“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.”
– C.S. Lewis
Happiness. That has been a focus of mine over the last 2 years. I gave birth to a stunning baby boy who is now 15 months old. Becoming a parent changes the way you view your time and the way you view yourself. It’s easy to let a crabby day slip by unnoticed when you aren’t in charge of an equally as crabby teething toddler. I began to notice myself reacting in ways that I wasn’t proud of, and causing an embarrassing amount of unneeded stress in my home. I realized that I needed to be more proactive in kindling my own happiness so that my mood, my thoughts, my actions, would make my home a fun and happy place to be.
On this little journey of self-discovery I came to see that I am a perfectionist. I adhere to strict standards and am motivated to attain perfection but avoid failure. This explains why stress, anxiety and disappointment are more common experiences for me than happiness. I am extremely hard on myself, I have an ongoing, mostly sub-conscious, dialogue with myself that is centred around self-criticism and comparing. In all areas of my life I conduct my activities around rigid and unrealistic rules. During my schooling days I needed to achieve the A’s and A+’s to be satisfied – I would spend every spare moment studying my textbooks and memorizing for upcoming tests and exams. I’ve always been very health conscious but used to over-exercise to the point of exhaustion and consume too few calories under the guise of healthy eating. Straying from my standards left me feeling guilty and like a failure.
If you know how to control it, perfectionism can be a helpful trait. I am not yet there. I’ve begun to see how my patterns of thinking, which have become so normal for me, can rob me of happiness. I’m on a journey to find a new normal for myself, and to be mindful of the abundance of happiness that lives there – amidst the crumbs.
“Happiness depends upon ourselves.”