Tag Archives: happiness

Things that made me happy in 2014

Looking back, I think that 2014 was one of my toughest years yet. Simply because I was very unhappy for much of it. Which it feels churlish to say, since I landed an awesome job and watched my beautiful infant grow into a loving, happy, toddler from within a my large detached house and throughout all this neither I nor my family suffered from any major illnesses (somewhat of a first…). Clearly my blessings were manifold. Which goes to show you that happiness really cannot be bought, and is more complex to achieve than we think.

How could this little thing not make me happy?

How could this little thing not make me happy?

I hate being unhappy because I hate the person it makes me. I become negative and distant and difficult to be around. I complain. A lot. I am mean about the people I love to the people who love them. I consume the conversation around me with minor worries that can’t be solved. It’s boring. I am not there for my friends when they need me, because I am so consumed with my own problems. I lash out inappropriately and insensitively. I drain those around me.

So, when I got to thinking about 2015 and New Years Resolutions, all I could think was ‘I just want to be happy’. But where to start? Then I read this post by Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point in which she lists the ‘Things [she] did to make [her] life better in 2014′. And that seemed like a  great place to start – if I can list the things that made me happy in 2014, I can strive to do more of them in 2014. So here we go:

Things I did that Made Me Happy In 2014:

1. Got Early NIghts

For some reason I had it in my head that I couldn’t go to bed before 10.30, and generally I would kill time until about 11 pm. Then on Christmas Eve, Wes and I watched Downton Abbey and it finished at 9.30. We couldn’t think of anything else to watch and so Wes said “Shall we just go to bed?”.

“No!” I exclaimed in horror, although I did admit that I was tired, and I proceeded to fail to think of a single thing I did want to do. So grudgingly I went up to bed, and lay down. Within minutes I was asleep, and got possibly the best nights’ sleep I have had in ages. Even better, instead of being roused from the depths of a dreamless sleep by the raw of an angry dwarf, I woke slowly and peacefully and gazed at the window quietly until I came to. When the dwarf did yell, I felt more than happy to go and grab him.

I have had 9.30 bedtimes twice since. It has been glorious. I may have discovered it late in the year, but so far just going to bed super early has been one of the things that has made me feel the best.

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Early snuggles

 

2. Cleaned up my Facebook feed

I am a feminist (so are you too, probably, you just might not know it), and I am politically liberal, and these stances mean a lot to me. I want to fight for gender equality and gender acceptance and women’s rights and universal healthcare. But Facebook is probably not the place for me to do that (too much). While those issues are very dear to my heart and I have no intention on being silent about them, getting into Facebook scraps and reading what the latest idiot teabagger was doing actually brought me a lot of stress. Much as I enjoyed Slate and some other online magazines, NOT reading about why I should be angry made me… well… a lot less angry.

I also ‘unfollowed’ some friends who frequently speak about being anti marriage-equality, or write things I feel are racist, the vocal anti-vaxxers, and some “friends” whose news feed I was checking only to have mean thoughts about them (come on, I was not the only one who did this, right?). I still follow people who challenge my views, but not those who anger them.

3. Sorted out my skin care

Ahh…. I discovered Kiehls. This is the first brand to moisturize my very dry skin, without making it dull or breakout, and the first brand to make a noticeable difference to my wrinkles. It’s an indulgence, but it is not crazy expensive.

4. Drank more water

I was plagued with headaches and migraines for months, and in the middle of a bunch of investigations, 2 doctors said to me “You might have diabetes insipidus – you should see an endocrinologist”. Diabetes Insipidus (DI) is basically a condition were you pee too much / don’t absorb enough water and when I looked up DI treatment for milk cases it was basically ‘drink a lot of water’. So… I have started doing that. Like 120 fl oz / day on top of my daily decaf coffees and other fluids. Boom – headaches gone and for the first time in my life EVER I have nice nails (oh wait, second time, the first time was pregnancy). Gone are the dry, brittle, flaky things I had and in their places are quite reasonable talons!

Water it is…

5. Ate Salads

I always feel good after eating a salad. I never wish I had chosen something else. Enough said.

6. Played hooky

A great day to sneak off work

A great day to sneak off work

Just occasionally 🙂

7. Cleaned

I hate to admit it, but I never regret getting down and really cleaning out a section of the house, and I ALWAYS feel great afterwards. I just have to bite the bullet and do it. I must be getting old….

8. Spent time intentionally

This would make anyone happy

This would make anyone happy

This was one of the things that made me most happy, but one of the hardest to do. When I had free time, it would often be in snatches and I found it hard to sit down and focus in on anything, so I spent a lot of time just reading Facebook and surfing the internet. That definitely did not make me happy. At all. But every time I sat down and did a project, no matter how big or small, I felt so much better after.

I was so delighted when I did a ‘craft swap’ with my friend Mandy at the end of the year – I was challenged to make a batch of Christmas cards for her, and so I was ‘forced’ to sit and create. Often sitting down was the hardest part, but once I started the time flew and I felt great afterwards (somewhat like going to the gym… but that is another story).

Loved making all these

Loved making all these cards

9. Spent time with my boy

It sounds obvious, right? You have a kid, you want to spend time with him. However, funnily enough, people often suggest the opposite. But when I was unhappy, or tired, or stressed, people usually said “Take some time for yourself! Get a manicure! Go shopping! Get your hair done!”. I can see that for many that is great advice, but for me: Sam is my happiness. Sam is my fun, he is my comfort, he is my worry and my bliss and wild side and my rest. I am never as happy as when he and I have done an activity together that we have both engaged in – I love to read books with him, bake with him, romp in the park with him.

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This. This is what makes me happy.

I hope that being conscious of these things will being them more fully into my life. I am aware of all the friends who have stuck by me when I have done almost nothing but moan this year – I am truly blessed to know you and you will always have my heartfelt gratitude.

Here is to changing in 2015 and being ‘me’ again.

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Obligatory New Year’s Eve Resolutions Post

…. In which I don’t make any resolutions. Well I sort of do… hear me out.

I was struggling to write this post, or make any resolutions, but could not fathom why. Then I read this post over at Healthy Tipping Point and it helped me understand my feelings so much.

I look back at 2012 and think… Hmmmm… how did this go?

Ringing in 2012!

Ringing in 2012!

In January I started seriously job hunting, which entailed many long trips.

Job hunting trip to Houston

Job hunting trip in Houston

In February I fell pregnant.

Big Fat Positive

In March I presented to the American Heart Association, and had my last vacation in a while: a wonderful hiking trip through Utah and Arizona.

Canyonlands hiking

Canyonlands hiking

In April I went house hunting, and in May I bought a house.

Us and our new home

In June I traveled to San Francisco to speak for NIH, said goodbye to many wonderful friends in Alabama, moved State to Texas and immediately started my new job. (I also celebrated my first wedding anniversary).

I worked very hard June-November, submitting 3 grants in 3 months.

In July I traveled to New York, and in September, 8 months pregnant, I traveled to San Antonio to present at a conference.

Central Park

Central Park

In November I had my son, suffered severe complications, and very quickly..

P1000776

in December I went back to the office.

So, 2012 involved (among other things): finding a job, buying a house, moving State, starting a new job and having a baby.

I. Am. Exhausted.

Happy, but exhausted.

Post race... happy, but exhausted :)

Post race… happy, but exhausted 🙂

Looking back at 2011… it wasn’t exactly quiet. I got a grip on my postdoc academic career, submitting a grant which was funded, and submitting about 10 papers, which were eventually published. I whittled my body into shape, achieving ‘visible’ abs for the first time in my life, and got serious about fitness, culminating in a Tough Mudder 1/2 marathon.  This was also the year Wes proposed, and I got married (twice) – not so much personal goals, but time and energy consuming happy occasions.

I was pretty tired by the end of that 😉

So, what now? I am looking for a change of tact. I am now looking to seek contentment over happiness (or perhaps as well as). Let me explain… I am a very happy person. I think anyone who knows me (even people who have only known me a short while) would describe me as extremely happy.Everything above made me very, very happy. However, perhaps it is a Type A personality trait: I am rarely ‘content’.

A good example of this is: Getting fit enough (actually getting fit at all!) to run a 5K easily made me happy… but then I had to run a 10K, which also made me happy… but it became a 15K and a 1/2 marathon.  Having a great boyfriend made me very happy… but I wanted to marry him… and have a baby… Doing well in my postdoc was wonderful, but I had to publish more… have more students… submit more grants than any other postdoc at UAB… get a good faculty position…

And so it goes. Always very happy, never very content. This has a darker side, because I am never content with anything much, and while that be OK for running PRs, and Science publications it is not so great when you start to want to improve your husband, and your house, and when you look around and don’t like where you live because you could live somewhere with better walking… and better shops… and less guns… and so on. Things you don’t have the power to improve can quickly make you unhappy when you are always striving for everything to be better.

Cliched now, but true for me.

Cliched now, but true for me at the moment.

So, for just a while, it is time to stop. My resolution is to seek the kind of contentment which will allow me to look back at the end of 2013 and say ‘I am happy, and I am content’. I want to be content with my house, and content with my beautiful son (who I love so much I want to cry when I say that), and content with my amazing husband (who yes, can be cranky and difficult, but is also hilariously funny, beautifully sweet and who puts me & Sam first like no one else ever could).

This doesn’t mean that I am going to lie about eating cake on the sofa and not trying at anything (although that doesn’t sound like a bad plan 🙂 ). It means I am going to work on the things I have, without always having to be ‘bigger, better, best’. I can work on small steps which will allow me to be content with what I have. So, I don’t really have resolutions, more ‘vague things’ I would like to do in 2013:

I would like to be content with my house, so I hope to work in decorating and refurbishing it, and make it make it a lovely, welcoming place to be, and reflection of mine and Wes’ tastes and personalities.

More beautiful rooms like this, please.

More beautiful rooms like this, please.

I would like to be content with my career, so I hope to build a research program which is defined not by papers and grants (although they must surely come!) but by the exploration of novel ideas, and the possibility of generating results that could truly improve human health.

I would like to be content with my family, so I hope to spend more time with them, just enjoying them, and understanding who they are where thy come from. I hope more time together will help me always remember their good qualities.

Pretty good family to be content with.

Pretty good family to be content with.

I would like to be content with my body (it is funny, the more you workout, the more you lose, the leaner you become… the less content you are. Or so it was for me). To work on nourishing it, keeping it healthy, appreciating its awesome power, and loving it for what it is.

So… no resolutions. No steps. No goals. 23% chance I will go crazy in March and roar ‘I must achieve something’ and make a huge ‘goals’ list and be running a full marathon by June. But for now… No tick boxes for me – I personally have had quite enough of those the past 2 years. I just resolve (I guess there is a resolution there) to stop, enjoy what I have, and seek contentment. I don’t see this as a permanent state of mind, more of putting down some good foundations for the future. Building a safe and happy base, from which I can take on more work responsibilities, or have another child (high on my list of thigns I want to eventually do) – all in a healthy, stable, happy environment.

I hope to be putting down some solid roots, so a strong tree can grow.

Happy New year y’all 🙂 Have a wonderful 2013!! What are you striving for in 2013?

Image credit

http://lifechangequotes.com/the-serenity-prayer-reinhold-niebuhr/

At 31… this much I know…

Making a wish

Had a great birthday! Got to speak to my parents in the morning and then had a really good day at work (my latest paper wasn’t rejected WITHOUT REVIEW until exactly 4 hours after the end of my birthday 😛 ). I came home to decorations on the house,

and a beautiful birthday dinner laid out for me.

After presents (gel manicure nail kit & smashbox eyeshadow palate from ‘rentals; maternity PJs, a maternity dress, a toaster and a waffle iron from da husband; sock money, eraser and key-chain from Sasha, Liam and Rachel respectively) there was of course: the return of the ‘A’ cake.

It was a perfect day.

I reflected that on my last child-free birthday (I hope) I am older but not much wiser… I know very little, but (in the words of The Guardian): this much I know:

1. Revenge is very tempting, pointing out people’s weaknesses with wide-eyed innocence and making them squirm just to appease my own feeling of being hard done by… but I always regret it.

2. Grace is much harder, and takes longer to reconcile peacefully as the right decision, within myself. But I have never regretted extending forgiveness in the long term.

3. Losing control of a situation is a failure: usually a sign of bad management and poor planning. Losing control of a person is not. People should be left to be free.

4. Jealousy holds me back and makes me unproductive; being inspired by where / who what I want to be is a springboard to greater things.

5. I have never regretted staying late to finish a project or task. I have regretted letting things slide.

6. I have never regretted sharing an idea. Ideas are like people: they should also be set free to find the sustenance to grow.

7. “I am so sorry, I must have got it wrong” has opened the most doors for me.

Not much… but a start…

‘Rules’ to live by

At the start of the new millennium the Dalai Lama issued eighteen rules for living. I agree with every one. And am thinking of printing them above my desk. They are so beautiful, I thought I would share.

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three Rs:
    1. Respect for self
    2. Respect for others
    3. Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it