Whether it is that second brownie you picked up, ordering that third shot of tequila, stuffing your face with the carbs you swore off, surrounding yourself with those who you know are a bad influence or answering the call from that guy you promised you were through with-- we are all guilty of indulging.
And, I'll admit it, sometimes it feels good. Like, really good. Who can really blame a girl after a week from hell for taking down more vino than the town's local wine tasting? Not me. Sometimes you just need to let your hair down and eat a ridiculous amount of reasonably priced pizza while gossiping over the most flamboyant Mai Tai, compliments of the bartender who just received your number scrawled on a bar nap followed by what you thought was a suggestive wink but now he just thinks you have a lazy eye. Happy hour can be the most memorable of hours, I get it.
But what happens when that sort of happy hour begins to make you unhappy?
I'm not just talking about the margaritas on this one, either. Happy hour is just about the most fun a girl can have without taking off her pants. And, no, I'm not talking about sex. I'm talking about drinking wine in my underwear, obviously. . Try it sometime. It gives your Fruit of the Looms a whole new meaning.
Ask yourself this: How happy is my happy hour actually making me?
I only bring this up because I had to answer this for myself recently. It all started with a journal entry (as most of my posts do, I know, your probably shocked) where I wanted to make a list of the things that made me happy, truly happy, that did not include the shenanigans that take place at the local pub.
Here is an abbreviated version of the list I wrote:
1) Prayer/Meditation 2) Time spent with my family/boyfriend 3) Reading/Writing 4) Great conversation with a friend/friends 5) Cooking for others 6) Hot tea before bed 7) Epsom salt baths 8) Listening to my old records 9) Helping build up confidence & community in women/young girls 10) Working out to a new playlist or yoga. . . and so on and so on.
There are probably a few of the things that are on my list that would also apply to yours. There are also a few things on this list that are much easier said than done... Or are they?
That is the question that struck me when I jotted down this list. As soon as I looked at the list, my inner monologue threw out this thought:
Sounds nice, but I probably need to paste this page back into the fairy tale it came from before someone notices it's missing.
Why was it that when I was being honest about the things that brought me joy and fulfillment, I immediately discredited myself? Why do we make 'being happy' seem like such a long shot? Is it really that difficult to attain?
Sadly, pursuing personal happiness is something that is more often assigned to our list of chores than our list of rewards.
We gotta change that nonsense. FAST.
The first step I took in attempt to changing my tune towards my personal joy was the list I just shared. That was the easy part for me. I encourage you to do the same. My list in my journal is a lot more detailed and specific, too. For example, if you choose something like 'reading' as something that makes you happy, you should also accompany it with the detailed happiness it brings you. What do you like to read? At what times of the day? How does this benefit you?
The next step is still pretty simple but also vital. Make a list of goals in correlation to the list of things that bring you enjoyment. You should write down how often you'd like to involve them in your day-to-day life and their level of importance to you, as well.
This is where you need to be realistic.
Sure, I'd love to say that six days out of the week I will be at the gym for two hours followed by an hour of meditation and reading over hot tea BUT I'm what you would call human so I'm not fooling anyone. Especially not myself. Maybe that idealistic schedule will be in my future someday, but for now it's time to get real. Be honest with yourself on what's important to you and the time you have to dedicate to them.
This list doesn't have to be incredibly serious, either. On my list of goals there is a lot of 'drink less beer' and 'pick up an apple, put down the donut'. Don't laugh. . I happen to be battling a severe disease called Homersimpson-itus and it's not to be taken lightly.
The last step is probably the most difficult. It involves doing something that is like nails on a chalkboard to procrastinators around the world... & that is, well, doing something.
The final list should be of what holds you back from achieving the things that make you happy followed by a plan or small step towards changing them.
Love spending time with your friends but you have trouble with saying 'no' to anyone so you overbook yourself to the point of exhaustion and then cancel everything and end up sitting on your couch, ignoring your phone, eating cheese puffs and feeling like an big ol' asshole? (My hand is raised.)
Yeah, might wanna put that one at the top of the list.
Do you really want a meaningful relationship but find yourself texting your ex-boyfriend for the tenth time without any response because you've had too much wine so instead you take home the next guy at the bar who so much as smiles at you and compliments on the "sparkle" in your chest--I mean eyes?
Stop that one. Immediately. Top of the list. NOW.
We all do things that we regret. It's going to happen. I'm not saying you need to beat yourself up over making a mistake. Self-deprecation is NEVER the answer (click here for tips on why you should stick up for you) but self-awareness is key. By writing down your weaknesses you are actually strengthening the half of yourself that must be completed to feel whole.
Figure out who makes your heart beat, what puts the pep in your step, when you feel your best, where you feel at home and why these things are important to you.
You can redefine your happy hour. It starts by making sure that no one gets to take a cheap shot of you, your thoughts are no longer sold for half off and you personally mark your happiness up to full price. Soon, the cheapskates in your life will be replaced with loyal customers and you will begin indulging on a brand new top shelf you. Best part is, this isn't limited to one hour... You can tap into these deals all day long.