Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Do One Thing

One thing that I am learning about being happy happy is that self-discipline is really a key component.  Wait - hear me out!  When you are self-disciplined, a lot of the tough stuff just comes almost naturally.  Self-disciplined folks automatically manage to clean up after themselves and stick to their routines.  They eat healthy and exercise. They accomplish more than us undisciplined people, by following through on their goals.

My husband is the most disciplined person I know.  I have never seen someone who will set such crazy goals on a daily basis, and practically kill himself to reach them.  He gets up at 4:30, goes to the gym, then works from 7am to 5pm every single week day.   He competes in mud races and obstacle courses.  He takes a boot camp, jungle gym (crazy) class twice a week.  His fitness routines are so automatic that it just feels wrong for him when he does not follow them.  He just HAS to work out in the morning.  When he doesn't, he feels like something is missing all day.

Now for those of you who think all that sounds like a huge pain in the tuchus, you are right.  There are definitely times that his over-the-top goals drive me insane.  But, he also inspires me to be better.  It makes me think of how much easier it would be to work out, if I felt compelled to do it.  How much easier healthy eating would be if it was my first choice most of the time.  How much easier cleaning would be if it was so much a part of my normal routine that everything would feel "off" if I didn't complete it.  And we all know how much happier we feel when we exercise, eat healthy, and have a clean home.  Ahhhh....

The cool thing is that science backs me up on this one. Research in the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney shows that once actions become routines and habits, they stop requiring your willpower.  Baumister writes, "Getting things down to routines and habits takes willpower at first but in the long run conserves willpower. Once things become habitual, they operate as automatic processes, which consume less willpower."

Willpower and self discipline are like a muscle.  They become stronger as you exercise them.  My first exercise will be to "Do One Thing."  When my to do list looks overwhelming, and I just do not know where to start, I will just do one thing.  Before I leave a room, I will clean up one thing (fluff some pillows, grab something to put away in another room, (dust the coffee table, wipe down the counters, clean one toilet)  When I'm on the couch and feeling guilty, I will get up and do one thing (dust the coffee table, wipe down the counters, 20 squats).  When I feel too lazy to exercise, I will do one little thing (a one minute plank, 50 crunches, 15 push-ups).

Anyone else in?  Can you Do One Thing with me?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why "Happy Happy"?

Until I met my husband five years ago, I was decidedly UNHAPPY unhappy.  Super unhappy.  Why is a long sad story that I will not burden you with.

When I met Michael, things changed.  Meeting him and falling in love with him showed me how much potential happiness existed in life.  Loving him and being loved was wonderful.  And I was happy.  Did we have tough times?  Of course!  There are plenty of times when I'm sad or angry or unhappy about something, not unhappy in general.  I really did not think I could be happier.

A little over a year ago, I gave birth to my son.  And I gave birth to happy happy.  If you have ever had a child, you know what I mean.  The love is magical.  And the happy truly expands to happy happy.

BUT. Being a mommy is hard.  Really hard.  And there are times when "happy" is not your first thought.  You know... when you get up for the 5th time that night with your six month old.  Or when he screams for twenty minutes because you won't let him break play with the computer.

One of his cuter not-happy moments.
The trick is what you do between those moments.  Whether you are happy happy is determined by how you feel - in general - not in the moment.  How do we keep that happy happy, in general, feeling?  That's what I'm hoping to explore.

Happy Happy