Oct 072010

That’s what being back to school does to you, all of a sudden you do things almost on time. I hope this goes on for a while, about a year would be nice, and then it could start all over again.

I find that these “happiness reports” depend very much on how a feel in the moment I’m writing them. Which is what everybody will tell you, that happiness is fleeting and can’t be fabricated. But I still think there can be a thing like lasting happiness, and no, I don’t mean contentment.

Yesterday I had one of those dreary teaching days where I felt that every student was slow, and clumsy, and a waste of time, and then I remembered one of Gretchen Rubin‘s mottos, “Act how you want to feel.”, and I was so successful in telling myself how much I enjoy teaching, and what nice and brilliant students I have that by the end of the day I was positively beaming.

Now you might say, “But those weren’t you’re true feelings!”. I have to confess that I’m not that sure about feelings being true at any given moment any more. With all those hormones racing around in my body, and with things like being hungry or tired making such a huge difference it might be hard to get to the bottom of a situation. Slowly I understand what buddhists mean when they say that feelings aren’t permanent, and ever changing. I have days when something tiny like taking a nap or reading something or deciding to act how I want to feel can turn my whole day around. So, since it’s possible to do that why not use it to my advantage. And in my case I had the additional advantage that my students are really lovely people, and so I know that it’s me when I feel like I can’t stand to hear another mangled version of a tune that’s not that great to start with. I don’t complain, I know that comes with the job. When you’re teaching people how to play an instrument you mainly sit there all day and listen to people play things they can’t play well yet. And every time they master something you go on to the next thing.

I only have to remind myself to sometimes listen to some music that’s played by a master to remind myself where we’re all going with this.

But back to my report. As you know by now I made yet another list of things that I want to change in order to become a happier person:

  1. Go to bed on time.
  2. Pick up after myself.
  3. Write 500 words of fiction at least six times a week.
  4. Think about the things I love about my family, students, and friends.
  5. Exercise three times a week or more.
  6. Play the piano every day.
  7. Wear clothes that make me feel good.

Usually I add something to this list every month. But this month I didn’t. I’m still thinking about the part where my mood is bad because of hormones. It’s now definite since my mood has been much more stable while I’m on chemical birth control. This is not a permanent solution since I have no desire to have a stroke in the near future but it helps isolating the problem.

  1. Now for the part where I tell you how I did. There’s no surprise there, I’m doing mildly blah again. Still I feel better for trying:
  2. Going to bed on time hasn’t happened much but as long as we were still in summer break I managed to get almost adequate sleep. It’s still the same, every day I have slept enough is much better than the ones I have after only six or seven hours. For the past few days I managed to go to bed almost on time, a step into the right direction. I’m also giving myself stickers for that again. (So far: 2 stickers in 8 days. There still is room for improvement.)
  3. I have been getting much better at picking up after myself, and my husband just told me yesterday that he has the feeling that housework is currently divided equally between us. That is great news, Finally some improvement. Of course, right now I’m sitting here typing while he is cooking…
  4. The writing of the fiction hasn’t happened. But again I managed to write today and on Tuesday. I’m hoping to get into the groove again.
  5. The exercise has happened. Not exactly three times a week but at least two times. I also have been going to the pool twice already so that my son can work on his swimming skills. The first time I even managed to swim a few laps in the kid’s pool. There have been an astonishing number of times when I did my walk/run-routine for an hour or more. And I can proudly tell you that I can now not only climb stairs again without getting out of breath instantly, I can even run them up if I want to catch a train, then jog about 50 meters, and all of that without keeling over or thinking I’ll die the next minute. That thing alone makes me very, very happy.
  6. There was no piano playing whatsoever apart from what happened while teaching, I’m sorry to say. But my husband and I played a couple of songs in front of an audience, and learning how to sing a new song and performing it with my husband made me very happy. I’d like to do a little more music with him in the near future. Without going back to trying to emulate a cover band if possible.
  7. Buying new pants has made dressing much easier. The funny thing is that I bought both pairs a size too big. They don’t really look all that great but the comfort of un-pinching waistbands is almost worth it. One of these days I’ll even make myself a new denim skirt. I love wearing my corduroy one. The only thing I haven’t solved yet is how to wear a skirt with leggings and woolen socks while teaching without looking ridiculous. I don’t wear shoes indoors and I have yet to find a stylish slipper-boot. Maybe I’ll compromise, buy a nice pair of Birkenstocks and wear tights. We’ll see.

The other thing I have been doing is to think about the way I eat again. I have been starting to re-read “Outsmarting the Midlife Fat Cell. Of course I did remember most of what Debra Waterhouse wrote about in that book but seeing it again was very good for me. I found that some of my new habits that I started in order to lose weight were quite counter-productive. Also that I don’t exercise enough. And that my portions are way too big. The thing is, I have been going to eating frequent small meals, and drinking like a camel that reaches an oasis after weeks in the desert, and all of a sudden my weight seems to creep downwards again. We’ll see how that goes in the long run, especially since I still tend to counter exhaustion with too much food, but I’m optimistic.

So eating like a sane person who enjoys food is my new goal for October.

The other thing that I started, and you surely have noticed by now is my knitting podcast. It’s in German because there is dire need for a German knitting podcast out there. Doing it makes me ridiculously happy. Especially since people seem to like it. I have plans of doing a sort of “best of”-edition in English at some point, we’ll see when that might happen.

Phew, that was a long one, wasn’t it? Anybody else out there striving for more happiness by making rules?

  2 Responses to “September update on my year of happiness”

  1. do you know that list of things to do in order to lead a happier life is marvellous. My life seems to be very hectic but with (on some days) limited interaction with others which can lead me downwards. But i think focussing on my family and sewing help to cheer me up. With the food, one of the secrets is to bring the joy back into food. Actually sit down take your time and enjoy what you are eating. portion size is another thing to watch. That book sounds interesting though. take care joannaxxx

  2. i keep wanting to sit down and sort of write/journal/list about what’s going on in my life and what steps I can take to improve certain situations. but it never seems to happen.

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