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Like It’s Your Birthday!

He celebrates every day like a birthday. Why not you?

One of my friends made a comment the other day that has been in the back of my mind all week. She said, “Imagine how much happier the world would be if we treated everyone like it was their birthday, like they were a celebrity.” Of course, this idea doesn’t mean driving our friends around in limousines or baking them a birthday cake every day, but I love this general concept. For me, this idea means hugging a little more, gifting a little more, and making each other feel a little more special in general.

If you read my recent blog post about my new experiment, I’ve already gained a significant amount of happiness from getting a gift for someone every time I buy something. But it’s not about making myself happy—it’s about passing that happiness on to someone else. For example, I bought a Jamba Juice last week and I also bought a KIND bar for my roommate, letting her know what a “KIND” friend she is. She seemed to really enjoy it and seeing a friend get a smile (especially when she wasn’t expecting that kind of a surprise, even when it was small) really made my day. I think it’s these kinds of “birthday acts” that build stronger friendships and stronger people.

You don’t have to blatantly celebrate someone on a daily basis but even subtle acts can have a tremendous impact. In fact, it’s often the surprises that make people feel special. Just giving someone a hug or leaving them a complimentary post it when they’re not expecting it can be a friendly reminder that they are loved. We don’t necessarily need this affirmation from the people we love but it truly can make all the difference between mediocrity and true happiness.

Live alongside, laugh with, and love on your friends and family as much as you can!

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Tear Down This Wall!

As we get older I think it becomes easier to build up walls to protect ourselves. I say this because I’ve noticed that I’ve put up some walls of my own lately. And while we think we may be protecting ourselves, I think these walls can actually hurt us more than anything. When we prevent challenges from entering our life, we are also preventing the positive as well. A wall is a wall and if you build a strong enough one, eventually nothing will break through it, not even happiness.

Perhaps you notice something similar in your own life, or maybe you’re good at remaining vulnerable and open to change. It’s something that I work on as much as I can. I think over the years, (and I think this is a natural process), I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve as much anymore. Sometimes my heart can stay buried away and I have trouble expressing my feelings. I think I revert to keeping my thoughts to myself instead of meeting a confrontation for fear of further trouble. However I have found that this often does more damage than good. Ultimately, I believe that we do need to speak up for ourselves, we do need to be honest with what we think and how we feel, and we do need to be open to change.

So here’s to breaking down walls. As Reagan would say, “tear down this wall!” I encourage you to do the same as I work to knock down my own. Life isn’t meant to be bottled up and preserved, life is meant to be shared, especially sharing how you feel. Be who you are and don’t fear that you are a burden; the people who matter will listen. I hope you’ll break down what’s holding you back and build up what makes you strong.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Spending…But Sharing

I recently turned 21. A milestone so they say. I’ll admit, my birthday wasn’t typical—instead of a Margarita Monday or a Tequila Tuesday to ring in a new number, it was a sick-in-bed, studying-all-day kind of birthday. But it was still one of the best. I say this because it gave me a new idea—an inspiration for the happiness in gift giving. Whether it was flowers, balloons, or just a piece a piece of chocolate, I was reminded how a gift, no matter how great or small, can be the perfect way to let someone know you care about them.

But actions speak louder than words. It was during my birthday that I realized—why should gifts only come on birthdays or certain holidays? Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that come unexpectedly. They don’t have to be extravagant or expensive, just enough to convey that you were thinking of them. And before you start to think that this entire article is about how much I like getting gifts—I’m about to pull a 180 on you. In fact, I’m saying exactly the opposite because for the next month, whenever I go shopping (which isn’t too often so I don’t think I’ll go bankrupt with this plan), I’m going to buy a gift for a special person in my life. Whether it’s for my roommate, my best friend, my mom, or anyone who I treasure—no more excuses. When I see something that I think they will love, I’m just going to get it—all for the sake of hopeful happiness.

So much of the time we go out shopping just for ourselves. We buy a dress for ourselves, we buy Starbucks for ourselves (unless our boss is mandating a cappuccino), and heck, we even buy cereal just for ourselves. And I know, you may be arguing that it’d be crazy to buy something for someone else every time you brought out a Jackson or your gold card. But why should special occasions be the only time we’re willing to spend money on others? Let’s share more. Plain and simple.

I’m not suggesting you drop some serious dough. But I am inviting you to think of more than your self-interest when you spend. For example, let’s say you make a stop at H & M. Even just getting a little pair of earrings or a headband for a friend can go a long way. Or let them know you’re thinking of them by picking out their favorite snack (Cheez-its if you’re in my room) or getting them a chai latte while you’re getting your own. Life is happier when you share it with others. How can you not smile when you’re making someone else do the same?

Call me crazy, but I’m really excited to try out this project. You can still be savvy and spend your money in ways that make more than just yourself happy. Besides, the excitement from a new shirt will fade but your friendships will only get stronger when you put others before yourself. Happy spending but more importantly, happy sharing!

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

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The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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