Love and Happiness go hand in hand. Today I'm taking tips from two women I have grown to admire, Elizabeth Gilbert and Gretchen Rubin.
While I certainly make my own life rules and strive to find my own happiness, it doesn't hurt to learn from the women who have paved a few paths before you. Here are some lessons I have learned about loving myself better and letting happiness trickle in naturally as a result.
Sometimes you need to actually Write Your Own Rules of Engagement
What in the heck does this mean? Well, it's something I have done as a result of reading Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project. It's about focused small steps to being and living how you want to feel.
For example, if I want to feel love, I need to be more loving. If I want to feel more energetic, I need to act as if I have it already. Happiness has been the byproduct of making better decisions, coming to these realizations and actually putting them into effect.
Think about your own personal set of rules that govern the way you live, that you can fall back on as reminders when you get off track. They are short, simple and keep you in check.
Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness talks about her 12 Commandments. For me, 12 was too many and also, the commandment part was a little too reminiscent of my Catholic upbringing and I needed something softer, so this is my own rendition of what that inspired.
The reason I am sharing these, by the way, is that I use them now every day. And they work.
- Let it go - 3 words. I can freak out with the best of them, mostly in my own head, and it will spiral quickly into ridiculousness if I don’t remind myself to LET IT GO. When I catch myself getting ready to second guess something someone said to me and take it personally, I remind myself to LET IT GO because ---not so much about me at all. I have just saved myself several days of anxiety in creating various scenarios in my own mind and used that time to see rainbows as I soap the night away instead.
- Identify the Problem (this one comes from Gretchen Rubin) - I actually adopted this one myself because it is key, and I encourage you to do so as well. Think about this. This applies to EVERYTHING. If you procrastinate over a certain task because it makes you nuts, and then stress about it; if you can’t keep up with your laundry; if you can’t get out of the house on time and are constantly late to work---fill in a million scenarios here, identify the problem.
Take my former laundry situation, for example: you can’t keep up with the laundry. You can complain about this for days and it never gets better. OR….Identify the problem: you hate hauling it up and down 2 sets of steps, so you leave it sitting in the basement. And then you FIX IT based on that. You assign one of your older kids to BRING IT UPSTAIRS once a day. If he drives, you pay him 5 bucks a week in gas money for motivation to REMEMBER TO DO IT because your happiness is worth it. Problem solved. Edit: I have since made this even easier by eliminating it from MY list of chores....and giving it to my husband. It only took me 21 years to figure out this was possible. Sigh.
- Right Now Matters - I have to remember that I am usually ten steps ahead of myself in most of what I am doing. I have to move, plan, create, do. I also need to focus on the things that are important before they are no longer right in front of me, like dancing with my little guy in the car at the bus stop, watching my middle son run across a finish line during his senior year of cross country or checking for my oldest son’s latest text from Germany for our daily laugh together. Without this, what am I working for?
- Show Love to feel love (another adaptation from Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project, which I strongly encourage you to read) - The older I get the more I am reminded how short life is. We’ve lost people, seen those around us lose friends, parents, children...I’ve never been much of a touchy person, though I am incredibly sensitive and emotional. I don’t really hug much, except my kids and my husband. It’s kind of a running family joke--my little bubble. I have no idea why, just a personal space thing, I think, but I’m changing that. I’m becoming more touchy and remembering to show affection with words and gestures to those that mean the most to me because I don’t know how long they will be in my life and it matters. This applies when I feel frustrated with my kids, too. One is now overseas and another will be off to college soon. Is it worth it to feel stressed? Or better to feel joy. Show Love is my reminder.
Tips: Create your list (I have 7 in total) and see if you can apply them this week as gentle reminders. See if they make a difference in your life. Feel free to use any of mine that you want to use, too if they apply.
And the big takeaway from this comes from another book I loved reading:
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“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love