We live in the age of the happy, successful and freakishly fit entrepreneurs who seem to have their lives together far better than we do. We compare, we judge and we ridicule ourselves for our lack of success and happiness. We’re too hard on ourselves and our happiness suffers because of it. How do I know all this you ask? First hand experience my friends. I suffered first hand at my own personal judgement of myself, my skills and my success for a very long time. I compared myself, ridiculed myself and forced myself to work harder in order to gain success. I ended up sick, in a therapist’s office and completely burned out because I was so unkind to myself. I’m not claiming to be some kind of enlightened higher being, but I do have a few tips to share that could help if you are finding yourself in a similar situation.
Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Kindness is such a powerful thing to be able to demonstrate, understand and actively do. You may think your ability to empathise and do a few good deeds is all you need to tick off the kindness box but I’m going to challenge that because I bet you are NOT kind to yourself!
You feel sad when you see or hear about cruel acts, violence or injustices. You sometimes go out of your way to help people because you feel sorry for them. These are all great qualities that prove you have the ability to empathise. However, do you forgive another’s actions because you understand they may be having a bad day? Can you perform a good act for someone because you want to, it’s the right thing to do and not just because you ‘feel sorry for them’? Are you kind to yourself after having a bad day? Do you forgive yourself for not ‘achieving’ or ‘succeeding’? Do you tell yourself it’s ok to fail sometimes, it’s ok to not get things right and comfort yourself when things don’t go to plan? Probably not, I know I certainly didn’t and still don’t sometimes. I can still be my most harsh and critical enemy at times.
Practice being truly kind to others and don’t forget to be kind to yourself. We aren’t always going to get the job, get the relationship, get the success or the happiness but we have the ability to be kind about it. Be kinder to the people around you and understand that they are not perfect and practice forgiving their flaws. It will help when it comes to doing this for yourself. Being kind is not about showing off how much of a great human you are on your social media feed (much to popular disbelief). Being kind is an important part of the overall happiness in your life.
2. STOP DOING THINGS FOR OTHER PEOPLE
This seems contradictory to my last point does it not? I’ve just said we should be kinder to others and now I’m telling you to stop doing things for them. Bear with me, I will make sense, I promise.
Are you one of those people who are constantly, CONSTANTLY doing things for others? Do you forget that word ‘no’ exists and that you can say it from time to time? Do you feel the need to ‘help’ every single person in your life or perhaps you are the person everybody turns to for things? If this is you, you must stop doing things for other people. I mean, don’t stop all together because of the aforementioned kindness but stop doing it all the time. What have you done for yourself lately? Probably nothing much besides berating yourself for your lack of success and happiness. Learn the word no, use it and feel ok doing so. I know it will be hard at first because you have this innate urge to please those around you. You are a people pleaser and you feel the urge to have people like you. You want them to see you as being a ‘good person’ or to see your talents and abilities. After time you will see that people won’t hate you for saying no, they will simply move on to ask the next person in line!
Do more for yourself, you’ll end up having more time and energy to do meaningful things for others.
3.SCHEDULE ‘ME TIME’ INTO YOUR BUSY LIFE
This is something I had to learn to do, schedule in some ‘me time’ and stick to the plan. No, ‘me time’ is not doing uni readings, rehearsing lines, sitting on the couch sending emails or even making phone calls. ‘Me time’ is me doing something I want to do purely because it will relax me, make me happy and take my mind off everything else.
I find I’m constantly doing things because I must do them, not because I want to. I don’t want to answer hundreds of emails or people’s pointless questions. I don’t want to do millions of uni readings all day long and then go straight to work. I’d rather sit around doing nothing all day, eating pasta and watching Netflix. Ok, maybe not do that every day, but you get my point. Schedule some time where you actually get to switch your mind off from everything else in your life and you can just enjoy relaxing. I mean, literally, schedule it in. Put it in your planner, set aside an hour or two and actually take some time out. I find I am less resentful toward the things I ‘have to do’ and everything starts to become more enjoyable. I am refreshed and happy and able to do things without feeling angry, annoyed or exhausted.
4.DO THE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO
I go on about this all the time but it’s because I feel so strongly about it. If you want to be happy, do the things you want to do. Don’t do the things you think you have to do because of some preconceived structure society has set out for what your life must be. Do the things you want to do simply because you like to do them and they give your life some fulfilment. Take my natural gravitation toward acting and performing for example. No, I’m not a huge movie star. No, I’m not even a small prime-time TV star but guess what? I love acting, I love performing and because I love these things I will continue to do them. Yes, sometimes I can get frustrated and crave further success because I want to be doing this all day every day. That can be an inescapable feeling but simply put, I continue to do it because I want to.
When I started my university degree people around me asked me why I was doing it. They asked me what job I was going to get afterwards. They asked me what I was going to do with the degree. Well, I’m doing my degree because I want to, I want a degree. Because I want to do it it’s not such a chore and I’m actually enjoying my studies. I’m doing the things I want to do. Even the things that I ‘don’t want to do’ like work and study are really things that are part of a greater plan for happiness and fulfilment. I didn’t actively set out for it to be like that, it just sort of happened when I finally decided to stop doing sh*t I hate.
Happiness is not unobtainable for us, it is not something for the privileged nor is it something we must earn. It is something we can practice every single day.
Practice being happy, see what it does for your life. It is something I still actively practice every single day and I’m still learning to appreciate how important it is.