That used to drive me crazy!

When I was a teenager I was painfully shy. I wasn't very confident (although I did have this inner drive /obsession that I was going to become confident!). Since I was uncomfortable with myself I didn't usually smile very often as that would be taking up space in the world. That would be claiming something for myself - I'm happy! I was always afraid that someone would crush my happiness. ( I didn't know at the time that I was the one who was responsible for my happiness and no one could "take it away" ) So, I often had people who would pass by me and say "SMILE!" - rather forcefully, demanding that I brighten up and plaster a big grin on my face.

It would piss me off to no end! I could even be humming silently to myself in a state of bliss and creative ideas but because I didn't have a smile somehow I was doing something wrong or offending people in some way. SMILE. Complete strangers would say this me. Often. Of course, I was such a pleaser and hesitated at doing any "wrong" I would give a half smile while mumbling teenage obscenities inside....usually accompanied by a sly eye roll behind their back.

I've grown up somewhat. I've done personal work (and just gotten older/wiser) to become more comfortable in my own skin. I will smile myself and with others...often. I even voluntarily give smiles to others. I've learned to take up space. That I matter and I have an impact whether I show up glowingly or whether I show up grouchy, irritated or sad. I'm not invisible. Neither are you. It's no wonder that this has become part of my life's work...taking up space in the world with our creative self-expression.

I started this post because I read an article in Newsweek questioning all the flood of books that have come out about Happiness. They were saying too much happiness is a bad thing and extolling the virtues of sadness, depression and general bad moods.
So I'm not Phd, but like you I've have life experiences and here's what I've learned...

  • Happiness is a choice. (just like the SMILE. command) And you get to choose. In the moment you can choose to find the learning, see the bigger picture, choose a new perspective, let go. (oh and how irritating in the moment can be when someone/you call yourself to that "higher self" place!) :)

  • That said...We also need the sadness, grief, depression, irritation, anger. Life isn't about putting on a happy face in every moment despite what is happening inside. We have a full range of emotions to help guide us for a reason. This sixth sense of emotions are useful to inform us when we are not feeling in aligned with our well-being. They are critical to our life's journey. Without the contrast of these emotions how would we know what our deepest desires are? How would be really ever know beauty, love, joy and kindness?

  • We all need time to be in our depths of these emotions. I used to get stuck here....irritated, feeling negative, depressed. I say stuck only because I didn't realize I had a choice. Now I notice when I'm in a "mood" and I choose to be there for however long I need. I at least try...not to beat myself up for being in a bad mood, feeling overwhelmed.....I notice what it is saying to me. It's an indicator that I'm not living up to what my "higher self" has in mind. Naps, showers, a walk and girlfriend chat do wonders for dealing with this and letting it naturally shift. And sometimes they hang on for longer than I expect...usually if I notice my "expectations" and just let it go then magic hapens.

  • Joy feels different than happiness. Joy feels multi-faceted. I often say that there are different sides to the coin of joy. There is the "elation, flow, exuberance" side and there is the "more quiet, peaceful, content" side. When I come from a grounded place of joy I tend to call on my quiet/peaceful knowing place even when I'm moving through my more turbulent emotions.

As you may have read, in January I expectedly ended up in the hospital and the whole incident kicked in my anemia to high gear which meant much of the last month I've been extremely tired. Quite a change from my expectation that January was the launch of a new big year that was going to kick off with big plans for my business that looked a certain way.

The whole "January thing" as I've come to call it had me go inside, practice extreme rest and self-care. Take care of my body, my nutrition (I'm working on the exercise piece and finding a natural and fun way to incorporate it consistently)...nurturing myself with naps, reading my favorite books like "Synchronicity" and remembering that miracles don't happen with a ton of "doing" but with a ton of "being". My biggest learning...Without your vibrant energy...running a successful joyful business just isn't possible. Energy is your most valuable resource!

My radiance is back along with an easy smile (most moments!) and that feels grounded and good.....Thanks to all of you for your well wishes...

If you would like to use this article in your newsletter or blog please feel free to do as long as you include our credit information: Written by Laura Howard West, Center for Joyful Business ( I would also appreciate it if you'd send us a copy for our media files.

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Laura West is an award-winning entrepreneur, and president and founder of the Center for Joyful Business. As a certified business coach, author and speaker, she helps thousands of women entrepreneurs create successful businesses filled with passion, purpose and prosperity. She is known for making marketing simple and fun for passion-based business owners. She is also the author and creator of Joyful Business Guide™ Home Study System, and she is author of the upcoming book, Awakening Your Inner Business Goddess. She is also the Fresh Entrepreneur Expert at Ladies Who and creator of their Fresh Entrepreneur workshop and workbook program.

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