I was reminded last night of the 100 Happy Days project that I took part in a while ago…and thought that I would resurrect it!
It was really great to see people joining in with it and I used to get lots of emails and messages with 100 Happy Days pictures on…it was great – a really lovely way to spread a bit of positivity!
When it comes to getting your head in the right space to make changes, there are so many positive psychology tools that you can use – and I’ll get to those in a second.
For me, this little project felt like a great way of building upon and continuing the work of my Three Blessings stuff – or rather Martin Seligman’s Three Blessings stuff!
All I needed to do was commit to something for 100 days – commit to taking and posting a photograph of something which made me happy. So I did – I committed to it for a decent length of time…and when I started, I wasn’t really sure that I’d do it!
According to the website…
People successfully completing the challenge claimed to:
– Start noticing what makes them happy every day;
– Be in a better mood every day;
– Start receiving more compliments from other people;
– Realise how lucky they are to have the life they have;
– Become more optimistic;
– Fall in love during the challenge.
I can, hand on heart, say that I could tick most of those off my list – apart from the odd day when I was a grumpy cow – but I quite like grumpy every now and again!
I didn’t want it to turn into a competition – so no pictures of posh handbags, posh houses, or posh cars. It was purely to spread a little joy and to share the things that made me smile. I remember the 100 Happy Days guys pointing out that you might just increase your happiness – and that you will end up with a collection of pictures that make you smile…which mine definitely did! There were pictures of flowers, horses, my family, my dog, of random strangers looking happy, of colourful stuff that I noticed, of me heading back to Uni, of me working – all sorts of stuff made me happy.
I wrote at the time about positive psychology and some of the tools and techniques that I used to overcome my binge eating and shift a chunk of weight. Given that I am renewing that journey I thought it made sense to practice was I was preaching back then and to review what worked…in the hope that it will help me stay on track right now. Although right now I feel on fucking fire, but you never know when you might need a boost and I always think that prevention is better than cure!
So here we go then…this is what I remember writing:
Happiness – it’s something that I never thought I could claim as an emotion! Since working hard to develop a positive attitude, life has got better – I wouldn’t say that I see it through rose-tinted glasses, as I am a realist…but there may be a rose-tinted haze around the edges now!
You know that I always harp on about the importance of the mind when it comes to weight loss. The weight loss battle may be won in the kitchen…but your mind needs to be the one that gets your backside into that kitchen in the first place…instead of logging on to Just-Eat whilst you relax on the sofa!
I often get asked about motivation. For me, it is hard to feel motivated if I am not in a good place in my mind…and positivity and happiness is at the heart of this. Now, I am not someone who thinks that it’s a good idea to try and ignore unhappy or negative emotions – burying your head in the sand is just asking for trouble in my opinion. Yet I feel quite strongly that a positive mindset can help you deal with these negative emotions without drowning in them.
So how the heck do you develop a positive mindset?
There are some little ‘rules’ – guidelines is probably a better word to use, as I am not one for rules really! – which I used to help me.
#1 – Get rid of the negative stuff…
When I say ‘stuff’ I actually mean people for the most part. It is practically impossible to create that positivity if you are surrounding yourself with negative, toxic people who do not share your vision and who are not supporting your goal. I would class the old me as a real pessimist – and this tendency stills rears it’s head every now and again. The problem with being a pessimist was that positive, optimistic people really pissed me off…so I stuck with the likeminded miserable gits. When I decided that positivity was important – crucial really – I had a problem…I had to rid myself of certain people. It wasn’t easy. But I knew that I needed to change in order to make a change, and so did the ‘things’ around me. I took a close look at what I believed would be good for me…and I got rid of the rest. I either phased out my contact with them, or just plain old deleted them from my life – i.e. Facebook, my phone, and my address book! I am going to take another look at those around and work out who is supporting and who is sabotaging…at this precise moment in time Mr WLB is tucking into a giant pizza, after eating two cheesey pretzels, two Apple Turnovers, and a packed of Extremely Chocolatey Biscuits from Marks and Spencer earlier…so he’d better watch out!
To be fair, I was in a dire situation and had pretty much cut contact with a lot of people anyway. In this instance, I chose positive people – who I knew would support me, and in turn I could support them – to reconnect with. Does this sound harsh? What is worse…being selective about my friendships…or dying? What is worse…not ever getting that life you want…or spending time with people who take you further away from the life you crave?
Be selective. If you do decide to keep the negative people – I didn’t have a choice in some cases…my all-time favourite pessimist is my Dad…love you millions Dad! – then just be mindful of their words. Since speaking with my Dad, and giving him a bit of a telling off about the negative, he has really been quite helpful and is a big supporter of mine. I remember that he used to want me to move more and was never really happy with any efforts I made…and then went through a phase of telling me to ease off the gym, and ends every ‘phone call with the words, “Just be careful!”
#2 – Blow your own trumpet…
Let’s face it – no one else is going to do this job for you! Take charge of your positivity. You can’t suddenly decide to be positive and leave it at that…you need to constantly top up your positivity tank! You have to practice. You need to reinforce your new behaviour and thinking patterns. Get positive about yourself and your attributes. Tell yourself how bloody marvellous you are. Tell yourself that you look great. Tell yourself that you are a fabulous chef / accountant / recruiter / bus driver…whatever you do – you are good at it (and if you aren’t…then tell yourself that you are an excellent job hunter!). You have to love yourself…and accept yourself – warts and all – so say it out loud! This is where is gets tough – but look in a mirror if you can (I only had one mirror in my house at one point in time!) and tell yourself…’I have beautiful eyes’ or ‘I have the best nose ever’ or even better ‘I am a beautiful person’. My favourite, and I am a little embarrassed to share this, is my current phrase, “You are pretty fucking amazing!” I am not ashamed to say that I actually believe this. Yes, I am fat…but I am a pretty fucking amazing fat girl!
It is okay to find this kind of stuff hard. Positive affirmations can be a toughie and your negative mind just won’t believe what you are saying. But keep saying it! You don’t have to be perfect to be positive…focus on the good bits and reaffirm your belief in these. I guarantee that there are so many positive attributes that you could use to describe yourself…so bloody well get talking to yourself!
#3 – Choose happiness…
Can you choose to be happy? I always thought that my happiness was determined by my life – experiences I have had, my relationships, my job, my family…anything and everything contributes to happiness right? Have you ever stopped to think that you could just choose to be happy? This is another tough one – let’s face it though, if this was easy then we would all be bloody positive! You always have a choice. You can choose how to react in a certain situation…and of course some situations are going to be absolute ball-bags of shiteness…but there are always options as to how you react. Learning to be happy is a choice and it feels pretty good.
I now take responsibility for my mood. I am not perfect and I don’t always get it right – as you have seen in some of my ‘poor me’ blog posts! But in general, I choose happiness. In fact I now tell people that I feel amazing. I am happy. I feel like Kylie in my mind! So stop pointing fingers and placing blame on others and ‘things’ for your mood. You can choose, for the most part, your mood…and that can never be taken from you.
If you feel that you need some extra support with your mood then please go and see your GP – depression and anxiety can be supported…you’d go and get a broken leg fixed and wouldn’t be bothered about seeking help for that, so stop being a dick if you do have real mood issues…go and get some help!
#4 – Open your eyes…
Look for the good. It’s not always obvious…but it is lurking somewhere! Look for it, and look hard!
I rarely took the time to see the positive. Whatever emotion I felt in a certain situation, I went with. I was as lazy with my emotions as I was with my eating habits…I always went for the quick fix. I just accepted what I saw…and being a pessimist, this was usually the negative. Try asking yourself, “What good can I take from this?”…regardless of how awful the situation, there is always a positive. I had one lady, a coaching client of mine – who has agreed that I can share this with you – who recently found out that her mother has a terminal illness. Despite the desperately awful situation, she has told me that she is now able to make peace…to take some time to tell her mother how much she means…to spend time with her that she might not have done…to lay any issues to rest. It takes an incredible person to look at such a situation like this.
I talk often about learning from past mistakes…but learning experiences can be found in every situation. Even if you can’t find a positive in a situation – which is rare – then you can at least take some learning from it.
One of my favourite ‘tools’, which I have mentioned before, is the ‘Three Blessings’ technique. This really helps with that ‘looking for the good’. You basically write down three things each evening, for a week, that have made you smile…and you also write down why you think that they happened to you. This last bit is important…good things happen to good people supposedly, and so your self-esteem begins to rise when you realise that good things are happening to you…because you deserve them! This isn’t just some bullshit that I have made up either…it’s a clinically proven technique and the effects of doing this for one week can apparently be felt for up to six months.
#5 – Share happiness…
Positivity starts at home – in your own mind. Yet you also need to be positive with others…share your positivity! There is a risk with this sharing. That risk is being labelled as an annoying dick – a label I used to throw around freely about positive people…now I am embracing my inner annoying dick!
Quite simply, be nice. Be nice to people. Pay compliments – genuine ones. If you see someone with a gorgeous dress that makes their eyes look stunning, tell them. Gorgeous hair, tell them. An amazing smile, tell them. A fabulous presentation, tell them. A great sales pitch, tell them. Good eyebrows – I was in a meeting with a girl who had great eyebrows the other day, so I told her – she was so pleased and told me all about how she did them…I might try and tackle my own caterpillar brows soon! Find a positive and pay a compliment. Tell all of your friends and family how much you love them.
If you know that someone isn’t feeling great, send them a little message telling them why they are fabulous. Send them flowers. Make a small but lovely gesture.
I find that this comes easily to me now. I still struggle to be nice to, or about, a couple of people…but there is a good reason for this. With everyone else I try and focus on seeing the good in everyone. I try and encourage and support. I try and treat people the way that I would like to be treated.
Get practicing your positivity…and spread it. It will reinforce this new emotion and mindset within you.
So here’s my first 100 Happy Days picture – three of my neddies:
I went to spend some time with them after going to the gym this morning. Our yard area is grassed and I thought I’d let them in there overnight to have a bit of a munch. So I sat in there with them for a while…listening to the birds singing and the little lambs across the road, catching some sun and topping up my Vitamin D, and giving them scratches. As I left, they were mooching around the barn so I have a feeling that I am going to arrive to carnage tomorrow with hay everywhere…but for today, they were happy and so was I!
Having mentioned the gym, I had a ‘moment’ after coming out today. I usually park in a spot that I reverse into and drive straight out of…but I didn’t do that today. Yet when I got back into my car, my brain thought that I had done that…so having wound down my windows, turning my music on loud, and putting on y sunglasses, I drove forwards to hit the kerb thing (which someone else had walloped before me as the bricks were already loose!) my sunglasses flew off and my horn beeped. So yes…I was a douchebag today!
And that’s it for me really – I might hit the PlayStation tonight…I haven’t gamed for ages and I quite like riding the horses around on Assassins Creed!
My food for the day has been really tasty:
Breakfast – Tenderstem broccoli, spinach, and button mushroom scrambled eggs.
Lunch – A beetroot, goats cheese, and lentil salad from Marks and Spencer.
Dinner – A seafood bowl – with rocket salad (my nod to the green shit!), spring onions, cherry tomatoes, avocado, smoked salmon, olives, salmon pate, and chargrilled squid…it was lovely!
As always, thank you for reading – and if you do try any of the positive psychology stuff then let me know how you get on!