Live The Life You Want: DIY Happiness Make-Over (& Giveaway!)
This is the first in a series of Live The Life You Want posts : sponsored by the National Australia Bank. Be sure to check out the ACE giveaway at the end of this post!
Happiness. Gosh. It’s the Holy Grail of to-dos in this modern age, isn’t it? There are more books on happiness than there are hot meals, worldwide. Well. Perhaps that is exaggerating a titch, but my point is that happiness has become our raison d’être, our ultimate goal. And a worthwhile goal at that.
Sometimes, though, I think we’re coming at happiness from the wrong direction, in the wrong shoes, carrying the wrong stuff, with the wrong expectation. It’s kind of like fronting up at an impossible to find secret gig, overdressed, over wanting and wearing too much lipstick. I think we need to rein it in a bit, that it’s not as hard as we think, this happiness gig.
I think we can do happiness in leggings and a t-shirt with absolutely NO lipstick, if we so choose. From the comfort of our own home, if we so want. Let’s go for happy moments. Let’s break it down and make it less of a secret gig and more of an everyday happening.
Here’s my Happiness Make-over in 5 Easy Steps:
1. Journal or List
Perhaps you used to keep a journal when you were growing up? Angsty thoughts all buckled up in a lock-up diary? Or maybe you keep a journal as an adult, writing your daily or weekly thoughts, perhaps a doodle or two? That is ACE. Or perhaps you don’t journal at all. Perhaps you write lists. Lists are like the favourite cousin of journalling I think. Lists are good too.
Whether you journal or list, keep doing that. And if you don’t, you really need to start. It can be scrappy and impossible to read, or it can be creative and beautiful. Don’t put pressure on yourself, though… it’s MUCH more important to DO IT than it is to DO IT PERFECTLY.
The Artist’s Way advocates writing a stream of consciousness style, THREE pages of text each day. That’s a lot, right? I think that even if you write ONE page, and do it MOST days and try to handwrite it and get everything out of your head, you will be happier.
I know this, because I do it most days. I get up very early, get out my dorky spiral bound note book and write down everything that pops into my head. Some days this is one page. Some days it is three. And some days I forget or just lie on the couch drinking in the quiet dawn and forget about it til later in the day.
Daily list making or journalling, however brief, will remove all that useful or stressful or creative stuff that’s swirling around in your head and put it somewhere that you can do something about it. Or not. Make this your almost daily habit. Even if you do this ONE thing, you will be happier. I promise.
Gah. I know. You’re either pro-exercise or you are contemplating getting under the doona as you wince-ily read this. Well don’t be wincey. It’s okay. Exercise can be on your terms. It doesn’t have to make you The Biggest Loose-Pants. It doesn’t have to Transform Your Body. All I’m suggesting is that you move your body and that you do, indeed WEAR pants.
It’s vitally important to move your bits every day. I’m not talking about optimum fitness or weight loss or endurance. I’m talking about giving yourself a little bit of time to keep your machinery running nicely. It’s a bit like when you put a car in the garage for a long time. After a while it won’t start. It’ll look a bit dusty and it’ll sound a bit spluttery. MUCH better to get the motor humming regularly and invest a little time maintaining the duco, too.
Your exercise program can be a walk to the shops and back. Or it can be busting a few stretches in the lounge room. Or you can go massive and try the gym (I don’t) or some home exercise equipment (I do!) Maybe it’s just getting up from your chair every hour and trying to do those planky yoga things. It can be a small effort. It can be bigger effort. But just make an effort. Even if you do this ONE thing, you will be happier. I promise.
3. Feed you
I’m really not talking about chocolate, but if you want to have a little bit of good quality dark chocolate every day, then you should totally DO that. I’m talking about putting the things into your body that make it work better.
I’m not sure about YOU, but I know there are certain things I eat that won’t give me any benefit at all. Things that make me feel tired or heavy or hungry again in five minutes. For me, I’m talking about white flour, processed food, sugary treats and fried food.
That’s not to say that I never eat those things. I am not Our Lady Of Virtuous Habits. What I do, though, is avoid those thing when I can. I eat lots of vegetables and whole grains, because they seem to keep me going and make me feel super charged. They also don’t make me feel all slumpy and snack-wanty.
When you take the time to look after your body and eat good stuff, you feel good about yourself. When you repeatedly don’t, you feel terrible. If you’re not treating yourself nicely, if you’re eating stuff that makes you feel crappy or seedy or guilty very often, then you’re being self-destructive. And you need to dig a bit deeper and wonder why you don’t like yourself enough to take care of you. I’m sure you’re lovely… Treat yourself lovely, love.
Play around with new recipes and healthy eating options. Think hard about the things you feel bad about eating, or the things you eat that make you feel bad. Adjust your diet accordingly. (And you really DO have to allow yourself treats some of the time, lest you become Our Person of Virtuous Habits and put us all to sleep with your perfect-ness!) Even if you do this ONE thing, you will be happier. I promise.
These are busy times. I bet you are busy right now. You are probably skimming this post trying to make bullet points in your head and get up to the giveaway….! Are you doing that?!
We’ve been taught to squeeze the most out of every moment, to time manage with military precision, to diarise, schedule, prioritise and produce. In fact, for a lot of us, the only time we STOP is when we are procrastinating. We tread water mulling stuff over and letting thoughts bounce tightly around in our heads, feeling worried or stressed or under pressure or guilty. Argh.
I say STOP. Don’t procrastinate. You don’t need to fill those arrested moments with what-to-do-nexts. Just STOP. Sit down. Do nothing. Push thoughts away. Pat the cat. Watch Wheel of Fortune. Watch the dust drift. STOP being torn and single task, for once.
I kind of hate the term ‘be present’, so make the moment YOUR present. Your gift to you. With a big bow and a whole lot of NOTHING inside. Stop bouncing all the life-stuff and to-do around and be boringly nothing-y. Gift yourself this nothing, every day, more than once, even if it’s just for two minutes. Let it be your present to you. Even if you do this ONE thing, you will be happier. I promise.
Gosh. There’s been so much important talk about staying out of the sun over the last 20 years or so. (You can read the Cancer Council’s advice on sun exposure here. Be smart about protecting your skin from sun exposure. Use a good SPF and stay out of the sun in the middle of the day).
Let’s not forget, however, that we really do need small doses of sunny day in our life. We need Vitamin D to keep our bones healthy, eyes keen, immunity boosted and a whole other host of feel good/be good benefits too. And we need fresh, outside air. A morning walk or a late afternoon stroll on a sunny day will not only get some D in the bank, it’ll clear your head, get you moving and spark fresh ideas. Go outside. Feel the sun. Wander about. Notice your neighbourhood. Do it when it’s not sunny, even. Just go for fresh air. Even if you do this ONE thing, you will be happier. I promise.
Perhaps you’d like to know more about my take on happiness? Glean a few more creative living tips?
I’m giving away a 1 hour Creative Living Session. You and me. A pot of tea. And SKYPE.
You can ask me any questions you have about work/life balance, my work, making things, juggling parenthood and creativity, happiness, creative heroes, awesome books, blogging, publishing, technology, food, inspiration, useful resources…
And we can drink tea and solve the problems of the world. I will even send you my recipe for choc chip cookies so we can eat those together*
To win a Creative Living Session with ME, tell me your top 3 tips for a happy life.** in the comments below.
To enter, tell us:
What are your top 3 happiness tips?
Good luck! Remember even if you do one of the above things every day, you will be happier!
* May not be healthy
** Make sure you register your email address when you comment with Disqus, below!
Entries close on Friday 1st March at midnight (Melbourne time).
My favourite entry will win – judged on creativity, usefulness and/or cleverness
WINNER will be announced on JustB on Monday 4th March at 3pm.
all images are by Pip Lincolne
prize value : priceless!