My life has been transformed. Completely and utterly turned on its head, and it is amazing. I go to bed like a child on Christmas Eve because I am so excited to begin another day. What could be better than that?
I'm bursting with enthusiasm, energy and a desire to share what has happened to me, because it wasn't always like this.
My relationships with my children, my friends, and my family have improved beyond measure. But also and most importantly my relationship with me. I say most importantly because I now realize that the relationship we have with ourselves is key to living the best life possible. Fall in love with yourself and life will fall in love with you.
In the last five months I have experienced more love, laughter and carefree moments, seen more beauty in the world around me than in all of my adult life. My eyes are open. I've woken up. I'm wide awake and it is phenomenal.
Last October I was in a very different place, having lived for a long time an obsessive and structured lifestyle and dieted hard to compete as a first-time bikini competitor. Afterward I struggled with trying to live a balanced life, the weight I gained (though it seemed normal, even healthy to others) filled me with self-loathing, I couldn't look at myself in the mirror and didn't want to leave my house. I lost the financial backing for a business venture and felt a failure in every role -- mother, girlfriend, businesswoman. Withdrawn, felt I was letting everyone down. Consumed by guilt I was exhausted and overwhelmed.
Even in the darkest moments buried deep down was the knowledge that life could be better than this, but I didn't want to acknowledge let alone act on it.
This knowledge had come to me when months before a friend had recommended to me that I read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I'd been going through a stressful time with the challenges that a strict competition diet and training bring along with being self employed and having a young family, she thought it would benefit me.
I read it in one sitting, and it made me aware that although I considered myself a positive person I unwittingly brought a lot of negativity into my life by focusing more on what I didn't want rather than what I wanted.
If I was busy in work I would say, "Oh, how will I ever get all this done -- I'm going to be so tired," rather than, "Wow, it's so brilliant that I am in such demand." When I got paid I would worry how I would stretch it to pay all my bills rather than thinking, "Isn't it great that I get paid for doing what I love?" I began to change the way I felt focusing on being more positive and my life did begin to transform -- within a month I gave my first ever motivational talk -- something that had been a dream for a long time. I even spoke of the importance of being good to ourselves, not realizing at the time that this was an area I wasn't practicing what I preached.
As the date for competition grew closer I thought less about all I'd learned and slowly stress, anxiety, and negative thoughts about myself and my body crept back in.
In the months following the competition it felt as if the ground had collapsed from beneath me. I would think of what a joke it was that I had believed my life could be amazing.
The turning point came, when one night I hit my rock bottom. Climbing the stairs, my two beautiful children sleeping and all I could think of was wanting my life to be over. I googled suicide that night and thought of what a relief it would be. The following morning I realized I had nothing to lose it couldn't get any worse for me.
A poster in my kitchen from my talk read, "Be Happy Now," and reminded me of The Secret, I wondered, "Could it work? Really? When I feel as bad as this?" And so the idea of an experiment for a better life was born. Based around one fact that when we feel good, good things happen and we can always choose how we want to feel.
When you're feeling as bad as I was (angry, anxious, stressed, filled with self-doubt and criticism) it's hard to just "feel good," so I created 10 rules that would act as happiness triggers, including: gratitude, love, kindness to others and kindness to myself. Filling my thoughts and conversations with good rather than negative and one rule as simple as starting my day listening to music that I love.
The effects were immediate, and they snowballed, collecting one positive emotion after another. I blogged daily -- http://www.hannah-lilly.com -- and within weeks I was able to look at myself and see what others saw the negative critical voice in my mind was silenced and I began to fall in love with me.
Now today, in a week where I received messages from students in a school I recently spoke at saying how it has changed the way they think of themselves and their bodies, from a teacher saying she interacts more positively with her class since meeting me and from readers of the blog who say that it has helped them discover their own power. It is within us all and is the power to choose how we want to feel. Embrace it and you can create the life you want.
In my experience there are two types of people:
Those that live life to the full, they smile, laugh they are grateful and filled to the brim with love -- they are the people with infectious happiness -- and there are those that are worrying, complaining and waiting for life to get better. But they don't need to wait. Each moment is an opportunity to start now and live the best life possible.
Having been both, I know which feels the best.
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