- Christy Alfaro
Learning to be Happy in Quarantine Pt.2
Updated: Jan 19
**Disclaimer: If you have not read my last post, this post is a continuation of that one and can be read here.**
I'd like to start this blog post by calling myself out - when I started this blog I had the intention of posting at least once a week and would work my way up to more and I failed myself. I had always planned on writing this post only a few days after Happiness part 1 but I kept finding myself stalling. I'd like to say that it's because I was staying away from electronics like I said I would during the last post. Alas, I have binged all 7 seasons of New Girl and have watched an excessive amount of TikTok since the last post. But that's okay because I'm writing it now and that's what matters!
How I wanted this post to go
How this post is actually going
What can I say? I'm not perfect, but I'm trying! To pat myself on the back here is some stuff I've done since the last post that isn't electronics based: I started running 3-4 times a week and have been doing lots of painting. I even finished one of the books on my to read list! Now that I've updated y'all on my life, let's get to the last 3 steps that the Happiness Hack recommends.
"'Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life... Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.'" - Steve Jobs
Step 1: Learning about your brain
Step 2: Disconnect from the internet
Step 3: Give yourself some leeway
Step 4: Breaking bad habits
One of the biggest things I struggle with is breaking bad habits. It's something that I've always struggled with. In college I used weed and alcohol to deal with any feeling I had, when I realized that wasn't healthy I turned to shopping and when that started to make me broke I turned to sweets. The thing I've found about habits and patterns is that sometimes they aren't good for me and don't allow me to explore positive feelings. One of the biggest things that Leanse talks about in The Happiness Hack is re - creating patterns, "Associat[ing] new patterns with familiar actions." I really like the idea of reframing patterns to have a more positive spin to them. For example, "Slip[ping] your phone into your pocket as you walk toward the coffee shop."This is something that I've been working on more, I try and go on runs or walks at least once a day and instead of being on my phone and ignoring people I have been working on smiling at people. A lot of times they don't smile back at me, but I always feel better after I smile at someone. Leanse writes, "Want positive reinforcement? Try smiling. As your mirror neurons fire when that barista smiles back, your brain will update its maps and prime itself for smiling more, with increasingly less effort."
Step 5: Feeling Seen & Seeing Yourself
One of the biggest things that I've learned during this quarantine is that I rely on human interaction to feel happiness. There's a passage that Leanse wrote that really stood out to me:
"'I see you' is a traditional greeting used in some southern African cultures. Sometimes another phrase 'I am here to be seen,' completes the greeting, creating a circle of acknowledgement. But they signal something core to human happiness: our need to connect with each other.
One of my strengths, in my opinion, is my empathy. I feed off of others' energies and it gives my a greater sense of purpose and strength. But, something that I struggle with is my tendency to overthink situations in my mind. I find that I tend to overthink the way someone looks at me, or the way they do or don't smile at me, or even the tone they use when they say "Hi". All of this creates an unease around social situations for me that are often times created by myself. I think what really stood out to me about the above quote is that acknowledgement of needing to be seen and seeing someone. For me, I read that and it drowned out all the overthinking that I usually do. But, I do think that by seeing myself I wouldn't need such validation and affirmations.
Me by the end of this quarantine
Anyone who really knows me will know that I love to talk. It's partially because I always have a lot on my mind and because I don't like silence. There's something to me about silence that has always been equated to anger and unease. So, I've been working on allowing myself to be silent around myself - no music, no background TV, just me and whatever I'm doing in that moment.
Leanse wrote, "Stillness and quiet can also shine light on a deeper sense of what matters to us: our purpose, our priorities, and the things that bring us joy." Meditation is actually something I added to my goals list earlier this year and have been revamping how meditation will fit in to my life. I had started out with sitting on the beach and listening to guided meditations during lunch at work and when I found that I was struggling with that I started doing guided meditations at night. That didn't last for too long and I tried to meditate during savasana after my yoga sessions, but 9/10 I ended up falling asleep.
Me during savasana
After reading Leanse's take on how meditation can bring you more happiness, I realized that my issue with meditation was that I was spending too much energy trying to be in "silence" and trying to clear my mind. However, Leanse says, "Meditation isn't about getting rid of thoughts. It's about mastering how we respond to them: learning not to chase them or let them chase us, which we often do in default mode." I've started to do more self paced guided meditations where I have a general goal in mind and certain amount of time I want to spend in meditation.
For example, this week I did a grounding meditation. I set a timer on my phone for 3 minutes and during those 3 minutes I laid down outside on my yoga mat, soaking in the sun and feeling the breeze around me. I focused on my breath and with each breath I imagined the roots coming out from the earth and slowly wrapping themselves around me anchoring me to the ground. With each breath I allowed the vines of the earth to wrap itself up my body until it reached my head, then I sent the roots out in to the earth. By the time I had done that the three minutes were up and I felt my mind clearer than it had been all week and I felt this renewed purpose to do certain things that I knew in that moment would bring me true joy.
For me, having a visual of what my objective is during a meditation gives my brain something to do and all the other thought that come up during that time are thoughts produced from my heart.
Step 6: Narrow down what will make you happy
There was an exercise that Leanse writes about in her book, she asks us, "What do you want more than the easy indulgences dangled out there to distract you from your path? How will you get there? What's the first step... that points you in that direction? And why do you want that achievement or experience? What makes you excited, curious, or hungry to pursue it? "
I remember reading that passage a few time feeling overwhelmed with the gravity of those questions and feeling a little disappointed in myself for not really having an answer. On the third time re-reading the passage I decided to ask those questions individually. Here's a little peek inside my mind:
"What do I want more than the easy indulgences dangled out there to distract me from my path?"
Happiness - I want to be truly happy. I don't expect to be happy all the time but I want to feel an overall contentment with all aspects of my life. I want to be happy just being me.
Success - I want to be known for my writing. Whether that's through this blog, a future book, or in an ideal world as a screenwriter.
Visibility - I want people to know my name for the skills that I have. I want to be known as someone who is good at the thing she wants to be good at (baking, writing, *acting*)
"How will I get there?" & "What's the first step that points me in that direction?"
*I cheated and made this a combo question*
I'd like to think that reading this book and writing this post about it is the first step to finding happiness. Acknowledging that there are things that I could be working on and trying different solutions until I find the ones that make me feel truly content.
Well putting myself out there with this blog is definitely step 1, I'm also currently writing the first romance book in what I hope to be five books.
Step 1 is definitely creating the content and talking about the content, however I do think I need to step it up when it comes it actually advertising and doing marketing for these posts.
"Why do I want that achievement or experience?"
Well, who doesn't want happiness? I like to make sure that the people around me are happy, so it seems only fair to be actively working to make myself happy.
Writing is the one thing in my life that I've always felt a connection to, it's the one thing that I've been able to rely on. To build a future that allows me to do the thing that has always brought me joy would be a dream.
I've never really been someone who's felt good at anything. I've called myself a jack-of-all-trades. I can do a lot of different things but I don't excel at any of them, the one thing I do feel like I've excelled at is writing so to be recognized for that would solidify to me that I am good at this.
"What makes me excited, curious, or hungry to pursue this?"
True happiness is something that I've wanted for a long time. When I started therapy for the first time my freshman year of college, one of the things I told my therapist that I wanted to work on was finding happiness by being my truest self, and while I know I've made progress there are times and parts of me that don't feel the happiness I crave.
There are two main things that make me excited about pursuing writing full time: the first is the joy that it brings me, whenever I see that people are actually clicking on my posts and reading my blog it makes me genuinely happy. The second is reading my romance book after time away from writing it and being shocked at how good it is. (humble brag)
The validity of my skills is definitely the think that makes me hungry to pursue visibility from my writing.
Me in ten years because I'm manifesting all this shit
There was a part of me while doing this excercise, especially when having to write my answers down, that felt a voice in me trying to shut down some of these ideas. Do I have expectations to actually ever become an actress (especially since I don't have headshots or ever do auditions) - no I don't. But when I listen to my inner voice that idea is still there, so I wrote it down because my thoughts and feelings are all valid.
I feel like it's also worth saying that, while all these things would be amazing and would make me happy, these aren't guaranteed to bring me happiness. Leanse writes something that I've actually felt about myself for a really long time, "A lot of people expect their purpose to be a job title, an epic achievement or maybe something that changes countless lives. Meanwhile, much in the world is held together by the actions of countless people whose essential contributions simply never win acclaim. That doesn't make those contributions any less important." For me, I get joy from baking someone a dessert that they enjoy or surprising a friend with a gift I saw that made me think of them. I truly feel like, I can find joy in the little things and I'd like to see more people strive to do so as well. I think that recognizing the little things that bring me joy while striving for the larger goals I have to achieve happiness will help strike a necessary balance in my life and will help me feel overall contentment at all times.
I can say with complete certainty that this book changed my life, I feel a greater sense of alignment and purpose after reading this book and I'm hoping you do too if you read this post and part 1. I'm going to leave you with another quote, because quote's are awesome, and if there's anything that you've been working on during this quarantine to find happiness let me know!
"Whether your purpose is to change the world or simply to change your world, look inside, and trust what you find there."