Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ashley and the 40%

So, last week I decided that I was going to start doing happiness full time on Monday.

It's not that I'm particularly unhappy right now but I am chronically frustrated -- my whole life seems to be a push of "Yes you can!" and a pull of "Well, no, not actually right now, you're gonna have to wait."

Everything I want or need requires some other step; from unpacking to relationships, every good effort seems to be met with a roadblock and I am ready to go outside and scream at the sky, "UH, HELLO, UNIVERSE? Could you not? See me trying to do all of this shit? If you could just, you know, not make it all impossible at every single turn that would be great. 'kay. Thanks. Nice sunset last night, by the way. Good talk."

Lately I've been researching happiness. (What? I research things, it's what I do.) It started for some writing I'm doing but gained some momentum as an idea. I watched "Happy" on Netflix and was struck by a statistic that said happiness was 50% genetic, 10% situational, and 40% the things you do to get it. Those are decent odds.

It reminded me that I know what needs to be done, perhaps more than most thanks to my research and yoga teacher training and meditation experiences and constant pursuit of the subject.

I do know how to be happy, other people just keep messing it up. And yet I know, from my training and experiences, that other people can be annoying without annoying me.

In theory I know this.

I've been told this, at least.

Look, I am not claiming to understand how that works, it's part of the practice, I suppose. It would be super helpful if people could quit being annoying, but I know the real work lies in being unfuckwithable.

So I was going to start doing that 40% on Monday.

And Monday was a disaster of epic proportions (maybe "epic proportions" is hyperbole, but the day sucked), where literally nothing could be done until something else was dealt with first. When the guy at the Genius Bar said that the hard drive on my one year old Macbook was on the brink of catastrophic failure, I thought that maybe Monday was a metaphor for my whole life.

It was already late afternoon and I couldn't back up my computer until I bought a new external hard drive and I couldn't get a new hard drive until I submitted some work and I couldn't submit some work until I picked up little kid and I thought, "Well, damn, it looks like I don't have time for the whole happy thing today. I'm going to have to postpone until Wednesday."

And I literally laughed out loud at the absurdity of that. I know how to be happy, I claim not to have time to be happy, I will start happiness later.

I am a total lunatic. It's actually a huge relief to realize my own ridiculousness.

I don't even know what version of New New New Life Plan: Rough Draft: Second Copy: Third Revision we are on these days but from now on I will be:

Meditating. Even if it's two minutes. Even if "go to hell" is my mantra. Breathing will be an acceptable alternative to this on days it's just not happening, but it has to happen more days than not. I have some great meditation apps on my phone that I enjoy, I know for a scientific fact that it's good for me, I have no excuse not to do this. Not doing this is like refusing to brush my teeth -- weird and not good for me, and scraping all of the spiritual plaque away later is just going to hurt.

Going to the beach. Again, even if it's just for long enough to feel my toes in the sand, I will go and stare out at the horizon and feel small and remind myself that nothing else matters. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have this as an option. I don't need a book and a chair and a raft and a towel and sunscreen and three uninterrupted hours. I need a car and legs, still have both.

With my friends. I love them. They are the therapy I can't afford. I'm doing awesome at this already this week and I'm going to force myself to keep it up. It's also a nice way to add drinking more wine to the list. My friends are a good barometer of how I'm doing in life -- I can't be too terrible if these wonderful people like to be around.

Selfish. There's a whole lot of selflessness in mom life/wife life/woman life/human life/pet owner life. I give so much there that I can afford to save some for myself. I will not take away from others, just do more for me and not feel bad about it.

(I've thought about deleting this part three times already because it makes me sound like a bad mom/wife/friend/cat owner/person but the first step to being selfish is being unapologetic about the need. You know how you have to put on your own oxygen mask first when the plane is going down, in order to help others? Yeah, hold your breath for a sec while I get situated, people in my life.)

Moving my body. Yoga, walking, chasing food trucks. Just kidding, we don't have food trucks and from what I understand they don't work like ice cream trucks which is exactly what they're doing wrong. I don't like exercise, and whatever, I don't need to do squats. Walking on the beach with a friend will be movement and happiness multi-tasking. In fact, walking down the pathway to the beach in order to sit with a friend will count.

Writing for fun. Maybe not for you and maybe not for money and maybe with no sense of obligation or concern about being commercially appropriate or hurting someone's feelings or not being funny. It's going to be glorious. And hard to do. I don't even know what I will write about but I am giddy at the prospect.

So my new life plan is looking like a good time already. This is way better than the other times when I wanted a clean house or ab muscles.

Last week after deciding that I was going to do my 40%, someone from Spire, a wearable mindfulness and activity tracker, reached out and asked if I wanted to do a product review. You know how the universe often drags me in the direction I need to go, even as it conspires against me? It seemed like that sort of thing. This post is not an ad, just a reminder that serendipity happens.

It will arrive on Thursday, but I started doing my 40% on Monday even though the deck seemed stack against me. The truth is that I really don't have be unhappy. So now I am going to do the fun stuff on my to do list first.

And other people are still annoying but we're working on it. Well, I'm working on it.


Unknown said...

What a super great post <3 Perfect timing for me to be reading it as I REALLY need to not count on a clean house or organization to make me happy.

For fun writing can I ask for two things??? How about a list of books you've read or a post of links like you used to do... With the book list you get to talk about what you've enjoyed and with the latter you get to research bizarre-o things and share them.

Also - self care is SO SUPER IMPORTANT and absolutely doesn't make you seem like a bad wife/mother/friend/cat slave.

Ashley said...

Those are both good ideas! And I've meant to tell you that every hour since you originally left the comment even if I didn't manage to convey that via response.

But for real, I was thinking about the links lists the other day because I've been sharing links on Twitter (no one likes me on Twitter though.) And I have LOTS TO SAY ABOUT BOOKS LATELY, so much, in fact, that I might permanently excuse my self from the book club I attend once yearly because I might be too opinionated on books.