Sunday, October 28, 2012

Keys to Happiness

I've been a very busy girl.

I'm sure you've already guessed this (especially since I haven't posted since October 5!). You probably thought I'd dropped off the face of the planet, but, no, it's pretty much the opposite. I've been so busy that by the time I get home at the end of the day, I'm too tired to think or do anything productive.

While I can't say I love everything I'm doing each day, I have to admit I love almost all of it. Most of all, what I'm doing makes me very happy. I'm as happy as I've been in years, and I'm likely to stay that way for quite a while. Then again, even during my not-so-happy stages, I've still found I'm happier than most people.

I'm not going to give advice about how YOU can be happy. I honestly have no idea what makes you happy. Many people are unhappy for years and don't even know it. Others have made it a point to be unhappy. Some choose the angst-ridden poet, or the angry misanthrope, or the grumbling hermit. And that gives them kicks, so I'll let them go on with that. Some have a good reason to be unhappy, but they play it to the hilt, ignoring all the things that might help lift their mood a little. If that is the case with you, and you do all you can to resist happiness, go now and read someone else's blog.

When I am drifting towards unhappiness, it's usually because I've forgotten one of these habits:

[Note: Remember, I said this stuff worked for me. If it doesn't work for you, well, that's not my fault. Make your own damn list. That's what the comments are for, after all.]

1. Live in the moment. Who cares what you're planning for dinner tomorrow? That's tomorrow. So what if somebody said something snide to you yesterday? That's yesterday. Only live somewhere else if you're in a boring meeting--or if you're grading papers. Better yet, live in that moment, and actively work to make the bad task take less time, or make it more fun. Put on tango music when you're sweeping the house. Sing while you do the dishes. Plan your halloween costume out while you help your kids with their homework. I listen to Baroque music while I grade -- I find it goes much faster.

2. Do something selfish. That doesn't mean steal candy from the kids, or eat all the dinner yourself. It means take some time each day to do something you TRULY want to do. Yesterday I worked all day on editing, and while I do love editing, I don't love it as much as painting. So this afternoon I'm painting. I even have it on my list: 1-4 p.m.: PAINT. If you love reading, but don't have time for it, check out a CD book at the library, and listen to it on your commute. Make the kids go watch cartoons while you have your morning coffee. Take a nap. Take a day off.

3. Do something unselfish. When I especially need to feel better, I do something to help somebody else. And I don't expect a thank-you card for it. That's just stupid. Yes, it's polite to send thank-you cards, but most people don't, and if you're only doing it for the thank-you, your motives are selfish. Give a gift to somebody for no reason. Help serve meals to the homeless. Serve your family a lovely dinner, complete with candle light. Clean up the kids' rooms while they're at school. Volunteer at the library. But don't do anything that makes you resentful, or makes you think everybody in the world except you is lazy. You're not better than everybody else. Volunteering is a way for you to show that, to show that you love people and are willing to help them, not a way for you to feel superior.

4. Get your work DONE. This is absolutely necessary to my happiness. I can paint all I want, but if the laundry is stacked up and nobody has any clean underwear for Monday, I ain't gonna be happy. And doing a load of undies isn't going to solve that, either. If it seems like a pain, set it up in steps. Sort the laundry the night before, so it's ready for the morning. Then just attack it one load at a time. And be sure and mark off the task with a big, thick cross-out when you're done. I'm always amazed at how much better I feel when I can cross stuff off my list. Just remember to put fun stuff on your list, too. That's the best chance you'll have to make it a part of your day, too, along with the have-to's.

That's my list. Now I'm off to start laundry. Got anything to add?


  1. Thanks for the reminder. After working all weekend I am sitting here exhausted. I was planning to get the housework done, but now I realise I need a day off too. So I'm going to pre-wash some fabric, maybe start cutting out, have a nap, doodle with some words and maybe have another nap. These things will definitely make me happy today. And live in the moment. All day.