“People can be just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln
You guys! I’m so excited to write this post. I can’t even tell you how much awesomeness is floating through me right now. I put myself through an experiment and it’s working!
You know what you can’t get enough of? Could swim through the milky way, endless galaxies, a ginormous universe and still not get enough of?
It’s true. EVERYONE could use more happiness. We should all be swimming through endless pools of it. We should be laughing and giggling and enjoying every bit of this mortal journey. Even the hard parts. Because being alive is a great reason to be happy.
You know what happiness does to the brain? It’s amazing. If you don’t know, pay attention. Read this next paragraph over and over. And then read it again and memorize it. And then go buy the book or audiobook of “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor and live it. And discover who you really are and experience what happiness can do for you.
Your brain on happiness:
“Positive emotions flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that not only make us feel good, but dial up the learning centers of our brains to higher levels. They help us organize new information, keep that information in the brain longer, and retrieve it faster later on. And they enable us to make and sustain more neural connections, which allows us to think more quickly and creatively , become more skilled at complex analysis and problem solving, and see and invent new ways of doing things.”
“Positive emotions broaden the amount of possibilities we process, making us more thoughtful, creative, and open to new ideas.”
It’s all about our focus. What is our main focus throughout the day? If we are anxiously seeking out joy and happiness, then an amazing ripple effect of our brain on happiness can help us with the rest of our responsibilities. And we will become more successful. For example, working hard for a promotion, or getting a bigger home, or being thinner or getting through a difficult season won’t make us truly happy. It may bring a moment of satisfaction but it fades into the next chase. But when we focus on things that bring us true joy first, the rest falls into place and we are surprisingly more successful because our brain is functioning a higher capacities. The science of happiness is pretty awesome.
I just finished my third week of a happiness project I invented for myself. My soul is swinging on stars right now. And not long ago, my feet were buried with water…
Let me explain. Imagine a boat out in the middle of your favorite lake. FUN! This is one strong boat, it’s not only amazing enough to float on water, but it’s also able to provide entertainment, safety and adventure, etc…
Now imagine that same boat, only now it has a few holes put in the bottom. Could be holes caused from rust or neglect or heck, even a shotgun. (It’s an adventurous boat, remember?) Now, the holes aren’t major, but there are definitely holes that allow the one enemy of a boat to enter. Water. Drowning. Yikes. Holes in a boat are no bueno.
Water is seeping in, burying your feet and slowly sinking that amazing boat.
What are you going to do with a sinking boat? Stand there and cry? Complain? No.
STOP THE LEAKS! FILL IN THE HOLES! DON’T QUIT! DON’T SINK!
That’s at least what a wise person would do, right?
Today, I’m that wise person. Four weeks ago, I was the sinking boat (more here).
When it finally dawned on me that
my boat I had holes and I needed to fix them, I went straight to the computer and did what I would do with my kids. I made myself a chart. That’s how we get things done here. Bright yellow posters and weekly charts. Heaven knows my behavior and my actions needed modifying. I needed some guidance, accountability and more deliberate actions. Each item on my chart repairs a hole, stops a leak, saves my emotional life and gets me out of a sinking boat and back to a cruising, fun, happy place again. And every time I put a star or write what I did in my little chart, I feel accomplished. Hello Dopamine! Hello positive emotions!
I am shocked that after one week of patching holes and filling in leaks, I feel more whole. I’m floating. Literally, I feel like I’m being put back together.
I committed myself to follow my chart for 100 days. Which would end the week of Christmas. So perfect! Change takes time and kicking bad habits doesn’t happen overnight. What better Christmas present could I ask for than a more complete, whole, creative person in the mirror?
How is it done? I know, you are on the edge of your seat, can’t take the suspense anymore. What is the secret? First of all you have to know that you can’t just “say” I’m going to be happier today, it takes some effort. But effort that is fun and exciting and worthwhile.
I love this quote…
“Happiness isn’t la-la land. It’s not for the weak or lazy. If you wanted to become physically fit, you wouldn’t expect to get there by just deciding, would you? When people try to be happy by just resolving to be, happiness becomes a mirage, forever fading into the distance. Happiness is hard work.”
(“What Happy People Know,” by Dan Baker, Ph.D.)
Good news is the work is fun. These are the leaky holes I started repairing. I’ve changed my “to-do” list into a “become” list. There is an amazing person inside of me that is ready to evolve. I want to become her. The things on my new list have become top priority. They are way more important than cleaning the garage, etc… They get me in a positive mindset throughout the day and I’m amazed at how much MORE I can accomplish when I’m consciously working on becoming more whole.
My 100 Day Happiness Chart:
|Scripture & Prayer|
|30 Minutes Exercise|
|Eat to Live|
|Act of Kindness|
|Write/Blog Gratitude (10 Things)|
|Take a Picture/ Create/Enjoy Beauty|
|Talk/Read Time with Each Child|
|De-Clutter A Space|
|Show Myself Love Today (Be Kind)|
|Allow Christ to Carry a Burden|
|Talk to Brian(Day, Goals, etc)|
That’s it. It might seem like a lot, but it’s not. I LOVE my days because of this little chart. I’m spending more quality time with those I love and I don’t get overwhelmed. I get excited to see what positive things I’ve done. My charts are marked up with notes and accomplishments. And if I wasn’t able to do something, I don’t beat myself up, I circle that box for the day and look at it as an area that needs improvement. I make revisions, jot down notes and I see what areas I really need to work on. Its helped me understand why I became the leaky boat in the first place. This is becoming a valuable journal.
Why are those things the secret to happiness?
Get your beatbox on and let’s break these 12 things down, shall we?
- FEED YOUR SPIRIT Scripture and Prayer: We have spirits inside our body and they are hungry for peace and energy and their own kind of nourishment. Especially in this fast-paced, busy, iphone, information era we live in. Meditating, peaceful, quiet moments, praying and reading scriptures is so great for our spirits. I believe in God and I know He listens to me, so I talk to Him a lot throughout the day, especially first thing in the morning. If you don’t believe in God, well, find peace, get quiet.
- GET YOUR DRUGS, FEED YOUR BRAIN Exercise for 30 minutes. I’m talking about endorphins. MUST. HAVE. ENDORPHINS. Don’t like to exercise? Start walking. Walk for 30 minutes. It’s more important than your Instagram feed or that T.V. show. Just do it. Give your brain that drug and you will feel happiness that stretches beyond the moon. You will love yourself for it. I promise.
- FEED YOUR BODY But only feed it the good stuff. This is a whole different topic and I’m totally gonna break this down to a simple, life-changing, week by week solution. (It’s coming. I can’t wait!) Right now, eat to live. Crappy foods make us feel crappy. Emotional eating does too. Instead treat your body like you love it. Nourish it. Find beautiful, colorful foods. Their color will only make you glow more beautifully. Start with small changes, like drinking more water.
- TAKE FLOWERS TO YOUR NEIGHBOR Act of Kindness. Get outside yourself for a moment and do something nice for someone else. Deliberately, not accidentally. Make this the focus of your day. The highlight. Let your soul feast from happiness and enjoy a truly altruistic lifestyle. That. Is. Happiness right there. That is the verb. Serve others.
- ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE This step is SOOOO important. Write. Journal your way through the 100 days. Write your anger, frustrations, happy times, sad times, discoveries, feelings and most importantly what you are thankful for. Get it all out of your body. Pretty soon you’ll see that you have a lot to be thankful for. 10 things a day might not be enough. But it’s a start, so start writing those things down.
- CREATE This is where you get to do what you love. Take a picture, sew, paint, play the piano, organize, craft, create a spreadsheet, you name it. Do something that makes you feel good. We all have something to create and creating makes us feel happy. This blog started because of that need for me. It has done wonders for my soul.
- CHERISH EVERY PRESENT MOMENT Stop the guilt trip that you didn’t get to spend the quality time you had hoped with your kids. They are more important than anything. They will be gone one day and you will be left with those very loyal dishes. Make deposits into their little emotional bank accounts and yours as well. Play with them. Read to them. Tickle their backs. That’s happiness!
- ZZZZZZZ Enough said. Go to bed. Never underestimate the power of sleep. Nap, do whatever. Get caught up.
- FREE YOUR SPACE, FREE YOUR MIND Attack and de-clutter one space a day. One drawer, one closet, one room, one email inbox, whatever. Those days accumulate quickly and in a week, you have not only de-cluttered 7 spaces, but you have de-cluttered your brain too.
- BE KIND to yourself. (Others too…) but I’m talking about the voice inside your head. Write up all the wonderful things you are or hope to be and read it over and over throughout the day. Take a bubble bath, paint your nails, shower, do your hair, take a nap, make a yummy meal, whatever floats your boat. Tell yourself that you matter and you are important. Make sure that voice in your head is only saying kind things to you.
- LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD This one is very personal to me, my faith in Christ helps me with my burdens. Whatever your faith may be, ask for help when the going gets tough. Whoever you trust, let them help you before you break your back with burdens.
- TALK TALK TALK Share your discoveries, goals, successes with someone you love and with someone who will listen and support you on your happiness mission. It’s so healthy to break down your insecurities and walls (like I did here) and invite nothing but positivity to replace them.
Life flows so much smoother when we put first things first. I’m still doing all the other things that need to get done, but with a much better attitude and more pep in my step. I yell less, I get frustrated less and I enjoy everyone around me so much more. So, do a quick assessment of your day. What’s your focus right now? Are you surviving or thriving? Are you sinking or soaring? Do you have leaks that need repairs? If so, time to fill in the holes. What are they? Where do you need to start?
“Decide what you want to be and go be it.”
As for me, I will be happy.