In some ways this was a wonderfully timed activity, in the last week of the activity I really needed more happiness. But I really struggled with some aspects of this activity, and I think the only way to explain it is to tackle each of the talks and what I was trying to do with them.
Ric’s three life lessons
This part was based on Ric Elias: 3 things I learned while my plane crashed. So how did I feel I went against his three life lessons.
1. Don’t postpone anything – as I mentioned in a post, this took on a whole new meaning with the weekend spent with Norm. Do is one of my three words for 2012, and this is a big part of not postponing things. At the same time I know that there are things that I have planned for the project that have to be put off until the right time. There were a small number of things that I did during the 30 days that have been putting off, but most of these were more procrastination than anything else. More than anything, this part of the activity, and the situation with Norm, were probably the deciding factor to bring forward 30 days of letters. There are things I think I should say to some important people in my life that I have never been brave enough to put into words.
2. Eliminate negative energy – I predicted this would be difficult in my current working environment, and I wasn’t wrong. Although I did catch myself being more compassionate to people who would ordinarily have annoyed me, so I guess I did manage to do this a little. This is always something I could be better with.
3. Be the best parent (partner) you can be – I tried really hard to be a better parent to our puppy during this time, and she did get some more playtime into the process. Although I’m sure that trying to keep her ear infection under control wasn’t perceived to be a good thing on her behalf. I was also very conscious about being a better partner, with cooking and cleaning a little more than usual, but also trying to be completely selfless about the situation he is in with his dad at the moment. Again, always something I could be more attentive to.
Shawn’s five daily exercises
Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work was the catalyst for this activity. So how did I go with his daily exercises?
1. Write down 3 gratitudes each day and 2. Journaling one positive experience in the last 24 hours - I’m going to write about these together, since they are basically the same sort of task. I get the concept behind this, that it makes you reflect back on your day and find at least a couple of things to be thankful for a positive experience. But the main issue that I had with this was that some days I really struggled to think of them, and when that happened I felt sad about my day, even if I wasn’t feeling sad before I started the task. Maybe I thought about the gratitudes a little too much since I was writing them so publicly, and maybe I expected too much from my positive experiences for that reason as well. The thing is that I did it every day, and some days it really made me smile thinking about some of the good things from the day, but there were at least 5 days in the activity where I really struggled and felt worse.
3. Exercise – I was very disciplined in not parking close to work during this time, so I at least had to have the incidental exercise of walking to and from work. There was definitely an increase in physical activity during this time but I do not believe that I really focused on exercise during the activity, as predicted unfortunately.
4. Meditation - I think is the fourth time meditation has been part of an activity now, and I can honestly say that I did do this as a daily exercise. The reason is that during 30 days of slowing down I worked out that meditation is a mindfulness exercise that doesn’t require me to do it a certain way for a certain time, which has let me be more successful in actually meditating. And I loved that I recently found a post from a blogger I really like to support this method How to meditate daily.
5. Random act of kindness – I should have tried to do this the way Shawn suggested, but that felt too false/forced to do a morning email to someone. Instead, I renewed the focus that has still been hanging around since Activity 2. I am far better at giving praise and thanks to people in my life now, I still hesitate at times but I’m much better than I was. So this part was a success for me.
Nic’s Happy Planet
The last part of the activity was part that I didn’t really talk about during the 30 days, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t thinking about it or using it as a focal point, after all it is a concept talk. It was based on Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index and this is how I went.
1. Connect – in the not postponing and the random act of kindness there were a number of times throughout this exercise that I really focused on connecting with people. This has been a very powerful aspect of the project as a whole, so it wasn’t hard for it to be a successful part of this activity.
2. Be active – I’ve already talked about the failure to really exercise more in the activity, but I was more physically active and practised meditation. So this was successful as well.
3. Take notice – the daily gratitudes and positive experience were a complete reflection of my everyday life. As hard as they were at times, they were certainly a chance to stop and take notice of my life.
4. Keep learning – having to write a daily reflection with this activity was a challenge in itself, and allowed me to learn a little more about the ways in which I continue to be broken. During this activity I also spent time learning about asylum seekers in Australia and the rules and limitations around them.
5. Give – then random acts of kindness and the time spent with Derek’s family over Easter have involved a large amount of giving – both in time, friendship and feelings.
So how to I feel about it the whole activity?
I don’t know that this really made me feel any happier than I was before commencing it. Having said that, it is not very fair of me to assert whether that was solely down to this activity. It’s been a very emotional month in so many ways. Maybe it would have been harder without this activity, who knows. What I do know is that not having to do the daily work has been a relief, but then there were days that I really enjoyed it.
Like everything in life, there is a time and place for the exercises in this activity. So these will become part of a growing repertoire of skills and tasks that I can do when they seem appropriate, when I need more happiness or a jolt about how I am living my life.
Thank you to all three speakers.