Every show I've worked on has held enormous challenges for me to deal with and sort out. It's no secret that I love my job, but that doesn't change the fact that it can be stressful at times. And this year has been more stressful than usual.
The end of last week couldn't have come soon enough...I am tired, stressed out and in serious need of some personal rejuvenation: both mentally and spiritually.
It takes a lot to get me down for this long - and I've felt like this for a month now - desperately trying to wait patiently for July so I can take a little holiday and get some much needed me time before work starts again in September.
I like to consider myself an optimist - a glass half full kinda gal. This, however, doesn't keep me from feeling like I've been hit by a Mac Truck now and then though...but thankfully, I have a bag of tools to help get me back up again.
I've never really sat down and articulated what it is that helps keep my mood so sunny and my spirits high, but good 'ole Pintrest helped me out two weeks ago when I was feeling my lowest: a list (my favourite thing!). 12 Things Happy People Do Differently.
I already do all of these things unconsciously, but a written reminder was confirmation of what I needed to do to bring myself a little out of the dumps.
So I decided I would share this list with you my fine friends.
12 Things Happy People Do Differently
1. Express Gratitude.
When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.
If we aren't thankful for what we already have, we will have a hard time ever being happy.
On days when I'm feeling low I make a gratitude list (another one!): a list of all of the things I
have to be grateful for in life. It is a physical reminder of the good things in my life. I read it
outloud to myself if I can. And I keep this list with me until I'm feeling better. In my darkest days
I kept a book with all my gratitude lists and toted it around with me.
2. Cultivate Optimism.
People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities,
especially in trying times.
This is not what I would put second on this list, personally. I think cultivating optimism can be
difficult for someone who is trying to turn around their view on the world. It's certainly
something to keep in your back pocket, but I also think it comes more naturally when some of the
other items on this list are done.
Cultivating optimism for me is summed up in this sentence:
If that's the worst thing that happens today, we're having a good day.
3. Avoid Over-thinking and Social Comparison.
Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.
The only person you should compare to is "yourself before now".
In our bigger is better, "I want, I want, I want" society this one can be difficult. It can be hard to
see our friends and family getting and doing things we yearn for. In times like this (because I am
no stranger to the "green-eyed monster" or "keeping up with the Jones'") I remind myself that
my life is not on the same trajectory as anyone else's. I trust that the
universe/God/the fates/whateveryouwannacallit is pushing me in the direction that I'm supposed
to be going in. I get out my gratitude list (see #1) and remind myself that I probably have many
things that others wish they have. The grass is always greener.
And if I actually want something tangible that someone else has, I make a plan of action. What
can I do in order to get closer to that new life goal?
4. Practice Acts of Kindness.
Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.
I practice this every day that I can - it doesn't have to be big acts either. I smile at the person in
the car next to me at a red light. I tell the woman in the liquor mart that her shoes are beautiful.
I help the elderly man in the grocery store read a price label. I bring my assistant a
small treat at work - a coffee, or a snack. Donate old clothes to a homeless or a women's shelter.
Volunteer at the shelter! Bring your neighbour some homemade goodies. You get the idea...
5. Nurture Social Relationships.
The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.
Call your mother/brother/grandmother. Make plans with friends, even if you are tired. Spending
time with people you like rejuvenates you. This is the one I have the hardest time with - I like to
be a shut in and nurture the relationship I have with my couch!
6. Develop Strategies for Coping.
It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call and in your arsenal at your
I have the hardest time dealing with stress (like many people). I am currently working on my
arsenal for coping with anxiety and stress. Deep breathing (it really works!), which in turn gives
me a chance to step back from the situation and assess. Sometimes I just need to extract myself
completely to get a handle on my anxiety/stress - I have yet to find a time and a place where I
wasn't able to take 3 minutes to get myself back together enough to function.
I also have other tools for dealing with other kinds of things life likes to throw my way. The trick
to building an arsenal is to learn from your mistakes - how did the last crisis (however big or
small) affect me? What would I do differently if I had to live it all over again?
7. Learn to Forgive.
Harbouring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well being.
This can be difficult. I just had to do this last month - forgive someone so I could move on. It
takes a big person to forgive sometimes. I take pleasure in the thought that I am strong enough
to forgive someone even if they don't forgive me, or know that I've forgiven them, or even need
to. The act of forgiveness can be about me - it's about moving past negative feelings and letting
myself move forward. It's about understanding another's faults, knowing that I have my
faults as well. It's about knowing that hatred can't change another person, but love
and kindness can.
8. Increase Flow Experiences.
Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.
It's when you're so focused on what you're doing that you become one with the task.
Nothing is distracting you or competing with your focus.
I like to call this "living in the moment". With all of our social media and technology these days
this one can be difficult too (and I am increasingly guilty of taking photos with my iPhone instead
of taking in the scenery). Living in the moment creates strong positive emotional memories that
can be revisited in times of trouble. Living in the moment makes you feel alive! Forget about
everything plaguing you...experience the world with your five senses (not your phone!): how
does this moment taste/smell/look/feel like/sound like? You only get this moment once in your
entire life and I promise you, your camera will never remember it the same way your mind will.
9. Savour Life's Joys.
Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.
A perfect next step from #8. Live in the moment, then savour the joy. These are the moments that
make living worth it. 'Nuff said.
10. Commit to Your Goals.
Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get
These days I don't carry a book of gratitude lists. I carry around a piece of paper with my goals
on it; things I want to achieve in life and have to work towards.
Some of them are small: find a better way to organize the paper in the house.
Some of them are big: Stage Manage a large touring show.
I also have a mental plan of action (feel free to write your plans of action down) for each one.
Accomplishing tasks on my action list or even achieving a goal is a wonderful thing! I celebrate
my success! I tell family and friends and use this feeling as fuel to accomplish the next task.
11. Practice Spirituality.
When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.
We surrender the idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.
I have never spoken about spirituality/religion on my blog before. Why would I? It's a life-light
lifestyle blog. I am not a religious person. I refer to myself as a spiritual person. I believe in a
higher power, I believe that there is something bigger than me in the universe and I trust that it
will guide me where I am supposed to be in life. I have no explanation why I believe this, but that
is the nature of faith isn't it?
Having this faith can instil a calmness in me that nothing else can in times of trouble. I can't give
you advice on how to become religious or spiritual, but just tell you of my experience.
12. Take Care of Your Body.
Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.
Taking care of your body doesn't just refer to being physically healthy, in my opinion. Naturally,
getting enough sleep and eating well are important. Making sure you are internally healthy is the
place to start, but don't forget the outward beauty maintenance. No matter how shallow it
sounds, I always feel better when my toenails are painted, my roots are dyed and my legs are
shaved. Don't overlook the power of the small things in life to help change your perspective
on the larger things.
So there it is. This list isn't mine, but I swear by it - as a happy person.
Are you working on becoming a happier person? What are you doing? What do you think of this list? Anything you would add/omit?