My theme for this year (if you’re not sick of it already) is to be kind to myself, to take better care of myself emotionally, physically and spiritually. I mentioned in an earlier post that this attitude has, unexpectedly, made me more productive and efficient. As you might imagine, it has also made me way more happy.
My gut says being “kind” to myself won’t look the same for me over the entire year; and that my path to being kind to myself will look different from yours—but these small, seemingly insignificant ways I’m caring for myself are ushering in tiny, very significant moments of joy to my life.
Again, they’re very simple, but that’s part of the beauty.
It makes me realize how happiness might not be as complicated or illusive as I once thought.
As you read, be thinking of what your own “happiness list” might look like. What would be on it? Chances are, as you make a mental or actual list, you’ll find the contents are quite simple.
You may start to wonder why you haven’t been being kind to yourself all along.
I’ve been letting myself sleep as long as I need it. Of course, many days, I have to be up at a certain time. But I also make space for naps during the day when I feel like it, I sleep in on the weekends, and I go to bed on time. I don’t guilt myself for needing more sleep. I figure if my body asks for it, I should probably give it.
2. Taking break from “working out”
I’ve been a running girl, typically, and the “runners high” is no joke. For the past few years I’ve been borderline addicted—running most days of the week. Recently though, I’ve just decided to give my body a break. Instead, I do yoga, or go for walks, or do something else that is active and fun.
3. Buying full-price
This might seem strange, but after years (and years and years) of bargains shopping, I’ve realized that having one item I really love is better than having three items that don’t quite fit the need or desire.
I’ve just been taking a few vitamins that I never gave myself permission to buy before. I figure, as I nourish my body, it can’t help but make me more effective in all areas of my life.
5. Refusing to diet
I actually eat pretty healthy. I’m just not dieting. I eat all the chocolate and drink all the red wine I want. But I also eat plenty of fresh vegetables, and try to buy quality ingredients. When I eat quality ingredients, it always seems like less is more.
6. Using lotion
This seems dumb, but I bought some nice lotion, and I use it every morning. Something about the ritual of putting it on each day helps me stay connected to the parts of my body that usually get neglected in the winter. And it’s occurred to me recently how crazy it is that I neglected the largest organ in my body (skin) for so long.
7. Rejecting guilt
I’m rejecting guilt—from myself, and from others—as a strategy to get me to change my actions. Guilt is a powerful motivator, it just isn’t always a positive motivator, and what I’m finding is that I felt guilty a lot. In all that space where guilt used to be, I’m practicing empathy instead.
8. Investing in friendships
I don’t know where I got this idea, but somehow I was walking around with the unspoken assumption that work was my primary responsibility in life, and relationships were secondary (if I had time). That assumption led me to a place I didn’t like very much. This year, I’m investing myself fully in seeking out and growing relationships with people I care deeply for.
9. Being generous
Research shows that being generous actually makes you happier, so I’m treating myself to some absurd generosity this year. You guys—giving things to other people is so much fun!!
10. Quitting diet coke
11. Taking a whole weekend
The past few weekends of this year I’ve taken the whole weekend (novel concept) to do whatever I want. I honestly can’t remember the last time in my life I did that, but it’s been heavenly. It’s amazing how much more productive my work week becomes, and how much more I have to offer the world, when I’m rested and happy.
12. Slowing down
I tend to move really fast. But lately I’m just allowing myself to slow down a little. Or, as one blog-reader described it, “to experience life, rather than just consume it.”
13. Taking long showers
All I can say is this: Sometimes it feels like all is lost, but really you just need to take a shower.
14. Choosing to be happy
For most of my life, I didn’t think it was possible to make this choice. Truthfully. I was always waiting for my circumstances to make me happy, or my friends to make me happy, or my job to make me happy. I rode the wave of my mood swings and my emotions. These days, I’ve just decided to start practicing the choice of happiness. It doesn’t always work. But happiness, I’m finding, is a little bit like a muscle, and I’m learning to flex it.