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Fill It Up (What I Need To Be Happy)

The last two weeks have been difficult ones. Aside from the usual busyness of school (it was the first two weeks of lessons and rehearsals for my band program), I was also in a car accident. No one was hurt, thank God, but the emotional stress definitely affected me for awhile; also, I had to deal with the complications of getting my car towed, inspected, totaled, and then shopping for a new car. I was finally able to resolve every detail down to the E-Z Pass transfer at the end of this past week, and now own a beautiful 2013 Honda CR-V as my reward.

My new car, Hermione

My new car, Hermione

But in the process, I’ve been stressed, anxious and generally feeling down.

I wasn’t sure what to do about this. Wallow? Eat more cookies? Break out my favorite comfort books?

But then I listened to the latest “Happier” podcast hosted by Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft (it’s my current favorite). Their happiness tip for the week was to “Raise the Bar.” According to their definition, although adding something into your life might add stress or complications, if it’s the right kind of something, it’s worth adding.

It’s similar to a philosophy I’ve been nurturing over the past few years, which I like to call “Fill it Up.”

Or, more accurately and less succinctly: “Fill your mind with positive things, and there won’t be as much room for the negatives.”

The “Happier” podcast recalled this philosophy of mine, and it gave me a script to move forward, pulling me out of the doldrums. I reminded myself that when life is difficult, when the inclination is to lighten the load, it’s better for someone of my nature to do more, to fill up my days with more things that I love, my thoughts with more passion projects. For someone with a natural inclination toward anxiety, the Fill it Up philosophy helps to redirect the bad stress into good.

I’d been giving myself a little space on my writing, as I typically do in September, because I knew I’d need the extra focus for my teaching work. But that may have been a mistake. If I fill up my brain with the things I love, like writing and family, I am calmer and happier at work. I am able to put work problems into perspective. I am able to take something like a car accident and put a positive spin on it. I can write my way into a happier mindset.

A long time ago, I made myself a list for what I need to do every day to stay happy. It’s a permanent sticky note on my laptop. I still believe I need every one of these daily activities:

  1. Exercise
  2. Eat clean
  3. Read
  4. Write fiction
  5. Write personal essay or nonfiction
  6. Write in journal
  7. Say thank you
  8. Hug my family

So moving forward, I’m going to start doing more again. Raising the Bar. Filling Up. Because that’s my path to happiness.

What’s yours?

3 Responses to “Fill It Up (What I Need To Be Happy)”

  1. Kathy says:

    I’m sorry you were in an accident–been there, done that and even with no injuries it’s no fun at all.

    I love your fill it up philosophy. I know exactly what you mean. The challenge is filling up with sweet and wonderful experiences/things that are not also, simultaneously, bad for me. Fill the well that allows me to write, to love, to work, and not feel depleted. And I have a similar list to yours–on my best days, I: Care for myself, polish my craft, move my body, do something just for fun, read for pleasure, and eat healthy 90% of the time.

  2. Todd says:

    Hey cousin, ,

    Keep your head up,,hug that Lil guy of yours and remember we love ya too!!

    Kids are the best upper in the world. Hug that Lil one and squeeze the positive out each day!

    Your cousin, -todd

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  1. Library Book Haul | Words From The Sowul by Leanne Sowul - […] part of my “Fill it Up” mini-happiness project this past weekend, I spent a wonderful hour in the library.…

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