10 Things that gave me a HAPPY new start

Flower After RainToday is a rainy spring day. I love this kind of day. I am cuddled up in bed now while the rain washes away city dirt and grime. I just love how fresh, how clean, rain makes the world around us. Even when we were living in the mountains of Virginia. Somehow the grass and trees seemed greener and flowers looked even brighter after a storm.

What the rain reminds me of…

The rain reminds me that transformation is possible for us. That the “dirt” and “grime” in our own life can be washed away. That there are second chances and new beginnings and there’s always, always hope. No one is a hopeless cause.

I didn’t always feel this way. I used to feel like the hopeless cause. In my early 20’s my life was a tangled mess of pain that I couldn’t see a way to set straight. Health issues and major depression made living excruciating. I felt trapped in a pit of hopeless despair with no ladder of escape.

And yet here I am more than a decade later doing amazingly well. Really enjoying life. The prayers I prayed in desperation back then have more than been answered today and I am so, so grateful.

It’s not that my life is perfect now. I AM very blessed, but certainly things are not perfect. I recently walked with my family through a cancer diagnosis and I deal with managing a chronic disease along with all the other daily stresses of parenting and, well, life. Just like you!

Yet the big things in life (and even the cumulative little things), that previously would knock me flat, no longer do. So many of those bad habits and unhealthy ways of doing life have been washed away. And, wow, the grass and trees really do seem greener and the flowers really do appear brighter. And sometimes it takes a storm in life to help cleanse us, to help us finally find beauty.

Change is possible. Being happy and enjoying life is possible. Living a whole, healthy life from the inside-out is possible. If it can happen for me, it can happen for anyone!

Ten things that have helped me start new

Here’s a list of the top 10 things that helped “wash my life clean” and gave me a happy new start. I only wish I had began practicing them sooner. Don’t let them fool you. They may seem small, but I am telling you these things are happiness powerhouses!

  1. Supplement with Vitamin D3
  2. Exercise
  3. Spend time outdoors daily
  4. Supplement with fish oil
  5. Get adequate sleep (7-8 hours)
  6. Stop taking oral contraceptives (this one may seem odd, but for some people, like myself, taking oral birth control can have TERRIBLE physical and emotional side-effects)
  7. Eat healthily
  8. Trust God and let go
  9. Stop ruminating (connects beautifully with #8)
  10. Practice gratitude
Bonus – Forgive
I talk about many of these practices in-depth in my e-book: 1 Week to a Happier you. Get yours free today here!

2 thoughts on “10 Things that gave me a HAPPY new start

  1. Lauren, I’m so impressed by your blog. It’s really well-written, the photos of your family and city are beautiful, and your heartfelt, honest posts are touching. I miss you guys a lot!

    What type of Vitamin D and fish oil supplements do you take? There are so many brands out there, ranging from just a few bucks at Walmart to really expensive all-natural supplements at health food stores. I’m curious to know what worked for you!

    I like your holistic approach to emotional well-being; I’ve heard so many horror stories of the side effects of depression medication. How long have you been practicing these 10 “happiness boosters” and how long did it take for you to notice a quantifiable difference in your daily mindset?

  2. Oh Sabrina, thank you for your comment! It’s so good to hear from you! I have missed you and your family so much since we’ve moved. I still can’t believe it has been 9 years since the summer we went to Poland together. I will never forget our time there. Brance and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary this December. Where does time go?

    Yes, as far as supplements go, I buy Nature Made fish oil and vitamin D3 in bulk at Costco, but I know you can also get it at Target. That brand is rather reasonably priced and I have had very good results. Between all of my vitamins (I also supplement calcium and a multi), I take in around 5,000 IU of vitamin D. In the winter months I do a little bit more. Because I take so many supplements, I only “splurge” on my multi, which is a raw food vitamin made by Garden of Life, and my calcium, also Garden of Life. I have had better luck purchasing them online, as they are rather expensive at health food stores.

    Many of these things I have discovered by “accident”. For example, I didn’t connect my poor physical and emotional health to the pill until after we were pregnant with Haddie and I finally began to feel normal (aside from the nausea :). It was confirmed for me when I attempted taking it again after she was weaned and I began experiencing all of the terrible side-effects I had experienced before. My doctor put me on birth control really young, 15 or 16, to help with my cycle and I think because I was so young, I was unable to connect my declining health to the drug. Thankfully years of terrible health (extreme hypoglycemia, chronic fatigue, major depression etc.) resolved itself almost over night when I finally stopped taking the pill.

    Exercise, spending time outside, getting adequate sleep, and eating healthily are things that I have tried to do for a long time. Moving to Boston (and recent research) confirmed for me in a big way the importance of each of these puzzle pieces for good health, physical and emotional. They became a little bit more of a challenge with our move, having kids, living in the city with no yard etc. But I can really feel it if I start letting these areas slip. In fact, when I fell into depression a year or so after moving to Boston, I was first introduced to their importance for good mental health through some research. I was fortunate that these combined with supplementing vitamin D3 and fish oil pulled me out of depression and have helped fend it off.

    Of course trusting God (letting go), practicing gratitude, forgiveness are things that my faith taught me. Sadly, it took me too long to actually put them into practice (especially gratitude). It’s been fun writing for this blog and seeing the research that supports these practices for good emotional health and to experience them as well. They really do make a big difference!

    As far as how long it took me to notice a difference … for some of them I would say within a week. Supplementing Vitamin D3, Exercise, and spending 20-30 minutes outdoors are proven to improve mood almost immediately. I am not kidding when I say that when I began taking Vitamin D3 I felt like someone turned on the light in my head … the cobwebs lifted as did the depression. I actually felt smarter :). It was pretty darn amazing. Some of them like eating healthily, supplementing fish oil, letting go etc. may take a little longer. Although, I was surprised to learn in my research that keeping a gratitude journal can have a nearly immediate effect that is long-lasting (up to 6 months of happiness). Together they have turned an upside-down life right-side-up. It’s been nothing short of a miracle and I am incredibly grateful.

    It was so, so nice hearing from you! I hope you are doing good! I would LOVE to stay in touch!!!

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