Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Being actively happy

Since my post on Sunday I have attempted to make a conscious effort to be active in my quest to be happy. I get annoyed when I think that being happy is something that I often have to work at. I'm not going to get bogged down in that now though, because that would be counter-productive to this exercise!

Even though I was feeling pretty horrible on Monday I kept thinking back to the Happiness Institute's "Daily Happiness Checklist"* (here is a link to the PDF) if you want to print it and follow it too).

I'll tell you how I've done over the last two days.

Monday wasn't a perfect day. Emotionally, it was actually quite challenging, I even broke down in tears to my sister, as well as ball my fists up in annoyance at Noo, but Monday ended ok. I went to bed feeling quite calm knowing things can only get better.

Tuesday was been better. We were home all day hanging out with my parents, and Yo and Mala came over to play. We also had my two cousins over for dinner. I love being with my family.

So, back to the  Daily Happiness Checklist. This is how I went:

1. I've reminded myself of my life purpose

What is my life purpose? I haven't really thought about that consciously... ever. Before I had Noo I always just lived for today. I never thought of the long term or the bigger picture. For a long time I never thought I'd live past 40 anyway.

Now I definitely look to the future. And I do have a purpose:

  • To be the best mum I can be
  • Provide Noo with a happy, stable, safe and loving home
  • To look after my family and be available to them when they need me
  • To be well, mentally and physically

I'm sure there are other purposes I have in life. And these will obviously change over time, but right now, these are the most important to me.

2. I'm clear on my priorities of the day

On Monday my priority was to get Noo to the doctor because he'd been very ill over the weekend with a chesty cough and fever. I was very worried he had a chest infection. Luckily though the doctor said it was likely to be a virus and to keep him rested.

Yo, my sister, also had the dreaded winter lurgy, so after finishing with Noo at the doctor, I tag teamed with dad. Noo's Pa took him to his favourite dumpling place (Din Tai Fung) to try to get some food down, while I headed over to Yo's place and help out with Mala. I was only there a few hours when Miss M's dad came home from work early to take over.

In the afternoon, I took Noo to see the new Thomas movie again. After four days in a row stuck in the apartment we were all going a little stir crazy. It was a fun afternoon. Noo and I had the whole cinema to ourselves so he could run around, trying out every seat in the theatre, while I tweeted away on my iPhone.

So my priorities on Monday ticked off the first three of my life purposes.

On Tuesday my priority was to conjure up my domestic goddess. She exists but she's very temperamental and doesn't come out to play very often. I actually cleaned our bathroom from top to bottom, a job I just hate. I also baked Nigella's Nutella cake for our dinner party tonight and did a load of washing. That is a whole lotta domestic-ness for me right there!

Nigella's Nutella Cake - So good

Yo and Mala also came over to hang out. All the sickies (Noo, Yo and Mala) were feeling much better yesterday which I was very pleased about. Unfortunately, now I can feel myself coming down with it - the price of playing nurse maid all weekend. I cannot wait for winter to be over, and a long with it, the flu season. This year has been a shocker!

3. I've engaged in exercise

Ok, so no, I did not engage in any formal exercise either Monday or Tuesday. This is definitely an area that needs working on!

4. I've planned to eat healthily

I baked a Nutella cake! Nothing healthy about it. Work here needs to be done!

5. I intend to practice meditation/relaxation

This one I'm not keen on. Every psych professional I've ever seen recommends focused meditation or relaxation as a part of a mind-healthy daily routine but I've always disliked it. Mainly because it used to stir up unwanted thoughts as well as my twitching, restless legs. I should give it a go again one day.

6. I will not accept unhelpful, negative thoughts

This item has been really helpful over the last couple of days. When ever I've found negative thoughts creeping in my mind I have tried to acknowledge the thought and then push it away. I think that has been helpful in not giving the 'stinking thinking' any room to grow.

7. I'm confident today will be a good day

This is a really hard one to convince myself of every morning. Tuesday I woke up feeling good. Monday I felt really bad. I never know how it is going to be.

Do you?

8. I am hopeful for the future

Yes, I am hopeful for the future. Hope is something I treasure every day. I haven't always had it.

9. I'm grateful for the people in my life

See items 1 and 2. I love my family so much. They are my world. I love my friends too, but my family are so important to my life every day and I am grateful for them and their love.

10. I intend to praise at least one person today

I praise Noo about 20 gazillion times a day, every day!

Check out this boy and his gorgeousness!

11. I'm determined to find ways to use my strengths

I think I underplay my strengths too much. I use them, I just don't recognise that I do have strengths. I need to acknowledge them more frequently.

12. I'm going to have fun

One of the best things about kids is the fun! Monday was hard but while I was playing with the kids, both Mala in the morning and Noo in the afternoon, I had fun. I can play goo ga games with babies for hours and I absolutely love playing with toys with Noo so yeah, fun is something I can do. Even when I'm feeling shit, if I take on the 'fake it til ya make it' philosophy, playing with kids can really put a smile on my face. You don't have to think too hard to play with a little kid. They're so stoked that you're hanging out with them, down at their level. Their smiles and laughter are infectious!

13. I will laugh and smile

See point 12 above!

14. I will endeavour to be in the moment as much as possible

Being present is a big thing for the happiness crowd. Not dwelling on the past, or ruminating about what might happen in the future is key to happiness. I am one of these people who gets flashes of bad memories all the time. I suffered from PTSD after I was assaulted in 2007 for a long time.

Now whenever I get a flash I try to just acknowledge it and then pack it away in a draw at the pack of my mind. It is hard though. Some days are better than others.

The future scares me sometimes and I do worry about it a lot so actively being mindful of the here and now is very helpful to keep those useless concerns at bay.

15. I will savour all positive experience

This is something I definitely try to do. Sometimes I could be in the middle of something and I feel elated by how I feel - happy! I comes out of the blue. Like last Monday when I was driving to see Shrink and I felt high on life, high on the possibilities of life. But then that can disappear in an instant. 

Ok, that is enough navel gazing from me. I've been trying to get this post out for days but I've been busy looking after sick people and entertaining family. 

Thank you for all the supportive comments over the last few days. They mean so much.


*© 2008 Dr. Timothy Sharp – The Happiness Institute

1 comment:

Kelly Lanfranca said...

Oh.My.God. That cake looks AMAZING. And it has nutella in it! So perfect. I must make this cake.
Your daily happiness checklist is great. I agree, it sucks that you have to work at happiness, but I think when you put effort into things like this it eventually becomes second nature and it won't really feel like work any more. Good luck with it. If that cake doesn't make you happy then I don't know what will! x

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