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Is this a Secret of Adulthood?

I own only three solid black dresses right now and one of them needs to be taken in. I own 2 black and grey pin-striped blazers (one velvet and one not), one black velvet military coat, one black walking coat, a black heavy coat, and a black leather jacket. I have been considering purchasing this coat. For a while, I told myself that I simply did not need another black coat. But the more I thought about it, I realized that it was my mother's voice telling me that, and not my own. I love my mother. She is among the greatest mothers of the world, I'm sure of it. But she doesn't control my wardrobe budget anymore.

Buying black clothes makes me happy. In The Happiness Project, Gretchen points out that there are ways in which money can make a person happy. I'm fairly certain having a variety of fabrics and silhouettes of black coats is a way in which having money makes me happy. I've decided to stop worrying about if I have too many of x item unless I'm going to get an actual duplicate. So if I come upon a black jersey dress with ruching at the waist, I say, "You already have a dress nearly identical to this. Step away." But when I consider the purchase of a custom made black ballet skirt, I'm no longer going to say, "But you have three black skirts already!" I might think, "Where will you wear this skirt? How often will you wear it? How much space will it take up in your closet?" But the already having black skirts thing? Not an issue. One is a big ruffly thing, one is a knee-length sheer thing, and one is a shiny ankle-length mermaid thing. Yes, they're all black, but that's where the similarities end.

I don't know why I ever thought I needed a balanced wardrobe with pastels in it. I truly believe that my mood is better when I'm wearing dark colors and jewel tones. I feel more comfortable in my skin. It seems like a silly thing, but I'm encouraging myself not to care about it being silly. The things that make us happy can't be bounded by "should"s and "ought"s. Happy is a feeling. We can increase happiness by deciding to be happy, but in situations where we have a distinct choice and no solid reason to choose the thing that will make us less happy, it just makes more sense to go with what comes naturally.

A better week

I did much better last week. I had an 80% success rate but that was mostly due to the fact that I have trouble remembering to take fish oil.

This week, I'm hoping to work on some of my anxiety issues.

Details forthcoming.
This past week was rough. By the end of it, I had completely given up on getting my resolutions done. I ended up with only a 47% success rate.

So this week I'm starting over. I'm not adding any new resolutions because it's silly to add more before I've successfully achieved the ones I already have.

So here are my resolutions:
1. Walk every day.
2. Keep a stress journal.
3. Keep a food journal.
4. Practice a stress relief technique.
5. Take a B-100 complex vitamin.
6. Take 2 doses of fish oil.
7. Keep a one-sentence journal of the good in my day.

Happiness isn't easy.

Today was a really hard day. I kept trying to tell myself that you don't have to wait for a new day to start over - that at any point in the day, you can have a do-over, and turn a challenging day into a fun or exciting one. But I kept proving myself wrong.

Woke up feeling sick - sinus/congestion/post-nasal drip type stuff.
Felt anxious about extreme school workload.
Carefully packed food to get me through the day because I knew I'd be on campus longer than usual.
Forgot to take the food with me.
Bought food I thought would be fine.
Suffered intense GI distress.
Spent 3+ hours on an assignment I thought would take about 1 hour, and doing that led me to leave campus at rush hour which made my normally 25-minute commute take about an hour (lots of time waiting for a less crowded bus, plus the drive home).
Somehow failed to pick up the phone so poor Erin thought I was ignoring her when she called.
Board meeting, not too bad but not stress-free.
Rehearsal, lovely people but too many of them and I think some combination of fluorescent lighting + mirror = increased anxiety for me, so I'm always freaking out when we rehearse in the dance studios.

No truly terrible things but lots of things piling up combined with bad weather to just make it a challenging day.
Welcome to week three!

For week two, I once again had an 83% success rate. A quick review of my resolutions:
1) Walk every day. 71% successful; I missed one day due to illness and one due to weather.
2) Stress journal. 86% successful. Missed one day.
3) Food journal. 86% successful. Missed one day.
3) Stress relief. 86% successful. Missed one day.
4) B-100 Vitamin. 86% successful. Missed one day.
5) 2 doses of Fish Oil. 71% successful; on two different days I only took the morning dose and not the evening one.

As I did exceed my 80% minimum goal, I get a reward! I've decided to make myself this lotus cuff bracelet, because the lotus can be a symbol of tranquility, among other things. The reward part is that I'm going to buy some fancy new yarn for it and pretty buttons.

Week Three's Goals:
1) Keep a one-sentence journal to record the good in my day. The Triple Whammy Cure suggests doing this in the same notebook as the stress journal, but I'm going to do it in the One-Sentence Journal Tool at The Happiness Project Toolbox. That's where I've been keeping track of my resolutions so far.

2) Practice carbohydrate timing. Carbohydrates are required to convert tryptophan into 5HTP, a crucial building block for the production of serotonin. I'm going to eat a small amount of carbohydrates with every meal or snack.

Next week I'll begin The Triple Whammy Cure Plus, which targets specific conditions.

My Ultimate Goal: Serenity

There's a reason this livejournal is named ping-jing, and it's not just because I love Joss Whedon.

I'm thinking today about serenity, what it means, and what I want it to look like in my life. Because I don't just want happiness, I want serenity.

From the Oxford English Dictionary:
1. Clear, fair and calm weather; clearness and stillness of air and sky.
2. Tranquillity, peacefulness (of conditions, etc.).
3. Cheerful tranquillity (of mind, temper, countenance, etc.).
4. A title of honour given to reigning princes and other dignitaries.

I'm going with definition 3. Being a lapsed Latinist, of course, I then had to go to the Oxford Latin Dictionary and find the root word, serenitas.

fine weather ; favourable conditions

But as a Latinist, I knew that any word ending in "-itas" is just a nounification of an adjective, and so I then went for that word's root word, serenus.

clear , fine , bright , cloudless ; cheerful , glad , joyous , tranquil

I latched onto cloudless. Cloudless is what I want to be. I'm a naturally dissatisfied person, which is good for leading to constant improvement, but is not so good in dealing with other people. So my ultimate goal - and as it is ultimate, I don't expect to have achieved it until I'm dead, but rather to be working towards it all the time - is to be cheerful and tranquil, and to be cloudless in my spirit and my aspect. It's going to be hard work, but I think it will be worth it.

Delaying the Exercise Regimen

One thing that constantly gets in the way of my happiness is my tendency to get sick. I woke up this morning quite congested and as I got home from class I noticed a bit of a sinus headache developing. I also had a mildly productive cough. This resulted in me engaging in a debate with myself about whether or not it's okay to forgo running/pushups/situps/squats today. So I turned to the Internet, that oracle which makes me think I have many terrible diseases, and WebMD told me that if I've got a cough, then exercising is not okay.

This is fine in terms of my resolutions (which I have now input into the resolutions chart at The Happiness Project Toolbox - my name there is ping-jing as well). I can still use guided imagery for stress relief. Still, I distrust myself since I am so exercise averse and am always thinking that perhaps I make myself sick just so I don't have to exercise. Then I realize that I'm a grown-up and no one can make me exercise but me, and this is all silliness.

What I am going to do is try and take a walk, because that will only take 20 minutes (unlike the full hour I anticipate my new exercise regimen will require) and isn't too strenuous. Now, to put on my boots and grab my umbrella...

Week One Complete; On to Week Two

 Here we are in week two of my Happiness Project and the Triple Whammy Three Week Cure.

I completed this week's goals with an 83% success rate, which is very pleasing to me.  This means I can get this pendant, which is the reward I settled on.  My goals were:

1) Walk in the sunlight every day.  Only 64% success on this one.  Tuesday I went for a walk but it was after dark.  Friday and Saturday I didn't get out for a walk to due to being very busy and then the weather.  I decided that as much as it's good to boost my serotonin, it's even better not to slip on ice and injure myself.  And while it may be safe out there for you, I win at clumsiness and can assure you I would have fallen down and ended up not walking for several days.  Today I'm going to try and venture a walk to the grocery store.

2) Maintain a daily stress journal.  A 93% success rate because I wrote Tuesday's journal entry on Wednesday morning.  My days are much less stressful now that I'm not teaching, but examining this I did find some patterns.  For example, driving in a rush or fearing I'm going to be late somewhere gives me a headache (which is really aggravated by fluorescent lighting).  

3) Eat the Triple Whammy Way.  I can't tackle all of the different requirements of the Triple Whammy Way, so I spent this week mostly avoiding preservatives.  Additionally, I'm trying to become an intuitive eater.  I decided to judge my success rate based on if I kept a daily food diary.  I had 93% success with that as well, for the same reason as the stress journal.  I mostly noticed that I haven't been eating frequently enough and that for two days I lived almost entirely off granola bars.  This is mainly because I didn't make a proper grocery list this week.  I did notice that when I've got cupcakes in the house, I'm much less likely to reach for candy.  I don't tend to want more than one cupcake a day, and since I make them, I control what's in them.  It's good stuff.

So am I feeling better overall?  Not really, not yet.  But that's because I haven't made any really big changes yet.  This week, I'm ramping it up a bit.  I'm keeping up the 3 original goals and adding these:

1) Practice a stress relief technique daily.  The book offers several options, and these are the ones I'm planning to try: self-acupressure, aromatherapy, guided imagery, exercise, self-reflexology, tai chi, and yoga.  I'm going to get library books about acupressure and reflexology (I know I could go to Laurie, my mother-in-law, for those of you not in the know, for these, but there are some anxiety issues and a time factor standing in the way of that).  I'm going to pick one essential oil (probably clary sage but I have to go to the Vitamin Shoppe and check out a few) and put a few drops in the bath and also try carrying a handkerchief with a few drops on it.  I'm going to purchase Belleruth Naparstek's General Wellness guided imagery MP3.  I've got an exercise plan I'll outline for you below.  And after The Mikado is over, I'd like to take a tai chi class and a yoga class (not simultaneously) at Ninth Street Dance.

This week I'm going to start with the guided imagery because I don't have to go anywhere to get supplies for that, as well as an exercise plan on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  For exercise, I'm going to re-start Couch to 5K and add the 100 pushups, 200 situps, and 200 squats programs.  I'm going to treat myself as though I were a completely sedentary person and start those three programs at the very minimum, which will mean working my way up to doing 5 consecutive pushups, 8 consecutive situps, and 7 consecutive squats by the end of the week.  I'm aware how weak and pathetic that makes me sound, but I've been practicing exercise avoidance for years, because it brings up genuine childhood issues over how I was treated by PE teachers.  The words "Presidential Fitness Test" still have the power to induce an anxiety attack, I kid you not.

2) Take a B-100 supplement as well as extra B12.

3) Take Fish Oil.

I think the supplements are going to make a big difference in my energy level.  I'll let you know!

My Happiness Project

I've started this LiveJournal to chronicle my Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin, author of the book The Happiness Project, invites others to join her and start their own.

One of the parts of Gretchen's Happiness Manifesto is "Your body matters."

I feel like I can't be happy if I'm not some measure of healthy, and I've never been healthy in my life that I can recall. I had my annual check up recently and ordered lots of lab tests. Despite my feeling crummy all the time, my lab results came back normal. So step one of my happiness project is to read The Triple Whammy Cure and put it into action.

This is a three-week program designed to help me make changes to life which will decrease my stress and increase the availability of serotonin in my body.

If I complete the program successfully (which I hereby declare to mean meeting its goals 80% of the time) then I will reward myself with this necklace or an item of similar symbolic power.

I need to set rewards for myself at the one week mark and the two week mark as well.

The three changes I will make this week are to:
1) Walk in the sunlight at least 20 minutes each day.
2) Spend 15 minutes each night completing a stress journal entry.
3) Eat the Triple Whammy Way (things like reducing sugar, increasing whole foods, etc)

I have a spreadsheet set up to track how well I do with this.

Feel free to follow along!