The secret to happiness is....to lower your standards.
I've said it.
Now its not a secret anymore.
Let me elucidate on that point. I'm not saying you should just give up and stop washing your hair, I mean LOWER YOUR STANDARDS FOR WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.
You know what makes me happy? Time alone. Time with my family. Time with my friends. Time to walk the dogs. Time to take time to cook a meal. Time to paint what I want and when I want. Enough money i don't have to worry about paying bills and making the mortgage repayments. Good Health. Good mental health. Opportunities and a bit of adventure. Someone to introduce me to good books and good music. Nice food.These are my indexes and I know they makes me happy.
At no stage in this list did you read about me wanting to win the Lotto, lose 10 kg, become famous , have lots of stuff and be envied.*
Win Lotto? I did! I married an awesome guy whose funny, kind, smart, sexy and thinks I'm too good for him
Lose 10 kg? I did! About 14 and 17 years ago when I had two , healthy babies.
Famous? Hell Yes! Strangers say hello to me often and compliment my work .(this includes Instagram and Facebook!)
Have lots of stuff? I donate regularly enough to the charity shops to know I have enough stuff and I never want for art supplies. I have two of everything.I own 15 pairs of identical pumps in a variety of colours.
Are you getting my point? Where is YOUR standard for happiness. I am not suggesting this is an immovable goal and by setting the bar so low you offer yourself no incentive. Precisely the opposite. Set the bar at a reasonable level that you know you might be able to achieve and then, once you have achieved it, celebrate that success and see if you are still happy. If you are, set the bar a bit higher and see if that still makes you happy BUT you still have to achieve your initial standard.
When you are happy, everything else in life is easier.
Here's my take on it
- Time alone? I get up earlier than anyone else. I walk the dogs. I switch the phone off. I stay at home. I say no to invitations.
- Time with my family? I get up earlier to spend time with my husband before the kids get up and before school. We eat dinner together every night. We plan holidays together. I watch them play sports.
- Time with my friends? I make arrangements, standing or impromptu.
- Time to walk the dogs? I see it as thinking time and time to myself. Two birds with one stone!
- Time to take time to cook a meal? Not every night, Josephine! I plan one languid meal a week, usually for a sunday.
- Time to paint what I want, when i want? Studio hours are 8-3 , daily. That is a lot of time to paint.I take the weekends off. Sometime my weekend is in the middle of the week.
- Enough money? yes, but not stupid money. If we want something, we have to save for it. We drive secondhand cars and always have. We save and budget for holidays.
- Good Health? Everything in moderation, including moderation. I yoga 2 x a week and a HIIT workout at home 3x a week. I cook from scratch and drink moderately.
- Good Mental health? I surround myself with good influences, I don't drink when I am down, I exercise and I am mindful of my thoughts.I employ someone to clean my house once a week
- Opportunities and a bit of adventure? I manufacture these. I don't wait for them to arrive. I ask for what I want. If I want to learn, I chase the learning.
- Introductions to good books and good music? Yes, I have people for those! (thanks Michelle and Stef)
- Nice Food? Well, I am in charge of the shopping list and So I make it so. I buy the good chocolate and have less of it. Quality always wins over quantity.
Those seem like pretty average standard but I achieve each and every one of them and it makes me happy. Recently, my lack of organisation has left me feeling anxious and disorganised me is not a pretty me. So I have begun organising all my computer files into folders, deleting old stuff and leaving only relevant documents and images on file. I went through my email and deleted and organised it so that emails from 2015 were no longer lingering in my inbox and had a folder!!! I have extended this to my house and am in the process of getting rid of stuff I don't need or want.
I am spending the few days between Christmas and New Year organising and planning my year, setting goals and evaluating my standard and seeing which need tweaking( not many, I will tell you. Maybe the dog walking one needs to be more often) and questioning relevancy and possible additions. It might look something like : establish a weekly administrative filing /deleting/sorting practise. I shall look at choosing a time later in the day and later in the week, so monday starts fresh.
So, whatever 2019 holds for you, try lowering your standards ,join me in the practise and seek out happiness for yourself.
This, for example, is one of the opportunities I have created to learn with a fantastic painter from Philadelphia. I have wanted to learn from him for a few years and he has wanted to teach and travel. So he is coming to New Zealand to visit and teach and I am getting to learn from him.
*I would be lying if I said I never thought about those things but that is the "dark days, 2 am , lost and scared"kinda thinking that I banish as soon as I recognise what it is. Unhelpful and anxiety based.