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Make Your Happiness a Priority

I can’t believe that this is my first post of the year – where did the time go?

I always mean to write more but I’m so busy in the day-to-day that it always gets pushed back to when I have time.

Yet, writing makes me happy, so maybe I should make the time.

That’s what I am doing today.

This year has been so transformative for me. When I chose “release” as my word of the year, I literally felt like I was giving myself permission to let go of a backpack I’d been lugging around that was twice the size of me.

I wonder why I didn’t let it go sooner.

I think it’s because I didn’t want to say “This is too much.”

And that’s a problem I’ve had in my life for as long as I can remember. Even as a child, I never got to say “This is too much for me.”

And then living so long by myself, there was no one else to help me with things. And that’s just been my regular state of being for as long as I can remember. I’ve been plodding along, putting more and more on my plate, telling myself that this is fine.

Realizing that I was not fine was a pretty big deal. It was a lot of little things (some big things) but a lot of them were little. On Patreon, I was doing so much work to create content. I had a quota of images I had to meet each month. (And by *had to* I mean it was a quota set by me that I could have changed at any time but chose not to). Patreon is awesome. It has inspired me to create so many wonderful things. Having consistent income from subscribers made me able to quit my job but it is also a lot of work.

And because I had about a year where I was creating a ton of stuff consistently and it had an easy flow I thought that I could keep doing it.

Did it ever occur to me that maybe I should rest?

It did not.

My brain said, “You did it last year, you can do it this year too.” So I did, and it got harder to create but I kept pushing.

I got covid around Thanksgiving and that’s when it really hit that I was doing too much. I couldn’t take three days off work without feeling so far behind. I was so focused on getting well enough to work that I wasn’t really focused on being well.

By December, my anxiety was skyrocketing. And it’s weird to realize that you have an awesome life, a wonderful job, an amazing relationship, and that also something is wrong. And that wrongness was 65% internal pressure that I was putting on myself without fully realizing it.

So far this year I’ve cut back a lot, on Patreon and elsewhere. And it feels good.

Making your happiness a priority can be inconvenient. It can have a lot of baggage attached to it. But it’s still worth doing.

Here are some ways you can start making your happiness:

  1. Set boundaries. Everything ends and begins with the amount of energy you have to do things and there will never be enough left over for you if you’re spending it on everyone else.
  2. Find Your Joy: Make a list of things that genuinely make you happy and then commit to doing those things as often as you can. And if you feel like nothing makes you happy, focus on trying all the things. Different hobbies, genres, and being around different people. Find what lights you up.
  3. Self-Care (I couldn’t leave that out): Give yourself what you need physically, emotionally, and mentally.
  4. Move Your Body: Get up and get moving! Movement releases endorphins, which natural mood boosters. Dance, do yoga, even give yourself a gentle rock back and forth and let your body be part of the happiness process.
  5. Practice Gratitude: Start a gratitude journal and write down the things you’re grateful for at the end of each day (or each week/month if that feels overwhelming). Notice how big some of the little things are and the affect they have on your mood.
  6. Make space for laughter: Spend time with people who make you laugh. Take a break from serious books, podcasts, and shows, and get into something light, fluffy, and funny.

How do you make your happiness a priority?