Lately I’ve been kind of a downer. I am slightly afraid to post this because I don’t want to sound like a whiner, but I thought it might help others in my situation. I am headed into my second year of teaching and I will admit that the transition between student and full time working adult has been a tough one. Half of my friends are still students or are working part time jobs, which makes the transition even harder because I tend to compare myself to them. Anyway, I’ve been pretty unhappy and really unsure about how to change how I feel. I started researching articles about happiness and I’ve found that happiness is contingent upon several factors.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
As I mentioned earlier, I tend to compare myself to how well my friends are doing and where they are at in life. A long time ago I read that life is an individual journey, and I cannot elaborate enough on how true that is! People develop and grow at different times and different people make different decisions based off of their goals and interests. I believe that developing a list of specific goals will allow you (and me!) to focus more on yourself and where you want to go in life. If you’ve never heard of SMART goals, I suggest you Google the topic. I learned about them in my PE classes and I think they’re pretty useful in thinking out what you want in life. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. By developing goals using this framework, you are more likely to actually stick to your goals. At the middle school I teach at we had a speaker come in to talk to our kids about motivation and goals. He had a lot of great stories, but what really stuck with me was his statement that unless you make goals and do something to attain them, you are just wishing for change. We all get caught up in other things in our lives at times, but the truth is that you make time for the things that are most important to you. So make time for your goals!
If you are always looking at the big picture, you’ll miss the little details along the way that made the journey worth it. Make sure to take in the little beauties of everyday living. The smell of coffee in the morning, the way you feel after you have worked out, etc. are all things we take for-granted. There is always 1 thing to be happy about in a day. To help practice this, one of my friend’s would text her friend three good things that happened to her everyday. It was a way to keep in contact with a physically distant friend, a way to keep up a support network, and a way to reflect on the little things in life.
This is easier said than done. I always want to accomplish so many things at once, and in the end I feel miserable about all of it. It’s exhausting and you never seem to master anything. Pick a few goals that are attainable and once those have been met, then try to meet your other goals.
Get enough sleep.
I recently watched an interview with the author who wrote the Happiness Project. She stated that getting enough sleep (7 to 8 hours) really made a difference in how happy people were. So instead of staying up watching television or surfing the Internet right before bed, put the electronics away and read a book to settle down. Also, make a time every night that you cannot work past so that you are not enticed to work away the entire night. I find that when I stay up really late at night I begin to convince myself of horrible things that I know deep down aren’t true. But I’m just so tired that I buy into all of the negative crap that I’m telling myself. So not worth it. Get sleep and don’t go to bed past midnight.
Say it with me: workout.
I know at times I am really really tired and not in the mood to workout, but I have rarely regretted a workout. Exercising reduces stress and gives you endorphins. And sadly Legally Blonde really did have it right. “Endorphins make people happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands.” If you’re a runner like me, people call that euphoric happy feeling you get after running “runner’s high.” Basically you get a ton of endorphins from a really hard workout and it makes you happy. So promise me next time you’re down in the dumps that you’ll go workout instead of dwelling on your feelings? Every time I am mad those feelings are gone by the end of a workout. A workout doesn’t have to be super long either. You can always do a 10 minute Youtube workout or any other 10 minute workout!
It’s a choice!
Remember that feeling happy is always a choice. You can choose to ignore the negatives and only see positive aspects of life (we all call that optimism as I’m sure you know), or you can dwell on all of the bad things that happen in your life. At the end of the day, the only person who decides how you feel about yourself and your life is you! I think Bridesmaids had it spot on when Megan said, “you are your problem and you are your solution.” Just know that you can always ask for help and there is no shame in that.
Now if only I could follow my own advice. Also, I didn’t mention this, but I believe that being spiritually close to God really does help to put life into perspective. He is always there to lean on, and it gives me comfort in terrible times.
What makes you happy?