So years ago I got involved with some self-help/self-improvement communities. I read all kinds of books and attended a series of workshops. My takeaway was the ability to let go of guilt and regret. Most of my anxiety disappeared (outside of a bout of severe clinical depression) and I learned to cut my losses (see the sunk cost fallacy).
But I think it’s been really hard for me to feel happy since the end of high school. My feelings were dependent on outside factors, with many ups and downs. I didn’t just feel content like I did when I was younger.
Towards the end of 2013 I spent a lot of time thinking about balance in my life, my goals, and how to become the kind of person I want to be. I pored over The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and spent weeks analyzing and rewriting my personal mission statement.
At that time, I was repeatedly overbooking myself for two unsatisfying jobs and I still wasn’t getting out of debt. I had no time for friends or even my own basic needs. I was dealing with various flavors of chronic pain and health problems. I didn’t feel like I had any control over my own life.
7 Habits introduced me to the idea of managing your personal resources. P/PC balance, where P is the resource and PC is renewing that resource. I understood this with time, money, calories, and other currencies, but it really applies to every aspect of your life.
My favorite simple example is laundry. Sure, I could always run to Uniqlo to pick up some clothes, but most of the time I need to do laundry on my days off so that I have something to wear to work. If I don’t do laundry, I’m going to wake up at 6am Saturday and try to get dressed in the dark without anything available to wear. (This is also why I plan my outfits now.)
Exercise, stretching, cooking, paying bills, playing violin. These are PC activities. They’re the basic maintenance required before I can even get close to feeling good (more or less).
Over the past few months I’ve been moving closer to feeling happy. And I recently got a kick in the head that’s challenged me to try harder.
Happiness isn’t something I have to work toward. It’s not something I have to think about. Barring severe lifestyle and/or medical problems (both of which I’ve experienced many times over), happiness is there, inside you. And it’s fucking hard to accept that when you feel like complete shit all the time. That’s why I needed to balance my P/PC activities before I could get anywhere near feeling like I do right now.
But yeah, for the past few days, I’ve felt pretty happy. I’m challenging myself this week to feel good all week long. And I can feel the happiness coming from inside me, in spite of outside annoyances or disappointments. Logically, I knew it was there, but an unbalanced lifestyle with no direction and no connection with others will cut off the flow of natural, good feelings.
I have a long way to go before I’ll master the 7 Habits or Dale Carnegie’s style of social interaction or the other skills of the greats, but for now I’m just letting myself feel good. I feel happy right now, and I can accept that.
One weird thing though: yesterday when I got to work, my coworker asked me if I was ok. And today my floormate asked if I’m alright. He said I looked “a little sensitive.” Maybe it’s cause I don’t have my bitchface on all the time anymore?