How To Be Happy In Your Life!
Would you like to have in your toolbox a few ways to learn how to be happy in your life through making some simple changes that will help you create more happiness for yourself? I realise if you are in a bit of a rut and feeling quite unhappy with circumstances that you can’t change in your own environment, you might feel I am suggesting the impossible. But there really are some things you can do to bring about a happier life and they all start within you. You are the only one who can find inner happiness and I’d like to give you some tips right now to help you on your way. Many of these are easy to implement with a little reminding to keep you on the right track. Today we are looking at age, time, social engagement and worry, and how they affect or can be changed to create happiness. These are only four ways that you can make simple changes in your life to increase your levels of happiness. I have other articles coming soon that will address some of the other issues, which I hope will provide much needed solutions to them.
YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD!
Don’t think for a minute that you are too old to change your ways or lifestyle or learn a new way of doing things, and don’t let the prospect of change scare you. Every day we continue to grow from learning and adapting to our perpetually changing circumstances. You as a Carer have had to do this from the moment your need to become a Carer surfaced, and have done so every day since. This is nothing new for you and is therefore not to be feared. It is just the way of life for Carers to be able to rise to meet the many challenges of your caring role. Making some changes is about learning or teaching yourself to do something new but not impossible. It is a matter of retraining the way you think and as a result, change will follow for you. These changes are meant to bring about a measure of happiness, even if small to begin with, and make it into a reality for you.
DON’T DELAY, START NOW!
Starting right now, have a think if there is anything about yourself or your life that interferes with your happiness that you really want to fix. For many of you it may be to eat healthier or be fitter. In my case I would like to get outside more often and go for a walk, but even just the getting outside part would be a good change. I get stuck inside the house a lot at the moment because my caree does not like to leave our home very much. She finds it quite stressful. The benefits of the fresh air are very appealing to me and I would like to be able to spare some time each day to go outside.
For me, this simple change might be that when I do my laundry, I hang it on the clothesline rather than place it in the clothes dryer, which at the moment tends to be the easy, and fastest, solution. I could even make myself a cuppa ahead of time and sit down outside after hanging out the washing for a few minutes just to breathe in the fresh air.
Aside from time, the things that stop me from using the chore of laundry as a reason to go outside are:
- Getting out of my back door to get to the clothesline in the first place due to overgrowth of some bushes there. I have to duck under them to exit my house and hope I’m not walking through a spiderweb.
- Getting past the chairs that are blocking my way from when my daughter and her friends go outside for a cigarette and leave them all in my way. I have to move each chair out of the way to remain on my pathway leading to the clothesline and I may have my hands full with a basket of washing or be pushing a laundry trolley ahead of me.
- Spiders on my clothesline. We have these particular spiders that seem to blend in to the washing line, and lay along it with their legs tucked forwards and backwards, making them streamlined, and nigh on invisible, against the wire. You can’t see them until they drop down near you or on you and give you a huge fright. Especially if you are like me, I admit I am a little afraid of spiders. I usually have to twang each segment of wire before I use it to hopefully make any that are on that line, drop down and run away.
- The outdoor table and chair set, that I might otherwise use to sit on outside, are always dirty and full of cobwebs.
- The weather – In wet weather it is obvious why I would avoid going outside, but hot weather can be very bothersome too, along with the mosquitoes, particularly if there is very little shade to sit under. Hanging washing out in unrelenting heat is a major deterrent.
DON’T WAIT, MAKE THE CHANGE!
Now comes the harder part because it means actually making a change. Ask yourself how badly do you want to fix it and will you do something about it? I’m sure there will be something quite small that you would like to change and are prepared to act on to get you started. Don’t pick something major that is a really big change as the first challenge to set yourself, otherwise you may not do anything about the area that you would like to see corrected. Baby steps are often the best way to make changes more permanent, which is the whole reason I have used the word ‘simple’ when I am referring to making such changes.
So now you have answered the question of “will you do something about it?” and come up with a “yes”, your next move is to ask and answer “how you are going to do something about it?” Work out a plan of attack to help you achieve your new goal keeping it as simple and as doable as you can. In my own example, just stepping outside my back door will be my start to creating the change I desire. As I get better at that, I can then look towards going for my walks. The less these things you want to change interfere with your busy life, the better, you can still achieve many things with a small amount of time and changing the need to spend many lots of these small amounts of time can lead to a bigger chunk of time in which you are not as busy. Getting back to my issue of stepping outside, there are some things to overcome in my desire to go outside more, even with something as simple as the laundry. I considered my options and came up with some simple solutions.
- Get someone to trim back the bushes that overhang the back door. I hire a lawnmower man every few weeks to cut the grass and trim the edges. The season is changing at the moment and the grass will not grow as long or as quickly, so I will speak to him about doing some other gardening, such as trimming bushes back from the door.
- Go and pack up the chairs lining my pathway, or ask those people who have placed them there to move them out of my way. Or simply go outside first and get them all off the path before I come back out again with my hands full of the washing basket.
Even though we prefer to use non-chemical options, it might pay to hire a pest control person, who is environmentally friendly, to come over and spray the house and outdoors areas, including the back door, chairs, table and the clothesline. Hopefully then I won’t have to feel creeped out by spiders dropping down around me or sitting along the wire ready to scare me when they suddenly move.
- Get into the habit of cleaning the table and chairs so they don’t get into the dirty state that they are in at the moment, and stay that way. Hosing them down every now and then might work. That would encourage me to use them more frequently. If I find I need a reason to stay outside longer, I just might look at what work I could do outside and bring it outdoors.
- I can’t really do anything about the weather, but I can still utilise my front veranda for shade or to keep dry if I decided to try to go outside and sit for a while with a cup of coffee in not so pleasant weather conditions.
I firmly believe that if I can change just this one thing, I am contributing to my own happiness by getting some fresh air, achieving a goal that I have set myself, feeling good about myself for stepping out of the door, and am continuing to do what my role as a carer requires of me.
Time Is Our Most Precious Resource – DON’T WASTE IT!
Time, or lack of it, is a huge factor that contributes to the unhappiness of a person, whether you are a Carer or not, everyone is affected by the feeling of having no time for themselves. I so desperately wanted to change my life by increasing the time that was available to me that once I had significantly achieved a measure of success with this, I ended up writing a book about it called “How To Get Back To Life“. The book explains the process I followed to create more time for myself. I decided to write about it because I knew that other Carers may be able to use the ideas as well.
But in terms of making things as simple as possible to start finding a sense of happiness in your life today, we don’t have to be writing whole books about it at this point. However you may wish to consider that writing about it at a later date may also help others with the same problem. For now, we will keep things a bit more basic by just having you think about what you spend your time on during a single day and how you can maximise the potential of each day by making a change to this.
Are You A Smoker?
When attempting to maximise the time in your days you may find it useful to think about what lifestyle choices you have made that might cut into your day. For example, while I have been lucky enough not to have any addiction problems except maybe for a cup of coffee, at the time of writing this article my daughter is a smoker. This has been something she has used to get her through the day as a stress release and it would probably be hard to consider cutting down how much she smokes, but she has at some time or another decided to try to reduce her smoking habit. Sometimes it has worked for a little while, other times, not at all, and once she gave up for a long time. It really depended on what was going on in her life, having the right tools, and also her level of commitment, as to whether she was successful or not.
However my point here is to show how the amount of time spent in the act of smoking or actions related to smoking, can consume a lot of your day. For instance, if you are trying to save some money by rolling the cigarettes instead of buying those ready made brands, and then sitting down to actually smoke it, really takes a lot of time out of the day. By the time my daughter has rolled her smoke, gone outside to smoke it, got sidetracked playing a game on her smart phone or caught up chatting on Facebook Messenger, she has finished one smoke and already lit up another and smoked that while being outside all of that time.
This is not to say that rolling smokes over and above using tailor made ones is more time consuming, because it’s more likely that more ready made cigarettes are smoked per day due to the convenience of not having to roll your own. This action of smoking, happens many times during the day and each time half an hour or more could be lost. This adds up to quite a few hours spent smoking per day, instead of spending that time on something that could be more productive.
I realise to suggest that you stop completely won’t be very appealing to those of you who smoke, and certainly not an easy task to pull off, therefore can’t be thought of as one of the simple changes you can make, but it’s at least worth considering if you are committed to finding more time for yourself. There may be other solutions for you, such as cutting down the number of cigarettes smoked in a day, or reduce the time spent doing it. For example roll all of the amount that you think you will need for the day in one session. I’m sure I have seen in the past a rolling machine for just this purpose so if you can find something like that to save some time, you just might be able to gain more control of the rest of the time throughout the day.
If you need a helping hand my daughter found that the book, Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking, enabled her to stop smoking altogether the one time that she stopped for a long time. She hadn’t used this book the other times I have mentioned.
You actually smoke while you read it, in fact, it tells you not to stop smoking until you have read the book. It actually did work so even though my daughter is smoking again now, which was caused by something else related to it that ended up bringing about the addiction again, she went a good few years without smoking.
I believe we are almost at the stage again where she might look at quitting, so my fingers are crossed right now that she will dig her book out once more and simply stop. Apparently they don’t like to call it ‘quitting’ in the book. Anyway, enough about deciding to becoming a non-smoker, which is really only one of the ways you can increase your time, albeit it is a big one, amongst many. There are plenty of other ways that you can reduce time wasting as well.
Do You Use Email or Social Media?
Checking and responding to emails can take up a lot of time, I’m sure many of you have subscribed to receiving newsletters, or have a lot of reasons to be connected to other people by email. I have to cull my subscriptions every now and then so that I keep only those that have kept me interested, otherwise my inbox gets completely filled up with emails that I will never get to read because it is so overwhelming.To cull them I ask myself if I have read any of them recently, or at all, or if it is information I really need now, or can it wait until I am ready to receive it? The answer is usually ‘never’ or ‘not recently’ for possibly 90% of them and I find that while I might have an interest in the information in many of them, I’m still not likely to read it anytime soon. I then go ahead and unsubscribe from the emails. Even this can take some time, but in the long run, both time and how much my inbox fills up will be affected in a good way.
Social media is another huge time waster and it’s not just one site, there are so many nowadays, and many people have more than one account. We have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, SnapChat, and many more. Let’s not forget YouTube and Vimeo that have such a huge number of videos, whether they be music, comedy, or funny cat videos. Unless you can put a limit on the time you spend on them, you could easily lose hours every day just watching them. This is not to say that YouTube is necessarily a waste of time, just time consuming, because you can just as easily listen to music using YouTube while getting your jobs in the home done, and we all need a laugh every now and then to keep us sane. There is also a lot of personal development, DIY tutorials and other useful information to be found on the video dedicated sites.
I’m just suggesting that you be mindful of how long you are spending on each of them and to keep a check on what time you can spare on them as opposed to how much time you could choose NOT to be spending on them and opting to do something else. I find it can also be a big time waster if you have YouTube accessible through your smart TV. We have watched many a funny cat or pet video and spent a while going through the many videos available, but we tend to choose a time when we are engaged in something else at the same time to partake of these delightful distractions.
Finding time for yourself is paramount to happiness. Spending time on yourself is one of the best ways to be happy. You need to honour yourself and choose to find ways to accommodate you and your own needs into your life instead of always doing for others. It’s a huge trap that Carers fall into and it’s something that you need to be aware of so you can get yourself up and out of it before becoming forever caught up in it. Don’t worry, it happens to me too. It sneaks up on me until I don’t know what’s hit me and then I have to work hard to scale it all down again in terms of how much time I spend in my Carer role. And believe me, it can be difficult to reduce that time once your dependent has become used to needing you for longer.
I’ve only touched on a couple of ways you can keep a check on time here, but if you really sit down and think about it, you will find many more to work on. Once you are aware of where your time is going, you can be sure that it will become easier to start managing it better. My book does give some options and ideas, but these are not the only solutions or examples of time wasting activities.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS?
You do remember who they are don’t you? If you are like me, your friends might well be wondering if you do remember who they are still. Are they wondering if you’ve forgotten them? I have been struggling for many years to keep on top of my friendships and try to stay in touch as best as I can. But I must admit, I haven’t been as successful as I would have liked. It’s so much easier to text because often times your duties keep pulling you in all different directions and you don’t have the time to scratch your backside as they say.
But is it making you unhappy that you aren’t spending any quality time with them? Let’s have a think about what happens when you fall short of actually catching up with them.
- You feel isolated and distanced from them
- You have no one to talk to, to offload to, or cry on their shoulder
- No one to make you laugh or banter around with.
- No one to help you feel validated
- No one to lift you up when feeling down
- You feel like you are doing it alone
- You tend not to go out anywhere
- You start to get sensitive if you see a Facebook post of theirs that has the quote “If someone really wants to be your friend they will make the effort” and worry that they are meaning you.
- You stop getting invited to spend time with them.
- You miss “the good old days”
It’s no wonder that you would feel unhappy that you are not getting the chance to at least stay in touch. I know we have Facebook that helps us see what they’ve been up to, but it’s not really the same as personal contact. Visiting with them would be ideal, but even a phone call rather than a text can make you feel so much more connected.
So while it’s hard, for the sake of your own happiness, pick up the phone and call a friend who may think you have forgotten about them. Once you do this try to get into the habit of calling at least one friend a week, even if you can’t chat for long, it’s preferable to nothing, for both them and yourself. Better still, try to arrange to see them, but I realise this may not be so easy if you are not able to get out much in your Carer role. If you need to, call on help from a community organisation that may be able to arrange some respite for you to go out and see your friends.
WORRY IS THE KICKER! DON’T WASTE YOUR LIFE AWAY DOING THIS!
Are you a worrier? There is a high likelihood that you are because I think it is something that afflicts all Carers. I know I have been a worrier in the past. So much so that my entire days and nights and then more days and nights have become so consumed by the particular situation I am worrying about, that it takes over my ability to function at my best. I can’t think straight or for that matter, concentrate on anything, so it can severely hinder even my most basic day to day tasks.
The problem is that worry uses up so much of your already strained energy levels and wastes so much of your time, and to what avail? You end up worrying about everything, every little thing and big thing, even if it is something you can’t control or change and then you can’t sleep or end up becoming sick. There’s a reason for the saying ‘sick with worry’ or ‘worrying yourself sick’. Your entire immune system becomes affected, reducing the body’s ability to combat illness, giving you a higher chance of a bacterial or viral infection to take hold instead of fighting it off, and as Carers, we can’t really afford to get sick.
I still can get caught up in worry occasionally, but these days I am a lot better at moving through it and forwards. I always try to stick to the concept that if it’s something you can fix, then the quicker you get on to it the better, and if you can’t fix it, then worrying constantly about something you can do nothing about is futile. It’s better to concentrate on how things could be different moving forwards, or how you can make the best of the situation, whether it be by smoothing things over or adapting to changes, or what can you learn from it.
One of the biggest issues we come across when we worry is that we concern ourselves too much about what people think of us. I am so guilty of this one. In fact, this has been the cause of many sleepless nights and many days of feeling unfocused, irritable, distracted, snappy, and feeling downright miserable. Thankfully it doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally I do discover that someone has developed a negative opinion surrounding myself or my choices and it affects me. Usually these opinions are unfounded and are caused by inaccurate interpretation or judgments based on half of the story, of my choices, situation, actions or even my belief systems, but I am not perfect and no one can ever please everyone in their lives. But I still find it so hard to understand how it can happen, because I don’t believe that I ever set out to upset anyone else. I also find that some people in their ignorance can actually be quite mean about how they express themselves, which adds to the distress and prolongs the feelings it brings about in me, especially if their version of a situation is inaccurate.
This has been an ongoing issue for me for many, many years, until one day, something said by a psychologist, finally hit home for me, and I decided it was time for me to take notice. I could do nothing to change these negative opinions because it was pointless trying to change a person’s mind once made up, and trying to defend myself would only give them more cause to dislike me and in turn make me feel weak. And to be honest, if they were going to decide something about my character without understanding all of the facts, then did I really need to have their approval? If they did not value me as a person, why should I place any value on their opinion? This is the real trap because we do tend to want to defend ourselves and somehow it becomes paramount to our sanity to try to prove them wrong, but at what cost to ourselves?
You see, it is the way we react to the situations that determines how well we can let go of something causing us grief. In other words, we have control over how we let things affect us. We can choose to allow it in, nurture it, and let it take hold of our minds and make slaves of us, slaves to fear or being seen not in our true light, or we can choose to let it go, watch it disperse into the breeze and drift away, dissolving as it moves further away. This is easier said than done, but with practice, such as constantly reminding yourself that you don’t need to care about what other’s think, and that it is only your own reaction to it that wants to keep you stuck, you can then start choosing to let it go. Once you make the decision to do it, letting go becomes the easy part. This simple change of mindset can set you free.
How To Stop Worrying!
It’s a good idea, so you don’t get too overwhelmed, to divide your worries into two categories:
- The worries you have that you can do something about, and
- The worries you have that you cannot solve
The Worries You Have That You Can Do Something About
Start by listing your worries down in a notebook and order them according to what worries you the most, down to what worries you the least. So basically you decide which ones are the most worrying and put that at the top of the list, and then continue down the list to the least cause of worry.
Next take the first one and think about how you can solve the issue. Write down what steps you can take to get rid of this worry and there you have your action plan. Just organise it into the best way to go about it and have some kind of order to your plan of action. Set yourself a target date to have this problem resolved so that you don’t leave it too long and cause yourself more needless worry when you could have reduced it quickly. Take action, follow the steps in your action plan without hesitation. There’s no point working out a plan if you aren’t intending to carry it out, so work out a plan you are willing to follow right from the very beginning. The quicker this worry dissolves, the quicker your mind will be slightly less worried. Don’t allow procrastination to come into play, if you have a plan, you shouldn’t need to procrastinate at all.
As a result, you will have reduced your worrying significantly by clearing this one item from your list because if you recall, the first one was the most worrisome. Do you feel relieved? I hope so, and now take the next problem and do the same. Again, you will have taken away another big cause of worry. Continue down the list until you get through them all. Believe me, when you cross that last one off your list, you will wonder what all the worry was about, but until you do this, you will continue to worry about everything and put things off due to fear. The best way to achieve this, is to simply start.
Be Aware Of “What May Come” Thoughts!
There is one type of worry that I would like to include in this section, and that is the worry about things that might happen. I am not referring to people with a disorder such as PTSD here because their fears are not so easily put aside, but to those of us who are incessant worriers. This can be quite debilitating when one is always worried about something that may never even come about. This is often related to some kind of fear of loss, whether it be loss of job, or money, possessions, health, a relationship, credibility, the world as you know it, and even death. While death is inevitable and something that happens to all of us eventually, if it is not imminent then push it out of your mind. If you are thinking about death, you could liken it to the fact that you are already dying then, because you are not living your life.
All of these things correspond to a degree with your own feelings of insecurity and you may feel a bit shaken when you postulate on the scenarios of what might happen. But at the end of the day, these events have not happened yet, and what is the likely probability that all or any of them will ever happen? I expect the answer to this is ‘very low’, miniscule, in fact.
While some of these events or losses can be guarded against to create a solution to your worry, some may not be as easy to sweep under the rug and keep going. A relationship breakdown is not something you can ever really prepare for however you can fill the gap left with a multitude of activities to help take your mind off it and distract yourself. Better yet, fill your life with many things so that your relationship is not the main focus of your life. This idea deserves to be further expanded on so I will write a separate article to help you understand this better, but until then, the image below will serve as an example. Please bear in mind that there are many more categories than what is represented here to fill your life.
Loss of credibility is one of those things that is completely out of your hands if it occurs through someone else’s perception of you. But some of the other losses I’ve mentioned above can be resolved. It just means it will take a little planning, organising and forethought to put into place an action plan if any of them do happen. You can plan ahead if you truly cannot break free of worrying about these things.
- Fear of losing your job or financial position – Put money aside into an account or investment and use it to draw on if you lose your job or any money.
- Fear of loss of possessions – Having a good security system and ensuring doors are locked or possessions never leave your sight will ensure against losing your belongings. Perhaps even bringing a dog into your life will serve as a deterrent to thieves.
- Fear of loss of health or of approaching death – You can change your eating habits to become healthier. This will ward against illness and diseases and maintain optimal health. Which in turn may relax your fears of death to some degree as well.
The Worries You Have That You Cannot Solve
Once again it is important to list the issues that are bothering you or causing you worry, even if you can’t do anything about them. The reason for this is that this will be the first step in learning to let go and let go you must for your own sanity and saving of time. It will take control of yourself and your body and grind you to a halt otherwise, not to mention eating away at your health. If you can teach yourself how to let it go, you will be a much happier and be able to move forwards from it.
It is my belief that writing something down on paper helps to disconnect the issue from you. It’s a bit like you are using an energy of some kind to move it to another place, in this case a piece of paper. I suggest paper because it involves shifting the energy onto something physical and helps with the transfer of energy away from you and your body.
Now write down why you can’t do anything about it. I believe this is important in terms of allowing you to recognise for yourself that there is nothing you can do to change this situation and again, helps to continue the process of letting go of the worry. Have a good long think about whether there is anything you can do to soften the blow that this worry has caused. This may help to make you feel a bit better about the situation if you can find a way to have it lessened, and also reaffirming that if there really is nothing you can do to change it, or make it a little better, and so there is still no point in worrying about it anymore.
While you are thinking about it, consider the following;
Is there a way you can make the best of the situation?
What can you learn from it, what lessons might you need to be paying attention to?
Can you find any positives in the experience? If so, how can you turn it around and make something positive from a negative circumstance?
Is it something that you need to apologise for? – This is a big one because sometimes, even if the fault does not rest with you, it is better to apologise to a person to start the healing process within yourself. It allows you to let go of the situation much more easily if you have acted in some way to rectify an issue that someone else has with you. In other words, you be the bigger person and gain respect for yourself for your willingness to sort a problem out.
Has someone got the wrong impression of you, if so, how can you let go of the worry that they have it wrong? – This has happened to me for years with one particular person. I would feel so upset by this person’s seeming lack of understanding about my choices. I would dwell on it for a long time. Even telling myself that they don’t walk in my shoes and couldn’t possibly understand my life and my choices, did not help one iota. I was distressed all the time over it, and couldn’t even bring myself to talk to the person for most of the time for fear of their judgmental comments lashing out at me.
I now have managed to let this go and their words or belief patterns can’t hurt me anymore, because I realised that I couldn’t change how the person viewed me no matter what I did. They were oblivious to my life, being guided instead, by a misguided stock standard overview of all people in what they thought were my circumstances. This mindset caused them to think like many other people and condemn my choices rather than actually understand the reality of my situation. But I no longer take it to heart.
Instead I decided that I did not need to value their opinion above my own and seems I knew what my life was, and it wasn’t likely to be changing anytime soon, I was the only one who mattered. In fact their opinion only counted if I myself chose to allow it in. I actually had very valid reasons for being where I was whether they knew them or not, I didn’t need their opinions and I ceased allowing them to hurt me. After all, only you have the ability to decide if you are going to let it hurt you or not. You have a choice in how you react, one way leads to misery, by trying to prove them wrong, and the other to emotional freedom. I know which one I would choose now. As long as you live your life well and morally, there is no reason why you should concern yourself with what others think of you. Remember that saying about ‘What others think of you is none of your business”? That’s telling you that you need to move on from it
The final step is to either say aloud or write down, that you are now letting go of this problem and you are not going to give it any more opportunity to cause you worry. No more will you allow it to drain energy from you to feed itself. Remember that you give it life when you dwell on it, like oxygen gives life to a fire. It’s time to snuff it out and be rid of it for good. Finish with making a vow to yourself that you will let it go. I have known people to make a kind of ritual or occasion out of burning the paper to change the problem into another energetic form so it an be blown away with a puff of wind You will find that your thoughts will drift occasionally back to this issue but keep reminding yourself that you can’t do anything about it so just to get on with things.and continue moving forwards. I have been known to internally yell at myself when I catch myself drifting back to these negative thought patterns. Always remember and tell yourself, it’s out of your hands. This is how you choose the way you react to things. Make a choice not to let it affect you, rather than the choice to allow it to eat at you and dig it’s claws in to take hold.
I hope this article has given you some tips on what you can do to make a start with bringing about the changes necessary to move you forward. I really wish that it has gone a long way to helping you understand that it may be more easier than you think to learn how to be happy in your life.
Thank you for reading, stay tuned for the next article geared towards finding more happiness. If there is anything you would like to suggest, or need help finding a solution for your own self, please comment or connect with me on my Facebook page, Carers Loft
Until next time,