The Secret of Happiness

Dear women,

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by life? By bills, deadlines, and big decisions? I know the feeling. But what if I told you that I want you to be overwhelmed—because it will totally change your life?

I want you to feel overwhelmed by gratitude, like a wave crashing over you as you realize all reasons you have to be thankful. The force of the wave expels all your stress and negativity, and you are left enveloped by feelings of joy, warmth, and wonder.

By consciously being gracious, I promise that you will be happier. Not only that, it makes you more attractive, more popular, and more emotionally resilient. Plus, it even helps you live longer

Don’t just take my word for it. Dr. Robert Emmons, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology, shows through his research that people can be consistently more happy by practicing gratitude. Vulnerability and shame researcher Brené Brown’s work has also proven that gratitude brings joy, a finding that has transformed her family. Listen to her story in this video:

Give being consciously thankful a try. It doesn’t take long, and it’s free. I recommend the Five Minute Journal, which helps you evaluate your days and boost your self-worth. Think about someone for whom you are thankful and write him or her a letter expressing that. While sharing a meal with family or friends, take turns saying what you are thankful for.

Practicing gratitude has made me so joyful that some days I feel as if I am glowing or that the joy might burst out of me like air from a balloon. Ladies, I want you to feel that way too; I want you to feel overwhelmed with gratitude.



You are enough–just as you are

Women, you ARE worthy!
Women, you ARE worthy!

“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” -Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Dear women,

In the spring of 2014, I broke up with the only boyfriend I had ever had. We dated for three and a half years, and while I knew separating was for the best, it didn’t make the transition any less painful.

I kept asking myself, “How did I not love him enough? What could I have done differently? How am I not enough for him?

Too soon after my breakup, I found myself attracted to someone who ultimately was only interested in having sex with me. When I rejected him, he never spoke to me again. I was outraged that to him I wasn’t even worth spending time or having a conversation with.

No. Not a chance. I refuse to accept that.

It is easy to fall into thinking that you aren’t enough when people reject you whether that be a friend, a love interest, a family member, or especially yourself. Please, believe me when I say that you are enough. You always have been, and you always will be.

The hardest part of accepting you are enough is blocking out all the things telling you that you aren’t.

Honestly, it is a challenge for me to not want to fix every imperfect part of my body; to see my best friend have three majors, know five languages, go to college for free and not feel unaccomplished; or to have my brother tell me that every single thing about me is annoying and not want to sob my eyes out.

What can you do to embrace who you are and completely believe that you deserve to be loved and to be accepted?

Try talking to yourself like you would talk to one of your friends—with compassion and understanding. Would you constantly tell a friend that she should lose the fat on her hips? If your friend just got dumped, would you tell her that she deserved it and would never find someone as good again? No! You would be a terrible friend. So what good is it going to do if we talk to ourselves like that? Psychologist Ethan Cross said that people are kinder to themselves when they talk to themselves using their name instead of I.

Ladies, you are worthy of someone who respects you enough to date you and not just sleep with you. You are worthy of friends who value and accept you. You are worthy of loving yourself despite being flawed, insecure, confused, scared, or broken. Don’t accept anything less.



Be vulnerable. Why not?

Dear women,

Why not? What is the worst that could happen?

Those are the phrases I have adopted in the past year, which have forced me to be courageous and have brought me connections and opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’m not saying, “Let’s do heroin! What’s the worst that could happen?” I’m talking about pushing past fear and doing things you have always wanted to do, talking to new people, and being vulnerable.

Recently, I randomly walked up to someone whom I have wanted to meet for a long time and introduced myself. I couldn’t be worried that he would think I was dumb or weird and wouldn’t want to talk to me. I asked myself, “What’s the worst that could happen? He doesn’t talk to you? You already don’t talk to each other, so nothing would change.”

But that didn’t happen. It turns out that he is one of the most wonderful and amazing people I have ever met. Our mutual openness lets us feel seen, heard, and valued. Daring to be vulnerable paid off.

In Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly, she says, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” Her TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability” is one of the most watched TED talks ever for good reason. Being vulnerable and being our authentic self are the heart of courage and connection. Giving yourself the permission to be open in turn gives others the permission to do that. No judgement. Just acceptance.

Women, the rewards of being courageous are abundant and freeing. Dare to connect. Dare to ask, “Why not?”



Hilary Duff knew what she was talking about in 2003! Listen to her song “Why Not?” from the Lizzie McGuire Movie!

Dating in middle school: it’s worth it to wait

Dear middle school girls,

I know how you are feeling right now. I know how it feels to like someone and want them to like you back. Ever since kindergarten I have had crushes on boys, spying on them during recess or getting a drink from the bubbler so that I could pass their class. Even though I wanted to date someone in middle school, I did not have a boyfriend until I was a senior in high school. Looking back, I am glad things turned out that way.

Girls, your middle school and high school years are precious opportunities for you to make and grow friendships. The older you get, the less time and access you have to bond with friends, even less time if you are dating someone. I can honestly say my best friends from high school are still my best friends, and I cherish my memories with them more than anything else.

Moreover, it is important to be comfortable being alone before you are in a relationship. Don’t rely on a someone to make you feel pretty, wanted, important, etc. You can be and are all those things without him or her. Feeling comfortable with who you are—or even fully understanding who you are—is difficult all throughout life, but it is especially difficult in middle school and high school. You might not even realize how easily influenced you are right now by what other people think you should be. One of my favorite books that has helped me be comfortable with who I am is The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown.

Now, I am not saying that you need to wait until you are 18 to date: I am saying that you should ask yourself if you are ready. Right now, you can’t drive, so your parents would have to take you on dates, which is probably super awkward. Plus, you don’t have money for dates.

I saw in a Newsweek article “Wait Before You Date: The Risks of Romance in Middle School” that those who date in middle school are risk takers. The article reported on a study at the University of Georgia, which found that people who dated in middle school were “four times more likely to drop out of high school and reported twice as much substance abuse as those who were dating less.”

Ask yourself, “Is dating important right now? Why am I choosing to date this person? What am I hoping to get out of the relationship? Is this person mature enough to handle a relationship? Is this someone I could see myself marrying?” Remember, girls, you will have plenty of time to date when you are ready. Focus on enjoying life while you are young and becoming the best person you can be.