End of the year

The end of the year is a time for many to reflect on the past year. Even though I like to consider myself as a rebel sometimes, I shall not make an exeption to the rule here, but instead reminisce about the past year…

Plans that didn’t happen

I wanted to make this year a Gretchen Rubin style happiness project. And I had a whole plan laid out for monthly goals. Nagging tasks, relationship, children, work, friends…

I had a good start to my journey, but pretty soon I learned something intresting about myself.

I can’t follow to do -lists! It was a surprise as I always took myself as someone who lives off ticking those boxes. But no.

It was all good, until I started failing on my goals and not ticking those boxes. It made me feel totally defeated and totally un-motivated to do anything.

I’ve never really been one for happy mediums.

It means that I sort of gave up on the whole plan as it seemed I couldn’t follow it anyway – instead of adjusting it somehow.

Perhaps this personality trait is one that I should work on next year!

Was it good for nothing then

Whether I followed any plan or not, the year has been such a rollercoaster ride, that I must’ve learned something!!

At least I’m not beating myself up for letting those plans go. That’s a lesson learned right there…

Which brings me to the twelve guidelines I had set up for my project.

I feel that even though I haven’t been following any kind of plan on my path to happiness, I actually have been following my guidelines.

  • So I didn’t follow my plan to make this a year of my happiness project. So what? No one is going to blame me for that, unless I do it my self; let it go!
  • I have been taking a lot of chances this year, things I wouldn’t have had the courage to do in the past. I think I have realized that here is now and tomorrow the chance might be gone.
  • This guideline I haven’t been excellent in following though. But I always knew it was going to be a hard one for me, because I am quite an impulsive and emotional person. So I still don’t have patience, at least not much.
  • If I have learned to let go, I think I have a little more mercy than before. This is especially in relation to myself. I’m actually quite forgiving towards other people – but I have very demanding standards for myself. So – more work on this coming up next year!
  • Just jumping has a great deal to do with the concept of being in the moment (“here is now”), a great many similarities with following your feelings and getting excited. This trio, I think, is the powerful driver behind many of my actions during the past year. As I have been getting in touch with my emotions more and more, I’ve had better opportunities in following that famous intuition. Sometimes I’ve almost left something undone, because I’ve been so damn scared. And sometimes I’m jumping all over the place in the excitement of finally being a bit more in touch with my inner self. And actually getting excited about things again. Like gitty kinda excited. It’s an amazing feeling.
  • One of the things I have learned most about is paying attention to the little things. So I’m happy to report that I now can see the trees instead of always just seeing the forest. And boy does that help bring a lot of happiness to my days! I take so much more pleasure nowadays from having a well made cup of coffee, a beautiful song, looking at the sunset or beautiful colors of the fall.
  • The hardest part about being kind is being kind towards myself. I find easily good things to say about almost anyone or anything else, but I still tend to talk down to myself. One goal for being kind, was to be kinder towards nature and animals too. I have switched my diet closer to being vegan, but I’m not exactly there yet. That’s a bit of a conundrum actually. Being kind to myself requires a bit of self-centeredness too. And I really hate cooking! Learning new things in the kitchen just does not make me happy. That’s why I’m still compromising on my diet. Because I just get super-frustrated when the food doesn’t get done easily enough.
  • Must love myself is one other hard guideline to follow. But I have started learning how to praise myself in job interviews at least. I still have a tendency to think people don’t like me very much, even if I would love them to bits. I don’t know why that is. Why should anyone spend time with me, if they hated me? If I have a bad day and, let’s say our kids are annoying the shit out of me, I blame myself for having those thoughts. As in “why am I not more grateful for having such a life. Why am I not happy as it is?” So you see, it is not easy, loving myself.
  • My favorite out of all the guidelines is this: Be an Optimist Prime. I do believe, that as I’ve gotten better with my other guidelines, I am closer to becoming this Optimist Prime. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t look like that on a lot of days, as it has not been the easiest of years. But more often that not, I seem to find the silverlining in things. I still have my fears and anxieties, but mostly I don’t let them stop me.

What the year has brought me, even without following the plan, has been pretty amazing actually.

I have made two friends, which I don’t believe would have happened without me growing as a person. Amazing times spent with old friends. Trust. Laughter and tears. Good music. Intresting conversations. Amazing tattoos. Opportunities at work. Courage to tell how I feel. Courage to voice my opinions. A sense of humor, that was lost for a long time. Mostly I just feel that I am back – the slightly crazy, and slightly awkward type, who is never lost for words.

Is it selfish to pursue happiness?


This is something many of us happiness seekers ponder. 

In my case especially because fundamentally I have everything in my life I could ever imagine needing. Also because so much in the world seems to be wrong. There is hunger, torture, war, racism… Things my husband and children will hopefully never have to face, but that are reality to a lot of people – even friends and family members.

I remembered a discussion I had with a colleague some time back. Today, I realized the meaning of what he said, to my happiness project. 

I argued that I’m doing this to be happier in my everyday life, because not all of us have the possibility to quit our job and move to Gili Air. 

He argued that that’s basically bullshit – that you always have a choice and he for example chooses to be a whore for money. (He’s quite a straightforward type of a guy and voices his opinions loud! And I quite like him for that by the way.) 

So his point was received – very loud and clear – but I wasn’t entirely convinced. 

Who knows why, but I had a sudden epiphany about why everyday happiness is the way to go for me. 

We are not all the adventurous type. 

And that’s ok. 

E.g. I’ve tried living in rental apartments. But I care deeply about being able to make the place look like OUR home and that is not entirely realistic in a rental in Helsinki – in my experience. 

I’m intrested in interior design and even paint one shade of white over with another, if you get my point. Having our own apartment and there a kitchen, we designed for our purposes, makes me satisfied on a daily basis. I realize this may sound strange to some, but I like our well functioning kitchen and the fact we can afford to pay our monthly installments to keep that kitchen. 

Then again, I have friends who I’m sure will never spend all their lives living in one place. Others that would never work from 9 to 5 (like I basically do) and so on. 

And that’s ok too.

It’s amazing if someone has found their passion in traveling on a motorcycle around the world, working odd jobs here and there and they are able to fulfil their dream. But I like that little bit of predictability in my life that a steady paycheck and a safety net of friends and family around give you. Truthfully, I would go as far as to say that I would feel anxious and stressed without a steady income and a place to call home.

Helsinki. My home.

And so I realized, that even if I still don’t think a “whore for money” is the accurate way to describe my goal in life (or that everyone really has a choice), I actually am not intrested in quitting my dayjob right now. That may change one day, and I’m fine with that aswell.

I find enjoyment in a lot of things I have right here, where I am. Recognizing that, and giving myself permission to actually BE happy where I am (no matter what the social media, newspapers or advertisements say) is perhaps the biggest victory of my happiness project so far.

I don’t necessarily need a study to tell me, that a happy person is more likely to give back to their community. Or that the happier a person is, the less reason they have to hate or envy people around them. So actually I shouldn’t be the only one benefiting from my happiness.

Trying to be happier “in the now” doesn’t stump your possibilities for personal growth, or dreaming big. I dream! There are so many travels I need to do, tattoos I plan to take, studies I want to continue… 

It’s just that I know from experience that if I feel shitty where I am right now, no outward circumstance is actually going to fix that (e.g. quitting that day job…). The everyday life will catch you eventually.

So figure out what it is that makes your everyday life happier. In some cases it’s moving to Bali. In some cases it’s moving out of a rental. Perhaps expanding your social circle. Sleeping more. Finding a long lost hobby you used to love…

Or maybe you are already exactly where you are supposed to be. I’ve heard it’s a possibility.

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.”


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. ❀

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!