Ever-Changing Reflection

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding... It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

British consistency vs. counting sheep

Image credit: Scientific American
I stumbled across a useful, interesting and amusing article the other day, and I wanted to share it with you. I want to preface this with letting you know that I work for a British company, and half of my coworkers are British. My ancestors were British, and I love tea, along with the pomp and circumstance that inspires many distinctly British traditions.

Therefore, I chuckled as I read this because it is so... British! At the same time, however, I wondered if this is truly the trick to getting a good night's sleep every night.

According to The Telegraph, getting a consistently good night's sleep is all about... Consistency.

The article references a study done by surveying several Brits on their nighttime routines, and there were several common variables among those who reported sleeping well on a consistent basis. Apparently, by adhering to the following steps nightly, one will sleep perfectly every night without fail.

1. Watch 1 hour and 46 minutes of television, preferably a soap opera or comedy quiz show
2. Spend 41 minutes talking to someone (partner, on the phone to mother, etc.)
3. Browse the Internet for 51 minutes
4. Have at least 2 hours and 7 minutes rest after cooking, washing up and doing the chores
5. Last food before bedtime --usually an evening meal -- should be eaten at 8:29 p.m.
6. Last drink before bedtime -- usually a cup of tea -- should be consumed at 9:10 p.m.
7. Go to bed at exactly 10 p.m.
8. Spend 20 minutes in bed reading
9. Finally fall asleep at 10:26 p.m.
10. Lie on the right side of the body
11. Sleep on the right side of the bed when facing the ceiling
12. Sleep with partner cuddled into back
13. Wake at 6:47 a.m. to the sound of the alarm clock

What do you think? Will it work? Will you try it? What is your nighttime routine, or do you not have one?

I have a nighttime routine, but the timing of it fluctuates. I usually spend my evenings cooking dinner, cleaning up, watching TV while enjoying a cup of herbal tea, then I try to read for a bit in bed before going to sleep. I do think consistency is important when it comes to sleep, and I am trying to get myself into a consistently timed routine to improve my sleep quality, productivity and energy level. I think the above is worth a try.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Frustration's a &*!@%

Photo credit: Personal Excellence
We all get frustrated from time to time, and it can eat away at you if you don't recognize it and take action to address it. Frustration and happiness? Mortal enemies.

Celes at Personal Excellence asks as part of her 21-Day Positivity Challenge: What is one thing that has been frustrating you lately? And how can you overcome it?

I often find myself feeling frustrated, but it takes me a while to realize that I'm frustrated, first of all, and then what exactly is frustrating me. It manifests itself in crankiness, impatience, unkind words and other nasty things that turn me into a person no one wants to be around -- including me.

So, I'll talk about what has been frustrating me lately, and I'm sure it is something you can all relate to: money.

I do all right financially. I have a decent salary. I have a 401(k). I even get a bonus every year. I try to be good about automatically saving a portion of each paycheck, but sometimes a spontaneous trip or shopping spree eat into that. Yet, I find myself frustrated that, at the end of the month, I always seem to come up just a little bit short.

I don't think I spend a ton of money; I try to live within my means. But, as far as money buying happiness? It frustrates me that I'm at a point where it does... where it will.

If only I could get market value for my work (but really, what is that and who determines it?). If only I could win a small lottery. I'd be less frustrated and more secure. I wouldn't worry so much about buying a new car when mine finally dies or how I am going to be able to afford to go on vacation -- a noncompromisable (not a real word, but I'm going with it) when it comes to making myself happy.

I don't need a mansion. I don't need a Bentley. I don't need Fendi bags, Louboutin shoes and runway-worthy clothes. I don't even need to jet off to Fiji twice a year for a little R&R. I'd just like to be able to spend a week at the beach without worrying about how I'm going to pay off the credit card when I get back.

Not too much to ask, right?

Now, the tricky part, how can I overcome my frustration? It would be easy to throw this to forces outside my control, but that defeats the purpose of this exercise.

Overcoming this frustration is not going to be easy if I take ownership of it; it will require sacrifice. That said and accepted, here is my action plan:

  1. Pay off the credit card. It's not ridiculous, but I can't rest easy until that balance is zero.
  2. To make #1 easier, avoid putting whatever possible on the credit card. Use cash.
  3. Maintain savings from each paycheck, and leave it alone!
  4. Start putting a small amount away each month for a new car.
  5. Identify the next vacation, calculate the cost, start saving for it.
  6. Stick to the budget!
  7. Any raise/bonus this year should go towards savings. Live on what you currently earn.
I'm hoping the above will help me rid myself of financial frustration and sleep a little easier at night... to the sound of ocean waves outside my hotel window. :)

What is something that's frustrating you right now? What can you do about it? Even if it's just one tiny step.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A house becomes a home

Time for another Friday blanks post, courtesy of Lauren at the little things we do!
Image credit: Lauren
1. My favorite room in my home is my bedroom because it is ocean/beach themed, calm, quiet and comfortable.

2. My current decor style is traditional mostly, but I wish it were more rustic shabby chic with a hint of modern. I'd love a log cabin with the matching decor.

3. I wish I could redecorate the bathroom in my house to make it more modern and clean.

4. My dream house absolutely has to have a large, professional kitchen because I cook quite a bit, and I like to have good tools and great space.

5. One house item I am willing to splurge on is a quality mattress. Without a good night's sleep, I am useless.

6. A decor trend that I just don't "get" is none... or at least none that I can think of...

7. Warm colors is a little touch that makes my house feel like home.

Enjoy your weekend! Anyone have any big plans???

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How happy are you?

Photo credit: Personal Excellence
Have you thought about it? On a whole, big picture, how happy are you? Right now? Today? This week? This month? This year?

How happy do you want to be? Whoa, deep question, huh? It's a tough one to be honest about sometimes because it requires an untainted view of our thoughts and actions. It requires the truth.

And then the why? Why do you want to be happy (or unhappy as the case may be)? Why are your thoughts and actions making you happy? Why don't you act that way all the time so you'll always be happy?

Not that easy, is it?

Celes over at personalexcellence.co is currently running a 21-Day Positivity Challenge (21DPC). You may recall me participating in her challenges before, and I always learn something. I'm not officially participating in this one, but I hope to address some of the prompts here.

Plus, I'm currently enrolled in a strength and resilience stress management course through my health insurance provider, and it recommended working on my positivity. Join me, let's think about how we can be rays of sunshine instead of dark rain clouds.

Blah. LOL!

Here we go: on a scale of 1-10, how happy are you as a person? Not in time, but as a personality. And if you're not scoring yourself as a shiny, perfect 10, why not?

Oh and before we all go think/blog/journal/discuss that, let's also identify at least one positive thing about today.

Ready? Go!

I would rate myself as a 6. Although I always feel I'm a misstep away from a 1 because of my past with depression. This is one area of my life I have worked on for the last 5 years or so, and I've made some progress, but I'm still not a pro.

I have trouble with sliding scales like this, so I went with deducting a point for each thing I'm unhappy with in my life. Major areas here, not minute details -- I'd be a -50 if we were playing that game.

So, I'm deducting one pint for finances. Sure, money can't specifically buy happiness, but I've learned you do need to reach a happiness-enabling threshold where you're not stressing about how to pay your bills and afford to do the little things that make you happy like indulge in hobbies and go out with friends. I'm not there yet.

The second point is deducted for my professional life. Oh I have it pretty good right now, and I know it, but I'm still left wanting more. I want to flex my creative muscle more. I want less red tape. I want more flexibility and variety. I want to be more involved in my passions professionally. No job or career is ever perfect, I realize that, but I still see a lot of room for improvement with mine. Either that or I just need to truly figure out what I want to do with my life.

I'm deducting another point for my laziness. I've gotten much better at proactively seeking out what makes me happy, but I need more get-up-and-go. When I feel like writing, I need to stop watching TV and write. When I know a day trio on a lazy Saturday will make me happier, I need to stop stressing about laundry and hit the road. Those types of things.

The final point I'm deducting because I've gotten so bad at feelings. I used to be amazing about talking emotions and getting it out there, but I think part of my depression-fighting arsenal is holding more in, ironically. I gotta face this stuff and share it with people who love me. It may be tough at first, but ultimately it will make me feel much better.

And, lastly, one positive thing about my day today? Tonight is the March Yelp Elite event, and it involves martinis in Providence's historic Federal Hill! Right up my alley!

Go on, share at least one of your answers in the comments below! Let' s get happy!