So many of us place our happiness in the future. We set goals and tell ourselves once we achieve them we’ll be happy. We wait for that perfect job, perfect partner, perfect whatever. We tell ourselves things like when I lose the weight I’ll feel better and I’ll do this or that, when I get that promotion I’ll take my dream trip, when the kids leave the house we’ll focus on us…..and the list goes on. Sure, it’s natural and healthy to aspire for something better, but we need to be sure we’re not missing out on the joy of today.
It's also natural to look to others for happiness, only to end up disappointed. The reality is your happiness isn’t in others or the goals you set, it’s within you. Living happy today will also help you to better achieve the outcomes you desire for the future, and let’s face it, people want to be around happy people…you’re not going to attract people who are joy-filled if you’re waiting for yours to happen. When you make deposits into your own life you can’t help but fuel the energy within. Fueling yourself will give you vitality and a foundation on which to stand when life throws you a curve-ball. This my friend, is called self-care…something many of us — especially women — fail at miserably.
So, what is your current level of satisfaction, joy, contentment? Rate yourself on a level of 1–10; one being low and 10 being high. Wherever you find yourself, whether its a 2 or a 9, here are a few tools to jump-start your joy or up-level your current status.
Make a list of your accomplishments or things you’re proud of. You’d be surprised how little we acknowledge and celebrate where we’ve been and what impact we’ve made by simply being ourselves. We all bring something unique to the world, be pleased with your gifts and talents. I also keep a “Kudo” folder where I store thank you cards, special notes and photos, etc. When I feel like I’m not making the mark I go though my folder to remind myself that I have made a difference and I will do so again.
Create a Joy List
Create a list of 20 things that bring you joy. List no more than10 things that cost money. These are the things and experiences that make you feel good, they are the “deposits” you make into your life and your relationship with yourself. I love fresh flowers in my home and If I waited for Mr. Right to send them to me…well….
Now dedicate at least one hour a week to doing one of these things. Once you start to do this you will discover far more than 20 things. If you’re feeling down, choose to do something simple every day. Don’t underestimate the little things — watching a beautiful sunrise, a hug from a child, laughter…these things are priceless. But, you do have to notice them!
It’s also natural to go though times when you feel stuck, down, stagnant. Sometimes it’s for good reason and other times it just envelopes you and you can’t pinpoint the source. Either way, stuck is stuck, and it’s just not fun!
I find that there are different types of “stuck”: there’s the funk, the rut, and the “I need a complete life-lift!” Whichever you may be experiencing, research shows that a change of routine may be what the doctor ordered. I’ll touch on a few things I’ve learned and a few things I’ve tried. The key is to develop habits that provoke wonder and positive feelings.
Envision Eeyore or Charlie Brown…can you feel the little black cloud that looms overhead threatening to rain on their parade? That cloud seems to find me in my quiet moments when I allow negative self talk to visit my head. I sometimes get caught up in it and allow it to follow me for longer than I should, but I’ve found that if I greet it, thank it for coming and ask it to move on, it usually does. I simply refuse to go there. I then try to follow up by affirming three successes I’ve had over the week, or three ways that I gave back to the world in some way. This helps to change the pattern of thinking and allows the sun to shine!
The “funk” is the perfect time to practice as much self-care as you can by celebrating yourself and doing things on your joy list!
Same day, same time, same station. You could do your life sleeping and probably with the same amount of success. I was looking at some family photos a few years back and I came to realize I’d had the same haircut and had worn the same style (very boring) clothes for over 15 years! Giving it further thought I realized that much of my life was unchanged and I had fallen into a benign routine. Now, there is nothing wrong with consistency, but the truth is, I had lost the wonder.
Ironically, later in the afternoon my 19 year old daughter asked if I wanted to sneak into a movie with her. “No! that is stealing” I exclaimed, “what are you thinking?” She smiled and said “it’s part of my 30 under 30; it’s a rainy day…a perfect day to knock #18 - Sneak Into A Movie off my list.” After further discussion I came to learn that she had created a list of 30 things she wanted to do before the age of 30. In her eyes reaching the age of 30 represented the end of youth and she wanted to be darn sure she made the most of it! I loved the idea.
I decided this was a perfect way to get out of my rut. I wanted something quick and shocking so that I could jump-start my life and with my daughters help I decided to try eight new things in eight weeks and they all had to push me out of my comfort zone. Now what challenges me may be second nature to you, but I’ll share a few of the things I did so you can get a flavor for the experience — should you decide to try this too!
A Flying Lesson
What an amazing experience. I purchased a two hour lesson and we flew for almost four. The pilot said I was a natural — he probably says that to everyone! He allowed me to take-off and fly the entire time. He even offered to let me land, but I valued my life too much to do that. It was scary and exhilarating all at the same time!
There is a peace on the water that is hard to replicate anywhere else. I wanted to sail instead of motor boat because I thought it would allow me a oneness with the water. I was right. Sailing is something I will long to do for the rest of my life.
An Obstacle Course 80 Feet In The Air With Five Zip-lines. Wooo hooo!
I have the most amazing kids! They not only joined me for this adventure, but they challenged me to do the highest intensity course. They finished in 1.5 hours and I took a bit over two hours…but, I finished and I loved it!
So, you get the picture…you don’t have to do something expensive to feel alive — as my daughter the movie sneaker showed me! The idea is to fall in love with yourself and with your life every day. You deserve nothing less!
My final 8 of 8 - if you watch it, you may want to turn down the volume....it was a bit exciting!