What I find most difficult about my current Happiness Project is that my mind is constantly wondering whether I am doing it right. With everything I read about being and accepting yourself, enjoying the moment and loving what you do, I question myself – am I doing that? Am I doing that right? This diminishes my motivation and although I do not want it to, I let it influence my day. For example, yesterday, a couple of things did not go as planned, and it became harder and harder to remain a positive attitude. When I drove to the computer repair shop (for the 6th time, I counted) to pick up my laptop, it turned out that they forgot to fix a crucial part, so I had gone in vain again. I felt my mood sink but I remembered I had to try and rethink the situation, and that did make me feel better. My laptop is not ready yet, but it is okay because university does not start until next week, and if I really need the computer I can use my mother’s laptop. And: I had to drive to the shop again and I dislike driving, but it went really well and the more I practise, the better it will go next time. However, a few other situations affected me more and I went to bed feeling down.
This morning I realised something that I forget easily in difficult moments. Although, naturally, there are parts in a day that are not perfect and do not go as planned, I should not let it define the entire day. Of course I cannot feel happy a 100% of the time, that is unrealistic. As they say, “Happiness is a journey, not a destination”. Happiness comes and goes, it is not a point you reach and where you remain at all times. But when such a day occurs again, a day where it feels as if everything is going wrong, I want to try and remember what is going right. I want to count my blessings. I was not able to do that yesterday, but thinking back, my day had a few good moments as well. Although I went to bed not feeling too well, I was able to rethink the laptop-situation. A friend of mine (unexpectedly) gave me a wonderful, personal compliment after reading my blog. I watched a Swedish film with my father and with the subtitles on, I was able to understand a lot (I did a 14-week Swedish course at university). As my favourite singer/songwriter sings:
There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”
Yes, there are moments in a day where you wish it would be different, but because of those moments, we are able to value the good in our days and lives even more. On that same note, I should remember that I created my Happiness Project to try and be happier, not to worry or doubt myself more. I do not have to do everything the books say, I have to do what feels right for me. What works for others, does not necessarily mean it works for me. As I wrote in a previous post, an aspect of my daily life that makes me happy is routine. Therefore, that is going to be my theme for September: August, my “me-month” is coming to an end, and in September I am going to be focussing on Habits & Rituals. Yesterday, I started planning what my Happiness Project will look like from September until December. I noticed that as I did not have a very precise vision about August, other than it being my “me-month”, I fell back into some habits I’d rather shake. I decided that, in September, I want to focus on the following things:
- Make my bed in the morning: I have a fairly small student room, and when I have to study I want the rest of my room to look tidy;
- Do a 10-minute tidy in the evening: I tend to be very messy and tidying for 10 minutes every day should reduce the pile of clothes on the (only) chair in my room;
- Wash up every (other) day: did I mention I am a student?
- Create a morning routine: having to rush in the morning makes me feel very stressed, and a nice, calm routine would be a better start to the day;
- Have a nice, Sunday-morning breakfast: we always do this at home, my parents, sister and I, and whenever I am at my own place, I miss it. I usually sit on my bed and chew on a piece of toast, but having my own Sunday-morning ritual is something nice to look forward to;
- Buy flowers: Having flowers in my room gives me a jolt of happiness every time I look at them or smell them. If something that small can make me happy, I figured I should buy them on a more regular basis.
Some other things that I want to get in the habit of doing are to start watching or listening to the news, to spend more time on creative writing (or developing characters or plot), to use my time wisely (in the 15 minutes between coming home and having to work I could do something useful instead of mindlessly browsing Facebook). Also, I want to stop using my phone and social media an hour before going to bed so that I can fall asleep more easily. Of course, these are a lot of things to focus on in one month, but if I could manage to stick to at least the above bullet points, I think it will brighten my days and create some peace of mind. According to Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project), writing down my resolutions and revisiting them every day will help to remain focus, so that is what I want to do. Tonight, I am going The School of Life with my mother, to attend a lecture about turning resolutions into habits. We bought tickets for this back in May, and I am very excited. The subject and timing of the lecture are great – what better way to start “September: Habits & Rituals” with some additional information on how to stick to new habits?