Friday, October 7, 2011

Choosing Happiness - My 10 Steps to a Happier Life

Thank you for all your positive responses to my recent posts about happiness.  I’ve really made this a focus and I can tell you it’s changed my daily life and made me feel like a total badass!   We can’t sit around shitting rainbows all the time - sometimes we have to look at ourselves and make changes in order to be happy.
This series on happiness has been overwhelming.   So many of you contacted me about relationships and life choices that you reconsidered after reading my posts.    Although most of this is information we’ve all known or heard, sometimes we have to see it again to rethink where we are today.   It’s really easy to get stuck in a relationship or in a job, feel numb and forget to ask ourselves from time to time if what we are doing is really what we want and if it’s making us happy.   
We were all saddened by the loss of Steve Jobs this week.   He had such a profound impact on the world in a relatively short lifetime.    We all have a habit of seeing ourselves live into our 70’s or 80’s and that’s not always the case.  Here was a man who had fortunes we cannot fully comprehend, yet his life ended so prematurely from cancer.    He’s not that much older than me and it made me think a lot about my own mortality.    Hopefully, that inspires us all to live more full lives and not to assume that we will live long lives, it’s just not a guarantee. 
I hope that by sharing my list you can see things in your life that you want to change as well.   We can’t sugarcoat everything and pretend we are happy, sometimes we have to drill down and get to stuff under the surface before we can be happy.
I'm mostly a happy person, but I've ignored some things that have gotten in my way of being as happy as I could be.  I want to be in a Happy Relationship not just a relationship.  I don't want to be with someone just to avoid being alone.  
The following 3 things are the big things, the things I've been avoiding but lie under the surface.   The next list of 7 things is the day to day stuff.  Mostly, it’s a laundry list of things that I’ve been focusing on every day to get me from one decision to the next.
Once I broke down what was really bothering me under the surface, I made a list of tasks for each of my categories to start getting control of each one.  I then started working on each individually, even if it was just baby steps. 

1. Gaining Financial Control
So for example, Financial control… I feel really reactionary to where my finances are and my spending.  So, I created a basic monthly budget.  To address my spending, for example I researched online grocery coupons.  It was really easy to get it set up and my local grocery store chain has a shoppers account you can load them to in advance of your trip.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

2. Dealing with Relationship Issues
I had some “unfinished business” with Relationships that have been bothering me in my daily life too.  I made a list of things I needed to deal with from the past and how to move forward and add people into my life who were in a similar place in life.   
For example, I contacted an old friend that I disconnected from in the past to resolve the relationship.   It wasn’t an effort to rebuild the friendship, just to have peace and to move on from it.  I also decided to distance myself from friendships that weren’t healthy.  I realized I need to make more single friends because they understand more of what I’m going through and we can relate to each other so much better.
I’ve also promised myself to “Say it” when it needs to be said.  If something is bothering me, I’m going to tell the person and deal with it.  If I bury things it just makes things worse.  

3. Clearing Clutter – Mental & Physical
Mental Clutter & Physical Clutter is a category that does have some overlap into both other categories.   It’s basically a rolling to do list of things that I want to do, write down on my list every week and I don’t ever do.   I’m sure we all do this to some extent, but I realized it’s making me stressed out in my day to day life.    
I’ve committed to not take on any new projects (unless they are work) until I’ve attacked my old projects that need to be finished.  One for example is my book collection.  I have a thing for books and I’ve been working on clearing out old books and promised myself in the future if I want to buy a book, I have to get rid of 3 first.  

Day to Day Happiness
Once I started to tackle the major projects in my life, I felt so empowered and strong.   Although, things aren’t where they need to be today, I’m moving forward and not stuck in quicksand.

4. Living with Courage (aka balls)
I decided to really go for the next step with my blog and book, etc.  I can’t talk about it all yet, all I can say is I’m bouncing off the walls with excitement.  I made a simple phone call, set up a meeting and things are really moving.  (yay!!)
I also went out on a first date, pitched a proposal for my consulting services and told someone I have a little crush on them.  (yikes!)

5. Being grateful
I’m making an effort to be grateful for what I do have and giving that more weight to the good stuff than to the stuff that sucks.

6. Changing my routine 
I forced myself to work from other places and literally just started showing up at a place I’m doing some consulting work for.    I inserted myself into the business and now if I’m not there for more than a day, they call me and ask me where I am.   The owner told me he admired me for creating my own opportunity. 
Being there also opened another door to someone else who wants to hire me for consulting.  We had a great meeting about all the projects we can work on together.  

7. Living in the moment 
Now that I’m addressing my future more proactively and dealt with some of my past, it helps me enjoy the moment more.   The other day, we had a perfect fall day and my boys and I played football in the backyard.  I can’t tell you the last time we played like that and it felt great. 

8. Committing myself to having a good day
It’s actually simple and complicated at the same time.  Admittedly, a lot of shit comes at us that we can’t control.  I’m trying to keep the stuff I can’t control in perspective.  I now start my day with thinking of what I’m grateful for and I end my day going over my checklist of what I accomplished versus what I sucked at that day.     Before I go to sleep now, I ask myself if I reached out to someone, if I did my best and if I made someone laugh today.  If I’ve done all those things, it was a productive day.

9. Asking myself am I living a life that honors my mom
I lost my mom suddenly a few years ago and it changed the way I live.  I didn’t get to say goodbye and it made me realize that there wasn’t a lot I could do about it.  However one of the things I constantly ask myself is would my mom be proud of the way I’m living my life?   When I stop and think about it like that, it really makes me feel responsible for all my choices and to be a woman that she would be proud to say she raised. 

10. Treating myself well
I’ve made a decision to do good things for myself and to make more time for fun.

So, that’s my list.  I’m being very careful about who I let into my life lately.   I’ve tightened some relationships and loosened some others.  As far as dating, “Twitterguy” (he doesn’t like this nickname, so I’ll change it…) he and I are still talking.  It’s going well, flirty and fun but nothing too out of control.   There’s nothing to overthink right now, so I’m just going to enjoy getting to know him.  He’s a great guy, but there are a lot of questions and it’s so early to get too ahead of myself.

I hope you can apply some of this to your life and I appreciate you being a part of my life!  (and it's gonna be happy too, if it kills me! :)


The Single Mom

What a wonderful life I've had!  I only wish I'd realized it sooner.  ~Colette


BBrowne said...

Thanks for a great read and your 10 steps are great tips for anyone wanting to improve their life. Whenever I find myself getting into a rut, I try to shake things up for myself. Taking on new projects at work or even something as simple as trying a new restaurant. Enjoy your blog and your Twitter humor!

DavidRayDog said...

We love you SMD! Your 10 Steps make perfect sense.