You

A big challenge we all face in life is showing up in the world as our true selves. We are often so afraid of rejection and judgment that we don’t fully own who we are and what we believe in. It’s why many of us spend years, decades even, being someone we’re really not. Then we wake up one day and find ourselves locked into careers, relationships and even personalities that aren’t what we intended or what we actually want for our lives. It’s like we’re playing a part we didn’t even realize we signed up for. 

Why?        

Sometimes it’s to please others, or to fit in. We’re human and want to be liked and accepted. Other times we simply don’t know any better. We haven’t questioned how we were raised, or what we’ve been taught to be right, wrong, good or bad. Sometimes fear of the unknown paralyzes us, and even though life as we know it isn’t comfortable in a good sense, it’s what we know, and we don’t know what else we’d do. 

Regardless of why, it’s no way to go through life.

In an interview, a journalist once asked me, “What’s the best decision you’ve made so far in your life, Emily?”

My answer came easy.

“Dropping out of law school after four days. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life when I finished college and law school was something I applied for and got into, so I went. And even though I felt really cool saying, ‘I’m going to law school,’ by my third day I knew it wasn’t something I wanted. And if I stayed, I’d only be doing so to prove to everyone that I could do it.

That was the moment in my life when I realized at the end of the day it didn’t matter what people thought or said about me; what mattered was how I felt. In making the decision to leave, I chose to live my life for me.”

Interviews are designed to get to the point, but there’s more I want to say about leaving law school. It was by far the best decision I’d made in my life at the time, and not only because most likely I wouldn’t be where I am today had I continued down that path, but it set a precedent for how I was going to move forward – making choices based on what would make me happy.

My third day of law school, I found myself staring out the classroom window thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” We first-year law students had just been told that by the time we graduated our whole way of thinking would be changed, and nothing about that or anything we were learning excited me.

Class concluded and the guy sitting next to me asked me what I thought about our latest assignment. 

“I don’t really care,” I said, surprising myself and my fellow student. “I don’t think I belong here.”

“Me neither!” He blurted and we peered over our shoulders to see if anyone had heard us. 

And just like that it was crystal clear I’d be happier selling pretzels at a stand I passed by in the Boston Common on my way to school than to sit through another Torts class.

My heart knew I didn’t belong in law school, but even with an unwavering voice inside saying, “This isn’t for me,” big decisions are rarely that simple. I sacrificed a great deal to get to where I was. I missed out on a whole lot of senior year of college fun and even Thanksgiving with my family cramming for the LSAT’s (the Law School Admission Test). I packed up my life and moved 3,000 miles across the country from my hometown of Ojai, California to Boston, Massachusetts. And I was happy in Boston. I loved the city. I’d made great friends, and the plan was to spend the next three years in school and then practice law. What would I do with my life now?

But law school was suffocating my soul. What I wanted for my life, or really, what I didn’t want was clear, but the idea of my decision disappointing anyone and fears of what people would think about me made me ill. 

I called my parents and asked how they’d feel if they ran into friends and neighbors and someone asked how I was doing in law school. Would my parents have to explain? Would they feel ashamed? I imagined conversations where my name would come up and people would say things like, “Ooh, did you hear Emily Florence dropped out of law school? She probably couldn’t hack it.” The best part of giving weight to these imaginary conversations was they were between people I hardly even knew, or liked!

Right then I realized how often in my life I’d done things for the approval of others, or because something was the popular or cool thing to do. Also, out of ego to appear successful or smart versus because it would make me genuinely happy. That’s why dropping out of law school was such a paramount decision for me; I finally chose to prioritize how I felt on the inside over how I appeared on the outside.

As it turned out, I had all the support in the world from my parents, my brother and all of my family and friends – they just wanted me to be happy. That’s all any of us want for the people we love when it comes down to it. While I did leave Boston for a while, a year later, I returned to do my Master’s in Broadcast Journalism at Emerson College, which turned out to be such a better fit for me and I had the time of my life. And as for the naysayers and imaginary haters, it’s a funny thing that happens when you own your life. Instead of being met with ridicule you’re met with admiration. The best part? It doesn’t matter to you either way. 

In 2009, longtime hospice worker Bronnie Ware wrote an article which later turned into a bestselling book titled, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. Bronnie cared for hundreds of patients in the last weeks, days and breaths of their lives and chronicled their top regrets as they said goodbye to this lifetime. Do you want to know the number one regret? 

Bronnie writes:

 “‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.’This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

It’s not always easy to prioritize how you feel on the inside over what the outer world thinks or wants of you. We all crave acceptance and none of us want to let anyone down. But like Bronnie Ware’s dying patients, you don’t want to one day look back on your life wondering what might have been had you only taken a chance on a dream, or found the courage to say “No, thank you” to something you knew in your heart wasn’t right for you. 

At the end of the day and at the end of life, you are left with you. Find the courage to live a life that’s true to you.

 

  1. Be Good to Yourself

The most important relationship you’ll have in life is with the person staring back in the mirror. You’re with you from beginning to end, in good times and bad, throughout your whole life journey. You owe it to yourself to be good to yourself.

We rarely mean to go down the self-criticism spiral, but often find ourselves there anyway. No matter how much we accomplish, we continue to put ourselves down and think we should be further along, better and more like someone else who we think is doing life the “right” way.

We push ourselves to the max from the moment we wake up until the time we hit the pillow at night and get down on ourselves when we fall short of crossing everything off our to-do list. But would you ever tell your best friends they weren’t doing enough or good enough? Would you ever be so hard on them as you are on yourself?

It’s easy to treat the people we care about with kindness and support. It’s natural to see the best in them and encourage them to no end. When they’re down, we assure them everything’s going to be OK and remind them they’re amazing and will bounce back. We don’t scare or judge them. We pop champagne to celebrate their wins, shower them in hugs when they’re feeling low, and unconditionally love them. It’s easy to do it for the people we love, so why is it so hard to do it for ourselves?

Loving ourselves isn’t optional. We teach people how to treat us by showing them the behavior we’ll accept and not, and we have to have our own backs and be good to ourselves in order to expect others to be good to us too. So instead of putting yourself down, be supportive, compassionate and go easy. 

None of us can be on all the time and there’s always going to be more to do, so stop breaking your back each day trying to tackle it all and make everything perfect. Take off your overachiever hat and give yourself a break and a rest from stress. Be OK with not going the extra mile and simply enjoy yourself for a change.

We all love giving our best, but we need time to relax and recharge to fully be our best. It’s not lazy, it’s loving.

 

 “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn

  1.   Bend With Life

The palm is one of the strongest trees in the world because it bends with the wind. Even when facing a hurricane, these resilient beauties know how to lean, so they come out standing tall once the storm passes. Unlike other trees that are rigid and inevitably break, the palm adapts, and so it survives. 

There’s so much we can’t control in life – traffic, technology glitches, flight delays, people we love, people we don’t, the neighbor’s dog that’s barking while you’re trying to get lost in a good book. We can’t control what’s out of our hands, so the best thing we can do for ourselves when caught in the eye of a storm is to be like the palm tree and bend.

How we move with life is often our choice, and the more we push against what we can’t control, without meaning to, the more we allow those things to break us.

Instead of exhausting yourself trying to control everything in life, seek to adapt. Make peace with what’s out of your hands, have faith in the unknown and trust that everything will be OK.

The more you bend with life, the easier it is to ride out the storms.

 

  1. Know You Are Worthy

We get the life we believe we deserve. While many of us want good things, we may not truly believe we deserve them. Whether it’s the side of town we grew up in, the school we went to, our eating habits, or any past mistakes we’re still punishing ourselves for, we think we have to be different or better than we are right now in order to have a good life. 

Thankfully, it’s not true. 

You are worthy and deserving of feeling happy, being loved, having great health, making money doing what you enjoy, traveling, smiling, laughing, loving – simply because you’re alive. Whether you know it or not, you deserve to be, do and have everything you want.

Throughout life, people may tell you what you can or cannot do, or how something will play out for you. They may mean well, but keep in mind they’re coming from their own perspectives and their experiences don’t have to turn into your reality. Just because something in life happened one way for them doesn’t mean it has to be that way for you too. Like bestselling author Abraham Hicks says, “It may be true for them, but it doesn’t mean it has to be true for you.”

Starting now, forget what anyone has told you and ditch any beliefs holding you back. Believe in yourself like it’s your No. 1 job and know that you don’t have to wake up earlier, be smarter or act differently in any way to deserve good things. You deserve the very best right now. 

 

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.” Audrey Hepburn

  1. Choose Happier

Life is precious, and it goes fast. It’s all too easy to let the little disruptions or dramas take up our time and energy, and send us off purpose. That’s why you have to make it a point to wake up each day and be deliberate about choosing your best life. 

We often think being happy depends on what our lives look like on the outside – the house, car, job, family, vacation, etc. Or when we reach a milestone or satisfy a condition, a.k.a. the “I’ll be happy when …” syndrome. But happiness, in a large part, is an inside job. 

Some people are naturally optimistic, while others struggle with mental, hormonal and other health issues that can make feeling good more of a challenge, and may need assistance from a doctor or specialist. Not every day will be sunshine and rainbows for anyone, but we all have the power to create more happiness when we choose it. 

Throughout your day, be intentional to boost your joy levels and: 

  1. Seek out laughter and activities that make you feel good.
  2. Limit bad news and drama.
  3. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Let go of anyone who brings you down.
  4. Entertain thoughts that make you feel excited and hopeful. Let go of ones that make you scared or upset.
  5. Take note of everything you have to be thankful for.
  6. Choose books, podcasts, music and TV that make you laugh and feel inspired. Take a pass on entertainment that makes you angry, tense or has you sobbing into the couch pillows.
  7. Take walks to clear your head and release feel-good endorphins, and choose food and beverages that make your body feel good. Be moderate with cocktails and heavy foods. (Let’s face it, it’s hard to be happy when you’re bloated or hungover!)
  8. Meditate. Even 10 minutes a day can change your life. 
  9. Be of service and lend a helping hand to a friend, neighbor or the planet.
  10. Do at least one thing each day that brings a smile to your face.

This may sound silly or too good to be true, but when you decide you’re going to be happier and you choose it throughout the day, these seemingly small things will add up to a significant amount of joy. 

You are behind the steering wheel of your life and you’re responsible for your happiness. 

Not every day will be bliss, or free of tech hassles or traffic, but each day brings a buffet of opportunities for you to feel even a tiny bit happier. Be intentional to choose more of everything that makes you feel good – and less of anything that doesn’t.

 

  1. Surround Yourself With People Who Make You Feel Good

We all need quality people in our corner. Having friends and family you can laugh with and feel supported by is imperative to a fulfilling life.

Sometimes though, we spend our time with people who don’t exactly lift us up, have our backs, or make us feel all that good about ourselves, or life. It’s quite easy, in fact, to get caught up with people who, when you think about it, you’re not really a fan of.

You can’t always choose who you hang out with (there are co-workers, neighbors, relatives or your kid’s best friend’s parents who you can’t escape!). But there are also times when we find ourselves saying “yes” to people who we know deep down aren’t all that enjoyable to be around.

Other people’s energy, even in small doses, can have a huge impact on our lives. That’s why it’s important to be aware of how the people you surround yourself with make you feel and if the feeling isn’t good, give yourself permission to take a pass on invites or kindly excuse yourself early.

The world is full of wonderful people and your time and energy are precious. Filter out those people who don’t make you feel all that great about yourself or life, and reserve yourself for the people who make you feel good.

 

  1. Don’t Stumble Over What’s Behind You

Years ago, my mom shared with me a Buddhist parable about two monks crossing a river. It goes something like this …  

An older monk and a younger monk were traveling together and came upon a wide river with a strong current. Nearby, a young woman also needed to cross the river and asked the monks if they would help her. The monks had taken vows never to touch a woman, but nonetheless, the older monk picked her up and carried her across the river, gently placing her down on the other side.

The monks continued on their journey and the younger monk was visibly upset. For hours, he huffed and puffed until he couldn’t contain himself anymore and blurted out, “As monks, we vowed not to touch a woman. How could you have carried that woman across the river?!”

The older monk paused and looked at the younger and kindly said, “My brother, I set the woman down on the other side of the river hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?”

Our past is an important part of our history. It shapes who we are today, after all. But it can also be our biggest nemesis, one that’s holding us back from growing into the person we truly want to be.

Many of us would like to re-write parts of our past differently: Opportunities missed; bad judgment calls in love, business and life; disappointing people who we never wanted to hurt; and all those “shoulda, woulda, coulda’s” that can come back to haunt us. Even though we can’t undo what’s been done, at times, we still torture ourselves by living life looking back in the rearview mirror.

We can learn great lessons from our past mistakes, but often we look back on them far after the learning is done. And dwelling on what’s behind you only keeps you from moving forward. In order to step into a greater life, you need to stop looking back on the one you left behind.

Next time you notice something from your past is interrupting your peaceful present or interfering with a brighter future, tell yourself, “I won’t continue stumbling over what’s behind me.” Then turn your attention forward.

There’s no need to keep living your life looking back in the rearview mirror. You don’t live there anymore.

 

“Don’t forget that you may be the lighthouse in someone’s storm.” — Unknown

  1. Be the Lighthouse

If you’ve ever been at sea in the middle of a pitch-black night and seen a lighthouse, you know it’s more than an iconic structure to help boats navigate. To sailors, that bright light shining out of the dark is hope, comfort, and a source of joy.

There’s so much negativity in this world and it’s important to do what we can to look on the bright side and spread positivity.

Throughout your day, set an intention to make the world a better place and be aware of what you say and do. Keep in mind when you start a negative discussion with friends and family or post something angry online, someone else’s mood will be impacted — and often in a bad way. Be mindful of why you’re putting what you are out into the world and ask yourself if it lines up with who you really are, or who you want to be. 

When a friend comes to you with a problem, be a beacon of hope and, when appropriate, help them discover silver linings. Give compliments to strangers and loved ones, share funny jokes, and tell one person each day how great they make your life. Be the first to smile, wave and wish people a good day.

We have so much more power than we may think to be a bright spot in the world and to make the people around us feel good. Spread joy with reckless abandon and when times are especially dark, remember to shine on like the lighthouse.

 

  1. Let the Little Things Go

There’s a lot to be upset about at times. There’s also quite a bit that gets under our skin and throws us off course that doesn’t deserve the attention we give it.

What we give our attention to grows. When we think about, talk about and obsess about something that upsets us, it only fuels the fire. While there’s no need to bury things in life, we don’t need to create big deals out of anything that truly doesn’t need to be one. Life is a lot more fun when we let the little things go!

In his bestselling book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and it’s all Small Stuff, Dr. Richard Carlson tells readers when faced with something upsetting to ask themselves one question: “Will this matter a year from now?”

This question is simple, but provides so much perspective.

He then advises readers that if the answer is “yes,” allow yourself to feel everything you are feeling so you can unpack and work through it. But, if the answer is “no,” or “probably not,” then take a deep breath and let it go.

Little upsets happen to all of us, but don’t let them ruin your day by giving them oxygen. Things burnout much quicker when you don’t stoke the fire, so process it out loud to yourself for a few minutes or call a friend if you need to vent, then drop it and move on. Resist carrying something around all day and talking to everyone you encounter about it, or posting on social media where comments will keep it alive for days. There’s no need to let that driver who cut you off Friday morning still upset you on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

 

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey

  1. Find Things to Appreciate (Even When it’s Hard) 

In my late twenties, I discovered the power of gratitude and how it can completely transform your life. I was living in L.A. when I hit a low point and continued spiraling downwards. A little impatient and overly ambitious, I didn’t “have” as much as I thought I would at that point and the feeling of coming up short consumed me.

For months, I struggled to get my first business off the ground. Even though I wanted to be in a relationship, I kept trying to make one work with a non-committal man. My apartment flooded from the above tenants’ clogged toilet, and I was living on my friend’s couch with the personal belongings that did make it through the flood locked in my car. Then my car broke down with the windows rolled down, leaving everything I owned exposed.

Even in our darkest moments we can always find something to be thankful for, but at this point it was feeling tough. For weeks, it seemed the worse things got, the worse things got.

One morning, I woke up exhausted from hearing myself talk and sick of the negative thoughts swirling in my head. I was like a broken record, repeating the same complaints over and over. I knew right then that something had to change. I had to change.

I decided to end my hot and cold relationship and stop giving my energy and attention to the big things in my life that weren’t going so great, and start focusing on the little things that were.

The perfect parking spot in front of the coffee shop.

The elderly gentlemen who held open the door for me at the post office.

The sweet text from an old friend that made me smile.

I bought a journal and decided at the end of each day to write down five things I was thankful for. (And when I say journal, I mean one of those yellow notepads from the grocery store – nothing fancy!) Not only would I write five things down, I decided, but I’d give each a few minutes of attention so I could feel in my body how appreciative I was for them.

Some days the five came pouring out and other days I sat stumped on number three, racking my brain to find anything else to be thankful for. But I stuck with it, and in only a week, I noticed positive shifts occurring in my life.

I slept soundly through the night.

I felt calmer and more peaceful in my body.

My mood improved and I rediscovered unexpected laughter.

Yes, my business still struggled. Yes, I was still without a home and a relationship. But I wasn’t as disappointed or bothered so much by what I didn’t have. Life started feeling sweet again and in a short matter of time, the little daily things I was giving thanks for were joined by major life milestones.

Many people say practicing gratitude is the secret sauce for a happy life. All I know is the more I live in appreciation from sunrise to sunset, and feel in my bones how thankful I am, the more ease, joy and contentment I experience throughout my day.

When life feels hard, or you’re just trying to get by, it can be challenging to see all the good that’s happening. Or worse, it can feel like there isn’t any good! But even in the worst storms you can find things to be thankful for. Dig deep if you have to and give as many tokens of appreciation as you can, even if it’s only for little things like that first sip of coffee, making a green light or feeling the sunshine on your face.

Take time each day to give thanks for all the good in your life and count your blessings big and small. The more you seek to appreciate, the more you’ll see to appreciate.

 

  1. Keep in Mind, We’re All Going Through Something

Every person we encounter in our day has something going on in their lives that we don’t know about. We don’t walk around holding signs sharing what’s going on deep down, so it’s easy to forget that people have struggles beyond what we can see.

It’s good to keep this in mind when your server gives you the wrong change, your neighbor doesn’t call you back right away and your loved one is uncharacteristically short with you. You don’t know if she’s waiting on a call from a doctor and is worried and fragile. You don’t know if his wife is dealing with postpartum depression and he’s sleep deprived and afraid. You don’t know if they had a hard day at work or school and someone treated them unfairly. 

You never need to excuse or ignore a person’s bad behavior, but it’s good to be mindful of a bigger picture. Since we rarely share our innermost fears and pain with just anyone, sometimes not even those people we love the most, we never fully know what another human being is going through – as much as we may want to.

Throughout the day try your best to:

Give people a break.

Give people the benefit of the doubt.

Be patient.

Be understanding.

Be compassionate.

We may not know what someone is going through, but keep in mind we’re all going through something.

 

“I restore myself when I’m alone.”  Marilyn Monroe

  1. Check in With Yourself

It’s easy to lose touch with ourselves and lose sight of what we truly want in life. That’s why it’s important to schedule self-check-ins to connect with the real you, clarify your life intentions, and get excited for what lies ahead.

Every month or so, take a few minutes to savor a cup of coffee or sip a glass of something that makes you happy, and ask yourself:

How am I doing? Really?

How am I sleeping these days?

What’s the first thing I think about in the morning?

What am I craving in life right now?

How do I start and end my days?

What could I use help with?

How can I create more joy and peace in my days?

What’s holding me back from feeling my best?

If I could vent to someone and just get everything out, what would I say?

Pay attention to what stands out. We often hold the answers to the questions we most seek, but we need time to slow down and be real with ourselves in order to hear them.

10 Signs it’s Time to Connect With Yourself

  1.   Lately you’ve been feeling … predictable. You’re not sad, but you’re not exactly excited about life.
  2.       “I’m fine with anything” is your go-to answer when someone asks you to choose a restaurant or movie to watch. Really, you are fine with anything. But then you think, “When was the last time I made an actual decision?”
  3. You haven’t had a really good laugh in ages.
  4.     It’s been a while since you’ve fulfilled a dream or long-term goal. Even worse, you can’t remember any dreams or goals. The future seems so blank.
  5.     Lately when you look in the mirror, you think something along the lines of “blah.”
  6.     Your last journal entry was January 2nd.
  7.     “Things are crazy!” or “I need a drink!” has become your daily mantra.
  8.     Friends or family may have commented on how much you glance at your phone.
  9.     You’re often on the brink of … crying, yelling, or hiding in the bathroom.
  10.     Work, your relationships and life in general seem to be great, but something feels empty, like something inside is telling you, I need a challenge or I need a new adventure.

 

  1. Take Time to Be Alone

The word “alone” comes from all oon, meaning “all one.”

It’s not always easy to take time to be “all one” with ourselves, especially with busy work days, family and errands to run. But it’s healthy to allow ourselves solo time and we often forget how much we truly need it.

Time alone isn’t something to be rewarded with after trudging through a rough week. Me Time isn’t earned, nor is it a luxury you should feel guilty about. It’s necessary to slow down, reset and be “all one” with yourself.

Whether it’s a few minutes alone in your car before walking in the door after work, an afternoon sipping lattes at a café with a good book, or an entire day holed up at home, take time for yourself. Schedule it in your calendar if you need.

It’s impossible to be on all of the time and we all need timeouts to slow down, clear our minds and to recharge. So, give yourself permission to slip into a bubbly bath, take a long walk in nature, stretch out on a yoga mat or stare into a starry sky.

Take it easy and know that you deserve this sacred time. 

 

 “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.” George Sand 

  1.   Love, and Let Yourself Be Loved

My Aunt Bonnie passed away on the day I turned thirty. I didn’t particularly want the attention of turning thirty and my Aunt Bonnie never wanted attention for anything, especially dying, so it worked out for us both that we, in a way, shared the day.

“You two were that close,” my mom said of it. 

My Aunt Bonnie was more than a typical Aunt – she was my friend and my go-to for sharing my love life, or lack of it. She’d join me in excitement when a new man entered my life, squealing at every adorable detail, and, never failing, was there to nurse my wounds when disappointment hit. Aunt Bonnie would introduce me to everyone we crossed paths with as her favorite niece. Worth noting, I was also her only niece!

When I was young, Aunt Bonnie had married, but it didn’t work out. Through the years there were a few suitors, but nothing seemed to last. She was so wonderful, I never understood why.

Shortly before Aunt Bonnie passed, when her illness was worsening by the day, I received a letter from her in the mail. Though I would visit her in just a few days, she wanted me to have her parting words for me on paper. It was a few pages and rather personal of course, but there was one part I’ve always felt compelled to share when on the subject of love …

“Years ago, a friend asked me, what’s another hurt? I feared the pain of love more than the pleasure. I learned too late that one must always allow herself to love and be loved. Always let yourself be loved, Emily.” 

I wanted to tell my Aunt Bonnie that it wasn’t too late. I wanted to pick up the phone and call her up and say that she could still love and be loved. But the truth is, it was.

Love is everywhere. It’s in every movie, song, story, and in the heart of every human being. We all want that real love and partnership with someone who is your best friend and lover. A person who totally gets you, accepts and loves you, and has your back no matter what. 

But after certain disappointments, it can be normal to fear the pain of love, or to simply be exhausted from all the drama. And after too many hurts, a person can become numb and impervious to pain, and that’s never a good thing. (After all, once you’ve had food poisoning, the last thing you want to do is return to the restaurant.)

Some people say that we never love the same after we’ve been hurt – and that’s the beauty of young, unjaded love, we allow ourselves to love so fully because we have no reasons to put up walls, guard our hearts or ponder any outcome. We don’t know that giving our hearts completely can be anything but awesome. 

The path isn’t always easy to this thing we call love, but it’s a highlight of living. Even if there are no guarantees that when you love it will last forever, you still have to go for it whole-heartedly, this time, every time. It’s the only real way to live, and the only way to love.

To be vulnerable to love is fantastically courageous.

 

  1. Know You Deserve to Be Loved, Just as You Are

I, along with people all over the world, fell in love with Mark Darcy the moment he told Bridget Jones he liked her very much, just as she was. As Bridget told her friends, “Not skinnier, or apart from the smoking, drinking, vulgar mother and verbal diarrhea.” 

He liked her just as she was.

Each and every one of us desires love and acceptance. We want to be with someone who likes us for all of our quirks, not despite them. And the thing we often forget is we deserve just that.

Whether you’re dating for fun or looking for a long-term partner, you deserve to be with someone you can be 100% yourself with. There’s no need to ever convince someone to love you, or to spend time with anyone who doesn’t treat you in the amazing way you should be treated. Life is too short to walk on eggshells or feel insecure, and the best partners are not only the ones you can be yourself with, but who love you for it.

You don’t have to be taller, smarter or different in any way to be loved. You deserve to be loved right now – just as you are.

 

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” Dolly Parton 

  1.     Ride Your Moods, Own Your Emotions

Life isn’t 24/7 sunshine and rainbows. Lows happen to all of us. Sometimes there isn’t even a reason we feel sad, anxious, angry or blah. Blame it on the moon, stars or waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

It’s your birthright to experience emotions and it’s important you allow them. (All of them!) They’re not who you are, they are what you feel, so there’s no need to judge yourself for them either. We’re human and experiencing disappointment, heartbreak, frustration and all of life’s lows is normal. In fact, even a growing number of doctors agree it’s healthy to allow these  emotions to surface rather than stuff them away.

Life can be so packed with to-dos we may think we don’t have time to feel. Except when scheduled into our calendars as appointments with our therapists, we don’t always take time to connect with our feelings because there’s somewhere we need to be or something more important to do. It’s the “I don’t have time to deal with this!” syndrome.

Since showing emotion makes us vulnerable and reveals our insecurities and imperfections, some of us simply won’t allow ourselves to go there. God forbid we come off weak, irrational or crazy! But give yourself permission to feel all you do, free of self-judgment and keep in mind it’s only a mood or season. This isn’t the rest of your life. Negative feelings always eventually give way to better ones, so there’s no need to make life-changing decisions or take drastic action when you’re in a bad-feeling place.

There’s a great poem by Rumi called The Guest House that talks about inviting each emotion into your life like a guest into your home. He says, “Welcome and entertain them all.” Get to know them, listen and learn why they’ve come into your life. Be grateful for their visit and recognize they’re here for a reason. “Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.” 

Take time to understand where your emotions stem from. Talk with friends, therapists and coaches to unpack and process what’s going on – it’s healthy and cathartic. Just keep in mind the goal is to work through unwanted emotions so you can let them go and not throw gasoline on the fire. Because nothing good comes from stewing in anything negative for too long. 

No matter how Zen you are, you’ll most likely have moments where you overreact, forget to count to three and totally lose your shit. Just try not to take your bad mood out on others. No one deserves it and it can cause a negative ripple effect in the world.

Ride your moods and own your emotions. Like Rumi says, welcome them like a guest into your home, get to know, listen and learn from them. And then when the time is right, kindly bid them goodnight. 

 

  1. Trust That You Will Be OK

When life has you down. When fear has such a strong hold on you that you are taking shallow breaths. When heartbreak has you blinded by tears, remember to breathe and tell yourself, “It’s going to be OK. I am going to be OK.”

You are strong, you are resilient, you’ve been through tough times before and you will get through this too.

You may feel like you are all alone in this moment or that no one understands what you’re going through, but know that you are supported. No matter what you are experiencing, someone else is going through it right now, or already has, so reach out, connect and find comfort knowing you are not the only one.

When it seems like our lives are falling apart, we have to be real with ourselves and accept that it’s healthy to feel. And we feel a whole lot when our wounds are raw. 

This is a time to be extra good to yourself and:

Counter negative self-talk with kindness.

Talk with friends or connect with a therapist or support group.

Get a change of scenery and break with your usual routine for a day.

Listen to inspirational podcasts, read uplifting books and watch feel-good shows.

Take showers and put on real clothes – even if you don’t feel like it.

Crack open the door to brighter possibilities by asking yourself, “What unexpected good can come from this?”

Make a plan for the future or a way forward that makes you feel better when you think about it.

Shine a spotlight on everything that’s going well in your life and all that you do have to be thankful for.

This moment may be hard, but it isn’t the rest of your life. So remind yourself, “I will get through this. I am getting through this. Everything is going to be OK.”

Because it will.

 

“The brave may not live forever – but the cautious do not live at all.” Richard Branson

  1. Don’t Stand on the Sidelines of Your Life

Have you heard the story about the man who prayed to God to win the lottery? Each day this man prayed, “God, please let me win the lottery. Please, God, please let me win the lottery.” Finally after a year of praying, God answered him back: “My son, would you please go buy a ticket?!”

It makes sense; if we want something in life, we have to go for it. Yet, many of us are walking around with dreams we haven’t even attempted to catch. We have endless reasons (or excuses) to keep us at length. It’s too late in our lives, we don’t have the time, it’s too risky, it’s better to stick with something we already know. But often, underneath lies another reason, a bigger reason – we’re scared. After all, what if we struggle? What if we fail?

I’m not going to lie, going after a dream can be scary, and for me, setbacks have been part of the journey. My first book was rejected by publishing houses more times than my agent could keep track of and there’s nothing fun about waking up at 3 a.m. feeling like the bottom’s about to drop out! 

But look around, and you’ll see just how many people do experience what some would call “failure”: Elvis, Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, Emily Dickinson and Fred Astaire are just a few of the incredible people who at one point had been rejected, fired, or told they’d never make it. Thankfully, these talented dreamers didn’t let the opinions of others stop them from what their hearts called them to.

In the introduction to his best-selling book, The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho writes: “I ask myself: are defeats necessary? Well, necessary or not, they happen … The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

Things may not work out exactly as planned, but often in life something we initially consider a devastation, we later look back on as a gift from the universe, a blessing in disguise, because we wouldn’t be where we are today had it played out otherwise. Hard-learned lessons, mistakes, time we feared lost, can be exactly what’s needed to propel us into the next chapter of our lives. At the very least, disappointment and setbacks afford us the opportunity to witness our deepest strengths. They challenge us and when we rise back up (and we always do) we see we’re now stronger, wiser, more fearless versions of ourselves.

Having walked through hell and survived sets us free.

In a college acting class I learned that on the stage, no matter how good or bad one act goes, there will always be another to follow, and to go into each with courage and be prepared to adapt as needed.

Life is a series of acts, some go better than expected, and others don’t. But it’s not about playing it so safe that you never fail. It’s about picking yourself up when you do and going into the next act with as much determination and enthusiasm as if it’s the first.

You may think it would be easier to go through life playing it safe, but when something calls out to you, by whisper or blow horn, you have to find the courage to roll the dice.

 If you’re lucky enough to have a dream, something that no matter how hard you try or how many years pass by you can’t shake, you owe it to yourself and the world to step off the sidelines of your life and go for it. It may be scary, but greatness comes from taking risks.

The only way to score is by taking a shot.

 

“Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

  1.   Feed Your Passions 

Passion is what we’re here to experience. It gives us a sense of purpose and makes us feel alive. When you engage your passions you give oxygen to your soul. You know you’re living rather than merely existing and it takes you away from everything else.

We’re all called to different things in life, but the feelings of passion we experience are universal. For you it may be writing, being in nature or around animals, traveling to new places, hiking, playing music, cooking, gardening, surfing, painting or working on creations with people who inspire you. Whatever it is, you know your passions because you’re eager to do them and feel fulfilled when you’re done. They make you lose track of time in the best way. 

If you have the chance to make a living doing something you have passion for, do everything you can to make it happen. Since most of us will work for more than half of our lives, take small steps now to turn making a living doing something you love into a reality. These days, a job is rarely just a job anymore – it’s a lifestyle. And we’re not meant to feel anxiety on Sunday knowing the next day we have to be somewhere we don’t truly want to be, working on things we don’t really care about. We’re meant to wake in the morning feeling eager for the day.

Whether you can do something you have passion for full-time, or not, make regular time in your schedule for those things that light your soul on fire. They keep you in harmony and keep you happy.

Passion fuels us. It makes you jump out of bed in the morning and give thanks for being alive. Feed your passions. Follow them. They bring life to living.

 

“To change your life, you need to change your priorities.” — Mark Twain

  1. Create Before You Consume

It’s easy to wake up and jump right onto your phone, scrolling the news or social media. But if you truly want to accomplish more of those things that matter to you, or be intentional to fulfill a life dream, you need to create something positive in your own life first.

What’s one thing you could do that would make you feel better about your life? Change your diet and lifestyle for good? Read more books? Make better friends? Learn to dance the tango? Record a podcast series? Master cooking a new meal?

Start your day by prioritizing what’s important to you, before getting led off track by other people’s agendas. Be deliberate to move the needle in your own life and take action on those things that matter to you. Do you first – everything else can wait. 

 

* If you’d like to read further, I’d love to send you a complete Advanced Reader Copy by PDF or mail you a print copy. Please email me at: Emily@EmilyFlorence.com.

Thank you again for your consideration!