Happier, Definitely Happier

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So whatever happened to that Happiness Project?  I’m still committed to my happiness commandments but I fell off the blogging about it wagon.  Focusing on energy for January, marriage for February, work for March and family for April definitely pulled me out of the funk of 2013.  I feel like my old self again!  I am so happy about the results, but the elevated mood, increased energy, better days at work and at home have had a negative impact on my blogging.  Having to stick to a monthly focus made the blog feel like a project instead of an opportunity to just share.  So I’m ditching the official project part and keeping the happiness part.

A quick list of happiness triggers for me lately:

God answering prayers and showing me positive signs, good friends, my Bible Study group, watching my son play lacrosse, a weekend where I felt like I excelled at my role as daughter, wife and mother, expressing my creative side at work, a sunny vacation, my mom’s pancreas biopsy yielding great news, BodyPump classes, gardening and planting flowers, long days, springtime, accidentally leaving my suitcase at home for a 3 day weekend and not freaking out, learning new things about my industry, home-made ice cream, Game of Thrones, helping others, meditation and walks around the block.

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Taking My Own Advice

WorryI haven’t posted in a few weeks.  I have been in a bit of a funk.

Nothing too serious, but there are times when my work life can take a toll on me.  I know better and am the first one to tell others to stop worrying.

Today, for the first time in a long time I felt like I had a small, public win at the office. I needed it and I can’t take any of the glory. God is so good.

What made the difference?  I read these four points below.  I wrote these to myself a few months ago when I was feeling very lost. Here was what I focused on today:

  1. God is a perfect father, who doesn’t compare me to his other children, he loves me.  HE loves ME.  He loves the imperfect me.  I don’t need to waste my time comparing myself to others and spending so much time on my flaws and “growth” areas.  God loves me in this moment and he’ll love me when I’ve improved and he’ll love me if I take steps back.  God loves me right now.  Right this minute, right this second.
  2. I can do nothing without God.  When I’m overwhelmed and stressed it is because I’ve forgotten that he is in charge and somehow I think I’m in control.  I’m not in control.  God is in control and I can trust in his plan.  The evil one distracts me into thinking I can control anything and everything.  I am his instrument but I give it over to him to be the controller.
  3. It is ok to ask the Father for favor.  I have been paralyzed by the belief that I must only serve others and God and that I should never expect favor for the seeds I sow.  I spend too much time thinking I don’t deserve favor because I am caught up measuring the way I worship.  Am I reading the Bible enough, getting on my knees or spending quality time in prayer enough to ask the Father for help? God is a loving and giving God.  He will expand his favor on what the evil one tries to take away 7 fold.
  4. God admires boldness.  I tend to take the humility/meek thing to heart and forget about being bold. I put on the breast plate of righteousness to go and do great work in the world.  God has given me the gift of leadership and I will not put it on the shelf because of fear of what others may say about me.  God never fails.

I will be bringing this out more regularly as a self-coaching technique.  I love to encourage and mentor others and there are times when I need to coach myself.

I’m sure many of you can relate to getting yourself out of a funk. What do you do when you need to build yourself up?  How do you overcome criticism?

The Good Wife

Happiness Project - Marriage MonthI remain committed to my happiness project and this month’s focus is all about my funny Valentine.  I’m upping my game on my marriage.

My husband is a wonderful man.  Like so many (ALL) of us, he isn’t perfect, but he is the answer to my prayers.  He is a Godly and humble man with a positive outlook.  He would lay down his life for his family and will do anything to serve or protect us.  He is smart, capable, considerate, selfless and funny.  He has a level of integrity that continues to amaze and inspire me and at 48, he is still a total hunk.  What’s not to love?

He deserves a month of extreme good-wife-y-ness and I’m going to give it to him.  Here are my new habits for February.

  1. Don’t nag, my schedule isn’t his schedule. He is going to do it when he is going to do it.  I tend to notice a task needs to be done around the house and I ask him to do it without respecting what he’s doing.  We talked about creating a better system to get things done and settled on communicating about the honey-do list via email.  I’m pleased with the results so far.
  2. Check in each day via a text, email or phone call.  My husband and I have very similar, self-sufficient personalities and we don’t need to talk several times a day. But a phone call or text to say I’m thinking of you would be a bright spot in the day. I need all of the bright spots I can get!
  3. Show affection coming and going.  Hugs and kisses hello and goodbye are such an easy thing. I realized a few weeks ago that somehow this had become a not every day thing.  It is back on the everyday list now.
  4. Make him laugh.  We have always had similar senses of humor and we find the same things funny. I’ve challenged myself to share/do/observe something chuckle-worthy every day. I also, make it a point to laugh at his or my son’s jokes. The sound of all of us laughing is music to my ears.
  5. Choose grace.  My significant other has his moments. Trust me, I’m no picnic either. For the month of February, I’m burning my membership card to the legion of the easily offended and am biting my tongue.  I don’t care what he says or does, I’m going to react with grace, humor or worst case scenario walking into another room.
  6. Just do it.  I admit that I am guilty of procrastinating when my hubby asks me to or suggests I do something.  “I’m so busy” has been a handy excuse to ignore requests.  I’m focusing on doing it as soon as he asks and with a smile.
  7. Listen and give him my full attention when he’s talking.  I am sure I am not the only one who sits with the laptop open and pounds away at the keys thinking I’m somehow participating in family life. I miss a lot doing this.  On all fronts.
  8. No complaining.  My husband is an amazing cook and cooks me dinner almost every night (I am the primary breadwinner).  However, some nights I turn my nose up at the dinner I didn’t have to lift a finger to prepare.  Too fattening!  We just had that!   So ungrateful, That is just bad form.  Another thing I complain about is his questionable taste in television shows. Why are reality shows based in Alaska so popular all of a sudden?  I don’t win the battle for the remote control anyway, so I’m not going to complain about it.
  9. Praise him.  This is an easy one.  He does great things every day.  I’m proud of the man he is every day. Consciously expressing it makes me happy.
  10. Serve him.  My husband is a true renaissance man and he can do just about anything.  He can cook, manage our finances, install new flooring and carry a new toilet up 2 flights of stairs so when he needs me to help him, I will be his willing and eager helper.  I am committed to proactively finding ways to serve him and lighten his load.

…”Recalculating”

gps…but those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength.

Yesterday I caught myself thinking…”Hey, I actually feel good. I feel energized.”

Have you ever checked in with yourself and thought, “I’m doing better and better!”?

This is a far cry from my thought process just a few short weeks ago which consisted of “I must by dying, how could I be this tired all the time?”

I have been working a multi-pronged approach to improving energy. Two areas I’m focusing on are reframing situations to find the positive opportunity and stopping myself from having an emotional overreaction that triggers a physical reaction and sends my body into fight or flight mode.

I am living proof that you can change your energy, attitude and overall mental health by changing your thoughts.  Here is a glimpse at how my new thinking is kicking my old thinking’s butt.

1. My Dad called me on my drive home from work and asked, “Could you stop and pick up a new prescription for pain medicine for your Mom?” (Mom broke her shoulder last week and is in terrible pain)

Old thinking: I work hard, sometimes 60 hours a week. Now I’m the errand girl, too! How did my life turn into this? It is only going to get worse, they are not getting any younger!

New thinking: My parents need me and I’m lucky to be able to help them out. These are the good days where we all live together and work as a team. I can approach these tasks with resentment or with light. The extra time in the car will give me more time to listen to my current book on tape, The Happiness Project. Cool!

2. When I got to the pharmacy, the pharmacist shared, “We don’t stock that strength at this pharmacy anymore, you can go to our other store 6 miles away though. They have it and we can tell them you are coming.”

Old thinking: Are you kidding me! I don’t even know that part of town. What if that’s a bad neighborhood. Forget it, this is not what I signed up for! I quit!

New thinking: Mom needs this better pain medicine and I want her to be comfortable. It’s no big deal. I’ll plug it into the GPS and I won’t get lost. I’ll get to see some new parts of my new city and this will give me more time to listen to my book!

3. Yesterday, I had a meeting scheduled in a building I had never been to before. All of our senior LT would be there and it is important to me to be on time and to show up early enough to get a seat at the table. I allowed more than enough time but with 20 minutes to go I realized I was lost and discovered i had typed the wrong address into the GPS.

Old thinking: You are so stupid, you are going to look like an idiot walking in late. Everyone will think you are worthless and don’t deserve to be there.

New thinking: I still have plenty of time to find it, I need to relax and imagine I have all the time in the world to figure this out. Just take your time and do it right. This is not a big deal. Breathe deeply. Don’t give up. You’ll get there. People are always a few minutes late. More time to listen to my book and get into a powerful mindset for the meeting. (I was on time, too!)

4. This afternoon, I had another meeting in yet another building that  I had been to once before but knew I would have trouble finding. So again, I looked up directions online, and again, I somehow fat fingered the address on the GPS and ended up in the wrong place. I realized my error 10 minutes before the start time .

Old thinking: SERIOUSLY! Two times in two days! Just don’t go. How do you twist these things around every time?  You are losing it!

New thinking: Everyone makes mistakes. It is no big deal. I just passed that building a few minutes ago, I can retrace my path and go back to it. From now on, I need to measure twice and cut once when using the GPS and driving to unfamiliar places.  More time to listen to my book!  (Again, I made it on time!)

Finding Strength

Quote

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31
New International Version (NIV)

Zero to Hero Day 19

Slap Happy

I’m currently listening to Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project.  If you are not familiar with this book I encourage you to check it out.  Gretchen chronicles a year of personal growth where she takes on a new focus area each month all in the pursuit of making a good life even better. 

I don’t think it is by accident that I started a similar journey at the New Year just prior to learning of this book.  Although my focus has been finding the spring in my step and living more intentionally to not get swallowed up by a big season of change, the similarities and winning formula are too great to ignore.  I’m adopting her approach and am excited to join the community of Happiness Project bloggers out there.

Here is my list showing what I will focus on each month.  This schedule aligns to key activities and events and is not prioritized.  They are all very important and I know none of them truly standalone anyway.  They will be interwoven into each day let alone each month.  You get the idea.

January – Energy.  This fits the best with the work I’ve been doing.

February – Marriage. 

March – Work. 

April – Family.

May – House & Garden.

June – Friends.

July – Money.

August – Fun.

September – Faith.

October – Motherhood.

November – Health.

December – Celebrating.

I have been focusing on finding energy this month and it is working!  I keep noticing that I’m not dragging myself to do things.  The funny thing is, I started doing many things at once, right after Christmas so I’m not sure if one item is delivering more energy than the next or if it is a combination.  So I need to keep them all up!  Here is my plan for the rest of the month:

  1. Eat clean.  Avoid junk food and processed foods.  Lots of vegetables and protein. Stick close to the earth. I’ve got work to do here, but I see the cleaner I eat the better I feel.  Telling myself I’m allergic to things really does help. Will power just isn’t enough for me, but when I can physically feel the difference after ingesting something full of sugar and empty calories, it is a strong deterrent.  Incorporated into this should be my Diet Coke addiction.  I’m committing to cut back for now, but I’m not ready to give this up.  I don’t drink coffee, this is my morning routine.
  2. Take vitamins and medicines every day and on time.  I’ve recently started taking a brain function blend vitamin and have renewed my commitment to my adrenal support regimen.  My brain fog is lifting and I’m connecting more dots at work.  Color me pleased.
  3. Get enough sleep and allow for snooze time in the morning.  I have been having trouble getting out of bed in the morning because A. I’m Exhuased and B. it is so dark where I live now. I find if I set the alarm for 30 minutes before I actually have to get in the shower, I can do some prayer, take my time getting up and embrace the day with the right mindset.
  4. Don’t overreact.  I have been diagnosed with adrenal problems which means I have overused my fight or flight instincts and they are out of whack.  In other words, sometimes my body overreacts and I have a very intense physical response to something that shouldn’t be that big of a deal.  Did you know it can take up to 4 hours for your body to return to normal when this fight or flight mechanism gets triggered?  I can usually control this with a lot of prayer, deep breathing, re-framing my thinking and quieting my inner critic.  Staying on top of this is key to maintaining good energy levels.
  5. Walk the walk.  I’m addicted to my Fitbit and my target of 10,000 steps per day (70,000 per week).  I’m parking farther away, taking the stairs, walking the dogs and hitting the gym.  I am feeling better physically than I have in months.  Everything I read about adrenal support recommends gentle exercise like walking or yoga.  In the past I have resisted this as “not good enough” and elected to do something more intense that I couldn’t keep going for very long.  Now with the Fitbit, I’m embracing the gentleness of it all and feeling great.
  6. Blogging as a reward.  Having a bunch of incomplete tasks hanging over my head is draining. So I make sure I accomplish what needs to be done at work and at home before I dive into blogging.  Whether it’s reading or writing.  I don’t get to do this until I’ve done all my must-haves for the day. 
  7. Minimize inbox attacks.  Another huge monkey on my back is the overflow of my work inbox.  The culture at my company is to stay on top of it, so I can’t just ignore it until tomorrow.  I don’t mind responding to emails at night but there have been times when I get upset (fight or flight!) by email grenades and I’ve let that ruin my evenings or weekends.  This has been a tough one, but I have recently developed some new habits that find me happy to check email versus dreading it. First off, I’m unsubscribing to any retailer emails or anything not work related that shouldn’t be filling up that box anyway.  Sometimes just seeing 100 new emails are in there can freak me out so I need to stop feeding the beast.  Second, I’m making it a habit to send out seed emails that will yield a wonderful, warm response.  I regularly send out great job!, you are special becausethought you might like this or just thinking of you emails.  People are genuinely touched by my outreach and send back the nicest replies. 
  8. Fake it until you make it.  You hear this one all of the time and now I know why, it works!  The best way to find that energy I wish I had is to just pretend like I have it and press on.  Next thing I know, I’m over the hump and I’m not faking anymore.
  9. Write things down.  My memory just isn’t what it used to be. My new practice is write everything down and save myself the stress of not remembering or not being able to find what I need. OneNote is great for this and I’m becoming a power user.  I’m taking detailed notes and tracking my actions and my delegations. I’m capturing my blog ideas and articles and Bible verses I want to reference. It is a big relief to unclutter my mind in this way. I’m finding that without the clutter I’m actually doing better on my recall.
  10. Turn that frown upside down.  A big drain on my energy is thinking negatively or being around others who are negative Nellys.  Another great bit of advice out of the Happiness Project is to remember, these are the good old days, this is the fun part.  Whether I’m at work trying to get our team to solve a difficult problem or I’m stuck in parking garage traffic with my husband on date night:  we are lucky to be here!  These are the salad days!  Let’s reframe the situation and have some fun.