Last year, I felt like a failure after being interviewed by an amazing lady and friend. I believed I had totally stuffed it up and let her down. I became completely derailed. I didn’t want to go out, nothing I did would make me feel any better and I wanted to give up. I wanted to up the whole thing: both life, and my business.
The thing with bad days is they stop you from being rational and I started creating negative thoughts in my head about what I had said, how I would be perceived and how I looked. I questioned whether I had clearly conveyed my message without showing my fear and nerves. I decided everyone would think I was an idiot. That to create a global kindness movement was not only crazy, but that I was crazy and I had failed.
I’ll say at this point that these thoughts were not generated from anyone else. It all came from me.
My to-do-list was growing. Emails were left unanswered. Phone calls went to voicemail. I didn’t move for days. Until I was reminded of two things which will always be true:
- Things are going to get better.
- Things are going to get worse.
It’s a simple recognition that, for most of your life, things are in a state of change and sometimes the only option is to ride it out. A study in the Journal of Marriage and Family shows that happy couples think about their partners for one minute every half an hour. If that is the case, how many people would be thinking I was an idiot, had failed or how I looked?
My rational brain kicked in. In a matter of days, I’d adopted a lifestyle that was not supporting my happiness. I’d been so stressed and focused on something that in the long run, really didn’t matter. I had to find a solution which would support my wellbeing, opportunity and in my heart and mind, I had very personal reasons for wanting to bring more happiness into my life – to help others.
I took a moment and read my to-do-list. Make my best friend’s daughters birthday cake. Create invitations for two family events. Go and buy Christmas cards and enjoy writing them. Say yes to going to a BBQ on the weekend. Clear the emails. Return the calls I had missed or declined.
When I looked at the list, I saw that it so many items involved showing someone that I cared. I wanted to make a six-year-old smile at her birthday cake. I wanted to create invitations which would speak volumes. I wanted to celebrate a belated 30th birthday for a dear friend whose life of late had been much worse than mine.
My focus shifted. I realised what was important. The week which I believed was a train-wreck turned into a weekend where I was the one making people smile. An indescribable feeling where a little girl smiled as she saw her girly themed space cake (this was a challenge!) and I sealed the envelopes on two sets of invitations. I laughed with friends. I sang happy birthday twice. I slept until 4am (for me this is a huge win). I reconnected with my husband and allowed myself to catch up on reality TV.
I have realised that although I sometimes don’t feel worthy or amazing, it doesn’t really matter. I have a roof over my head, a family who loves me, am reasonably healthy, am changing lives and have a story or two to share with the world. It was time to celebrate what I did have and stop allowing the fears and regrets to take over.
I try to do daily happiness-making tasks each day. My choice of simple and enjoyable activities which bring me fulfilment, enjoyment and energy. It can be singing a song which always makes me smile, doing something kind for someone, reading a chapter of a book I have read before or getting in the kitchen and baking.
Feeling sad and negative happens to everyone, but in most cases, the feeling don’t stick around. These feelings are natural and within a few hours or days, life tends to look more balanced again. Carl Jung said, “The word “happiness” would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.”
You can choose to be happy in your life, or you choose not to be. The key is creating a lifestyle that promotes being generally happier, not being on a continuous high. This state of happiness doesn’t mean life is trouble free. What’s surprising is that looking back, I see the challenges I thought were insurmountable, the times I was so unhappy or the goals that seemed too far away were more easily achieved than I thought they would be.
Sometimes we surprise ourselves in what we are able to achieve. Every challenge brings opportunities, so learn to look for them.