ASK OUR FOUNDERS
Happy New Year!
Ann here with this month’s Ask Our Founders.
As I let go of 2020 and look towards 2021 with optimism, one of my goals for the new year has been around how I help myself create happiness despite the challenges that life throws at me (ahem pandemic!).
Research has shown that most of our ability to be happy is based on genes. Yes – that perky friend/co-worker/neighbor is just naturally happier. However, that same research also suggests that 40% of people’s happiness comes from the choices that they make. Hence, this month’s Founders Letter musing is all about the 40% that does lie in our control.
This Month's Theme: In Pursuit of Happiness.
As everyone has acknowledged by now, 2020 was a doozy of a year filled with anxiety, uncertainty, fear, pressure…the list goes on. With so many tough emotions to manage through, one method that has helped guide my thinking is to always ask myself – is what I’m doing in pursuit of happiness?
I read somewhere that the happiness curve in life is U-Shaped – with the bottom of the curve starting around the late 30s, bottoming out around the mid-40s and then exponentially increasing from age 50 upwards.
Which makes sense to me. The late 30s and 40s age bracket is generally one of the most demanding period in anyone’s life. Often, it’s a period in life where people are relying on you most heavily – whether it be a team at work, your partner or children at home, aging parents who no longer have the means to do certain things for themselves or an old friend who needs a shoulder to lean on. Throw in a global pandemic, home schooling, financial obligations that need to be met and it’s enough to overwhelm any sane person.
Therefore, the simple question “Is what I’m doing in pursuit of happiness?” and, just as importantly, the ability to hear the honest answer coming out of this question has proven to be an effective way for me to filter and put things in perspective. I’ve used this method to help navigate priorities in life and to manage my own thoughts and emotions.
Here are some ways I’ve used this question:
- Do I aspire for the job promotion because the new scope of work will help me grow (and therefore make me happy) or does this desire come from my ego?
- Am I taking on this new responsibility out of obligation or does the journey and result add to my overall happiness?
- Should I be feeling guilt in indulging in extra time in bed and putting off the list of chores or is the extra rest something that will make me happier for the rest of the day?
If the answer to any of these questions is a resounding YES to happiness, I gently allow myself to let go of any sense of desire, obligation, or guilt that doesn’t lead to happiness.
Staying ahead of the happiness curve using the pursuit of happiness filter has been one trick, here are a few other ways I’ve tried to create happiness in my day to day.
- Gratitude Journaling: Introduced to me by journaler Lissette Alves @the.journal.room in our recent Before Noon journaling workshop, Lissette introduced the concept of starting (or ending) the day by jotting down a short list of 3-5 things that you are grateful for. Gratefulness begets happiness. And in Lissette’s words, she hasn’t had a bad day since she started doing this exercise.
- Exploring Creativity: As a new homeowner, so much of my mind space has been consumed with creating a space that is beautiful, functional, and cozy for me. It is through this lens that I usually take the last 20 mins of my day to let myself unwind and surf favorite sites like @eyeswoon, @amberinteriors, and @studiomcgee. A big YES to creative endeavors that release dopamine!
- Practicing Pilates: My 3x a week practice of carving out one hour to focus on strengthening and lengthening through Pilates has been an incredible gift during the Pandemic. Pilates has been one of the most effective workouts I’ve found – particularly exercises using the reformer machine and the Cadillac. And leaving the studio feeling inches taller and more limber definitely is a YES to my happiness.
- Co-making Food: My partner is an avid cook and one of our favorite things to cook together is the Brazilian Cheese Bread Pão de Queijo. Not only is it a quick and easy recipe, but it is also an activity that we can do together – nourishing our bodies, our relationship, and our happiness quotient. (PS - Add truffle sauce or pesto sauce to the recipe if you’re feeling especially adventurous!)
- Standing in her Power Podcast: Whenever I’m seeking inspiration on badass people who are working to change their corner of the world, I turn to my friend Rebecca Redondo’s podcast, Standing in Her Power. This podcast is filled with inspirational stories shared by a diverse group of trailblazing woman who did something revolutionary – they were true to themselves despite perceived (and real) consequences. It makes me happy to see Rebecca grow into her calling and just as happy knowing that there are people working to improve our collective society.
- The Long Wake Up: After a hectic 2020, the power of rest has become more important than ever. That’s why, despite my natural inclination to “get up and go”, I’ve started becoming more intentional with allowing myself to fall back asleep and to be lazy in bed a little longer. These extra moments, for me, are incredibly restorative and the ability to let go of the guilt in sleeping in has allowed me to arise from bed with more pep in my step. Follow one of our favorite Instagram accounts @thenapministry for more ideas on how to rest and repair.
Tell me, what are YOU doing to pursue your happiness?