My name is H.A. Larson and I am a Woman of a Particular Age. I occasionally write ghostly and horror novellas, as well as some editorials for different publications, from my desk in the Midwest. I'm a hiker, adventurer, and traveler. I'm an ex-pat in-training that likes wine and Renaissance Faires. I'm a music fanatic and I much prefer a book over television.
I was reading an article not long ago and a quote from it really stood out to me. I don't remember it exactly, but the gist of it was about being distracted by your unhappiness. Why it stood out to me was because it resonated with me in a deep way. I, myself, have been so distracted by my own unhappiness, that it was hard to do much of anything for a few years. Even now, it can be difficult to move past it at times.
This got me thinking about how I tend to dwell on the negative, which I imagine plays into or is a result of the distraction that my unhappiness causes. Oddly enough, when I finished that article, I read another one that talked about how to make changes in your life that are positive and how your own negativity is preventing you from achieving your goals.
Between these two articles, I realized that being unhappy had become like an art form for me, making it easier to perpetuate a seemingly neverending stream of unhappiness. The unhappiness positions me to be negative, which then prevents me from reaching dreams. Not all of them, mind you, but a few of them for sure.
Does this mean I don't have legitimate reasons for being unhappy? Definitely not. Shitty things happen and it's okay to feel down about it. What I've learned, however, is that I can't dwell on those things for very long or the unhappiness cycle will start. My best bet, then, is to give myself some time to deal with the issue - not a lot but enough to think through it - and then move on. This is a healthy balance that allows me to tackle problems without bottling them up for an explosion later.
I also decided that since I've addressed my distraction on my unhappiness, that I need to do other things that can help me combat it. To head it off at the pass, if you will. There are many things that a person can do to achieve this, but I've settled on the ones that I feel will work best for me. Let me explain them briefly:
1. I Started Keeping a Gratefulness Journal
Dwelling on the negative things in my life can detract from all the positive things. I figured that if I shifted my focus from thinking about negative things to positive things, that it would shed some light on the fact that my life is pretty great. Putting down those great things where I can see and read them whenever I want is a fantastic reminder. I happened to have a cute journal I had purchased several years ago and had only made a few entries, so it was perfect for this purpose. Right there I had my first grateful thing: something I wanted, I already had.
2. I Set an End Date for my Second Job
I picked up a second job back in August of last year to help me pay off all my debt, with the exception of my student loans. While I found a bright side to working that second job, after several months of working many hours a week and sacrificing my nights and weekends, I'm ready to be done. My mood going to my second job used to be upbeat, but lately, I find myself loathing it. Fortunately, I'm almost done paying off that debt, so I calculated when I can give notice and quit. This has perked up my mood significantly as I can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
3. I Quit Being Lazy About Stuff
This is a recurring issue that I have. Every day, I have a morning and a night face routine, as well as three supplements I take. I often find myself being lazy and will end up only doing my morning face routine - if that. These are all simple tasks and not doing them over time leads to feelings of failure. I've made a concerted effort to stay on top of these daily, and I've taken steps to help me stay on track. They may be simple, but they mean a lot. Self-care is one way to feel happier, both mentally and physically.
4. I Quit Beating Myself up About Things
I am my own worst critic, and I can often loathe myself for my failings. For instance, I became a vegan in 2015, but over the past couple of years, I've found myself slipping into eating dairy and eggs (by way of baked goods) more often than I cared to admit. I kept it to myself and would berate myself for this a few times a week. Eventually, I just realized that I am solidly a vegetarian and that I should just embrace it. I eat a vegan 90% of the time and the other 10% I eat some cheese and dairy. And you know what? That's okay.
I also decided to quit beating myself up about gaining back some weight over quarantine. It happens. In that vein, I made a vow to not worry if I decided to overindulge one day. It's not enough to bring down the whole boat.
I don't beat myself up for not writing like I used to, either. It is what it is, whatever that looks like on any given day, and I've accepted that. I can't and won't push myself into anything I'm not ready for. When and if I'm ready to thrust myself back into writing furtively, then I will.
5. I Decided that my Mental and Physical Health are Incredibly Important
This item goes hand in hand a bit with the last two items. I saw how far I had fallen off the wagon this time and made yet another vow to climb back on. This time, I'm not dieting but rather I am putting my mental and physical health first. How am I supposed to accomplish all the things I want in life if I feel like crap in body and mind? I now spend time preparing myself healthy foods instead of just grabbing whatever is easy and convenient. Even if it's just a few extra minutes that I don't feel like I have in the morning, I do it anyway. The end result is that I eat better. When I eat better, I feel better, and when I feel better I feel more confident and happy.
6. I Decided to Not take Abuse from Anyone
This includes me. When I'm unhappy, I'm not as confident, making it easier to be a pushover. I knew right away that I needed to end this kind of behavior - whether it's coming from someone else or from me - dead in its tracks whenever it happens. Doing this boosts me up mentally, and helps me with my confidence. And having confidence can lead to feelings of happiness.
As you may have noticed, you see the same words a handful of times during this post. Words like confidence, feelings, and health. There's a reason for this: they are some of the components of a happy life. When you have confidence, acknowledge & deal with your feelings, and make your health a priority, you're bound to be happy. While every day is a challenge - after all, it's not easy to enmesh oneself in daily habits - I am more than ready for it. My well-being and my future depend on it.