My Happiness Project
“How are you” This is possibly one of the most commonly used phrases in the English language. It is the conversation starter for nearly every interaction we have daily.
But, when was the last time you reversed roles, and asked this question to yourself?
Unhappiness can fly under the radar for years seemingly unnoticed. Often, we don’t even realize how unhappy we have been until a deeper problem arises like depression, anxiety, or an affected relationship from our low mood.
We often think things like:
“I will be happy when I lose 10lbs”
“I will be happy when I get that promotion”
“I will be happy when I am in a relationship”
“I will be happy when I am out of debt”
The truth is that our happiness should never be dependent on one single aspect of our life falling into perfect harmony. I certainly used to fall victim to this mentality, until I realized that happiness is a choice. It is a decision that you make every day and is 100% based on your outlook on life and the actions you have in place to foster it. Although it is healthy to have goals, our happiness should never be dependent on achieving them. You should never need the perfect circumstance or events to happen in order enter a state of joy.
This conclusion has been a recent finding for me. A few months back I realized that I was unhappy. It all started when a few things in my life weren't going as planned. Instead of trying to move forward and seek alternate sources of happiness that I could control, I decided to focus on all of the negative things that I could not. (Why is it that we so easily do this!)
I began to feel sorry for myself and that is truly where my downward spiral began. I decided to adopt a negative outlook towards my life. I decided that if all things weren't going as I wanted them to that I would never truly be happy anyway. So, I stopped working out, I constantly cancelled or couldn’t commit to making plans with friends. I honestly began to spend most of my free time curled up in bed watching marathons of “Greys Anatomy” eating snacks.
Looking back, I now realize that the perception I had of being unhappy became an excuse to “check out” of every other area of my life.
Because happiness is a choice we need to have actions always in place to live up to it. Therefore as crazy as it sounds to be happy, we must be willing to work on it every day!
I decided to call this blog my happiness project because I started outwardly seeking help on this topic by reading/following the principles of the book “The Happiness Project” By Gretchen Rubin. I love starting each morning with one of her 20 minute podcasts on the topic.
Here are the tips and tricks I have cultivated in my own life to achieve a state of happiness and fulfillment:
Keep strong relationships
This is at the top of my list for a reason, relationships are scientifically proven to be one of the main factors that contribute to our overall happiness. Set dates with friends and lean on them for help/advice instead of carrying your burdens alone!
Try this: Stay up to date
My two best friends and I have a group message on Facebook that we write in multiple times a day. As we all know life can get hectic and friendships falter as a result.
My friends and I all live in different cities and always have misaligned schedules, therefore coordinating phone dates can be a challenge. By keeping a constant group message, we can update each other on little daily problems/wins to feel connected without having to be face to face or on the phone.
I have always had this idea of writing daily mantras/things that I am grateful for. In the past, I have even purchased notebooks for this reason although I never seemed to follow through with this task.
Try this: The Five- Minute Journal
This is a purchase you will not regret. This notebook contains are half a year’s worth of days to be filled out each morning and night (start and end your day on a positive note!)
The morning section includes a gratitude list, daily affirmation, goal list and the evening sections includes a space to reflect on the day. This journal has emensely helped me in organizing my thoughts and holding a positive outlook on every day.
It is so common to reach for that bag of chips and crawl into bed after a rough day (guilty!) This is only going to enable your low mood. Get moving! If you are struggling to scrape up motivation to get to the gym and do your own thing splurge on a workout class, you enjoy. If peer pressure isn’t your thing, try following a YouTube workout video in your living room.
Try this: Schedule your workouts
Treat your workout like a doctor’s appointment. Add it to your calendar to ensure you show up! Set shorter workouts so that they feel less overwhelming, the point is to keep moving.
The importance of sleep seems to become easily forgotten. A solid 7-9 hours can completely alter your mood for the day to come. In down times, that burst of energy a great sleep offers can go a long way.
Try this: Set a bedtime alarm
Follow a consistent sleep/wake cycle. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday (Even on weekends) Set a “bedtime alarm” That forces you to be in bed at the same specific time every night.
If you aren’t actively taking steps to better yourself each day, chances are you are standing still or moving backwards. Constantly ask yourself “How can I self improve?” Maybe it is taking a new course, putting in an extra hour at the office, preparing meals ahead of time to eat healthier, reading each day or seeking counselling for past issues. Self improvement can be related to any area of your life. Although no one is going to hold you accountable to this, you owe it to yourself to be your best you!
Find ways to create fun! Some days we get so caught up on this idea of being perfect that we forget that life should be enjoyable. Sing in the shower, dance around the kitchen, play a silly game with your partner- act like a kid again.
Try this: Create a super fun playlist you can turn on when you need to let loose!
Make mundane activities enjoyable
I have found myself victim to the “woe is me” attitude when I start adding up all the unpleasant experiences of my day. The top of my list has always been the streetcar in the morning on my way to work. I began to ask myself “How can I make this experience better?” I decided to use this as a time to better myself and my mood by listening to podcasts. I pick podcasts around 20 minutes (The time of my commute) I now look forward to my commute as it was a time dedicated to something I enjoy rather than another mundane task of the daily grind.
Make time for YOURSELF
What makes you tick? Spend some time each day immersed in an activity that you enjoy! If you aren’t sure what those things are ask yourself what you loved doing as a child. Art and crafts? Dance? An instrument? Playing video games? Experiment with the adult version of those things. Carve out 20-60 minutes for YOU time everyday.
In my spare time, I love DIY, yoga classes, experimenting in the kitchen, writing, and running around the park with my dogs!
Comment below and tell me what you implement in your life to improve your happiness!