Tuesday, July 18, 2017

8 Ways to be Happier

Being happier is a goal most of us are striving for. I think this is great thing to strive for, no matter how elusive it may be. It pushes us to become better versions of ourselves and evaluate what we're doing and why.

When I think of living a happy life, I don't think it means being happy 100% of the time, or even 90%. I think living a happy life means that you choose a positive outlook and attitude, you incorporate activities and routines into your life that make you enjoy, and in the end the happy moments outweigh the bad ones. Today I'm sharing a few ways you can add more happy moments to your life.

8 Ways to be Happier

Make a Throwback Playlist

I made a throwback playlist recently and nothing makes me happier than turning it on and singing along to all my old favorite songs! Making this playlist has been fun as I go through all the songs I used to listen to 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago (How am I old enough to say that?!).  It's such a great feeling when you hear a song that used to - and continues to - make you happy. If you want some help starting your own throwback playlist, here's mine.

Find a Way to Enjoy Your Commute

Whether your commute is 15 minutes or an hour, the time you spend getting to work can be dreaded time - but it doesn't have to be! After having an hour long commute the past few months, I've found some ways to make use of this time and I switch it up depending on my mood or just what I'm interested in that day. I've used this time to listen to audiobook, catch up on the news, listen to a podcast, listen to my favorite music to get ready for a new day (or destress after a bad one), and I know there are even more ways you could use this time! Try out a few of these ideas and find a way to enjoy your commute. I promise it'll make that time much happier for you!

Do Something

It can be really easy to get into the routine of coming home from work, work out, shower, eat, watch TV, go to bed and using the weekends to catch up on house work, life admin, and Netflix - or at least it is for me. This is what's easy, not what's best. Just writing that felt like a slow death.

Push yourself to do something. During the week take 30 minutes to do at least one thing that makes you happy whether that be reading a book, blogging, baking, or whatever else makes you happy. On the weekend try to get out and do something like try a new restaurant, visit the library, or go on a day trip - something a bit bigger. You don't have to do it every weekend. Even just doing something like that one weekend a month will make a difference.

Be More Intentional

For me, being more intentional has the most impact on living a happier life and if you look closely is really the force behind a lot of the other tips I'm giving in this post. Being more intentional is about consciously thinking about what you're doing and why, rather than just being pulled around by life. What does that mean? It's really easy to just go along in life doing what's easiest, what you've always done, or what the people around you are doing. Living this way though doesn't tend to make you happy or fulfilled. Being intentional is about looking at what you do each day, asking why, and considering if maybe there's a better way of using your time and energy.

One example already mentioned in this post would be using your commute to listen to an audiobook instead of just listening to the radio and getting annoyed by traffic. By listening to the audiobook during your commute, you're being intentional about how you're spending your time and using that often wasted time period to enrich your life.

How do you start living more intentionally? Over the next week ask yourself why you're doing the things you do, see if that reason makes sense and is helping you lead a happier life (or meet whatever other goals you may have). If it's not, find a way to better use your time, energy, and money. For a more detailed introduction to intentional living, check out this post from Jennifer's blog.

Accept Feelings

Many times with posts like this, we feel like maybe there's something wrong with us if we aren't happy and we should just pretend to be happy so we can fit in. This is absolutely not the truth! While I would consider myself a generally happy person and do my best to live a happy life, I suffer from depression and times in life that are highly stressful for me (just read more of this blog if you want some proof).

A very good piece of advice I've heard over the years is that you shouldn't fight your feelings or try to force them to go away. If you're sad, accept that you're feeling sad in that moment and allow yourself to be sad for a bit. Don't hold on to the feeling longer than it lasts or try to fight it and be upset with yourself for being sad. Feelings (including happiness) are temporary. Allow them to come and go. You may be sad for a day, a week, or maybe even longer. That's okay. Feel that sadness, and then move on.*

Enjoy the Sunshine

Get outside and enjoy the sunshine! Go for a walk, read a book outside, play a game of basketball with a friend, visit the park - whatever you like to do! Sunshine is proven to boost your brain's production of serotonin, the chemical that makes you happy. You'll get to connect a bit with nature as well, which always makes me feel more whole and at peace. This is a lot easier to do when it's nice outside, but even in winter you can get in some more sunshine by opening the blinds and going for a short walk.

Invest in People, Not Things

We've all been out with friends and experienced that moment when suddenly you look up and realize all of you are on your phones, not talking or interacting at all with each other. What?! Sometimes its like we'd rather be with our phones, laptops, or TV than with real people. These things don't really make us happy - relationships do. It's so important to invest in the people around you. I'm not necessarily the best at this (introvert problems), but I try my best. I use my weekends to see my family, me and my best friend talk on the phone most days, and I try to text friends who live far away. It's important to do these things and be present with the people you love rather than sit there with your phone in front of your face the whole time (btw, I'm totally guilty of this).

Practice Self-Care

I'm a big believer in self-care. Practicing self-care regularly helps me feel more creative, relaxed, and happy. It's made a big impact in my life as far as helping me control my stress and my mood. Self-care doesn't have to be anything big or expensive. It can be disconnecting from your electronics for 20 minutes each day, taking little breaks throughout the day to get up and walk around, or creating a morning routine that works for you.

What are your tips for cultivating more happiness? Let me know in the comments!

*I am talking about sadness. I am not talking about depression or other mental health issues. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or other debilitating mental illness(es), seek help. Mental illnesses such as these are NOT something you can just move on from, nor should you be expected to. Talk with someone you trust about it and see a doctor or therapist.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Top Advice for Bloggers

Let me start this by saying, I decided to research "how to start a blog" after writing my first draft of this post and it was so scary. Looking at all the things different blogs tell you you have to do to have a successful blog made me want to quit. It's so overwhelming.

I realize I might just be adding to that feeling, but my hope is that this post, based on my own experiences with blogging, will help new and seasoned bloggers alike. These are some of the best pieces of advice I've come across and lessons I've learned over nearly 3 years of blogging.

As you read through this list and any others you may come across, remember there is no magic formula for creating a blog and there is also no guarantee that you will become a full-time blogger making tons of money. More than likely, blogging will be a hobby for a long time that brings in only a little bit of extra money. That's okay!

Alright, enough with this intro and let's get on to my top pieces of advice for bloggers!

Top Advice for New & Seasoned Bloggers

Read and Comment on Other Blogs

If you have your own blog, hopefully you like reading other blogs as well. As a new or seasoned blogger, reading other people's blog posts is essential. It inspires you to continue blogging, shows you ways to write and format blog posts, and connects you to other bloggers. 

Along with reading blogs, it's also important to comment on other people's blog posts. Think about it - doesn't it just make your day when someone leaves a kind comment on your post? It's the same for bloggers at all levels. We work hard on these posts and getting feedback from readers makes it all worth it. Plus, by leaving a genuine comment and dropping your own blog's link at the end, that blogger (and even some of their readers) are likely to stop by your blog.

Write About What Interests You

This is super cliche in the blogging world, but that's because it can be so easy to feel like there's only 1 type of post write or you have to follow certain trends to get readers. Don't feel like you have to review the newest Naked palette or you have to start a bullet journal. If it doesn't interest you, don't write about it! Instead find topics that you care about and can help others with and blog about that.

Learn How to Take and Edit Photos

While blogging is primarily about writing great content, having equally great photos never hurt! Photography is very important because, let's be honest, people are more likely to click on a post if they see an attractive image. 

Visuals are highly important in online media which is why new and seasoned bloggers alike are always researching how to improve their photography. If you're looking for some photography help, check out these posts:
     How To Tell If You're Overexposing Your Blog Photos from Lazy Thoughts
     How To Brand Your Blog Images (& Why It's Important) from Katelyn Blogs

Don't Be Afraid to Promote Your Blog Posts

After writing your post, taking and editing photos, formatting and editing your post, and hitting publish you might be tempted to think you're done. Nope! If you stop there only a handful of people will read your post. Once you publish your blog post it's time to start promoting. 

I use Hootsuite to schedule tweets for my new post. I schedule 1 promo tweet a day for the first 2 weeks and then periodically throughout the next 6 months. 

I also pin my title images to relevant boards on my Pinterest and to relevant group boards. Pinterest group boards are a real game changer. If you're new to this or just looking for more group boards to join, the best way to find them is to check out what group boards bloggers similar to you are using and request to be added to the boards you like (directions are usually in the board's descriptions). 

Don't Feel Like You Have to Blog Every Day

It's super easy to look around at successful bloggers and feel like you have to blog 5 times a week (or whatever their magic number is). Unless blogging is your full-time job this is not a necessity (and even then there's probably some wiggle room).

I used to be able to blog 3 times a week, no problem. Over the past year my life has changed and I've had to come to the realization that I am far better to put out 1 post a week that has good content and is (in my opinion) top notch than to stress and try to force out 2+ mediocre posts that I threw together in a rush.

An added bonus of posting less is your posts stay "new" longer and tend to get more views since you're promoting that 1 post longer. You can also spend more time promoting older posts so they don't just disappear after all the work you put into creating it and working on your social media game.

Learn Some of the Finer Points of Blogging

Google Analytics, SEO, HTML, CSS - these are some of the more technichal aspects of blogging. While you don't have to be a professional web site designer to run a blog, having some basic knowledge of these technichal aspects of blogging and how to use them will greatly benefit you and your blog.  If you're looking to explore some of these topics, start here:
     Basic SEO Tips for Bloggers from Charley Lucy

Don't Stress About the Numbers

If, like most bloggers, you want to grow your blog - of course you'll need to track some numbers like how many views you get on a post, how many followers on each platform, etc. Check your numbers and record them periodically, but don't get wrapped up in them. Unless you're going through a super awesome viral moment, checking your numbers hourly or even daily can be really frustrating. People will follow and unfollow. It's normal. If you check your numbers weekly or monthly, you're much more likely to see more growth and get a more realistic view of how you're doing. 

I hope this post was helpful! Let me know in the comments what advice you would add or let me know if you have a blogging question you'd like to see answered.

Top Advice for New & Seasoned Bloggers

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June Favorites No. 2

*Affiliate links may be used in this post, but all opinions are my own. For more information, please check out my Terms & Conditions.

Hello! (I never start my posts off like that, but I just felt like it for whatever reason and I'm going with it) I didn't post a monthly favorites last month because it was a super busy month for me. In May I went on a weekend trip with my best friend to Las Vegas, finished up my first semester as a teacher (what!?), packed up my classroom so I could move from the Jr./Sr. High to the Middle School in August, and moved apartments so I would be closer to my school. Busy!

This month has been MUCH more relaxed. I didn't get a summer job so I have been able to relax, focus on my blog, and figure out how to set up a middle school Spanish curriculum. I've been enjoying this month and having so much freedom.

A few of my favorites from June 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

5 Things To Do In Vegas

In May my friend and I went on a trip that we she had been planning tirelessly for months. She's been to Vegas several times which was a plus as she already knew a lot. I was able to rely on her to plan an awesome weekend trip. I thought I would pass on this knowledge and possibly help you plan a trip there as well. Keep reading for my top 5 things to do while you're in Las Vegas!

5 things to do in Vegas (besides gambling)

Visit the Las Vegas Sign

This was the last thing we did before leaving, and I wish it had been the first thing. Visiting the sign makes you feel like you've officially arrived in Las Vegas. It's the best photo op and I don't think it even counts as going to Vegas if you don't take your picture here! 

Expert Tip: If you go off to the side, you can skip the line of people wanting to take their picture directly in front of the sign, but still get a great pic (and no one gets mad)!

Walk the Strip

This is another thing you have to do. It's just part of going to Las Vegas! There's so much to see and lots of photos you'll want to take as you walk along the strip like New York New York, Paris, Monte Carlo, Caesar's - you'll want to see it all. Make sure you walk around and explore a few of these famous casinos, too. I'd recommend making sure you walk around Paris and Caesar's palace.

The High Roller

This is the world's tallest observation wheel and gives you a great view of Vegas. It takes 30 minutes and gives you lots of great photo opportunities. This was probably my favorite part of our trip as it was so pretty.

Expert Tip: If you go during the day it's $10 less and can get a cabin (mostly) to yourself.

Eat at The Flamingo

First off, flamingos are trendy right now and there are flamingos everywhere. They have a garden area with real flamingos (and other birds) that you can watch while you eat your meal at their giant buffet. They have tons of different kinds of foods to choose from, making the price tag ($25 for all you can eat) worth it. This is also the original Las Vegas hotel and casino, so it's a cool place to check off your list.

See a Show

Along with the casinos, Vegas is famous for its entertainment. My friend has a '70s soul, so we saw Cher. It was great and the tickets were only $55 each. There's tons of different performers in Vegas all the time, so you can definitely find a show that you're interested in, and fits your budget.