I can’t believe that July is almost over. The summer is nearly over for me. This harrowing reality has slowly begun to settle in to my psyche. On Friday, I got the end of summer letter summoning all teachers to begin thinking about the fact that within a couple weeks, we’ll all be frantically finalizing plans for school to begin again. This year, I won’t be the newbie. There will be a fresh class of new teachers looking to me for advice and tips on how to survive their first year. While I’m glad I won’t be reliving my first year, I’m also feeling less than fully confident about my second year.
When the letter came, I should have started working. The best way to deal with a daunting task is to be as prepared as possible, right? Instead, I took all that energy I’ve been working on this month for my happiness project and let it go to waste. I fell of the wagon. I indulged in television and computer games. I let my mind melt a little because facing the workload of preparing for another school year is terrifying. The result is that uncomfortable sense of guilt. This guilt monster has been my enemy for a long time now. He bears his head every time I’ve started a diet and fallen into that cycle of “I’ve already had one scoop of ice cream, might as well go in for more!” And before you know it, I’ve given up on that diet and actually end up gaining weight! This is why I didn’t include losing weight as part of my happiness project: I don’t want to feel guilty all the time. Feeling guilty about what I eat, what I do (or don’t do), and how much I weigh does not lead to happiness.
And so right now I’m sitting at my computer trying to formulate a plan to get back on the wagon toward a happier me. But as I’m making lists of all the errands and tasks I want to get done tomorrow, I’m realizing that taking the past couple days off has actually invigorated me a bit. I let out some of my silly which has enabled me to get a little bit more serious about work. And now I’m wondering if maybe falling off the wagon isn’t the worst thing in the world (if you approach it with the right state of mind!). Maybe we need to indulge in our vices a little bit every now and then so that we can forge forward onto the righteous path again. Maybe the key to falling off the wagon is to not let the guilt monster convince you that one minor hiccup means the whole show is over.
Even though I’m less than one month into my happiness project, I have noticed that I’m not necessarily racking in as many perfect days as I might want (and right now I only have 3 resolutions going!). But I have to remind myself that one or two less than perfect days doesn’t mean that I’m not changing. This is a one year project for a reason. Change can’t happen overnight. Even more, these resolutions aren’t necessarily fix all solutions to some of my bigger problems. For example, this month my focus is on energy. The goal was to make me more receptive and energetic so that I can have more of a go-getter attitude about doing things that bring me joy. I wanted to lay a foundation for myself to delve into the other areas I designated for my project. And overall, I would say that I do feel more energetic. I’ve been saying yes to outings a lot more frequently. I nap less frequently. And overall, I am feeling lighter on my feet. Small changes add up. But even making small change isn’t easy: I fall off the wagon all the time. But I get back on. I didn’t drink my 8 glasses of water yesterday, but today I made extra effort to start my day off with a glass of water. I’m listening to my body more. While this alone isn’t the key to a happier me, it is setting that foundation I wanted.
And so I’m going to open this up to you: how do you feel when you fall off the wagon? Are you a persistent person who gets back on immediately? Do you let the guilt monster make your initial fall a lot worse than it needs to be? What ultimately motivates you to get back on?
© 2013, Jennifer Lesnick. All rights reserved.