Do you ever use terrible moments of life to catapult you into awesomeness? One of my habits of happiness as I call it, is to use bad moments as inspiration and motivation for becoming more of my awesome self. Another habit of happiness I have written on is using daily gratitude to make changing habits really easy. Bad times in our lives can be the inspiration for shedding the parts of our lives that don’t fit anymore and becoming badass butterflies of beauty.
My daughter stopped napping at 6 months old- which is 2 years earlier than when most kids stop napping. I did not embrace this as a new phase of child development, but instead tried every sleep method, books, expert, and long car rides, to get her to nap. Nothing worked. I felt cheated out of the saving grace of stay-at-home-moms everywhere- Naptime. I felt cut off from joy because of my lack of ‘me’ time to pursue my own interests. I felt one step away from quitting my entire life and walking out. Believe me, if the Mexican border would have been closer, I would have been created my own Spanish immersion program. But faraway borders and an expired passport have a way of making you realize that maybe its best to face the life in front of you. Plus, I did have a sense of responsibility to my beloved husband and child, go figure.
During this time, I kept attending to my basic needs, food, clothing, cleanliness, etc, but my emotional, mental, and spiritual needs were massively neglected. I became an angry and cranky spouse. One morning my husband told me, “I don’t even like being around you anymore.” I didn’t even cry because I was so crushed and shaken by his words. Ladies, don’t jump to judge; he wasn’t saying it to be mean. My husband so rarely says critical comments to me that I can count the times on 3 fingers for 12 years together. His words caused my to snap out of my moody funk and realize that not only was the situation failing me, it wasn’t working for us as a couple or family either.
Thus I began a whole life makeover where I addressed my constant anger at the state of my world and examined what was holding back my happiness. Six months later at bookclub, a woman mentioned that I seemed different, brighter. I said I was so much happier because of what that I had done.
“What did you do?” Suddenly everyone was leaning in to hear more. I proceeded to tell them these four tips below. These tips are first and foremost mindset changes, which then lead to changes in action. Ladies, believe me, if you can even adopt one of these four mindset changes in your life, the results will be incredible.
It’s funny, my life makeover occurred at the same time that Jen Sincero’s book, You Are a Badass was getting to be popular. I was going through my own return to bad-assery yet somehow never got exposed to her book until just last year. I believe as a culture we are going through a transitions where lots of people are interested in returning to their awesome selves and coming alive again. I am glad that this is the zeitgeist of our times.
If you would like to return to being more alive and glorious happy in your life, make a commitment to take the time and the attention to do it. Take the time to examine and reflect on your life and determine what do you want more of and what do you want less of. Here are the 4 concrete things I did to increase the joy factor in my life to a great degree.
Stop Doing Seemingly Obligatory Things That Bring No Joy
Let’s face it, by this time in our lives we have a lot of stuff going on. But all of that stuff is not necessary and I am sure a lot of it is not bringing you joy. For me, this entailed quitting a lot voluntary activities that somehow I had been doing out of habit or for other reasons. I entirely stopped doing social activities that were purely obligatory. I seriously looked at my relationships and critically examined them in relation to my quality of life. Who did I feel good being around and who did I always feel bad about myself after seeing? I realized that I was probably spending half of my time with people who were perfectly fine, but who I didn’t really truly connect with or get much joy from.
I made a point to stop actively making plans with those who I did not feel good about. I also realized that there were a few women that I really loved seeing, but who saw infrequently because either I was hanging out with the humdrum friends OR I wasn’t making any regular effort to connect. I made a list of the 5-6 women I felt great around who I wanted to know more and spend the most time with. I decided that I would plan to see them at least once a month and would be more proactive about making plans. I set a weekly reminder on my phone to make plans with these ladies.
Work on Getting Along Better in Your Relationship
The people that you spend the most time with have an incredible impact on your life. I knew that if my husband and I could improve our ‘good’ relationship to ‘very good,’ that it would increase our quality of life a lot. I discussed with my husband, what topics make us fight, what topics do we love to talk about together. We made a plan to stop talking about the things that made us fight (as much as possible without denying issues that needed addressing). Additionally, we both have very different hobbies/interests, namely sports vs homesteading.
We decided that it wasn’t worth it to try to get the other to enjoy those hobbies, but rather to focus on the things we both find interesting to discuss- politics, music, and current events. I put a list on the fridge of these 3 topics we always loved discussing to remind us to focus on those. This boosted our relationship, as we had fallen in the habits of only talking about his work, my day, and our child, which didn’t leave a lot of new, interesting conversation after the first 15 minutes. This also meant that we had to take some time to read or think about things outside of our daily routines so that we could contribute to the conversation.
Spend Time in Pursuits That Nourish You & Fit Your Values
Because my daughter didn’t nap, I didn’t have that time to pursue my interests. I decided that my time was valuable enough that I deserved some breaks; paid workers get at least a one hour lunch break daily; so I should have that too. I hired a nanny to come 2 mornings a week, even though I wasn’t bringing in any money as a stay-at-home mom. The cost was worth it for my sanity. When the sitter was watching my daughter every week, I researched things that interested me.
After a few months, I started freelancing part-time doing writing and social media management. Even though I value the opportunity to stay at home to nurture and raise my daughter as her main early childhood influence, I have a deep yearning for intellectual pursuits and acknowledgment from the workplace. Ever since I always have some work or volunteer activity that I am engaged with part-time that feeds my brain and also my emotional needs.
Commit To Be More of What Makes You Wonderful
I started focusing on how I am amazing and perfect just as I am. I spent regular time reinforcing that belief. Listen, I know that there are things in my life that I could use as examples as to prove why I was no good, needed improvement, etc. But if I spend my time focused on my flaws and my lacks, who is focusing on my great qualities like my warm heart, fun personality, and curious mind?
I choose to reframe my beliefs about my situation and trained myself to stop thinking that the fact that I was having a hard time meeting new moms friends (for one example) meant that there was something wrong with me and I needed to improve in some way to be better friend material. With the help of my counsellor, I came up with a phrase to replace the old record in my head that would play when I felt of low-worth. Instead of thinking that I wasn’t any good or needed to be different to make friends, I repeated to myself, “Be More Rachel-y.” I challenged myself to be MORE of who I was, instead of less. I wrote “Be More Rachel-y” on a few index cards and placed them where I could see them daily. This helped to reinforce that I am fine just as I am and my exterior circumstances are not a reflection of my value or worth.
What if you made an index card for yourself with this phrase, “Be more YourName-y.” We all know that the world needs more of the unique, wonderful beings that we are, but the dailyness of life tends to lead us to acquiescing to the standard of what normal people do.
You know this famous quote,
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
Let’s become more of who we really are. Let’s explore our uniqueness and bring our own special gifts into the world. Let’s come alive. I raise my glass to your happiness. Cheers!