Just a few weeks ago, we had a lovely visit from my sister and her family. Living on opposite coasts for the last 11 years and about 12 years of our subsequent college and travel experiences before that, it’s been a long time since we’ve been in the same place. Passing at holiday parties or family weddings doesn’t give us the chance to drill down on some of the nuances of our daily lives. It made me smile to discover that as we’ve each been running along living our lives, we’ve had parallel tracks and interests we haven’t discussed.
Kat, a few posts ago you happened to mention the book The Happiness Project. It’s been several years since I read that book but there are definitely things I do differently in my life because I read it. There’s one section that talks about treating yourself like a toddler. I myself have a bad habit of not taking snacks when I have a busy day. I don’t like to carry a jacket or a sweater but I’m often cold. And sometimes I’ll wait to use the restroom for no other good reason than I don’t want to be bothered to stop what I’m doing. But these creature comforts make me more pleasant and nicer to be around. I get cranky when I’m cold, tired and have to use the bathroom.
Recently, I decided that I needed to retake my commute. Driving 40 minutes in the morning and about an hour in the evening if all things go well, I need to make the best of my time in transit. As a working mom, those hours in the car are often the only hours I have to myself. As luck would have it, right after you mentioned Gretchen Rubin, I saw that she and her sister recently started a new podcast called Happier. I’ve been listening for a few months now and it turns out, my sister is listening to it too.
In concept it sounds silly. How much can you really say about getting happier but I think you’d really be surprised. I’m finding the shows tips and tactics great for building better habits and finding ways to keep my own energy and spirits higher.
I’ve been reading Glennon Doyle Melton’s book (thanks for that!) and there was a section that I really loved. She says, “ Craig and I developed a theory that if you’re thin and smile a lot, people tend to believe that you have the universe’s secrets in your pocket and that a raindrop has never fallen on your head. If you also happen to be wearing trendy jeans, well then, forget about it.”
I think sometimes we look at happy people and think they’re happy because their life is somehow easier than our own. But the more I talk to people the less I feel that’s true. Everyone is dealing with something—it’s just a matter of whether or not they choose to share it with you. Barbara, another wise friend and great writer, once advised me that, you can’t compare your outsides with someone else’s insides. It’s a happiness thief that I find myself succumbing to time and time again.
Happiness doesn’t just fall in your lap. You have got to work for it. There have been times in the last few years that I couldn’t think about being happy because too much of my energy was focused on just getting myself out of bed and remembering to breathe. But if you do that long enough, it gets easier. Then you can think about things like remembering to make your bed. Or taking time to go outside. And then maybe the house stays clean and you get your finances in order. Whatever it is, it’s measured progress and sometimes you hit hurdles and set backs.
Improving your outlook at your attitude is hard, especially when you’re trying to do it on your own and you’re surrounded by people who are struggling through their own baggage. Having the podcast give weekly suggestions of things to try helps me get new ideas. It helps me understand where other people are coming from. And it helps me find a void for some of that sisterly banter I miss so much when it’s been too long since I’ve seen those crazy girls on the east coast.