A Little Action Everyday Goes A Long Way Toward Happiness
This is something we have been talking about in my family lately — this little thing called Maintenance.
No, not exactly hammers, orange traffic cones and tool belts, but yes — when an area of your life is not working all that well, you take a look and say, “Hmmm, look at that! I bet I could do that a little differently if I just put a daily dose of my valuable attention there.”
Here’s another way of saying it — You take a little action every day in a particular area of your life that ultimately makes you a happier and healthier person. This action is something you do just for yourself and your own satisfaction, which benefits YOU directly in the future. This is a little something you do NOW — and five years from now you will be very glad you did what you did, and yes, it happened a little at a time. Nothing radical. Just little daily steps in the direction of happiness for you. (Think long term small initial investment with a big return on the other end.)
This is clearly not rocket science, but it takes consistent, dedicated effort in an area where you might be a little asleep at the wheel. I know there are places where I’m most certainly snoozing. How about you?
So first — and this is important! — poke around a bit in your life and see where you are really happy. Notice how you support yourself in these areas and notice how well you do it. Thank yourself, acknowledge yourself, give yourself a HOORAH! and a pat on the back.
Perhaps you LOVE long baths with candles, your favorite bubbles, and no time limit. It’s just your thing. You love it, and you give it to yourself at least once a week no matter what. One of my consulting clients does this. She will take time before she goes out on Saturday evening, or before she tucks herself in. One long bath is a pleasure that lasts — for her — for the whole week. Her week goes better when she takes time for that long pampering session.
One of my friends takes time to smell the roses every day, literally. She walks outside with her morning cup of coffee (no to-do list in hand!) and enjoys the spikes of color in her backyard. She smells them, touches the soft petals. She notices the amazing and brilliant color in the morning light. On special occasions, the hummingbirds dive in for a surprise sip of nectar.
Perhaps you have a well-maintained car. You rotate your tires, change the oil, get it serviced regularly, and keep it clean as a whistle. There’s a schedule. You follow it. And guess what? Your automobile runs beautifully and looks great. You never have car trouble. You’re always happy to have people in your car. You never have to move piles or dog leashes or wrappers from what you were eating a few days ago. Your car always looks clean and welcoming. You’re one of those folks that says, “Sure, I’ll drive” and everybody jumps in.
I recently made a new ALDA (A Little Daily Action) deal with myself. Exercising regularly is pretty easy for me now because I made a deal with myself 4 years ago. I go to the gym 3-4 times a week (pilates, yoga, light weights, the treadmill) and when I don’t feel like the gym, out comes the small trampoline and iPod, or I walk my dogs (not just sauntering along, either!), or I do something that gets my heart going for at least 30 minutes. That’s my deal with myself, and I am SO happy about it. This has made all the difference. I feel good. When I walk, I can feel all the muscles in my body working together — I love that feeling! — and I don’t think I’ve felt that since I was in my late 30’s or early 40’s. I’m actually stronger now than when I was younger.
From this happy and satisfied place, I look forward to the next shift I’m about to make. Try this — make new shifts from a place of being happy about how you already are. This is the opposite of pushing against a failure in an attempt to improve, which is hard work — and it doesn’t work. (Take diets for instance — regaining the weight as soon as the diet is over.) Coming from a place of satisfaction and joy and self-approval, ANY action taken is about a hundred times more effective. How fabulous is that!
So, here I am, happy with my exercising. It’s easy and makes me feel good. I’m strong and flexible. Now what? Here’s what!
I would enjoy the feeling of being lighter in every way. Lighter body, lighter thoughts, lighter attitudes, lighter outlook. Lighten up!
So during my day, I will shine a light on my state of mind. Do I need that snack I’m heading for or am I simply worried or uptight? What thoughts, what point of view would allow me to “lighten up?” How can I feel better right now just by seeing things in a more positive way?
Again, a little action every day. I did it with exercise, I can do it here. What will happen? I have no idea! It could be that I begin to pass up food that I don’t really need. It could be that I feel better, even when times get tough or there are challenges in the family. My younger brother in Iowa is recovering from surgery and some rather serious physical circumstances. How will things change if I look for a better feeling every time I think about him? What will happen if I see all of his strength every time I think about him? I don’t know, but I’ll be happy to report back to you.
And this is an important point — the “I can do it” part. You’ve done it before. You have the skill — make sure you find examples of your success with change. (If you can’t find them, ask a friend who knows you well — they’ll tell you plenty.) Bookmarking your successes turns off that (unkind) voice in your head. Transfer your skill to this area where you’ve been a little sleepy-eyed.
So these are the things I will be looking at in the days to come. I’ll give you a report in a few months! I’m curious about what changes I’ll see in myself and others as I go. Want to participate? Want to go for some new change in your life? You can do it. Look around for evidence that you already know how to make an important change! Send me a report or ask questions — I’d love to hear how this is working for you.