Source: #mind #musings #wholehearted
I was doing my library thing (see explanation in other post), and I found this sweet little book called The Happy Life Checklist by Amy Spencer.
She talks about realizing that a key to happiness is balance. “You know why a piano chord sounds so beautiful?” she writes. “Because it’s not just one beautiful note; it’s some high notes mixed with some low.” As a cultivator of balance, I like this a lot.
I decided to start making my own happy life checklist.
-Have a campfire.
-Plant herbs by the house.
-Browse some cookbooks.
-Use the happy jar every night at dinner.
-Savor every bite of food.
-Mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful living.
-Give each day a theme word.
-Use your first five minutes wisely.
This is all I’ve got for now. But I hope I spend the rest of my year (and life) updating this post. ❤
I was at a celebration recently, and was given this advice: Think it through.
It can be about picking up a drink, saying something unkind, hitting the snooze button, eating ice cream for dinner. Think it through. Play the tape all the way to the end. It’s not just one glass of wine – not for all of us. For some of us, it’s a glass, plus a six-pack, plus soul-crushing guilt and twelve candy bars while drinking shots alone in your living room.
It might feel good to say something snappy and nasty to someone who’s hurt you – but, hours later, are you going to be filled with remorse and bad feelings?
It might feel awesome to hit the snooze button – but does hitting snooze mean that you miss your morning run and feel lethargic all day long as a result?
Once you’ve thought through the entire scenario in your mind, you can make an informed decision about the next right thing to do at any given moment.
This morning, I was at Target. Because apparently I had thirty minutes to kill and a hundred bucks to spend. (I find it nearly impossible to spend thirty minutes in a Target without spending a hundred dollars. But maybe that’s just me.)
I’d been in the store for about ten minutes. Teddy was in the stroller, and there was about fifty dollars worth of ABSOLUTELY STINKING ADORABLE baby clothes in the basket beneath the stroller. I sat on the floor and pulled the clothes out. I laid them in front of me and started looking at them with a discerning eye.
Think it through.
I have a tendency to be an impulse shopper – especially during moments when I’m experiencing anxiety. My anxiety this morning was pretty minor – I was a little flustered, trying to get Teddy ready for the day, deciding whether to drop by the farmers market to help out Tee or just head to my morning meeting. I felt indecisive, which is a big trigger for me, and that led to me trying to numb with an impulsive purchase.
Today, however, I got a little flash of what it would be liked to buy all or some of those clothes. How would I feel later? Later, I’d realize that I really didn’t need those things for Teddy – he has plenty of clothes handed down from others. And I’d remember that I really enjoy getting him clothes at a local consignment shop, where I can get an outfit for just a couple of dollars and it feels more like an adventure than a Target run ever does. And I’d remember that Tee and I are trying to watch our spending, which means I’d get a guilty feeling showing her the clothes. None of the outfits were exciting enough to be worth the guilty feelings I’d experience later for my impulsiveness and the mindless quality of this endeavor.
So – in other words – I thought it through.
I put all the clothes back. I bought a cup of black coffee, and I headed to my meeting.
It was a half-hour well spent, even though I had nothing tangible to show for it. I started thinking about other times when I can utilize this sage advice and save myself from mindless impulsivity.
Like the afternoon fruit snacks I buy on the way home when my day’s been stressful. Think it through, KEM – you’re going to spoil your dinner and feel sluggish after you eat these. (We’re talking several family-size-esque bags of fruit snacks. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten one of those tiny little packets with approximately seven fruit snacks inside all by its lonesome in my life.)
Like the lure of group complaining – I can get totally sucked into a group bitching session. But later, I inevitably will feel that yucky internal not-good feeling that comes when I am not being my best self. I hate that feeling.
Think it through. A beautiful piece of advice.
I have spent pockets of the day today curled up with The Little Book Of Hygge by Meik Wiking. Hygge (pronounced hue-gah, I think?) is a Danish and Norwegian concept that, roughly translated, means coziness or everyday togetherness. I didn’t read Wiking’s book cover-to-cover – just skimmed and perused and soaked up little tidbits. It seems like hygge is all about simplicity, modesty, and functionality.
Tee, Teddy, and I have a pretty hygge lifestyle – coffee, campfires, a cozy little wood stove, piles of books in every room, crossword puzzles, giant mugs. Today I baked bread. Definitely hygge. (Wiking says that the longer it takes to prepare something, the more hygge it is.)
Today has been a lovely hygge Sunday. There are days when I wake up and don’t know to do with myself. I hate those days. Having a day like that gets me all anxious and indecisive and frazzled. Having a day like that usually means that I’m not in touch with myself – my gut isn’t talking to me. I’m disconnected and purposeless. That feels awful.
Today, however, was not one of those days.This morning, I woke up and my Sunday just naturally flowed from activity to activity, with no pre-planning and little anxiety or self-doubt.
Before Teddy woke up, I went for a run on the trail. I started baking bread soon after Teddy was up. The process of baking bread, in addition to being very hygge, always brings a really sweet and comfortable rhythm to my day. You stir in the flour, and you let the dough rise. You knead, and then you let the dough rise. You divide, and then you let the dough rise. If you rush things, your end result may be disappointing. But if you take your time and give the whole process the patience and mindfulness that it requires – well, then, you get yummy bread to dip in olive oil like a fancy lady.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my need to slow things down. I find myself sprinting and crashing through my days – rushing to get home, rushing to get to work, rushing, rushing, all day long. Hygge is not about rushing – it’s about taking your time. “It’s choosing rustic over new, simple over posh, and ambience over excitement,” per Wiking’s book.
I’ll write more about my attempts to slow down soon. For now – here are a few random hygge tips and takeaways:
- Link purchases to big events – i.e., I bought this comfy chair when I got my new job.
- Set up a hyggekrog – a little nook for cozy reading and writing with a hot drink nearby.
- Celebrate solstice. It’s all about rhythm and ritual.
- Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
How do you hygge? 🙂
I have a new project that’s absorbing a lot of my mental energy lately.
It’s not urgent, or tragic. But it’s distracting.
And it’s making me realize something about myself.
There’s always something. A project – something I’m trying to do – or buy – or be. Somewhere I’m trying to go. The next thing on the list.
Ugh – so annoying!
At my MBSR training (classic KEM = attend a training for two days, spend at least two months talking about it), we talked about the human habit of spending all our time either rehearsing or rehashing rather than just living.
That concept resonated with me. It’s been echoing in my mind fo
r a week now.
I’ve heard this often: “If you want to be sad, live in the past. If you want to be anxious, live in the future. If you want to be peaceful, live in the now.”
There is always going to be SOMETHING to strive for. And it’s tricky to balance healthy striving with peaceful acceptance of the present moment.
I’ll keep working on it.
Oh, man. I am definitely riding the struggle bus lately.
Specifically, I’ve been experiencing an identity crisis related to my day job.
I’ve previously blogged about the ups and downs I’ve been having at work since Teddy came home. For so long, waiting for Teddy took up all of my heart.
Now, Teddy’s home. Tee and I are healthy and stressed-but-oh-so-happy. And I’m trying to figure out what I want my life to look like.
I’ve come up with a few different things I’m looking for in my work life: A shorter commute. Fewer hours. Less stress. More fun and play. An organization that is aligned with my values.
I’ve always felt best when I was working with a group of people who felt happy, committed to their work, and inspired. Genesee. AmeriCorps. Sigh.
So – I’m evaluating my options. I’m deciding what my next move will be. And I’m wondering, not for the first time, if I did it all wrong – career, grad school, jobs.
I once talked to a girl who’d decided to become a yoga therapist. She was around 30 years old at the time. She said, “I finish teaching a class, and I’m filled with energy. I’m so grateful that I’ve found what gives me the most joy when I’m so young.”
Sigh, sigh, sigh.
I very much want to find work that helps me to feel energized and alive. It’s possible that I just need a change. Or, that I need to get back to my two greatest loves – working with children and creative writing.
So, I’m taking steps. Applying for new jobs. Going to interviews. Trying to carve out time for fiction writing.
But – here’s the second half of my struggle: How do I stay mindful and peaceful in the midst of striving and change?
Transitions are always a challenge. In my experience, it’s difficult to physically be at one job when your heart and your mind are out there searching for a new job. Last week I felt a lot of anxiety for that reason. I’m trying to recenter – to ground myself in the knowledge that I am, as always, exactly where I need to be.
There’s a lot going on right now.
I’ve been pretty stressed at work, and I’m definitely struggling with self-care.
And I’m having a lot of feelings about writing.
I’m frustrated because my day job keeps me from writing as much as I’d like to. I’m anxious because I have goals that I haven’t even attempted to achieve. I’m excited and hopeful that I might be able to make some progress.
This morning, I re-read this blog post from Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking. It inspires me to believe that there is hope.