I am not a naturally happy person. I really am not. I have depression which I seem to have to fight on a daily basis, my natural setting is sarcasm and I do not wear rose-tinted glasses so much as those menacing shades you see in films on the security teams of Very Important People. I moan and complain and bitch quite a lot.
Recently I decided that I didn’t want to live like that. I wanted to be a happier person, not in a ‘la la la’ everything is fine way, but to try not to complain as much, especially to my poor husband who gets the brunt of it. As I am self-employed I am primarily at home by myself, he works from home a lot too, so it is easy to moan to him about everything.
I am making a great effort not to do this any more. There are things which need doing – cooking, cleaning, admin etc, which just need to be done. I can either do them resentfully or at least pretend to do them with grace. Neither my husband nor I are domestically inclined, but I have found that trying to do them with a little good will has made a difference. I have a dog who sheds a lot of hair, so I have to hoover the floor a lot. We invested recently in a cordless, animal specific vacuum cleaner and that has made a big difference. When I am hoovering I try to focus on being grateful for Buster the dog and all the pleasure he brings me, rather than resentfully doing it. This doesn’t change how long it takes, it doesn’t magically stop Buster shedding all over the place, but the floor gets cleaned and I feel a little better than I did when I was staring at the hairy floor resenting the effort it was going to take to do the work.
The same with other household tasks. Has this overwritten my natural personality and I am suddenly skipping around the house looking for chores? Nope. Do I feel fake for pretending to do it with good will? No, I don’t, even with things that I really can’t find anything to be happy about I tell myself that I am making my home a nicer place to be in even the smallest of ways. As I have a chronic illness I have had to learn to be happy with small things, I can’t go and tackle the mess of the back garden without exhausting myself, but I can do lots of small things in the day.
I have just re-read Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project and there are many things I can do from there. However, I am not going to set up a project to make myself a happier person, mainly because I will get completely obsessive about it and probably end up beating myself up when I inevitably fail at something. But there are a lot of lessons in that book. I’m starting with tackling my attitude to household tasks and see where I go from there.