It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote a post about how to find happiness by making a list of your favorite things. Since I just wrote a post opening up about my struggles with deep-seated anxiety, I figured it was time to talk about happiness again. Wanna know another one of my tricks for finding happiness? Count your blessings!
What Are Blessings?
The dictionary defines a blessing as “God’s favor or protection,” however, it can more generally refer to the good things in your life. You do not have to be religious to participate in this exercise. I could not find a less religiously charged word to substitute, so blessings will have to do. Feel free to substitute “good things” for blessings if that feels truer to you.
How To Count Your Blessings
Counting your blessings is easy. Simply pull out a sheet of paper or open a blank document and start writing/typing the good things in your life. You can be as general or as specific as you like. It may help to start with the big blessings like family, friends, your job, etc. But don’t stop there. Dig deeper. Don’t just write down that you are grateful for your health; write down that you are grateful that you can see your children’s faces, taste enchiladas, enjoy dancing even though you are bad at it, etc. The more specific you are with your blessings, the longer your list will be – and the better you will feel when you are finished.
Why You Should Count Your Blessings
This exercise may seem silly. After all, you know the things you are grateful for in your life, so why should you write them down? Taking the time to write down your blessings does two things. It changes your perspective from one of negativity or neutrality to one of positivity, and it provides you with a physical reminder that you can pull out any time you need a boost. Forcing your brain to think of blessings may be difficult at first, particularly if you are in a major slump, but it will change the way you think and improve your mood.
Life Update (My Blessings)
Last week, I talked about the difficult things going on in my life right now. I don’t want you all to worry too much, so I’m listing a few of my newest and most exciting blessings below to update you on what’s going on in my life.
The Blessing of Love
There was a time when I wasn’t sure if I would ever find love again. I am so blessed to have found a great man who brings out the best in me and is willing to help me heal from the things in my past.
When I met him, he was a pastor in the United Methodist Church. He was very supportive of my faith, and we joked that we were Metho-Mormons. The truth is that we were both struggling with the religious environments that we were in. I’ve talked before about some of my struggles (and will open up more about them later). While I was going through my own trial of faith, he was fighting with toxic congregations and selective rule enforcement from church leadership. As we opened up to one another, we realized that neither one of us was particularly happy where we were – and the tide started turning.
The Blessing of Hard Work
In August of 2016, we started Pokemon Go STL. We weren’t exactly sure what we were doing, but we knew there was money to be made from the Pokemon Go trend, and we wanted in on it. We helped small businesses market to Pokemon Go players, posted Pokemon Go news on our snazzy website, and ended up hosting a free family friendly event with over 2000 people in attendance. Niantic, the makers of Pokemon Go, even donated hundreds of dollars worth of prizes! We both felt that Pokemon Go STL was the beginning of something larger, but we weren’t sure what exactly.
The Blessing of Education
While we were preparing for our massive Pokemon Go event (Charmander Festival), we learned about a local makerspace that was opening. They had over $2,000,000 worth of equipment and classes to learn how to use all of the machines. We ended up joining after the first tour they offered, which was a huge investment since it was really expensive! Ahead of Charmander Festival, we cut out hundreds of wooden keychains and necklaces on a bit of a whim. At the event, we ended up selling tons of them!
And so, we were in the keychain business.
The Blessing of Failure
We went to craft fairs and farmers markets with our keychains hoping to find the same success we found at Charmander Festival, but nobody seemed that interested. We tried making puzzles and signs – anything to increase our profit. We spent a few weekends sitting in the heat making a little bit of money, and we thought we were on top of the world. Still, we knew that we had to come up with something more profitable if this was going to really sustain us. After a particularly bad event, we started brainstorming for a new product, and so our interchangeable door hangers were born.
The Blessing of Endurance
We knew we had a hit when we made our first interchangeable door hangers. We were so confident that we spent all week making backers and center plates and stayed up all night that Friday staining and painting them. We loaded the barely dried pieces into the car and drove two hours to what was supposed to be a huge event in Louisiana, Missouri. We set up our display, sat down, and waited for the money to roll in. We waited all weekend. We only sold one door hanger all weekend and didn’t make our money back from gas and the entry fee. It was an absolute bust, and we felt pretty defeated. I remember begrudgingly ordering our Dairy Queen $5 meals that evening wishing we had made more money so we could celebrate. We drove down to the river and ate looking out at the Mississippi. It was a beautiful day, and we were together – making memories. In that moment, it was all worth it. I still wasn’t sure if this was it, but I knew we were on the right track. Something big was coming.
The Blessing of Success
The next weekend, we warily set out for another event. Imagine our surprise when those door hangers started selling like hotcakes! We talked to a lot of people, made a few adjustments, and didn’t look back. We spent a few weekends hitting craft fairs, and then we thought, “why not? let’s go to the mall!” We geared up to open a kiosk at St. Clair Square for the holiday season. Our first week there was pretty good because Black Friday was amazing! The next week, we were asked by someone from Scott Air Force Base to bring our product there. By the first week in December, we had two locations open and running for the Christmas season.
The Blessing of Learning The Hard Way
I guess you could say we got a little ahead of ourselves. Two locations that needed to be open crazy hours AND we needed to make the product ourselves. We couldn’t do it alone, so we had to find some help. We hired a couple people on as temporary workers. It was one terrible experience after another. One called in sick minutes before we needed to open (when we were an hour away). Another just didn’t show up for her first day. Another called us every 5 minutes to ask questions. And another stole hundreds of dollars (at least) from us – that wasn’t caught on security cameras. We ran ourselves ragged for almost two months, working from Thanksgiving to Christmas without a day off and again from Christmas well into January with no day off. When the kiosks closed, we were ready for a break!
The Blessing of Support
Throughout this entire process, we have been surrounded by family and friends who support our business. I’m so grateful that everyone has been patient as we’ve been running around trying to hustle this business into existence. Now, we are blessed to have found a few potential investors who are going to help us purchase our own lasers and set up shop making things on our own terms.
The Blessing of Giving Back
We have big plans for this business, and it goes way beyond interchangeable door hangers. We have seen the benefits of a makerspace and learned a lot about what works (and what definitely doesn’t). We are working to create our own STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art+Design, Mathematics) curriculum in addition to business and DIY classes we can teach to kids and adults. We are hoping to use our success to help other people live their dreams (and work their dream jobs). I absolutely believe that working for someone else is NOT the only option these days. You CAN work for yourself, and we want to empower people in our communities to do just that.
The Blessing of Starting Over
It’s absolutely crazy how different my life is compared to how it was a year ago. Last year, I laid in bed watching Les Miserables by myself on Valentine’s Day. I didn’t think I’d ever really be happy again, and I was trying to come to terms with that. As miserable as I was, I was comfortable – and seeking after what I really wanted was terrifying. To be honest, it’s still terrifying. But I’ve seen the amazing things that happen when you push beyond your comfort to do the things you really want to do. And it’s worth all the anxiety it causes. This Valentine’s Day, I made cool things. I ate good food. I laughed and talked and worked with my best friend. And at the end of the night, I listened as he serenaded me with his awesome guitar skills and beautiful voice.
“When the night has come, and the land is dark, and the moon is the only light we see. No, I won’t be afraid. No, I won’t be afraid just as long as you stand, stand by me… If the sky that we look upon should tumble and fall, and the mountain should crumble to the sea, I won’t cry, I won’t cry. No, I won’t shed a tear just as long as you stand, stand by me.” – Ben E. King
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