Sunday, 27 March 2016

New series - how to be happier?

It's probably clear based on the theme of my blog - life change, growing as a person, seeking for a better quality of life - that this topic interests me hugely. I'm in a lucky position professionally in the sense that I'm regularly sent to very interesting courses about life quality, mindfulness and work life balance.

I decided to start a series of blog articles covering the most interesting snippets of courses and trainings I've attended lately to help you, too.

Teaching #1 What you pay attention to, grows in your mind and life

This is a no-brainer, yet it's really easy to forget or not to live by it in everyday life.

This advice can be understood from a manifestation-point of view, or just as common sense. Manifesters believe that what you apply your mind to, it will be drawn or attracted to be a part of the energy flow of your life. "Common sense people" believe that it's up to you to decide, what occupies your mind. Positive thoughts bring positive feelings and experiences, and negative thoughts bring negativities.

Now, how to apply this to a work life balance situation?

A deceivingly simple tip I recently received is: always try to spend as much time on things you enjoy and as little time as possible on things you dislike.

At work, try to discard most of the tasks you hate, or organise them in a manner it only takes 10-20% of your day to complete them. Fill in the rest with tasks you like. If this requires restructuring your role, do it as far as you can. Ask for new tasks from your supervisor, ask for extra training, take on extra responsibilities in an area that matters to you, offer to swap tasks with a colleague, do everything you can to make this happen.

It's always easier to get more work than less in a workplace -

because other people are usually happy to give their tasks away. For example, if you enjoy meeting new people, could you swap some tasks and include more interaction in your day? Be more in the frontline instead of the back office? Or vice versa?

When I first heard this tip, I thought "that's absolute bollocks! It can't work! I can't just drop doing the boring chores, everybody knows that!". 

However, after tinkering with this for a few weeks and months, I realised that it indeed was possible to minimise the boringness and add some enthusiasm within my role. I chopped the most boring tasks into pieces and do them max. 2 hours per day. Obviously, it takes more days to finish them now, but on the other hand, I stay more focused and make fewer mistakes when I'm not bored to death with something mind-blowingly dull (my role revolves around accounting- and auditing-type chores).

I've added new tasks by volunteering to be an occupational health and safety representative, which allows me to communicate with people more and pay attention to the work environment and its quality, which relates to the overall life quality theme - my passion. I've also proven that I'm good at research so I've recently got more research-based tasks. Tadah, it was possible to make adjustments with a bit of creativity and willingness to do more, not less.

This has fed into the rest of my life, too. Because I'm not constantly bitter and frustrated due to the dissatisfaction with my work, I'm also more productive, energetic and inspired in life in general. I found energy to start this blog. I've started other extracurricular activities I enjoy. I'm expanding my social circles. These in turn feed positive energy into my work life, because I don't feel so stuck and miserable anymore. What I have focused on, has indeed expanded.

If you can't change your tasks (say, you work as a cleaner or a mailman), are there any aspects in your role you enjoy, even a tiny bit? Can you expand those deliberately? Say, you get to listen to the radio when you work. Could you scan new radio stations every day to discover something new? Or start practising dancing when no one's looking? It could be anything and everything, even silly - the main point is that you enjoy it and it makes you feel lighter and more positive about your day.

The same rule applies to housework, too. Use only 10-15% of your free time on tasks you dislike and focus on what you like per day. Don't like cooking? Find ways to make it faster, easier and more fun. Cook together with your family. Eat takeaway. Eat breakfast for dinner just to mix things up. Cook massive portions of two or three dishes once per week, freeze meal-size portions and alternate between dishes for the rest of the week. Use frozen or semi-ready "just add water"-style meals and ready-mixed salads. Someone criticises you for not being a mature adult or a good parent because you eat readymade lasagne? Laugh it off. You're happier and that's what matters.

How to apply this to relationships? I have a topical example of an extended family situation. A friend of mine has a sister-in-law who's very insecure about her parenting style, apparently due to the constant criticism from the mother-in-law.

My friend is not interested in being involved in any sort of a competition or blame game, but she is being dragged into the cat fight. The latest backlash came, when she made an innocent comment online that happened to include her sister-in-law. The Sis attacked her immediately due to a misunderstanding caused by the insecurity and sensitivity to see everything as criticism.

Instead of retaliating, my friend decided to just step back and let go. She focused on staying calm, detached and happy - not my circus, not my monkeys - whereas the Sis is only focusing on screening the environment for criticism and judgement, so that is what she sees, constantly, everywhere. Which person you'd rather be? I know my answer :)

As a crucial last step, try applying this ingredient into the "what you focus on, will expand"- philosophy...

Do something you love every day
Try something new every week
Learn something new every month
Challenge yourself - do something that scares the **** out of you every year

And here's a tarot spread to help you on the way.

1. What should I focus more in my everyday life?
2. What should I focus less in my everyday life?
3. What could I focus more in the grand scheme of things?
4. What should I focus less in the grand scheme of things?
5. What new skill would be beneficial for me? 
6. What I'm still holding on that doesn't serve me at all?

Happiness is a cup of good, strong coffee and a slice of delicious cake. That's why I go to my favourite café once per week to unwind and treat myself!

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