I had decided the year 2020 will be the year of changes, the year I stop floating as a victim of my surroundings and take action towards creating my own happiness. Now when the year is becoming to the end, it is time to look back and recap. Let's clarify what actual changes I made and what results they brought.
Just to point out the progress has not been linear hahahah.. Actually the beginning of year 2020 was a frikking mess. Like anyone who saw me in January and February - I feel sorry for you. I was such a mess, filled with constant anxiety and all other troubles, let alone I had just started getting panic attacks... But when the Covid-19 lockdown happened, it was necessary to stop and take a break and finally actually CHANGE SOMETHING... Now manymany months later I feel better than ever - and I think the following changes are the main reason behind the increased happiness.
1. Taking The Science of Well-Being course
This was basically where it all started! I still have no clue how or where this course even popped up, but I am so glad that I found it. This course was exactly what I needed to study. It literally showed scientific evidence of practices which increase one's well-being - just what I was trying to do. This class was filled with the knowledge and practical tips which I started employing in my life - and for sure increased my well- being. Luv iiiit! Super grateful for finding this class and I highly recommend it to everybody. Here is the link btw.
2. Starting daily Yoga & Meditation
Yoga has definitely changed my life. Doing yoga poses and sequences has brought such a joy to exercising. Somehow I always struggled with going to the gym, somehow it felt like I was only training to achieve a certain look - but yoga manages to bring more holistic feel into exercising. It is a perfect combination of exercise to the body, mind and soul. I have also started studying to become a yoga teacher myself.
Moreover, starting to meditate has absolutely transformed my life. I have managed to cultivate inner peace and some feeling of control inside of my own head by meditating. Meditation is my number one go-to tool whenever the anxiety is about to take over - and it works almost always. I feel empowered. Furthermore, as I know the immense benefits meditation has brought for me, I've been so stoked to record meditation clips for others to use too. The dream is that my guided meditations will help other people to feel empowered inside their minds too.
3. Creating morning and evening routines
My morning routine includes thinking about things I am grateful of first thing in the morning, even before I open my eyes. Then after brushing my teeth and washing the face - I get on the yoga mat. Usually I do the Kassandra Reinhardt's Morning Yoga Movement class at first :) I am already going through this 30-day morning yoga program seventh time but it is just sooo awesome! After the yoga I state my personal affirmation 108 times while stretching. I change the affirmation every lunar cycle. After the affirmations I do this real hippie thing of creating bubbles of love, clarity and protection around me and the world... I will probably create a video of it as it sounds so weird if you do not see what I mean hahah. Then I do a bit of mirror work telling myself a mantra of "I'm sorry, I forgive you, Thank you, I love you" which comes from the ho'oponopono tradition. Lastly I read a bit of an inspirational book while drinking my morning coffee.
At nights it is a bit simpler. Starts with a veeeery nice skin care routine. Seriously doing these nice skin care routines daily makes you really feel like you got your life together and that you appreciate yourself!! Yup, so after the face is all lotioned and ready for bed I always read for a bit. Usually something yoga related as it is more calming than some of my GETUPANDMAKETHATBREAD-books... I leave them for the mornings. Then I write my goals and the ten things I am grateful of on the gratitude journal. And finally I put on a sleep meditation and fall asleep while listening it :)
4. Keeping a gratitude journal & sharing 3 positive things with friends daily
So I write down 10 things I am grateful for every night. Listing the things you feel grateful just lifts your mood automatically. I promise! It makes you realize how blessed you are after all. Even when I am feeling like total shiiit, I am always able to come up with some stuff to be grateful of. I also journal in order to get sort my thoughts, let go of old blocks, and to set out new goals. In the mornings I also just think about few things I am thankful for before I even open my eyes in the morning. It helps to start the day with the right energy! :)
Additionally, we have been sharing three positive things about our days with my group of friends. This has been a great way to increase the positive thinking and gratitude. Even in the darkest days there is always some light to be found. And when you do this with friends everyday, it is an amazing way to connect and keep up with each other :)
5. Reading daily
Daily reading is part of my morning and evening routine nowadays. I have always loved reading, but somehow due to the school it became more of an obligatory thing and kind of took my passion away... Or like always when I was about to pick a book which was just for "fun" and not for school, I felt guilty of not using the time to study... Not fun. But now this year I finally managed to change that attitude and started just reading tons of non-school related stuff. Every book I have read has given me something but I will list a few most transformational:
You're a Badass -series by Jen Sincero
Ask and It Is Given by Esther Hicks and Jerry Hicks
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Men are From Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray
The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
6. Affirmations, mirrorwork & compassionate self-talk
I started daily affirmations, mirrorwork and compassionate self-talk this year. Life-changing!!!
Affirmations are positive reminders or statements that can be used to encourage and motivate yourself or others. The affirmations can be used to change your inner beliefs and mindset too - so by affirming a statement which does not sounds like "true" yet over and over again it will become more natural to you. Like when you feel vulnerable and small you can state something like "I am confident and capable" inside your head over and over again and uuuulalala soon you'll start identifying with that statement. SO YUP, I use tons of affirmations. I have every lunar cycle a personal affirmation I state 108 times in the morning, also Kassandra's morning yoga classes are paired with affirmations, and I also use my own affirmations every day. When I feel sick I might state all day something like "I feel healthy and well" or if I feel scared to do something I might tell myself "I am brave and I can do this" etc. Funfunfun and super beneficial.
For extra benefit I state the affirmations out loud in front of the mirror while looking into my own eyes. Sounds maybe a bit crazy but oh you better try! Especially I try to say things like "I am beautiful" in front of the mirror to really shift my self-esteem.
Moreover, I have tried to be more compassionate to others and especially to myself. If sometimes I behave badly I try to soothe myself by telling internally "it is okay, next time you will do better" type stuff instead of good old "omg I'm such a dumb bitch I'm mean and inconsiderate and I should not have any friends.." plaplapla... Basically just trying not to be so judgemental towards anybody. Like somebody who does not greet me back is not "rude and arrogant" but might just be having hard time or similarly me snapping at mom does not tell that I am "mean and ungrateful", more like a bit tired... And still working on the patience...
7. Stopping to follow the news
I stopped watching the news from TV, I stopped listening news radio, I stopped reading news papers and stopped following all the news sites also online. This was a BIG ONE for me. I have been veryvery up-to-date and followng the news all my life. I used to read the newspapers every morning pretty much since I learned to read. And after I have moved away from Finland I have been listening BBC world news radio every morning while getting ready. I have always been suuuper proud of knowing what is going on in the world. So this change to stop following the news was scary to me. But did anything bad happen? no. Did it increase my wellbeing? YES!
After I stopped following the news I felt lighter. I did not feel the constant sadness for all the world's troubles mainstream news talk about. I did not have to listen to anymore about Covid-19 and increase my anxiety. I did not read about some terrible murders which make me lose the hope in humanity, nor did I have to hear how the rainforest are being destroyed in daily basis. It really helps. It does not mean that you stop caring about the world - but it really helps to create your own peace. As you have to first heal yourself before you can heal the world. And when something big happen - you will hear it regardless you follow the news or not.
8. Stopping to watch anything which does not bring me happiness
I have always been intrigued to watch pretty rough stuff. For example I've been a huge fan of serial-killer documentaries. Soooo interesting! But on the other hand, also very toxic for my happiness. It was hard to try to convince myself that the world is a beautiful place, when simultaneously I would watch real stories about how some creeper murders and chops innocent girls into pieces... So yup - I stopped watching that stuff. And I feel better now! I am not afraid of taking the dogs out at dark anymore, as now I'm not thinking about murderers all the time hahah.
I also stopped watching some series which were just too rough for me, even though they are fiction. Like I just did not enjoy watching the Vikings anymore - too much violence and betrayal and all that. I even stopped watching my favorite series of prison break after the first season as all my beloved characters were dying and I was crying all the time... It was just too intense - I started dreaming about the series and all so nonono. In general, I have dropped all the scary, violent shows and also the shows which include like lots of relationship dramas with betrayal or power games. These shows are addictive, so stopping midway can be hard - like you wanna know what happens even when you don't wanna look hahah.
But honestly, I feel so much better watching just like uplifting shows or feel-good movies or just mindless reality drama :)
9. Social media purge
I purged and I keep purging my social media. I unfollow all the accounts that do not bring me joy. I basically unfollowed everyone who I do not know personally - I only kept following Yoga with Kassandra instagram and like Jen Sincero as they do bring me tons of joy hahah. And somehow I just unfollowed people pretty mindlessly, like even if I would like the person in real life but their posts would somehow annoy me, or make me jealous or something negative - I would just unfollow their account to keep my peace. Sounds harsh but oh la la is it purifying. Purgepurgepurge and leaving only the joy and inspiration. Feels great!! I also have cut off the time spend in social media in general.
10. Telling what I want & setting up boundaries
I started communicating better what I want, setting up boundaries AND informing about them properly to others. Like I started telling my friends clearly if I wanted to be alone and not to socialize, or informing Rolf that I am upset and I want him to ask me about this and this, or telling my family clearly that certain subjects trigger me and I would rather not to talk about them... Or just telling clearly that I am feeling low or anxious even if I did not know the reason so people get a heads-up and know it ain't their fault if I am all of sudden super crazy..
Basically just communicating better without expecting anybody to read my mind. Another pretty basic thing but still a big change for me. I used to have this mindset that people who know me should somehow know exactly what I want.... Naaah, it does not work that way. Telling is so much easier.
11. Trusting my intuition & stop forcing
I started connecting with my inner guidance and intuition this year and oh it has been great. Stopping for a moment before making any decision and turning inwards to ask myself what I want has made me feel way better and allowed me to make better (hopefully) choices haha. This plays a big part in every day life - just like a choice of when and what to eat, or what to do in general. I have stopped forcing schedules on myself, I have stopped forcing to do anything if I do not feel like doing it.
This meant tons of more self-care!! Long baths, long yin yoga sessions, sleeping late, having some 90 day fiancé marathons and lots of relaxing but also somehow increased my productivity a lot whenever I wanted to work. For example this has brought a huge chance to my school work. Instead of forcing myself to dedicate full days for studying, I have started studying whenever I feel like doing so. Usually way shorter periods at a time - but I am way more productive and even enjoy studying way more when I do not force it.
12. Less alcohol & better diet
I have drank way less alcohol this year than the previous year and that has increased my happiness a lot. Drinking alcohol brings me often a hangover - mentally and physically. Feeling sick and embarrassed ain't that much fun. So yup, have cut that down alcohol significantly. Still I like trying draft beers or cool cocktails here and there :) but definitely overall consumption is lower than before.
In general my diet has been better this year too. I have focused on more fresh stuff and really stopped being so frikking cheap with food. I try to listen my intuition more than ever with food too. I also reduced dairy products and that has made me feel better about my choices.
Happiness and wellbeing are obviously hard to measure. Regardless, I had taken an online happiness surveys back in March 23th as a first task for the The Science of Wellbeing course. Later after I finished the course, I took one more survey and also the same test again on June 18th and now on the 30th of December. And some significant changes have been happening according to these surveys...
is a validated, 23-question survey that measures five pillars of well-being known as PERMA: Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishment. By taking the survey, you will receive scores ranging from 0-10 for each pillar along with scores for overall well-being, health, and negative emotions.
Here are the results NOW, in June and In March. 10 is superduper happy and 0 is much depressy.
The Authentic Happiness Inventory is a validated, 24-question survey that measures overall wellbeing. At the end of the survey, you will receive a score between 1-5. 1 being the worst and 5 the best. My results now and back in June.
And from my own point of view I have noticed enormous changes. I wake up excited about the day, I see the future filled with opportunities, I feel closer with my family members, I have let go lots of anxiety and fear, I feel more passionate about things I do. Of course I still get the lows too but I feel like the lows are not that deep nor so long... It is all part of life, the good and the bad, but I feel more capable to handle life nowadays.
Looking forward what the next year will bring! :)