Tag Archives: Change

Happiness Project – Week II

17 Nov

Two weeks ago I realised that I was unhappy. I started a Happiness Project with a list of activities to introduce into my everyday life in order to bring positivity back into my life.

Here are my thoughts on Week II of the Happiness Project:

1) It makes me happy to have a day with a range of activities. It is most satisfying to have had a day with both mental, physical and creative activities.

2) There is not enough time in the week to do all of the things I’d like to do. But even doing one or two of these things brings joy and fulfilment.

3) Unexpected activities can bring more happiness than planned ‘happiness’ activities. I guess we can never plan out a happy day/week/life

4) Doing things for and with others brings me happiness. I often read in magazines and self-development books that we should ‘do something for ourselves’ to feel happier, but events in the past week seem to show the contrary.

5) My Happiness Project is really shedding light onto things that are very important, important, not important and unrelated to my happiness. Trying to implement my happiness resolutions into my everyday life shows whether or not doing certain things actually makes any difference to how I feel.

6) Some of my reasons for being unhappy are stupid. Yes, I admit it. But they are also things we have been made to believe by adverts and society. They are thoughts in the mind, yet how to get rid of them? First step – acceptance.

7) Things such as the passing of time, change and the future have been causing anxiousness in me for the first time in ten months. My thoughts about these things are usually full of doubt and worry. This leads to a state of nervousness and stress. Question to ask myself: why am I scared of these things?

jumping happiness8 ) Doing nothing and having too much free time brings unhappiness. I have noticed this both in myself and in others. The people who say that they did ‘absolutely nothing’ on their day off are the ones with the least energy and positivity. The people with activities and hobbies keep their body and minds active, avoiding laziness, apathy and over thinking. The latter group have no time to worry about the future because they are constantly living in and enjoying the present.

9) We can if we want to, but a lot of times we just can’t be bothered/are scared/give excuses/settle for the easy option/take the safe path/don’t believe/don’t want to fail…the list can go on. This week, we managed to get tickets for a fully-booked concert through research, phone calls and negotiation. At the beginning of the week, our attitude was “It’s fully-booked, why bother wasting time if we won’t get the tickets, anyway?”. It seems like there is always a solution!

10) Our happiness is not the most important thing on earth, contrary to modern popular thought. Our happiness should not be more important than respect towards others, helping, gratitude, thoughtfulness, care, effort, amongst many others. We cannot let our mood affect our relationships and our communication with others. I met people this week who were homeless and unemployed, yet they smiled, said please and thank you with genuine emotions, and wished everyone an excellent day. This taught me a lesson about taking out my bad mood on my close ones.

***

Aims for Week III:

-Give more energy to doing and sharing things with the people close to me.

-Remind myself of all that I am grateful to have.

-Go rollerblading.

 

My Manicure Taught me a Lesson

1 Nov

When we’ve spent a lot of energy, time and money to make something happen, we are often reluctant to let it go, even when we realise that we are not happy in this new situation.

This evening, I decided to set aside some time to give myself a manicure. I lit a scented candle in the bedroom, put on my favourite relaxation music and set up everything I needed to pamper my nails. I was happy to be giving myself an Filing Nailsopportunity to look after myself, and was looking forward to having beautiful nails at the end of the evening. I filed, buffered and polished my nails, and was feeling very relaxed and serene. However, when it came to applying the French-manicure polish given to me by a friend, even my aromatherapy candle couldn’t stop frustration boiling in my chest. I spent fourty minutes applying the nail polish, to realise at the end that there was a fault with the brushes – they were out of shape and were creating lumpy and striped paint. I was disappointed and angry; I expected pretty nails, but ended up having to remove all of the nail polish!

After the failure of the French-manicure set, I decided to paint my nails peach, with a polish I’d bought in the summer. While waiting for the polish to dry, I lay on the bed looking at my nails. “How ugly”, I thought, suddenly. To my surprise, I found the nail polish to be plain, bland and boring. It made my hands look short and stumpy, instead of being a subtle charming accessory.

“I’ve spent the whole evening trying to make my nails look pretty”, I thought. “It would defeat the point to take the polish off”. I turned my hands to look at them from different angles; I brought them closer to my eyes, then took them further away. I was trying to convince myself that they were fine, that they would do, that after all the time and effort that I spent, I couldn’t allow myself to be unhappy with them.

I stared at my nails, but felt embarrassed rather than pleased.

“Why keep it if it doesn’t serve me?”, I thought and jumped up to remove the nail polish. I felt a sort of relief at not having to put up with something that didn’t fulfil me. “It’s better to have nothing than to be unhappy with what I have”, I thought.

I didn’t end up with what I had originally wanted or expected at the beginning of the evening, but the lesson that I learnt was worth more than two perfectly manicured hands. I realised that there are things in other parts of my life that I am reluctant to let go of or to change. I spent energy, time and money to bring these things into my life and feel as if I should be happy and satisfied now that I have them. But isn’t life like nature? We all have our seasons; without autumn and winter there would be no spring and summer. Without abandonment and emptiness, there would be no rebirth and abundance.

This week, I will make a conscious effort to recognise the things to which I am holding on, yet which no longer serve me, fulfil me or bring me joy.

Friends for Friendship, Not for Fear

7 Jun

For the past few weeks I have been surprisingly unsettled and it is only today that I found the most probable reason for this anxiety. Next week, three of my closest friends are coming to visit me in my new country, my new city and my new life. Amongst organising our long week-end, amongst looking forward to spending time with them and hearing their stories about the past four months, I am filled with fear.

What will they think of my new life? What will they think of the way I have changed? What will they think of my new views and my new reflections? What will they think of my new worries and my new problems?

I realised that my anxiety comes down to own fear: I am scared that my friends will not like my new life. Or, to put it straight, I am scared that my friends will not love the new me.

These are friends with whom I had my wildest days at university. These are the girls with whom I shared high heels and short dresses; they are the ones who curled my hair and did my make-up before a night out. With these girls I danced on tables and talked to too many strangers. These are the friends who would sit wide-eyed and open-mouthed while I told them about my week-end. These are the friends who are used to a girl whose every minute is filled with activity.

When they arrive next week, my friends will see a girl with barely any make-up on. They will hear a calm voice telling them about a life spent riding bikes, taking walks in parks, watching sunsets, picking wild flowers, going to local markets, taking photos of nature, writing in bed, reading on the balcony and imitating owls. They will find a girl that keeps to herself and is sometimes shy in social situations. They will find a girl that likes to share thoughts on life and death, friendship and love. They will find a girl that is the most confused, yet the most content she has ever been.

When I realised that the cause of my anxiety is a fear of rejection, I thought about how I could make the best of the week-end that I will spend with my friends, without letting insecurity ruin special moments. I immediately remembered a wonderful post I’d read about welcoming guests, and I realised that this is not a time for fear, but a time for love. These are precious days in which I can share my joy, laughter and positivity with people who mean the most to me. These are moments in which I should be giving and sharing, not taking. These are times when I am supposed to be being honest and open, and not trying to impress or Friends Hugging on Beachentertain. This is an opportunity to show my friends how much they mean to me, and not to expect proof of friendship from them.

Fear will most certainly always reside in my heart, but the best thing I can do is to respond with love. So I’ll stop fretting about the broken tiles in my bathroom and the ugly chest of drawers in the living room. I will stop worrying about not knowing the best restaurants or liveliest bars. I will forget about learning the city inside out or getting the best deals for days out. Instead, I will simply do my best to welcome my friends with open arms and give them my open heart.

A Break is a Change of Activity

12 May

It’s that sort of day: a list of things to do and a mind/body/soul completely resistant on doing anything. You stand paralysed in the middle of the room, staring blankly at your ‘to do’ list. With a distracted mind and a tired body, your whole being rejects the idea of doing any of the tasks at hand. “No!” it screams “I do not want to sort out my bank statements. I do not want to call the phone company and I certainly do not want to fill out all those forms”. And that’s it; you’re on strike.

We all have days when we sigh and grumble getting out of bed, when every task seems like a chore and when we are so overwhelmed by banalities that they block us from getting anything done. Our head spins and our body freezes; the only thing we seem capable of doing at that moment is hiding under our bed covers. But stopping all activity at a household choresmoment like this is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. In order to get ourselves out of this rotten mood, we need to do something – anything – that does not require emotional or mental effort.

Don’t feel like sorting out your bank statements? Wash the dishes. Can’t face calling the phone company? Put up that book shelf. Don’t want to fill out those forms? Take the dog for a walk.

By doing something productive that requires no emotional or mental effort, we are making it easier for ourselves to tackle those tasks that we are reluctant on doing. We are distracting ourselves from the things that are blocking us, we are giving ourselves a break from negative thoughts and we even feel good about having done a useful activity. If, in these moments, we stop everything and sit on the couch feeling sorry for ourselves, we give ourselves even more reason for grief.

Yesterday, I froze up at the thought of spending my afternoon calling various companies, filling out forms and reading endless information about jobs and courses online. I was so overwhelmed by the things that I had to do, that I felt like jumping into bed and sleeping through everything. Instead, I put on my sandals and went to pick flowers for a hair mask in a nearby field. I then cooked a meal using a new recipe, and by the end of it all, I was feeling so happy and satisfied that I sat down to complete my other tasks with a smile on my face.

But be careful – distracting yourself with other, more menial, tasks is a solution for getting things done and not an excuse for putting things off. When you are overwhelmed – mentally, physically or emotionally – by your ‘to do’ list, taking a break and changing activity is refreshing and energising, but using menial tasks as an excuse to delay completing more important things is procrastination.

As my grandma always says “A break is a change of activity”.

Climb the Tree, Get the Fruit

22 Apr

There are those people who sit under a tree waiting for the fruit to fall down, and there are those who climb the tree to get the fruit themselves. The former group is passive: these types of people expect life to give them everything they want without making an effort to get it themselves. The latter group is active: they do not wait for opportunities – they make them; they see possibility in everything.

I have known both types of people. I had an acquaintance who spent his days regretting giving up the guitar: he was one of the most talented students in his music school, but decided not to pursue a musical career and picked a more academic subject to study at university. His regret for giving up a musical path would send him into depression every time he watched someone play the guitar. However, despite his ‘grief’, he did nothing to get himself onto the musical path once again. He had several guitars at home – he would never practice; he had connections with many musicians – he did not ask them for gig or concert opportunities; he had perfect pitch and a great knowledge of music theory – he did not try to find students to teach. In short, he expected opportunity to fall into his lap from the sky; he wanted to wake up one day and be a successful guitarist without the effort that goes into it. The people who expect miracles without putting in any work believe that they are victims of an unjust fate. Spending time with these people leaves you tired and lacking in energy, you start to become blind to the beauty of life.

As for the second group, I have been lucky to know many people who make their own opportunities and create their own fate. One friend choreographed and taught a dance for our university dance show, whilst having almost ten essays to write during the same time period of time – she managed to do both brilliantly. Another friend applies (and gets selected) to do unique programmes abroad each summer: Israel and Zimbabwe are two of the places where she has done study and research projects. A friend from school took a year out of university to live in Columbia and perfect his Spanish; “I want to plan my life in my own way. I don’t want a university course system or anything else to tell me that I can’t take great opportunities to do things like this”, he said. Other friends have run marathons, written plays and cycled across Europe. These people are full of energy, full of hope and full of optimism. It is not their ‘achievements’ that inspire so much as their love for life. It is their belief that life is abundant, life has given them everything and that all they have to do is just make the most of it.

I myself have been both of these types: there are times when I jumped at every opportunity and made opportunities for myself. But there were also times when I lacked motivation and energy, when I wanted to change aspects of my life, but took no action to do so. Now, during moments like these, I always try to think about the active people that I know:they would get their asses up and do something to create change. It could be the smallest change, but it is still something that gets life into motion, that stirs the universe and turns the wheels of our destiny. Thinking of these people reminds me that I have absolutely no excuses not to be living the life of which I dream.

Whenever you are feeling unmotivated, lacking in energy or in hope, think about someone who has inspired you, be it a friend, an acquaintance or a famous individual. Remember that one must climb the tree to get the fruit; the height may be scary and the braches may scratch you along the way, but the view is so much better from the top.