Operation Happiness: Cow Paintings!

I’m on a mission to become happier in everything I do. I’ve got a lot to be happy about, but sometimes the stresses of little things can stop me from seeing the good in life. But I want to change that. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s something that needs to be done.

I watched a TED talk on positivity and success a month or so ago and the presenter listed five things that improve positivity:

  1. 3 daily gratitudes
  2. Exercise
  3. Meditation
  4. Random acts of kindness
  5. Daily journaling about a positive experience

Offline, I’m working on the first four pieces. Online, though, I’m going to work to blog about something positive at least twice a week (working myself up to daily). It will be a good way for me to remind myself that the glass is indeed half-full and that “every day might not be good, but there is good in every day”.

Thankfully, they gave us a head start and drew the outline of the cow for us to start from. I didn't think it was too shabby though for a "non artist"!

Thankfully, they gave us a head start and drew the outline of the cow for us to start from. I didn’t think it was too shabby though for a “non artist”!

So my first “Operation Happiness” post is all about cow painting! This week, I’m in Kansas City for meetings with my clients. We’ve had a lot of turnover on both ends, so this is our chance to clarify what everyone’s role is and start planning for 2014 (which I think is going to be a pretty exciting year). As a part of that, though, a lot of our time is about just having a fun time and getting to know each other better. We started out the week with dinner at one of our client’s houses and last night we adventured out on a painting excursion.

I'm impressed by how many talented people I get to be surrounded with!

I’m impressed by how many talented people I get to be surrounded with!

Sometimes work can get overwhelming and we can get buried in just getting stuff done or trying to overcome the seemingly endless roadblocks that can pop up. Getting out of our normal environment, though, is a great change of pace and allowed me to continue seeing my clients and my coworkers in new and different lights. Some of them are really talented artists! And some of them don’t mind “going rogue” and straying away from the template so they can focus on the important part of the outing (ahem…the cocktails) 🙂

We were all a little hesitant when we heard we’d be painting, but it was a great time with great people and I’m glad we did it.

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What do you do for yourself?

Now, I should probably back up and explain how my doctor got to this question. It was preceded by this series of queries:

  • “What do you do for a living?” Well, I work in advertising.
  • “What time do you get to work?” I’ve been trying to get to the office between 7:30 and 8:00.
  • “What time do you leave?” Lately I’ve been leaving around 6:00ish.
  • “That’s a 10-hour day.” Yes, it is.
  • “What are you doing when you leave here?” I’ve got some work to get done, since I left early.

And then she paused before asking the big one…”What do you do for yourself? Painting? Spending time with friends? Bowling? Do you do anything?”

Well, I try.

The true fact is, she hit on a question I’ve been asking myself for months. While it’s not like I work every single hour of the day, when I’m not doing work, I’m probably thinking about work. I don’t do a lot for fun or inspiration. When I get home at 6:30 or later, the last thing I want to do is go out again. The boy and I usually just make dinner and then we settle in for some time in front of the tube before heading to bed. Not exactly the most thrilling of lives.

Now, I know why she asked the question – I fully understand that doing something for yourself, outside of work, is good for your personal life and your career. If I had something else to focus on, even if it’s just for a few hours a week, I think it would help. After all, I do fear the dreaded b-word – burnout – just as much as the next person.

The last few weekends, we’ve been trying to get out of the apartment and do something fun one day and then chill out the other day. A few weeks ago, we went to the Minneapolis Science Museum. Last week, we went to see a movie. I’ve been trying to go to yoga or cardio kickboxing at least once a week. It’s a start, but there’s still a ways to go.

We’re in the process of moving a little ways out of the city and I’m thinking it might be a prime opportunity to get back to some of the things that used to get me excited – volunteering with FFA and 4-H. Since we’ll be in a smaller town, I’m also looking forward to potentially finding some community causes that I can get involved with. While being in a more rural area can mean less access to activity options, I think there will be more options for things that I’m interested in.

What are other ideas for activities to get involved with in a smaller  community? How do you keep life from becoming all about work? I know it’s something young professionals struggle with just as much as anyone, since we’re still trying to “prove ourselves”, but for long-term happiness (and sanity) it’s something I want to start setting time aside for now.