Happy Friday! This is a contemplative ‘seize the day’ type post inspired by a movie. How adolescent of me! Surely I should be getting my life insights from books by now? Last weekend, I sat down to watch Jeff who lives at home with Lee. Neither of us were really expecting too much, but I don’t seem to have the brain capacity to deal with anything ‘too depressing or too deep’ at the moment, and we were expecting something in the Paul Rudd vein of slacker comedy.
Actually, it turned out that (we thought) Jeff who lives at home was an enormously sweet, touching, and funny little film. I won’t spoil any of the plot, as you should watch it, but one of the moments that stuck out to me was the character’s remembering their dad and his saying ‘Today is the greatest day in the history of the world’.
I’m currently reading The Happiness Project (more in-depth post and review coming soon!) and it struck me how the message of the film relates to something mentioned in the book – arrival fallacy. Arrival fallacy is misplaced belief that you’ll be happy as soon as…. fill in the blanks. I’m sure you can relate, but these are a few common ones –
- lost half a stone
- get a better paid job / win the lottery
- buy a house
- get a boyfriend/girlfriend
It probably doesn’t need to be said, but this way of thinking is completely counter-productive. The day you’ve lost weight, got a better job or bagged a boyfriend, you won’t actually find yourself any happier than you are now. Instead, the goalposts shift. You realise that actually, earning £25k a year doesn’t make you rich (but maybe £30k would do the trick?), and no amount of weight lost can change you into a confident person.
As someone who has been a stone (14 pounds) lighter than my current weight and not felt one jot happier (in fact, I was less happy than I am now) with my life or my body, I can definitely attest to this!
So how do you tackle this kind of thinking? First, embrace now, – today really is the greatest day in the history of the world! Who knows how many more days like this you might get? So what if its a rainy Thursday and not the weekend, and you’re stuck at work? So what if you can’t afford to go out and do anything? Ask yourself – what can you do with the time that remains to make this day even better? Whether you’re at home or work, before you write off the day, think about how you can use the remaining time in the best way. That might involve tackling outstanding projects, clearing your emails, unloading the dishwasher, playing with your cats, doing some gardening or baking some bread, or even just reading.
Second, challenge negative thinking. Why should you be happier if you lost weight/got a boyfriend/bought a house/got a better paid job? Every time a little voice pipes up to suggest that you can’t wear that until you’ve lost weight, or you won’t be happy until you’re paid more, challenge it with a stronger, louder one. Unhappy with the way you look? Silence your inner critic by taking action, both internally and externally. Resolve to genuinely eat better and get moving more, but more importantly, challenge the negative voice inside.
Third, identify what you really love and do more of it. Make time in your day for the things that make you feel good. At home, this is a recipe for a happy life, at work, this should move you closer and closer to your dream job. Losing weight will not make you happy, nor will earning more money – in the long term, your happiness levels after even winning the lottery return to what they were before.
So spend time figuring out what enriches your life. Putting together a chart of your perfect day (Make your own chart here!) should help! Here’s mine – as you can see it doesn’t involve anything too fancy or unrealistic, there’s an extensive lie-in, some lazing around, some baking, time spent hanging out with friends/family, and even some laundry! Yes I have a confession to make, I actually enjoy laundry!
What do you think? Do you feel like you appreciate the now enough? Could your life be improved by making a focused effort to do more of what you love?