But it’s time to turn the mood around.
In truth, I’m a pretty happy and chilled out person. I try and see the best in in people and every situation.
I believe in the power of positive thought too, and I am often heard mumbling mantras to myself. So why the heck am I ‘working on my happy’? Call me greedy, but I want to be happier, more of the time. And I think, with a little effort on my part, that’s entirely possible.
I’m calling it Project Happy.
What is my happy?
I started this process by writing down what makes me happy. There were some really big things on the list, such as spending carefree time with my family, the love of my super adorable and excitable dog, great weather, nice smells, surprises, having time to do nothing … the list went on.
I realise that underlying many of the things that make me happy is having time to really enjoy them.
Like many of the people reading this, I’m constantly trying to carve out time for my business, for my family and, well, for me. Most of us are trying to fit in as much enjoyment around our responsibilities and obligations as we can. Right?
I often over-book myself and it leads to a situation where work fills my brain.
Is time management the secret to happiness?
I’m very good at managing my time. During my brainstorming, I realised that I don’t need to find more time for enjoyment; I need to make the time I have, count.
I think mindfulness and focus are the keys to my happy. When I’m present in each moment, I can more easily find its joy.
If I can find my happy, moment by moment, that equals one big happy!
This is my theory anyway.
How I’m working on my happy
I asked my buddies on social media how they work on their happy, and I got a whole range of answers, ranging from wine and exercise to not sweating the small stuff and disconnecting from technology. Appreciating what you have was a big one.
He are some of the ways I’m looking after own well-being so that my happy will flower, moment by moment.
Stopping the tech chatter
Sometimes my brain feels like an outboard motor running at top speed. I get up, and I’m reaching for my phone to check my to-do list. Are there any new e-mails? Social media updates? Any crisis that is going to blow my day out of the water?
I’m a copywriter, not a doctor. There is never a crisis so important that I need to read about it before I’m even properly awake.
Notifications from technology can feel a bit like this:
When I didn’t have a smart phone for a month, I loved it (eventually). I wasn’t notified every time there was a new e-mail or update, and I survived. In fact, I felt much more relaxed. Once I got a new smart phone, I slowly backslid into Notificationland, and the outboard motor feeling was back.
So as part of working on my happy, I’ve turned off notifications, and I have to actually open an app to see anything new. I’m weaning myself off checking it so often, but at least my phone and tablet aren’t vying for my attention every moment of the day.
I know that the next step is to actually remove work e-mails from my phone, but I’m not quite there yet.
Finding some Headspace
I’ve started learning meditation, and—you guessed it—there’s an app for that. I’m using Headspace to learn how to maintain focus and mindfulness. I’m confident this will trickle into my feeling more rested and getting better sleep every night.
You might be thinking, ‘Bah! Meditation. That’s for hippies! I don’t have time to sit on the floor and think of nothing. I’m too busy!’
Firstly, this app makes it so easy, and it starts with just 10 minutes a day, no incense required.
Second, the more I meditate, the more focus I have during the rest of my day, so I’m actually getting more done in the same time.
I’m trying to practise mindfulness during the day as well. A new skill needs practise, after all. So if I’m doing something—whether it’s copywriting, playing with my dog or hanging out with my girl—when I catch myself thinking about something else entirely, I bring myself back to the moment.
If I remember something important, I make a note of it, but if I’m thinking about e-mails or my to-do list or social media, I ignore the train of thought. Google+ can wait.
I’m still learning and getting distracted, but it’s becoming easier and with that is coming a sense of calmness and clarity that is making me happy.
Taking a reality check
The next way that I’m working on my happy is by being realistic about what I can actually achieve in a specific timeframe.
When I load my to-do list up with everything that has to be done for the month, I finish each day with a long list, and I feel like I’m on a treadmill that is never going to finish.
At the start of each day, I work out my priorities for the day and what I can get done while my daughter sleeps.
By being realistic, I am more likely to actually tick everything off my to-do list. And that’s a freaking nice feeling. It also means that when my daughter is awake and wants to play or my husband and I get some time together, I’m not sitting there worrying about all the zillion things I haven’t done.
This applies to things such as housework, grocery shopping and the constant list of other chores we all have to do as adults.
If I’m realistically not going to get it done today, I plan when I will get it done and forget about it until then. If I don’t get everything done, I forgive myself. There’s always tomorrow.
This is quite hard for me, but I’m persisting. I know I just need to practise until it become habit. (Here is a great article on how long that process takes.)
An interlude about switching off
So far, all this sounds like work stuff, but it’s really all about creating more quality time. Quality time, whether it’s by myself or with other people, makes me happy. I’m not getting any younger, and I want to suck out the happy as much as I can rather than letting my life speed by as I march around, eyes down, getting stuff done.
Getting fresh air
I know how awesome I feel after exercise, but part of taking a reality check is that I’m still working on the regular exercise thing. I go through phases where I turbo it … and then I don’t. I never miss yoga though. I looove yoga!
So, as part of working on my happy, I have committed to getting some fresh air every day. Walking the dog is a really easy way to do that. It’s not always a super long walk, but it makes our dog much calmer in the evenings, it keeps my infant daughter interested while showing her the world outside our house and I pump fresh air into my lungs.
The benefits of fresh air are enormous. It helps to cleanse your lungs; improve your heart rate, brain function, concentration and digestion; lower stress and blood pressure; and you get much needed vitamin D.
I also get time to listen to interesting podcasts or, if I’m practising mindfulness, to just enjoy the little details of my surroundings. I always come back feeling better than when I left.
So even if it’s a short walk, I know that it will pay dividends, and I do my best to enjoy the moment.
Be consciously grateful
So, I’m covering mental happy and physical happy and I’m also making sure that I take time to appreciate all I have. I used to keep a notebook, and at the end of each day, jot down the things I was grateful for that day. I stopped doing it when I reached the end of the notebook, but I’ve picked that up again, in a fashion.
Before I go to sleep, I spend a moment to think about the things that I’m grateful for that day. I also tell the people around me what I appreciate them for during the day. I think that’s important.
These little moments spent reminding myself of the wonderful things in my life and the mindfulness I’m cultivating will help to turn my mindset outwards, sending out nothing but good vibes.
So, am I happier?
Well, it’s just the beginning, but I do think it’s important enough to keep at it. All these things working together are helping me to be more calm, more present, more appreciative and more joyful, and I hope it will ripple out, like a the effect of a stone thrown into a pond.
I also hope that my brain will have the breathing space it needs to let awesomely creative ideas simmer and bubble away.
So, I’d love to know, do you actively work on your well-being and happiness? If so, how?
The Copy Detective