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7 Steps To Bliss

Through my teen years to my mid-twenties, I had ‘managed’ depression and anxiety in many defective ways: drugs, promiscuity, self-inflicted injury, alcohol, prescription medication, avoidance. None of these were long-lasting or beneficial.

And then there was a period in my life where my perception of the world and my purpose in it shifted. I began recognizing myself in others and appreciating myself for who I truly am (who we all are): each of us unique and with a divine purpose - who is happy, sometimes.

Come ‘on – we aren’t ALWAYS happy. My goal in this post is not to act like if you do any of the following things in your life you will be a happy person - In fact, ‘happy’ is a loaded word.  

Am I a much ‘happier’ person now that I incorporate the following list into my life – sure. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel sad or angry or overwhelmed at times.

I think the key is actually feeling the uncomfortable emotion at that time – which is the opposite of what we automatically think or what may be acceptable. I mean, who wants to feel sad? Who wants to feel pissed off?

But the thing is, if you stuff it – then you will eventually feel it and its going to more drawn out and gritty then if you would have just dealt with it all at that time.

However, I digress…let’s just agree that feeling sad or angry isn’t ‘right or wrong’ anymore then being happy or peaceful.

The following has helped me find joy within myself and I hope it does the same for you.

Step 1    Take Care of Yourself

I mean really take care of yourself. This may be of the most influential step listed.

Some Most of us were never taught nor had a role model in our lives that provided a decent example on how to take care of our bodies. And an occasional gym and health class in high school doesn’t quite lend a knowledgeable foundation to use throughout a lifetime.

Luckily, all a person needs to the willingness to learn and to love themselves - if you are reading this, then there is a good chance you are at least doing one of these two.

Obviously, nutrition directly effects your physical, mental (focus) and emotional energy. Start by being more aware of what you eat. Watch a documentary (Food Inc and Forks Over Knives is excellent).

Foods that possess clinical evidence to combat depression are foods with omega-3 fatty acids (think salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as spinach and avocado). [*][*][*][*][*][*]

If there was a superstar in your arsenal of self care then it would most definitely be exercise.

Chemically speaking, getting physical has been repeatedly supported by science to be as effective as antidepressants – with no side effects (well, maybe a smaller waistline and higher self esteem). [*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]

Here is a really good read with more information on how to start taking care of yourself: What it means to really take care of yourself.

Step 2    Drop the Comparisons

You might not now it yet – but I’m going to let you in on something...

Comparing yourself to others is poisonous.

Social comparisons and over thinking situations is simply a (bad) habit it’s not something that we were instinctually born to do. Which is a good thing – it means we can learn to stop.

If you find yourself stewing over an event, rehashing something someone has done/said to you or simply being critical of another – stop.

‘Well, it’s not that easy’

Yes. Yes - it is. Stop right now and do something else. 

What someone else is doing is their business (unless it is hurting someone obviously); mind your own business because it’s bad for your health.

If you are hell bent on comparing yourself to someone, then compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself. 

Step 3   Do Something Creative or New

Becoming aware of your emotions seems easy, yet as we grow up get really good at two things that hinder our ability to do this (1) denial (2) denial.

If you are wondering exactly how to become better aware of what you are truly feeling then incorporating something creative in your life is hands down the most effective way to ‘tune in’ - simply draw, dance, sing, or listen/play music.

When you are being creative, you automatically become more aware of your emotions not to mention it is an amazing way to release/vent/express any negative emotions simmering inside.

If you aren’t that creative (or even if you are) then go somewhere or do something new.

Go to the museum. Start reading a new book. Go for a bike ride. Take a class. Volunteer.

When we do something new you are altering the levels of dopamine in the brain which is intrinsically link to depression/enjoyment. [*]

Step 4    EXPRESS Gratitude

Talk about beating a dead horse – we hear over and over again how important it is to be grateful in our lives.

Sure, people generically say they are grateful for the wonderful things in their life (kids, house, friends, family, job, etc.) but exactly how do they express it?

What action results from your gratefulness?

This is the key that isn’t mentioned – probably because people generally don’t want to have to exert any extra effort into the things in their life. (Another reason why step 1 is so crucial-where else are you going to get the extra energy needs to be expressing gratitude all day?)

Try this first step – tell someone how grateful you are to have them in your life…and then tell them again the next day.

Smile at someone that you appreciate.

Say thank you and make sure you look at the person when saying it.

Pause and give some of your time to think about a few reasons associated with why you are grateful for something.

When we give time and effort to appreciate the things in our life those things and people increase in value in our lives.

Step 5    Continually Forgive Yourself

No one can beat you up better then you.

The kicker – you’re really good at and you may not even be aware that you are doing it.

There are many things in my life that I look back and think – wow, I would never do those things today. However, all of those ‘mistakes’ have contributed in helping me becoming the person I am today.

Before you are able to forgive anyone in your life, you must be willing to cut yourself a break.

At some point in your life, you’ll come to realize that you did the best you could given the conditions of your life at that time. Once we realize that about ourselves – you understand that it applies to everyone else and forgiveness of others becomes easier.

Step 6   Practice a Spiritual Life

There is something to be said about what happens when we recognize that life is bigger than us.

Not only does science substantiated the claim that spirituality diminishes depression, but the way you experience life is transformed when you consider that we’re all in this together. [*][*][*][*]

Live your faith.

Practice it.

What have you done in the past 24 hours that expresses your most deeply held beliefs?

Step 7    Love VS Fear

Love and fear are ultimately the most powerful and basic forms of human emotion.

Both of these emotions hold the potential to inspire extreme behavior (dying for another/killing another). But it seems that fear tends to paralyze rather than empower.

This step isn’t as easy as simply deciding one day to live from a fear-based outlook to one that is based on love. It takes a shift in perspective and may take practice and patience.

For me, I recognize that every breath that is taken in this life is a precious gift bestowed to us for one purpose and that is to love each other the best we can.

Do not focus on what is not your purpose. Obstacles in life cannot be controlled.

In fact, the challenges in your life are not by accident.

What this world has been trying to tell you this whole time is… “I love you and everything will be alright.” (and don’t we all need to hear this)

Once we hear this message - more importantly, once you experience it – it’s effortless to come from a place of love and share that with the world. 


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