If there’s anything I’ve learned about happiness, it’s that is has much less to do with your possessions and achievements, but rather your perception of what you have and the world and people around you.
Reframe Your Perception: Each of us has dreams that for one reason or another we do not achieve. And we all make choices that perhaps were not the best we could have made. Yet, rather than allowing regret to overtake us, we must see and celebrate all the other goals we’ve accomplished and positive choices we’ve made? Human nature so often leads us to perceive the one negative in a sea of positives. But, we can retrain ourselves to acknowledge both, learn the lesson embedded in our mistakes, and allow ourselves to see and feel pride in the beauty we are capable of.
Make Time for Gratitude: Gratitude can take us far in reframing how we see ourselves and our worlds. When we begin a daily practice of recognizing the positive events that occur and the pleasant encounters we have with others, we start noticing more things to be thankful as the days pass. Perhaps it’s someone who holds the door for you at the supermarket, the nice conversation you have with a stranger while at the coffee shop, or a hug with someone you love. These are the small moments, and often the ones we forget. Savor their beauty and what they tell you about humankind—that we do live amongst many good people.
Be Kind Just Because You Can: It’s easy to judge others for their actions and take for granted those we love or meet in chance encounters. We sometimes get so caught up in our busyness that we forget others are busy too, they have rough days just like us, and they benefit from our kindnesses just as we do theirs. Go out of your way to smile at strangers, say good morning, say thank you, give a compliment, and listen attentively to someone who needs your ear. Do it because you can, because it feels great, because it makes someone else feel good. Don’t worry about a subsequent thank you; let a thank you be a beautiful perk, rather than an expectation.
Work Before You Play, But Make Sure You Play: When the metaphorical dinner on our plate seems too huge to digest, it’s expected we might wish to eat our dessert first. Work can overwhelm us, however several big projects can be broken down into smaller, achievable steps. Keep a weekly calendar and/or to-do-list, assess the steps required to complete your tasks, and determine when each needs to be completed for your success and sanity. Decide what you’ll do each day, cross sub-tasks off your list as you complete them (it feels great!), and celebrate at the end of each day by doing something you love. It’s a great way to feel a sense of accomplishment, and balanced in allowing yourself play time as well.
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If I could add something about Work Before Play, I always found that somehow making a game of your tasks always made them less tedious. Repetitive tasks can be made more interesting just by adding some simple competition with yourself, or even setting a minor goal to get a treat at break. Breaking the routine also helped with me.
It’s true, “Work Before Play,” but don’t abandon play just because you’re at work!
I absolutely agree, Mark! I too believe that wellness at work includes job crafting your projects and relationships to be more pleasurable, more aligned with your passions and strengths, and to feel more like play than work.
Colleen – it seems that the more one practices kindness and gratitude – the easier it is to change your perception. They support one another. These practices often enable you to recognize that play time (rest, relaxation, and fun) is critical to overall well-being. Thanks for the reminders.
Virginia, I absolutely agree! Feeling and expressing gratitude and kindness are at the core of shifting how we look at ourselves, others, and life overall.