October 1st finally dawned. Yesterday.
First day of my Happiness Project.
I was very excited.
In her book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin starts her happiness project with the theme “Energy.” At first, upon hearing this, I was rather surprised.
If I were a betting woman—which I am not—I would have wagered my money on “Marriage” rather than “Vitality.” Upon further study, I came to realize her decision to start with “Energy” was in fact, brilliant.
Too often I have quit projects—or other endeavors—because I was too tired to continue. When we think of fatigue, we most commonly refer to physical tiredness. Nevertheless, emotional burnout is no less exhausting. Indeed, I believe emotional lethargy is often more tiresome than physical exhaustion because it comes on in more subtle ways.
Sadly, I am well acquainted with this fact. I am after all recovering from adrenal exhaustion, and while part of this situation is due to events outside my control, sadly, much of my burnout was compounded by my unwise habits.
It was customary for me to stay awake way past a reasonable bedtime. I enjoyed my late evenings. They felt cozy. They were also delightfully quiet.
I regretted my decision every morning when my kiddos came bounding out of their rooms bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to take on the day in direct contrast to my lack of energy, short temper, and gritty eyes.
Had this habit been a rare occurrence, maybe it would not have taken such a toll on my body.
Every morning, I would tell myself anew “tonight I shall go to bed early.” These promises were for the most part broken until some lab results came back less than satisfactory. I would like to say from this moment on; I amended my ways. However, this latter statement would be a lie.
Even though late nights still hold much attraction for me, it would be wise for me to retire early. As part of my Happiness Project, I am determined to develop good sleep habits, finally!
I now understand plainly the importance of feeling energized and rested. Both commodities in short supply in my life.
I want to build my Happiness Project upon a foundation of vitality.
For this reason, month one would be focused on Energy:
Month One: Energy
1. Body Wellness
Body wellness will include three subgroups: sleep, nourishment, and movement.
While sleep is probably one of the most neglected aspects of our modern life (indeed, this is true of mine), it is of primary importance to our well-being and our happiness.
Few of us can enjoy anything while running on empty. As human beings living in a modern world, we are always busy. For most of us, even our vacation time is filled with activities. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have heard people say they need a vacation to recover from their vacation.
As I mentioned above, sleep has been my Achille’s heel. I keenly understand peaceful, quality slumber is necessary to my happiness (not to mention the joy of my loved ones as well as my health). Despite popular belief, knowledge is not power unless it is applied. This saying proves true for me when it comes to sleep.
For this reason, sleep is an intrinsic part of my body wellness theme. I plan to go to bed by 9:00 pm unless I have a darn good reason not to do so.
For example, Fridays are game nights for my 18-year-old son and this mama attends his games. This means bedtime will not be at 9 on game night.
Additionally, my brother and his wife are expected to arrive from France to visit me for two weeks at the end of the month. Neither of them has ever been to the States, and I am beyond excited. From experience, I know visiting friends and/or relative mean a messed up schedule due – often – to late nights spent talking and reminiscing. I am not sure how I will deal with this situation in light of my resolution. I am still committed to better sleep.
This step is – or should be – simple since it is a continuation of something I started months ago.
No diets for this woman…ever. I am training myself to be what I was created to be, an intuitive eater. I am re-learning how to work in synch with my body rather than against it.
Despite the sad fact that diets are not effective at weight loss long term, they are amazingly efficient at destroying our metabolism. But this this is a story for another time which I have likewise learned the hard way.
My intent this month is to be even more mindful.
Isn’t it funny the many lessons we can learn from one event? Peculiarly, healing from adrenal fatigue and messing up my metabolism have taught me some valuable lessons. While the human body is meant to move throughout the day rather than be sedentary, it is not necessarily designed to be “ridden” hard for small periods of time.
I am not here to debate the merits of workouts. Everyone has their own opinion, and I am okay with that. Personally, my intent for October is to move more. I want to go on a daily trail walk as well as do some other forms of exercise, mainly yoga, fusion yoga, qigong*, and T-Tapp.**
*Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) is an ancient Chinese exercise technique which involves slow movements and breathing and which is a part of Chinese medicine.
** T-Tapp “is a series of movements designed to put the body in proper functional alignment, restore metabolic function and stands on its own as a complete workout as well as enhancing the effectiveness of ALL of your workouts.”
2. Clutter-Free Environment
Our environment has an impact on our physical well-being as well as our psyche. No one could debate this point and win.
Two years ago, after my father’s sudden passing, I came back from France yearning to make some changes. I desired to create some semblance of order in my home. I read Mary Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. While I did not embrace everything in the book, there were some excellent points. I did follow her list and go through my whole home. Alas, the effects of my cleaning and organizing spree did not stick, and this was – and still is – a source of great frustration for me.
I feel I live in perpetual chaos. Let me rephrase this: I live in endless chaos. A Facebook video made by Life of Dad portrays precisely my feelings on the subject. If so inclined you may see it here.
I understand that as long as I live with a lot of people – most of them, little people or teens – I will have to compromise. I also recognize I have some control over a lot of my chaos. In many small ways, I am the source of it: the clothes I leave on the chair rather than put away, ditto for the folded laundry which stays on the couch (for days), or my piles of paperwork I will put away “tomorrow.” You get my point.
I intend to go through every room (except my teens’ bedrooms), every closet and every drawer to clean, organize, toss, or keep. My plan is to keep what I use or that which brings me joy.
Upon the completion of my cleaning spree, I want to create some effective habits to maintain the order in my home.
3. Smart Use of Time
I often complain I don’t have enough time. However, if I were totally honest and added all my daily wasted time, I would have a LOT of extra time on my hands. Most of my misspent time is on the computer.
Like many of us, I perform many activities on my computer: I make lists of things I want, I undertake research, etc. However, the biggest “time-hog” is Facebook. Yes, it is a great way to keep in touch with my family and some faraway friends, but pu-lee-ze do I really need to check Facebook five times a day? I think not.
When it comes to my to-do list, I am also very disorganized which means I often go to bed missing some tasks I was supposed to have accomplished during the day. Most often, I put them off until the next day only to forget again.
I need to acquire a better method to keep track of my daily – and long-term – goals.
So now that I have a solid plan, let the fun begin!