Misery. It comes in many forms, and I imagine, many colors if you think of it on a color scale. For most people, I would say that a bad day tips it grey on the scale. Toward the end of 2015, my misery cloak was heavier than it had ever been and it was most definitely black.
Let’s rewind a moment. I am a pretty optimistic, happy-go-lucky person. I’m also very Type A and pride myself on thriving under heavy pressure. But I let 2015 get to me and I kept sinking. Working fifty-sixty hours a week consistently, including weekends and holidays, taking graduate classes, handling some family scares, and getting engaged, all darkened my misery cloak from grey to black. Stress kept compounding without any solutions. I’m a fixer, so not being able to fix my problems only added to them.
I feel like I need to clarify that getting engaged was the happiest day of my life. It’s the wedding planning that sucks the life out of you, haha. I am happy to report that I’ve finally settled on a venue and a date, so onward and upward from here. (I hope)
Back to misery. After suffering a mini mental breakdown (yes, I can admit that now. The first step is admitting when you have a problem. It’s self-denial that keeps you drowning), I realized I needed to make changes or 2016 would be my own personal hell.
I believe that happiness is a choice. It was about time I took my own advice and made the choice to be happy. Made the choice to stop wallowing and waiting for tomorrow to be better than today.
It’s not easy to pull yourself out of misery. Some people plain can’t, but I really wanted to and believed I could. Here are the steps I took to change my misery cloak’s color, and you can take them, too. I should also note that I am not saying these are a quick fix, or that if you suffer from depression, these are a cure all. Simply give them a shot.
- I made a list of everything stressing me out. I called these my key stress points. I wrote down things like: tired of living in an apartment, poor record-keeping of my business expenses and income so that tax season was daunting, working damn near every second of my waking hours, not having enough time for my relationships, family/friends not understanding why I’m always busy when I “only” work from home, wedding planning, my weight gain, having no brain power left (or time) for my grad assignments, not having any desire to write another book. There were a few others, but that’s a good start.
- I wrote down each stress point, then I briefly described why it stressed me out.
- Once I described the why, I wrote a list of how to make that problem less stressful, more manageable, or how I could get it to go away completely.
- Then I made a list on steps to reach the solutions I had just brainstormed.
- Finally, I put those steps into motion. Slowly but surely I was fixing my problems.
Thinking is fine. Problem-solving is a good idea, but you can’t expect change without action. So I acted.
It’s early yet in the year, but I’m already more at peace. I feel back in control with my steps, my plans, and my actions. My promise to myself is to remember that happiness is a choice and it’s the choice I’ve chosen. This is the year of the best me and I’m determined to make it so.
Will my misery cloak turn black again? It might. But if it does, I’m going to toss it off and run it through the wash because no one deserves to be unhappy if they can help it.
I will remember to be happy, and remember to try and let stress go. I manage a virtual book club and one day I asked for the members to tell me something they were happy about that day. One member, and I’m paraphrasing here, posted this photo along with saying she was happy for being able to stop and smell the roses and to appreciate the beauty in the small things. I saved this photo as a reminder to myself to do just that. Maybe you will too.