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Creating a Life You Don't Want To Run Away From

Creating a Life You Don’t Want to Run Away From

Many people spend their lives running.  And no, not the marathon kind. We spend so much time and energy running away from who we really are, what we really feel and what we really want to do. We distract ourselves with our iPhones the instant we have a moment of open space. We keep ourselves busy busy busy in order to avoid too much quiet time where our thoughts can get the better of us. Some of us run to substance abuse. Some of us run to addiction. Some of us form disorders with unhealthy coping mechanisms that we think are keeping us safe from the discomforts of life. Or some of us just neglect our desires and settle for “comfortable.” We each find our own ways to run away from the realities we believe we do not want to face. 

But what if we created a life for ourselves that we simply did not want to run away from??

What would that life of yours look like?

run away from

When we are engrossed in our passions –  in daily activities or work that genuinely energize us – when we make it a priority to fill our days with things that replenish our souls and make us feel light… then these urges to run away and distract and avoid simply drift away. Eventually, the strength of this life you have created for yourself overrules the habitual tendencies you once had in order to run away and avoid discomfort. Those coping strategies just won’t feel as important. Because they simply won’t be needed. 

But how do we create this life for ourselves??

What does that life of yours look like? Are you living it? Or is it still a “I’ll be happy when….”

don't want to run away from

This past winter, I had a friend attend the Snowflake Yoga Festival in Winnipeg, MB, where Tracy Hutton gave a talk on finding happiness. My friend shared with me some questions she posed to her listeners:

  1. What are the 10 things I need to be happy?
  2. If I took full personal responsibility for my happiness, I would do these 6 things…
  3. What are 3 small/nano sized things I can do each day to bring me closer to happiness?
  4. To be 5% happier, I would do these 6 things….

I found the wording of these questions to be very interesting. It is our personal responsibility to find happiness. Of course, relationships and being with others can have a huge part of getting there, but it is still our responsibility to seek out and accept those connections. Everyone will have very different and unique things that make them happy. It is our own responsibility to own these things.

don't want to run away from

These questions also reiterated to me the fact that happiness doesn’t actually come in big shiny, million dollar cruises and successful career briefcases. It is more so the collection of small, daily gifts to ourselves. Little moments or activities that we let ourselves have on a daily or weekly basis because we know how much more at peace we feel with them. 

don't want to run away from

As said by others before, recovery is very much about discovery. It is about both returning to past activities that once made us happy, but also finding and accepting new ones. I know that when I engulf my day in activities that feed my soul, I do not feel the anxiety, anger or disembodiment which leads to unhealthy urges and unhealthy coping mechanism. When I am acting – my biggest passion – literally nothing else matters. It is seriously that powerful. As corny as that sounds.

Now at the beginning, you may not always feel happy doing these things  (which seems counterintuitive, I know).  It can be very hard to let yourself fill your days with these activities you know you enjoy if you are used to less compassionate coping distractions. While in the midst of recovery, letting yourself do these things may bring up feelings of grief and sadness…. but… even in these feelings, you no longer want to run away. The anxiety and anger gets replaced with something softer. The urge to escape, distract, avoid and run away disappears

It truly is about creating a life you do not want to run away from. 

don't want to run away from

Last week I made a list for myself. A simple list with only 6 words on it:







These 6 words stand for my weekly goals. Each week, I want to incorporate each of these parts of my life at least once. If I don’t get them all in, that’s okay. But I’d like to try. 

road walk

Music: get out my ukulele, my guitar, sing, play the piano

Movement: move my body how it wants to move; dance, go to yoga, go for a walk or hike

Meditation: go to yoga, spend extra time in shavasana, take my own time in the morning to breathe

Social: go out and be with other people

School: start on the work I have to do for my final year at the academy, start my script writing, read my plays

Outside: just be outside

Some of these things may not feel too great in the moment. I may wish I was doing something more “productive” or active, but I know… I know… these are the things in my life that make me, Cora, truly happy. Not that person I’ve been running away to try and be. These are the things that feed my soul and make all those urges to self harm, punish, control and push go away. Because they bring me back to myself. …Which can be a painful experience. After all, the longer you’ve been running, the more tired you are to make the trek back to the starting line. It will take effort. It will literally take creation, crafting, and with that, a lot of persistence. But by having a goal to incorporate each of these things into each day and each week, I am working to create a life I no longer want to run away from. 

It's about creating a life you do not want to run away from. #happiness #recovery #goals #compassion Click To Tweet

don't want to run away from

Thanks, Amanda, for the help in Thinking Out Loud. 

Tell me,

What are three things you need in your life to be happy? What would be on your list?

If you took full responsibility for your happiness, what one thing would you do every day? Each week?

I encourage you to think about Tracy’s questions and maybe do a little journaling for yourself this weekend. 



  1. Renee Benda | 26th May 16

    Yoga and the Outdoors would be on my list as well. Also some much needed nothing time, no plans, no tv not computer nothing.

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      As scary as “nothing time” can be, I think it is so important to challenge ourselves with it. We need silent nothing time to practice just listening to what we actually want to do or how we are feeling. Having no plans is when some of our best, most fruitful motivation can come from. Thank you <3

  2. Susie @ SuzLyfe | 26th May 16

    I think that we have to take a moment to look at ourselves objectively every day. And chocolate would be on my list ;D
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…The Best Part of Being MarriedMy Profile

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      That’s pretty hard to do – seeing ourselves objectively. I think we are much better at fabricating our “needs” and “desires.”

  3. Heather @ Polyglot Jot | 26th May 16

    This is so great–its been on my mind constantly the past few weeks! I think my major ones are:

    Dark chocolate
    Face to face time with loved ones
    Quiet time alone
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…TOL: Food Photos & Food as ArtMy Profile

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      I really should have added chocolate to my list. Probably didn’t because I have no trouble getting it in daily 🙂
      Face to face time with others is huge and something I need to work consciously to make sure I give myself.

  4. katalysthealth | 26th May 16

    Im reading this at 5am in the morning which is way too early for me to be using my brain and thinking deeply, but I am totally writing this down in my journal and doing later today. What a great concept and idea – to really think of those things that we love so much and dont want to live without, and somehow implement more of them into our lives. I’m going to have to really think on this – but thank you for the food for thought! <3
    katalysthealth recently posted…Thinking Out Loud #87My Profile

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      Haha – this is often the state I write my blog comments in as well (aka I apologize if some of mine seem a tad loopy on your blog!). I hope – when you are feeling a bit more awake – you have some nice reflecting writing time. I think these things are very important.

  5. Kate | 26th May 16

    I love this!! You’re list of 6 things has inspired me to think of my own. Sure, I know what makes me feel productive and like I’m getting things done and I know what I like to when I want to be lazy, but what if I used my energy to do things I loved? Thanks for the reminder.

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      It’s interesting how those lists of ours yield different results – the list of things that make us feel productive isn’t always the same list of things that make us feel truly good inside. But I think that is something not many of us realize until we really take a moment to think about it.

  6. Morgan | 26th May 16

    this is such an interesting piece. It’s definitely something I have never really thought about before. I LOVE the idea of choosing things to incorporate into each day. I think it would be a lot more valuable and achievable than creating mini goals or something simialr.
    Morgan recently posted…Happy Second Birthday, Ryan Richard!My Profile

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      I think its an eye opening concept as well. I know it is not realistic to think we can incorporate these things each day – but I think once a week is a solid goal.

  7. Aubrey @ Clusterforked | 26th May 16

    I love the idea of taking full responsibility for my one’s own happiness. It is so important to do things that you know make you happy and I totally agree that in recovery a lot of those things do NOT feel good but often by the time you’ve done them, you enjoy them in hindsight. Socialising is the big one for me, something I know I really want to do but struggle to motivate myself to do. I am a huge advocate for combatting the need for a constant flow of productivity because that simply isn’t what life is about. It leads to doing things that don’t really make you happy at all.
    Aubrey @ Clusterforked recently posted…Exactly the Person That I Want to BeMy Profile

  8. Amanda @ .running with spoons. | 26th May 16

    I’d like to think that I’m living a life I don’t want to run away from… even though sometimes I need a vacation from it 😆 But three things on my list would definitely be: family, nature, and books. Those are 2 things I couldn’t imagine a life without.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…crazy powders, music feels, & an important question (ToL#184)My Profile

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      Haha, no matter out state of contentment, vacations are always necessary. All three of those things are made for grounding. Aka, so important.

  9. Kathleen | 26th May 16

    I love this! Especially because Tracy’s questions focus on micro-level changes that seem a lot less intimidating than “Let’s do your 5 year plan.” Your focus on the little things is so spot-on. Some yoga and outdoors sounds great as well. Wishing you the best <3

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      Exactly. I think it is so easy for us to think we need these huge goals and huge plans… but those things are so long term and may only “make us happy when…” …. when in fact we can do tiny little things each day, each week, to work right now in the moment.

  10. Sarah | 26th May 16

    I love your goals of incorporating them at least once each week. It definitely helps put life into perspective and it doesn’t seem so insurmountable when we try to just incorporate them once. You’re so right that we do as much as we can to be busy busy busy. I find that just spending time outside always helps bring me back to the present, whether it be reading a book, enjoying a nice meal outside or simply going for a walk.
    Sarah recently posted…No Bake Peanut Butter Cherry Trail Mix Bites (Vegan, GF)My Profile

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      I think just trying for once a week is a much more compassionate, and rational, way of thinking about it. We all know how fast a week can go by, so once a week is still something to be very very proud of. Like many, I am so easy to over crowd my to do list, so having a few simple things to keep us present – like taking some time outside – can be just so grounding.

  11. Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine | 26th May 16

    Love this! Its definitely thought provoking and worth consideration. Its so easy to get caught up in all the things we “have ” to do that we don’t take the time to do what makes us happy or even think about what we would want to do to make ourselves happy. Thanks for sharing, I definitely want to reflect on this more!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…On Seeking BalanceMy Profile

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      Exactly. I think we often tend to believe that those things on our to do lists or those things we “have” to do are also the things we “want” to do…. though I’m sure if we took a moment to really think about it, our lists of “shoulds” and true “wants” would be very different. I think there can be both… but we need the little bits of things we truly want to do to keep us going on the “shoulds.”

  12. Lyss | 27th May 16

    All such lovely goals Cora, and I adore this post. I too want to try being outside more, and learn to meditate or even just relax in a better way. It really is so easy to get consumed in the things that we feel like we have to do: living life like that won’t make us happy! Great post love <3
    Lyss recently posted…Let’s talk about intuitive eatingMy Profile

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      Thanks Lyss – I think its just important for us to evaluate the things we truly want to do to make us happy, vs the things we are always feeling like we “should” do. I think often we trick ourselves to believe those “shoulds” are also “wants,” when really maybe they aren’t…

  13. Ellie | 27th May 16

    Three things I need in my life to be happy are laughter, running and restful sleep. Your goals are really great because they hit every aspect of a healthy life. I wish I could come around to the community aspect a bit more, but that’s something I’m working on. I think being more social would improve my happiness, but it also might suck for a while when I am uncomfortable. Lovely post babe 🙂
    Ellie recently posted…Final Marathon ThoughtsMy Profile

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      The social piece is a tricky one. I know just as well that as much as I need a bit of social-ness in my week to keep me happy, I also get very quickly dragged down by too much social time. I am an introvert so I need my alone time to recharge. But too much isolating can be detrimental as well. Its a tricky balance. Sometimes we just have to force ourselves out for even a short amount of time – and if we hate it or it sucks – then thats simply what it was.

  14. chasetheredgrape | 27th May 16

    Aww I love this Cora and I agree 100%. David and I knew we wanted to live abroad, we wanted that adventure and knew it would make us happy – so we actively sought it out, worked damn hard and are now living and adventure filled life where each week we stop, smile and go ‘wow, this is our life’! So many people said to us ‘oh I wish I could do that too’ or ‘you are so lucky’ but I just replied with ‘well if you really want it, you can have it. It’s not about luck making you happy, it’s about hard work’. We grabbed hold of our responsibility to make ourselves happy.
    Sometimes that hard work comes from allowing youself to enjoy and indulge in those things that make you sparkle – I know those simple things that make me smile are those things that made me smile when I was little too, they are in my blood – adventure, being outdoors and dancing 🙂

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      I absolutely love yours and Davids’ story. It is so rare in this world, yet so RIGHT and courageous and inspiring. I think many of us neglect the idea that happiness may actually take some legit work to get there. It isn’t just a fatalistic thing. But if we know what it is that will get us there, we need to take the risk of some short term discomfort and just go after it.
      I think the things that make us happy are ALWAYS the things that also made us smile when we were little. Those are the things that are in our blood, and as old as we are, they will forever be in us. Thats the beauty. We age, but inside… we are the same.

  15. Elizabeth Brimage | 27th May 16

    I love this! It’s funny because it seems so counterintuitive to sit in your thoughts, but it’s been something I’ve been conscious that I desperately need to work on. This life is so hectic and it’s so hard to find peace, so sometimes we have to create space for it. Beautiful post. xx

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      I definitely think it needs to be a conscious effort – one that may take legit work – to create this space and these moments for ourselves. Hopefully then after some time it will become for habitual.

  16. Kristy @ Southern In Law | 27th May 16

    I loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee this! You are so so right. Too many of us are so focused on trying to be somewhere or achieve something and forget about enjoying and appreciating the now – or working on what’s really going on!

    I think one of the most important things is to remember that this life isn’t supposed to be perfect. When you accept that, you start to find more joy in life rather than feeling like it’s never “enough”.
    Kristy @ Southern In Law recently posted…Recent Things: Naked Ears, Pained Expressions and FIRE!My Profile

    • Cora | 29th May 16

      Exxaccttlly. No matter how much we “plan” or how many perfectly thought out “to do lists” we make – things will NEVER turn out as we expect them. I think knowing a few simple activities that always ground us or make us happy can be the solidity in this groundlessness – we know these things will be there for us.

  17. Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar | 28th May 16

    Wow. One of the things I need to makes me so so happy is writing–it’s one of the most important things to me. But do I make time for it every day? No. I always imagine this dream life where I’ll be a super-prolific writer and read all these amazing books, but then I fill my life with teaching and school and cooking and grocery shopping and swing dance and blogging and responding to email and my internship and a relationship and and and…all things I love! But I know I need to make time to write, even if it’s only a couple of times a week.
    I’m totally with you that living the life you want to live is such a key part of recovery. I can say personally that I feel much more “recovered,” much more free from eating disorder thoughts, since starting graduate school. I totally hear what you’re saying about acting, how it becomes the only thing that matters at that moment. That’s how I feel about swing dance and teaching (and writing, sometimes, although writing is often about other things in my life.) So no, it doesn’t sound corny at all. It sounds like how the creative process works!
    Sometimes in the recovery blog world, we spend a lot of time discussing the thoughts we want to get rid of–which is good, and we need to acknowledge that and feel heard, I think. But it’s also super-important to acknowledge that we need to be creating new identities, focusing on the thoughts that we want to replace those ED thoughts with.
    Beautiful post!

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  21. Cayanne Marcus @healthyezsweet | 30th May 16

    Thank you SO much for sharing those questions from Tracy Hutton; I plan on devoting some time this week to answering them, and maybe using it as a theme for a future blog post. Off the top of my head, my list would definitely have Family, Gratitude, Dessert, Pilates, Travel, and Being by the Pool!
    Cayanne Marcus @healthyezsweet recently posted…7 TTLY!! Important Life Lessons from my Middle School DiaryMy Profile

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