Friends – a natural high

“In fact, a weak social circle is bad for your health, adds Barker. According to research from Brigham Young University, not having enough friends is the same risk factor as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”

https://www.fastcompany.com/40424657/the-best-way-to-make-new-friends-according-to-science

As a kid I was the most open, approachable person you’ll ever meet. I had no trouble making friends, I cornered even the shy ones. 

Some experiences have led me to be more wary about people, so making new friends doesn’t come as naturally as it used to. It’s propably a mix of poor self-esteem and getting attached to people quite strongly – which always opens up a possibility to getting hurt.

Luckily despite all my issues, I have been blessed when it comes to friendships.

Laws of attraction

I don’t know that in my current life situation (work, two kids, marriage) I intentionally try to seek out people to bond with. But some just stumble on my path, whether I try to look for them or not – and I’m certainly not complaining.

Some of my friends I’ve known for so long (one friend 33 years out of 36!), I have no idea how we initially met, or how long it took for us to get a thing going.

What I do know, is that a certain chemistry, attraction is present in all my friendships. It doesn’t necessarily mean we were best buddies the second we met. Just that there was something that made us (or at least me!) want to swap more than a mere hello. 

Sometimes the attraction is so present, it’s almost tangible. In those situations I’m very adamant that a person belongs in my life.

Almost twenty years ago a black haired girl walked into our classroom. I can’t remember how she was introduced or anything – but I do remember thinking “She intrigues me.” When we finally hooked up through a mutual friend, we were an instant hit. And we really are like the sun and the moon, but I could never imagine my life without her.

Some friends feel more like family, even when they live further away. (I love the fact that whatsapp exists.) 

Some friends you don’t see in years, and still, when you bump into them, you chat like you had just seen them yesterday.

There are those friends that have stood by you every step of the way, helping, giving much needed love when you had none to give.  And they still keep on giving. Advice, laughter, experiences…

There’s even a friend who held my hand in childbirth and saw a baby come out of me – and it all felt perfectly natural. She’d make a perfect midwife by the way, even though she might not think so.

All friends so different, all contributing to my happiness in one way or another.

How to find friends 

I’ve managed somehow apparently! But I never had any kind of calculated tactic. Mostly I just try to keep an open mind. 

I’ve met friends through work, studies, hobbies… All quite natural places to meet people. I’m not picky about age or gender either – you never know who you hit it off with. 

I’ve met some really intriguing characters through friends of friends – so if I’m asked to join a party or a dinner for example, I try to go. Even if it scares the shit out of me (honestly, I’m no social butterfly…)

What if people feel like the scariest thing ever

If you feel like you need a bigger social circle, but you suffer from e.g. anxiety or depression or you’re just shy, meeting new people is propably going to feel daunting. I must confess I was lurking at home for quite some time.

But then I realized I could use our kid as a clever cover-up. I shamelessly used him as an excuse to meet people. Even then I didn’t join a moms group, but rather found out if any of our neighbours were home with a baby too. I just function better when there’s not too many people to talk to at the same time.

And as luck would have it, I found someone. 

The importance of having friends

It’s that age old wisdom about sharing. Share your sorrows and they will seem lesser. Share your joy and it’ll multiply. 

When my friends succeed, have happy events in their lives, are trying new things… I’m there to share the excitement. With a pure heart. I can be many things, but I’m not jealous. I feel their butterflies, their smiles and I’ll feel an instant lift myself. 

Admittedly, while not so strong myself, I propably haven’t been the best consoler to all those around me. I am there to listen though. Most of the time that’s really all any of us need.

Doing different things with different friends – all a bit depending on our life situations, history (or taste in music!) – just gives me so much. 

Friends, who know you like the back of their hand, friends who share your passion for books and writing, friends who understand your work life, friends who have that similar stage in life, friends who made it through school with you and those who will party with you all night long and have the courage to laugh at your ridiculous hangover. Then there are those new beginnings where you are cautiously figuring the rules of that particular friendship out. 

What it takes to be a friend

You have to work on your relationship. You can be insanely blessed, like I was, and get your friends back after a long silent period (because of a relationship by the way, not mental health issues) – but it doesn’t always work like that.

Like I said, I get attached to people, which also means that I’m fiercely on my friends’ side. 

My only fear is that I don’t always know how to show my appreciation well enough, remember to stay in touch often enough, or I leave something unsaid in fear of conflict, which may lead to weird situations.

Let opportunity knock

Seeing as how I’ve managed to quit smoking six years ago, I would think it a bad policy to let my social circle shrivel. 

So that in mind, being more open to people, and opportunities to meet people, is something I’m trying to embrace as part of my happiness project. I actually quite enjoy my me-time, but I would go nuts without my friends!

Famous Finnish comic strip. It’s a valentine’s day greeting from a friend. ❤️

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

Do I equal my depression?

There was an excellent piece of writing (in Finnish) in our main newspaper about how depression is percieved in the society. 

The article talks about how, if you are able to work, have friends or perhaps go for a jog, your depression is not believable.

Found on Pinterest

It’s pretty risky to think that all suffering from depression would act the same way. Even health care professionals seem to make this mistake a lot of times. 

But we all have different personalities, and we all have different lifestories.

Let’s talk about me for a moment here, cause that’s a subject I’m quite familiar with… 

Why I got depressed, when someone else in my situation might have survived without?

For eight months I was practically not sleeping, and eating such a low-calorie diet (breastfeeding diet because of Junior’s allergies), I must’ve been starving. But I was used to taking care of everyone else, before thinking about myself. We had two small kids to take care of.

I wasn’t really asking myself, how I was doing.

I am stubborn as hell, a control freak and an overachiever. It was so hard to admit I needed help. It was even harder admitting the depths of those dark holes that I had been down. 

I felt that I didn’t “deserve” to feel as bad as I did, cause I had all these beautiful things and people in my life. But the anger, the panic attacks, the despair and the apathy was there and I didn’t invite it. But it took an actual physical illness to eventually gain me access to therapy and medication. Because I wasn’t just laying in bed all day. Because I put my mascara on. Because I showered?

Even as I write this, I’m not entirely sure, if I will ever post this. 

In some ways I want to participate (if I can) in making depression less of a taboo.

In others, I’m afraid people will start judging everything I do (or even worse – they will start acting differently towards me) based on this somewhat minor detail about me. I say minor, because fundamentally I am who I have always been – in good and bad. 

But if you have never gone down this path, some things must be hard to understand… 

Like how, when I was in my darkest place, for a social worker to ask me to spend 15 minutes playing with our kid was like asking for the moon. 

Like how it is possible to spend a night out with friends acting all happy and “normal”, while being afraid of the next day. 

How it is totally possible to wash your hair and do your make-up, but still want to jump off a balcony so you wouldn’t have to listen to anymore demands from anyone, including yourself.

And how it is possible to come back from that dark place and become you again.

Or perhaps even a better version of you? My happiness project is not strictly speaking a means to cure me from depression. I do other stuff for that, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. The happiness project is more a tool to help me grow as a person.

So that I will be braver. So that if I fail in something, I will bounce back faster. So that my need for making people happy doesn’t eat me up. So that I can believe people can like me for who I am – even if I am a bit awkward, talk too much and have the weirdest sense of humor. And if I am not liked, that is ok too. So that I will not let my screaming ego stand in the way of doing things. 

(An example; right now my ego is shouting like a maniac: “how selfish to think anyone would want to read about your story! Why should anyone care! If you post this, you will ruin your life for sure!”)

And already concentrating on the little things has helped a lot. It’s never going to be pure sunshine 100% of the time – but that’s just life.

Even a simple “pulla” can make you happy for all the right reasons

My motto for years used to be “think negative and you shall not be disappointed.” In the future I want my motto to be more like:

“Think positive and good things are going to happen.”

Side effected by happiness project

There are things brewing inside me that I totally put down to my trying to understand what makes me happy. 

Now, let’s see what I have noticed, or done lately, that I would never have imagined doing in the past!

– Feeling at ease hugging people. Also having an urge to touch all kinds of things in addition to people. I love the texture of leaves, trees rocks… You name it!

– Exploring my surroundings and finding beautiful new places (nope, not been a given at all! New things and places can freak me out!)

This place is like a 20 minute walk from home. Took me a year to have the courage to go find the place.
 

– Sang infront of a group of people. All sober. In daylight. Didn’t pass out. I think I found myself a new hobby!

– Followed my intuition telling me, I should try to get to know one person better. This one sort of backfired in some ways, but I’m still proud of myself for speaking out this time, instead of bottling that thought in.  I mean, if new places and things are scary, how about people then!! 

– I’m enjoying jogging. What the f? I have always hated jogging. Now I need to stop myself so I won’t overdo it. Perhaps I have finally realized, I don’t have to taste blood when running, for it to count as exercise. 

Generally that annoying voice inside my head telling me I can’t be this and that, can’t do this and that or can’t say this and that, is quiet more often than it used to be. It’s exciting, but admittedly a little scary at times too!

I may follow my intuition more freely these days, but my ego still likes to play the drama queen when something doesn’t go exactly according to plan. 

I’ll keep on my chosen path towards happiness and perhaps the ego will soon hush up for good.

Happiness boost: find like-minded people

I told before that one of my first babysteps to being happier was to attend a writing course. Little did I know what inspiring people and stories I would find due to that course…

There was this girl on my course (I say girl even if we are both somewhere in our 30’s) who was a brilliant writer and a slightly quirky character that seemed to appeal to me. When she suggested setting up a writer’s group, I jumped right in – even though strangers tend to freak me out – let alone when the other people seem to know one another from before. There was a pause in our meetings as life took us to different paths, but we sort of revived the group this spring.

We got together again a few weeks back and these people feel strangely like home to me, even if I don’t know them from that far back! 

They all do insanely inspiring things, that encourages me to keep going with my projects. But they also give great insight into daily happenings in life, not to mention the excellent food we have been eating lately in our get-togethers.

After our evenings I always feel energized and inspired by these amazing people, there’s no better happiness boost than that.  Not to mention the great book and podcast tips shared!

You can be inspired aswell:

https://findinghazelhawthorne.com/

https://aatteinen.wordpress.com/

Being inspired brings sunshine to my life

Weekly tip: Have a “happy” movie

Those days that make you feel defeated for any number of reasons. It is not always so obvious why on some days you can handle a lot more stress than on others. 

I’m not sure if this will work on really life altering news, but it has worked on heartbreak, on stress, on being picked on, on those days when the world seems too insane to handle.

My tip to you is: have a “happy movie”. Like with the power song, it doesn’t have to be anything artsy, oscar winning etc. For husband it’s apparently Clint Eastwood westerns (yeah, you figure that one out) and for me it’s such classics as Clueless or Bring it on or Devil wears Prada (I thinks he’s still figuring these ones out 😂)

I tend to navigate to these types of silly/ish relationship comedies with leading ladies. Nothing to overload my brain you see!

What’s your go-to happy movie like? Do you have any to begin with or does this sound just plain weird?

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?