“To be happy, you need to consider feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.” – Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.
I’m just over four months in to The Happiness Project. I’ve had weeks of being sufficiently mindful of my resolutions and other weeks where I’ve barely thought about them at all. Unlike Gretchen, I’m not keeping a daily record of how adequately I stick to my resolutions. (Gretchen had a Resolutions Chart, and Gold stars..) I tried this in January and February and it became too stressful. Every day that I wasn’t able to “control my temper” or “go to bed earlier” I felt like I’d failed. – I’d set the bar a little high. So I stopped keeping track on a daily basis quite so meticulously and found myself a lot happier.
Having said this, it is helpful to have a general idea if the resolutions are making any difference to my happiness – with May’s resolution to read more well under way, I have to ask myself: how are my other resolutions going?
January’s are actually fairing pretty well. I can’t remember the last time I lost my temper and it’s safe to say I’m enjoying my food. “Going to bed earlier” was perhaps an overly ambitious resolution and I therefore omit this from the pile, if I want to go to sleep at 2am so I can stay up painting -as transpired last night- then I shall. There are always more ways to “Save money” but I’m doing my best. All this healthy eating is wonderful but costly, I worked out I spend at least £25 a month on berries alone. I also hugely regret my Impulse-Spirulina purchase burning a £15 hole in my purse. And it’s rank.
This brings me onto my February resolution of a Healthier Lifestyle. It’s going okay. I’m exercising daily, trying out new workouts, running outside etc and that’s all swell but I still can’t stop stuffing my face with sugar. In desperation I refer back to the words of Healthy-Eating-Guru Amelia Freer (taken from Eat Nourish Glow):
“How to give up Sugar: I’m not going to lie – it’s tough! It’s a drug. (Oh yes.it.is.) Reducing sugar first starts with understanding it and connecting with how much (well, a lot) and what forms you eat it (ER every form that exists). If you are using sugar, you must be kind but strong with yourself (kind but strong, I like that, I kindly open the biscuit cupboard, but with all my strength close it again and walk away..) and allow some rehabilitation time. (Sugar Rehab, great business idea right there..) I’m serious. You will never look back. (God it’s like she’s really talking to me..) That’s not to say you can’t ever have a slice of cake or glass of wine again. (Thank f***). I do and of course you will too! (Obviously..). So, how do you give it up? With sugar, total abstinence (to begin with) is the key to breaking the daily addiction that so many of us have. I tell clients to give it up entirely for seven days.” (SEVEN DAYS. Holy shit.)..
She then goes on to mention supplements and that we need to change the way we see sugar, not as a treat but as something that makes us fat, tired, miserable and in the long term the cause of serious illness. God she’s using the fear factor. This all just makes me want a cookie. Freer also says that we should “be prepared”, meaning emptying our kitchens of all the sugary
goodness crap. Even just before writing this post I had a scone. I’d just had dinner, I DIDN’T NEED A FUCKING SCONE. My lack of willpower is disappointing, especially given I’ve just read a whole book devoted to the subject of willpower (The Marshmallow Test, well worth a read though evidently hard to make practical real-life applications).
Although my sugar cravings are more alive than ever, I am still managing to consume three healthy nutritious meals a day. (One wonders how I fit it all in..) There is definitely progress in the kitchen, and this makes me very happy. The other day I bought Green Soya Beans to add to my salad, I never would have done this a year ago.
If “going to bed earlier” was setting the bar high then “meditating for 10 minutes a day” was simply delusional. I sat down to “meditate” probably around three times during the month of March. However I did find that after exercise I’d take a few minutes to stretch, do some breathing and the odd yoga position, well this was the closest I ever got to what I’d imagine meditation to feel like. – It felt pretty good. – This would have to suffice.
April was a break in the making of new resolutions, and a time to focus on all those made previously.
So four months in and I keep reminding myself of something I read in Rubin’s project: “Best is good, better is best.” It is the very act of trying and making progress that matters, not perfecting a resolution in one month. -Long-term change won’t happen overnight.
I have to say I am glad I did this, I’m becoming more aware of my habits and what needs to change, I’m also learning what really truly makes me happy, and it isn’t getting to bed before 10pm or buying the Tesco Value toilet roll. What really truly makes me happy is being present. It is as simple as this. Whether I’m with Maia, with a friend or alone, being mindful of the present, giving my whole self up to the moment and not floating to next week or over thinking, this is what really makes all the difference in my mood and general happiness. – This is one thing I will continue to work on for life. I know it will be well worth it.
“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.”– Robert Louis Stevenson.