mental health

Happiness – don’t wait for it, make it!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Happiness – is it the absence of problems OR looking past the problems and being content and optimistic regardless?

I struggle with this a lot, my brain’s default setting is wanting to wait for problems to disappear in order to be happy.

Rationally I know though that happiness has nothing to do with whether we have problems in our lives or not. Problems exists. Always have, always will. Whether we choose to focus on them or not is another thing.

Huffington Post had a good article the other day about the habits/traits of happy people. Here’s what was in that list and whether or not I’ve managed to make that a habit of mine yet or not:

1. Surround yourself with other happy people.

I definitely try to do that and when I notice that certain groups/social activities are actually dragging me down emotionally, I stay away.
And of course that’s why I do Crossfit – happiness & high fives galore! :)

2. Smile when you mean it.

The wrinkles are there in abundance around my eyes, I know it, but I don’t want to go through life looking oh-so-serious like some celebrities.  I don’t therefore knowingly restrict my smiles although in the summer I prefer to have my sunnies on for photos. That’s not cheating, right?

3. Cultivate resilience.

“Fall 7 times, get up 8 times”, that kind of thing. I’m all for getting up after being knocked down, I’m very far from perfect, I make mistakes all the time and end up in places in my head where I start to dislike myself, but I make myself shake off those feelings and try again. The same applies to fitness or to food – if I have a bad run, I run again; if I don’t eat well one day, I do better the next. There is absolutely no other way than to keep getting up. If you stay down and wait for the knocks of life to stop hitting you, you’ll be down forever.

4. Try to be happy.

“Fake it till you make it!” works without a doubt. I think that being aware of your emotions & actions, and making the decision every day to be an optimist is the foundation of being happy.

5. Be mindful of the good.

When life is hectic there is no point in just waiting for the big things to celebrate them. A great marathon is of course totally great, but so is appreciating and enjoying the 10 minutes a day that my kids play super nicely together and tell each other that they have the best brother in the world.

6. Appreciate simple pleasures.

I don’t do this enough, I’m sure I let some simple joys pass me by, but I do take pleasure in good, clean food, undisturbed sleep, long hugs, sunny days, the sound of rain against the windows and the funny/sweet/interesting moments/conversations with the kids.

7. Devote some of your time to giving.

This is something I don’t do enough. I give to several charities on a monthly basis and sponsor a child in Kenya, but I don’t volunteer.

8. Let yourself lose track of time.

There are two places where I lose track of time all the time – while running and while on the computer :)

9. Nix the small talk for deeper conversation.

I dislike small talk like most Estonians do but it’s so hard not to talk about the weather with new people. Room for improvement.

10. Spend money on other people.

That does make me happy – these days it’s mostly my mother and my kids who benefit from that.

11. Make a point to listen.

We all probably think that we are good listeners but how often does someone start to say something and instead of listening we are already drafting our own response in our heads? I tend to do that a lot… but I also am aware that I tend to do that, so I try to not do it and just listen. It’s actually harder than it sounds and I can’t say I’ve mastered it or even come close but I keep trying (see point 3).

12. Uphold in-person connections.

I’m all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but I’m not very good with keeping in touch with my real life friends who live far away beyond using those channels.  There’s definitely room for improvement.

13. Look on the bright side.

Similar to points 5 and 6.  I personally HAVE to always look for the bright side in things. Otherwise I’d be back on Citalopram :|

14. Value a good mixed tape.

Music. I love it but only in certain situations – mostly when running or working. I don’t like having music as background noise to my everyday life at home, the kids provide enough of that noise already.

15. Unplug.

I don’t unplug as much as I should. The only truly unplugged time I have is while running without music and during my 2 x 1 hour commute to and from work when I read books.

16. Get spiritual.

I don’t go to church anymore but not being into organised religion doesn’t mean I have stopped believing. Running is my often my meditation time.

17. Make exercise a priority.

The one point that I comply with a 100% :)

18. Go outside.

I run. I spend a month every summer in Estonia where we’re mostly outside. I walk everywhere. Whether that’s enough, I don’t know…

19. Spend some time on the pillow.

I’m struggling with a bit of insomnia at the moment – it takes me a long time to fall asleep, many nights over 2 hours. I do tend to relax over the weekend and am the last one to get out of bed, so I think in the long run I’ll be ok.

20. Laugh.

In the evenings when the kids are in bed, MrB and I are watching Arrested Development at the moment. That show makes us laugh until we’re in tears every.single.time.

If the kids need a good laugh I show them YouTube videos of cats trying to get into boxes that are too small for them.

21. Walk the walk.

I’m ALL about walking with my head held high and with a bit of bounce in my step – I see too many people shuffling around with their feet pointed in all kinds of directions and their eyes pointed at their feet :|   Good posture and a confident walk is totally an instant pick-me up. (for this reason I never wear Ugg boots – I don’t think it’s possible to walk confidently wearing those things! :|)

 

What do you think?  How do you make your happiness?

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