Two Steps Toward Being Happier (When You’re Really Stressed)

If you’re anything like me, you have high standards for yourself. You want big things in your life. You want lots of love and joy. You want to go to work to a job where work doesn’t feel like work. Then you can go to bed at night thinking, “How the hell did I get so lucky to have all of this?” 

Some people might think this sounds silly. I’m betting to you it’s not. I’m betting this is something you think about a lot. In fact, I’m betting you even might be taking action towards this type of life. 

Which is awesome. 

If that’s the case though, listen up: You likely have a case of “high standard syndrome.” 

Don’t worry. It’s actually a good thing. In simpler terms, it means you want to be happy – like, all of the time. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And considering that you likely have people in your life that you love and care about, this is actually a giving and caring act! Why? Because the more you care for yourself, the more you’re going to be able to care for others. (i.e. – If you want to make others happier, you’ll want to be a happy person yourself first. Work on you so you can work on them.) 

The problem shows up when we spend all our time stressing over the things we “should” do – work hard, stay up late, focus on anything and everything of importance going on in our life. While it’s good to be spending our time on our high priority tasks, sometimes we forget to check in and ask “How am I feeling right now?” If I forget this myself, I usually won’t think to ask it until it’s too late and I’m feeling FAR from the joy that the completion of these tasks are supposed to bring me. 

So before that happens to you – again – consider the following steps:

  1. Have the question, “How am I feeling right now?” (or something similar that works for you) somewhere you’re going to see it. For me, I love having sticky notes hanging in my wall in front of me with helpful reminders or mantras. For you, it might be a reminder popping up on your phone.
  2.  Give yourself permission to stop. Now, if you’re working on a deadline that’s due within an hour – this might not be as useful. But if it’s for your to-do list, ask if this is something that can wait. I’m not saying we should get in the habit of always stopping in the middle of a productive work session. Rather, there are times that work better for us than others. And this moment in time might not be best for this particular work, given your mood. 

Earlier yesterday I was planning the rest of my day and figuring out how I was going to catch a particular show. Before I knew it, I was pretty deep in the rabbit hole of, “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET EVERYTHING DONE?” I then realized – I never bought my ticket. I didn’t NEED to go to the show. Yes, I wanted to go. But not if it was going to cause me a bunch of stress and pain! The minute I gave myself permission to miss the show – I felt ease and calm. It felt good. 

Oh right. There’s a third step…

     3. Realize being #notperfect is part of getting more of the joy you want in life. 

I talk a lot about being #notperfect. So much so that it’s started to catch on among friends on social media 🙂 (Yes, I’ve noticed. And it makes me smile every time). If there really is such thing as perfection…..I think it’s nothing but stress and anxiety. 

I’ll stay being #notperfect, thank you very much. 

Let’s go get ‘em, friends. 

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Priorities Are Important. Don’t Skip This One.

I’m an organized guy, yes?

[Guys in the back loudly disagree.]

Okay, you got me there. While I’m not the most organized person, I’ve gotten better with areas I previously struggled in. Like priorities.

It’s one thing to know your priorities. It’s another to put them on paper in order of most important to least. I felt pretty damn good once I started to learn my own.  Though admittedly, I didn’t bother to order them. “Eh…whatever. They’re all my priorities. I’ll figure it out.” Between my acting goals, coaching goals, overall health goals, and finances, I thought I was all set.

And when we’re all set, it’s normal to go to bed incredibly stressed out every night, yes?

Since I quit waiting tables and got my own apartment, I have less stress than I’ve had in years. Where on earth was this coming from?

Then I heard a voice: “Make happiness your priority.”

What?! Who said that? GOD?!

…it wasn’t God. It was Shawn Anchor in an interview I was listening to. (I did mention I was listening to a Shawn Anchor interview, right?)

Hmm…happiness…..How the hell am I supposed to be happy if I’m not working on my goals? How am I supposed to be happy if I have no money? And I’m certainly not going to be happy if I don’t have a six pack….

(….maybe I’ll be okay without the six pack. )

All of these are all important. Just not at the expense of my happiness.

Working on my coaching business and acting goals are a priority. They make me happy, especially when they bring in that thing called money. What I’m learning is that I can be happy working on these every day for a certain amount of time, without spending all of my time working too much without taking breaks or making time for social activities.

Then there’s health: I’ve reached a goal where I stopped giving into instant gratification and refuse to indulge in cheat meals unless it’s specifically a cheat day. While I’m proud of this goal, I’m learning that I let it contribute to more stress. I had learned how easy it was to stay home and skip shows and activities without the worry of food and sleep. The more I stayed home and skipped going out, the more unhappy I was getting.

These are all areas I’ll be more comfortable in a month from now. At which point, I’ll probably be able to talk about this topic even better (Not to mention write a better blog post….) Regardless, here’s my biggest takeaway so far: We should focus on how to go about our goals and priorities in a way that makes us happy. This might not always be the “right” way to go about it, or the way our friends and family tell us. While we don’t want to shun advice from others, it’s okay to stray from the path that’s often classified as “the way you should do it.”

I had been so focused on what motivational speakers have been telling me in interviews, youtube videos, and even social media posts, that I wasn’t focusing on how I felt. Well now….that’s just silly.

Don’t be silly. Just…be happy. 🙂 Go get’ em, friends.