Fostering an atmosphere of growth

One of the subjects I’ve been meditating on a lot lately is Happiness. Happiness is a fickle thing—you often don’t recognize it when you have it, resent not having it when you don’t have it, or attribute it to things that are not really the cause or the source. I’ve long considered myself a happy person overall. Sure, we all have our moments or days or occasionally weeks where anxiety and stress override, but in general, I’m pretty happy and positive. Though lately, at times I’ve felt dissatisfied with my life and where I’m at – but why? I’m incredibly lucky and blessed, and everything is pretty much good.

I realized that I’ve been feeling like I’m in a rut. Somewhat bored, disaffected. I shouldn’t feel this way – I have some great friends, a job that challenges me, a city surrounding me that you have to work really hard to be bored in. But in my little bubble, things have felt a little stale and I’ve been trying to think of what I can do to revitalize myself.

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This spring would definitely have been the time in my life that I decided to go all Elizabeth Gilbert on everyone and move to Bali, but unfortunately I don’t have anyone who wants to pay for me to travel the world for a year to find myself, nor do I have a trust fund. So instead of the “leave, only to figure out what you’re looking for was there all along” mentality, I am trying to figure out how I can experience growth HERE in the day to day.

I’ve read Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” before and I really liked it. Okay, the writing is self-indulgent (by necessity), the tone occasionally preachy and her style much more type-A than my own, but it’s a great book to read more for what it makes you think about in your own life. I’ve been rereading it lately, and one of the things that really hit me was the importance of creating an atmosphere of growth to happiness and life satisfaction. I realized that, while I do have a pretty dynamic life, I haven’t been feeling like I am truly growing as of late, and decided that I am going to change that.(Note – I made some goals on the blog after reading this book last year – fun to look back on.)

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How can I foster an atmosphere of growth when the circumstances of my life – where I live, how much I work, my salary – are staying the same? This is something I’ve been thinking about this weekend and I’ve decided to put some goals together. Often when we want to revitalize our lives, we try to do all of it at once: “I’m going to lose 20 pounds, buy a new car, become fluent in French, invest in stocks, fall in love, and volunteer more. In the next three months.” No wonder so many resolutions fail! In view of reality, I’ve come up with the following goals for myself to help me “create an atmosphere of growth” within my daily life:

1. Bike more.

2. Pick up one new hobby.

3. Redefine friendship – spend less time on facebook and more time investing in old friends and meeting new ones.

4. Make home homier: turn my apartment from a cluttered mess into a sanctuary.

5. Reduce small, daily stressors by being proactive and not putting off tiny tasks.

6. Embrace new challenges at the office.

7. Give my blog the time and energy that I want to.

8. Focus on the future – finish my “30 by 30” list.

9. Remember the importance of being mindful about what I choose to eat.

10. Ask myself each day if I am moving towards being a better me or settling for less.

All of these things are doable, and give me something to work on in the short term. I hope that, in accordance with #7, that I’ll be blogging about them. some of these I may succeed at, others will inevitably fail. But striving towards something – regardless of what the outcome is – can often bring happiness in and of itself – proving that it often truly is about the journey, not the destination.

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Courtney

Question for anyone reading – how do you foster growth in your own daily life?

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    1. I can relate to your feelings of being in a rut. At least you recognize it and are taking steps to fix it! I really like #4 on your list – make home homier. The apartment I’m in now was meant to be a temporary move and so I never took the time to decorate or personalize it. I’ve also never invited any friends over for dinner/wine/game nights because of it. Perhaps I should make my own list!

    2. I’ve been considering making some big changes lately because I am feeling stuck …I know i can control my attitude about the situation, but that still doesn’t make it good. :) I think having smaller goals that all add up to a better life is a great way to go about moving forward!
      Amanda @RunToTheFinish recently posted..Long Run Sundays: Recovery PlanMy Profile

    3. I think 25-32ish can be a weird time for educated, driven women. We’re not college girls anymore, but maybe not quite ready for mortgage and babydom (I just did the mortgage thing myself and it was scary). Good for you for recognizing you need a change.
      Christine @ BookishlyB recently posted..Sunday is My BitchMy Profile

    4. I loved the Happiness Project, and I think I need to flip through it again. I feel like this is such a weird time in our lives because I always thought in my 20s I’d have everything figured out and be settled into adulthood but it doesn’t feel that way at all. Hating where I live definitely doesn’t help…

      Yay for biking more!
      Cate recently posted..Potato and Tempeh Curry with Cucumber-Ginger RaitaMy Profile

    5. I love that book (and her blog as well!). I want to give it to everyone I meet. Don’t know if it helps, but I absolutely remember feeling rather rut-ish & unsettled & amiss when I was 25 & as if figuring it all out & being capital H – happy was incredibly urgent. (Actually, I think I remember everyone I know having felt that way…) Now it seems AGES ago & it’s hard even to remember what the fuss was all about.

      Of course it’s different for everyone but I cannot recommend highly enough making your physical space a place you love (& that doesn’t stress you out), unplugging (either to work on relationship in person or spend mindful time alone doing something you love), and training yourself not to procrastinate small and/or unpleasant tasks. Those things have all made a HUGE difference for me.
      Angela recently posted..Week in Review: May 14 – 20My Profile

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