Five Happiness-Inducing, Life-Affirming Things I Did in 2016.

Pensive Among Banyan Trees in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Do you look back over the year and reflect on your accomplishments? I do. It really helps me when I’m feeling like I never do anything with my life except look for vegan mac and cheese recipes and watch reruns of entire series I’ve seen 4 times over. C’mon, we all have our vices. Mine just include a bit more L Word and fake cheese than yours might. #truestory #atleastitsnotmeth

Ahem, so, my reflection process [and the subsequent intention setting for the next year] takes me about a week, and I find the Your Best Year Yet process by Jinny Ditzler to be extremely helpful with this. For 2017 intention-setting, I’m trying out Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map. So far, I’m absolutely stoked at my findings.

I had a lot of wins in various areas, including some big business wins, but here are some that I feel are most worthy of sharing—because they are easily replicated [if you don’t want to travel far, I recommend hyper-local adventuring—just as powerful and inspiring!]. So without further adieu, here’s my top happiness-inducing, soul-fulfilling wins that you can do too.

Quit Facebook.

I could write a novel about this, but here’s a blog post instead. Quitting Facebook has been a phenomenal decision for me, freeing me of mind-space, time, and the addiction to digital dopamine. I can’t recommend it enough—even if you have a personal brand or business. In my case, I only made more money, had better ideas, and just felt so much more at peace about everything in general after I quit. [And even though the election still made my ears glow with rage, I wasn’t bombarded by everyone else’s feelings, too]. This move was ultimately inspired by Deep Work by Cal Newport—a book I highly recommend for deep thinkers who want inspiring, science-backed data on quitting distractions, distancing oneself from shallow activities, and creating meaningful hermitage for one’s craft.

Went [Roughly] 80% Plant-Based.

Ok, so I’ll admit it, I’m still trying to be 100% plant-based, but I’m finding that the key to longevity with this type of thing is in staying balanced. Look, when I’m in my native NY, I’m not going to deny myself pizza. And my eco-warrior marine biologist bestie told me that my beloved bivalves [mussels and oysters] feel no pain when harvested [plus, the harvesting of bivalves is usually beneficial for the environment, and doesn’t endanger other species—score!] But all in all, my body is thanking me big time for upping the plants—and my peace of mind is, too. [Thanks, Cowspiracy, Earthlings, and The China Study!]

Traveled to 6 countries and had a gorgeous road trip from NYC to FL.

Traveling is creative lifeblood to me, and in the last 3 years I’ve done nothing but move from place to place, with Ubud, Bali being a kind of base. It’s been epic and insanely gorgeous. Check out these places if you desire adventure, beauty, and deep mysticism:

The Silver Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Whanganui River in Whanganui, New Zealand
Pink Lake in Rottnest Island, Perth, Australia
Driftwood Beach in Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA
Shambhala Retreat in Bali, Indonesia

And Then, Stopped Traveling.

Because when something that once brought you joy starts to cause overwhelm, a sense of displacement, and an inability to stay healthy… it’s time to change. Sure, I’ll do some traveling this year [my sights are set on Mexico, Key West, and Cuba]—but I found an incredible place to plant some roots for a while and focus on my creative endeavors. I’m about to lay some serious smackdown: the whole country looks down on Florida, especially New Yorkers. Guess what guys—you were wrong [I’ll admit it, so was I!]. Especially for writers, nature-lovers, winter-haters, artists, mermaids, minimalists, digital nomads, and general laid-backarians.

Made Big Space for the Mystical.

Shamanic journeys and ecstatic magical studies in Australia? Check. Ritual setting with family to let go of property and bad memories? Hell yeah. Energetically clearing my best friend’s house from bad ex-boyfriend vibes? You bet. Oh, and keeping up with my altar practice, meditating, oracle card readings, and tree-hugging abounded this year. What, you don’t think an agency trained writer with corporate cred can be enchanted by life? Believe me—when I worked on Wall Street I did secret after- hours card readings for my colleagues in the conference rooms [by request only, and always gratis]. This year I read mystical books like nobody’s business—uh huh, uh huh, and here’s a list for you if that’s your kind of thing:

The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram
Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth
The Law of Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson

This year was eye-opening glorious, a little heartbreaking, and everything in-between. Thanks to all my readers and clients that made it all the more fulfilling.

Rising to the Challenge of 2017,
Laura V.