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Becoming a Happy Person: Your Self Care Checklist

George Grombacher November 12, 2021

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Becoming a Happy Person: Your Self Care Checklist

I want to be a happy person and I’m assuming you do as well.  In fact, I think the impulse to find happiness is one of the only things that every human being on planet Earth has in common.  We all want to be happy.  


Yet, despite that desire, we’re falling short.  Even before the pandemic, a majority of people reported being unhappy, feeling isolated and lonely. That unpleasant reality is true for people all over the world.  


While there are a lot of things that make us unhappy, it’s being trapped in negative patterns that keeps us there.  To point to some of the most common, it’s eating bad food and being sedentary, it’s having poor sleep quality and not getting enough of it, and it’s spending too much time inside and in front of screens.  


Just like our cell phones, we have operating systems.  A major part of these systems are the patterns that we run, day in and day out.  So when our patterns are negative and harmful, we’re not going to work properly-just like when there’s a problem with our phones.  


Here’s the good news; just as our phones get updates to fix bugs, we can give ourselves updates and start living better and happier lives.  


Here are some keys to becoming a happy person-Potential updates for your system


Having proper expectations.  When the results we get are different than our expectations, that’s what leads to frustration and unhappiness.  Work to set clear expectations up front as often as you can.    


A healthy perspective.  Endeavor to keep your place in the world top of mind.  That you’re reading this blog post suggests you’re in position to make positive changes in your life.  If that’s the case, you’re a very fortunate person.  


Recognizing materialism.  Material things will not make you happy, not over the long term. If too much of your life is wrapped up in pursuit of, or the desire for the material, that’s a recipe for unhappiness.  


Being clear in your values.  Knowing what’s important to you will help guide your actions and give you clarity of your purpose.  


Becoming more adaptive.  We’ve all heard we don’t have control of most of the things that happen to us, only control over how we respond to them.  The more we can roll with the punches, the happier we are.  


Having fun.  Life’s too short to be serious all the time.  And after all, we’re happy when we’re having fun and that’s what this is all about.  


Being kind.  Imagine what the world would be like if we were simply kind to one another.  Think about it.  


Letting go of resentment.  It’s said that resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  It doesn’t work that way, let go of the resentment you’re carrying around.  


Caring for others


When I was a kid, my mom got us a hamster. My brother and I named her Sweetpea.  Sweetpea lived in one of those rectangular glass fish tanks.  We got wood chips for the bottom, a wheel for her to run on, a little house to live in and all the toilet paper rolls she could chew.  We positioned the tank close to a window so she’d get natural light, made sure she had enough to eat and drink, cleaned the tank regularly, and took her out to play every day. 


Eventually, we got a second hamster named Simi to keep her company. My brother and I loved and cared for them to the best of our abilities.  There’s no question we would have given them the moon if they’d been able to ask for it- we loved them unconditionally. 


Caring for a human being


In reflecting back on this, I got to thinking, why don’t we treat ourselves as well as we treat other people, or even our pets?  I imagined my mom bringing home a tiny human being and thought about how we would care for it- what does it need to not only survive, but flourish? 


For the record, I certainly considered simply talking about how parents provide for their kids, but I like the visual of a tiny person living in a fish tank and my brother and I taking care of it.  


So what would you do if you looked in on your human, and saw it was overweight, drinking too much, depressed and staring at it’s phone all day?   


Since you love your human, you’d be deeply concerned.  You’d work to figure out what changes need to be made and you’d work to help enact those changes.  


So, let’s start doing the same for ourselves.  


In order to survive, a human needs to have their basic needs met.  


In order to flourish, a human needs to pay close attention to their mind, body and soul.  


Let’s talk about self care and developing your self-care checklist


What is self-care?  Let’s start with clearing up what it’s not; it is not a selfish or indulgent thing.  It’s more like securing your own oxygen mask before you help others with theirs.  It’s making sure you’re at your best so you can show up and do your best in whatever you’re doing.  


A definition of self-care is 


The ability of individuals to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability. 


When I read that, it sounds much more basic and fundamental than I think many people believe it to be.  Self-care is taking care of yourself.  Let’s talk about how to do it, then we’ll put together a checklist.  


How to practice self-care for you mind


Reduce stress.  Just as we fall into negative patterns and don’t realize it, we have triggers that lead to stress.  When you feel stressed out or anxious, stop and think about what led you to these feelings.  Once you identify the trigger, you can start to recognize it and proactively handle the stress, eventually reducing its effect on you.


Have a mindfulness practice.  While mindfulness has moved more into mainstream consciousness, it still sounds a little woo woo.  Mindfulness is simply being more self-aware. Being more aware of your thoughts and your feelings.  Journaling, or writing about your thoughts, is a healthy way to practice mindfulness.


Relax positively.  With a never-ending stream of inputs, being able to unplug and relax is essential.  If we’re constantly “on” 100% of the time, we’ll burn out.  Sitting in a quiet place and closing your eyes for five minutes to unwind is a simple way to do this.  Taking a bath or shower can also work well.  


Regular checkups.  Having a conversation with a therapist no longer has the negative stigma it used to.  Look into your employee benefit programs at work, there are most likely resources available to you at little or no cost.  


How to practice self-care for you body


Eat healthy food.  Avoid processed food.  Prepare your meals at home as often as you can.  Consult with one of our coaches if you’d like guidance.


Get more and higher quality sleep.  Work to get 8 hours of sleep a night.  This is one of the most important things we can do for our bodies.  


Engage in daily exercise.  Getting your body up and moving has so many positive benefits.  Exercise doesn’t have to be painful; find something you enjoy doing and do it as often as possible.  


Don’t abuse substances.  Alcohol and drugs wreak havoc on our bodies.  Limit their use as much as you can.  


Regular checkups.  Getting an annual wellness checkup with your doctor is a simple and very important practice. 


Personal hygiene.  Maintaining good hygiene and personal grooming habits are good for you and everyone you interact with. 


How to practice self-care for your spirit


Foster community and belonging. Our connection to other people makes life rich and rewarding.  Determine what community you’d like to be a part of and get involved.  


Cultivate positive relationships.  Your friendships, familial and romantic relationships are all very important.  In our busy lives, they require nurturing to thrive so you’ll need to give your attention to them.  


Foster peace of mind.  Figuring out what your purpose in life is one of the hardest and most important questions we can ask ourselves.  The sooner you can figure out what yours is, the happier you’ll be.  


Have fun.  Life’s supposed to be fun.  If you can’t think of what you like to do for fun, think back to when you were a kid and what you liked to do.  Start doing that again. 


Rituals for unwinding.  Like finding activities for relaxing, this doesn’t have to be a long and or involved process.  It can be something as simple as lighting a candle or turning on your favorite music.  


Your list 


Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do for your self-care, write them down in a list.  Now, having a list is better than not having one.  What’s even better is scheduling them into your calendar- the ultimate checklist.  When something’s on your calendar as an appointment, you’re far more likely to do it.  


As you develop your checklist/calendar, we need to take an integrated approach.  Meaning, all aspects of your life need to be taken into consideration- work, family and your self-care.  


I can remember having this concept illustrated to me at a conference years ago.  The presenter had a large bowl, a bucket of golf balls and a bucket of rice.  The challenge was getting all the balls and all the rice in the bowl.  


At first, he poured the rice into the bowl, then attempted to pour the golf balls on top.  Because there was not enough room, many of the golf balls ended up on the floor.  


For his second attempt, he put the golf balls in first, then poured the rice over the balls, and everything fit into the bowl.  The moral of the story is this; you’ve got to put the biggest, most importnat  things in first and everything else will fall into place from there. 


Developing your checklist/calendar 


The first things to go into your calendar are your fixed items.  Standing meetings for your work, childcare activities, things you’re required to be a part of that you know in advance.  Schedule these as far out as you can, meaning yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and or daily.  


The second thing to go into your calendar are your self-care activities.  Schedule these into your calendar.  You may feel funny doing it at first because you’re not used to it, that’s perfectly normal.  We put these into our calendars because they are extremely important.  


The last thing to go into your calendar is everything else.  Think of this as the rice; these things will find their way in wherever there’s time to complete them.  


You’re worth it and you deserve it


You are someone worthy of being taken care of. Of setting time aside for. You deserve to take care of yourself, feel good and to be healthy. And, in the long run, the world will be much better off having you at 100%, versus 50%.  


We’re here to support you on your self-care journey. If you’ve got a question, please ask us. If you’d like support, talk with one of our coaches and we can help.


You’re worth it!

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