Thursday, September 13, 2012

The longest post ever about being HAPPY.

'He started to sing as he tackled the thing that couldn't be done, and he did it.' - Edgar A. Guest

Three years ago if you asked me if I would someday be happy, I would have said YES. Because let's be honest, even in the deepest pits of depression I was willing to lie about having hope. But the truth was, it was just that: a lie. Without going into too much detail about my mental state (because believe it or not, I do keep some things private) I was in big trouble. I felt like my life was happening around me, and not to me. I felt numb to sadness & especially to happiness. I thought it would always be this way. 

Fast forward through many trips to a therapist, a little chemical aide & some very deliberate actions on my part (although I could have never done this without help).

I don't remember rock bottom (I am sure Brian does) but I do remember emerging from the numbness and feeling happy, little by little. And thinking 'This is so great. I am going to chase this.'

I didn't realize I had 'caught it' until a couple weeks ago. I was chatting in an mommy group. A fellow mom had posted a plea for help. She felt hopeless, listless and depressed. She was unhappy with her life. I read the post & could relate, I had been there. But it was happened next that clued me into my current state of Happiness. Close to 20 other moms posted how dissapointed , unsatisfied and unhappy they were with their lives. Not one person posted a hopeful message. I thought about posting one but then remembered that I am never the girl that posts a hopeful and maybe even helpful comment. I am always the girl who can relate to the negative feelings.... until I realized, I'm not. Not anymore. And I posted a hopeful message. Nothing inspirational, but a comment with the underlying message: I've been there and I am not there anymore. I am happy. So I wrote this:

Haley Hopaluk-Ross A while ago, I got happy. It sounds weird, but it happened. I was the kind of person who would always end up a crying mess. Always. And then I just started to do things that would make me happy. Little things & big things (but when possible, not material things). And I guess they made a big difference because now I am happy. Not all the time. And not about everything. But I am happy. I know exactly how you feel, I felt that way, and I am glad it is over for me. All I can tell you is to think about what would make you really happy, in this life, right now. Just because it isn't what you pictured doesn't mean it can't be something super fucking awesome. Make a list. Things that would make you happy. Include "trips to paris" but also include "getting to read a magazine uninterupted". And then make sure everything you do, everyday will get you closer to making that list HAPPEN. It happened slowly for me, but it happened.

The response to it was expected. About 50 'likes' and about 1,000 people who ignored it & continued to lament. And one person who was mortified that I dropped an f-bomb (that's fair). But the thing that matters most is that I posted it. Because it was a declaration to myself: I got happy.

And it is infectious. Because once I put it out there, it was even easier to believe. And act on.
And I began to work even harder at being happy (everything else in life, you have to work at, I believe the same thing about happiness).

'Any happiness you get, you've got to make yourself' - Alice Walker

(these people make me happy)

I have to say that being a social media junkie (I blog, Facebook, Tweet & check Instagram religiously) has actually helped. Its kind of like scrapbooking, but more all encompassing (I usually just scrapbook my kids). If I think I have nothing to be happy about I just need to check my Instagram feed to see that if I feel as though I have nothing else to hang hope on, at least I have cute toe nails that match my flip flops. It's a starting point...

I am hyper aware of the things that make me happy. I come out of a things thinking 'I am so happy that.....'. It wasn't easy to train my brain to think this way, but I did it (90% of the time). 

A couple of years ago I bought this book: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. But the thing was, I was so unhappy that even thinking about reading a book with notions of happiness wasn't appealing. In August I plucked the book off my shelf. And read it in a couple of days. I am glad I waited. If I had read it when I bought it I would have been disappointed. It didn't provide the 'ah-ha!' moment I would have been hoping for. But reading it now, knowing the happiness requires works and awareness... I liked it. And I am, like what I would guess to be 99.99% of people who read the book, going to start my own Happiness Project.

I worked hard on preparing my project (which I will officially start tomorrow). I think it's perfect for me. And when I read it to my husband I think he was impressed enough to entertain the idea of doing his own. For a moment or two.

I told him I would start mine once 'wedding season' was over.

So, without further adieu, the end to this post & the beginning of my Happiness Project (I'll explain the specific goals tomorrow). 

Be More Active (September 14th - October 14th, 2012)

Get up & be dressed by 9:30am 6 out of 7 days each week
Do 60 minutes of an ‘activity’ that requires movement or play each day 
Go for an after dinner walk three times a week/walk somewhere


Jennifer DeWolfe said...

And in case instagram is not enough .. you have freinds who love you :) Oh and if you are looking for a walking partner call me :)

kaly said...

Haley. You are brave. And we don't hang out enough. I could use your voice in my inner ear of constantly feeling like I'm not enough. And in turn, I will praise and give you words of encouragement as needed. We can all use a little praise now and then, can't we?
But you already know how awesome I think you are. I'm constantly reminded of it, especially when you share blog posts like this one!