Explore deep inside your actions

I had an exceptionally shitty day one day some time ago.

You know, the kind where starting from the morning you can’t really seem to get out of bed for lack of motivation and then everything just gradually goes to crap from that.

I was tired, unmotivated and stressed to begin with, so every little mishap felt like a ton of bricks falling on me.

And the anxiety started growing with each little obstacle until such time I felt completely worthless, annoying to others and ready to burst in tears any second – which I did, by the way.

Lessons from within

I learned a valuable lesson that day though. Seems that my ego is a scared little child, that goes into complete “fuucckkkk” mode, when certain things happen and I’m not aware of my emotions.

First of all; I wasn’t invited to a meeting that morning, which I felt I should’ve been included in.

As someone who went through a couple of periods in life, where I was bullied at school – by excluding me from group activities and talking shit behind my back – I’m on high alert when I feel like I’m not part of the group somehow.

Next thing that threw me off was that I had given a certain task to handle and I wasn’t able to complete it, because no one knew the right answers. I got really frustrated, because I felt I was not taken seriously. Later I heard from a third person, that they were actually working towards a solution on this – but no one had bothered to mention it to me. The frustration that followed from this incident comes down to not only feeling excluded again, but also feeling like I am not treated as an equal professional.

And right there – there is another really familiar feeling to me, which throws me completely off balance. But this one is harder to figure out where it comes from. Why do I sometimes get the feeling I am treated like a five-year old? And especially; why do I stoop to that level and throw a temper-tantrum, because “oh, the world is treating me so unfair I can’t believe it!”

Compartmentalising the feelings

It’s not like I was able to analyze anything while I was having my hissy fit.

While it was happening I was just pissed and the only thing I could think of, was pouring my heart out to a friend, who has an uncanny ability to calm me down. Problem there was it made me feel even worse, dumping all that anger and frustration on someone else (even if I always tell my friends it’s exactly what we are in each other’s lives for!).

So when I had calmed down eventually, I started compartmentalising.

I use a technique learned from therapy, where I try to figure out after the fact, what I just went through. What happened, what was I thinking, how I was feeling and what my actions were. See here for a compact explanation of the technique.

Mind you, the point is not to stop you from having these feelings. The point is to start recognizing the triggers and learning to let go. The feeling may come, you’ll understand why it came and then you’ll adjust your actions in the long run.

That should hopefully lead into a situation somewhere in the future, where I won’t let one single feeling dictate the course of a whole day. Or at least that’s how I see this concept will and is actually already helping me.

So what?

I’m quite fond of my slightly dramatic nature, and would never want to stop feeling things deeply. But just every now and again I would like to get over the situations in slightly less time.

So if you, like me, have a tendency to get overagitated quite easily, it might be helpful to you(r bloodpressure) to try and dig deep behind your actions.

Chance is you’ll learn intresting things about yourself.

Nature always helps me calm down

Who the hell am I?

All through last year I had my happiness project on-going.

Sometimes more seriously, sometimes as a reminder in the background.

I struggled then, and I struggle now to understand these categorisations about people, that should make it easier to form habits.

I really do want to form a few more good habits and let go of some bad ones. That’s why I try to make sense of who I am. But I constantly have the feeling, that I just don’t fit. I am not one or the other. Sometimes I like to do things this way, sometimes that way. I’ve even gone as far as to grab workbooks from the library that are supposed to help you find ways to categorize yourself.

I guess that this is one charasteristic that does define me somehow – when I am intrested in a subject, I try to dig as deep into it as I can. But I don’t know how does that help with forming habits!

So, even though I feel like I have come really far with a lot of things during my journey last year, I am still at a bit of a loss with a bunch of other stuff.

Anyone else out there with the feeling that you don’t seem to be fitting through any of the holes in that shape-sorting lid? How did you go about habit formation?

January Ran Off!

One of my leading principles in becoming happier is “less whining”. I want to learn how to “let go” of things and usually complaining tends to make things only bigger in our eyes.

But I am still going to have to be honest and tell you why I wasn’t super-successful with my January resolutions. It’s propably healthy for any reader intrested in their own happiness project to understand that sometimes life just won’t flow the way you planned it to, but you still don’t have to throw in the towel!

Number 1 habit to track: play with kids.

I don’t know why this seems so hard to me. I love talking to my kids (especially our five-year-old has an amazing imagination and vocabulary to go with that), I love reading to them, going out with them… It’s not that I don’t spend time with the kids, but this type of playing that I mean here (think The incredible years) just does not come naturally to me.

Winter in Helsinki. You never know what you gonna get.

The goal is to spend at least fifteen minutes (minumum requirement) playing with the kids without interruptions, but especially on weekdays it just feels like a stretch. This is somewhat of a dilemma, because not playing with our kids makes me feel bad, but playing with them just feels like another day at work on top of the one I just came home from.

I don’t know if this makes any sense to anyone – but playing with horses or cars or fairies just feels weird! At least I realize what the situation is like and try to answer “yes” more enthusiastically when either of our kids suggest playing something. Junior of course is sort of easy: he is two years old, not as verbal as his sister, and loves to play with cars. To him the best thing is, when mummy (or daddy) is laying on the sofa so he can use the legs as highways for his cars!

The weeks I was in bed rest though were of course not successful at all and might be one of the reasons this has not become a habit yet. I only wonder how on earth does one make oneself more playful, when one is just… Not? All tips on this are more than welcome.

I will be following Gretchen Rubin’s month of ‘be serious about play’ for sure…

Number 2: SLEEP

I think I was a bit arrogant when it comes to sleeping, thinking I have already taken all the necessary steps towards better sleep. I go to bed early and sleep for 8 hours. Of course the kids wake us up on a regular basis, but that is not something I can control.

What I realized I wasn’t doing: putting my phone away early enough. Even though I use a filter and try to avoid reading bad news in the evenings – I’m a worrier so reading those news stresses me out even during the best of days – you can get badly stuck in a flow of Instagram photos just to mention an example.

As a conclusion, for February, I will switch my phone peering nights to some breathing exercises and a book. A book always has a natural place where you can stop reading and continue later, whereas a social media feed is endless.

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Switching my Instagram browsing for an intresting book.

Number 4: Exercise

Being out of commission three out of four weeks didn’t exactly do much for furthering my exercise efforts. I had quite a steady rythm where I went to the gym twice a week and to aerial yoga once or twice a week.

I would be quite happy with those numbers, if I wasn’t doing an office job sitting on my bum most of the days eight hours a day. Well then. I hired me a personal trainer for 10 meetings! I met her last Friday and she already had a lot of amazing tips and hints. And she only worked with me for 50 minutes. Ten times 50 minutes = a lot of knowledge. Perhaps I was a bit arrogant on this point aswell, thinking I already had all the answers and only lacked the execution. I think the work with my  new personal trainer will merit a post of its own. We will wait and see.

Meanwhile I want to give you a reading tip: Ellen from being-change.com has written a thought-provoking piece on exercising right. I agree that when looking for ways to make exercise a routine that is actually fun we should think about what exercising right means for each and everyone of us.

Number 6: Last but not least. Write. 

I think in the past I might have just been upset about the fact I had to stay in bed for days on end not being able to do anything. Well this year I decided to be grateful for the fact that for once I had time to write, and ponder, and research andandand! I have trouble napping even when I’m really sick. So I always do something – watch the Netflix or read a book… But this time I spent a majority of my hours in bed writing things. On the blog, in my journal and so on. What can I say except even bed rest has it’s perks!

All in all I think it’s the mindshift from not actively thinking about what actually makes you happy, to actively trying to figure out what habits are the ones you need to change, that has made the  biggest impact during January.

January Resolutions: The Lowdown on Eating

What a strange month it has been. The happiness project has been very present in my thoughts for the past month, but like I hinted, things haven’t exactly been going according to my original plan. The original plan being our family pretty much stays healthy.

Still, I have learned a lot by just observing my thoughts. I am giving myself a pat on the back for realizing, that I am doing this happiness project really for life. Not only this month, not even only this year.

If you are like me and tend to be very impatient and by rule like to finish projects before having a rest, you may have the same epiphany. Others might wonder if I really  needed to start a happiness project to figure that one out! Your revelations will be of another kind, but I’m quite positive they will happen.

My number 3 resolution for January was: Eat better.

May I confess? It honestly shouldn’t be this hard! I know everything I’m supposed to do to eat better. I could propably lead a course on the subject for all the knowledge I’ve gathered through the years. I know which foods make me feel ill, and the ones that give me the boost. So why on earth do I steer towards the bag of candy or white bread or french fries when I know perfectly well, it is not going to be a solution to anything. I’ve struggled with my eating more than anything this month. Not being able to exercise only makes it worse. Unfortunately my body reacts to a flu in a very strange manner and seems to be telling me to eat garlic bread and ice cream, not fruit and veggies.

What are the things I include in eating better then? For one thing, no meat (one of my guidelines is “be kind”). No weird diets (I have been on and off diets since I was 13, and it hasn’t made me happy so far!). For the rest, just eat anything that makes me feel good. And sometimes break the rules.

When I was still breastfeeding Junior (it’s a fairly common practice in Finland) and he had pretty major allergy issues, I decided to follow an elimination diet to make him feel better. It is not something the docs suggested, but it seemed to work, so I didn’t really care. (Loosing sleep for 8 months will make even the most obedient personality go a little rebel!)

During that time my diet included nearly zero sugar, because wheat was the worse thing for Junior. And there is wheat in nearly everything that has sugar in it, so… When it came to carbohydrates I ate vegetables, berries, some fruit, rice and a moderate amount of barley and millet. At that time I was still eating meat, so I ate that in addition to eggs and some dairy products, like cheese. It was all about smoothie bowls, omelettes and some gluten-free vegan desserts, like this perfection. And boy was I feeling good!

So, why, oh why, did I go back to my bad old habits? I’ve tried answering that question myself during this month of realisation and have come up with this:

  1. Obviously I care more for the well-being of our baby (or others in general), because I was totally able to limit my eating when I was doing it for him. Time to start caring more about myself too (yup, check guidelines and you’ll find “Must love myself” there)
  2. I am still looking to food to have a quick fix. I turn to the crappy choices especially when I am sick, tired, stressed, in a bad mood… You name it.

Hopefully I will get better in loving me during my happiness project. That is what I’m aiming at anyway. But number two still needs some looking into. I need to find my other quick fixes that will not lead my steps to the refrigerator door.

I have joined before in some online courses that have honestly been very good in keeping me on track with my eating. But when they end, I have trouble focusing on healthy eating without the constant reminder to do so. I did just start another 10 weeks with  Kaisa Jaakkola, so let’s see where that takes me. The point is after all to keep tracking the January resolutions alongside the new ones, so there’s still hope!

If you’re intrested in checking out the online courses I’ve attended, here are some suggestions in Finland:

  1. Kaisa Jaakkolan hyvän olon hormonidieetti: http://www.optimalperformance.fi/hyvan-olon-hormonidieetti/
  2. Hanna-Kaisa Ranisen eroon makeanhimosta: http://www.hannakaisaraninen.com/eroon-makeanhimosta/?gclid=CIvNrJ6p29ECFRjgGQodJ-sHPQ
  3. Elisa Mattilan kuningattaren korsetti: http://www.kuningattarenkorsetti.fi/

They usually start regularly, so if you just missed the boat, another one will arrive later.

If you are interested in similar knowledge in English, at least Sarah Wilson preaches the same type of eating (no calorie counting, fresh food, no white sugar and so on). But she appears to be quite meat-oriented (judging by her book I read), so I’m not aware if she gives a vegetarian alternative on her courses. If you have suggestions for other books in English to read on this subject, please give a shout! If your sweet tooth is aching, I definetly recommend checking out vanelja.com and her cookbooks.

What are your “quick fixes” that do not include eating? Have you managed to quit your habit of stress eating and how did you do it?

(And in case anyone is wondering, I’m not getting paid for mentioning these providers ;))