Summer is glorious in the subarctic.
The unique gift about the north during the summer months is the sun; it stays for nearly 24 hours at the zenith of summer and doesn’t really leave until it suddenly decides to start snowing.
Most summer evenings after work and the long list of tasks and events for the day are done, you will find me on my balcony with a glass of sparkling water or wine watching the sky turn majestic colours as the sun slips over the edge of the earth to hide away for a few hours.
A few nights ago under the pink and orange sky, I connected with a quiet, deep and steady happiness that has grown through a long season of deep and keen disappointment.
- You can never tell someone’s backstory from the picture they present to the world.
Everyone has something hard in their life. Every single person.
It is a poor choice to decide that someone else’s life is perfect or easy and even if is perfect or easy for them at the moment, they probably went through hell to find it. Let them savour it and celebrate with them.
Much of my life is very shiny and happy. After all, I have a fabulous job and own a part-time consulting and coaching business, running, biking and adventures are peppered throughout the week, I only have me to worry about which means I can travel, go out and do whatever I want when I want and amazing friends overflow in my life.
What you don’t see is the long list of disappointment and heartache that have filled up the last 3 years of my life. Listing them out would be unhelpful; acknowledging they exist is more than enough.
Rarely do we show the struggle, despite it being real.
In the midst battling disappointment, I have also been extremely and consistently happy.
The bendy people of the world have a healthy perspective on how to go about things – they practice. I am sure there are weird yoga competitions, planking championships and other nonsense, but in general, they simply go about practicing.
- One of my mantras in life is, “Your job is to be amazing, now go do it.”
To be happy, you have to know you are and be it, which is anything but passive. Being amazingly you takes work, discipline, focus and tenacity.
Practice leads to proficiency.
Happiness comes from taking control of your life and not pinning your happiness on anything or anyone. Scapegoating situations and people is easy in the moment, but it is not the road to happiness. You, and only you, are in charge of your happiness and it is something you need to practice every day.
Prior to these past years, I had no idea happiness could readily co-exist with disappointment, but it can, it simply takes practice.
There are lists galore out there about how to be happy and yet everyone needs to find their own way and happiness practices which are congruent with who they are; in my world this is called my Happyloree list.
Here are ten things I consistently do as part of my happiness practice:
- Saying no. Learning that ‘No‘ is a complete sentence has been huge. Doing something I don’t want to do means I am not being authentically myself and am taking an opportunity away from someone else. Every opportunity that comes across your path isn’t supposed to be taken.
- Reflecting and savouring. Most of my days start and end with reflection; a time of sorting through what is going on inside of me and how I want to approach the world. As little as 5 minutes makes a marked difference in my life.
- Becoming a sensible minimalist. Buying and consuming less, both stuff and media, has created time and capacity to do more with my life. I never want to go back to an overflowing life. I have become rather man-esque when it comes to shopping – give me a list and let’s get this done!
- Adventuring and saying YES to doing challenging things. Can you say first mountain bike race? Oh sweet Jesus … the goal? Not to die; everything else is bonus.
- Simply being me. As my mom would say, “Like it or lump it.” I actually have no idea what this means, but the sassiness of the comment is fabulous. No longer worrying about either making a statement or fitting in is freeing; going about life and work and not thinking about myself has opened up a new world of mental space and creativity.
- Appreciating my body. Remembering that I can run nearly 30 km or work hard all day and then go mountain biking for a few hours is important; it is fabulous for what it can do, not what size it is or isn’t. I am going to be the hilarious 75 year old woman climbing Kilimanjaro and keeping up with the young whippersnappers, at least that is the goal.
- Giving my time to amazing people. Time is the most valuable resource on the planet and I don’t give it away very easily. Running, biking, evenings out on the town, coffee, dinner and wine and long hikes are paired with amazing people who make my life better.
- Doing what I said I would do. If it is in my calendar, whether it be a bike ride with the Dirt Girls or going to a foreign film alone, I strive to always do what I said I would do and show up, especially for myself. You have to stop wishing and start doing, otherwise you will have regrets instead of stories.
- Dressing nice. I likely overdress most of the time, but it is for me – it helps me show up. Learning the art of taking care of yourself and being proud of who you are, both inside and out, is key … and heck, a pair of amazing shoes always makes everything better.
- Being kinder to myself. I often have internal, hilarious conversations with myself about my failures and disappointments. The mean voice in my head may be loud, but listening to the kind voice gets me much further, much faster in life and I have places I want to go and things to accomplish!
And whatever you do, the first and most important task in the practice of happiness is to buy your own stamp of approval and use liberally and without shame.