You need a certain amount of peaceful emotional space in your life in order to grow and to live deliberately.
Otherwise, you may be surviving, but you’re probably not thriving and enjoying.
I call this emotional space or state of being your ‘happy’, and after a while without it, we inevitably feel more burnt out, more anxious, more hopeless or discouraged, less energetic and creative, less patient and empathetic, and, overall, just less enthusiastic about our lives.
So what’s the feeling one gets when one has their happy?
It’s the feeling that life is good. You don’t feel particularly rushed or stressed, and you’re not full of anticipatory anxiety about tomorrow or later today. Doom and gloom is replaced with optimism and confidence; self-loathing and self-doubt with self-respect and self-assurance.
When you have your happy, you feel tranquil, at peace.
You are not overly rushed and frenetic; you feel a sense of mastery over your day and your life.
You are also in the ideal state of mind and spirit in which to grow as a person and to live deliberately and more consciously. When you have your happy, you conduct your relationships with less self-centeredness and with more empathy and understanding.
Getting Your Happy Back
Now I want to share with you a way to get your happy back.
First of all, make sure you’ve always got some flex time in your schedule. Chronically feeling like you’re overworked and in a race with the clock is a sure way to lose your happy.
If your workweek is so packed that you can’t have much flex time (a situation which, in itself, should be examined for any room for change), be sure to leave your weekends as free as possible for some rest and spontaneity. I, for example, have resigned from certain professional organizations, groups, clubs, and other activities because, as much as I may have loved them, they took up too much of my flex time and therefore threatened my happy. This has sometimes required some tough decision making, but I’ve always almost immediately felt the benefit.
Secondly, make sure that you are not chronically procrastinating. This one habit alone will pour so much subconscious guilt and anxiety into you that you’ll have no chance at getting your happy back—you’ll be too busy feeling guilty and vaguely anxious all the time.
Thirdly, and closely related to the above: take care of business.
In other words, set up some kind of system or schedule that helps you get the necessities of your life done when they need to be done, as consistently and as competently as possible. Let yourself be proud of what you do and the quality with which you do it, but don’t strive for perfection, which can be crippling and work against your getting your happy back. There’s nothing more toxic to your happy than not feeling like you have some degree of day-to-day mastery over your life.
And lastly, once you’ve gotten your necessary tasks and obligations taken care of (taking care of business), and once you’ve eliminated putting things off (procrastination), and stopped over scheduling yourself and your family (flex time), you will have the necessary emotional space and tranquility to relax and enjoy your life! Welcome back to your happy!
By following steps one through three you’ve eliminated some of the most common reasons why people lose their happy.
You will then have no reason not to relearn how to relax and enjoy your life with its relationships and with its work and its play.
Oh, and a big BTW: You also need to learn the Serenity Prayer, which asks for the serenity to accept what we cannot change, the courage to change what we can change, and, finally, the wisdom to know the difference between the two. That prayer is an absolute necessity and it will round out your program very nicely.
Best of luck,
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, Don’t Get Married! (Unless You Understand A Few Things First)
Cobwebs and Ugly Wallpaper