Lessons in Happy
One of the best bits about having a blog is getting to write about exactly what you want (as long as you guys like it that is), and sometimes it feels good just to post about those thoughts that pop into your head when you’re walking home and your phone’s died. The kind of musings that crop up over long car journeys with close friends or on the way back from a great movie….
Case in point, happiness. Someone clever once said, ‘happiness is the journey, not the destination’, and ain’t that the truth. You quickly realise that when you go through life thinking “when I get ‘X’ I’ll be happy”, X being a boyfriend, a house or a holiday, the reality is never quite as sweet as the dream. Being happy is something to strive towards on a daily basis, rather than something that just falls into your lap when everything clicks into place. Because realistically, how often is everything perfect?
Thanks to social media, Fomo (fear of missing out) is an omnipresent ghoul that seems to haunt us all from time to time. Whether it’s that party you weren’t invited to or just the uncomfortable feeling you’re a loser for staying in on Saturday, it’s often at the root of all bad vibes. Self-doubt, jealousy, loneliness… Fomo is the worst of the worst. If you’re knackered and craving takeout alone, kick back and don’t care who’s doing what. And remember its when people aren’t posting on instagam that they’re having the most fun, myself included.
Ditching FOMO is a conscious decision and comes from truly accepting you and what you’re about. For me, it’s really evaporated over time and while it still rears it’s ugly head from time to time, I’m less interested in where everyone else is if I’m content where I am, even if that’s holed away doing chores. Remember that all those things in life you need to do (buying lightbulbs/defrosting your freezer/staying in to save for that holiday) others have to do too.
Treat Yourself Like Someone You Like
I’m that person that nags those I love; eat better, go to the doctor, quit smoking, get enough sleep. But when it comes to myself, I’m terrible at listening to my own advice. I get wrapped up in emails and forget to buy food and it takes me weeks to make a doctor’s appointment. But when I do take the time to cook for myself, catch up on life admin, go to the dentist and drink 8 glasses of water a day, I feel better in myself and about myself. Rather than letting stuff build up and running yourself into the ground, take time each day to look after yourself and see it as a priority. Eat your greens, cook things from scratch, make time for breakfast and move around more.
Around this time of year, my flat looks like a battle scene. Half-packed suitcases, piles of unwashed clothes and boxes of deliveries with nowhere to go… The whole thing makes me stressed, anxious and ironically even more unmotivated to do anything about it. Sometimes tiny additions or actions at home can make all the difference and get you out of a slob rut. Invest in some new bed sheets, light candles, throw out near-empty beauty products and let your space make you feel better.
Get in Touch with What You Love
It’s all too easy to forget what we’re actually interested in. Remember when we all had favourite subjects at school? And yet once out in the real world, life revolves around pay checks, relationships and what you did last weekend… Getting back in touch with actual interests beyond box sets and brunch feels weirdly refreshing. Plus it’s always nice to have something just for you….
Me? I like listening to geeky podcasts about psychology, human behaviour and science fiction movies. The secret’s out.
Play the One month, One year, Ten years Game
This is a kind of ‘what’s the worst that can happen’ mind game that helps me stop obsessing and not be held back by fears of ‘what if’. Whether it’s in relation to something in the future or for a messed-up situation that’s already happened, it helps to understand the repercussions to quell your fears. Take going for a job interview, my brain works like this; “what if I don’t get the job and then everyone knows I went for it and didn’t get it, or what if I do get it and I can’t do it and I get fired and then I can’t get another job because everyone knows I got fired”. And that’s before I’ve even had an interview… Thank God I’m self-employed right.
But then if you really pick apart those fears, are they even that bad? Take the situation you’re afraid of (not getting the job) and break it down like this…
One month – Yeah is still sucks but you’re looking for a new job and everyone has better things to talk about. Plus it probably wasn’t the right thing for you anyway.
One Year – You have a new job and you learnt from that other interview a year ago. The other one definitely wasn’t meant to be.
Ten years – Did I even interview for that job?
It works for everything, from dating woes and work conundrums to foot-in-mouth situations… Next time you’re drowning in worries, try it and see if it helps ease those butterflies. For most situations, by the time you get to a year, it won’t matter anyway…
I hate this whole #blessed thing as much as the next person, but there’s no denying feeling inwardly grateful does wonders for your mood (inwardly being the point). It doesn’t have to be anything big, in fact it’s more about seeing the good in the everyday, mundane things. I always feel thankful when I’m running errands in my car, be it because I can pop out in the middle of the day without asking permission or simply because it’s raining and I’m thankful I’ve got a heated car to get about in.
Taking time to actively remind yourself to be grateful makes a massive difference when it comes to being happy. Whether it’s for your favourite Pret soup at your desk, getting into clean sheets at the end of the day or the simple amazing act of being able to pick up the phone and speak to those you love whenever you need to.
I’m not suggesting being awful to people and if you make plans, don’t be that person that flakes the day before for a better offer. But sometimes, doing exactly what you want to do is exactly what you need. If you come home feeling rubbish about yourself after hanging out with a certain person or group, don’t be a glutton for punishment. Make the decision to say no and hang out with the people that make you feel glowy and good. And if you’d rather eat food with five close friends than go to that massive, glamorous party everyone’s talking about, sack it off and do what you gut’s telling you.
Why is it that our own flaws are far harder to accept than those of other people? I make mistakes on a near-to daily basis; I say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, regret work decisions, wish I’d say yes when I said no and vice versa… Forget what anyone else does or says to me, it’s my own stuff that keeps me up at night.
Forgive yourself for lapses in judgement and do whatever needs to be done to do so. Say sorry, say thank you or just put it down to experience, move on and give yourself a break. It’s good to be conscientious, but never healthy to hate yourself.
Being ok by yourself; easy for some, super tricky for others.
Personally I’d much rather go to the gym or buy jeans by myself, but was never very good at being single. But independence is just as important in a relationship. Going on holiday with friends (without boyfriends), making new friends through work and popping out to run errands solo keep me whole rather than just half of a pair.
The brilliant Aimee from Song of Style said something at the Reward Style conference earlier this year that really stuck with me. She said how it was important to learn a little about every bit of your business, be it coding, accounting or photography… Her ex had handled lots of sides of the business and then when they broke up, she was left, well kind of screwed. This doesn’t just apply to bloggers or those with boyfriends; feeling capable and able is a sure fire way to feel happier, even if you have the most supportive of sidekicks. Rather than thinking ‘I can’t’, think ‘how can I’… This could be putting up picture hooks, learning how to use Photoshop or trying (and failing) to cook for a party of ten. Knowing you don’t need someone else, you just really, really want them, is so much nicer…
Kill Comparing with Compliments
I recently read about the mindful concept of ‘true compliments’. The idea is to compliment someone once a day but it can’t be anything to do with appearances. So rather than ‘you have great hair’ (although let’s be honest, that’s always nice to hear), try telling someone what a good listener they are or how they always put you in a good mood. It has way more depth and lasts far longer than a good hair day…
Complimenting and congratulating others on successes and achievements isn’t always easy, we’ve got our human nature to thank for that. In fact, we’re far more inclined to compare ourselves to others and more often than not, we come out as the loser in the battle… Doing what I do, comparison is the achilles heel of the job. I’ve definitely been guilty of wanting what she has and questioning my own stuff once I hold it up next to someone else’s. It’s a dangerous game and one that needs to be ditched before it’s even started. The best way to deal with it? Tell your girl crush you think they’re great, remind yourself that someone else somewhere is coveting what you have (yes really), put your head down and focus on your own goals.
Ph; Oracle Fox, Pinterest, Tumblr, Porter magazine, Madewell.