In January, I felt compelled toward the question of happiness. When I thought "I should," I did. I was proactive and on top of it, at least in the areas I focused on. In February, I found myself slipping some. This was, in part due to external factors: the dreadful weather (so cold! so much snow!) and finding out one of my sisters has cancer being chief among them. This month, I've been feeling a little low, and reminding myself to take action toward happiness has been harder. However, in place of it, I've found myself trying to do things that would reduce/help manage my stress level, which is off the charts lately. And that is, after all, one road toward happiness.
Some things I've learned:
- Making an effort to look nice when you're feeling crappy pays off. You feel more confident, people give you compliments, are you start to feel the way you look: good.
- When you're having a hard time, tell people. They'll cut you some slack and your stress and anxiety will reduce some.
- Tire out the dog and your life will be easier.
- I feel good about myself when I'm reading regularly.
- Tackling nagging tasks makes you feel amazing, even if the task itself is unpleasant.
- Yoga is a good source of spiritual growth.
- I am not a minimalist, but there are a lot of areas in my life (and home) that could be simpler, and I would be much happier.
- Shopping leads to more shopping, so better to do it as little as possible.
- Finding healthy ways to reward yourself is challenging and necessary.
- Doing things daily. This is an ongoing effort that I certainly haven't mastered yet, but I became really mindful of it in February. In January I worked on locking down my morning and evening routines. In February I worked on figuring out what tasks should really be done every day, and that I usually do much less frequently. This, too, is a way of building routine into my days: things like washing the dishes, scooping the litter box, playing with Olive, wiping off counters. Not deep cleaning or difficult things, just small things that help life run more smoothly.
- Letting my to-do list reward me. I've been using the Carrot To-Do app and it has been really good for me. The beauty of this app is that it's part to-do list and part game. You level up for crossing things off your list, get rewarded with bits of trivia and a digital cat pet (90's babies especially, this will appeal to you!). Plus, the Carrot robot talks to you so it makes the whole to-do list thing more personal. I use this list primarily for household duties (dishes, etc.) and small tasks like scheduling appointments; things that can be a nuisance but you don't get much recognition for completing.
- Giving myself credit for making an effort. This goes along with the previous point. In the past, I've felt I couldn't cross something off until it was 100% done. This is due to my perfectionist nature. Now, I'm allowing myself to cross things off my list and give myself credit for making an effort. For example, dishes are a constant struggle. So if I wash a load of dishes, I cross it off my list. There may still be dishes sitting on the counter, and that's okay. I just put dishes on my list again, and cross it off again when I've done another round. This gives me a better visual picture of the efforts I've made, which helps me feel like I've gotten more done and encourages me to keep going. It's a mind game, really, but half of life is figuring out ways to make things work for you.
- Going to the dog park. I have found that Olive is so much calmer in the evenings after she's had an hour to run around with other dogs and expel her energy. This makes it easier for me to get things done and/or relax, and also reduced my puppy frustration. Finding ways to make Olive's schedule and tendencies compatible with my own is an ongoing process that helps me achieve greater happiness and productivity at home.
- Keeping my Goodreads up to date. I have been off and on with Goodreads, but now that I'm reading books for pleasure on a regular basis again, I've been using it as a way to keep track of books I want to read, books I've read as I finish them, and a way to get recommendations from my friends. When I go to the library it's really easy to pull of my to-read list on the Goodreads app and take home a new book to read.
- Purging. I know a move is in my near future, so I'm doing a little early spring cleaning and going through one room at a time, filling boxes of things I no longer want or need. I like to start on this early--usually I'll end up pulling a few things out before it's all said and done, and going back and adding more from certain areas of the house. It's amazing how much stuff you can accumulate in a year!
- Incorporating even 5 minutes of yoga into my day. This doesn't happen every single day, but I'm trying to get there. I have realized that I feel so much better after I do yoga, and that goodness is a combination of physical exertion, mental clarity, and deep breathing. As a non-religious person, this time spent with me thinking about and working on my mind and body in productive ways is my own form of spirituality. Against the general hustle and bustle, this time, be it 5 minutes before bed or an hour and a half class, reminds me that I am here and I am human.
Looking back, I think I did better action-wise than I initially thought I had, but my state of mind was not where I wanted it to be. While I was working toward happiness, I wasn't thinking about it. I was complaining and dwelling in negative spaces. Working on positive thoughts and positive attitude will be something to focus on next.
How is your year and your resolutions going so far?
Yours Truly, Jen