Happy at work?

Gretchen Rubin states: “Happiness is a critical factor for work, and work is a critical factor for happiness.” (The Happiness Project)

When you think about how many hours in a week many of us spend working, if going to work feels like a chore itself, you’re bound to run into trouble eventually.

I like work.

Sometimes perhaps a bit too much even – but it hasn’t meant that I’ve always been happy at work.

Actually, for a long period of time with my former employer, I would rather have broken my arm, than gone to work. Perhaps if I had analyzed properly, what really annoyed me, I would have realized, that my problem was not so much what I did, than perhaps the culture of the company or the clients I worked for. But all I knew at that moment, a bit more than a year ago was, that I have to get the hell away from there.

I tried and failed in many things before going after any Business Analyst positions (which has basically been my role for the past 9 years) because I was so convinced, software development or being a BA was not meant for me.

Now, after spending an intense rollercoaster ride of a year with my new employer, I can say for a fact I was poorly mistaken about wanting a different career. Even though there has been many ups and downs – not once have I thought in the morning, that I don’t want to go to work.

Instead, what this year has taught me, is that I actually love what I’m doing.

I get an amazing high when we succeed together. I feel positively gitty, when I see the magic of a software being built happen before my eyes. I’m excited to be in control of things and being able to answer questions. I want to figure out the best approach for the software lifecycle. Hell, I even started coding in my free time again!

Working with highly skilled and motivated individuals is amazing.

My former colleague has reminded me on a few occasions that perhaps I did use to enjoy my daily chores also when we were working together. And thinking back, that really was a time work was fun. We made an excellent team.

I had a reminder last week about how it feels when you work really well together with someone. An annoying problem was solved in a matter of hours, deadline secured and everyone else’s work could continue. The moment was bittersweet because I know I will be losing my friend and colleague to another project.

So this year hasn’t been all fun and games at work either. But it has brought good things to my life too. Most of all a friend.

Along has also come a realisation that I am a software development geek for life – where said friend and colleague has been a great influence and incredible support. When he says I am good at what I do – I sometimes actually believe him. I feel I’m starting to find my voice – so one of these days I’ll hopefully know I am good at what I do.

Knowing in my heart, this is what I really want to do, is a hell of a good place to start.

Sometimes I work while being tattooed. I love the fact that it's possible

Hiding game

The end of the year is approaching, again faster than one always seems to expect. 

Ready, set… No?

At the beginning of the year I felt like I have the energy for a G. Rubin style year-long happiness project. In retrospective I think perhaps it was a bit too bold an assessment of my own abilities.

It’s not like I haven’t changed or figured out anything this year. I actually have learned a hell of a lot. 

And I’d like to think I am braver, and happier, for that. 

The road to a happier existence just hasn’t been at all what I planned it to be in the beginning of the year.

That’s a lesson learned right there dear people! I am not beating myself up for not following my plan through, as it was not serving me as well as I had hoped.

I have actually changed a lot of opinions and assumptions I had, when embarking on this journey. I think it’s all for the good though.

Chasing demons

Scary hooded figure
Back when I had my relationship month, I remember picking something like “chasing your demons” as ONE item, amongst many others, to work on. 

Quite ambitious of me. 

At least I knew myself well enough to understand, that I needed to focus on that issue. 

It’s just that I have since realized those demons are better hidden and much more powerful than I had imagined. I thought I had already done enough healing to take on this project full-on, but I guess it just wasn’t quite so. 

With demons I mean my insecurities that tend to cause pretty much every problem that I seem to face in my life. 

I’ve written before about how feeling your most negative feelings is needed in order to heal. But even I didn’t realize how well I actually had hidden my most crucial pains. But to hide your fears, insecurities, and pain doesn’t mean, they will not have an impact on your behavior. They make me act strange on a lot occasions. They are the reason I have trouble letting go of feelings and people, why I tend to overanalyze everything and try to be somehow more than I really am. They are at the core of my anger, that surfaces much more often than I would like.

Conquering demons

It probably shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, that therapy and happiness techniques sort of go hand in hand. But it kind of did. I’ve kept saying that my happiness project is not meant to heal me from my depression. And that still holds true.

A lot of the things, I have learned through focusing on what makes me happy, of course are good techniques to help with my depression. 

But to really achieve a more lasting happiness, I have to slay this demon I carry inside me. Until then I’m afraid it will always have an effect on everything I choose to do, how I behave, where I want to be in life. 

Just understanding this, and knowing I can now work on this issue, has made me that much happier again.

Things can go well, even when they don’t go according to plan.

Living up to my guidelines

Today I was more nervous than I have been in a long while. I tried exercise, singing and even dancing, but the feeling wanted to stay with me. 

See, today I did something that I’m not sure I’ve ever done before. So I was definitely pushing my boundaries, and you know how our mind doesn’t like those boundaries pushed. 

I mentioned it briefly in a previous post, how I had followed my intuition in wanting to get to know a person better. I also mentioned, that plan didn’t go quite as I had hoped. Turns out though, it didn’t backfire either. 

I think today was an excellent proof that my happiness project and guidelines work for me. They are taylor made for me and my issues and I think I must have followed more than one of my guidelines today, or leading up to today’s event.

Anyone figuring out their own guidelines, can be as successful with theirs, as I have been with mine.

What I had planned turned eventually (suggested by this other person) into a sunny afternoon spent with excellent food, great people and family fun. 

Oh believe me, my ego is trying sooooo hard to make today’s experience less enjoyable for me – but that’s just cause my ego has serious trust issues. (Right now it’s telling me, that I will freak the people out we met today, if they happen to catch this post.) But I won’t let that stop me…

Because honestly, today, even the weather was on my side.

Life is too short to wake up

in the morning with regrets.

So, love the people who

treat you right and

forget about the ones who don’t.

And believe that everything 

happens for a reason…

If you get a chance – take it;

if it changes your life – let it.

Nobody said that it would be easy.

BUT

it would be worth it.

Paulo Coelho

Being a Human Entity

As it happens, in my line of business we talk a lot about entities, and as work is giving somewhat of a headache at the moment, I started wondering about me as a being. 

Not saying work is all bad; view from hotel window while on a business trip

I can see a definite decline in my ability to keep up my happiness habits during the month of March AND April, the ones I’ve acquired so far. Not to mention establishing new ones. 

Establishing habits is hard work

I’m partially putting this down to not keeping up with my gratitude notebook habit. I had a monstruous tummy bug twice in March, and I sort of fell out of every routine I had. I think it only goes to show, that establishing new habits really does take time to become fixed routines that will not be affected when life is throwing stuff at you. 

Getting back to the routine after being sick was tricky first because of a business trip and later because shit basically hit the fan at work, and it has been pretty chaotic since then.

Is going with the flow my thing?

Why crappy stuff at work made me think about me and my happiness, is because of this: 

somehow I seem to be reacting to this situation with far more emotion than most. I am not the only one affected, but I certainly seem to be the most annoyed. I feel sorry for others for having to put up with the situation and I can’t help feeling sad for losing co-workers in the process, even if no one is really losing a job. For all I know, they might not even care that much. Some perhaps even welcome the change. But that doesn’t fix the way I’m feeling, nor expedite my getting out of this funk. 

Perhaps the easier way for me (or anyone for that matter) would be to just “go with the flow”. I’ve been given this advice before and many times I try to follow it. But it also feels like a contradiction with my core of existence. In some ways I want to be allowed to be angry and sad and disappointed. This is not like complaining about weather conditions or bad tv selection. 

Then again. 

Is this what my core is really like?

I certainly realize, it’s not helping me with anything. Is being angry and sad and disappointed just something I have learned through the years to expect of myself, perhaps what others expect me to be like.

I want to expect of myself more positive thinking and seeing the silver lining in things. Like I have written before, more often than not I am able to do so these days. 

It’s just that when something “big” happens, that is not necessarily positive in nature, it still shakes me up pretty bad. Perhaps it just takes time for my bouncing back routine to become faster?

Learning to be positive

At least Gretchen Rubin is giving me some hope, while smashing happiness myths, about how our genetic predisposition doesn’t have to be the end of all things happy. 

Obviously I am leaning more towards that Eeyore type genetically. But by just some months of concentrating on what could bring me joy in everyday life, I indeed have become happier.  But boy this journey is going to be a long one!
Would love to hear your surviving methods on generally dealing with the uncertainty, the things that really are out of your hands. 

When do you think it’s ok to feel sad, angry and disappointed?

Waving February goodbye

Posting this late due to a stomach bug wrecking havock in my family…

Really? Already?


In touch with my inner… something!

I’m not at all sure I have been successful with my February resolutions. I feel like I’m not getting the tracker boxes ticked as  often as I would like, being a golden star lover that I am. 

On the other hand, I think I am already feeling the results of my happiness project.

It doesn’t mean that I am a 100% pure sunshine 100% of the time. I’m still tired, cranky and complaining on occasion. 

But more often than not, I can see the silver lining. I am more grateful and perhaps just slightly braver in speaking out my opinions.

 All this just makes me somehow more balanced and in return, more forgiving to my surroundings. That is definitely something for a person whose motto for years has been: “Think negative and you will not be disappointed!”

How about those resolutions then

I wrote before, that I had pretty much bitten off more than I could chew for February’s relationship resolutions. I decided I should go back to the very basics and ended up with this list:

  • Date nights
  • Kiss in the morning, kiss in the night
  • No calculation
  • No dumping
  • Do not expect praise

I’m not even sure anymore, but I think some of them came from Gretchen Rubin’s 21-day-project and some are from her book. In any case, all others than date nights are Rubin’s ideas. 

No dumping

I think the resolutions have lifted the spirits of our whole household at least on some levels. Even though I can’t always follow the “no dumping” -resolution, I am especially careful not to complain to hubby when he is out enjoying a (quite rare) night out with friends. There was a time I used to text shout at him all the little things going wrong (in my opinion) while I was home alone with the kids. Being perfectly aware he will not be able to help, and actually doesn’t have to either.

There is definitely a line between being vindictive and asking help when you have actual problems. So I still might call to get him home, if I happen to fall ill when he’s away, but I will keep from texting every hour because the kids happen to be in a funky mood.

No praise, no calculation

This brings me to the resolutions “no calculation” and “do not expect praise”. I get ample time to go out with friends, to courses, to writing, you name it. Even so, sometimes I feel like I have a slight disadvantage compared to husband, because I need so much more sleep. If it’s my turn to put the kids to bed, I will have no “me-time”. 

I think I’ve been expecting to be praised about the fact what a trooper I am to survive without my me-time, while hubby is out. Even if we divide the nights either equally or – most of the time – to my favour.

From the no dumping to the no calculation, I have realized how dumping the going-ons of the house to my hubby, when he is out, only really spoils the evening for us both. He will have spent the night away, coming back home propably twice as irritated. When the whole point is to let him have his “me-time” so I’ll get a more relaxed hubby home. And I will feel guilty about spoiling his night just about the second after I’ve sent the angry messages (did I ever mention I have really poor impulse control??).

I have made some calculations after all, but only to help me realize how much help I actually am getting from my husband ❤ 

Keeping up with the kisses and date nights

You know what, it does help to remember these little kisses to keep your relationship alive. 

It’s a tiniest moment of appreciation. You take that five seconds from your busy schedule (oh believe me, our mornings can be very hectic at times…) to kiss your partner instead of shouting from afar an absent-minded “bye”. Sad but true, I hadn’t paid attention to this in a long time.

We’ve been pretty good about the date nights too. Sometimes just running some errands, sometimes eating out. Just learning to be a couple instead of always just being a mum and dad 😉 

I have now grown to love these resolutions, because they have made me so much more appreciative of what I have. Perhaps I should interview Husband to figure out if he’s actually noticed any changes (have you, hon?)

In March I will try to have some discoveries about my relationship with our kids. Scary.

Will you be my Valentine?

February is generally seen as the month of love and though in Finland we celebrate friends on February 14th, not lovers, I decided to follow Gretchen Rubin to a month of relationship bliss. 

What is love?

Of course you can love more people than just your significant other, but the word love (= rakkaus) is not a term used loosely in Finnish language. You REALLY mean it when you say it. Well… There’s always a player or two in every pack, but in general it’s pretty serious business. 

So I say it to our kids and my hubby, but even if they are not the only people in the world that I love, they are propably the only ones I’ve said it to, in addition to some past boyfriends.

Once a year we have a day dedicated to expressing love to friends, so we run with it!

In addition to having this cultural background of seriousness when it comes to expressing love, I have of course some ideas in my own head about it. 

In an interview years ago I was asked what I thought love was, and I answered that “it’s a series of compromises”. Even though I was in a completely different place in life then, I still believe the basic idea to be true. (Just make sure, you are not the one making all the compromises!) 

I guess you could say I have somewhat of a practical (eugh, what a word) way of seeing love, but that is not standing in the way of my happiness. I will rather have a husband who changes the occasional diaper instead of one who brings home flowers – and that’s all. And so after years of learning what I really value, I found what I was looking for in my husband.

Why add love on the list at all then…

I love my hubby and totally see us getting old together, but recent years haven’t exactly helped in keeping things fresh. 

Two small kids has meant a lot of sleep lost, a baby with allergy and skin issues, a stretch of unemployment, money worries that came along with that, stress, depression, sickness… You name it. It’s all just too easy to loose sight why you got together in the first place. 

I’m also carrying some personal baggage I’ve known for a long time to exist. I’m digging pretty deep into myself to figure out what happiness means to me, so it actually isn’t surprising that some skeletons are trying to jump out of the closets aswell. One of those skeletons transformed itself into the happiness guideline “must love myself”.

And the resolutions are

Or were?? I’m not actually sure anymore! 

My list at the start of February looked like this:

  • no dumping
  • 21-day-project
  • date nights
  • do not expect praise
  • away demons.

The 21-day-project has given a lot of good reminders about things to do to be happier in your relationships. But I can’t help feeling that perhaps I should stretch that project out along the whole year. I feel like I can’t absorb a new piece of advice every day and really make it work in my favour. I’m thinking for the last two weeks of February I will narrow my scope down and choose only some, like “be aware of unconscious overclaming”.

Then there’s those demons. I was planning to do some exorcism in form of some reading, but I’m realizing my wounds may be a little deeper than that. I don’t want to just drop it, because cleaning those skeletons out of my mental closets is pretty damn crucial. So I’m trying to figure out a new approach to that one.

I also seem to cheat at the “no dumping” rule (oops). I’ve had some difficulties at work and after a crappy day I just need some perspective. But I think I don’t complain about trivial things, like getting my shoes wet or spilling water on the floor that much anymore. So there is definetly a shift towards better things here!
I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve managed to hold on to our date nights, thanks to my lovely parents! Asking for help, when it’s just for relaxing, is another thing that does not necessarily come naturally to us Finns. It’s good to have some adults alone time regularly. 

We haven’t been doing anything extravagant, but it’s still great.

We skipped the theatre and watched Netflix instead. And not My little Ponies!

Weekly Tip: The One Minute Rule

Wait for it…. The life-changing magic of the one minute rule is that you really get an amazing deal of stuff to happen and it ends up feeling like you’ve spent zero minutes doing boring chores!

I am mainly using this tactic to keep up with a tidying routine, but you can find a lot more on Gretchen Rubin’s blog (yes, yes, I am a fan): http://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2006/12/need_a_simple_a/

Whenever I feel like I would just like to leave my plate on the dining table instead of taking it to the kitchen, I remind myself “it takes less than a minute now, but when I have 10 plates, it’s serious work.”

Go and try, it’s great!