I’m on week 7 of the free Science of Happiness course I’ve been taking online. I absolutely love everything I have learned so far, and I think week 7, which focuses on mental habits of happiness, is my favorite so far.
One of the topics is on self-compassion. Obviously the more self-compassion you have, the happier you are. Who are the least self-compassionate people? Perfectionists.
Self-compassion does not look like this: You walk over to the fridge and pull out something and knock over the milk, where the lid wasn’t quite put on right. The milk spills all over the floor and you are already in a rush to get out the door. “YOU CLUMSY IDIOT!” you scream to yourself. Have you ever done that? I have!
While that one act does not make you a perfectionist, daily acts where you berate yourself cut deep into your happiness, and perfectionists are notorious for berating themselves daily. Years and years of perfectionism can lead you to be very unhappy (and sometimes make those around you miserable as well).
How many times have you not practiced self-compassion regarding your debt or finances? Maybe seeing your student loan numbers move down at a snail’s pace have led you to thinking negatively about yourself and some choices you made? Or when you bought something you think you shouldn’t have?
For me it sometimes has to do with my career. Before college, I always struggled in school for one reason or another and made very average grades. I was made to feel stupid by some teachers and other influential people on my life. When you are young and impressionable it’s hard to overcome them without some serious inner work. I believed I was stupid and so whenever I messed up, I called myself that. When I think of times I didn’t get a job or land a project, it’s hard not to go back to those thoughts and think, “it must be me. I must not be talented, smart, or skilled enough.”
I could go into this more, but the point is we all have our “baggage” to overcome. A remedy to be less perfectionistic and more self-compassionate is when you get mad, imagine yelling at your 6-year-old self. Would you scream those same words to that kid, who would look up at you with those big sad eyes and wonder why you were yelling at them? If you do you’re a meanie. 🙂 Anyway it’s something to think about!
Resilience is another big component of happiness. How quickly you can bounce back from a setback or bad news. Grayson at Frugal Rules wrote a great piece the other day called The Best Way to Approach a Financial Emergency. He talked about how your attitude is everything: “People who have great attitudes about negative situations tend to be the ones who get through their problems in one piece. They don’t lose their minds and complain about every problem in their lives. They step up, work through it, and move on.”
OK, that’s one thing I think I got going on! Yay! But I commented that I wanted to add one thing not mentioned in his piece. When people get bad news or face setbacks, they often try to power through, which I personally don’t think is a great idea. I think it’s healthy and perfectly OK to take time to mourn a setback. You are not being negative or being whiny (although it’s not necessary to blast your pity party all over Facebook). 🙂 But a pity party for one? Sure…or talk to a trusted friend or significant other. But then dust yourself off an carry on.
This week I got news that a project I was supposed to be booked on fell through. The news is always like a punch to the stomach. AGAIN?!?!? I put the phone down and got quiet. A million things start to race through my mind. All of the negative thoughts try to make their way in about not being good enough, talented enough, yadda yadda. But through much effort and practice into learning about happiness and stress reduction, I regrouped fairly quickly. “This is not the end of the world and there will be more opportunities…somehow I’ll make it and be just fine.”
I don’t know what all the Universe has been trying to teach me these last six years, but holy hell I can definitely say I feel like a much stronger person. I have not one but several friends in jobs they hate that take anxiety medication to get through. Get through? Is that what life is about? Getting through?
I think often times we don’t let ourselves be hurt and feel pain…even though it’s often very necessary to grow as humans and teach ourselves about things we do and don’t want in life. I don’t know about you, but to me that screams, “OMG please tell me you’re looking for another job?!?”
So to wrap this up…because I could go on an on about this stuff forever, check out this great blog and podcast from The Warrior Mind Coach called Emotionally Strong, which lists 15 things emotionally strong people DON’T do. Good stuff!
Do you consider yourself a resilient person? What is one area of your emotional wellbeing that you could work on more?