The title of this post will have been enough to make some of you shudder, but I can only assume that if you have started reading then you’re semi-interested in what it actually means.
To be honest, it’s a bit of a “does exactly what it says on the tin” post. I’m telling you about a little project I’ve began. It’s a project pertaining to my own happiness.
I know, it’s beginning to sound a bit wishy washy around here isn’t it?
The whole idea behind this is basically what we are all striving for. Happiness. Who doesn’t want to be happy?! I know there are a few people in your life who may seem as though they enjoy being miserable (and misery loves company, remember that) but I think it’s fair to say that most people do not enjoy the feeling of unhappiness.
It started with a bit of a realization recently. Call me dramatic but I’m having “issues” with Billy being, well, his bloody age. He is three and a half but really he’s more than three and half and I’m just not cool with that. He turns four in 4 months and my stomach literally flipped even writing that. All parents will relate to the bittersweet feeling of their children growing up. It’s such a head-wrecking feeling because on the one hand you are so proud of the way they are growing and becoming fully fledged humans (like Billy said “prefer” the other day. As casual as anything, he told me he “prefers” that kind of pesto – I nearly cried with pride because I am a mother and we are crazy) and on the other side comes the piercing painful acceptance of them not being your baby any more. Of course he’ll always be my baby but at 3.5 the cuddles are less, the demands are stronger and he’s being shaped so intensely by the outside world now. Sometimes I just want to keep him safe in a happy little bubble. You can kind of do that when they are babies. Feed, cuddle, sleep, change. Bliss.
So yes, he’s 3.5 (almost 4) and I am really acutely aware of the passing of time. More than ever to be honest. I keep telling people that I got married last year and then I promptly remind myself that I absolutely did not. I got married in August 2016 (the show was aired in December 2016) and our one year anniversary was 6 months ago. I don’t know if this happens at certain stages of your life but right now I’m hung up on time running away too quickly. And with that comes resistance from me. I don’t like change. My mind wanders and I find myself in dark places where I focus on the dark stuff. Not achieving, bad health and losing people. I was finding myself sinking in to that familiar place. If it were a room the blinds would be down and the smells wouldn’t be good. It’s a place where your negative thoughts are overwhelmingly amplified.
One day I had to shout at myself. From the inside like. My mam taught me that one. When you feel yourself sinking in to a dark place of worry. When “what if” turns in to you literally experiencing and visualizing that “worst case scenario” as though it were real – you sometimes have to shout STOP. It’s actually really powerful. It’s a bit like putting yourself “in your place”. Starring yourself in the eye and saying COP ON. I was spiraling and the very feeling of sinking was making me sink even lower. The worry associated with the worry. It’s not a fun place to be.
So I had to do something. The reality is that the world for all it’s wonderful components and people, has a lot of shitty stuff. There is illness, hurt, disappointment and natural disasters happening every single day. Some of it directly affects you and some of it affects the people you love. Some of it affects none of you but the mere fact that it’s happening to anyone on this earth is enough to make you want to close your eyes and pretend it’s not real.
What I’m actively trying to remind myself of is that none of these things are in my control. I ask myself if I am willing to go on like this for another 10 years and look back at my thirties (it’s only a year and a bit away) as a time where I focused and dwelled on so much of the bad and ignored and missed so much of the good. Yeah, I’m just not willing to do that.
So this is where the project begins. I’m calling it a project because it really is a task. A job if you will. If someone gives me a project or a task to do I give it the time and energy it requires. I respect it. I want to do it justice. I don’t slack. My happiness is worth the same attention. It’s more important than anything that could give me a pay-check. It’s the most important pay check in the world in fact. The pay-off is contentment.
So what am I doing? Well a few things. I’ve found a few areas that needed attention and I’ve introduced some brand new things in to my life. The reality is that technically I have no time for any of these things. I can talk my way out of any one of them very easily. Especially now that I’m self employed and can very quickly feel guilty when I’m doing anything but working. But I can’t afford to not do them. And if I do do them (and ultimately feel happier) I’m way more productive anyway.
- Exercise. It hit me like a tonne of bricks recently. I literally do no exercise whatsoever. I was never one for going to the gym or doing sit-ups but because I didn’t drive I walked everywhere. It would be really normal for me to walk 40 minutes to an hour every single day. I had to if I wanted to do the food shopping, meet a friend or go to a baby group. Well I had no idea just how much it fed me until I realized the affect that a lack of it was having on me. Fresh air these days is limited to getting in and out of the car at play-school, the supermarket or a friend’s house. The weather has meant that even playgrounds are barely frequented lately. It’s not enough. I miss the fresh feeling of having walked in the wind (or rain). So I’ve decided to do something about it. I’m going walking. Nothing too unrealistic but if I can go for a thirty minute walk three times a week I’ll be delighted. And to help push me to do it we have…
- Reading. At one point in my life I read (or pretended to read) three books a week. I did an English Degree in UCD. I loved reading. I always found reading to hold great escapism and I miss it so much. The reason I don’t read is simple. I am utterly and totally addicted to my phone. I am aware that it’s a really bad thing and I am also aware that it is very much part of what I “do” but it’s a lousy excuse. I fall asleep watching Snapchat. I half listen to people talking. It’s just not OK and I don’t want that to be normal in my life but it is. The problem is – the internet is so full of shite. Things we compare ourselves to, feel bad about and question. It usually leaves you feeling drained and more stressed than you might have been before. Reading has the exact opposite affect. It takes you out of your current reality and transports you to a whole new place. It’s the escapism I love the most and for that reason I’m willing to ditch the physical reading (for now. I’m not saying I’ll never read a book again) in honour of audible books. I had no idea that these were a thing. Literally every single new or trending book is available in audible form. So I’ve downloaded the app (namely, Audible) and I’m on to my second book in a week. I can’t tell you how good it feels. I put my earphones on, go out for a walk and listen. It’s so refreshing. I don’t look at my phone. I look straight ahead of me. I’m noticing things I never noticed before. The colour 0f house doors. Nature. People. I already feel the massive benefits of this. I’m also reading uplifting books. Right now I’m reading Melanie Murphy’s book (she’s an Irish Youtubber) and I can relate to so much of what she says. She’s really in to the Law Of Attraction and that’s something I had ditched for some time. Until now…
- The Law Of Attraction. I believe it. I really do. Thoughts Do become things and you really do get more of what you focus on. So I’m quitting the self doubt and the focus on what I don’t want to happen in favour of feeling the feelings of what I do. I’ve gone from feeling like we’ll never get a mortgage to actually buying bits and pieces for the house that I KNOW we have already. It might sound nuts to you but it’s one of those things that you have to experience to believe. You can’t try to do it. You’re either doing it or not doing it. It’s not easy because you have to train your mind to think and react differently but it’s so so worth it. It’s not a case of closing your eyes and waking up to everything you’ve ever wanted waiting for you by the bed. It requires action. But in the right frame of mind you’re directed to the right people and circumstances for those required actions. Examples where it’s worked in my life are – my son Billy, becoming a slimming world consultant and getting married on Don’t Tell The Bride. Owning a house is no different. I want it deeply so it’s happening. You have to expect it.
- Allowing myself to BE HAPPY. I am one of those people that spends copious amounts of hours looking forward to and anticipating things that are on the horizon (good or bad) but when the “thing” approaches I am on to the next. As soon as I start to enjoy something and feel content I feel this overwhelming wave of guilt. Guilt because instead of enjoying this moment I should be worrying about this person or helping that person. It’s ridiculous and I would tell a friend that it was a waste of life. It’s a lot more difficult to listen to your own advice but I am trying. I am actively trying to live in the moment more. To savour all the good stuff and to just be bloody happy. It’s like I’m most comfortable and familiar with a place of worry. Of dread. It’s not OK with me anymore so I’m working on it. Like really really working on it.
- Being mindful. In fact I did a 5 week mindfulness course before Christmas. As it turns out mindfulness is not about meditation or peace but rather a place of inner calm that means you can be “OK with everything”. You find your own bubble and amidst the chaos, disappointment, bad news or noise you can still feel happy. Nothing can get in to your bubble because you control how you respond to the world. It doesn’t control you.
I just wanted to share this with you because who knows who it might help. I’m just another girl who despite having loads to be grateful for tends to shine a brighter spotlight on the bad stuff. Well not anymore. This girl is changing her ways and I really genuinely can feel the benefits already.