A few years ago, I wrote about wanting to be happy. Part of that included working on how I looked and viewed myself. Since then, I’ve lost 50 pounds and am only slightly happier as a result. I’m not unhappy or anywhere near depressed, but I’m not as happy as I want or feel I should be. It sounds funny, I know, but I think if I can Be Happy, it could possibly lead to other goals I have. For example, my loft goal of being more confident in myself and my abilities or my (previously) unspoken goal of trying to be more appreciative of what I have and of those around me.
The “less than happy” feeling hits me even harder when I travel (which has been a lot recently). When I travel, I suspend whatever routines I have at home. I don’t exercise, I allow “little cheats” (that have led to me falling off the paleo wagon and drinking soda, adding to my feeling Less Happy)(, and work until very late because there is nothing better to do. But it all leads to me feeling exhausted mentally and physically, which leads to feeling too tired to make anything better.
Also, it makes me feel like I’m being too whiny. I actively dislike it when I complain too much (even if I’m the only one who thinks that it’s too much), so when I realize I’m starting to be whiny, I tend to over-react and keep quiet when I should probably speak up. Part of it is not wanting to be seen as difficult, the other part is I don’t feel entitled to complain because (usually) the folks (I feel I’m) whining to are going to get irritated because they’ve been doing it longer and I haven’t put in the time needed to have the right to complain.
During the return trip home yesterday, my kindle broke. The screen is all cracked. Additionally, I left my earbuds at home. Since I know I’d be bored out of my mind, I broke down and got two books: Lean In (which I needed anyway for the office book club) and The Happiness Project, which sounded kind of interesting but I accepted it could be a crock of crap.
I started to read The Happiness Project on the plane and by the end of chapter 1 I was thinking “Well….crap.” I felt similarly to how the author was describing how she felt and she was doing self-experimenting of sorts, which has been interesting to me for a long time. In the book, she outlines twelve “priorities” she chose she wanted to work on to help make herself happier. She got the idea after reading Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and learned about his Virtues Chart. With it, he would score himself daily on how he practiced the thirteen virtues he felt were important (temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility). I think to help achieve my loft goal for the year, part of the solution may be to go back to the decision to do what it takes to Be Happy. The other part is to get more experience, which will come with time.
So the question then becomes: what virtues, priorities, etc. do I consider necessary to be happy? After thinking for some time on the plane I came up with the following eleven:
- Health: With good health, eventually comes the physical benefits of Looking Better, but also increases energy levels and makes me feel better/calmer.
- Knowledge: I generally feel happier when I read a book on something and am able to apply what I read or tackle something outside of my intellectual/technical comfort zone.
- Relationships: Interpersonal relationships are very important to me. My family and friends are the most important thing to me and I need to have strong bonds in order to feel happy.
- Work: Professional development and achieving work-associated goals are a growing part of my life and I need to learn how to work hard and smart so that I can have a proper work-life balance.
- Money: I want to have a better cost-to-value ratio when it comes to things I spend money on as well as to stop sucking at budgeting.
- Charity: I want to give time (or money) to those who need it. Monthly donations are easy to forget about and don’t fully satisfy my wanting to help others. Also, it is sometimes an inconvenience when it comes out of my bank account at an inopportune (for me) time.
- Personal Convictions: I need to decide what is important and not be afraid to stand up for it. I need to get better about not backing down when it comes to defending my ideas/beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that I want to be an unrelenting asshole about it, either.
- Creativity: Making stuff and writing makes me happy, so I want to try to incorporate that more into my life.
- Insight: I want to think more before reacting. I know it’s been recommended to me since I was a teen, but maybe it’s time to see what all the hubbub is all about. Additionally, insight would include meditation of sorts and trying to take others’ point of view into more consideration.
- Integrity: Dad has often told us that our integrity is the only thing that can’t be taken away. As a result, I’ve often had a heart-sinking feeling when I did/do something that goes against what I know to be The Right Thing To Do. I think this goes somewhat with Personal Convictions, but it also stands on its own.
- Order: I usually feel more calm when things around me have some semblance of order. So I also want to focus on creating/sustaining order in my personal space while trying to work with accepting the chaos that surrounds me.
So now that I have my eleven whatevers fleshed out somewhat, I’m going to spend the first 30 days focusing on one of them and then on the 31st day, add the second item. I will be slowly building up each of them, until at the end of (roughly) 11 months, I will have been incorporating all of these things in my life at once. At the beginning of the 12th month, I will look over the data I’ve recorded and re-evaluate how I’m feeling and make any necessary adjustments. If any item or part of an item makes me less happy after a month, however, I will stop.
The order of focusing/adding these things into my day-to-day life will be:
- Personal Convictions
My next post will outline what my approach to Health will be for the next 30 days. Wish me luck…