The Blog

On Setting Goals & Healing

I woke up the day after St. Patrick’s Day with my hand throbbing around 6 am. I was confused and groggy. I struggled to move my fingers. It hurt to make a fist, but I did it anyway.

No part of my plans on St. Patrick’s Day included the words wrist surgery, but then when do you ever wake up & think it’s a good day for someone to slice open your hand, insert a metal plate & 9 screws (Yes, 9 screws!).

But that’s my reality. That’s also what happens when one decides to step foot on a skateboard. There’s always a chance of falling. But isn’t that the way life works in general? There’s always a chance you’ll fail, or get hurt, or things won’t go as planned.

Is that a good enough reason to not try new things? To explore the joys of life? To put yourself in a state of childlike wonder & awe & amazement? Because all the moments leading up to my fall involved bravery, excitement, joy, freedom. But you can’t have one without the other. No joy without risk.

Recently I had a chance to hear a man named Tyler Mongan speak.  He was speaking about goal setting. The first step in setting goals is to give yourself permission to change. Our brains aren’t wired to like change. Our brains want things to stay the same & comfortable & for things to make sense.

We set goals of some sort because we want a future different than our current reality. So we set goals that excite us, & then the brain freezes in fear, according to Tyler. Physiological responses are greater than facts, so set goals that are uncomfortable to think about. Most importantly, Tyler asked us to lead with our heart beats…to infuse our heart beats into our goals & to believe they are already achieved. To live with this deep knowing & trust.

There’s this cool theory out there about habits that goes as follows:

Thoughts -> Feelings -> Actions -> Results -> Beliefs (repeat) 

The thoughts we think create feelings in our bodies which lead to actions. The actions produce results which then creates a belief that becomes a habit. The key for me here is to create habits that are positive, filled with love & inspire me to live a full & meaningful life. That life starts with a positive mindset.

One habit I’ve established over the past few years has been the Wim Hof Method. It’s a combination of breath work, strength/stretching, & cold immersion (cold showers, icy lake dips, winter runs in shorts & shoes). I had this thought if I could put my body in controlled states of stress & discomfort I could kick start my body’s ability to keep me healthy, happy & strong (Wim’s goals). The thought led me to think about how I would feel if those things happened. For me, that was a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment, & satisfaction in knowing I’m capable of more amazing things than I thought possible before. Since I started the method 2.5 years ago, I’ve yet to be sick, I sleep better, I recover faster from intense workouts & my body works super efficiently. I’m in tune with my body in ways that I never dreamed.

Which leads me to what the whole point of this post is. The heart led goal setting, the habit building & Wim Hof Method all tie together & present me with a new opportunity. I believe my body & mind listen to one another. I open these channels of communication with my breath holds (Quick Tangent on breath holds. You can get a full explanation of them with this app).

I’ve dried up stuffy noses. Got rid of headaches. All by creating this space & asking my body to heal. I’m going to apply this same process to healing my wrist. I believe by opening these channels of communication between my mind & body I’m able to heal my wrist in a more effective manner than normal. Last night I did 2 hours of breath holds & could feel the healing energy flowing throughout my body directly into my wrist. This morning I did another 45 minutes. The pain in my hand is already way lower. I feel it healing.

I share this with you because I imagine there are some big scary things you want to achieve in your life. I hope you understand living our best lives starts from within. It’s not always easy, but always worth it to do the internal work that ultimately leads to loving ourselves. Life is so much better when we are fully alive.

Moving forward with this knowledge, what beliefs can you foster that support a life you’ll be proud of?

Josh Solar
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How I Got My Creative Kick in the Nuts (A 4 Step Process for Everyone)

It was up in the mountains of Southern California, 7,000 ft in the sky, at a creative entrepreneur retreat called Field Trip that I got the creative kick in the nuts I needed. You see, even though I've been quiet around here on this blog this year, life has been pretty dang good. I've spent 5 weeks with my family & friends in Southern California, my kids health has been stable for quite some time. The stressors in my life have one by one fallen away. 

But something felt off in my creative endeavors & I needed to fix it. So here's my foolproof plan to getting your own creative kick in the nuts or butt if you don't have nuts (whatever), here goes...

Step 1. Step far out of your comfort zone. I'm an introvert & really really like my comfortable friendships I've built over the years. It was time for me to put myself in a position to meet other creatives that I didn't know too well. Field Trip fit that bill for me. I knew maybe 20 people of the 350-400 that were there. I was nervous & just wanted to hide at times, but I didn't let that side of me lead (more on that later).

Step 2. Say yes & trust your intuition. I approached Field Trip with an open mind & said yes to anything/everything. This led me to meet folks from all over the world with fascinating stories (I)(II)(III). I said yes to Reiki & ended up feeling my heart feel so heavy, then crying uncontrollably & then I felt that heaviness/sadness release & I felt blissed out all within a 10 minute window. I said yes to any class that had to do with self-love & all of those experiences led me to step 3. 

Step 3. Commit to self-love. Make time for it. Find what recharges you. Find what brings you joy. Do those things every day, as often as possible. For me, that means making time for my morning meditation & Wim Hof breathing. It means connecting with my kids. It means creating things that make me happy &  that let others know they matter. It means waking up at 6 am before the sunrise on the day you turn 36, even though you stayed up until 1 am talking & knowing you've got a long day ahead of you but you have to catch that sunrise while meditating on the rock that was probably a bit too hard for you to climb but you did it anyway. 

Step 4. Surround yourself with people that inspire you & push you to keep going. Those are the people that remind you why life is worth living in the first place. We all crave connection, real, true, honest connection. Find the people that love you well & never let them go.

Bonus Step. Give yourself grace & know you're loved. This one is related to step 3, but I wanted to make it the final step. Because I was being so hard on myself. The last 3 years of my life had almost nothing go according to any plan Jenny or I could've possibly came up with. Yet we still traveled. We're still married (happily, I might add, and closer than ever). Our kids are healthy (as healthy as they can be with CF). And I've got food, shelter, clothes, people who love me & work I enjoy. I realized I needed time to grieve that period of my life & all that went up in flames with it. Field Trip was the start to a new healthier season for me. 

Tada! I'm creating again & having fun with it. Making art became such a chore for me, but following these simple (who am I kidding, it's hard to do put yourself out there but it's SO worth it) steps I've regained my creative mojo.

Also, just go to any/all future Field Trips. These are all things I pulled together from the experiences I had with the most creative folks I've had the pleasure of sharing cabins, meals, meditations with.

Back to my birthday meditation session on the rocks. I watched the sun come up & snapped an image. The words 'Lift your head up high & don't lose heart' came to me at some point that morning so I decided to write them on that picture of the sunrise & make it into an iphone wallpaper. If you dig it, just click the link there & save it to your phone, my treat. Here it is in square form so you can see more of the mountain :)

lift your head up high & don't lose heart hand letter mountain sunrise

 

Josh Solar
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Getting Lost in Ladder Canyon...On Expectations vs. Reality & Proper Preparation

A few days ago I was scrolling instagram & saw some pictures of a friend who took her family on a hike through this amazing slot canyon in Southern California. I said to myself, "Hey! We're in Southern California. We should go!" 

So 2 days later, we went. I was stoked. I've never been hiking through a slot canyon before but have always wanted to.

We woke up, ate breakfast, got in the car & drove 2 hours to Ladder Canyon. What was supposed to be a 5.3 mile hike ended up being over a 8 mile hike where we got lost, turned around, turned around again, then made it back to the car right as it became pitch black. We were hiking for just over 6 hours & those with 8, 10 & 12 year old kids know is not always the most fun way for kids that age to spend their days.

We had cell service for a tiny bit and notified our friend who then notified the Park Rangers who we found out later in the evening were really close to sending out a search party for us. Note: Thanks to Apple's Find My Friends app, my buddy could track us whenever we had a tiny bit of roaming coverage. So he would screen shot our trek & pass it on to the park rangers.

I could go on and on about how worried I was, how tired the kids were, how I lost my patience & broke down into a screaming, crying rage because I know how cold it gets out in the desert in the evening. I could write about those things, because they're all true. But there were other important life lessons that jumped out and smacked me in the face.

1. Expectations vs. Reality: I wanted to see the slot canyons. I did a tiny bit of googling & found there were parts of the trail that were super difficult, so we wanted to avoid those. I also saw there was a pretty waterfall somewhere on the trail that the kids would enjoy. Slot canyons & waterfall. That was my expectation. Once I realized we were lost & hadn't found either the slots or the waterfall, I was pretty disappointed. The disappointment led to me losing my patience & yelling, both to the heavens & at my family. My expectations didn't meet my reality & I was not handling it well. After stomping around for a good 30 minutes (all in the wrong directions, I might add) I calmed down & apologized for my behavior & realized that my family's safety and finding the car was more important than me seeing some slot canyons and a waterfall. 

2. Proper Preparations: I should've done more research. I should've learned my lesson as we also got lost in the Redwoods a few years ago. (Maybe the lesson here is don't let me lead any hikes?) I should've downloaded the maps of the trail and the terrain to my phone so we could follow along with where we were hiking. Luckily, I lugged a TON of water and snacks in with me, so we were good on that part. 

3. How positive attitudes help in stressful situations: Max, our 12 year old, was especially negative. Lia, our 8 year old, was too for most of the first part of the hike. Once we got lost (and after my tantrum) she was the voice of reason saying things like, "Guys, if we all have positive attitudes this will be a lot better." Which I'm pretty sure she heard my wife say the same thing at least 279 times earlier in the hike. Either way, she was right. We were lost. We had to get to the car. Having a bad attitude didn't change that scenario or make anything better.

I feel life wanted to give me some reminders of lessons that I needed to hear right now. I needed the reminder to check my expectations at the door. I needed a reminder that right now I'm in a bit of a hold phase of life, and that I'm preparing for something major, even if I don't know what that is yet (Don't worry, Hello Happiness isn't going away). And finally, I needed to be reminded that staying positive is always a good thing.

This morning, we're already looking back on yesterday with a laugh (at least I am) & I can't wait until we go back on another adventure that won't turn out exactly the way we planned.  

Finally, here's a picture of our family near the end of the hike once we knew we were back on the right trail heading to the car. Look how happy & not tired we look!

Josh Solar
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Let's Celebrate the Wins

celebrate the wins hand letter banner

I realized recently that I get so caught up in sharing my faults, failures & screw ups that I kind of suck at celebrating my wins (big & small). Do you ever do that?

Get sucked up in the messes you make while discrediting the good things you do? (I'm guilty)
Dwell on mistakes instead of looking for the silver lining or lesson learned? (Raises my hand)
Take too long to apologize & then hold on to the fact it took you that long to apologize? (Guilty as charged)
Eat that junk food or extra snack late at night because I 'deserve' it or want it so bad but know once I cave & eat it that I'll feel bad about myself for not having any will power which completely discounts any & all enjoyment of said treat in the first place? (Get it together, man)

Why do I do this? Is it some sort of perfection expectation that I'm trying to live up to? Am I afraid of what will happen if I open myself up to full on joy? Am I worried about people thinking I'm weak? Am I worried about disappointing others or letting them down? Do I secretly self sabotage myself because I don't truly deserve to be happy?

I've been contemplating all these questions. Letting them roll around my head. Trying to come up with some solid answers.

Note: I truly believe in sharing our screwups it helps others not feel alone when they screwup. 

But if I hold onto that & don't ever acknowledge the wins & GOOD things life has to offer, I'm completely ignoring some of the best reasons to even be alive in the first place. 

To change all that, I'm going to share some wins in my life in hopes you will take some time to reflect on some wins in your life.

  • The last day I didn't sit down to meditate was November 30, 2015.
  • I took some time to stand outside and stare into the fog this morning. I sure do love fog. And nature is pretty dope, too.
  • I hired a nutrition coach and am joining a crossfit gym when we get back from California next month. Both of those are huge steps for me as putting some 'skin in the game' is a huge motivator for me to press through on my health even though it would be easier to quit & eat junk food.
  • My wife & kids & family & friends love me so well. There are daily reminders all around me about how loved I am.
  • I bought some kettlebells to take with me in the RV to California so I have no excuses to not workout.
  • I've read 3 books already in 2017, continuing my tradition of 52 books a year that I started in 2013.
  • I am almost done with my first cross stitch since I was like 8. It's such a joyful thing for me.
  • I've been learning woodburning lately as well. Basically, what this means is I have a weird idea, then I instantly put steps into making that weird idea come to life. Right now, they're small ideas, but I know this practice will help me when those big ideas come.
  • I went to a movie last night and successfully avoided popcorn.

Those are just a few wins that I'm doing a little happy dance for in my chair as I type this. I'd love to hear about some of your wins (big and small). Because don't you think it would feel better to focus on the good things in life for a bit?

Josh Solar
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What Are You Communicating?

Orly Waba, in her new book, Kindness Boomerang, says "Communication is never about the words, it's about the tone, the inflections of the voice, and the way in which those words are said." BOOM.

You see, it takes the same amount of time to say something in a kind tone as it does in an angry tone. It really doesn't matter what you're saying if your body language & tone don't align with your message. We can pick up on the little resentments & frustrations that are communicated to us. 

A story. I was writing in a coffee shop earlier this week. I was sitting at a row of tables waiting for some friends to show up. A dude sat down at one of those tables. Instantly I was frustrated. There are TONS of open tables in this place & he had to sit at the one that was going to interfere with the conversation I was about to have. My gut reaction was coming from a place of frustration, but I checked that & greeted him in a kind way. Dude was just chilling, really. No phone, no computer, nothing to read, just a dude enjoying a cup of coffee by himself in a coffee shop like a crazy person. I decided to set my frustrations down & we had a little conversation about mindfulness that would've been wildly different had I let my frustration lead.

Another story. We're in a season at home where Jenny is the main money maker & I'm the one taking care of errands, kids, meals, bed time, etc. There will be moments I catch myself feeling resentment at all the time Jenny spends doing only the things that light her up while I'm doing the dishes yet again. She works so hard for herself & our family, but she's working hard on things that she loves a lot (which is amazing!). She also has more friends here in KC that she spends time with than I do, so she gets more time away from the house than I do. For whatever reason, those 2 things slowly build up resentment if I'm not careful in checking the WHY behind my life. And as the resentment builds, Jenny picks up on it the tone I speak to her in. She sees it in my body language. It underlies every action/word towards her. And that's not ok.

So, what can you or I do when we find ourselves in similar frustrated situations? A few weeks ago, I wrote about serving from a place of abundance vs. a place of sacrifice. It comes down to being honest with myself. It comes down to carving out a space for me to sit with my feelings. To know that all feelings are impermanent. All feelings come and go. And to be honest about where these frustrations are coming from. For me, there's always more to the story than the initial one I'm telling myself. Sitting with the feelings & asking why helps tremendously (make sure you're giving yourself some grace in this process & not judging yourself).

Something else that helps me is sharing my feelings out loud to someone else. Something about getting all vulnerable with another eases the confusion as to why we feel a certain way. When I'm feeling uncalled for resentment towards Jenny, instead of just keeping those feelings inside and letting them fester, I choose to talk to her about what I'm feeling & why. Talking through these uncomfortable topics is one of the reasons I feel so connected to her.

Because I know, without a doubt, my wife loves me so much. I can see it in her eyes when she looks at me. I feel it in her touch when she softly runs her hand down my back or along my cheek. To this day, I still get butterflies when she comes near....like how did I get so lucky to have a partner who loves me as well as Jenny does. And if I'm being 100% honest with myself, how can I resent a woman who makes me feel like that? I have all of my needs met in my life & she's happier than she's ever been. Because she's happier, she has more joy to share with the world, and you can keep going in an upward spiral of love to give. How can I possibly keep choosing to communicate resentment when upward spirals of love are involved?

I share all of this only because I want to ask you to spend some time this week and ask yourself what messages you're communicating to your loved ones. What messages are you sending out into the world? And if you don't like the way those messages make you feel, what can you do to change them? What needs to happen so you can live from a place of LOVE & kindness?

NOTE: If you feel you don't have a safe space to talk through these things, please reach out. I'd love to offer a judgement free listening space for you. Just shoot me an email to josh@hellohappinesscardco.com & I promise to get back to you.

Josh Solar
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Surrounding Yourself With Good People

Every Tuesday morning you can find me at Quay Coffee in the River Market chatting it up with 4 good dudes. We've been meeting once a week for 4-5 years now. We challenge one another. We pick each other up. We support & encourage each other. Most importantly, we aren't afraid of being honest with one another. Sometimes you need to be told the hard things you already know you need to do that you probably don't want to hear because you know what you need to do but you're running from it. We've taken a few road trips, hiked 14'ers, ate good food & dreamed big together. 5 dudes hugging, laughing, crying in a coffee shop. 

I think back to who I was when I started meeting for coffee (I don't drink coffee but the rest of the fellas do). I was a family & wedding photographer who happened to create an intentional living family blog with my wife. Life was good back then. I don't remember many struggles in my life. We traveled, had plenty of date nights, always had plenty of time with people we loved. Looking back now, life seemed so much easier!

Then Max got sick. My boys were there.
Jenny & I decided to pursue other endeavors as main sources of income & those didn't pan out. My boys were there.
Max & Ava got diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. My boys were there. 
Jenny's twin brother passed way. My boys were there.
Marriage was getting hard for Jenny & I. My boys were there.

Looking back now, I can't count the number of times that I arrived on Tuesday morning feeling like crap, confused or angry, upset, out of it, wanting to just quit everything I had going & then leaving feeling like I knew the path I was supposed to be taking. My boys were there through it all & at any time day or night. 

I share this because I've heard through the years it's hard for guys to find other guys they feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable with. I've heard how it's not common for guys to meet like this so often & connect on these levels. When I hear that, it makes me sad. Because we all need safe spaces to embrace our fully human selves.

How did we do it? How did we create such an intentionally tight-knit group of fellas?

It started small. It was just my buddy, Graham, saying he had a friend, Rusty, and that we should meet. We were all 3 going to meet at a coffee shop, Graham bailed last minute, and Rusty & I chatted for a few hours. We decided to make a weekly coffee meet up, just the 3 of us.

Another dude, Jason, happened to frequent the coffee shop we were meeting at every week because his studio was upstairs. He'd come over and say hey, we'd invite him to sit down, he'd always politely decline until one day he didn't. Our group was now 4.

I had another friend who I felt could add a lot to our group, so I invited him in. It took a while for everyone to be on board in growing again, but now that's been 3 years of us 5, it feels just right every Tuesday morning. Our group grew organically & slowly over time. Most things of worth take time, right?

If you're looking to build up a group for yourself, ask yourself who that one person is in your life that makes you feel comfortable enough to show your darkness inside. Because the people you can show your darkness too, but still stick around to help show you your light...those are the friends you need to surround yourself with. Once you find them, figure out how to bring them together. If you only have one, ask if they have a friend who they feel that way about. Invite them in. 

Just know that every time you add a new person, the dynamics & energy change. Some people aren't willing to open up, and that's ok. You just don't want them in a group of people who are willing, because that energy transforms the group in ways that affect everyone else's ability to go deep. 

I headed home Tuesday morning feeling so full & alive & seen & loved. And I thought to myself, I hope every one has a group of people they can connect with in this way on a consistent basis. It's so important for us to know we're not alone in our struggles. To know that we will mess up from time to time & to know that we've got people who root for us despite our screw ups. We all need that support. When we feel supported & accepted we carry that positive love filled energy with us wherever we go. 

Josh Solar
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Failure, Mistakes, Life Lessons & Sit Spots

Yesterday I took Max & Ava to forest school. We had a blast wandering around in the trees playing games & learning how to make lumps of coal to start fires just out of stuff found in the woods. We played other nature games, fed the chickens. It was an incredible few hours spent connecting with nature & spending some quality time with 2 of my kids.

One part that really stuck out to me was listening to Sam, the teacher of the day, tell a story about camping in Oregon. He woke up right at dawn. It was chilly and he was surrounded by trees so he wanted to find higher ground with a bit of sunshine. The trees were huge and as he explored, he noticed the sun hitting the top of a few of them. So he found a tree that he could climb, & worked his way slowly to the top. Once up there, he just sat and soaked up the suns rays with the chickadees that were flying all around him. Stay still. Be present. Just be.

He called it a Sit Spot. Which I took as a clever name for meditation. He then asked all of us to find a sit spot & to reflect on what we'd like to do in the coming year for ourselves. 

Ava & I found a nice spot on some rocks where the sun was adding a bit of warmth. We just sat, stared off into the distance and got lost in thought. I learned later Ava wants to learn how to start a fire from sticks and wood like Sam showed us. That's what was running through her mind the whole time. 

I, on the other hand, thought about failure for some reason. And how I failed a LOT this year at some pretty big things. I thought about how western society looks at failure as something that's wrong & negative & how we internalize that if we fail, then something is fundamentally wrong with US as individuals. I thought about all the growth I had as a person just because of the risks I took as well as the hard work I put in so I wouldn't keep repeating the behaviors that led to my failures (I'll get to those in a bit).

As I sat on that rock, I realized that my favorite parts of being alive involve some sort of risk, with a chance of failure, and that making mistakes is part of a well lived life. Mistakes & failures along our path to a well lived life are just little road bumps trying to steer us in a different direction. 

Then I thought about how powerful it could be to share our failures with each other, because, let's face it, we all have made mistakes & failed in some form or another. But when we hide those failures, we send signals to ourselves that we are insufficient. When we hide the 'negative' we're admitting that we're not good enough or working hard enough or just a big mess up. And I can't believe any of those things are true about anyone. 

So, I want to share a few of my failures this past year, in the hopes you have the courage to speak up to someone in your life about any missteps you may have taken this past year. 

1. I failed my wife. In the beginning of the year, pretty much through July I did not show up for her with unconditional love. I tried to force her into living up to my expectations of how I wanted her to be, instead of seeing her for the wonderfully beautiful woman she already was. I shared a list of all the things I was going to do to strengthen our marriage and I didn't do any of them very well.

2. I didn't do the work to grow Hello Happiness as well as I could've. I made excuses. I didn't follow up or reach out quickly. I half assed my outreach at times. We did get a few cards in Paper Source, and we're in about 50 stores around the country right now, but I know with more effort we could be in so many more.

3. I wasn't the best father I could be. I let the kids play too many video games, as I kept telling myself I didn't have the energy to do anything with them. I didn't have as much patience with them as I have in years past. I believe this was completely related to item number 1 on my list as well.

4. I didn't take care of my body. I ate way too much sugary treats & didn't work out very much at all. Which led to me having less energy, feeling like crap & beating myself up for not working out or eating well.

5. I got in way too many stupid arguments on Facebook. Does this need any more explanation?

6. I committed to things/activities that didn't light me up, which led to a whole lot of unnecessary resentment (most of which was directed at my wife & kids when they had nothing to do with my commitments). 

Those were just a few of the failures/mistakes I made throughout 2016. But as I sat with those things last night, I realized that the failures & mistakes will not be what I remember most about this year. 

I'll remember the lessons learned, the growth in myself as a person & the wins. Because despite my massive setbacks, there is so so much to be grateful for.

1. Once I shifted my mindset on how I treated my wife, we've grown closer than we have ever been. And, we've been together for over 20 years now. I call that a win.

2. Even though I didn't put as much effort into Hello Happiness as I could have, we're still in 50 stores. And I spent a lot of time supporting Jenny which allowed her to pursue her dreams and find happiness for herself, which has in turn blessed all of us.

3. We took the kids to Thailand. We bought an RV & have taken a few trips in it & we're getting ready to head to California for 6 weeks just because. We homeschool all our kid which gives us SO much time together. I've seen so much growth in our kids since we brought them home as well including the little businesses Ava & Lia have started to the programming skills Max is picking up.

4. I can't change anything about my past behaviors, but I can be better going forward, and it's in my control on if I actually take care of myself or not. So I've been moving more & working out again. I've been making sure I have veggies at every meal. It's not a perfect process yet, but it is an improvement and a step in the right direction.

5. I made a commitment to myself to only say things on facebook I'd say to other people's faces. I re read everything I post before I hit enter & I just don't get on facebook as much as before any way because the real world is so much more fun.

6. I've seen so much growth and joy and positivity in my wife since started trimming out all the things that didn't make her happy. So I've been slowly doing the same. And my life feels so much lighter. I've started cross stitching again. I bought a wood burner just because it sounded like fun. I've been making things just for joy, which I didn't have time before because I was so over committed.

You see? Every single one of my failures/mistakes has taught me a lesson. I am well aware that I'll make more mistakes & fail time and time again throughout my life, but it's ok. We are not perfect. We don't expect our friends & family & other folks to be perfect, so why do we hold ourselves up to these unrealistic perfect standards? It doesn't make sense, does it?

To finish up, I have a challenge for you.

1. Find a sit spot & stay there for however long feels comfortable. Reflect on any mistakes you may have made this year.

2. Share those mistakes with someone in your life.

3. Search for the lessons learned and ways you're now living life differently because of those mistakes.

Let's all commit to sharing all of us with the world. Not just the wins, but the missteps & set backs. When we show each other we're all prone to mess up, it gives permission for others to share their set backs. It shows we're all human. And when we see each other as fellow humans, we're more likely be kind, compassionate & empathetic with one another. And that will make the world a better place for us all. 

Josh Solar
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The Stories We Tell

I have a friend. Often we talk about things together, as friends do. Every so often my friend tells me the same story.

It goes like this...

Part I: My life is great.
Part II: Sucky event outside of my control happened.
Part III: My life is no longer great but here I am. 
Part IV: There is no Part IV because I'm stuck in Part III and have been for quite some time and there's no signs of Part IV ever happening because I won't do the work to get to Part IV.

I'm not judging my friend. Because I've been in Part III for extended periods of time myself. Let me list off a few sucky things outside of my control that I've had to work through just in the past 2 years.

Sucky Event A: cancelling a 6 month trip to Europe with my family due to my son being sick & no one knowing what it was.
Sucky Event B: discovering not 1, but 2 of my kids have Cystic Fibrosis.
Sucky Event C: the unexpected death of my wife's twin brother setting off a series of related events that almost cost me my marriage (some of that stuff was within my control, fyi, but still really sucky).

Looking back, I could've stayed stuck telling some really really terrible stories about my life. But I realized I had a choice, not in what happened, but a choice in how I react to Sucky Events A-whatever. 

I realized I am starring in the movie that is my life. Except I'm not at the mercy of some depressed writer or ego maniacal director (although an argument could be made that our brains are super poopy at times). I'm in charge of choosing the direction I want my story to go in. I do this with how I choose to react to the Sucky Events of my life. I can't change those events, but I always have a choice in how I respond.

Maybe you have that friend who doesn't see how the negative stories they play out in their head affects their life in not good ways. Maybe you fall into the negative life story telling trap. I'm not judging or shaming you if you are. Because I've been there. I have. This isn't to say, just suck it up and move on. Because grief is a terrible, unexplainable thing to have to go through. And life can be downright brutal at times.

I'm asking you to do some inner work. Listen to how you replay your life in your head. If you feel like being sad, be sad. If you feel like being angry, be angry. If you feel like you can't even muster up the energy to get dressed today, stay in bed. Those feelings are normal. Those feelings are human. Those feelings are ok.

The truth is, all emotions pass. It would be amazing to feel overflowing JOY every moment of every day, but that's not how life works (at least it doesn't work that way for me). It would be amazing to not ever feel sadness or pain, but that's not how life works. Emotions come and go. Life ebbs & flows.

Sit with your emotions. Sit with your stories. Ask yourself if they're serving you in a way that feels good. If the answer is yes, keep going in that direction. If the answer is no, find something small that is in your power that can pivot you into the direction that would feel good.

I have a message for you...

You're not stuck.
You are so much stronger than you think.

You are so much more courageous than you give yourself credit for.
You are a powerful world changer.
We need YOU here.
Don't close up. 
Stay open.
We need the LOVE you carry inside to shine so bright in all the dark places of the world.
This world is a much better place with you here.

The stories we tell ourselves matter & affect so much of our lives. What stories can you change about yourself? What can you do to show the world your loving, full, joyful, open self? 

 

Josh Solar
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So You're Worried About Failing?

I woke up this morning ready to write a blog post on Spiritual Activism & things I think about pursuing in my day to day life. I did my morning meditation session & sat down to write for you all.

I don't know what made me do it, but I checked instagram and noticed a little red 1 in the upper corner notifying me of a new direct message. It was from a girl I've never met, one who asked me about having the courage to live out their dreams even though she's deathly scared of failing. She let me know she feels in her soul she knows what she wants to do but didn't want to fail.

Those that know me, know that I LOVE having those conversations & it was early in the morning & I think best when it's early & I've just got out of my meditation. So I answered with what I felt was true in the moment. I want to share what I sent her way (although it's edited a bit better for a blog post and not as much rambling).

**Disclaimer that I really don't know what I'm doing at any given moment. I try my best to live my life by these 3 principles/truths. 

1. I give where I can, big and small
2. I focus on self-love so that I can love others from a good & healthy place
3. Life is constantly changing so it's ok to not have all the answers, because chances are they're going to change anyway

**End Disclaimer

If you're worried about failing, I'd say, welcome to the club. It's human to be scared of failure. We all do it. Those that don't worry about failure are just too full of themselves to admit they do worry about failing. And we get really scared of failure because we don't want to try and achieve our biggest, wildest dreams and have to come back with our tails between our legs saying to those who told us we weren't going to make it that we did in fact not make it. So let's start there and see where it takes us, ok?

If you're worried about failure, I'd ask you to take a few moments & write down what failure is to YOU. Not your parent's definition, not your friend's definition, not society's definition, but YOURS & yours alone. If people are judging your life choices on their definitions, you'll find yourself constantly in a rat race that leaves you feeling like you're just out to please everybody. Get clear on YOUR definition & know it doesn't truly matter if it doesn't align with anyone else's.

Then take a few moments to write out your worst case scenarios. Chances are at the end of all those scenarios, you're still alive. If you head out into the world with this big idea & you have to come home a "failure," so what? You'll have to endure a few "I told you so's" but you'll also be able to live your life knowing you had a dream, you tried & you gave all your heart & soul to something you believed in. Haters like to try & put down those with the courage to try things they themselves don't have the courage to try.

Know life isn't supposed to be easy, especially when we're going after things that are so near & dear to our hearts. Jenny & I have failed SO many times. And so often what we think we want isn't what we really want. But you can never ever know until you try. Jenny & I have taken some massive risks in our life & every single time we have, life's thrown us some curveballs & it was way harder than we ever could've expected & it definitely didn't go according to plan, but those risks always led to experiences that have shaped us into who we are now. People who are proud of the life we live & the memorable experiences we've shared.

Who I am today is directly shaped by the choices I've made in my life, failures & all. I've gotten really good at spending some quiet time for myself in meditation. I have to carve out a space so that I can listen to what my heart is telling me. I've learned to pay attention to how my body feels when I'm speaking, both to myself & others. Especially when it's big decisions & dreaming. I've come to trust my heart always points me in the right direction, but it's so easy these days to get distracted & not listen to our hearts.

I get it, it's hard to have big dreams, to share those with people who are supposed to love you & then have those people in your life not line up with that vision. It can feel incredibly lonely. But they want what's best for you. They want to see you happy & successful (whatever that means), but they can never fully understand you because they're not you. They haven't lived the same life experiences or had the same interactions you've had.

And we can break our backs trying to meet other's expectations for us. At the end of the day, it's not worth it. We're accountable to ourselves, ultimately. And to be the best version of ourselves, it starts with having enough self-love & courage to take care of ourselves first. Then we have the energy & love to offer others. This holds true in all areas of our lives. 

Pursuing our dreams & failing is scary. There's no denying that. To me, I've found on the scary decisions it's best to not overthink it, and just go for it. Break it down into the tiniest steps possible and just start there at the first one. The first step is almost always, making a phone call, doing some research, buying a plane ticket, etc. Those things are fairly easy. 

Trust the Universe has your back. Trust your heart will guide you to where you're supposed to be. Trust your dreams matter & that your life is worth living wholly & completely fulfilled. 

Which is why I want to share this with you. Yesterday I stumbled on this article about a group of people meditating to benefit their community. I thought about how at concerts when I'm singing along with everyone I just get these chills & this deep presence & how good that is for my soul (science backs me up here).

Then I thought about how I'm just one human. But I can add love to the world in so many different ways. How awesome would it be to share where I'll be meditating & invite others to join me? And what if others in different places saw it and decided to collectively join in from a distance. Just sitting & breathing & focusing on love & gratitude for all. Could that make the world even a tiny bit better?

There's so much hate & anger around me right now & my heart hurts. But when I start to get overwhelmed I just have to make space for myself to sit & breathe & I know I'm ok. I know that not everyone is filled with hate. I know there are SO many good people out in this world. 

You see...when I thought about bringing people together to just sit together and focus on love for a bit I thought of failure. What if no one shows up? What if others think it's stupid? With the situation in Aleppo, hate crimes, terrorism, bullying, sickness, etc...with all that going on, how does sitting and meditation change anything? What if it's all bs anyway?

Chances are all of those things might be said about me or to me. But if you go back to the top and revisit #1 & #2 of my life principles you'll see that giving people a break from it all, to just be for a bit with no expectations is a gift. And if you've ever taken those mindful breaks for yourself you'll know that meditating is an act of self love. And when you take the time to take care of yourself, you can better take care of the world.

You see, I want to focus my life on creating/living from a space that feels good. A place where I'm creating the world I want to see around me and inviting others to join me in living meaningful lives filled with joy.

But how does one do that without ignoring all the horribly real aspects of humanity? Hate, racism, greed, sickness. Those are real problems that I don't feel like I can turn a blind eye towards.

And while there are things in my life that consistently cause me to feel angry, I always have something to be grateful for. There's so much beauty in my life. There's so much beauty in the world. There are SO many good people alive right now.

So how do we create the world we want while not turning a blind eye to the messed up parts of humanity? Because not one of us is perfect, & I have my flaws & I desperately want to believe the good in us will win with love for ourselves, each other & the world around us. Will you join me? 

spiritual activist in training mindfulness graphic hand letter

 

Josh Solar
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Selfishness vs. Selflessness

selflessness over selfishness hand letter

I've been learning lately there are 2 me's. There's the positive, loving, encouraging, selfless, giving version of me. The man who supports his wife. The man who gets down on the floor and plays with his kids, no matter how much there is to get done. The man who makes time for writing letters to leave around town.

All good stuff. I like that version of me.

But there's another side of me that comes out. And I hate that version of me. That version of me is selfish, stubborn, judgemental & angry. That version of me says things that are cruel. That me doesn't take care of himself. That me thinks thoughts that the other version of me is downright ashamed of.

I desperately want to be the man my wife fell in love with. And yet, sometimes I hurt her. Sometimes I put what I want ahead of supporting and loving her. Even though I know when she feels lifted up and encouraged my world is loads more fun.

I've been doing some deep internal work lately to find out where this selfish version of me comes from. I don't want to settle for the 'it's just human nature to be selfish' because that's an excuse to cover up my asshole side. The loving version of me doesn't like making excuses. I'm thinking this selfishness comes from my childhood. I was an only child. My parents spoiled me. So much so I could throw a fit to get whatever stupid G.I. Joe or Transformer I wanted. I was such a little turd at times, but my parents enabled me because they wanted me to be happy.

Unfortunately, I've carried those tendencies into adulthood, but I learn when I'm selfish I hurt people. And the last thing I want to do is hurt people, especially those I love most. I've been uncovering these tendencies, bringing them to the surface, so I can work on removing those aspects of my life.

An example. Jenny's been working so hard on her LulaRoe business lately. And that's left me picking up the slack on Hello Happiness, as well as being responsible for more meals, keeping the house clean, making sure the kids do their school work, etc. But Jenny is SOOOOO happy & energized with the work she's doing to help other women feel more beautiful. I don't mind the work on most days, and on those days, I realize I'm  serving from a place of abundance, which is a healthy place to give from. Those days I feel great.

But on some days I find myself giving from a place of sacrifice, and I find as the day goes on I begin to resent people because I'm 'giving' them so much & not feeling grateful for what I'm getting back. There's that selfishness rearing it's ugly head.

So how do I work on giving from a place of abundance over sacrifice? Because that's the key, right? This is what works for me, maybe you'll find something that works for you?

I heard Orly Wahba say on a podcast recently that she wants to "fall in love with me for me." As in, she wants to live a life of self love for herself. It doesn't matter what others think, because she's going to do things that lift her up and make her happy regardless of what others might say about her.

I started there. I'm working on falling in love with me for me. I'm working on doing things that give me joy, regardless of what others might think. That looks like smiling & conversations with strangers. That looks like crying & hugging with the people who stop in our craft fair booths & we connect over stories of depression & how love can help. It looks like wearing shorts & flip flops even thought it's 30 degrees out & snowing. I'm falling in love with me for me.

The second thing I'm working on is awareness. Because when the selfishness comes up, I can't move to a place of selflessness unless I'm aware of what I'm doing. That means being humble enough to recognize my shortcomings and owning up to the people I may have hurt. In fact, the other night it was so bad, I made sure I went to each of my kids & Jenny individually & apologized to them. I told them I acted in ways that were not in line with who I want to be, that I'm not perfect but I'm working on it.

That's the hardest part for me, apologizing for my mistakes, because that means that I hurt someone I love, but I can't bury it and not say I'm sorry. That won't change the fact that I still hurt them. Bonus: I want to be a living example for my kids to know they are never expected to be perfect and they're going to mess up from time to time and that saying sorry is key to healing and forgiveness and for deep fulfilling relationships.

Ultimately, my goal here is to love others better. And to do that, I have to love myself first. It's a lot harder to truly love and accept others if you don't love and accept yourself. I want the people I come meet to know they are seen, loved and valued, just for being who they are. I want people to believe in themselves and to know they have some amazing gifts to offer the world.

But it starts with me. And it starts with you. Imagine a world where we all just loved ourselves, faults and all. Imagine the love you'd have to give to those in your life if you started with loving yourself. If you knew you were enough, no matter what, and that nobody can ever take that away from you. What if you emobodied those sentiments? Because it's true. You are SO loved. Let's trust that we're all doing the best we can, and live and give from that space. Kindness and love are worth it. You're worth it.

Josh Solar
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Life Beckons

Taking some time to love on our old dog, Banana, this week. She's not doing well, so I'm cutting out things & focusing on the people (& animals) in my life I love most. Be back next week with a new post.
kids loving on their basset hound
Josh Solar
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Give Thanks (and take 25% off)

give-thanks-hello-happiness-sale

Josh Solar
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