As a psychologist, I’m no stranger to the relatively new concept of positive psychology. The focus of psychology until this movement was on disease and hardship. What made people different? Positive psychology focuses on what makes people happy. This is how we know that one of the best ways to increase job satisfaction is decreasing your commute time. We also know that practicing mindfulness and gratitude drastically changes a person’s level of happiness.
As a person who participates in society, I’m no stranger to the self-help craze. the self-help industry is multi-million dollar industry aimed at targeting everyone’s personal insecurities and making you believe you can just wake up one morning and suddenly you are your ideal self: you’re thin, fit, healthy, financially healthy, productive, people like you, you cook from scratch, you have time to relax, go for walks, your house is always clean and full of flawless DIY projects, your kids excel in every aspect of their lives, you’ve perfected a flawless 15 minute morning routine, your mascara never smudges, and you’ve gone back to school and got an MBA from Yale. Easy.
From how I see it, this positive psychology and the self-help industry go hand in hand. You to can be happier if you follow these 10 simple tricks! Also, is it just me, or are these self-help/lifestyle gurus just selling us pretty gadgets on Instagram and YouTube? Of course I want to eat your 10 minute overnight oats Kay-Cee. You spent 2 hours photographing and editing this picture. It looks incredible. (Anyone who’s tried these overnight oats knows they’re a cold grey lump of glue in the morning that taste like some mixed in some skim milk and strawberry mush to plain oatmeal).
But we all know there’s some truth to what these people say. You will get more done if you prioritize, you will feel better if you go to the gym, and your kids will have healthy lunches if you pack them. But here’s the thing, it’s not easy. Sure, when you break anything down like that it seems so simple. If you want to go to the gym, you have to go to the gym. I like to equate that to a conversational gem 5 year old me said at her great grandmother’s funeral:
“Why didn’t Nana just… keep breathing?”5 year old Emma
It would be so simple! Just don’t die if you want to live people!
Look, we all know the secret to going to the gym, is just going there and you can read all you want about just getting there is the hardest part, how you have to do it for so many days to form a habit. But we’re still not doing it. It’s not that gyming is the same level of hard for everyone and people who go have this monstrous will power. We’re all different. Some people can work at a desk all day. Some people enjoy talking to other people at work. For some people the gym isn’t that bad. I’m tired of feeling like crap because I don’t work out like a Kardashian, eat vegan, do all the things at work.
This is a long winded introduction to my newest personal project: The Kindness Crusade
For the foreseeable future, I’m going to keep track of the kind things I did for myself over the week. I have main five domains that are a priority for me: My health, my relationship, my home, my finances, and my work. I’m not setting out to be perfect in any of these categories, I simply want to stop feeling bad about going out for drinks with friends because I’m spending money and being unhealthy. Being social is good for my mental health and that should be enough. From now on, I’m ditching all self-help media and choose to be grateful for the kind things I’m doing for myself and accepting that I have competing interests. No longer will I dwell on choosing new underwear over saving the $30, or eating that burger over salad. Instead I’m going to buy that underwear and eat that burger and remind myself to be kind to my wallet and heart the next day. Life’s about balance and it’s high time I get more of it.