This semester, I’m focused on injecting more happiness into my life. I’ve found that when I take the time to make sure that I am happy and healthy, physically and mentally, I’m more productive. Taking time away actually helps me get more done and be more successful. Whether you get the perfect grades or not, in the end, what’s gonna matter are the little moments you spent laughing with someone you love, the great books you read, and the things you spent time working on simply because they brought you joy.
Last semester, I felt like I was constantly at a full sprint, tripping over my own feet, and getting nowhere. I would push myself, harder and harder, with no improvement. No breakthrough. No major achievement. And worst of all, no happiness. Any moments of fun or relaxation I allowed myself sent me into a spiral of stress and guilt.
“I could have been getting something done!”
I was a terror. And for no good reason. I didn’t achieve anything spectacular for all the stress I was putting myself under. I simply robbed myself of happiness because I was thinking about everything wrong, I always saw the negatives. The positives, unless they were blindingly obvious, screaming for my attention; went unthought of – collecting dust in the corner.
It was time for a change…
Realizing that I needed to change something before my burning ship completely sunk, I did the simplest thing I could think of. The thing that my mind and body were begging me to do. I let myself sit. I let myself spend one afternoon doing nothing but bathing in the melted, golden sunlight streaming into the living room. I let myself cook ONE meal at a time, taking my time. I opened all the windows and let myself feel the cold, but deliciously crisp air.
Happiness is everywhere. We just get busy and stop seeing it. S T O P.
Do you find yourself speed-walking places even when you’re not going to be late? Slow down. Be intentional about slowing down the things that you do. Your body can sense the pace you’re moving at and it responds. When you’re doing everything fast, you’re going to be more tense. There is so much time in a day if you learn to utilize it all. Walk extra slow and look around yourself. Take your headphones out. Listen to birds singing, leaves rustling, people talking and laughing. Humans were given five senses so that we could interact and connect with the world around us.
If you don’t have a walk outdoors in your regular routine, try to find time for one. Use this time as a walking meditation. Even if it’s cold, or it’s hot. Don’t waste the whole time focusing on how freezing you are. Notice all of the sounds around you. Count them. List them. Look at everything. Notice the faces that pass you. List all the colors you can see at once. List all the shades of blue you can see. Now green. Now red.
This is so simple. It’s not revolutionary and I am far from the first to do this, but I swear this is the best part of most of my days. When I look back on my day, I remember walking, smiling, the way the air felt on my face, and the beauty around me. It’s the dead of winter and I see beauty every day. Once you start seeing it, it’s hard to stop.
Little positives are everywhere…
The other day, it was drizzling. One of those mornings that I describe as dreadful, gloomy, grey, and absolutely not for interacting with the outside world. But alas, French Literature awaited me on campus so I put on my lipstick and went anyways. Naturally, I got rained on. My fault because I didn’t put on a rain jacket or carry an umbrella, but that’s beside the point. I was very quick to get frustrated and angry because of this inconvenience. Just as I was rushing along, back hunched and head bent, thinking how terrible and unfortunate this morning was, the rain let up. I slowed my pace and looked around myself, I noticed how clean and fresh it smelled, and I smiled. I was still wet and I was about to be late for class, but I didn’t speed up. Everything else could wait for a few more moments so that I could enjoy this moment.
I am not a perfect person. I never will be. I am emotional, quick to jump from feeling to feeling and spew my thoughts everywhere. I will never be that person that doesn’t have negative thoughts (I think these people are made up, anyway), and I will never be a person that doesn’t complain sometimes. But, that doesn’t mean I still can’t be a happy person. It doesn’t mean I can’t work on seeing the positive. The more you look for the positive, the more you find it, and the easier it becomes to see it without even trying.
There are seasons of your life that are hard. Sometimes days, weeks, months, or even years are especially rough. If you let yourself, you will drown in these times. When you can’t change the bigger picture, you have to find the little things that can give you the resilience to make it through the tougher times.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, negative, and stuck in a rut…
- Look for the positive. When you find it, focus on it. Let it grow bigger than any negative. It will be
hardersome days. Look for it anyways. Don’t give up until you find it.
- Slow down. Slow. Down. Stop rushing everywhere. Stop speed reading. Stop making to-do lists of 20 items for one day. Do one thing at a time and do it well. Your body will thank you and so will your mind. Create calm physically and mentally
Connect with me on Instagram (@lotsoflora) and share your thoughts about this post with me! What are your little moments of joy?