Hey there. Happy New Year 🙂
After my last post, which spoke about exhaustion and the need to rest, I took my own advice and have taken the last two weeks off from, well .. everything. No work, no studying, no meetings. It’s been wonderful as I’ve given myself the space to decompress from, well .. everything. We’re almost two years into a pandemic, and I remember thinking (and hearing from Brene Brown) that this will be a marathon, not a sprint. I don’t know about you, but it’s felt a lot like sprinting too much of the time.
These last couple of weeks have given me the chance to reflect in a conscious way (thank you Danielle Laporte and the Free and Clear worksheets you once offered for free), and also the free space (and energy, frankly) to allow for spontaneity and things to emerge naturally.
When left to my own devices, I gravitate towards three S’s; not sun, sea, and sand (a girl can dream), but sleeping, sewing, and singing (I found myself a key part of TWO spontaneous Zoom karaoke sessions, on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, with dear friends from The Happy Startup School community).
It’s made me realise (not for the first time and, I suspect, not the last) that I can easily become bogged-down by to-do lists and worries/plans about work and study. The things I’m interested in – self-compassion, positive psychology, etc – are what I “do” and also who I “am”, which is great for congruence when I’m teaching or sharing, and not-so-great at helping me switch off (the number of times I’ve read a book for my own development and tagged pages for a Museum of Happiness project or discussed polyvagal theory in conversation with friends, is A LOT).
So switching off with my three S’s of sleeping (because exhausted), sewing (because it’s my go-to hobby, albeit one I hadn’t picked up for months due to other commitments), and singing (having a Zoom call which DOESN’T result in a next action or a project? OH HAPPY DAYS), has made me realise that my life has felt unbalanced for a while.
Positive psychology suggests that happiness comes from finding the right personal balance between pleasurable activities (hedonic), and those that are meaningful and offer a sense of purpose – often through knowing who you are and developing/using your potential (eudiamonic). Too much of the former, and life is frittered away chasing the next hit of dopamine; too much of the latter, and life feels dry and heavy.
I love my friend and Museum of Happiness co-founder and director Vicky Johnson’s take on finding the right balance for happiness, as she adds a third element to the traditional duo of purpose and pleasure; peace. Creating space in our lives not just to do but also to be feels increasingly important, and her three P’s of Purpose, Peace, and Pleasure are a great way to quickly see if our upcoming week is balanced towards what we most need to thrive, especially as positive emotions may boost our immune system.
At this time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in resolutions to radically change ourselves and our behaviour – often in a punitive or unsustainable manner. But accepting our perfectly imperfect selves as we are and scheduling activities which allow us to experience a healthy balance of purpose, peace, and pleasure feels a lot kinder and hopefully achievable to me.
Especially if living through a pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint.