So I’ve got a confession. As you may have guessed from my last blog, my Happynesshub regime has been slipping. I’ve not been too focused on it. You could say I’ve neglected it. Or, go on, let’s be honest, I’ve outright been ignoring my own sound advice.
Digital detox – are you joking?! My mobile is super-glued to my hip. As the morning dawns, my eyes are barely open when I click on my emails, struggling for my glasses and hitting ‘reply’ when I can hardly focus, let alone answer with clarity. I’m late – skip breakfast, just for today (and tomorrow and the next and the next). Be present (I do manage to say that to myself in a hypocritical voice in the shower), but there are too many things to worry about with my day, to think about, to plan. A quick brush of the teeth (oh no, my new toothbrush is already underperforming, not happy) and I’m walking to the station. No watching the smiling faces, smelling the fresh air, or even time to spot my George Clooney lookalike. Phone call, work plans, phone call…
I won’t bore you with my ongoing day, but suffice to say, it’s full of technology, no meditations, irregular meals (eating on the run), too much caffeine and absolutely no playing of my happy song (I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor – I really need a listen, because right now I am wondering if I will). I have a little word with myself: “I need to change this.” And the answer is clear: when the series is delivered (for those of you who don’t know I make TV shows) I will be healthier. That fatal word WHEN. It hits me with a blow. What???? I only wrote about this in a blog a couple of weeks ago! And yet for 2 months now I have been saying WHEN. When I deliver my charity film. When I finish my Happiness research. When we’ve edited the series. When I have had my op. When my Mum feels better. Then… I will look after myself.
Oh dear, this is not good. So I have another little word to myself. (For those of you who don’t know me, I live alone and have become prone to having – sometimes very interesting – chats with myself. At first I thought this was a sign of madness, or sadness. Now, I thoroughly enjoy them!) My conversation goes like this: “How can I take time out to do these extra little things when I am so busy? How can I possibly cook myself a proper meal when I feel too ill? As if meditating is a good idea with all this going on? I can barely keep my head above water, let alone do a 21-Day toolkit (or elements of).”
Now this, I believe, is my first mistake. It’s at times like these when we most need to reach out, if only for one small, itsy bitsy part of the package.
According to Dr BJ Fogg, it’s a good idea when motivation is low to try small steps, which, however tiny, will lead to change. He says, “there’s something really magical about little successes”. In one of his studies of around 3,000 people, all who had been doing 3 tiny habits, results showed that their feelings of success for making small accomplishments were disproportionally large, and that two thirds of them reported making other positive changes in their life in that week as well.
Now, I know too well from experience, when you are ill and in pain (mentally or physically) just getting dressed can be a challenge, you do not need extra tasks to weigh you down on that ascension of the torturous mountain that faces you daily. Not to mention when life challenges you with work, stress, family demands and not enough hours in the day. I’ve felt fit to burst at times, like my brain would super-implode if asked to do one more tiny thing in my crazy, busy day: DO NOT ASK ME TO CHANGE THAT BULB PLEEEEAAAASE.
But BJ Fogg’s Health Behavior Solution is all about helping “people succeed on the most desirable behavior that matches their current motivation.” So when you’re in a good space, get some structures and habits in place for those tougher times. Learn a new healthy recipe so it’s easy when you’re tired, upload some ‘happy songs’ to your device so they’re there when you need a boost. By doing this it means in your low times, you’ve already set yourself up.
So, back to me: I decided I could no longer wait for 11th April and the 21-Day re-launch WHEN I knew things would change because I’d be following my own toolkit! I had to start NOW. Tiny, tiny steps. So I’ve started drinking more water; I’ve done a bit of daily meditation; and I’m eating 3 meals a day.
My advice to you: whatever you think you can manage, however miniscule, make one simple, positive change. Tiny habits, baby steps. Go for a walk around the block, try our short emergency meditation, put ONE thing in your gratitude jar, or play your happy song! I believe you will soon feel better, realise the mountain isn’t quite as steep or as high as it first seemed, and maybe even be ready to introduce another itsy, bitsy happy-making habit.
Oh and of course – ban the word WHEN!