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10 Simple Ways to Bring Joy into Your Life.

Are you having one of those days where you’re just not content with your life? We all experience bad days now and again. Work can be stressful and knock you down. Sometimes, you’re self esteem plummets for whatever reason. Your neighbors bought the latest car and you’re feeling mighty envious. Relationships can get tense…..so on and so forth.

Whether you feel ungrateful, depressed, anxious, or sad, I’ve compiled a number of simple methods to help you realize how much you have to be thankful for and boost your happiness!

  1. Count your blessings. It can be easy to envy the possessions and accomplishments of others while undermining what we have in our own lives.  Here’s the thing: Happiness isn’t accumulated by more money or prestige. I would die happily knowing that I spent ample time loving my family and participating in my faith – not possessing a large house, the latest clothing trends, or driving the slickest car. I won’t be thinking, “I should have gotten that 100″ flat-screen plasma TV for the living room.” I will be thinking of meeting my Father in Heaven, which is greater than any reward on earth. With that in mind, find a quite place, take a pencil and paper, and write down absolutely everything that you are grateful for today (food, water, shelter, employment, clothing, friends, family, pets, hobbies, love, freedom, talents, etc.).
  2. Surround yourself by people you love. Love is found in people – not things. Step away from the electronics and engage in face-to-face interaction with friends and family that you care about. Go for a walk, discuss life over lunch, play board games, or walk in the park. The internet can be loaded with negativity. Create some positivity in your life by laughing and loving those you love. Experience love and life – not a virtual reality that you can’t wrap your arms around.

3. Exercise. Get rid of all that tension by pumping your heart full of blood. Sweating rids your body of toxins and releases endorphins, which will brighten your mood. Physical activity can lower anxiety levels, improve sleep, tone muscles, and raise self esteem. Get active!

4. Wear clothes you like that fit you. If you are feeling body-conscious like me, you first and foremost need to toss out any clothes that don’t fit you/don’t make you feel confident. Don’t say you’ll lose the weight and eventually fit into those jeans….”eventually” is not “now”. You need to feel great today – not a couple months from now. So, buy clothes that make you feel like a million bucks. I’m not suggesting that you splurge all your money or give up on becoming a healthier person. But, losing weight takes time. You need to feel happy and confident no matter what you’re size.

5. Get involved in your community. If you are focusing your energy on yourself, get out into the community and serve those less fortunate than you. It’s eye opening to witness what we take for granted causing abundant joy to others. Volunteer at a food pantry, soup kitchen, clothing drive, nursing home, etc.

6. Journal. Silence brings clarity. When you aren’t in the mood to talk with anyone, a journal can be your best friend. Write about your burdens, struggles, and inner thoughts. List your questions and concerns. When you’re done, read over what you’ve written and reflect. Getting your emotions out on paper feels so relieving.

7. Take small naps. Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do at a given moment is sleep. Those 10 minutes spent resting and rejuvenating your body look a lot more effective than the same 10 minutes trying to keep your eyelids open while completing your work. You’ll be grateful for those extra minutes of snoozing.

8. Find a hobby. Play the guitar, sing, dance, get artsy, blog, or exercise. Schedule out some leisure time in your daily routine for yourself.

9. Eat nutritious meals. A Pop-Tart and cinnamon roll might look appetizing for breakfast, but are those frankenfoods going to deliver the nutrients you need to live healthfully? Think again. Do your body a favor by filling it up with nutrient-dense fruits, whole grains, protein, dairy, and veggies. I could spend numerous articles and give a thousand reasons why eating right is good for you. In fact, there really aren’t any bad effects to eating healthfully. You’ll feel fuller longer and feel great in the long run. Trust me!

10. Participate in your faith. Spirituality brings deep perspective and purpose into your life. Step away from noise in this world yelling at you to look a certain way and act a certain way. Attending church service, reading spiritual books, prayer, and wholesome music will redirect your life in a direction full of passion and purpose.  

Remember, happiness is only a feeling. Like all others feelings, it comes and goes. But, you can live a life with joy because God endows us with that gift. Be grateful for each day you are alive!

Julia

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Reasons Why I’m Not Dating

The thought of dating makes me feel excited, nervous, and weird all at the same time. If God wills it, I will find Mr. Right one day. However, here are my three main reasons why I’m holding off dating in the meantime.

1.) I have really high expectations. I will not settle for just any guy in a relationship. When I date, I’ll be looking at the man in front of me as a potential husband. My criteria is important to me. I will not date for the sake of dating or to feel like I belong.

2.) My time is limited. With entering my junior year of college, an internship, babysitting, and extracurriculars all to look forward to, I definitely won’t have the energy to balance a relationship in the mix. I have other more important priorities to juggle at this stage of my life.

4.) I’m simply not ready. After I graduate and begin making a living for myself, I feel that I will have established a greater level of independence, sense of self, and maturity to seriously date. But until then, I will continue to study and prepare for the life ahead of me.

I don’t think that dating or marriage should be a hurried matter for anyone. Take your time, treasure the opportunities in front of you, and let God be your navigator. After all, he knows us better than we know ourselves. Take care.

Julia

Secrets to a Lasting Relationship and Marriage

Deep inside our hearts, we all have a yearning to be loved. Several of you might even be looking for that special someone to spend the rest of your life with. Whatever the case, love is something to be treasured and shared with others.

I’ve had a numbers of “crushes” growing up. There were a couple instances along the way that I even believed I might have found the one. I pictured myself getting married, raising a family, and thinking that I’ll definitely be happy once my prince charming proposes to me. Yes, I’ve thought it all several times.

This isn’t going to be your typical dating advice article. No way. In fact, I am currently no where near in a romantic relationship. That being said, I have had my share of heart aches and gained wisdom on what constitutes a happy relationship leading to a lasting marriage.

First, we need to get some points straight.

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The intention of dating is to find your spouse. It’s not about having someone to hook up with, gain fame or fortune, or satisfy an emotional need. If you reason for dating is for anything other than sincere love and marriage, you are dating for the wrong reasons.

Infatuation is temporary. The first couple months of have a boyfriend or girlfriend are filled with butterflies, flirting, hugging, kissing, giggling, and heightened emotions. I consider this the “infatuation” stage. Hormones seem to drive up the walls. Over time, the feelings and constant physical closeness will fade. That’s okay! Infatuation is a short-lived passion. Love is shown when a person puts a person’s needs before his or her own.

Before I go any further, let’s take a look at an accurate definition of love found in Scripture.  1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”

Whether you are in a relationship now or are keeping an open mind for a future one, you should look at each of these characteristics and ask yourself: Is he/she patient? Kind? Jealous? Boastful? Immoral? Judgmental? Faithful? Hopeful? Will he/she endure with me through thick and thin?

Now, let’s quickly read sample wedding vows for a typical ceremony. “I, (Bride/Groom), take you (Bride/Groom), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”

Notice that both the core definition of love as well as marriage vows have a focus on enduring tough times! Conclusion: Marriage is not always a walk in the park. Life isn’t going to be the picture perfect life we’ve imagined. Even if you are absolutely in love with your significant other, you are not immune to times of hardship that will put you to the test.

Now, I believe that the more similarities a couple has, the more likely the marriage will last and the easier it will be to overcome hardships. Even during the toughest times, you both at least have the same foundational values to cling to. That’s the key word: Foundation.  If a marriage is built with a solid foundation of core beliefs, ambitions, and goals, your bond will be strong. If you, however, base a relationship off of fleeting emotions and physical attraction (RED ALERT), a lasting marriage is out of the question. Similarities need to be set in stone between both partners to enduring a solid marriage.

Ask yourself: What is important to you? What are your goals and dreams in life? How do these translate to the ideal spouse? For me, my Catholic faith, music, good stewardship, and willingness to raise a family are all important to me. Your ideals might be different, and that is completely fine! Basically, you need to know and love yourself before you can know and love a future spouse. Otherwise, you might conform to your spouse’s every behavior, decision, and attitude…which might cause constant frustration and stress.

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Overall, marriage is a beautiful gift but not necessarily the answer to happily ever after. It takes two devoted people to make a relationship endure through tough times. Love is beautiful, God-given, and takes sacrifice. It is a sacred bond. Treat it with love and care.

I hope this article provides some insight on relationships and marriage. I definitely enjoyed writing it!

Take care,

Julia

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