Recently I read that one of the keys to happiness is to be creative, try new things, and always be open to possibilities. It was actually something I read in reference to keeping relationships alive and healthy be it with your partner or a friend, but I really think it is just as important for personal happiness too. Who wants to believe they are done and have nothing left to learn or experience or create? Not this girl, that’s for sure. I think the idea is that if you step outside your comfort zone and try something new or do something you don’t do often you can learn about yourself, maybe gain a new skill, or at least have a new experience. And new experiences are more interesting and stimulating to your brain than things you do everyday. This stimulation and excitement of the unknown is what leads to feelings of happiness.
So this week I have been trying to do things that are outside of my norm or comfort zone. Some of them are just things I’ve been meaning to do but put off because they make me uncomfortable. But no matter the reason I have been trying to do new things everyday. Some have been creative, like painting my son’s room and making banana bread for the first time, and others have been more necessary or goal oriented like contributing to the blog in a fun way, or watching a documentary that would make me think of life in a new way.
Like all things I suggest I think the best method is baby steps and trying to incorporate small things frequently. Vast changes or dramatic alterations to life rarely last, but small and frequent changes tend to catch on until they become the norm or become larger and more prominent. So starting small doesn’t mean you will stay small, it means you have the opportunity to try on many hats to determine which hat fits the best or which hat you’d like to wear more often.
I don’t like cooking, I never really have, but cooking has become a necessity since my son was diagnosed with Celiac disease. So I have taken it on as a challenge to learn to cook well and healthy meals for my men. I still hate it, but I’m getting better at it and I’m feeling less resentful as I discover easy recipes and more versatile methods (thanks to those who have contributed books or snack to the cause). So when a bunch of bananas went bad prematurely instead of throwing them away (I am notoriously frugal) I thought “I bet I can do something with that”. And sure enough with a little internet research I located a recipe that was easy and I already had all the ingredients for it. So after much fun banana smashing by two toddlers and some quick mixing, I had some delicious banana bread that made me wish for bad bananas on a weekly basis.
It felt good to accomplish something that months ago I would have said I can’t do. It felt good to use something instead of throwing it away. It felt good to include my little people with making something they could eat (fun and educational). It made the whole day stand out because it was something we don’t normally do. So not only did it stimulate my brain and encourage my emotional self to feel accomplished and pleased, but it became a Now moment without even having to try. Because it was something new I had to give it my full attention or risk it would be terrible due to mistakes of multitasking and giving it only half the attention it needs. Win win win.
Another day I got a bug about doing a mural in my oldest son’s room. We never decorated nurseries for either child. Many reasons factored into this including money and time, possibly laziness, but overall it just seemed like a waste. A baby doesn’t care where they sleep or where their diaper gets changed. Both my son’s didn’t even use their rooms for anything but poop deposits until they were older than 6 months. So to me it seemed better to wait until they were old enough to enjoy their rooms or have a say in how they were decorated. But with this in mind, my oldest will be 4 in January and certainly old enough to appreciate having a special room. So I was inspired to do a pirate theme for a little boy who sure seems to Love pirates. I actually got the idea from a rock climbing web site, but that is a post for another day, and I hope a fun projects later. So for now all I have done so far is paint his room a blue sky color as a backdrop for the pirate ship, treasure, palm trees, and jungle animals to come. I love to paint but haven’t done it in years, so it was a nice change of pace and doing it will the help of a 3 year old made it even more fun. Yes, it wasn’t my smartest parenting move, but it wasn’t my dumbest by far. It took extra effort but we managed it without making a mess. I’m looking forward to the really creative part this weekend when I get to paint the animals and ship.
The point of this is that it can be anything. Take up a new hobby, do a little dance in your living room, detail your car, move furniture around. Just do something new and out of your normal routine. Do as many as you can fit in a day. Maybe change your commute route, brush your teeth with you non-dominate hand, or only eat veggies one day, just to see if you can. Anything that gets you out of routine and doldrums. Maybe you get up 30 min earlier to see the sunrise, or eat dinner outside to watch the sunset. Whatever it is, whatever strikes your fancy; the only rule is it must be something you don’t normally do. So, go big or go small but do something different. What will you do? I’d love to hear your plans, maybe it will spark my imagination into doing something new I would have never thought of before. The bonus is you will find that by default you are living more intentionally. Instead of just doing what you have always done- and maybe don’t even know why you are doing it that way- you will be making conscious decisions to do things differently. Intentional living at its simplest base.
What I am reading: Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
What I am listening to: Unbelievers by Vampire Weekend
Inspirations from the ether: Inequality for All The Movie
Now moments: Painting with my oldest, spending alone time with my dog Harold, Laughing with my youngest, Talking with my friend Candace and feeling inexplicably close
Things I know for Sure: When little boys eat Kiwi their poop will frighten you at first (parasites?), Yoga is harder when little people are sitting on you, Flies are slow in October, and Ben and Jerry’s always makes me happy (and I don’t even like ice cream).