I thought I’d dedicate this post to the 12 steps I’m taking this year to be a happier person.
I based the approach on the steps from The How Of Happiness: A Practical Guide to Getting The Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky.
It was hard for me to feel thankful for two main reasons:
1. I tend to see more of what I lack than what I have and
2. Being grateful would mean that there’s something to be grateful TO.
But then I realised: it’s not about what I’m thanking to – it’s about what I’m thanking FOR.
As mentioned above I’m not a naturally optimistic person so I struggled (and still do) with this one a lot. The big “awakening” comes when I think it through with a clear head: how much time and I energy I spend on worrying about things that never come.
I’m an economist. I hate wasting time and energy. 🙂
Avoid over-thinking and social comparison.
Oh that particular “she’s doing so much better, she is so much thinner, so much more beautiful”… Or the other side of the coin: “I’m so much more intelligent, I speak so much better than her”. It feels like it’s engraved in my thinking. As if I only existed in comparison with others. I still need reminding: I’m not in competition with anyone. Not even with myself. I just need to take each day with the offering the best I can.
Practice acts of kindness.
I can be pretty rude to people when I’m living in my own little world. I don’t like to be disturbed and I definitely do not like to be called on the phone. (Which is my mum’s biggest complaint.) But since I’ve the imagination to be very empathetic, it’s easy to switch the kindness on. But it’s a decision to do so. It doesn’t happen by itself.
Nurture social relationships.
As an introvert I dread this step. The word “social” kinda freaks me out, even though I need relationships. For me, it’s a matter of defining what relationships and how. But I will need to step out of my comfort zone.
When shit happens, I usually run back to my bed and hide away for days watching marathons of fantasy TV. Practically putting my head in the sand. Nothing gets resolved or even processed consciously. It all just gets buried under a pile of new information. Of course it surfaces at the worst of times.
Learn to forgive.
I’ve been known to hold a grudge. I forgive easily when I’m asked for it but I find it hard without an apology. It comes back again to the rule of “can only control what’s within” – and I shall do whatever’s in my power to do to make myself happy.
Increase flow experiences.
I read about flow years ago. It’s a Hungarian professor living in the US, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly who researched the topic and wrote a book about it. (I’m just mentioning this because I’m proud of a fellow Hungarian’s success.) There are a lot of things in my life that grant me that experience but usually they require a bit of an investment so to say: time or energy to start with. It’s a solid investment but sometimes it feels like there’s nothing left to invest with. Which, I suppose, is a matter of mindset.
Savor life’s joys.
This requires being in the moment. No lament about the past or anxiety (or even hope) about the future but just being entirely where I am. And enjoying it.
I’m great with ideas. I’m also with planning and starting projects based on those ideas but right after the first (or the second) step, I fall in love with another one. My completion rate is rather pitiful. And I guess it’s because I’m not committed to reach those goals I set out. I give myself too much of a leeway.
I don’t have a clear, well-defined belief system (and that’s not easy for my analytical mind) but I do know there’s something bigger than me and connecting to it regularly has always made me feel happier and safer in the world.
Take care of your body.
My goal is not a long life but my body deserves better treatment than it gets at the moment. It’s been through a lot of shit and it’s time to get what my body needs as opposed to what my mind thinks it needs.
You’ve joined me at step 4, and it’s getting easier every day. I hope you’ll stick around to see how the rest will go.