I have a confession to make. I have a good job, a great husband, sweet friends, an adorable kid, food on my table and a house of my own; I live in a great country, have a loving family and am in good health – but I’m not really as happy as I should be.
I thought that maybe I just didn’t know what happiness was and that I was doing something wrong until I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a great book that detscribes how Ms. Rubin, like myself, was not overly unhappy with her life but saw room for improvement. She decided to make changes to her life in order increase her overall happiness. Reading it was overwhelming at first (she was very rigorous in her research, planning and execution, plus the items were all tailored to her) but as I recently re-read it, it all fell into place for me. While I was pretty happy with my life overall, I was doing all kinds of little things that took away from how happy I could be; and not doing other things that made me happy.
So I sat down with a pen and paper and came up with a list of the things in my life that make me unhappy. I figured that while I could easily increase the amount of time I spent doing the things that make me happy (being near the ocean, snuggling with my son, drinking wine with my husband on the weekends, burning my Diptyque candles, shopping…) it was probably more beneficial to think about the things that made me unhappy and try to improve them, eliminate them or learn how to better deal with them.
I decided to narrow my “unhappiness” list down to 1a list of general themes that I could work on and then I too would have my own personalized happiness project, à la Gretchen Rubin. Without overwhelming you with a list of all the things I am not happiest about, I think they resonate with lots of people: they’re things like my weight, my eating habits, my lack of patience, stress levels… You know, modern life.
I decided that the first item I should tackle should be one that dealt with two of the major things I’m unhappy about; my body and my attitude. Here’s how I broke it down on my list:
I eat terribly unhealthily. As a prime example, I consume approximately 3 Litres (101 ounces) of Diet Coke a week. Aspartame hasn’t been proven to kill me, but it’s also not been proven not to. Plus, it gives headaches, increases stress levels and triggers weird brain reactions. I also eat fast food regularly, don’t take any vitamins and have very little energy and feel lethargic most of the time.
Rocket science of what I have to do, right?
So for the month of August, I will be focusing on creating new, healthy habits supporting me in reducing the unhappiness around this. One of the biggest ways I’ve seen failure in achieving goals is in doing just what I did above. Make vague, general statements without an action plan. So here is how I am going to do those things:
- I will be making weekly meal plans and buying groceries required ahead of time. One of the biggest reasons I fail at this on a regular basis is that I get home from work, try and decide what’s for dinner only to realize it’s 8pm and pizza is the only thing that can be ready in 10-15 minutes. I will make the meal plans on Saturdays and ensure the groceries are in the house and food prep (if needed) is done by Monday morning
- I will go to the vitamin store and talk to someone about what kind of vitamins I should be taking and then ensure that I am actually taking them every day. I’ve bought lots of lofty bottles of vitamins (Yes, I’ve decided that is a thing) in the past only to have them expire at the back of my bathroom cabinet
- I will completely cut out Diet Coke from my life for the month and try and quit my terrible habit cold turkey. Easier said than done as I don’t drink coffee and I think part of the reason I love it so much is the caffeine
- Realizing that exercise is part of the key to having more energy and feeling better about my body, it’s not the main goal for this month so I’m not going to tie an “exercise” goal to this per se, but I will put in that I need to go for a walk for at least 30 minutes 3 times per week
- Drink the recommended amounts of water daily. It’s free*, it’s good for you and it will help flush out all the bad toxins from the devious fast food companies
Don’t worry, the blog won’t become bogged down with stories of my dieting woes, and quite honestly, it’s not about dieting for me. It’s about putting food into my mouth that is healthy. I think that just by eating well at home versus McDonalds (Mmmmm Big Mac) / Dairy Queen (Mmmmm Skor Blizzard) / Pizza Hut (Mmmmm Pizza) my weight will improve significantly. If after I eat well for a few months my weight doesn’t improve then I’ll try something more drastic.
Wish me luck! Anyone else quit Diet Coke? Quit fast food?
*Ok, maybe not free, free, but versus popping $2 into a Coke machine, it’s free