Thursday, March 6, 2014

5 Aids In The Pursuit Of Personal Satisfaction

Last week when my mom came to visit and stayed with us, she said something that resonated with me. We were talking about our move to the other end of the world, and the rationale behind it. She listened to all my carefully listed reasons why we should definitely move, and leave this city that I have been known to *sometimes* refer to as a hot, little town with no culture.

Then she smiled and very slowly said:

"You need to make sure that the main reason you are moving is not in order to seek happiness elsewhere. Happiness is where you want it to be."

That sure got me thinking. A LOT. I had to revisit all the times I had ranted nonstop about how much I hate it here. Yes, it has its many flaws and disadvantages. But the main things in life, those that some call "priorities", are all met here. Happy child getting a good education? Check! A nice little apartment for the three of us? you bet! Food always in the pantry? yep. Bills get paid on time? sure enough.
I literally have everything I could possibly want to live a happy life. So why do we get that feeling that we are missing something, that the grass is greener... across the pond?

After all these thoughts coming at a thousand miles per hour, I felt like the most ungrateful brat ever. I cannot let myself fall into the trap of never being satisfied and always wanting something bigger, better, newer. I won't let it happen. And so that's how I came up with the following five ways in which I have made my life a whole lot happier and more satisfied with my life in the last week, and yes, I have started enjoying myself a hundred times more (and who doesn't want that!?).

1. For every negative thought that crosses your mind, immediately think of three positive ones. For example, the most common negative thought I get (nearly every single day) is "Gosh, people here have absolutely no clue how to drive!". But then I make myself think of three things I do like: "I enjoy my job"; "we are selling lots of houses this month"; "My commute is relatively short compared to other cities", you get the idea. That immediately stops me from going on and on in my mind about the traffic issue, as I used to do.

2. There is this little app called "Happier". It is free, and the idea behind it is that (hopefully) three times a day you write a short note about something that made you happy, or that made you smile. It can be as simple as "The salad for lunch was great" or as big as "I got a promotion at work." Every day has something good in it, even the worst ones, and this app is great for helping you realize it and be more aware of those little moments. Also, you can see other people's happy moments, which can be quite heart-warming sometimes.

3. Be more thankful. I made a vow to myself to not leave my bed in the morning before thanking the universe three times for all my blessings. (And I am using "universe" generally. You can thank God, Buddha, the sun for all I care, just make sure you find stuff to be grateful for). You probably won't have to look too far to find those things you are truly and utterly thankful for.

4. I realized that by always thinking of the stuff I wanted, I was making myself miserable. I mentioned once that I am pretty addicted to "online window shopping", i.e. I love browsing all sorts of stuff on the internet that I know I am not going to buy. And then I ended up feeling shitty because I really wanted the stuff but couldn't afford it or I just could not justify the expense. Now I've stopped doing it (for the most part) and I feel much better, and have not fallen again for the "Oh, how I wish I had this ...  and this... and this ...." . News flash: there will ALWAYS be stuff you won't have, so if you keep going down that rabbit hole you will never be truly satisfied!
I have been thinking of getting this print from Etsy, just to have a constant reminder that I can never let the things I want make me forget the things I do have.
There is a fine line between having goals and aspirations, and failing to live the present because we are too focused on the future.

5. Let small things slide. I would be incredibly hypocritical if I said that I am even remotely good at this one. But at least I am trying to be...  I let small things bother me way too much than they should. If you are like this too, find something that really relaxes you: a nice, warm bath; yoga; painting; exercising... for me, for example, is sitting down with a coffee and writing with no timeframe, or listening to a book on audible (new hobby!!!), and I get that feeling of happiness and fulfillment (it's the small things, like point 2!). Whatever it is that brings you that calmness, do it more often! It can be easily overlooked, with daily life getting in the way, but that daily life will be much better the more relaxed you live it.

So anyway, I am trying to follow these five steps, to ensure that every decision in my life is motivated by real reasons and not by a feeling that I can find something better somewhere else.

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  1. Very inspiring post! I do something similar to what you mentioned; every night I try to take out three positive things out of my day, even if I had the worst one!
    The Beauty Break //

  2. Great tips, I am jsut like you. I also always like to have a look online on the thinks I can't have and it has the same effect on me. Over the years I have learnt to not get miserable about those things but every now and then it still gets me. Let hope we will learn how to deal with these kind of situations.


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