2017: a catch up
Welcome to a newly revamped blog and the first post in about 6 months! Life got in the way more than I had planned and writing became something my head was just unable to focus on for a long time. Thankfully that has now changed for a few different reasons which will all become clear.
Those of you who read my first ever post on this blog will know that this year I chose not to make any resolutions to live by for 12 months. Instead I chose a question. The idea is a basic one, rather than try to stick to resolutions that are too ambitious or easy to break, I will live my year always asking myself the question – will this serve my happiness? The question isn’t reserved for only the life changing but for the everyday and the mundane too. It’s also not just about long term happiness but happiness in the short term as well.
So nearly ten months down the line how has my question served me so far?
I’m not going to lie, I thought (perhaps a little naively) living my life with one question in mind would be easy. At least easier than trying not to break multiple resolutions and setting myself up to fail. However the reality has been slightly different. Living my life whilst constantly questioning if what i’m doing is serving my happiness has highlighted some particularly harsh truths as well as raising some other difficult questions. Although initially I had planned to ask my question in relation to short term and long term happiness, one of the things I quickly realised is they don’t necessarily serve each other. Staying in my job was causing me a little (actually a lot) of stress and anxiety, however I was also telling myself in the end the hardship could contribute to my long term happiness (great experience, handy contacts, potential progression). So no short term happiness but maybe that would serve my long term happiness? Another good example is my attempt to start a diet that involved essentially eating nothing but meat, beans and vegetables for six days of the week. On the seventh day you could eat anything you wanted, anything you could think of you could eat. Again this diet may have provided happiness in the long term – in the form of looking in the mirror and having a positive reaction for a change- but in the short term was making me miserable. Have you ever tried watching The Great British Bake Off without being able to eat biscuits or cake? Let me tell you it almost broke me. I quickly found that thinking about my future happiness sometimes meant sacrificing my immediate happiness. (Apologies, this blog post may end up setting a new record for number of times happiness is said in one piece of writing.)
As well as wrestling with long term vs. short term, I also realised there were several things in my life that were making me very unhappy. The main one being my job. Don’t get me wrong it was very interesting and i’d managed to progress very quickly in a very short space of time. The people I worked with were amazing and probably the main reason I continued to stay even though I was becoming more and more stressed with each passing week. Eventually I had to admit to myself that I didn’t think the future benefits were worth the impact it was having on me and my mental health and I gave notice. In the two weeks that I haven’t worked there my partner has made several comments about how much better my mood is and how much happier I seem. Whilst making the choice to leave was scary, ultimately it appears to be the right one so far and provides me with the time and energy to pursue what I really want to do.
Although my question has come with difficulties it has also triggered some very exciting life decisions. If you’re anything like me you’ll be guilty of thinking “One day i’ll do/own/experience this…” but why does it have to be one day? Why can’t it be today? Unfortunately I think a vast majority of us believe we should live our lives with the aim to achieve particular milestones. We go to University, get a decent job, settle down, get married and have babies. Not only do we believe we have to reach these milestones but we also believe they come in a predetermined order that we should stick to rigidly. Who cares if it means sacrificing what you truly want or it makes you miserable in the process. As a result of my question I have chosen to start doing the things I want sooner rather than later, after all life is short and we could spend years planning for a future ‘one day’ and never get there.
Keeping a question in mind whilst navigating life for the last nine months has made me more mindful of my decisions and how they affect me and my loved ones. It has forced me to look at aspect of my life and make changes, not excuses. Of course serving your happiness isn’t always possible and there are compromises that have to be made but I have realised where I do and don’t feel comfortable making those compromises. I’ve already started thinking about what my question for next year could be, but for now there are still three months left in the year to see where this one takes me.