Tuesday, 22 November 2016

We Don't Have to be Happy all the Time

I set out on 01 January with one goal - find happiness.

To say that I have succeeded however, is not so simple. I can't say that I am happy now, because right now, in this very moment, I feel far from happiness. I'm on the brink of a breakdown, but I'm veering on the side of safe.

BUT I can say with all honesty that I am happier than the person I was on 31 December 2015.
"Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable." - Tal Ben-Shahar, Happier
You see, happiness isn't defined in the moment. (And THANK GOD, right? Because I am SO not there). Happiness is defined by the journey, the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows.
It's about all the moments, the bigger picture, the overall state of your life.

State of your life is an acceptable term, right?

This year I have found this overarching level of happiness. While I may not be happy right now, I am happy. And here's how I know:

  • I actually have the self-confidence to yell Woohoo in zumba class and mean it.
  • I can say hello to someone and not have a freakin' panic attack over what they must think of me.
  • Phone calls are not my worst enemy.
  • I was not even the teeniest bit embarrassed when a coworker wore an almost identical outfit as me.
  • I know that I am loved. And I feel loved.
  • I put a picture of me sans make-up on the internet and didn't give a damn.
  • I took this one photo that I was ridiculously proud of.

So for those of you out there looking at this list and thinking 'What the actual hell? These little things do not equate to happiness', I respectfully disagree. For me, happiness is all of these things. They may seem like small, otherwise insignificant moments to some of you, but to me they are the feeling of victory over my mental illness.
For me, happiness is feeling self-assured, having self-worth, and being your perfectly awesome self.

Life is full of delightful treasures - what Oprah Winfrey calls the 'ahhh moments' in her book What I Know For Sure. The 'ahhh moments' let you know that you've found your little bit of happiness.

You don't have to be happy all of the time. You just need those 'ahhh moments' to remind you that you are here, you are happy, and you are loved.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

It's a wonderful life

On the 1st of January 2016, the very first day of the new year, I watched It's a Wonderful Life for the very first time.

I found myself in tears by the end, who doesn't??,  but I also felt motivated for the year ahead and the challenge I had set myself.
I know what I'm gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that.
2016 was the year of the Romeo Project, and as I promised myself and you all, November is when I reflect on how I got on, what I achieved, and what I could have done better. And all I can think about is the very first day of the year and watching a life-changing movie.

It's a Wonderful Life taught me that me that we can plan out our lives, but the truth is that life just happens. Plans don't go our way, things don't go to plan. We can look back and feel regret.

But we also touch so many lives.
No man is a failure if he has friends.
Be good.
Live a life where you do the right thing, not always the planned thing.
You see, George, you've really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?
I may feel regret about some parts of the Romeo Project, wishing I'd done better, wishing I'd had a stronger plan, feeling self-critical. However, I also spent the year living, actually in-love with living, for the first time. I read, I created, I appreciated, I learned, I explored.

I found that I had a wonderful life. I have a wonderful life. There was so much in my life to feel wonderful about, but throughout the past 10 months, I also cultivated some more. Because you can do that. You can create and change aspects you don't feel wonderful about. You bring other wonderful things into your life. Life is there to be lived. And this year, I lived.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Hurray! The Romeo Project is over and I need a break

The Romeo Project changed my life.
Here we are, at the end of my ten month challenge and ten resolutions. Since the beginning of 2016 I have thrown myself into challenge after challenge, reading self-help books, taking affirmative action, and applying the tips and tricks everyone else is raging about. It wasn't always easy, but I somehow managed to come out at the other end of the tunnel relatively unscathed.

Unfortunately, I didn't fully embrace every resolution or commit to every challenge I set myself with The Romeo Project. To have dedicated myself as much as I had planned to, and wanted to, would have required the project becoming my day job. I wanted to live and breath each resolution to give it the attention it deserved, and the chance to properly make an impact on my mental health and my life.

But taking those initial first steps brought huge change into my life. If it wasn't for the first month's resolution, Be Authentic, I wouldn't have created a vision board and a life handbook; the two forces that made me take steps towards my own goals. Here I am, ten months later, and my goals I set in the first week January have been achieved. I did it. I took positive steps towards my own future happiness and gained skills, a boyfriend, a job, a future. I succeeded. So yes, I will jump at every opportunity to say The Romeo Project changed my life.

Why it's time for a break
I was reading Holly Bourne's What's a Girl Gotta Do? last week and stumbled across my exact current feelings being embodied by the character of Lottie. After committing herself to a feminist anti-sexism campaign, Lottie developed what her friends diagnosed as activism fatigue. Little did I know, it's a real thing.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Believe in Yourself Conclusion

October has come to a close. Out of all my resolutions and all the months of the year so far, October has taught me the most. The month's aim was to explore self-belief and hopefully, by the end of the month, I would believe in myself.

It was a month where I:

But it was also a month of self-realisations and mini-epiphanies. Outside of the intended scope of my month's studies I started to learn that I was not the person I had always thought I was. 
I discovered I was someone who could bake, who could sew, who could take initiative and lead, who could make what they saw on Pinterest without it failing. Without realising how much I was being spurred on by self-belief, I tried new things without fear or hesitation. I decided I was a baker now and that was that. 
My new attitude this month reminded me of the Paulo Coelho quote:
“You are what you believe yourself to be.” ― Paulo Coelho
Believe in Yourself was always intended to be my last resolution of 2016 and the Romeo Project. It built on aspects of all my previous resolutions and was an accumulation of all the positive impacts of my previous steps towards happiness. Throughout October I believed myself to be someone in control of my own destiny. I could stop pulling my hair and I could start baking or sewing. All it took was that initial decision to believe I could. 

I don't believe that you can eradicate self-doubt, especially not if you are plagued with self-critical thoughts like I am. However, I do believe that there are days where you can rise above those fears and choose to believe in yourself above all else. And this month I had so many of those rising-above days.