Much to my wife’s annoyance, I love coming up with acronyms. I find them to be handy little reminders about stuff that I want to be able to remember to help ground me.
Or to remind me of what’s actually important, after all, there’s so much stuff that can overwhelm us, IF we allow it.
But me and my acronyms do my wife’s head in though. I once said to her, “Hayles, I’ve been working on a new acronym, wanna hear it?” Her reply “Do I fuck”. Charming eh, but we both laughed our heads off actually.
So my new one is HAPPINESS. It’s something we all want, it’s there for the taking, we’re born with it after all.
No one devises a plan to be unhappy.
Here the acronym:
H = Health
A = Attitude
P = Purpose
P = Priorities
I = Ingest
N = Nurture
E = Enjoyment
S = Smile
S – Sleep
HEALTH – should be obvious this one but a lot of people neglect themselves, they avoid the effort and the wise choices and hide behind excuses. Simply look after yourself, you are a caretaker of your self first, a caregiver to your self first. Physical health, mental health. Your body and your brain need exercise. Use them or lose them. Activate your muscles. Train the body, train the mind. Find what works for you and get better with age. Put in the effort. Exercise may suck at the time but the FEELING afterwards is the reward. As are the results as you keep doing it consistently. It’s far easier to STAY in shape than GET in shape.
ATTITUDE – its an overused phrase to have a ‘positive mental attitude’. But there’s truth in it of course (like every cliche, there’s truth). I think its best to just have an attitude of knowing that life can be difficult at times and it can be brilliant at times, and then anything fairly randomly at times in between. Remind yourself that you are more resilient than you think and that pain will occur at times but your level and time spent suffering is more in your control. Know that things will pass, don’t dwell on the past, nor the future unknowns. Choose to be more optimistic than pessimistic, its more helpful that way, but being realistic and without blind optimism. Remember to not follow your feelings, you create how you want to feel by your actions. If we allowed ourselves to be managed by our moods we’d get nothing meaningful done. You know if you do the hard work, put the effort in, then you feel better and make progress towards the results you want. Choose to be the solution, to actively put effort in and not be part of the problem and just worry and dwell on it.
PURPOSE – “find your purpose” and “find your why” are also overused phrases, usually closely followed with the word “passion”. People can spend so much time thinking about their big purpose and feeling a bit empty without having a big old meaningful one to follow. If you do have a big purpose, then that’s magic for you. But its also fine to have a purpose which is a bit less ‘save the world’ or ‘empower 300 gazillion people to enlightenment’. YOUR purpose could be relatively simple yet still very important and meaningful; for example it could be to develop a profound expertise in the field of your choice so you are seen as an industry expert; it could be to be your own boss and enjoy a new career path, it could be to work with pleasant individuals and help your local community, it could be to help other busy parents get fitter, it could be help others make better choices and enjoy life more, it could be to live as an inspirational example to others, it could be to be a proud parent and be present with your family and not sacrifice yourself to your job/career. YOUR purpose is whatever you choose it to be, whatever your guiding ‘North-star’ is that aligns your thoughts and actions to why you’re spending obscene amounts of time and energy doing something.
PRIORITIES – this is your choices of how you spend your time and energy, what tasks and people get your focus and attention; which should be aligned with your Purpose remember. Life can get pretty hectic so you must be aware of what you’re doing. It’s far to easy to allow yourself to become a busy fool, to have one of those 12hr days when you haven’t stopped but you’ve actually achieved very little. You got distracted, pulled from pillar to post by endless interruptions and phone calls and pointless meetings, and social media nonsense – all of which you allowed to happen. Get control man! I find that my sense of achievement comes when I have completed something (or made big progress with something) then I feel happier with my day. Otherwise, you will suffer a LACK of completion, a lack of progress and always be playing catchup with an endless To-Do list that just gets longer.
INGEST – you need good fuel for your body so just eat like an adult. A diet of Coco-pops, Coke, Crisps and Crap will leave you feeling like crap, overfed and undernourished. Processed and sugary crap. “But its Diet Coke, its okay” – bullshit. And who even says “I don’t like water” – oh water, that necessity of life, oh yeah, fucking awful stuff – just fucking drink some will you, its easy. I bet you can drink a bottle of wine easily enough, or 5 pints within 2 hours, yet you can’t drink 2 litres of water per DAY, that’s just 3.5 pints, if you’re awake for say 16hrs, that’s 0.5 pint every 2hrs or so and you can’t do that?
And remember those things called vegetables? “I don’t like vegetables,” you say – grow up man! It’s a simple equation of shit in = shit out. A diet of shitty things will leave you feeling shitty after the lovely instant reward and emotional high you get from the cakes and biscuits you love so much. “I’m an emotional eater” you say, well why not seek some professional help for that, discover why. Or maybes you’re just fucking lazy and hiding behind bullshit excuses – worth considering too. When you fuel your body with the right foods and plenty water then you will have more balanced energy and feel good too. And treats are allowed, of course they are, don’t starve or deprive yourself, just earn your treats, that’s the difference. I would also include your Mind in this section, you must ingest knowledge and become wiser. Again, shit in = shit out. Seek your knowledge from credible sources, not just Karen from Facebook and her incessant opinions on the world. Read books, watch videos, listen to podcasts – learn from people you admire and apply said learnings to your life. Be aware of what you know but also what you don’t know and keep expanding your knowledge in areas that matter to you, where you want to make a difference.
NURTURE – you must nurture yourself of course, this relates to your health again but also pamper yourself a little too, get a massage, take yourself for lunch or coffee. This is all about the relationship you have with yourself and with others. You have loved ones around you, your partner, your kids, family, friends and colleagues who all have a relationship with you. These all need nurturing. With yourself in the best fettle you can be, you must then give your attention to your family. Your family should get the BEST of you, not what’s LEFT of you. There will definitely be some imbalance and some sacrifices along the way but keep mindful of those important relationships and don’t make the default be that they get whats left of you. Do it WITH them, not just for them. Don’t be an absent partner or parent while you’re trying to fulfil your purpose. Find out what your partner wants too, they might not be that interested in your purpose or the ££ or the bigger house and all they want is you home more, spending time with your family and not being a tired grumpy twat so much! We’re either nurturing or neglecting – always worth keeping this in mind.
ENJOYMENT – you can’t be all work and no play, you’ve got to make time for doing the things you enjoy too. I get that you might actually enjoy your work, that’s coolio, but what else do you enjoy, have you forgotten because you’re too busy working? Schedule some time to do the things you like to do, whether its on your own or with your family or friends. Schedule some alone time, even if it just 10mins a day, set a timer, avoid all distractions and just take the time to think, to write, to read, to reflect or just have a coffee in silence. What did you used to enjoy when you were younger? What hobbies have you parked and been meaning to re-start? What new hobbies have you always fancied trying? How many books or courses have you started and not finished? Go for lunch with your partner. Take the kids to the beach or the woods. Or watch that documentary thing on TV that you fancied. There’s so much you’ve forgotten that you actually enjoy.
SMILE – again its quite simple this one, just smile! Smile to yourself for starters. And smile at the people you meet including strangers – its not as weird as you might initially think. Try it; when someone is walking towards you, perhaps with a glum look on their face, just smile and say hello, or good morning, wish them a good day – 99.9% of people will always break into a smile back at you. Make a fleeting interaction with yourself result in making someone feel better about their day, even if just for a moment.
SLEEP – this one doesn’t need much said really. Much like water, sleep is a necessity of life too. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good nights sleep. Sleep is when you rest, recharge and recover. Poor sleep = poor quality of life. You’ll have low to zero energy and enthusiasm, you’ll fuel yourself with sugar and stimulants just to get you going in the morning and keep going throughout the day. Then be unable to sleep at night. Just get to bed at a reasonable hour, sleep is far more important than watching TV. Work out what works best for you but be aiming for 7-9hrs per night. Avoid late night eating, avoid late night screen time, just wind down and decompress at the end of the day to relax into sleeping. Keep it simple: sleep for 8hrs, work for 8hrs and spend the other 8hrs on yourself and with your family. Get a sleep tracker to monitor it; what you measure improves.
And with that, you’ll notice that your Happiness is book-ended with your Health and Sleep – these two things kept on point will always keep your spirits up. So start there. Nail them and then nail the rest over time. And keep practicing, its a skillset to improved upon always.
HAPPINESS is always in the present moment, its never in past or in the future. Your happiness is just waiting to be uncovered, rediscovered, its underneath all the crap you’ve hidden it under.
A great quote to consider:
Happiness is wanting what you have
But it’s okay and natural to not be satisfied because this drives you to do more, achieve more, grow more.
And crucially you must remember that there’s a law of opposites (or polarity). We move across the spectrum all the time and we have to. We have to experience one and the other, to know what it is we’re feeling, so you can recognise when you’re happy and what makes you happy and also recognise any sadness. You won’t know happiness unless you’ve experienced unhappiness.
I watch our Harry, whose 1yr old now, and I’m reminded how we’re born happy, full of joy and love, and curious and full of wonder with the world around us. He only expresses an ‘unhappiness’ when he’s hungry, tired, too hot, too cold, frustrated, in need of a new nappy, knocked himself or fallen over but once that has been dealt with, his default state of happiness returns immediately. And there’s the valuable lesson and reminder right there; your happiness was always right there too, it’s just got suffocated and you need to gradually remove all the shit you’ve been carrying and let your happiness breathe again.