Comparison is the thief of JOY

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By Anita Manley

I have noticed a commonality among friends, family and acquaintances. Those who compare themselves to others are less joyful, or even miserable as a result.

In fact, comparing ourselves to others is something we all tend to do at some point. Here are some examples:

  • The friend who says (not jokingly), I’ll trade you places, you can live at my home and I’ll live in yours.
  • The neighbour who thinks you have so many more friends than they do.
  • The family member who compares their “meager” earnings for hard work to your executive salary, or your government job with a pension.
  • The acquaintance who envies your car, boat and/or cottage.
  • The friend who has several health problems and wishes they were as healthy as you are.

    Comparison is truly the thief of JOY. The truth is you are ALWAYS going to find others in your life who have more than you do. More friends, more money, more family members, a bigger home, a fancier car, and the list goes on. If you are constantly comparing yourself to these people, rather than being grateful for what you have, you will never be happy. (See my previous post regarding gratitude: Here).

    I suggest, rather than comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to yourself! Try setting goals for yourself, then comparing yourself a month from now to your old self. Are you more active? Do you have a tidier home? Are you more fit? Have you walked more? Have you connected with more friends? If not, then reset your goals to live your best life. (See my post on goal setting Here).

    Remember, try to be grateful for all that you have. If you want to compare yourself to someone, choose your recent past self. In the case of illness or accident, you will have to re-evaluate your comparison in keeping with your new reality. Try not to be too hard on yourself, and pay attention to the smallest increments of change. Set goals. Avoid falling into the trap of comparing yourself to others around you.

    Remember… comparison truly IS the thief of JOY.
Avoid falling into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Compare yourself to you! Continue to set goals that are achievable. Be grateful for what you have. You are enough!

Decluttering for peace of mind.

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By Anita Manley

 

During the first few weeks of COVID-19, while cooped up in our small one-bedroom apartment, it was clear we had one BIG problem. CLUTTER. Clutter had accumulated EVERYWHERE. On my desk in the bedroom, on the coffee table in the living room (my second desk!), the dining room table, and due to being home all day: a multitude of dirty dishes, piled high, in the kitchen. All this disorganization and messiness was really getting me down.

I talked to my daughter, Nicola, on the phone and she was doing some great decluttering herself… thus inspired, I started with my desk and committed to it by telling Nicola I was going to attempt to clear it off by our next call (in a week’s time). So! Mission accomplished: papers thrown out or filed, books were put onto a bookshelf or given away and I even got rid of an orchid, whose bare branches were not bringing me joy. It felt great… Marie Kondo would’ve been proud of me. I know Nicola was, when I showed her the results on our next video chat.

Then, I moved onto my “other desk” in the living room. Same thing — voila! Then into my closets — I emptied all of the clothes I never wear and piled them for donation; winter clothes were stored away downstairs and underwear/ sock drawer was cleared out into bins, making room for more clothing. I was on a roll — but still: nothing was getting me down more, than the thought of that endless trail of dirty dishes awaiting… in the kitchen.

Perhaps anyone living/ working from home during COVID without a dishwasher can relate.  Cooking and eating every meal at home adds up to a lot of dishes in a day. One skipped day of doing the dishes can set you behind and be super depressing. Envision attempting to prepare a meal with a small counter and dirty dishes encroaching on all surfaces, leaving no room for preparation. I was feeling super frustrated and was recounting this story to my friend on a walk through a lush forest in her neighbourhood one sunny morning. The ‘dreaded dishes’ dilemma. She so very kindly texted me the next day and asked what my plans were for dinner.  I replied: nothing that couldn’t be changed.  She said OK, do up your dishes and I am going to deliver your next meal.  A few hours later, there was a beautiful casserole, salad and berry crisp for dessert — ready to eat. My husband and I felt so indebted to her for making this kindly gesture that we also resolved to keep up with the dishes ever since.

I can honestly say that the lack of clutter throughout our home has reduced my anxiety and feelings of depression. I also feel I am sleeping better at night.

Therefore, it was no surprise to me when I recently picked up the book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, to see that in her very first chapter she listed “toss, restore, organize” as goals towards “Boosting Energy” and creating a happier life. Or, that Sue-Anne Hickey of Bodytypology listed “decluttering and creating a relaxing atmosphere” as a way to prevent insomnia.

Whether you decide to read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or not: I know you will benefit from decluttering your living space.

Give it a try — one room at a time — for better peace of mind.

apartment-architecture-art-books-276724

Now, doesn’t this image of a tidy apartment (not my own) bring inner peace?

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

The joy of music!

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By Anita Manley

A recent study shows that music takes 13 minutes to “release sadness” and 9 minutes to make you happy. https://www.classicfm.com/music-news/music-to-release-sadness-and-feel-happier-study/?fbclid=IwAR0LeAgGxATyvxVpAUkHOS8amN-VObnrssGyee_EoYl4G-ARoZKBnTwuOh8

Listen to music!

Ever since I was a young kid, music has played a big role in my life. I used to listen to the American Top 40 with Casey Casem every week on CKGM radio from my bedroom in Beaconsfield, PQ. I’d be belting out the tunes as I sang into my round hair brush, admiring my form in the mirror — a rock star wanna be.

Whenever I am alone and perhaps not feeling the best, I turn on some of my favourite tunes. Music can be uplifting, spiritual, happy and sometimes sad — but it almost always takes you somewhere, on a journey. In order to get our groove on and into washing the dishes, my husband and I turn on some music so we can sing along and maybe do a little dancing in between washing and drying. The music seems to make the unsavory task of washing dishes go by faster, even making it somewhat enjoyable — dare I say! I also listen to a workout playlist when I am on the stationary bike, or while out on a walk along the canal.

Recently, on Valentines Day, I witnessed women living in supportive housing being absolutely joyful due to a couple of musicians who came and played their hearts out while the ladies sang and danced to some old style tunes. (Johnny Cash, The Beatles, Elvis, etc.) One of the ladies said to me “This sure beats me crying all night in my room and eating a dozen cupcakes by myself because I am alone on Valentines Day.” She was smiling and enjoying herself — because live music filled the air.

I often relate to the quote: “When you’re happy, you enjoy the music. When you’re sad you understand the lyrics.” — Frank Ocean

I cannot count the times, over the many years I was experiencing intense psychosis, that I could relate to all the lyrics of almost every song on the radio. I really felt as though most of these songs were either written by me, or written for me. I connected with them on such a deep and personal level.

Here are a few songs compiled into a list that people with mental health struggles might enjoy: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/songs-about-mental-health_l_5e326e79c5b69a19a4a9f977?guccounter=1

A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I went out to listen to some live, local talent. We never know what we are going to see or learn when we venture out to listen to music, but we always have a good time. On this occasion, my old university friend and award-winning singer/songwriter John Allaire was actually playing Chris Hadfield’s Space Guitar! No kidding — this guitar has been to space and John is the custodian.

So, be sure to listen to some music on a daily basis — it really can help you feel happier and you never know when it could become an “out-of-this-world experience”.

My friend, John Allaire (local musician), with Chris Hadfield’s Space Guitar.

The Importance of Self-Care

Written by Anita Manley

I wouldn’t be where I am today – living a life in recovery from a severe and persistent mental illness – if I did not choose to take action for my own good, every day.

Self-care is meant to restore your energy and to make you the best version of yourself. It is so important to take at least half an hour every single day to do something good for yourself – to add fuel to your fire.

There are many forms of self-care and it is imperative that you opt for something that you love doing.

Here are Forty Favorites of mine to help inspire you to refuel daily:

  1. Say no and be OK with it. Setting clear boundaries is healthy and essential.
  2. Unplug! Technology has us frazzled – unplug for an hour daily – especially before bedtime.
  3. Enjoy a cup of tea.
  4. Read a book, or peruse a used book store or library.
  5. Go to the movies/a play/a musical.
  6. Knit or do other crafts (scrap-booking/ crochet/ sewing etc.)
  7. Journal. Get your thoughts down on paper to free your mind.
  8. Garden. I live in an apartment, but I have a lovely balcony garden which includes fresh herbs and tomatoes.
  9. Give yourself a manicure/pedicure.
  10. Take a beautiful photograph.
  11. Exercise. In addition to walking 10,000 steps per day, my doctor says 30 mins x 5 times per week. Get heart rate up to 120. I’m trying!
  12. Go for a nature walk/ bird watch/ feed the birds.
  13. Take a refreshing bath/ shower.
  14. Prepare and eat a healthy meal while listening to relaxing music.
  15. Play an instrument.
  16. Sing!
  17. Dance!
  18. Write a letter to an elderly relative… or anyone.
  19. Go to the hairdresser.
  20. Go shopping.
  21. Do a crossword/ Sudoku/ puzzle.
  22. Have a nap.
  23. Chat with a friend.
  24. Reassess you friendships. Purge toxic relationships.
  25. Do a good deed every day! It makes you feel good too.
  26. Spend time with your pet or pet a cat/ dog while out on a walk.
  27. Practice daily meditation.
  28. Listen to your favorite music.
  29. Donate things you no longer need/ use.
  30. Declutter/ tidy up.
  31. Hydrate – drink lots of water.
  32. Write daily gratitudes.
  33. Practice positive self-talk.
  34. Laugh with gusto and often!
  35. Spend time with your children/ grandchildren/ nieces/ nephews and get to know them well.
  36. Take a ride on a bus and get off and explore new areas of town.
  37. Go to a museum or art gallery.
  38. Go for a bike ride and pack a picnic.
  39. Kayak, canoe, swim, go to the beach.
  40. Cuddle on the couch with your loved one(s).

There are so many other nourishing things you can do – this is just a start to help you feel inspired to make daily self-care a priority in your life every single day.

Give it a try! Start making self-care a priority! You’ll be glad you did.

Take some time out for self care!

Practicing an Attitude of Gratitude

Just over a decade ago – due to mental illness – I lost everything that I held close to my heart: communication with my two teen aged daughters, my entire family, all of my friends, I lost my job, my cat, my housing and eventually all of my possessions, including my car. Some would say that it was as if aliens came in and took over my identity as well.

Prior to losing everything, as things were beginning to unravel, a good friend of mine advised me to write a gratitude journal – “list 3 things you are grateful for, every night before going to bed.” WOW! What a challenge, I thought. I could only write about one thing per day. I had a cup of tea, I entered into my journal. I had a long, hot bath, the next night. At that time, my two daughters were living with their Dad full-time and I could only see them while in the presence of a social worker with the Children’s Aid Society – once a week, for a couple of hours. I missed them terribly and I felt lost being unable to fulfill my Mom role. I was sad, angry and very lonely – dwelling upon my losses.

However, starting this practice of a gratitude journal set me up with a resiliency and positive frame of mind that has served me well ever since.

While living in a women’s shelter, I was tremendously grateful to have a roof above my head, thankful for the amazing meals they served every day, the fashionable clothes I received, the bed I laid in, the sewing machine to alter second hand clothes, the brand new shoes I was given, and the list goes on. While living in my car, I was grateful for my car! I appreciated The Well for providing me with a place to watch TV, shower and sleep during the day and for other women to socialize with.

I realized that no matter how much I was struggling, there was always someone else who was struggling even more. There was always something to be grateful for. And if you think of all of the little things, you will find that indeed there are always many things to be grateful for.

I still to this day practice and attitude of gratitude and I credit this practice for my happiness and feelings of abundance despite my many losses. By recognizing the numerous things we do have in life and not focusing on our setbacks or losses, we can feel more satisfied, fulfilled and happier!

Even among the greatest difficulties in life – you can always find things for which you are truly grateful.

Try it! Start writing a gratitude journal before going to bed – Jot down 3 different entries every night. It will grow on you!

Feeling extremely grateful for this gorgeous view that I have enjoyed for the past 7.5 years!