Happiness occurs in unhappy moments

My grade for the year is 74.5%.

After going through my annual goal list on my yearly calendar, I recognize that I earned very average, mediocre grade.

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I have an extensive daily checking system where I record how I spend each day. One point for a 5:30am morning workout, another point for writing a morning diary…even giving myself a point for ending the day by reviewing my daily to-do list for the following day.

Over the years, I developed a highly complex ( and color coordinated) recording system on my calendar where I can see my progress toward annual goals.  

With 2 days left in the year 2022, I reviewed my daily system of how much progress made. It turns out I did not make the 90% grade I set ought for myself last year.

When reviewing the reasons behind C, D or even F grades on certain days in the year, one common theme came up on those bad graded days: my unhappiness.

Something about those days made me unhappy. It could be the negative outcome from the project proposal submitted, no response after sending out pitch emails to publications…etc. In other words, I was unhappy with results I could not control.

Looking back on those unfortunate events and how they impacted the rest of the day or even longer days, I need to think and act differently in the face of adverse outcomes.

Now is more important than later.

I put emphasis on later. It is always later that comes before now.

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Thinking about great things in the future and Planning for that fantastic day makes me forget the importance of the present moment. Planning for the future days becomes the overriding goal that triumph over mundane everyday life.

Instead of experiencing or even enjoying the moment, I am in the mode of planning for the unknown future. This “sacrifice now for the better future” mode puts me in a forever unpleasant, if not unhappy, way.

This year, I learned to go out for coffee in the face of bad news. Instead of feeling bad or even worse, feeling sorry for myself, coming back from the walk enjoying my favourite drink puts me in a “better” mood, if not a happy one.

Focusing on the present moment (walking, coffee) makes me better prepared for the future.

Doing is more important than Planning.

I have always known this wisdom…however, implementing it in my life has not been easy.

With the tendency to plan everything before starting anything, a project, a task, etc., the level of execution always suffers.

After trying to think of every ‘what might go wrong” items, the initial enthusiasm of optimism suffers. Therefore the project/task/exercise routines….suffers before they start.

However, this year, my tendency to plan everything had to change, and it had to change drastically.  

Writing a weekly blog post with a new-found style of “more quantity, less quality” attitude helped me to publish more blog posts this year. 

Focusing on the execution( blog publication) over Planning (quality) had unexpected benefits in handling ever-present writer’s block. I suffer far less on this pesky dilemma when facing a blank screen. 

Progress is more important than the outcome.

It is a huge insight for me.  

As a type, A person who needs a clear outcome/result/answer, being in the murky “progress” state is not a comfortable state to be in.  

Being in the position to see students’ progress gave me new perspectives on measuring the achievement level.

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Evaluating someone else’s work provides the clear-head perspective I lack when it comes to my own.

Students struggling with their work making incremental progress gives me the conviction I did not have about my work.  

Final Thought

As one of my friends said, “happiness is a choice” (which I rolled my eyes in the past), I am “starting” to realize that my happiness is not given by other people/things, but instead, I can give it to myself.  

It takes certain attitude and perspective adjustments that are uncomfortable…maybe I can start the new routine of thinking these unfamiliar thoughts with my easy activities in the new year: walk with coffee:)

What have you learned about yourself this year?

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