I’ve come to the conclusion that happiness has many variable parts, and the pursuit of it can leave us exhausted.
During the course of my colourful, roller coaster of a life, I’ve learnt a few golden rules, which I’d like to share with you today.
Cards on the table: none of these will bring you the short term gratification that a glass of wine or slice of cake will, but trust me they are tried and tested long-term happiness boosters! I’m sure most of us could do with a few more of them in our lives.
Learn to distinguish between your wants and your needs
This one is perhaps the most important, because people often place too much value on the wrong things. It’s a common train of thought to believe that if we were wealthier then life would be better. Here’s the thing though: unless we have attained our happiness first, all the money in the world would be pointless.
We hear time and again about how miserable a lot of celebrities are. Not to mention every day people who win the lottery and became filthy rich over night. There is no denying that money can make life easier, especially when we’re in debt and see all our problems relating back to finances. It can seem that money has caused our unhappiness, but it usually stems from something much deeper rooted than money. Which leads me nicely on to my next point.
Make peace with your past, otherwise it will haunt you forever
Unhappiness, depression and anxiety always comes from somewhere deeper than the surface problems in front of us. Having been through two mental breakdowns, and seeing numerous friends suffer from mental health problems over the years, I am more convinced than ever before that our own behaviour and the environment we live in has the biggest impact on our well-being.
Coming to terms with a dark past or facing up to an unpleasant reality can be a scary prospect. The fact is that unless we face our demons and make peace with whatever has gone down, we will never be able to properly move forward and experience true happiness. Our demons will haunt us forever, and we might even pass them onto our children, which just isn’t fair. If you feel you’re ready to start facing your demons, but don’t know where to start, check out my book Become the Best You.
Trust your gut
In a nutshell: if something doesn’t feel right, then just don’t do it. I’ve only gone against my gut once in the last few years, and I am living to regret it BIG TIME. I’m not even allowed to blog about my situation because I’ll get sued. What a sorry state of affairs. I knew what I was doing didn’t feel 100% right, but went with it anyway because it seemed like the easy option. Unfortunately it rarely works out this way, our gut instincts should always be our guide in life.
The same rule applies to people, if you have ‘friends’ who aren’t supportive and don’t have your back, then don’t be afraid to ditch them. A true friend would want nothing but happiness for you. They would not be jealous of you, or try and sabotage your success.
Don’t resist change
Life constantly evolves, and we must be prepared to adapt when necessary. Refusing to change, and being stuck in our ways rarely leads to happiness. It leads to bitterness, resentment and feeling like everyone else is happier than us.
I think most people have ideals they feel they’ll adhere to when they have a family, but once we become parents we realise that it’s best to make decisions based on our circumstances. It’s useful to remember that what worked beautifully for someone else’s kids more than likely won’t for our own.
When we assume we make an ASS of U and ME. Think about that. This rule is most poignant when assuming that people are out to get us. It’s equally important to learn that not everything is about us, and we are not the centre of the universe. (Can you hear Carly Simon singing in your head too?)
Listen intently (especially to our children)
Yes I know that we all have lots of wisdom to impart, and that’s great, but properly listening is a underrated skill in this day and age – especially when it comes to our family. Listening to our children is the only way to properly connect and understand them.
Earlier this year Clara (almost five) declared that she didn’t like being called darling anymore. We had to correct ourselves multiple times a day because it would automatically roll off the tongue, but it clearly bothered her. She would get even more upset when people outside our fivesome called her darling. Rather than make a show of telling her how silly she was being, like I’ve seen many other parents do, I made a point of telling them that she would prefer to be called Clara. It made her so unbelievably happy when everyone stopped calling her darling.
Freddy is going through the same thing at the moment, because lots of people call him Fred. He corrects them every time, saying ‘no my name is Freddy.’ Little things matter to little people.
Concentrate on finding solutions, rather than getting bogged down by the problems
Day to day life can be overwhelmingly grinding, and it can feel like curve balls are being thrown left, right and centre. However, focusing on the challenges, instead of putting our efforts into finding ways to overcome them is a straight road to a negative rut. Anyone who has been in a rut will know how hard it can be to get out of it. There are always solutions, and often they are staring us in the face. We just need to be willing to open our eyes to seek them out.
I never for one single minute expected family life to be all sunshine and rainbows, but not once in my wildest imagination did I consider that I’d face some of the obstacles I have. I’d barely heard of autism when I was pregnant with Polly, but over the last few years have had to get very cosily acquainted with it. Life is hard for us, I’ve written about that many times before, but we’re still very fortunate to have all we do.
I have been known to get bogged down by our problems, and my husband is always the one who pulls me out of my hole and gets me focusing on the solutions instead. Concentrating on the negative is bad ju-ju all round.
Don’t buy into the fallacy of perfection
There is nothing wrong at all with aiming high in life, but don’t become a slave to the idea of perfectionism. It’s possibly the biggest lie we’re sold: the myth that other people are perfect.
If you have a warm house to live in, food in your belly and love coming at you then you’re a very lucky person. No matter how difficult our lives are, there will be plenty of folk who would give a limb to have it. Absolutely no-one is perfect, even though Instagram would have us believe otherwise.
We are what we eat
It is now common knowledge that what we eat has a huge impact on our physical health and state of mind. The gut/brain connection cannot be underestimated! I’ve thought long and hard about this, and have decided to go back onto the highly controversial GAPS Intro diet (hopefully with Polly too).
I need to be functioning as optimally as I possibly can to have any chance of surviving these challenging early years. Here’s the thing though, I don’t want to just survive them, I want to thrive and enjoy them. Knowing how clear headed I felt whilst on GAPS in 2014, I am confident that it’s what I need to do again. Take a look at my other blog for more info on the GAPS diet.
In the mean time I’ll leave you with my biggest piece of advice for healthy eating. The fewer ingredients the better. The only way to fully control what goes into your body is to make it yourself. That’s not always possible, so when you’re buying pre-prepared food, you should always scrutinise the labels, and aim for the smallest amount of ingredients.
For truly healthy food inspiration, check out my recipe archive here.
Always be kind to yourself
Just for the record it’s not something I’ve mastered yet, but I am working on it ❤️