How laughing got me started on the path to a simpler, happier life
Not too long ago, I was unhappy. I was working long hours, thinking that if I just got past this one grant/manuscript/report/approval, that I would be able to relax and enjoy my life. The worst part was that people came to expect this from me, and expect that I would always pick up the undone tasks because I cared more about getting the job done than who did the work.
One day I realized that I had everything I needed to change my life for the better. I was laughing at something, and I noticed that good laugh gives you a moment of happiness.
- I tried to laugh more. For a while, I didn’t know how to do this. I started watching funny, uplifting movies, and then reading books and blogs that made me laugh. Thank you right now to Wendi Aarons and Cakewrecks. They also validated my vague unease with Always commercials and cupcake cakes.
- I took an honest look at what I had and what I wanted. This was the hardest part to begin, but it was pretty surprising how much was good. I still have the same job, and I am doing it well, but it is not necessary to follow the conventional path to achieve my goals. In science, following the conventional path is NOT the way to discovery. Life is the same way.
- I started to let go of some things and people. I still hear that voice from my childhood saying “be nice.” It was easier to understand that I can’t please everyone than it was to deal with the responses from people who expected me to make their wishes my priority. These people were co-workers and people in long lines, not my children. Letting go of these habits has had the biggest impact on making my life simpler, and my heart lighter.
- I started to get rid of things. I had a lot of things that I had accumulated to make my life easier, or just fill up space. The reduction in cleaning time alone has made my life better.
- I left my office for days at a time. My office is nice, as offices go, but now I spend more time outdoors. A half hour in nature, or even a walk in the park can make your whole day better. I stopped making work be the main goal of getting up in the morning. I got a dog, something I had been wanting to do for years. I get more exercise now. I spend more time with people I care about.
Photo credit: Ell Brown