Everyday Outfits 9/22/17

Welcome to my standard Friday post of everyday outfits I've worn lately, in my favorite format (because it's the easiest, honestly) of the mirror-selfie. After I had this post all put together I got an email announcement that Express is having a big sale this weekend of *up to* 40% off everything. So I'm guessing some categories won't be the full 40% off, but still, there should be some good deals. I'll put together some picks and current favorites for my Saturday shopping post tomorrow. As for today's post, all of the jeans I'm wearing are from Express, so hopefully they'll be included in the 40% off category if you want to snag a pair yourself!

Outfit Recap:

Olive Jacket, Striped Tee:
Olive Jacket (c/o) | Striped Tee | Jeans | Bag (c/o) | Shoes

This jacket comes in "One Size" only and in my opinion it will work best if you typically wear Size XS or Small in jackets. It's very lightweight and perfect for transition season, and you really cannot beat the $13 price tag! My striped tee and jeans also run true to size.

Grey Side Zip Top:

I'm not sure whether to call this top a t-shirt or a sweatshirt...the material is somewhere in between. It's either a thick t-shirt or a light sweatshirt! And the product name of "Outerwear" is equally vague! Regardless, it's very soft, stretchy and comfortable, comes in size Small-XL and runs on the small side so you may want to size up. I'm wearing a Small above and it's fitted but not tight. One surprise with this piece is that you cannot wear it open at all. You can unzip the size zipper, but there is another panel of material attached across underneath. It's hard to explain, but just know in advance that you have to take it on and off over your head and you can't wear it unzipped.

Embroidered Jacket:

This jacket is a little outside the box for me but for whatever reason I was drawn to it. In person I liked it even more and even got stopped in Target and complimented on it, which is always flattering! I'm wearing a Small but I probably could have gone with an XS, so I recommend ordering your normal size. The coin details do jingle a tiny bit when you move so half the day I kept thinking I was hearing a dog leash jingling outside on a walk, only to realize it was me! One of the coins already broke off with the first wear, so if I lose a couple more I might just cut all of them off since the embroidery detail is enough for me without the coins.

Rust Cardigan, Black Lace Cami
Sweater (c/o) | Cami | Similar Shorts | Shoes | Bag (c/o)

I am really love this cardigan. Everything from the color (it also comes in three others) to the length to the perfect medium-weight to wear from now through Fall. It comes in sizes Small-XXL and I'm wearing a Small. I think it fits like a typical size Small from Express, Gap, etc. I recommend ordering your true size, but if you're an XS the Small should still work since it's not a tailored piece I'm 5'4" so you may just want to gauge how the length will be on your height from where it hits on me. This cami is also a great layering piece and runs true to size.

Top View:
Here are the same outfits from the top-view to give a better look at some of the outfit details.

Olive Jacket, Striped Tee:
Olive Jacket (c/o) | Striped Tee | Jeans | Bag (c/o) | Shoes | Necklace | Bracelets (Get 10% off your order with code: onthedailyx)

Grey Side Zip Top:

Embroidered Jacket:

Rust Cardigan, Black Lace Cami:

Thanks for stopping by today! I have one fun activity planned this weekend for Friday night that I'm planning to share on my Instagram story. So follow along there if you too (hint hint) want to see what I'm up to! Have a great weekend!

Linking up with:
ErikaAndreaNarci | JoLynne | Jennie | Cheryl  | Rachael | Nina


Burgundy Cami + Neutral Cardigans

Last week I had a fun blogger day date with Noelle where we met to chat about life and blogging, plus throw in a little outfit photo session for good measure. We only live about an hour away from each other, but that's just enough distance to make it tough to get together on a regular basis with our different schedules. So photo credit for today goes to Noelle, and you can check out her blog today to see how well I did (or not, most likely!) playing photographer for her!
Burgundy Cami | Sweater (Current w/ more Inventory) | Jeans (c/o) | Top NecklaceLower Necklace | Shoes | Bag (c/o)

We had a fun visit and a lot of laughs in our photo session since it was pretty much the blind leading the blind. I used her camera to take her outfit pictures and vice versa, but neither of us are that familiar with our cameras to be able to guide anyone else in using them. Noelle's husband usually operates their camera, and mine is new to me (as with all things photography in general) so I was totally clueless beyond telling her to, "point it at me and push this button to make it go. But wait for that guy to pas in the background!" I've since ordered a couple of books and watched some YouTube videos (like this one) in an attempt to learn more and improving since I feel way out of my league. This photography stuff is not coming easy to me at all so kudos to all the bloggers and photography buffs who've already gone through this steep learning curve. I've had a lot of feelings of being overwhelmed and thinking, "this is too complicated for me, I'll never be able to do this," but I'm trying to stay positive and just accept that with learning something new you have to start somewhere, and most of the time it's at the bottom!

Burgundy Cami | Sweater (Current w/ more Inventory) | Jeans (c/o) | Top NecklaceLower Necklace | Shoes | Bag (c/o)

Fit Notes:
All of the pieces I'm wearing ran true to size. The cami runs on the bigger side of normal, so if you're between sizes I recommend sizing down, but it's not big enough that you necessarily need to. It also comes with adjustable straps which I really appreciate since I can control how high/low it sits on my chest that way.  If burgundy isn't your color preference it also comes in Black, White and Light Blue.

Neutral/Oatmeal Cardigans
One of my year round closet staples is a neutral cardigan. I tend to reach for this "oatmeal" color more often than any other because it goes with almost everything. I have a couple of different options now because I like having lighter weight and heavier weight options depending on the weather, plus slightly longer or shorter silhouettes of the cardigan depending on the proportions of the outfit. If you don't have one yourself yet or are ready for another option in your closet, here are a few options from high to low-end price points that are currently in stock with good size selections.
1. Shop Joie  ("Bryna") | 2. Shop Pam & Gela ("Shredded Cardigan")
3Abercrombie  | 4Abercrombie | 5Old Navy $35 | 6Target $25 
7Budget Cardigan $23 | 8Budget Cardigan $26 

Hope you're having a great week so far and I'll see you on Friday for my everyday outfit recap!

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Dresses and Jeans Review + The Happiness Between

I posted some of my Labor Day weekend sale purchases awhile back (here and here) and wanted to follow up and share how some of them worked out for me since I learned a few things that might benefit someone else. I really wanted to find a couple of transition weather dresses that were easy to grab-and-go when I'm in a hurry to get dressed. I've also been loving a lot of pieces from Abercrombie lately and wanted to try their jeans to see if they would work for me.

Here are the pieces I ordered:

1. Grey Abercrombie Dress
This dress runs true to size and is a nice soft, comfortable fabric. I thought it would be a keeper and the length in front is about what I wanted. Then when I turn to the side it's another story.  The way the fabric meets at the side makes it come up much higher than I'd be comfortable wearing for this type of daytime dress. If you're shorter than me (I'm 5'4") or want a tunic to wear with leggings it might still work, but as-is it just didn't work out for me.

2. Black Express Shirt Dress
The length on this dress was much better for me and overall I think it's a nice quality piece. It runs true-to-size and comes in a few other colors and prints (all options here). It has a definite office vibe so if you need it for office wear, it's perfect! I like this a lot but decided to return it and keep looking for something with a slightly more casual fabric and overall look to suit my lifestyle better.

3. Abercrombie Jeans
This is my first time every trying a pair of Abercrombie jeans, and I think they're pretty good! This particular pair is considered "low rise" and they felt only slightly lower than Mid-Rise jeans from Express (in other words, not really low at all compared to the way jeans used to be!). They're very soft and comfortable, and the sizing ran the same as Express. If anything, these had slightly more room in the waist area than any of my Express jeans in the same size, but I personally wouldn't be willing to size down for that because I wouldn't want them any smaller in the hips and thighs. They don't have any stitching on the back pocket (that's a plus for me), and all in all they were nice. I decided not to keep them because they looked too similar to a pair I already own from Express (shown in the second outfit in this post), but I'm glad I finally tried them anyway so I have a better idea of what to expect if I find another pair I like in the future.

Monday Motivation: Happiness Comes from Between
This week's Monday Motivation is like Part Two of what I posted last week. ICYMI, I talked about how I've been doing some life analysis to figure out what makes me happy vs. what doesn't. As always I loved reading the comments and feedback from others who have figured out a few of those things for themselves or are working through the same process! I read a quote in a book last week that relates to this discussion and really made a lot of sense to me so I wanted to share it here as well:

"Happiness doesn't come from within. Happiness comes from between.
It comes from getting the right relationships between yourself and others,
yourself and your work,
and yourself and something larger than yourself."

--Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind (Full review on this will be in my October Book Reviews, but as a caveat the majority of the book has nothing to do with seeking/finding happiness. Also since this passage came from an Audiobook, the formatting is my own and may differ from the print version.)

I've often heard variations on the saying about "you can't buy happiness/happiness doesn't come from material things" etc., but they're usually coupled with the part about happiness coming from within. This is the first time I've heard the saying, "Happiness Comes from Between" and in my life, that's a more accurate statement. If any one of my close relationships (friends, family, etc.) are experiencing strain, I'm unhappy, and it's hard (if not impossible) to contain those feelings to a point that they don't affect my other relationships. And sometimes it may not be a strained relationship causing the feelings of unhappiness but a lack of a certain relationship we desire. I know at times in my life when I didn't feel like I had a close girlfriend, I felt that void and I felt less happy overall because of it.

Last week, I did a life audit and ultimately cut out some things that were taking up a lot of my time but no longer contributing enough to my "happiness between" to make up for it. One of those things that I've shared quite a bit about here was Tae Kwon Do. When I first started taking lessons, I was attending with my kids and using it as a bonding activity for the three of us. After a new management company took over in January, my kids no longer enjoyed the classes and were ready to pursue different hobbies. I was too close to my Black Belt to quit, so I kept going on my own. I earned my Black Belt in May and continued to attend classes, but now that my kids are back in school, it just doesn't feel right to be rushing off to classes separate from them and repeatedly asking my husband to step in when they need help with homework or rides to/from their activities. That's not to say I can never take classes again, just not right now. Achieving the Black Belt goal brought me a lot of happiness and satisfaction, but it seems the subsequent levels of progression would come at a higher cost (much more time away from the family than the first degree required), without adding higher levels of happiness in exchange.

So that's a bit of a life update for you today coupled with some thoughts on my motivation to increase happiness by putting a greater emphasis on everything "between!" As usual, I'd love your thoughts on whether this rings true to you, too! Maybe not martial arts in particular, but if you've found that striving for happiness between is more effective than striving for happiness within. I hope your week gets off to a good start!

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Saturday Shopping: Burgundy Bags, Slides and Embroidery

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Happy Saturday! Here are a few trends I'm tracking and considering adding to my closet. I like to check out options from high end to low end, brand name to budget-buy before making my purchase so I'm sharing all of those options with you as well.

Burgundy Bags

1. Shop Studio 33 Bags (Mini Satchel Pictured)
2. Shop Milly Bags (Camera Bag Pictured)
3. Budget Crossbody $23 
5. Budget Tote $40


1. Shop Brand Name Leopard Slides (Valente Pictured)
2. Budget Leopard Slides $43
3. Shop Brand Name Embroidered Slides (Raylee Pictured)
4. Budget Embroidered Slides $35
5. Shop Steven shoes (Swanki Pictured)
6. Budget Black Slides $23


1. Shop Blank Denim Jackets (Embroidered Moto Pictured)
3. Shop Tory Burch Bags (Parker Pictured)
4. Shop Brand Name Embroidered Booties (Bryce Pictured)
5.  The Fix Embroidered Booties
7. Shop Rebecca Minkoff Shoes (Lulu Too Pictured)
8. Aldo Tan Booties
9. Express Embroidered Crossbody $50

Happy shopping and have a great weekend!


Everyday Outfits 9/15/17

I am so glad today is Friday! We had a great trip visiting with friends and family in Phoenix last weekend but my poor 6th grader had to pay a high price in makeup work this week. That will be the last time I take him out of school for non-emergency purposes, that's for sure. I didn't take any pictures of what I packed/wore in the Arizona heat because I didn't have a good mirror in our hotel room, but I also didn't wear anything you haven't already seen so you didn't miss much. That means not too many outfits to share in my everyday outfit recap but here it is anyway!

Outfit Recap:

Black Ruffle Trim Top:
Top (c/o) | Jeans | Shoes (c/o) | Bag (c/o) | Necklace | Earrings

Fit Notes:
This top runs true to size and on the relaxed/roomy side of that. I often size up at SheIn to be on the safe side with my orders but there was no need for this piece. For all of my sizing/ordering tips for SheIn see this post. My jeans and shoes also run TTS.

Light Pink V Neck Tee, Pearl Slides:
Tee | Jeans | Bag (c/o) | Shoes | Earrings | Bracelets (Get 10% off any order w/ code: onthedailyx)

Fit Notes:
Everything runs TTS. If you don't see a bracelet set like this one on the Charmed Stacks Etsy page, contact the shop owners and let them know what you'd like. They're very responsive and happy to do custom creations.

Neutral Jacket, Black Cami:

Fit Notes:
All pieces run TTS. The jacket is plenty roomy, so definitely don't size up on this. It originally came with a long layer of sheer ivory fabric attached at the bottom (as shown in the product photo), but I preferred it without that so I snipped it off.  To see the cami sans jacket and with a couple of different layering options check out this post.

Instagram View:
I haven't done this lately for various reasons but today I wanted to add the aerial/Instagram view for these outfits since I don't think my mirror selfies do much in the way of showing details on jewelry and bags.

Black Ruffle Trim Top:
Top (c/o) | Jeans | Shoes (c/o) | Bag (c/o) | Necklace | Earrings

Light Pink V Neck Tee, Pearl Slides:
Tee | Jeans | Bag (c/o) | Shoes | Earrings | Necklace | Bracelets (Get 10% off any order w/ code: onthedailyx)

Neutral Jacket, Black Cami:

That's all for today! We have plans to go horseback riding on Saturday with some friends and I can't wait! I haven't been riding in quite a few years and it's something I loved doing as a kid but I rarely get to do as an adult. Hope you all have a great weekend too!

Linking up with:
 ErikaAndreaNarci | JoLynne | Cheryl  | Rachael | Nina | Lindsey


Tie Sleeve Cold Shoulder Top + Link Up

If you followed any of my Labor Day Sale try-ons, nothing in this picture will be very new or surprising to you! But since the fitting room lighting was terrible and I'm really loving both this top and these jeans, I thought they were worth putting on in 95 degree heat for outdoor photos anyway. Okay, that wasn't my exact thought process but that's what ended up happening so I'd have something to share on the blog today. And in better news, this top is currently on sale for under $20, which is even cheaper than the Labor Day Sale price!

Top | Jeans | Necklace | Bag (c/o) | Shoes | Bracelets (get 10% off with code onthedailyx) 

Top | Jeans | Necklace | Bag (c/o) | Shoes | Bracelets (get 10% off with code onthedailyx)  

Both my top and jeans run true to size (and shoes for that matter), and the top also comes in five other colors. Initially I thought I'd be able to wear a regular bra with it since the shoulder straps are wide enough, but I found I had a hard time getting the bra straps to stay perfectly hidden so I guess I'm not putting away my strapless bras for the season just yet!

I'm keeping it short today since yesterday was my book review post and for my own time management and sanity I don't like to have too many lengthy posts in one week! So if you need a book recommendation make sure to check out yesterday's post, or just head up to the menu bar up top and go to Categories > Book Reviews for all of my past reviews!

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September Book Reviews 9/12/17

Welcome to my September Book Reviews! This month wasn't my best in terms of reading lots of books that I couldn't wait to recommend here, but there were a couple that were very worthwhile and none that were terrible, so read on for my thoughts on each of these!

September Books:

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
This book got off to a little bit of a slow start for me, and it also followed the pattern of alternating chapters in flashback vs. present day narrative. I think I'm getting a little burned out on that formula, but regardless I was interested enough in the story to keep going. A group of women who were friends as teenagers are asked to come back to the town where they met and went to school by one of one of the women in their friendship circle. They share a secret that they all want to protect, and any time there is a concern that their secret may be revealed they can only meet in person to discuss it for fear of being found out. This causes complications in their personal lives on many levels, and naturally their fear of being found out has been a source of anxiety in their lives since they were teenagers. Once the stage has been set and we have some idea of the secret they are keeping, the plot picks up quickly and I zipped through to the end. One of my biggest issues was that the landscape of one of the key scenes in the book ("The Mill") was very confusing to me, and it played a big role in the book. It was on the coast or a swamp and the ocean was washing it away? I just didn't understand but I tried to go along with it anyway. I've never really had that kind of an issue with a book and think it will be interesting if it ever becomes a movie so I can better understand the location visually. This currently gets an average of 4/5 stars from reviewers on Amazon, and I would rate it the same as well. If you enjoyed Ruth's book "The Woman in Cabin Ten," you'll probably enjoy this, just expect a slow start.

P.S. From Paris by Marc Levy
This was my Amazon Kindle early release book of the month, and at the time of my selection it had the most positive reviews, which influenced my decision to read this book. There are two main characters in this story: Paul and Mia. Paul is an American author living in Paris, and Mia is a British actress hiding out in Paris because she has learned that her husband has been unfaithful and she wants some time away from the public eye (she's not very well known in France). Paul and Mia meet on an accidental date of sorts, though Paul doesn't know Mia is a famous actress and Mia chooses to hide that fact from him. They continue to be friends who develop feelings for each other, and the book reads a bit like the script of a Romantic Comedy. It was an easy, entertaining, and fairly enjoyable read, though not particularly impressive to me, probably because I'm not usually big on this genre in general. If you're in the mood for a cute love story though you'll probably enjoy this.

The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens
This is my third book by Allen Eskens and it did not disappoint. The first one I read by him is still my favorite (The Life We Bury), but all three have been interesting and worth the read. Although they aren't a series and you don't need to read one to understand the others, they do have overlapping characters who make cameo appearances. As for the plot, this is a standard murder mystery. A woman is found dead, and the detective called to investigate finds out that she's the wife of his nemesis, a local attorney (Lawyer A). To further complicate matters, the two men share a friendship with another attorney (Lawyer B) who is asked to represent Lawyer A in court, which puts a strain on the friendship with the detective. Nothing groundbreaking in the plot but overall an enjoyable read, and although it comes to a satisfying conclusion, it does set the stage for another book with one of the main characters.

Non-Fiction (*Audiobooks)
Mistakes were Made (but not by me) by Elliot Aronson, Carol Tavris
This book is the most thorough explanation and examination of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias of any I have read. It's very similar to Being Wrong, by Kathryn Schulz (my review for that book here) and unless you're particularly fascinated with this topic you don't really need to read both since they cite a lot of the same research. "Being Wrong" was much longer and gave far more examples of situations throughout history where humans have been egregiously mistaken. This book tends to get more personal in explaining how cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias can affect all of us in our marriages or relationships and in other things that may have an indirect effect on us like war and police work. I enjoyed both but would probably pick this one to recommend to others since it's a bit more succinct in making the same point.

10% Happier by Dan Harris
This author is a successful ABC News anchor, currently on Nightline and Good Morning America weekend edition. I don't watch either of those programs so I was actually unfamiliar with his news background/level of fame until I started reading the book. The book is kind of an auto-biography of his life and the experiences leading to his current success in the news business. He focuses quite a bit on his interactions with some of the religious and spiritual leaders he met through his work (e.g. Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, the The Dalai Lama, Ted Haggard), because he was also on his own personal quest for happiness and inner peace and wanted to see what he could learn and incorporate from their teachings. He came to be a believer in meditation and feels it has made him about 10% happier in life (hence the title). Kristi recommended this book to me after reading my Monday Motivation post where I referenced meditation, so it was a timely read! The only part of the book that was really slow for me was when Dan went to a ten-day meditation retreat. He went as a doubter and left as a believer, so the experience was very significant to him, but it was covered in almost painful detail. On the flip side I really enjoyed his summary of Buddhist teachings. He also explained a term I hadn't heard before: Hedonic Adaption. I personally held a similar theory about happiness but didn't know there was a name for it, so that was a highlight for me. Overall I enjoyed this book and found his experiences and journey to the top very interesting (he's brutally honest in his opinions on some big names in the news business) and I always find parallels between life in the entertainment business and life in the blogging business.

A Thousand Miles to Freedom by Eunsum Kim
This book gets 5/5 stars and is my top recommendation of the month. Given the current social and political tension with North Korea, I wanted a better understanding of what's happening there on a human, personal level and this book gave me exactly that. It was the true story of one young woman's childhood in North Korea and her eventual escape, a process that took many years to complete. I was riveted throughout the story and amazed by her personal strength and sacrifice. The story was engaging and well-edited so I didn't ever feel like I was listening to extraneous details or a lot of political commentary. It also wasn't a terribly sad or depressing book. Yes, there were absolutely hardships and difficult times, but it's ultimately an inspiring story of survival, hard work and determination.

Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
Anytime Audible offers a sale or promotion, I check out the selections to see if anything looks interesting since the prices are always better than full audiobook/credit prices. That's how I discovered this book, and when a reviewer mentioned that it was a good follow up to Outliers (one of my favorite audiobooks this year...definitely one I want to re-read), I went for it. This book examines the common assumption that successful people (e.g. Tiger Woods is one of the case studies) just got lucky or were born with an unusual amount of natural talent. In case after case the author demonstrates that there is much more to each of those stories than either luck or natural talent. He finds some very specific factors that consistently contribute to success across many disciplines (e.g. music, sports, business). It did feel like a follow-up book to Outliers and it was interesting overall, but ultimately I'm not sure I retained a lot of new information from this one. It reiterated what I learned in Outliers, and I still prefer that one, especially the narrator.

*Love & Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain by Max Wallace & Ian Halperin
(*This is not available in audiobook format so I read the Kindle version. But I still thought it made more sense to categorize it under nonfiction.) Last month I reviewed the biography of Kurt Cobain and discussed the documentary Soaked in Bleach (available on Netflix) which goes over the troubling issues around the suicide ruling in Kurt's death. This book is everything in that documentary and then some. They carefully examine every element in his death from the improbable heroin overdose, position of the shotgun, handwriting inconsistencies in the "suicide" note, personal conflicts of interest within the Seattle Police Department, etc. They provide more backstory on some of the people in Kurt's life, especially Courtney Love, her life, and her other acquaintances who died under mysterious circumstances. I felt the authors truly made every attempt to be as unbiased as possible and examine the facts objectively. I was really impressed with this book and would love to see this case get reopened someday.

Reading List:
I don't usually choose books far enough in advance to post about them, but this month a couple of my favorite authors have new books coming out so I'll be reading those ASAP. Based on their release dates (October 3), I might not have both completed in time for next month's reviews, but either way they're on my "must read" list for the near future. Also, I've already chosen my Kindle First Book (one free pre-release book per month for Prime Members) so that's on the docket this month as well. Just thought I'd share in case you'd like to read along this month and share your thoughts in October!

Thanks for reading and I hope you found a book or two to add to your reading list!

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Pearl Details + The Pursuit of Happiness

I've noticed that pearls are having a moment lately as an accent detail on just about everything, and this particular trend is really growing on me. It's just a fun way to fancy-up an otherwise simple piece. My first purchase in this trend were my pearl slides (shown in outfit five here), and it didn't take me long to add another piece with pearl details.

I had to resort to attempting a flat lay for this outfit in order to show the details because this top did not want to be photographed from the top-down like I usually do for Instagram. Partly because of the way the sleeves are attached (they are dolman sleeves) and also because I specifically wanted to show the pearl and bow details on the sleeve, that just wasn't happening!
Top (c/o SheIn) | Similar Jeans | Shoes |  Necklace (c/o)

Aside from the selfie-issues the top is great! It runs true to size (I'm wearing an XS below) and it's perfectly comfortable for this type of blouse. It's not t-shirt material (it feels more similar to Portofino shirt material), so it's easy to dress up if you need to wear it with slacks or skirt for an office setting. It's hard to tell from either of my pictures, but the sleeves are open in between the pearl details. The ties are what keep them together, but there's still a lot of air flow going on with them, making it a great transition weather piece.

Front View:
Top (c/o SheIn) | Similar Jeans | Shoes | Bag | Necklace (c/o) 

Monday Motivation: The Pursuit of Happiness

Thanks to the famous words in the Declaration of Independence, in the U.S.A., we're all about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. On the latter point, there's a quote I've always liked that goes like this: "The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself." This quote has been attributed to Ben Franklin, but according to many sources such as this, there's really no proof he said that. Regardless of the actual source, the quote rings true for me, and what a funny, challenging, enigmatic thing happiness is to pursue!

In trying to make some life decisions behind the scenes here lately, I've been frequently asking myself, "What makes me happy? Does blogging or my other hobbies make me happy? Would I be happier in a newer house? Would I be happier if I lived closer to family?" I'm always trying to maximize my life and happiness so in order to pursue that goal, I have to analyze what does and doesn't work for me and make changes if necessary.

Most of us always have one or two elusive things in life that makes us think, "When I get ____, then I'll be happy." (Fill in the blank with a better job, nicer house, partner, baby, lose 5 lbs. etc.) When we lived in Seattle, we weren't crazy about the weather, but we had some really great years there with great friends and we were pretty happy. Still, when we decided to move to San Diego, we foolishly thought better weather = better life. After four years here I can tell you that's not the case. The weather is a nice benefit, but it really doesn't guarantee or create happiness in and of itself. And I don't think our friends and acquaintances here are even marginally happier on average than our friends in Seattle were. (And side note, but that whole "Seattle has the highest suicide rate" thing is also a myth.) That's not to say I regret coming here at all. It was a good choice for a lot of reasons, but it also taught me I personally overrated the affect of weather on happiness.

 Besides reflecting on this myself I've been discussing the topic with friends and family and doing a bit of reading on it as well. My husband sent me this article on The Economics of Happiness, and it's one of the most interesting and specific I've read on this topic. It's targeted toward men in some parts, but makes interesting points that are relevant to everyone. Here are some of my favorite points:

"...no matter what income level people are at-rich or poor-they always think making 20% [more] would increase their happiness. Which is why even though the standard of living has been rising for many decades, people aren’t getting any happier."

"People who do more “prosocial spending,” using their money to buy things for others and to donate to charity instead of getting things for themselves do experience a lasting increase in their happiness. But our inner-caveman fights this conclusion; humans naturally want to display their status to other members of the tribe in conspicuous ways."

"The most consistent factor in happiness is the strength and extent of our social network. Whether we’re introverts or extroverts, spending time with others greatly boosts our well-being. Our relationships give us a sense of belonging, identity, security, support, and fun. Study after study has found that having strong, positive relationships with family, spouse, children, and friends provides the biggest boon to our happiness."

In keeping with my Monday Motivation theme, all of that is the long way of saying happiness is always one of my goals. And not just for myself, but I want the same for my friends and family, too! It seems to be a lifelong process of trying, changing and letting go of things to find the right balance for me. I'd really love to hear from you and learn what things you've experienced along the way that did or didn't contribute to your happiness in the way you expected!

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