‘Tis the season to be jolly, and if not jolly, then at least the season to look at your life and find out what you can do to make yourself jolly. The pursuit of happiness and all of that. And the introspective look at happiness comes around like a ton of bricks from about late November and doesn’t fully leave the system (my system, anyway) until about late February of the New Year.
Last year, or maybe it was the year before, I was obsessed with a single dad from the USA who uploaded clips of his eldest daughter, then 6, singing heartfelt pop songs while he accompanied her on the guitar. The clips got funnier and cuter and he eventually reined in his then 2 year old daughter too. The result? An adorable channel on YouTube called RealityChangers, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t watch a clip from them every morning before I got ready for work and every night before I went to bed.
OBSESSED. So I just want to say to Jorge Narvaez, you saved me from thinking dudes were horrible people and you made me see, at a time in my life when all I met were horrible dudes, that there were good decent men out there!
In the past couple of months, I’ve been following Jessica Shyba from mommasgonecity.com and her endearing Instagram pics of her youngest son Beau napping with the newest member of their family, rescue pup Theo. I cannot get over how cute they are, and they both look so deliciously comfortable cuddling together that I can almost smell the baby powder in the pics (weird, I know, but it’s a comforting smell. Like freshly washed clothes and cinnamon. Yeh, I am venturing into “these are a few of my favourite things” territory. Bear with me).
Again, OBSESSED. Looking at these images reminds me that there is life outside of deadlines, career, work and the gloomy insides of an office. And that life is the real deal, and when we’re all old and grey, that life is the one we’re going to look back on. Not the processes we developed for our teams. Not the money we saved our employer. Not even the money we earned (although this, I admit, is relative. If you earn enough, you’re fine. But you have to be good with what “enough” means).
I’ve been feeling pretty out-of-sorts lately and this whole pursuit of happiness got me thinking about what I was doing every day, the relationships I have and how I’ve nurtured them (or not, as is sometimes the case), and if I was actually happy. If I was doing OK, you know what I mean?
And then I found Shawn Achor via the TED site, and this talk about happiness. In a nutshell, he said (and I’m sorry if I’m misquoting):
If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. What we’ve done is we’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society. And that’s because we think we have to be successful, then we’ll be happier
And this was quite frankly is the best kernel of wisdom I’ve heard in a very very very very long time. I’m now aware of my behaviour and way of thinking, in that for a very long time and for a while to go, I have believed that in order to be happy, I have to accomplish something. Hit a goal, become something else, prove to myself or someone that I am worthy of happiness. But now I see that this is getting me nowhere, so I have decided now that I don’t need to WAIT for something “good’ to happen to me to allow myself to be happy. I have to be happy to let good happen to me.
The presentation offers advice for people seeking a happy state of being, and this one below (which I pulled from a Huffington Post article), really resonated with me:
Focus On The Positive
Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours. This is a strategy to help transform you from a task-based thinker, to a meaning based thinker who scans the world for meaning instead of endless to-dos. This dramatically increases work happiness.
Oh my god. Couldn’t even begin to tell you how enjoyable writing daily for 2 minutes about something awesome that happened to me that day. I’d bump it up to 10 minutes and tell you how I felt before, during and after the event. Why this is genius?!?!!?
So from now on it’s more youtube clips of Jorge and his girls singing “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. It’s more revelling in the totes adorbs images of Theo and Beau.
It’s more spending quality time with my fiancée, whom I did agree to spend the rest of my life with, so it might as well be a meaningful one.
It’s more reaching out to my family a little more, and not just the odd occasional call to my mother on my lunchbreak because I have a spare moment (horrible, right?).
It’s more checking in on my friends every once in a while, who are just as fed up and busy as I am.
I’m trying to be better, and every year brings new challenges, but this one, to be appreciative and happy with your life, I think this one could be the one that sticks.