Change your mindset is the best and worst advice I have ever gotten in my life. It’s a popular topic around the web, television, and magazines too. Everyone everywhere is starting to realize the power our minds really have over our lives and happiness, which is great. I like the idea of being in charge of my own happiness but the topic is so broad its hard to wrap your head around.
I am by no means an expert (at this or anything else really – other than naps). However, I am someone who struggles to find herself and happiness in life. I don’t believe there is a “final destination” of happiness once you change your mindset, its something that will change and evolve over time. Having the tools and skills to help you work through those times is the key to helping you find happiness.
Change your mindset about calendars
For a very long time, I was a “sure, yeah!” person (a SYP from here on). If someone needed help or a volunteer and asked? My response was always “sure, yeah!” even if I didn’t really want it to be. I’d throw it onto my daily calendar on my phone then stare at all my tasks each morning with dread. Sometimes, I still try to find legitimate reasons to cancel things because I am so tired.
There’s nothing wrong with being a SYP. Honestly, SYPs are really important for keeping the world spinning! The key is being a selective SYP. Say yes when it feeds your soul or you can help with something without destroying the rest of your day. Taking on things you don’t really love or without checking your schedule first will tear you down. You will be burn out, feel crabby, and overwhelmed by life. The life you signed up for.
I got an adorable old school planner to help change my mindset about my time. You can print a calendar off the internet, buy a wall calendar, make your own, or get a planner – whatever floats your boat – but the key is that you will see the whole month at one time.
Change your mindset about being busy
I used to view busy as some sort of warped badge of honor. Like, the fuller my calendar was the better I was doing at life. I’m not sure if I thought going to meetings was cool? Does having a calendar full of “stuff” make me really important to the world? Do the more things I can cram onto a tiny square representing a single day in my planner, make me better? I found value in the quantity of things I was doing, not the quality of self I was giving.
There is no merit badge for being busy. I have checked with every merit badge-awarding group I can think of. They have badges for cooking, building, archery, and even chess….but no one gives out any special award for “being busy all the freaking time”. So what on Earth was the draw?
Grab your calendar for the month. Write in everything you need to do. Dentist appointments, meetings, school events, hair appointments, volunteer duties – whatever. If you have a commitment (whether out of love or obligation) write it down. When you are finished, look back at your month. Is there something on every day? More than one thing on many days? Do you feel tired and overwhelmed looking at it? How will actually doing it each day feel? I get it. That was me for many years. Stretched thin, living a sparse life, with no room for “unscheduled” happiness. It works for a while, in small doses, we all have busy seasons in life. When non-stop busyness become your normal, though? It’s no longer a season, it’s a cry for help.
What are you looking for?
I’m no expert, just a regular mom with a whole lot of baggage that desperately needs to be sorted, claimed, and dealt with. Seriously, I make the “unclaimed baggage” room at LAX look like a P.O. box when compared to what I’m working with. Busy lives are usually a sign people looking for something to fill their voids. The problem is, we can’t usually see what our voids are until we have reached some sort of life altering, world shattering low point.
We all have our demons and issues – God knows I’m far from an exception to that rule – that we need to identify and deal with to find peace. I can’t speak for everyone, but here’s my deal: I never feel that I am loved enough, valued enough, or wanted enough for people in my life. These voids fill up by cramming my schedule as full as I can. I try to make myself so valuable and needed that it feels like I am loved.
Honestly, I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t felt that way to an extent. In elementary school, I craved praise from teachers and classmates. I wanted to be the smartest, the coolest, the most artistic, the most helpful – anything to be needed in that world.
At home, I wanted to matter. I wanted to be more than “the smart one”. To be fun, engaging, and captivating to those around me. I didn’t want to just be the girl with the answers, sometimes I wanted to be the girl who was the answer. The one with the joke or punchline who strangers stopped to gush over in the store; chosen over other for special attention. But, that was never me.
I was too big, too old, too smart, or too loud for any of that. I was just never the right person at the right time to meet the needs of whoever was around. Friends, family, teachers, strangers…whatever the case I was seeking approval and only finding it when I worked myself to the bone. The plus side? I was getting what I thought I needed. The down side? I was only getting it when I ran myself ragged and on other people’s schedules. That’s no way to lie your life and find true happiness.
The missing piece
I grew up going to church, learning my Bible stories and memorizing my verses. Not because I felt God’s amazing work in my heart and soul, but because I wanted to please my Sunday school teachers. Noticing a pattern here? Wish I would have seen it sooner and save myself a lot of heartaches.
I have been linking my value to what other people think and say about me. Not what I think, feel, or what God has to say about anything. I have been so busy living and dying for the people around me, I never gave much thought to fully living for God above me. I was putting my worth in schedules, awards, and praise instead of looking at my bigger role in life. My role in God’s plan.
How that changed
I would love to say there was one Earth shattering, soul-baring, definitive moment that changed that view for me; but that would be a total fabrication. It took numerous events to finally wake me up and help me see all I was missing in life. To this day, I live with abandonment issues stemming from my parents divorce. I am littered with insecurities from more than one boyfriend cheating on me and replacing me with a “better model”. I have lost jobs, a marriage, all my money, and myself before starting to warm up to the idea I am doing things wrong and living for the wrong people. The universe was essentially screaming at me, “change your mindset!” with every new hurdle I encountered.
I don’t need to do anything for anyone else. No one on Earth. I need to live for myself and for my God. In the rawest, purest, most authentic way possible. It is the only way to find my true purpose and happiness in life. It sure would be great if this process were easy or came with step by step instructions, but such is not the case. Like so many other things in life, growth of this magnitude relies on two things: lots of mistakes and even more faith.