(Sort of) Regimented Happiness

I don’t know how many people will relate to this, but I know there are some, so here goes.

Spring is often a wonderful time of renewal and streamlining, a rejuvenation of resolutions and setting of new goals.  And this spring, I feel all of that.  However, Nick and I also began to feel something less bright – a sort of treading water feeling.  Perhaps it’s simply grown-up life, but it seemed that between what our goals and priorities were, and what had to get done simply as errands and chores, there never seemed to be enough time.  It was like running towards something, but that something was elusive, or disappointing when we got there.  More worrying still was the thought that unless we were constantly in pursuit, we would fall into a lackadaisical boredom.  This was not some existential crisis of the soul, but simply facts that we didn’t like.

I knew it was time to think deeply and intentionally to find balance and an actionable plan.  So one lovely weekend afternoon about two weeks ago, we decided to pop into a coffee shop with a notebook and map out where we were headed, and a good sustainable plan for it.  We learned some surprising things – for example, our time budget frequently was overpacked, and we were trying to stuff 25 and 26 hour days into one day, especially during the workweek.  By contrast our weekends had plenty of time in them, which sometimes just meant dragging out items that could get done much faster and more efficiently.  So we decided to make some changes, and I know that some of them sound crazy.  Like I said, this won’t relate to everyone, since not everyone enjoys extensive and thoughtful planning quite like this little control freak organization lover.

We decided to offset our sleep schedule.  In spite of all the great advice out there about keeping it consistent, we decided to throw that out the window – after all, we’re both young and have had our share of all-nighters and lived to tell the tale.  We decided to try and scale back to 6 or so hours a night as a stated minimum on weeknights, and make up the difference during the weekends.  We still get about 7 hours on a good amount of nights, but it’s nice that I’m no longer seeing 11pm on the horizon and then stressing out that it’s bedtime and I haven’t gotten everything done.  We also decided to schedule in a weekly date night as well as a weekly Sunday review coffee date to reflect on the past week and plan for the next one.  At first, I thought it funny and almost a bit business-formal, but it’s worked out really well!

I’ve also started trying to incorporate better habits into my routine.  In addition to the practical ones of making lunches and breakfasts ahead of time and laying out my outfit the night before, I’ve started making sure to weigh myself every day (since weight loss/fitness is one of my bigger goals right now) as well as keeping a food diary (on my fancy new Fitbit!).  I’m still working on the regular working out habit, that one’s not coming so easily.  But one new habit which has already yielded marvelous results is keeping a gratitude journal.  Every day, I sit down, reflect, and write down at least 3 things I’m thankful for that day.  Some days it’s very easy – achieving a small goal, having a great day, enjoying a favourite food… other days, well other days it’s more of being thankful for the basics, like food, shelter, and safety.  But this has put me in a way more positive state of mind, and this I think has spilled over into being happier and having better days – even Nick noticed the change in mental attitude!

How do you find yourself to be more productive, and more positive?  Do you need routines and habits, or are you more happy-go-lucky?

 

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