Friday, November 18, 2011
This is the longest blog of my LIFE!!!! Stick with me here folks.....
Back in 2009, my new year's resolution was to "Be Happier". When I made the resolution, finding happiness was my intention, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I found so much more than that.
I wrote out a few things when I made the resolution and I found that journal yesterday while I was cleaning. Very interesting so I had to share.
Steps to being happier
1. stop complaining
2. stop negativity
3. surround myself with happy people
4. do something for me, everyday
~paint nails, do a face mask, buy a latte, exercise, take a walk, get hair cut...
5. get down on the floor and PLAY WITH THE KIDS
6. choose to be an optimist (good things CAN come from bad situations)
7. make "good" choices
8. surround myself with positive people and people who remind me that I'm a great person
9. SHOW my kids I'm happy
10. patience (then frustration subsides)
11. dare to let life be great and trust that happiness can and WILL happen (and that it can last)
12. get out of "destination addiction" (living in the "not-now")
13. avoid "if only" fantasies
14. stop being a "slight collector"
15. "Seek not to be understood but to understand" -St. Francis Assisi
16. answer clumsiness with equanimity, bitchiness with compassion and verbal violence with disengagement
17. every time you talk about what you don't want, you just gave it attention, energy and focus
18. increase self-acceptance, attract more happiness
20, learn to let go of the past, give up all hopes for a perfect past, learn from the past, let the past go, it's gone!
21. take action (deliberate, thought out changes stick)
22. learn to "shut up" my inner lawyer and stop building cases against people (this is damaging to relationships)
23. identify negative thoughts so you can challenge them
24. foster forgiveness
The list was overwhelming and seemed intangible and unattainable. I continued the year trying to live by these guidelines. I must say that I was indeed a happier person, but I felt like something was missing. An integral part of how do I continue this happiness, how do I become “happier” as I seemed happy already. I had started working out and changing my diet. I had lost about 15lbs but yet I still felt like there was more.
Although this journal seemed to fall to the wayside by the end of February, the resolution continued through the year and then into 2010....where I found that I needed to define my own happiness. I felt that I could follow all the guidelines and suggestions of how to be happier, but I needed to find what would make ME happy/happier. So I set out with a new resolution…”find the definition of MY happiness”
My first step in finding MY definition of happiness was to find an actual definition of happiness (or happy).
hap•py [ háppee ]
1. feeling pleasure: feeling or showing pleasure, contentment, or joy
2. causing pleasure: causing or characterized by pleasure, contentment, or joy
3. satisfied: feeling satisfied that something is right or has been done right
Synonyms: content, contented, pleased, glad, joyful, cheerful, blissful, exultant, ecstatic, delighted, cheery, jovial, in high spirits, on cloud nine
These definitions seemed like a good place to start. The definition that seemed to stand out for me the most, was “satisfied”….feeling satisfied that something is right or has been done right. This seemed to encompass all I was looking for. So I took my above list and focused on things that would make me feel satisfied.
I needed to narrow my list down and focus on some key issues. I decided to pick three key issues but ended up with four because, well, you’ll see.
These key things included the following:
1. Do something for me, everyday…. I was spending a LOT of time doing things for my DH and children. I was starting to miss my much loved workouts for them. I was skipping meals to make what they wanted. I seemed to be falling by the wayside. It was time to change a few things.
2. Surround myself with positive people and people who remind me that I’m a great person……this was probably the hardest thing for me. I don’t have many friends (namely close girlfriends). I’ve always been the person could be friends with anyone but I find it difficult to find friends. Let me explain. Because (unusually) I am PAINFULLY shy in social situations, I don’t usually talk much. I quietly keep to myself and watch. So this was a tough one. I have one friend that I have been friends with since I was 14. We get along so well and I love her dearly but in the last few years, her life was spiraling out of control. Every time I talked with her on the phone she ended up in tears and then I was emotionally exhausted for the next 24 hours. I spent a lot my positive energy on her negative energy. But how was I supposed to not be there for her. My other close girlfriend was going through a divorce and I ended up being her sounding board over and over again as well. And if I was to be surrounded by happy people and I was SO shy, how could I make friends with these people?? SOOOOOO tough.
3. Stop being a “slight collector”………letting go of grudges, fostering forgiveness. By far, this was the hardest for me. I was searching the interwebs for tips on forgiveness when I came across and article by Lisa Kogan about being a “slight collector”, this was me. I had so much energy focused on the people and things I was angry with, I couldn’t possibly have any energy left for the positive things in my life. There was so much in my past that I needed to get over, or forgive, to EVER find happiness. Some of these things were little things, others were “things” that were unforgiveable to me (at the time). I spent a lot of time, energy and prayer on this one.
I wrote down a little something (not sure where I got it from….sorry).
R…recall the hurt
E…empathize and try to understand the act from the perpetrator’s point of view
A…be Altruistic by recalling a time in your life when you were forgiven
C…commit to putting your forgiveness into words
H…hold onto the forgiveness. Don’t dwell on your anger, hurt and desire for vengeance.
This little formula of “REACH” helped immensely.
Soooooo, where am I going with this. Well, feeling satisfied. After looking at all of this, how was I going to be satisfied.
1. Do something for ME everyday….I changed some things. I started scheduling my workouts (yes, putting them on my calendar and the family calendar). This way I was personally held accountable for keeping the appointment/date and then my DH also knew he had to plan his events around what was on the calendar. I started to get rid of the guilty feelings about being away from my family and started noticing how much happier they were when I took care of myself. I also started taking time after the girls went to bed to do something for me. I picked up the house a little, got things ready for the next day (generally did whatever chores were left) and then I would do something for me. It may have been as simple as painting my nails, or going to the gym, or going for a run (which became my newfound love), even taking a little longer shower with some nice soap. I made that a priority.
2. Surround myself with positive people and people who remind me that I’m a great person….a difficult one. Initially I thought of taking this off my list and focusing on something else, but the more I thought about that, the more important this became to me. I decided a little conversation with my bestie girlfriends was in order. I told them what my plans were and that I needed to take a step back in things. I promised them I would still be there at 2am and that they could still cry on my shoulder, but that I needed more POSITIVE time with them, doing fun things. We started finding time to walk, to get our nails done, dressing up a little and going for drinks. It worked like magic, and in return, they have both made positive changes in their lives. As well, toward the end of 2010, I realized that my work environment contributed to this issue as well, perhaps more than anything. My coworkers were terribly negative and it was a situation that was difficult to control as I loved my job. My manager was also part of this, constantly picking on people and bringing people down. I started looking into a new job (same position, different location). This was also about the time I became more active on SparkPeople. I figured there were thousands of people looking for the same things I was looking for, and indeed I was right (there still seemed to be a lot of negativity, but I was able to weed through it easier and make a few “friends”. Then March 2011 happened and I went WAY out of comfort zone and met some of these SparkFriends. What a huge success for me! Huge!! HuGe! HUGE!!!! I thank these special friends everyday. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them (MEZZO, ERINBEAR1876, LIVENLOVELIFE, RAVENSONG37, CALLIKIA and BECKY_LYNN84). MUAH! A couple months later I had the courage to leave my job, take a huge gamble and start in a new location. Initially it was a difficult transition, but as I’ve been there for 6 months now, I KNOW it was the right decision. The energy is so much better. And in fact, I have met many new people whom I can call friends now.
3. Stop being a “slight collector”….by far the most difficult. It’s not easy to forgive someone. Since this one is soooo incredibly personal, I can’t give examples of this. But drawing focus on the hatred I had for people gave so much wasted energy, negative energy. It wasn’t fair for me to continue to give attention and focus to these things. I spent the majority of this past summer forgiving. And truthfully, forgetting. I also learned that the only acceptance is self-acceptance. I didn’t need these people I held grudges against helping to form the way I perceived myself. I cut ties, I let things go, I moved on. And let me tell you how much positive energy I have to spend on people and things I adore…..le sigh. Best thing I have ever done. It’s not to say I’m finished, I still have people to forgive every day. It’s not easy, but it’s easier…..
After reading through this yesterday and today, I am surprised how easy the other items on the steps to being happier were. How easily things just fell into place. I must say, I have come so far in nearly 3 years. It’s not about my weight, it’s not about how I look, it’s not about how others feel about me. It’s about me, as a person, as an individual. The key to finding my definition to happiness was to learn to love me. Do I love me now? Yes! Am I perfect? No! Would I ever change that? Never!!!
Now the question remained, was I satisfied? Yes! Was I happy? Definitely!! Happiness is your decision to make, I made the right decision for me. What will you do???????
Thank you SparkFriends for everything you have done for me. You are a rock for me!