Day 6: A cheery note or two

Being kind by sending a cheerful postcard to a friend or two:

A couple of friends are having a tough time at the moment, and I wanted to do something to make them smile.

I thought I’d send them both this gorgeous ‘Hello Sunshine’ postcard. I have the same one on my bedroom mirror, and never fails to cheer me up whenever I look at it.

After writing a little message on the back, I posted them with heartfelt love and smiles. Hopefully it will be a nice surprise when the postie delivers them in a couple of days.

I think that’s such a shame that sending someone a hand-written letter is practically non-existent these days. As we have become a technology-based society and a increasing number of our social connections are conducted online.

I used to LOVE handwriting letters to my childhood penfriends. At one point I was firing off letters to friends in the US, Canada and Germany. Plus an old schoolfriend who moved down south when we were 8 yrs old. I remember the absolute excitement of receiving a letter through the postbox and devouring it many times, word by word.

Nowadays, we can have instant connections with friends all over the world through emails, texts and social media, and that still blows my mind.

I’m forever grateful to be able to keep in touch so easily with the friends I’ve made on my travels. But nothing beats receiving a hand-written letter or card in the post.

So, with that in mind, my happy today is to make a couple of friends smile by sending each a cheerful postcard.

Day 5: Riding the CFS wave

Being grateful that I’m learning to accept my condition with love and grace:

Today I woke up feeling utterly and completely wiped out.

I guess it’s no surprise really as I’ve overdone it the last couple of days.

Following my recent ‘blip’, after some stress and a nasty ear infection, my recovery has taken a couple of steps back and I need to take things much more slowly.

Accepting CFS has not been an easy journey. At all. It’s still a work-in-progress but I feel I am definitely getting there. I’ve fought this condition long and hard for too long. Which is no surprise as it’s been completely debilitating and has changed my life drastically.

Progress is painfully slow. Just when I think I’ve taken a small step forward, I have a ‘blip’ (my positive word for ‘crash’) and take a few steps back. But rather than react like it’s blooming frustrating, which it is, I’m trying to ride the wave.

It also reminds me of the advice for when caught in a riptide – if you panic you use up all your energy and it gets you nowhere, but if you stay calm and go with it, you will eventually end up where you’re supposed to be: to safety.

I’m learning to trust the process and go with the flow. I’ve learnt to listen to my body and know when I need to have a bedrest day. And that’s perfectly ok.

This too shall pass.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is accepting my CFS condition and today’s ‘blip’ with love and grace.

Day 4: Soul stroll

Being mindful by going for a walking meditation around my neighbourhood:

I’ve come to deeply appreciate my walking meditations, a stroll around the neighbourhood that fill my soul with joy.

I’ve always enjoyed a good walk; it’s one of the things I miss the most since becoming unwell.

I used to go on long walks all the time: coastal tracks, forest hikes and countryside strolls. Living in Australia, I’d often start the day with a walk by the sea, and take an invigorating power walk at lunchtimes.

I love being outside and was feeling pretty depressed about being cooped up in the house – mainly in my bedroom – all day long, every day.

As part of my recovery plan, I started taking short walking meditation around my neighbourhood. I was resistant to the idea at first, wondering how I could possibly enjoy a walk around the houses?! How could it begin to measure up to my Aussie daily coastal walks?

I gave it a go, and soon discovered the perfect circuit. Needing to start slow, this takes around 10 minutes, and has nature to admire in abundance to admire: including a green open space with a brook running through it, magnificent trees and bushes, flowers and birds.

Most days, if wellness allows, I walk this circuit and try to tune out my thoughts and focus on my senses instead.

On this perfect English summer day, I saw the birds perched in the magnificent trees as the branches swayed in the breeze, the winding brook that is now low in water, the dogs playing happily together while their owners watched on, the colourful flowers in full bloom, and the sweeping hills and farmers’ fields in the distance.

I listened to the birds chirping, the dogs barking excitedly, their owners chatting, and the wind gently rustling the leaves on the trees.

I felt the coolness of the gentle wind against my skin, the warmth of the sun shining down, and the tickling of the long uncut grass on my feet and ankles.

It was pure bliss and I arrived back home feeling happy and grateful that I took the time to appreciate all that Mother Nature has to offer.

So with that in mind, my happy for today is being mindful by going for a walking meditation around my neighbourhood.

Day 3: Choc full of kindness

Being kind by leaving chocolate bars for strangers to find:

I’ve wanted to be part of the kindness movement ever since reading Danny Wallace’s brilliantly funny ‘Join Me’ book. With so many kindness organisations such as the Wake Up Project and the Random Acts of Kindness foundation encouraging people to spread happiness by being kind, I feel it’s time I did something about it.

I love the idea of Kindness Cards, which involve doing a kindness act anonymously and leaving a kindness card. While this is enough in itself, it may hopefully encourage others to do an act of kindness, creating a ripple effect.

The Sydney-based Wake Up Project offer a handful of gorgeous Kindness Cards, but understandably don’t post internationally. So I decided to try and make my own.

While in the midst of doing a pretty embarrassing botch job on my macbook (technology is not my forte), I received an email from Vista Print offering me 100 business cards for free. Perfect timing I thought. So I decided to make use of this gift of generosity and make my own kindness cards.

With a limited choice of design, well they are free after all, my Kindness Cards arrived a few days ago. Following the Wake Up Project’s example, my cards simply read:

Kindness Cards

Kindness Card
You’ve just been touched by a random act of kindness
Now it’s your chance to do something kind and pass this card along

As my circumstances are limited – both health wise and financially – I need to get creative with what I can do. I’m sure I’ll be writing about my kindness acts as I go along.

Keen to start today, I bought a couple of chocolate bars, stapled a Kindness Card onto each wrapper, and wrote: ‘Please enjoy! 😊’ on the back to hopefully entice the finder to take it and enjoy it, and not be suspicious of it!

I excitedly left my first act of kindness on the shelf at the library, hoping a bookworm browsing the shelves will stumble upon my choccie gift and enjoy it. The second I left on the bus, for the next passenger to enjoy.

Numerous research has shown how doing an act of kindness for somebody also has an incredible effect on the giver as well as the receiver. And it’s true. I feel happy and uplifted that my kindness acts have hopefully made two people smile today – and the thought that they may even feel inspired to ‘pass it on’ is the icing on the cake.

So with that in mind, my happy for today to being kind by leaving chocolate bars for strangers to find.

Day 2: Me, my BFF?

Being kind to myself by being my own best friend:

Today I’m focusing on the wisdom from my ‘Louise Hay’s I Can Do It’ calendar: I am my own best friend. Other friends may come and go, but I am always here for me. I support myself in feeling good.

When I saw this, I instantly wished it had come later in the the 100 days, as I felt I couldn’t possible have both Days 1 and 2 as being kind to me. That’s a pretty selfish way to start this project.

But then I thought why not?

So instead, I’ve chosen to take it as a sign: lesson I need reminding of.

Being your own best friend is one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learnt on my self-growth journey so far.

I remember my self-love guru Louise Hay asking if you would ever talk to a friend like you talk to yourself.

It was a huge light bulb moment for me.

Ultimately, we have a choice: we can either be our own worst enemy or our own best friend. I know which I would prefer to choose, but is it that easy?

I follow two-step programme for being my own best friend: The first step is to listen and catch my inner voice, the dastardly inner critic, when it’s berating me. You know the one, it’s the voice that says things like: “Look at the size of your muffin top, you are so fat”, “Why did you say that?” or “You’re such an idiot.”

I was pretty shocked to witness how my inner critic could get really stuck into me. I know I’d be absolutely horrified if a friend told me that’s how they talk to themselves.  So why should it be any different to how I talk to myself?

The next step, is to banish my inner critic by showing myself kindness, understanding, compassion and love. Whenever I catch my inner critic rearing it’s ugly head, I pause, take a deep breath, and think what I’d say to a beloved friend in the same situation.

It’s pretty liberating and so much nicer than telling myself off. Hopefully I’ve made a friend for life.

So with that in mind, my happy for today remembering to be my own best friend.

 

 

Day 1: A happier me

Being kind to myself by committing to this project and becoming a happier me:

Eeek! My first day. And I’ve no idea what to write.

OK Helen, take a deep breath in… and out… that’s better.

Sooooo, here I am: embarking on my 100 days of happy project.

I think I want to kick off this project by being grateful that I’ve decided to do it! That I am committing to my quest to being a happier me.

Doing a project like this has been on my mind for quite a while and I’ve been inspired by the 100 days challenges that have been popping up recently.

Happiness means different things to different people. For me it’s about feeling more positive, being content with my life, being the best friend/daughter/sister/auntie I can be, improving my health, and simply, because it feels good. I say a big fat YES to all of the above! Life is too short to be unhappy.

So, after a bit of digging to look for inspiration on how to carry out this project, I came across ‘The Happiness Challenge’ workbook – (a collaboration by Action for Happiness and Headspace to support a feature on happiness by BBC Breakfast in January 2011).

It gives me a good starting point and suggests three simple actions to try in my daily life: being mindful – do less and notice more; being grateful – remember the good things, and being kind – do things for others. It also has great ideas and suggestions with questions to answer and sections to complete – making it easy to track changes you experience.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind to myself by committing to this project and being a happier me.